Tag Archives: Health

One Word Photo Challenge: Teal


This week’s One Word Photo Challenge is Teal; a beautiful shade found on the color spectrum of blue, can be found in the pictures posted below.

If you have never known the love of a therapy horse, or have seen the love expressed between horse and rider, then hopefully you can see that and more expressed in the photos.

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The ever so patient horse, encouraging the ever so gentle touch from a child with special needs is awe inspiring. Tears well up in my eyes with happiness, as I watch my daughter’s slow movements in her approach towards her therapy horse, Passion, who is moving in closer to my daughter for her to touch.

Horse/equine therapy, also known as Hippotherapy, has been very helpful with my daughter in teaching her to express herself more. Not only that, but it allows her to have a love for animals that she didn’t have before; she had expressed fear when any animal approached her, whether that animal was calm or not.

She expresses a giddy, “Hi, Passion.” before reaching up to brush her fingertips across Passion’s nose. Passion, a gentle therapy horse on Harmony In Hooves Farm, stands up to her name. Her gentle, calm nature would allowing anyone a chance to pet her. Horses can be very therapeutic and just being around her can be very calming.

You can check out my other blog post for more information on how horses can be therapeutic for special needs children.

The following photos is of some artwork pieces found in Bernice Gardens in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

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Winter Fever, Cabin Blues…


Or is it ‘Cabin Fever, Winter Blues’?

Either way, it’s another fine winter day, stuck indoors. I’m actually being a bit sardonic, but who wouldn’t be unless you could be outside enjoying the weather. Though there aren’t any slopes here for me to grab my snowboard and head out to. Nor is the ground covered in snow, for mini me to go sledding. Instead, the ground is covered in ice that has been melted and frozen, again, and again, over the past few days. Today, our forecast called for a snow and rain mix, which didn’t began falling until late morning. It just made everything that much more slippery. I decided to stay home with my daughter, since I have to drive North where the roads would be much slicker.

Though I have driven in wintry conditions, it is very different here in Arkansas, especially when you’re surrounded by drivers who cannot drive on ice and/or snow. Some cannot even drive when it’s raining, so I find it best to stay clear by staying home. My daughter finds serenity in watching the snow fall. We have a large picture window in the living room with a wide window sill for her to lean on and to also give her plenty of space to play with her toys.

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On days like this, I find myself in the office, on the computer, trying to finish up homework, or work on the next research paper for a class or two, or do a bit of writing. I think if I redecorated this office, it would have more of a calm, soothing atmosphere where I can be more creative. I think it’s the only room that still has the fake wood paneling from the 1960’s, covering it’s walls. Plus, the photos that cover the wall space above grandpa’s desk are decades old and could be upgraded.

I think I may have found my next summer project…to redecorate and rearrange the office.

I mostly find my creative energy in a mixture of places, such as, bookstores, coffee shops, libraries, front porch. Sometimes, the recliner in the living room, next to our picture window is a perfect spot for writing, especially on days like today. Anywhere my mind can roam freely.

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Lately, I’ve been spending most of that free time between classes, in my college library. Just yesterday, I had my headphones on, music going, and I was able to finally finish editing chapter one of my young adult novel. This is the same novel I had tried querying agents last summer for, but without success. It’s a tough job, being an author. Tough market, actually. Some of them were very close in saying yes, adding tidbits of helpful info that would make the next round of querying a bit more successful.

So, I began working on it….again.

There was originally a prologue, but I had cut it out entirely. Now, I added it back into the novel, but instead of it being a prologue, I made it the beginning of chapter one’s story line. I then moved some of chapter three into chapter one, so the next on my to-do-list is to edit chapter three.

I’m coming up on 60K words total…on the manuscript that is. I’m going to make that a goal that I must achieve. Once that’s done, I am finished…I hope, cross my fingers and knock on wood. I’m looking forward to seeing it finalized once more and also hope that I can send it off to the publisher very soon. I think I’ll try querying agents again, if not, I know a few small publishers that wouldn’t mind publishing it for me.

One Word Photo Challenge: Strawberry


This week’s One Word Photo Challenge reminds me of when a few classmates, an instructor, my daughter, two dogs, and I went foraging through fields, woods, as well as through the muddy banks of the Arkansas River, for a project that involved our Anthropology Club. Another student and I had written about our foraging experience and the reason behind it; hopefully our articles will be published soon so that I can share them with you.

Nevertheless, it’s always great being a college student. You never know who you’ll meet, what you’ll learn, or what events, projects, and/or experiences you’ll sign up for. I have never had a doubtful moment, nor have I ever looked back and wished I did something better that day. I can say that our Anthropology Club is backed by some really awesome professors/instructors, who has opened quite a few doors for their students. And beyond those doors is nothing but awesomeness!

The pictures below are of some wild strawberries we found on some property owned by one of our instructors. They’re okay for eating, though the ones we had picked weren’t ripe enough to enjoy and had a watery taste, rather than the sweet flavor strawberries from the farmer’s market or store are known for. It was for a farmer’s market project, as to why we picked them, as well as many other wild fruits, vegetables, and other vegetation. My Anthropology Club set up a table at Bernice Gardens during their National Heritage Month last year. It was a great experience that taught us quite a lot about our state’s naturally grown food and what Native American’s from this area several hundred years ago ate.

Wild strawberries - though a little to early for picking, they were used for a college project.

Wild strawberries – though a little to early for picking, they were used for a college project.

Wild strawberries

Wild strawberries

First mammogram


A few weeks ago I had gotten my first mammogram done. All the old wives tales the older generations of women tell us younger generations of women can be really hard on oneself. I was already feeling stressed out as I had felt a few knots in my left breast and one painful knot in my right. I made an appointment to see my doctor, who then made an appointment for me to get a mammogram to check everything out. Though I’m only 34, I’m not that young to start getting these exams done regularly.

From the stories I’ve heard from those who have gotten a mammogram done, I began to have nightmares. I picture an old dinosaur aged machine that was going to smash the life out of my tatas. I was also worried about my results after having the mammogram done as cancer runs heavily in my family on both sides.

I was led into a small room with this huge machine that didn’t appear to look anything I imagined it to be. Oddly I felt more comfortable. Maybe it was due to the welcoming conversation I was having with my nurse. She adjusted the machine to my level of height and had me place one of my girls on this cold metal slab. She then started turning some knobs on the machine, bring this plastic tray looking thing down on top of my girl, which squeezed it just slightly. I had to move my head out of the view of the xray camera, which had me standing a little awkward and had me pressing my ribs into the machine slightly which was the only uncomfortable feeling I had during the entire exam.

After about a half hour of waiting on my results the doctor came in to say she couldn’t find anything, but she was going to have me go get an ultrasound. It seems that the knots I have are too small to read on the mammogram xrays. Another ten minutes and I was walking with another nurse into the ultrasound room. Being a mom I was already familiar with this device and started to relax more. Though as I was laying there, watching the screen as she moved the wand over my breasts, she hit the knot, causing me to jump. She then slowed the movement and pressed in, trying to find it the knot on the screen. Now this was the most painful part of the whole procedure.

I held my breath and tried hard not to jump as she kept running the wand over the already inflamed area. Finally she found it on the screen, but wasn’t done with me yet. She had to hold the wand over the knot and take pictures of it, documenting where it was located and how big it was. She told me that it was a cyst and that was a good thing. The cyst however can grow or reduce.

After several uncomfortable minutes later she moved to the other breast. She didn’t have me jumping as badly as she had before as this side wasn’t nearly as sensitive as the other. Though I had two knots on this breast, she couldn’t find them. She had to get the doctor to come in and have a look to see if she would be successful. After another few minutes of the doctor searching she told me that it wasn’t anything to worry about, that it could just be breast pain and inflamed ducts and that’s the reason why it isn’t showing up on the ultrasound. What a relief. Then she had to take a look at the cyst. Oh joy! Just when I thought that part was over. She was more generous to me then the nurse and didn’t use as much pressure when going over the knot.

Once she found it, they took more pictures, then told me that it is too small to do anything with and that she wants me to come back in another six months to have another look at it. She said cyst can be quite painful, but if it gets worse or get any bigger to come in earlier.

It was an interesting exam, not what I had expected from hearing my Gram’s and her sisters tell me about their experiences in having a mammogram done. I’m still curious, why isn’t there a better method of having these exams done? We as a whole have bettered our technology by way of phone and computers, but haven’t found better methods in bettering women’s exams than the already outdated techniques.

Big girls sleep in their own big girl beds


It’s hard to break habits once they start. Giving up chocolate, coffee, smoking. No, I’m not a smoker, but I was just naming a few habits that could be hard to break. I can’t imagine going without the thought of popping a delicately sweet piece of milk chocolate into my mouth and savoring it. The heavenly bitter-sweetness of it rolling over my taste buds, as it melts into my mouth causing it to water even more. The chocolaty smell hitting my sense of smell and…hang on a second while I go get some…

It started about a year or so ago. My daughter had this high fever that I was having trouble breaking. I had taken her to the doctor and she was given meds for an ear infection. But that was only the day before her fever reached 103F. She woke me up crying in the middle of the night. I rushed into her room to find her not only covered in sweat, but she had thrown up all over her bed. She was burning up so I thought what best than to put her straight into the bath. I washed her off, telling her everything was okay. Once she was out and dressed I put her on the couch, gave her something for the fever, then went to change her bed sheets. When I came back she had nodded off to sleep, so I left her there, all snug and warm, tucked into a fresh blanket on the couch.

About an hour later she woke up crying again. Same thing, sweaty and covered in throw up. Another bath and this time was put in my bed. She stayed the whole night without waking and without throwing up, though that didn’t mean I slept peacefully. Her fever had reduced a few degrees, but was still too high. I even made a trip to the Children’s hospital about thirty plus minutes away, only for her to be given a gatorade and nausea meds. She stayed with me that night and the following night, just so I could monitor her fever and be close by in case she needed to throw up again. But ever since then she thinks it’s okay to hop into bed with me, especially when she’s not feeling well.

“Don’t you want to go sleep in your very own bed?” I ask her.

She casually shakes her head while sucking on her thumb. She stares up at me with those bright blue eyes of hers and immediately I thought of Puss in Boots from Shrek and how he would look at people with a cute little pout and those big soft eyes. I could tell I wasn’t getting anywhere. She was winning me over. I had to change tactics. Think of something that may work.

Finally, I had a thought. “I thought you told mommy that you were a big girl.” She nodded her head. “Well, big girls sleep in their own bed. Don’t you want to be a big girl and sleep in your own bed? Mommy’s a big girl and she sleeps in her own big girl bed. You have your own big girl bed too. So what do you say I take you back to your room and put you back into your big girl bed?”

She looks at me and nods her head. It worked! Though for the time being as she still gets up in the middle of the night and crawls into bed with me. This whole big girl thing however, seems to not work so much on her any more. Time to think up of something else to use.

Autism and Ignorance


Two things that are often paired with one another, autism and ignorance. There are many people out there who are ignorant on what autism is. You can’t just look at a child and say, “They don’t have autism” or “Oh yeah, they have autism alright.” You have to either be familiar with it, or get to know that child well enough to see the signs.

Some look at my daughter and think there’s nothing wrong with her, that she’s just quiet and reserved. Some tell me that she’s just slow because she couldn’t sing her ABC’s to you. Some tell me that meltdowns are a part of her being a child and that I’m not doing right by properly punishing her and letting her get away with bad behavior. If there was a class to learn about what autism is, I would suggest it to these people, but unfortunately there isn’t. There isn’t a class for us parents who have autistic children, to learn how to deal or cope. There ARE support groups, but not enough out there and some aren’t even nearby.

There are many sides to autism, not every child with autism are the same, it’s that broad. That’s why the doctors call it, autism on the spectrum. One child may display anti-social behaviors, while another child many not be anti-social. One child may like to hug, whereas the other child doesn’t want to be touched completely. Lack of eye contact, inability to understand emotions, delayed speech, all those that I’ve said above are all autistic behaviors.

My daughter has progressed so well since having started therapy. I commend each of her therapist as I’m starting to understand my daughter better and she is able to understand me better. After picking her up from daycare each day I’ll ask her, “Did you have a fun at school today?” It took her many months before she would reply with a yes. A small word that many parents may brush off as being normal, but for me that’s in a sense, moving mountains.

Just yesterday at breakfast we were eating eggs and toast, our usual breakfast meal as she would only eat just that. She looks up at me with cinnamon on her face and says with a big smile, “I like toast.” It threw me for a second as this is the first time she’s ever confirmed liking anything. Better yet, this is the first time she’s used a full intelligent sentence with every word being understandable and clear. She usually talks in babbling sentences with one or two words that are understandable or mumbled to the point I have her repeat what she said just so I could try and figure out what it is she is trying to say. This is where it gets upsetting, her inability to communicate clearly and my inability to understand what she’s trying to say.

Another thing ignorance doesn’t see is that majority of children with autism are very, very smart. Every day I can see just how smart my daughter is. She may not be able to communicate very well, but she does not forget anything, especially if you told her something this morning, she’ll remember it at the end of the day. She can put a puzzle together really fast on her kindle. She can understand three different languages, even say a few words in another language. She can even count to ten in Spanish without missing a beat.

A person should never judge the capabilities of a child with special needs. That child may look at us as the one with a special needs. My daughter continues to amaze me every day. I have never judged what she can and can’t do. I myself will test that, just to show others that you can’t tell me I can’t do something. My exact response is always, “watch me!” My daughter will learn this from me, and I will be there to encourage her every step of the way. Autism isn’t a disability or something to be afraid of. Autism isn’t a label. It just gives a child their own uniqueness. The ability to show those that are ignorant around them that they are just that, ignorant for not believing in what they can do and for judging and doubting them.

With Autumn Comes…


It’s already the end of the month, well, not the last day of September, but almost. I love Autumn. I love the beautiful colors in the trees. I love the cooler weather. I love football. I love wearing scarves and long sleeve shirts. But what I don’t love about the change in weather and this time of year is that everyone is passing some sort of cold or flu around.

Yesterday I took my daughter to the doctor. She had gotten up in the middle of the night throwing up. First thing I checked was if she had a fever…she didn’t. With a quick change of bed sheets and her clothes we went back to bed. There were a few close calls (almost throw up) that morning, but she insisted on going to school…seriously, I was going to let her stay home, but she threw a fit, wanting to go to school.

Upon dropping her off I told them that if she gets sick to call me, that I had to go to class, but I will pick her up in a few hours. Once we got to the doctor’s office she started throwing up. I truly feel bad when she feels bad. I calmly rub her back, hold her hair, then tell her everything is going to be okay. What I love about my little girl, is that no matter how ill she’s feeling, she always continues to keep a smiling face and keeps acting her silly self. I know she gets that from me.

Turns out she only has fluid built up in one ear and looks to be a minor ear infection…I caught it early. The fluid drainage just causes her to throw up. I am just thankful she doesn’t have the flu or something worse, though what can be worse than having the flu?

I hope everyone is doing well and stirs clear of whatever bug is going around. I’m trying my best to stay away from those around me with the sniffles. There had been a few people already leaving class early because they didn’t feel too well, nor did they look it. Lots of fluids, rest, and healthy eating.

Obesity in France and America


Recently I wrote a paper for my French class on the difference between obesity in France and America. How America was the most obese country until a few months ago when Mexico toppled our numbers. It’s a growing concern for today’s youth and it seems to be a problem for military recruitment. It’s even a huge issue where health is a concern. Have a read and see what you think.

Obesity in France and America

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article for the Atlantic, There Are No Fat People In Paris, can easily be seen as false. Granted there are a lot of thin, healthy looking people in Paris, but you will find a small handful of obese people there as well and a larger number of obese people all around France.

Only seven million of France’s population is obese, making France one of the few countries in the world with obesity issues (telegraph). One hundred and four million of American’s are obese, making up one third of America’s population (cdc). America use to hold the record for the most obese country in the world, until recently.

How does France continue to be one of the healthiest countries in the world when butter is served in all of the dishes and bread is served with every meal (the atlantic). You would think a meal full of fat and carbs would be an issue, but in France it is not. There are stairs everywhere; they are more noticeable than the elevators (the atlantic). With the elevators nearly hidden, it only makes the stairs look mandatory to take. The French in Paris walk everywhere, making it seem as if it is part of their culture (the atlantic).

A few things that you will have to look hard to find are gyms and junk food (the atlantic). There is no need to go to the gym if you are walking everywhere or always taking the stairs. According to USA Today, “the French eat three meals a day and do not snack in between meals.”  What better way is there to burn off all of those carbs, fat, and calories then walking everywhere you go or taking the stairs instead of the elevator?

Maybe it has to do with the fact that the French do not over indulge their plates in one sitting as the American’s do. The French have smaller servings on their plates, including their deserts. They even chew smaller bites, and eat fresher food (Girls Guide To Paris). The Girls Guide To Paris also states, that the French are taught proper eating habits at an early age, and that they are very structured. They also sip alcoholic beverages with their meals, rather than taking huge gulps. The French also take their time when eating, which could lead to a two hour lunch break.

Eating in France almost sounds like eating is an art of leisure. While here in America the stress of trying to find the time to eat during our thirty minute lunch break, results in forcing ourselves to eat unhealthy, fast food. Overindulging in fast food results in heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, all of which is relatively high in the United States, but not in France.

Stores located in most of the cities here in America are stretched far from one another that it makes walking from one place to another seem nearly impossible. Everyone drives to their destinations. There are quite a few promenade’s here and there, but in order to walk around to window shop or sight see you have to drive there.

The culture between the French and the American’s are each different. It would be interesting to see how the percentages of obese people will look twenty years from now in France, as well as in America. Will the French catch up to us? Will the numbers of obesity in America start to dwindle? However the numbers, obesity is a health concern. It not only affects adults, but our youth as well.

Links for my cited work:

http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/9612225/Number-of-obese-people-in-France-doubles-to-seven-million.html

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/category/paris

http://traveltips.usatoday.com/food-eating-habits-france-12279.html

http://girlsguidetoparis.com/archives/how-french-women-eat-rich-and-stay-slim/

Another Morning Meltdown


Every morning, for the past few weeks, my daughter has been having these meltdowns when it’s time to get out the door. Since she has to have one specific toy to take to daycare with her, I already have it sitting with my book bag, all ready for us to grab and go. Now she doesn’t want to just take that one toy, she has to search for more to take, which takes much longer to get out the door. I’m lifting bed sheets, looking under the bed, through the toy box, in the doll house, around the TV, just looking for one specific toy she has to have. You may think this is just too much, that I should just let it be. But how would you handle it? If I didn’t let her take this specific toy she’ll immediately throw herself on the floor and begin hitting herself…yes, these are her meltdowns. I’m not talking just light slaps, she has her hand in a fist and hits herself in the head or on her arms.

It doesn’t stop there. Once we found this toy, she runs outside and tosses it off the porch then sits down hard and begins to cry and hit herself because she wants the toy she tossed. I’m uncertain to how I should handle this but to go pick it up and give it to her. That only makes it worse as she wants to be the one picking it up. If I were to pick it up and hand it to her, her screams get louder and she hits herself harder. I then start to get embarrassed thinking the neighbors are probably thinking I’m hurting this poor child. I’m not physically hurting her and I won’t.

I’m at a lost for how to handle this situation. It makes me late for class each day, no matter how early I get us up and ready. She’s also become resilient in having me change her clothes. She refuses to use the potty anymore, so it’s back to diapers, to which she won’t let me change.

It’s like every month a new thing in her Autism emerges and it tests me to how I can cope or to how I can handle it. Some of the things I can handle and have showed her teachers at daycare how they too can handle the situation. But now it’s getting to a point I’m just stressed and completely worn down to tears and feel like having a meltdown myself. I know that can’t be the option. I have to stay strong and keep trudging and pray that I get through the rest of the day.

My daughter is only 3 1/2 but will she grow out of this? Or will it get worst? Parents with Autistic children I’m seeking your help, direction, tips, encouragement in how to handle situations such as these. What do you do to help your child get ready in the morning? Do you have a special routine? A particular way of going through your morning to insure a meltdown doesn’t happen?

Being Alone Can Be Too Depressing


Nothing is more depressing than being alone. Not having a significant other. Not having someone to share your life with. Yes, I have my daughter, but that’s different. Half the time I can’t understand what she’s saying. Not to mention, she doesn’t understand some of the things I’m talking about. It would be better to talk to an adult about adult things. Children shouldn’t have to worry about adult things until they become adults themselves. In other words, it would be nice to have an actual conversation with someone for once.

I turn on my computer and see all the happy couples. Those who are going out on the weekends with someone. The ones that are so happy to have that special someone in their lives. I’m happy for them, really I am, but it makes me feel that more depressed and even more alone. Makes me a little envious I think.

I’m a really good actor as I can hide all of these emotions really well. I smile and act like nothing is wrong. No one can see that I’m hurting, that I’m stress or depressed or sad. Though a few people that really know me could tell something is wrong just from the way I text…short simple answers to their questions, which isn’t like me.

Four years is a long time to go without dating, without being with anyone. Yeah, my ex had hurt me pretty badly, but it’s been four years and I’ve moved through that and into another phase where I think, “Who’s going to date me? I have an Autistic daughter and I live with my grandmother.” Yes, I may be busy with home life and school, but I can try my best to make time. In fact I think it would be best that I did. Just to talk about anything to someone would help relieve the stress I had to endure that day.

I’ve started to drive in silence, no radio playing sad songs on repeat. I need happy cheerful tunes and not let my thoughts take over. I’ve been spending more time with my daughter, well I always spend time with her, but I have been taking time out of doing homework to watch TV with her, to play games, or toys with her. I took her to see Planes, I bought her the movie Epic and sat down and watch it with her three days in a row. I’m learning a little more about the cartoons she watches, who the character names are.

This weekend I’m hoping to phone a friend and see if my daughter and I can stop by and ride one of his horses. Though it’s very therapeutic for my daughter to ride, it is also therapeutic for me as well. Something about being one with the horse, riding at a gallop as the wind blows through my hair, the feeling of being free.

Some people tell me, “Oh you’ll find someone.” I did try dating just recently. I was happy to finally have someone in my life, happy to have someone to talk to, happy to have someone pay attention to me for once. I must’ve been too happy that it didn’t work out so well. There was so much I don’t understand on what happened.

I am trying hard to rise above it, to work through what I’m feeling. I have no choice really, I have a mini me that depends on me to be strong. She has, on a few occasions sensed when I was feeling down as she brought me her favorite stuffed animals and then gave me a hug. I couldn’t help but smile as my daughter was helping me feel better by giving me things that make her feel happy. I can’t complain about that.