Category Archives: Parenting

Assume the worst!!!!

11402820_10153078069968860_1834004617683557110_nWhat is it about our society that it’s inherent that people will assume the worst out of any situation? Particularly when it comes to children. They’re such easy targets.

I was grocery shopping today in the best store ever, Aldi, with my 4-year old escaped mental patient whom was having a good day. He was in a good mood, chatting away, discussing the merits of outer space and why didn’t the packet of alphabet pasta have any numbers in it, while we were checking out. A lady came up to the cashier to complain about an item she had purchased two weeks ago. Without so much as even asking for a receipt, the clerk gave her a replacement but she felt the need to comment that my child was well behaved, unlike some of the other kids she had seen in here. She began ranting about two children who were in the store last week when she was there, just running around, being loud and unruly. I tried to nicely diffuse the situation that perhaps the kids were just having a bad day. Even kids have bad days, you know. Didn’t even try to get into the ages of the kids and whatnot.  My suggestion was met with deaf ears (expectedly!) and she insisted that the kids were just awful. They were hitting each other. All the while, she’s nodding at my child as if he’s the Golden One.

What she doesn’t know is that last year, he was the devil incarnate when it came to Aldi and his screams could be heard throughout the store for every entire shopping experience, because he was a three year old mental patient then with no logic, rhyme or reason to his actions. He lives on pure emotion and that expression of emotion. What she doesn’t know (and I don’t know) is that perhaps those two kids last week are coming from a difficult situation, maybe there’s trouble at home. Maybe this is the first time they got to go grocery shopping in a month.  Maybe they’re hell on earth, maybe they aren’t. Maybe the mother just needed to get her grocery shopping done and didn’t have childcare. We don’t all have a village of people at our disposal.

I refused to acknowledge or concur with this woman’s conclusions of her previous experience, ending the dialogue that I’m sure it must have been very tough on the mother and I turned back to the clerk.

Really people, does a little empathy have to be so hard to provide???? We’re all so damn quick to judge, so quick to hoist an imaginary level of superiority over complete strangers, when the God’s honest truth is that you have absolutely no damn idea what’s going on in their world, why someone, anyone, is acting how they do. What I want to know is how does it make YOU feel to belittle random strangers? What good does it do you???

My family went to brunch last Saturday and my 7-year old asked to sit next to me. It was a rare moment of her wanting my attention and actively engaging with me, so I spent the entire brunch focusing on her completely. My husband and son were mostly ignored and to anyone looking on the outside, it must have looked weird, but I never get to devote time just to her. Haven’t been able to for years! So when she opens a window for me to connect with her, you better believe I’ll drop whatever it is and give her what she needs. Again though, anyone looking at our table wouldn’t have known that.

Frequently, when we are out and about, my son will declare he wants to go home. Sometimes, it’ll make others feel uncomfortable and I’ll be damned if I care. He’s an introvert. He’s four years old. If he’s emotionally aware enough to tell me that he’s reached his limit socially, I better listen.  It’s quite funny to see some faces sometimes. The looks of disapproval when he projects how he’s feeling can be epic, because somehow all children are supposed to conform to some uniform standard of behavior (i.e. being extroverts) and any deviance from that makes people uncomfortable. An adult listening to a child is apparently a rare enough phenomenon that I get odd looks as if to say, “you’re leaving because of him??” and the answer will be yes! I may try to drag out another thirty minutes, but when he’s reached his external limit of tolerating other people (and that’s what introverts do, they merely tolerate), it’s nothing short of cruel to ignore their pleas.

So please. Just keep your thoughts to yourself. If you think the children in the grocery store are a nuisance to you, instead of complaining about them, be grateful they’re not going home with you in your car, OK?

MTHFR!!! (No, I’m not cursing)

Several weeks ago, I noticed my 7-year old acting a little out of character. Forgetting things easily, strange sentences coming out of her mouth, exhausted. Most of it, I put down to school – at this point, she’s trudged through almost all of 1st grade and is tackling schedules and workloads that rival a 12-yr old just a decade ago. When I asked her how a test was one day, she told me it was terrible “because the windows of my brain were open and I couldn’t remember anything.” It was the oddest thing. There were enough weird things going on for a few weeks that my husband and I began talking about it, and on a whim, I emailed her teacher to see if she’d noticed anything. She responded with gratitude that I had contacted her because she’d become quite worried about my girl, that my daughter was extremely low on motivation and seemed to have “checked out” of school.

Sleep was the first item on our agenda. Making sure she was well rested. A few days later, as Spring Break began, I took her to the doc because my next line of questioning would be to check if there was any nutritional deficiency. After all, fruits were relegated to the horror house several years ago and it’s only lately that vegetables have reappeared on her horizon. There, her pediatrician asked me if I was interesting in getting some genetic testing done, specifically, to check the MTHFR gene.  What? As I learned, the MTHFR gene is responsible for the absorption of folic acid in the body and not only is this critical to just about everything, any gene mutation can cause the absorption of regular folic acid to be a very bad idea!  Currently, over 40 point mutations of this gene have been identified. Of these mutations, C677T and A1298C seem to have the most clinical significance, and a defect in these genes can lead to abnormal hormonal metabolism, higher rates of breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, dementia, migranes, miscarriages, difficulty getting pregnant, and abnormal production of the dopamine neurotransmitter. It can also increase the risk of developing ADD/ADHD.

Guess what? My girl has one mutation of C677T. It’s not a difficult or hard-pressing reveal. The treatment is lifelong but simple. It’s also quite common. Up to 60% of the general population has some form of mutation.  She now cannot take any unnatural form of folic acid and must supplement with the correct form of folate. Methylfolate to be precise, and needs to avoid any artificial folic acid. That could bring me onto another tangent of all the crap that’s added into our foods these days, but specifically, she now must avoid anything “fortified” (e.g. pasta, breads, most cereals, etc) as it will do the opposite of what you’d think it would do. I find it stunning how something so simple can be so wide-reaching, and it really does have me wondering if this is the cause of her mental malaise. This gene discovery is recent in scientific circles (within the past decade) but we are learning more and more how vital it is.

I’m actually dying to get this genetic testing done myself. My daughter can’t have the gene mutation without it coming from either/or my husband and I. So one of us has it. So for now, new vitamins are on the way and hopefully my girl will get back to being herself.

Extra info can be found here:

 

Leaving the Mental Hospital.

12631297_10153509880098860_2696837959808520265_nIt feels like there’s a shift in the tide. My 7-year old paroled mental patient has officially been discharged. It’s fascinating watching her as she’s changing so much, both physically and mentally. She lost her first three teeth within the last month. She tells me while she’s flossing that it’s harder to get in between some teeth now, and I know it’s because her teeth are shifting now that her adult teeth will make an appearance soon.  And then there’s the emotional change. I can’t label it a personality change because she’s still the same dynamo she’s always been since 12 months old, but she’s calmer. She knows she can ask questions and even understand the answers. She appreciates things more, there’s less of the psychotic preschooler, and now she is leaning towards a logical human being who has learned so much.

It’s awesome. It’s a lot of fun. I enjoy sharing humor with her, she understands my sarcasm so much more now. One day when she was coming home from school, we were talking about something and she said “oh I’m so stupid!” and I had an immediate mental panic attack – how will I reverse this? What gave her that ridiculous notion? She’ll absorb this for life! AAAGGHHH! I told her she wasn’t stupid at all, and that she is incredibly smart. I gave it little credit (not to feed any negative attention) but the next (and last) time she said that to me, she said the exact same thing in the car, it went like this:

Lilly; “I’m so stupid.”
Me: “I have wings.”
Lilly (utter confusion): “WHAT?!?!?”
Me (very seriously): “I have wings.”
Lilly (baffled) ” . . . ”
Me: “Lilly, you saying you are stupid is as true as me saying I have wings. Do you see wings on me? No? There you go.”

With that, the conversation was shut down and she cracked up laughing. I didn’t need to do a whole reinforcement thing. I didn’t need to delicately tackle a ticking bomb. I knew it was ridiculous moment where she was probably just tired and needed a break. It didn’t need a UN intervention. I love that I can speak with her this way. I’ve learned to diffuse her temper with humor. She can still have her moments, as we all do, but I can usually eliminate them immediately with some odd comment or dry humor. She can’t help herself as she’ll smile or laugh begrudgingly, because she knows exactly what I’m doing, and it’s almost as if she knows I’m not going head-to-head with her so she’ll ratchet everything down 20 notches and just talk to me about whatever it is that’s frustrating her.

c4a50d9c-13e2-4697-a7ef-6ba404a13bb7Last night, as she was getting ready for bed, she told me that she seriously loves me. That’s big words from her. She can do I love you quite frequently now, but when she added in her “seriously” into it, I knew that it meant that at that moment, she utterly, from the bottom of her heart, her gut, her toes, was telling me she loved me to death. Oh what a feeling. This magnificent creature that came from me, whom is entirely a part of me and will be for the rest of my lifetime, was reciprocating what I’ve been feeling for her since her first breath. I’m keeping all her notes of love. I know this is a fleeting time and soon enough, she’ll been a tween wanting nothing to do with me so I’ll take all I can get now. This morning as I woke her for school, she was wearing a fluffy pair of jammies and once I saw that she was awake (but pretending to be asleep), I climbed on top of her, laughing that I’d found the cuddliest new teddy bear and was keeping it forever. She was practically purring with joy.

I love this.  I love her. My word, how she has stolen my heart and soul. Note to other mothers, if you’re not feeling all gooey inside about your child, don’t worry. I’ve had plenty of those days too. So cut yourself some slack. Good things are on the way.

My 4-year old escaped mental patient is making progress. He’s a little ways away from being paroled but he’s doing better. Still plenty of non-logical out bursts or demands that will never be met, but he’s still four years old so he’s got a way to go yet. However, he’s still the cutest little psychotic bundle you’ve ever seen. When he bounces his naked butt around the house because at that moment, he’s “vanilla bunny the boy,” I can’t help but smile wide.

Life is good.

What Do I Expect from Elementary School? Not this.

Love this piece. “The children that I get off of the bus are exhausted. They are frustrated. They are over worked. They are burned out. I feel as if I should make them a weak whiskey on the rocks, hand them their pipe and slippers, and leave them alone for an hour to decompress.”

Boils Down to It

When I put my children on the bus in the morning, the wish I call out to them after kissing their heads, is, “Have a good day!” Pure and simple.

Now, I know that not every day can be a birthday party, and not all things in life should be made into a fun activity. My wish is not overly naïve or idealistic, it is simply that they enjoy their day at school.  It is my hope that even if there are moments of the day when things don’t go well, or times when they are frustrated, or they find something to be particularly challenging, the overall feeling when they return home is not negative.

I want them to have had enough positive experiences, enough moments of engagement, enough creativity and fun built into their day that “good” is the predominant mood descriptor.

That is not currently the case.

The…

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How school is going to kill me.

code is funHomework. Oh how I hate thee. My awesome hurricane turned 7 last week!! I’ve really been enjoying being with her. Until homework, and then the devil comes out of both of us. What used to take 2 hours now takes 1 hour (still waaaay too much). Each night we have to practice spelling words and this week’s selection were particularly tough and confusing – circus, cell, circle, pencil, silent, palace all were consistently spelled by her as she hears it – circis, sel, circil, pencel, silint, palis. It didn’t matter how many times I went over it with her, it wasn’t clicking with her. We were both equally frustrated, and the tension was building. Soon, I’m yelling that I don’t understand what’s wrong and that I’m done. What an awesome example of motherhood I am (input complete sarcasm there). I walk into the kitchen, trying to take deep breaths and it dawns on me. Dawns how bloody ridiculous this all is. This is ONE damn test out of who knows how many she has, and who the hell cares if she fails this one. It’s not worth me yelling at her, making us both feel bad, and consequently, making her feel like a failure.

So I returned to the table and before I got to say anything, she asked me for a hug. I squeezed her tight and told her we were done with the spelling words. Just done. They were super tricky words, because they go against a lot of the spelling rules she’s been learning so it’s super easy to get them wrong. That I didn’t want silly, tricky words to end up with us both angry and exhausted. That it just wasn’t worth it and that I didn’t care what grade she got. She asked if that meant she was going to fail it. I told her to just do her best, and whatever grade comes home, I don’t care, because it’s only one out of soooooooo many. She asked me why we do homework at all, and I told her she should ask her teacher, because I don’t like homework either and I don’t think it’s effective.

What I’ve seen with homework is that I often have to explain what should have been covered in class. Sometimes I’m merely reinforcing what she has learned, but other times, I’m the one introducing new concepts to her that she’s expected to know, because they are on her homework sheet. I have no doubt her teacher is worked to the damn bone. It’s not her fault either. It’s the system. So much emphasis is put on testing and grades, that every single thing has to be entered into the computer as a grade. I can see these grades in her school portal online, and for every grade on every sheet of paper, I can see when it was entered. Her teacher is working Saturdays & Sundays just to enter in this ridiculous information. I see time-stamps of 6:30am during the week, mornings and afternoons on the weekends. It can be 9 pm at night and her teacher is responding to emails. It’s no wonder teachers are leaving in droves. There’s barely any actual teaching involved. At this point, each teacher should have their own secretary to handle the paperwork alone.

Capture2Having to explain things first hand to my daughter is part of why I started the book series. I needed to learn what the rules of reading and writing are, so that I can help her. The Magic Forest Alphabet: Introducing Letter Sounds came out last week and you people knocked me to the floor with your support and well wishes. You shot me into Amazon’s top three of their “Hot New Releases” category. The books are just as much for parents as they are for children. I had planned on just doing the basic alphabet book then moving onto the stories of The Magic Forest but I’ve realized how much I don’t know and need to know if I’m to help my kids through this important journey. I’ve already begun book two which will focus on common consonant blends & digraphs, and then I’ll round the trilogy off with tackling those bloody vowels. I blame them for everything! Lots more information over at Little Gem Publishing. There’s a free giveaway going on right now too.

rick roachA few days ago, I was fortunate enough to meet Rick Roach who is running for FL Senate in 2016. I don’t normally bring up politics here, but he used to be a teacher. He took the FCAT as an adult and failed it. He was on the school board at OCPS so he knows how that beast works. He’s watched the school system get dirty, begin to crumble, and the fall out is becoming apparent. He has a solid understanding and knowledge of the educational issues we face, and just as important, he has solid plans to fix them, and they definitely involve changing this testing ridiculousness. He also happens to be a very nice guy too. Give him a look.

Is it summer yet?

Her last day of being 6.

Poodle - LillyWTF. I don’t know why I feel like there’s such a huge leap between 6 and 7, but 6 is still a little girl. Seven isn’t. I jokingly chastised her this morning that I had told her, in no uncertain terms, was she to continue growing up (I’ve been joking about this for years) and her quick response was, “I don’t ever listen to you anyway.” Oh there’s a glimpse into the future if ever there was one.

She was a poodle last night for Halloween. She couldn’t have looked any cuter. The “cute” costume days are numbered now, if not already gone. She uttered yesterday afternoon that she thought she might look silly as a poodle. And so it starts already – worrying about what other people think, worrying about what strangers will think of her and how she looks.

Seven. 7. SEVEN!

Such a small number but it feels like a loaded number. The official end of her “smallie” era and the beginning of ” regular kid” phase. Hold me.

Well hello there!

lillyThe summer zipped by and we’ve all entered new territory. My soon-to-be 7 year old (seriously, wtf!!! How is that happening?) is in 1st grade and loving it. My 4-year-old mental patient began preschool for the very first time, and adores it. It’s only for three hours a day but he’s in the same place, with the same teacher that my daughter had at that stage. So I couldn’t be happier. I loved her preschool and her teacher so much (I did the ugly cry on her last day of preschool), so I had absolutely zero qualms about sending him on his merry way. In fact, my velco-boy ran into the classroom on the first day and jumped right in. Pretty extraordinary for an introvert. Our goodbyes still take ten minutes but you know, how hard is it to kiss and hug a little pint-sized human when they’re begging for “infinity kisses and hugs,” right?

I began a new venture in April and in July, decided to teach myself how to draw. This is seriously funny because I couldn’t draw a straight line to save my life but I’ve written a bunch of children’s books and wanted to illustrate them (control freak, what can you do!?!) This chomped up every moment since then, and I discovered that while I really can’t draw at all, I enjoy the process. It’s relaxing, fun, incredibly complex, and I find I can immerse myself in it for hours without even realizing it.  Given that my audience are young kids, I’m not getting too fussy with the traditional details. I focus more on the fun parts, the colors, the smiles, etc.  The big announcement should be next week. I’m waiting on my proof copy before I allow worldwide distribution (get me, that just sounds so fancy!!!). My first book gets down to the basics and you’d be fairly astounded how wrong many people & books get those wrong.  I actually have 11 other books written in this series but for now, I’m going to stick with expanding on the first book. Anyway, stay tuned! Aside from the normal craziness of motherhood, now you know why I’ve been MIA.

My paroled  mental patient has graduated completely. She is no longer part of the asylum, and it’s so much fun to be around her, talk to her, listen to her, teach her. The other lunatic still has his moments and while I was close to upgrading him there for a while, I think a growth spurt hit him and I’ve learned that growth spurts are the devil when it comes to kid behavior. Their poor little bodies and brains are shifting in ways they can’t understand, and for my two, it’s always meant they turn into Tasmanian devils for a few weeks.

Another huge shift among all this is that with my mental patient in preschool, I have three hours a day to myself. To breathe, to write, to draw, to watch tv. It’s up to me. Given my own certifiable ambition and determination, I’ve spent every minute on the books. Every single piece of research, every single part of this process from words, to drawings, to Amazon was done by me and there’s an enormous sense of accomplishment in that. I realized how much I needed that independent venture, because for over 7 years now (including pregnancy), I’ve been wrapped up in one single thing and that’s motherhood. It’s taken every piece of me, and now I’m slowly taking parts of me back. I’m noticing that I’m becoming a nicer mother, for one. Since I get that break to myself, I’m less ready to climb the walls and more able to take a deep breath. It’s funny how just simple things will shift your perspective completely.

I’m still a stressed out ball of nonsense. That’s something I’m going to have to work out because I do overreact with stress too much and frankly, I’m so bloody bored of it. I’m tired of envisioning the ten thousand variants that one scenario can bring, stressing about it intensely, only to have none of those realizations actually take place. For example, the tire pressure on our back left tire kept on going down. I’d fill it up and the next day, it’s down 10 PSI. Ugh. This goes on for weeks until I can’t take it anymore because now I’m seeing it go down to 20PSI (should be 36) and imagining myself stranded somewhere with a flat tire. To negate this possibility, I decide I’m going to get “new” tires for the back two wheels. I can go to several used tire places and get both tires for $80 out the door. But it’s an unexpected expenditure and I’m freaking stressed about controlling the household money and  . . . .  you get my point. This crap goes on in my head for days and days, putting me in a bad mood, snappy and irritable. I drive over to get the tires and the dude’s tires don’t look much better than what’s already on the car. So I tell him what’s going on. Within 10 minutes, he’s found the tiniest little pinhole you’ve ever seen in the tire and fixes it, all for $8 out the door.

So you see, I was a wreck over something that didn’t even bloody happen and I am sick to death of it. It’s annoying for me, it’s annoying for my family. So I’m trying out a new “whateva!” attitude. So far, it’s working just fine for us and the kids are definitely much happier! 😀 They’ve had ice cream three days in a row. What’s not to love!!!!

So stay tuned, darlings. Big news coming soon!!!