Season Four, Episode Ten: A Tiny Rant

I think I do a pretty good job of balancing the funny and the serious here on this blog.  In fact, I try to write more about the good than the bad because I feel like people don’t want to read about downbeat things…because no one likes a Debbie Downer.  No one.  Don’t lie and say “yeah they do” because no one really likes a liar either.

Don’t be that guy.

So anyway…I don’t think I have ever really posted about my son outside of cute anecdotes.  I was so hesitant for a long time about even writing about him at all…but I felt like when I eventually did after not doing it for like four years, it would be the Internet version of being that girl who hid being pregnant by wearing hoodies for nine months and then showed up with a ten year old.  It would be like “whoa, where did that kid come from?” and this is a blog, not Maury.  I was even on the fence about using his real name.  One of my favorite blogs, Diary of a Mom, uses two pseudonyms for her daughters.  I considered using the name Noah for him, but fuck it…it felt weird to use a different name for him, so Nick it is.  If he gets embarrassed about me blogging about him, I’ll just tell him that all moms embarrass their kids and it builds character.  I’m all about telling him that the things he doesn’t like build character.  It’s my mom thing.

Nick and I.  He's pretty cool.

Nick and I. He’s pretty cool.

So Nick has ADHD.  He was diagnosed with it at the end of third grade.  I went to a therapist and we screened him and sure enough, he had it.  It explained all the things about him that drove me crazy–easily distracted, forgetting things (his homework, stuff for school, things he was told to do), jumping from task to task without finishing, not being able to focus, not finishing classwork, not listening when he was being spoken to, daydreaming, not following instructions…talking nonstop, constantly moving (some part of him would always be moving, even if he was sitting down), fidgeting, impatience, showing his emotions without restraint, interrupting conversations, and being unable to wait for things.  Apparently Nick was the textbook definition of a child with ADHD.  In fact, he was so good at ADHD that he wasn’t the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive subtype or the predominately inattentive subtype–he was the combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive subtype.  He was also diagnosed with an aggressive behavior disorder too, because why the hell not?  It explained his crazy tantrums and temper.

My son is a brilliant, funny, and sweet child.  But he has a hard time functioning with his severe ADHD.  So I decided to try both the medication and therapy routes.  I love his therapist, Bekah.  She is an angel.  He looks forward to meeting with her and he says he likes to talk to her.  I am grateful for her.  Our family physician at the time of diagnosis until this past July (the clinic we go to uses residents, so we have a doctor for three years at a time) was amazing.  She truly cared about Nick and his situation.  We put him on Adderall, starting at the 5 mg dosage and then working up to 10 mg.

Anyone who has a child on Adderall or who takes Adderall themselves knows that appetite loss is a huge side effect.  Nick was functioning well on the 10 mg, but his appetite was non-existent.  Due to weight loss and the fact that he is 10 and a half and can’t afford to lose weight since he is bound to have a growth spurt soon, we had to lower the dosage to 5 mg for the summer.  And of course, we lost our amazing physician in July.  (Thank you, Dr. Kolp–you were such a great doctor.  I truly appreciate everything you did for us.)  I decided that we needed a permanent physician with all the things going on with Nick.  We have an appointment with her at the end of the month, which seemed like an okay thing but I think I have to try to get a hold of her much sooner than that.

Nick has anxiety, and it first really manifested in the beginning of June with his first visible panic attack.  We were referred to a child psychologist for it, because ADHD has a way of bringing their friends into the mix–in our case, it’s the aggressive behavior disorder and the anxiety.  We are on the waiting list to go in and see the child psychologist.  He doesn’t do well with crowds and this summer was hard on him.  He is still taking the 5 mg of Adderall, and school started two and a half weeks ago.  It hasn’t been a good start to the school year…the 5 mg is like him being off the medication entirely, and he is acting out in ways that are making me upset.

He has been losing his temper much more than usual, and has taken to punctuating his tantrums with swearing.  I know that kids swear.  I did it, we all did it, but you don’t swear at your mother or your grandparents.  He got in trouble in school yesterday for not paying attention and for not finishing his work, and got a written warning for it.  Naturally he forgot it at school (he has also forgotten his homework twice since the school year started) and decided to not tell me about it…and proceeded to forge my signature pretty badly.  He then lied to his teacher and principal and got a phone call home and a detention to serve next week after school.  I’m very disappointed in him because he should know better, yet it’s hard to be completely mad at him because I know that a lot of it has to do with his medication.  I didn’t tell his teacher about his ADHD because I assumed she knows about it since he has an IEP–I’m guessing that was a rookie mistake.  I will be writing her a letter tonight explaining his situation to her.

The next few days with be filled with phone calls to the new doctor, his therapist, and trying to secure a higher dosage of his medication.  He is currently grounded until further notice.  I am starting to feel the way I did back in the days before he was diagnosed–stressed, with a constant headache and upset stomach.  It’s very hard to watch your child and know that he wants to behave but he has a hard time trying to keep it together.  It’s hard being the parent of a child with ADHD sometimes not because of your child, but because of the community around you.  I hate when people tell me that ADHD isn’t real and Nick is just being a typical 10 year old boy.  No…he definitely is not.  I want to put these people in a room with him when he hasn’t taken his pills for days and then have them tell me that his behavior is normal.  I constantly have “Facebook physicians” telling me that I shouldn’t medicate him because he doesn’t need medication.  That’s like saying we shouldn’t vaccinate our children against dangerous and infectious diseases.  Cutting sugar and washing our clothes in plant based detergent (which is very expensive, by the way) and embracing a crunchy granola mom lifestyle isn’t going to magically make my son better.  My siblings all have it to a degree, and I think that I probably have a touch of it myself.  The best thing that I can do is help him to learn strategies for certain things in his life that are difficult for him to control, and help him embrace his strengths and work on his weaknesses.

And, of course, love him.  I don’t let his ADHD define him or let him use it as an excuse.  I tell him that he just happens to have ADHD, but it makes him more awesome than he already is.

I hope I didn’t sound whiny or dull.  I really just needed to vent after this long, frustrating day.  Thanks…XO.

Season Four, Episode Five: Sweet Bug

Love

“…and she loved a little boy very, very much–even more than she loved herself.”

-From The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

(Photo courtesy of Brittany Gidley Photography, Cleveland, OH

Copyrighted by Brittany Gidley Photography, 2015)

Season Two, Episode Seven: Birthday Candles For My Dad

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Today is my dad’s 69th birthday. I am probably the definition of a daddy’s girl. I’m crazy about my dad and I love him to pieces. He’s my best friend. As far back as I can remember he’s been my partner in crime.

My parents are twenty years apart, so my dad was 41 when I was born. His age never stopped him from chasing me in the grass in our backyard or lifting a very giggly and squirmy five-year-old Me up so that I could touch the ceiling with my fingertips (my dad is 6’4″). As I grew older, I loved sitting with him (me on the couch, Dad in his recliner) as he leisurely smoked a cigarette from his green pack of Kool 100 Super Longs and we watched old reruns of the black and white classics–to this day, I still love watching The Andy Griffith Show and Bewitched with him.

My dad would also sit and tell me and my little brother stories of his childhood on his grandparents’ farm in Morris Chapel, Tennessee and of his time spent in Cleveland at his uncle’s house. I loved hearing how life used to be in the ’40s and ’50s and looking through the old photo albums at my grandparents (my grandpa died when my dad was very young, my grandma died when I was a baby) and my great-grandparents and my great-great grandparents. My dad is predominantly Cherokee-American, so I loved seeing my great-great grandmother and her long white braid that stretched to the ground (my dad swears she lived to be 105) and my great-grandparents’ high cheekbones and stunning profiles. He graduated from high school in Washington, D.C. in 1962 and told me about the dark days of when JFK, RFK, MLK, and Malcolm X were all assassinated. He remembers Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement and he fought in Vietnam. He’s lived through thirteen US Presidents, from FDR to Barack Obama.

He’s still as funny and as smart as when I was a little girl. It’s hard for me to think of my dad as a senior citizen, because he is anything but. He’s still the head machinist at his job. He still smokes those Kool 100s. His favorite show is The Big Bang Theory. He loves being a grandpa and a great-grandpa (I have a 28 year old niece from one of my older half-brothers. She has a little girl herself.). He still criticizes the Browns every football season (he’s a Redskins fan) and reads The Plain Dealer daily and watches Jerry Springer and Maury every day after work because their insanity makes him feel like his day couldn’t be as bad as those guests’ are. He still encourages me to live my dreams and to keep working hard. He taught me that hard work and a strong education are the two most important things that a person can have next to their family. He taught me how to play Monopoly when I was five (no hotels or houses and I always got Boardwalk and Park Place and somehow won every time) and how to dance by standing on his feet in the kitchen while “My Girl” by The Temptations played on the local oldies station. He taught me to really appreciate music and told me I got my voice from my grandma. I am incredibly lucky to have him as a dad 🙂

Happy Birthday, Daddy ❤

Season One, Episode Thirty: Mid-Season Recap

Time flies when you’re living life.

In Niagara Falls, Canada back in May.

I hadn’t realized that April was the last time I blogged!  I suppose that in the rush of everything positive that has gone on over the past three months, I just didn’t have time to write.  The casino opened May 14, and the shift I had been on up until last night made it damn near impossible to do anything but work and sleep–I worked what we call “sunrise” (a more pleasant-sounding spin on the more depressing-sounding graveyard shift), and when you work from 1 am to 9 am, you find that blogging ranks pretty low on your list of priorities 😛  But anyway, life at the casino is great.  I love being a dealer, it’s pretty fun to just essentially play games and interact with people for eight hours and get paid.  I’m surprised at how comfortable I have gotten dealing roulette;  if you had thrown me on a roulette table back in April I probably would have burst into tears (as a matter of fact, back in April I did burst into tears on the table in class) and froze up.  Now I can easily tell you how much five straight-ups (175) and 7 splits (119) are (294), all in my head.  I actually enjoy dealing roulette more than blackjack, and the people that I’ve known since the original Table Games Service Academy (Dec. 2011 to Feb. 2012) can tell you how much of a 180 that is!  It’s great to work with people I enjoy and actually feel appreciated, something that I never once felt at the dealership.  I have no stress and I’m relaxed…I love it.

Other that, one would say that my life is wonderfully mundane.  Nicky is getting so big!  He’ll be in second grade in three weeks, and he’s only 11 inches shorter than me–that doesn’t say a lot for me, but 50 inches is a pretty huge achievement for him 🙂 He’s had a summer filled with climbing the tree in our front yard, swimming in his friend’s pool, playing baseball, and just being a little boy with his entire summer vacation ahead of him.

Nicky during Marine Week back in June. He has had an awesome summer so far!

My boyfriend and I are still together and are pretty happy.  He went home in the middle of June, and I went out to Chicago for a few days this past month to see him, which was great because I love the city (and him, but that’s beside the point :P).  We’re pretty confident that we can make this long distance thing work.

I also lost nearly 20 pounds since February, I’ve gone from 160 to roughly 145-147 pounds.  I’ve joined a gym and am trying to be a lot healthier in my eating and lifestyle habits.  I feel great, and I love how I feel.  I was thinking about losing 20 more, but I don’t want to lose my curves, so I might drop about 10 to 15 more and build muscle.

I actually didn’t notice how much weight I’d lost until I took the picture on the right at my boyfriend’s house in Indiana.

I have every intent of being more consistent with this blog now that I am on swing shift and have more time during the day to get things done.  I’m actually going to sign off now to go eat dinner and get ready to go to work…Til next time, XO!

Season One, Episode Seventeen: The Myth of the Supermom

As being a mom goes, I guess one would say that I’m not particularly very good at it.

Let me rephrase that.  I am a good mom, in the actual definition of a mother.  My son is pretty well adjusted and happy, he eats three meals a day, is very loved, and takes his baths and does his homework.  I’m good at the parenting part.  It’s this idealized notion of motherhood that I suck at.

My fabulous little boy!

I’m not very good at being the stereotypical idea of what a mom should be.  I go on to sites like CafeMom, which I refer to as the “MySpace of Mommydom”  or other “mommy friendly” blogs/sites and I’m just like wow, I really suck at this mom shit.  These ladies are really on the ball when it comes to the nominees for Mom of the Year 2011.  I’m not married, nor do I really have a desire to do so.  I’m not a stay-at-home mom.  I don’t cut my son’s sandwiches into fun little shapes with cookie cutters because A.) I would never be able to come up with something like that on my own, and B.) I think it’s a little stupid to cut my kid’s PB & J into the shape of an Easter egg just because Holy Week is right around the corner.  I don’t volunteer for school related activities because I work crazy hours, so if it’s in the morning I’m usually sleeping because I’m tired from work the day before, or if it’s in the afternoon I’m trapped at work.  I actually don’t really like kids that aren’t mine.  I don’t make fun little crafts for Nicky to take to school because I don’t have an ounce of craftiness in my body, and I remember making fun of the kids that would bring in crafty stuff for the teacher.

I am nowhere near this. Nowhere. In my world, the dishes would be piled up and I'd be off doing something fun and adventurous with my son. My husband would be the one washing the dishes in joyous exultation.

I can’t sew.  I’ve tried, but I can’t make cutesy blankets or scarves or whatever the hell it is that those perennially perfect moms do with their spare time.  You know, the little bit of spare time they have between making amazing vegan/organic meals that they have to take pictures of to remind the moms like me how much we suck for taking our kids to McDonald’s or making them Ramen noodles for dinner, taking their kids to the 8858475484 sports practices, ballet recitals, and band rehearsals, and just being all around awesome and perfect.  I’ve never made a cake from scratch or boasted about how I got this stubborn grass stain out of my husband’s khaki shorts.  I don’t have time to create a beautifully elaborate scrapbook of every single memory my son and I have shared or created in the almost seven years he’s been alive.  I barely have enough time to spend with him when I get home from work before it’s time for him to go to bed.  I am not a domestic goddess, not by a long shot.  Nor do I want to be.  It actually sounds pretty damn boring.

I’m not jealous of, or threatened by these “supermoms”, the stay-at-home Wonder Women who claim to be able to change a diaper and frost a cake simultaneously.  First of all, that is overwhelmingly unhygienic, and secondly, I highly doubt that they can actually do that.  No, I actually think it’s pretty cool that they are so dedicated to making their husbands and children so happy.  That is their life and they love it.  Kudos to them.  I, on the other hand, am on the other end of the spectrum.  Like I said earlier, I have no desire to get married and have a huge house with a white picket fence and big backyard for my 2.5 children and my golden retriever.  I have no desire to buy a minivan or discuss home decor or the amazing sale on corn at Giant Eagle.  Nay.  I suppose I am selfish.  And lazy.  And crazy independent.  I’ve always been that way, though.  I was the girl who didn’t want a husband or a dream house or kids.  I wanted to travel the world and have ridiculous experiences to tell whenever I’d write home or visit or whatever.  I didn’t want that cutesy perfect life most girls dream of, with the fairytale wedding and the Cinderella-type happy ending.  I don’t even think my Barbies lived happily ever after, to be honest.

That said, however, I love my son.  I love being a mom.  I’ll just never be that perfect idea of what a mother should be.  I’m the mom who is always late, rushing out the door in the middle of winter without my coat on, juggling my purse and coffee and coat and keys, yelling up the stairs for Nicky to hurry up, when he is actually on the porch with me, coat all zipped up and ready to go.  I’m the mom who loves snuggling up with her son and watching movies.  I’d rather crack jokes with Nicky and lose at Monopoly Jr. than pretend to be perfect.  I’m the mom who sings silly songs at the top of her lungs and gets in tickle fights and has awesome conversations with her kid.  I’m a hands on mom. I’m the mom who works six days in order to make forty hours so that she can supplement the ridiculously low child support she gets a month.  I’m the mom who toughs it out and still lives at home because she has the common sense to know that she can’t do it alone.  I’m pretty proficient in self-sacrifice.

I think, actually, that this alleged “Supermom” that seems to exist only on CafeMom and these other peachy keen mommy sites is just a myth.  It’s easier to sound perfect when you’re behind a computer screen and no one is actually there to back you up.  I’m willing to wager that 85% of the moms in the world are like me–imperfect and fun and nowhere near the stereotype from the 1950s.  I’m pretty sure that I’m the definition of a real mom, and I’m okay with it.  Just don’t ask me my thoughts on matching wall paint colors with curtains and upholstery.  You’ll get a blank stare 😛

I love this, haha. Sums me up in one short sentence.

Season One, Episode Six: Through The Looking Glass

I was on the site 20 Something Bloggers earlier, and one blogger, Andrea Regueria, posted in one forum a great topic to blog about–writing your teenage self a letter.  I did a lot of stupid stuff towards the end of my teen years–goofing off my junior and senior years, failing a few classes that I had no business failing, not walking with my class, getting pregnant at 18 and becoming a mom at 19, getting dumped by Nicky’s idiot father at 20, failing horribly at two (count them, two!) universities and ultimately losing financial aid at both schools–some of which made me into the person that I am today, the rest just stuff that I wish I could go back in time and kick my teenage ass over.  Instead of writing a letter, which would be too time consuming, and let’s face it, Teenage Me wouldn’t have bothered to read it because I thought I knew every damn thing back then, I am going to give Teenage Me just a little advice and a heads up on the consequences that lurk ahead in the years to come.

Christ...This is probably from between 2002 and 2004, making me anywhere from 16 to 18. I'm leaning more towards 16, but anyway, I'm the girl in the middle. I look pretty much exactly the same.

*You won’t believe me now, you won’t see it until you’re about 25, but you are absolutely beautiful.  I know you think you are ugly and you want plastic surgery on the nose you think is too big and you hate your high forehead and all your curves and features that don’t exactly blend in with all your friends, but you are so, so beautiful.  I wish you would see it for yourself at 16 because that would stem the tide of bad decisions that you make in the next few years.

*Don’t worry so much about having a boyfriend.  You’ll learn that you’re completely fine without one.  I know you think you are a loser because you haven’t been kissed yet, but you aren’t a loser.  You aren’t ugly or hideous or gross.  You just go to an all girls’ school and you are insanely sheltered.  In a year’s time, you will kiss a stupid boy at Burger King who just wants to get in your pants and since you won’t give it up, pretty much ignores you forever.  You won’t even like him.  You will feel like an idiot, and I wish that you would listen to Jari, but I know you think that there is something wrong with you if you don’t kiss him.  Please don’t kiss him.  Save that kiss for someone who deserves it.  That kiss leads to a long line of stupid mistakes with guys that you still will have a hard time with when you are nearly 26.

*School is so important.  So much more important that the kids you are going to meet at Burger King, the same kids that you try to fit in so badly with because they think you are stuck up because you go to a Catholic school and this Burger King thing is the first time in your life that you feel like you don’t exactly fit in at all.  Don’t blow your 3.5 GPA over these kids.  It’s not worth it.  You are going to screw up so bad in the next two years and everything you worked for since Kindergarten is going to go down the drain.  You never get to join NHS, you never get to graduate with honors.  Remember that you wanted to graduate with honors.  Please, please do your homework and get up and go to class.  And please stop thinking your SJA friends are lame.  They are not lame.  They all go on to four year universities while you become a teen mom who is struggling to pay her bills.  And 10 years from now you will be a receptionist who makes $10.25 an hour and is still a freshman in college.  Please just focus on school.

*You have no idea how much that postcard from Yale will still mean to you at 25.

*Stop being such a bitch.  You will regret some of the things you did and the way you treated people when you lay in bed at night years and years down the road.

*After you get pregnant, which you will do because you will become a mom to the most beautiful and amazing boy you’ll ever lay eyes upon, please just ditch his dad and do it alone.  Because you are going to do it alone anyway, and it’s easier to get rid of him before you talk yourself into falling in love with him.  You can do better, please remember that you are beautiful and you can do so much better than him.  Please don’t waste two years of your life on him.  It will take you years to finally let go and you will never trust a man with your heart ever again.  And if you don’t let go of him after you get pregnant, please don’t take him back.  He leaves you when Nicholas is 10 months old.

*Follow your dreams.  Try to become a singer.  Keep writing those stories and poems.  Don’t ever give up.

I’m sure there’s more that I could say, but I think that I covered the things that matter the most.  I think I might do another episode before my birthday in December, but please feel free to share a few things you’d share with yourself if you could 🙂

XOXO

Season One, Episode Three: Alaska, Chocolatey NFL Caketastic Deliciousness, and Tornadic Tubby Time

Today was a blissfully boring day.

I worked six hours today, filing all alone in an empty office.  I know it sounds boring, but I love it.  My favorite part of my job is when all the other girls in the office have gone home and it’s just me and my thoughts and a nice playlist that I burned playing in the CD player.  I’m a social person, I love being around people and laughing and joking and having a good time, but I also enjoy having time to myself where I’m not subjected to country music and gossip about relationships and stuff that bores me.  I’ve always been like that, to be honest, I prefer to be alone in my room with a book and music in the background when I’m not out being the social butterfly that society expects of me.  I also prefer to go out places with Nicky and my mom now more than I do with my friends.  It’s weird, but maybe that’s part of getting older.  Maybe you develop more of a chill, homebody side as the years go by?  I don’t know.

After work, I came home and watched football with my dad and ate cookies and nachos and this sinfully delicious chocolate cake–and I feel ridiculously stuffed and sluggish at the moment.  Nicky came in and sat next to me, and we watched TV with his head resting on my arm all evening until it was bath time.  Bath time is actually a lot more fun now that he’s older.  I liked “bubble tubbies” when he was smaller, but he keeps more of the bathwater actually in the tub now, and he likes to wash himself up and wash his own hair.  Next thing I know he’s going to be shaving, hahaha.  I love that he still calls his bath a “tubby” 🙂  After his bath, I put on his favorite DVD, that show Storm Chasers, and we snuggled up on the couch until he fell asleep in my lap.  In our house, we all know that Storm Chasers = Nicky is sleepy.  He usually won’t make it through an entire episode.  It’s actually kind of odd that my son watches a storm about chasing tornadoes to fall asleep.  He’s my silly silly boy…Although weather intrigues me, and we will go out on our porch and watch huge storms roll in, so he probably got that from me, along with his love of cake and staying up late…and his sense of humor, his blue eyes, and his goofy, lovable smile.  He’s definitely his mommy’s baby.

I’m currently in my pajamas, typing away at my keyboard in between texting one of my bestest friends, Destinie.  After I’m done with this mindnumbingly boring entry I plan on brushing my teeth and curling up in bed with my favorite book, Looking For Alaska (by John Green) until I fall asleep.  I was reading Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer, but the story of Chris McCandless pisses me off and I’m not in the mood to ponder the sanity or motives of McCandless tonight.  I will blog about him another day, because I could write an entire post on him and how I can’t figure out if he was an idealist that we all should respect to some degree or if he was a spoiled rich brat who wanted to rebel against societal norms and his parents.

Goodnight, and here’s to another blissfully uneventful tomorrow to make me smile 🙂

XOXO