That Was Unexpected

If only it were as organized
as this looks.  Hint:  it's

Let me first say that we're enjoying our new location.  Sean moved this direction in April and the rest of us followed in June.  The moving process was not necessarily a party a minute, but I can't ever think of a time when it would be. Thanks to Nana and Aunt Carrie no one was injured or left behind in our relocation.  And I was lucky to get the first group of movers who actually listened when I begged to get our stuff in a reasonable time frame.  I am forever in their debt, cause one more night of sleeping on the floor was going to add to the population of Crazy Town.  Regardless, Sean is happy to be back in the eastern time zone and I'm happy to have another set of ears to absorb the noise pollution that surrounds us like Pigpen's dirt cloud.  Oreo is still going through the process of intimidating (in his mind) all the people, dogs, cats, woodland creatures, and weather that dares to be within five miles of the new house.  Sweet Girl is loving the swing set in the backyard and Little Man has made it his personal mission to drink his weight in pool water (ew) every time we go to the neighborhood pool.  So, all in all, we're getting back to the "normal" that passes for our days as a family unit.  I still need to get all of Sweet Girl's therapies underway and get Little Man set up with pediatric GI specialist (love means not crying in front of your kid when he's getting a barium enema and doing radioactive poop laundry as if it were an everyday thing), but that will all get done in due course.

What?! OK, fine.  I had
a drink.  Just one drink.
Of course with a new home you will have differences.  One of the different things about our new location is the difference in commissary clientele.  If you have been or are around military commissaries, then you know that the clientele is often as varied as the deli selections.  You name a classification of humans, I've probably seen them at the commissary.  (Also, name a type of meat/meat by-product and some well-intentioned woman has tried to give a sample of it to my son - who has no manners and no tolerance for any kind of meat that ends in wurst - as we cruise by the deli section.) The commissary is good like that because the armed forces are good like that.  Name a classification of humans and they're probably represented somewhere in the armed forces, and if they aren't then someone in the armed forces is married to someone that is.  It is a melting pot to be sure.  And the commissary reels us all in with their lower food prices and their excellent German and Asian food selection, not to mention the best wurst this side of the Atlantic.  Heretofore, though, every time I've ventured to the commissary I've been surrounded by current or retired (I could write a novel on how not to shop at the commissary when you retire, but all the retirees are too busy pushing their two or three carts down the middle of every.single.aisle to read it.) army people.  It's very much a mission-driven excursion when visiting the commissary.  We've been stationed at Ft. Bragg and Ft. Campbell; two very army-centric army installations.  I know army-centric should be implied when describing army installations, but that's not always the case.  Here in the DC/Baltimore metro areas, there are representations of practically every service running around and grabbing groceries where they can.  Here are Ft. Meade there's a large population of civilians working side-by-side with soldiers of all kinds, and so the commissary is a different kind of experience.  

I had run in to grab some gfcf staples: Glutino pretzels, uncured bacon, and rice milk, with my kids in tow.  Gluten-free Bisquick happened to be on special, so I grabbed a box (it's really quite good, by the way) and we made our way to check out.  Due to the lack of cash on my person, not to mention on my children's persons - they always expect me to pay for their stuff despite our many conversations that being five and two are no excuse, I headed to the self check-out line to avoid tipping a bagger.  Oh, that's another thing about the commissary, they bag your groceries and take them to your car.  Baggers work for tips only and so I often feel inadequate at establishing the proper bag-to-tip ratio, but I have yet to have a bagger stand there with his/her hand out for more or spit in my general direction so they're all either really nice or my guessing hasn't been too far from appropriate.  While waiting our turn to check-out and pay we sang a couple of rounds of "Hail to the Redskins" and directed Little Man's lollipop back toward his mouth as it has a tendency to migrate dangerously close to his hair during check-out performances.  As we were doing this I noticed the older gentleman next to us had Betty Crocker gf chocolate chip cookie mix in his cart at the same time he noticed the gf Bisquick in ours.  He asked if we liked it because his grandson stays with them during the day and loves pancakes, but because of his food sensitivities he couldn't eat regular pancakes.  I told we did like it and that we had food sensitivities in our house too.  Then he started talking about his grandson and all the progress he has made once his diet was changed and basically all the typical proud grandparent talk that one expects to hear.  All of it sounded familiar to me before he said it, but then he confirmed my suspicions when he said, "If it weren't for his autism and this diet, I wouldn't know what gluten is."  I pointed to the beautiful girl in the front of the cart, who happened to be lost in her own music, and said "I understand completely."  

"Mommy, I sure would LOVE
to go swimming!"
Yeah, I get it.
And then then he really started talking: asking questions about what she eats, how I prepare it, if I ever thought about adding either the gluten or casein back in.  I told him about adding pureed vegetables to muffins and pancakes and about the vegan "butter" we use, he told me how he goes half and half coconut/vegetable oil blend because it still has the health benefits but his grandson can't detect a difference in taste or texture.  Then we paid for our stuff and left.  It was nice to have this conversation with someone who understood.  A complete stranger who didn't judge; didn't think I was trying to "fix" my daughter, didn't think I was making up digestive issues, didn't think I was reading too much into behaviors, didn't think I was desperate to reshape my daughter or desperately seeking a cure, didn't think I was a little crazy for trying something that wasn't directly out of the pediatrician's playbook.  It was nice to talk with someone else who got it.  In the autism community there are a great deal of people who don't really want to get along with one another.  They'd rather accuse other people of being lazy or trying too hard than to get to know one another and accept that there can be more than one "right" way.  There is no one autism and therefore there is no one way to go about mediating the challenges that come along with autism.  The gfcf diet is one of the ways that Sweet Girl has been helped.  That does not mean that everyone should try the diet, it just means that it works for us as a family, and this complete stranger accepted that within seconds of talking with me.  And he was at the commissary of all places.  That was totally unexpected.  

And then Sweet Girl has been doing some unexpected things at home as well.  For the past week she's been dressing herself.  Like, walk-into-my-bedroom-already-dressed-for-the-day dress herself.  Granted, she spent a morning with her (mismatched) pants on inside out and backwards, but she did it herself and I'm pretty proud of her for that.  She still can't do socks.  I don't know what it is about the cotton Tubes of Death that she can't handle, but it usually ends in tears with me putting her socks on so she can put on her "sneaker shoes."  We'll get there.  I'll be sure to hit that hard with the new OT when we get one (miss you, Miss Carleigh!), but for now I'm reveling in the awesomeness that is my daughter's fashion sense.  In case you're wondering, it's all purple all the time and two necklaces every day.  Sweet Girl is also brushing her teeth at the sink now.  To this point we'd been using the training stuff because she's not a good spitter and though fluoride is excellent for your teeth, it's not good for your brain (I'm not making that up, it's a neurotoxin.  Go ahead.  Google it.  It's why they have training toothpaste.).  But thanks to something she saw on TV, she now stands at the sink, wets her toothbrush, puts her toothpaste on, scrubs, and spits.....mostly on her chin.  But the point is, she's not swallowing the toothpaste and she's sloooooooooowly but surely getting the hang of it.  I definitely wasn't expecting her to agree to attempt these things let alone initiate it on her own.

Not my girl.  But it's a good
album and I hope Sweet Girl
can rock her bee costume with
equal unique enthusiasm.
But my favorite so far is her unexpected enthusiasm for Halloween.  Costumes and make-believe don't necessarily mix well with sensory issues and literal-mindedness.  But last year Sweet Girl seemed to enjoy dressing as a ladybug and doing the trick-or-treat thing at school.  Of course that culminated in Skittles and cupcakes, so what's not to like.  Then yesterday the mail provided us an opening to discuss Halloween.  A costume magazine fell out on the table when I brought the mail in and Sweet Girl picked it up for me.  She looked through it and then I asked her (really just to get the ball rolling, I mean I don't normally do anything Halloween related until October 30) what she'd like to be for Halloween.  She thought for about 3 seconds and said "I will be a bee!"  Then before I could question any further she started assigning costumes for every member of our family.  "Brother will be a dog.  Oreo will be a frog." Um, OK.  I'm sure the dog wants to be a frog as much as I want to wrestle the dog to the floor to get him on his lily pad, but we'll deal with that later.  Then Sean walked through the door and all of a sudden "Daddy will be a camel! And Mommy will be a monkey! Mommy's gray car will be a ladybug!" Great.  Now I have to outfit a Honda Pilot and quite honestly, I'm the closest thing to a slow plodding creature with two humps around here.  But, again, that's not the point and still not my favorite part.  My favorite part was at the pool twenty minutes later.  Sweet Girl and I were taking a quick "swim" while Daddy was on "Don't drink that!" duty with Little Man, and she asked for a story!  She can recite just about every one of her books, but she doesn't ask for stories.  Stories are made-up and aren't visual, so they're not preferred activities, therefore I was thrilled to oblige her request.  Then I asked her what she wanted to hear a story about and she said "My bee costume." Say what??! OK.  So I made something up about Princess Bee who hopped from flower to flower collecting honey and being friends with Winnie the Pooh.  Sweet Girl giggled and giggled, and then asked for one about Brother Dog.  Say what!? OK! We went through the whole family and she loved it!  Not scripted, totally spontaneous, no visuals, no sensory input, and she loved it!  That's some pretty serious progress and seriously unexpected.  So now I have a little over two months to fashion these costumes and teach my dog to hop.  You might see me Halloween night with a happy and cooperative dog dressed in green, but I wouldn't expect it if I were you.  


  1. Oh how amazing she is. I love to hear about the growth that is going on in her mind. She is truly an amazing little person. Better keep that costume catalog and I would suggest ordering before October 30.:)


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