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mURPHY’S lAW mONDAY

16 May

Things happen in my life on a near-daily basis that prove Murphy’s Law as truth. Each Monday is dedicated to showcasing my life’s crazy moments.

I don’t get to shower every day.  There.  I said it.  I try to shower every day but it’s not always feasible.  The shower is PRIME real estate in my house.  It seems as though every time I get a few minutes to wet myself down and run a bar of soap over my skin, Grady is immediately in need of a marathon feeding session.  I never deny him milk so I usually sit down with him, clean and flowery smelling, and nurse him until his stomach is completely full.  Maybe even over-full.  Because as luck would have it, (or as Murphy’s Law would have it) his stomach runneth over.  EVERY time I get out of the shower and feed him, he pukes all over me.  In my clean (dried and straightened) hair, all over my clean and lotioned body, all over my brand new clean clothes.   This past week, he puked all over me then proceeded to fill his diaper to the point of explosion so that I was not only covered in vomit, but bright orange buttered-popcorn smelling poop.  Awesome.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Grady prefers me dirty.

If it can happen, it will happen.

mURPHY’S lAW mONDAY

9 May

Things happen in my life on a near-daily basis that prove Murphy’s Law as truth. Each Monday is dedicated to showcasing my life’s crazy moments.

If it can happen, it will happen.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day.  OH, glorious Mother’s Day.  A day that looks like any other in my house.  My kids were great and after writing the tear-jerking post about their presents to me, I turned on one of my favorite movies (Title to remain nameless so as to avoid any and all teasing comments).  About 45 minutes into “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” (whoops), Styles began really pestering me to go to the pool.  It sounded fabulously refreshing but I knew that juggling my overactive 20 month old and my newborn just wasn’t going to make for a refreshing or relaxing anything.  I did the non-committal “maybe later” thing and continued drooling over Matthew Mcconaughey and his pre-pot smoking, nude on the beach, drum banging hotness.  About the time a small pool of saliva collected in my lap, my friend texted (thank God for technology) to tell me that she was at the pool.  A moment of insanity led me to believe that with an extra set of hands, we’d have  a great time splashing around in the water.  I lathered the kids up, minus baby, with SPF 30 and off we went.

Madilyn wasn’t interested in the water at first and I had no trouble wooing her to stay near me with cheeze ballz.  As time wore on, she grew more and more enthralled by the sparkling goodness of the pool so I commissioned my dear friend, Pat to hold Grady so I could take a dip in the pool with Madilyn.  She.  Was.  In.  HEAVEN.  Our community pool has what they call a “Kiddie Area” with a mushroom-shaped fountain and very shallow water.  What it doesn’t have is any sort of barrier to keep kids from falling into 4ft. deep water.  Needless to say, I was a bit of a wreck while Madilyn walked around the so-called kiddie area.  After about 5 minutes I realized that she was perfectly content to stay close to the wall and not venture towards the abyss.  Another friend of mine showed up and Pat left, leaving me with Grady, Madilyn, and Styles.

By this time, Madilyn had proven herself worthy of a longer leash so I felt perfectly comfortable whipping one out and nursing Grady on the edge of the pool.  No sooner had I done that, Madilyn high-tailed it to the edge of the kiddie area and fell off into the pool.  I nearly threw Grady onto the concrete, just before friend #2 dove into the pool (beer in hand), to rescue her.  When Madilyn surfaced, all she had to say for herself was “whoops” before attempting to kamikaze off the edge again and again.

Lesson learned:  When your overactive toddler makes you comfortable enough to extend a little bit more responsibility, shorten the leash, tighten your grip, lock-in your sights.  Because it is then that they will test Murphy’s Law.

If it can happen, it will happen.

My Mother’s Day Presents

8 May

Mother’s Day doesn’t look the same for all of us. As a Stay at Home Mom, I am with my kids all day, every day. My ideal Mother’s Day would be me, alone, sitting in a comfortable chair on a beach somewhere with a good book in my hand and a jug of water with lime slices in it. Alone. It would then be followed up with a pedicure. Alone. I would then go home to my family, completely refreshed and thankful for the “mommy time” and we would eat their favorite meal to avoid any dinner-time complications. Together.

But that’s not what Mother’s Day looks like for me. Mother’s Day, for me, looks like any other day. My dear, hardworking husband is a restaurant manager in a swanky restaurant in a posh hotel, and is therefore required to work all of the big, busy holiday-days. So for me, Mother’s Day looks a little like any other day. Yet still, I have already received three very different gifts from my three very different children.

Styles.

1. Styles: He woke up around 8:30, came into my room and asked if he could watch TV. I happily obliged so that I could have a few more uninterrupted minutes of sleep. He came back in at 9:15 and told me that he wanted waffles for breakfast. I laid in bed a few more minutes, finally drug myself out of the warm covers, and made him some waffles and a glass of orange juice. While he ate we talked and when he was done, he gave me a hug and told me “Happy Mother’s Day”. His gift to me was speech. And a hug. He is old enough to know that the day is significant and celebrates his mom who loves him unconditionally. His age makes him sensitive to the fact that today is my day but it is because of HIM that I am even able to celebrate this day. His gift of speech drives me nuts sometimes but it enables my job as a mother to be a little bit easier because I rarely have to guess at what he wants. Except for when he mumbles. Which is kind of a lot. I wish he’d stop doing that….

Grady.

2. Grady: He woke up at 5:30 this morning and nursed for a phenomenally long time then went back to sleep after a few burps and farts. He then slept until 9:45 which enabled me to spend time with Styles. Once he woke up, he was all smiles and coos. His gifts to me were time and talks. Last night was the first time that Grady had ever cooed at me. Well, it wasn’t really at me, it was at the writing on my t-shirt but nonetheless, I was wearing the t-shirt so by default, he was talking to me. But this morning. THIS morning was different. He looked into my eyes and smiled FIRST. He spoke FIRST. Without any prompting or making ridiculous faces at him first. I have been told that the first 6 months of having 2 under 2 is really difficult and sleep-deprived. I am so blessed that Grady is the easiest baby I could have possibly asked for. He has very distinct whines (not even cries, just whines) for his needs. He is easier to read than a picture book and the past two months have been some of the most fulfilling, wonderful, and easy months for me. Although if you were to ask my husband he’d tell you that these two months have been horrible because he comes home to a tornado of toys, laundry, pots, and pans all over the house. I digress….

Madilyn.

Madilyn: Slept until 11:40 this morning. NO. LIE. Her gifts to me today were time and laughs. Before she woke, I was able to take a shower. A good, quality shower where my hair got washed and my legs were shaved. It was absolutely glorious. When she woke up, Styles was on his computer and Grady was taking a nap. So Madilyn and I sat outside while she ate breakfast/lunch and I drank my coffee. She is becoming so animated and I love how excited she gets over the simplest of things. She is now on my phone having a very intense conversation with the person on the other end.

So though my husband may be at work, and I am literally stuck at home (his car got a flat so he had to take my van to work today), I am thankful for my three kids. I am grateful that despite being told that I’d never have any more kids on my own after Styles, that I had two more children. I am blessed to be able to be home with them every day, even on Mother’s Day. The littlest two might not know what today is about, but I do so today I am going to relish them a little more than I normally do.

What did you get for Mother’s Day? What did you do for Mother’s Day? Tell me about you, your family, and what Mother’s Day looks like for you.

Why My Son (Still) has a Birthmark…on His Face.

26 Feb

He's Handsome! 'Nuff said

I want this post to be my longest yet because there is SO much history and science behind Styles’ birthmark but I want to keep this more about my emotions and less about history or science so I’ll do my best to do just that.

Styles was born after 3 hours and 6 minutes of labor.  From first contraction to finish.  No lie.  Nobody expected him to be born so quickly; I was young, he was my first child, yadda yadda yadda.  That said, everyone and their mother was in the room when he was delivered because the nurses didn’t have time to kick ANYONE out.  And the entire thing is documented in photographs.  I’ll gladly send you a picture if you’d like to see.  Or not.

When he was born, he was pink and beautiful and had a very prominent purple stain on his face.  I was in shock that I had just squirted out a baby so I didn’t notice it at first but everyone around me seemed to see nothing else.  They didn’t care that he had perfect Agpar scores, or that he was breathing, or that he had 10 toes, 10 fingers, and a penis.  They were more concerned about this “thing” on his face.  Questions swirled around us, “Would it fade?”  “Would it grow?”  “What will you do?”  “People are going to stare…what will you say?”  “Maybe the OB rubbed his face like that as he massaged your perineum during delivery?” “Will you sue?”  I could go on for another thousand words but I’ll stop now.  His pediatrician came in the next morning with the news. There were two “Worst Case Scenarios”.  One was that it was a “Strawberry Hemangioma” where it would grow in size and become raised, possibly blocking his vision due to its placement on his face.  Treatment for this would include shots of steroids in the hemangioma, causing it to shrink so that it wouldn’t hinder his eye sight.  The second scenario was that it was just a port wine stain.  That in and of itself is not so bad.  What he was concerned about was that because of its placement, it could very well be associated with Sturge-Weber Syndrome.  SWS is not life-threatening and many kids with it have relatively normal lives.  It can cause calcification in the brain leading to some learning difficulties, delayed or difficult speech, seizures, and possible paralysis or weakness on one side of the body.  We would have to wait with both diagnosis to see if either presented itself.  This was all VERY overwhelming for me.  I was young, this was my first baby, and I just didn’t know how to handle the news.  I still didn’t really “see” the birthmark.  He was my beautiful baby no matter what.  I was aware of the stares in public and I couldn’t close my ears to judgmental remarks from my family.  But our pediatrician was certain that it would fade after puberty, and urged me to let it be.

After a few MRIs and CT scans, Sturge-Weber was ruled out and Styles’ birthmark never did grow in size.  It has actually faded quite a bit from its original magenta, but still covers the same percentage of his face as it always has.  It has been determined that it is a simple port wine stain, strategically placed like a slap across the face, absolutely cosmetic in nature.  I decided when he was very young that I didn’t want to put him through the surgery necessary to have it removed.  It involves pulse-dye lasers and many, many treatments.  Because of its proximity to his eye and his age, they would have had to put him under general anesthesia for treatment.  Yes, the younger the skin, the better the healing but I couldn’t risk putting my child under general anesthesia for a cosmetic “flaw”.  To me it felt like giving a 2 year old breast implants or liposuction.  Was it really necessary?

I fretted over what people would think as he grew up.  Kids can be cruel.  I was laughed at because of my name.  When I moved to Alaska when I was 9, people teased me because of my southern accent.  My last name rhymed with “butt” so I often heard, “Summer Northcutt has a big butt” (which is/was TRUE – can you blame them?)  I was also called “Winter” and endured endless snickers as we learned about the seasons.  There is always something to tease a kid about.  But was I setting my son up for failure by allowing this birthmark to remain on his face?  I decided no.  His name is “Styles”.  He has WHITE hair and a birthmark on his face.  He’s going to be teased about SOMETHING at some point in his life.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

I still wasn’t convinced but I waited.  People came up to us in public and often asked nicely what was on his face.  But sometimes we’d encounter some rude, uneducated jerk who would ask us “what happened to his face” to which I would reply, “It is a capillary hemangioma.”  I never explained to those people that it was simply a birthmark.  Using the scientific term with idiots was much more satisfying to me since I couldn’t way what I really wanted to say:

“What happened to YOUR face?”

As Styles grew and learned to talk, I taught him that it was a birthmark.  I never made a big deal about his stain because I didn’t feel that it needed to be a big deal.  If I made it a big deal, then it would be a big deal to him and I didn’t want to be the cause for any self-esteem issues that he would suffer as a result of having a birthmark on his face.  Styles learned that when people asked him what it was to simply respond with, “It’s a birthmark” and then be on his merry way.  As a result of his flip nature about it, he has not endured any teasing or name calling, which surprises me as he gets older and is now in the 4th grade.  I firmly believe that because he is so nonchalant about it, kids move on to something else because they see that it doesn’t bother him.

When Styles was 4 I sat him down and had a serious talk with him about having it removed.  I told him that the decision was his and that I would support him no matter what he decided to to.  His response to me was, “But Mom, if we get it taken off, I won’t be Styles anymore!” I choked back the tears as I laughed and gave him a huge hug.  OK, baby, whatever you want.

5-yr old Styles (oh so long ago)

I’ve received a lot of flack from family and friends of family whose opinions matter very little to me.  They all say that I am doing him a disservice by not taking the initiative as his parent to have it removed.  But as you can recall from the beginning of this post, it is simply cosmetic.  My mom never got me a nose job when someone told me in the 6th grade that if I ever wanted to be french kissed that I’d have to break my nose. (Thanks a lot, Zach Brown).  My mom has a LONG list in her head of the names that people are going to call him.  I won’t even bother listing them, it’s quite ridiculous to pretend she can see into the future and know that he’s going to be called “this thing” or “that”.  If you’d like to know what Styles is going to be called in the future by some jerky little kid, feel free to contact her and she’ll regale you with at least 649 different names.

I personally think that it will make him a stronger person.  I want to use his birthmark to teach him that we all have differences.  Sometimes, those differences are obvious and other times they’re not, but they’re there.  I want him to know that beauty lies on the inside not on the outside.  Not based on the color of someone’s skin, or because they have a birthmark, or other physical or mental handicap.  I don’t want him to date girls who only want him because he’s attractive (another argument my mom has for getting it removed – God forbid Styles not some day have a hot girlfriend).  I wouldn’t want him dating superficial girls like that anyways.  I want him to marry a woman who loves him for his outstanding personality, intelligence, and wit.  Not because *GASP* he has a birthmark on his otherwise very handsome face.

I love him. AND his birthmark.

I know that it frustrates him sometimes when the same people ask time and time again, like the answer is going to change.  For instance, we were in the grocery store this week and this annoying little twit saw Styles in an aisle.  Apparently he knew who Styles was from school but is in a younger grade.  He asked Styles “what happened to your face?” and Styles told him that it was a birthmark.  The kid kept asking.  It was SUPER frustrating for me as a parent but I stood back and watched to see what Styles would do.  He completely ignored this little turd-hole after he answered him the second time and kept talking to me like he couldn’t hear him.  I was very proud.  Because I don’t want to make a big deal about it, I didn’t ask him how it made him feel.  He knows that he can come to me when and if he wants it removed.  So we went to check out and this same little nit-wit leaves the aisle his mom is in and runs over to our aisle to ask Styles AGAIN what happened to his face.  After the FIFTH time, I bent down and said loudly, “IT’S A BIRTHMARK”.  He said, “what happened to your face?” (for the sixth time) and I again said loudly, “IT’S A BIRTHMARK AND IT’S BEEN THERE SINCE HE WAS BORN.”

The little ish kept asking and I finally said, “OK the truth is, he was annoying me, kind of like you are right now, and I slapped him.  You want one too?”

He ran back to his mommy and I have NO clue whether or not he told her what I had said and quite frankly, I really don’t care.  OK so I shouldn’t have handled it that way, but this kid was SERIOUSLY irritating me.  I finally talked to Styles when we got to the car (cough…van) about this kid and how he (Styles) had reacted.  I told him that I was super proud of him for being calm about it.  But I also gave him full-on permission to make up some sort of radical story about his birth mark.  I told him that if someone keeps persisting, that it’s completely OK to tell them that he was burned on his last safari through Africa and that it will never go away.  Or that he was licked by a tiger in Nepal and that tigers tongues are SO rough that it left a scar.  Or to simply say, “What happened to your face?”  He laughed at me and told me that he was afraid he’d get in trouble at school for saying those things but I told him I had his back.  I reiterated the fact that he should always start by simply saying, “It’s a birthmark” but on the rare occasion where someone won’t back down and take that truthful answer for what it’s worth, to go ahead and tell a little lie.  I also reminded him that when and if he ever wants it removed, that we’ll do it in a heartbeat.  I’ve told him that it won’t hurt my feelings and that I just want him to be happy and make the decision for himself.  He says it doesn’t bother him and that he wants to keep it.  And he can keep it, for as long as he wants.  It’s his to do with as he pleases.

I’m proud of the decision I’ve made.  It wasn’t an easy decision and it certainly is not a decision that I made lightly.  It was not made due to finances or selfish ambitions.  It was made the same way I make all decisions regarding my children:  after lots of research and soul searching.  It is a decision made by me (his parent and loving mother), in a step to do what I believe is best for him.  It might not be the same decision you would make for your child and that’s OK.  I don’t judge you for your decision, just please try to understand mine.  We all want the same thing: the very best lives for our children and this is what I’ve chosen for my super-smart, outstandingly witty, sweet, loving, accepting little boy.

She’s Beautiful, So Why Aren’t I?

20 Feb

Having a daughter scares me.

I grew up with a mother who struggled with body image. She was anorexic/bulimic and I had to call 911 multiple times for her passing out after not eating for weeks. I’ll never forget when she weighed 88 lbs at 5’7″ and would suck her stomach in until you could see her rib cage. It always terrified me. I was 7 and I probably weighed not much less than her. She would look in the mirror and call herself “fat” and “hideous” and “ugly”. She started complaining about wrinkles before one ever resided on her face. She still does it and I don’t know that she’ll ever know how beautiful she really is.

My father was chubby as a child but had a family who was very conscious of their health. They ate healthy, they exercised, and they urged their family to be thin. As long as I’ve known him he’s been thin. Chicken legs, flat butt, healthy physique. When my sister and I visited him for the summer, we were fed healthy food, made to exercise, and our weight was always an issue. My pants were always “too tight”. When I developed breasts and was unaware of them, I was made to feel disgusting when I accidentally brushed up against my dad with them. I’ll never forget being told that I “looked good now that I had lost weight” and that “135 had been too much weight for me”. The thing is that I weighed 135 when I was told that and had been taking laxatives to lose weight. I was a size 5, the smallest I’ve ever been, I looked sick and I felt sick.

I’m not knocking being healthy, eating right, or exercising.

I’m saying that having a daughter terrifies me.

I’m not tall and thin like either of my parents, I never have been. I’m 5’6″ and I look GOOD when I’m a size 10 or 12.

With some friends in Alaska, Size 12. 158lbs.

150 – 160 is a great weight for me. I’m athletically built and curvy no matter how I eat or exercise. I have a big, bubbly butt and a teenie, tiny waist. I have small boobs and chiseled arms. My thighs and calves are muscular and large and they rub together when I walk, even at my most “healthy”. I despise my knees; they look like elephant seals.

Yep, that's what my knees look like. Image Courtesy perlgurl.org

I’ve always said that if I could have ANY plastic surgery, that it wouldn’t be a nose job to correct my long, straight nose. It wouldn’t be a boob job because I LOVE my “B’s”. It wouldn’t be liposuction to correct my butt, hips, or thighs. It would be liposuction in my KNEES.

My curves have never been appreciated by my parents or by me. I’ve spent countless hours crying in front of mirrors, oogling myself in every window I pass, but never because I thought I looked good. Always to size myself up and complain about each curve, the bounciness of my bottom, the forward “bump” on my thigh. I never noticed the flat stomach, graceful curve of my waist, or strength of my athletic body.

I started dancing when I was 7 after years of gymnastics, but I’m not built like a dancer. I’m built like a softball player.

I always compared myself to the lithe dancers around me. I was always the most muscular and most developed, even from that young age. I grew up comparing myself to girls who had bodies that are completely different than mine, and instead of telling me that I was beautiful as I was, my family encouraged me to look like them. I was never good enough.

When I found out I was having a daughter, I freaked out internally. I didn’t share my anxiety with anyone because I didn’t want people to know how I felt about ME. But the truth is that I prayed daily for her to be tall and thin like her dad’s side of the family. I wanted her to never have to compare her body to a spoon. A pencil-thin body is what I wanted for her. I didn’t want her to ever stand in front of a mirror and size herself up, crying inside about her 24.5″ waist and 41″ hips. I didn’t want her to ever walk into the GAP to try on jeans and have an impossible time finding something that fit not only her waist, but her ample bottom and “thunder thighs”. I didn’t want her to compare herself to the thin girl next to her on the barre with thighs that don’t touch when she stands in 1st position. I never wanted her to hear me say to myself, “God I’m fat” when the truth is “God, I’m curvy”…and she shares my body.

But it didn’t happen that way. She has my figure. She is 18 months old and she has my figure. Short, muscular legs, a bubble butt that wraps around to cute little hips. Elephant seal knees. It’s undeniable and I’m not the only one who notices it. I just hope that everyone else who notices it doesn’t say “Summer, she has your figure” with pity in their voices, but with envy. Envy because she will grow up with natural curves and super athletic abilities. Her bottom and thighs will be round, not straight; she will love them. And she is beautiful. I need to stop talking badly about her figure too. When people say something about it, I’ve said, “I know, poor girl.” NO, not “poor girl”. “Beautiful girl”. She doesn’t have to be thin and curveless to be beautiful or to love her body.

She Got it From Her Mama Courtesy: Thirteenth Moon Photography

I just have to learn that it starts with me. It starts at home with us telling her that she’s beautiful and teaching her to love her butt and muscular physique. And if you don’t like it, keep your mouth closed. The last thing she needs is someone telling her that she could lose a little here or there, or that her butt is “too big”. Because we’re doing what we can to feed her a well-balanced diet and teach her the importance of exercise and a healthy lifestyle. If she’s never long and lean despite her best efforts, I want her to rejoice in her hard-worked curves because they’re beautiful. She’s beautiful. And so am I.

Child Safety – Not Your Basics

16 Feb

I’d like to believe that most parents know the basics of child safety.  If not, here are a good top 10 for you to review:

  1. Never leave your baby unattended on/in a bed (no, those pillows stacked around him are not going to prevent his falling off of the bed AND they’re a smother hazard), bath tub, counter top, changing table, closed toilet lid, appliance, or car top.
  2. Invest in outlet covers for every single outlet in your home before baby is born (unless you’re lucky enough to have a brand new house with outlets protected from the inside).  Your child WILL learn to crawl and find the one uncovered outlet in your house.  Mark my words.
  3. Place a baby gate at the top and bottom of stairs.
  4. No blankets, bumpers, or pillows in baby’s crib.
  5. Keep guns, knives, tazers, drugs (prescription or otherwise), alcohol, snakes, forks, scissors, cleaning products, boiling water, shards of glass, your childhood toys with small plastic eyes,  and lighters out of the reach of baby.  WAY out of reach.
  6. Never leave older siblings or household pets in charge of a newborn.  Well meaning children have been known to accidentally harm their younger siblings.
  7. Never give your baby food, drink, or medication that has not been previously approved by your (competent) physician.
  8. Use the safety belts on your bouncers, swings, and high chairs.  They’re there for a reason.
  9. Upgrade your window blinds and curtain cords to be self-containing or at the very least, ensure that they are never at a level where a child can reach.
  10. Never, never, never, never shake a baby.

OK.  So now that we have those straight, I’d like to tell you a little story that kind of goes along with #5 on the list above.

My entire household is ill.  I’ve been sick for almost 6 weeks, Madilyn has been sick for about 5 weeks, Styles got sick on Sunday, and Kyle came down with the plague Tuesday.  I despise taking medication.  I am all about the natural remedies and Elderberry is my FAVORITE.  It was recently showcased on The Dr. Oz Show in his “Natural Cures for the Common Cold” segment.  I’ve been using it on myself and Styles since he was 2 and I can honestly say that when I’m out of it and one of us gets sick, we are sick for much longer, and with much more intensity, than when we do have it.  There are lots of other natural remedies that I love but for brevity’s sake, I’ll get on with my story.

I’ve heard that you shouldn’t use Elderberry while pregnant for this reason or that, and in my pregnant-ill state, my synapses are not firing properly.  I have therefore forgotten to ask my doctor about her opinion on its use.  I did, however; remember to tell her that I am entirely sick of coughing my brains out, feeling as though I am going to have an aneurysm, and peeing all over myself with each hack.  She told me that in my 3rd trimester, I can take Mucinex so I got some this past weekend (I’m sorry, Elderberry).  I gave Kyle a

Image courtesy pharmer.org

600mg Mucinex at the first hint of a cough and congestion, in an effort to keep him healthier than I have been (again, Elderberry, please forgive me).  I thought he had most certainly taken the pill upon my handing it to him and I went on my merry way.  At lunch time, he pulled the pill out and acted surprised that it was there.  I immediately told him how dangerous it is to put pills in your pockets when you have children.  It could have easily fallen out of his pocket without his knowledge and our very curious 17 month old daughter could (and would) have put it into her mouth, either choking on it (it’s not a small pill), or ingesting it without our knowledge.  He looked at me like I had 3 heads and said he’d take it.  OH – and don’t complain about not feeling well if you don’t take the magical pill that I gave you that will make you feel better!

We resumed lunch and I just ASSumed that he had taken the pill after my short tirade.  As the day wore on, we went through our normal motions.  We ate dinner, bathed the baby, watched “Wonder Pets” before bed, tucked the kids in, and watched “Parenthood” before retiring for the night.

As I was washing my face (oh how I love Origins), Kyle pulled said Mucinex out of his pocket.  AGAIN.  Not.  Kidding.  I went ape.  Calmly ape.  But ape.  Do I really have to tell you how dangerous that is, AGAIN?  What IF Madilyn had gotten a hold of the pill?  I was exasperated.  I couldn’t believe that A. he hadn’t taken it in the first place (this man is about as far from natural and green as you can get) and B. that after I pointed out the danger, he STILL put the pill back into his pocket instead of IN HIS MOUTH, DOWN HIS THROAT, AND INTO HIS BLOOD STREAM!

So of course, I’m the bad guy because I don’t know how to “say” things when I say them.  I’m sorry, but after I’ve already told you once in one day (one year for that matter), to not put pills in your pocket and walk around with them like they’re a cell phone, I have little patience for your blatant disregard of our children’s health and wellbeing.  What if it had been one of his Adderall?  NOT OK.

Looks like brevity is out the proverbial window.  All that to say, our little medication incident yesterday really got me thinking about the hidden dangers in our homes, our cars, and in our actions that we encounter every single day that could harm our children in some way.

Putting medication or other choking hazards in your pockets and then forgetting about them is #1. Even if you don’t have children, this is probably a horrible idea.  Your pets could ingest them, your elderly grandparents, someone else’s children.

Toothpaste can be Toxic! My 17 month old daughter is OBSESSED with brushing her teeth.  I cleaned out an old toothpaste container that she walks around with sucking on but the novelty is slowly wearing off and she prefers going to our bathroom drawer and sucking on the full tube of toothpaste.  OK, first of all – disgusting.  2nd of all, DANGEROUS!  I have emptied everything out of our top drawer and it now resides on our counter top where she cannot reach.  Ugly?  Yes.  Safe?  Yep.  I suppose I could invest in a small basket or something but I’m just not there yet.

Secure all furniture to walls, no matter how heavy, how full, or how big your children are. A good friend of mine thought that because her chest of drawers was so heavy, she wouldn’t have to mount it to the walls.  Her daughter, who had just begun to walk, learned to pull the bottom drawer out and stand in it.  One fateful day, she stood in the drawer and tried to pull herself up onto the chest.  The chest fell over, causing the TV to fall onto her child’s head.  She survived with minor bruises, but my friend nearly suffered a heart attack.  Who knows what would have happened had my friend not been in the same room when the incident happened.

Don’t leave chapstick or other make-up with small lids lying where little hands can reach. Madilyn is obsessed with my make-up, especially my Burt’s Bees chapstick.  I try to be diligent about keeping it of reach but she is getting older, taller, and more agile.  Last week, I found her after my shower, with my chapstick in hand, cap in mouth.  It’s just the perfect size to get lodged in her throat.  Nice.

Don’t let your children walk around with Popsicles, Lollipops, toothbrushes, skewers, or other utensils. Maybe it’s just my kids but we deal with tripping on a constant basis.  This includes my 9 year old.  We’re klutzy, what can I say?  I constantly have visions of Popsicle sticks going through the back of someone’s throat and I’m always baffled when I see a small child at a park playing on a jungle gym with a lollipop.  Might seem like a good idea at the time, but for the sake of trying to keep our children safe, it’s probably not.  This is not really a “tidal wave” situation.  This can, and does happen.

Keep baby oil and baby powder behind locked doors. Most baby oil comes with child proof caps nowadays but NOTHING is truly child proof (See my series on mURPHY’S lAW mONDAYS).  Baby oil and powder have been known to cause death upon aspiration.  As a mother of a 9 yr old elementary school-aged child, a 17 month old, another baby due in less than a month, I can say that it is impossible to keep constant tabs on my kids.  I do the best I can but if you have a toddler, you know how quickly they move.  While I’m relieving my pregnant bladder, my daughter is in the other bathroom snorting whatever she can get her hands on.  Do what you can to keep things locked up.

Put a lock on your pantry. Aside from the fact that the lock on our pantry has saved my sanity due to less clean up, I now have one less choking hazard to worry about.  Madilyn can no longer get into my pantry to snort flour, inhale raisins, or cause the 10lb bag of sugar sitting on the second shelf to avalanche onto her, burying her in a sticky mess.  You can pick one of these bad boys up at any major retailer.

Door Handle Lock for Lever Handles

OK so there are many, many others but this is all I can think of at this very second.  We do the best that we can for our kids and I know that.  But you can’t tell me that you have tabs on your kids for every split second of every day.  It’s impossible.  Between chores, laundry, bathroom breaks, meals, and attending to multiple children – we are only human.  So let’s use the most common sense that we can muster, and learn from other people’s mistakes.  I’m not saying that we need to be paranoid, just prepared.  It’s little things like Rx pills falling out pockets that could really put our children in harm’s way.

If you can think of anything else to add to this list, PLEASE message me or comment on this blog.  I’d be happy to add to it as time goes on.

mURPHY’S lAW mONDAY – VDay Edition

14 Feb

Things happen in my life on a near-daily basis that prove Murphy’s Law as truth. Each Monday is now dedicated to showcasing my life’s crazy moments.

If it can happen, it will happen.

OK, so this may or may not be personal experience.  And it may or may not have happened within the last month.  So let’s just say that this is hypothetical.  And if you’re a parent with children who still live in your house and can walk, you need to read this.

ALLright….  So there was this one dark night where the pheromones were apparently stirring.  Mom and Dad were feeling rather saucy and decided to conserve water by taking a shower together.  It was one of those late nights.  The kids were snuggled all soundly in their beds while visions of good grades and Mum-Mums danced in their heads.  All was quiet in the house, and not a creature was stirring, except maybe Daddy’s mouse.

Mommy and Daddy decided to take it to the room and in the heat of the dark, dark night forgot to lock the door.  The door is always locked during feisty time in Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom but tonight it was forgotten.  Mommy paused for a moment in realization that the door was ajar but Daddy insisted that because the children had been in bed for so very long, that they would likely never wake up.  As the temperature rose in the room, there was suddenly a cough at the door.

Perhaps the child saw a rear in the air, or maybe a bare chest, and he most certainly heard a little too much.  All that can be sure is that the child looked like a deer frozen in the headlights.  Poor kid got an eyeful and an earful when all he wanted was a glass of water.

If it can happen, it will happen.

Dancing with PPD

13 Feb

I’ve tip-toed dangerously close to the edge of the depression pool for years, dipping my toes in from time to time.   I somehow managed to never fall in, despite having risk factors such as family history, family dysfunction, family history of alcoholism, being a woman, and self-esteem issues. I always wore emotional make-up to hide the way I was really feeling.  Each new layer of make-up that was applied caused me to dance closer and closer to the edge of the dark cesspool that is depression.

What finally set me over the edge was being on bed rest with my daughter in 2009.  It was a lonely time for me and each day that passed caused me to slip deeper and deeper into the dark recesses of the pool I had danced around for so long.  During each visit with my doctor when the time came for me to tell her that I was sad, emotional, and uninterested in…anything, I just couldn’t do it.  I have always had a tendency to minimize my feelings and health issues and this was no exception.  The truth is that I was unable to do anything but sit on my sofa and cry.  I couldn’t work effectively (I was working from home at the time), I couldn’t complete my college courses (I went from having a 3.86 cumulative GPA to literally failing out of all of my classes), I couldn’t eek out a smile or even pretend to laugh.  I thought it would all go away once Madilyn was born.

Boy was I wrong.

After she was born, the depression stuck around.  I didn’t see it right away but I did know that I wasn’t myself.  I couldn’t find joy in anything, being around anyone but myself made me feel like I was being rubbed up against a cheese grater, I couldn’t finish even the most simple of tasks, I didn’t have the drive or desire to do ANYTHING.  Even my most favorite activities sounded absolutely dreadful.  I had to wind myself up in the morning just to get dressed, let alone leave my house.  We had recently moved and I honestly didn’t enjoy the women that I had met.  It wasn’t personal I’m sure, but I am/was not the same person that I used to be.  I didn’t know who I was.  I didn’t know how to be myself so how could I very well meet people and be authentic with them, or enjoy their company?  Heck, I hadn’t enjoyed ANYTHING in so long that I didn’t even know if the word “enjoy” was still in my vocabulary.

The lightbulb went off in November of 2010, 14 months after Madilyn was born.  I was also about 5 months pregnant.  It took me nearly a month to talk to my doctor about what was going on.  I felt like a hypochondriac.  Surely this just had to be some nasty side-effect of pregnancy, right?  When I realized that I wasn’t reacting to my husband the same and that I hadn’t laughed, truly laughed in over a year, I knew that something was seriously wrong.  When I did talk to my doctor, she suggested counseling.

Image Courtesy Google Images

As such, I have begun the journey out of the dark waters of depression.  I know that it will be a long road.  I wish I hadn’t waited so long to face my problems.  I wish I had been honest with myself,  my husband, and my doctor about what I was feeling.  When you haven’t been honest with anyone in years, it takes a long time to face the truth.  Every day is a learning experience, complete with new choreography.  Every day I feel a little more strengthened and am ready to make my way to the edge of the pool where hopefully I will someday dance, far away from the edge.

In the meantime, I expect to face obstacles.  I expect to meet people who are like sandpaper, or who are incapable of standing by me as I become the person I was meant to be.  I don’t expect to never cry again, or to pretend anymore that my life was ever, or will ever be perfect.  What is “perfect” anyways?  I don’t hope for overnight transformation, but for a slow evolution of myself.  Once a seed has been planted, it takes years for a tree to blossom and grow steadily where the seed once lay.  I know that I’ll get there.  And I appreciate everyone who has been by my side, or who will be by my side on this journey.

I am going to talk much more about my dance with PPD in the weeks and months to come.  I expect to hurt some people on the way but my truth, my life, my past is full of hurt and it has to come out.  Not only for me, but for other women struggling with the same problems.  You are not alone, WE are not alone.  And we can do this together.  Living with PPD, or any form of depression for that matter is real.  And it is absolutely not shameful.  So hold my hand, and together we’ll begin taking off the emotional make-up that we’ve worn for so long.

 

ADHD – Not So Crunchy

10 Feb

I’d like to start this post by saying the following: I’ve never believed in ADHD. I always thought that ADHD was a diagnosis to brush off bad parenting. Kids who had ADHD spent way too much time in front of the TV, not enough time outside running their energy out, and did not experience enough discipline in their lives. The thought of giving a child Ritalin or something similar because they had energy baffled me. Kids have energy. It’s what they have. It’s what they do. Lack of attention span? GET OUTSIDE! GET DISCIPLINED! GET A ROUTINE!

That was then, this is now.

My handsome son was born 6 minutes after midnight on August 18, 2001 after 3 hours and 6 minutes of a whirlwind labor. When they laid him on my belly, I was so afraid to touch him. All I could do was stare at him with saucer-sized eyes and mouth agape. I remember my mom yelling at me to touch him (!) but he scared the crap out of me. I had never really been around babies before. He was so small and fragile, (at 8lbs 13oz), but absolutely beautiful. And it was then and there that I realized that I would never, ever be able to do enough for him. I would never be able to give him what he needed in life and I would most certainly fail him.

I don’t feel that way anymore…all the time. I do my best by him. I’ve realized that I’m not a perfect parent but nobody is. Shoot, even Mrs. Brady had her faults. How did she get to be a single mom to 3 girls anyways? The woman probably had a crazy streak, I know I would. Anyways, back to Styles: He was the easiest baby EVER, except when it came to eating. I had (have) flat nipples and opted to try breastfeeding without the use of shields. It was SO painful and I’m sure it was difficult for him to get a good latch while he began the work of drawing my nipples out. I had refused pacifiers at my baby shower and really didn’t want him to ever use one because I was absolutely terrified of nipple confusion and failing at nursing. Unfortunately, all he wanted to do was nurse and his little tummy couldn’t handle all of the milk that he was ingesting so he began projectile vomiting undigested milk all over the place. FUN. Our pediatrician recommended a pacifier after day 5 so I broke down and got him one. I’m not sure that he ever had nipple confusion but breastfeeding was certainly a learning experience for the both of us. After a few weeks, we got the hang of it and after about 2 months my pain finally dissipated.

Once we got the hang of it and my pain went away, I was better able to concentrate on enjoying Styles while he nursed. Because of the difficulties that we started with, I hadn’t yet tried to nurse him in public but the day finally came when I would try. It didn’t go so well. He would latch for maybe ten seconds then turn his head towards the action going on around him. He was hungry but wouldn’t nurse. He just wanted to see what was going on around him. Defeated, I took him to the car where he hungrily and efficiently ate his lunch. About a week later, we had family in town. I noticed that Styles wouldn’t nurse if anyone else was in the room with us. As soon has he heard another voice, he would unlatch and look around like nuts. The second I went to the bedroom, he would nurse just fine. Once the family left, I began noticing that if the TV was on, he wouldn’t nurse either. It had to be dim and quiet for him to nurse.

He was only 2 months old.

As Styles grew, he had boundless energy and once he started talking (FINALLY at the age of 3), he never, ever shut his mouth. 6 years later it’s still never realized a quiet moment. He could play for hours with his cars but beyond that, nothing held his attention for very long. And meal time? Forget it. It took him at least an hour to finish a meal (this bit actually hasn’t changed). Typical toddler!

Styles went to VPK when he was 4. He was the youngest in his class but a super-smart cookie. But he wouldn’t color, or sit still for story time, or take the time to learn to write. He had BETTER things to do! Like what? I can’t even tell you. But there were better things. Believe me. Styles loved to be the center of attention. During song time, he was always up dancing in front of the class. Typical Preschooler!

I debated sending Styles to Kindergarten. He was only 4 when the school year started but turned 5 shortly thereafter. I had heard that boys are less mature than girls and that it was ok to hold them back. I wasn’t at all concerned about his maturity, I was concerned about the fact that he still couldn’t write his name like the other kids in his VPK class, and couldn’t recognize simple words like “if” and “it”. I couldn’t ignore his supreme intelligence and decided to send him anyways. The kid could have a conversation with an adult, no issue. He GOT. LIFE. His teachers loved him. Styles was entertaining and excited about learning. He was in and out of his seat so that he could socialize with the other children in his class. He spent recess working on the classwork that he was unable to finish in class. Have I mentioned that he NEVER ate his lunch? Typical Kindergartener!

First grade came and went. Styles constantly brought home work that hadn’t been finished in class. His handwriting was (and still is) atrocious. He was a disruption to the class but not in an angry way. He was just so excited about life and wanted to share…everything…with anyone who would listen, whether someone was already talking or not.

Second grade. Styles had an awesome teacher. I had known her since I was a kid; she was excited to have Styles in her class and she had high expectations of him. The year began with some troubles. I noticed that Styles was having trouble concentrating on his homework. Even a simple beam of light on the table distracted him. His distraction wasn’t fleeting. He became obsessed. Obsession ruled his life. He would get excited about a toy and talk about it from the time he woke up until he went to bed at night. Or upset about something that happened in school and talk about it from the time he got home until he left for school again the next morning. He was abnormally emotional about everything. Everything. When he came home from school, he would cry and cry over his frustrations in school and say that he “just couldn’t do it”. He’s immensely smart, but was unable to get his intelligence down on paper. It was frustrating and upsetting as his parent to see him suffer. I decided to start eliminating things from his diet to see if it would help these symptoms. We eliminated refined sugars, everything white, added fruit high in antioxidants such as pomegranate and blueberry, began giving him fish oil caps to increase his Omega-3s, and started an herbal supplement called, “Calm Child”. I’m all about the placebo effect so we told him what the supplements were intended to do. I told his teacher that we were making some changes at home and to please let me know how things went at school. She was excited for Styles and eager to see the changes that I hoped for. After about 2 months of living with these diligent changes in diet and lifestyle, nothing had changed. Styles was the same at school and at home. It was around that time that his teacher suggested two things. 1: That Styles was gifted and 2. That Styles had ADHD. Gifted, yes. ADHD? HAHAHAHAHA! Not MY child.

I am a disciplinarian. We didn’t have cable TV. Styles was allowed to release his energy however and whenever he saw fit. I read to him every night. I was attentive to his needs. He had his own independence. We ate well, er…I ate well. Styles didn’t like to eat. Still doesn’t. He has better things to do. There’s no such thing as ADHD!

I reluctantly signed the papers that would allow Styles to be observed in class by a professional to determine whether or not we needed to pursue an official diagnosis. Near the end of the school year, we got the results back. It was clear by the results that the professional who did the observation thought that Styles had ADHD. She recommended that we see a Psychiatrist. I laughed at the results of his test while my husband got angry with me for “taking it so lightly”. I laughed because I could see Styles acting out the things that the observer described. And as much as they saddened me, they were the little extra special things that made him Styles. During tests or other times that he needed to be doing work, he would rifle through his desk, appearing to look for something. He would turn the pages of his work, appearing to look at what he should be doing, then roll his pencil across his desk for a few minutes. He would then get up to talk to the teacher, who would make him sit down and the whole thing would start over. Most times, he wouldn’t even finish his work. He was unable to finish his work.

When school got out that year, I took him to a Child Psychiatrist who was a DO. I liked the fact that she knew natural ways to deal with mental disorders. She met with us a few times and determined that Styles did, in fact have ADHD. I begged and pleaded with her for ways to treat him that didn’t involve drugs. She told me that where ADHD is involved, there is little that you can do that is “natural” that will truly help control the symptoms. She did admit that a diagnosis of ADHD was not taken lightly by her. She said that much like autism, it is a spectrum disorder and can have varying degrees of severity. Apparently Styles was a relatively severe case. I told her about the changes that we had made with his diet and the herbal supplements and she was not at all surprised that it had not helped him.

I was devastated. My efforts at being a good parent, a parent who would protect her child from all of life’s troubles, a parent who genuinely tried to do what was best for her child, had failed. I couldn’t protect him from his genes, from the chemical imbalance in his brain, or from the social stigmas that follow people with ADHD around like a landfill stench. We began a long and arduous process of finding a medication that would help Styles overcome the symptoms of ADHD. I’ll save that story for another day, but there were many before we finally settled on Adderall. Styles is now even more well-rounded than he was before he began taking medication. His grades were never bad, but he had a difficult time doing anything. I was afraid that the medications would cause him to become a zombie but that hasn’t happened. He definitely calms down, he is able to focus, and his work is outstanding. He was tested for the gifted program before Christmas and we recently found out that he does not only suffer from ADHD but is, in fact, gifted. I attended his Honor Roll ceremony today, where he received “High Honor Roll” for Q1 and “Honor Roll” for Q2. He comes home from school every day, has a snack, and does his homework. He concentrates in school. He gets phenomenal grades without much studying, and he is just all round…better. He generally doesn’t take medication on the weekends but there is rarely a morning that he doesn’t ask for it before he leaves for school. Ask him. A 9 year old who wants to take medication because he knows that it helps him to be the best Styles that he can be.

I couldn’t give my son the best start in his life, but I can help him have a better life by guiding and directing him, and allowing him to have a say in his health and well-being. I feel strengthened that he recognizes the differences in taking his medication and not taking it. And I feel proud that he’s mine; that he’s gone from a baby who didn’t have the time to nurse, to a child who makes straight A’s and is “gifted”.

I have so much more to stay on this topic, and it is one that I plan to talk about on a fairly regular basis. I want to share with people the “natural” things that we tried, educate people on what ADHD is and is NOT, and let all parents, crunchy or not, know that it is not only a real disorder, but a serious one. A disorder that if ignored, can put your child in a strange place emotionally and socially. It is a disorder that, if not treated with prescription drugs, can lead to self-medication with drugs and alcohol later in life. I want parents to know that it’s OK to have a child with ADHD, and that it’s OK to seek out natural alternatives for medication. But if and when nothing works, do NOT feel ashamed to turn to modern medicine to help your children live their best lives. I received a lot of flack from people about putting my child on drugs. And sometimes in the natural parenting circle, I am embarrassed that my son’s disorder and the way that I’ve chosen to treat it is not “holistic”. But it’s ok. Because as purple as my decision to treat him may be, it’s a decision that I made after informing myself and after trying other things. And it’s a decision that I made as his parent who is only trying to do what we’re all trying to do: Give our children the best lives possible.

Wordless Wednesday – My Budding Ar-teest

9 Feb
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