Saturday, May 18, 2013

AACAP's Advocay Day 2013 and She's Baaaaack!

Hi folks!

It's been a while.

We are still on that roller coaster called parenting special needs kids.  The Teenager is dong fantastic and I actually booked his cross country flight to spend the ENTIRE summer with his dad.  I overcome with joy/terror at his growing up.  Most joy though.  I think.

The Boy, if he manages to hold it together long enough to keep himself out of residential treatment (sigh) will be swimming on the swim team this summer.  That is, if he is willing to don those jammers in public.

The Kindergartner is doing all sorts of rabble rousing.  So - nothing new there.

The Babe is letting us keep him a babe a while longer and has not taken his first steps yet at 13 months.  We are in NO hurry :)

There is lots going on, and I plan to fill you in.  But, I am going to start by sending you over to Parents Like Us Club for a guest post I wrote about participating in the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry's Advocacy Day 2013 in Washington D.C.  You can find my post here.

I have missed getting my words out and reading yours.  Glad to be back.


Friday, March 1, 2013

No Sick Days for Mothers

This week, I have decided the thing I miss most about paid employment?

Sick leave.

As a nurse, the decision to call in sick was never easy. It meant some overworked colleague would have to pick up the slack, or patient appointments cancelled or longer hours catching up on a another day. But, when necessary, one could leave the children in the care of that work day babysitter and REST.

Stay at home moms have no such luxury. Which means everyone is recovering from this respiratory viral beast that has taken over our home. Except me.

Do I sound like I am whining?


I am grumpy.

Here are my tips for entertaining extremely hyper children when you are so ill you want to die.

1. Play Salon. Mom sits on the couch while The Kindergartner combs her hair repetitively. Stop when Mom's scalp begins to bleed from the purple plastic Barbie brush, or before you are down to the last three remaining hairs on your head.

2. Play Doctor. Mom gets on the floor and pretends to be semi-conscious, moaning occasionally, while the children try to find what mystery ailment is causing the symptoms. Offering a box of bandaids for liberal application will greatly increase the amount of time you get to lay on the floor, but can cause some cosmetic inconveniences when you later have to remove them from your eyebrows.

3. Play Pet Shop.  Pretend you are adopting a puppy. Then play pretend fetch. Over and over again. The Kindergartener "fetched" thirty two consecutive times.

Yes, I counted.

I was trying to keep myself awake.

At least I had the good sense to roast a chicken and make a big pot of bone broth a couple days ago.  So I got the chicken soup covered.

Cough, sniffle, sigh.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Yes to Yoga Pants

I have made great strides the last weeks in getting my act together. I am officially out of my funk. The one thing I haven't been able to abandon is elastcisized waist pants. So I did what any self respecting jammie addicted mother would do.

I joined a gym.

So now? I am totally legit. As long as I accessorize with my little key chain bar coded membership tag. This is critical, in my mind, to pulling off the look. The logo says "She is not lazy or frumpy or necessarily addicted to jammies! She is active! Athletic even!"

Ok. I suppose I am not fooling anyone with the athletic part. And to be honest, I would be lying if I claimed to be under any real pursuit of physical fitness.

In fact, the whole gym thing took root in our local Chuck E Cheese on a snow day. I was chatting up another mom, my empty salad bar plate in front of me a badge of my healthy choices. I nibbled the kids' rejected pizza crusts (perhaps a tad self conscious) as this lovely and lively former competitive body building mother of two shared about her recent move from Florida due to her husband's job with Gold's Gym. </p>
<p>Now gym talk wouldn't normally peak my interest. But her description of the Kid's Clubhouse there did. My idea of gym childcare was a table with some broken crayons and a bored attendant flipping through Shape magazine while charging you a hefty sum to work out in peace. But this place? It was full of fun activities designed to keep kids active. It had everything from high tech motion sensing game systems to low tech basketball courts. And was well staffed with attendants who didn't just supervise, but got in the game. And weekly fitness classes for kids were included.

This has virtually eliminated The Boy's daily after school meltdowns.

So for less than the cost of an after school activity for one kid, our whole family joined. The only downside is  that when you drop your kids off, those meddling trainers suggest you get your ass on a treadmill.

But, it is totally worth it.

In fact, while I am wearing these yoga pants, I might even take a yoga class.

I just might.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Burn Out Ends Today

So I?

Am burned out.

I am not sure if it is a late onset of post-holiday funk or I am just sinking beneath the weight of the ridiculously relentlessness of my life in general.  But it has been a couple weeks so I suppose it is time to snap the hell out of it.  I write this confessional in an attempt at self accountability.  I really need to get my shit together because children in general are typically not sympathetic to the self pity of their mothers. And I don't know about your kids, but mine?  Mine respond with general anarchy.

So this is what I have and have not been doing the last two weeks, with related rationale as appropriate:

1.  Catching Up on Downton Abbey.  And when I say, "catching up" what I mean is I am OBSESSED. I plop down and watch it every time the baby wants to nurse or nap on my lap, etc.  I have been inspired to call my children "darling" and "poor little lamb" as opposed to the things I actually want to call them when the whining will not cease.  But yesterday The Kindergartner asked me if we could get some servants and right now she is making construction paper place settings for thirty people who will supposedly be attending our dinner tonight, so perhaps it is time to take a break. (Besides I think I watched everything I could find online anyway.  Sigh.)

2.  Wearing Jammies.  Continuously.  I have been telling myself that yoga pants are not jammies.  But since I do not actually do yoga and I sleep in the yoga pants - well?  You do the math.  I have a personal policy, "Always look better than you feel."   If you see me in lipstick and I am not at a party, you can bet stuff is messed up pretty bad.  So yesterday, I changed into some (clean!) "yoga pants" and a (clean) sweatshirt.  I donned some small silver hoop earrings because everyone knows you can't wear large silver hoop earrings with sweats unless they say "Juicy" on the back, and on the back of my sweats, any commentary would just be redundant.

But anyway.

I looked in the mirror, and thought to myself, why not just order some mumus from a catalog and get it over with? Good Lord.  No more yoga pants in public.

Now let me say to all my fellow moms who wear sweats and yoga pants everywhere.  You can probably rock it.  I just can't.  I don't look cute in baseball caps either.  We all know our own limits.

3.  Eating cereal.  Instead of real food.  All the time.  I push my kids towards good nutrition.  I make homemade granola bars EVERY WEEK.  I slice bell peppers and send little containers of hummus in their lunches for goodness sake.  I can make myself a damn salad.  I am worth it.



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Finding Strength and Accidental Night Hiking

The Boy used to be full of confidence.He was the kid who would push off from the swimming pool wall solo (during a group lesson when he was supposed to be sitting on the edge with the rest of the 3 year olds), and after the rescue and coughing and spluttering abated, he was ready to go again. He was always plopping down on somebody else's picnic blanket at the park, eager to make new friends of any age. Many times we introduced ourselves to freshly moved in neighbors, only to find The Boy had welcomed them the day their moving truck arrived.  He was fearlessly in love with the world and everyone in it, and had no doubts that the world loved him back.

But last year, as his mood disorder began to spin out of control, his confidence started to falter. Fear invaded his heart. Fear of being alone. Fear of darkness. Fear of failure and rejection.

It has been so very, very hard to witness these changes. We have worked hard at establishing the kind of structure and calm that would help him feel safe in the world outside the hospital.  I tirelessly attempt to control his environment to reduce his stress.

But, just when I think I have personally aligned the planets to create the mother of all therapeutic home environments...

Sunday afternoon, we headed into DC for a family outing. The pre- inauguration business of the city was such that we decided to turn around and check out nearby Turkey Run Park for a walk in gorgeous weather. I saw a sign that said:

Turkey Run Loop .75 miles

That sounded about right for us given the lateness of the afternoon, the moodiness of our children, and the fact I was wearing museum hopping shoes and not walk-in-the-woods shoes.

So off we went along the quick moving waters of the Potomac.

Down hills. Up hills.

Over logs and boulders.

Slipping over wet stones on three (3!) stream crossings.

The kids were having a blast. But as the sun sank lower on the horizon, my error was becoming increasingly apparant.

.75 miles to the beginning of the loop.

The kids were tired and hungry. It was getting cold. The sun was setting. And The Boy? Is terrified of the dark.

So, not knowing how long the loop actually was, and concerned about poorly marked trails, we opted to turn back the way we came.

The Babe was hungry and tired, and thankfully I had my Nojo Sling so I was able to get him comfy and nursing without taking a break and wasting precious sunlight.

Up hills, down hills.

Over logs and boulders.

Slipping over wet stones on all three stream crossings with nary a wet foot.

By the light of the moon. And the grace of God.

The Boy clung to my hand. Stifling sobs with every leaf rustling wind gust.

But he did it.

I would have never chosen to put him in that situation, but I forgot for a minute that out of adversity comes strength.  The Boy had to face his fears and push himself past the limits he had set for himself, finding himself so much braver and more capable than he imagined.

In the end that victory is his and his alone.

And no matter how hard I try to protect him, life happens.

And that is sometimes a very good thing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

One of Those Days


Was one of those days.

You know the ones.

When you run out of laundry soap before you remember to wash the baby's clothes and everything is dirty and you have to dig out some mis-matched-hand-me-down-too-big clothes from your really disorganized closet because taking naked babies to Target in Winter weather on a laundry soap run?  Is generally frowned upon.

And then, when you are repeating positive affirmations to yourself in an effort to come down off the adrenaline rush it required to strap the thrashing and wailing baby into the car seat (I am a good mother.  I am a GOOD Mother.) you realize people might not be so skeptical of said affirmations if you would remember to say them silently.

At least you do remember to grab a few of those baby food pouches of organic pureed mango that your little one loves so much.  So much does he love those little pouches, that he resumes the thrashing and wailing at the injustice of putting said pouches into the cart, instead of into his mouth.  So you cave because there is no way you are ever going to even make it to the laundry aisle with this furious protesting and it is not like it is a candy bar for Pete's sake.  It is mango.  Organic mango.  (I am a good mother.)

So you twist off the lid to give him a taste.  But he has graduated from his days of passive slurping from these pouches.  Oh yes!  He's a crawler now (since last Friday) and in his advanced maturity of independent locomotion, he must hold that pouch himself.  With a guttural growl and in a vice grip of dedicated baby fingers, he sends the mango puree streaming out of the package like a bright orange fountain.  All over himself, the cart and his (very good) mother.

Of course you make haste for the checkout line and handing over your (slightly sweet and sticky) credit card you try to explain the mango mess to a checkout clerk who pretends to be sympathetic.

You arrive home, extract the tropical scented baby from the car seat (thrashing and wailing) and breathe a sigh of relief.

Until you realize?

You forgot to buy the laundry soap.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Finding The Joy

So remember a few days ago when I was all unicorns and rainbows and ice-cream and at Full Capacity?    Well, them days are OVER folks. My lovelier than lovely nieces flew home last Tuesday, and I am stumped as to how I actually took care of my children by myself prior to their arrival.

 Yes, I was that spoiled.

So I am trying to find The Joy.  And believe me, it is well hidden lately.

The teenager is pulling out of a month long major depressive episode and is something like Eeyore right now.  He brings his own rain cloud where ever he goes.  My heart breaks for him, but good Lord depression is exhausting.  At least he is staying awake for more hours of the day than he is sleeping finally.  And managing to make it to school, though just barely.  Today he put on a bright blue fleece and clean jeans when we went out to visit some friends.  I am counting this as The Joy.  Imagine Eeyore with days old clothing on.  Yes, this definitely counts.

The Boy keeps breaking stuff when he gets mad.  Then engaging in extreme self loathing for breaking things.  Then he is totally over it in 30 seconds and annoyed that I am not.  Which makes him mad, and  the cycle is repeated.  The Joy is found in unseasonably warm weather and the resulting playing outside that comes with it. Really hard to break stuff when all you have are trees and rocks.

The Kindergartner is reacting to her brothers' mood instability by being as obnoxious as possible to get her fair share of attention.  I understand that this is happening, but that cognitive awareness seems to do little for the level of irritability that overtakes me when she does things like lock the bathroom door then shut it just for fun when The Boy is running for it or kick The Teenager in the shins and stand there with her hands on her hips willing him to retaliate knowing it will be totally worth it to watch him get in trouble.


So finding the Joy.

I know it is there somewhere.

It sure wasn't when she asked The Teenager's friend if he had chicken pox after I EXPLAINED to her in private about his acne.  It might have been today when she asked for a mayonnaise only sandwich.  But not so much because she knows I have a mayonnaise phobia and gag involuntarily when I have to open the jar.  She said if mayonnaise alone was too gross, I could add some pickles.

 **Double gag**

Oh!  I know.

Last night, after a long day of consoling The Teenager and trying to prevent The Boy from destroying the house, she looked at her weary parents and had an idea.  She draped a scarf over a bedside table and decorated it with The Boy's Flag Football trophy.  She arranged her bed pillows for seating, and gave me the following instructions:

How to Make Baba Fall in Love with You

1.  Sit nicely at the table.
2.  Have nice manners.
3.  Play nice music.
4.  Be all romantic.
5.  Start drinking.

Now there?  There is The Joy.