Sunday, January 30, 2011

Third week

We have now finished three complete weeks of the therapy for H.  Her attitude toward homework has gone back to what it was before we ever started the therapy.  She does not like it and I have to force her to do each subject.  I do not need to sit right by her for every math problem, but she does need to say each out loud in order to stay focused.  The one area in which I have seen a definate improvement is her short term recall.  We do an exercise where I say a series of numbers and she says them back, or I show her a series of numbers and then she must say them back.  She started out only being able to do 5 or 6 numbers in a series accurately, and she is now up to 6 or 7.

We are continuing to do the hour worth of exercises each day.  The therapist would ideally like us to do all the exercises twice a day, but I don't see how I can do that and still let her play with her friends or do extracurricular activities like scouts or science club.  We see the therapist in two and a half weeks, and it will be interesting to hear how much H. has improved at that time.

Protein Muffins

Okay, here is our favorite muffin recipe.  We use this for breakfast, snacks, and desserts.  From all of the eggs it has alot of protein.  From the pureed fruit or squash it has some nutrients.  You can change around the fruit/squash you use, and try adding various spices like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.  We haven't had a bad batch yet!  And if you want to save dirty dishes, you can mix it all up in a blender (if you do this blend the liquids, then add the dry ingredients and blend them as well).

3 eggs
2 Tablespoons milk
2 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons molasses
1/4 Cup applesauce or some fruit/squash puree
1/3 Cup buckwheat flour
1/3 Cup white rice flour (this is found in the mexican isle in my grocery store; if you use Bob's Red Mill flours you want the sweet white rice flour)
1/4 Cup nut flour (optional) (this can be almond flour, hazelnut flour, or pecan flour)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend the eggs, milk, and molasses in a bowl.  In other bowl mix the dry ingredients and add them to the egg mixture.  Lastly melt the butter and mix it in.  Pour into mini muffin tins and bake at 400 degrees Farenheit for 15 minutes (we found the muffins tended to stick to the tin if we used regular sized muffin tins).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gluten Free nutritious brownies

This is my first time attempting the Go-Ahead-Honey-Its-Gluten-Free Challenge started by Naomi at Straight into bed cake free and dried.  This month it is being hosted by Lauren at Celiac Teen and she chose the theme of a January Calendar Holiday.  This was a hard challenge, mostly because of the multitude of choices!  January is national oatmeal month, soup month, slow cooking month, and has several chocolate days.  My favorite comfort foods fall into these catagories.  But after much debating, chocolate won (again).  These brownies are my take on the Sneaky Chef brownies by Missy Lapine.  They have never failed, and I don't feel guilty letting my kids eat them.  One note though: since we don't eat much sugar we enjoy these brownies with less sugar than alot of people.  If you like things sweet, you may want to double the sugar in the recipe.

Gluten Free nutritious brownies
6 Tablespoons butter
3/4 Cup bittersweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup purple puree (we call it chocolate enhancer to keep the kids from getting suspicious)
1/4 Cup oat flour
1/4 Cup sorghum flour (note: you can also use ground up rice chex here)
2 Tablespoons ground flax
1Tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler.  Let it cool.  In the meantime mix the eggs, vanilla, sugar, puree.  Fold the chocolate into the egg mixture.  In a separate bowl mix the flours, flax, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  Mix this into the wet ingredients.  Pour all of this into a greased 9x9 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 min.

Purple puree:
3Cups spinach, cooked 10 minutes
1 1/2 Cups blueberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3-4 Tablespoons water
Blend all of this together.  Freeze it in 1/4 Cup portions in muffin tins, then for convenience place all the portions in one big ziplock bag.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The second week

We are now slightly past two full weeks.  The second week started well and ended in disaster.  Just like the first week, throughout the first six days of the second week we noticed H. focusing better and copying words down correctly.  Homework was not the struggle it usually was.  However on Saturday a well meaning relative let H. have a lemonade.  A large lemonade.  From Chick-Fil-A.  One glass of Chick-Fil-A lemonade has 23 grams of sugar.  That's about 5-6 teaspoons of sugar.  Needless to say, she was bouncing off the walls the rest of that day, couldn't sit still at Sunday school the next day, and forgot things at school on Monday.  However the worst part happened Monday night at homework time.  She constantly said she "couldn't do it" or lied and said it was all done when it wasn't.  When I wouldn't give in to what she wanted (and no, I wasn't forcing her to do homework constantly) she worked herself into hysteria.  We had 2 solid hours of her sobbing.  It was awful.

Today is now Wednesday.  Tuesday night was a bit more normal.  She was able to get through most of her work, though she had to move constantly.  I am hoping tonight will be even better.  This is why we avoid sugar!

Before I finish with this post, I want to explain our sugar policy with H.  We allow her to have some foods sweetened with molasses or honey during the week (as you will see in some of my recipes soon).  But if she is given any candy or cupcakes at school, she is supposed to bring it home in a ziplock bag and save it for Friday night.  For the most part, she obeys the rule.  We have come up with several "desserts" that she enjoys that take the place of sweets.  She loves toast with cinnamon on top, she loves pizza slices, and she loves the protein muffins I make (more about that later).  She has developed tastebuds that now consider alot of foods "too sweet".  But tempt her with a lemonade or ice cream and all bets are off :-(

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The first week

A note: we have actually already been on the therapy program for slightly over two weeks.  But I am going to write this first entry from the prespective that I had at the end of the first week.
We have finished the first week.  It has gone much better than I expected.  We saw the therapist for an initial four hour session.  During that time she discovered that H. has a problem with her balance, she does not crawl normally (I never would have noticed either of these until she pointed them out), her short term memory is not functioning at as high of a level as a normal 8 yr old, and she does not stay focused (that I could have told her).  I had previously determined that 1 hr of exercises per day were all that I thought I could do and still give H. some free unstructured play time each day (since she also has school and homework).  So the therapist gave us a bunch of exercises to do, most lasting only 5 minutes. Listening to a book on tape for 15 min in her right ear only and listening to Mozart for 15 minutes are the two longer lasting exercises we have to do.  Another exercise is giving H. a deep pressure massage every day-my hands have begun to ache from the unaccustomed exercise.  Probably her least favorite exercise is the 5 minutes of crawling; she finds it boring.  However she has been doing them with at least reasonable good will.  There have been several days that we did not get to one or another of the exercises.  I have decided not to stress over it and to just do the best I can.

What has surprised me is that I can see a change in H. already.  She is doing better at copying down words  correctly at school and is doing better at focusing on her homework.  Normally I have to sit right beside her and practically keep my finger on whatever math problem she is doing in order to keep her even semi on track.  But the last few days she has been sitting down and doing them with little help from me.  Now I know this therapy is not supposed to show any affects for months at best.  So I doubt this change in behavior is due to the therapy directly.  Being a scientist, I am inclined to call it a placebo effect.  Being an engineer, my husband calls it the change in management effect (make any change and production will go up simply because the employees know you are watching).  Whatever the cause, it is a welcome change!  I hope it lasts.


A beginning

Let me start this blog by mentioning that I am not a writer.  In school my least favorite activity was writing essays.  I have unsuccessfully started a journal probably twenty to thirty times.  I am also a private person who does not like to talk about my life to people I do not intimately know.  So why am I writing a blog?  There are two main reasons.

The primary reason is my daughter, H.  She has ADHD, with occassionaly hallucinations thrown in.  She is a bright, loving, delightful person.  But she does not fit into the model that works well in schools.  We noticed a problem in kindergarten, but it wasn't until the first grade that the teachers said anything.  Second grade was when they wanted us to put her on medication.  We did, against our better judgement, for 6 months because we were desperate.  The medication "worked" for about a month, then her body adapted and the side effects remained while the positive effects disappeared.  The thing we hated most about the medicine was how  much it depressed her personality.  So we stopped the medicine and started searching for something else.  A while later, and desperate to the point of considering medicine again, we providentially found a therapist specializing in neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity?  What is that?  According to what I have learned, it diagnoses (by watching the child) areas in the brain that did not develop normally.  Then the parents are given exercises to do at home that will help the brain rework those faulty connections so that everything works more normally.  Honestly, it sounded a bit unusual and risky.  But a friend whom I trust had been through the program and it worked wonders for her son.  So we decided to give it a try.

So this blog is mostly to let you walk through the process with us.  If it works, I am hoping this blog will help more people discover this option.  I am sure there are other parents out there who would like to help their child either to use less medicine or to use none at all.

I mentioned there are two reasons that I am starting this blog.  The second one deals with my love of cooking.  I have celiac sprue, and H. is very sensitive to sugar so we try to keep her away from it without feeling deprived.  These two issues make cooking a fun challenge in our house.  I will occasionally post recipes that work for us.  You might also find an occasional book suggestion since I am an avid reader as well.

I hope you find this blog interesting, entertaining, and helpful!