Friday, September 28, 2012

Light at the end of the tunnel: One day, you will be able to shower before 3pm

By the time I was 21, I had a minivan and a double stroller. 
By 22 years old, I had a 3.5 year old, all most 2 year old, and pregnant with my 3rd son. Around the time I delivered Kieran, Mr. Man got out of the NAVY. He moved to TN, and for six weeks, I was at our house in VA, packing, breastfeeding, and potty training. I remember one day, our realtor came by to show the house and hadn't called. I was nursing, Cam was stark naked sitting on his potty in the living room, and Dylan was running around in his underwear. I remember having a nervous breakdown that day.
4th of July 2006. This was my era of 3 car seats, a double stroller, and baby sling. Going to the grocery store was a nightmare. Truthfully, going anywhere by myself was a nightmare. By the time I would get everyone dressed, the baby would need to nurse and then, we would have to wait 15 more minutes for my potty trainer to make pee-pee before we left the house.. Nurse the baby, put everyone's shoes on, and rush out before I needed to feed the baby again. I remember "dressing up" was getting a shower, and out of my pjs. Wonder why some moms look "frumpy"? Because, during this time, we can barely shower, much less keep track of laundry, and do our hair. 
September, 2008, I had a 5.5 year old, 4 year old, 2 year old, and 4 month old. I call this period, perpetual stress. Dylan was always late to Kindergarten. The house was always a disaster. I felt stressed all of the time. Again, every wonder why moms of young kids seem to be stressed and habitually late? Imagine having to dress yourself, and 4 other people, changing multiple diapers, getting zero sleep, only to have to wake up early and start the day all over again. People would always say, "I don't know how you do it!" I'd smile and give some "children are such a blessing" speech, when really, I wondered how long before I'd be checking into the nut house. During this time, my oldest, very wise sister told me, "One day, it won't be like this! You'll be able to leave the house without a diaper bag and stroller. You won't have to buckle car seats! Hang in there." 

September 2012. Listen up Moms, one day, this is not a dream. Your time is coming.
One day, you will be able to:
  • Really talk with your kids, and get intelligible words back.
  • Go to the grocery store, and send your kids to get various items, while you walk slowly down the aisles.
  • Hop in the car, spur of the moment, and go somewhere..sans diaper bag, stroller, and  a change of clothes.
  • Go to restaurant, and eat.. in peace. No high chairs, screaming, cutting up food or getting hot water to heat up a bottle.
  • Lay out at the pool and beach! One day, you will be able to soak up the sun, without worrying about who's drowning, or eating sand. 
  • Go on road trips, and not having to stop to feed them. You can hand back happy meals, and keep driving.
  • Chores. Glorious chores! You will have HELP in the housework. And guess what? The older they get, the cleaner they get, because they realize how much work it takes to pick up their mess!
  • You can primp, put on make up, and dress up. You won't have to worry about a baby spitting up on you or how easily you can nurse in what shirt or running after a toddler in heels. Your kids will wake up, get themselves breakfast, and dress themselves!
  • You will sleep in! Saturday mornings, you will be able to sleep in, knowing your kids can fend for themselves, turn the tv on to their cartoon station, and keep it down.
  • You will be by yourself. One day, the kids will go to school, and the day will be yours! You will be able to sit and read. You can clean in peace, and remark how quiet the house is. 
  • You don't have to share. No longer will you have to share whatever sweet you eat after you put the kids to bed. If they catch you, you can tell them it's yours, without a melt down, tantrum. 
  • They will read themselves a good night story. You will send them to bed, and they will lie in bed reading, while you watch whatever show you desire.
  • They will be empathetic. When you have a hard day, you don't have to cry alone in the shower, your kids will ask you how they can help. 
  • You and your husband will have conversations that do not include the consistency of diaper contents, who smeared toothpaste all of the bathroom, and who's teething. You'll connect on an adult level.
 These things, I one day thought would never be possible, are happening. I remember dreading getting out of bed just thinking about my exhausting day ahead. I'm glad I had someone there to tell me it wouldn't always be like this, that this was just a stage of life, and to hang in there. So, to all of my mamas, who are sleep deprived, emotionally and physically drained, and feeling like there's no end in sight, hang in there! There's light at the end of the tunnel!   

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Because Failure is Not an Option: What I wish other Moms understood about ADHD children

 "He touches everything. He runs away when I call him. He can never keep track of any of his belongings. He hyper focuses. It's like he can't hear me. He blurts out inappropriate things. He has melt downs and tantrums. Is he bipolar? Am I a bad parent? Why can't I get through to him?...." These have been my thoughts for the past 6 years.

When Kieran was two, I discovered he was a different child. He would crawl on top of the counter tops, climb shelves in the pantry, and finger paint with any toothpaste, soap, shampoo or Destin tube he could find. I chalked up his behavior to an extreme case of the terrible twos, but as he got older, his activity level only seemed to increase. 
Kieran was always on the go. Always exploring, always touching, always talking, and rarely listening or paying attention, or so it seemed. The older he got, the more stern we got with him. We set limits, time outs, spankings. We tried praising, reward systems, 1,2,3 magic. I bought so many parenting books, I could open my own library, but nothing seemed to click with him. 
This past Summer was very rough. While we followed our pediatrician's advice to "be consistent and wait it out," Kieran's behavior was becoming increasingly exhausting. It would take him 20 minutes to brush his teeth. He would get overwhelmed by putting his shoes on, and instead sit down and cry. Teachers at school and church talked to us about his "behavior." Birthday party invitations were few and far between. He had become "that kid." My heart broke. In August, we saw one of the nation's leading psychiatrists in the field of ADD/ADHD. Kieran was diagnosed with having ADHD. He started 2 kinds of medication. One for his attention, and one for his mood swings or frustration.
What I wish moms would understand about Kieran, is that he's a sweet little boy. He's kind and loving and has a tender heart. Kieran forgives quickly, and is always up for an adventure. He's spontaneous and funny, and loves family time. Kieran makes me laugh. He's observant. He remembers everything. He loves Legos. He understands justice. He loves Jesus. He picks memorizes Bible verses faster than his brothers. He takes his big brother duties seriously. He tries so hard to listen and sit still, but his brain just doesn't work like that. I wish moms would understand how regular discipline methods don't work. How Kieran realizes that he's different, and has cried many times saying how he doesn't have any friends. I wish other moms would understand how hard it was to make the decision to put him on medicine, that it wasn't our first, or second, or even third option, it was our last resort. I wish people would see the sweet baby that stole my heart, and still does, and see what an amazing child he is, if they just look past the wiggles and tantrums. 
 Because this, is who we see him as. Parents of ADHD children have to work 10x harder to make their child listen, focus and follow through. Medicine is not a magic pill that makes your child become an angel. It is merely a tool to help their brains focus more. Since his medication, I've seen some improvements, however, we still have trouble with every day tasks. Kieran is 6 yrs old, and we still put his shoes on and tie them for him. He still hasn't mastered a bike without training wheels. It takes him atleast 20 minutes to brush his teeth, because each task requires attention. 

Brushing teeth:
#1. Walk to bathroom
#2. Pick up tooth brush

#3. Unscrew lid on toothpaste, and place on tooth brush
#4. Put tooth brush in mouth, rinse, spit and put away.

These steps come so naturally to me, that I don't even think about them, but for a child with ADHD, everyday tasks can take much longer.  

Recently, my four year has been struggling in preschool. I see the signs. I cried this morning. I told Mr. Man I felt judged. Nothing was worse than telling people we finally put Kieran on medication. What if we have another child ADHD? What will people think? Will they judge us? Thinking we're lazy parents who can't control our kids? As I sat on our bed going through all of my what-ifs and worse case scenarios, Mr. Man just looked at me. He said, "Hon, it is what is. What is it going to change what others think? I was the exact same way when I was younger, and look how I turned out."...............It was in this moment, that I used every ounce of restraint that I had. Because as much wisdom was in the first part of his statement, the latter left me wanting to scream, "SO YOU'RE THE CULPRIT!!!!! It's your genes fault!" Luckily, I kept my mouth shut.

After my pity party, I started reading into diets that help alleviate ADHD symptoms. The fact is, when we are parents, failure is not an option. We group, and regroup, and keep pushing and exploring what will work for our kids. We will pay over a thousand dollars to consult with an expert, and wear last years flip flops all Summer long, if it means we're giving our kids the best shot. So, to all of the other Mamas struggling with me, know you're not alone. I've just started my journey, and I know it's going to be a long, up hill one, but any mama knows, our babies are worth.

If you think your child may have ADHD, where to start?
  1. Talk to your pediatrician. Ask them questions. Ask, ask and ask some more.
  2. You're going to need several different doctors. A pediatrician, a psychiatrist, and a psychologist. (Psychiatrist are pretty much worthless except writing scripts. For behavior advice, parenting tips, etc. find a licensed psychologist who is experienced in this field. Keep your pediatrician abreast. We love and trust our pedi, and really respect his opinion. 
  3. Question everything, do your own research. I spent more hours researching medications, side effects, long term effects, neurological effects. I have a little background in science, so I understood most of the nerd lingo. But this is important. Your child should not be a zombie. Medicine should not alter their personality or make them into a shell of their former self. If it does, call your psych, and ask for different meds. 
  4. Get organized. Children of ADHD do better on a predictable schedule with a calm environment. Sometimes, just sitting in a quiet room for a little bit helps Kieran calm down. I keep his room squeaky clean so that he is able to relax and unwind at bedtime. 
Let people know. If you receive a diagnosis, let people know. While we do not allow Kieran to use it as a crutch, we do explain it to adults, teachers, and other caregivers. ADHD is NOT a discipline problem, it's a neurological one. His school has copies of his papers, and medication transcripts. Knowing that your child is trying to behave and struggles, is different then a defiant child. Be prepared for judgements, comments, and all sorts of suggestions, anything but medication. Remember, whatever you decide to do to help your child, it's your decision. Be firm. Be brave. Failure is not an option.


Monday, September 10, 2012

My past week of randoms: Pat, overheard redneck, and hug a hero

I officially started my Fall semester at Motlow. This will be my 6th semester at this little community college, and hopefully my last. Parts of the campus are circa de 70s, while other portions look like they don't belong. Most of the buildings are..ugh, but the library is amazing.
The upstairs, where I usually nerd away
The Foyer

Sorry, I digress... Remember the SNL skit on Pat? Is it a he? Or is it a she? It's Pat!
My first day of Sociology, my professor walked in and looked up and declared, "Wow, just chicks!" Then, looking at "Pat" said,"Well, one dude, that's all right man, we're not complaining." The class just sat in silence, but I thought obviously my professor was grossly mistaken, this person was certainly a girl, right?...

Our next class, our professor asked Pat a question.. something regarding how their home life influenced who they are, but it included the professor saying something about Pat being a boy. Hmm. By this point, I was downright confused. Because our professor only uses last names, I could never tell if it was Ms. or forward to our 4th class. We walked in today, and our prof was referring to Pat as "Miss." Okay, now, I was just baffled. After the whole childhood-sociological-boy talk, I assumed the professor knew something we didn't. I spent the rest of class doodling and checking my curse word count since the professor curses like a sailor. Irresponsible you say? Not really. I realized my first class, that 20% of our grade is class participation, but the prof doesn't like to call on you if he thinks you're paying attention. He likes to catch people off guard, so all you need to do is interject and give one really good answer, and he purposely won't call on you for the rest of the class. (Side note, at first this annoyed me, because I'm a know it all, but then I realized I could use the rest of the class doing other work, so I just work ahead in the book and take my own notes) 

At the end of class, after I had made 21 checks on the curse marker for today, I went up to said professor to clarify the gender of Pat. I told him I was confused because I had heard him refer to Pat as male & female....and the ANSWER WAS????????

She was waiting for our professor this am in the teacher's lounge, and set the record straight. I feel really bad for her too. She seems pretty shy, which is probably why she didn't speak up during class. Still, this goes in my random items category. 

Oh, rednecks... While waiting for one of my classes to start, I overheard two rednecks discussing having to take a foreign language. Knowing full well this was good blog material, I started jotting down their conversation.

Boy #1: I don't really see the point. I'm American, why do I have to learn Mexican? I don't ever see leavin' here.

Boy#2: Yeah, but if you head on down to Alabama, dey got some Mexicans down there. You gotta talk that Mexican there.

Boy#1. I ain't never go down that far, I all got is right around here.

And lastly.. ever heard of hug a hero?....

These are dolls supplied to military kids for free for when their parents deploy. They take a full body shot of the parent, and then place the picture on the doll. Speaking as a former Navy wife who's been through 2 deployments, I wish I had had these for my kids. However, my story regarding how I heard about the doll isn't sappy, so let's get back on point... One of my girlfriends recently got divorced to her military spouse, and he's been a bit of a dead beat, so much so, that the deployment daddy doll has been hanging out with her son a lot. Today, she said when she dropped him off at school, her son said, "By dad! I'm going to school now, I'll miss you," and placed his daddy doll in the car seat. I'm going to rename this, the "Deadbeat Dad Doll."

Monday, September 3, 2012

Girlfriends all women should have

I have always related to women, more than men. Maybe it was growing up in a house with all women, but for whatever reason, I have always surrounded myself with amazing girlfriends. Each of my friends is different, and each girlfriend thinks differently and adds a different flare to my life. 
The Spiritual Advisor Girlfriend: This is the girlfriend who may not always side with you, but will always offer Godly advice from a Christian perspective. My mom, sisters, a former teacher, and other various girlfriends fit into this category. Life is hard, sometimes, you need sound, Biblical advice. These girlfriends will pray with you and for you. They encourage you to grow in your walk with Christ, and keep you on track with the Lord. Sometimes, it's hard to hear their words, but these girlfriends will not waiver to your pouting, and encourage you to walk the the walk.
The Tell It How It Is Girlfriend: I love opinionated people. I have strong opinions and am passionate about how I feel and my beliefs. My girlfriends Tammy, Teresa, Shannon, Joan, Kelley,  and Bethany are a few I can think. These girlfriends do not mince words and will give their opinions without reservations. These girlfriends seek justice for others, and encourage you to stand up for your beliefs. They are your fighters. They are extremely loyal and will stick by you through thick and thin. When you have been wronged, they are the first to your defense. These girlfriends will have your backs no matter what. 
The Peacemaker Girlfriend: Everyone needs a sweet, nice, likable girlfriend. Mine are Martha, Sara, and several other "nice-ies." I love the peacemakers, when I'm ready to fight, they are there to cool things down, and offer a solution. These girlfriends are able to keep a cool head under pressure, and calm things down. The peacemakers have many friends, because they are kind hearted, and are able to hold their tongues. The exhibit the self-control I wish I had, and instead of seeking justice, are more concerned with seeking a resolution.

The Pick-Up Where You Left Off Girlfriend: Dana, Anna, Stephanie, and Danielle, have been my friends since high school. We can go months, even a full year without speaking, but when we see each other, we don't miss a beat. Every girl needs a girlfriend that knows her history. There's no explaining, no putting on errs, she already knows that time you skipped school, or the drama of your first divorce. She knows how you grew up, and how you got to where you are now, and still loves you for it. These girlfriends remind you of where you came from, and how far you've come. They keep you grounded and keep you young. Everyone needs to hold onto these girlfriends, because no matter, through all of the years of drama, tears, and fights, you're still there for each other. These are lifetime friendships.

The Cheerleader Girlfriends: I have tons of these. I love positive people. My girlfriends Amy, Donna, Ginger, Sue, Carrie, and Debbie are so supportive. When I'm having a rough day, they encourage me. When I need to vent they tell me I can do it! Every girlfriend needs a friend who sees the best in them, and helps push them through the hard times. These people are so positive, it's impossible to not be positive around them. These girlfriends put a smile on your face, and you always have a great with them. 
The Internet Girlfriends: When I was pregnant with Kieran, I became friends with a group of Mamas online. Shannon, Jesse, Sharon, Lou,  Hannah, Marianne, Lindy, Sarah, Paula, Christy, ....I could go on and on! My pregnancy with Liam lead me to search out a group of Mamas with similar due dates. Maybe you meet these people by chance, or they are old friends or people you've never met. I LOVE my internet girlfriends. I have met lifelong friends who listen to my heart and share theirs. Internet girlfriends open up their lives and souls to you, and help you sort through life's issues. Everyday, I log on and see how my sweet internet girlfriends are doing. One of my very best friends I met online. We call each other several times a week, and have seen each other numerous times. These are people that judge you based on your words, not on your appearance, or actions. These are imperative. They offer unbiased advice, cheer you on, and share their life experiences. I don't know where I'd be without them! 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fall Creek Falls: Falling in the Falls PART II

This area is called the "Cascades." In order to get this picture, I had to lie on my back and tilt my camera at a certain angle. Cam and Dylan were convinced I was going to fall to my death and kept begging me to stop and come back. We had been walking about for all most 2 hrs, and it had begun sprinkling again. Before we left, I wanted to get one good shot of all of us in front of the falls. This is where are trip went down hill very quickly.

See that rocky ledge to the right? My idea was to get everyone sitting on there. Mind you, we had been walking all over these wet rocks all day, so I wasn't the least bit concerned. I began crossing over the wetting spot, when I felt myself slipping. I was holding Briley, and didn't want us going down the little edge into the pool of water, so I stuck my left hand out, turned my right foot out, and fell straight on my wrist, and bottom. As I was falling, I heard a pop in my right knee. Lying there in the water with Briley on my stomach (completely unscathed), I told Kevin, "I broke my leg. I broke my leg! Something popped! I can't move my knee!" Kevin walked over to get Briley from me, and as soon as he got him, Liam fell off of the ledge to the BACK. 
I heard Kevin saying, "Hon! GET HIM! HON behind you! He's going under. HON now!!!!!" I was still lying in the middle of the ledge, but I knew if I went over too fast, I would fall in, and might not be able to grab Liam out. I was sliding over as Kevin was screaming, and watching Liam treading, treading, sinking, the second his head went under, I pulled him out. It was terrifying. I hugged my dripping little boy, and handed him to Kevin, as Kevin helped me up and handed me Briley. 
Around this time, Cameron decided to push Dylan into the water. Mind you after my fall and Liam's near drowning, a small group of spectators on the suspension bridge above us had gathered and were gawking at our family. Dylan fell in holding Abby's leash, and Abby was jerked into the water. Kevin put Liam down, ran over and pulled Abby out. Dylan crawled out and yelled, "I CAN'T BELIEVE IT! YOU HELPED THE DOG FIRST!!!!" I was laughing out of exhaustion and Kevin told him, "You can swim, the dog can't." 

 As the adrenaline began to wear off, my knee started killing me. Remember my "Flashlights, Parasites and Scotch tape" post where I discuss Kevin's lack of empathy? I told him I was in a lot of pain, and maybe we should just head back early. He told me I can put my foot up just as well here as anywhere, and that he already paid our $60 for the three day reservation. At this point, Dylan and Cam chimed in telling him they were done and that this park stunk. Poor Mr. Man. I know he put in so much hard work. Kevin began packing up and within an hour, we were pulling out of Fall Creek Falls. 
We arrived home, and my dear friend/neighbor offered to bring me an ace bandage. Mr. Man was still convinced we should have stayed and that "a little ice" would have fixed me up. We went to bed, and I woke up around 1am with a burning sensation all over my knee. I went into the bathroom, and realized I was allergic to something in the ace bandage and it was burning my skin. It reminded me of when I was in Middle School and used to use that hair removal for my mustache. If I left it on too long, it take off a layer of skin, leaving me with a rash stache. After took off the ace bandage, I splashed water on my leg and was left with a rash in the checkered pattern of the bandage. I hobbled back to bed.
This morning, I convinced Mr. Man to take me to the ER. I was given this behemoth, some Lortab and naproxen, and told to follow up with an orthopedic doctor next week. I don't think the PA really cared too much about my knee. I asked about an MRI and he schooled me saying there were only used in emergencies. I all most cried when they straightened my knee to put the brace on. Kevin and the boys had eaten lunch and gotten new shoes at Kohl's. By "new shoes" Kevin bought his same style of Sketchers that he's worn for the past 8 yrs, and bought Kieran and Cam some "special" bright orange and black tennis shoes. (Because orange and black match everything, right?)

 I felt bad about calling the pharmacist on a holiday, so I went home and found some hydrocodone tablets from 2007 and took one. I'm pretty sure I tore a ligament, but we'll have to wait and see. I can say very confidently that was the worst family vacation ever, and that we will most likely not be back to Fall Creek Falls.  

Fall Creek Falls: Before the Fall PART I

For Labor Day weekend, we decided to pack up, and head to Fall Creek Falls State park. We knew FCF would be busy during the Holiday weekend, so Thursday night, Kevin took the camper and reserved our campsite. This also happened to be the weekend our good friends were attending a wedding, so we had five boys ages 2-9.5 yrs old. Friday night, we loaded up in our excursion, Clampet style with 5 boys, 1 dog, and camping supplies. Normally Friday nights mean pizza and a movie, so we were lucky to find a Little Ceasar's on the way to the park. 

We arrived just before sundown, and it was packed and loud. Normally, state parks have large campsites that are spread apart, and lots of room to ride bikes and hike. We were packed in like sardines, and our neighbors were noisy. Yes, yes, "What did you expect on Labor Day weekend?" I don't know. Just not this. We unpack the car, and realize we have forgotten the pack-N-play, which means sweet Briley would be sleeping in between Kevin and I. 

Our camper has 3 bunks, and 1 queen bed. The bunks are very long. We also have 2 tvs.
At bedtime, we put on a movie for the boys, and lay in bed watching our tv. As you can imagine, reception wasn't great in the middle of nowhere, while the boys watched Alvin and the Chipmunks:Chipwrecked for the 13th time; Kevin and I watched an entire hour of Ireland cheese making. Briley finally fell asleep stretched out in the middle of the bed, suffice to say, we didn't get much sleep that night.

Saturday morning we woke up ready to start our adventure, and it was drizzling. We packed up anyways, and headed to go hiking and look at some of the falls! It was beautiful. We first stopped at George's Hole. Kevin found the name very humorous, and proceeded with many "Honey, I want to go to George's Hole. Do you want to see his hole?" Sometimes, he's worse than the kids. 
 We got out and let Abby off of her leash. (Another perk of camping) Abby loves our camping adventures because she's allowed to get off of her leash and run as fast as she can and sniff all sorts of good smells. Abby is a very smart dog, but a bit of a sissy. When it came time to go across the suspension bridge, she began shaking and had her claws digging into the wooden planks. We praised her and coaxed her along, but somewhere in the middle, she began tinkling on the bridge. Poor Abbs. 

Next, we headed to see the Falls. Kevin and I switched Briley duty on and off and away we explored.
After some exploring, I got a brilliant idea of taking a picture with all of us in front of the falls. To be cont'd...........