Find Out What Jen Finds

My journey on the spectrum of life … and the lessons I learn along the way …
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about Moods (part 2): natural relief is simple

  • August 22, 2012 2:51 pm

Finding relief from my moods naturally has been very simple. However, Simple is hard to do in an overly complex world. Simple is also much slower than I’d like, especially in today’s “microwave” world where we can’t go/do/think/talk/play/eat fast enough. Simple is really more like a crock-pot: Get your stuff together, have Patience, reap your reward with something that brings great Pleasure. I think the difference in the processes is that the former has Pleasure in mind first – before I’ve had time to Get my Stuff Together. And forget about Patience! Make me to wait for my Pleasure and I might have to give you a piece of my mood – despite the fact that “you” might be an inanimate object. Sound familiar? (please say yes.)

In the latter process, the Pleasure or Joy truly is a reward because even though we know how yummy and tender a crock-pot meal will be when we set out to make it, we still beam with Excitement when we cut into the meat and it falls apart, we moan with Joy when that first bite just melts in our mouths. The Patience part can still be hard for some of us who are tempted by the aroma, but we know that it will be worth the wait once it’s ready (plus it’s still uncooked – gross).

Mood relief has definitely been a crock-pot process – much longer for me, so my hope is that I can shorten the process time for others. But it does take time. I was on the “culprit” medication for 3 years. I am giving myself 3 years to be off of it for me to expect to be back to “normal” (after that I just might lose my Patience!). I have about 8 months to go!! But I already feel more and more like my old self every day for the last 6 months! I speak in terms of detoxing off a prescription, but the fact to remember is that my moods began before meds (thus the “need” for meds). But with the research I’ve done and the experiences I’ve had, I’m confident that I’m on the right path to healing and have put The Brothers on the right path to health. I still learn something new everyday, but everything seems to be flowing in the same directions and I can’t wait to slow-cook these bad moods right out of my life!

So let me just tell you the answer first, and then backup and detail the solutions that might also work for you like they have worked for us.

Consider the following cycle:

Mood Cycle

(That’s an original Google Drawing right there, folks. Be impressed. I might copyright it, so don’t go stealing it without sharing my blog with 10 people. Or buying 10 copies of my future book that I promise to write one day.)

This is truly a cycle and it can be either positive or negative. And depending on circumstances can be a downward spiral. Bad Day –> Bad Choices –> Bad Food –> Bad Mood –> Impulsive Choices –> Impulsive Eating –> Impulsive Beliefs (Fear) –> Wimpy Feeling –> keep–> spiraling –> down –> ward –> until –> you –> burn –> out.

It’s hard to pinpoint where on this cycle we enter. The tricky part is that “Choices” can involve both mental AND physical. First you think it, then you do it. But “Choices” can also involve neither. For instance, you don’t have an opinion on a topic, therefore you might be complacent. And “Choices” can also just involve one of the two. Like, you don’t think before you act. Or, you think about it all the time, and never make a move. I believe it really depends on our Habits because our Habits are like our masters that we blindly obey. Mental Habits are automatic thoughts/associations (like I think YUM when I hear the word “chocolate”) while Physical Habits are automatic actions (like I put my keys on my desk when I come home (in theory)).

Instinctively, I want to jump from “Choices” directly to “Mood/Attitudes/Beliefs” (perhaps a bad Habit?). I tell myself, “I just need to get over it. God has given me so many blessings, why can’t I just buck up and appreciate them? From now on, I CHOOSE to be happy/joyful/thankful/fill-in-the-blank. And to celebrate my new great attitude, I think I’ll sit on the couch and eat some of this comfort food over here so it won’t be so painful.”  Sound familiar? (please say yes.) Wrong direction, Jen! Derailing! Back it up!

What doesn’t seem intuitive me, but I’m quickly learning to be true, is that if I direct my Good Choices in the direction of what I do for my Body, my Mind follows suit, naturally. And something about the natural flow of that soothes my Soul. Bottom line, we must take better care to nourish our bodies. Maybe even, I daresay, make it a higher priority than nourishing our minds. Because when we nourish our bodies, we give life to our minds. It’s hard to nourish a dead mind…in my opinion, at least.

The good news is that we can make a U turn at Choices whenever we want (and as often as we need to) and get going in the proper direction. Good Choices –> Good Food –> Good Mood –> Better Choices –> Healthier Body –> Healthier Mind –> Healthier Spirit –> Stronger Person!!

In upcoming posts, while I’m sharing some strategies that are working for us, I’d also like to debunk some myths about nourishment. I know from our experience, nourishment is not hard to find and it doesn’t break our budget – two common concerns I hear from others. I’d like to share how we find our food and how we afford it. What are some other myths or obstacles that hold you back from taking better care of your body? Please share your comments and feedback!

about Fun: fun trumps hard work

  • June 19, 2012 10:34 am

So yesterday I was informed by The Brothers that last year, Summer Homeschool was more fun than this year. Bummer.

Every summer, me and the boys do a little homeschooling in the mornings for 2 hours a few days a week. It keeps them structured, and it helps me work on skills they struggled with during the school year while reinforcing their other skills to reduce regression when the school year begins. This is particularly helpful because the transition is such a stressful time (for all of us) that their energy is freed up to only wig out about the socialization, instead of wigging out about that AND academic skills.

When we first started, these “academic” skills were more like OT – cutting/drawing on the line, gluing things together without a freak-out, yoga and calming-strategies, etc. But last summer, we actually worked on writing and reading and math, etc.

Sounds real fun doesn’t it? I like to think I made it fun since I’m pretty fun and all…

This past school year, their teachers had no suggestions on skills they needed to be working on. Not even social skills or anger management! #proudmama

So I thought I would make Summer Homeschool more “fun” this year (obviously only by my definition). We still write and read and do flashcards, but I added a Character Building unit. I got tools from various places and people, but have based it on the Fruit of the Spirit in Galations 5:22-23. The thing is that they have loved everything about the unit. The worksheets, the Bible study, the videos, the “crafts” (its just coloring and cutting – The Younger should teach the crafts portion. He has more artsy genes than all of us put together!), and especially the music! So I was really scratching my head on this one. We haven’t been as hard core on the writing and math this summer. As a matter of fact, I felt like I was too diligent last summer on academics and resolved to be a little more laid back this time around.

So what did I do differently last summer that was sooooo fun?

I found out that it wasn’t what we did during school hours that captivated them. It was what we did after we dismissed. We had a Cooking Class (that was code for “lunch”). They helped me make lunch and they would write down the recipes. Nothing fancy. Sandwiches, spaghetti, “good meat” and rice (will post that recipe another day). Some days, I would give them a “test” and they would have to make the rice all by themselves (rice + water + rice cooker).

I learned that it didn’t matter how much I drilled them last summer or how hard they worked to try to figure out that analog clock nonsense. What they remembered, and ultimately labeled the entire program, was the fun they had making a mess in the kitchen together. Therefore, this morning I announced that we would start school with Cooking Class today and they got to vote for what they wanted to learn to make.

The verdict…Breakfast Casserole…

This made me a little nervous because I “hide” good-for-you stuff in this recipe and secretly put onions in it even though they swear up and down they hate onions. But it worked out!  We had a nice brunch (with leftovers) and now we are off to the pool!

And so “fun” has been reinstated into the curriculum!  Maybe now I can pull out those flashcards without feeling like a math nazi.

how we made our Breakfast Casserole

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Allow me to translate…

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1. Fry 2-3 strips of turkey bacon and set aside.  (Since we use uncured turkey bacon, we have to add a little coconut oil to get it to brown and look like bacon and produce bacon grease.)

2, 3, 4. Finely chopped 1/2 an onion and saute in the bacon grease until translucent.

5. Add 2-3 cups hash brown potatoes and brown.

6. Cut the 3-4 bread slices to fit the bottom of a casserole dish. Ours is from Pamela’s gluten-free bread mix.
(The Elder added Step #7 in his notes: Eat Extra Bread).

8-12. In a bowl, beat 4-5 eggs with about 1/4 cup milk (we used unsweetened coconut milk), salt, garlic powder, and any dehydrated/powdered veggies you want to hide (today it was “spinach” – code for anything green).

13. Crumble bacon (we cut into strips with shears)

14. Layer the potato/onion mix on top of the bread.

15. Layer more veggies you want to hide.

16. Layer the crumbled bacon.

17. Pour the egg mix evenly over the entire dish.

18. Top with freshly ground pepper.

19. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees oven for 20 minutes.

20. Yeah, I was the only one washing dishes here…Oh but The Younger did wipe up spilled eggs off the kickstool!

21-22. Layer cheddar cheese on top and bake an additional 5 minutes. (we used Daiya Foods Cheddar Shreds)

23. Enjoy!


Me: Do you think you’ll know how to make this on your own now?

The Elder: Yeah, now that I have the list of ingredients and the steps.

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What were we putting in our mouths?

  • November 14, 2007 8:30 pm

This is a timeline journal post.

We first learned about gluten back in June 2007 after his evaluation, but before we got the results and diagnosis. A friend of mine was telling me how her friend has a son with ADHD and had been on meds since he was 5. He told his mom “those pills make me sad.” (This is heartbreaking because think of the nonverbal kids who are on these meds, or even my verbal son who can’t describe his feelings and emotions.) He currently is 13 and takes no medication because his mom changed his diet.

So we thought, it wouldn’t hurt to try it. If I can find the picture the Hub took of everything we had to pull out of our pantry I will post it. Our counters looked like a grocery store aisle. Our whole family went on the diet. For me, it really was to support the Hub since he would benefit from this diet as well. If we could get it out of the house, we can’t cheat! Besides, if it would bring focus like it claims to, then I was all for trying it.

In September 2007, during our evaluation with the School System, the psychologist asked if we were seeing a difference in the Elder since the diet. And I really couldn’t say yes or no, because I did a poor job documenting it, so I said no. Then the Jenny McCarthy era came. And she raved about the gfcf diet. We had considered taking casein out of the diet but really dragged on that because we all looooooooooooooooooooooooooove cheese and those substitutes just aren’t the same. When Jenny said that her son’s vocabulary doubled and he become more affectionate, I started realizing that I had noticed the same thing in the Elder. So we went ahead and took the plunge and took the casein out. Macaroni and Cheese just isn’t the same, but we have finally found a great cheese.

About 6 weeks later to now, I’m seeing what I believe are the effects of removing the casein (if anyone can back me up on this based on your experience I’d be grateful) in his digestive system which seems to be getting closer to regular. He also doesn’t whine or groan as much (which might have been from tummy aches from not eliminating). He also is eating. Today I didn’t have to tell him twice to eat, nor did I have to tell him to finish. Maybe he doesn’t have the full feeling? He has been playing with his brother a lot lately, as in he would start it. His pretending has increased tenfold. His conversations are conversations and not 21 questions.

He had a little allergy episode with the classic runny nose and watery eyes. The next day I ask him, “How’s your nose?”
He checks to see if it is running and then says, “It’s better.”


To a typical family that might sound mundane, but I was mouth hanging open shocked at his response. About a week ago, this is how that conversations would have gone:
“How’s your nose?” (no answer) “Look at me because I’m asking you a question.” (darting eyes) “Is your nose better?”
Finally an answer, “Yes.”

He has learned the phrase, “Want to join us?” (and says it ALL the time. cute) And the other day he accidentally knocked the Younger down (usually it in intentional – sensory-related someone said to me) and he stopped and went back and asked him if he was OK. I feel closer to him than I ever have.

I can’t believe the progress he had made speech-wise since he’s been at the new school. He also seems calmer. He’s still having some self-control problems at school, but come-on, that is like Stimulation-Mart.

So now, on a slightly different perspective. What has this diet done to the rest of us?
For the Younger, I haven’t really seen a difference. He’s always been regular, he’s always been affectionate, so I couldn’t use those as litmus tests. He is talking more and in sentences, but then again he is 2 and that is what 2 year olds do!

For the Hub, he got a PR for his marathon time. Here is the excerpt on his diet…

What I Learned

So even though I didn’t eat enough on race day, I think the oveall change in my diet this year made up some of the difference on Saturday. One key thing to my diet has been drinking a vitamin enriched smoothie every morning consisting of Flax Oil (Omega 3,6&9), Frozen Blueberries, Soy Milk, and the Vitamin Smoothie Powder. Since I have been on the Gluten Free diet, my snacking has dropped some. Where I might have 2 donuts in the morning 2-3 times a week, I don’t do that anymore and some of the gluten food that is here at work are left untouched by me. Don’t get me wrong, I still eat my fair share of candy bars and other taste-good-bad-for-you stuff, it’s just now, I am more conscious about it.

For me, I personally look at a piece of cake or a biscuit or a pizza or any indulgent food that contains gluten, and almost immediately turned off (unless it has chocolate, then I waiver back and forth). When I eat gluten now, I literally become a zombie. One day I slept for 16 hours. Luckily it was a Saturday and the Hub was on kid duty. So now I think twice before I consider putting something in my mouth.

But I do have more energy, I lost about 5 pounds (finally got rid of my pregnancy neck without the exercise!), I drink my coffee black now which makes me feel very “grown up” hahaha, I eat much healthier, we save money by not eating out as much (and calories),

However, our grocery bill has not been pretty…