“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” - Shel Silverstein

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Munchkin Mania - It's A.D.D. Darlin'

Let's cut to the chase, Little Bear has ADD. He's not one of those crazy kids bouncing off the walls, he isn't hyper. But spend enough time with him and it makes itself known. This was kinda tough for me at first, but not because I was upset that my child might not be perfect (he is still perfect I assure you) I had other ideas and experiences that made me super cautious.

First I need to tell you that my younger sister has ADD, the kind with the "H" sandwiched in there, the kind that is characterized by children who climb furniture and leave a path of destruction. So having lived with her as most siblings do, this became my idea of kids with ADD. Little Bear does not fit that description. His busy-ness is not so much of body as it is of mind. He loves to talk and never runs out of material and he finds it harder than most to focus and sit. But I thought that he was just being a 6year old boy. I found it difficult to equate his behavior with ADD because of the extreme case I had grown up knowing.

Then there's the matter of me being so well read, my husband might say "too well". You may have caught the idea that my kids are gifted or very bright. I have read quite a few professional journals discussing the misdiagnosis of ADD being placed on a child who is simply gifted. I was not interested in slapping a label on my child, even the gifted label is used with caution, it's not something I feel the need to tell everyone I meet. So yeah I was not in a hurry to jump on the teacher's band wagon when she said he might have ADD. My reaction was to refer him to the Gifted Specialist in the school for evaluation.

There was no doubt that Little Bear is gifted, however (don't you just love the "howevers") she recommended that I talk to his doctor about ADD. She is very experienced with children and with bright children and I trust her implicitly with my other brilliant minds, so I had to trust her here too. While I was waiting for his appointment to roll around Little Bear graduated from Kindergarten. It was that day, during the cap and gown ceremony that I saw it and knew in my heart that he was indeed struggling with ADD. I stood behind the rows of graduates and watched. As the program dragged on slowly all the children were losing patience and fidgeting and playing. One by one it seemed they would give up listening and enter their own much more entertaining world. However, there was one student who had been in their own world from the moment they took a seat, and that was my Little Bear. For nearly two hours I watched his antics as he did everything in his power to make staying in his seat interesting. I cried.

My tears weren't due to sadness that my child was flawed. He is not flawed, he's magnificent. My tears were sadness that I had taken so long to realize that this was in fact what was going on. He had struggled through Kindergarten and barely skated by in some areas and if I had recognized it sooner he wouldn't have had to. But I can't beat myself up for being a cautious and studious mom. It's my job to protect my kids.

We got his diagnosis over the summer, the psychologist was so kind. He said "Oh it's ADD darlin', but thankfully without the hyperactivity component." Which he related does make it more difficult to identify. Apparently I'm not the only one with preconceived ideas about kids with ADD being "high strung". Now as a mother the idea of medicating my child was not a welcome one. But I had to do what I could to help my child and I trust my pediatrician who handles Little Bear's treatment personally. No P.A.s or nurse practitioners. I have seen first hand the effects of Ritalin on my sister when the dosing wasn't proper. I have also had experience with adults who basically pretended they had ADD just to be allowed to legally take "speed".

This kind of stuff makes treatment for ADD seem scary to say the least. There is a social stigma about giving kids medicine to help their ADD meanwhile there are moms who give their kids Benedryl to make them go to sleep. This is why. Parents have misgivings about using a drug that is so closely related to an illegal substance, with due reason when one thinks about the personality altering effects drug addiction can have. This is the stuff that gets all the attention. I'm sure many parents don't realize that it's the alcohol in Benedryl that makes their kid sleep. That they could make their kids alcohol dependent. No one thinks like that because you can go into Target and buy it off the shelf. Just like you can buy liquor from a package store. The stuff they commonly use to treat ADD requires a prescription and is a federally controlled substance (Yikes!), either that or your getting it from a guy in a dark alley whose face looks like a pincushion with a goatee and 15 tattoos right? Not exactly, but you get the idea.

So there you are saying OMG this lady is advocating medicating children with ADD, giving them mind altering drugs! LOL Well yes and no. Yes I advocate prescription treatment of children with ADD under certain circumstances. No these medicines do not alter children's minds, not on the level you think. My son is still very much himself. He is still busy and an active boy. The only alteration is that he no longer has that wind-up toy quality about him. He can pay attention and play games, follow directions (because he's able to listen) and is able to block out stimuli that used to drive him to distraction. He is still a little imp! Medicine doesn't take away a child's personality.

There are alternatives to medication. Many parents manage ADD with diet. I did not explore diet for several reasons, one being that I feel diet is financially difficult to maintain. Specialized foods cost more. The biggest problem I have with diet is that in reality you have to put everyone on the same diet and that breeds resentment among siblings. You could just put one child on a diet but that would certainly make him feel like the odd man out and they already feel that way as ADD effects their interaction with their peers. Kids with ADD struggle socially as it is, no need to compound things.

There are also natural remedies that are said to help treat ADD such as the tonics sold by Native Remedies. A word of caution here, don't be so quick to believe everything you read regarding medications on sites like these because they are after all trying to sell a product. Do your own research. Natural remedies have side effects too, so be sure to do your homework. I advise you to check if Amazon.com sells a particular formula you are looking at because Amazon customers leave unbiased feedback on products which could prove invaluable. We did not chose to try natural remedies because the cost is high and there are no clinical trials to prove the effectiveness of any herbal medicinal. The FDA doesn't evaluate them. It's a lot of money to spend on a maybe. But for parents dead against medication for their child this is a very appealing alternative and probably is more cost effective and simplistic than dietary treatments.

Here's where I wrap this up all pretty like : )

If you know or suspect your child has ADD talk to your pediatrician. Even if you don't want to use medication the doctor is a valuable resource for monitoring the severity of your child's ADD and knowing whether or not they are also hyperactive (which changes the rules a bit). Do your homework, become an expert. Whichever treatment option you chose do something! Don't tell yourself he's fine or it'll go away. It won't go away, and you have no idea how deeply ADD effects a child until you start a treatment plan. You also will not know your child's full potential and abilities unless you pursue a form of treatment. I'm telling you from experience, as a mother.

I'll be blogging now and then about Little Bear and his progress. He has recently restarted treatment after a lapse in insurance coverage and I look forward to sharing our journey with you.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Knitty Gritty - Expanding the Stitch Nation

I'm so flattered that everyone loves Moxie Girl's sweater so much that they want one! LOL I haven't even gotten to blog about it and put the pictures up here! Considering I got over 5 requests for more than 7 sweaters I would say that there are still quite a few people out there who appreciate handknits. I think that's awesome. I got one request to teach someone to knit and it got me thinking, that'd be the real gift wouldn't it?

I'd love to make sweaters for all the little girls in my life but I would rather spend twice as much time (if necessary) teaching their mommas to knit, even Becky with her ADD. The reason? If these ladies knew how to knit then the possibilities would be endless for them! I feel that fiber crafts (knitting, crochet, spinning, etc) are a dying art form. I'd love to see and know more chicks with sticks (and yarn)! It's a wonderful skill to pass on to our daughters and even our sons. You don't need a lot of equipment, it's quite relaxing, and also very gratifying.

The thing that it isn't is the one thing I hear most often... "it looks so hard!" No it's not. Looks can be deceiving. The sweater everyone adores consists of the knit stitch and the purl stitch with some slip the stitch action where you don't really do anything to the stitch except move it out of the way. 90% of knitting is done with just these three actions. Sometimes there are variations but only sometimes. So don't say it's too hard girls. Give it a go!

It's not expensive, nice yarn is $3 something at Wal-Mart for a skein (ball) big enough to produce two or more hats. Never buy redheart yarn for someone you love including yourself! LOL Experienced chicks with sticks know that redheart is the yuckiest feeling yarn on earth! The sticks (knitting needles) are less than $8 a pair and will last for decades making each set a good investment. Ravelry.com has an abundance of free knitting patterns, and you're ready to give it a go!

I know what you're going to say next "but I'm not talented like you". I'm not picasso folks. If you follow the directions and steps you can knit as well as me or anyone else. It's not that kind of craft. I honestly think they could probably teach monkies to do it. Blind people can and do knit. No blind people don't have anything more in common with monkies than the next person this is just the order of my thoughts. Actually that sweater is only the second finished knitted object I've made. I felt like I could handle it so I tackled it. You'll be able to gauge your own abilities once you actually start knitting. Of course you will never know unless you actually try to knit. Like I told Gabbie "hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard". It's all about effort...So give it a go!

Oh wait I understand... you don't have time to learn or time to sit and make sweaters or socks...AND I DO?? LOL I do little bits in the evenings to relax and unwind. Sometimes I'll hook up my bluetooth and chat on the phone while plugging away at a project. I might sneak it with me to the park or doctor's office, or play place at the mall, tucked inside a Vera tote of course! It can be really fun, and relaxing and it passes time beautifully :) I don't want you all saying how you wish you could do it...YOU CAN DO IT! I'd love to inspire some of you to give it a go!

So here's my big confession. Absolutely everything I know about knitting I learned from Amy Finlay's videos on knittinghelp.com. Girlfriend's honor! She taught me how to knit and purl, how to finish projects and how to fix mistakes and save my sanity... twice while making Josie's sweater I slipped over to her website to learn (as in for the first time ever) how to do a couple of finishing touches. I am an English knitter, also called a thrower due to the movement of the yarn. I almost always use the continental (or long tail) cast on though, because I think it's most efficient. But you can start off with a regular backward loop cast on if the other method intimidates you. Notice the links? I'm trying to make this as easy a possible *wink* Gabbie has been knitting since she's 6 girls...and she's left handed! I think you've got this! So once again I say give it a go!

I'm only a phone call, e-mail, text message, or facebook post away! If need be I have ways of connecting you with knitters in your area...I am dead serious. Make your daughter a scarf, then make her a hat, then you'll have the skills needed to make her a sweater... I promise! You'd all make your mothers so proud! LOL Or at the very least yourselves, and my how your daughter will love to wear and show off the things her mommy made her! They quickly become treasures.

With lots of love,

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Merely Me - Winding Up The Week

Here is something new and different... I'm blogging from my phone! LOL I love technology and the clever little ways it helps me daily.

So this week I did my math work (need to e-mail my teacher...doh!) And I think I'm making much better sense of things than I did in my first math class. I also finished part one of my humanities research project. Yay me! I am making headway with the house work and the laundry will be done by 10 tomorrow morning at the very latest. *Does the "cabbage patch" and chants "go me"* To top it all off I finally started the second sleeve on Moxie Girl's sweater which, in case you missed it, is the final portion to knit! I'm hoping to knock that out by Sunday morning!

It has been some week! I was off to a slow start but had an awesome day today and am planning to kick butt again tomorrow... which is kinda the reverse of last week. Oh the joys of being a SAHM! LOL
I had a handful of sickies this week and tomorrow I have the pleasure (touch of sarcasm) of having all the kids home from school. My Moxie is potty training rather well and I'm excited to be nearing the end of diapering children.

No real pearls of wisdom today. I'm mostly trying to organize my thoughts this time. My blog can't always have profound deep meaning. But I will share this little seed of truth with you, this week I realized that having a terrific marriage doesn't mean having a perfect marriage. I used to think I should hide the ups and downs I faced with my husband for fear people would think we had an unhappy marriage or a troubled relationship. It just hit me that all relationships see troublesome times. The fact that we can make it through those times, watch things fall apart and then work to put them back together, is what proves just how fantastic and strong our relationship, and the love its built on, is.

Edited to add that the laundry was done before I went to bed! *repeats the "cabbage patch" and chanting of "go me"*

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Merely Me - The Art of Living

"All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on." - Henry Ellis

      I ran across this little gem about mid-week and found it to be quite poignant. I've had a lot of ups and downs this week, days where I was in supermom mode melted into days where I felt more like psychomom. On Wednesday I felt accomplished and on top of my game only to feel hopelessly behind on Thursday and then Friday. The letting go and holding on can refer to a lot of different things, but to call it the art of living is an interesting singular metaphor with but one meaning, that it is an acquired skill. Much like one would need to train and learn to sculpt or paint fine works of art it takes time to learn this "fine mingling"; when to let go and when to hold on, what to let go of and what to hold onto, when what we should hold onto transforms into something we ought to let go and so forth.

     It occured to me that the down swings we experience are largely due to our "fine mingling" being signifcantly less than "fine" or just plain all kinds of out of whack! I've always been proud that I held on well...but could it be done too well? I never gave thought to the fact that perhaps what I hold onto is the problem. When we have a negative experience our mind wants to latch onto it then suddenly everything seems bad or wrong or hopeless. This mood-congruent thinking causes us to continue a pattern of negative thinking that can carry through our day, our week, or even longer if we don't let it go. My morning peppered with disaster upon disatser had me ready for a breakdown. I hated my life and nothing was as I felt it should be, everything seemed wildly out of control. An hour and a half with my babies at the park was enough to put my mood back in perspective yesterday. I wasn't all sunshine and roses but I was able to maintain an even keel, no longer on the verge of having a kicking, screaming tantrum. We ought to be careful what we hold onto.

     I know my self to be particularly weak in the letting go aspect of the art. I believe that I'm living and learning and improve all the time. This week I let go of a tremendous burden. I was able to strip away a facade and shine true to myself. I finally came to terms with and expressed many (certainly not all) of my feelings in the matter and was able to come away from it at peace and feeling somewhat renewed. Unfortunately now I'm left to analyze what it is I'm holding onto that would have prompted me to willingly carry such a burden as long as I did when it was not what I wished. More letting go is in order and my mind is struggling with my heart to bring about the needed release. This inner battle contributes to the ups and downs right now, but it time it will end. Sometimes what you ought to hold onto transforms into something you absolutely need to let go.

     This absolute need to let go bleeds right into a desperate need to hold onto what I have in my hand. It's a queer little state of affairs. The things that we have readily in our hands seem unnecessary to hold onto. Some just sit there so tame and willing. We naturally hold onto, grasp the things we fear may be fleeting. But the steady, docile things pleasantly perched in our palms are left unsecured. Imagine for a moment that you've got a pearl sitting in your open hand, it's not going anywhere, it's beautiful. Suppose someone bumps into you? If you're lucky you'll close your fingers around your pearl in time to avoid losing it...but only if you're lucky. What we fail to realize is that we are standing with our pearls in the middle of Grand Central Station! We are going to get bumped, a lot, without fail. That may seem silly, of course in a busy New York City hub we would secure our valuables. Let me just say that we are much more diligent in caring for our material valuables than our intangible precious things... for heaven's sake hold onto your pearls! If you don't you may as well just toss them away now because you will lose them eventually.