Tag Archives: parent

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.

Back to School and Alcohol.

I know I’m not alone here. I just know it.

It’s back to school week after Christmas break. The kids relaxed for a full two weeks, even my 7-yr old began sleeping in. I could see that she needed the break badly. By the last week of school she was d.o.n.e!!! So she loved every minute of the break and then headed back to school. She’ll still declare that she loves her school however there was a definite shift from enjoying Christmas vacation to not wanting to go back to school. And so began hell week. You may think I’m kidding. I’m not. From the moment of every pickup, she’s been a tornado of anger and frustration. If I didn’t know any better, I’d downgrade her back to an escaped mental patient but I know what’s going on so I handle it differently (and much more calmly, I proudly add).  However the schedule of the week was different for me.

Monday: I know she’s tired. I dragged her out of bed. A full day of school. She’s pissed. We’ll get through this.
Tuesday: OK, I know she’s tired, she doesn’t want to do homework, but dear Jesus, this attitude better change.
Wednesday: OMFG, I’m going to kill her. I keep it together (mostly) as she drags out homework over the course of two hours simply because she just doesn’t want to do it. As soon as she goes to bed, I make Baileys & decaf tea. Yes, that feels good!
Thursday: It’s the exorcist. It’s reincarnated and that’s just on the car ride home. Upon entering the house, she bee-lines for Legos and I pop open a Strawberry Ale. It’s only 4.30pm but I figure this might be her best chance at staying alive.
Friday: I don’t know yet but I’m scared. I may have an IV of alcohol attached to me during the carpool lane. At the very least, when I get home from picking her up, it’s PARTY time!! Ice cream for all and beers for Momma!

I remember this struggle the first week of the school year. The mega adjustment is hard to cope with for the little ones and she specifically takes it out on me because I’m her safe place. I get it. But as I bob and weave my way through the house looking for hiding places, praying for it to be bedtime, I can’t help but wish this week were over.

I swear to you, alcohol sales must spike more after Christmas than during it because I’ve decided that that’s the only way I’m getting through this. Am I alone? Oh I bet not!!!!

Excuse me while I pop open #2.

 

Teach your child to read!

The big announcement . . . (drum roll, please) . . .  

The Magic Forest Alphabet: Introducing Letter Sounds Welcome to the first ever book in The Magic Forest series. The Magic Forest Alphabet: Introducing Letter Sounds focuses on correct individual letter sounds. Yes, yes, I know alphabet books are everywhere, but sit down with a few preschool and kindergarten teachers, and ask them what their pet peeves are. I guarantee you one of them will be a child whom comes into their classroom at the beginning of the year, parent proudly announcing he/she knows all their letter sounds, and then a bunch of them are incorrect. (Yes, I hear what’s in your head. . .) How can one possibly get these sounds wrong? Because very often, us well-meaning parents don’t isolate the letter sound. Even when we think we are isolating a letter sound, most times we don’t. Go on – how do you pronounce the sound of the letter r? It’s not ‘ruh’ or ‘re’ or ‘er’.  I know because I’ve made these very same mistakes too. After you talk to a teacher, you realize that not only do they have to teach their classroom the basics, they have to undo what the parents have created.

So I felt it was appropriate to begin at the beginning. Here, I focus entirely on individual letter sounds and putting the basic sounds together. I know it sounds silly, but my goal is to teach a parent as much as a child. The reason being, as I navigate preschool and 1st grade with my own two children, I am confronted with these obstacles daily. It was quite staggering what I didn’t know and in order to support my kids through their school learning, I needed to get up to speed. I’ve got a note at the beginning of the book to show parents how to work through it.

So there you have it! The Introduction to Letter Sounds is now available at Amazon (paperback or ebook), iTunes, Kobo and more! I’ve also created a website just for The Magic Forest Series where you can sign up for my newsletter, which I will use to only announce new releases – http://www.littlegempublishing.org. And in case you prefer to just stay on Facebook, The Magic Forest has its own page there too!!

I’d love to have your feedback so please feel free to leave a review or contact me directly. Happy reading! ❤

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!!!

Summertime Funtime!!!

Kerry
Stunning Kerry, Ireland.

Kindergarten ended and we didn’t have a chance to be bored as two days later, I took the kids back to the motherland for a month. I rented a car and we went all over the country (at least the lower half). It was an experience that I am so so so happy they had. It was such a cultural difference from their norm. They got to meet so much family and made new friends. They survived roaming multi-hour car rides without the DVD player or iPad in sight. They watched out the window for different flowers, far reaching mountains, wild sheep, cows, and horses scattered all over the land.  We climbed to the top of (little) mountains – OK, mere hikes, but to a four-year-old, it was a mountain. We hopped over streams. We stared at beautiful landscapes. flower crownWe ran barefoot over the softest, greenest grass ever. They played hide & seek in forests. We made daisy & dandelion chains that then turned into flower crowns. Things that I remember doing as a child that neither of mine have ever experienced before. It made me very grateful that I could bring them there, open up their world to such new joys. Before one trip to Kerry, I stopped at the local shop, picked up a loaf of bread, some sliced ham, water, cheese, and a few snacks. Hours later, when hungry, we just pulled up a boreen, climbed some rocks, and had a picnic in the Irish countryside wilderness.

IrelandIt dawned on me several times that little things I take for granted that they would know about are completely foreign to them. My 6-year-old former mental patient (she’s been upgraded from paroled mental patient) was rendered speechless on our drive to Dublin when she spotted something on the road, attached to the back of a car, with a horse’s ass visible from the back. It was then I had to explain what a horse box was and how horses are moved long distances. I could practically see her brain whirring.  I brought them to Mitchelstown caves where her brain again exploded because she was walking underground and looking at the shapes made by thousands of years of nature. It was the same cave tour I took when I was a young child on a field trip from school.  She learned new phrases. The look on her face was priceless when a cousin asked her if she was telling “porkie pies.”

blarney castleWe hit more tourist spots, such as Blarney Castle where she climbed all the way to the top only to be denied the opportunity to kiss the stone because I wasn’t with her (her older cousin was) and they needed parental consent at the top!! We took a boat to Garnish Island in Kerry and watched baby seals resting on the rocks. We caught up with family and were so busy having fun that we didn’t even get to do a Pajama Day (which they really, really needed) until week 3. We spent a weekend in Dublin where we explored Dublin zoo (it’s awesome, btw). At a dear friend’s house, my girl was introduced to a Jack Russell terrier puppy and thus began the love affair with terriers.

I hope to be able to take them on this trip every year. I want consistency in cultural exposure. It wasn’t until three days before leaving that we didn’t have anything to do. Nothing planned. I had wracked up 2,000km on the road over the month and we were all exhausted. It was right about this time that my four-year-old mental patient turned into the exorcist. I think it was a combination of tiredness and my grave mistake of telling him we were leaving Ireland in a few days. Such a horror was he that I’m surprised my Dad even slowed the car down when he was dropping us at the airport to leave.

KatieWe made the long trek back across the Atlantic and I marvelled at the exorcist’s tiny little voice asking me if we were in space yet. Upon discussion with my husband about the little dog she met, we decided that we would casually look for a terrier dog, but I had strict directives on what was and was not acceptable. It needed to be a rescue dog. I didn’t want a puppy. It needed to be house trained. Last year, we had to say goodbye to our little chihuahua of 10 years, Alfie, and my daughter has been talking about a replacement ever since. Our other dog, Trillian, is in heart failure and it’s amazing she’s lasted this long. She’s on three different medications to keep her going but even so, I don’t think the time will be much longer to when we’ll have to say another goodbye.

Less than 24hr hours after landing back in the United States, I see a listing for a little terrier/chihuahua mix. Because she’s a rescue, time is of the essence and we ended up bringing Katie home less than 48 hours after we had returned. It turns out that the house training we were assured of isn’t as solid as we had hoped, but she’s a super loving dog, very patient and loves cuddling. My daughter finally gets a dog to snuggle with her in bed. I have to confess, I love the little thing already.

So six weeks into summer, I’ve only now had the time to sit down and say hello to you! Next week, I take my 6-year-old on our annual “girls with girls” weekend, where it’s just the two of us and the boys stay home. School starts in 5 weeks (eeekkk!!!) and the exorcist will begin preschool. For three hours every day, I’ll be on my own in the house. This. Is. Huge!!!! I’m delving into a new career adventure which I’ll talk about another time so I’m excited to get some alone time to work uninterrupted on it. Fingers crossed.

Hope you are having a good summer.  ❤

 

Last day of Kindergarten. Dammit.

11391315_10153023568608860_5113429978822799082_nMy oh my! How did that happen? Don’t get me wrong – I’m thrilled to be rid of the early-morning wake-up. The constant alert as to whether lunch is made or the uniform is ready. The homework battles. Oh God, those killed me.

11392781_10153023568658860_3927141128059346054_nI blearily dressed myself this morning. We hopped in the car, discussing why some birds have a bracelet on one foot. As we walked from the car to the school door, she hopped and skipped in her rainbow outfit (no uniform today), holding my hand, excited for the fun day they have planned ahead. No school work, just fun times to be had. I kneeled down to give her the usual kisses and hugs goodbye.  Even a passing teacher happily commented “boy, that’s some hug there,” because we do the kind of hug that lifts her off the ground. It is unlikely that she’ll be the same in even just a couple years. Unlikely she’ll be holding my hand, skipping her way inside wearing unicorn t-shirts and rainbow skirts. I am again struck down by the milestone she has just leaped over.

Kindergarten. Done.

I watched her little “graduation” last Friday where the kids performed two songs and it took everything in me not to burst into tears, watching her shyly perform, trying to remember the words and actions together, along with every other kid. What stood out most is that she stared at me the whole time. Making sure I was seeing her, watching her, and that let me know how important it was to her. I smiled at her, I blew kisses, I waved. I looked like an idiot. But when it’s your little girl . . . all decorum flies out the window. I remember last year when she did the end-of-year performance for VPK and I couldn’t hold it together. I sobbed practically through the whole thing. I was better this year, but again I was slapped across the face by time. That time is going by, that in only two months, my 4-year-old escaped mental patient will begin VPK. It’ll only be three hours every morning, but it’s the beginning.

I know. I hear myself and realize how ridiculous it is to be lamenting the end of kindergarten. But that’s how it starts. It creeps up on you, and I need to be sure to live in the present and be aware of what I’ve got right now. Especially after the year we’ve had in 2015 so far, living for now is important. I can’t promise that I won’t cry when I pick her up this afternoon though. That’s just taking it too far.

Damn, man. This growing up shit is getting real.