Tuesday, December 30, 2008

15-0

Ryan and I embarked on a daunting challenge today - hardcore pottytraining of Will. Let's just say it didn't go very well. The underpants won hands down - Will probably went through 15 pair today. And those 15 "accidents" required cleaning up on mom and dad's part. And I bet you guessed it - Will actually didn't pee in the potty at all today, even though he spent a significant amount of time on his royal thrown. Ah, the joys of parenthood.

A little hope going into the new year

Sorry for the lack of posts, but the holidays kept the Gridiron Goddess just as busy as everyone else. We spent five days visiting Ryan's family in California for Christmas. It was quite strange really - it's the first time we've been able to visit either of our families for Christmas in years because Ryan was usually playing and we couldn't make the trip. It was definitely bittersweet - it was great to be with family for the holidays, but it was a reminder of Ryan's current employment situation.

This past weekend marked the end of the 2008 NFL regular season. It is still hard for me to believe that Ryan didn't get picked up this year. When we got word several weeks ago that the Arena Football League was folding for the 2009 season, I panicked a bit. You see, that was Ryan's back up plan. Ryan's now faced with a serious dilemma - continue to pursue an NFL career or hang up his cleats for good. He's decided to give it a couple of months in the offseason to see if he gets any interest from any teams. If by the end of February or March he hasn't heard anything, he may be ready to throw in the towel. It will be a sad ending to a wonderful and blessed career, but let's hope we're not there yet!

Now, onto the latest on Will's insurance issues. I finally spoke with the supervisor at our insurance call center who was much more helpful and concerned than the guy Ricardo I'd spoken to. Here's where we stand. We are going to be submitting a letter from Will's ENT in Buffalo who performed both of Will's ear tube surgeries. The letter I received states that Will's recurrent ear infections are quite likely to be the cause of his delays and that he feels Will's speech therapy is medically necessary. We'll submit this letter and hope that it will suffice to provide evidence of an underlying medical condition (the recurrent ear infections) for the purpose of our appeal.

If that doesn't work, I did find out some additional information. Cigna is bound by state law mandates, and since the state of Texas mandates insurance companies pay for autism treatment for children diagnosed on the spectrum, they would be bound to pay. According to the supervisor, the NFL also complies with and recognizes state mandates. If we have to get Will officially diagnosed to get his services paid for, then so be it. Problem is, once that diagnosis is made, it will follow him for the rest of his life and that will certainly lead to all sorts of issues down the road.

So we'll see - there's some hope that we have what we need to get Will's services paid for. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, December 22, 2008

More holiday cheer

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

A little holiday cheer


Something miraculous happened the other day - I got Will and Bryn in a picture at the same time. Granted, little mama was snug tight in her Bumbo and I had to quickly snap Will on the counter next to her, but success nonetheless. Enjoy the holiday fun!




Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Today's Will-ism

It was COLD in Texas today - like, Buffalo cold. It was in the 20s and we had snow flurries. Since Texas schools can't handle that weather, class was cancelled. I worked today and when I got him this afternoon, Will brought me his shoes and handed me my car keys signaling to me that it was time to go. I'm not sure if he wanted to go somewhere in particular, but he wanted to get out of the house! LOL. It was very sweet. So he and Ryan took a trip to the store.

An insurance update - Cigna is tripping me out. I called today to ask how long we had to file our appeal. The rep I spoke with said she had called the claim representative asking them to put a hold on the appeal we'd already authorized. HOLD UP - we hadn't officially authorized an appeal. I literally hung up with her and called Ryan and had him fax a letter to the insurance company saying that we had not authorized an appeal and that we would be filing an official appeal when we are ready. This company is just SHADY!!!! Now they are ignoring procedural safeguards that are in place. My next step is to find out who I can contact at the NFL to discuss some of the issues we're having with the insurance company!

Insurance update

A rep from the insurance company called back yesterday (finally). She confirmed that Cigna does not provide coverage for services for children diagnosed on the autism spectrum. With my lawyer hat on, I mentioned that state law in Texas mandates insurance companies to cover autism treatment. She said she would look into it. I also mentioned that autism is considered a disability under federal law, and I wondered if denying coverage might result in some sort of federal discrimination lawsuit. Just some questions I threw out there for her. She said she'd check into that as well. We are officially appealing the denial so I've got to get all of my "evidence" together to submit. What a hassle, but I'm going to keep fighting, not just for Will, but for all kids with similar issues.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I almost fell for it...

I had another long and frustrating call with the insurance company yesterday regarding Will's speech therapy. After going back and forth again with the incompetent representative who called autism a "procedure" and went on to call Will's therapy "cosmetic," I came to some frightening and disheartening realizations. At one point, I'd asked to speak to the supervisor. While I was on hold for over five minutes, I had an opportunity to re-read my insurance plan's position on speech therapy coverage. After reading the following section, I had an epiphany - our insurance company has EXPLICIT exclusions for covering things like speech and occupational therapy if a child is diagnosed with autism. Here is the paragraph:

Speech therapy is generally not appropriate for use in prelingual children when there is no identified underlying medical condition or there is no possibility of the child reaching an age-appropriate level of speech (e.g. autism, pervasive developmental disorders developmental delay or mental retardation; the inability to construct sentences, stuttering or tongue thrust).

This made me look at Cigna's autism coverage. In a nutshell, it appears Cigna considers proven autism treatments such as speech and occupational therapy to be educational, not medical, in nature and will therefore not cover any of the treatments once a diagnosis is in place. Here's the kicker - our insurance company will pay the $1,000 to have a child evaluated for autism, but once that child is evaluated and is given a diagnosis, it appears Cigna has grounds to deny coverage. There is something wrong with that.

Now I really needed some clarification so I continued to hold for the supervisor who never got on the phone. I was told she was busy with conference calls, yet she apparently had enough time to point out something in a manual for the still incompetent representative to explain to me. The rep finally put me into her voicemail where I left a very focused message that I need an answer to - If my child is diagnosed with autism, will Cigna cover his speech therapy? The supervisor never returned my call.

As I'm sure you can imagine, I was devastated when I got off of the phone. I called Ryan sobbing and told him what I'd figured out. No offense to Frisco ISD and the program Will is in now, but in our opinion the school district simply doesn't provide the intense therapy and focused attention Will needs right now. If we hope to have him mainstreamed in a year or two for kindergarten, he needs more than what the school district is supplying him. I'm afraid that if we don't continue to provide these services for Will, we'll fail to maximize his potential. We're now considering private school that we can't necessarily afford, but will do what we have to do for Will.

This isn't over - we'll keep fighting. But yesterday's round went to the insurance company.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Neufelds visit Santa

Today was the day we decided to take the kids to see Santa. We went to a mall in Plano where they have a huge Polar Express snow globe exhibit. We decided to eat first - big mistake. You see, Santa goes on his dinner break from 5-6 p.m. Had we gone to visit Santa before dinner, maybe things would've gone more smoothly. But nope - we had to eat and so did Santa, so when we showed up at 5:15 for pictures, we quickly realized we'd need to wait. And wait we did.

We finally reached Santa around 6:45. Bryn had already puked on her shirt, so we quickly changed her. She usually goes to bed around 7, so she started getting cranky. When she cried, Will cried. We were on the verge of all hell breaking loose. Ryan and I came to a meeting of the minds that we wouldn't force Will into the picture. Sure enough, he decided he wanted nothing to do with Santa. Bryn wasn't too sure at first, but we finally got a small. We finished off our family Santa trip with a picture in front of the Polar Express.

I am so glad that's over!

Friday, December 5, 2008

On a positive note....

I finally managed to secure acting representation here in Texas! Woo! I signed with the Horne Agency last week. I've already had a go-see for Neiman Marcus and have booked my first commercial (it's extra work, but hey, I've got to start somewhere). Hopefully some great assignments will come in soon!

An update on the insurance madness

I spoke with a Cigna representative today. Their official stance is that Will's speech therapy is not covered because there is no underlying "medical condition" that necessitates the therapy. I explain to him that Will has been labeled as developmentally delayed since he was 19-months-old. Well, Cigna doesn't consider developmental delays medical conditions because, and I quote, "everyone develops differently." O-kay. So I explain that my 4-year-old is talking at or below the level of a 2-year-old. Nothing. I start asking what medical conditions would qualify Will for services and he pretty much refused to give me this information. He said a therapist or doctor would be able to tell me what underlying medical condition is causing Will's delays. This went on and on, back and forth for about 45 minutes. We agreed that I would send in Will's speech therapy evaluations that he's received over the past few years. We'll see what Cigna chooses to do with them. But I still think we're gearing up for a fight on this one. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

They better hope it's a mistake or some misunderstanding...

Our mailman is a slacker. He looks like he's 16 and a total smoker. We're lucky if he arrives by 5 p.m. - often times, like today, he delivers our mail after dark. This can cause problems like it has this evening. You see, in today's mail was an explanation of benefits (EOB) from our insurance company DENYING coverage for Will's speech and occupational therapy he's been receiving since June. According to the EOB, these services aren't "medically necessary" and since our insurance only covers things that are "medically necessary," they won't cover the services.

This is interesting. Back in June, I called our insurance company to see if things like speech and occupational therapy are covered under our policy. I was informed that they are as long as we have a doctor's referral. Well, we have one of those, so I'm not sure what the problem is. Even more interesting is the fact that they had previously approved coverage according to early EOBs, so why now are they denying coverage? I'm guessing it's because some pencil-pusher that the insurance company pays six figures to annual to review files and deny coverage finally came upon ours and decided that Will doesn't medically need speech and occupational therapy. Of course, this is just a guess because I can't actually find out what's going on because our mail was delivered so late and it's too late to call! Actually, it's probably a good thing because I'm emotional, and emotions and insurance companies don't mix. I'm going to have to put on my mommy/lawyer hat tomorrow morning when I make the call.

Let Cigna deny coverage for these services. I will write to every news outlet I can think of to tell our story. I think it's a captivating one - NFL player's 4-year-old son denied treatment. Hm. I bet I can find some interested parties in this story.

On a good note, I have some Will-isms for the day. Will was looking at a book this morning and grabbed Ryan's finger and pointed at an exclamation point and asked what it was. He literally said, "What is this?" He asked the same question about a question mark. I guess he recognized all the letters on the page but not the punctuation.

Even cooler - Will and I were playing this afternoon. I put my hand on my hips because I was tired of chasing him around. He put his hands on his hips. I put my arms down at my side - so did he. He was actually copying my movements. I was able to get him to do it again this evening - he even copied when I did spirit fingers! Ryan wasn't too happy about that and I promised I wouldn't make Will do that again! :)

It would just be devastating if we had to stop his services because our insurance company won't cover them. We aren't rich - nowhere close. We would not be able to afford to continue Will's services. So please send us some good vibes - I'm gearing up for a fight!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What I'm thankful for...

Last year around this time, we met a wonderful little boy named Owen at a charity event in Buffalo. Owen wasn't a healthy little guy - he'd been in and out of the hospital for most of his young life. He had tumors everywhere. Yet, he smiled. He was so happy and full of life. I remember speaking to Ryan on our way home that night about how meeting Owen would forever change our lives.

I learned recently that little Owen passed away a couple of months ago. I pray that his family is at peace, especially during the holidays when we seem to miss our loved ones more than any other time of year. I hope they know that Owen was an amazing kid and that he changed people's lives.

I thought about Owen today. We took the kids to the Ft. Worth zoo for a little pre-Thanksgiving fun. There were kids everywhere! Will seemed to be having a blast, especially in the children's play area. I was thankful in that moment that he's here - that he's not sick like so many other little kiddos are. In spite of all of his issues, Will is our little angel, and I will never, ever take him for granted.

Which brings me to his Will-isms for the day.

*I'd bought Will a ball in the gift shop on our way out of the zoo. When I handed it to him, he replied "What is that?" Again, he responded appropriately and in context - a major plus for our little guy.

*Even more amazing is what happened when we got home. I broke out the camera show Will some of the pictures I took of animals today. I showed him the first picture and asked him what it was - he correctly responded "ELEPHANT." I showed him the next picture and again we got a correct response - "LION." So I said, "Okay smart guy - if you can name this animal, you're just going to blow mommy away." Sure enough, he hit the nail on the head by identifying the "FLAMINGO." I seriously teared up. This is a major accomplishment for Will. He's identifying objects and things correctly - an important stepping stone for the rest of his development!

What thrills me is that we've yet to implement the new treatments his biomed doctor gave us a couple of weeks ago. I can't wait to see what incredible improvements we see after that!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Such a good big brother...

So today's Will-ism...

We were hanging out in the backyard this afternoon (it was in the 70s today and just gorgeous here in Texas - it's supposed to be even warmer tomorrow) when Bryn got a little upset and started to cry. Normally, Will flips out and starts screaming right along with her. But today, he responded with "why are you crying?" It was very sweet.

And it looks like Miss Bryn is going to be on the move soon - she's working those back legs like she's getting ready to start crawling! Now that will be some trouble!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Today's Will-ism

Since Will continues to blow us away every day with his progress, I figure I need to start sharing some of his daily Will-isms. You know, for moms of normally developing children, these small things must seem so trivial. For us, they are major and worth celebrating.

Today we were at a place called Gattitown. It's like a Dave & Buster's for kids. Will was on a ride and when it stopped, he said "push the button!" I almost started crying. It means Will is making the mental connection that when the ride stops, you can push a button and it will go again. Now I just need to teach him that the ride costs money!

Some other highlights from today:

*Will grabbed my hand this afternoon and said "come here." He pulled me over to the cupboard and said "I want banana please." Unfortunately, we didn't have any because he had already eaten two today.

*At the chiropractor's office, Will came up to Bryn who was wearing a little beanie and said "hat."

*Most interesting though is the fact that Will's been walking around all day saying "Let's Go Buffalo!" Interesting, since no one has said that in our household since last December!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Happy birthday Ryan!!!

Ryan's 33rd birthday was yesterday. After bowling with some friends, we came home and found Will still awake, so we decided to spend some time with him. He was his usual, giggly, cheerful self. I asked him to say "happy birthday daddy." Will thought about it for a second, then he busted out with his rendition of "happy birthday to you..." He sang the whole song! It was very sweet, and I know it meant a lot to Ryan!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

An update on Will

We had an appointment with Will's doctor the other day to go over his blood and urine test results. On the way to the doctor's office, I got all freaked out with the "what ifs." What if Will's tests show allergies to foods like soy, nuts, etc.? What if he has a gluten intolerance and we need to put him on a gluten-free diet? I definitely wasn't prepared for the what ifs, but figured there wasn't much I could do to prepare at that point.

Here's what we found out about our little guy (at least I'm going to try to remember as best I can - there was a lot of information in a short amount of time)...

Will has a ton of yeast in his system. This tends to be the case for kids like Will. The yeast can cause all sorts of issues, including hyperactivity which has been a huge issue for Will. In order to control the yeast, we need to limit Will's intake of foods that can cause yeast in his system - this includes things like bread, but also things with a lot of sugar like certain fruits (strawberries for example), juices and soda. We will also be giving Will a prescription anti-fungal that should also help with the yeast build up.

Will definitely has a dairy intolerance, so we are to continue the dairy-free diet. The tests didn't show any gluten intolerance, but we've also started to limit Will's gluten intake. Based on some of the other results, we have to limit Will's egg and red meat intake. Thank goodness he likes chicken and will occasionally eat some fish!

Another thing we were looking for was high metal levels in Will's system. His levels of lead and mercury weren't really high, but he did have elevated levels of aluminum in his system. As such, we are going to try chelation to see if we can get Will to process those metals out of his body. We'll be working on getting some additional urine samples this weekend to see if this cream the doctor gave us might do the trick!

So that's it in a nutshell. Hopefully we'll continue to see Will improve as we try these different dietary and biomedical interventions along with his traditional therapies. He continues to surprise us and give us hope everyday.

Friday, November 21, 2008

It's just not fair...

There is entirely too much cute stuff for baby girls out there - when I saw this hat, I couldn't resist. And Bryn had her first lemon experience today. Ryan just had to do this to my baby, but I enjoyed it as well!
video

A couple of firsts for Bryn

Bryn's hair is finally long enough that I can start putting bows in her hair. It's about time - I've had more people tell me how "handsome" she is because they think she's a boy, even when she's dressed in head to toe pink!


Even more exciting is that Bryn has started expanding her food selections. She happily ate her first veggie last week - carrots! She likes green beans too!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy half birthday baby Bryn!!!

Our little lady is 6 months old today. She weighed in at 18 lbs 4 oz (still in the 90th percentile) and is 27 inches long (also in the 90th percentile). She's still our big girl. We've been given the go ahead to start giving her some baby foods, so I'm certain we will have some fun pictures to share of mealtimes soon.

I've decided to change pediatricians though. Bryn is currently on a delayed vaccination schedule, so instead of getting a bunch of shots, she was only supposed to get one along with the Rotavirus vaccine which is given orally. Well, the pediatrician's office didn't have the Rotavirus vaccine because they changed distributors or something. The options I was given were: (1) take Bryn to the health department; (2) hunt down some Care Now mobile clinic she started talking about before I gave the nurse an "are you freakin' kidding me?" dirty look; or (3) do nothing since it won't harm her in any way if she doesn't get the third dose of the vaccine (which begs the question - why do they recommend it then if kids don't necessarily need it?). So I opted to do nothing and promptly booked a 9-month well check appointment for Bryn at another office. The new doctor should be a great choice for both kiddos since she apparently takes a holistic approach to treating children - NO MORE GETTING GRIEF OVER OUR DELAYED VACCINATION SCHEDULE! Woo!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Eat your heart out Beyonce!!!

We attended a wonderful event for a friend's charity last night at the Gucci store. I couldn't resist trying on the gown Beyonce is wearing on the current cover of InStyle. It was stunning, as was the other dress I tried on that was $10,000! This one is a little less than $8,000 - a bargain I guess. Needless to say, it's still at the Gucci store...

What happens when we're not looking...

Ryan and I were watching a very captivating episode of Ghosthunters last week when we realized Will was mighty quiet in the room next door. When we checked on him, we discovered that his curiousity had gotten the best of him...

Yep, that's Will in Bryn's exersaucer. He was just spinning around and having a grand ol' time. And he's gotten in it a couple more times since then, as well as Bryn's Pack 'N Play. I guess he figures if Bryn gets to use them, he does too!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

We're live!

The website for the show I'm hosting is live! Check it out!

www.thebitenetwork.com

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

YES WE CAN!!!

And we did! What an amazing feeling to be a part of this historical and awesome day. America finally managed to elect our first African American president. I honestly wondered if we'd ever see the day. And it's here! Woo hoo!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

SHUT UP!!!

Oh, what I would give for a good night's sleep! I thought I was going to get one last night but it didn't happen. I flew to Los Angeles yesterday morning on a 6:40 a.m. flight to attend a memorial service for a friend's mom. I settled in at my mom's house last night and got in the bed around 7:30 (which is 9:30 CST - not too far from my bedtime). I knew I had to get up around 3 a.m. to catch my 6 a.m. flight, so I was determined and ready to go to sleep. I didn't have much luck with that.

The first nuisance was my sister's dog Jinx. Jinx started barking and wouldn't stop. That went on for a while. Then someone in my mom's neighborhood was having a party and you could hear the constant thump of bass from DJ speakers. Not fun. Then, the phone started ringing. With the election right around the corner, my mom's been getting a ton of election-related marketing calls. I picked up the phone after it kept ringing and ringing and when I heard the recording, I hung up. Then the phone rang again. Same message, so I hung up. The phone rang yet again. Same message. Apparently if you don't listen to the message, it will keep calling back. I finally turned off the ringer. To cap the night off, just as I started dozing off to sleep, the neighbor's kids decided to head outside for a spirited pick up basketball game - at 10 o'clock at night. I didn't get to sleep until after 11!

The time change SUCKS, because it's not even 7:30 yet and it looks like I'll be in bed by 8 tonight. Barring any unforeseen parties, thunderstorms, etc., I should actually be able to get to sleep soon. Some rest will surely help me out with this gnarly cold I'm fighting!!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween cuteness

Bryn started out the day in her "Baby's 1st Boo" Costume...






Then she changed into her Baby Boo costume - notice her HEELARIOUS pumps...





And our big boy was an Air Force pilot this evening - Will was looking sharp!

The little things...

All caught on tape - Bryn started rolling from back to front yesterday and Will declared who mommy and daddy voted for this year!
video

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Trick or treat...

Ryan and I put on our best disguises for our neighbors' Halloween party last night. I had decided to go as Cinderella, but found myself in a Pirate Wench costume after my princess costume was cancelled because it was out of stock. I was concerned the wench costume was a little short, but some good ol' black tights solved that problem.

Now, my dear husband. Ryan's a big dude, so he can't just grab a costume from the store. He actually rented one. He was WAY TOO EXCITED when he found his dream costume and decided to be a pimp. He enjoyed accessorizing with bling, a pimp cup and even a gold tooth.

We had an absolute blast with all of our neighbors. The best part of the evening was being able to walk across the street when we were ready to go home. Fun times!





Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pumpkin Patch Day

The weather was PERFECT here in Frisco today, so after the early football games, we decided to take the kiddos to the pumpkin patch. Will had a blast on the big inflatable obstacle course, while Bryn was completely content hanging out in the Baby Bjorn and taking in all of the sights. Unfortunately, Will got a little impatient when we started looking for pumpkins, so we'll be heading to the grocery store sometime this week to pick up a couple! Anyway, here are some pics from today...



And here are some pics of Bryn I took tonight just because...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Picture day...

We always dread picture day for Will because we never quite know how he's going to do. We've had some not-so-great picture moments in the past so it's always a crap shoot if we'll get a good shot. Imagine my surprise when I pulled out Will's picture packet out of his backpack this afternoon. I cried...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Halloween at "The Bite"

Today we shot our Halloween episode for The Bite. I was transformed into Cleopatra while my co-hosts donned equally stunning costumes - Hilary as Queen Elizabeth, Jaron as Superman (yeah, there's no resemblance there) and Joe and Rance as bees. Check it out - we don't have fun or anything at "work"...




Monday, October 13, 2008

Ride 'em cowboy!!!

In honor of Columbus day (will someone please explain to me why this is a holiday?), we took the kiddos to the Texas state fair. Boy, did we have a good time. Will loved all of the rides, especially the dragon rollercoaster. It was hot and crowded, but we had a great time.

I went on this one ride that was ridiculously scary. I should've had Ryan take a picture because I can't even explain it. I can hang with most rides, but this is the first time I ever thought I was going to throw up. I don't remember most of the ride because my eyes were closed the entire time. But, I'd go on it again in a hearbeat.

Good times...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Date night...

I had a very important date night on Saturday - with Will!!! My handsome date and I went to the annual Frisco Mother-Son dance. It was fun getting all dressed up for my little guy. And he got all dressed up too - a crisp, clean Burberry collared shirt that he promptly spilled soda on when we got to the dance. LOL. But he didn't care.

Will just sort of took everything in. I could tell it was a bit overwhelming for him - he did a lot of stimming (focusing on his fingers and sort of blocking out his surroundings). I'm guessing a lot of the other moms might've thought he was dancing. But he was so sweet. We were sitting down at one point and he turned to me with puckered lips and gave me a kiss. It's the first time he's ever initiated a smooch. And during our slow dance (to What a Wonderful World), I couldn't help but get a little emotional holding my little guy. He gave me a hug. He's such a sweetie.

I look forward to going back next year. Unfortunately, my camera conked out, so here is the ONLY picture I got that evening. Bummer!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A familiar feeling...

I remember it so well. I was sitting on our couch one night last October in Buffalo when a crazy thought rushed through my head - instead of heading home to Texas right after the season, we'd stay in Buffalo an extra six months to keep Will in school. That epiphany caused a lot of anxiety - I didn't want to stay in Buffalo. Yet I knew deep down that it was the right decision, even if I didn't like it. After I accepted the decision, an incredible sense of peace came over me. And it was done.

It happened to me again today. I was sitting on the couch with Bryn (what is it with me and couches?) when the thought popped into my head that I needed to consider taking the Texas bar exam in February instead of next July when I'd actually planned on taking it. I immediately got that anxious feeling - my heart started pounding and I couldn't sit still. At one point I almost started crying (if you've ever sat for a bar exam, you know why). After Bryn went down for a nap, I did some searching and made a few phone calls and realized I still have time to get my application in for February's test. I called my lawyer sister and some other lawyer friends who all confirmed what I already knew - I was going to sit for the bar exam in February. I'm stressed out just thinking about it. You see, studying for the bar exam is no easy feat. It was hard enough taking the California bar right after I graduated from law school. But heck, I didn't have two kids back then. And the law was still fresh on my mind. Taking the exam this time around will be a whole new ball game.

Taking the exam is pricey (between the test fees and a bar review course, we're looking at several grand - people usually take out bar loans to cover expenses). Poor Ryan will be thrust into single parenthood for two months but we'll make sure the kiddos are taken care of (little miss Bryn is going to find herself in daycare in the afternoons). And I'll be a stressed out ball of mush those two months while I study for hours on end. I'll still be shooting The Bite as well, so I'll have a ton going on. It's going to be tough, but this is the right decision and now is the best time to go through all of this.

And just like after I owned the decision back in October to stay in Buffalo, I'm owning this decision and am ready to kick some butt. Remember that peace I talked about after taking ownership? I felt it earlier, coupled with the sheer panic of sitting for the test. But I'll get 'er done!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My thoughts on vaccines...

I'm often asked my opinion on vaccines and whether or not I think they cause autism. My theory has always been this - I don't think vaccines in and of themselves cause autism. If that were the case, anyone who has been vaccinated would have autism, right? However, I do believe some kiddos have some sort of genetic predisposition (many postulate that these kids have weakened immune systems) that make them more susceptible to autism when given vaccinations. I wish I'd known back when Will was a baby what I know now - I'd be willing to bet we wouldn't be dealing with the issues we're dealing with now.

Will was a sick baby. He had ear infection after ear infection - seven double ear infections total before his first set of ear tubes were inserted at thirteen months. It seemed like he was constantly on antibiotics - the ones that are supposed to clear up infections like Augmentin finally stopped working. Omnicef was the only one strong enough that would knock the infections out. Couple the constant supply of antibiotics with the recommended vaccines, and I think we poisoned our child. I do feel some guilt over this, but I know I was just doing what I thought was right for my child at the time.

Ryan and I are pro-vaccine. We believe children should be vaccinated. However, we absolute think there is no reason in the world to bombard an infant or child's body with the plethora of shots recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. I'd never been one of those parents to question doctors because they know everything right? They want what's best for our kiddos, right? Now, I'm not so sure.

I'm currently reading Jenny McCarthy's new book - Mother Warriors. The foreword is written by a doctor from UCLA. He talks a bit about the harmful mercury we have all heard about that was "removed" from vaccines several years ago. The doctor then starts talking about Dr. Robert Sears' research about aluminum in vaccines. He states that the FDA claims that 20 micrograms of aluminum is considered toxic for babies, yet the Hep B shot they give newborns (which we declined - thank God) has 250 micrograms of aluminum in it. He goes on to say that if a child receives every vaccine recommended by the AAP at their two-month appointment, they will ingest almost 2000 micrograms of aluminum. I know, it's shocking. And it doesn't seem right. So let's get informed. Be armed with the facts so that when your child's pediatrician tells you there is no scientific evidence linking vaccines and autism and tries to talk you out of using a delayed scheduled, you're prepared to stand your ground and do what's best for your babies.

I have to recommend an awesome book written by Dr. Sears called The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision For Your Child. This book is awesome. It gives a wonderfully detailed but easy-to-read breakdown of all the childhood vaccines. The doctor discusses why the vaccines are given and what his thoughts are on them. He also recommends a delayed vaccination schedule - it's the one we are following for Bryn. For example, he recommends declining the Hepatitis B shot they give babies in the hospital on their birth day. At the two month appointment, instead of getting four or five shots, he recommends one and the rotavirus vaccine which is given orally. Following his schedule has given me some peace of mind - I feel like we're protecting our children from harmful diseases while protecting their systems from being bombarded by the bad stuff in vaccines.

Okay, getting off of my soapbox now...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Progress...

I don't know if it's a coincidence, but we are seeing some really positive changes in Will since starting him on the casein-free diet this week. He's been extremely attentive (which can be difficult at times - he is very aware when mommy or daddy are leaving the house and he doesn't like it too much) and he's repeating everything! We're also hearing more spontaneous language being used in appropriate contexts. We're hopeful that he will continue to surprise and delight us!!!

This evening when I was giving him a bath, we played a game we've played numerous times before that involves me squirting soap on his knees, toes, etc. It usually involves me doing most of the talking and Will quickly washing off the soap in the water. Tonight was different. I started off with putting soap on Will's hands - he said "hands." He then held up his leg and said "knee" indicating that he wanted soap on his knee. He went on to say feet, toes, elmo (elbow), delly (belly), shoulders, nose and ears. WOW! I couldn't believe. And he smiled the whole time. It was awesome.

And Ryan had a funny experience with Will this afternoon. Ryan had folded some towels and left them on the kitchen table. Will knocked them off, and when Ryan told Will to pick up the towels, he said Will said "you" and took of running! Ryan said all he could do was sit there and laugh.

We took Will to see the biomedical doctor yesterday. He gave us supplements to start giving Will, but we can't start administering them until we collect three pee samples from Will for testing. We've been trying for a week and it's not going that well! Keep your fingers crossed for us. We also will have to give Will B12 shots twice a week - yeah, not looking forward to that too much. But if the shots are going to help bring my baby boy back, then so be it.

Hopefully I'll have plenty more stories just like these to share in the near future. GO WILL! My mission for this weekend is to teach him how to say "nuclear" correctly...

Those ears...***

Baby Bryn looks a lot like her mama, but if there's one thing she inherited from Ryan, it's his ears. I've noticed lately that Bryn's ears are rather, well, large. They are too cute though and compliment her big ol' cheeks perfectly.

I had to crack up when I took this picture yesterday. It's all in the ears...

Curse of the vajayjay

A few months when I went on my audition for "The Bite," I got schooled. I stood in the most natural and comfortable position I could, only to be informed by my producer that my hands were in an unacceptable position. See, I had my hands in an upside down triangle position. Unfortunately, I was doing sign language for the word VAGINA! In my defense, I was simply imitating what I've seen some television hosts do over and over again.

Now that I know what it means, I see VAGINA all the time! The guy on the Directv instructional channel does it all the time. I've seen a host on one of the evening entertainment shows make that upside down triangle a couple of times. And now, this...

I bet people who know what this means get a kick out of people throwing down the vajayjay sign every time they see it. I know I do!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Will is officially casein free!

There's been a lot of talk about treating kiddos with autism with a gluten-free/casein-free diet. In plain English, gluten is wheat and it's pretty much in EVERYTHING we consume. Next time you're bored and checking out labels of the food you eat, you'll find some sort of wheat in your food. And casein is dairy - milk, whey, etc. Apparently these things can be toxic for children with autism.

Many parents of children with autism swear by the GFCF diet - remove these items from a kid's diet and miraculous things can happen. The children begin to focus more, language increases, etc. Couple the diet with other interventions and the theory is that you can actually cure a child with autism.

I posted a while back that we were ready to try the diet after realizing something is causing Will's issues. Well, I finally met with a doctor last week who will be treating Will biomedically for his issues, and he gave me the go-ahead to start the casein-free part of the diet. It's a lot easier to implement since dairy-free foods are easier to come by. And casein leaves the body a lot quicker, so we could potentially see some changes in a couple of weeks (versus starting with the gluten-free part of the diet, since gluten takes months to leave the body). As of today, Will is no longer going to be consuming dairy. That means we have to get creative - for example, we've replaced his daily Pediasure with chocolate almond milk - he seems to like it just fine. We're hoping and praying this helps - I will keep you posted on any progress.

Here are some pics we took on our trip to the Dallas World Aquarium for Will's birthday. He absolutely loved it - especially when he got up close and personal with the sharks!