Category Archives: Children


13925349_10154008702583860_4145260599955505736_nMy kids started school two months ago. As per usual, they surprise me. I figured my little guy would mostly sail into kindergarten but it’s been a really hard adjustment for him. The long days are tough (8:15am – 2:45pm) but mostly he misses me terribly. The first month, he cried almost every day in class. I tried to make it better by joining him for lunch one day but it only made things worse. No fun for anyone, I’m afraid. We had long talks, mega snuggles, and once he was familiar with the extensive routine, he  settled down a lot. At first, they were covering shapes, but now they’re onto numbers. He’s a numbers kid, has always loved them, so this makes him happy and he now really likes his teacher.

I expected my daughter to push back some with a new teacher, since she adored her teacher last year, but she’s settled really, really well. Her new teacher is very light on homework which is in stark contrast to last’s year’s hell. This makes us all happy. There’s a calmness in her classroom, a peaceful atmosphere which I truly appreciate. I love her teacher something fierce. She understands that school is for school and home is for play/family/relaxation and not grinding out ridiculous hours of homework (can you tell I’m traumatized from last year??).

Me? I’m stupidly happy. I’m frigging Mary Poppins happy. Now that I actually have time to myself, my nerve endings have had time to repair themselves. I can breathe, eat, go to the bathroom, all at a leisurely pace. I have immersed myself back into my writing & drawing and it’s great to have the time to devote to that. I can pop over to the grocery store and it takes 10 minutes rather than two hours after a NATO negotiation. I feel awesome. I do actually miss my kids when they are at school. I find myself going to the carpool line a little early so that I’m somehow in the first set of 20’ish cars for pickup. I love picking them up and chatting to them about their days.

The most extraordinary thing happened once they started school – they’ve now become best buddies. They’ve been at each other’s throats for two solid years. I could frequently be found curled up under the couch, rocking back and forth, for the arguments that went on between them. But from day 1 of school, suddenly a new tolerance, nay, a new enjoyment, of each other surfaced. I then realized something that I’d completely not seen. The anger and frustration my daughter had towards her brother was a direct result of her going to school and he got to stay home with me. Even when he did VPK last year, it was only 3 hours a day, and then he was still home with me.  I had never factored in that she would be jealous of him for that. But apparently she was. Now, they’re both in the same boat. They are dropped off to school together, their classrooms are just across the hall from one another. Both have homework now, both have uniforms now (love those!) – there’s nothing for her to be jealous of or feel slighted from.

I figured the peace would only last a day or two but they’re still going strong, joining forces to play games or read to one another. It all feels so very surreal but I’m loving the hell out of it. The harmony has made me a much nicer and more patient mother too. The most significant thing for me is I have to the time to stop and look around. Stop and enjoy. Stop and appreciate. I find myself living more in the now than I ever have before. I listen to the laughter of my children and it sounds like music. I see them cooperating and I am grateful for all those years of struggling to stay sane because they now have each other. I snuggle my boy in bed every night, stroking his face, his hair, his back, and look down at the marvel of a little human being he is. I recognize very strongly that he’ll be all grown up in 10 minutes, and he’ll tower over me. So I try to gaze at his tiny, round face and kiss the heck out of it. I tell him how much I love snuggles, and in that contented moment, he murmurs back, “I love snuggles too, it’s my favorite thing,” or “I love you too, Mommy.” It just doesn’t get better than that.

My daughter is entering a new phase of life, more aware of things around her and her feelings. We talk about people, reactions, how she’s feeling. She told me the other day while we were driving home that she has a boyfriend. He’s a lovely boy from her school. Before I crashed the car, I had the foresight to ask her had she told this boy he was her boyfriend and she said no. 🙂  All that is coming down the line, like a train blaring. I hear it off in the distance and know eventually, it will catch up to me. I will deal with that then. For now, I glow in this morning’s conversation on the way to school where she told me her fairy, Pearl, sits on her ear and whispers to her. That Pearl loves PE because it’s like a roller coaster to her. Her eyes light up that her fairy watches over her, and because we have four fairy doors in the house, she told me this morning that she’d witnessed a meeting of the four fairies. I guess someone in school told her fairies don’t exist but she informed me this morning that those people can’t see the fairies because they don’t believe. Only people who believe in them can see them. She turns 8 next week, inching ever so close to exiting that precious child stage but I feel so much more ready for whatever is coming.

I will lap up that innocence now. I recognize my appreciation of their amazing selves now and I’m grateful I can live it. I look in awe at those tiny, wonderful humans now.

I’m happy now.



A little like a kid in a candy shop.

Excited. I’m excited.

The clock is ticking. The beginning is near. I feel like shouting out, channeling Braveheart, “freeeeeeeedom!!!” at the top of my lungs. Because it’s coming. It’s so close. It’s .  .  .  school!!!!!

12805753_10153612783538860_2237067384010573543_nOnly two more weeks until our school year begins and thus will begin the yearly onslaught. Getting up early, getting the kids to school, packing lunches, homework, earlier bedtimes. All massive pains in the ass. But this year is different because it’s the first time that my youngest is entering the formal public school system. He did morning preschool last year and those 2.5hrs to myself every day were magnificent. But short. Now, it’ll be a full-on school day all to myself where I can focus on finding my sanity, tidying up the house which has invariably fallen apart over summer, working on my Magic Forest books. I can even go to a doctor’s appointment without dragging a child along with me, calculating with the precision of a scientist, the likelihood of making it out alive, without meltdowns, based on food intake, time of the day, and dealing with waiting room curve balls. It’s the first time in 8.5 years (yes, I’m including pregnancy here!!) that I will have some alone time. Some adult, do-the-hell-whatever-I-want time. I’m positively giddy.

I admit sending my little escaped mental patient off to kindergarten will break my heart in two and may be quite challenging for my little 5-year-old introvert. He adored preschool, but those 3 hours a day were a lot of effort for him. Most days required a sort of grounding for him once we got home. He needed to snuggle his touchstone (me) until he could find balance again. So I expect a challenge there.  I had to deliver a crushing blow to him yesterday. He knows school is coming up and that he’ll be starting Kindergarten. I discovered yesterday that he thought his teacher would be Ms. Alisha, one of his teachers from last year, and I had to inform him that it wasn’t. Uh-oh. I don’t know who his teacher is yet but I’m confident in the abilities of our school’s teachers.

My dynamo is entering 2nd grade and I’ve heard good things about her assigned teacher so I am hopeful for a good year. I know, as always, homework will be a battle. I was getting good at honing our skills towards the end of last year, so if I can nail that routine down quickly, I’m hoping it wont’ be so bad.

I’ll miss my duo a little bit. However, I’ve really, really missed a level of autonomy that most adults enjoy. I’ve missed my sanity and my patience (haven’t seen that in years!!). Society says I should be embarrassed that I’m so joyful about the upcoming absences. After all, the myth of the perfect parent says I should be in a puddle of tears, pining after my children every minute that they are in school, and that I will only feel whole once they are in my presence.   The societal pressure of parenthood, especially motherhood, is ever crushing because it’s simply a myth, an unrealistic hole you are meant to dive into and never come out of. And what’s worse, this legendary myth that you are supposed to achieve also says you pretty much must carry the burden alone. That’s not how we, as humans, behave. We are mammals, animals, that thrive best in packs. I love my children with my heart and soul but I’ve pretty much forgotten who *I* am. What I’m like as a person when children aren’t around. That was one of the greatest things I took away from my time in South Africa. I had so much fun, and was quite a nice person to be around, when I wasn’t constantly worrying/watching/refereeing/feeding/negotiating/monitoring my children.

So no. I don’t feel bad for looking forward to school. I’ll get to be me again. And I cannot wait.


I’m struggling.

There are a handful of days that stick out in my mind. When I was 6 years old and my parents separated. The morning I immigrated to the United States. September 11th, 2001. And then today. June 12th, 2016 when one crazy man caused mass devastation one mile from my house. My first knowledge that something was wrong was when I opened my eyes at  8:30am and checked my phone. A single text from my older sister asking, “Are you seeing this?” and I was confused. I asked what was going on and the news was delivered that overnight, a man had opened fire at Pulse (a local nightclub) and twenty people were assumed dead.

That alone shocked me to core. I felt a little lost. This isn’t New York. Things like that don’t happen here! But like most of life’s tragedies, we never really understand the experience until we live through them.  And there’s no preparation for something like this. I preface my piece with saying I didn’t know any of the victims personally, but it feels like I did. Pulse was a favorite place of mine. Before it was Pulse, it used to be an Italian restaurant called Dante’s that we frequented (heavily) for happy hour prior to having children! My bachelorette (hen) party ended up at Pulse and it was the best of times. And now this.

IMG_0823I didn’t know what do this morning. I saw a post on facebook about blood banks and 50+ people being injured so by 9.30am, I was off in the car. I dropped my kids with their cousins and hit the road. But the drive to the cousins meant driving past Pulse. The road was blocked off and the reality of the swirling lights began to sink in. Every second car was from the Sheriff’s department or a forensics mobile lab.  The news that the death toll was 50 hit me like a truck. I began shaking and crying.

IMG_0853I arrived at the blood bank just after 10am and already, there were 100 people ahead of me. Thus ensued one of the most amazing expressions of humanity I’ve personally witnessed. This blood bank is half a mile from where the tragedy happened.

13432205_10153847020378860_110183593672558046_nPeople came from all over. By 11am, 1000 people lined the streets to donate blood. Cases of water were being delivered, snacks, orange juice began to pile up in corners from people randomly donating supplies. As the heat index climbed to the high-90’s, volunteers were circuiting the throngs to hand out water, warning against dehydration. By 1pm, pizzas turned up. Sunscreen was being passed throughout the crowds. Someone brought ice. By 2pm, Publix subs were being passed throughout. Tijuana Flats burritos were handed out to whomever wanted them. Ice cream trucks arrived. There was so much ice water, that volunteers began packing it up and delivering it to the other blood bank centers. Some kind souls thought of the things that we don’t normally think of and were handing out items such as hair ties, and umbrellas. Orlando Magic players were handing out water to the crowds, and not in any way that you’d even know they were Magic players (no egos in sight here). They were doing their utmost of make the crowd cheerful, and help as much as they could.

By 3pm, the volunteers were warning everyone that it could be another 5-6 hours before anyone would get to give blood. People were welcome to stay or to leave and come back another time. No one moved from the line.

At about the 5-hour mark, my sister and I learned that we were not eligible to donate blood because we were residents of the EU between 1985-1996 which automatically disqualifies us. But none of us wanted to leave. My niece was with us, and had no such restriction in place, so we waited with her to keep her company. It felt good to be a part of the bigger picture.

Once she moved inside to the office area, my sister and I finally withdrew ourselves so as not to occupy room inside the precious air conditioning. We did what any self-respecting Irish person does and hit the pub. At first, it felt weird that other people were sitting around, chatting away. Didn’t they know what had happened? And then my sister saw this man sitting at another table. His eyes were raw from crying and without a word, we both got up and gave him a hug. He sobbed uncontrollably, hanging on for dear life to those hugs. We learned a little while later that he’d lost 5 friends this morning.

At 6pm, the entire establishment screeched to a halt for a moment of silence. You could hear every heartbeat in the room. All I could think of was the bodies of those poor souls are still lying there. They can’t be moved out until the crime scene is processed completely. We learned the local hospital, which is around the corner from Pulse and happens to be the only Level-1 trauma center in Central Florida, was closed to any incoming patients. They had accepted all but 2 of the high level traumas. Performed 25 operations last night. They couldn’t do anymore. The other area hospitals had to coordinate.

My brother-in-law is a firefighter and paramedic. Downtown units were dispatched to the crime scene and his unit jumped in to pick up for where downtown OFD couldn’t be. At the time, they didn’t know why they were taking the calls for downtown. They just did it, because that’s what those band of brothers and sisters do.

Now I’m home. My children are safely tucked in bed, asleep. And my mind won’t stop racing. All I can think of is the cell phones that are ringing next to those people who lie there. Calls that will never be answered. Texts will never be seen. 50 families have been destroyed. Torn apart. Forever. As someone who lives only a mile away from this devastation, I’m shook to the bone. I’d love to eloquently describe how I feel, but I can’t. This is something that I never, ever possibly imagined I’d experience. The worst massacre in US history. In my hometown. In one of my favorite places. Words fail me.

I remember the Paris attacks, and facebook being flooded with messages of solidarity. I remember absently thinking, “what good does that do?” and now I know. Because every message of solidarity is a message of support. Every profile picture is a symbol that those people are not forgotten. It’s a recognition of our grief, and believe me, we are grieving. Our town has been ripped to shreds in an instant and we need all the support we can get. So thank you. Thank you for caring about us. Thank you for including us all in your prayers. It might not matter to a lot of other people around the world but it matters to us, the people of Orlando.

Thank you.

MTHFR Update & More.

13015311_10153721255778860_8741326124086611100_nLike the rest of us, I’ve been crazy busy. The end-of-year (school) rush has begun. I’m shocked that my escaped mental patient, who is now 5 years old, has only two weeks left of school. Whoa! I’m already on the verge of tears any time I think about it. In two days, we have his end-of-year celebration. I wasn’t prepared for it when my girl did it two years ago and I cried sobbed my way through the whole thing. Think the ugly cry. Think 65 4- & 5-year old children up on a stage, singing “I’m ready to go!” at the top of their lungs with the biggest smiles, so proud of themselves, and their staggered dancing that reminds you how incredibly precious this time is. I couldn’t even type that sentence without getting weepy. Damn, I’m in trouble.

I thought that perhaps knowing what it’s going to entail would make it better for me this time round but I’m already a mess. I almost burst into hysterics last week just on a random morning drop-off because it hit me that his time at this particular school is ending. How we’ve loved his school and teachers so much.  I am truly, truly grateful both my kids got to have their first year of school at such an amazing place, with such amazing people. He’s growing and it’s so bittersweet.

Enough about that. I’ve already had to break out the tissues.

I told you all about the MTHFR testing we had done on my 7-year old. It showed she has a genetic mutation of the MTHFR gene. Essentially, her body doesn’t process artificial folic acid. What I didn’t know is that any time you read the words “folic acid” on any food label, that means it’s artificial folic acid. She had become very lethargic, down on herself. She was saying very odd things that were completely out of character for her. Her teacher was also extremely concerned. The action needed wasn’t much. It meant a change in diet – cutting out all “enriched” products. At first, it seemed a little daunting – it’s pretty hard to find bread that isn’t enriched. Or cereal, or snacks, or pasta. But our go-to now is whole wheat pasta, organic cereal and a French brioche bread (oh I love Aldi). I also ditched their multivitamin for a specific vitamin that not only doesn’t have artificial folic acid, but has the correct methylfolate she needs. That not only helps her biological processes, but also helps her body get rid of the build up of the unprocessed folic acid.

13177185_10153767687158860_7897199150378930011_nAlmost two months into it, and the results are pretty amazing. Her lethargy is gone and her sparkle is back. Her teacher has commented that the change in her has been significant at school. It feels like a little gate has been unlocked in her mentally. This is hard for me to describe but she’s definitely processing things differently. Faster. Clearer. The potential has been unleashed. She’s not bogged down anymore. I see her whisking through homework that used to take hours.

Another interesting tidbit is that my girl still needed pull-ups at night. Absolutely, without fail, every single night she would soak a pull-up. It never mattered how much water she did or didn’t drink, or if she peed before going to bed, or whatever. All the little tricks or pieces of advice never worked. I just figured her body would start working that way when it was ready and we made no issue of her using pull-ups. She, though, wanted to be out of them. When we did the MTHFR testing, I did my usual flurry of research and was astonished to find that there may be a link between MTHFR genetic mutation and bed-wetting.  Two studies are specifically cited:

Simply put, her central nervous system hadn’t caught up to where it should be. One night just a month ago, she asked me was it her fault that she soaked a pull-up every night. Thankfully, armed with my new research, I told her it has nothing to do with her, and her body may just not be ready because of the folic acid. She was so relieved because no matter how much I underplay the pull-ups, she wanted out of them.

With her new multivitamin, I started her on a lower dose than initially recommended because they didn’t taste great and I didn’t want to bombard her all at once. Her dietary changes, which now seem quite insignificant even though it felt daunting at first, weren’t hard at all to implement. She can’t tell the difference between organic and non-organic cereal, whole wheat pasta or honey whole wheat bread was a breeze, and the brioche bread is just to die for. She knows to avoid folic acid and because she is feeling better, she wants to avoid it. For a solid month, we continued on our track. She had more energy, she was doing better in school. However two weeks ago, I switched out the last of the bottle of multivitamin to another one and began giving her the recommended amount (for a child). It’s a prenatal gummy with omega 3 fish oil in it and the kids love it. WIN!!! One week after starting it, it’s like a light switch was turned on in her head. Without any warning, she was dry, every single night.  We had told her previously that she needed to be dry for 7 nights in a row before we’d ditch the pull-ups and she blew through that mark (first time ever!) and is now done with pull-ups.  If I wasn’t paying attention, I’d chalk it down to coincidence, but I know better. She’s not doing anything different other than the multivitamin and some dietary changes. Remember this, I’ve been giving the kids a multivitamin for years, so for years I’ve been feeding her the *wrong* folic acid. The type she can’t process. It’s no wonder she had such a build up in her system.That wrong one is gone, she’s getting the right type of folate for her body and the differences are remarkable.

Truthfully, I am so, so grateful that we have a pediatrician who recommended this testing to us. It’s not covered by insurance and cost us about $200, but to see the differences we have now makes it worth every.single.penny. Every single one.

Here’s some reference information for you to look:

Assume the worst!!!!

11402820_10153078069968860_1834004617683557110_nWhat is it about our society that it’s inherent that people will assume the worst out of any situation? Particularly when it comes to children. They’re such easy targets.

I was grocery shopping today in the best store ever, Aldi, with my 4-year old escaped mental patient whom was having a good day. He was in a good mood, chatting away, discussing the merits of outer space and why didn’t the packet of alphabet pasta have any numbers in it, while we were checking out. A lady came up to the cashier to complain about an item she had purchased two weeks ago. Without so much as even asking for a receipt, the clerk gave her a replacement but she felt the need to comment that my child was well behaved, unlike some of the other kids she had seen in here. She began ranting about two children who were in the store last week when she was there, just running around, being loud and unruly. I tried to nicely diffuse the situation that perhaps the kids were just having a bad day. Even kids have bad days, you know. Didn’t even try to get into the ages of the kids and whatnot.  My suggestion was met with deaf ears (expectedly!) and she insisted that the kids were just awful. They were hitting each other. All the while, she’s nodding at my child as if he’s the Golden One.

What she doesn’t know is that last year, he was the devil incarnate when it came to Aldi and his screams could be heard throughout the store for every entire shopping experience, because he was a three year old mental patient then with no logic, rhyme or reason to his actions. He lives on pure emotion and that expression of emotion. What she doesn’t know (and I don’t know) is that perhaps those two kids last week are coming from a difficult situation, maybe there’s trouble at home. Maybe this is the first time they got to go grocery shopping in a month.  Maybe they’re hell on earth, maybe they aren’t. Maybe the mother just needed to get her grocery shopping done and didn’t have childcare. We don’t all have a village of people at our disposal.

I refused to acknowledge or concur with this woman’s conclusions of her previous experience, ending the dialogue that I’m sure it must have been very tough on the mother and I turned back to the clerk.

Really people, does a little empathy have to be so hard to provide???? We’re all so damn quick to judge, so quick to hoist an imaginary level of superiority over complete strangers, when the God’s honest truth is that you have absolutely no damn idea what’s going on in their world, why someone, anyone, is acting how they do. What I want to know is how does it make YOU feel to belittle random strangers? What good does it do you???

My family went to brunch last Saturday and my 7-year old asked to sit next to me. It was a rare moment of her wanting my attention and actively engaging with me, so I spent the entire brunch focusing on her completely. My husband and son were mostly ignored and to anyone looking on the outside, it must have looked weird, but I never get to devote time just to her. Haven’t been able to for years! So when she opens a window for me to connect with her, you better believe I’ll drop whatever it is and give her what she needs. Again though, anyone looking at our table wouldn’t have known that.

Frequently, when we are out and about, my son will declare he wants to go home. Sometimes, it’ll make others feel uncomfortable and I’ll be damned if I care. He’s an introvert. He’s four years old. If he’s emotionally aware enough to tell me that he’s reached his limit socially, I better listen.  It’s quite funny to see some faces sometimes. The looks of disapproval when he projects how he’s feeling can be epic, because somehow all children are supposed to conform to some uniform standard of behavior (i.e. being extroverts) and any deviance from that makes people uncomfortable. An adult listening to a child is apparently a rare enough phenomenon that I get odd looks as if to say, “you’re leaving because of him??” and the answer will be yes! I may try to drag out another thirty minutes, but when he’s reached his external limit of tolerating other people (and that’s what introverts do, they merely tolerate), it’s nothing short of cruel to ignore their pleas.

So please. Just keep your thoughts to yourself. If you think the children in the grocery store are a nuisance to you, instead of complaining about them, be grateful they’re not going home with you in your car, OK?

MTHFR!!! (No, I’m not cursing)

Several weeks ago, I noticed my 7-year old acting a little out of character. Forgetting things easily, strange sentences coming out of her mouth, exhausted. Most of it, I put down to school – at this point, she’s trudged through almost all of 1st grade and is tackling schedules and workloads that rival a 12-yr old just a decade ago. When I asked her how a test was one day, she told me it was terrible “because the windows of my brain were open and I couldn’t remember anything.” It was the oddest thing. There were enough weird things going on for a few weeks that my husband and I began talking about it, and on a whim, I emailed her teacher to see if she’d noticed anything. She responded with gratitude that I had contacted her because she’d become quite worried about my girl, that my daughter was extremely low on motivation and seemed to have “checked out” of school.

Sleep was the first item on our agenda. Making sure she was well rested. A few days later, as Spring Break began, I took her to the doc because my next line of questioning would be to check if there was any nutritional deficiency. After all, fruits were relegated to the horror house several years ago and it’s only lately that vegetables have reappeared on her horizon. There, her pediatrician asked me if I was interesting in getting some genetic testing done, specifically, to check the MTHFR gene.  What? As I learned, the MTHFR gene is responsible for the absorption of folic acid in the body and not only is this critical to just about everything, any gene mutation can cause the absorption of regular folic acid to be a very bad idea!  Currently, over 40 point mutations of this gene have been identified. Of these mutations, C677T and A1298C seem to have the most clinical significance, and a defect in these genes can lead to abnormal hormonal metabolism, higher rates of breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, dementia, migranes, miscarriages, difficulty getting pregnant, and abnormal production of the dopamine neurotransmitter. It can also increase the risk of developing ADD/ADHD.

Guess what? My girl has one mutation of C677T. It’s not a difficult or hard-pressing reveal. The treatment is lifelong but simple. It’s also quite common. Up to 60% of the general population has some form of mutation.  She now cannot take any unnatural form of folic acid and must supplement with the correct form of folate. Methylfolate to be precise, and needs to avoid any artificial folic acid. That could bring me onto another tangent of all the crap that’s added into our foods these days, but specifically, she now must avoid anything “fortified” (e.g. pasta, breads, most cereals, etc) as it will do the opposite of what you’d think it would do. I find it stunning how something so simple can be so wide-reaching, and it really does have me wondering if this is the cause of her mental malaise. This gene discovery is recent in scientific circles (within the past decade) but we are learning more and more how vital it is.

I’m actually dying to get this genetic testing done myself. My daughter can’t have the gene mutation without it coming from either/or my husband and I. So one of us has it. So for now, new vitamins are on the way and hopefully my girl will get back to being herself.

Extra info can be found here:


Leaving the Mental Hospital.

12631297_10153509880098860_2696837959808520265_nIt feels like there’s a shift in the tide. My 7-year old paroled mental patient has officially been discharged. It’s fascinating watching her as she’s changing so much, both physically and mentally. She lost her first three teeth within the last month. She tells me while she’s flossing that it’s harder to get in between some teeth now, and I know it’s because her teeth are shifting now that her adult teeth will make an appearance soon.  And then there’s the emotional change. I can’t label it a personality change because she’s still the same dynamo she’s always been since 12 months old, but she’s calmer. She knows she can ask questions and even understand the answers. She appreciates things more, there’s less of the psychotic preschooler, and now she is leaning towards a logical human being who has learned so much.

It’s awesome. It’s a lot of fun. I enjoy sharing humor with her, she understands my sarcasm so much more now. One day when she was coming home from school, we were talking about something and she said “oh I’m so stupid!” and I had an immediate mental panic attack – how will I reverse this? What gave her that ridiculous notion? She’ll absorb this for life! AAAGGHHH! I told her she wasn’t stupid at all, and that she is incredibly smart. I gave it little credit (not to feed any negative attention) but the next (and last) time she said that to me, she said the exact same thing in the car, it went like this:

Lilly; “I’m so stupid.”
Me: “I have wings.”
Lilly (utter confusion): “WHAT?!?!?”
Me (very seriously): “I have wings.”
Lilly (baffled) ” . . . ”
Me: “Lilly, you saying you are stupid is as true as me saying I have wings. Do you see wings on me? No? There you go.”

With that, the conversation was shut down and she cracked up laughing. I didn’t need to do a whole reinforcement thing. I didn’t need to delicately tackle a ticking bomb. I knew it was ridiculous moment where she was probably just tired and needed a break. It didn’t need a UN intervention. I love that I can speak with her this way. I’ve learned to diffuse her temper with humor. She can still have her moments, as we all do, but I can usually eliminate them immediately with some odd comment or dry humor. She can’t help herself as she’ll smile or laugh begrudgingly, because she knows exactly what I’m doing, and it’s almost as if she knows I’m not going head-to-head with her so she’ll ratchet everything down 20 notches and just talk to me about whatever it is that’s frustrating her.

c4a50d9c-13e2-4697-a7ef-6ba404a13bb7Last night, as she was getting ready for bed, she told me that she seriously loves me. That’s big words from her. She can do I love you quite frequently now, but when she added in her “seriously” into it, I knew that it meant that at that moment, she utterly, from the bottom of her heart, her gut, her toes, was telling me she loved me to death. Oh what a feeling. This magnificent creature that came from me, whom is entirely a part of me and will be for the rest of my lifetime, was reciprocating what I’ve been feeling for her since her first breath. I’m keeping all her notes of love. I know this is a fleeting time and soon enough, she’ll been a tween wanting nothing to do with me so I’ll take all I can get now. This morning as I woke her for school, she was wearing a fluffy pair of jammies and once I saw that she was awake (but pretending to be asleep), I climbed on top of her, laughing that I’d found the cuddliest new teddy bear and was keeping it forever. She was practically purring with joy.

I love this.  I love her. My word, how she has stolen my heart and soul. Note to other mothers, if you’re not feeling all gooey inside about your child, don’t worry. I’ve had plenty of those days too. So cut yourself some slack. Good things are on the way.

My 4-year old escaped mental patient is making progress. He’s a little ways away from being paroled but he’s doing better. Still plenty of non-logical out bursts or demands that will never be met, but he’s still four years old so he’s got a way to go yet. However, he’s still the cutest little psychotic bundle you’ve ever seen. When he bounces his naked butt around the house because at that moment, he’s “vanilla bunny the boy,” I can’t help but smile wide.

Life is good.

Back to School and Alcohol.

I know I’m not alone here. I just know it.

It’s back to school week after Christmas break. The kids relaxed for a full two weeks, even my 7-yr old began sleeping in. I could see that she needed the break badly. By the last week of school she was d.o.n.e!!! So she loved every minute of the break and then headed back to school. She’ll still declare that she loves her school however there was a definite shift from enjoying Christmas vacation to not wanting to go back to school. And so began hell week. You may think I’m kidding. I’m not. From the moment of every pickup, she’s been a tornado of anger and frustration. If I didn’t know any better, I’d downgrade her back to an escaped mental patient but I know what’s going on so I handle it differently (and much more calmly, I proudly add).  However the schedule of the week was different for me.

Monday: I know she’s tired. I dragged her out of bed. A full day of school. She’s pissed. We’ll get through this.
Tuesday: OK, I know she’s tired, she doesn’t want to do homework, but dear Jesus, this attitude better change.
Wednesday: OMFG, I’m going to kill her. I keep it together (mostly) as she drags out homework over the course of two hours simply because she just doesn’t want to do it. As soon as she goes to bed, I make Baileys & decaf tea. Yes, that feels good!
Thursday: It’s the exorcist. It’s reincarnated and that’s just on the car ride home. Upon entering the house, she bee-lines for Legos and I pop open a Strawberry Ale. It’s only 4.30pm but I figure this might be her best chance at staying alive.
Friday: I don’t know yet but I’m scared. I may have an IV of alcohol attached to me during the carpool lane. At the very least, when I get home from picking her up, it’s PARTY time!! Ice cream for all and beers for Momma!

I remember this struggle the first week of the school year. The mega adjustment is hard to cope with for the little ones and she specifically takes it out on me because I’m her safe place. I get it. But as I bob and weave my way through the house looking for hiding places, praying for it to be bedtime, I can’t help but wish this week were over.

I swear to you, alcohol sales must spike more after Christmas than during it because I’ve decided that that’s the only way I’m getting through this. Am I alone? Oh I bet not!!!!

Excuse me while I pop open #2.


What Do I Expect from Elementary School? Not this.

Love this piece. “The children that I get off of the bus are exhausted. They are frustrated. They are over worked. They are burned out. I feel as if I should make them a weak whiskey on the rocks, hand them their pipe and slippers, and leave them alone for an hour to decompress.”

How school is going to kill me.

code is funHomework. Oh how I hate thee. My awesome hurricane turned 7 last week!! I’ve really been enjoying being with her. Until homework, and then the devil comes out of both of us. What used to take 2 hours now takes 1 hour (still waaaay too much). Each night we have to practice spelling words and this week’s selection were particularly tough and confusing – circus, cell, circle, pencil, silent, palace all were consistently spelled by her as she hears it – circis, sel, circil, pencel, silint, palis. It didn’t matter how many times I went over it with her, it wasn’t clicking with her. We were both equally frustrated, and the tension was building. Soon, I’m yelling that I don’t understand what’s wrong and that I’m done. What an awesome example of motherhood I am (input complete sarcasm there). I walk into the kitchen, trying to take deep breaths and it dawns on me. Dawns how bloody ridiculous this all is. This is ONE damn test out of who knows how many she has, and who the hell cares if she fails this one. It’s not worth me yelling at her, making us both feel bad, and consequently, making her feel like a failure.

So I returned to the table and before I got to say anything, she asked me for a hug. I squeezed her tight and told her we were done with the spelling words. Just done. They were super tricky words, because they go against a lot of the spelling rules she’s been learning so it’s super easy to get them wrong. That I didn’t want silly, tricky words to end up with us both angry and exhausted. That it just wasn’t worth it and that I didn’t care what grade she got. She asked if that meant she was going to fail it. I told her to just do her best, and whatever grade comes home, I don’t care, because it’s only one out of soooooooo many. She asked me why we do homework at all, and I told her she should ask her teacher, because I don’t like homework either and I don’t think it’s effective.

What I’ve seen with homework is that I often have to explain what should have been covered in class. Sometimes I’m merely reinforcing what she has learned, but other times, I’m the one introducing new concepts to her that she’s expected to know, because they are on her homework sheet. I have no doubt her teacher is worked to the damn bone. It’s not her fault either. It’s the system. So much emphasis is put on testing and grades, that every single thing has to be entered into the computer as a grade. I can see these grades in her school portal online, and for every grade on every sheet of paper, I can see when it was entered. Her teacher is working Saturdays & Sundays just to enter in this ridiculous information. I see time-stamps of 6:30am during the week, mornings and afternoons on the weekends. It can be 9 pm at night and her teacher is responding to emails. It’s no wonder teachers are leaving in droves. There’s barely any actual teaching involved. At this point, each teacher should have their own secretary to handle the paperwork alone.

Capture2Having to explain things first hand to my daughter is part of why I started the book series. I needed to learn what the rules of reading and writing are, so that I can help her. The Magic Forest Alphabet: Introducing Letter Sounds came out last week and you people knocked me to the floor with your support and well wishes. You shot me into Amazon’s top three of their “Hot New Releases” category. The books are just as much for parents as they are for children. I had planned on just doing the basic alphabet book then moving onto the stories of The Magic Forest but I’ve realized how much I don’t know and need to know if I’m to help my kids through this important journey. I’ve already begun book two which will focus on common consonant blends & digraphs, and then I’ll round the trilogy off with tackling those bloody vowels. I blame them for everything! Lots more information over at Little Gem Publishing. There’s a free giveaway going on right now too.

rick roachA few days ago, I was fortunate enough to meet Rick Roach who is running for FL Senate in 2016. I don’t normally bring up politics here, but he used to be a teacher. He took the FCAT as an adult and failed it. He was on the school board at OCPS so he knows how that beast works. He’s watched the school system get dirty, begin to crumble, and the fall out is becoming apparent. He has a solid understanding and knowledge of the educational issues we face, and just as important, he has solid plans to fix them, and they definitely involve changing this testing ridiculousness. He also happens to be a very nice guy too. Give him a look.

Is it summer yet?