Small Businesses Part 1 Xmas

For those of you that follow Simplicity Redesigned, you know that I am all about supporting local / small businesses whenever I can. Shopping for Reine’s needs are no different.

This past winter, Reine spent the month of November and most of the month of December, telling me “Not Enough. I not enough.” She would break down in fits of sobbing and repeat this over and over and over again throughout the day. She would cry herself to sleep almost every night. I could not figure out for the life of me what she was referring to. Then, the lightbulb went off and I had an “aha moment”. She was worried about HoHo (Santa) not coming to our home. She had heard from other people that she “had to be good” so that Santa would come and visit her on Xmas Eve night.

Reine associated her meltdowns with not being “good”. Every meltdown and every ODD moment meant that HoHo was slipping farther away no matter how hard she was trying to “be good”. Please know that I do not allow anyone to tell Reine to be “good” or that she is being “bad” for exactly this reason. I will seriously open up a can of whip ass if you tell her to be “good” or that she is being “bad”.

I needed to find a way to soothe my little mermaid’s soul and quickly. I found an online  company that does videos and or phone calls from Santa and uses your child’s name and personal information that you provide to them to create one of the cutest videos I have ever seen. We opted to go for the video only. It is engaging and there are pauses so perfectly timed in the conversations that it allowed Reine to respond to the characters in what she thought was “real time” as if she was having a conversation with them. We told her that I recorded the video so that she could watch as many times as she wanted to. I hope to be able to do the video with her every year for the foreseeable future.

The video proved to be not enough for Reine. I was still putting her to bed sobbing every night. She still thought she was “not enough”. No matter what we said to her or how often we told her that HoHo was coming, it was not enough to soothe her mind. She was hyper focused on it and there seemed to be no way to move her past it. The endless tears made it that much worse.

My Christmas Miracle
We had thought about taking Reine to our mall to meet their “Santa”. The reality of it being too overstimulating stopped us from doing it. We knew that Santa would not be sympathetic to her needs as you wait in line for what seems forever and he takes a pic with the child and talks to them for a few seconds and that’s it. He moves on to the next child. That works for neurotypical children. But we needed a Santa that would be able to understand what this meeting was really about. I follow one of our favorite local toy stores Dancing Bear Toys and Gifts on Facebook and they posted about Santa coming to their store for a meet and greet type thing. I held my breath and took a chance.
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I decided to send them a personal message on Facebook to see if they had anything planned for those on the spectrum. I explained our situation and also a little about why we could not bring Reine in to meet Santa. I honestly expected them to respond with a “Sorry we are unable to do anything like that at this moment in time.”  I would have sent them my customary response of “OK, I understand and thank you for your time.” as tears slid down my cheeks. Their response to my message did in fact, bring me to tears….just for a very different reason.

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What transpired next was beyond words for my family. We showed up early and they had a quiet room all set up with a chair and SANTA! How Reine lit up! Magic does not describe what transpired for my mermaid. She saw her Santa and ran to him. We thought she was going to knock him down. His response to her hug made it that much more magical. He spoke with her and promised her that he was coming to our home. We did not take any pics of the meeting as we opted to take a video. All it took was one sentence from Santa. One set of simple words. These were that same exact words that we had said over and over again to her. But they had to come from him not us….“I guarantee that I will come to your house…I promise!” That simple sentence meant more to her than just what was on the surface. It meant that through all her meltdowns and all her ODD outbursts she was exactly as we had told her. SHE WAS ENOUGH. There was not a dry eye in the room when we left. To say that is was magical and our Xmas wish come true is an understatement. There are not enough ways for me to say thank you to Dancing Bear Toys and Gifts for this magical moment. I hope that they will be able to do something like this again for Reine this coming Xmas.

The last thing we did to help Reine see that Santa did in fact, keep his promise was to catch him in the act….It took us all night but we did it. Thanks in part to Google Play and Catch Santa In My House app.

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The Car Wash

So, three years ago we took Reine with us when we went to the automatic car wash. It was something my other two kids have always LOVED. They thought it was the coolest thing ever! We thought Reine would like the colors the suds make.

It was the longest 5 minutes of pure terror that I have ever inflicted upon my child with the exception of blood shots (needles) and doctors appts.

The sounds that came out of her were enough to question if she had been taken over by a poltergeist. I could do nothing to stop the car wash or to make it go faster. I had no way to soothe her until the truck was done and the machine told us it was all clean. I sat and watched helplessly as I waited for her head to spin or her to pass out from pure exhaustion.I was so not winning the Mom of the year award. I honestly had NO idea that she would react to it like that or I would never have taken her. Needless to say, we both left it in tears. I vowed never to take her there again. Every time I went near it, she would cry and beg us to leave the parking lot.

A couple of months ago, Reine asked me to open the moonroof on my truck. It is one of her favorite things for me to do in my truck, as it opens all the back to the rear seat. Above her head, she noticed bird poop on my moon roof. She decided that we needed to take the truck to the car wash. Now, it took me 20 minutes and 2 meltdowns to figure out where we were supposed to take my truck.

My heart sank. My first thought was HELL NO!!!!! What if I scare the ever loving hell out of her again??? Once was enough to last me a lifetime. I told her we did not need to go to the carwash. The rain would wash off the poop eventually. Every day, a million times a day, for the next 2 weeks it was all she could talk about. When are we going to the carwash? Why haven’t we gone to the carwash yet? She was so hyper-focused on it. For the past year, we have been working with Reine to face her fears. I knew this was another fear that we could conquer together. I told her exactly what would happen and when to expect it.

As you can see, she enjoyed it and covered her ears from the loud noises it made.

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Happy 6th Birthday Reine

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Reine turned 6 years old on Nov 2. Oh, how I wish we could have thrown her a HUGE party filled with kids of all ages, family galore, millions of balloons, cake, ice cream, decorations everywhere, different kinds of party games. A celebration that most children dream of and parents cringe at. The excitement, noise, and all things geared towards the birthday child. The reality for us was far different then what many imagine.

First thing Reine did was pick out her outfit for the day. I no longer tell her what she can and can not wear. If she wants to wear a pair of hug pants with shorts over top and 3 hug tank tops and a long sleeve shirt then that is what she wears. If it matches great, if it does not, then it doesn’t. I want her to take pride in her decisions. Frankly, I have more important battles to pick then what she wears.

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Two hug tanks, long sleeve shirt, leggings, denim skirt

Reine opened up her presents at about 6:30-7:00am. This was the only time that the entire family would be home at the same time while Reine was awake. Each present was hand picked with Reine’s needs in mind. We had no doubts that she would love each one. There were 5 presents in all.

  • Light Bright
  • Mummy cat book
  • Rolling luggage set
  • Barbie head
  • Educational game

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Her older sister took the morning off of school to spend it with her snuggling and playing with her birthday presents. We worked it out so that when I took big sis to work, my Hubby would come home to spend the afternoon with Reine. Again in a very relaxed manor. The transition from one person to the other was seamless. We told Reine what was going to happen before it happened. This way she knew exactly to expect.

My Hubby and I took Reine to Toys ‘R’ Us (to spend a GC her uncle gave her) in the evening after we ate dinner. This trip we decided needed to be no more than 20-30 minutes long as we did not have Reine’s headphones and iPod. Hubby had the brilliant idea to speak with Reine on the way to Toys ‘R’ Us to see what she wanted to buy or any areas that she really wanted to look through. We chose to go an hour before the store closed as we knew the store would be almost dead. We moved into those areas of the store that Reine was interested in the most first. We kept a VERY close eye on Reine. We saw that after 15 minutes she was getting over stimulated. We began to gather her purchases and head to the register. I paid for the items while Hubby took Reine out of the store.

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After Toys ‘R’ Us, we went to the grocery store. She and Hubby stayed in the car while I bought her an all natural ice cream she LOVES and balloons. We chose ice cream instead of a cake as a way to still celebrate her birthday but to keep her as calm as possible. I promised her that I would make cake balls this weekend for us to enjoy. We sang “Happy Birthday” to her as she beamed at the 7 candles glowing in a small bowl of ice cream. Then it was off to bed where I rubbed her back, arms, and hands for several minutes before she drifted off to sleep.

Candles in the ice cream.

Candles in the ice cream.

The entire day was planned around Reine’s needs. Every decision was done in such a way as to try and not overstimulate her. We had to explain to her all day that it was still her birthday and would remain so until she woke up when the sun did and that the next day still meant that she was 6 yrs old.

Despite all of our best efforts, the next day was a VERY hard and LONG day. Reine had meltdown after meltdown. I spent most of the day applying some form of deep pressure to Reine and trying to calm the beast that being overstimulated causes her to become.

Autism is not for the faint of heart!

Reine’s Diet

When people find out that Reine has autism there are several comments we are guaranteed to hear EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

  • She does not look like she has autism. She must be high functioning.
  • Don’t worry, they will find a cure for her horrible disease soon.
  • I just gave to Autism Speaks. They really are an amazing…..
  • She is gluten and dairy free right? Jenny McCarthy says……

Since Reine’s eating habits seem to leave everyone in awe, I figured I would do a blog post about it. I hear constantly how lucky we are. I used to believe that it was just dumb luck. However, this REALLY upset my Mom In Law (AKA Mom). One night she really let me have it. I think she was even caught off guard by it. But she seriously made a lot of sense and had very valid reasons to back everything up. She told me that it has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with me. It is my stubbornness, tenacity, creativity, constantly thinking outside of the box, and sometimes even utter insanity (from lack of sleep) that has gotten us where we are today in regards to Reine and my family. Seriously, my Mom will be so proud to know that she is getting through to me!

We hear constantly from our specialists and doctors that they wish their other patients would eat the way we do and use the cleaners we use. I also hear that I need to teach others about the importance of diet and autism all the time. While I can not speak for others in regards to their child’s diet, household products / cleaners, and autism, I can speak about my family’s choices and Reine’s autism.

With every specialist we see, diet is usually the second thing talked about. Sadly, medication is generally the first. We have yet to hear that Reine’s diet is anything less than stellar. We all eat the same diet in my home. It makes my life so much easier. We eat a Real Whole Foods diet with the Feingold Diet incorporated into that.

DISCLAIMER BECAUSE I AM SURE I AM BOUND TO PISS OFF SOMEONE WITH THIS POST….

I HOLD NO DEGREE IN CHILD NUTRITION, PSYCHOLOGY, PEDIATRICS, MEDICAL, OR ANYTHING CHILD, AUTISM OR SENSORY RELATED. THIS POST IS ABOUT WHAT WE DO IN MY HOME AND OUR DIET. WHAT YOU DO WITH THIS INFORMATION IS ENTIRELY UP TO YOU. EVERY CHILD ON THE SPECTRUM, WITH SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER, OR ANY OTHER EATING DISORDER IS UNIQUE. WHAT WORKS WITH REINE MAY NOT WORK FOR ANY OTHER CHILD AND VICE VERSA.

Real Whole Foods Diet

We eat a Real Whole Foods Diet. No, it is not a diet based on the grocery store chain Whole Foods (although we are known to shop there). Yes, I have been asked that more than once.


It is a diet that I would define as the following….

  • Food in its most essential, pure and basic form.
  • As non processed as we can get it.
  • Fruits and veggies
  • Whole milk, yogurt, cheese and butter
  • 100% Whole Wheat or Whole Grain
  • Seafood
  • Meats and poultry without unnecessary antibiotics
  • Natural sweeteners like honey or 100% maple syrup in limited amounts
  • Seeds, nuts, popcorn
  • Minimally processed drinks such as milk, 100% juice, coffee, teas
  • Healthy oils
  • Beans and legumes
  • All boxed or canned items must have 5 ingredients or less in them. I must be able to pronounce the ingredients and know what they are as well as what purpose the ingredients serve.

We personally prefer to take the diet a step farther than some do.

  • All our meat and poultry is from local butchers and local turkey farms.
  • Our eggs are from a local farmer that we have a contract with.
  • We go to local farmer’s markets and local orchards any chance we get. We have a couple of stores that also offer local crops that we try and take advantage of.
  • Our maple syrup is made local.
  • Our seafood is fresh, wild caught, local if possible and must be US caught.
  • Not everything that we eat or drink is organic. We have spoken with many of the places we get our foods from about their practices in depth. They are not certified organic. Then again neither is my home garden. NOTHING is used in my garden. You can not get more “organic” than that. Yet I am not allowed to call it organic because I am not certified with the government.
  • We make almost everything from scratch.

Feingold Diet
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The Feingold Diet is an elimination diet typically associated with ADHD. However, many find that they benefit from the diet (my entire family included). Here is the super quick breakdown of the FG Diet. The theory behind the Feingold Diet (FG) is that certain foods or food additives cause unwanted or uncontrolled behavior in certain people. Hyper activity being one example. By removing these foods and additives from your diet permanently, the unwanted and uncontrolled behavior typically disappears. You eliminate certain foods along with everyday products (deodorants, perfumes, etc) containing the artificial additives for a minimum of 8 weeks until your child’s behavior reaches what is called baseline. Baseline is when you have achieved a desired behavior from the child for several weeks. Once baseline is reached, you begin to add the foods back in one at a time. You are looking for a reaction (behavioral changes) in the child. If they react, you remove the food from the diet and try it again once they hit baseline again. If they continue with the negative behavior, the food item is considered a trigger food for them and should be avoided. The artificial additives are removed permanently. This often includes household, beauty, and cleaning supplies.

Many believe that FG is a very “healthy” diet. I am going to go on record as saying that I do not consider FG a “healthy” diet. Many still eat a ton of processed foods on the diet. The processed foods just have a better chemical shitstorm in them. I think that by incorporating FG in a non processed diet, it becomes a healthy.

What is eliminated from the FG Diet.

  • Artificial colors and dyes
  • Artificial preservatives
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Artificial flavors
  • Salicylates are avoided and reintroduced after baseline.

Not everyone reaches baseline from removing the artificial and salicylates. There are times when you have to do what is considered going Beyond FG and make additional eliminations to achieve the desired baseline. For us, we had to go Beyond FG and also eliminate the following…

  • Benzoates (except those that occur in nature)
  • Corn Syrup and High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • MSG
  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites

Reine’s Eating Habits

Pick Your Battles

Not everyone will want to take the time to make everything from scratch or to read labels on everything they buy. Maybe they can not afford to buy anything organic or do not have access to fresh foods. There is nothing wrong with that. You have to pick your battles and prioritize what you consider to be important for you both you and your family. For me, our diet is a major priority. It is very important to me.

A couple of years ago, diet was barely a blip on my radar. My entire house was processed. My cleaners were all store bought. I had an entire storage bin filled with OTC medications and prescriptions for everything that a household can possibly come into contact with or need. It was not until I was in ICU for 10 days that my diet became a priority for me. Both my oldest daughters developed health issues at the same time I was in ICU. I began to research foods and the roles they play in our bodies. I began to change our diet one thing at a time. The more I saw improvements, the more I researched, the more I changed things in our home. The more I changed, the more our health improved. For us, it became a priority.

3 Bite Rule

I am sure you have all heard of the whole 1 bite rule that many parents implement. It is also referred to as the “No Thank You Bite”. For those that have not, it is basically where the child has to eat 1 bite of each thing on their plate before they are allowed to say “No Thank You” and stop eating. The 1 bite rule did not work for us with Reine at all. I watched as she put a bite of food in her mouth, chewed it up, spit it out and said No Thank You! She would be starving within an hour, demanding food again. Her food world was shrinking down to almost nothing. I realized that I could not let that happen. I decided to implement a 3 bite rule. Basically Reine has to eat at least 3 bites of everything on her plate before she can be done.  Let me tell you, Reine was not impressed with this when we first started the rule. There were meltdowns of epic proportions. Standoffs at the table. Battle of wills between us and Reine. But, I stood my ground. By having Reine eat 3 bites of everything on her plate, she filled her stomach. She usually is not hungry again within an hour, unless she is having a growth spurt. I make sure that what she is eating is nutritionally packed.

Sous Chef

I am firm believer that kids belong in the kitchen. All of my kids help prep and cook. They have since they were about 18 months old. In my opinion, the more involved with their food they are, the more they will eat what they create.

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Consistency Of Food 

I hear all the time, “My child can not stand the consistency of XYZ food.” from people. I get that one. Seriously I do. Reine has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). She does have issues with textures of food. She is also 5 years old. Her tastes change daily. Seriously, she can not get enough of one thing one day and can’t stand it the next. I myself, can not stand the consistency of some foods. Shredded wheat is not my friend. Avocados and oysters are putrid to me. Yet, I continue to try recipes with them in it.

My point is to keep trying the foods in various recipes and forms. You may not like something in one recipe or with a certain spice or seasoning, but love it in another recipe with a different spice or seasoning. Reine’s palate has been expanded exponentially. It did not happen overnight, but it did happen. She is now a fan of salads, mushrooms, shrimp, oysters, salmon, cod, tuna, cucumber, “flat” and “gambled” eggs, hamburgers, steak, chicken, all kinds of fruits and veggies. Her list truly goes on and on. Most nights she eats everything on her plate.

Gluten and Dairy

While this is not true of everyone on the spectrum, Reine does not have any kind of intolerance to gluten or dairy. I am not in denial or delusional. Yes, I have been told that and called that. Not everyone on the spectrum has issues with gluten and dairy. And yes, Reine has been tested by her GI specialist. He had to rule out dairy and gluten intolerance when she was being diagnosed with CVS. I do not believe in removing gluten, dairy, etc if there are no signs of intolerance or just because it is the newest fad going around.

Snacks

I do not buy junk foods very often. When I do actually buy them, they are gone within about 24 hours. It is a very special treat for us. I am a strong believer that if it is not in the house, you can not eat it. Finding my keys, loading 2 kids and our Service Dog In Training into my truck, just to buy a bag of chips….yea, look for that.

My kids LOVE their snacks. Especially Reine. I make sure that what they snack on is just as important as the meals they eat. We put Reine’s snacks in half pint mason jars. She is able to pick out what snacks she wants and they are in the perfect portion size for her. There is no wasting of food and the snacks are nutritious.

Some of the snacks my kids eat….

  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Plain Greek yogurt maple syrup (sometimes fruit)
  • Cheese
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Popcorn
  • Veggies
  • Hummus (Reine eats it with a spoon!)
  • Whole milk
  • Oatmeal
  • Dried fruits
  • Oatmeal bars
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Veggie muffins
  • Egg muffins

Vitamins and Supplements
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Reine does not take any vitamins or supplements. Actually no one in my home does. Reine gets tested regularly for vitamin and mineral deficiencies by her doctors and specialists. She was lucky enough to inherit my Compound MTHFR.  Because the body has a hard time absorbing Vit B and Folate, supplements are usually prescribed. Reine’s level for both the Vit B and Folate were perfect without supplementation.

At Reine’s last visit with her Developmental Pediatrician, she was reviewing test results from recent blood work ordered by Reine’s other specialists and doctors. She was in awe of the results. She kept asking me if Reine was on supplements or vitamins. When I told her no, she asked when we stopped taking them. I told her we never took them in the first place. Next she asked if Reine was taking supplements while being tested. I once again told her that we do not take supplements or vitamins. She was amazed with the results of the tests. She once again commented on the diet that Reine eats.

Probiotics  

Reine does not take commercial probiotics. Just like with vitamins and supplements, no one in my family touches them. We eat fermented foods, dark chocolate, plain Greek yogurt, and other all natural probiotics on a daily basis to help our guts stay healthy. If we have to take an antibiotic, we double or triple the amount of all natural probiotics to help restore the bacterial balance in our guts.

Cleaning and Chemicals 

In addition to the diet, we also stopped using commercial cleaners, scented candles, plug ins, Fe-breeze type sprays in our home. Using vinegar, water, and essential oils to clean almost everything with instead. What we can not get clean with the vinegar solution, we use baking soda, peroxide, and citrus to do the job. Our laundry detergent is also homemade.

I love smelly good stuff like candles. When I gave up the fake scented stuff, I began to diffuse essential oils in a diffuser instead. We have diffusers all over our home. We just trade up the scents to what ever we want. I no longer use wicked candles at this time. I use battery powered candles. Reine and lit candles scare me.
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Even my “perfume”, body scrubs, lotions, and deodorant are all natural.

Mermaid Sensory Blanket

My Mom In Law, is an AMAZING seamstress and quilter. She surprised us this weekend with a busy sensory quilt for our amazing little autistic mermaid, unlike anything I have ever seen before. The amount of time, planning, creativeness, thought, talent, and love that went into this quilt is undeniable. I can not thank her enough for taking the time to create this one of a kind incredible quilt.

The quilt as a whole, is made with an underwater scene that anyone that is obsessed with mermaids can’t help but love. The back of the quilt is a maroon corduroy material. This will help with both durability and stains as well as giving yet another texture for our sensory seeker. The front of the quilt has pockets in different materials, sizes, and shapes. Each pocket has a different closure, such as velcro, snaps, buckles, or zippers. Everything on the quilt is secured with satin type ribbons that allow for easy detangling. And yes, Reine has already spent time some time untangling the ribbons. She has also twisted, “braided” and wrapped the ribbons into patterns. There is even a ruler for her measure things with on the quilt. One of the mermaids had to be replaced almost immediately as her tail was only held on by two tiny plastic nubs which broke off. Reine willingly donated a brand new “baby” mermaid from her collection to the quilt.

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Watching Reine explore all the pockets and things hidden throughout the quilt was truly priceless! Her smile and expressions say it all. I have decided that this quilt will stay in my truck for Reine to play with. We are often traveling to doctor appointments, waiting for her oldest sister to finish up at school or work, and there are times when Reine is not able to go into stores because she just way over stimulated. This will help her to wait patiently and love every minute of it.

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