Sunday, June 28, 2015


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This past week there was an absolutely legendary decision handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States, which stated that the right to marry is fundamental and guaranteed by the 14th amendment of the Constitution to all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation (Obergefell v. Hodges). As anyone not currently living under a rock, this is huge news! I'm so proud to be an America this week. I totally agree with the popular hashtag: #lovewins.

That said, I recognize that there are a lot of people who are disappointed or outraged even by the SCOTUS decision and are looking to make social change based on their Christian beliefs The photo above is from a rally on the Mall to gain support for a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Their point is that every child deserves a mother and a father and therefore, gay marriage should be made illegal.

The thing is...I believe that every child deserves a HOME and whether that parent is gay or straight is irrelevant, as long as he/she takes great care of the child/ren. When conservative states have laws restricting the rights of the LGBT community, it is not only members of that community that suffer but also many children in need of loving homes suffer as well. That is because there are any LGBT people who have made the choice to foster or foster adoption children in need and if states don't allow them to take this action, then these children will continue to needlessly suffer in foster care, even though great homes are available to take them in. When I was going through the homestudy process, I met a few gay couples interested in adopting and they were pretty cool. I hope they were successful in their adoption quest.

The thing is, people who say YOU can't foster or adopt because you're gay are apparently acting in this way because they want to protect children. But they should really be saying, you know what? I care so much about children that I am going to foster or adopt myself...but often times, they do not. They only pass judgment on others while the kids in need continue to suffer. There are 100,000 children in foster care waiting for a forever home and hundreds of thousands of children in need of temporary foster care. A religous group passing judgment means needy children go without care. Meanwhile in more liberal parts of the country there are many members of the LGBT community truly doing God's work and caring for children who deserve a forever home. God bless them.

That said, I would like to provide my heart-felt congratulations to the LGBT community on a truly monumental ruling and I hope that this is only the beginning of the conversation on how we can make #lovewin across cultures, across generations, across all demographics we have here.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!

Last weekend we celebrated Mother's Day here in the US and for us it was a beautiful day, if not just a little over-scheduled. Starting at 8am, I volunteered for a Mother's Day 5K and Christopher got to run in the Kids Fun Run. After that, we moved onto an hour and a half of soccer and then we went to a barbecue. On top of all that, it was a very hot day for New England--over 80 degrees. For those of you in hotter regions, that may not seem very warm but considering the below zero temps we had all winter, to us, 80 degrees feels like we've moved to the desert. We drank a lot of water and were dressed appropriately, which helped.

Christopher did okay behavior wise 75% of the time but when he did not do well, he was very very naughty. He was great at the 5K but wore himself out so by the time we got to soccer, he was melting down big time. The other parents don't understand our journey so they must really wonder what the heck is going on when Christopher just starts screaming I HATE YOU!!! at the top of his lungs and then tries to hit me repeatedly. I dragged him out of the game and sat him on the sidelines to try and get him to calm down, but with only limited success. I kept hoping he'd be able to pull it together but he was just too worn out. In retrospect, I should have just given him my phone and let him relax but I would test out putting him back into the game, which didn't work so well. He full on tackled some kid on the opposing team, which of course the parents didn't appreciate. Sometimes it's hard being the coach because I should have just taken him home after the 5K. But it is what it is and lesson learned.

After soccer, I did take him home for some quiet time so by the time we got to my friend's barbecue, Christopher was a LOT calmer. She even commented on how well he was doing. It was a small, quiet gathering with very healthy low carb foods so that helped. 

It was a long day with a few ups and downs but overall, we survived just fine. Even with all the challenges and the screaming and frustration though, I wouldn't give up my life for anything because I LOVE being a mom. I love Christopher for than anything on this Earth and am so glad I finally got this opportunity to become a mom. I'm sad for him that he had to endure so much pain and trauma before coming into my life but I'm so happy that I was able to take him away from all that and give him a happy, safe, healthy home. I just wish that all children could have a happy, loving home and that foster care could always be a stepping stone to a better life.

That said, Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there and I hope you are feeling as truly blessed these days as I do.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

No Poop For You!

My son does not handle change very well. No matter how minor the change seems to us, anything that deviates from the normal routine sends my son into a tailspin.

With spring here, the days are longer and my son has an extra abundance of energy because of it. Additionally, his first grade teacher left about a month ago to go on maternity leave, after giving birth to a set of twin girls. At first Christopher's class had different substitute teachers but now thankfully they have settled on one teacher for the rest of the year.

That's a lot of change and Christopher has responded by refusing to go to the bathroom. At first, this resulted in poop accidents in his pants. That happened several times out of the blue. Now, however, he has gotten better at holding it in so now he becomes horribly constipated as a result.

When he does go, the stools are huge and rock hard. Imagine a golf ball passing through a 7-year-old's colon and rectum and you can imagine the screaming, crying and bleeding that has been going on in our house of late.

Last week, I took the kiddo to see his pediatrician and the doctor prescribed a tablespoon of Miralax once a day, in order to soften the stool and make it easier to pass. Several days later and with no noticeable change, I upped the dosage to two tablespoons (with the blessings of his doctor of course). Yesterday, even after two tablespoons, Christopher still hadn't gone in two days and was screaming, crying and in pain. At this point I gave him a kiddie laxative, feeling somewhat desperate.

This worked and he pooped twice. In his pants of course because he's still too afraid to sit on the toilet. And it was still rock hard although definitely smaller in size and no blood this time. Yay for small miracles I guess.

I think I'm going to have to resort to daily laxatives and then 30 minutes later make him sit on the toilet to get the poop out of him. I feel a little like I'm potty training again but like I said, change does not happen well in our house and this is clearly regressive behavior based on change.

Let's hope that this issue clears up sooner rather than later because I'm already doing my second load of laundry today because of it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Boston Marathon

One Boston Day: A New Tradition | NBC Connecticut

I wish I could say "Happy" One Boston Day but considering the reason that today is #OneBostonDay is because of the Boston Marathon bombing two years ago on this date, it doesn't seem fitting to say "happy".I can't believe the bombing was two years ago. It seems like it just happened yesterday. I remember it perfectly. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I was out on the course with my friend Jan and her two kids, my son, our dog and my friend Sue. We were hanging out around the mile 21 marker cheering on the runners. When I saw my friend Dee run by, we left to go find a late lunch. A police car zoomed past us, sirens blasting but I didn't pay it any heed. I assumed some poor soul had fallen and needed medical attention. If only. My heart still goes out to all the victims affected by the events of that day, as well as their families.

Two years later and all our bad memories from the day have been resurrected with the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial and related media attention. I'm glad he was convicted but I cannot believe that there are actually conspiracy theorists out there that think this is all a great big hoax. Talk about crazy people.

The thing is, life does go on and our spirits are resilient. We can't let the terrorists win! As both a former runner of and volunteer for the Boston Marathon myself, I will continue to support this special race any way that I can.

This past winter, Christopher and I supported the race by volunteering our time to the Melrose Running Club Sunday Long Run program. Every Sunday we were out there handing out water to the runners as they trained for Boston. This past winter was brutal and we had to stand out there in sub-zero temperatures, surrounded by six feet of snow...but we did it!

Here is a photo of the runners on the day that they ran the 22-miler from Hopkinton to Boston College. They are a totally awesome crew!

We had fun helping out but was cold! In case you forgot, this is the winter we had this year:

We tried to have fun with it.....

....but man, it was cold!

Thankfully my kiddo had fun with it too. Here he is making snow angels.

So here we are, just a few days away from the 2015 Boston Marathon and I'm choosing (as you can see) to have positive thoughts about the day and what it means to me. There is a special quote that has inspired me regarding this experience and I would like to end my post with that quote:
Who is Standing Up for Women? An Exercise in Looking for the Helpers.

I would like to believe that I am one of those people who helps. I am #BostonStrong.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Turning Off Violent and Rude Television Programming

Now that my little minion is seven years old, he has outgrown a lot of the cute, educational toddler programming that he used to love and that I used to enjoy watching with him. Shows like "Peppa Pig" and "Curious George" have been replaced by "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", "Sponge Bob" and "Fairly Odd Parents".

There is absolutely nothing of value beyond pure mindless entertainment in the shows that the kiddo wants to watch now. Not only that, some of the programs are disturbing to me. For example, the characters on "Sam and Kat" are just plain rude. I don't want my child emulating that type of behavior with others in real life.

But even more disturbing to me is the inherent violence in programming targeted to young boys. One day I sat next to Christopher while he watched some cartoon called "Teen Titans Go" starring Robin (from Batman and Robin). In this show, Robin woke up, got out of bed, picked up a big stick and then walked around the house whacking people and animals over the head with it and then laughing about it. That was the entire plot of the first five minutes of the show. Hitting and laughing, hitting and laughing, hitting and laughing.

I looked over at Christopher and every time Robin laughed, Christopher laughed. He was enthralled and I was appalled. He thought it was funny to attack people because Robin thought it was funny to attack people. I cannot believe that this show was even allowed to be on the air. For the record, this show lasted for five minutes with us before I stood up and turned of the TV. After that, I had to listen to Christopher scream and cry in protest but I was not going to give in on this because this show was awful. Then Christopher threatened to hit me if he didn't get his way and at that point, I REALLY knew I was doing the right thing. If his response to not getting to see a violent program is to get violent with his mother, then yeah, we need to redirect.

I want to be especially careful with Christopher because he does come from an early childhood of violence and was diagnosed with PTSD at the age of three. I have done a lot of work to undo the tendencies he learned from living in a home filled with domestic violence and I wasn't about to negate all that because society allows total crap to be on TV.

I've done a little research and learned that even if a child has healthy behavioral beginnings, violent programming at a young age could affect them quite negatively. Some of the symptoms I've learned could result are:
  • Increased propensity to violence
  • Callousness towards victims
  • Exaggerated fear of being victimized by violence
  • Depression
  • Isolation
Considering we have had a dramatic increase in the number of violent attacks in public places like schools and shopping malls, I would say that the concerns I have are pretty valid. I've gotta say it all kind of freaks me out now because even if I protect my own child from violent programming, so many people think it's "no big deal" and with violent TV programming so easily accessible, it will only become a bigger issue. This means even if my child isn't violent, he could be in the company of others who are, such as at school or maybe at the YMCA. This is all very scary to me.

I know I cannot control others and can only control my own child. So with that I do what I can just to focus on Christopher's behaviors. For the record, after we turned of Teen Titans Go, I found a documentary on Nat Geo Wild about Nomura Jellyfish that Christopher really liked. Apparently because of global warming, this species of jellyfish is growing to gigantic proportions and Christopher thought they were really cool looking. We talked about global warming after that and although he didn't really completely understand it all, at least the conversation was intelligent. I've also discovered that he enjoys watching "Word Girl" on PBS, which I like for him too. So there are options out there. I simply have to try harder to find them for him. I just hope and wish that other parents are making the same efforts with their kids.

After I finished writing this post, I read on Twitter that a police officer who was a member of the Boston Youth Violence Task Force was shot in the head in a Roxbury shootout last night. The suspect is dead and the officer is in an induced coma, fighting for his life. As if I needed any additional proof that violence has negatively permeated our society, this is it. My thoughts and prayers are going out to Officer John T. Moynihan right now.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Justin Harris Wouldn't Know Christian Values if They Hit Him in The Face

I will be the first to admit that I cannot quote scripture with any degree of reliability. But I will also say that because of a lot of time spent in church both growing up and as an adult, I have a pretty solid understanding of the Bible and the tenets that it promotes. As I understand it, as a Christian you are supposed to be kind, helpful, loving, supportive and to help take care of those who are unable to take care of themselves. Does that sound about right?

These Christian morals forged the foundation of my belief system and were one of the reasons I have always wanted to adopt from foster care. I wanted to give a home to a child who needed love and stability more than anyone. With my little guy here, I feel complete.

That's also why I find people like (R) State Rep. Justin Harris of Arkansas completely morally reprehensible. He and his wife Marsha claim to be Christians. They adopted two little girls from foster care but after six months found it all too hard to deal with, so gave the wee ones to a guy he had actually fired from his business because the guy was unreliable. Hey, I can't give you a severance because you're a terrible employee but here...take these innocent little girls instead. Seems logical, right? The girls were four and six years old and the guy ended up raping one of them. He plead guilty and sits in jail now, where I hope he rots for a very long time. If interested, you can read more about this sad tale here.

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But wait, it gets better. Justin Harris held a press conference proclaiming that HE was the victim, not the little girl who got raped because of of his callous disregard for her safety. He said that he and his wife were forced to abandon the girls because they had severe behavioral issues and DCFS wouldn't help them. He said that the child's pediatrician told them to do this. This is all hard to believe. I call shenanigans on the Harrises "Christian values" for multiple reasons:
  1. It doesn't happen a lot but adoptions do occasionally not work out and state social service agencies have protocols in place for taking back foster children whose adoptions failed, for whatever reason. He claims he was threatened by DCS but I don't buy that for a minute. FYI, good Christians don't lie to save their own hides.
  2. The Harrises claim that they didn't know what they were getting into but the little girls' foster mom says they were told exactly what to expect and said that they had resources in place to help. This is what Cheryl Hart says: "i am the foster mom of the kids he discarded. We all tried to tell Marsha and Justin of the difficulties they would endure with the girls. They would not listen. They kept bragging about their degrees in early childhood development and their experience with children. Plus they insisted they had all the therapists on hand at their preschool to help with their problems. Plus they said God called them to do this and he would get them through anything. We tried to not send the girls there and Cecile Blucker pulled strings and blackmailed DHS workers. I would love to correspond with you about this tragic preventable catastrophe." That is a comment on this petition, which I have signed.
  3. The Harrises continued to cash the subsidy given to them by the state even after they abandoned the girls. Um, fraud much?? I guess they forgot about that whole, "thou shalt not steal" Commandment when reading their Bible Cliff Notes.
  4. Justin Harris is a state representative in Arkansas. One would think that he would use his power and stature as an elected official to unlock doors and change laws, granting more support to families like his own. However, there is absolutely no evidence that he did anything. Instead he introduced legislation that would allow daycare centers and pre-schools not be forced to have sprinkler systems (FYI, he and his wife own a "Christian" pre-school).
  5. And most importantly, there is help available. Lots of it. For free. I know this because I've been there myself. Christopher came to me with some of the same history that these girls had and believe me, I get how difficult it is to raise kids with complex trauma history. I got called home from work one day because my son had threatened to kill his nanny that day. On multiple occasions, adults have had to intervene when Christopher started attacking other children with a stick. All this was very scary to me but you know what I didn't do? I didn't hand my child over to a pedophile. Instead I got him help. A lot of it. There was a point where he received therapeutic services three times a week and I also got him referred to the Boston Children's Hospital Developmental Medicine Center for even more intensive therapy. His behavioral pediatrician there specializes in foster and adoptive children with complex trauma histories and has been an incredible resource for us. The best thing of all is, these services are all free because foster children (in Massachusetts at least) get free healthcare until their 18th birthday. This is done to help incentivize an adoption because let's face is really expensive and these kids need a lot of it. But if you get the services, they really do work. Anyone who has ever met Christopher will tell you that he is a completely different child today, for the better. It doesn't happen overnight and requires hard work and patience. Too bad that the Harrises just couldn't be bothered.
I am so sorry for the two little girls that have had to repeatedly suffer at the hands of people who were supposed to be there and protect them. This story makes me both angry and sad. I can only hope that the media attention this story has generated helps save another child from potential harm. I posted this story to my Facebook page asking people to volunteer time and/or money to children's charities because we need more caring, loving people to ensure the safety of our nation's most at-risk children. I would also like to ask, dearest God, please watch over the foster children who need you and help to keep them safe from harm. Amen.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Parenting the High Energy Child During the Never Ending Blizzards of 2015

Stop Snowing Already!

Those are just a few shots of the three major snow storms we've already experienced here in the northeast. Now of course, it's snowing outside as I type this, yet again. By the time this storm ends, we will have approximately 70 inches of snow on the frozen, icy ground that will need to be plowed and shoveled somewhere. To put this all into perspective Boston normally gets 42 inches per season and since it's only mid-February we'll (probably) more than double that before winter comes to a slow painful end. I checked this morning and found out that there's more snow already scheduled for next Tuesday and Sunday so my prediction of doubled snowfall is fairly safe. Sigh. Anyone want to move to Florida with me?

I took this photo in front of my house after storm #1. Yes, this is how much snow I had to shovel in one two-hour session:

The arctic temperatures are not helping either. Yesterday I decided to help out my running club with water stop assistance because the Boston Marathon training team still needed to get their long run in. The run started at 7am on Saturday morning and the runners were going for 16 miles. The run started so early because the runners have to run in the street (too much snow on the sidewalks) and it's safer earlier because there are fewer cars on the road. That said, this is a picture of the temperature gauge in the car, which of course doesn't take into account wind chill. I was standing outside for two hours and it took me a good chunk of the rest of the day to warm up afterwards.

Aside from shoveling and being cold, the snow has presented quite a few other challenges for us as well. Christopher's school has already had eight snow days this season, which means I've lost a lot of work productivity so far. Through the first few storms, I worked some and played some with Christopher and I took one day off entirely. Here is a photo of my little man outside in the snow with me during storm #1:

But my work started backing up so by storm #3, I had to put in longer days on my work from home days. This past week, I've had three 12-hour work days now and the To Do list does not seem to be getting any shorter.

I feel like an awful parent on these days because Christopher is playing on his own, watching TV or playing games on the Kindle. He's not getting the stimulation that I want him to have but I am a working mom and sometimes I just have to work. I cannot take the entire month of February off so that I can be the attentive mom that I want to be.

The work is still backing up because even though school is in session, public transportation is not quite so accommodating. I won't get too deeply into the mess that is the underfunded MBTA right now but basically trains are not running and when they do, they run with massive delays. Today is the third day that the T has shut down for the entire day. I take the Orange Line to work and this past week on the days the train was running, my normal 40-minute commutes have turned into hour and a half commutes. Each way. With three hours of commute time, I get into work late, have to leave early-ish to be able to pick up Christopher, which means logging into work from home in the evening in order to catch up. Needless to say, I'm exhausted all the time. I'm just glad today is Sunday and tomorrow is Presidents Day because I won't have to battle into work until Tuesday, which by the way, is the day of the next forecasted snow storm. Ugh.

Even on the days when I try to be attentive to Christopher, I end up feeling guilty yet again because his high energy is really trying my patience. I may feel stir crazy sitting at home but Christopher is really, really, REALLY stir crazy. Yesterday he was up by 5:30 am, looking for attention. And today it's only 7:30am on a Sunday morning but I have already told him at least 10 times to stop yelling. This weather pattern is really pushing me to my limits in way too many ways.

The US Postal Service doesn't help much either. Our mail is also either delayed or not showing up at all. I requested a refill of Christopher's medication from Boston Children's Hospital last Monday and a week later, the prescription still hasn't arrived. (Because his medication is a controlled substance, I have to call it in to a prescription line voice mail, they fill it and mail the hard copy prescription and then I have to take the hard copy to the pharmacy to be filled). Christopher will take his last available tablet on Tuesday morning, which means I've got to call the Hospital tomorrow, leave a message, wait for them to call me back and then drive there to pick it up in person. The trip alone will take two hours, there and back, plus I will have to pay for parking. All this because our mail isn't getting to me.

The storm is getting expensive for me as well. With each storm, we have to pay a plow company $150 to plow our parking lot. We also just had to pay someone $400 to shovel our roof, so that it doesn't collapse under the weight of seven feet of snow. Since my condo has only 3 units, our account will be soon depleted and we'll need to add more money outside of our normal monthly condo fees in order to cover the costs. I will say, at least we are lucky that our roof isn't creating ice dams because those telltale icicles cause leaks in your home and require costly repairs.

I just checked the weather report and it said that the temperatures will drop as the day goes on and it's best to get your shoveling in as early as possible so you don't freeze. Considering it's only 18 degrees out right now, this is a bit disheartening. I've just eaten and I'm dressed so although it's only 7:47 am, I might as well get a jump on the shoveling process. It's probably a good opportunity to get Christopher out of the house for a bit so he gets that energy out before the temps drop even lower though so off we go.

However, in an effort to end this blog post on a positive note, at least New England has this to savor during our cold, blustery winter days:

Way to go Patriots! I got to sleep in after the game too because it was yet another snow day.