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.