Who are these kids and why are they calling me mom?

Sometimes you just have to put on your big girl panties and deal with it

Spring, Spring, Springity, Spring, Spring May 28, 2010

Filed under: Family,Kids,Life — Steph @ 9:04 am
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I usually LOVE Spring.  I mean I really do.  It’s my all time favorite season.  Probably because I’m an animal lover and oh, oh, OH the babies!!  Also because I LOVE to toil in the dirt and plant things and work in my yard and HELLO it’s Spring!  This year though?  Not loving it so much so far.  Don’t get me wrong I love seeing the calves, lambs, bird’s nests that surely have eggs in them, chicks, ducklings, goslings, etc…  and I LOVE that it’s SO green this year, but it’s been impossible to really enjoy Spring this year.  Let me tell you why:

  • Spring in Wyoming is volatile at best.  We have our worst snowstorms in the Spring.  We can go all year with minimal snow and come April and May watch out!   You could have 70 degrees one day and a foot of snow the next!  When I was young I just loved this.  The big Spring snowstorms meant snow measured in feet rather than inches and it meant heavy, wet snow that’s perfect for building snow forts and snow men.  It also meant you could go outside the next day and actually play in the snow because it’s not 50 below zero with the windchill.  It rarely hits 50 below here in ambient temperature but the wind blows CONSTANTLY here so you never hear someone say it’s -15 with a windchill of -50.  Instead it’s “well it’s -50 today”.  In Spring it’s rarely cold so the kids can actually play in all of that lovely white fluff!  This year though?  We had two piddly snowstorms, but we’ve had rain.  Oh my gosh the rain!!  A friend from high school actually posted on her Facebook status “welcome to Seattle, Wyoming”.  I felt the SAME way.  It has been crazy!!  Last week it POURED rain for two straight days.  Some places had 4 inches of rain in 24 hours.  That caused a bunch of flooding both indoors and out for a lot of people.  For us it was a great test of our new house.  We discovered our house doesn’t leak!  However we didn’t have a chance to put up window well covers since we moved in January and when one window well had 6 inches of rain standing in it the window did start to seep around the frame.  All in all not bad though.  Then the day before yesterday the Spring storms really hit with a vengeance.  They are early this year.  VERY early.  Usually it’s mid to late June before we see severe weather.  This year?  We had tornado watches, actual funnel clouds were formed (thankfully not touching down), and then it HIT and we had golf-ball sized hail driven by 40 mile an hour winds.  First, I wanted to cry because hello, new house!!  Then I just prayed the windows would hold!!  Elizabeth was absolutely terrified and Joey?  Joey had a panic attack.  I should probably stop here and tell you why hail scares Joey.  A few years ago we were at Relay For Life (something we did every year from the time  he was a newborn, there was even a write up in the hospital newsletter about the then 4-year-old who had been on the hospital’s team since infancy but that’s a story for another time) anyway, we were at Relay and all of the sudden the radio dj’s came over the loud speakers and said “GO HOME NOW”.  The sense of urgency was something I can’t quite convey.  There was a major storm coming with tornadoes and large hail and it was heading straight for us.  I threw Joey in the car and headed home.  We made it almost home before the hail stones started hitting the car.  We stopped in the middle of the road with the other cars and ALL I could see was a wall of black with HUGE white stones hammering us.  The first stone cracked the windshield of my car and they just.kept.hitting.  With every stone it broke a little more.  I can not tell you how terrifying that was.  I was stuck in the car with my 4-year-old and I was FREAKING OUT.  I quickly grabbed him out of the booster seat and threw him on the floor under the dashboard and covered him with my body.  I can’t even tell you how loud it was.  Then all of the sudden horns were honking and cars stopped around us started hauling ass out of there.  I risked a glance around and still all I could see was this wall of black but I noticed the wind had picked up.  I weighed my options and figured the cars facing us must have a better view and if they were moving we better move too.  Driving in that?   It causes the hail to hit harder.  By now I was shaking like a leaf and trying so hard to stay composed so as not to scare Joey worse but inside?  I was saying silent prayers with fervor and crying.  We made it home fairly quickly and GOD BLESS FORD because my windshield held.  I would later see that the only place it actually punched clear through the windshield was in the upper most portion of the windshield.  Oddly enough that’s the thickest glass.  My car was completely hammered but somehow that glass held.  By the time we got home the storm had passed but within a few minutes I would find out what prompted those cars to move.  What I couldn’t see was a tornado bearing straight down on us, driving those baseball sized hail stones.  So, you can see why Joey is terrified of storms.  At 10-years-old he still suffers from some PTSD from that day and I think probably always will.  The storms the day before yesterday weren’t even close to as bad as that one was years ago but they were bad enough.  Half of the town is hail damaged.  My house thankfully suffered no damage.  The hail here was ping pong ball sized, as it moved past us they got bigger, by the time it made it’s way a little further north they were golf-ball sized and they caused a lot of damage, the 40 mile per hour winds didn’t help.  My dad’s cars on his car lot took some serious damage, my brother’s house did as well.  A friend’s house really got hammered and had broken windows and skylights and water poured in to her house.  It’s not over by a long shot.  It’s early.  Today they are predicting similar storms and possibly even worse.  The Storm Chasers are in town (or so I’ve been told)!  That my friends is NEVER a good sign!  So, I’m not loving the weather this Spring at all, even though you get used to it, when it hits this early you can only assume it’s going to get worse and when you’ve had a house destroyed you really don’t want to think about what could happen to the new house you just bought!  Thankfully no one was seriously injured or killed during our storms, people here know, if they issue a warning you get your butt in the house and stay there.
  • I just realized pretty much all of the reasons I’m not loving Spring center around the weather!  Sorry to be redundant!  Anyway, can you say cabin fever?  Elizabeth is bored, I am bored.  If it’s not raining it’s MUDDY.  The playgrounds are under water so we can’t go play at them.  Our yard is a muddy mess because we haven’t landscaped it yet so we can’t really play there.  We did take advantage of the break in the weather yesterday and go ride bikes on the road, but we want to go play on the slides and swings.  Elizabeth wants to play in the sand and/or dirt.  I want to plant flowers and get my yard in order.  Without slogging through the mud we just can’t do any of this.  Elizabeth is actually amusing herself by (not kidding here) either playing with her big ball in the house, rolling it around calling it “baby” and treating it like a baby doll (no I have no clue why, she has a million actual baby dolls) and/or last night and today she’s playing with plastic clothes hangers and her toy necklaces?  I have no idea people.  I am thankful she has a very active imagination that keeps her busy most of the time.  The rest of the time she’s been a challenge.  We tried the public library a few weeks ago and that was a DISASTER.  She just does NOT have the patience to be good in the library.  I am signing her up for dance class and swimming lessons when they open registration because I am just exhausted.  I would also love a shower but I can’t take one unless someone else is home because she’ll spend that 10 minutes getting in to something she’s not supposed to be in to.  It’s a good thing we’re stuck inside because in a stiff wind I might be toxic to bystanders.
  • My allergies are KILLING me.  I have had miserable seasonal allergies forever.  When I was young I spent my Summers anywhere but at home.  That usually meant at my grandma’s house in Colorado or at my uncle’s ranch.  Before I could go either place I would have to have allergy shots.  With all this moisture the pollen count is off the charts and my head feels like it’s going to explode.  Today is Joey’s field day at school and Elizabeth and I are going but I feel awful.  Hopefully the Sudafed kicks in soon and I’m going to have to make an appointment for allergy shots or I won’t make it through the rest of the storm season.
  • School is out next week.  Joey will be home all day.  I am actually excited about this because he can entertain his sister so I can shower every day!  I don’t know how I’ll handle that!!  I am praying the weather eases off a bit.  I am hoping to set up some play dates with my nephews since there really aren’t any kids on our street and as much as I love them all I do not want to be cooped up inside with all four kids.  We want to be able to go to the pool or the playground and/or play in the yard!

The kids and I are going to tackle Spring cleaning this weekend.  I wanted to spend the weekend planting flowers and playing in the dirt but the weather is supposed to be horrible so I am going to hold off buying my flowers.  So far the forecast looks better for next week so I’m hoping to be able to get out there and start playing in the dirt.  I just hope I can breathe while doing it!!


Randomness April 30, 2010

Filed under: Blogging,Family,Fire,Kids,Life,Uncategorized — Steph @ 9:19 am

It is snowing today and of course the wind is blowing.  A couple of weeks ago we had days in the 70’s and Elizabeth and I spent a lot of time at the park.  The last two weeks it’s been windy, rainy, cold or dreary and now it’s snowing.  Wow I love Wyoming in the Spring!  We have cabin fever big time.

The man who bought our house has completed the re-construction.  They offered to give us a tour.  I am the ONLY one not interested.  Joe hooked some friends of ours up with our realtor’s information because they’re looking for a rental.  They are going to look at our old house because it’s close to town, work, etc…  There. is. not. enough. Klonopin. in. the. world. people.  My state of mind is so much better than it was but I still struggle and I still require anti-anxiety meds to sleep without nightmares.  I can not imagine what would happen if I went over there.  PTSD patients don’t get “cured” they go in to remission.  The smallest of things can trigger a relapse.  I am almost positive going back in that house (rebuilt or not) would trigger a relapse.  No, thanks!

Elizabeth hasn’t tried to escape the loony bin again.  I don’t think it’s because her escape attempt scared her, I think it’s because the weather has been too nasty.  Thanks Mother Nature!

Joey keeps bringing home projects for school.  I am sick of them.  He had to build a wire.  Then he had to bring home a book of like 175 science experiments and choose one to do.  I am not a “project” kind of mom.  I am NOT crafty or artistic, the day they built me they skipped the creativity aisle completely.  Hopefully we can find step by step instructions on the net that even I can’t screw up!

Also they are going to the local museum for some pioneer thing.  This school (or the teachers I’m not sure which) are all about role playing and creativity.  Great, I’m all for that.  A couple of months ago he had to dress up like Abraham Lincoln for a play.  Now he has to dress like a pioneer child would dress for this trip.  He also has to pack a lunch, but it can’t just be a sandwich and fruit.  It has to be a “pioneer lunch”.  They sent home a list of foods pioneer children probably ate.  I’m not even sure we can find some of this stuff here this time of year.  Also?  No brown bags or lunch boxes.  We have to use a “pioneer lunch box” so they’re sending home some can we are supposed to attach a wire to and stick his lunch in there.  Of course it goes without saying they didn’t have bottled juices, milk cartons, etc… in pioneer days.  I have NO idea what to send for him to drink or what to contain it in.  My favorite part of the whole thing?  His interpretation of what he’s going to wear… “hey mom, I get to dress like a hooligan for once without you making me go change”.  Awesome!  We recently watched “Where the Red Fern Grows” one of my all time favorite books and it was interesting the movie was on because I had just suggested the book to Joey and then it was on.  Anyway when the boy goes to the city to pick up his pups, he packs bread and dried salt pork.  He drinks from a well in the city.  Do you think the teachers would be impressed if I sent Joey with a loaf of bread and some jerky and told him to drink from the hose?

Elizabeth wanted peanut butter toast for breakfast.  I was all “OK” it’s better than what she usually chooses (Oreo cookie Pop-Tarts anyone?).  Then she says “I need chips with my sammich”.  I can’t fault her 3 year old logic.  “Sammiches” at lunch come with chips, if she’s gonna eat a “sammich” for breakfast why shouldn’t she get chips?  I gave her tortilla chips.  Hopefully that’s less of a fail than if I’d given her Cheetos.  They’re made with corn and all that!

Another blogger wrote a post yesterday that really offended me.  I’m not gonna link to her because I’m not giving her the traffic.  She’s a pretty popular blogger I think although I’ve been reading her for a while and don’t much care for her.  Anyway, her post was about PR and at one point she quoted an article from a while back that suggested everyone should have a blog.  She disagrees with this for various reasons, she said not everyone can write, entertain an audience, and/or is relevant.  I disagree with that in so many ways.  If everyone wants a blog then more power to them!  If they like to write out their thoughts and they like to read them then they are relevant and have an audience.  It may not be the type of audience this blogger is referencing but it’s a valid audience none the less.  Lots of blogs start off as a way to keep long distance relatives up to speed on their family’s doings.  How is that not relevant?  I’m probably over-reacting but it really made me scratch my head that she thinks she’s the czar of blogging and what’s relative.


My Day part 1… April 22, 2010

Filed under: Family,Kids,Life — Steph @ 12:29 pm
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So Elizabeth and I have been hitting the park this week.  It’s been very nice out, but in typical Wyoming fashion we now have like 5 days of rain forecast.  That pretty much sums up my day so far and it’s only 1:00 in the afternoon.

The day started off OK, Elizabeth wanted to go outside or go to the park.  I said ” we can’t today sweetie it’s cold and rainy out, we’ll have to find something to do inside.”

So she decides to eat breakfast and watch cartoons and I’m all “OK, you do that and I’ll catch up on folding some laundry”.  I’m in my bedroom folding laundry for about 20 minutes when I realize it’s awful quiet in the living room and there’s no way the Imagination Movers are THAT engrossing.  So I finish folding the shirts in my basket and come out to the living room to check on Elizabeth and….

SHE’S GONE!!  The front door is standing wide open and she’s nowhere to be found!!

I enter full on panic mode.  She’s tried to go out the front door a couple of other times so we put one of those Safety First door things on.  They make the doors really hard to open, you have to squeeze the plastic thingy to turn the nob.  She CAN NOT work that thing!  So I figure Joey must not have pulled the door all the way closed when he left for school.

I run outside (still in my pajamas by the way) and I’m calling and calling her and she’s nowhere to be seen.  Some guys working on the house across the street say “we didn’t see her, she isn’t out here” so I run back in the house and search it from top to bottom.  In my gut I KNOW she’s outside but I dutifully search every nook and cranny and cupboard.  Then I am really panicked so I throw on a sweatshirt and some shoes and fly out the door.

I go down the street where she and her brother sometimes ride their bikes and she’s not down there.  I turn around to look up the street toward the main road that leads to our subdivision and my heart drops.  There’s a police car up the road at the fire station which borders the main road.  I swear I lost 10 years off of my life walking up that road.  I just KNEW she’d been hit by a car up there and I am cussing myself like crazy for not being more diligent, not making her watch cartoons in the bedroom with me, not hearing the door open, etc…

Thankfully when I was about 50 feet away they heard me frantically calling her name and the policeman and another man came to me and I say “do you happen to have a 3 year old little girl up here??!!”  the policeman says “yes and she likes candy!”.

I can not even tell you the emotions at that moment.  Fear, relief, self loathing, you name it I felt it.  Thankfully two passers by happened to see her at the fire station and stopped with her.  They took her in to the fire station and called the police.

I am a crying, shaking, blubbering mess when we get in to the fire station and I go running to Elizabeth and scoop her up in what I’m sure was a choke-hold/hug.  I say “Elizabeth you scared me to death!”.  About that time they all look at me funny and I’m like “what?”.  Then one gentleman says “what’s her name again?”  I say “Elizabeth”.  He says “huh, she was saying something like Missy”.  DUH!  I say “did she happen to say Sissy?”  He says “Yep, that’s it!”  I say that’s her nickname.  (Note to self we have GOT to start calling her Elizabeth or she’s going to kindergarten as “Sissy”).

So, the policeman then gets my vital information and says “how did she get out?”  I sheepishly tell him what happened and that we have taken precautions to keep her safely in the house.  He then says “do you have a sick baby at home?”  I’m just dumbfounded.  I say “Um, no sir, SHE is our baby, the youngest we have, her brother is 10 and at school”  Then it dawns on me.  She’s been playing non-stop with her all better baby.  It’s a baby doll that comes with a doctor kit because she’s sick and they have to make her feel better.  I explain this to the policeman who looks at me like I’m completely off my rocker.  At this point I just burst out in hysterical laughter.

After considering that for a few minutes he finishes getting my information.  I get down on my hands and knees and kiss the feet of the two gentleman who stopped to whisk her to safety and thank them profusely, so they can be on their way.

The policeman asks if he can follow us back to our house and I of course say “sure”.

On the way back down the street I am giving Elizabeth a stern talking to about NOT EVER going outside without mommy and daddy.

By the time we get home I’ve stopped shaking and am starting to regain my composure.  The police man is not far behind us and comes in to speak with us.  He tells Elizabeth she CAN NOT go outside without mommy and daddy and MUST stay in our yard, etc… and all the while he’s kind of taking in the house and me.  He asks to see the safety thing on the door and I show him and I tell him that the funniest part of ALL of this is that we discovered the safety latches several years ago when Joey at almost exactly the same age did the EXACT same thing!!  The difference then was he took the dog with him and the neighbors called the animal control to get our address.  Also he was only outside for about 5 minutes and it was a big neighborhood with no really busy streets and lots of concerned neighbors who helped him get home safe.  Just to add to the irony, I was doing laundry that day too!!  The laundry room was in the basement and Joey was napping on the couch upstairs.  I literally turned my back for all of 5 minutes and he wanders out of the house!  <sigh>

So the policeman tells me they had the exact same thing happen yesterday and it’s “that time of year” and I thank him again and he leaves with another stern word to Elizabeth about staying in the house and yard.

After he left and I managed to calm down I had a few thoughts:

1. These kids are trying to kill me, seriously

2. While he was talking to Elizabeth in my living room I didn’t think about it but after he left it occurred to me he was looking at the pictures on our wall.  No doubt trying to make sure she really did live here.  Also, he was probably listening for the sound of our “sick baby”.  I just realized there’s a picture on my wall of my kids and my nieces and nephews, it’s quite possible he thinks I lied my ass off about the sick baby!  Hopefully not!

3. Laundry IS the devil!!

4. They took Elizabeth in to the fire station where she played with the kids who belong to the gentleman who found her and had candy.  She’s going to think the fire station is the best place in the world and I am going to literally have to sleep with one eye open.

Thankfully she really can not open the door by herself.  I had her try after I shut and locked it.  I always check that door when Joey leaves in the morning to make sure it’s shut tight for this very reason, apparently today was just my day to be a complete and utter failure!!

As soon as the policeman left I called my mom to tell her about all of this and while I’m on the phone with her Joey’s teacher’s cell phone comes up on the caller ID on the other line.  I put my mom on hold and click over…



I Fail April 8, 2010

So we went to Anaheim last week for a hockey tournament and spent several days at Disneyland.  We had a lot of fun and I’ll post pictures and all that good stuff later but first I had to post this…

My mom and I were talking when we got back about the number of security personnel at the park.  There are literally hundreds you see and probably as many more you don’t see.  They have people at the front gates who check your carry in bags for weapons, etc… and then you go through another screening with your ticket.  Then you get in the park and you see uniformed security, some with dogs for bomb and drug sniffing and the like.  Then you figure there are probably a ton of plain clothes security scattered throughout so really there are just an insane amount of them who are looking for the obvious and there to maintain order.

I got to thinking about child predators which of course most mothers would do.  I am thinking Disney parks are probably a virtual Wonderland for them and let’s face it, all the security in the world can’t protect every child in those parks from an unseen threat.  Then I got to thinking about the ears…

Most every kid who goes to a Disney park inevitably ends up with a set of their very own ears.  It’s a rite of passage and I didn’t see a single non-eared head in the park the entire 4 days we spent there, including my own kids.  The best part of buying ears is when you go to the ear store there is a monogramming booth, you get your name or some version thereof monogrammed on your ears (or hat if you prefer as Elizabeth does).  I saw plain ears/hats with just a first name on them and then I saw more intricate monogramming such as “Happy First Birthday Jayden 2010” and many more.  You get the picture.

Everywhere you go in the park the “cast members” will see the hats/ears and call your kids by their names.  The kids love that; “how does Tinkerbell know my name?!”  After we got home and my mom and I were conversing, it made me think of a pamphlet Joey brings home from school the first day every single year.

In the pamphlet it STRONGLY discourages placing any identifying information about your child in public view.  For instance it suggests you NOT purchase those oh so nifty monogrammed backpacks.  Sure it might help you find your kid’s bag if he misplaces it, but it also gives a child predator all of the information he needs to victimize your child.  It suggests only using the inner tags of coats, bags, lunchboxes, etc… to identify it as belonging to your child.  That way some schmuck can’t come up to your child in the schoolyard and say “Oh Joey your mom sent me to pick you up”.

I realized Disney’s monogrammed ears and hats are probably INCREDIBLY dangerous.  Especially if you have a 3 year old like mine who tends to like to wander and speak to people she meets along the way.  She’s from Wyoming and while we definitely have had instances of child predation, they are few here (knock on wood) and there really aren’t many true “strangers” in a town this size.

Then I realized how sad this all really is.  It’s DISNEY!  When we were young our parents never had to think twice about these things, but in this day and age my daughter’s monogrammed Tinker Bell hat that should be a forever reminder of her experience at the “most magical place on Earth” really could have been one of the worst decisions I ever made.  I have literally had nightmares about it for two days.  I keep seeing those scenes from the movies or “Without a Trace” where the parent looks away for a second in a crowd and turns back around to find their child has disappeared.

I’m probably totally over-reacting but it truly scared the crap out of me when I thought about it so I had to tell you about it.

PS/ Why can’t Disney parks institute some kind of system like Chuckie Cheese has?  When you go to Chuckie Cheese you get an invisible stamp (you can only see it under a black light) that matches your child’s stamp.  You can’t leave the restaurant with a child who doesn’t have the same stamp as you.  I’m sure it’s not fool proof as they probably only have so many stamps and a really industrious predator could probably find a child with a matching stamp, but it really does lessen the odds of your child being victimized.  Disney stamps your hand when you leave the park for the day in case you want to return.  Surely they could stamp your hands upon entry…


My Son is Different March 21, 2010

Filed under: ADHD,Kids,Life — Steph @ 10:23 am
Tags: , , ,

I have been debating writing this post for a while.  A part of me feels it’s not my story to tell and another part of me wants to protect my son.  Janice over at 5 Minutes For Mom gave me the courage to finally post it.  She shared her son’s story in hopes it will help others.  I can’t argue with that logic and maybe our story will also help someone, so here goes…

For years my son has been getting in to trouble at school.  For years I’ve been wondering “does he need help?” and “does he have ADHD?”  From as early as I can remember my mom and I wondered at whether or not he might have ADHD.  Once he started kindergarten I started to wonder aloud to other people; his teacher, the school social worker, etc…  I was told he was different but that he didn’t have ADHD, he was “gifted” and “gifted” kids present a challenge all their own and often their behavior is similar to kids with ADHD.  I clung to that as if my life depended on it.  I didn’t want my son labeled at all but somehow being labeled as “gifted” didn’t seem as bad as being labeled with “ADHD” something that I knew would follow him forever.  Not that the “gifted” label wouldn’t but it’s so different.

For the next several years I would continue to wonder to myself and I would continue to deny, deny, deny.  When I look back I am ashamed.  I feel this is my biggest failure as a mother so far.  Living in denial cost him several years, years I can’t give back no matter how much I want to now.

The teachers would call, sometimes daily.  “Please help us, he won’t sit still, he talks incessantly, he is so unfocused on his tasks, it’s like pulling teeth to get him to sit still and behave once he finishes an assignment”  I would communicate this to Joe and wonder “what are we supposed to do to control his behavior in school??”  The social worker and teachers would continue to tell me he was simply “gifted”.  Gifted kids get bored.  They finish their assignments before the other kids and then they are bored.  The only way to control that behavior is to constantly keep them busy with one task or another.  From kindergarten to third grade he would have but two teachers who managed to “keep him busy”.  They would give him extra worksheets, errands, etc…  He would struggle socially.  He was disruptive, he talked too much, the teachers would be pulling their hair out, the other kids would see this.  At some point it stigmatizes your child in so far as his peers are concerned.  If the teacher can’t get along with him, why should they?

Then the house burned down and our entire lives were turned upside down.  He struggled even more.  We moved to a neighborhood out of his school zone.  There were few children his age.  He had few friends in that time span.  We kept him in the same school, I drove him across town every day.  We didn’t want to add to the already traumatic experiences he was dealing with by moving him schools mid-year.  His third grade teacher loved him.  She struggled with him but she loved him.  She supported him more than I can even begin to tell you here.  It would literally take all day.  So I will leave it at that.

Finally fourth grade comes and we’ve settled (or so we thought) and we decide it’s time to move him to the closer school.  It turns out half of his hockey team goes to this school, two of his closest friends from hockey are actually IN his class!  For the first time I had a lot of hope for him.  He would finally fit in, be accepted, he could start over fresh.  No one had to know he’d struggled all of these years.  We focused on the positive with him.  We told him this was his chance to “start over” to behave differently, to erase all of the bad behavior that followed him from year to year at the other school.  To not be the “class clown”.

We were naive.  I was naive.  Day one he picks up a bully.  A kid from my mom’s neighborhood he’d had trouble with previously.  Who starts a new school with a bully?  Only my son!  The school counselor and I work together to help him with the bully situation which became dangerous very quickly.  She was/is wonderful.  She would spend untold hours with my son for the next several months.  Helping him to deal with the fire and his feelings of loss and upheaval.  Still, he would struggle.  It was about 3 weeks in to the school year when the calls from the teacher started.  I was disappointed and lost.  What could I do to help him??  I explained to her and the counselor the years of struggle with him.  The “diagnosis” of “gifted”.  Finally the call I’d been dreading for years would come.  “Have you ever considered testing him for ADHD?”.  To my surprise I was not resistant.  I think I knew, despite my years of denial, I knew and here they were offering to help us!  So we began the standard testing done in schools and at home.

Finally the counselor called me to go over the results.  He was off the charts in almost every area.  The testing is based on a scale of 100 kids.  In 4 areas he would rate 97 or higher.  That means only 3 kids struggled as much as mine.  I was crushed and yet relieved at the same time.  Finally we could begin to understand what it was like to be him!  How difficult must it be to live in his world??  The counselor however would suggest we not take these tests at face value.  We should not ignore them, but we should be very sure the diagnosis was correct.  For the next 4 weeks we’d participate in a “double blind study”.  With the supervision of his pediatrician and a pharmacist we would “test him”.  We would have two weeks of placebo medication and two weeks of ADHD medication one low dose and one high.  The only person to know which med we had would be the pharmacist.  We would chart his behavior each week and at the end we’d see where we were.

I would begin to have discussions with him about the medication, about what it would do for him if we were right, about how it could help him to focus, to be able to concentrate on those timed tests he struggled with for so long, etc…

The first two weeks we noticed no change.  I started to think we were wrong, or that I’d been right all along in resisting this idea.  Then the third week came and the difference was night and day.  I literally can’t explain it.  He breezed through his homework, even the timed test practices he struggled with, he’d finish them with time to spare.  He was more focused at hockey practice.  Less combative at home, less likely to flit from one activity to another.  On and on it went.  I KNEW at that point.  It was a med week, I assumed a high dose med week to have changed his behavior so drastically.  Week four came, it was similar to week three but the change was not as drastic.  He struggled a bit.  I was sure it was a med week, but I was also sure it was a low dose week.  The final week would be the week before Christmas vacation.  It seemed unfair to me for us to be testing him this week.  No kids can focus that week!  Visions of sugar plums are already dancing by then.  I was concerned the test would be inaccurate.  We would have to wait until after Christmas break to get the results.  It was a LONG two weeks, all of us wondering what we’d find out.

Just to add to the drama (because we don’t do anything drama free around here) we found out on the 30th we were able to buy the house we’d been coveting, we would however have to close before the end of the year and move over New Year’s weekend.  That same weekend we had a home hockey tournament I was the tournament director of.  We never do anything half assed ya’ll.  To add to all of that we made the very difficult decision to put our oldest dog down, she had crippling arthritis, she could barely stand up.  Another move was just out of the question for her.  Joey would take that EXTREMELY hard.  I had no idea how hard it would hit him.  We’ve only had her for a little over 2 years.  She was my grandpa’s dog, I inherited her when he died.  She was one of two dogs to survive the fire and I think that would factor in to his heartbreak.  I think it felt like we were taking away one of his only remaining constants.  Had we known we still would have had to make the decision we made, but we might have done it a little differently.  Then on January 1st his great grandmother died.  It was like two fists in his gut at once.  We wouldn’t know for a few days how hard he was taking it though, he hid it well.  The day he started back to school he made an appointment with the counselor, that’s how I found out how hard he was taking all of the upheavel.  After a year and a half of constant change and loss he just broke.  I should have seen it coming.  We all should have…  It broke me LONG before it broke him.  We were so oblivious.  The final straw for him was a phone call from the school on his first day back.  He’d have to change schools AGAIN.  He was in another school area and the school he was in was already over capacity.  He would have to move, there was no way around it.

We again focused on the positive, or tried very hard to.  We promised to call the counselor and the pediatrician and get the results of the study.  He may have to switch schools but by golly he’d be doing it with the tools he needed if he needed them.

Not surprisingly he did.  I was right about the meds but I was wrong about the dosage.  The best week was actually a low dose week.  He could take low dose meds and they would make all the difference for him.  We started him right away.  He’s now on a low dose of Concerta.  To say the difference is dramatic would not even begin to adequately express the difference.  He likes to say the “buzzing has stopped” referring to the constant hum of activity that went on in his brain before the meds.

He would have several bad days before he started his meds and I am not sure he wouldn’t have had the bad days no matter what.  Two days I really, really worried about him.  He cried all day, I even kept him home from school those days, he just couldn’t stop crying.  It was all too much.

It’s been 2 months (wow the time just flies).  He’s made good friends in the new school.  There has not been one single call from the teacher.  He goes to a support group to deal with his losses and he takes his meds every day.  At 10 he’s old enough and smart enough to articulate the differences in himself.  He is still “gifted”.  He still finishes his work before everyone else in class.  The difference now is when he’s done he will sit quietly and read a book rather than distracting the whole class.

He is a different kid.  Still full of spunk and still Joey, he would still swear the sky is NOT blue if I said it was.  But the “buzzing” has stopped.  That is music to my ears and I will never forgive myself for not helping him quiet that buzzing sooner.


Things I Learned This Week March 20, 2010

Filed under: Family,Kids,Life,Other Stuff — Steph @ 8:57 am

1. No matter how old I get my son will apparently always know more than me.  If you don’t believe me, just ask him!

2. My house is not self cleaning.  There are no such things as little elves who show up in the middle of the night and do your work for you.

3. If I don’t wash the laundry, fold it, and put it away; I will end up re-washing it, folding it, and putting it away

4. 10 year olds are physically incapable of cleaning up after themselves

5. If I don’t replace the toilet paper, no one will

6. No matter how many laundry hampers I set out the dirty clothes will still end up on the floor, generally they’ll be on the floor NEXT to the laundry hampers

7. Raccoons have penis bones that are bigger than bears!  That explains the bear/raccoon hybrids I keep seeing.

8. Humans are the only mammals that don’t have penis bones.

9. White dogs are cute when they’re puppies but they won’t stay white, they will actually require multiple baths a week to stay white.  Give up on it, embrace the dinge!

10. I am not the only woman who doesn’t shave her legs in the Winter.  We need that extra layer for warmth ya’ll

11. If you wake up with a headache radiating down your neck your kids will choose that day to be as loud as is possible

12. Your son and husband have good intentions but that X-Box and the latest NHL game are just too irresistible, you will end up doing their chores for them too


Dream Big March 17, 2010

Filed under: Kids,Life — Steph @ 9:09 am
Tags: , ,

When I was young I had BIG dreams.  From the time I could talk I was going to be a veterinarian.  I LOVE animals, I always have.  When I was in middle school my grandparents started an elk ranch and my grandpa and I had even bigger plans!  I was going to become not just a vet, but an exotic animal vet so I could care for all of the wonderful exotic animals out there!

Then my freshman year hit and I realized my dreams were changing.  I stink at math folks.  I mean I REALLY stink.  I was a straight A student but not without A LOT of work.  I am one of those people who can ace a test without even trying, unless it’s math.  If it’s math it will literally kick me while I’m down.  I know now that it’s common for people to excel in things like history and English but suffer at math and sciences and vice versa.  My dad is a math brain and so is my brother, my mom and I are not.  Ironically my son inherited my side of things.  He’s a writer and a thinker but struggles in math.  My husband excels in math but struggles in the areas we excel in.  To be a veterinarian you HAVE to have strong performances in math and science.  I was good in the science area, I love science, but the math just continued to elude me.  Aside from struggling in math, I’m female and veterinary medicine is a very male dominated field. I was devastated when reality slapped me in the face.  What would I do now?

So I switched gears.  I was going to be a social worker.  I am good at listening to other people.  I enjoy it.  I enjoy helping people.  It seemed the right path.  It probably would have been…  It’s still something I consider doing, when my kids are both in school, I definitely think about going back to school to get my degree in social work.

Then I got to college.  I LOATHED college.  I don’t know if it was my choice of schools or if I was just burnt out but I really, really hated it.  The professors would literally stand there and read to you from your text.  I was paying good money (well my parents were) to sit in a lecture hall and listen to people read to me!  I could read to myself!  I lasted a semester before I decided that school was NOT for me and I came home.

At that point I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but I thought journalism looked like a good major.  I love to write.  I’m not great at it.  In highschool I had a teacher who swore I was!  She was my favorite teacher of all time, I loved her!  She encouraged me and tested me in SO many ways and I did blossom in her classes.  Now I look back and think I am really not a great writer.  Heck I’m not even a GOOD writer!  My blog is a testament to that fact!  However I knew I could be a journalist and it seemed like fun!  I read our local paper now and KNOW I could have written for them.  The articles are HORRIBLE.  I actually make a game out of finding the spelling and grammatical errors in our newspaper.  It’s really bad.

Then things changed again and I would begin to find my true path.  I married very young, he was older than me and had 4 children.  I am mature enough now to realize I didn’t love him.  I don’t think I even liked him; but MAN I loved those kids!!  I tried for almost 3 years to make it work.  I stuck an extra year for the kids.  Then it became clear they were not gaining anything from my misery if anything they were suffering as well.  It was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done but it had to end.  That’s an entirely different post for another time!

Shortly before my divorce was final I met Joe and a few months later I found out I was pregnant with Joey.  I went to work for my dad.  At the time he was wholesaling cars for other dealers in town, but before Joey was born we opened our own small used car dealership.  I’d finally found my niche or so I thought.  I loved the store and ironically my favorite part was finance and insurance.  Pretty funny for someone who struggles in math!!  I would work for my dad off and on for several years to come.  I was good at it and I enjoyed it but I still felt unsettled.  Joey was sick constantly from being in daycare.  He landed in the hospital multiple times over the years and on top of that I missed all of his firsts.

I quit for the last time about 3 1/2 years ago, I decided to stay home.  Joey was in school during the day but I felt I needed to be there when he got home and during the Summer.  Shortly after that Joe was offered a job overseas, he’d work 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off and I knew I’d made the right decision, one of us needed to be there for Joey at all times.  About 3 weeks later we’d find out Elizabeth was coming and I knew there was a reason I’d left my job.

I didn’t miss any of her firsts, I enjoyed every moment of her from her earliest days onward.  It was bittersweet for me because I realized just how much I had missed with Joey by being at work.  My family was more settled and I was a lot more patient as a parent and as a wife.

I now realize all of the false starts were leading me right here.  I was meant to be home with my kids.  We make sacrifices so I can stay home.  We don’t have the material things we could have if we both had incomes, but that’s OK.  We are happy, we are content.  I am happy! I won’t say there aren’t days I miss my job.  There are.  I even tried to go back to work after the fire to get me out of my funk, but I missed my kids and Elizabeth was sick from day one, she caught everything that went through the daycare.  I worked long hours and by the time I got home it was dinner and baths and bed.  I was miserable and so were Joe and the kids.  It just really made me realize I’d made the right decision 3 years ago.

It’s amazing now, I look back and I realize all of my big dreams weren’t really what I was meant for.  So my advice to all of you, dream big always, but be open to it when those dreams don’t come true because you may just find your unrealized dreams are leading you down  a path you’re meant to follow.