The busy life of a full time employee, student, mom and wife

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Unsung struggles of parenting an ADHD child

My son was only 9 months old when he started to walk. At birth, he had colic and wasn't satisfied just sitting; he had to be entertained, constantly. As first time parents my husband and I didn't think much of it, we just thought he was a needy baby. Now looking back, I realize that many of these traits are early indicators that your child may have ADHD. Please don't misunderstand, these things don't always indicate ADHD, but they can. It wasn't until a few months ago when we put our now four year old son in tee ball that we really realized the difference between him and other kids his age. While the other children were somewhat distracted (they are four year olds after all!) most of them at least grasped the concept of what was going on. They were distracted, but present. Our son, however, was just plain distracted. No matter how much coaching he received he never really seemed to grasp any of it. He just went through the motions as he was told to do. We saw a great difference between him and the kids around him. We saw him struggle with simple tasks and directions, though not for lack of trying or being obstinate. We quickly learned that his struggles, while they seemed so small, were monumental to him. We learned that life with him would be much different than we expected.
When I brought up this observation to his daycare provider she mentioned that she had wondered for a while if he might have ADHD. With his first year of school looming ahead my husband and I were faced with a decision: do we get him an official diagnosis before he starts school and give his teacher that information right away? Or do we give him a chance to figure it out and adjust to school on his own and see how he does? We ultimately decided to let him go into school as any other kid would, and see how he did. The first week or so went really well, but after that it was downhill. He was struggling with staying in his seat, finishing his school work, and communicating effectively with other kids, which resulted in him hitting out of frustration. At our first parent teacher conference the teacher let us know that he was "extra wiggly" and "had a very short attention span". She let us know that, while she wasn't a doctor, as his teacher she might recommend that we get him checked for ADHD. We trusted her opinion over that of many people around us. After all she works with children his age all day, year after year, and should have a good idea of what average is. After that, we had a consultation with a behavioral specialist who was able to officially diagnose him with ADHD, suggest some therapy for us, and give us a little more insight into our son's mind.
This is where life starts to get a lot more complicated. Now ADHD is more than just a wiggly kid, this is my child. My child, who is coming home from school crying because he's sad he got in trouble. My child, who wants so badly to be successful in school and please us, but sometimes he literally cannot help himself. His struggles in school were already so real. I recall one night he was particularly down, so I asked him what was wrong. After a little prodding he burst into tears and declared he didn't know how to be good while standing in line. Small things in school, like standing in line, that came as second nature to other kids were a very real struggle for him. We were faced with a new struggle of our own at this time: how do we punish him for things he fails to control due to his ADHD? His issue of standing in line often turn into him pushing the student in front of him, which would result in him getting sent home with a "red card". My husband and I were at a loss of how to handle this. We didn't want to punish him for something he couldn't help, but we also had to let him know that those actions weren't okay. So how do you punish a child for something they can't, or don't know how to, control? We have been walking this very thin, very complicated line. We have learned that it's important to let him know that his actions weren't okay, let him know that he handled his feelings poorly but don't always necessarily punish for his indiscretion.
After seeing his struggles in school we were faced with another hard decision; should we look in to medication or not? We had no idea where to even start with the option of medicating him or not. An internet search revealed there are a plethora of options on the matter. This created almost an over saturation of information, making a lot of good information hard to find. We initially were absolutely against medication. We would try any natural remedy in the book but we had all but closed the door on the option of medicating. But every natural remedy we tried fell flat. And once his struggles in school became more intense, we re-evaluated. Was it fair to him for us to deny him of something that might help him? Clearly he was struggling, and his struggles were very hard and very real to him, so why would we deny him the opportunity to clear some of that stress away? Before we had to parent a child with ADHD we thought that we would make a decision and that would be final, we never considered that something we were so sure of might not be the best decision. It was hard to come to terms with the fact that we didn't have a clear image of what was best for our child.
Upon our search for what was the best route for our son we discovered that many people don't take ADHD seriously. A staggering amount of people shame parents for having their kids diagnosed and/or medicated. They believe that the parent is just too lazy to deal with their children's behavior issues so they medicate them into submission. Some people take it as a joke, and think that ADHD is something to laugh about. Some people just plain don't believe ADHD is real. That is what cuts the deepest for me as a parent of an ADHD child. My child is struggling through real issues that are very hard for him, and my husband and I have struggled through decisions we have had to make regarding our sons care, and some people just write it off as fake or judge us as lazy parents. People are discrediting the hardships that our family has, and continue to, go through. They fail to see the very real struggles that are associated with ADHD. People need to understand that ADHD is indeed real, and is more than just a wiggly, spazzy child. It comes with real struggles, tears, and hurdles that other children and parents don't have to deal with. We could all benefit from being more understanding and compassionate to people who are going through a struggle that we might not understand.
For ADHD information, visit

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The rising of the dead!

Just in time for Halloween i'm raising this blog back up from the dead! I don't know why it fell off the face of the earth... it just happened. But it's back! Reanimated, brought back to life!

Too much has happened since my last post to catch you up on all of it. The biggest change in our lives between then and now was that we bought a house! I was seriously unsure if it would ever happen, but it finally has! We had been renting in the neighborhood for about a year and decided if this one particular house was still for sale when our lease ended, we would try to buy it. Our lease ended, and the house was still for sale. I wish I could say the buying process was easy and carefree but it really, really wasn't. We looked at other houses too; we looked around, we made offers, we stressed, we cried. I wish there was a show on HGTV that showed the REAL house buying process instead of acting like you sit in a cafe, make an offer, and an hour later you have the house.

But alas, after all the stress and worry, we have our house! We are completely in love. The house was a foreclosure and had been empty for a few years, so right away it needed some work. The first thing on my list was to remove the disgusting carpet in the master bathroom. Really people, who carpets a bathroom?! My husband and his dad tiled both bathrooms, we painted the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, we replaced all the lovely gold fixtures in the bathroom (again, WHO DOES THAT?!) with some brushed nickle ones and the place looks 100x better already. Our to-do list is still about a mile long, but we're slowly making progress. We have to keep reminding ourselves that this house is ours, and we don't have to rush through it all. We have years to get it all done.

I have found a downside to our house though. Our neighbors. We are on a corner and only have neighbors on one side (none behind us either) but those neighbors do enough "neighboring" to make up for the lack of more neighbors. Did I say neighbors enough time in that sentence? Neighbors. Anyway. They're about middle aged and I believe the wife doesn't work, and they are extremely nosy. They love to pop their heads over the fence, which isn't hard because it's only a four foot fence, and give their opinions about something in our yard or on our house or IN our house. So I think "putting in a higher fence" is quickly vaulting it's way to the top of our to-do list...

Do you guys have any crazy neighbors??

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

ADHD part two

When I first approached Brandon with the idea that Ant might have ADD he laughed at me. But as I read him the article I had been reading and read off the signs and symptoms his face got more and more serious. By the time I was done all he said was "Well. That would explain a lot."

I called his pediatrician the next day and did a phone consultation with her. I explained my thoughts and some of his habits and she agreed that it sounds like he might have ADD. She referred us to a behavioral specialist who we meet with on the 20th. She's going to watch him for about an hour, do an evaluation of him and give her assessment. The part that I dread a little bit about going to the specialist is the whole matter of medicating. I have no interest in medicating him. If this specialist disagrees, we'll keep looking for one until we find one that supports alternative treatments. I don't want to turn him into a zombie baby. I love his personality, even if it is spacey and hyper, and I don't want to drug that away. Regardless of what the specialist says, ADD or not, I know that my baby has an issue with paying attention and I know that I have no interest in drugging him up. Nothing a specialist says is going to change either of those facts.

I want to take a natural route of treatment for him. I'm all ears for any vitamins, herbs, teas, or homeopathic treatments that have been shown to be helpful. Surprisingly, it's kinda hard to find specific information on the internet. I think its a combination of every kid is different and what works for one might not work for the other, and just an over saturation on the topic. You google ADD or ADHD and theres 10 zillion sites that pop up. I can't tell you how many times I've read an article that says "exercises at home and herbal treatments can be really effective" but never in any way tell what exercises to do at home, or what natural treatments to use. I've read a million times that these options are out there but its hard to find specifics about it.

After researching the few things that I have found we decided to start him on fish oil this week. The one we bought is specific for kids and has both Omega-3 and Omega-6. I'm going to start giving him chamomile tea at night to see if it helps him calm down. If it seems to work I'll send some to his daycare for days when he's really hyper. If that doesn't seem to work, we'll move on to something else until we find something that does work.

I'm really a little unsure where to go from here. Its all new to us. We'll meet with the specialist and see what s/he has to say. We'll learn exercises to do exercises with him at home that will improve his focus and we'll tell him to "walk not run" about 100,000 more times. But most of all we'll continue to love him, thank God for him, and let him know that he's perfect exactly how he is.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The day I suspected by baby has ADHD

I hesitate to throw that term out there - ADHD. It's so commonly tossed around these days. It's a joke for people to say they have ADD when they don't want to focus on something, and unfortunately it comes with a hefty dose of judgement on the parents. Especially parents of young kids. People want to think that you just cant handle your kid, or that you just want to drug them so you don't have to deal with them. I assure you, this is far from the case here.

Anthony has always been on the go. He was never the type of baby who could sit back and watch, he had to be entertained, constantly. He started crawling around 5 months, and walked at 9 months. He was on the go. He has always been a hyper kid, but I always thought that was just how kids his age were. He's a boy, I expect him to be hyper. But as he's gotten older and gotten into pre-school aged we've run into issues with his hyper activity and his lack of attention. There have been so many times where Brandon and I feel like we're banging our heads on the wall, repeating the same thing over and over and over (and over) again. We wondered if we were doing something wrong. We wondered if he had a hard time hearing us as a result of his ear surgery. We wondered and wondered and wondered. Anthony isn't a bad kid, at all. He's one of the sweetest, most loving kids ever. He just can't focus and the boy has energy for days. We have a long hallway in our house that he particularly loves to run down. I think I say the word "walk" about 10,000 times a day. We wondered and worried often that we were just doing something wrong, there had to be an easy solution to his listening issues. I'm not exaggerating when I say simply putting on his shoes can turn into a half hour ordeal.

Still, it never dawned on me that this might not be normal. He's a four year old boy, four year old boys are tough. I thought that we'd parent through this and we would all fall into sync and puppys would dance on rainbows and skittles would rain from the sky.

It wasn't until we put him in T-ball that we realized that he was different than other kids his age. While the other kids were focused, doing what the coach told them, running through the drills, Anthony was spinning in circles or just plain wandering around the field. All these other kids, the same age as him, seemed to have lightyears more attention than he did. It was his second practice, when Anthony was put on a cone at shortstop to show where he should be standing and wandered off, ending up over by home plate that I laughed in my head "I swear it looks like he has ADD!" Then a light went on. "What if he does.." I immediately took to my phone and started googling and let me tell you, it was like these websites were describing him personally. Endless talking, seemingly endless energy, trouble finishing a task, quick temper, ect ect. It was him. To a tee.

Later that night I read more. I cried out of a mixture of guilt for not seeing it sooner, fear for the trouble he might have later in life, and honestly.. relief. It explained so much.

To be continued, because this is going to be long winded.

Monday, January 21, 2013

I'm still here! Consolidated update

I'm alive! I know I haven't written in a month but I just plain didn't feel like it. My life has been kind of all over the place and I just haven't had the urge to write. I'm not even sure where to start with all of it.

Early in December Anthony had ear surgery. Two years prior to that (almost exactly two years to the day) he had ear surgery to put in tubes because he got frequent ear infections. The tube in his right ear never fell out,  and actually turned sideways blocking the drainage. We gave it a few months to try to allow it to fall out on its own but it didn't happen. So the dr went in and took it out. Easy peasy. He seems to be doing better and has a follow up appointment with his ENT specialist tomorrow.

Christmas was hectic and wonderful as usual. The kids were spoiled rotten, my husband spoiled me rotten and I got him a few small things then two worthless pieces of paper that I paid $200 for. I got him hockey tickets but thanks to the lockout, the game I got the tickets to got officially cancelled just a few days before Christmas. So basically I owe him a Christmas present still.

Our new years was pretty uneventful. My mom took my kids and we went to a friends house where I drank a little too much and had a headache the next day. Happy New Year!

The least fun thing I have to update on is my own surgery. The day before Halloween I went into my OB/GYN for my annual pap. I was shocked when two weeks later he called me to tell me it came back abnormal. They reassured me on the phone that it was "barely abnormal" and "just above average" and they were sure it was nothing, but they scheduled me to come in three weeks later for a biopsy anyway, "just to be safe." I was confused and scared because just one year prior was when I had Noah and had my post baby exam that showed nothing, so how could something happen so quickly? And honestly, that question still lingers, we still have no idea how it all moved so fast. I went in for my biopsy as scheduled and exactly one week later I got a call from my doctor saying that the biopsy "came back more abnormal than the pap did" and that I had high-grade moderate dysplasia. That means I had pre-cancerous cells growing on my cervix that needed to be surgically removed. If you have low grade, mild dysplasia normally the plan of action is to just watch and let the body correct the issue itself, but mine was high grade, moderate which meant that the cells needed to be removed before they turned into cancer. So we scheduled it then and I had my surgery on Jan 10th. During the surgery they took more cells from deeper inside the cervix to ensure that there weren't more cell and that they weren't further progressed than the biopsy showed. I go in to read the pathology report and get my post-op exam this Thursday.

So 2012 ended and 2013 began with a little bit of health issues but I have full confidence in both my doctor and in Anthony's doctor that everything was taken care of and settled in both our surgeries. I'm ready to put it all behind us and move forward.

Moving forward for me means more school, and working on my photography. God willing and hard work put in I should be done with school in about a year and a half at the most. I realize I'm behind about 90% of my high school graduating class in getting my degree, but I figure better late than never, right? Then I got a gracious offer from a talented friend to build a website for me and my photography and I may take her up on it. (IF the offer still stands, that is. ;) We'll swap, pictures for a website!) I've been taking some pictures for friends and family, trying to build up a portfolio basically. I really need to decide how serious about it I want to be basically. I would love to go full speed ahead and try to launch a whole business but I don't know how realistic that is. First of all, the market for photographers in San Diego is pretty saturated, and I feel like no matter how much effort I put out I'll still be just part of the crowd. Second of all its not like time is on my side, in a sense that.. I don't have any. I would only be able to shoot on weekends and even then I would be sacrificing time with my family (Which is something I don't get a ton of) to do these shoots. So I think the plan right now is just to get the website built, get my portfolio built by offering cheap shoots at work and photographing friends and family and just basically do it on the side. If I seem to catch attention and business comes in, then I'll think about getting more serious about it. If not, then I'll just keep taking pictures of my family and whoever happens to ask.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A life secret.

I know that everyone wants to talk about this tragedy in Conneticut but I just can't. My heart just hurts too bad. So instead, i'm gonna tell you guys a secret. A life secret. It's something I learned a few years ago that has made me a substantially happier person. I'm not trying to say I have life figured out because believe me sister, I don't. I'm just saying that with this one, little secret that I learned I have become a far more relaxed, happy, and less high strung person. You ready for it?

Learn to accept help. Like, really accept it. Don't go out seeking help (unless you really need it!) and pawn everything off on other people, but if someone offers to do something small to help you out, say yes! If you ask yourself "why not?" and cant come up with a legitimate answer why you shouldn't let this person help within about 5 seconds, tell them yes. But first you have to realize that accepting help comes in different forms.

When my husband and I first started dating we were very young and I was just starting to find myself as an adult. In that journey I learned that adult me likes my house clean. So I would clean our house, and I would get mad that he wasn't helping. So I would make him help. Then I would get mad that he did it "wrong." Then I would go behind him and re-clean everything he just cleaned, all while getting even more mad that he did it wrong and I had to clean it anyway. After a while he saw that I would just go re-clean everything he cleaned so he stopped cleaning. Why clean something if someone else is going to? So I would get mad all over again that he wasn't helping. It was a lose/lose. If he cleaned, I was mad he didn't do it  my way, if he didn't clean I was mad he wasn't helping. I wanted his help but I wouldn't accept it.  I couldn't accept that his way of cleaning was good enough when in reality, it was just fine.

No, he may not have wiped down the sink after he was done doing dishes, but those water spots weren't going to kill anyone were they? The dishes were done weren't they?  He may have missed a spot vacuuming but I'm pretty sure that one little triangle of carpet didn't contain the plague, and we'd all be just fine.  This one definitely took some time, but I eventually learned that I my way is not the only way, and that I don't have to be the one to do everything in order for it to be done "right." This applies to other areas too, not just cleaning. Parenting, driving, cooking... everything. I let him do things and we are a partnership. Not only has this relieved stress for me by not feeling like I need to do it all and being bitter that I'm the only one working, but it's relieved stress on our relationship too. We don't fight about me not having help and doing everything alone because I allow him to help, I don't push it away saying it's not good enough or not "right."

Another way to accept help is to just plain accept it. Let people help. This is still a work in progress for me. When I was slammed busy trying to get everything ready for Anthony's birthday party my mom offered to help. My knee jerk reaction was to tell her no, but thank you. Then I thought about it for a minute, why not? What in the world was so bad about me letting her help assemble some of the things I had made? Why would I say no? Pride? So I went back and told her that I actually could use her help. And you know what? She ended up staying late that night helping me, I would never have gotten everything done in time without her help.  I have a surgery coming up in a few weeks and I have no idea how long I will be down afterwards. My sister offered to make a few meals for my family and I, so I could relax and recover and Brandon wouldn't have to add "cooking dinner" to the list of things he'll already be handling by himself while I'm down. Again, my reaction was to say no. But why? Because I want to be super mom and not let someone else take care of my family? I thought about it for a few minutes and again went back and said actually, yes. Now that's one less thing I have to worry about during my recovery. I know my family and I will eat well (and not fast food) and my husband wont be stressing about making or buying meals.

Next time someone offers help and your reaction is to say no stop for a minute and ask yourself why you're actually saying no. Is it pride? Do you really actually have any reason at all to say no? If you don't have a reason, then just say yes! You can do it, I know you can. Next time your husband cleans the kitchen and leaves streaks on the countertop, just take a breath, walk away, and go kiss him and tell him thank you for the help. It's amazing how much stress you can relieve by just accepting a little bit of help.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fall/Winter pictures

It's the time of year for Christmas cards and family pictures! Because nothing says I love you quite like giving someone pictures of yourself, right? The concept of pictures in/on Christmas cards is a little bit lost on me, except for when given to family members that rarely see you or your kids. But its a "thing" and my family all seem to love it, so we divulge and we took our Christmas pictures this past weekend.

We went up to a really pretty park. It has a railroad track running through it and has a ton of seasonal trees that give off a lot of leaves. It photographs really well. Well enough that there were about ten other families there taking family pictures the same time we were. I wish I was kidding or exaggerating, but I'm not. There was a lot of "watch out, we're gonna be in the background of these peoples pictures" or "just a sec there's someone in the background." But luckily everyone knew what everyone else was trying to do and was mostly courteous about trying to stay out of each others way.

I love photographing my family. In my completely unbiased opinion, my boys are pretty freakin cute and easy to photograph so its fun. The downside of it is that I'm never in any of the pictures. I have about 486,542,878 pictures of my boys together and my husband with them but about 20 of me and the boys and like 3 of the four of us together. I used the self timer to jump in a few of them, but I look a little beat from first taking pictures and the toddler chasing that entails, and then from running to try to beat the timer and get "posed" in time.

The shots I got of the boys were pretty good. I was really sad though, I got some really really cute ones of the two of them when we first got there, only to realize my 1yr old who was trying to play with my camera the night before had switched me from auto focus to manual focus and all of my favorite ones were not in focus. I was able to get a few that were in focus but the boys were over that spot so we had to move on. Sad me. Our day ended early when Anthony got stung by a bee and was in no mood to continue taking pictures. Through the timer beating, the bee stinging, and the manual focus I was able to get some really cute shots. So now, I share them!

This was my favorite spot, that was first out of focus then the boys were over it. As Anthony is demonstrating here.

Hey look! I'm in one! Messy hair and all.

After posting these an old friend from high school contacted me about taking some pictures for her family. So not this coming weekend, but the following I'll be taking pictures of someone elses family for the first time! Wish me luck!