Friday, December 31, 2010

A Thankful New Year

My favorite book is called The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. The basic theme of the book is that all the universe conspires to give us what we need. That message has never been more clear to me than it is today.  I am so blessed. I have so many amazing people in my life. Their unwavering love and generosity humble me.

As I sit and contemplate the end of this year and the start of the new one, I am filled with optimism.  This journey is a bumpy one, and the road ahead is unclear, but we are surrounded by love, and that is the best navigation tool there is.

Thank you my friends!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Queendom for a good night's sleep!

When they told me that one of the side effects of Jonas' ADHD meds is trouble sleeping, I nearly cried. I don't think I've had a solid night sleep since I started living with a boy. (Yes, I snore too, but that's beside the point. I don't keep me awake when I do it!) I certainly haven't had one since I gave birth, broke my shoulder this past summer, or since the litter of kittens arrived in November. And I definitely have not slept well since Jonas started his ADHD meds. I'm pooped!

Ever since he was a newborn, we've been blessed with Jonas and sleep. Except for a rough patch when he was about four, he has never had trouble sleeping. He usually takes a while to settle down to sleep, and wants to keep talking after bedtime stories are finished. We've tackled that by making a habit of talking about three more things after the story is done: the best part of the day, the worst part of the day, and how we're going to make tomorrow better. After that, it's lights out. He has the occasional nightmare, and he's inherited my family's gene for talking in our sleep, but as a general rule, he sleeps very well.

This medication is messing with that and I'm not sure how long I can stand it!!

Today we conquered the beast! He was out within half an hour of going to bed. It could be that his body is getting used to the meds, or all the fresh air and exercise today, or the lack of Christmas sweets the last few days, or... WHO CARES! I'll take it!

Jonas sleeps just like his Dad - deep and sweaty. Normally,
we could drive a firetruck through his room and he wouldn't wake up.
Of course, that doesn't mean I'll sleep but is one less obstacle. Thank you Lord!


Good 'ol Fresh Air & Exercise

They say that fresh air and exercise are two of the most important things for our kids with ADHD. You don't have to convince me. I believe it's important for everybody. Every parent knows how rangy most kids get if they don't get outside to play, and around here, we all get cranky if we don't get enough. It's easy to get caught up in the day to day minutia of life, so we try to get out as often as we can.

Jonas is one of those kids who would play outside all day every day if we let him. One of our strategies for dealing with his ADHD is to get him outside every day, for as long as we can. The more fresh air time he gets, the more manageable his symptoms are. Of course, he sleeps better too!

We found ourselves with a rare one-on-one day today so we headed North to find some snow. His new sled wouldn't fit in my car so we threw in his snowboard and boogie board and hit the biggest hill we could find. What a blast!  Even though climbing back up was hard work, he would have done it endlessly if I didn't insist we go in to defrost our tootsies after a few hours. I'm usually right in there with him but Mom's still recovering from a broken shoulder so sledding is out for me this winter. It gets cold quickly out there when you're relegated to being Chief Photographer!

Sipping hot chocolate after a nap on the ride home, he couldn't stop talking about how much fun he had today. We didn't put a dent in his energy level but we sure did make some great memories.


That smile - one of my favourite things in the world!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

ADHD Meds - Day 3

Jonas woke up this morning his wonderful, cheerful, talkative, bouncy self. Me? Not so much. We all slept much better last night. It only took a little while for him to fall asleep and he didn't stir again until my husband got up for work this morning. Thank goodness. My tank is running pretty low and I'm not sure how I'd cope with another sleepless night.

The biggest trauma yesterday was just getting the pill down. Getting a seven year old to swallow a pill isn't quite as easy as I thought it was going to be. Frankly, I've had an easier time with cats. How could such a tiny thing create such a nightmare of gagging, spitting, crying and, I'm ashamed to admit, yelling. It made us all question whether it was worth it. Talk about increasing the parental guilt factor! I felt like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Today was much better. The broomstick is back in the closet. We stirred the pill into a glass of water, as per the "alternate" directions, and it was no problem. The taste was a major issue yesterday. I was worried that would be worse today but, with a smile on his face, the young man said "That was pretty good!" What a relief!

I did wonder a few times yesterday if maybe he was over-medicated, but those moments were fleeting, and could well have been caused by a mostly sleepless night. Hopefully that's all it is. A quiet, still, awake Jonas is not something I am used to. Maybe it's like when a baby first starts to sleep through the night. A first you think there must be something wrong. At other times his response to situations was a far less enthusiastic than it usually is and it again made me wonder. It sounds silly, doesn't it, to want a child to be less hyper and impulsive and then to be worried about them having less energy? We want to help him focus better but we don't want to suck his spirit out of him.

The pediatrician and pharmacist say we need to give it 2-3 weeks to fairly assess. It's only been 36 hours so it's still early days, but I'm encouraged by the fact that the little guy doing his on-line reading homework beside me right now isn't stressed out like he usually is at homework time. Neither is his mom. ;)


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

ADD and Loving It!

ADD and Loving It!
If you are dealing with ADHD, or if you love someone that is, be sure to check out this Canadian documentary. Even though it's targeted to adult ADHD, I find it tremendously encouraging and hopeful. This ground-breaking documentary is a blend of humour, hope, and science that dispels common myths about ADD/ADHD. Though it focuses mostly on adult ADHD, the film offers a ton of perspectives and strategies to help turn this diagnosis into something positive.
Canadian comedy legend Patrick McKenna is after the truth. “Everything you think you know about A.D.D. is wrong.” In this one hour documentary he talks to researchers, specialists and doctors about A.D.D. and A.D.H.D.. He also chats with ordinary Canadians & Americans who are directly dealing with the challenges of this common problem. Interwoven with these insights, Patrick shares his own life story and his struggle with undiagnosed and untreated A.D.H.D, and now his success taking it on Adult A.D.D..
Ignore the naysayers and go to this website. Get empowered today!

Monday, December 27, 2010

ADHD Meds - Day 1

Naysayers be damned, Jonas started his ADHD medication today. It's hard to get a read after only one day but it was a good day. He seemed less frenetic today. He was still full of energy, easily distracted and needed lots of little reminders, but he wasn't constantly in motion and babbling like he usually is. He seemed like the same kid but without the non-stop action. Until bedtime that is. Enter the side effects.

It seems counter-intuitive to me, but his medication is a stimulant. Not surprisingly, one of the side effects is trouble sleeping. Jonas went to bed at his normal bedtime but when I went in to kiss him on my way to bed, he was lying there wide awake. As I whispered "I love you", he whispered "Mom, how do my headphones work?" At 12:03am he announced "Mom, I just don't understand what tutoring is." And so it went.  It was well into the early hours before he finally fell asleep. He wasn't bouncing around but his mind clearly wouldn't turn off.

The pediatrician and pharmacist warned us about this. They said it may take some time for Jonas's body to get used to it and we may need to try a few meds before we find the right one. We've got a little less than a week before school resumes and we're hopeful that this effect will lessen by then. Keep your fingers crossed!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Starting ADHD Medication

To medicate or not to medicate? That is the question we've been wrestling with. We've had a prescription for ADHD medication for our son for a few weeks now, but we decided to wait until the Christmas break to start it. There's a ton of information out there about ADHD medications, and as many opinions as there are people to ask. We've been working closely with our pediatrician and our son's school. We've done our homework. In concert with a plethora of other strategies we are implementing, we've decided that this is an avenue we want to try, to give our son his best chance for success.

Don't kid yourself. This is not a one-and-done solution and it's not a one-and-done decision either. We still struggle with it and I expect we will continue to. We could have started him on the meds as soon as we got the prescription. We could have started the day after the last day of school. Ultimately, we decided to wait until after the Christmas celebrations. The day after Boxing Day. Tomorrow.

Why, if we are so confident in this decision, did we hesitate? Why not start right away if it's the right thing to do? There's a few answers to that, but number one is this Calvin and Hobbes cartoon. There's some debate on the internet as to it's authenticity but, for a number of reasons, it's been stuck in my mind.

I headed to the pharmacy on Christmas Eve to fill the script. As I answered the pharmacist's questions, I could feel the the other customers judging me, probably thinking "What kind of mom makes her kid go on ADD meds at Christmas?!"  I just kept thinking to myself "They're strangers. What do they know? Brush it off, Jacqui. Brush it off. WE'VE made the best decision for OUR son!"  I walked out of there with my head held high, confident in our decision, ready to start the meds. I headed back to the safe harbour of our home and loved ones, eager for their support as we start this new journey.

Most of our nearest and dearest have either been extremely supportive, or have reserved comment. Even if they don't understand all the ins and outs of what we're dealing with, they're shown us that they are on our side, as they always have been. I have to admit though, that I've been stunned at the reaction of certain people. Contrary to feelings of love and goodwill, I felt anger, resentment and sadness welling up inside me as we talked about this with these loved ones over the holidays. People that we expected to find support in, people who usually have Jonas' best interests at heart, are adamantly opposed to this. "It's all a crock of hooey!" pretty much sums up their response. It's a waste of time or a waste of money. They must think there's no hope for him or us. In their minds we must be lazy, stupid, cruel or all of the above.

Well, I say that's a crock of hooey!! We've got a new set of rules around here now. Anyone who would rather see him struggle in school or flounder socially, than admit that his brain isn't perfectly wired, doesn't get a vote! Anyone that punishes him for being who he is, or stops him from becoming the amazing man he can become, doesn't get a vote!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Kids Christmas Crafts

Only three sleeps to go and the kids can hardly contain themselves. They are brimming with excitement and anticipation. Maybe just a little too much so. It's interesting how kids who are trying to be on their best behaviour can have such a hard time doing that. They are wonderful kids, but the closer we get to Christmas, the less patient and more self-centred they are becoming. One minute we are singing Christmas carols and making something with glitter glue - God help me! - and the next they are at each other's throats.

My strategy? I try to keep them busy. We've been doing a lot of crafts this year. Crafts were never my thing but the kids love it. I do too, mostly. When I became a Scout leader I dreaded craft time but I'm starting to embrace it. I hate the clean-up, but that's pretty easy to fix with good preplanning. Of course, we do our crafts in the kitchen and kitchen disasters seem to seek me out. Seriously, how much damage should one five year old be able to inflict on a house with 2 teaspoons of glitter ?!

The clean-up is no fun but the actual crafting usually is. It doesn't take much to get them started, especially the seven year olds. The five year old, clearly, needs a little more guidance. We put on some Christmas music and let their imaginations take over. They are very creative kids and are rightly proud of their final products. 

Everyone has their own project list, and we have a couple of group projects to work on too. I'm sometimes sneaky with these. I try to find ways for them each to do a part of something that we can bring together in the end. Three entirely different kids usually come up with three completely different visions for anything we do. They are such individuals, with their own opinions and skill level, that group projects can turn into an argument, and end up with hurt feelings, in a split second.

The best group project this year has been reindeer puppets. Each kid made their own out of a paper bag, construction paper, felt and markers. We ended up with three very different creations: Gavin the Rednosed Reindeer, Rock Star the Reindeer, and Freckles the Reindeer Princess. They played with them for the longest time and then decided to have a puppet play. Queue the bickering. Enter the referee. Ultimately, we decided that each kid could write and direct their own play, that the other two would be happy actors in each play, and that Jonas could be a stuffed monster puppet instead of Rock Star the Reindeer. It was a blast! I didn't think of the video camera but I did remember to get a few pictures.


The Two Reindeer and a Monster Puppet Play
Starring "Gavin the Rednosed Reindeer", the Monster and "Freckles the Reindeer Princess"
Jonas' reindeer "Rock Star"
Rock Star missed his stage debut in The Three Reindeer Play.
Jonas was upset that "his antlers are all bumpy and wonky, the eyes are glued on upside down,
and the antlers are on the wrong place upside down!"
Once we checked out the internet and saw that no two reindeer are exactly alike,
it was show time for Rock Star!  :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Spirits

Five sleeps until Christmas morning. A week with three kids, no school and only building anticipation between now and the twenty-fifth. The kids woke up with their usual boundless amounts of energy, and no concrete plan for the day. I decided that their imaginations would be our only guide today, along with at least part of the Canada Food Guide and a little subtle hinting about how much fun it is outside. :) 

I should explain "the kids." I have two sets - my own legal ones, and a couple that I borrow Monday to Friday. I spend my days taking care of my friend's kids. We usually hang out at their house, but today I thought I'd take advantage of the "kid in a toy store effect" and move to our house so I could tackle a few more things on the "get the house ready for Christmas" list.  That means I've got all four kids with me today, with apologies to nineteen year-old Tasha, who's not such a kid anymore. ;)

Somebody else's old toys are absolutely wondrous. I was excited about watching "The Guardians of Ga'Hoole" with them today but I'm a dreamer. There isn't going to be any sitting down around here today. I'm pretty sure that none of them is going to stop talking or moving all day. They may still be in their jammies but they've already had a Christmas music concert, played with kittens, played bionicles and played video games. As I type, they are building a monster hot wheels track and holding time trails with about a gazillion cars.. All this before I've even started the water to boil for the coveted mac 'n' cheese out of a box.

The magic of Christmas is alive and well and the excitement is building!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Split Second

Spelling list written out, my son grabbed his book in one hand, his pencil in the other and jumped up onto his desk chair, yelling "BINGO!" as he went. His intention was to jump off like Superman. I'm sure you can imagine what happened. I barely got "Jo..." out of my mouth before the table tumbled across the room, just missing the stereo, and the chair hurtled towards the glass fireplace doors.  The boy flew too. He landed with a loud BANG and I'm really not sure how his head didn't at least dent the wall.

Welcome to my daily homework struggle. Ten words took thirty-seven minutes to print - once - and nearly ended with a trip to the hospital and Home Depot. We've still got math and reading to do. ADHD means that six minutes of actual work are very often buried under half an hour of distractions. I hope you can understand why homework is my least favorite time of the day.

I never was good at science. Until I became a parent, I never realized that time can speed up and stop in exactly the same moment. A split second is extremely fast, but it can also move incredibly slowly, allowing you to see every little detail of that split second in high definition. It isn't enough time to react to most things but it can be long enough to watch every painful consequence in excruciating detail. It's also enough time to kick yourself about a hundred times for not seeing it coming sooner. I think it's God's way of heightening our parenting alert systems!


Friday, December 10, 2010

The Perfect Christmas

I grew up dreaming of a Little House on the Prairie Christmas. I remember an episode where there was so much snow on Christmas morning that they had to crawl out an attic window to dig out the presents hidden in the barn. That's what I wanted. 10 feet of snow. And the presents, of course. Like most kids, I was in it for the presents. And the sweets. My vision always included a huge pile of gifts under the tree and an endless buffet on the table. I sang right along with Julie Andrews when she crooned "Brown paper packages tied up with string. These are a few of my favourite things."
As I grew older, my vision of the perfect Christmas evolved. In fact, it took a right turn shortly after my husband and I became parents. At first, we got caught up in the vicious work-more-to-make-more-so-we-can-do-more cycle. That didn't last long. We started downsizing our careers to spend more time at home, ultimately changing our lifestyle pretty drastically. The chains of materialism started to fall away, and the joy of spending precious time as a family became increasingly important.
We're not trying to earn a spot at the right hand of God by acting pious, and we don't expect the kids to be selfless or denounce their worldly possessions. Far from it. We'd have more if we could afford more, I assure you. Money still makes the world go around, and everything seems to get more expensive every day. Our kids want things just like every other kid. Jonas' wish list would be as long as my arm this year, if only he'd sit at the table long enough to write it down. We have everything we need and lots of what we want, but part of me still wishes a jolly old elf would arrive on Christmas eve with a big box of money.
The unfortunate reality of not living with a big paycheck is that we can't afford a sleighful of brand new store-bought presents. We struggle with other people's perceptions of us but, more importantly, we worry about our kids' perception of themselves. We compare ourselves to the Jones' more than we should, and we don't want our kids to feel like they are less worthy than people who have more - or holier-then-thou because they have less. We don't want them to feel left out or left behind, and we don't want them to think that they did something wrong, or are somehow inadequate, just because we don't say yes when they ask for something.
What we don't want most of all, is for their self-worth to be tied up with their net worth. They aren't perfect, but it doesn't take much to make our kids happy. They don't have to have the newest, biggest or flashiest toys on the block, and they don't toss their old stuff aside just because a "better" model comes along. They take care of the toys they do have and sincerely appreciate it when they get something new. I'm so proud of them when they treat a homemade gift, or a hand-me-down, with the same respect as something new from Toys R Us.
Now that really is one of my favorite things!
"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?
It came without ribbons. It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.
And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."
Dr. Seuss
(How the Grinch Stole Christmas!)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Play Nice!

Every parent I know has annual milestones. Some we look forward to, while others we dread. Most of us eagerly await the first day of school, but would rather poke our own eyes out than go to the pediatrician on immunization and booster shot day. School Christmas concerts we mostly love.  Parent-teacher interviews, not so much. Birthday parties can be overwhelming, but a night out without the kids for a Valentines or Anniversary dinner can be absolutely cherished.

Unfortunately, most of these moments in time aren't so straight-forward. It's not so simple to label them "good" or "bad". Some are so wrapped up in the mysteries of life that they can leave us befuddled and conflicted.

Every year I come face to face with one that I'm still trying to figure out: the day the white stuff starts flying.  For kids, it's simple: SNOW = FUN! There's something about those flakes that's like a beacon, drawing kids out into the cold for endless hours of face-numbing adventure. My son would stay outside all day every day if we let him.  In his mind, December equals the start of all things winter and he takes it quite seriously. In preparation for all the he fun he anticipates, he starts wearing longjohns and extra socks in October, and the extra shirts and sweaters start coming out in November. He was almost in tears on December 1st because there wasn't enough snow to go snowboarding.

I'll take those tears over the other kind, any day.

We had our first real snowfall this week and it's been a mostly wonderful. Thank you snow! That might sound like sarcasm but it isn't. The front hall is an on-going disaster of soggy boots, hats, mitts, snowpants and coats, and I couldn't care less. It takes three times as long to make the trek to the school, so we start getting ready earlier. I smile even though there seems to be a chunk of salt permanently affixed to my socks. It's harder to get the kids to settle down for homework, but the trade-off is that they are spending a ton of time outside getting their fill of fresh air and exercise. It's easy enough to shift gears and change our after-school routine. They can work just as easily later in the day, with rosy cheeks and hot chocolate-filled tummies.

To throw or not to throw?

The moment arrived yesterday, though, that fills me with dread every year. I always end up feeling like an ogre. The innocence of kids laughter while making snowmen and angels, was contrasted starkly with the harsh reality of the searing pain of the first snowball smashing violently into the tender pinky flesh of someone's frostnipped face. The screeching barely started, before I found myself yelling "Play nice!"

I thoroughly believe that we should live by the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have done unto you." I don't believe in that biblical equalizer, "an eye for an eye". "Two wrongs don't make a right!" is hardwired into my psyche. I am forever telling my kids that they need to give people the benefit of the doubt, and try find solutions instead of making problems worse. They are emotional, self-centred and impulsive little creatures, though, so it's easier said than done.

Don't get me wrong. I don't want them to be doormats, and there's nothing wrong with a good snowball fight. Standing up for yourself, not taking yourself too seriously, and learning how to lighten up and have fun, are all important lessons. They are also some of the most subtle.

So what's a mom to do when the kids are screaming at each other because one has a painful face full of snow, the other thinks it's funny, and war is about to break-out?  I do what my Dad did, I grab a handful of snow and give the aggressor a taste of what it feels like. It's a risky move for a parent. Monkey see, monkey do and all that, but it's not so funny when it's your face and they get that pretty quickly. Even the bystanders. It's amazing how fast the laughter stops. All the tears stop quickly too as the lesson sinks in. Pretty soon, laughter fills the air again.

I'm not sure it's the right approach but it only happens once each winter so something must be working. ;)


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Let it Snow!

Life has been hectic lately, but something almost magical happened as the first real snowflakes began to fall this weekend. Instead of thinking about the cold, the shoveling, dealing with snowy clothes, snow tires or all season, the traffic chaos and ever-fewer shopping days until Christmas.... I tried to let myself see the world through the eyes of my child. I put on my snowclothes, grabbed a camera and headed out. What fun!

Do your mental health a favour and get in touch with your inner kid for a little while!

We crawled like a dogsled team.
When was the last time you made a snow angel?
Even a snowball to the face couldn't erase the smiles.
I didn't think we were going to get Jonas inside on Sunday night.

Monday meant back to school but I didn't hear one complaint!

Give yourself a break and make some great memories.
When life throws a snowstrom at you, start a snowball fight!! 


Friday, December 3, 2010

Pinky Promises

Did you ever make a pinky promise with your best friend when you were little? Do you remember how seriously we took them? A pinky promise was a sacred vow.  Breaking one was an intense breech of trust that could never be recovered from, at least until we forgot whatever it was we promised about in the first place. We'd break-up at recess and were usually we were friends again by lunch time.

Maybe I'm too old now, but I can't remember one single pinky promise I ever made as a kid. For most people, pinky promises are a remanent of childhood, packed away with dolls and dinky cars, until the day a daughter, nephew or other kid asks you to make one as an adult.  Not so for me.

When Steve and I got married, the Minister asked us to make a pinky promise to each other. As we stood in front of our intimate circle of loved ones, in the forest behind my parent’s house, she asked us to raise our right hands, intertwine our pinky fingers and promise to always support and never give up on each other. Everyone laughed. They thought it was cute. We were optimistic, and excited about starting our future together, and it was a fun, quirky highlight to our wedding.

None of us could have known that that promise was one of the most important vows we have ever made to each other. We couldn't have known then what difficulties lay ahead, or how much we would come to rely on that promise to get through the hard times. Having a husband and step-daughter who battle chronic depression, a son that has speech difficulties and ADHD, a son that died at birth, being a lupus patient myself - none of that was part of the plan. None of that was in the manual. (I never got my copy but I suspect it's out there somewhere, in the safekeeping of those self-proclaimed experts.) 

Life pulls us in a thousand directions sometimes. Sometimes we feel incapable of dealing with it all without snapping. Every once in a while, for a split second, despite our best intentions. we might even forget that we're in it together. Thankfully, we both have a little reminder right on the end of our hand. That pinky promise is always there. So is the evidence. :)


Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Apple and the Tree

This might sound corny, but I love getting lunches and after school snacks ready for my kids. Even though it can be rushed, and they sometimes complain, it makes me feel good. I'm no Martha Stewart but preparing and having a meal ready for them when they get home from school is very satisfying. I don't know if it's a sense of accomplishment from checking something off the To Do list, or a sense of anticipation about the conversation during the feast. Maybe it's just having them home in the nest again, or maybe it it has something to do with passing on family traditions like tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches on rainy days such as today. Whatever it is, feeding our families is primal and there's something about it that nurtures my soul.

When my son was a newborn, we tried and tried but he just wouldn't latch consistently. We compromised with pumping and bottles. I don't mention this to crank up the breast-feeding wars. That's a nasty battle that I want no part of ever again. I got caught in the middle of it and it made me feel like a failure. I remember sitting on a bench in the mall giving him a bottle when he was about 4 weeks old. An older gentleman walking by stopped to say "You know, if you feed that kid like you feed yourself he's going to be fat too." I was speechless. Nurses, pediatricians, family and even complete strangers had strong opinions and weren't above lecturing me about them. All I wanted to do was feed my child. If one more person grabbed my boob and tried to show me how to do it, or condemned me for even considering formula, I might be incarcerated now. Thank God that's over!

Instead of wearing prison orange over breast or bottle, I now get to listen to other people's opinions about ADHD. Just like the breastfeeding debate, there are strong opinions on both sides. We're going to have to grow thicker skins and wade our way through them to make the best choices we can for our family.

Food is still an issue too. Navigating through kids ever changing taste buds and appetites can be challenging, but more often than not, the actual food is easy part...

Those of you who know me, know that I am prone to accidents, especially in the kitchen. Something always seems to go wrong, and it's usually me being short-sighted or absent-minded. Last night for example I forget that we have high water pressure in our house so it rained in the kitchen when I did the dishes. The upside is that we now have a clean floor and cupboards again. 

And this morning, the kitchen is really, REALLY clean. Today's kitchen disaster is brought you by a very excited seven year old, who tried to open his yogurt container while telling animated action story, the climax of which was a sword thrust up into the air, causing the yogurt, a glass of milk and a bowl of shredded wheat to instantly explode. It looked like a cow threw up in there! Not a great way to start the day. I told him so. I told him so. I told him so.

I also helped make him so.

As we go through the process of learning about ADHD, I'm finding out more and more just how alike we are. The professionals tell us ADHD is hereditary and I'm beginning to think they are right. He's inherited a lot of his challenges from me. I try to keep a sense of humor when I have one of those moments and maybe that's going to be one of the secrets to helping him get through this ADHD thing. What a revelation!

So, instead of getting upset this morning I thought to myself that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Then I smiled and finished cleaning up the mess.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday Take Two Thursday

I missed my first Wordless Wednesday yesterday and I didn't want to miss out so here's my Take Two Thursday version. As parents of a kid with ADHD we have to be creative in our communication sometimes.

"Can you please put some socks on so that we can go?"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cheers to the Village!

Hello friends!

A very wise friend reminded me recently that it takes a village to raise a child. Pretty simple. We've all heard it before but I never really thought about what it meant until she said it to me.  I know that's why she said it. ;)  Thanks Phyrne!

It takes a village. Hmm... It takes a village. So why do I feel like I have to do it all myself? Why do I feel like it's all my fault when things aren't perfect? What the heck is that?! No wonder I'm so stressed out!

This is in no way disparaging of my husband Steve. 
He's a great father and he's a great husband. He's by my side and we're in this together!
Except for the blog thing. That's my therapy, not his. ;)

As parents, as adults, we get stressed out. Outside we try to be superheroes - all things to all people all the time AND be really good at it. Inside though, sometimes at least  ;)  it's a bubbling, jumbled-up mix of frustration, guilt, worry, self-doubt, optimism, thankfulness, negativity  ... not to mention those darned hormones. Constantly balancing often conflicting demands with ever-shrinking resources can be exasperating, parent or not.

I forget that I'm part of a village - those people we call friends and family. I am so blessed to have wonderful people in my life. They are always there for me, and I too often forget that I can rely on them just as much as they can count on me. I once heard a speech about a man's revelation that when he needed to but wouldn't lean on his friends, he was actually not letting them be his friends. It was almost as if he didn't really have faith in them. I've thought about that speech a lot lately.

Did you ever play that game where one person stands with their back to a group and then falls backwards into their arms. The purpose is to trust those people to catch you when you fall. You must trust that they won't let you hit the ground and they'll help you back up. I'd trust every one of my friends in that situation and I trust them in every other situation too. So why do I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders?

Maybe the real problem isn't a question of trust. Maybe it's a question of how. Maybe I just don't know how to ask my peeps for help. It's easy with little stuff - "Can I borrow that jacket?". It's also easy with the really big stuff, when you have no choice and need them to take over for a little while. (Let's raise a glass to hoping those times are few and far between, unless they are fun stuff like new babies and romantic get-a-ways.)

Another friend once said that I wouldn't say CARROTS! if my mouth was full of it. (Explicative changed to CARROTS because I hate carrots, and because this is a family-friendly blog.) She's right. I don't want to be a complainer. I hate feeling like I'm whining so I make a conscious choice to try to stay realistically optimistic. Maybe that's part of it. Everyone's dealing with stuff. I don't want anyone to feel like I think my stuff is more important or weighty than theirs. Bottling it up just puts more pressure on the cork though.

How do you ask for help? I'm learning how to navigate the school system but life doesn't have the chains of command or policies and procedures that the school board does. Asking for help with my life doesn't seem as straight-forward. It feels like a defeat somehow. It isn't of course but emotions aren't always logical. I think that's why girls night is such a wonderful forum.

It seems like the more you need it the harder it is to make the time. The ever so wise "They" always says "You have to make the time. You have to make it a priority!" but I don't think "They" is a wife and mother with a career, family and volunteer commitments, school deadlines, carpool, a kid who's a non-stop handful, a teenager, bills to pay, laundry to wash, dinner to cook, groceries to buy, dishes to wash....  because "They" never tells you how to actually do it, just that it's important.

I get that. I know that it's important. I know I need my village. My resolution to myself is to ask them for help when I need it! I'll figure out the "how" as I go along!

Cheers to the village!

Have an inspiring day!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Uncorking the whine!

Hello friends and welcome to my new blog!

I am not a writer. I am not a blogger. Please don't get offended if you are one of those. I'm just borrowing a wee bit of your craft to help maintain my sanity.

What I am is a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a babysitter, a Scout leader, a Toastmaster and a friend. It can all get a bit overwhelming sometimes, especially when there's something wrong with one of the big four - kids, husband, home or health. Life is ever changing and it's never easy and then, sometimes, it gets harder.

My son has just been diagnosed with ADHD. He's seven and in grade two, so we welcomed the news, because it meant we weren't going to have to keep fumbling in the dark, praying for a miracle. We could finally get answers and could really start helping him effectively. That was Thursday, and four days later it feels like we're at the bottom of a mountain with no compass or climbing gear. The initial sense of relief has been pushed aside by fear, doubt, guilt and anxiety. This is going to be a convoluted journey and I'm going to need all the help I can get.

A friend told me the other day that she thinks I'm the perfect mom. I always thought the same about her. I laughed. Then I cried a little. Why is it that we're all so scared to let our warts show? We all have them. We all struggle with stuff, and very often it's the same stuff. If we weren't so scared or embarrassed to talk about it, maybe we wouldn't feel so lost and alone when things aren't going to plan.

Which brings me to the purpose of this blog. I'm an optimistic person by nature but I need help. I'm not a fan of wallowing in it, but sometimes we all need a little help to switch gears, sort through it all and find solutions. I'm going to think of this blog as my on-line mom's night out. I can't get together with the girls as often as I would like to so hopefully this will give us a chance to pull up a chair, grab a glass of calmness and let the whine out!