27 April 2015

Bring on the Labels!

A friend of mine over on Facebook shared this post from Scary Mommy's site. For those who don't feel like clicking through, it's a wonderful "heart to heart" post regarding labeling children and how, whether you like it or not, if you kid needs a label, your kid needs a label.

And I'm 157% behind her on this.  Because I've dealt with the system both with and without a label and let me tell you, having that diagnosis, that "label" makes a world of difference.

I remember the days before Pete got his ADHD diagnosis, even before he got his SPD diagnosis.  Days of wondering when the next phone call would come because of his bad behavior in his Parents' Day Out program.  Wondering why he didn't like almost any food.  Worrying about temper tantrums whenever we went out, or worrying that he would take his clothes off in the middle of the store.  Afraid that I was a bad parents because his behavior was so bad, and desperate to know what I had done differently between Teddy and Peter.  The fears that he'd never be successful in school because he was so far behind, academically and socially, what other kids his age were doing and how they were acting.  Despair that I would have to figure out how to home school him, because it would be his only option.

I remember the hope I had when we got into the Regional Intervention Program.  The tools they gave me made me feel so much more secure in what I was doing, even though the behavior problems were still there.  He was actually worse behaved on our last day at RIP than we were on our first.  But, even though there were the fears that he would still have problems in school, I knew that I was doing my best at home and I knew how to best let him know what was expected.

I remember talking to his doctor next about how far behind he was developmentally.  He wasn't holding a pencil as well as his peers, he wasn't quite as social, and didn't have the knowledge that he should have by then.  An evaluation at the Children's Rehab was in order, and that's where I found out about Sensory Perception Disorder (SPD).  I worked with his therapist on ways to make him more comfortable, to find where his limits were and to give him a little more of what he needed for starting school.

I remember being convinced that I had everything I needed to get him the help he would need at school.  I had a diagnosis, I'd requested a teacher both he and I already knew and I was ready to fill out an IEP for him.  But the SPD label wasn't enough.  The AAP (American Academy of Pediatricians) didn't recognize SPD as it's own separate disorder.  Because it was seen so often with children in the autism spectrum and children with ADHD, they bundled it as an effect rather than a disease itself.  So I had to fight to get his IEP meeting set up.  He had to go through a lot of the same testing again to get the considerations that he needed, like having speech therapy or having certain items in the classroom to help when he had sensory overload.  The school wanted to help, but their hands were tied because I didn't come in with the proper label.  (Though his teachers were fantastic in keeping in touch with me and helping work out ways to help him be in a position to learn.)

I remember his first suspension, when his lack of impulse control caused him to poke a friend in the chest with a pencil.  Not because he was angry or out of control but because he wanted to find out what would happen.  The anger fits, the taking off his shoes and chewing on his toes while sitting on the rug became worries of another time.  I knew that something more needed to be done.  That the IEP we had and the label of SPD wasn't enough.

I remember hearing back from his doctor when I told her about this and hearing the words "He may have ADHD.  If you and his teacher will fill out this paperwork, we can find out."  There was fear there.  ADHD brought visions of children drugged to zombiehood to mind, memories of "Ritilan Kids" when I was a girl.  I didn't want my wonderfully creative boy to lose that creativity and become someone other than himself. But I knew that something needed to be done.  So I passed the paperwork on to his teacher.  I filled out the paperwork myself.  And I turned them all in to his doctor, waiting to hear the verdict.

I remember a small sigh of relief, interspersed with the fear of "what now?!" when she told me that, based on the answers from his teacher and I, that he was ADHD.  And that we would need to meet to talk about the best medication to put him on.

I remember how much easier things got after that.  I was able to show the school an official diagnosis of ADHD and have it put into his file.  The label would follow him all through his school career, but it would mean he'd be able to get whatever help he'd need instead of having to fight over and over for it.  I was able to get him on Adderall, a drug that slowed his brain down enough that he became a fantastic student but didn't dull the creativity in the least.  Finally, we'd found the answer.  And if the answer came with a label, that wasn't what was important.  What was important was the answer.

We all have labels.  One of Pete's is ADHD.  One of mine is Depression Sufferer. One of Teddy's is Gifted  One of Rich's is Funny Guy.  But labels are just one part of what makes us who we are.  I can also label Pete as Creative.  Mine as Mommy.  Teddy's as Quick Tempered.  Rich's as Trivia Master.  The individual parts don't matter as much as the whole does.  And if anyone feels like that one label can define my child, me, or anyone else, they aren't someone whose opinion matters anyway.

21 April 2015


Initially, I'd planned for today to be a heavy brainpower and low body power day.  I was going to rework the boys' earn points, set up chore lists, work on my control journal... that kind of thing.  But I decided, after almost tripping (again) over things in the boys' room that today was going to focus on cleaning that up instead.  I know, I know.  "It's their room.  They should be the ones responsible for cleaning it."  And it's true, up to a point.  But when it gets to the point it was at, trying to get them to clean it is almost worse than having a root canal.  So I've set it up so that, even though it's clean, there's still things for them to do.  All the toys aren't in the correct bins, and several are just in an extra bin.  And since I'm trying to be more on top of everything from this point forward, I'm going to make sure that it stays that way.  Especially since we're supposed to have workmen come in and put new energy efficient windows in, so I'll need to move their bed as it is.

Now I'm at a starting point where I can start to look around me and decide what needs to go where.  There are still several boxes that haven't been unpacked from the move, and several things that will need a permanent home that doesn't have one yet.  Tomorrow is supposed to be bedroom day, but after everything I did today, I don't think it's a necessity.  Instead, I think I'll try to get some of the brain work done and, if the mood to be productive strikes, work on some of the boxes.

I'm making steps forward.  That's what matters. Little by little, making steps forward.

20 April 2015

Trying to get back on track... again

I was tired of the mess and tired of the stress, so I decided it was about time to do something about it.

Yes, what I really wanted to do was lay in bed and play on the computer for hours on end, but every time I did it, I got bored or I felt guilty.  So I figured it was time to try to turn things around again.  Or at least try to.  I've stumbled so many times in the past, and I'm really hoping that this time maybe, just maybe, I'll get the routines to stick.

I'm trying to start (relatively) small.  I'm starting with a focus on cleaning.  I've started back with the baby steps of FlyLady Baby Steps and (somewhat) ignoring the daily missions.  I am working on cleaning a different room a day like I used to do, with a little wiggle room in case something comes up to make a particular day harder than others.  Every night, I'm straightening up the kitchen, getting the dishes in the dishwasher and making sure my sink is shining.  I'm trying to keep up with the little declutters during the day, as well as begging Rich and the boys to take care of their things so I don't have to do as much.  I'm trying to do a load of laundry a day so I'm not overwhelmed with all the laundry to fold.  And each day, I'm trying to add a little more.

I bought a planner at the end of last year/beginning of this year that seems to be working well for me.  It's dated, but not yeared (basically, it has all the dates but none of the days of the week listed in it).  There are several lines for each day, 2 days to a page.  It gives me room to make notes, keep track what I need to do and feel a bit more on top of things.  It's probably not going to be the only thing I use - I'm still using Cozi and I'm actually hoping to have a control journal one of these days.  But it's a start for me.

I think a lot of this is coming out of a group therapy study that Teddy and I are a part of.  It's for people with depression and their 9 to 17 year old child.  Part of it is trying to find ways to help eliminate stress and some of it is trying to find ways to help our kids not have to worry about depression - ours or theirs.  Tonight is week 3 and I'm trying to let the lessons into my brain.  I think it's working, because I'm feeling better about some things.  Partly, I'm sure, because of the changes I'm trying to make.

I'm trying to make sure that the changes I make aren't only related to the apartment.  I'm trying to drink more water and less soda.  It's easiest when I don't have it in the house, though days when I have to pick the boys up from school is a little harder, since I'll stop and grab something to eat and drink while I wait for them.But even if I get myself down to one soda a day, it's a good start.  I'm also wearing my WiiFit meter constantly.  I haven't started back with exercise yet, though I really need to.  That, I'm hoping, will be next week.  I just don't want to over do things, y'know?  When I feel like I have a handle on the cleaning, then I'll feel like I can add more to it in the form of exercise.

It's little steps, little things.  And I'm hoping that if I can make my environment nicer, then I can make my brain easier to deal with and become nicer myself.  Often, I feel like I'm the screaming mom, the nagging mom, the annoying mom.  I feel like I'm angry so much of the time and that I don't know how to be happy.  But I know it isn't true, so I'm trying to make steps to change that part of me.  Maybe then, I can ask my family to help our rather than yelling and screaming for them to.

I'm hoping that I'll be able to do a little better job of keeping up with my blog, but no promises.  Today, I happen to have the time on the computer to be able to do it.  So I'm writing.  Even if it feels like the same thing I always write, at least I'm writing.  Who knows?  Maybe tomorrow I'll have more time and I'll be able to write something else.  I don't know.  All I do know is that I'm ready for the me I want to be.

18 December 2014

Where I'm From - Writer's Workshop

I am from a brand new metal lunch box with it's matching thermos inside, from a Fisher Price School Barn with traceable words and a stand-alone chalkboard that waited for me to "teach" in the middle of my room.
I am from the single-wide trailer on hundreds of acres of land, with frozen pipes and thin walls but love enough to fill it.
I am from the man made pond belonging to my neighbor and the rock from which I watched it, crying my lonely tears and telling all my secrets to the wind.
I am from large family Christmas' and bodies that would never be tall, from Priscilla and Teddy and my crazy Aunt Laura.
I am from the quick tempered and equally quick to love.
From a melting pot of countries, Poland, Ireland, England, Germany, who make me what I am and someone who can do whatever she puts her mind to.
I am from the Catholic Church, First Communions and Mass on Sunday, to a seeker that refuses to believe that there is one true way.
I’m from a small town that both confined and released all that I am, from fresh made bread that I would watch impatiently to rise and Christmas Cookies laid out on open paper bags to give them a chance to cool.
From the sister born to soon but who fought for every breath, the family afraid of birds, and the couple married in the backyard right after her graduation.
I am from races on Sunday, wood fires burning in winter, boxes of washed out pictures and keys belonging to things I no longer recognize. From the petals of a rose put inside a McChicken Box and hidden in my locker, mix tapes that include my own voice and a heavy metal ID bracelet given as a reminder that I had something worth coming back to. From dreams that fell by the wayside and hopes that never quite worked out, to the promise of a brighter tomorrow whenever I look in my sons' faces.  So much has made me into who I am, and I would never change a thing.

This was written for the first prompt in this week's Writer's Workshop over at Mama's Losin' It!  The prompt is:

1. Complete the “Where I’m From” poem. (template here)

15 December 2014

New Year's Resolutions

Okay, so there's still a few weeks left until 2014 is a thing of the past.  And honestly, I'm not really "resolving" to do and not do these things.  It's more like goals that I'm hoping to make happen over the next year.  And some of them, I'm hoping to start before the year is over.

Yeah, I'm rambling.  I figure why not jump back into my blog in typical "Amber" style.

Anyway, it's Monday, I feel like making a list and this is the one I'm going to make.  So here we go!

  1. Update my blog at least 3 times a week - I'd love to update it daily, but that's asking the impossible.  Yeah, Pete's in school now (and has been for a few months) and, in theory, that should mean I have more time on my hands.  Instead, I feel more brain frazzled than before.  So 3 times a week, and trying for more actual updates than memes that only require me to write one or two things.  That sounds plausible - at least until the end of January when I forget and my blog goes dormant once more.
  2. Take more pictures - I realized how badly I'd fallen down on the job this year when I really had to scrape to find enough pictures for our yearly calendars.  (The best gift we've ever come up with, year after year.)  You'd think with a digital camera, a smart phone and a tablet with a camera that I would have had MORE pictures.  Nope.  So this year, that's gotta change.  I don't want another year of just finding pictures of the back of the kids' heads everywhere.
  3. Actually review some books - I love to read.  Always have.  And I love sharing what I've read.  But for some reason, I have this mental block about actually DOING it.  I've even got my reading blog out there that should be the perfect vehicle for it.  But do I ever make time to sit down and do my reviews?  Nope.  Instead, I end up sitting at the computer playing game after game of Bingo and feeling like I'm doing nothing with my life.  So this one kinda goes with the blogging thing.
  4. Make up a cleaning schedule and STICK TO IT - We moved to a new apartment at the end of October and I refuse to let it get to the state the old apartment was.  So far, I've been doing a (semi) decent job of not letting things get too bad.  But I don't ever want to get to that point either.  So I'm going to try some FLYing, some of my own stuff, remembering the use the white board to update chores that need to be done and by who.  Because I can do this!
  5. Have all the boxes unpacked by summer - Ideally, I'd love to have them unpacked before the first of the year, but I'm trying to be a realist here.  I may want to get my house in perfect shape, looking great and having a place for everything, but life happens and I'm naturally indolent.  I can only push myself so far with things.  So by summer... yeah, that's possible.
There are more things that I want to resolve, I'm sure.  Less time on the computer.  More time with my family.  More exercise and more focusing on me.  But it's good to start small and add rather than overwhelm myself now and set myself up for failure.