Monday, August 31, 2009

Sneak in more Omega 3 & 6 with Hemp Milk

Research as well as anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that Omega 3 & 6 oils, like the naturally occuring "good" fats found in fish, can promote and enhance brain developement and function.

In fact there are plenty of remarkable stories out there about improvements for kids with autism, preemies and, of course, kids with speech delays.

A naturapathic doctor suggested we try it but warned me of cheap fish oils that may be contaminated with mercury. She suggested I go with a reputable, high quality brand like Nordic Naturals.

But what do you do when your picky eating kid won't take the oil even in those snazzy little fruit flavored gel caps?

Hemp Milk. Living Harvest Hemp Milk contains 800 mg of Omega 3 and 2,600 mg of Omega 6 in each 8 oz serving. It is also a good source of calcium, Vit D, B 12 and Magnesium.

With 4 times the protein per serving as Rice Milk, it is an excellent milk alternative.

Plus it is really yummy. It comes in 3 flavors: Vanilla, Chocolate and Original; sweeted and unsweeted. It is thicker than your typical soy or rice milk but has a very smooth creamy texture. Our favorite is chocolate, of course, and we cut it a little with rice milk and warm it up for a morning hot chocolate. Just delicious and not too sweet. I know he is getting his "good" fat as he is sipping it down for breakfast.

Give it a try. I can't imagine even the pickiest kid not liking it. And, even us parents could use a little more "good" fat in our diet.

Hemp Milk is an easy, painless way to make it happen.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A tribute to Paul Andreson

Too many losses this week. But, this one is very particularly personal.

A dear family friend left us today.

Funny, smart, kind, goofy, warm, solid, friendly. Paul Andreson.

My stepdad's best friend, devoted husband and father, HP Engineer, author, world traveler, baseball aficionado, "Twistine Chapel" co- designer seen annually at Burning Man.

Paul was an artist/engineer/philosopher geek before it was cool. He loved living and laughing and was incredibly funny. I will always remember his excellent mustache.

I remember being 15 and babysitting his first child when they lived in this funny little house in Wallingford, right by the freeway. My stepsister and I drank too much tea (some diet undoubtedly), raided the fridge and pinched his pot.

He was one of the first adult who talked to me like an adult. Always supportive. Encouraging. Up beat about what we were up to. Wanted to hear the stories.

After having 3 boys he had done some parenting. All great boys, men now.

When we vacationed in Hawaii a couple years back, I snuck up on them and took this picture. I wish I had a better one. But, that was paradise; good friends, good spot, good book, good beverages. He knew how to live.

My condolences go out to Debbie and boys. I know that faith helps at time like this and I am glad that you and the boys have that together.

We'll miss you Paul.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

RIP Teddy: You were one of the greats!

Today we say farewell to a true American. Ted Kennedy passes away with the cause of his life, Healthcare for all, just out of reach.

Thank you for your service to this country, Ted. You were a class act.

My thoughts and condolences go out to his family who have sacrifices so much for our great country.

His duty, concern and compassion will be sorely missed and even now inspires me to fight harder for the cause he believed in so much.

RIP Ted. You will be missed.

Blackberry picking: an allegory on life

Plan ahead. Protect yourself. Wear appropriate clothing.

Careful! Don't get too cocky! Just when you think you have snuck through safely, a thorn with get you good.

Be realistic as you reach for the attainable berries. But, when you get there, reach a little further. You may be surprised how far you can go.

You get faster with practice.

Don't only go for the most perfect or beautiful berries, the little, slightly misshapen ones are just as sweet.

A full bucket happens one berry at a time, be patient.

If you spill your bucket, have a good cry then start all over again.

Don't feel like you need to make something fancy with all these berries. Simply eating them as they are is one of the highest compliments.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Grief and coping: learning to say good bye to the child you did not have

Whether hoped and prayed for or a big old surprise, each child is a miraculous gift. Each one deserves to be wanted and loved, needs stability, kindness and understanding.

Never are we more human or dare I say mammal as when we give birth. Strong instincts takes over as we perhaps blindly rush into the life long adventure of parenting. This is not only true for birth parents; adoptive parents go through all this too and should not be excluded.

We all know how this story is supposed to go. Your darling baby boy or girl, in every way perfect, growing up, changing, developing, eventually not needing you so much, becoming strong, independent, happy people.

When we first realize that our darling bundle is different and has special needs, we are understandably terrified. Mourning that child you did not have is a necessary part of acceptance. Is it the most gut wrenching situation for a parent? Perhaps. It certainly is right up there.

The first realization is the worst and questions abound. “Will he ever be “normal”? Will we be able to mainstream him in school? Will he be teased? Will he have friendsl? Will he ever go to college, get married, have kids?” These thoughts and so many more rocket through your noggin at a dizzying pace.

Despair can set in; suddenly the sky isn’t so blue and the trees are just not as green. There is a pall over your world and family and honestly there is not much to be done. It is hard on marriages and siblings. There is a lot of self blame and guilt. Finances, patience and emotions are stretched. Depression is common.

Grieving for this child you did not have is understandable and probably just needs to happen to run its course. Although, it can last a long time. Each time you see your child next to a typically developing peer, the reality bites you hard. Another wave of grief fogs your stockpiled hope and gathered optimism. Bouncing back from that is a learned thing, only getting easier with time.

I wish I knew how to make it easier. Unfortunately, its just plain old not easy. But, we can try to be pragmatic if not completely optimistic. We can learn to be dedicated despite our fear. We can teach acceptance and tolerance to our families and our communities. We can do what ever we need to do to make our special child’s future as bright as possible and be thankful for what we have.

We can also forgive ourselves and our fate. We can learn from the challenges and revel in these uniquely beautiful children. We can learn to accept them for who they are.

There is a place in the world for each one of us, no matter what.

Movie review: Julie and Julia

Molly and I were part of the packed house last night at the Vashon Theatre for Julie & Julia. There was literally a line down the street that warmed my heart for our almost always starved theatre.

Was the movie incredable? Yes it was. Meryl Streep is some sort of chameleon and genuniely became Julia Child to the delight of the entire theatre. Uproarious laughter through the whole movie, the audience was enchanted.

I had read reviews about the Julie character being sort of insipid and just taking screen time away from Streep. Well, #1 - It has got to be hard to go toe to toe with Streep from screen time. I mean, come on! #2 - that was her character, that is exactly how she was supposed to be. It was true story after all.

So, I thought she was great. A nice, normal, clever, slightly awkward gal who we all could relate to or recognize. Those reviewer that bitched about her were just grumpy. She was just great.

My strongest impressions were the strength and tenderness of Julia Child's marriage. It was extremely touching and quite illuminating that she married so late and was so sad about never having children. She pours her heart into her food and her cookbook ( her baby) becoming a house hold name all over the world.

The nagging thing? During the whole movie I felt guilty for not blogging more. I know, typical. I have been feeling guilty about it and this movie drove it home.

Would I recommend the movie? Yes. But, be prepared to want to make something fancy for dinner afterward.

Molly and I are going out today to try and find Julia Child's famous book. This movie has cemented the idea in her head that she wants to be a pasty chef when she grows up.

For me, it has cemented the fact that I need to try a new recipe every once in a while.

Success and optimism all around.

Bon apetit!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Back to school: look for PVC-free school supplies

Keep your eyes open for PVC-free labeling this year as you shop for back to school supplies. It turns out that polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is a major source of phthalates, the same dangerous plastic softeners that was successfully banned from children's toys last year!

Phthalates have been banned in children's toys, but they're still legal in PVC school supplies our children come in contact with on a daily basis. Phthalates harm children's health and development by interfering with natural hormone functioning and have been linked to birth defects in baby boys, testicular cancer, liver problems and early onset of puberty in girls-a risk factor for later-life breast cancer.

Thanks go to Momrising for all this really great information! They are promoting a campaign to push for legislation to ban PVC use in children's school supplies. You can sign the petition here.

Many children's school supplies, such as lunchboxes, backpacks and binders, can be made out of PVC-a toxic plastic that is dangerous to our health and the environment. PVC contains dangerous chemical additives including phthalates, lead, cadmium, and/or organotins, which can be toxic to your child's health. These toxic additives can leach out or evaporate into the air over time posing unnecessary dangers to children. Evidence is mounting about the health risks of PVC, why would we put it in school supplies?

Children are at risk from even small exposures to these toxic chemicals. That's why it's important to tell manufacturers and retailers we want PVC-free school supplies.

Here's some school supply shopping tips you can start using today:

  • PVC Labeling: PVC products are often labeled with the words "vinyl" on the packaging, such as vinyl 3-ring binders. PVC can also be identified by looking for the number "3" inside, or the letters "V" or "PVC" underneath, the universal recycling symbol. Just remember, bad news comes in #3's, so don't buy PVC!
  • Backpacks and lunch boxes: Avoid backpacks with shiny plastic designs as they often contain PVC and may contain lead. I checked with both LLBean and Landsend all their backpacks and lunchboxes are PVC free..
  • Art Supplies: Modeling clays are often loaded with phthalates. Look for clays made without PVC and phthalates like Crayola Air-Dry clay.
  • Notebooks: Avoid notebooks containing metal spirals encased in colored plastic. The colored plastic coating on the metal spirals usually contains PVC. Select notebooks with uncovered metal spirals to avoid PVC.
  • Paper Clips: Stick to the plain metal paperclips. Colored paper clips are coated with PVC.
  • Shoes: Crocs are PVC free, however many similar shoes (or 'knockoffs"), like the Kamid Doodle, are made with PVC. Many of the charms for Crocs are also made with PVC. All Nike, Puma, and L.L. Bean shoes are PVC free.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blackberries; vicious and delicious

Being a NW native had made me a better than average blackberry picker. Despite it's vicious nature, the fruit is sublime and it really isn’t summer until we have gathered, gorged and froze as much as possible. Tending the wounds of another season all the way.

NW Blackberry picking method:

First, you need to cultivate the blackberry patch as they first ripen. Pick that one berry on the cluster and come back in a day or two. It triggers all the others to ripen and sends energy into berry production and you get bigger, fatter berries further in the season.

This is not for the easy to reach blackberryies that just happen to be arms reach from the path. This is bush whacking, x-treme berry picking and not for the faint of heart.

Tools needed:

* Good quality, solid, wide shoes: Keens are perfect
* Long pants and long sleeves - * optional, depending on your risk level
* Smallish buckets, like large yogurt tubs

The trick is to get those hard to reach, way back there berries. Here is where my big shoes come in! Find a cane that is reaching out toward you, lift your leg clear and STOMP that cane, continue STOMPING all along until you have pinned that whole section to the ground. This will exposed all sorts of previously hard to reach berries while also getting the needle sharp thorns away. I know this sounds scary and it is if you do not have good shoes but they just aren’t so vicious pinned to the ground and once stomped, it will easier the next time.


What to do with all these fabulous hard won berries? Eat them, of course. Just plain pop them in your mouth or sprinkled them on cereal. Blackberry milkshakes get high summer marks around here.

Or cook with them. Blackberry pancakes crumble, muffins, cobbler, pie – all tried and true winners.

Or maybe you have so many that you want to preserve them in jam, but I have find freezing to be the easiest.

Wash and drain berries. Line large cookie sheet with paper towel. Sprinkler berries so they cover the sheet in one layer. Put into freezer. This makes sure the berries individually freeze. Store in

Invasive species

The Himalayan blackberry was an introduced species that has adapted so well to the NW that it is considered invasive. Ask anyone who has ever tried to get rid of it and they will attest to its vicious personality and well armed canes. Although it is very hard to get rid of, they are ok to good for the soil and if you can finally clear them out you will be pleasantly surprised with the rich soil underneath.

Don't even try Roundup on these monsters and poisin is never a good idea. Big machines and tractors are good. And, there is, of course, back breaking labor. You may be are interested in letting some animals do it.

Rent-a-ruminent a local company that will visit your blackberry, scotchbroom, ivy patch and unleash the power of goats to clean up. If you got to get rid of them, this is the way to do it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

OMG! could this be true?


Preserve Our Islands has just learned that WE HAVE WON the Federal Court case against the Army Corps of Engineers!

Federal Agencies were in violation of the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

The permits have been remanded back to the Federal Agencies who will now be required to perform a FULL EIS as well as a lengthy and detailed formal consultation done by actual biologists, on the purposed projects impacts to the endangered Orcas and Chinook.

And, most significantly no final permit decision and NO WORK can be performed until these reviews are performed.

Tears of joy!


From the Seattle Times this morning!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009


I caught Shea piddling into the milk box on our front porch.

A discussion ensued.

Enough said.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Slumber-riffic 11th!

The magnificent Miss Molly's birthday is tomorrow and tonight we are having a slumber party. 7 young ladies including Molly will descend on the house this evening after working up an excellent pizza appetite at the skate park.

We are making build your own pizzas, fruit salad and having cake and ice-cream here. Then there is henna tattoos, make your own t-shirts, movies and popcorn to keep the evening lively.

I have sent Jake off to visit a friend, to have a little male bonding time so I can "like totally" hang with the girls. Or not, whatever they want.

Whether or not, I am here to cut cake and make popcorn, splooge henna goo out onto hands, wrists and ankles. Tomorrow I will rise and make a tower of pancakes. The 10 grain kind that Molly never really gets to have anymore because of Shea's wheat intolerance.

11 years ago right this minute? I was 1 week over due and just going into labor.

I would make the trip to Swedish at about 8:00 PM where the triage nurse informed me, "Honey, you aren't even dialated."

Back home labor kicked into gear with a vengence as Jake and I bucked it by ourselves until about 1:30 AM when we went back to Swedish. By that time, I was way dilated and too far gone to get the jacuzzi tub, I always remember being annoyed at that.

But, then I pushed and pushed all night but she was OP and wouldn't budge. I tried long and hard but by 9:00 they had an operating theatre open and I said, "Get this kid out of me. Thank you very much!!" Emergency C-section for me.

Then there she was. Her forhead red from smacking into my pelvic bone all night. Already hollering as they pulled her out of the secret trap door. Jake was a little green from watching the incision and the moving around of my guts. Weirdest feeling in the world? Yes.

Someone holds her up for me to see her and she is moving her fingers rhythmically, fan like back and forth gracefully in the air. I have never seen anything more beautiful in my life.

I knew immediately that she was going to be the most beautiful, funny, vivacious girl I had ever known. And, that is exactly who she is.

Happy Birthday Molly!

I love you!

Poetry blogging: Block head

“A writer’s block is in his head.”

The famous Sigmund Freud has said.

But I’m annoyed with Dr. Fraud

for now we’re left to fill the void.

The void is vast, it’s wide and deep

It keeps me up, it haunts my sleep.

Burst worst of all this, wretched void

has left the author unemployed.

So if you’re head has got a block,

Remember that its not a rock.

It isn’t either made of stone,

Alas you’re head is only bone.

Jake II ‘09

Potty training; is this it?

All has been rosy on the potty training front and I realize I haven't given an update lately.

Shea is a big boy now. He wears underwear MOST of the time and is getting that he can point his willy and pee outside. I never thought that had to be learned. I always thought little boys just knew that innately.

I have said ridiculous things like, "Hey Shea. You can point it like a fire hose!" Huh? But, he is getting it now.

Yesterday was our traditional Bubble lady day. He does not wear a pull up during the days anymore although in the car I bring the potty chair just in case.

We took a little pre-session walk in the this neighborhood pocket park with trails where Shea almost completely didn't pee on himself. A little wet but proud we headed into have his Speech appointment.

Afterward we were getting ready to go and Shea said, "Mom. Gotta go. Come help."

Sure enough, under his own volition, he parked himself on Bubbles toilet and took care of #2. I gave him a little wipe and he was on his way.

Slightly stunned Bubble and I were rooting and cheering but it appeared that Shea didn't need that. He's got it down. He doesn't need a cheering section anymore apparently.

So, all is rosy happiness here. The thing I had been worrying about for a LONG time is finally happening. 5 to 5 1/2 is a fine time to be potty trained, right before Kindergarten.

Funny how worrying just doesn't make anything happen any faster. Some things are on their own schedule.

So, now I worry about if he will be able to get his pants down and up all alone. But, for now it's summer and I am still celebrating.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Swim lessons: highs and lows

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

Basically, swim lessons for Shea this year have been great. The teachers and patient and supportive and know that he needs a little bit extra; communication, focus and time.

All and all it has been good but today...not so much.

You know, a lot of this has to do with personality styles. And, trust me, I know what can work with Shea.

Do you push hard and nag and force? No. My kid is the most stubborn little critter I have ever encountered. I am sure the instructor thought that she was just being persistent but it got out of hand.

So what do you do? Do you get wily and creative and use reverse psychology? Yes, and every other trick in the book. This shouldn't be rocket science, right? I mean they only have to deal with him for half and hour. I get the rest of the time!

The swim instructor this morning was berating him for not putting his face in the water and would not let it go.

I had to say, from the side of the pool, "He has never put his face in the water and is, in fact, pretty scared of it." Somehow I doubt if he was inclined to try with that sort of technique.

Actually pretty annoying to have to explain that to an instructor who is teaching level 1 swimming. Hello?

I could tell he just was checking out and just wanted to swim by himself but, you know, I paid for these blasted lessons and you sort of want your kid to be able to soldier on.

Well, he did. But, I don't think I could take it again.

Sometimes it just doesn't work.

Sometimes he is better of on his own.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back to school: time to revisit the IEP?

I know it's only August but school is just around the corner. Each new school year bring new teachers, friends and experiences for all our kids’ especially kids with special needs.

Although the formal IEP meeting happens around your child's birthday, a special parent can request a meeting to revisit the IEP at any time.

Yes! That is correct. At any time!

So, as the school year begins to crank up, don't be shy about asking to revisit the IEP. Many things can happen over the summer; new developments, behavioral issues, allergies, new strategies and ideas from the child's specialists. Or you as a parent might just need reassurance that new members of the team are in sync with the goals.

Don't be afraid to contact your child's case manager and ask for an IEP update meeting. As always when dealing with anyone on your child's treatment team, be gracious and polite but be firm. Do not get angry. Be clear about why you want to have the meeting. And, if it is necessary, continue to say that you have the right to revisit the IEP at any time.

The goal is whatever is best for your child. You are your child's strongest advocate so be strong and actively participate.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The real reason? you are an expert

I just love this trend toward micro-news. You know, the little people report from the trenches so that the rest of us get to know what it is like.

Good news: now I am officially one of the little people.

If you haven't stumbled across it yet, is a relatively new national website designated into states/cities /locals. Each city/area has experts in...pretty much everything, from sports equipment, restaurant and food to Special Needs parenting.

We are still working on my title but I am going to be something like the Seattle Special Needs Parenting Examiners and I sure hope you come and visit me.

And, the thing is; you can do it too! They are actively recruiting new examiners in every city/state/location and you (excellent blogging mommys that visit me here) are an expert in your own right! Plus you can make money doing this!

So, check out your city/state/locale and the many different catagories and if it sounds good - Go for it! But, let them know I referred you, they will send me $50.

The process isn't super easy but they are looking for serious people. Once you have gone through the process and prove you are serious, they are very helpful and supportive.

Give it a shot, blogger moms. Let's share the knowledge!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Shea: almighty destructo boy

In the span of a few days, I have marveled aloud about how wonderful it is that Shea is 5. He is so much more independent, will play happily by himself, decides what he would like to do, eat, watch and likes it, can motor around in the pool (with the floaty vest) and not need elbow to elbow supervision. Suddenly he doesn't seem as needy. He's 5!

And, then, I turn my head.

Today, somehow he found a can of blue paint. House paint. From the addition.

WTF? He pried off the lid and managed to paint all over the back deck, front porch and siding before I saw what was up and had a mini coronary. Sure enough, blue paint ALL OVER THE PLACE!

I wish this was a unique situation. But, a pattern has developed recently.

First I noticed the book destruction. Now, to an avid reader, book destruction is right up there with facism and crazy cults that tell you what to do. How could my child destroy books? But, he does and quite efficiently. I find the tell tale signs, little pieces of pages, covers, front pages all over the floor. It isn't that he doesn't like them but almost that he loves them to pieces... a lot of pieces.

"Hm." my addled mommy brain muses as I pick up the mess. Yet again.

What is this? It's like he is a puppy and when he is bored and there is no one around to tell him "NO!" he will eat the couch. It isn't out of malice. It is out of boredom and youthful exuberance.

So, if that is true, how can I blame him that much. Isn't it my fault that I wasn't watching? Isn't it my fault that I haven't kept him super busy 100% of the day? Isn't it? Huh?

Sigh. That is what I say to myself, when I am hollering and then as if on cue, feeling bad about hollering.

Hey! But at least he didn't paint the inside the house with any blue paint. Maybe because we had already yelled at him about doing anything to the inside walls.

Maybe we are getting somewhere.
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