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!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A day in the life...

What a whirlwind 24 hours!

Yesterday I received notice that my contract for "The Bite" has been extended through the end of March! YAY!!! I am so excited that I get to continue working on this awesome show. The show went live last week and will certainly soon be available at a restaurant near you!

Yesterday afternoon, we received an opportunity we've been waiting for since the free agency period started in March! Ryan's agent sent a text that the New Orleans Saints called and expressed an interest in Ryan. Within minutes, Ryan was on the phone with the team - they were flying him out for a workout. It was about 4:30 in the afternoon - Ryan was gone by 5/5:15.

After Ryan left, the enormity of the situation hit me. For one, I had to shoot my show today, so I called up the babysitting agency we use and they were able to find a sitter for the kids. Then, I thought about how cool it would be for Ryan to sign with the team, but I also thought about how I'd sent my husband off to the airport not knowing if he was going to be coming home. See, these NFL workouts are interesting. Teams will bring in several guys for one spot. The team will either sign you on the day of the workout or will send you back home that evening. For all we knew, Ryan was going to be in New Orleans for several weeks with only the clothes he was able to pack in his carry-on. But I was okay with that. I psyched myself up for single mom duty and got ready for today. I was up WAY later than I had hoped, but I needed to get things prepared for the show and my shoot.

The babysitter arrived this morning and I was out the door. The shot was great as usual, but I couldn't help but wonder how Ryan's day was going. He sent me updates when he could - there were three other guys trying out with him for the tight end spot. He passed a physical and was waiting for his workout. I was so full of hope and anticipation - would things finally work out for him??? I sure did hope so.

While at work, I got a call from the nurse at Will's school for the second time in as many days. Today, Will was apparently holding his belly and saying "owie." I wrote it off - either he was hungry, had to poop, or he'd run into something at home and hurt himself (not out of the ordinary for our little gymnast). I decided I'd run him to the doctor when I got home just to check and make sure he didn't have something serious going on, like appendicitis. Of course, it was one more thing for me to worry about.

On the way home from the shoot, I got off the freeway to stop and pick up some cupcakes for Will's birthday. Oh yes - forgot to mention - today is Will's 4th birthday! Unfortunately, it's been uneventful for him, but he doesn't seem to mind at all. Anyway, when I got off the freeway, I noticed a super shiny Mercedes in front of me swerving around. I assumed it was someone on the phone or texting. As I followed the car, I realized it was a bit more serious. The person driving that car was clearly under the influence of something. I saw her barely miss rearending two cars at stop lights. I decided to press my OnStar button and report the person to the police. As I followed the vehicle, I watched the driver swerve from lane to lane. She hit the curb with the left side of her car twice. She was eventually driving on a flat tire. At one point, she came to a dead stop in an intersection. I pulled up next to her and she was PASSED OUT! She finally passed out for good about a mile away from my home. I sure enough waited there behind her with my caution lights on until the cops arrived. I watched them give her a field sobriety test (that was actually pretty funny - she was tore up and couldn't even walk!), arrest her and haul her away in the squad car. She deserved it. That woman could've hit a child or an innocent family. In the two or three miles I followed her, I still can't believe no one was seriously injured.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to stop for the cupcakes.

Once Will got home, I took him to our favorite Urgent Care around the corner. Long story short and $170, Will is apparently really constipated (hence the tummy ache) and we've been given a prescription for a laxative, and if that doesn't work, a suppository. Nice.

While at the doctor's office, Ryan called to deliver the news that he was coming home. What we were eventually able to piece together is that the team signed one of the other guys who had actually played for the Saints' head coach when he was with another team. Because of that comfort factor, he seemingly had the edge over Ryan (that happens all the time unfortunately). The good news is that the Saints were impressed with Ryan and he appears to be #1 on their emergency list if this other guy doesn't pan out or if they suffer any further injuries at Ryan's position.

So he's on his way home. And I'm exhausted. I'm looking forward to getting a good night's sleep tonight!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Picture People

We made the trek to Picture People for Will's annual birthday photo yesterday. Will was less than cooperative, as expected. But we did get a couple of decent shots of him. Miss Bryn on the other hand - what a ham. She enjoyed her photo experience!

These are pictures of the pictures the Picture People took! LOL. It's the best I could do - I was too lazy to take them out of the frames and scan them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

23 years ago today...

In the midst of the chaos that is my life, I almost forgot an important anniversary. 23 years ago today, my dad died. I may have gone through most of the day today without remembering (even though I was discussing the day my dad died just yesterday with a friend, but I had to stop because I was starting to cry and I would've messed up my make up). My mom called this morning though and reminded me that my cousin Robert's birthday was yesterday - and I remember Robert saying right after my dad died that his birthday will always be a reminder of my dad's death. And so it is....

But that day - boy, do I remember that day back in 1985 when my dad died. My sisters, cousin Shinikia and I were at cheerleading practice getting ready for homecoming when my aunt Mable came in and said we needed to leave. I even remember what move we were working on when she came in. Auntie Mable didn't tell us what was going on - we all kind of thought the intrigue was fun and exciting. I remember that we were even giggling as Auntie Mable sped around the corner to get us home.

The mood changed very quickly when we arrived at our apartment. My mom was coming out of our second story apartment and was already locking the door. She was crying. I asked her what was wrong. All she said was, "your dad is sick." I don't know why, but I knew it was bad. I screamed and started crying, as did my sisters. We piled into the car and started the trek to get to my dad.

My mom and dad were separated at the time of his death. He still lived in Thousand Oaks where we'd visit on the weekends. We left L.A. in the midst of rush hour traffic trying desperately to get to my dad as quickly as possible. I remember sitting in the car on the 101 freeway - I was in the backseat behind my mom who was driving. I would count the cars on the other side of the freeway as they drove by. If less than five seconds passed between the cars going by, daddy would be okay - I thought. Sometimes it took the cars five seconds, sometimes it took ten, sometimes only one or two. It was all so confusing. All I know is that it took us FOREVER to get out there that day.

When we left L.A., the sun was still shining. By the time we got to the hospital, it was dark. At the time of my dad's death, he was a teacher and coach at Agoura High School. Some of the other football coaches were there in the lobby waiting for us when we arrived. My sisters and I sat in the lobby with my aunt as they whisked my mom away. I know now that they took her away to tell her that we were too late - my dad had died.

Moments later we were lead into a small room that looked like a college classroom. We waited a little longer before my mom came back in. That's when she took us outside. She held my sisters and I and told us that our dad had died. He was only 43 years old - he had had a massive heart attack while tutoring a student. I think the story goes that he had leaned back as he was taking a sip of Pepsi (his favorite soda) and collapsed. He was at a doctor's house when it happened, and the doctor, who was home at the time, couldn't do anything to save him. It was bad. I honestly don't know if my 9-year-old brain was really capable of comprehending the magnitude of that evening, or of that moment. But I remember just looking up at the clear, dark sky at all the twinkling stars. And I knew that my daddy was up there and that he had gone to heaven. I knew I wouldn't see him again. After that, my memory of that night gets a little hazy.

I fell asleep on the living room couch that night and I remember waking up at one point and seeing my mom sitting at the kitchen table. She was up making phone calls. In the midst of her sorrow and pain, she just looked at me and gave me the most reassuring smile that everything would be okay. With that, I was able to go back to sleep.

My life changed that night. Now, I can appreciate that losing my dad at such a young age was all a part of God's plan, and that I'm the person I am today because of my life experiences. But I miss him. I miss him all the time. It's in those big moments where his presence is missed the most - graduations, my wedding, etc. I wish he'd been here to hold his grandbabies. And how I would give ANYTHING for one more hug. Just one more hug. But I feel his presence all the time and I know he's still here. He's our angel. I have no doubt about that.

In the months before my dad's death, I spoke with him on the phone every morning after we moved to L.A. Our conversations were always brief, but they always ended with "I love you" and "I'll talk to you tomorrow." Had I known that the morning of September 17th was the last time I'd hear his voice, I might've stayed on the phone just a little bit longer.

My dad was my hero - my rockstar. He was superman - he could do no wrong in my eyes. He was perfect. In his honor, go ahead and reach out to a loved one you haven't spoken to in a while and just let them know you care. *HUGS*

(*And on a sidenote - I can look back now and appreciate my mom and the sacrifices she made to raise three daughters on her own. Sure, we have some issues here and there, but my mom did a heck of a job. She IS my hero.)
My dad in his younger days...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

4 month check up

Miss Bryn had her 4 month check up yesterday. Little mama is a big girl - she weights 15 lbs. 10.5 ounces which puts her in the 90th percentile for weight. She's 25.5 inches long which puts her in the 90th percentile for height! She is bigger than Will was at this age!!! She had another shot and took it like a champ!

Not to be outdone by his sister, when Will realized we had an impromptu photo session going on, he had to come over and jump in for a rare brother-sister shot!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Will's first day on the school bus...

Will happily rode the school bus for the first time today. I was a wreck, but he just went with the flow. When he got home today, he kept saying "that was great" - hopefully he was referring to his bus ride. LOL.

While Will was at school, Amanda brought Matthew over for a playdate with Bryn. The two enjoyed some tummy time and baby talk.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wassup little mama...

So Bryn was making the funniest faces today - just wanted to share.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Independent woman (and other tidbits) ...

On a whim today, I figured it was time to sit Bryn in her Bumbo chair for the first time. Ryan was like, "What's a Bumbo?" to which I replied, "One of the best inventions ever." He still looked perplexed when I pulled out queen Bryn's thrown. Here she is happily sitting in her new seat.

Will apparently thought Bryn's seat was pretty cool because he thought he'd give it a try too!

Speaking of Will - this kiddo is showing us some good things these days. He and I spent some time singing songs this evening, including "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" and "Where is Thumbkin." What's awesome is that Will has gone from using a lot of gibberish to actually saying things I can understand. When I sing back to him, I can tell he gets that mommy understands what he's saying. That's been a blast! Will's also trying out some new foods. One of his new favorites is pudding of all things. We're still having him seen by the doctor this month who will test him for gluten and casein intolerances - so we will probably be looking for or making pudding that complies with the diet. But it's been great to experience him trying new things and eating again! Hallelujah!

It's fun seeing Bryn change on a daily basis. She's actively grabbing for toys, rolling over, laughing. She's just a joy! Yesterday I dressed Bryn up in the cutest outfit. I had my friend Leah make this onesie after I found out Bryn was a girl. My pregnancy was kind of tough, so I knew right away she had to have a onesie just like this one, and I think she likes it!

Finally, we had our first taping of my show today - it went great. I think The Bite is going to be a huge success and I can't wait to see the final product. I'll keep you posted and let you know when we can all check it out.

A true hero...

I want to introduce you to my good friend Kara. Kara and I met years ago - her husband Ross and Ryan were teammates in Buffalo. We attended Ross and Kara's amazing wedding in Pennsylvania several years ago. We've remained friends throughout the years. So it just broke my heart when Kara told me that she's been diagnosed with breast cancer. Kara is 28 years old, healthy and with no family history of breast cancer. She's putting up a great fight though and is currently receiving treatment in New York.

Kara is my hero. She's a rockstar. She will beat this. Here's an awesome video of a story recently featuring Kara! Beat this thing girlfriend!!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Finding the perfect fit...

I read in a magazine once that a woman usually has to try on ten pair of jeans before finding the perfect fit (unless you're like me - I know that 7 For All Mankind jeans fit, so that's what I go with). I thought about that statistic this morning as I was sitting in a service at a local church. I wondered if its going to take ten fittings before we find the right church home now that we're back in Texas. With the way things have gone so far, it just might.

We attended a wonderful church in Buffalo. It was the right mix of good preaching and contemporary worship. Ryan and I were both happy there. One thing we're not lacking here in Texas is churches, so we started trying them out as soon as we got home.

The first church we visited is pastored by a well-known preacher. Our first visit there, I noticed that the congregation seemed older and, well, White. Not that this is a make or break issue for me, but diversity has always been important to me and I hate going to a church where I can count the number of other Black attendees on one hand. The church has a magnificent choir - there has to be 300 people in this choir. The sound they produced was ethereal. Problem is, they busted out hymns. Again, not that this is a make or break issue for me, but I'm a contemporary worship-type girl, and worship to me is incredibly important because it's when I feel closest to God. Well, Ryan absolutely LOVES this church and would be over-the-moon thrilled if I said today that I wanted to make it my church home. Unfortunately, I think it is a tad bit too conservative for my taste. That was confirmed for me today when the pastor all but endorsed Sarah Palin from the pulpit (I'm not her biggest fan). I think it's time to keep looking.

We've visited two other churches here in Frisco. One of the churches (that we'll call "the Baptist church") was interesting. Again, I had a problem with the worship. The "band" seemed as if they just showed up that morning and asked each other what they wanted to sing without any sort of rehearsal. Again, worship for me is important, and I knew right away this wasn't the church for us.

We attended another church that got me SO excited when I pulled into the parking lot one Sunday. The first thing I noticed was how young the attendees appeared. Then I noticed that there seemed to be great diversity - young and old, Black, White, Latino. Maybe I was onto something. I was excited. But then church started. I can best describe it as church on crack. The music was so loud I thought I was at a rock concert. The pastor was fun and dynamic, but I wondered if that's what I wanted every single Sunday. I knew right away that it was going to be too much for Ryan and that we'd have to keep looking.

So the search continues. We've "tried on" three churches so far. Hopefully we won't have to try on 7 more before finding our church home.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Lots going on...

Our internet connection's been down the past couple of days and I've been at a complete loss! LOL. I'm not sure how we ever functioned without all of this technology, but we did. Now that I'm back online, I'm trying to catch up on the 40 emails in my inbox and the latest news on! I feel so out of touch!

It's been a crazy busy week and I'm glad it's finally over! Ryan managed to get a stomach bug. I've tried to convey to him that he actually needs to stay away from the children because Lord knows that if they get sick, mommy will be the one taking care of them.

I had to try to prepare for our second rehearsal for the "The Bite." I have to say - I was a bit disappointed in myself. I worked on the script, but didn't have enough time to really get as acquainted with it as I would've liked. I ended up messing up lines and fumbling too much. And I was having problems even reading off of the teleprompter! Eeks! It's amazing what lack of sleep can do to you. It's all good though - we actually start taping next week and I'm so excited. I'll be ready (well, that's barring any other illness, poop catastrophes, etc.)...

Many people have asked how we're doing with the NFL season commencing this week. Honestly, it's tough. It is so strange watching pro football on t.v. and looking over and seeing Ryan sitting next to me. That hasn't happened too often in the recent past. We are still so hopeful that something will happen this season and that Ryan will get picked up. If he doesn't, that's okay too. I actually heard of a good friend yesterday dealing with some MAJOR NFL politics and I can honestly say that I don't miss that part of the game whatsoever.

Bryn and Will are keeping us entertained. Bryn is on the verge of her first roll over. She manages to get on her side then she gets stuck. It's too funny. And Will (or Poop Master) - I SWEAR that kid said "come here mom" to me this afternoon before I took him to school. I wanted something out of the pantry. So naturally I stopped everything to see what he wanted (chips). We're starting to hear more speech emerge. He'll say "soap" when he's in the tub. I asked if he wanted yougurt the other day. He repeated "yogurt" and even had a couple of bits before realizing he'd had enough. Hopefully he'll keep progressing - these baby steps give me so much hope!

I'm reading Jenny McCarthy's book "Louder Than Words" about her struggle with her son Evan and his autism diagnosis. What an amazing read. It's with me always and when I get spare moments here and there I fit in a couple of pages. I applaud her "tell it like it is" approach - she's so candid, real and relatable. She makes me feel like we can get through this.

No big plans for the Neufelds this weekend - just laying low. And that's a good thing! Momma's tired.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Poop Master

I wish this was a post to shout 'thank heavens' that Will pooped in the potty, but it's not. Instead, it's about me cleaning up poop for the third time in as many weeks. I'll spare you the details, but I had to clean up Will poop in his playroom today. It wasn't fun. I gagged. Almost puked. Where are the reality t.v. show cameras when you need them??? Surely someone could've gotten a laugh off of my misery.

Things got more interesting though, and it's a testament to just how smart Will is. It's been nice today in Dallas - very cool thanks to the remnants of hurricane Gustav. I opened up the windows in the playroom to air out the poop smell. Ryan, Bryn and I were sitting on the couch trying to regroup from the poop (that rhymed - sweet). My mommy instincts kicked in - it was way too quiet. I sent Ryan to check on Will and I hear "oh my gosh." Will had pushed the screen off the window and was sitting in our front yard on the grass stimming. Nice. I'm sure my neighbors got a kick out of that one if anyone saw him.

Seriously, is this day over yet?

Back from Los Angeles

There's a silver lining in Ryan not being on a team right now - we were able to attend UCLA's football alumni reunion this weekend in Los Angeles for the first time since Ryan entered the league back in 1999. In addition to enjoying all the fun alumni activities like attending football practice at UCLA, Ryan hanging out with all of his buddies at their guys' night out, and attending the game on Monday where UCLA upset Tennessee, we were able to spend some time with the family, and that always translates to good times.

It's funny though - Ryan and I hate going back to L.A. We're spoiled here in Texas with our big ol' house, clean roads that lack graffiti, etc. L.A. is just so different from the city I knew growing up. Every time we go back, we know that it's just not home anymore. How crazy is that? It cracks us up when people say that want to move there. Besides the weather and beach, it just doesn't make sense to us. And for the record, it was hot out there this weekend! Way hot - in the 90s in the valleys. Sure it's a little more humid in Texas, but I can deal with it, for sure!

As usual, I have to give Southwest Airlines props. That airline is just great. We had smooth, on time trips both to and from Los Angeles. The flight attendants were incredibly helpful. And it was kind of funny at LAX - the supervisor who is featured on the show "Airline" totally helped us tag our strollers for the trip. That was kinda cool.