Day 107: Law-Mom’s Health Status Update

The other day I posted a guest blog post on our Facebook page because I was getting an error message every time I tried to link it here. Apparently, there was just an internal glitch happening with our WordPress because it is now working. If you have not had the opportunity to read it, yet, I recommend it: “What am I sacrificing for convenience?”

The author of this blog has been one of my inspirations going gluten-free (GF) since moving to our new community, and I am grateful that she has shared her story with me (and now with you). But, to give credit where credit is due, I’ve had a number of inspirations along the way, while I clung to eating whatever I wanted, when I wanted it. My former neighbor was one of the first people to tell me she was going GF to eradicate joint pain. Indeed, another friend from my former community suggested I try GF to help SC1 with some of her health issues. And a prior health practitioner told me going GF “would probably help” SC1. I had a lot of clues.

But I just wasn’t ready. I couldn’t battle that monster, yet. As I’ve written about in other blog posts, dealing with SC1’s true food allergies was too much for me. I couldn’t fathom trying to go GF with her sunflower and pea allergies. (So many prepared GF foods contain these things.) And I didn’t have the bandwidth to start cooking from scratch for every meal while working full-time and commuting. I wish I had…but I just didn’t.

Fast forward to today. It’s been 107 days since I first decided to cut gluten and sugar out of my diet. I cheated a little bit on the gluten and sugar over Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I’ve recently cheated a LOT on the sugar with GF Girl Scout cookies. Nevertheless, I have lost 10 pounds and have no joint pain, and I feel the best I have felt in a decade. It is so worth it! I only wish I had done it sooner! I wouldn’t have spent so much time feeling bloated and miserable (and being at least 10 pounds overweight).

As for SC1 — I really think going GF will help her inflammation which will hopefully help with her allergies and possibly some other issues. So, I am slowly switching our family over to GF. Fortunately, she likes GF pasta and “Caulipower” brand pizza. The girls both like hemp seed, sugar free granola in yogurt for breakfast, as well as hemp seed, sugar free breakfast porridge I’ve been making. (See cookbook link, infra.) Meanwhile, SC2 and I have been having a blast together in the kitchen making recipes from said cookbook, which I cannot recommend enough! (Thanks also to my friend who recommended it to me.) It seems daunting, but it’s an adventure. A fun adventure in the kitchen! 🙂

I am grateful for my new mind set. I am grateful for all my friends who provided inspiration along the way to get here. And I am grateful for the slow but steady changes our new diets are making in our lives.

P.S. As someone who suffered severe preeclampsia in both pregnancies, I wonder if any research or studies have been done regarding the connection between gluten intolerance (inflammation) and preeclampsia. I have had bloating my whole life (I was always jealous of my college boyfriend who could eat a big bowl of pasta and still have a flat stomach) and I wonder if my internal inflammation caused or contributed to the horrific gestational swelling I experienced. Just a thought.

Econ-Mom: This sounds like a lot of work, but if you are feeling better then I’m sure it’s worth it! I’ve heard many people say they have more energy on a low- or no-gluten diet, which would definitely be a good thing!! (However, I also have more energy if I don’t have to cook 24/7!) I know that a lot of people in the autism community swear by GFCF diets, so I briefly considered trying it out but basically decided to pick my battles. I think it makes the most sense when kids (or adults!) show any signs of GI issues, e.g. constipation, etc. Anyway, congrats on making this big switch, and I hope you keep enjoying the kitchen adventures!

Law-Mom: I fully get you on having more energy if you don’t have to cook 24/7. Lol!! But we pretty much just eat at home, anyway, with SC1’s allergies. So, while the switch has been semi-challenging, it has not been as challenging as it would be if I still commuted and still had young kids–as you do!

To Smartwatch, Or Not to Smartwatch–That Is The Question

In our new community, kids are much more “free range” than they were in our old community. I consider this a really good thing. I personally thought the parenting culture of my prior community was a little more “helicopterish” than I would prefer. Of course, my kids were much younger then, too, and you rather have to be “helicopterish” with young kids! Little kids’ favorite pastime is to try to find ways to kill themselves on an hourly – nay, minute-by-minute – basis.

The reason my prior community was less “free range,” however, also probably had something to do with the difference in state laws. In my prior state, children could not be left home alone (except for a “reasonable time”) before the age of 14. Recently, in a community that I grew up in, the police were called when a mother allowed her 8-year old to walk her dog around the block by herself. And people wonder about the rise of “helicopter parenting!” For. The. Love.

Here there is no age restriction. Parents can use their best judgment based on the age and abilities of their children. I love common sense!

Now my kids are almost 11 (gasp!) and almost 9 (going on 16), and they can – and should – have more freedom and growing independence for their social and emotional development. Lately, the girls have been meeting friends at the park near our house. The park is but a 2 minute bike or scooter ride from our house. We are also fortunate to live in a very safe community. As long as they are not by themselves but with friends, I am comfortable with this. However, we have been asking that they check-in with us every 20 to 30 minutes or so, just so we know they are okay. Their friends, on the other hand, don’t have to do this because they have smartwatches.

This got me thinking: Should my kids have smartwatches?

Here are the reasons I don’t want them:

  1. The extra expense. I only *recently* started paying for my own smartphone. I only *got* a smartphone in 2015, and that was because my employer paid for it. The Hub’s employer pays for his. I don’t like monthly expenses. I am trying to keep them down, not increase them.
  2. The Creepy “Big Brother” Factor. I want my kids to feel like they are trusted. Not tracked.
  3. 5G. I keep hearing this is bad. I need to actually read about why it is bad. I trust it is bad because it reminds me of how I kept hearing about how GMOs are bad and then I finally got around to learning about it and was like: “OMG, GMOs are BAD.” I have no idea if having a smartwatch will expose my kids to more 5G radiation, but I am guessing (some serious guessing here) that it will.
  4. If that sounds a little too woo-woo for you, I come back to the expense and the creepy factor.

Here’s why I do want them:

  1. They can call me when I am worried about them.
  2. And I am always worried about them.
  3. Becoming a parent increased my anxiety and paranoia levels to an all time high.

But that brings me to other reasons I don’t want them:

  1. I don’t want to cave into my anxiety and ridiculously overactive imagination because:
  2. Statistics and rational thought tell me that they will be FINE.
  3. The Hub and I survived our childhoods and adolescence without smartwatches (or smartphones, or cell phones, etc.) and there is no reason my children cannot either.
  4. They will learn to be more resourceful without them.

Okay, so I guess that settles it. I am not getting my kids smartwatches.

For now.

Econ-Mom: I honestly could go either way on this, for the exact reasons you outlined here! Such a hard decision Law-Mom, thanks for paving the way for me on this one! 

I am also anxious about my kids all the time! Just yesterday, Tuffy asked me if he could walk home from school by himself and my first reaction was “NO WAY!”  Now, his school is literally around the corner from our house.  But of course, I’m not 100% sure how people would react if they saw him walking by himself – I don’t want the cops called on me!  And, of course, what if he got lost?  It’s so unlikely, but the fear factor is so high! And unfortunately, ASD kiddos are more likely to die because they have wandered off and gotten lost (though, again, I’m sure statistics are still firmly on the side of “nothing will happen if they’re out of your sight for 5 minutes,” especially given how well Tuffy functions in the world these days).  I guess I would imagine myself in this case eventually getting the watch, just because knowing Tuffy, there is no way he would be able to remember to check in with me every 30 minutes! (Actually a lot of ASD parents get GPS trackers for their kids, so I might go with that.)  But I 100% support you not getting the girls a watch!  For better or worse, I’m fairly resigned to the Big Brother stuff (sorry Law-Mom) but I do feel that we could all use less technology in our lives! 

Autism in the Developing World

Ever since we got an autism diagnosis for Tuffy, I have occasionally stopped to wonder how many of the autism-related issues that are considered “problems” are really only problems because of the expectations our culture puts on children. For example, lack of eye contact. In some cultures, eye contact it is not expected and/or can be considered impolite. Generally speaking, I feel like the demands on our children just increase and increase as our society becomes more “advanced.”  Just look at schools! The expectations for reading levels in kindergarten are about what they were for first graders thirty years ago.  I’m not even sure that anyone has stepped back to ask “why.” I guess we all just want our kids to have some kind of “edge,” so if kids are capable of learning more, earlier, faster, we’ll just push them to do it because they can. And by the way, the demands on our senses also continue to increase. It’s always more, louder, faster! We’re on the go all the time (e.g. multiple transitions per day); birthday parties are much more likely to have a bouncy house; oh, and by the way, parents should get at least one date night per month! (Therefore, if your kids have a hard time separating and you rarely end up on a date night, you feel like you’re getting gypped and also failing at marriage.)

I don’t want to romanticize poverty, but I sometimes wonder if mild autism causes much less stress for everyone involved in developing countries. I could be totally wrong, so anyone with special needs experience in other culture please educate me, but I figure that in a small rural village probably experience less overload, very consistent daily routines, and fewer choices. (Tuffy used to just burst into tears when I asked him to choose a shirt, a food, etc.) These differences would almost certainly lead to way fewer meltdowns!

So, once in a while, when I’m feeling sorry for myself because my children can’t sit quietly through a movie, I try to remind myself that it’s only a problem because my first-world self expects to be able to sit through a movie now and then.

On the other hand, I also unfortunately suspect that kids with more severe autism and other disabilities do not fare well at all in many other cultures.  I actually just got this book from the library – The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs Chattel and Changlings – and while I’m not sure how much it addresses disability, I’m very curious to read about how parenting is approached around the world and glean whatever autism-related insights I can.  Some things I wonder about a lot are – how do people in extreme poverty deal with children who have a hard time eating certain foods? I suspect that issue comes up less often in that context, but I truly believe that kids with severe autism and/or other issues that lead to very restricted diets must be born everywhere in the world! And another thing that’s been on my mind a lot lately – bed-wetting! Tuffy still has trouble with this, which leads to a lot of laundry. Again, this issue must come up everywhere on earth now and then, so how do people without access to washing machines deal with this??

I’m sure I will be updating you all as I read this book–and I would love to hear about books/articles/etc related to autism in the developing world, so please send any recommendations my way!

Law-Mom: Econ-Mom, you raise great questions. Thank you for raising all of our awareness. As for today’s culture and expectations: I completely agree with you. I think everything has gone just slightly off kilter and that a lot of today’s parents go a bit over-board on things–particularly birthday parties. I blame Pinterest. (“Parenting Culture on 11.”)

Kids and Food

How children eat and/or should be fed is a hot button issue for me because of the many challenging experiences I have had feeding my own children. Econ-Mom’s recent Facebook post was triggering for me, so now I have to write about it. And if you missed it, here was the post:

I guess the internet already responded pretty well to this tweet, but here are my favorite responses:

Ketchup was definitely a food group for SC2. Hysterical. Favorite moments: SC2 dipping chocolate Easter eggs in ketchup and drinking ketchup out of a straw.


SC2 was also like this. She was my “good eater” as a baby and then turned into the ketchup-eater later in life. Now, she loves to cook, but she still won’t eat half her creations. Fascinating.

Yes, parenting for me has come with a very heavy dose of humility. I was definitely in the “I will never” parenting camp. Before I had kids, I never ate at McDonalds. I had watched the movies and read the books about how horrible all that food is for you, etc….I was educated, people. I KNEW!

Then, I had SC1. By the time she was one year old, we knew she was allergic to eggs, sesame, tree nuts, peanuts and shellfish. (So, don’t give me any of that stuff about making sure you give your kids food early enough.) Thereafter, we found out she was allergic to sunflower and green peas. (She had an anaphylatic reaction to homemade split pea soup when she was 15 months old.)

When she was 4 months old, I started out by making all her organic, pureed baby food. She wouldn’t eat it. Guess what she would eat? The jarred GMO crap.

You really cannot force a child to eat food (and if you do, you’re going to be in for some serious therapy down the road). But empty bellies lead to long sleepless nights. And I can promise you that after you’ve already been through the long sleepless nights of infancy, once they are eating solid food you will do anything – ANYTHING – to get five hours of chopped up sleep. Especially if you are now breastfeeding another infant.

So, sure, you can never order off the kids menu and force them to eat whatever you put on their plate. But you may not sleep. (As I child, I ate everything, and I remember ordering chicken kiev at restaurants when I was like five or six. If you get a kid like me: 1)You are lucky. 2) You had nothing to with it. 3) Do not give yourself credit for being an amazing parent.)

When SC1 was a toddler/preschooler, she had a harder-than-usual time separating, and my mom was a preschool teacher about 30 minutes from our house. Because I knew that SC1 would be happy near her grandmother, we opted to attend that preschool in her early years rather than one closer to our house. I’m not saying this was a mistake, but in retrospect I think I might have done things differently. Here’s why:

A thirty minute drive doesn’t sound like a very long car ride to an adult. But to an inarticulate 2/3-year old who is prone to fits, it is. Driving to and from preschool two or three days a week became its own special form of torture. And, since school also would end right around lunch time, and SC2 would fall asleep in the car during that time, guess what I resorted to?

That’s right! Drive-through McDonald’s! Wooohoooo!! McDonald’s proved to be safe for all of SC1’s allergies. So, between the allergy factor, and the baby-sleeping-in-the-car factor, McDonald’s became our go-to lunch on those days driving to and from preschool.

I wasn’t proud of it. In fact, it made me cringe. I often told people that if there were other *safe* drive-throughs, I would have by all means chosen those over McDonald’s. But find me a safe drive-through restaurant when your kid is allergic to sesame, sunflower, and green pea!

Last story: When SC1 was about 4 or 5, she was attending gymnastics. After gymnastics was over, she very loudly said to me so everyone in the vicinity could hear: “Mom, can we go to McDonald’s?” My face flushed, while another mom and her daughter looked at each other like: “What poor, pitiful souls, eating that unhealthy, fattening, barely edible food.” And then the other mother said to her daughter, in a knowing, superior voice: “That’s right, honey. WE don’t eat at McDonald’s.”

I’m probably explaining all this to you now because I so badly wanted to explain to that woman why my kid was familiar with McDonald’s and wanted to go there. However, I think it also highlights a very important point and aspect of parenting: It’s unpredictability. Sometimes that unpredictability takes you to places–physically, mentally, and emotionally–that you’ve never been to before. And that might include ordering off the kids menu or taking your kids to McDonald’s. (The horror!)

Econ-Mom: Sorry for bringing up all those emotions with that post–honestly it is a bit triggering for me, too. Of course, I’m not dealing with allergies, but we ended up at McDonald’s sometimes in Seattle just because it’s a place (nay, THE ONLY PLACE) we could eat without me having to cook and without any expectation that my children sit quietly and draw. TONS of people in Seattle don’t go to McDonald’s….Obviously, they’re health conscious and there are many vegetarians/vegans, so I get it. Just don’t judge those of us who do go! And yes, Law-Mom, I’m 100% with you that if they made a healthy/vegetarian/etc. option that had a drive-through and/or play place, I would be there ALL THE TIME. Why isn’t someone doing this?!??! I legit sometimes consider quitting my job and starting a gofundme (or kickstarter?) to make this happen.

Law-Mom: Word. Why don’t we do this? Why doesn’t anyone??? It just seems like such an obviously needed market.

Final Thoughts on my PhD Experience

Last month I got a survey in my email called the AEA Climate survey. I only bothered to open it because I thought it would be something related to environmental economics. (While I don’t consider myself part of the economics community anymore, my current job is marginally related to environmental economics, plus it is just a topic that I still find interesting.)

Turns out it was about the other kind of climate, i.e. discrimination and harassment within economics, but I decided to take the survey anyway. I was never sexually harassed during grad school (probably some combination of everyone being super respectful and my un-sexy motherhood), but I thought I would share with you all what I wrote in response to an open-ended question about whether we ever felt discriminated against. (I don’t remember the exact wording of the question but it was something along those lines.)

“My main issues came from the fact that I was raising children while I was in grad school.  I originally wanted to do time series research, but our time series professor had a reputation as someone who expected his grad students to work super long hours, and I obviously couldn’t do that since I had a toddler and a baby.  I had heard stories of professors (including this one) dropping grad students after years if they were not successful enough.  I didn’t want to take my chances and end up getting dropped, so I went with someone else, which meant changing my field. I would not describe this situation as active discrimination, per se, since I never made a strong effort to work with this professor.  However, one could make an argument that non-support is a form of passive discrimination at some level. If you want to make the decision that mothers are not welcome in graduate school, then fine, but otherwise an acknowledgement has to be made that mothers/primary caregivers do not have as many hours in the day to devote to graduate school and have other challenges, including financial challenges, and make at least some tiny effort to support them. In general, I felt the need to hide the fact that I was a primary caregiver, due to the competitive work culture.  I never saw any evidence that the department wanted to support parents or make us (well, mainly me – I was the only female parent in our department, and the men were never the primary caregiver) feel welcome. I’m not suggesting that the department should have bent over backwards for me, but even just a small gesture, like someone reaching out to ask how things are going, would have made a huge difference.”

I wrote this in a hurry, so it wasn’t incredibly well thought-out, and I hope it doesn’t sound super whiny. It is all true, though! Honestly, sometimes I wish I had been a little more of a trailblazer and tried to force one of those “tough” professors to accept that I had maybe 20 hours a week (at best!) to devote to research and take me on as a student anyway. But I did what I could with the personality that I have. I like to think that just existing in that space as a mom, and especially as an autism mom, helped in some minuscule way to move the needle in the right direction.

Law-mom: Econ-mom, actually, from a legal standpoint, I think you were discriminated against. In the law, what you experienced is a called a “disparate impact,” this “passive discrimination” that you refer to. It’s when certain policies or employment structures have a “disparate impact” on only certain groups of people. Of course, to *prove* that in the court of law is a whole other ball of wax. But, being a woman who understands most of what you experience as a mother in today’s culture, I believe that your department’s policies probably had a disparate impact on women–namely, in this case, women who are also caretakers. Of course, a huge percentage of women of a certain age *are* also caretakers. So, they are nearly synonymous terms.

I say, good for you for saying something! I am sure there are people in that department who have probably never thought about that issue before in their life.

What Do ‘Laziness’ and ‘Productivity’ Mean?

Last week, my opinions were gently criticized on Conan Tanner’s podcast  regarding something I said or wrote about laziness (around 1:48:10). I would like to gently respond to that criticism. 🙂 

When I was interviewed by Conan on his podcast, he asked me what I thought about a mandatory minimum income (around 1:02). I don’t think this is what Dr. Salinger was referring to when she referenced my prior comments about laziness, but Conan thought it was (so he told me later).  I think Dr. Salinger was referring to my above-linked blog post.  (I would like to thank her for being a MOE Reader!) Regardless of which comment(s) she was referring to, I will respond to both possibilities.

Truthfully, I had never given the concept of a mandatory minimum income much thought prior to my discussion with Conan. When he asked me about it, I said I would “play devil’s advocate” and noted that I wasn’t crazy about the idea of paying for people who sat around all day doing absolutely nothing. But after that, Conan challenged me, and I came around. He noted that if people have their basic needs met, they are less likely to do harm, with which I wholly agree. However you interpret my comments that day, everything I said on Conan’s podcast was pure contemplation. My ideas were not well-developed. I was merely thinking out loud. (My ideas are still not well-developed on the subject, and I invite further conversation about it. I would love to talk about it with Econ-Mom, who I would expect to have well-substantiated views on the subject.) 

Later, however, I did formulate some of my feelings about laziness (as a general topic) in the above-linked blog post. That post was in response to something Conan said while he was talking with Econ-Mom. I do not remember if it was said in the context of talking about mandatory minimum income (and I’m not going to go find out because I cannot remember where in the podcast it was said). Regardless, my response was solely to something that Conan said: “What is so wrong with being lazy?” To which I said: “Everything.” 

Let me emphasize something about that opinion: it is based largely on *feelings.* I can have feelings about something and still, rationally, come to a different conclusion about things. So, I *feel* like it is inherently unfair for some lazy people to get something for nothing. (The Little Red Hen agrees with me.) But that does *not* mean that I do not believe in social welfare. I believe in social welfare because I care about people. And I know that many people require assistance because they are just down on their luck. Furthermore, most people, including myself and my family, are just one or two tragedies or emergencies away from homelessness and bankruptcy. I am incredibly fortunate that I *can* work. I am blessed with a healthy, functioning body that allows me to do things. I know people who are unable to work because of their health issues, and it is *not* their choice. And they are *not* lazy. In fact, I bet some of the most struggling people are some of the hardest working, most industrious, and least lazy people on the planet. 

That brings me to what I really wanted to write about: What does laziness mean?  To me, laziness means selfishness and entitlement. It means not lifting a finger to help out when others are tirelessly working to help you and serve you. Laziness means not making the most of one’s abilities and/or not making the most of a day and what it brings to the table. It means expecting others to do something for you. It does not mean resting or relaxing after working a long day. It does not mean exploring hobbies or being creative.

We can also ask, what does productivity mean? To me, it does not mean productivity for the sake of productivity. It does not mean working oneself to the bone in the pursuit of the dollar or personal achievement. For me, productivity means taking care of what needs to be done. Because *someone* needs to do it. I put in long, tiring days because I have to. Food needs to be put on the table. A roof needs to stay over our heads. Kids need to be tended to and cared for. Clothes need to be cleaned. Homes require a basic level of cleanliness or chaos and squalor result. To me, productivity is the sheer force of necessity. It is not the mindless pursuit of acquisition and achievement. 

So, those are my terms and how I think about them and define them. Econ-Mom: What do you think? 

Econ-Mom has given me permission to post her response email to me:

“I read the post quickly yesterday….All I can say at this point is that I’m clearly too “productive” to do anything!! I just freaked out this morning because I couldn’t find the Xmas card for DH’s aunt. I’m pretty sure I put it in the mail with the other cards, but it’s supposed to go to Canada and will not get there on one stamp!! 🙁 ARRGH….Holidays!!!! 

But I will try to write an actual response soon, I promise!! 🙂 Or, if you want to publish with a note that Econ-Mom was too “productive” to respond, I’m fine with that too!”

Day 43: Health Journey Status Update

Hello, MOE Readers. I found the time on my lunch break the other day to write this. It was an overcast day, and I chose to skip my daily walk because I have turned into a Weather Wimp. And no, I have not actually kept track of the number of days since I decided to cut sugar and gluten out of my diet. I just Googled how many days have passed since I first posted about my decision. 🙂

Progress: I have lost 6 pounds, and my pain continues to remain minimal. I have been doing 10-15 minutes of yoga 2-3 times per week, and walking 30-60 minutes almost every day. I saw my new doctor last month, and he thinks I may have an under-performing thyroid. (Interesting.) I still need to get the blood work done since my appointment; but once I do, I should get some answers. I’ll keep you posted.

Those of you who keep up on our Facebook page (and if you don’t, please consider liking the page) may have seen my more regular updates since Day 1 and know that, save for one minor slip-up, I did stick to the no (low) sugar and no gluten for the three weeks before my doctor appointment. Since then, I have cheated a few times here and there — particularly the week of Thanksgiving — but for the most part, I have been keeping at it. (Okay, I may have binged on some Halloween candy one night when I was PMS’ing.) However, the continued results keep me motivated. And for the most part, I don’t even miss pasta or pizza. 🙂

What I’ve been eating to avoid sugar and gluten: I think the key to my success is that I have been eating less almost effortlessly because most of what I eat is high in protein or fat and keeps me full. I eat a lot of nuts, fruit, and low or no sugar yogurt for breakfast and lunch. I am now obsessed with dates. They are nature’s candy. And, I’ve been practically living on curry carrot soup for the past few weeks. I’ll have a bowl or two at lunch and a bowl or two with dinner. This is a great base that you can play around with. I’ve discovered you can add practically anything to it, including canned pumpkin, corn, and/or roasted peppers.

I got this recipe from a friend, but I have tweaked it in enough ways now that I think I can call it my own.

Curry Carrot Soup:

3 tablespoons coconut oil (olive oil works, too)

6 cups veggie stock or bone broth or a combo thereof  (I usually use up whatever is open, and then do the remainder of the other)

8 medium/large carrots chopped (or 8 handfuls of baby carrots)

4 medium celery sticks (if you are out, fear not; it will still turn out well) chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

3 teaspoons curry powder

3 teaspoons salt

lemon or lime juice, to taste

black pepper, to taste

You could sautee the onions in the oil first, but it is not necessary. Except for the lemon/lime juice and pepper, bring all the ingredients to a boil and let simmer until the carrots are totally soft. (I usually just leave it simmering for a couple hours). Use an immersion blender to blend it until smooth and then add your lemon or lime juice and pepper to taste.

Enjoy a healthy, low-fat, no sugar, gluten free meal all week long! (And, this is fairly obvious, but if you are vegetarian or vegan, you can make it so by just using the veggie broth.)  I have been adding bone broth to everything I can these days for the collagen.

Cheers! And happy holidays!

Our Auto Show “Adventure”

Econ-Mom: Today we made Family Mistake #5782 and decided (er, DH convinced me) to drive to the LA auto show.  You’re probably already laughing at me (or just shaking your head) but in case you’re wondering why this was a giant mistake:

  1. LA is a 2 hour drive away;
  2. My younger son has pretty significant sensory issues; and
  3. The auto show is extremely crowded.

After getting on the road late, stopping to play at a rest stop, and a trip to a Jack in the Box (with a very disgusting bathroom) , we finally found a $20 parking place that was pretty close to the auto show.

Outside the convention center we saw people doing some stunt driving, which I thought was kind of cool, but Peanut immediately started scream-crying because he “wanted to go inside.”  Of course, the entrance was still a little hike, and Peanut refused to use the stroller we brought (apparently he’s too big for the stroller now). While Peanut was wanting to be carried, Tuffy ran ahead and almost plowed into a few people.  So, I yelled something like “Tuffy get over here!” and then he started crying.  (He’s going through a super sensitive phase lately, I think partly because second grade has been hard for him.  So it’s not uncommon for him to cry if I raise my voice, which is something I am really trying to work on!)

Now both kids have gotten upset, and we’re not even inside yet. But once we got in the door, they were excited to sit in the cars.  Peanut especially loved to sit in the driver’s seat and push all the buttons. (I’m 50% sure he broke something during the short time we were there — just the stress of him touching all of these expensive things was enough to make the whole trip not worth it.) The environment was definitely overstimulating, and Peanut kept bolting away from us, so one adult would chase him down.  Luckily our cell phones worked in there because we got separated a lot. Tuffy was handling things okay at first but then started to get upset because he kept getting electric shocks every time he touched a car.  (Things you learn about your kids — apparently Tuffy really hates electric shocks!)

So, Tuffy is in tears again, and Peanut is literally getting bowled over by adults because it’s a mad house, and no one is paying attention to where they’re going. Since everyone was getting agitated, I suggested getting some food. But by this point I was already pretty fed-up, so when the kids started whining about how long the food line was I said, “That’s it, we’re leaving,” and we all marched back to the car.  Clearly, we all had just needed a nap because all of us (except DH thankfully) fell asleep on the way home!

In hindsight, the thing that makes these situations worse is that I’m not only getting irritated from dealing with the behaviors from the children, but I’m amplifying my distress by getting mad at myself for making the poor choice (or in this case letting DH talk me into the poor choice) to bring the kids somewhere that’s a sensory nightmare. I’m not sure why I never learn this lesson!! Only last month I made the mistake of bringing the kids to a hockey game.  Why? Well, selfishly, I wanted to go to a work social event. They’re usually happy hours which aren’t family friendly, so when my work organized a group hockey game outing, I thought we could join.  WRONG. (This was actually a way bigger mistake than the auto show – the hockey game was incredibly loud and both kids were in tears by the end of the first period so we had to leave.)

You would just think that I would stop making the same mistakes over and over again!! It’s so frustrating. However, I’m trying to re-frame this in my mind and think of it like this – you know what, we are perhaps a slightly crazy family, but we’re also an adventurous family.  DH and I always used to do tons of road trips, and we loved trying new things before kids, so we are going to keep trying to expose our kids to new experiences, too.  Sometimes those experiences are going to really suck. But it’s not necessarily bad for the boys to try new things and have the occasional rough experience out there in the world.  A lot of places in the world are a sensory nightmare, unfortunately, but the kids do better and better as they get older – and we are *trying* to get Peanut started with OT which will hopefully help (of course the intake process at our HMO has been long and drawn out but that’s another story!)

Law-Mom: I give you so much credit that you keep trying, Econ-Mom. I know it is/can be so hard. We were not adventuresome when the kids were young because, seriously, every outing just felt like one giant headache, such that it was “so not worth it.” (Eating out at restaurants with the allergy issues still feels that way. I get jealous every time I hear about someone going out to eat.) It is a struggle, finding that balance between activities that you are good for your kids and a stretch for them, while also maintaining your own sanity.

Truth be told, I feel like I have sensory issues, so I really appreciate it when you say that the world is a sensory nightmare. Because I feel like it is.  I really *cannot* stand noise. (Ergo, I am not a fan of large parties.) It drives The Hub crazy how much I hate his loud music. I shut myself up in our bedroom the other day because he had the music too loud, but he was making dinner so I didn’t want to force him to turn it down. Today, I went on a field trip with a group of third graders, and I am still reeling from the experience of all the noise.  (I feel dizzy and exhausted.) Crowds and noise are just a nightmare for me. So, I avoid them. When I take my kids places that are super crowded, it is that much worse for me because I am absorbing literally everything from them and from the crowd around me.  The older I get, the more sensitive I get (I think). So, I have a lot of empathy for children with sensory issues. And their parents! Because as sensitive as I am, I can *handle* it. I may not like it. But I don’t throw myself down in the middle of a store and throw tantrums (as SC1 used to do). I save that for when I get home. (JK.)

Day 2: Already Feeling Improvement

Hi MOE Readers,

I know I said that I was going to post my status updates on our Facebook page, but I wanted to share a little bit more about yesterday than just “I did it!” I also don’t want to make this blog all about my dietary and pain management efforts. However, I think how we, as moms, take care of ourselves is a hugely important piece of the puzzle in being Moms on 11. We all know that if we feel like our best selves, we can be better parents (and employees, wives, daughters, friends, etc.) So, I think this fits with the general theme of our blog. And if I can provide inspiration for anyone out there who is also struggling with weight loss and/or joint pain, I want to be an encouragement to you!

So, here we go!

When I woke up yesterday morning, my back pain was gone from the night before, but it still hurt to walk. That’s when I decided to go sugar-free and gluten-free until my doctor’s appointment and write my blog post to keep myself resolute throughout the day.

By the way, when I talk about my joint/hip pain, I am not talking about the excruciating, unlivable pain that I know some people suffer.  But it’s bad enough that it is wearing. And it is bad enough, that sometimes I will not exercise, because repetitive movement exacerbates it, which is what bothers me the most about it.

Despite the (mostly left) hip pain, I still went walking yesterday, and I enjoyed a beautiful long walk in which I stopped to take a dozen or so pictures of the flowers.


But by the end of the walk, my hip was really aching and I worried I had overdone it.

And then something truly miraculous happened: at around 2:00 in the afternoon, my hip pain totally went away! (Okay, I still felt – and feel – it an itsy bit, but comparatively it is gone!) So, was it my sugar-free, gluten-free diet for the day? I obviously can’t know for sure, but the early and almost miraculous results are keeping me motivated!

[Note: I have gone sugar-free, as well as gluten-free before. But I’m not sure I’ve ever done them both at the same time.]

So, how did I stay strong, especially when I had to take my kids to a “Boo Bash” PTO fundraiser last night where there was pizza and cupcakes? Well, for starters, my pain-free evening kept me motivated.  But also, I planned ahead. I made chili in the mid-afternoon and ate it shortly before I left, so I wasn’t the teensiest bit hungry while watching the kids stuff their faces with pizza.

Last but not least, I decided to buy some bone broth protein powder and Glucosamine with Turmeric. (I bought them on Amazon, so I won’t get to start taking them until Day 3 or 4.) I also was taking a collagen supplement (“Trim” by Modere) about a month ago that made my left shoulder stop clicking when I swam, so I decided to buy more of that, too. (“Trim” is also supposed to help you lose weight by blocking fat storage. I did lose a couple pounds while taking it — most of which I promptly gained back the following month — but I figure it was worth trying again.)

In short, Day 1 was a success! We’ll see how well Day 2 goes. Happy Saturday!

Day 1: My Health Journey To Lose Weight and Eliminate Pain

In addition to being at least 20 pounds overweight for my height and frame (I have been unsuccessfully trying to lose the baby weight for 8 years now) I have been dealing with joint pain for the past 5-ish years. It started in my hips. I thought I had an IT-band injury five years ago after I ran a 10 mile race. Unfortunately, the pain has never gone away and exercising has gotten progressively harder.  (Which, of course, does not help the weight loss, either.)

Basically, I cannot run, lunge, row, weight lift, or do yoga without pain.  I mean, I can DO these exercises, but if I do them repetitively, over time I am in so much pain I cannot even sit at my desk without everything hurting. Stretching and yoga sometimes do not help but actually make the pain worse (like it did yesterday).

It’s getting to the point that I know I have to do something about it. I am only 40 years old. I know that I if I do not take proactive steps to correct this, it will only keep getting worse. It’s to the point that I cannot even bend over to do the dishes without it hurting.

I have been given tons of advice by well-meaning friends. I have tried many different things to help my hip joints (where I experience the most pain) — including diet and exercise changes. But nothing seems to work. (Admittedly, I am not always consistent with these things. But it’s hard to stay on a particular regime when it doesn’t seem to be making a difference.)

I suspect that my problem is arthritis, and I suspect that I have a gluten intolerance. I pay the price whenever I eat gluten in many ways. I know that gluten intolerance can cause inflammation, which I know can also only make arthritis worse.

Here are the steps I am taking to help solve my pain problem:

  1. I made an appointment with an integrative medicine doctor. My appointment is on November 15th. I am hoping he can determine what is causing my pain, as well as give me solid advice for managing it, be it in the forms of diet, supplements, physical therapy, and/or new exercises/stretching I can do at home;
  2. I bought new walking shoes yesterday for people who supinate (which I do);
  3. Until my appointment (and this is where you and this blog post come in): I am committing to NOT eating sugar and gluten. Between now and the 15th, that is 21 days.
  4. I am going to check-in on our MOE Facebook page every day and let you know how successful I was at avoiding sugar and gluten, and if it is making a difference. I am doing this publicly in the hopes that the accountability will help me stick to it!

I am committed to living my best life. Our move to the southwest was my first step in that commitment, and it was one of the best (albeit hardest) decisions I have ever made.  But I also want that best life to be at least 20 pounds lighter without hip/back/joint pain so that I can enjoy exercising again and feeling my best!

Thank you for your help!