It's time to say goodbye...until next week at least.

The thought still enters my mind.  "This would make a good blog post."  I would think about taking pictures not for the sake of capturing the memory, but to make sure that I had a picture to upload with my story.

When the boys were babies it was easy.  Put them down for a nap, write a little, give them a little tummy time, write a little more, start a blog, write a column, write a book, get published.

But now my days are more like this:
  • 5:30am--Alarm goes off.
  • 5:39am--Hit snooze.
  • 5:47am--Hit snooze again.
  • 5:55am--Hit snooze...again.
  • 6:04am--Go get the picture.
  • 6:17am--Finally get out of bed.
  • 6:54am--Get the boys up.
  • 7:00-7:45am--Fix breakfast, make lunches, make sure teeth and hair are brushed, tell them to put their socks on, finish putting on makeup, empty the dishwasher, tell them to put their socks on again, head out the door.
  • 8:30--1:30--Monday through Wednesday work at the church, staff meetings, team meetings, executive board meetings, PTA meetings.  Thursday and Friday clean house, run errands, and do all of the things I don't have time for Monday through Wednesday.
  • 2:00--Pick up the Monkey from school.
  • 3:30--Pick up the Cheese from school.
  • 3:30-5:30--Help with homework, serve snacks, empty backpacks, worry about what to make for dinner, return phone calls, emails, etc., etc., etc.
  • 6:00pm--Dinner, tennis on Wednesdays, drums on Thursdays, Life Group on Tuesdays.  Fridays usually a sleep over or movie night.  Saturdays watch football all day.  Sundays go to church and take the boys to Jr. Golf at the club.
  • And don't forget to throw in the random birthday party, volunteer opportunity, trip to the vet, trip to the pediatrician, and if I'm lucky a walk around the block for a little exercise.
Yes, like all mothers, my life is busy and I hate it.  My time is precious and when I actually have a little extra time I have recently learned that the only way I actually get anything done is to avoid the computer all together.  Why?  Because it is a BLACK HOLE.  Facebook, Twitter, favorite blogs, and now (Lord help me!) Pinterest, eat up my extra time like it's a plate full of warm brownies.   When I'm on the computer I avoid my kids and although that's not always a bad thing, my kids need me.  They need me to be present.  They need me to spend actual time with them instead of blogging about the time I spend with them.

All of this to say...I'm taking a break.  At first, I was going to delete my blog and be done with it.  Put it to bed.  Say goodnight and not worry about it anymore.  But I know myself well enough to know that there is a distinct possibility that I might want to return to writing in the future and it would be a total pain to start from the beginning all over again.  And clearly I don't have time for that.

Sure I'll be back.  It probably won't be on any kind of regular basis.  I'm sure something will hit me and I'll feel the need to blog.  We'll see...

So those of you who are used to keeping up with my life via my blog, we'll, you're just going to have to do it the old-fashioned way--through Facebook.

See you later...

Because I've become a coffee snob.

When you've been up the night before worrying about your children, a handmade mug from Coronado and fresh coffee beans from Undergrounds ( makes everything better.

If not better, at least wakes you up to deal with today.

God Bless you, Judy Blume.

Tonight the Big Cheese and I started reading Superfudge by Judy Blume.  I've tried to read some of the "Fudge" books to him before, but he wasn't all that interested.  But tonight as I made the voices of Fudge and Peter just to his liking, he "got it."  I'd read a funny paragraph and he was laugh out loud and say, "Read that again."  It was clear: He had fallen in love with his first piece of classic literature.

Yes, in my house, my world, Judy Blume is classic literature.  (Okay, classic children's literature, but a classic nonetheless.)

Even though I'm not that old (because I'm NOT) and Judy Blume was in the midst of all her author glory during my childhood, I still did not grow up thinking that reading was cool.  Sure, there was reading going on and books that were my favorites, but you was just...reading.  Something I had to do.  I found a few that I enjoyed (usually involving talking animals) but I wasn't picking up book because I wanted to.  I read simply because it was required and nothing more.  And it stayed that way for a long time.

Then one day in 1999, while teaching 5th grade, I had a kid that would not put down the book that he was reading.  All day long I had to ask him over and over and over again to put his book down.

"What are you reading anyway," I finally asked him.

"It's called Harry Potter," he told me.

Before long, all of the kids in my class were reading the infamous first book in the series and so was I.  I couldn't teach math or social studies because my students wouldn't put their books down.  And honestly, I didn't want to either!  It was out of control, I tell ya!  Books were everywhere!  It was mass reading chaos!

And in that was the moment my world shifted ever so slightly and reading became very, very cool.

Of course, being an elementary school teacher requires that you read a lot of children's fiction.  I feel in love with books that had been on the library shelves when I was in school but I never touched.  I read Holes aloud to my class every year and feel in love with it right along with my students.  I used phrases like, "Books are awesome!" and "Never stop reading!" and the students responded by thinking and doing just that.

But I haven't taught in over 10 years (okay, maybe I am getting old) and I have enjoyed Brown Bear, Brown Bear and Frog and Toad probably a little more than any parent should.  But I've been patiently waiting.  Waiting for my boys to be old enough to discover in childhood what it took me 25 years and 2 college degrees to discover: There are some really awesome books out there!

So the other day, I snuck the credit card out of the Golfer's wallet and went crazy on Amazon.  ("It's for the kids honey!  For the kids!")  Here's a little of what we'll be reading at our house this school year:

  1. The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
  2. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
  3. Tale of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
  4. Frindle by Andrew Clements
  5. No Talking by Andrew Clements
  6. Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
  7. Picklemania by Jerry Spinelli
  8. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
And this won't be the end of our list for sure, but the last thing I needed was for the Golfer to get some random phone call from the credit card company.

Yes sir, um...there is some suspicious activity on your account.  Seems that someone is trying to buy 52 new books on

And sadly, he wouldn't be shocked or surprised.  And gratefully, he wouldn't have it any other way.

Weekly Column: There's Only One

:: from  feel free to buy me one. ::

I love living in California.  You know I do.  But there's one time of year that I do not love living here.  Football season.

As a matter of fact, it makes me cry I miss game day so much.  Do I cry over missing my family?  My friends?  My home state? really.  (sorry, everybody.)  But sing the first few words to the OU Chant and tears will be running down my cheeks in no time.

Some of you may relate.  Some of you might think that I have lost my mind.  But I have a feeling that those of you who relate grew up wearing crimson and cream.

It seems silly, doesn't it?  That a girl could be so emotional about football?  But I have often said (and possibly right here on this very blog) that there has been one constant in my life: Section 5, Row 9 in Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.  Let me explain.  My great-grandfather bought those tickets.  Our family has been sitting in that section on that row for--literally--decades.  Those seats are like home to me.

  • As I little girl, I sat there when it was the weekend with my dad.  When you're parents divorce and you are an only child and a girl, weekends alone with your dad can be a challenge.  But game days were special.  I looked forward to them.  They were comfortable and fun.

  • I sat there in college instead of the student section trying to spot the boy I liked across the field.  He was sitting in the student athlete section near the bottom with his teammates.  A bunch of cute golfers.  Eventually he came over to sit with me. 

  • I sat there pregnant, focusing more on my game dog that the game itself.

  • And most recently, I sat there with my 2 boys during an A&M game watching their whole faces smile with excitement and delight.  They are being raised as Californians, but they will always be Sooners. 

When we moved to California, I didn't officially get homesick until I turned on the television to watch the first home game.  I cried looking at the stadium.  All I could think was, "All the people we love are in the very same place."  Because of course they were.  There's no other place you'd rather be on a Saturday in the fall.

So every year around this time, I feel myself missing home, missing Norman (the city, not my dog.)  I miss the friends who would stop by our house for a cold beer before the game.  I miss meeting up with our family at The Library for a game dog.  I miss walking to the stadium, hearing strangers yell out, "Boomer!" to which of course you would reply, "Sooner!"

L.A. is great for a lot of reasons.  Wanna do some shopping?  This is your place.  Need a day at the beach?  Just minutes away.  Sure, there's some good college football here, but it just isn't the same.  I will fly our OU flag and the boys will wear their OU gear to school every Friday, but no one will really appreciate it.  I will wear a T-shirt in early October that says, "Beat Texas" and will remark several times throughout the season how much I hate the color orange and no one else in town will understand.  I will get up at 7AM every Saturday to watch College Game Day and will be furious when Fox Sports West shows a west coast team instead of our team.  My team.

Because after all, there's only one team that matters.  There's only 1 Oklahoma.

list 15: if I had more time I would...

tic tac
:: photo found here ::

1.  watch more T.V.  If you know me personally, you are not at all shocked by this.  I love me some T.V. and wish I had more time to watch.  Yes, T.V. makes me happy and I'm not afraid to admit it.

2.  would cook better.  Not that I'm a bad cook per say , but around dinner time I'll find myself suddenly thinking,"Huh. Wonder what can I make out of marinated artichoke hearts and frozen fish sticks?"

3.  would take more time to shop better at the grocery store.  Clearly it is needed since all I have to make dinner tonight are marinated artichoke hearts and frozen fish sticks.

4.  be better about using sunscreen on a daily basis.  Because I'm gonna be 40...someday.  (499 days to be exact.)  Wrinkles can't be far away.  And when they get there, I wanna be sure to have someone else to blame.

5.  floss.  Enough said.

6.  spend more time enjoying my free time.  I don't know about you, but usually when I have free time I spend it all worrying about everything I should be doing instead of having free time.

7.  read more.  I know it doesn't really go with #1, but I kinda look at it as being ambidextrous--able to equally used both sides of my body, the T.V. watching side and the book reading side.  (And yes, I did have to Google how to spell ambidextrous.)

8.  blog more.  Because some of you actually like to read this stuff.  I know this because I'll start in on one of my good stories and someone will suddenly say, "Yeah, I know. I read it on your blog."

9.  spend more time just hanging with my boys.  Not doing anything specific (i.e., high-excitment boy activity), but just hanging out together.  Because when I'm busy with life, which is much more often than I'd prefer, my boys get gypped and that just ain't right.  (Okay, so you caught me. I had to look up how to spell gypped too.)

10. practice my spelling.  Clearly it's necessary.  (Whoops. Spelled it with 2 "c's").

11.  come up with some creative idea that didn't involve lots of spelling to make the Golfer and I independently wealthy so we can move to Coronado Island and spend all day reading books and watching T.V.

paying attention part 9: liking him more

So where were we...ah, yes.  The medication wasn't working.

It was summer break and with "break" being the operative word, we decided to do just that: take a break from medication.  We would be doing lots of traveling over the summer, and worrying about bad side effects during 4th of July fireworks just didn't sound like fun.  Could the Cheese still benefit from taking it?  Sure.  But being on vacation with a sullen, droopy child who could care less wasn't what we wanted.  So we traveled and enjoyed our summer, medication free.

But I also knew that the summer was probably a good time to test a new medication.  I could have home with me all day to actually see what he was like on his meds.  You see, most of the day when the meds are at their best, the Cheese is at school.  By the time he came home from school the meds had started to taper off.  Trying a new med during the summer was probably a good idea, so we did just that.

The doctor decided to have him try Addreall this time.  The Cheese has been on 5mg for the last month and life is lovely.  He can stay both focused and in a good mood at the same time.  His appetite lessens a little during lunch time, but not enough for concern and the sleeplessness is nonexistent.  Lovely indeed!

This might sound terrible coming out of my mouth, but here it goes: I'm starting to like my child more.

Those of you who have gone through this process can shake your head in agreement because you've been through the darkness that comes with being so incredibly frustrated with your child that you slowly, overtime, start to dislike your own child.  You love them--of course you love them!  That never, ever, ever stops.  But liking your child is totally different than loving your child.  Ever had a spouse that drives you crazy, frustrates you to no end?  And you find yourself thinking, "I love you, honey.  But right now I just don't like you."  Yeah, that can happen with your children too.

I went for a very long time being frustrated with the Cheese without explanation.  We didn't know that he had ADD.  All we knew was that we had a child who was suddenly not meeting his full potential at school, was forgetful, messy, and distracted, and all of these things were causing discipline problems, mostly because it caused us to butt heads with him every day, all day.  The fact that I was having to tell him at least 10 times every morning to go put on his socks was driving me insane.  I would drop him off at school after a crazy morning asking myself questions like, "What am I doing wrong?  Am I not communicating effectively?  Are we raising a defiant little jerk?"  No.  That simply couldn't be.  This was my good citizen.  My sweet boy that everyone always loved.

What was happening?

ADD was happening.

And now that we know that; now that he is effectively being treated, I like my child again.

So with the medication working for now (because heaven know that could change at any moment), it was time to focus on the other issues affectionately called co-morbids.

Doesn't that sound like fun?  Stay tuned.  "Next time on the Real Housewives of Children with ADD..."

Shiny Red Apples

Some moms are sad when the First Day of School comes around.  I am not one of those moms.

Don't get me wrong.  I love the unscheduled days of summer.  The p.j. days that are spent disregarding responsibilities.  But there was something about seeing these backpacks full of new school supplies that made me smile this morning.

You might notice the apples.  It's a tradition, started by my mother, to take our new teachers apples--real, red and delicious apples--on the first day of school.  The tradition started when I was a teacher and my mom would bring a big basket of apples for my class to have a snack on the first day of school.  It's a sweet memory to think of my 5th graders so excited to eat a shiny red apple on the first day of school.

It's also a tradition to take a picture on the front porch on the first day.  They moaned and groaned about having to put arms around each other for this one.  You may notice that this year the Big Cheese opted out of wearing a shirt with a collar.  Last year he got in the car on the first day of school and said, "Mom, don't ever make me wear one of these shirts ever again."  So this year, no collar.  Instead a T-shirt that say, "Bring it!"  Appropriate don't you think?

Oh how I love the first day of school.  I always have.  I loved it as a student.  I loved it as a teacher.  I love it as a mother.  And one day, when my boys are all grown up and no longer have a first day of school I will miss it.

But you can bet that I'll be making sure that my grandchildren have shiny red apples to take to their teachers.

paying attention part 8: never the exception

:: the Cheese's self-portrait as an astronaut ::

When they say that there's no such thing as a quick fix, they aren't kidding.  Not that I was expecting the Big Cheese to be a quick fix.  I knew better than to believe that simply giving him a pill would make everything okay.  I might have hoped that it would fix everything, but my luck has never been that good.

We were one month into taking 15mg of Foclin.  We had started with 5mg and increased to 10mg and finally landed on 15mg.  It seemed to be helping him.  We were pleased.  The doctor was pleased.  The reports from school were good.  He was able to stay on task, finish his work, stay in his seat, and pay attention.  Yes, he was finally able to pay attention.  It felt like we were moving forward and finally helping our son.

It was weird to me what a difference a little pill could make.  By the time he was on 10mg we noticed major differences in his school work.  His handwriting had drastically improved.  He suddenly passed 3 multiplication timed tests in one week.  His homework load went way down (little did we realized that the reason for so much homework was because he wasn't getting it done in class.)  It felt that we had given our bright, intelligent son the tools that he needed to succeed.

But.  (Isn't there always a but?)

He didn't seem...happy.  He just seemed sort of...blah.  Indifferent.  Sullen.  Sullen was the word that I used to describe him.  And on top of that, when his medication would start to wear off in the afternoon (he was on a time released capsule that would last about 8 hours) he would become very grumpy and irritated.  He was like me when I get tired or hungry or worse--both.

It seemed that we had traded one problem for another.  Sibling relationships can be hard enough when you are 6- and 9-years-old, but they can become right down disastrous when one of the brothers is coming down hard off his meds.  When I asked his teacher if she was seeing any differences in his personality now that he was on medication she replied, "He doesn't seem to be the playful puppy that he once was."

On top of the attitude and emotional issues, there was the appetite and sleeping problems.  Two very common side effects, the Big Cheese had them both in spades.  He would eat breakfast, but had no desire to eat any lunch, didn't want an after-school snack, and would barely eat dinner.  Around 9 o'clock, when he was supposed to be sleeping, he would come downstairs asking for something to eat.  We'd give him a little Melatonin, a bowl of Cheerios, and pray that he'd fall asleep before midnight.

Did I mention how much he didn't like taking his meds?  At first he did fine.  We talked about how much it would help him and he was cool with it.  But after a while he started to fight us on it.  Have you ever had to fight a kid to get him to take his medicine?  Was it a miserable experience for you?  Yeah, imagine having to do that every single morning.

Let's review.  Improvement in school work, paying attention, good.  Sullen, irritated, grumpy, not eating, not sleeping, bad.

So back to the doctor we went.  I knew from the many discussion boards concerning ADHD/ADD that I had started visiting that this was very common.  Difficulties in finding the exact mediation that would work for your child was the norm.  I had hoped that we would be the rare exception.

Life's never that easy.

It's Norman's birthday.

Okay, so we don't know exactly when the poor guy was born.  Or where he was born for that matter.  I mean, we don't even know what kind of dog he is.  All we know is that he was abandoned in a shelter in south central L.A. and one year ago he came home to live with us.

The Monkey wants to know how we are going to celebrate.  There's a pet store here in town where you can actually have birthday parties for your pets.  The scary thing is that for a split second I actually considered it.

But then I remembered that I'm not a crazy person.  Sure, I have a travel coffee mug that says, "Happy Rescue Dog Owner" and a T-shirt that says, "My Dog Makes Me Happy", but I'm not that crazy.

Those of you who know me can stop laughing now.

Eating the fruit of our labor.

::  fruit stand in Pike Place Market, Seattle ::

You know when someone asks you what you've been up to and you respond with total exasperation about how busy it's been, how crazy?  And then you start to listen to what you're actually saying and realize what you sound like because the things that you have been crazy with are wonderful and fun and total blessings?

Yeah...that's going to be me here in a few seconds.

July has been crazy.  I've been totally busy.  I'm tired and worn out.  Vacationing is hard work.

I realized how obnoxious all of my Facebook "check in's" have been lately:

  • Coronado Island
  • the Mission at San Juan Capistrano
  • the art festival in Laguna Beach
  • a boutique hotel in Manhattan Beach
  • a guest house on the Puget Sound
  • Pike Place Market in Seattle
  • just to name a few,
  • and that has all been in the last 3 weeks.

Yes, obnoxious indeed.  Obnoxious how many vacations--big and little--that we have been on this month.  This list is embarrassing.  Typing that list is embarrassing.  I've been embarrassed about how blessed we've been to be able to do all of this.  I've actually felt...guilty.

But then I found Psalm 128: 1-4

Blessed are all who fear the Lord;
who walk in his ways.
You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessing and prosperity will be yours.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your sons will be like olive shoots 
around your table.
Thus is the man blessed
who fears the Lord.

This verse (like many) smacked me in the face.  Perhaps, if you know our story, this verse will make sense to you.  If you don't know our story, in a nutshell the Golfer and I stepped out in faith (when everyone else thought we were crazy) to follow God's will for our lives.  It wasn't easy.  It wasn't fun.  It was a huge financial and, at times, an emotional struggle.

But we stayed true to what we knew we were supposed to be doing.  And the Lord has blessed us.  Being able to travel and experience and expose our kids to so much is a reward!  A reward from God isn't obnoxious and it certainly isn't something to be embarrassed about.  The Golfer works hard, very hard.  And I work hard putting up with his working hard.  So I have nothing to feel guilty about.

We've just been "eating (a lot of) the fruit of our labor."

Weekly Column: Beauty Sleep.

©2008, Stephenie Freeman

I spent most of last night convincing my son that our house wasn’t going to burn down, that there was no need to be scared, and that if any monsters showed up or bed bugs started biting that I was just down the hallway.  Not surprisingly, this conversation happened at bedtime in between another drink of water and just one more hug.

They say what goes around comes around.  When I was a kid, I was the queen of bedtime postponement.  I knew all of the tricks, the best ways to delay the inevitable, and none of them ever worked. 

The same thing would happen every night.  For years my day would end with my mom sitting on the edge of my bed reading me a book.  She would turn off the light, kiss me goodnight, and tell me she loved me as she quickly headed for the door. 

Just about the time she thought she was in the clear I would ask her, “Mom?  Um…what are we doing tomorrow?”

Her typically quick answer was always followed by, “Now go to sleep…” and in her best Scarlet O’Hara impression,”…tomorrow is another day.”

My mom might have been a huge Gone with the Wind fan, but I had no idea what she was talking about.  Of course tomorrow was another day, and I didn’t want to go to sleep until I had a detailed play-by-play of the day’s events that took at least a good hour and a half to explain.

I had good reason to delay bedtime.  The witch from Sleeping Beauty was lurking behind my bedroom door, and according to my dad our house had been built on top of an ancient Indian burial ground.  Once my mom left the room, all I had left to defend myself was a few dozen stuffed animals and a scrawny little Sheltie named Chevis sleeping underneath my bed.

I’m lucky to still be alive.

I vaguely remember a period of time when I made my mother’s nightlife miserable.  I would cry and whine every single night about how I needed—had to—sleep in her room.  No matter what I said or how desperate I seemed, there was nothing I could do to convince her otherwise.

Back then, I couldn’t understand why she didn’t want me sleeping right next to her all night long.  I was her child, the person that her days revolved around.  Why wouldn’t want me snuggling up next to her and invading her space all night too?

And now that I have children of my own, I finally understand the parental need to sleep alone and feel compelled to apologize to my mom repeatedly.

My nighttime routine is still much the same as it has always been; only now I’m on the receiving end of the delay tactics.  Books are read, nightlights and CD players turned on, and final trips to the bathroom are made.  The difference is that my boys will usually fall fast asleep after a little coaxing and extra hugs.  Then around 4 A.M., when I’m dreaming of spa days with a masseuse named Buck and childfree vacations in Tahiti, a little voice will creep over the edge of my bed.

“Mama, I wanna seep wif you.”          

I’m not a fan of the family bed for lots of reasons, but mostly because my children are impossible to sleep with.  I have one child who likes to try new yoga positions in his sleep, most of which involve a warrior pose right into the in the middle of my back, and another child who talks just as much in his sleep as he does during the day.  My children might claim to sleep better when they’re in my bed, but when they’re in my bed they are the only ones doing any sleeping.

It makes me feel guilty shoving my children out into the hallway and back into their own rooms in the middle of the night, but it has to be done.  My children claim not to understand.  They cry all the way back to their own bed, escalating my parental guilt to a whole new level, but I know that I am a better mother for it.   

If not a better mother, at least a well rested one.

We are 4th of July kind of people.

we celebrated the 4th in our favorite way--on coronado island doing all of our favorite things.

we biked around the island...

we met Patrick Mc P, the official canine mayor of coronado...

we enjoyed our favorite parade...

which included little clowns...

and the cast of The Music Man (one of my favorite musicals)...

and even some Star Wars characters (the boys absolute favorite)...

we spent quality time with Grandmoms and Pop...

we drew circles with our names in them for the parade horses to poop in...

we enjoyed snow cones at Concert in the Park...

and ate lots and lots of ice cream...

we shopped at our favorite stores...

and bought new books from our favorite Indy book store, Bay Books...

and ate at our favorite restaurants...

but best of all, we celebrated our favorite holiday together as a family.

California Anniversary.

Today is what I call our california anniversary.  Five years ago today, we moved west.  It's been a blessed five years and as much as we missed our family and friends, we couldn't be happier.

So much has happened in those five years.  More than we could have ever guessed or requested in our wildest dreams.  God has been so good to us here.  California is now home.

However, the way it all started you would have never had guessed that things would have turned out so good:  
  1. We hated our first apartment.
  2. We hated that we had moved from a darling house into an apartment.
  3. Half of our stuff was jam packed into a storage unit in Oklahoma.
  4. The first night after we crawled into bed I cried, "I don't even know how to get to Target!"
  5. The trailer, used to move my car across country, was stolen off of the moving truck.
  6. The moving truck was spray painted with graffiti.  I think they were gang symbols that said, "Welcome to California!"
  7. The first friend I made died 3 months after meeting her of sudden liver failure.  It might have been the white wine that she offered me that she bought at the dollar store (may she rest in peace.)
  8. We had no money.  Apparently the cost of living in California really is higher.
  9. I missed Game Day in Norman so much it hurt.
  10. Watching OU football on T.V. was the one thing that made me cry.
  11. The Golfer was constantly gone.
  12. It never, ever rained.  And when it did rain, it didn't really...rain.
The bright spots of that first year?  Disneyland, the beach, In-n-Out, and...that's about it.

But then things changed.  They got better.  We settled in.  We moved to a better apartment.  I met more friends that didn't have a hidden terminal illness.  The Golfer was hired as the head coach, etc., etc., etc.  And five years later the crazy thing is, I can't image us living anywhere else.

Park it.

I'm a bad mommy.  I hate going to the park.  I'm not one of those mamas who is good as going somewhere just to sit.  And that's what you do when you take your kids to the park--you sit.  I'm not a good sitter unless it's in front of the T.V. and Teresa is getting advice from Caroline about how to handle all of her family's drama.  

I've tried to take books to read, but it just doesn't happen.  With two boys at the park, you've gotta keep an eye on things.  But yesterday was a beautiful day.  A cool 75 degrees.  I would be nuts not to force the children outside.  However, the one thing I could do was take pictures.

Of course, we made a coffee stop before the park.  Nothing wrong with sipping on a non-fat misto if you've gotta sit there.

Love this new sign at the park.  Just in case you don't understand what it means to pick up after your pet, here's a visual.

Instead of actually playing basketball, they used the ball to set up booby traps.

The Cheese did a lot of sitting around too.  Apparently, parks aren't his thing anymore.  

The Monkey--always my little poser.

The tornado slide--the one thing that never gets old, or is too old to enjoy.  I enjoyed it as well, I just didn't let the kids take my picture.

paying attention part 7: a hard pill to swallow


The Cheese sat on the kitchen counter.  I stood in front of him, a box of Tic-Tacs in my hand.

"We're going to practice with these," I told him.  "These are a little smaller than the pills that you have to take, so it should be easy-peesey-lemon-squeezie!"

I am a mother, proud of my capabilities as a parent.  Teaching a 9 year-old to swallow a pill?  No problem.

15 minutes, 6 Tic-Tacs, and a whole lot of frustration later, we discovered that the Cheese could not, would not swallow his pills.  Just wasn't going to happen.  God bless the doctor for having the foresight to give us capsules that I could open into a spoon full of applesauce or yogurt for the Cheese to swallow down.

The next morning, after breakfast and before school, I did just that.  I held the spoon up to his mouth with the instructions to swallow it down.  This is going to make your breaks work better I reminded him.  Help him slow down that Ferrari brain.

I starred at him, waiting for his head to spin on its axis.  Waiting for him to projectile vomit.  Waiting for him to whimper or scream or both.  Instead, he hopped off of the counter and ran upstairs to play with LEGOS even though he was supposed to be brushing his teeth.

The decision to medicate our child wasn't an easy one.  We hadn't entered into it lightly.  But we decided that we needed to take a step forward in helping and for us this seemed like the best first choice.

You know what clinched the decision for me?  I read in something that used the comparison between medication for ADHD and glasses.  If your child needed glasses to see better, you wouldn't hesitate to get them for him.  Medication for ADHD is like getting your child glasses: they help him to focus better. Well, we had to get glasses for the Cheese when he was 5 and obviously we didn't hesitate.  So why would we hesitate now?

Of course, there were side effects.  Right away we saw his appetite decrease.  During the day he wasn't eating at all.  I told the Golfer that if you noticed some of the pills missing not to be surprised.  They sounded just like what my diet needed.  (I'm kidding of course.  Sort of...)

We also saw that he had trouble falling asleep.  The medication was a stimulant after all, so his sleeplessness wasn't a surprise.  Both of these were common side effects and would hopefully dissipate over time.

The good news was that the teacher saw the benefits right away.  Suddenly he was getting all of his work done in class and wasn't bring home any homework.  He passed three of his multiplication times test in a week.  She said that he was sitting in his seat and (hear are the words that we really wanted to hear) he was paying attention.

But this was only the first week of his being on medication, and as great as some of this seemed, we would soon discover that this wasn't the magic pill that we had been hoping for.

paying attention part 6: the appointment

:: photo found here ::

I'm not going to lie.  I almost started to cry as we walked into the building.

I'm not sure the exact reason.  We had waited weeks for this appointment and I had woken up feeling the relief that the day had finally come.  But as we walked into the building that was labeled The Institute for Neurosciences and Human Behavior I felt my emotions starting to get the best of me.

Armed with my folder filled with teacher and parent evaluations (the Vanderbilt Assessment Scale to be exact), insurance information, and even some school work examples, we waited outside the doctor's office. I tried not to stare at the eating disorder patients that solemnly walked in front of us and out the back door, most likely on their way out for a smoke break and not a lunch break.  We tried hard not to stare at the girl who had written up and down her legs in what appeared to be a black Sharpie marker.  Thousands of words squeezed in between the freckles of her ghostly white leg.  I stared at the Golfer with eyes that silently cried, "Where the hell are we?"

When the doctor finally opened his door, we stood there awkwardly.  Did we all go in?  Just the Cheese?  Just the parents?  First the Cheese and then the parents?

Reading our minds the doctor said, "Why don't you all come in?"

The appointment was short and sweet.  First he met with us as a family, then just with the Golfer and I, and then finally with the Cheese alone.  During our time alone with the doctor we shared our concerns:

  • He was a bright boy who we worried would start falling through the educational cracks due to his inability to concentrate.  
  • He would have hours of homework every night because he couldn't get it completed in class.
  • Simple tasks like remembering to brush teeth and tying his shoes were becoming huge issues.  
  • He couldn't pass his multiplication facts because he couldn't finished the timed-tests (i.e., the answers were right, but he couldn't finish in the 5 minutes allotted.)  
  • He couldn't follow simple, one-step instructions at home.  All of this was causing lots of friction between the Cheese and us, and we were worried about our relationship with him.
  • He seemed unhappy and constantly, continually out to lunch.

"Does your son show any signs of depression?  Anxiety?" the doctor asked us.

You see, usually there are secondary conditions that accompany the ADHD.  Frustrations with peers and parents, social isolation, and rejection can cause these other issues to pop up.  We had no idea.

Yes, we told the doctor.  We see a lot of anxiety in our son.  He worries unnecessarily.  He cries easily and has trouble controlling his emotions.  He is our sensitive boy and always has been.

"Is there any depression in the family?  Any psychiatric disorders?  Substance abuse?"

Uh...yeah.  Uh, huh.  Yep.  Definitely. (But that's another blog series entirely that I will share later.)

Turns out, as the doctor talked to our son one-on-one the anxiety was very apparent.  So much so that the doctor seems just as worried about the anxiety as he was the ADHD and gave us a referral to a children's anxiety clinic.

Not something that I had expected.

Before we knew it, we were given a two week drug protocol to follow with instructions to call the doctor at the end of the two weeks.  We walked away feeling that we had taken a step forward, but feeling just as confused and worried and concerned about our son as when we walked in, if not more so.  I guess you could say that we were feeling...anxious.  Seems that anxiety might run in the family.


Reunited and it feels so good.

So my 20 year reunion was a great, fun time.  No really, it was.  I couldn't wait to see all of my old friends: Christie, Kim, Lisa, Karen, Kio, and Amy just to name a few.  Everyone looked awesome--just like we did 20 years ago (at least that's what we kept telling each other all night long.)

Gone was all of the pretense of high school.  Gone was worrying about what your classmates think (of course that doesn't explain why I spent a lot of money on new clothes for the event.)  Gone was all of the stupid stuff that makes high school...high school.  

I would have posted these pics sooner, but I've been trying to find the old pics from high school that "match" these new ones.  I dug out an old box of pics and ended up spending an hour going through all of them, which made me realize that I needed to organize them all, which reminded me that I needed a lot of new albums to put them in, which made me run to Target to buy some new ones, where I totally forgot about the albums and bought breakfast blend K-cups, 4th of July T-shirts for the boys, and toilet paper instead.

And we wonder where our son gets his ADD.

This pic is of Christie, me, and Lisa.  Somewhere there is a picture from our graduation just like this...but if I go to look for it again, I might never finish this post.  I always thought Lisa was the most beautiful girl in our class, inside and out, and she still is.  (And her two little boys are the cutest kids on the planet!)

I love this pic.  It's of everyone at the reunion from our elementary school: Monroe Elementary.  It's a little fuzzy, but it shows so many of the people that I grew up with and still count as dear friends.

clockwise (for those who care) Kio, me, Cole, Claine, Alicia, Sean, Susan, Kim, Nathan, Andrew, Ryan, Bryan, Karen, Kyra, and Laura.  And there were so many missing!  I'm talking about you Susan, Nicole, Jeannie, Jane, and others!

Oh how I've missed these two friends!  Kio and Karen were two of my first and best friends when I moved to Norman in 1981.  The memories we have together are long.  The one bad thing about the reunion?  I didn't have nearly enough time to catch up with these two.

Here I am with Amy and Karen.  In high school we had a little group called the BASKETS (all of our names put together.)  Yeah, we were one wild and crazy group.  (Can't hear the sarcasm in my voice, can you?)  We did however get caught by the cops tee-peeing my boyfriend's house, but that was the extent of our craziness.

So I didn't make the Golfer go Friday night but I did drag him along for Saturday.  Turns out, he was a bigger hit than I was at the reunion (not that that surprises anyone.)  Guess that's what you get when you're married to a guy who's won a National Championship.

Here's one old pic of Christie and I that I didn't have to dig for.  Here we are at our Junior Prom...

And here we are 21 years later!  Our hair isn't quite as big, but I think we look exactly the same.

And here I am with my other dear, dear friend Kim.  She made me look like a squatty midget in her heels, but I still love her.   Oh how I miss living close to her! 

Yes, the reunion was great.  I loved seeing everyone and I loved seeing how happy and successful everyone has become.  There were so many people missing but it was so great to see everyone that I did.

See you guys in 10 more years!