Sunday, December 29, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, joyeux noel and happy Kwanzaa!

We spent the last week out in Boulder, CO visiting extended family and it was a great time. After 12 hours of trains, planes and automobiles, we're back home in Boston, ready to start "real life" again tomorrow.

Christopher goes to YMCA vacation camp and I go back to work. Bah humbug. But hey, someone's gotta pay the mortgage, right?

The week away was really nice and it was great to see family. Everyone was incredibly generous with their gifts too: My sister got Christopher a Razor scooter and a cool helmet. She also bought me a cappuccino maker so now I can stop going to Starbucks and start enjoying tasty coffee drinks right in my own home. Nice right???

Christopher adored spending time with his auntie and with his two cousins, who are close to age with him. The up side was, the kids had a lot of fun playing together. The down side was, sometimes play turned into loud, screaming chaos.

With three kids ages 5, 6 and 7, all over-stimulated, over-sugared and not getting enough sleep, even the most well adjusted child will melt down. Try having a special needs kiddo with ADHD, ODD and PTSD and as you can imagine it all got a bit insane at times. Each day Christopher seemed to lose more impulse control and the defiance increased in frequency. We tried going out to dinner on our last night there and all the boys did was fight, which made we two moms ready to rip our hair out. I'm pretty sure the other patrons at Outback Steakhouse were happy when we were done and gone that evening. Thank you come again....not.

Then there's the travel. Christopher's actually a really good airline traveler--better than I am, if I am to be honest. I get so stressed that I'm going to be late and miss my flight or forget something important like my wallet or that I won't find parking in the economy lot, etc. etc. For some reason when we travel, Christopher's the calm one and I feel like the raving lunatic until I'm safely buckled into my seat. I joked with the woman next to me in the security line that I think it's the only time of year that I wish I had a Xanax prescription. (Kidding! Well sort of...)

Now the airlines also really do not make it easy to travel during the holidays. First, everything is just so unbelievably expensive. I don't even want to tell you what I paid for those tickets. On top of that, you get on the plane and they want to charge you for "premium seats", which frankly, don't seem all that premium-ish to me. If you want to watch DirectTV, it's $8.00 per TV screen per flight. So for us, just getting to Denver it would have been $32 if I had chosen that option ($64 round trip). No thank you! I loaded up the Kindle with movies and games for Christopher and I chose to read a book. Last but not least, no airline peanuts. If you want any sort of food, even a snack, you're now paying out of pocket for it and it's pretty crappy. Needless to say, we ate in the airport.

When I booked the flight, I couldn't select my seats yet. Fine. So I waited and went back to the site last week to select seats, only to find that most seats had been chosen and there were only some random singles left. So did that mean I wouldn't be sitting next to my young child for 4 hours? Pretty much. When I got to the airport, I tried to get the United people to help me, all to no avail. It was a full aircraft, nothing we can do, blah blah blah. Finally, I had to beg the nice man sitting next to Christopher to switch with me just so I could sit next to my young child. Thankfully he did, or else I would have had to pay for those "premium seats" to ensure Christopher didn't start screaming and crying without me there. Yeesh. Honestly, next time I fly out to Colorado, I'm flying JetBlue. United just kind of stunk. So not family friendly.

Now we're home, Christopher's asleep and I'm just about ready to call it a night myself. I hope all who read this has had a wonderful Christmas season themselves and I look forward to a momentous and enjoyable 2014 as well. Cheers!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Fun Run

Yesterday I had one of the best days I've had in a really long time. I got to run the Somerville Jingle Bell Run. I was slow as molasses because I haven't had the time to run in months but that doesn't matter. I had 30 full minutes all to myself so I could do something I love. It was awesome.

A group of friends and I dressed up in festive holiday attire and all ran the race together. My friend's husband watched the kiddos while the rest of us ran. He only had them for 30 minutes so it wasn't terribly taxing but still, it was amazing.

After the race was over, we went over to a restaurant in the neighborhood and had brunch together. Christopher played with the other kids and I got to enjoy some quality time with friends. Awesome day.

In 2014 I'm going to do my best to have more social fun times like this because I just felt SO good. Running is healthy and such a great stress reliever and the kiddo had fun too.

Happy Holidays everyone!

xoxo Jackie

Friday, December 6, 2013

Happy Birthday Christopher

“When I was One,
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three
I was hardly me.
When I was Four,
I was not much more.
When I was Five, I was just alive.
But now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever,
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.” 
― A.A. MilneNow We Are Six

Today is my little man's 6th birthday and he is SO excited! He woke me up at 3:55am today, ready to start his day, wondering where his presents were. I, on the other hand, was not quite so ready to start my day so the little man was led back to bed and told to sleep. Then we both proceeded to oversleep, which meant running around crazed at 7am so the kiddo could make it to school on time.

Where are Christopher's presents right now? At the store because I haven't had the time to shop yet. I took today off from work and I'm going to go to Target in a bit and pick him up a bunch of Angry Birds toys. My sister did send him a present that arrived on Wednesday and I hid it in my closet so Christopher wouldn't see it. I know for a fact he would have sneaked in there and opened it when my back was turned otherwise. 

I told Christopher he was getting clothes for his birthday, which of course made him yell "NOOOO!" so hopefully he'll be pleasantly surprised when he actually gets toys.

His birthday party isn't until January 18th, which means he gets to enjoy quite the "perpetual birthday" this year. I rented the therapy pool at the YMCA and didn't realize you've got to rent it two months ahead, since it's so popular. I figured it's better to wait until after the holidays anyway, when life's a bit less insane. That's what I tell myself at least so I don't feel guilty about putting off his party for over a month.

I will take the kiddo out for a late lunch and then he'll come home and open his presents. Don't worry...this kid will still celebrate today.

Happy birthday Christopher! Mama loves you. xoxo

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm sitting here drinking coffee and listening to my little guy play Angry Birds Star Wars on my phone, all the while procrastinating on the holiday work I have ahead of me. So what better way to procrastinate than to wish all my Internet friends and family a very happy Thanksgiving. I hope the day treats you and your family well today.

I'm hoping this coffee kicks in soon because I've got a lot to do, with only a little sleep behind me. My kiddo was so excited to go see family today that he woke me up at 5:45, raring to go. This mama is also excited but doesn't have the benefit of being able to take a nap on the car ride a certain 5 year old I know. I can't be upset with the kiddo though. How can you be upset with someone who's so thankful that he has family now that he wakes up super early? We should all be so thankful and grateful.

Okay so on that note, I'm off to make a huge salad, pack, clean up a little bit, feed the dog, put away two loads of laundry and after reading this list, make a second pot of coffee. I think I'm going to need it.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy National Adoption Day!

Christopher sitting at the judge's desk, stamping his adoption decree: 7.13.2011
Today is the day 4,500 foster children legally find their forever families. Congratulations moms, dads and kiddos! You made it!

We celebrated today with a free photo session courtesy of Krista Photography. This kind and generous woman donated not only her time and resources but the time of resources of her fellow photographers and friends, all to families who adopted kiddos from foster care. Pretty awesome right?

Our photographer was named CoCo and Christopher was a bit confused, as he thought cocoa was a drink not a name. She was super nice though, worked well with Christopher and I can't wait to see the photos once they're uploaded to the website.

I have to admit, I became really teary-eyed when I saw all those families getting their pictures taken today. There was one family there that had adopted TEN children from foster care. Ten!! God bless them. I can barely handle the one kid I've got and they have ten.

One thing I was really struck by today was just how diverse the crowd was. You had families in all shades of white, brown and black, smiling broadly for the camera; happy for the opportunity to share this moment together. True love doesn't know color, that's for sure. I heard that they registered 80 families today and would have had more but had to turn some away due to space limitations. (We signed up right away so we wouldn't miss out.)

The photos will be ready for our review in 10 days and as part of today's special deal, we'll get a $25 credit towards prints or digital downloads. I can't wait to see them. Christopher is crazy photogenic and I have a feeling I'm going to order several of the photos and send them to Nonnie (my mom) and my brothers and sisters. Merry Christmas!

By the way, Christopher also got to celebrate National Adoption Day with a trip to Kmart, where I bought him, yes, some Angry Birds. Hey what's a holiday without some Angry Birds?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Just a Quick Update on the Family

It's been a while since I provided an update on what's been going on in the life and times of my little Christopher so I thought I'd provide one here.

For the most part, all is going well. Christopher has responded well to his strict diet and to his medication so he is able to focus better in school and he's not nearly so hyperactive. I dread the day (if it ever comes) that he builds up an immunity to his meds because they have been a total godsend to us. We'll just address that day if and when it arrives I guess. In the meantime, I am so relieved when he sits on the sofa, quietly reading a book, like he's doing right now.

I did give Christopher some Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup yesterday, which probably has dye and gluten and all sorts of crap preservatives in it, but he wasn't feeling well and I wanted to give him some comfort food to make him happy. All the hyper behaviors came back within an hour though so it's clear that diet plays a big role in managing his ADHD. I will just need to be stricter going forward.

I emailed Christopher's social worker the other day to ask how I could get the DCF subsidy reinstated now that we have a diagnosis. She wrote me back with the name and contact information of who to speak with in the subsidies unit and I will give that woman a call tomorrow. It's not a ton of money but every little bit helps.

I've also got paperwork to fill out so that the kiddo can be tested at school for special ed services. I'm not sure if he'll qualify as it seems the bar is set pretty low but I can only try and see how it goes. He still really needs a lot of 1:1 attention both at school and at home on his work and I want to make sure that this need is documented so that he gets it going forward.

As for me, right now I am getting over a cold and also feel a little like all I do is go to work and come home and care for my kiddo but I do have a few days coming up with the holidays so I look forward to that. I have to admit, I was not performing my best parenting yesterday mostly because I was just plain exhausted. It didn't help that Christopher was up at 3:30 this morning, trying to watch television. I had to get up and put him back to bed and stay awake till he finally fell back to sleep. I'm still feeling a bit worn out but hopefully I can get some decent sleep tonight.

We are leaving in an hour to go to the first birthday party for a new friend from Kindergarten and my kiddo is super excited. It's for a little girl and I bought her a Barbie Styling Head as a birthday gift. Hope she likes it. What little girl doesn't love Barbie?

And that's it for us. Hope everyone is having a great day.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Parenting Tips for Raising an ADHD Child

I've seen that there are so many parents like myself struggling with how to provide the best care to our ADHD children for optimal results. I am blessed because I have worked hard to give my ADHD kid the assistance he needs and the results have been tremendous. My son went from being highly aggressive, disruptive and in constant time outs. He would complain that kids didn't want to play with him and parents would either glare or yell at me on the playground. My kiddo also had lots of trouble focusing in school.

Fast forward to today and now he has friends, he loves sports, rarely gets put into a time out anymore and does well in school. The difference in my child is actually pretty huge.

This journey wasn't quick or easy but it can be done and some of the results are immediate, which will make it worthwhile right out of the gate. My son is living proof. So that said, I thought I would share some of the tactics I've used to help the kiddo be a successful, meaningful, happy member of the community.


Some kids' ADHD symptoms can be managed without medication but my child is not one of those kids. I give him 10 mg of Metadate CD and it has made a world of difference. Before medication, he lacked impulse control which resulted in him hitting, pushing and scratching children, mostly when he was really excited. He also had trouble focusing in school. Now that he takes meds, he can control himself and focus better in school. I've seen the dramatic difference and so have my friends.

I only give my son enough medication to make it through the school day and just deal with the crazy child when he's home with me in the evening. That way he is able to sleep at night. I've heard that insomnia is a symptom of medication and I definitely want my child sleeping at night. Right now he sleeps like a ROCK so that's good.

Just so you know, the idea of medication initially scared me because I heard about all these terrible side effects. However if you can keep the dosage low, there are no side effects, at least with our meds. Also, you need a top-notch medication like Metadate. I'm lucky that our insurance covers its cost because I've heard that not all parents' insurance plans qualify. I'm sorry to hear that. I was lucky in that the first med we tried works wonders for my kiddo but I do understand that for some families, that is not the case. Please be patient and work with your doctor to get your child the help he/she needs. The child will thank you for it in the end.


We are gluten free, dye free and I limit the amount of processed sugar my child can have. We are heavy into the Paleo lifestyle (lots of protein, fruits and veggies and very organic). This has worked wonders for my kiddo and also allows us to keep the medication dosage low, so that we don't have any issues with side effects. Even before I started the medication, I noticed a difference in his behaviors. He was still impulsive but not nearly as aggressive. So the clean diet has eliminated about 60% of the problem and the low dosage of Metadate does the rest.

Just an FYI, if you're going for a clean diet, you'll need extra time at the grocery store because you are now going to be reading every. single. label. This takes times. Also, you'll need to know where all the truly healthy food is shelved and this also adds to the time you need. It's confusing and time consuming, but so worth it in the end.


I give my son a dye-free multi-vitamin called Yummi Gummy Bears. Yes I know that there is sugar in the gummies but it's such a small gummy and the kiddo thinks it's a treat because it tastes so yummy. I just have to make sure he brushes his teeth well after eating one.

Side note: I had tried out the Omega-3 and DHA gummy but discovered it made my son super sleepy. I noticed it but thought at first he was just fighting off a bug or something. But then it became so bad that his Kindergarten teacher actually emailed me to say he was "foggy" in school, so I immediately stopped giving it to him. I don't know why this happened but I just wanted to let people know in case you experience this for yourselves.

Magnesium vs. Melatonin

Some ADHD kids have trouble sleeping and I've discovered that Magnesium is a GREAT cure for insomnia. My son doesn't suffer from insomnia but I have all my life. I've started taking magnesium every evening and now sleep SO well. I've also discovered that it has cured my migraines, which I had been getting daily due to the changing seasons. I have read that 50% of migraine sufferers have a magnesium deficiency so there's apparently a known correlation. So if you have migraines, you might want to try magnesium as well.

Side note: Some parents choose to give their kids melatonin for sleeping but I've read you should not do this on a daily basis. It takes away the body's ability to naturally get tired on its own. Plus, kids will eventually build up a tolerance and will need a higher and higher dosage. I've read about kids getting nightmares from the higher dosages so I stay away from all that. Magnesium is definitely a much better way to go.

Regarding magnesium, you could give a supplement or give your child (or yourself) a lavender Epsom bath of no longer than 20 minutes (or else you start to sweat it back out). Epsom salts are full of magnesium and so a bath is a healthy, relaxing way to get the magnesium you or your child needs to sleep.


My very active son needs tons of exercise. If he doesn't get exercise starting first thing in the morning, he often gets himself into trouble. Unfortunately, "first thing" to my child is often 6am so as a mom who is NOT a morning person, this has been rough. I've had to change my own ways in order to accommodate the needs of my child and I do it because that's what we moms do. So if you find your ADHD kiddo acting out in the morning, make sure they're getting the exercise they need to provide an outlet for all that energy. The saying, "idle hands are the devil's workshop" is SO very true for ADHD kids!

My son goes to the before-school program at 7:15 every morning. He LOVES it. Why? Because he gets to run around the gym for an hour before he has to sit for several hours at a time. It gets all that little boy hyper energy out so that he has the ability to sit still for the rest of the day.


My kiddo is active in the town's U6 soccer league and also takes swimming lessons at the YMCA. Side note: Soccer only worked well once we started medication because he needed that impulse control that medication provided. He stopped hitting and pushing the other kids, made friends, scored goals and felt great about himself. The fall session of soccer has ended but we are already signed up for the winter session, which starts in January.

Swimming was great even before we started medication. Quite honestly, my son cannot hit or push kids if he's swimming because he needs both of his hands just to keep himself afloat. Plus, it wears him out, which is pretty huge for a hyperactive kiddo. If you're having trouble with energy and impulse control for your ADHD kid, I highly recommend swimming as an activity.

Become an ally with your child's teacher

Your child spends a good chunk of his or her day at school and the teacher is a big component of whether your child will fail or succeed in life. You need a strong relationship with your child's teacher. You may not always agree with them but you do need to listen to them. And you need to know how to effectively communicate with them so your child's needs are met without creating any animosity. Too many parents go into school demanding to get their way and that is not the way to handle the situation.

Work with your school and don't fight them unless they are blatantly disregarding the needs of your child. This does happen of course and there are resources out there to help you if that does happen. However I think the first effort at working together needs to occur with open communication.

Setting your child up for success in the classroom

Also, remember that your child is only one of at least 15 kids that the teacher oversees. If your child is hitting other kids and can't be controlled in the classroom, it disrupts all the other kids and that certainly isn't fair to anyone. Do what you need to do to make sure that your child is calm and focused before entering the classroom. That includes ensuring they have enough sleep at night, have a healthy, protein-filled diet (no artificial dyes and processed sugar!) and medication, if necessary. You as a parent have a role to play in ensuring the success of your child in the classroom. Take that responsibility seriously.

The right school services

My son is in an integrated Kindergarten, which means the class size is smaller and there is more focused attention. This has worked wonders for my kiddo because he is getting the help he needs to succeed in his school work.

Individual Education Plans (IEPs) vs. 504s

We are also in the process of getting testing for my son for special education services. His doctor at Children's Hospital thinks he will qualify for an IEP because of his ADHD and so I've got a mountain of paperwork to fill out right now, sitting on my dresser. I will take care of that this weekend.

I honestly don't know anything about a 504 but have read that they exist. I know you can have an IEP or a 504 but not both. But that's really all I do know. If you want to learn more about this option, you will need to research that on your own.

Structure and routine

I have discovered that the structure and routine of school makes a huge difference in my son's behaviors. I actually paid a boat-load of money for a nanny over the summer, thinking that my son needed a break from all that routine but it turned out that this wasn't the best choice for him. It was crazy expensive for me and my son's behaviors actually got worse because he didn't have a strict routine anymore. Once school started again, he was so much better behaved and honestly, really quite happy. He tells me he loves school and that thrills me. And it's a lot cheaper for me too. So win-win all around.

Take care of basic needs first

Is your child hungry, tired or over-stimulated? Is he/she getting enough positive attention from you? Or is your child in need of exercise and thus acting out? Many times an outburst can be avoided if you realize what your child needs and act accordingly. Yes, sometimes that's very hard to do because hey, you want to focus on yourself occasionally. But if you do, just know that your kiddo will probably act out in reaction. No one said parenting an ADHD kid was easy.

Get help when you need it

There are times when your child's needs are bigger than you. That's when you need to get outside help. For example, my family receives weekly in-home therapy to help me manage my son's impulsive behaviors at home. My son also attends weekly play therapy to help him work through his issues and he also has a therapeutic mentor, which is kind of like a Big Brother but comes with a social worker degree. These services have been huge for us as a family and I can honestly say that Christopher is a much different, much better child today than he was when he came to live with me two years ago as a foster child. I am also a better parents because of it. I can't rave enough about the services we've received.


ADHD is a diagnosis, not an excuse and you as a parent need to set firm boundaries and follow through on punishment, as appropriate. Your child needs to respect you as a parent and also needs to understand the consequences of their actions, if they break the rules. 

We follow the 1-2-3 Magic plan and it works well for us. If I start counting "mississippi's", my son knows to stop whatever he's doing before I get to "5 mississippi's", or else he will face the consequences. The consequences generally mean he loses out on something he loves so you may have to take away whatever that reward is a few times before your kid realizes, hey, mom isn't kidding. It's no fun to listen to your child scream and cry but once again, no one ever said parenting an ADHD kid was easy.

Time Outs

If my child is feeling over-stimulated and acting out he gets a time out in his room. I set the timer on the stove for 5 minutes (one minute per year of his age) and if he tries to come out early, I add a minute to the timer. That has worked well to calm him down but also give me a few minutes to calm down as well. Hey, sometimes we parents need as much of a break as the kids do!

Lots and lots of love, encouragement and patience

ADHD kids often lack self-esteem because of their behavioral issues and inability to focus in school. They want to be good but just don't always know how to be. So that's where patience and extra amounts of hugs and kisses come in, to make sure our kiddos know we still love them no matter what they do. My son feels insecure sometimes and he needs a lot of extra reassurance that I will always love him, forever and ever. Just this morning at 6am he starts jumping on my bed and I told him as calmly as I could, "if I get mad at you, I will yell and you don't want that. So please stop jumping on my bed before I get really angry". The kiddo immediately stopped jumping but started crying, saying I didn't love him anymore. I needed to reassure him that of course I still love him but that he needs to listen to mommy too. That worked and he went into the other room to watch Henry Hugglemonster on Disney Jr. I got another 30 minutes of sleep after that, so all was good. Win-win all around.

Get Time for yourself when you need it

Being a parent of an ADHD kid can certainly be exhausting and sometimes you need some fun time as well. That's why I love babysitters! I've got a weekly babysitter who comes every Monday night, who plays with my son and allows me to go shopping, out to dinner with friends or to the gym. Whatever it is I choose to do, it's always about ME. Sometimes we need that and you should never ever feel bad about looking out for your own needs. I think taking a break helps make me a better parent.'re only human

Raising an ADHD kid is tough! In writing all the stuff above about how I'm able to help my son, I want you to know that it's not all sunshine and roses. Sometimes I'm tired or stressed or just running late and I will yell at my son. Nothing vicious...just more along the lines of, I TOLD you to put your shoes on! Do it NOW!!" Some days I feel overwhelmed by life and those are the days I just want to cry. And you know what? That's okay too. Something else I've been battling lately is that I'm just reeeallly tired. Like all the time. My little "alarm clock" wakes me up at 6am every day, regardless of the day of the week and unfortunately, he doesn't come with a snooze button. When he's ready to go, it's time to get up. And right now, I'm feeling so worn out because of it. So we're going to have a quiet afternoon today. The thing is, you do the best you can and try to be kind to yourself when you can't be Super Mom 24x7.

These are just a few of the ways I am able to best care for my ADHD kiddo but honestly, I could write a book on the subject. And maybe someday I will! In the meantime, I hope these tips were helpful and be sure to share any feedback on what works for you and your ADHD family.

Tis the Season for Giving

This week, my company, which is a very big supporter of giving back to the community, kicked off its firm-wide United Way pledge campaign. The Partners have made it fun to participate by initiating competitions by floor and offering daily drawing for prizes to people who've donated. So far, my floor is in the lead for the tricycle relay race time and all I can say is....the 9th floor rules. Woo hoo!

Representatives from the United Way also came into the story to share the sad tale of a young man growing up under the care of a crack-addicted mother, then bounced around the foster care system, finally landing with his ailing grandmother on a fixed income, failing at school and ultimately turning it all around to become a self-sustaining member of society, thanks to the United Way. Yay to the United Way. Here's my check.

I know I sound a little sarcastic there but as a former foster mom and now adoptive mom, the story really kind of pissed me off. Why? It pissed me off for a couple of reasons: The first is that the foster care system is just broken in so many ways. This child should have been removed from his mother's care when he was born and (most likely) tested for drugs right after birth. There are SO many people out there who want to adopt and this woman was clearly an unfit mother. Yet the state kept taking this child away for a period of time, then giving him back, only to have to take him away again. This reminds me of one of my favorite sayings: Do you know what the definition of insanity is? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. Under this definition, our state child protection agency is acting totally insane. Scary thought, right?

There are so many people who would be thrilled to adopt a baby from foster care and who would give that child a safe, happy, healthy home. Why does the state continuously give kids back to parents who cannot for whatever reason care for them? We really need to set the bar higher here.

The United Way presentation also bothered me because they were asking me for money for stuff that should already be paid for by my tax dollars. I'm all for donating to kids in need but not if I'm going to be throwing my money away into some dark black hole.

For example, the United Way wants to raise funds for this accomplished young man to go to college, so they came to my firm and asked us all to donate towards that goal. That sounds admirable unless you know that this young man, who has spent time in the MA foster care system, can already go to any MA state university or college free of charge. Here in Massachusetts the program is called: The DCF Foster Child Tuition Waiver and Fee Assistance Program. Many other states offer similar programs and many colleges will provide scholarships to foster kids. There is also Federal funding available. So basically this kid could go to Harvard free of charge, if he so chooses. Why am I giving money to the United Way then?

Also the United Way's story talked about how this young man didn't have enough food because his grandmother was on a fixed income and she couldn't afford to feed him. And that would be why he had to drop out of he could get a job that allowed him to eat. Once again, here in MA there are programs available to this young man through our tax dollars so why are we double paying through donations to the United Way. This grandmother should be getting a daily stipend from the state if she's legally caring for her grandson. Also, she could apply for food stamps and free housing. It won't be glamorous housing but it will be a roof over their heads and they will be warm and dry. Lastly, the city of Boston has recently started offering free lunches to all kids attending public school so all grandma has to do is feed her son breakfast and dinner. Lunch is paid for courtesy of our tax dollars. That's on top of the aid grandma already qualifies for as a legal foster care guardian.

One of the reasons I love living in Massachusetts is because there are so many services available to foster parents and to adoptive foster parents. I get free MassHealth for my son and I will now re-apply for my stipend again because we have a medical diagnosis and I will most likely qualify for state funding because of it. Through MassHealth I can get Christopher weekly therapy, a therapeutic mentor, care at one of the nation's top children's hospitals for his ADHD (Boston Children's Hospital), medication and dental care. I just took Christopher to the dentist, got four cavities filled, all for free. It was great. (Well great for me. Christopher screamed at the top of his lungs the entire time.) With rising health insurance costs, this all comes in very handy and allows me to get my kiddo the help he needs to heal from his history of trauma.

Bah Humbug?

Just so you know, I'm not all bah humbug about donating to charity. If the United Way can funnel my donations to an agency of my choosing, I'm happy to donate. If not I will just find a charity on my own because I know there is LOTS of need out there. The people of the Philippines for example are in dire need after a hurricane came through and decimated much of the country. I just want to make sure that my donations are going to a cause that will truly help those in need, as opposed to just throwing money at people that just need to make a little bit of effort to help themselves. I'm all for a hand UP...not a hand OUT.

So I guess what I'm saying is, this holiday season, it's important to remember those around you who are in need. Be thankful for what you have and donate freely. But first, make sure to perform your due diligence and make sure the agency receiving your money is worthy of the funds. I don't know about you but I don't have a ton of money and I want to make sure that the money I donate really is going towards a good cause

A great place to check out how well your charities measure in giving the money you donate to those who could actually benefit from it is The Better Business Bureau.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Tasty Gluten-Free Pancakes Packed With Nutrition

This recipe is from my friend Amber. She tells me her son loves these pancakes.

Gluten-Free Casein-Free Yummy Pancakes

When we first went GFCF, my little guy lost weight. I created a recipe for these "pancakes" that are a powerhouse of nutrition and calories. I make a bunch and freeze them so we can have them on the go if we need to. Delish!
  •  1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup of sweet sorghum flour
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup raw almond or hazelnut flour
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds and/or flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp of honey, sugar, or agave (all optional)
  • dash of grey sea salt
  • 1/4 cup leftover smoothie, or chopped kale, Pom juice, or mashed banana...etc. you get he idea
  • 1 to 2 tbsp of coconut shreds
  • optional is 1 tbsp of rice flour if you need to thicken it up
  • 1 tbsp of ghee (clarified butter)
  • dash of cinnamon

dash of gluten free vanilla extract

Melt the ghee over medium heat in a small fry pan. Mix everything else together. Fry it in 2 batches. Makes 2 pancakes the size of your hand. I cut into little squares with the spatula and pop them into a wax paper bag for his lunch. You can sweeten with honey or maple syrup as a treat. Also, you can cook them in coconut oil, but do it over low heat and be patient.

This is worth the trouble and they get easier to make once you have all the ingredients on hand.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Our First Time With Back Up Daycare Was Great!

Bright Horizons Family Solutions

I scheduled a two-day training at work, not realizing until after it was too late to reschedule that my son's school was closed today. "Professional Development Day." Ugh. Really? On a Tuesday???

I panicked a bit but then found a friend who wanted to babysit for the day. Great! I got some free passes to the Science Museum, wrote up the address of the YMCA and patted myself on the back for being so industrious.

Then this morning I check my email and my babysitter had sent me a message saying she was sick. Aside from the fact that she really should have called instead of leaving me an email, I was now panicking again. What was I going to do? I HAD to go to work today. But now I had literally 30 minutes to figure out what I was going to do with my child for the day. I then had the bright idea to use the back up childcare my company offers through Bright Horizons.

I wasn't sure how Christopher would react because new experiences scare my kiddo terribly. After being bounced around from foster home to foster home, he used to be so afraid of change. He apparently would ask his caregiver when dropped off at daycare in the morning, "am I going to still live with you tonight?" He didn't know if the foster parent dropping him off was still going to be his foster parent when it was time to be picked up. How scary!

Even when life settled down for him with me, he still has some strong reactions to change. In his pre-school, just when they switched rooms he would have a week of bad behavior in response. When his friends who were a year older left at the end of the summer to go to Kindergarten, this set off even more bad behavior. Change was NOT my son's friend. So that said, how was he going to react to an entirely new daycare?

I can honestly say, he handled it GREAT! He was a little afraid at first but as soon as he found another child to play with, he was fine. When I dropped lunch off for him at noon, I expected him to come running over to me crying, begging me to take him home ... but he barely acknowledged me. The kids were all in circle time and he was having a great time participating. I didn't interrupt.

Then when it was time to go, he asked me if he could come back again someday because it was a fun day. Wow!! That's so huge for my little kiddo. And such a huge relief for me. I now know I have more options for vacations and Professional Development days. I am just so thrilled that my kiddo is coming along so nicely. Well done Christopher. Well done.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I can't believe that Halloween has actually come and gone already. Where has the time gone???

My little guy wanted to dress up as Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. However, that particular costume cost $10 more than the generic pirate costume from Target. So I just told my kiddo that he was Jake and dressed him as a regular old pirate. He was comfortable, I was $10 richer and everyone was happy. Win-win all around.

Halloween's a tough holiday for a child with ADHD. The sugar and dye from the candy makes my son SO incredibly hyper. Plus the sights, sounds and flashing lights of the night totally sends him into sensory overload and he tends to start melting down. Plus, ADHD kids thrive on routine and this was a night that took us WAY off our normal routine. It can kinda be a recipe for disaster if you're not careful.

I discovered a couple of tips and tricks for a positive Halloween experience and I will share them with you here:
  1. Start earlier, not later. My son really needs his sleep and if he gets to bed too late, it's ugly for him (and everyone else around him) the next day. So for that reason, we started trick or treating by 5:15 so we could be done on the early side. We were done by 7:15 and home in bed by 8:30.
  2. If you sense your child is becoming overwhelmed, make that your cue to leave. My son started to melt down and at first I tried to pull him aside into an impromptu time out to calm him down. Yeah that didn't really work. There was way too much loud activity going on around us. When the whole trick or treating experience started to not be fun for him or me anymore, then we left and went home. It was a bummer because my friends and their kids were still out and about and I personally was having fun. But if your kid's miserable, you will soon be miserable as well. Sometimes you just have to recognize your child's limitations and accept that. I give him credit because he did last for two hours but when he was done...he was done.
  3. Take advantage of the Switch Witch. I want my son to have the fun experience of trick or treating but I do not want him eating 10 lbs. of candy afterwards. The processed sugar and the artificial dye makes him go absolutely bonkers. And not in a good way. So we had a visit from the Switch Witch and that solved all our problems. The way the Switch Witch works is, your child leaves all their candy at the foot of their bed and overnight while they sleep, the Switch Witch comes in and switches your candy out for a requested toy. In our case, we got an Angry Birds Star Wars Jenga Tie Fighter game. My son LOVES it and he's not running around insane, making me want to scream. Once again, win-win for everyone.
Angry Birds Star Wars Jenga TIE Fighter Game

Even though we got home by 7:30 on Halloween night, my son was so incredibly over-stimulated that he was awake until 10pm that night. The next day was Friday and he managed to make it through the school day okay but by the time Saturday rolled around, he was pretty exhausted. So we've had a pretty low key weekend. Lots of napping. But hey at least we'll both be relaxed and well rested for the week ahead now.

Can a Baltic Amber Teething Necklace Ease the Symptoms of ADHD and SPD?

I am in an ADHD parents' support group on Facebook and one of the moms mentioned that when her ADHD child started chewing on her baby's Baltic Amber teething necklace, that the child immediately calmed much so that she ran to the computer to write a post about it.

Now apparently, although it's a teething necklace, you can't actually chew on it. Instead you wear it. The way it works is, you wear the Baltic Amber and your warm skin heats up the amber enough to release traces of Succinic Acid. This oil is then absorbed by the skin and acts as a natural pain reliever and calming influence on children.

I personally haven't tried it but I did some research online and it doesn't appear to be a hoax. Parents are saying their fussy children slept through the night for the first time after one day of wearing the Baltic Amber.
Hey, if it soothes a fussy baby, wouldn't it make sense that it might soothe a fussy ADHD kid as well?

Please bear in mind that it must be Baltic Amber as no other type of amber has the same healing properties. Also, you must wear it next to your skin--with no clothing getting in between the skin and necklace. Otherwise, the necklace won't work.

So if you're looking for a way for your child to get some possible relief from the usual ADHD symptoms, then this might be the option for you. The necklace is attractive and if it also calms the ADHD symptoms, hey all the better. Last but not least, it's less than $20 per necklace on Very reasonable!

If you're interested in checking out the Baltic Amber teething necklace, you can find it at

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

ADHD Medication Side Effect: No Appetite

My kiddo is doing SO well now. Seriously, it's like night and day from earlier this summer when he was acting out of control and unbelievably impulsive. The combo of a rigid schedule, a strict no gluten/no artificial dye/limited processed food diet with a daily vitamin + lots of exercise through the before-school program and last but not least, 10 mg of Metadata is the perfect recipe for a calm, happy little boy. And if my little boy is calm and happy, I'm calm and happy. It's win-win for everyone right?

The only issue we have is, that because of the medication, Christopher has lost his appetite. So getting him to eat anything at meals is a bit of a battle. He's such a skinny minny now!

I try to feed him things he enjoys so he eats a lot of fruits and vegetables. But I need to make sure he's going to get enough protein. He's just not all that interested in meat and won't eat turkey roll-ups or even cut up steak.

We were doing really well with peanut butter and apple slices but then one day the kiddo decided to use his clothes as a napkin (instead of an actual napkin) and I received a call at work. I was asked to come in with a change of clothes for my little man and also asked not to give him peanut butter anymore. I guess  there's a child in the class with a peanut allergy and they didn't want any issues.

So since then I've tried a few things, all with little luck. Today I sent him to school with sunflower butter and apple slices though and he said he liked it. So we may be okay again.

I also worked out a plan with the teacher that Christopher knows that he has to eat his lunch if he wants to watch Angry Birds videos on the Kindle in the evening. It worked and right now, Christopher is watching Angry Birds on the Kindle.

So sunflower butter + Kindle rewards: Another recipe for success? We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Children and the Mental Health Epidemic

Kids and Mental Health:

This week, there were two tragic stories in the news here in New England. A 24 year old Math teacher was killed by a 14 year old student in Danvers, MA and in another incident, a teenager from NH tried to kill his mother, after she withheld his ADHD medicine because she was concerned it was making him violent. (Sounds like she was right.)

I'm a member of an ADHD parents support group on Facebook and I have to say, after hearing stories like the above and seeing posts by other parents, I'm starting to be really afraid. I'm afraid that serious mental health issues in kids is on the rise yet resources and treatment options are not.

According to the Center for Disease Control, there are currently 5.2 million children diagnosed with ADHD. This number has risen dramatically. The number of parent-reported cases of ADHD increased 22% from 2003-2007, the last year for which I could find data.

That means that there is an increase of 22% of kids requiring medical care, additional school resources  and overall special care from caregivers who have not been trained to deal with the symptoms that these kids exhibit. Meanwhile, budgets are tighter than ever so schools are doing more with less and healthcare costs as always continue to skyrocket. Medical providers are overwhelmed, which I know about all too well. It took us eight months to get an appointment at Children's Hospital and literally, all they did was give us a prescription and ask me to check in again in three months. Seriously, I waited eight months for that?

Also, the best treatments for a child are often not covered by health insurance providers so kids are given medication that doesn't best address their issues. This means there could be serious side effects that as I mentioned above, could have serious results. My son is covered by MassHealth so I'm lucky in that respect. But other parents in the Facebook support group have private insurance and say that their prescriptions cost $150 a month and that's for Ritalin. They can't even get Metadate (my son's medication) because their insurance doesn't cover it. 

Last but not least is the lack of funding for mental health research on children. Kids brains are still developing until they are seven years old. Then of course they continue to grow and hormonal fluctuations kick in which could also affect their mental health. The current diagnosis for ADHD consists of two different people checking off boxes on a checklist (the Vanderbilt Diagnostic Parent Rating Scale). If those two different people pretty much say the same thing, then a diagnosis of ADHD is given.

Unfortunately the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder mimic the symptoms of ADHD so it's difficult to determine which illness the child has without a trial and error approach. This means that the doctor prescribes a stimulant to the child and if it works, the kid has ADHD. If it doesn't work, the child probably has something else. As you can imagine, the number of ADHD mis-diagnoses is really high. This could have tragic results.

Earlier this week I was reading posts on the Facebook ADHD page and there was a mom out of her mind, not knowing what to do because her 10-year-old daughter was threatening to kill herself. No one else on this page knew what to do for her but I finally chimed in and told this complete stranger to call her daughter's doctor's after hours emergency number immediately. Thank God she listened and now her daughter has been hospitalized. Holy cow, the last thing I want to read on Facebook is that some woman's child has killed herself but what if I hadn't said anything? What would she have done? I can imagine she's overwhelmed but this could have had a very tragic ending if I, a total stranger, didn't tell her what to do. I don't want that kind of responsibility!

A coworker told me this week that her sister in law has a son that's bipolar and that she has had a knife to her throat on more than one occasion because bipolar kids can be violent, thanks to medication and its terrible side effects. Another parent on the Facebook page wrote one day to say her son woke her and her husband up in the middle of the night, standing at the side of the bed with a knife hovering over her husband. WHAT THE HELL!

When kids are young, you are stronger than they are but what about when they get older and they become stronger than you? That's when you end up with the case of the woman from NH who was stabbed by her son. And that is when you end up with a case like Sandy Hook in Newtown, CT. Terrible, terrible.

I'm not kidding when I say I think our mental health epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better. Until we as a nation decide to spend more money on research and treatment of mental health disorders in children, we are going to have more news stories like the above. Considering I have a school age child, it pretty much scares the daylights out of me knowing so many of these tragedies are happening at school. 

So how do we make change? I really have no idea. I wish I did.

Work-Life Balance

As a single mom with a stressful job, right now I feel like all I do is work, work, work. And that needs to change. I need more balance in my life.

Christopher and I are out of the house every morning by 7:15. I drop him off at school then rush to the train station so I could get to work downtown by 8am. I generally start responding to emails via Blackberry while I'm on the train, so really I start working by 7:45 every day.

Work is so busy right now and I often work hard from the minute I walk in until the minute I leave at the end of the day, with only quick restroom breaks. I usually bring my lunch so lunchtime consists of me walking to the kitchen grab my homemade soup from the refrigerator so I can eat it at my desk while working.

I leave around 4:40, rush to the train, drive to Christopher's school to get him by 5:30. Then we're home and I need to walk the dog, make dinner, clean up, give Christopher a bath, read books and kiss my kiddo good night. Then I need to walk the dog, complete any outstanding tasks and then climb into bed usually by 9:30 for lights out by 10:00.

During a normal day, I am running from the minute I wake up at 5:45 until the minute I drop into bed at 9:30 and with lights out by 10, that means I have 30 minutes to myself a day. That's rough and that needs to change.

The weekends really aren't much better. I get to "sleep in" on Saturdays--until 7am--but then we're rushing to get to soccer by 8:30. I'm the assistant soccer coach so I try not to be late although, punctuality isn't always my strength. We have an hour and a half of soccer, then after that a small break, then it's 45 minutes of swim class in the early afternoon. After that, it's usually grocery shopping and other errands. Then I'm home, walking the dog, making dinner, playing with Christopher, books and then bed. For both of us.

I was invited to multiple Halloween parties last night but didn't go to either because I was so exhausted. I hoped a good night sleep would serve me well but my upstairs neighbor had a HUGE party that lasted until 3am and so sleep did not happen. Somehow Christopher slept through most of it but did finally wake up at 2:30. So today's going to be rough for both of us. Ugh.

I need more work-life balance. Something really needs to change and I've decided that I need to be more firm about leaving work on time. I had hoped that working all these hours would result in a promotion at work but that did not happen although to my manager's credit, I know she did take it all the way up to the Partner level but was unfortunately denied. I could probably get promoted 2014 but that's a whole year away. Meanwhile, I'm working crazy hours and have very little to show for it, except for a lot of exhaustion.

So here's my plan. I'd like to get this into writing because maybe I'll actually follow through on it and not allow myself to get caught up in the daily grind that wears me out.

  1. Show up at work at 8am and leave no later than 4:15
  2. Work from home at least twice a month. This will eliminate the 45-minute commute each way meaning I will have an extra 90 minutes per day to get personal stuff done. How nice it would be to be able to clean the house on occasion!
  3. Hire a cleaner who can come once a month. I'm tired of looking at counter tops and appliances that need a good scrubbing. Time to hire someone to do this for me
  4. Accept party invites. I need a personal life

I do have a babysitter coming this afternoon so I can go shopping with a girlfriend. So that's good. I do need to do stuff like this more often though and hopefully I can stick to this plan. It'll be too easy to slip back into old routines but I can't do that. I need to start looking out for me more.

Now it's time to make my kiddo some breakfast and take him on a morning adventure before the babysitter gets here at 1pm. Then it's off to shop, early dinner and cocktails. I'm excited for that!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

My Son's School Gets a Report Card and It's Not Great

My son's school

My son's school's "report card" was posted on the school website this past Friday and I just took a moment to review. I've been trying to decide where I want to live long term. Should we stay in this town or move to a more affluent area?

I've been leaning towards staying here because the kiddo seems to be doing so well in his Kindergarten class. He is working hard, learning a LOT and he actually enjoys it. My kid loves going to school every day. That's pretty awesome right?

Then I saw the school's report. And all I could think was...yikes.

The town I live in is a Title I school system. Title I means you have a higher than average number of low-income families and so the federal government allocates extra money to districts like ours to ensure these students meet the rigorous academic challenges set forth by the state. Basically they're saying, we want everyone to pass the MCAS, not just rich white kids. Sounds fair right? The only problem is, even with all this extra money, our school is doing poorly. I mean really really poorly.

I'm looking at how the numbers are sliced and diced and I'm not seeing any one sector that is excelling. For third grade math, these are the numbers for percentage of kids who have a B in Math:
Students with Disabilities: 0%
Low Income 26%
High Needs 28%
African American 18%
Hispanic/Latino 28%
White 40%
Male 23%
Female 50%

Considering my kiddo is male and in the high needs category, this is kind of scary to me. My child WILL excel at school!

In the school's defense, I do know they are working hard to bring their scores up so it's possible I need to just wait it out. I can honestly say my son comes home with a ton of completed school work each day and I know that the teachers are working these kids hard academically. My son can already read and write a little and he's only been in Kindergarten for six weeks.

I also know we have a new principal this year who's job it is to turn these numbers around. I met the mayor at a barbecue a few weeks ago and he told me that he is committed to bringing the school's report card up to acceptable levels.

I also know there are lots of opportunities for learning and to get involved with the school and I see the school's enthusiasm for teaching. Over the summer the Title I office held reading events and there was one held today as well. There are periodic breakfast seminars where speakers provide guidance on how to help your child excel academically. And I get lots of notes from the teacher, suggesting ways to encourage my child's learning outside of school. So they truly are trying. I get that they need the help of parents and I'm happy to do what I can to help my son excel. Christopher is going to go to college of course and I need to make sure that he gets the academic support he needs starting now to be able to get there.

So back to the original question at hand. Where do I decide to live long term? Do I stick it out in this town and assume that the school's grades will get better? My son loves his class, loves his teacher and is very happy here. That's all pretty huge. But is that just the Kindergarten teacher? Will he love it in third grade as well? I have no idea.

Meanwhile, if I move half a mile to the next town over, I will end up with one of the best school systems in the state. Crazy right?

So why not just move then? There are a number of considerations:
  1. My son loves his current school
  2. My son is doing really well in his current school.
  3. My son has been bounced around so many times already in his life. Do I really want to add on more change?
  4. I have all the services we need currently in place. If we move to a new town, we would be starting over again. New therapists, new mentors. Once again, that's a lot of change.
  5. We're embedded in the community. I am the assistant soccer coach for his youth team. Christopher has friends here. We're very settled. It would be very jarring to my son (and to myself even) to move away.

Buying a house is an expensive proposition and I don't want to make this decision lightly. But I don't want to wait too long either because prices are just going to go up again and I want to move into a place with more space and a yard before the kiddo gets too much bigger. Sigh. So much to think about.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Foster Kids and ADHD

I just read an article that cited a Canadian study that found kids who come from "unstable families" have a higher "stress thermostat" set in hyper-vigilant mode. This results in a heightened sense of fight or flight, sleep deprivation, wired nerves and ADHD, especially in young boys.

This is so 100% Christopher. His therapists have actually used the words hyper-vigilant when describing him to me. Poor kid had a very difficult life with his birth mother. He was forcibly yanked away from her by police in what must have been a terrifying episode involving lots of yelling, flashing lights, sirens and loaded weapons all in his little terrified 2 year old face. Then he was bounced from foster home to foster home to foster home, confused, alone, without any one single stable person in his life. This little kid believed no one would look out for him and he became hyper-vigilant to his surroundings because even at the age of two, he believed he had to look out for himself. Makes total sense to me.

This hyper-vigilance made it difficult for me to decide that he had to have ADHD. I thought if I gave him time along with a lot of stability, love and patience, that his impulsiveness would ebb away. And in some ways it did. A year ago, Christopher couldn't even stand in the bathroom to brush his teeth. I'd hand him his toothbrush, he'd grab it and run out of the room, with me behind him yelling to come back. This happened every single day.

I had to double lock every door of the house because Christopher used to run outside into the street if he felt like it. I also couldn't walk down the street with Christopher initially because he was so impulsive, he'd run away from me and into the street. Thank the Lord nothing ever happened to him. However, I did always tell his social worker what was going on because God forbid, something ever did happen to this child, I wanted to make sure she knew I wouldn't have been at fault. I really thought it was that serious.

Christopher fits into other risk factors as well:

  • He was born a month early. According to a Swedish study, children who were born prematurely run a higher risk of contracting ADHD. This is because their little brains are not yet developed enough to navigate the modern world and neuro pathways end up forming incorrectly. Preemies experience heightened neo-natal pain, separation from mom (due to incubators), lots of lights and beeping sounds and sometimes this is overwhelming for the underdeveloped little tyke.
  • Christopher was born into poverty. His father was an illegal alien who was deported from the country when he was just a baby. His mother was poor and probably did not feed him nutritionally balanced meals. (Since Christopher exhibits food hoarding symptoms at times, it's pretty obvious neglect meant little to no food during important growth times). Poor people tend to feed their kids more processed foods and fewer fish and veggies. All this can affect the development of a child's brain
  • Christopher was born to a mentally ill mother. His birth mother, although never tested, suffered from some form of mental illness; probably something of the bi-polar variety. Mental illness is unfortunately often hereditary so it makes perfect sense that Christopher would suffer some sort of illness that could be found in the DSM-IV.
So fast forward to today and I am not at all shocked that all this instability, poverty and history of mental illness has resulted in an ADHD diagnosis in Christopher. Frankly, we're lucky that it's not worse than it is. Christopher's illness responds very well to both medication and diet and for that I am thankful. He is smart, a successful student, an outstanding athlete and he has many friends. He even told me he has a girlfriend in his Kindergarten class. Considering the background this kid comes from he's doing phenomenally well.

If you're interested in learning more about the causes of ADHD, feel free to click here and here.

Thank Goodness for Angry Birds!

After living with me for two years, Christopher finally asked to sleep in his own bed for the first time. This is huge! He used to be so afraid of sleeping by himself -- he was afraid of monsters in the closet, the dark and the smoke alarm scares him too. He used to be afraid of thunderstorms but he actually got over that in the last year. So cross one fear off the list, thank you very much. But the fear of the dark, monsters and the smoke alarm persisted.

That's a symptom of PTSD by the way; irrational fears like the smoke detector and loud thunderstorms. His therapist tells me that I don't know what happened when he was in foster care; that he probably felt scared when there was a thunderstorm and didn't have anyone there to comfort him. He feels safe and protected in my house so no more fear of thunderstorms or smoke alarms. Yay!

I used to battle with him to sleep in his own bed because I thought it was important that he sleep on his own. I'd put him to bed and he'd jump out four or five times and run around the house. Sometimes he'd be up until 11pm and I'd wonder how he was going to function the next day. I wondered about myself too actually. I was very tired a good chunk of the time.

After the Marathon bombing, I gave up on fighting with him at bedtime because I just didn't have it in me anymore to battle with him. I decided it was doing more harm than good to make him sleep in his own room and maybe he just needed his mama near him in order to feel safe. I stopped the hard nosed stance and changed to a much softer approach.

I've been telling him that if he sleeps in his own bed overnight, that he would get to play Angry Birds on the Kindle in the morning. He loves Angry Birds. And he loves the Kindle. So every morning he would get out of my bed and ask to play Angry Birds on the Kindle and I would say no. This was a reward for when he slept in his own room. He'd cry but I held firm. Last night, he finally worked up the courage to sleep in his own room by himself and I held up my end of the bargain: he is playing Angry Birds on the Kindle right now. Win-win all around!

I never thought I would say this but...thank goodness for Angry Birds!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I Need to Find a Way to Put 25 Hours into Every Day

There literally aren't enough hours in a day for me to get everything I need to get done. The To Do list continues to grow but the day does not. Where will the time come from to get everything done???

First I was up at 2am giving my dog Benadryl because he has some bizarre allergy that's causing him to scratch like crazy. Yes, I know he needs to go to the vet so we can figure out what it is he is suddenly allergic to...but i just need to find the time.

On Saturday, I was nuking some cauliflower so I could make a cauliflower pizza bake and poof, my microwave suddenly died mid-cycle. The lights were still on, the timer timed down but the cooker wasn't cooking. Annoying! I googled the issue and turns out I have a very specific part that needs to be replaced. It only costs $2 but I'm not sure I'll be able to figure out how to do this to replace it. I'll give it a try I guess. Nothing to lose but patience.

A little light's been on in my car the last week and I know that means the tire pressure is low on one of my tires. I've had to have three of my four tires replaced so I know this all too well. On Sunday I couldn't stand it anymore and went out in the pouring rain to figure out which tire it was that was low. It's the front right tire. I put some air in it at the gas station and hopefully that holds us over for a while.

Last night the Kindle Fire stopped taking a charge. Christopher of course cried because he couldn't watch his Angry Birds YouTube videos. Thankfully I got the extended warranty and it should still be covered so I'll get a replacement for free. But now just need to find the time to return it to

The TV in the living room requires you to bang on the top or else the picture doesn't appear. I feel a little bit like Fonzie when I bang the set top and it magically works again though. (Hopefully you're old enough to get that joke!) Anyway, yes I need to replace the TV.

Two weeks ago the cable box on top of the TV in my bedroom died. It would just cycle through these random letters of the alphabet and never actually give me a TV show. I called Verizon and they UPS'd me a new set top box which arrived just a few days later. It works great and now all I need to do is find the time to make it to UPS to send the old one back.

I've got two birthdays coming up this week for super awesome people and so that means I need to find the time to do some gift shopping. I think I'll actually take a lunch break tomorrow and check out some of the shops in Downtown Crossing and hopefully find something the birthday folks will like.

In the midst of all these To Do items, I also need to work full time, raise my child, walk and feed the dog, feed myself and also occasionally sleep (except at 2am when I'm giving the dog Benadryl apparently).

And yes, I need to write in my blog too. So now I can say one item is at least checked off the To Do list for the day.

Just another day in the life of a single working mom.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Was Medication for ADHD The Right Choice?

It has been one week since my son's ADHD was diagnosed and I started him on medication. Truthfully, he received the diagnosis week ago Thursday but I was so flat out swamped with work and then sick with an awful bout of food poisoning, that I couldn't get the prescription filled until Sunday. Not enough hours in the day sometimes.

Anyway, I really struggled with the choice to medicate Christopher because the idea of medication that comes with side effects can be a bit scary. But ultimately I have to say it was the best decision I could have made. Christopher is doing amazingly on the medication and it has really improved his life.

The kiddo is on 10 mg of Metadate CD, which as I understand is the "hot, new" ADHD medication. Hey check us out. We're trendy. Who knew? Anyway, I'm happy with it because it really works and I don't see any side effects other than Christopher's appetite is a bit wonky. Some days I have trouble getting him to eat anything but then it all seems to catch up with him and he's starving a few days later and eats everything in sight. I need him to have all his nutrients though so I do worry on those low hunger days. I guess it's just important to ensure there's always foods that he likes in the house so that I can get him to eat something when I need him to eat something those days.

Other than that, Christopher has done GREAT on this medication. He tells me he loves the way he feels too. He said he could complete his school work more easily and that he didn't have any "do-over" work on the table (which I guess is what you get if the first time you do some work, it's not perfect and you need to do it over. Yeah they are working these 5 year olds pretty hard).

I've also noticed that he's just calmer and his teachers tell me they see it as well. He's not hitting or slamming into kids in the after-school program anymore, which is huge since that was a problem for us.

The big test was soccer yesterday. Christopher has a way of getting a bit intense on the soccer field and next thing you know, every little kid around him has been knocked down as he fights to get the ball into the goal, like he is a one-man soccer team. Last week they actually stopped the game five minutes early because of the intensity and the coaches were afraid someone was going to get hurt.

This week, Christopher was a soccer playing superstar. He has all the speed and all the agility of a fierce competitor but none of the aggression. He's competitive and was matching up pretty well against two kids on the other team that were amazing players (as far as five year olds go) as well. Christopher went after the ball, not the kids and that was awesome to watch. Christopher scored FIVE goals yesterday and I credit his medication for giving him the ability to focus and control himself so that his skills were able to shine instead of his behaviors.

I know it's a personal decision that every parent needs to make based on the needs of their child but in our case, I'm really confident we made the right choice. Please note that I also still think diet plays a HUGE role and so Christopher is still gluten free and artificial dye free. Plus I've started him on a multi-vitamin that has Omega-3 in it since I hear that helps with ADHD behaviors. I figure that I can keep him on a lower dosage of medication if I also treat his disorder with diet as well. This way I can stave off any potential weird side effects that I read about and which make me nervous. So far so good though and I'm hoping for the best.

Shhh...Don't Tell Them It's Healthy

I'm a single mom and have no social life anymore. Since it was Sasturday night and I didn't have anything else better to do, I decided to break out a bottle of Pear wine that I bought at the Nashoba Valley Wineries a few weeks ago and bake some tasty foods to enjoy over the next few days. What I didn't tell my little kiddo was that I made the dishes extra healthy adding purreed vegetables, chock full of vitamins and minerals. He didn't know the difference. Chock one up for mom!

The first dish I made was a pepperoni pizza bake. Instead of using normal pie crust, I substituted a cauliflower puree that was ahhh-maazing. The pepperoni and cream that went into that recipe weren't all that healthy but the cauliflower was and hey it's Saturday night and we've got to live a little bit right?

The next dish I made was a gluten-free red velvet cake that had two pureed beets baked into the batter. Once again, the kiddo loved it and it was a lot healthier than the average slice of chocolate cake. I felt just a smidge less guilty feeding him the sugar if it came infused with healthy beets.

I think it's important to give my son lots of tasty options for meals and desserts, since he's not allowed to have so many of the things he used to eat because of the ADHD diet. He used to cry when I'd tell him, no you can't have something and I'd feel terrible. But now with all the research I've done on gluten free and dye-free diets, he really does eat quite well. All in all, there's really no reason to miss out on anything.

The only thing I haven't been able to replace is bread. Christopher does not like GF bread at all and just won't eat it. I don't sweat it though. Bread really isn't all that healthy for you anyway.

If you're interested in either of these recipes, feel free to check them out on Pinterest here.