He'll have his on the rocks.

It was at this very spot 2 1/2 years ago that we dropped 4 rocks down into a hole.  I wrote about it the next day:

The Golfer and I stood with the boys right on the edge of the hole. I couldn't help but be moved by the moment. God is beyond cool and amazing. He brought us here to California when everyone thought it was a crazy (i.e., stupid) idea. But we had faith. We knew that we were following God's will for our lives and as stupid (i.e., crazy) as it seemed, we did it anyway.
And you know what? He has blessed us like crazy in the last year and a half, giving us all that we could want or hope for. He brought us through a time when all we could do was look at each other and say, "What the heck are we doing?" to now being at a point where things are pretty close to perfect in our little corner of the world and all we can do is praise Him, feeling God's parental sense of humor as he says, "I told you so."
Now here we were, standing on holy ground--ground that will be used to do God's work, ground that He was asking us to invest in and be a part of. With our little rocks we were getting to be a part of something bigger than ourselves--creating an altar for the Lord to say, "Thank You God, for all that you've given me!" and to top it off, committing ourselves--in cement--to our new church home.
Standing over the hole, I closed my eyes to pray. I prayed that people would be drawn into this building, just the way the sign had drawn us in. I prayed that the people who are, like we were, searching for a new church home or perhaps their first church home, will drive by this ultra-cool, eco-church (yep, our church is very environmentally friendly) and be compelled to walk in and check it out.
Most importantly, I prayed that our sons will come to know Christ in a real and personal way in this new building, and that the next time that we would be standing here in this very spot it would be when my boys are being baptized.

889 days later, this happened.  (Not that I was counting.)

The 888 days prior to that moment we had stood in that spot many times:

eating donuts every Sunday before church.
visiting with friends from our Life Group.
enjoying coffee on the patio.
signing up to sponsor a little boy through Children of the Nations.
helping to pack 100,000 meals to feed people in places like Uganda and Haiti.

That spot was a good spot.  Of course it was--it was built on a bunch of rocks.

So did our son's baptism come as a surprise?  No.  Because God can do anything.  And with all of the craziness we've experienced lately with the Big Cheese, this wonderful, joyful occasion couldn't have come at a better time.  We have been praying for our boys to develop a deep and lasting friendship with Jesus from the moment they were both born.  I had assumed that their baptisms would probably fall into their early teenage years somewhere.  Oh how wrong I was.  And never in my life have I been so happy to be wrong in my whole life.

In the baptism packet that the Cheese filled out, he gave some of the following answers,

He died on the cross for us to have eternal life.

He wants me to spread the word about him.

Jesus will always be with me.

The only way to go to Heaven is through Jesus's heart.

His answers left no question: this kid was ready to be baptized.  The best part was the fact that the Golfer got to be the one to baptize him, who had been baptized by his father, officially making it a Freeman Family Tradition.

One down.  One to go.

paying attention part 3: starting line

So where do you start?  You think you're child has ADD, so who do you call for help?  I guess it should have made logical sense to me, but it didn't.  I guess I had a little bit of the whole "deer in headlights" thing going on.

"The pediatrician," the Golfer said.  "Call the pediatrician."

So that's what I did.  The receptionist answered.

Uh, yes.  Hi.  Um...I was wondering...well...we have reason to suspect that our son has ADHD--Inattentive.  And we wanted to see if we could come in and discuss things with the doctor, preferably without our child present.

"For what?  Why do you want to see him?  Oh, well, I'm fairly certain that the doctor no longer sees patients for that condition."

She called it a "condition."  I could almost see her making the quote marks with her fingers through the phone.

"And besides, we don't ever see just parents without the child present."

We can't come in and just discuss our concerns with the doctor?  No?  Really.  Okay...well, then if he doesn't see patients for this "condition" then who the...(pause)...who are we supposed to see?

I was trying to stay calm, but it was hard.  I had only been on the phone for 20 seconds at the most and this lady had already pissed me off.  I know that she is only a receptionist and not professionally trained about bedside manner, but didn't she get it?  Didn't she get that making this phone call made my heart beat faster?  That I was pacing the room while on the phone?  That this wasn't an ordinary call about my kid having Strep throat?  She didn't get it and most likely, didn't care.

And seeing the doctor without our son present, when did that become forbidden?  Obviously we had not discussed this "condition" with our son yet, and we certainly didn't want to freak him out if we didn't have to.  The Big Cheese is our sensitive boy.  Our tender-hearted little guy.  He has anxiety when there's a candle lit in the house.  Going to the doctor to discuss a "condition" that we didn't officially even know that he had would certainly send him over the edge.

"You just need to call the mental health number on the back of your insurance card," she said.

I said thank you.  I tried my best not to mutter, "yeah thanks for nothing" before I hung up.


When all you have is a stack of books, the Internet, and no official diagnosis, bad things can happen.

"It's my fault," I told the Golfer.

"I was so sick when I was pregnant with him and I could never take my prenatal vitamin because it made me throw up.  And all I ate was KFC chicken and Jamba Juice and Pepto Bismol.  I mean, really, he should be bright pink for all of the Pepto I drank!  Oh, and the one time that I ate a whole tube of Sweet Tarts.  And the T.V.!  I let him watch way too much T.V.!"

The moment the crazy words left my ranting mouth I realized how irrational it all sounded.  But the guilt.  The mommy guilt was too much.  In 9 years of being a mother, I've experienced mommy guilt many times before, but this was on a whole new level.

I remember when the study came out several years ago when the Cheese was still a toddler saying that watching too much television could cause ADD.  The thought ran through my head as my toddler stared at the screen watching Elmo and The Wiggles and Blue's Clues, Maybe I shouldn't let him watch so much T.V. ?  And then I quickly dismissed the idea because after all, it was Elmo.  Elmo can't be bad.  Elmo doesn't cause ADD.  Elmo would never do that to our children.

The Golfer comforted me with sweet words and told me the things I wanted to hear.  I calmed down and allowed rationality to return.

For a few minutes anyway.


Who knew that getting an appointment with a doctor would be so difficult?  I mean, you have an issue so you pick up the phone and make an appointment.  Right?  Not as easy as it sounds apparently.

I did as the lovely receptionist had suggested and called the mental health number.  Mental Health.  Those two words suddenly bothered me.  Those words conjured up images that I didn't like.  But when I once again stepped away from the emotions, I realized that was actually what was going on.  Something was wrong with my child's Mental Health; the health of his brain was in question.

The lady on the Mental Health hotline gave me the lowdown.  I appreciated her and her explanations.  She seemed to...care.  She gave us a names of some doctors--child psychologists and psychiatrists--in our area for me to call.  I did what research I could online (gotta love that Internet) about which one was best and decided it was a crap shoot.  I gave up the research, called all three and left messages.

I waited a few days.  Then I waited some more.  Nothing.  No return calls.  What kind of a doctor doesn't call someone back?  And what about three doctors that won't call you back?  I did the only thing I could.  I called them back and left three more messages and waited several days for no one to return my calls. 

I was already tired of dealing with this whole thing.  And we were only getting started.

:: read about part one and two here and here. ::

A room worth sharing.

:: photo found here and here ::

I am in love with this room.  I found this pic a few weeks ago and continue to look at it.  I blow it up, staring at the details, wondering, "What if...?"

Clearly this is a room to be shared by two brothers.  There isn't a thing about this room that isn't perfect: the lamps inside the bunks, the desks on either side, the chandelier, the couch, the Ugly Dolls.  The only thing missing?  Clutter.  Like I said, I love this room. 

I never considered having my boys share a room, but this picture has got me thinking.  The Golfer had to share a room this brother.  He hated it growing up.  I have a feeling that if they had to share a room today, they'd both love it.

I'm big on my boys having their own space, and now that we are going through everything with The Big Cheese, it's probably a good thing they don't share a room.  But how could life not be perfect in a room like this?  Sure, it would take a skilled carpenter and a room that was sized just right, but what an investment worth making.

Forget the boys!  Maybe this could be the modern version of a June and Ward Cleaver master bedroom.  Something to think about, indeed.

paying attention part 2: there's a hole in the bucket

:: photo found here. ::

Remember that song?

There's a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza.  There's a whole in the bucket, dear Liza, a hole.

So fix it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry.  So fix it, dear Henry.  Then fix that darn hole.

I remember it was on Sesame Street once.  Every once in a while that song will pop into my head.  No apparent reason.  Just because.

I've been singing that song a lot lately.

Last month, we met for a routine parent/teacher conference at the school.  The conference included the Big Cheese.  Everything we heard that day we already knew.  We weren't shocked by anything that we heard that day.  But there was something that happened in the conversation that changed everything.

After all of the positives came the negatives.  He has trouble paying attention.  He can't focus on his work.  His work isn't getting done, even though he knows and has mastered the material.  His hand writing is mess and he had trouble at times becoming overly emotional.

"We see it at home too," we told her.

And then the Golfer said something to the teacher that surprised me.

"Do you think there could be something...more...going on here?"

I hate to admit it, but I was a little shocked by what he was asking.  We had never discussed the possibility that there might be something more serious going on with our son.  The Golfer had never muttered the words, "Hey babe, do you think...?"  This was the first that I was hearing that he had even had these thoughts.

I wanted to hit the pause button.  I wanted to pause the teacher and turn towards my husband and ask why the hell he had never expressed these concerns to me, his wife, the mother of this child, before this moment.  But I couldn't.  I couldn't stop the flow, so all I did was nod my head like we had discussed this many, many times before.

Immediately, she confirmed his suspicions by saying, "I would love to discuss that further with both of you at another time."

I felt like I was on the outside looking in.  A slight "out of body experience" if you will.  They both suspected something and where was I?  Clueless.  Out to lunch.  Unavailable for comment.  I just thought we had a child with a difficult personality.  A child that was challenging.  It had never crossed my mind that my son might not be able to help his behavior.  That there might actually be something...wrong...with his little brain.

I know this might sound dramatic to say it this way, but in that moment it was like a vale had been lifted.  A light had been turned on.  We had finally been given glasses after walking around nearsighted.  Suddenly everything made sense.

That's it!  That's what it is.  It's not my parenting.  It's not something I've done wrong in raising him.  It's something...more.  Something else.  Something like...ADD.

We learned that day that there was a hole in our bucket.

I immediately went home and jumped online.  I went into "fix it" mode.  I wasn't sad.  I wasn't mad.  I wasn't emotional.  What I felt was...relief.  I felt like we had an answer to all of our frustrations and worries.  And now, all I wanted to do was find the confirmation I was looking for and then...fix it.

So fix it, dear Henry.  Then fix that darn hole.

I Googled and searched and read and ingested.  I sat on the floor at Barnes and Noble in the "Special Needs" section and decided which books I should buy to help me fix the hole in our bucket.  And again not to be overly dramatic, but every web page, every page in every book was like I was reading about our son.

"Listen to this!"  I would say to the Golfer.  And he would say, "Yeah.  That's him.  Totally."

Neither one of us are child psychiatrists, but we couldn't help ourselves.  We didn't need a teacher or doctor to tell us what we already were seeing.  What we already knew.

But it is always good to get a second opinion.  Especially when that second opinion comes from an actual professional.

Two weeks later we met with the teacher again, this time without the Big Cheese present.  I felt badly for her.  From the beginning of our meeting I could tell that she was nervous about delivering the news, telling us her suspicions.  Little did she know that we already knew what she was going to tell us.  We were already in agreement with her before she even started.  But oh, how grateful I was for her!  To know our child well enough, to care enough to step out and say something that, is difficult for a parent to hear is one of the hardest things to do as a teacher.  I know because I had to do it once.

Ironically it was also through a parent/teacher conference.  My co-teacher and I had to share the news with the parents of a little girl in our class that we thought she might have a learning disability and should look into being tested.  I will never forget the mother starting to cry and before standing to leave the room, looking at me and saying,"You don't understand!  You don't have children!"

But now I do.  And I'm the one sitting on the other side of the table.  I think that's what some people refer to as karma.

An hour into our meeting, an hour of discussing our bright boy (bright enough to be tested for the gifted program) and all of his issues big and small, it was agreed by all three of us that he has all of the classic ADD symptoms.  He needed to see a doctor.

Here we go.

**read part one here**

paying attention part 1: diagnosis

"Come on, Buddy!  Pay attention!"

"You know, " I said to the Golfer later on, after the homework struggles had passed, the kitchen was clean, and the boys were in bed.  "We're going to have to stop saying that."

More than once we had uttered that phrase.  More like 30 or 40 times a day.  While doing homework.  While tying his shoes. While listening to a bedtime story.  He wasn't paying attention.

I had started to worry.  Was he becoming defiant?  Was he turning into a difficult child?  (A turd head as we call them in our family?)  Did he not respect us?  Did he not care what we had to say or wanted him to do?

No.  Every time we asked ourselves those questions, we knew the answer was "no".  He is a good boy.  A pleaser.  He is a good citizenship winner.  A delight.  But he had also become an extremely frustrating child to parent.  The frustration!  Oh my goodness the frustration was turning me, his mother, the woman who had to be cut in half to remove his 7 pound 11 ounce body, into a Bad Mommy.

"Why can't you pay attention!?!"

I had yelled it.  I had whispered it in desperation.  I had said it through gritted teeth.  Over and over and over again.  Bad Mommy.  Capital B.  Capital M.

But (it's there always a big "but" in these kinds of situations?) it wasn't that he wouldn't pay attention.  It was that he couldn't pay attention.  The Big Cheese, with his cute glasses, big teeth and enormous creative imagination was driving us crazy.  But (there it is again) his mind wasn't working correctly.

We didn't know that.

After two teacher conferences and a doctor's visit later, we were slammed with a new family reality.

Our son has ADD.

But I should probably start at the beginning.

Which is what I'll do here.  The weird thing is, I really don't feel like "chatting" about it.  I don't want to be one of those women--one of those women that openly shares with anyone at Starbucks who will listen--that her child has ADD.  I don't want to look at another parent's face while I'm sharing my son's story and wonder what they're thinking.  So that's why I'll share it here.  Little bits, over time.  To document.  To process.  To make sense of the shifts in our parenting, the decisions to medicate, the choices of therapy, all while still making time for T-ball and golf and LEGOS and life in general.

More to come...

Spring Breaking it--miniature style.

I needed to get out of town for a couple of days.  I needed a vacation, even a mini one just 30 minutes away.  God bless a sweet friend who hooked us up at The Fairmont down in Santa Monica for two nights.  Along with grapes, strawberries, graham crackers and marshmallow fluff, these cute sponges awaited the boys upon our arrival. 

The boys favorite part of the hotel?  Kid-sized hotel robes.

It was a little chilly out, but that doesn't make any difference when you are under 10 years old and have a  really cool heated pool to enjoy.

I brought the boys' scooters with us, anticipating the opportunity to bike around town.  The Golfer and I borrowed two bikes from the hotel and we all managed to navigate the bums that were napping along our trail.  

Minus the bums and breezy weather, there were plenty of great photo ops.  

This one couldn't be more of a camera ham if he tried.  Please note that I never ask him to pose.  He just does this on his own.

The Golfer and I have had this standard pose since our honeymoon.  This is the "stretch your arm out and hope we get into the frame" pose that we perfected through the years.  (Notice the reflection in the Golfer's sunglasses.)

I feel in love with this humongous tree out in front of the hotel.  There was no way to get the entire thing in the frame.  But it was so very, very cool.  I guess I have a thing for big trees. 

We finished our 2 days trip by having lunch on the beach, complete with new LEGOS.  Because what is Spring Break without a new Hero Factory LEGO to enjoy?

I didn't need a new LEGO to enjoy our spring break excursion.  Having my handsome husband next to me was all I needed.

And the Monkey?  Well, he can't seem to keep his teeth in his mouth.  2 teeth lost in 5 days.  Gotta be some kind of Spring Break record.  And the funny part?  While eating dinner one night, Dwayne Johnson (i.e., The Rock) who played the Tooth Fairy in a movie sat next to us at dinner one night.  

Bet The Rock would have given him that $25 bucks he's hoping for.

Junior Chef Night

Our club had Junior Chef's Night last week.  I wasn't sure what the club Chef had in mind, but I was hoping for enough of a lesson for them to start cooking for themselves on a regular basis.

After dawning their aprons and toques, they headed into the kitchen.  The moms were more excited than the kids (wouldn't you be?)

First was a quick corn shucking lesson (so the corn could be boiling while the kids continued to prep and prepare their dinner.)  You would think a couple of kids born in Oklahoma would naturally know how to shuck corn.  Not so much.

Then a quick snack: Ants on a Log.  A logical hor' derve for a bunch of youngsters.  The funny thing?  I've made Ants on a Log for them plenty of times and they never ate them.  This time?  Munched away with pleasure.

Then came time for zucchini fries.  They had assembly lines for the flour, egg wash, and bread crumbs.  Clearly from his face, the Monkey didn't care for his station.

Next a little cole slaw.  Here Chef was asking them to put in a pinch of salt.  Let's just say, there was PLENTY of salt in the cole slaw.

Then on to some carrot salad.  More salt was pinched.  Also a little EVOO.  But the fun part was squeezing in the lemon juice.  Monkey was captivated by the cloth covering the lemon.

Now on to the main course: kabobs.  There were plenty of skewers and kabob choices: meat, chicken, pork, mushrooms, bell peppers, onion, and pineapple.  There was a lot of pineapple put on those kabobs.  The Monkey made one with pineapple and nothing else.  That's my kind of kabob.

And of course, the best was saved for last.  Decorating cupcakes.  Chocolate, vanilla, and carrot cake with all of the frosting and toppings that anyone could want.  

You gotta admire the kid in the middle who put on a bunch of pecans and nothing else.  He clearly was out of arms reach of the M & M's.

For this course, the waiting was going to be the hardest part.

Upon leaving the kitchen, the kids and Chef headed outside to grill their kabobs.  Once the grilling was complete, all of the chefs, big and little, headed inside to enjoy their feast.  And you know what?  It was pretty darn good.  I plan on making the boys cook once a week, minimum.

There's a hole in his face.

For a snack, he decided to munch on an apple.  A few seconds after the first bite he yelled, "Mom!!!  My tooth fell out!!!"

I had no idea that it was even loose.  Apparently, neither did he.  The good thing about letting a tooth fall out on its own?  No blood, no drama.  Just a teeny, tiny baby tooth that no longer lives in my Monkey's mouth.

This makes me sad.  It's bad enough that he's 6 years old and about to finish Kindergarten.  Now he's going to have huge big boy teeth too.  (The Freeman/Bentley genes seem to produce very big teeth.)

So I prepared myself for the Tooth Fairy to visit.

"No," the Monkey informed me.  "I want to take my tooth to school to show my teacher.  Tell her that she can come next Tuesday."

"Well, don't you think we better write her a note so she will know?" I asked him.

Dear Tooth Fairy,  Please don't take my tooth until next Tuesday.  Thank you.  Love, Monkey

"Can I tell her to leave 25 bucks?"

"Uh, no.  You can't ask her for specific amounts.  Besides, how much money do you think the Tooth Fairy has?"


Apparently in the Monkey's world, the Tooth Fairy is the richest lady in town.

Play Ball.

:: the Monkey's first t-ball game, Padres vs. the Yankees ::

There are many parts of parenting that I'm not crazy about, and sitting at T-ball practice is one of them.

It isn't just T-ball.  Football, soccer, basketball--you name it.  I hate sitting there.  Sure, I could see it as an hour to sit and read a book, catch up on a magazine, or just...sit.  But I feel badly doing that.  Especially when your child yells, "Mom!  Did you see that?" and I have to lie through the pages of my Real Simple magazine and tell him that I did.

I love my kids.  And I realize that my kids might not always play sports, so I try to enjoy it while I can.  What I hate are the other parents.  I don't hate the parents, per say, I just hate how they act at these practices.  They hover.  They side-line coach.  They stand in front of you.  And they talk loudly when you're trying to read.

Last week I found myself texting the Golfer while he was at work.

Why am I here?  Why aren't you here?  This is a daddy thing.  This isn't a mommy thing.

He texted back.

I doubt you're the only mom there.

It was true.  There were many other moms there.  And we all looked miserable.

Why isn't it the 1950's?  Why isn't it like it was for the Wally and The Beave?  They just grabbed their gloves and told June that they were heading to the ball field.  No wonder she always looked so good in her dress and pearls.  She wasn't schlepping her boys all over town and sitting at a dusty baseball field wondering what kind of fast food she was going to be forced to pick up for dinner.

I get the whole "soccer mom" thing.  I get that it's some sort of mama right of passage to be able to say, "I've sat for hours and hours at my child's soccer, T-ball, ballet, gymnastics practice."  But I've done it and now I'm over it.

Unfortunately, I think my time on the practice sidelines is just starting.  The Monkey is the more athletic of our two boys and he is just now finding his grove.  He played soccer and liked that okay.  Then he played football and that wasn't so well received (pun intended.)

But now he's playing T-ball and he's loving it.  After only one practice, the Monkey had his first T-ball game.  He was excited.  I tried to act excited, but I was dreading the hour long organized chaos that the game was sure to be.

Much to my surprise, the game was a hit (pun totally intended.)  The kids and coaches did a great job.  And the Monkey?  Well, I think he might have found his sport.

And you know what?  At this week at practice, watching the kids do well and have fun, well it wasn't so bad.  It was actually kind of fun for the parents too.

Looks like June missed out after all.

This ain't no disco...

Although we live in the suburbs of La La land, we see our fair share of filming up where we live.

This was on my door this morning.  Stephenie, you're not in Oklahoma any more.

And this was what it looked like outside my front door.  This picture does not show all of the trucks and people and security there was all over our neighborhood.

The notice says: Will Be Filming--All State.  Cool.  Means that it's a national commercial.  My little suburban neighborhood's gonna be famous!

Naturally, I decided that today was the perfect day for a little yard work.  Outside.  In the front yard.  Which I rarely ever do.  However, today seemed like a good day to start.

Because I had a feeling that they needed me.  Needed a suburban housewife to fill in if necessary.  Or how about a cute little kid who just lost his first tooth (the Monkey) or a cute little dog (Norman) to steal the show?

Instead, we had this guy hanging out in our neighborhood all day riding a motorcycle for an All-State Commercial. The "Mayhem" guy was in a trailer in front of my house all day.  I refrained from knocking on his trailer door asking him if he wanted some freshly baked cookies.  Instead I used my small child as a reason to stalk production.

"Is it okay if we watch?"  I batted my eyes at the cop guarding the shoot.  He smiled back and let me and  the Monkey get pretty darn close to the action.  But the problem with using a 6 year-old as bait is that their attention span for watching the filming of a national commercial is about as long as the commercial itself.

So after a few minutes we walked back toward our house, but not before I heard someone yell, "That's a rap!"

Just another ordinary So Cal kind of day.

First round.

Last Sunday we spent the afternoon playing our first round together as a family.  As you can see from the picture of the Big Cheese above, there was some time spent in the sand traps.

Our round came after the boys had their junior golf class.  While the boys were in their class, the Golfer and I hit some balls on the range.  I hadn't hit balls in close to 10 years and man did it show.  My problem is that I see a lot of really good golf, and naturally I expect to go out and do the exact same thing.

Regardless of our abilities,  the Golfer was just happy to have all of us out there together.  And now I can understand why.

It was nice to be outside.  You walk a little.  You ride in the cart a little.  You enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.  There really is something to this whole golf thing.

And yes, not only did I play, I even allowed The Golfer to take my picture.  He was lucky I did both.

"No offense, Mom," the Big Cheese said.  "But you're not very good."  Truer words have never been spoken.

But this kid?  He's good.  Really good.  Tiger Woods-when-he-was-this-age kind of good.  He's got an awesome little swing.  And to go along with that, he loves to play.

Which means I'll probably be spending a lot more time in one of these.