Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Meltdowns Continue

So, did you read my post about Christmas and the Chernobyl relationship? Well, we are in full meltdown crisis control over here! I admit, I have been praying for a smooth and 'happy' Christmas but realized after last night that I need to pray mightily for the strength and calm to just get through it without having one of my reactors meltdown itself.

Last night we went to a Sing-Along downtown and of course Preston was bored and anxious and he 'hated it.' Afterward, he started sobbing and moaning because the radio in the car was too loud and his ears hurt. This isn't the first time he has had this reaction to the radio but it was still surprising for me. After sharing with others some issues that he has had with food (its generally a terrible thing - unless it is sugary beyond all reason), people started suggesting a Sensory Processing Disorder of sorts. This seemed like an adequate fit for his food issues with aversions to colors, textures, smells; it doesn't seem to fit quite as well regarding the issue with his ears as it is not an ongoing problem. This is my big, non-medical conclusion to this - his anxiety manifests itself in various forms.

I KNOW he is very anxious about Christmas, his step-sister coming to visit and the Christmas break.  He was complaining of a side ache/stomach cramp on Sunday that seemed to dissipate once coming home from church, rubbing some Serenity essential oil on his wrists and simply relaxing. I think the ear 'tenderness' is also associated with his anxiety and is amplified from stress and lacking the ability to appropriately channel and manage that stress. I personally experience severe abdominal cramping when overly stressed so I can relate on some level to this. As for his "everything is boring and dumb and stupid and I hate it" sentiment, apparently I was the same way growing up and I guess I'm now on the receiving end of every parents wish (include my own parents): "I hope you have a kid just like you when you are grown-up with a family of your own." Yikes. I know I've already wished it upon my kids and I cringe as I think that because really, I wouldn't wish the hardship of raising a child with ADHD, ODD or whatever on anyone else - it, like Christmas, is like getting kicked in the head with an iron boot or like being the floor of a taxi cab.

What I really wanted to do today though is share something Preston's teacher shared with me and it was very validating for me and for my little Preston who deep down doesn't know why he does alot of the things he does and knows he should have more control. From his teacher:

"Update for this week. His grades are up as you can see;  I am hovering to make it happen though.
I want it to get to the point I don't have to check him every few minutes. His behavior was not as good. He can not sit still and blurts from his seat so he got a 'think time.' He was upset, but it is what it is. It is as if his brain does not produce the chemical to help him calm down and he struggles between the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do. Sometimes I swear I see the battle raging in his brain. I wish there was some help he could get so he doesn't have to struggle so hard. We will keep trying here at school. He loves it when he does well and knows there will be consequences when he makes mistakes. I love his perky attitude and don't want to squash it. We will continue on."
She is exactly right, his brain DOESN'T make enough of the right chemicals and his frontal lobe is underdeveloped which is where the ability to focus and determine right and wrong and consequences of both actions occurs. It breaks my heart and I wish there was something magical that could change all of that. I do have an appointment with his psychologist to see what else we can try to help him along. The REALLY good news is that there has been major progress from last year to this year - fewer think times, no missing assignments, greater effort and I was thrilled the other day when walking outside the school with the principal she asked Preston how he was and then said to me, "Well, he's got to be doing good since I haven't seen him this year." That is miraculous!
There is no such thing as perfection only progression. I know there will be set backs (like right now for example with all this Christmas business going down) and he will ebb and flow but if the general direction is that of moving forward and progression, I'm good with that. And so grateful. Mared to all you parents during this last week before Christmas. It's a mother. Peace out.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Money Tree

I wish I could claim credit for this darling idea but I can't - I got it from my good friend and I have high hopes for it! Let me introduce to you, the Money Tree...

She originally had this light-bulb moment in attempting to motivate her kids to make their beds and have their rooms picked up before heading off to school. Each Sunday, seven one dollar bills get put on the money tree. If the bedrooms pass inspection for that day, the dollar stays on; if it does not pass inspection that day, a dollar is permanently removed. At the end of the week, the bills that remain get to be taken off and kept by the kiddos. Preston has been motivated to make his bed, brush his teeth and get dressed (the 1-2-3's) with the opportunity for getting a packet of Bunny Gummies in his lunch (in addition to his regular lunch treat) and that has worked for getting him into a morning routine. The money tree for us comes in to play with his work and behavior at school that has been slowly slipping (in part due to the Chernobyl Christmas Effect I'm sure - see last post). 

Amazingly, he has not had any missing assignments this year as he has been completing work in class (which is truly wondrous compared to the two-page long list of missing assignments he would bring home last year). His behavior has been starting to slip as well (that lovely impulsive factor characteristic of ADHD) and he has been struggling to stay focused and do his work (which with ADHD, I'm not totally sure how to get over that one period). But we're going to shoot for some improvement and we're going about it by means of the Money Tree - a real good motivator! I'm rigging his Money Tree as follows:

1. Sunday night of each week he will get seven one dollar bills put on his tree (I went to Michael's and got a bag full of baby clothes pins - the uber tiny ones - to pin the bills to the leaves).
2. He will keep the dollar for homework scoring 70% or better.
3. He will keep the dollar for appropriate behavior at home and in class (moderation in mind considering that he does not have complete control of his impulsive nature).
4. Weekends require that he remains time-out free to keep his dollar (one and two counts do count against him, only getting to three which means a time-out).
5. He gets to collect the remaining dollars on his tree Sunday night as new ones get put on the tree for the following week.
6. He has the choice to save up his money or we will go on a Mommy/Son date and he can choose where he gets to spend his money on Monday afternoon.

I know, I know - this sounds like a bribe and in a way I guess you could call it that. However, sometimes you have to find something that will really motivate your kiddo toward some positive change (no pun intended) and money, with the opportunity to spend it (we'll have to work on that as he gets older) is hugely motivating for him. He was very distraught when we first reviewed how the money tree worked as he was sure he couldn't get always get above 70% (I intentionally started low because he needs something realistic to start with and we will eventually increase to a 80% or B grade for dollar maintenance). I pulled out a stash of homework and spelling tests he brought home that had 100% grades on them and reassured him that he could get good grades on all of his work. I believe in him and he needs to know that.

I'll keep you posted on the success of this endeavor, but I think the money tree is a great idea all the way around as a daily reward/incentive system. If you end up using this for something you need to curb in your kiddo, please email me or post a comment so we can all benefit! Employ and enjoy!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What Christmas and Chernobyl Have In Common

Meltdowns - that's what they have in common. And you just wouldn't imagine it looking at that darling little boy! But yes indeed, Christmas time does in fact equal CRAZY time my friends! And I don't mean race-around-the-malls or spend-hours-on-amazon shopping crazy. Nor do I mean multiple-family-holiday-parties (where kids are jumping off coffee tables and barfing around the buffet line) and demands-on-time-crazy. I mean my kids go crazy - literally. And per Preston's psychologist, kids with ADHD or other mental disorders struggle with Christmas; count on the month of December exacerbating all of your child's worst nuances, tics, characteristics. Imagine how overwhelmed - as an adult - you feel during the holidays, but that as an adult you have the capabilities to deal with it. We all know our kids are not privy to our years of wisdom and refined coping skills, which paves the way for possibly putting us at the threshold of hell for this most wonderful time of year! It brings to mind Robert Stack (Captain Rex Kramer) in Airplane talking to Ted once the plane has landed and he's just rambling into the radio... "Christmas Ted. What's that mean to you? It's like being kicked in the head with an iron boot." Yep. That says it all.

Okay okay, it isn't totally terrible (just mostly) and I'm seeing the fruits of this tree ripen quickly this year. I honestly don't know what else to attribute Preston's outbursts to. Darling little Preston has once again become extraordinarily volatile. The smallest things are setting him off and his outbursts and meltdowns are lasting upwards of thirty minutes with thrashing, weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. I don't dare go near the dragon's den while he is blustering flames and smoke; the potential to get burned (or turn into Mama Dragon) is too high. I have started thinking (lovingly) of him as my own little Chernobyl. I would guess that he would rate an 8 or 9 on the International Nuclear Event Scale these days and mandatory evacuations or 30 km radius' to prevent fallout and sickness to neighboring family members is necessary. Sometimes I warn the family with my best computer voice: "Ten seconds to reach minimum safe distance."

Despite my jokes, these are the meltdowns and attitudes and instances that really try my patience and that of the family's. None of us truly understand what is going on in this little fellas mind when his boiler plate explodes and we just have to do our best to not be in his way when it does. I simply escort him to his room to 'work it out' and remind him I love him and I'm there for him when he is able to simmer down. I checked the calendar today and we aren't anywhere near a full moon so I really am thinking that the cogs are being overburdened and there is too much excitement. However, life still goes on and this is what I am going to do to ensure a happier Christmas:

Stay calm.

That's it. I actually think that is the best thing I can do for my family and the only element I have control of. One of my goals this week is to label my actions with the following pre-thought: I CHOOSE. I choose to be calm. I choose to not over-react. I choose to forgive. I choose to be happy. I choose to not let Preston's tantrum throw me. The other thought I have been having is that I am an extraordinarily imperfect person and I need to allow others to be imperfect as well (this has been very helpful when it comes to disagreements with my husband). In being the master of my destiny, I am making a conscious choice in how I act and react and by labeling my thoughts as such, I am more aware of what I need to do better at (say if it ends up that I am choosing to be offended - and most of the time that is so unnecessary and not worth my time and energy). And as far as the rest of my family goes, if I can keep calm I am creating a safer place for them. If I can stay calm, they can feel safe, there is more love.

"People learn best what they are taught with love."
Don Staheli, The Principle of the Thing

Best of luck to you all. I'm choosing to have a peaceful Christmas, whatever that means.


Monday, December 3, 2012

What I Was Most Grateful For This Thanksgiving

I've always loved thanksgiving because I love to eat and my family makes amazing Thanksgiving food! Oh my mother's brined turkey and homemade gravy, my sister-in-law's green bean casserole and pecan pie. It's making my mouth water all over again! I also love the simplicity of it - you gather your loved ones together and enjoy just being with them and EATING! Oftentimes we go around the table and talk about what we are most grateful for. My darling little nephew said how grateful he was for his toys. My sister-in-law talked about how grateful she was for a good brain. SO TRUE! At my family's go-around, something happened that halted the conversation so I never got to say what I was grateful for. More than anything this year, I feel so much gratitude for the people in my life, especially my family. Honestly, I have really lucked out in the people department - my parents are amazing, I adore my brother (and boy did I get lucky with the gal he married - we are cut from the same mold! I love the Heidi!!), my husband and his family and I was blessed to graduate from high school with the most amazing friends.

In particular this year, I have been having regular gratitude moments for my father. My Dad, who has always been Superman to me, had a stroke in September. I was at home getting ready to head out of town when I returned a call to my brother who was expecting his wife to go in to labor at any moment - I thought for sure that the moment had come. Instead, he asked me if anyone had called me yet. Confused, I said no. He said that he just got a call from our neighbor saying that our Dad was in an ambulance on his way to the hospital, possibly having had a stroke. It was a very odd moment because I thought, "What? He can't have a stroke. He's Superman and Superman doesn't have strokes. And who in the world would I go to for some clear, sound advice when I need it?" He has always been my go-to guy, even when he didn't know it (and even when I didn't know it for that matter). My brother was just leaving to go meet him at the hospital, my husband was mid-flight and unavailable and my mom was at a movie with her girlfriends and unreachable. The first and pretty much only thing I could think of to do was pray. I knelt down in my living room and just started to pray.

Pray for this amazing man that I am so blessed to have for my father. We didn't really quite understand each other (well, I was probably the confusing one growing-up) while I was young but became close after I went to college and got married. He always makes me laugh and always helps me to find light in dark situations. He knows all the answers and there’s nothing he can’t do. When I’m not quite sure how to handle a problem or if I need advice about life, a tricky situation or parenting, he's the person I beseech for wisdom.

Life has a funny way of turning around on you in that I grew up trying so hard to be different from my parents (which is so dumb, but I guess its part of being a kid and figuring things out) in every aspect and any time they did try to get me to do things their way I pushed back. I hated to bike because they loved it. I hated the outdoors because they loved it (at least I pretended to hate it). I would try to side on the democratic side of things because they were conservatives and I was a major pill when I would have to do things their way (family pictures, vacations). Amazingly, they just left me to my sulky self and didn’t let me rain on their parade – they always had fun and somehow they were still glad I was around. And the funny thing was that even though I was putting on this big show, I was always secretly watching and taking in everything they said and did.

He would put his foot down when he needed to, but the consequences always fell in line with the crime. He would always end his rebukes with a joke like, “If you do what I say I won’t have to send you to military school.” When I sought help as divorce looked my in the eyes, he never once told me what to do but would pose questions for me, and  then he would always say something totally ridiculous to make me laugh and I’d be able to handle a little bit more. He insisted that I learn to laugh at myself and not take things to seriously. I kept all the notes he would leave in my room when I’d crossed the line; I was always mad reading them but mostly because I knew he was right. You can't argue with sound logic. And he would always find funny ways to just let me know that I wasn't on the right path - such as extension cords, ladles and dumbbells under my sheets and pillow when I got home passed my curfew.

So, in my living room, I just prayed that Superman would be okay. And I shot for the moon praying that he would have no lasting effects and that it would be like this stroke never happened. It was amazing that the day after the stroke, he could talk like nothing had happened. His vision was blurry in one eye and he didn't score so hot on the zoo animal test, but otherwise, he seemed fine. We laughed about ridiculous memories from family vacations and the day after he got home when friends came to visit, he stuffed a pillow up his back and came out to greet them dragging one leg; he was still up to his usual tricks and jokes.

Two months later, I'm sure he has some struggles, but you really wouldn't know he had a stroke. I went on a mountain bike ride with him before we had our Thanksgiving feast - what a tremendous blessing. And as we all went around the table that day I felt so much gratitude for the people in my life. Relationships are what make life fun. They also make it survivable when it gets rough. I am so grateful for my parents - they did an amazing job raising my brother and I; more than anything being great examples. I have a good head on my shoulders which I attribute to a blessing from heaven and from teachings from my parents. I am so grateful to have truly wonderful people in my life and that we still laugh, watch action movies, ski, mountain bike, hike, camp and play pranks on each other. I'm one lucky gal.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories

I am so positively thrilled to have a guest post by Adrienne Ehlert Bashista, the editor of Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories. This book has become my new best friend, literally. I keep it on my bedside table to read each night and go to bed comforted in knowing that I'm not alone in my struggles of raising a child with a neuro-behavioral disability. Thanks to Adrienne in all of her efforts to build a community of support for parents and to provide that little bit of extra strength to help us all get through the day.

Finding Strength
by Adrienne Ehlert Bashista
This past Sunday I moderated a panel discussion of the book, Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories.  I co-edited and contributed to the book along with 32 other parent-writers. The panel was at a local bookstore and about 15 people showed up – friends and supporters of the writers, including my mom, and a handful of special needs parents.
I was plowing through my presentation, starting with a nervous and slightly awkward introduction to the book and I got to the part where I talk about how the essays, the blog connected to the book, our Facebook page, and our brand new forum had been lifesavers for me in a time of intense stress, isolation, and darkness, proving to me that not only was I not alone in my feelings and worries and frustration and grief of trying to help my child with a neuro-behavioral disability, but I was actually surrounded by wonderful people who understood what I was going through and who could help…

And I started to cry.
So embarrassing.

Part of it was insecurity and lack of sleep (my child’s been having some serious sleep issues lately), combined with anxiety about talking in front of an audience and add to that the frustration of having to pick out an outfit I could wear in front of an audience since I spend most of my day in yoga pants and stained sweatshirts and I’m never prepared for things like this. Oh – and the 10 lbs I’ve gained from too much sitting didn’t help much either.
But mostly, I cried because I am truly touched by the community I’ve found through speaking out about my child’s special needs and my feelings about it.  Overwhelmingly touched.

Three years ago when Kay, my co-editor/co-conspirator and I dreamed up an idea for a book I was in a personal pit. My son’s behavioral issues had reached a head, he hadn’t yet gotten the FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) diagnosis that has informed our treatment, intervention and parenting  decisions since then, I was working 30 hours a week, my husband was working 100, my son’s first grade teacher sent a note home every single day detailing all the things he was doing wrong in school, my friends had started avoiding me because all I did was vent about how rotten my life was, my hair started to fall out and I gained 20 lbs in about 2 months flat without the pleasure of eating delicious foods to get there. Stress was making me sick. I felt alone and lonely and pretty hopeless.
But then the essays for the book started coming in and I saw my feelings in other people’s stories. We started the blog, and I felt more connected, then the Facebook page started growing and growing and growing…and I realized not only was I not alone, that there were thousands, probably millions, of other moms out there just like me – moms who were puzzled by their children’s behaviors, were trying everything they could think of to help their kids, were taking them to specialists and doctors and therapists and trying dietary changes and new routines and behavior modifications from every book they could read about and still were not seeing the changes they wanted to see. These were moms who felt judged by friends and family and even random people in the grocery store, angry from dealing with unforgiving schools that treated them as if they were the enemy, and just plain exhausted from having to think of all of this stuff all of the time. Moms who never ever got a break because the minute they got a handle on one thing – maybe wrapping their heads around giving their kids medication, for example – something new started up. Medication side effects. Problems with friends. A new grade, a new teacher, a new school year. New challenges.

So the community grew. And I felt less alone. I made some life changes, including quitting my job and treating my illness. My son got out of the classroom that was so difficult for him. And the community grew! Because I was able to worry and vent to people who knew where I was coming from, I was able to reconnect with my real-life friends. Because I was getting lots of good, seasoned advice, I was able to start solving some of my child’s problems. I felt empowered. No longer lonely or isolated! All because I found community!
I got out of my pit. And now I help other people get out of their own pits! It’s such a terrible place to be.  

If you would like to be part of our community, please connect! Our blog is Easy to Love but Hard to Raise, on Facebook we’re at easytolovekids. On Twitter we’re at #easytolovebut, and we have a brand new forum so that people can post about their children’s issues and their own problems with a little more privacy than is afforded on Facebook.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fall and Winter Season Illness-Management Home Remedies

I stopped by my sister-in-law's house last night where sickness was on the rampage. He little girl has had a fever of a 103 for a week and her son just started spiking a fever of the same degree. The clincher is the fact that she has a newborn too! Even though she is very much like me and dabbling in the homeopathic realm, I found myself going through everything she should be doing for the baby and the kids to help keep the bugs at bay. Now, I do have a medicine cabinet with dye-free Advil and Tylenol for the baby in dire emergencies, but I've found that I can manage surprisingly well with my natural remedies.

What's the big deal you ask? Well, for one, all OTC medicines and drugs have side effects and I don't like not-knowing what is inadvertently going on inside my body. I sang my praises to Advil for many years using it to help with any manner of pain or inflammation. Three sinus surgeries later come to find out that something in Advil, Sudafed, Claritin and other drugs promote nasal polyps (which is what lead to three separate surgeries). Who'd of known that? We also know that acetaminophen and ibuprofen are very hard on the liver. There ARE side effects. I still have ibuprofen from time to time in dire emergencies for myself, but I have found other effective means of treating both symptoms and illness. Honestly, my essential oils work more effectively on my cough and allergies than any OTC medication I have ever tried, hands-down (when I wake up in the middle of the night in a coughing fit, I rub some melaleuca on my feet and I stop hacking and am immediately able to go back to sleep - I don't buy cough syrup anymore, ever).

So today I thought it would be fitting to list my 'Fall and Winter Season Illness-Busting Home Remedies.' And with that being said, today I'm very grateful for all that the earth provides for us in its natural state to help keep us healthy and strong! I'm also grateful for the information that keeps coming forward regarding natural supplementation and trace minerals and how they can help to bridge the gaps in wellness. I have a good friend who's son began to develop ticks (Tourette's). She did some research and found that these ticks were linked to a lack of magnesium in the body. She immediately began a magnesium supplementation routine and she commented that the ticks disappeared over night. It is truly amazing but such an amazing blessing. As I'm one more day behind on my gratitude list, I'm also very grateful for friends. They are good for support, laughs and can be answers to prayers. Relationships are what truly make life most rewarding and wonderful.

Fall and Winter Season Illness-Management Home Remedies
- Coconut Oil - Cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil is absolutely amazing. It is anti-bacterial and anti-viral and it works both topically and internally. Although it isn't truly pleasant to eat plain, it is effective. According to Bruce Fife, author of 'Coconut Cures' three tablespoons of coconut oil a day is therapeutic. Honestly, I pull it out when I feel run down, notice a cold approaching or for a boost in the metabolism. Coconut Oil is immediately metabolized in the liver and used by the body for energy - IT DOES NOT GET STORED AS FAT. So have no fear! Have a spoonful in the morning to jump start your metabolism. I also will rub it onto my glands, chest, sinuses - anywhere I am experiencing a problem. I swear this is what helped me turn the corner when I had pneumonia. I keep this on hand always - in my kitchen and a small tub in my bedroom. Ironically, Bentley loves it and always asks me for a swipe in the morning. The unfortunate part is that it is expensive - but worth every penny. They have been selling it at Costco lately for an amazing price; I keep picking them up for food and first aid-storage.

- Umcka Cold Care Drops - This one is new to me but has already made a believer out of me. I started to come down with a cold a couple weeks ago and randomly grabbed this as it touted 'clinically proven to reduce duration and severity of cold and flu.' I also gave it to my toddler when he woke up with a faucet-nose (I gave him a very small dose). I was shocked when my toddler's nose cleared up the next day as did my symptoms. However, my symptoms returned as did his because I failed to continue to use it for another couple days as instructed. Once I got us both back on it though our symptoms subsided once again. Also on the pricier-side, but it seems that most of the good stuff is. They had it on sale at Smith's not too long ago. I also think the drops are more potent and effective than the chewable tablets.

- Essential Oils - These are the kickers. I'm AMAZED at how effective my oils have been. I use Doterra essential oils and always have on hand the following:
-On Guard
-DigestZen (This one is important for me to help with my sinuses)
-Wild Orange

I have alot of oils but the aforementioned oils are essential to treat the main illnesses that are constantly circulating through the home. I also always have empty capsules on hand for the oils that can be used internally.
-Antibiotic Replacement -  5 drops of On Guard, 3 drops of Oregano, and 3 drops Frankincense
-Ear Infections - Rubbing Melaleuca or Thyme oil behind the ears (never in the ears)
-Peppermint oil is effective in treating stuffy nose, sinusitis, asthma, fever and cough.
-Lavender helps relax and soothe and is also effective for fevers, bee stings, bruises, sunburn (almost everything. They say: when in doubt, use lavender).
-DigestZen is wildly effective with acid reflux, heartburn, gas, digestion and busting up old mucous from colds.
-A couple drops of Ginger helps with stomach upset (get rid of the pepto!). Wild Orange is amazing in herbal tea and water and also a great combination in a spray bottle with OnGuard to spritz in your house when the germ bugs are floating around.

My favorite thing to make when it's chilly outside or when I feel like I'm coming down with the gomboo is Cinnamon Apple Spice tea with one drop of Wild Orange Oil and one drop of cinnamon. Make sure to stir well and be aware that some oil will float on the surface. Delicious and so comforting.

-Vitamins - Of course we all know to take our Vitamin C, but in recent years studies have shown that Vitamin D may play a larger role than Vitamin C. I get my Vitamins from Standard Process as they are derived wholly from food and are therefore most usable by the body. Most vitamins you buy at the store are synthetically-produced and that usually means they are petroleum-based. Other must-haves, Vitamin B as it is very important for brain function. Fish Oil is a natural anti-inflammatory and also tremendous support for the brain. Standard Process also has a good multi-vitamin to fill in the gaps for what we are missing from our food and diets.

-The Three S's - Sleep, Stress and Sugar are also key components to staying well. Shoot for 7-8 hours of sleep each night, Avoid sugar and refined carbs when you are run down or starting to feel ill as sugar actually lowers your bodies immune system for a couple hours (give or take depending on how much sugar you have) making you unable to effectively fight 'the bad guys.' Stress of course makes us more vulnerable to catching a bug and inhibits a quick recovery.
I use all of the above to treat both myself and my kids. I start pounding my tea, a truckload of water, capsules with OnGuard and Oregano (five drops each), diffusing the oil in the air, eating coconut oil and taking the Umcka drops at the first signs of a cold.

Regarding fevers - my mother always flips out and asks me immediately if I've given the kids something to lower the fever when she hears their is trouble over here in paradise. Here is what I personally have learned and go by:

- A fever is just the body's reaction to a bug that it is trying to fight. By leaving the fever alone, you are allowing the body to fight it more effectively. I have heard that brain damage can't occur from a high fever but I do know of a few people whose child was never the same after a prolonged high fever (I don't know the details, and every body and its capabilities is different, but something I monitor carefully nonetheless). I have to admit that I follow my gut with how high the temperature is and how miserable the child is. If the kiddo is doing pretty good, I don't worry to much. Listlessness, and being inconsolable make me nervous and I get out the Tylenol and ibuprofen when they are totally miserable or it interferes with their sleeping. I always start with my oils and turn to OTC medicine if it isn't quite going right. Trust your gut and do what is best for you. Best of luck through the cold and flu season!

Coconut Oil - I usually get mine at a Bosch Kitchen store or lately at Costco. Just look for cold-pressed and unrefined; you want oil that has been processed as minimally as possible.

Doterra - www.doterra.com

Standard Process Vitamins - These vitamins are usually sold by chiropractors and individual distributors. If you need help finding a distributor, let me know.

Umcka Cold Care Drops - With the vitamins and supplements at your local grocery store or Whole Foods. They are also available on Amazon.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Gratitude and Re-Committing

I didn't get the 'memo' but it looks like people are doing a 22 days of gratitude type of deal in lieu of the Thanksgiving holiday. Despite it being a little cliche, there's never a really good reason to not jump on board a gratitude wagon. Aside from that, I was also inspired by the lesson in one of my church meetings yesterday, that was simply on kindness, to re-commit to a few very important goals.

1. I am grateful for all four of mine, his, and our children. Parenting and step-parenting has proven to be one of the greatest ongoing challenges of my life. Not one of my kids is like the other. They all have unique stuggles, quirks and personalities that make me want to sometimes either squeeze them like crazy with happiness or frustration. ;) They are constantly reminding me (unverbally) of what my priorities should be and they are constantly teaching me patience. If I can keep calm and carry on (thanks Mr. Churchill), I think I might actually be okay at this parenting thing. From patience and calm is born consistency and greater capacity for unconditional love. Kepping calm and exercising patience is what I am re-committing to.

2. I'm grateful for gratitude. It sounds pretty obvious, but it is so important to remember to feel and express gratitude often. When you do this, it shifts your focus and I think it opens your eyes to more of the beautiful in daily life and helps you avoid the snare of ingratitude which breeds contention and frustration and hopelessness. I am re-committing to expressing gratitude from the big to the small everyday and to find something to be grateful for in those tough moments. When Preston hits a rough patch, I remember how grateful I am for what he is teaching me and the opportunity to help him.

3. I'm grateful for my faith. My faith in a loving Heavenly Father that knows me by name, my faith in Jesus Christ that has experienced everything I have and made it possible for me to make mistakes and be forgiven for them. My knowledge of right and wrong has directed the path my life has taken and continues to influence the decisions I make and the course of my future. Someone mentioned yesterday that God is always pushing us in the right direction. What a comfort - I just have to follow that guidance. I also know that everything in life happens for a reason and there is always something to learn that is for my benefit. Fear and faith cannot exist at the same time; I re-commit to having faith and trusting in the Lord and the path he has outlined for me.

4. I'm grateful for the goodness in others. I love that people will give of their time to help others who are in need. I love that when I was having a rough day, somebody noticed and brought by a delicous loaf of banana bread (I still don't know who did that). I love that when the new girl at school was sad and crying at lunch, Preston went and sat down with her and tried to help cheer her up. I love that in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, there are people working tirelessly to help those who have lost homes or loved ones. Someone once said that "There is inherent goodness in everyone if you but just look for it." I am re-commiting to be less critical and look for the goodness that is in everyone.

5. I'm grateful for simple pleasures! I love my dark chocolate! I love artichoke dip!(I'm eating some right now which is what inpsired this one - it is delicious!) I love sitting on a furnace vent with a blanket in the winter! I love dancing to Michael Jackson on the Wii! I love playing board games with my family! I love sleeping in clean sheets! I love fresh bread from the oven with butter and honey! I love it when Preston says something clever and witty! I'm re-committing to really enjoying the moment and finding joy in the simplest of pleasures.

Moving forward, for family night tonight I'm going to take the kids to Barnes and Noble and have them pick out a notebook or journal. Each night I will have them write just one thing they are grateful for that day. In that journal, I am also going to have them record one simple act of service they did that day (it can be helping someone pick up their books, or giving someone a compliment or helping someone elderly in the neighborhood - big or small). My hope is to keep this going beyond Thanksgiving and to hopefully start thinking more about what they can do for others. Happy Monday all!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween Spider Cookies

So, I missed my post yesterday because I got over-involved in a kitchen re-organization. My kitchen isn't even that messy but I pulled out the vacuum and sucked up the crumbs in the drawers and re-located various items to make my kitchen time not only funner, but easier (and to make room for some new gadgets that I just got from Pampered Chef - which makes kitchen time SO much happier!). The really ridiculous part is that I love doing it - all the time. I've always had a very organized personality. I'm good with that.

At any rate, I spent the day before, Halloween, making my famous chili and cornbread and spider cookies. I went to greater lengths this year as I hunted down natural licorice for the spider legs and a red hot replacement for the spider eyeballs. I used a natural cake mix which honestly, just isn't the same as the cake mix that uses those unstable and brain-altering partially hydrogenated oil molecules. Did you the know the half-life of partially hydrogenated oil is 122 days? That means that after you have consumed something with PHO in it, it is in your body doing who knows what for that amount of time? Crazy!! With that being said, I'd still rather have the taste suffer just a titch than to use partially hydrogenated anything. But that's just me.

Here is my oreo cookie/spider cookie recipe that was always one of the things my mom did that hallmarked halloween for me. She of course used the real red vine rope and red hots which I did for several years as well. Whatever works for you!

Halloween Spider Cookies
1 Package Devil's Food/Chocolate Cake Mix
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Oil
Optional (1/2 cups Chocolate Chips)

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. When you take them out of the oven use the bottom of a glass to press down and flatten the cookies a bit.

Creme Filling
8 oz Cream Cheese
1/4 Cup butter
1 tsp Vanilla
3 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar

Or you can make a regular white frosting to use for the filling. I don't usually use the cream cheese recipe and I almost always add 1 tsp of almond extract to the frosting recipe I do use. Almond extract makes the world a happier place.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Become Your Own Expert

Life is tough. I don't know why I would have ever thought that it should or would be easy, but the more time passes the more new and exciting challenges crop up in my path. It never really works to try to maneuver around the issue because it re-appears with a vengeance. Hence, I have started telling myself, "It is what it is. So, what am I going to do about it?" This line of thinking helps me to 1)keep from panicing or riddling myself with major anxiety and 2)give me a chance to make a choice or how I will react. I actually haven't paniced much lately (which is pretty amazing) I just sigh, alot. And sometimes wish things were different but everything always happens for a reason.

So, I met with my therapist last week really to vent. She has given me most of the tools I need to work through complicated issues and keep-it-together while doing so. It was one of those weeks though where everything was getting under my skin, and writhing - busy husband, very-busy toddler, grumpy teen, and tantrum-throwing, negative, complaining child with ADHD. Ohhhh it makes me tired just typing that - and that's just it, I'm exhausted! Preston threw a tantrum last night that started over cleaning-up his room and ended up in hysterics because his nose was plugged-up. Screaming hysterics swearing he was going to die because he'd never breathe again - seriously. This tantrum lasted for a good 30-minutes. I shut his door and told him he could come find me in my room when he calmed-down and pulled it together.

He has been so emotional this week - well, everyone has. Any coincidence that it is a full moon tonight? I'm just sayin'. It's been a re-birth for me in remembering that with ADHD comes the inability to regulate your emotions - small issues become life or death. I printed out some pictures to go on his state county report and just placed them nicely on his poster. He took one look and assumed I had glued them on and he threw his head and neck back and collapsed to his knees on the floor grabbing his head howling, "What have you done??!!! You've wrecked it!!!! I can't believe you did this!!!!" Well, as I well know, it is impossible to try to talk rationally with someone deep in the throws of anger (or their own irrationality). I took a good swipe across the poster board sending it down to the ground and the little pictures scattering in different places around it (to show him that I had not glued anything). He stopped for a moment and amidst tears simply said, "Oh." I escorted him down to his room and told him to calm down before we would talk about what just went down. This is the other piece to the 'impulsive puzzle' - kids with ADHD don't stop to figure things out; they take what they see at face-value and may or may not be able to handle the emotions that flood them based on what they've concluded in their mind (or at least, they can't process it quick enough to come out to a logical conclusion). Remember, impulsive isn't just pulling your pants down to moon the teacher or throw something at somebody. It comes from an inability to process; this was a classic example.

Anyway, with all of that being said, the biggest phrase from the therapist that stood out in my mind was this: "You have become your own expert." I have researched the disorder, diet modification, behavior modification, parenting technqiues, self-relaxation techniques, natural remedies, etc. I know what his disorder means for him and for me to navigate it effectively, despite it wearing me out often. It's just downright tiring - I don't think that will end anytime soon. I don't always know what to do, but I know a little bit about what is or isn't happening in his brain and to wait out the storm before trying to clean-up the emotional wreckage.

If something isn't right, follow your intuition and start connecting the dots - that's the only way to eventually see the whole, big picture. Then once you know, seek understanding and how to manage. Managing ADHD isn't any ONE thing, it is a culmination. I was on another ADHD Mommy blog today and she had written out a number of things she has found to help with her son, most of which I have found to be true myself. If you are just starting to figure this out, this is what I would recommend:

1) The key to survival, is taking good care of yourself. You won't be able to stand against the storm if you aren't strong enough yourself. I recommend Stanley Block's, Come to Your Senses. Map, bridge, exercise, eat well and get enough sleep. Notice when you are stronger or weaker on certain days and adjust what you do accordingly. Don't pick any big battles when you aren't strong enough to see it through. Above all else, don't panic - kids (aside from bees and dogs) smell fear. They need to know they are safe and you can get through this (even though there will be days when you are certain you won't. )

2) Learn about the disorder. There are a few really good book's out there that will help you understand better what you are up against and the fact that their behavior is not about you or your parenting (although changing the way you do a few things can definitely help) but about how their brain's function.

3) DO play with their diet to see if it helps. DO medicate if it helps.You may need to give this some time. Some people swear by going gluten and casein-free. I swear that eliminating artificial colors is key and supplementing with trace-minerals can make a huge difference. Whatever you can do to keep blood-sugar levels stable (limiting sugar) is also helpful - I think blood-sugar spikes inhibit their ability to think and increase their impulsive tendencies. For some, medication will be a god-send. Figure out what works best for your child and your family.

4) Set-them up for success. This could mean getting them a tutor to help with schoolwork, set-up an IEP at school, praise their efforts, remove temptations, give them tasks they can handle, help-them where they struggle and be sensitive to their moods (just like you would be with anyone else). Talk to your family about your kiddo with ADHD (separately) and ask them to support you and their sibling the way you would want support if you were struggling with something.

5)Consistency and routine. Outline clearly home rules, expectations, bed-time routines, homework routines; kids thrive on routine. Be consistent in your discipline as well.

6)Keep your emotions out of it and find a parenting technique that works for you. 1-2-3 Magic and Love and Logic have helped me more than anything. Preston responds well to 1-2-3 Magic but doesn't always link up the consequences to HIS actions when I use Love and Logic, but I stick it with knowing that some day he will and knowing that eventually he will have to live in the real world and the consequences of his own actions.

7) Stay positive. The best thing you can do is be a good model for your kids. Take care or yourself, respect yourself and encourage them to do the same.

8) Reach out to other parents in your position. You aren't alone and there are amazing people and resources out there - especially with the internet. Surround yourself with support.

9) Don't ever give-up. Become your own expert on your child and what their disorder means for them. It's different for everybody and you know them best. You are also your child's best advocate - be there for them.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fun Fall Foods and New Traditions

I LOVE October! I say that and hear in my head, "That's nothing novel - everybody does!" Fall is a popular time of year because people think of a chill in the air that requires cozy sweaters, fires and snuggling. At least that's what I think of. And it usually means less yard work which means more family time (and that could really swing good or bad - my kids become caged animals!). It could also mean more board game time which I like as long as I am winning. Just kidding - I can handle it so long as the winners aren't being smug and cheeky which usually doesn't happen because it is my husband that always wins and he loves being both (to me in particular).

I also love tradition (hello Friday night homemade popcorn and movie night). October seems to be the tradition 'kick-off' month as we usher in the holidays. I start pulling all my favorite scary movies (the original black and white 'The Haunting,' 'What Lies Beneath,' and 'Van Helsing' - the one with Hugh Jackman, mmmm), and getting my chili and cornbread recipes out. I also have to start planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas and what kids go where and what that encompasses. This year I'm really working on invoking some new traditions to keep the focus on the holiday and the memories and not so much the expenses and toys that they play with for a week and then forget about. My favorite Christmas tradition that I remember more than anything is our favorite Carmel Roll breakfast with German Scrapple, eggs, bacon and barnyard cocktail. I STILL love and look forward to that more than anything and I think my kids do too!

At any rate, I've gotten ahead of myself. And I don't want it to be Christmas yet. Yikes. So, Halloween! The biggest trick with Halloween is trying to figure out how to keep the magic alive without all the junk. I know I sound like such a mean mom but I can tell you that candy with colors transforms Preston into the Hulk. He gets big and crazy (although not necessarily always angry - but definitely more aggressive). Last year I made him his own homemade frosted pumpkin cake in exchange for all of his candy. This worked initially although the luster wore off and he eventually became bitter that I was a mean candy-stealing mom. I felt somewhat re-assured when one of his neighborhood friends told him that her mom made her throw her candy away after a week or so. This year I think I'll do some major label-reading and find a bag of candy that doesn't have anything terrible from the naughty list and trade his pillowcase for that bag. It just might work. Did you know that the mini Reese's peanut butter cups have TBHQ (a naughty preservative) in them but the larger cups don't? Interesting.

I'm also going to try to orchestrate the writing and production of a homemade horror movie (or just a mystery movie) leading up to the big night. I'm actually having some fun with this and making some jabs at all of our quirks - I always say the best lesson my Dad taught me was to laugh at myself. I'll post the script and the movie itself upon completion. If only it hadn't snowed quite so soon. Bah.

So here is what I have on taps for a fun-filled Halloween Night:

~My delicious homemade chili and fresh corn bread (All recipes now posted on my Recipe page)

~Spider Cookies or Pumpkin Cake

~Trick-Or-Treating and Photo Scavenger Hunt with various monsters and creatures

~ Hot Apple Cider while watching our Homemade Horror Movie

What Halloween traditions do you have? If my stupid comment box doesn't work please do email me so I can post them!


Monday, October 22, 2012

It's Not His Fault

Ah Monday. This pic was a sunset but it looked familiar this morning as it was overcast and the clouds assumed a little more color to their standard gray, white and blue. There's always a little something magical about a storm isn't there? There's also a little confinement and anxiety that comes with it - quite similar to the regular storms that come and go with a kiddo with ADHD.

So, back to Monday. A small respite of sorts but also a day of trying to get your head back in the game. Preston went on a UEA trip with his Dad for three days this last week and came home as happy as can be. They biked, and ate at fun restaurants just the two of them. I was excited when he got home and hopeful for the momentum to continue but it came to a screeching halt within an hour of waking-up the following morning. He was sarcastic, back-talking and faking tantrums and anger. At church he was downright defiant and nasty. The fellow behind me stepped outside of his comfort zone and said, "Oh I remember the spot you are in right now - our son was eerily reminiscent of yours. Those are tough days."

We started chatting and like a warm blanket on a chilly day, I felt reassured simply from hearing that someone else knows how hard it is to raise a kiddo struggling with ADHD. Validation is also something that I can't put a price on and I revel in it when I get it. The magic words, "You are doing really well with him" put me on cloud nine as I rarely give myself much props for what I do to raise my child. Most of the props I give myself are in defense of what I'm trying to do (try being the operative word) because oftentimes there isn't a whole lot to show for what I am doing which makes it all the easier for everybody that isn't me to criticize how I'm managing my kid.

In talking with a good friend today, she also said something that really resonated with me in talking about her own struggling son, "It's not his fault. It's just his lot and it is what it is. In order to be united as a family, we all have to be willing to help one another with their own individual struggles." It really isn't Preston's fault that his frontal lobe isn't developing on time nor is it his fault that he cannot process information and stimuli like other children his age; where they might have a little cry or quiet moment to themselves after something upsetting, he goes on an angry tyrade that includes explitives, banging on the door, death threats and throwing-up on the carpet.

Parenting is just tough. The frustration, confusion, concern and tiring days never end. Some days are better than others and that's all we can really hope for. "We made it through the day and everyone is still in one piece under the same roof!" That's definitely cause for celebration as is every day we stay out of the looney-bin as parents. This good friend also said something invaluable that I know, but is easy to forget in the heat of battle, "I want my son to look back on his life growing-up remembering that he was loved. I don't want him remembering that he was always in trouble and that life was contentious and a daily struggle. I want him to always know that he was loved." We love the child and dislike the behavior. I think it is important for kids with ADHD to also know that they are good people - that is their birth right. We all make mistakes - we're human. How wonderful that with every mistake we have opportunity for learning and growth. Take it! It's free!

I've spent the morning re-considering some of my parenting methods and where I have been a little lax as of late. There are some places where as the captain I need to take back control of the ship and thwart any attempts at mutiny. Even simple tactic changes like how I phrase requests, insisting on eye-contact and remembering to lower my expectations. I think it's time to re-vamp and review the household standards and expectations (even phrasing them as such; 'rules' has the connotation of 'limiting'). And I've got to find a way to make this parenting business fun and intriguing even for myself so follow-up is easier to do and that I WILL make the time for it. It's all about trial and error and being easy on yourself when the last trial wasn't terribly effective - or an outright blowout. I'm being taught patience every hour of everyday and life will certainly be a little smoother if I start to actually learn that lesson.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Holding Our Kids That Struggle With ADHD to the Same Standards as the Rest of Our Kids

So... As we know kids with ADHD struggle with linking their present actions to future consequences. This is where being a parent is challenging as we try to teach and train and consequence and re-inforce despite the fact that they don't get it like other kids will. I continue to give Preston choices that he has to live with even though most of the time it doesn't sink in. I also have to hold Preston to the same standards I hold all of my kids too; the home would fall apart if there was not a clear, set of rules and expectations that everyone has to comply with. So, if they meltdown when you ask them to clean the bathroom or take their shoes down to their room, or put a hint of a green bean on their plate, I can't back-down because I expect my other kids to clean-up and try the food on their plate. Because of their emotional erratic tendencies, you do have to go about enforcing a little different. Preston's neuropsychologist put it to me this way:

"I believe that you still need to hold kids with ADHD to the same standards, but realize that they will need extra help and support to hold them to that standard. For example, Preston should be held to the same standard as any other child to do chores, follow directions, do homework etc., however, he will likely need extra supports or modification in how to help him meet the standard (i.e., positive reinforcement, close monitoring, modification in the time to complete it etc.)  Don't let Preston get away with things or not do something because of his challenges with ADHD; help put in place the right kind of support, encouragement, positive reinforcement and appropriate consequence to help him achieve those standards."

I use humor, try to make a game of things or I have to phsycially follow and cue him with what needs to be done. These kids also need specificis - "the shoes need to go in the closet, pick the clothes up off the floor;" "put your shoes away" or "clean your room" may not be enough to go off of, especially as what you define as 'clean' will always differ from your child's (or anybody's) definition. I dangle carrots (bunny gummy's) for completing the 1-2-3's in the morning, I give him a yummy snack before he has to buckle down to do homework and then offer to play a fun game after, or allow him to then go play with a friend. There are of course times I simply offer praise for his effort - this is another key point, we need to always offer praise for the effort and not only for a perfect completion. If I can get Preston outside to clean up the doggy land mines without a meltdown, I feel that is a huge accomplishment. If he misses one or two piles, I'm not going to make a huge deal out of it. For him, it then turns into "I can never do anything right (so why should I try?)." Take baby-steps along the way. Once he gets in the mode of doing something, then I can start upping the expectation as he progresses. Teach and train, teach and train. Do your best and forget the rest.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Little Something on ADHD That Makes a Big Impact

I ran up to my bathroom this morning for just a minute. Every mom knows that despite thinking that the bathroom is a quiet, private place where it is an unsaid rule that you should never be bothered there - you always are. Today was no exception and Preston came wandering on up and started chattering in his usual, loud and un-aware that he is loud voice. The toddler was still sleeping peacefully just around the corner (which was miraculous in and of itself) and Preston knew that after several reminders already. I shook my head in exasperation of wanting my privacy but also that Preston was talking as loudly as if he had a megaphone attached to his face. I realized quite clearly that I couldn't be too upset because both issues at the moment were absolutely and un-deniably categorical ADHD.

I have to remind myself, almost daily, that kids with ADHD are different. Not always different bad, but definitely different. They see things differently, hear things differently, (if they see or hear certain things at all), understand things differently. And really, most of the time they don't understand. I read something last night that truly resonated with me and is something my husband and I often discuss with differing viewpoints:

"Children with ADHD have a hard time learning from experience, whether the experience is positive or negative. The child with ADHD, may make a mistake repeatedly before learning not to do it again. The child with ADHD has trouble applying past experiences to future problems and is unable to predict the consequences of his or her actions."

This seems like fact to me as I see it everyday. Preston rarely takes responsibility for his actions and see's everything as someone else's fault. Hence, I'm the meanest mom ever, all the time. Kids with this disorder are also totally un-aware of themselves or their surroundings - their personal space, others' space, their actions, and the fact that Disaster Clean-Up needs to be on-call 24/7 for the state of their rooms. This is why Preston chattering loudly while the baby is asleep around the corner isn't something crazy - he's just not self-aware. This is where being a parent is challenging as we try to teach and train and consequence and re-inforce because they don't get it like other kids do. I continue to give him choices that he has to live with even most of the time it doesn't sink in. It's still my fault that his lego's got taken away. Yet, I persevere because at some point it will stick. It may take years though. I'm still fighting alot of the same battles, but really as parents, that's what we do until they are moved out of the house, right?

Preston's psychologist told me once that we hold these kids to the same standards as all of our kids; it's how we go about managing them that is different. What does that mean exactly? That's my other big battle - especially with a your's, mine and ours. Talk about crazy dynamics. Oi. And that's what's coming up next. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tone It Down

I know this will sound totally crazy - maybe borderline absurd  - but I will often times ask something of one of my kids nicely the first time and then my tone changes with each subsequent request, until finally, I am close to yelling. And that is when they will finally make their move to comply. So, have you ever considered that in using that particular ‘technique’ you are training your kids that they only need to respond when your tone ‘means business?’

I have become hyper-aware of this issue with my youngest kiddo who is approaching his second birthday. He has become a ferret and is in to absolutely everything and he is constantly testing and pushing me – intentionally. He will get really quiet and I know he has found something or gotten into something that HE knows he isn’t supposed to. When I catch up to him he is either waiting for me with cupboard open or holding a spray bottle or he is already at work with his spoils. At any rate, I tell him ‘no’ more and more and he doesn’t respond until I get very firm. So I am totally training him to only react when mom loses her cool.

I realized that this is why Jim Fay of ‘Love and Logic’ has you sing the ‘Uh Oh’ song. It shows them that you are in complete control and they now get to lose out on whatever naughtiness they are in the middle of. This takes effort on our part because then we have to actually DO something about it right off the bat if we do mean business. And if you are wondering what the ‘Uh Oh’ song is, google it in connection with Love and Logic but it goes a little something like this:

Uh oh! Uh oh! A little bedroom time coming up. So sad! I’ll see you when you are sweet!

Keep your cool by using certain phrases – ‘No problem!’ or ‘Not to worry!’ for the older ones while you collect your composure and decide on a plan and use the ‘Uh Oh’ song or a pleasant tone when you time them out to their room or have them do time in a corner or simply remove them from the high chair if they are throwing food! Keep yourself chill when things get nuts so your kids know that you mean business from the get go and not just when you get mad or you start yelling.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

ADHD Returns and Only Reason With Your Kid When You Are Both Happy

What a rollercoaster! He's up, I'm down, I'm up, he's down - and this is just between Preston and I,  not to mention the other two kids and my husband! I was really struggling last week with keeping my cool and my patience and my optimism and then I figured out the big reason why - and yes, it IS PMS. The 'P' for 'pre' is really the key here. After 30+ years I'm finally starting to understand the signals my body gives me (apparently I'm a slow learner or there really is something to the whole 'the frontal lobe doesn't get close to being fully developed until the age of 25' - so I'm just a little slow) and I noticed that for the three days prior to my period I have no tolerance. Pretty much zip, zilch, nada. I don't even have it in me to be 'mostly pleasant.' On Saturday I was downright grumpy and ready to pounce at a moment's notice! At any rate, I decided that without going into the full details of my 'ailment' with my kids, I was going to buy or make a small flag (Don't Tread On Me would be a good one, or just a white 'I Surrender' flag would work as well) to hang or place in the kitchen along with a 1, 2 and 3 number countdown to alert every one that the dreaded 'three days' has begun and to not mess with Texas (and in this case, I'm Texas). Then the household peeps might be a little more leary of picking a fight because I will actually fight back with them and it won't be pretty.

That aside, it really was an up and down week. Preston, who has been doing absolutely AMAZING at school with no missing assignments and actually completing homework did get his first 'Think Time' and I got a call from the teacher regarding an inappropriate behavior (cue ADHD impulse factor). She was very sweet and went on and on about how well Preston has been doing - especially with his Science Experiment presentation which he 'got up there and took charge' -  but he just had a lapse in judgement in which she didn't even think he was thinking; he just went on autopilot. And that is ADHD for you - not thinking from beginning to end, considering what it his actions mean and the ramifications. I had a little chat with him and told him that we were going to button down the hatches a little more firmly with this particular behavior which could result in more time-outs. Unfortunately, I'm not takin' prisoners on this one, he will go straight to his room to serve his '9.' That also means I'm going to have to up the anty with the positive to negative ratio's and make sure to get in our one- on-one time.

And with all that being said, here is the nugget of wisdom for the week:

The only time to reason with a kid is when you are happy and they are happy.

This is true even of adults. Have you ever noticed when you are bickering with your spouse that if you are upset, nothing he says makes senses? It just makes you madder? And the more I try to talk sense to my husband when he is upset, the more he rejects it. This is human nature - the rational part of brains shuts off and the irrational part takes over. When things start to get heated, I do not engage any further. If he keeps pushing, I walk away. And I readily tell him that 'my monkey is waking up' (the irrational half of my brain) and we'll have to come back to it or let it go. Well, if we can't expect adults to be rational when upset, how in the world can we expect that of kids? Anything you say when your kid is angry will fall on deaf ears. This is when you get to decide to come back to it if it is a big deal, or simply time the kid out and let it go. This one takes major effort and self-discipline and practice. But it can and should be done. Employ and enjoy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Embrace our Differences

I had an old friend message me and ask me a question awhile back that she asked me to answer. She is a fiery and funny gal, nearing 30 and unmarried and the premise of her request was this: "Since I can't make anyone marry me, what I've decided to do is to focus on what I CAN do, especially since a lot of those things take quite a bit of time to implement & become habitual. Then when the time does come to get married, I'll have learned those things & be that much further ahead of the game." I thought I would share my insight here as her request falls completely in line with my life mantra "I only have control of myself." This has been especially helpful to repeat to myself in those moments when you are supposed to count to '10' before reacting/responding - I just repeat my mantra instead of counting. :)

Question: What is one (or a few) thing(s)/talents/skills you wish you'd developed before you got married/had kids or something you did that you've found to be very helpful/useful in your marriage. So, for instance, I've been multi-focal: developing an organizational plan & keeping to it, more consistent personal hygiene (don't freak out, I mean like flossing, & plucking eyebrows, make-up, dressing better), learing negotiation skills, getting out of debt/managing finances better, learning how to compromise when the stakes are high, facing fear, etc. etc. I'm sure you get the point. So my question is, what have you found most helpful? What do you wish you'd worked on?

Answer: I'm going with an overall viewpoint on this one, to embrace that we are different. Sounds simple doesn't it? But the real meaning of this kicks in when you and your spouse disagree on paint colors, couch fabric, china, humor in movies (my husband LOVES "Anger Management" and it's kind of a 'ehh' to me while I think "What's Up Doc" is hilarious and he'd rather work in the yard), disciplining kids, how to chop a red pepper or onion, how to load the dishwasher, what's a financial need vs. a necessity, or viewpoints on how I think laundry should be folded on its way out of the dryer as opposed to putting it on top of the dryer to get the next load in as quick as possible. As human beings, we grow-up trying to figure out how to get what we want and how we like things to be done. Our code of conduct and our viewpoints are what drive us and how we respond to every situation that arises in our day.

It is so easy to criticize someone else and honestly - aren't we just critical because it isn't the way we would do it or we think we have a better approach or solution? Isn't that why our gut reaction is to get defensive when someone questions what we do or how we regard something? Politics are so nasty simply because one person see's things one way, the other person see's them another way and both people think their way is right! And how much time and energy do we waste trying to get the other person to convert to our way of thinking? Too much if you ask me! Any change of heart or opinion is going to have to come from within. If we learned to accept each other's differences and respect their way of thinking, so many 'little issues' probably wouldn't be issues any more.

I was invited to dinner one night at a friend's house while my husband was out of town. They wouldn't let me help clean up so we chatted while they did the dishes. They started to bicker about how the dishes should be cleaned. She was the one cleaning and he was loading the washer and he wanted something done differently than how she was doing it. She simply said to him, "if you want it done a certain way than you are welcome to do it." It wasn't said with malice, she was simply letting him know that she was doing it her way and if he had a problem with it, he could take over. It was one of those 'light bulb' moments for me when I realized that if I wanted something done a specific way - I should do it. On the flip side, if my spouse wanted something done a specific way, he could do it. There isn't any point in arguing about it or wasting your precious energy on trying to convert the other person to doing it 'your way.' My way is not necessarily the right way, nor is 'his' way. The way we think things should be done really is just our preference. This is so applicable to parenting as well.

The other piece  of advice someone gave me but I didn't pay enough attention to, is to always look for the best in people, especially your spouse. If you focus on what is wrong, you will always find something wrong. If you focus on what is good and right, you will find more of that goodness. There is a balance here though that does include reality - if there is a major problem, that shouldn't be ignored. But for the day to day, focus on the positive. As for finding that 'someone' in your life, don't ever marry someone thinking you can 'change' the thing about them you don't like. You don't buy a Volkswagen and hope you can turn it into an Audi. If you buy a Volkswagen, it will always be a Volkswagen. You have to ask yourself if you can forever deal with the things that make you crazy about them (good and bad). You will forever only have control of yourself. And then choose to be happy!

Anyone have any other thoughts or words of wisdom for my good friend? What do you wish you had known or had done or developed a particular skill before getting married?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Relax and Your Body Will Thank You

I had the opportunity a couple of nights ago to have a chat with renowned personal trainer Pete Cerqua. I have been reading his book The 90-Second Fitness Solution and loving it! As I was speaking with him, there was one nugget of information that stood out to me the most and it wasn’t necessarily the fact he pointed out but the reason for it.

You will see greater results and benefit from a 30 minute walk once a week than an hour of running every day. Why? The psychological effect and the lack of STRESS that comes with the walking. When you go for a walk, you are calm, relaxed, you are outside taking in what is around you; it’s just plain pleasant. When you hit the pavement for a run you are on a mission and it has to be ‘x’ intense and it has multiple requirements (by us) and stressors that go with it (not to mention that running is stressful on the body and Pete actually has you make a ‘withdrawl’ from your ‘life balance’ sheet for it).

I also read some tips from Dr. Oz the other day and one of them talked about simplifying your daily routine and having the same ‘darn breakfast’ every day to make your life easier. Another point he made was that if you are NOT five minutes early to where ever you are supposed to be, you are late. Why are these points so imperative - the psychological factor and the stress that accompanies them takes a toll for better or worse. We all know how stress can affect us, but I don’t know if I have truly given stress the attention it deserves. We’ve heard about cortisol that actually helps our bodies retain fat when we are stressed. We also know that stress weakens the immune system (heavy stress actually depletes your body completely of white blood cells – and we need those to fight infections and disease!).  Stress leads to ulcers, migraines, inflammation, pre-mature aging! Yikes!

As I read and study, there is a constant conflict of information that is out there. Some people say High Fructose Corn Syrup is just like sugar and that there is no difference, while others say your body doesn’t know how to process it.  I wouldn’t doubt that for every study that Pete quoted, there was another study done elsewhere that had a different result. I’ve heard it recommended that our bodies need variety and we should have something different for breakfast every day! So what is right? I don’t have proof of this – this is opinion per Brittany – but I think what I’m about to say is pretty valid. What works for you, is what is best for you. BUT WAIT! Before you get all enthused, I have one caveat and that is you do have to make decisions based on good information, sound reason and logic and plain ole’ common sense and wisdom.  If you loved eating half a cake every night and felt just fine about it, you would still gain weight, if not balloon. When I spent two months in Europe and was eating out often, I didn’t gain any weight. I didn’t gorge when I ate, I exercised and I wasn’t worrying about food. The stress that comes with having to do something a certain way, it seems to me, is where the real problem lies. I tend to hang on to wait that I’m trying to get rid of when I fixate on eating and working out. I’m stressed!!

When I last met with Preston’s counselor, we talked seriously about picking and choosing battles and working on staying calm and asking myself,  ‘what is the main goal here?’ or “what is the point I am trying to get across?” The heart of the matter was me and my health and reducing stress. Getting all worked up over life, essentially, will put my health in a precarious position. I still discipline, and I still get frustrated, but I ask myself regularly – how much negative energy do I really want to put toward that?

One of the four main factors in Pete’s book is stress and I love the points and suggestions he makes. That is as a big of a factor on one’s health as what we put in our bodies and how we take care of them. Now go for a walk and enjoy the day!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back In The Saddle Again

SO... Preston's first week of school was fantastic. He completed all of his work in class, did his homework and was thrilled beyond measure to not have any missing assignments. In fact, this morning he came into my room complaining about a sore throat and in worrying that he wouldn't be at school said, "Oh no! I don't want to miss any work and have missing assignments!" From that kid it was almost like the heavens opened and there was an angelic chorus singing - he has that internal drive to stay on top of his work! I am hopeful that he retains that, but it was something I hadn't heard from him before. The days are long and grueling for him which is obvious from his meltdowns last week, but I have been giving him a lithium orotate when he gets home from school and I do think that is helping. I also sat down yesterday to write out my expectations of him during the school year bearing in mind some of the issues we have been having of late (back-talking, whining, non-compliance, etc.). I tried to make my document funny which to him I succeeded in doing somehwat but at other parts he got very concerned and told me, "Mom. You are trying to be funny but it really isn't." Oh well! I can try right? I thought I would share the run down and I know I will add to it as I deem necessary. These kiddo's need specifics and to have it written down where they can refer to it is important. And I did get him outside very easily for Land Mine Deactivation Duty (cleaning up doggy bombs in the yard).

1)       All about a Happy Preston

a.       Respect for yourself and those around you at all times and in all places.

b.       No talking back. You are ALWAYS welcome to impart wisdom, humor and optimism.

c.        Worry about yourself. Braeden, Bentley and Gretel will be just fine without you.

d.       Stay in your space. Other people’s space has cooties and those are gross.

e.        Inside voices inside.  Eruptions and meltdowns can be enjoyed in your bedroom.

f.         Boomering and burping is for personal enjoyment in the bathroom or your bedroom only.

2)       The wonderful world of food.

a.       Dinner time will be enjoyed with Mom at 5:30pm on weeknights.

b.       You have to try what is on your plate whether or not you have or have not had it before.

                                                               i.      You have to finish what is on your plate to earn pre-bed snacks.

                                                             ii.      You have to have vegetables to earn dessert.

c.        Follow the chart for Table Arrangement Specialist night and Dapper Dish Duty

d.       Snacking may be enjoyed every 2.5 hours. Water your stomach in between.

                                                               i.      The Bunny Bowl is for happy, non-artificially flavored or partially hydrogenated bunnies (you get to enjoy the bunny bowl for avoiding naughty foods at school).

                                                             ii.      Bunny Gummies are yours should you choose to do the 1,2,3’s of the morning (make your bed, get dressed/put jammies away, brush your teeth)

3)       Paper Slayer (This is your title when it comes to Homework)

a.       Upon return from slaying classwork dragons at school, there will be homework (origami ogres) to slay at home. You have 15 minutes (or until 4:15) to fuel your body (snack) to prepare to conquer these horrendous beasts. We will work in sets of 10 minutes. You then get a 5 minute time-out to collect your wits before getting back in the ring.

                                                               i.      Playtime outside with fair maidens or fellow slayers will be enjoyed upon slaying all origami ogres.

4)       Team Plays

a.       When someone kicks the ball to you, it’s up to you score a goal!

                                                               i.      If we need your help (and we do!) please follow-through and do!

1.       Land Mine Deactivator (T, Th, S)

2.       Water Closet Whippersnapper (Main Floor) (S)

3.       Light Switch/Door Knob Inocculator (M, W, F)

4.       Anything we know you can do better than us (which is a lot)

5)       Count Momula (That’s me)

a.       I am Count Momula. I don’t drink blood, but do love garlic and unfortunately have very white, pasty skin that starts on fire in the sunlight. My job is to ensure compliance of said Home Regulatory Statutes or to be Chief Enforcer of all duties as outlined in above Constitution. We are all in this together and all have our part. Master enforcement techniques:

                                                               i.      Counting and Taking 9

                                                             ii.      Choices and Consequences (for better or worse)

                                                           iii.      Precision Requests

                                                            iv.      Loss of Privileges

                                                              v.      REWARDS!! Giddy Up!

More than anything, remember Momula’s job is to teach, train, love and enforce. My job is to help you become the best you can be and since I’ve already been where you have been, you are going to have to trust me that what I do is ALL ABOUT YOU AND YOUR LASTING HAPPINESS. We will not always agree, but I always love you.