Always Crazy, Always Fun, Always Love

Ray Romano once compared life with twins to living in a frat house. As he put it, "no one sleeps, there is a lot of noise and a lot of throwing up." I find this very true with 4 young children, including twins. However, though things are always crazy, we always try to have fun and, most certainly, always love each other.

Friday, May 24, 2013

My Olympic Athletes

It seems to be a tradition for many schools to have a "field day" where they play games outside all day near the end of the school year.  Our school is no different, except that it is Olympic themed.... and apparently, quite the big deal!  It has been going on for decades and is looked forward to every year.  It started last week with a "Junior Olympics Preliminaries."  Events included long jump, soft ball throw, hurdles (kid sized), dashes, jump rope and runs. They could try any and all and times and distances were recorded.  It was very hot out that day, and I was substituting (I officially started a couple weeks ago, finally!  More on that soon.....) and so was outside all day with the kids.  I came home hot and sunburned.

Today was the Olympic finals, where each kid could choose two events to compete in to try and win 1st, 2nd or 3rd place.  I went again today and spent the day outside but, well......., this time it wasn't so hot out. After several hot days, today got up to 55 degrees (at best!) with only occasional sun and constant wind.  BRRRR!  But, it didn't stop the kids from having fun.  I enjoyed watching my kids compete!!!

Kenny participated in the long jump (not pictured) and soft ball throw.  He did great!

Jacob chose jump rope (not pictured) and long jump!  He ran so hard!

Meghan competed in the softball throw and the runs (basically a longer dash....)

She is pulling ahead here!!!

And finally, Ellen competed in the dashes (not pictured) and runs.

She was flying!!!

The only down side was lots of waiting between events.  They had several events going at one time, but it still took a while and lots of waiting to cycle everyone through all the events.  These times were brutal because of the chilly air and wind.  This is how the time waiting was generally spent....

Cuddled up together trying to get a break from the wind!

Here is the girls with one of their classmates.

But, when it came time for awards, it all paid off!  Ellie got 1st place in the dashes!!! (I missed the awarding of it because I went home during their lunch and didn't make it back in time, but here she shows it off!)

And then, for the runs, Ellie got 2nd place and Meghan got 1st place!!!  I was so proud of them both!  They ran their little hearts out and were really very fast!  They even had podiums to give them their awards on.  Due to the nature of the day and that they are 6, I didn't get a great picture.  It happened very fast, but here is the best I got....

This one would be okay except that Meghan isn't looking forward.

This one is good except that Ellie had already jumped down!

And then the moment was passed, so that was the best I could get!

The boys didn't win an award, but I was proud of them anyway for working hard and doing their best.  The kids in their grade are very competitive and athletic, so I was proud of my boys for holding their own around them.

So, all in all, it was a lot of fun.  I was proud of them all and it was fun to see the girls so excited about their awards.  (though I think Ellie learned a little lesson about sportsmanship.  I think she was teasing another girl that she had gotten an award and this other girl didn't. Of course, it hurt the girls feelings who said she didn't want to be Ellie's friend anymore.  This made Ellie sad and she realized what she did wrong.  She apologized and we talked about being a good sportsman.  Some of us have to learn the hard way, I guess.)

Instead of coming home hot, sweaty and sunburned, we came home chilled (I could NOT get warm the rest of the evening) and wind burnt!! All of our cheeks are flushed and red.  There was very little sun, so it must have been the constant wind!

I don't know who forgot to turn on the heat outside today.  I mean, BRRRRR- it is May 24th- Memorial Day weekend, for heaven sakes!!  And the weekend will be a little warmer, but still much cooler then the traditionally hot, pool opening weekend we usually have.

I tell you, Ohio gets more and more bi-polar every year!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

As a Parent of a Child with ADHD

Today, as I was doing my normal browsing on Facebook, I saw several (at least 5) friends who linked to this article written by Marilyn Wedge titled, "Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD."   Having a son with ADHD, of course it piqued my interest, so I read it.  It really upset me and I found myself questioning the "research"- feeling it is mostly opinion based- as well as feeling a little offended that she implied my parenting was part of the problem.

My oldest son, Kenneth, has ADHD and was diagnosed right at the beginning of 3rd grade.  I never told anyone in early years but have opened up a little more recently.  You see, he is on medication for it.  I have never totally made peace with it and feared being judged for it.  Maybe because I was judgemental of the medication before then.  I still don't love it and I am beginning to learn of other possible options, but for now, it is helping and it is the only thing I know that for sure helps.  So, until I find what will work for him, he truly needs the medication.  I will explain more in a moment.

First, let me share what really bothered me about this article so you know what I am talking about.  

1)  "In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5%. How come the epidemic of ADHD—which has become firmly established in the United States—has almost completely passed over children in France?"

One one hand, I do feel that America over diagnoses ADHD...... but can we really be sure it is almost non-exisitent in France or is it just way under diagnosed there? Are there children really struggling and therefore not getting the help they need- parents made to feel it is there fault for not parenting better so they don't seek help?

2) She describes the French parenting style that she believes helps fight ADHD.... "From the time their children are born, French parents provide them with a firm cadre—the word means "frame" or "structure." Children are not allowed, for example, to snack whenever they want. Mealtimes are at four specific times of the day. French children learn to wait patiently for meals, rather than eating snack foods whenever they feel like it."    So..... parents who let their kids snack might end up with ADHD? I have actually never let my children snack much between meals (not that I have a problem with that because I don't- just not my style) and yet, here we are....

3) And apparently, I must discipline wrong...." But French parents have a different philosophy of discipline. Consistently enforced limits, in the French view, make children feel safe and secure. Clear limits, they believe, actually make a child feel happier and safer—something that is congruent with my own experience as both a therapist and a parent. Finally, French parents believe that hearing the word "no" rescues children from the "tyranny of their own desires." And spanking, when used judiciously, is not considered child abuse in France."   - My children have always had consistent and enforced limits. I have never been afraid to say no and I even rarely spank.  Yet here we are....  But, it must be my fault- I must not be clear enough in limits.  It is very generalistic to claim that they parent better and that is why. Some parents don't set clear enough limits and that may be a cause, but certainly not for most I don't think.  As a parent who does my absolute best, this is insulting.  They way the French supposedly parent, is how I do as well and yet, here we are.

4) And another parenting insult.... I guess I didn't teach my child self control early enough?! Huh? 

"it makes perfect sense to me that French children don't need medications to control their behavior because they learn self-control early in their lives. The children grow up in families in which the rules are well-understood, and a clear family hierarchy is firmly in place. In French families, as Druckerman describes them, parents are firmly in charge of their kids—instead of the American family style, in which the situation is all too often vice versa."  While this is true for some, certainly not all.  I don't think there has EVER been a doubt as to who the parents in this house are.  Yet, here we are.  

5) "The French holistic, psycho-social approach also allows for considering nutritional causes for ADHD-type symptoms—specifically the fact that the behavior of some children is worsened after eating foods with artificial colors, certain preservatives, and/or allergens. not to mention parents of many ADHD kids—are well aware that dietary interventions can sometimes help a child's problem. In the United States, the strict focus on pharmaceutical treatment of ADHD, however, encourages clinicians to ignore the influence of dietary factors on children's behavior."   -So- a parent who chooses medication must be lazy if they are possibly aware of other options?!  When Kenny was first diagnosed, I had never heard ANY of this.  The doc we see is a firm believer that it is a true biological disorder.  Only recently have a begun to hear how diet changes and other things may help.  But it is hard when you have docs telling you one thing and the rest of the world telling you something different.  It is hard to find true- unbiased- information.  You certainly can't just go off what you find on the internet.  I truly and strongly do not want my child on medication and I plan on using this summer to explore some of these options, but I need real help (which may mean finding a new doctor) at how to try other things, how to tell if it is working (because you can't just stop the meds for many reasons) and how to work off the medication if other things do help.  And, while diet and other changes have shown to work for some, it is not totally proven and therefore may not work for everyone.  So, yes, while I am very very interested in learning of and trying wholistic approaches, it is a very blanket statement to say that many Americans are aware of these possibilities but just choose not to.  It is just not that simple. There are so many questions and it wouldn't really help the child to just stop medication and begin experimenting with them.  I feel like most parents- myself included- just do the best with the information we have.  We all want the same thing- for our kids to grow up strong, happy and successful.  

Life with a child with ADHD

I noticed that the author as well as all those who linked the article do not have a child with ADHD so it is easy to say when you aren't living it.  So, here is a little of what it is like.

-Before he was diagnosed- he was behind in school- more than a grade level behind in reading and falling fast and took a nose dive in 2nd grade.  I thought he was dyslexic but two tests confirmed he is not.  The idea of ADHD came up but I was resistant- I had my own misconceptions and didn't want to be part of a statistic and one of "those parents" who just medicate their kid.  Here are some of his symptoms that were part of the problem:

  • unable to focus to finish work- or would rush through his work causing poor quality- unable to slow down to focus.
  • very poor handwriting and horrible spelling.  Despite constant studying for spelling tests, he would often still do poorly- unable to retain the information.  Same with other subjects- he often tests poorly because it is hard to focus appropriately to retain information.
  • very active- not truly hyper active, but always very busy and active.  Hard to reign in sometimes once excited.
  • very impulsive.  Aside from academics, this is his biggest symptom- much more then the hyperactivity.  Kids with ADHD generally have a hard time thinking through things before they act. This gets him into trouble.  
  • immaturity and poor social skills.  ADHD kids often aren't able to focus and slow down to notice social que's in others making it hard for others to relate to them.
It took nearly a year of testing, having teachers do questionnaires and meeting with a psychologist before finally deciding to try medication.  It was not something that was decided quickly or lightly or out of convenience. Since he started, his grades have gone up, his confidence has gone up, he reads at grade level.  He still struggles with spelling, but it is much better and he can usually do well as long as he studies every single day.  It controls the impulsiveness- The only time he has gotten into big trouble for impulsiveness has been when he did not have his medication or it had worn off.  Each time he was fully disciplined (unlike what the article suggests)-maybe even more so then the other kids because it is harder for him to learn but he needs to. 

Here are some other thoughts.....

Imagine seeing your child try so hard to read but they get so frustrated.  Imagine meltdowns over homework and having no idea how to help him through it- both of you reduced to tears.  Imagine doing your best to reign in his activity while wanting him to be himself and yet having others judge you, thinking you let your kids just run wild (including some in your own family).  Imagine having to yell at your kid all the time for not thinking through his actions and yet, despite discipline, they do something else impulsive 5 min. later.  Imagine they make noises, or distract others at inappropriate times and continue to do so despite constant reminding not to.  Imagine seeing your child struggle wanting a friend so badly but getting continuously looked passed, ignored, or even down right bullied for not being like the others.  If you saw your child struggle like this, and medication would help, is it so horrible to try that medication? Does that make someone a bad parent, or maybe just a parent that will take help where they can get it?

Every year, the school year starts out rough and his grades drop as he adjusts to new teachers, new routines, new expectations.  By the end of the year, he gets A's and B's. Every. Single. Year.  Frustrating for all of us!  Every year, I start out with this sense of hope because the last year ended so well and then am surprised when it is rough. That happened again this year.  The last half of 5th grade was great so I thought 6th grade would start out well, especially with a more welcoming environment. It was as tough as ever!  But, now this 2nd half of the year, he is on the honor roll!

Imagine it taking until the 6th grade for your child to make their first real friend- a true friend who wants to come over and play and invite you to do things.  Kenny just this year has made a real friend.  This is something I have prayed for for so long and one of the many reasons we moved to a new town.  A real friendship just wasn't going to happen in his old school- he was too different from the other kids.  Every child needs friends and it is so heartbreaking when you know your child doesn't have any.  Especially when you hear about big parties or sleepovers other kids are having and knowing your child wasn't included.  

But here are some other things about Kenny that everyone should know.  He has the biggest heart and more compassion then any other kids his age I know.  He is gentle and kind.  He is very helpful and rarely complains about work that needs done.  Even in 6th grade, he is still not embarrassed to be seen with his family or to hug his mother in public.  He has yet to reach that "too cool for you stage." Definitely one advantage to the immaturity!  In so many ways, he is still my sweet boy with so much innocence.  It is hard for him to read- but he CAN and at grade level.  It is hard to focus and get things done, but thanks to medication and hard work, he CAN.  It is hard for him to make friends, but he CAN.  It is hard for him to control his impulses and activity, but with hard work and his medication, he CAN.  He is learning and growing and hopefully learning that if he works hard he CAN do anything.  That is the key -working hard.  He CAN do anything, but he needs to work at it.  He has always had to work harder than his siblings for things and probably always will have to. But, even that can be an advantage because he will grow up knowing how to work for what he needs and wants.  

He is an amazing kid and, as a parent, I am doing my best to help him grow and reach his potential.  I will do that however I can- whether that be through medication or wholistic approaches.  I am truly hoping to find a working wholistic approach, but that will take time to find the right doctor and the right method at the right time.  I think it is important to remember to not be too quick to look at a child struggling and say the parents should have done things differently, or that other people in other places do it better.  I just wish this author- and everyone- would stick to true research and not generalized opinions that do no one any good accept to spread information that isn't necessarily true, and hurt feelings of those involved.  

I love my son and I know him well.  I know what he is capable of and I will do whatever I can to help him reach that potential in whatever way I can.  I will never give up on him or any of my children because they are all such beautiful spirits and are truly children of God that I have been entrusted with.  I am thankful for every minute of every day with each of them.  I want them to know when they grow up that I did the best I could to help them with whatever their needs were- that I was there and never gave up.  

That is all that matters, really. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013


I can't believe it has been since January that I have written anything here!  At the beginning of the year I was all excited to renew my writing efforts.  I think I have a few things working against me as far as that goes-

1) lack of writing material.  My kids are all in school now and therefore they give me much less writing material.  Nobody wants to hear of my days of running errands and cleaning my house. Bor-Ing!!!

2) Facebook- I am addicted just as many others are!  It is an easy quick way to give a basic update to the day verses doing a whole blog post.  I should probably combine some of those into a post!

3) Time- Time is the age- old enemy to many- including me!  Blogging just gets pushed to the back burner, especially when I am not sure what to write!

4) Opinions-  I actually have a lot of strong opinions about things going in the world.  I sometimes feel like I need to write about them and get them on paper but I am also very shy and don't like to risk offending others or arguing with others.  I totally get and respect others opinions and I don't mind talking about them face to face, but I hate internet arguing.  It starts out as someone sharing an opinion and turns into two or more people defending their different views as if it will change anything or do anything more than cause sad feelings. 

But that being said, I really do still want to write and I am hopeful that my writers block will lift soon and I will have plenty of material (hopefully good stuff!) to share- and maybe even a few opinions. 

So, here is a basic update of what is going on with everyone!

Aaron- He has been busy busy busy!! Things are going well at his "day job" at AEP- he even got another promotion!  It is his 2nd in just over a year, but both were long over due. It has been many many years before that since he had gotten one.  It is a huge relief!  He is loving his new garage with lots more space for working on VWs.  That keeps him busy on weekends! 

Amanda-  It surprises me how busy I have been with the kids in school and me not working.  There is always something that needs done!  Between errands, appointments, volunteering at the school, church callings, helping in other places as I can, girl scouts (ya, I ended up their Daisy leader- THAT wasn't supposed to happen!), twins club, band and more- my time is FULL!  This time last year, I figured I could finally get caught up in printing pictures.  I have not had ONE picture printed!!!  I know we tend to have time for whatever we make a priority so I am just going to have to make it a priority to be able to get any of it done. 

I also just finally got signed on to be a substitute teacher part time!  As busy as I am, I figured we could use the extra cash to pay off debt, for Christmas and whatever else is needed.  I will only work a couple days a week at least to start out.  But, it will help me decide what I want to do as my kids grow up and start to build a work history.  The nice thing about subbing is that I can always be home when my kids are home- I see no time in the near future where this will not be a priority to me!  The no-pay of staying home and/or the low-pay of subbing is worth it for me to always be able to be here. I actually start tomorrow doing a 1/2 day for Jacob's class!

Kenneth-   Kenneth is growing like crazy- so tall and strong and handsome!  I am so proud of him and I can't believe he is finishing the 6th grade! He will be in the Jr High next year. How exciting for him!  His grades are good, though he has to work for it.  I think this is good for him though because he will know as he grows how to study and how to work for things at school.  He has been going through some "growing pains" lately that have caused a little bit of trouble.  I don't want to type the details here, and ultimately they don't matter for the purpose of this blog.  But, as parents, we are working through it with him and using it as a learning experience and I think he has learned.  I have total faith that he will grow into a wonderful man.  He is so sweet and compassionate and caring.  It is just another reminder for me to get down on my knees in prayer to know how to guide my children. 

Kenny has also met his first real friend- a boy named Aaron.  This is the first time he has had a friend close enough to invite over and to hang out with every day at school. (the fact it has taken this long for him to connect with other kids has to do with his ADHD and a social delay- that was one of our reasons for wanting to move- to give him a chance to make friends).  Aaron seems to be a very nice kid.  I do have some concerns over his home situation, but I think he could be good for Kenny if I encourage them to hang out here most of the time where Kenny and our family can be good examples to him.

Jacob- Jacob is thriving at school and growing fast as well!  Both of my boys will pass me up in height very soon!  He just turned 10 and had a great birthday. He had his first sleepover! I was nervous because it was over spring break and a lot of people went on vacation so I hadn't heard from very many people.  But, 4 boys and 1 girl came (with 3 boys spending the night) and they all had a blast!

Jacob's constipation problems have been improving, but are still there.  But, his reflux problems seem to be increasing as well as random stomach aches that debilitate him and keep him home from school.  Those stomach aches though tend to let up later around noon or so.  The doctor (after a few blood tests, stool samples, xrays, medications and more) finally did an Upper GI endoscopy on him to try to find the problem.  The results were completely normal!  I was happy it wasn't serious but frustrated because the stomach aches were still happening.  The doctor came to the conclusion that he has "Functional Abdominal Pain" which basically means that he has real (not imagined or made up) stomach aches with no physical cause.  The cause is usually based on anxiety or something similar. So, he is working with a psychologist now to learn how to work through them. 

We have also learned that he has scoliosis.  It was found on one of the x-rays for his stomach.  The doctor doing the x-ray asked if I knew he had a curve.  "!"  It was very mild- you couldn't really see it from the outside so we were told we would have to keep an eye on it as he grows.  At his 10 year well check, the doctor felt it seemed more obvious from the outside so it is getting a little bigger.  Still not a major concern, just something we will have to check regularly and encourage him to keep better posture. 

Ellen and Meghan- I group them together not because they aren't individuals but because their updates just naturally go together today!  They have had a GREAT year in Kindergarten!  I can't believe my babies are going into 1st grade! They were in the same class in Kindergarten and I think it went well and they like being together but we have decided to separate them for first grade.  They both do very well academically but they are on very different levels.  Meghan is average- right were she should be- reading at a beginning of first grade level and learning the basics in math facts.  Ellen is reading at an end of 2nd grade level! She reads chapter books with ease and can spit out her addition and subtraction facts easily.  Meghan sees this and feels she is not up to par- that she doesn't do good enough.  But she does!  She is doing great!   Hopefully by separating them, she can see her own talents better by not comparing herself to her sister constantly.

So, that is about it for now!  Everything else is still going well! We still love our house and our renters are still paying their rent on time! Can't ask for more than that!  Hopefully you will hear more from me soon!