Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Mom Who Calms - Winner of Kirk Martin CD Contest!

From Kirk Martin's own words

Dear Jenn,

I just want to thank you and all of your readers for amazing insight into their kids. It's impossible to choose one winner as all the entries were just phenomenal.

Any parent who has as much compassion and wisdom as your Moms is sure to have already received their reward: a great relationship with their kids.

My first choice was the following because the Mom hit the nail on the head: no matter what strategies we use, calm always begins with us first. That's the key. Every word of Kim's post is spot on.

Again, thank you to everyone. Some parents touched on the importance of diet, which is very important. Others mentioned sensory needs. We try to deal with all of these issues in our newsletters so I'm glad the Moms are in tune with us. More than anything, I hope all the parents feel even more empowered from sharing these insights with each other.

Thank you, everyone!


Kim said...

First, I make sure that I am calm. If I'm not calm then he can't be. Then I speak with him in a level calm voice. Gently slowly explain what is needed in a clear defined manner. I watch his eyes, if he seems confused, I wait and see if the confusion clears. If it doesn't then I break it down further until I can find the source of confusion.

If he's on hyper, I have found that 5 to 10 minutes of "super hyper" play will enable him to call down enough to focus.

If he's grumpy, then 5 to 10 minutes of snuggle/tickle/wrestle/play will defeat the grump enough to focus.

If none of the above qualifies, a Long hot shower and snuggle time cures all ills.

But most of all, create an environment at home that accepts him for what he is and loves him for what he is. I don't expect him to be anything or anyone else, just himself - to be determined as he grows and learns.

From Jenn: Thank you to all who participated in this contest. And of course, thank you Kirk for speaking to us on Can Mom Be Calm and for donating your CD set to the winner. Because we get to read each other's best advice, I feel like we all win, even those who didn't participate. Congratulations Kim. You are the calmest mom in town!

Pictured above: Kim from Alabama-the winner! Pictured below: Kim's son Mark.

To learn more about Kirk's way of helping families with special needs children: Visit

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Thank God for Friends Who Tell the Truth



My friend Chris, who could have easily been a fifth woman in the Sex and the City series, is my best friend and old roommate from college. Sometimes we don't talk for months but when we do, it's like we're back in our dorm room again, laughing at each other as usual because we have given up on trying to hide our flaws.

She is originally from Maryland but as soon as she set foot in New York City, she transformed herself into an awesome fashionista. Now, many years later, Chris is still my go-to person for everything related to make-up, hair, and fashion, especially bags! If you knew her, you'd know that she looks fabulous everytime you see her. If I ever dressed like Chris, people would ask me if I was going somewhere special or wonder why would I wear such a thing to the sandbox.

Recently, she had a break in between jobs and decided to come visit me before she started her new position. This was terrific timing because I needed someone to get me out of Uglytown fast! I have to go to my brother's wedding in Mexico very soon and I still hadn't replaced my ancient make-up that is actually older than Logan. I told her that I didn't have time to go to a department store and try on different shades of foundations while my kids waited for me. No, ADHD doesn't let you do that. ADHD makes you have to buy everything online but that method doesn't work for cosmetic purchases.

Her suggestion: Go to Sephora and try the mineral makeup by Bare Escentuals. She told me to just run into the store and quickly try one or two shades and that should be it. Then, I'd grab a lipstick and go. She said mineral make-up is very "in" now and it leaves her skin feeling soft after she washes it off. I had no idea what she was talking about. What the hell is mineral make-up? I only know about fish oil and probiotics. She also told me that I could not wear the dress that I picked out for the wedding in Mexico because I would boil in the weather. She was right, I really just chose it because it made me look thinner. There is nothing like a mouthful of truth to make you wake up and stop being an idiot. I showed her my back-up dress which was sleeveless and she told me how to accessorize it to make it look great. Of course, it worked- she is always right.

Today, I had a chance to go to Sephora because I had to go to the city (a.k.a. Manhattan for us outer-borough folks) with Logan for an appointment and so I dragged my ADHD 5-year-old into Sephora and instead of trying on two shades and running out as I originally planned, I decided to take a chance. I would try to make Logan wait for me while I asked a make-up artist to give me the fastest make-over of his career.

"You gotta hurry," I told the man. "He will not last on that chair for long." Logan was eating gluten-free pretzels which he loves but I knew he would soon get up and start running around. That poor make-up artist tried his best but after a while I said, "Let's just get the lipstick and eyeliner so I can go." Am I rude or what??? But if I'm not, Logan could start wandering around and knock down something (which he did but it was tiny). Luckily, the make-up artist sold me a great kit that came with an instructional CD for dummies like me so it was okay to wrap up quickly. Still, make-overs can be fun and princessy and I missed out on that but I am just going to have to wait for that chance some other day.

I feel like I can finally breathe now since I have my make-up and dress with appropriate accessories. It's all thanks to Chris who always tells me the truth even if it a little embarrassing or painful. That's what old girlfriends are for and I need to remember to be grateful and nurture our friendship even though I am busy in my world of special needs.

Anyway, I have a feeling we may not be going to Mexico anytime soon because of the swine flu craziness. Oh well, when it's over, at least I can be presentable and not sweat buckets at my brother's wedding, thanks to my dear friend Chris.

(pictures above: Since I never wear make-up, I have to think that this "before" picture is actually my "everyday" picture which is kind of horrible. I think I'd better do something about that. The "after" picture is me with my new mineral make-up. I'm surprised by how natural it looks. Maybe I'll wear it on regular days.... hmmm. I think it might not irritate my children's skin either. Below picture: This is Chris. Can you believe that we've been friends for twenty years after we were randomly assigned to be in the same dorm room suite?)

Lastly, a reminder of the disclaimer on the bottom: I am not paid by the companies of any of the products or stores that I've mentioned but still welcome said companies or stores to send over tons of cash so that I can buy more mineral make-up! I love it!

Monday, April 27, 2009

"Family Business" Tools for ADHD Families

I really just had it. I kept losing everything. If any of you have been following my blog, you might have read here and there that I lose things all the time or have to look for something for half an hour to find it. Forget about appointments and phone numbers... that was a major mess as well.

I was so sick of myself and I realized that I had become no different from my ADHD kid with poor organization skills, poor short term memory, low frustration tolerance, etc...

Sometimes, I think I yelled at my kids because I was so mad at myself because I had lost something or couldn't find something right before they did something that annoyed me. On top of that, I found the library book that I paid for and I brought it back to the library but they wouldn't give me my money back! I am going to complain to the higher-ups for sure. I think that isn't fair and I will lose some of the love I have for them if they don't return my money. Either way, it all started because I'm a scatter-brain and I need to remember that.

NO MORE! NO MORE! I needed help.

With big purchases, I usually talk to my husband about it and I made my case.

I need a blackberry!

I admitted that I was forgetful by nature and that if I had it, it would really help me. He knows that I have been especially busy these days with educational issues for Logan, reorganizing the house, doctors appointments, getting ready for my brother's wedding, and Spencer's therapy management. He understood and encouraged me to get something even though we need to conserve as much as possible this year.

The next thing you know, I'm walking into a cell phone store and walking out with a blackberry 20 minutes later. I felt like a girl that just came out of Tiffany's with a new necklace and earring set!

It's been exactly one week since I've gotten it and my life has been so much better. I thought I didn't need or deserve a blackberry because I was a stay-at-home mom. I used to keep a to-do list in a notebook, phone numbers in my cell, email addresses in my outlook, and appointments on a calendar in my kitchen next to my fridge but this didn't work for me. It basically meant I couldn't make appointments for my family unless I was standing in my kitchen and never mind the notebook situation. I would go through notebooks like crazy and inevitably end up going back to old notebooks to look for old phone numbers or notes. It was bad.

Now that I have one, I see how wrong I was to think I didn't deserve one. I can run my "family business" from anywhere: the playground, at home (outside of the kitchen), and in the car (with husband driving). It can take pictures and video in case I forget my camera. Of course, I love that I can read my email from anywhere which actually helps me a lot as well.

Additionally, I have been considering doing some freelance writing and that means that I need a place to put my ideas wherever I am. The ADHD expert that I used to work with also said that blackberry-type devices were ideal for adults with ADHD because they could put their ideas down immediately so that they wouldn't them forget later. And of course, it would help with remembering appointments which Adult ADHD patients aren't so good at. I remember once in my PR days I had scheduled an adult ADHD story with a prominent local reporter and the ADHD patient that was supposed to be interviewed never showed up for his interview!!!!! We called and called him and when we found him, he said that he forgot. The reporter couldn't even be mad. What a way to show how real ADHD was. Sometimes, I wonder if I would ever do something that severe.

Of course, in the past week, there have been moments that I've forgotten things. I thought about why and it always went back to how I didn't check my blackberry or didn't input the info into the blackberry. So the blackberry is the key to keeping myself together!!! This will keep me organized and thus more CALM! I have evolved!

Of course, I will always have to remember where I put my blackberry. That's kinda important too.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Does Can Mom Be Calm Get Paid for Endorsements?

My husband showed me a very interesting article in The Wall Street Journal about bloggers yesterday. Apparently, many bloggers are being paid to give rave reviews to products and thus the sincerity of the review might be somewhat questionable. Even more interesting was that mom bloggers (MY PEOPLE) were discussed in this article.

I wasn't aware that this was happening which isn't surprising. I blog about how I'm busy because of my ADHD/PDD kids so you can imagine how many blogs I read.

I found the article interesting because I wonder if it is fair to be critical or even inquisitive of this way of creating income through blogs. Don't television shows and movies do this all the time by just simply using a product in a scene? Magazines do this too, they are called advertorials. They look very similar to an article but they are not and the only way you know it's an ad is from one word printed very discreetly somewhere on the page: Advertisement. Even many local parent guides that you get for free in kid-friendly stores write articles in exchange for ad purchases. So why inquire about us bloggers?

I also mention this article because not long ago I was asked by one of my yahoogroups not send notices like the recent one I sent about Kirk Martin's guest post and CD contest because it was considered spam. I felt so bad. I didn't realize it looked like spam but anything to do with contests and prizes could look like spam. I was a little embarrassed and while I wasn't asked this, I felt compelled to tell them that my blog is not commercial at all as if I was more angelic and altruistic this way.

I started to wonder if it is bad for a blog to be commercial especially a blog like this one. I suppose it's not. It's media just like a magazine, newsletter, or Dateline NBC. We are all just passing information in hopes that it may be useful to someone else and having income will keep things alive and running. However for now, I am still remaining ad-free and I have put a notice on the bottom of this blog to state that any recommendations I make are not influenced by payment or gifts. Maybe one day, I can do that or have an ad but not today. I've just got too much to do.

Notice to potential advertisers- call me only if you want to offer me outrageous amounts of money. It would go straight to the Logan and Spencer Pricey Non-Allergic Foods/DAN! Doctors/Educational Costs Fund. A small portion of that would go to the Replace Jenn's 5-Year Old Make-up So She Can Look Decent at Her Brother's Wedding Fund.

(Photo: The boys are breaking my rule of "one person at a time" on the trampoline and of course eating while on the trampoline is a bad idea too. Since we are talking about recommendations today, I'd just like to say that I love these Korean rice cakes. You can find them at many Korean markets where some are made fresh right in front of you and they are great snacks that usually don't ruin appetites for dinner! They probably do not use evaporated cane juice but I'm pretty sure that if it's just made of rice, sugar, and salt so it's GFCF for sure. I've found something similar on this webpage so you could get a closer look. Also, my world would be different without this trampoline. It was a total pain in the butt to put together but it was one of the best things we ever bought for our sensory-seeking kids. I think there are better quality ones out there but this one fit our budget and so far it's been good to us.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Medication: A New Journey Begins

I have been very reluctant to write this post. I have such mixed feelings about medicating Logan. It's a tough decision for every parent.

Last Spring when Logan was only 4, he was so wild and so uncontrollable and seemed to be regressing. That is what our previous special ed preschool teacher had said which was about the only real warning they gave me before they asked him to find another school in the middle of last summer (Yes, that was horrible and that's another story that has to be told.)

By that Spring I was so desperate that I begged my developmental pediatrician to prescribe something immediately but then we found a parent-training program that gave free one-on-one lessons in dealing with ADHD preschoolers and so we decided to hold off on the meds to see if that would make a difference.

It did. I learned a lot. If you want, I'll try to gather the info and tell you what we were taught because some of it was very effective. But overall, I'm sure you heard that behavior training is more effective if you compliment with other interventions. Some parents use DAN!, some use nutritional supplements, some use just medication, and now I have become the (d) all of the above mom.

When I first wanted to do it last year, my husband wasn't crazy about the idea and then I found about the DAN! protocol and I was full of hope. I remember one night it just hit me and everything made sense and I couldn't sleep because I thought I had found the answer and that Logan could be healed from his ADHD.

That was almost a year ago and now I don't feel like I know anything anymore. I haven't given up on the DAN! treatments or my doctor but I think for Logan's sake, this is a great time to try some medication. The most important reason being that he is in a wonderful school with a very small class where the faculty and therapists know him inside and out. And I don't doubt for a minute that they really just care about him so much. Giving him medication under these circumstances are optimal. They are the type of people who would tell me about side effects as well as positive or negative changes, even it was only slight. They would notice because they care and they can.

We are already on a second medication as the first one just put him to sleep. The second one we are trying has shown its side effects already and it's so hard for me as his mom to watch these things. He was sweating and had thrown up and had tummy aches but my DAN! doctor who prescribed it to me, told me to give it a little more time. All of these side effects seem to be gone already but still I'm watching carefully, ready to throw the pills into the trash at any minute. But I've been told that he's a great candidate for medication and I feel like it's a duty for me to give him that chance. From my own experience I have seen side effect appear at first and then lessen or go away so hopefully the same will happen for Logan.

But it's still so hard and I decided to step into my baby's shoes one day and I took one of his pills. Am I crazy!!!!!???? You decide.

I have always felt I had ADHD and so I didn't feel like I was doing something terribly wrong. Have you ever taken one of your son's pills? Even if I truly didn't have his ailment, I felt compelled and so I did. It was very strange. I went from feeling sleepy to relaxed to anxious and then became kind of hot. Wow! These little pills; they are powerful stuff and I'm a grown up and not a small one either. While this experience hasn't changed my mind yet about medicating him or stopping, I am glad I tried it at least once. Of course, I'll never do it again but since it wasn't a heart medication or anything like that, I thought it could be a window to Logan's feelings since he still can't tell me everything he feels.

Well, I'll keep you posted on what happens. It's too soon to say if it has positive effects but I'm hoping for good news. I know that our plan was to start medication if we gave up on the DAN! within a year of trying it but sometimes we have to change courses and take advantages of opportunities as they appear. I think this is best for him for right now. I hope it proves to be the right choice. Isn't that the hardest part of parenting? Having to make choices for another person... I hope the heavens are shining down on our little family this season. It's a tough time since we're looking for an appropriate kindergarten placement for Logan and Spencer early intervention 12- month review coming up.

Admist all this stress, we have my brother's wedding in Mexico to look forward to. I'm going to do the right thing and actually tell my kids in advance and prepare them for the trip. I used to be so horrible and just tell them that we are going somewhere when they woke up. I didn't even bother telling Spencer since he is still so young but I won't be doing that anymore. Wish us luck on all this stuff. I believe good thoughts are powerful and can be sent to other people. We surely need them now more than ever.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Win CD Set from Famed Kirk Martin as He Guest Blogs on Can Mom Be Calm

Please welcome our first guest blogger, Kirk Martin of Celebrate Calm, internationally known for his unique approach to working with families of children with special needs. Many parents and teachers confidently declare that Kirk's CDs are must-haves in helping their kids. Don't miss this chance to win the set ($495 retail)!

Dear Mom and Dad: What It’s Like to Be A Child with Special Needs

Dear Mom and Dad,

I want you to know what it's like to be me.

My brain runs like a washing machine powered by a Ferrari engine. It runs all the time and it runs fast, churning and tumbling ideas like shirts and pants and socks mixed together.

I can be talking to you and having another conversation running inside my head. I can be in class listening to the teacher, but be fully engaged in a daydream about Legos or hearing a new song on my guitar.

I kind of like all this energy inside my head because I can keep myself entertained in there by myself. But other times I feel scattered and like there’s not much order up in my brain. Everything’s swirling. That’s why I like things to be just so and I why I need to know what we’re doing all the time. It’s why I end up wearing or eating the same things. New things freak me out a bit because I don’t know what to expect, so please don’t be mad at me when I’m anxious.

I want to do well in school. But sometimes the ideas in my head are so strong or interesting, and when I follow them even for a few seconds, I fall behind. And once I’m lost in class, sometimes I figure I may as well just keep thinking about these ideas. It’s like they call to me to work on them and see them through.

This is hard to explain, but sometimes I feel my body screaming to me to move and like I need contact, to push up against something. It makes me feel better inside. I’ll be sitting in class and if I haven’t gotten any exercise, I feel like I’m about to explode. But then I know my teacher will get upset if I get up, so I sit there kind of frozen, not sure what to do. I promise I don’t get in trouble on purpose.

Okay, I was lying. Sometimes I do get in trouble on purpose. I like to get the reaction from people when I’m bored. It wakes my brain up. And if I’m really bored or my body is screaming at me, I’ll get in trouble just so I can get out of class to walk down the hall. It’s such a relief. But then I feel bad later and I know everyone is mad at me.

There’s something inside me that says if I can just get through childhood, I’m going to make a great adult one day. I’ll be a good Dad because I know what it feels like to hurt as a kid and be misunderstood. And I know I don’t always do great in school, but I have good ideas and I can work at something really hard when I’m passionate about it. I don’t have any fear of the future, it’s just the present that isn’t much fun.

Okay, I know I say I’m all grown up and everything in some ways, but things hurt me more than you think. I know you guys are trying really hard and I’m difficult, but I kind of know that everyone wishes I were different.. I see the way Grandma and Grandpa treat Adam and Grace different than me. You know the way Dad shakes his head in disapproval, the way Mom groans and all those hushed conversations you have with the teacher, therapist and principal? I know what it means.

That’s why I like hanging out with Buster a lot, because he likes me the way I am because I give him lots of attention and take him on walks. And that’s why I like to play video games and be alone sometimes. It’s like my heart can only take so much and then I have to withdraw a little bit.

I know you get concerned because I stay up late at night and don’t sleep much. But I like it when it’s quiet. I can hear my thoughts better. And my world is peaceful then.

Mom and Dad, don't worry about me. I may not do great in school or be the most popular kid, but I'm content inside. I like the way my brain works, I like my energy. If everyone would stop trying to fix me, I'd be okay.

Let me focus on the things I love doing. Drawing, building, playing music. Please stop trying to make me be like everyone else. I like who I am. Do you?

Thank you for all you do for me. You think I don’t appreciate it, but I do. I know I’m not exactly the way you want me to be or the kid you expected, but I’m going to be good as an adult and you’ll be proud of me then.


Your son

Kirk Martin, pictured above, is the Director of Education of Celebrate!Calm, an organization dedicated to helping parents and teachers understand children with special needs inside and out. Contact Kirk at or through his web site at
(Photo below: Kirk Martin holds a toy brain while his son Casey strums his guitar.)

****************** NOW FOR THE CONTEST******************

Readers can win a 4-CD set called "Stop Defiance & Disrespect Now" (Retail: $495) which also includes Straight Talk for Dads: 10 Ways to Get the Respect You Want, a CD specially designed for dads. This set was created to help parents eliminate defiance and disrespect, and instead build closer relationship with their child.

To win, tell us the best tactic you use to get your child to be calm enough to learn and comply. Simply write your submission into the comments section of this post but make sure you include your email address in your submission. All your comments will be readily accessible in the "Readers Give Advice" section on the front page of this blog. If you experience technical difficulty or don't want to put in your email address for public viewing, you can email your submission to me at and still be eligible to win. Just know that your submission will be highlighted in a future blog post but you can still remain anonymous. Please send your submission by Monday April 27, 2009 11:59 PM. Kirk will read them all and choose the winner. Good luck. I hope we can all help and learn from each other.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Surviving School Vacations

If you read my last post about school vacations, you will know that it's no vacation for me. While I wouldn't call it torture, I would definitely say they are character-building experiences.

Here are four (and a half) things I learned:

1. Give Logan More Attention: Since Spencer has a stream of therapists come in to work with him, Logan felt a bit left out. However, I could not play with him all day long because then no one would eat lunch or dinner or have clean clothes. But it was really hard to keep him occupied so finally I sort of gave up on the cooking and cleaning and I just sat down and worked with Logan. It was a good move. We did "vacation homework" and I got a chance to see how much he's improved in coloring and writing. He also was allowed to get a treat or a coveted toy after he finished a certain number of sheets of "homework." He amazes me how much he's motivated by praise. It produces the best work. Candy or toy prizes only produces faster work.

2. Immediate Gratification Still Helps: I learned that Logan's toys still need to be restricted somewhat. The quarters chart is working to improve his behavior and allows him to work towards future gratification. (I'm going to challenge him to save up for the Nintendo DS $130) However, he still needs more immediate incentives so I have decided to take a few favorite things and make him earn it everyday. It's more work for me but hopefully it will inspire him to work harder in following the rules and therefore will be easier on me.

3. I Have to Clean Up My Act: Vacation was my time to realize just how disorganized I was. Since Logan didn't have school, I took it as an opportunity to make lots of different appointments thus changing the routine. Of course, I would end up double-booking appointments or spend time searching for things that I should have just put in the right place. I miss the blackberry that I had when I was working. I wonder if getting one would solve my problems. I still like writing to-do lists on paper too. Either way, I must do something, I am getting really upset with myself. When I was working, I was very well organized. I guess I'm still not used to my life as a mom of ADHDers. When will I ever feel like I have some semblance of control?

4. Be Calm and Break Some Rules: I also decided that since it was a "vacation," I would do things like neglect making sure they ate all their vegetables, giving them extra cookies, and washing dishes only once a day. This freed me from some stress and helped me work toward my goal of "Can Mom Be Calm." It also allowed me to focus on my number one issue- clutter. I decided to go on a cleaning rampage and even joined, something I learned about from one of my yahoogroups. I also got off my duff and finally rewrote Logan's rules chart. This one has color and better pictures. Hopefully it will be more effective too. I also hope Logan doesn't notice that I only drew four toes on each foot in the No-Running-Rule. I don't know what is wrong with me. Four toes? What does this say about me? It has to be a disorder of some kind.

(picture: last lesson learned: Don't sweat the small stuff, even if it costs hundreds of dollars. I promised myself not to get mad. I still don't know which one of my little monsters broke them. I dont' even care. I have another pair and I only need one pair to see.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Will He Get a Second Date?

Four months after Logan was born, I went back to work. It was hard but I had no choice. I needed the money and I never really imagined I'd be a stay-at-home mom anyway, let alone to two ADHD kids.

I found out that there were a lot of disadvantages to being a work-outside-of-the home-mom (a term I learned from moms who work inside the home). Aside from missing my son and missing his developmental milestones, the other major loss was that Logan couldn't have consistent playdates with other kids. I've shot for weekend playdates and that didn't work out either.

Why? Logan was being cared for by my sitter and most stay-at-home moms did not want to waste a playdate talking with sitters while the kids play. They much rather make it enjoyable for both child and mom and so they will invite another mom friend, most likely another stay-at-homer to come over for a playdate with her child. I understood that so I desperately tried to organize playdates between two or more sitters, especially in the winter when Logan wouldn't have any place to go.

It never worked. No one except my sitter wanted to do it and that made me feel tremendously guilty and a little suspicious. Even though, he hadn't been evaluated, I guessed I did sense something was wrong. He rarely ever got a second date from anyone even when I was home but since he was only a toddler, I thought people were just busy since the only time I could do playdates were on weekends.

After Spencer was born, I was home for a while before I had to go back to work so I tried really hard to help Logan make friends. Sometimes, I was successful and I had some kids come over but it was always me calling them and they never called me. My poor sweet Logan.

I got hit a bit hard with reality one day when I figured out that a boy in my apartment building was having a birthday party in his house and they didn't invite Logan. I knew some of the boys and the moms who were going and they knew that I lived in the same building as the birthday boy. When they saw me in the lobby that day, I guess they assumed Logan would be going too. One mom tried to hold the elevator door open for me so that we could go to the party together but I told her that I was on my way out to pick up Logan from the bus stop. A few minutes later, another friend asked me which buzzer was the birthday boy's apartment thinking that I was invited too and I told her that I didn't know but to look for her last name on the wall. That was really awkward. I guess that mom figured out that Logan wasn't invited. Maybe the birthday boy's mom didn't want Logan at her house because of his hyperactivity or perhaps she only wanted her son's school friends to go to the party. Logan goes to special ed preschool so he has a disadvantage making local friends too.

Can you blame her for not inviting my little guy? I wonder what I'd be like if Logan didn't have ADHD. Would I make him avoid the hyperactive kids or would I teach him to be kind to all kids. I wish I knew but now I consider this experience almost a gift because I believe Logan could learn from playing with anyone despite their differences. We had a playdate with a child with autism the other day and it went so well that we're definitely doing it again! I think Logan can learn a lot from his new friend. She is tons more calmer than him and I have a feeling he will use all his newly learned social and speech skills to try to "bring her out" more.

This week, Logan was able to have a playdate with another new friend named Olivia. Olivia was older than Logan but that didn't really matter. They did so well together that I enjoyed a cup of coffee and while chatting away with Olivia's mom, my friend. It was a great day. I noticed that his play skills seemed to improve. It was easy to tell since there was no meltdown, no time outs, and there was a lot more compliance. Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done but I'm glad he's improved. Most of all he had fun and I think his playmate did too. I think it might have helped that I remembered a couple of tips from Good Friends are Hard to Find by Fred Frankel.

I love it when he has a successful playdate. Olivia's mom encouraged me to keep trying to go on them. Even if I end up leaving early one day because of misbehavior, Logan would get the message: Play nice and stay or Not play nice and be sent home. I should reinforce his good behavior more because I think he did pretty well. Hopefully my little guy will get a second date- the best reinforcement of all!

Picture: Olivia and Logan play Wok-n-Roll. As an Asian American, I am not sure how to feel about game called Wok-and-Roll but if you had it, you'd see that it promotes turn taking, perseverance, and fine motor skills. They loved it and I loved that they loved it and had fun.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

White Lies To Your Spouse: OK or Not OK?

My answer last week. Okay.

My answer this week. Not okay. Forever, I hope.

I think I'm really making some impact with Kai. It's definitely not all coming from me but I do see some changes. It's weird that I'm seeing changes in my marriage. I am usually just looking for changes with the kids. As I try new DAN! treatments, take away something else suspicious in their diets, or if one of them has a new therapist, I look and hope for improvements. Unfortunately, I don't have a keen eye so I've decided to write it all down. I hope it helps me see the changes or figure out concretely that there are none.

With Kai, the changes seem more obvious because I guess they are more dramatic. Perhaps we were in such a deep ditch that any improvement sticks out but as you might have read in a recent post, things are changing for the better.

In a much earlier post, I told you that I lost a library book. I was never able to find it and resolved to just pay for it and tell Kai because while it's certainly okay to lose stuff occasionally, I have a bad habit of not being able to find things right away or forgetting something and that is a major pet peeve of his. So I didn't even ask him if he had seen the book anywhere and I just went to the library and paid for the book. No need to make him upset, right?

I was disturbed to see that the book was not erased from my account when I checked online yesterday so I had to make a phone call to the library and of course, Kai overheard. I wanted to call immediately and so I had to make the call in front of him. That same day, Kai told me that he thinks he saw that book behind the couch. I thought I looked there but I guess I didn't because there it was! Hiding in that spot for two months! Now I have to go back to the library and get my money back! If only I had talked to Kai before, I would have just had to pay a late fee which I'm usually happy to do because I love to give money to the library. I think it is one of the key things that makes human society civilized and productive.

Kai also decided to let go of a semi-white lie as well. Like mine, it was a lie of omission. The same day of the library book finding, I told Kai that Logan's breath smelled bad and he said that he's always like that and that my breath was bad too. I didn't even bother asking him why he never said anything (what woman wants to have bad breath) and thought it was probably just gingivitis. So, about one minute after he said that, I picked up my phone and made appointments for both me and Logan for the dentist.

I think my immediate action after his comment struck a chord in Kai. We just seemed to connect better that day. It was so good that I easily (meaning: without sorrow or guilt) asked him to take care of both kids while I cleared some clutter. In the past, he probably would have moaned and groaned but this time, he did it without complaint. Actually, I did hear a little groan after an hour or so to which I just said and not yelled, "Look, I'm sick of losing things. It's a weakness of mine but it's been so busy these days that I'm having a real hard time. I need time to organize and you have to help."

Watching both kids is hard for him but watching both kids AND doing things for them like feeding and bathing is even harder. It is always good for him to get an occasional semi-sample of my life. For me, I didn't even care that he was learning how to deal with the kids because I felt liberated for having this chance to clean my house undisturbed, find things that I needed, and clear some of the clutter. I even found our suitcases for our trip to Mexico. It wasn't really lost but I just had no idea where they were.

Kai even put the boys to bed. I couldn't believe it. I ended my day of major-productive organizing with a quiet dinner with just me and Kai. The good vibes carried over to the next day as well as we stayed home again which we pretty much never do. If you have ADHD kids, you know what I mean. Staying home is usually not relaxing because there aren't enough distractions. Shouting occurs, followed by crying, and the next thing you know, you are out for a walk to buy things you don't need.

As I found out this weekend, sometimes, it's really good to stay home on a Sunday because you get to see your kids again with your husband at your side to immediately bounce ideas and thoughts. Today, I noticed and Kai agreed that even though Spencer has made a lot of gains, he is quite hyper. He pretty much stayed in a consistent bounce mode the whole weekend. It was nice to observe something together. I didn't question myself at all nor did I feel alone like I usually do.

(Pictures: Top: In-home activities: Kai helps Spencer as big brother teaches little brother how to stack cups into a mountain. I think the Logan-teaching-Spencer-moments are my parental catnip. I am wild about them. Logan shows great insight and better patience as a teacher. I purposely photograph these moments to show Logan how much I value this behavior. It really works better than "Good job" anyday! Lower: Logan tries on Kai's old jacket I dug up in my cleaning frenzy. Kai never wears it but he just won't let it go. I didn't protest because I think the boys will likely wear it when they're older.)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Extreme Family Makeover- Can We Be Typical For Five Days?

I am a little ashamed to admit this but here goes -- I sometimes envy other families. I am a jealous person by nature. I envy homes, financial freedom, careers, and the biggest one: personal freedom that isn't held captive to the needs of ADHD children. Isn't that the most terrible thing to say? I don't know why I was born with such insecurities that I forget to fully appreciate all that I have. Anyway, the only way to get rid of these issues is to face them and pummel them into the ground.

Soon, I'll have a chance to do exactly that. My brother is getting married to a wonderful woman and he has decided to do it in Mexico. The four of us going to Mexico? Breathe... Exhale... Cough... Breathe... Exhale...

It's not really a traditional wedding and so they gave me an untraditional timeline. Six weeks notice but they are footing the entire bill! It's been so long since Kai and I have traveled abroad, I didn't even know where we put our suitcases or if we still even had any. I didn't even know where my passport was.

And what will my allergic kids eat? I won't have the safety and convenience of my own kitchen and pantry and I am still testing out corn, milk, and soy. I bet there is a lot of corn, milk, and soy used in Mexico. What about food dyes and preservatives? All I can bring are dry foods (I should check that too), and possibly sneak a pack of GFCF preservative-free hot dogs in a small cooler. Additionally, I would have to look up what is acceptable to bring on planes like lotions, liquids, shampoos, etc.. I heard about the restrictions on the news but I never paid attention because I never thought we'd be going anywhere. We've been doing "staycations" before it became a national trend. I know that is sad but Kai and I decided to pour our resources into health (DAN! $$) and education for the kids and so we've been really trying our best to conserve until I go back to work full-time.

But money is not an issue with this trip. The only thing we'll be paying for is our taxi ride to the airport and our passport application and expedite fees. They are even buying the boys' suits because they want them to be the ringbearers. RINGBEARERS!?!?! And they know my boys very well and they still want them to do this. I never imagined my ADHD boys being ringbearers. The last time we went to a wedding, it was only because I was a bridesmaid and that was 2 1/2 years ago. Logan, then toddler but undiagnosed, exhausted Kai before the couple said, "I do." No more weddings for Logan if we know what's good for us and that was that.

If anyone thinks my brother footing the bill is odd, all I can say is that Koreans and many Korean Americans do this. Almost of all the time, they will buy all the bridesmaids their dresses (hair and makeup included) and pay for all the groomsmen's tux rentals. Not doing this might be considered embarrassing. The parents of the couple spend a lot of money on buying their new in-laws gifts as well. For wealthier families, the gifts exceed thousands of dollars.

There are so many things to do. Typical families go on vacations all the time and while I always envied them, now I am in a similar position and the stress is mounting higher with each passing day. I have to buy dress shoes for the boys, Kai has to buy a new suit, I have to dig up our special hypoallergenic sunscreen or buy it, I have to make the boys practice being ringbearers, I have to teach Logan about Mexico, I have to find out if there is a fridge to hold the boys' hemp milk, I have to buy some sandals, I have to buy make-up (everything from foundation to lipliner- I have nothing), I have to find out if I can bring hemp milk in my suitcase. I have to... I have to... I have to... ........... ... Is this what typical families go through before vacations or weddings? Maybe they don't have to worry about hemp milk and special sunscreen. My friends and my children's therapists keep telling me that my family is typical in many ways. It's so hard for me to see that. We live in our own special needs bubble.

So we are going to do the typical-family thing and go to a wedding and take a vacation all in one shot. I am just so excited that I don't even care about the million tasks that I need to do before I leave. I also thought about something the other day. While I want my children to be aware of danger, I also want them to do the things they fear. OOOOOH, did I just say that? Yes, I did. I don't want them to ever restrict themselves from doing anything they want to do because they are afraid (disclaimer: solely in the unproductive sense). That means finding the bathroom in the dark, making new friends, taking a test in a subject that's hard for them, asking a girl out on a date, and following their dreams. As I step into my taxi that will take me to the airport, I will face my fears (losing my cool and not enjoying myself and my family in Mexico) and hopefully they'll sense that and the business of conquering fears will rub-off on them too.

(Picture: One thing off my to-do list for Mexico -a new dress!!! It's stretchy fabric so that I can be comfortable and not worry about ripping it when I have to pick up Spencer or chase after the boys. The 3/4 sleeve, empire waistline, and high V-neckline are very slimming- hooray!)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Husband Says He is a "Changed Man"

Recently, I let my guard down a bit and let Logan have access to the remote control. This was a big mistake because I forgot that it would mean that the remote would be within Spencer's reach once Logan put it down. So of course one day, it became missing. I figured out that Spencer could have put it anywhere. (I once found the remote in the garbage can!) I got so nervous because my husband gets very upset with me when I lose things especially his beloved remote control complaining that I am irresponsible in letting the kids have access to it. However, this time he said nothing and looked for the remote control with me for close to an hour.

I kept waiting for the ball to drop and complaints to start and he said nothing. It was a real shocker. In my final meeting with my therapist, he advised me to thank Kai for not bickering. I thought that would be REALLY awkward but I mustered the courage to thank him and he said, "I'm a changed man." That really surprised me. I never considered his complaining about my losing things as a fault but maybe he does. I didn't want to pick and pry this one open. But still, I couldn't relax about it nor enjoy it. It was so foreign to me.

I wish I could say that I'm a changed person too but only a few days after finding the remote in Logan's lunchbag (Thank you Spencer), I lost our membership card to the New York Hall of Science (children's museum) in the parking lot within minutes after Kai handed it to me. He stayed in the car to finish his lunch and I was to take the boys in by myself. Mistake #1: He suggested that I take the boys in by myself but we never do that and I was too busy thinking about my call to remember why I don't go into a museum by myself with two boys who like to run around. I was also feeling ill and drowsy that day. I should have just said no and told him that I would rather wait for him to finish but I really did want to give him a little peace to chow down his lunch. I want too many things and am starting to realize that maybe I am not as adept in organizing myself and my thoughts as I think I am. I am really going to stop joking about it and look into a possible symptoms of ADHD in my behavior. My first step will be to go back to my last post about adult ADHD.

When I came back to the car and told him I lost the card, I instantly thought the mean comments would start flying at me. However, he said nothing and just helped me look for it. Looking on the ground to retrace my steps were useless because it was incredibly windy that day so I'm sure it would have flown away instantly. But, I'm not blaming the weather. I really thought I deserved at least one snide remark or something because I literally lost a membership card from the parking lot on the way to the entrance!!!! Who does that? But Kai was quiet and it took an hour for me to realize that he would not say a word.

The next day, we went shopping in the market and Spencer was crying really hard to be held. So I picked him up, paid for my groceries and was about to walk away with my wallet on the counter! However, Kai was standing right there as the cashier told me about my wallet and Kai just said, "That is my wife." This time, I easily thanked him for restraining himself and again he said, "I told you, I'm a changed man."

Has he really changed? I knew that I was bound to lose something again especially on days that are not routine and are full of appointments. Today was one of those days. I was so busy this past weekend that I hadn't planned out how I would execute all the things I would need to do today. When I used to work, I had a new to-do list everyday but now that I'm home, I don't do that as much as I should. Either way, the day started out great. I got so much done. I even bought a formal dress that actually fit me in just 15 minutes. I swear. But the self-congratulations soon turned into a major moment of shame as I realized I forgot something again. Today, Kai and I had to take the boys to get passports and of course, when I got there, I didn't have the necessary information that I only partially prepared in advance. It turned out to be fine in the end but we had a good hour of feeling really crazed.

After he let off some steam, I carefully and calmly explained to him why I wasn't able to be so organized and how it couldn't be helped given our busy schedule the past few days. I'm only human, right? ADHD or not, I do have a lot of things on my plate. I am bound to miss something when I overload myself. I could tell that he was really listening and he seemed to finally understand why things didn't go well. He didn't apologize for being angry but he calmed down so much quicker than usual. Yep, judging from today's mini-fiasco, he really has changed. I still don't know where this came from but I think I'll smarten up and just accept and enjoy this new improvement in our relationship. Tomorrow's To Do List: 1- Exhale.

(Picture: Yes, Logan really was watching TV while holding the remote like it was a new blankie.)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

No Posts In a Week? Is This the End of My Blog?

Can you believe that I met someone who is now a good friend through this blog? She doesn't live that far from me so fortunately, I had a chance to visit her and her family and solidify our friendship more. She is really great. She notices things about me and is kind enough to tell me what she sees like my blog slowing down and more importantly, the differences in the way I talk about Logan, my big guy (5) and Spencer, my little guy (2). I think she was really right in that I marvel a lot about Spencer's progress and when I talk about Logan, it's all about what I want to accomplish with him. It made me realize that I should be more mindful of that in my attitude towards Logan. I expect a lot from him just like how I expect a lot from myself. I wonder if that is true with most moms and their first-borns. My poor sweet Logan. Spencer benefits so much from what Logan and I go through as I figure out how to be a better parent. I should be more grateful to my big guy.

Okay, so why the slow down on my blog if anyone noticed? Well, it's very complicated but to simply put it: I am so consumed with Logan's education, once again. If any of you have ever felt that you were at a critical junction in your child's educational future then you know what I mean. I hope to blog about it soon when we're finished figuring everything out. I am certainly learning a lot this year and am really hoping for the most appropriate opportunity that my first baby Logan could ever have for kindergarten. Every child's first experience with "big school" should be a positive one, right?

Anyway, thanks to my newest good friend, I found a great new psychiatrist. She gave me his name after she read about my nightmare first experience with a psychiatrist. Anyway, this new doctor was nothing like the last one. I liked him and his furniture a lot. In his office, there were huge brown leather armchairs that said, "Sit here and get comfy but know you will have to speak only the truth even if you are embarrassed." It really intimidated me but overall, it was a good first meeting. This doctor believes that I have mood swings and thinks that the drug that this last psychiatrist put me on was making me hyper which was news to me. It's interesting to hear this because no one else noticed, not even me. I didn't even notice that I haven't been sleeping much and have been extra happy and talkative these days.

I also found it so funny when he said, "Did anyone ever tell you that you talk too much?" You had to be in the room to know that the tone in which he asked this question was really a pure question and not a roundabout way of telling me that I talk too much. I really believe that he just honestly wanted to know if other people think of me this way to understand me better. However, it did sting a bit because it is so true. I know that because my mother, brother, and husband tell me so occasionally. These are the three people in the world who probably know me the best. I told Kai what the doctor said and he smiled the biggest grin. Even though it was at my expense, I enjoyed seeing him smile. I bet you he thinks that doctor is a genius now. This makes me feel better because I want Kai to know it's a productive thing for me to see this doctor especially since I leave him all alone to deal with both boys on the nights that I'll be having my appointments.

I decided to give this new doctor a serious try and also decided to stop, at least temporarily, going to the talk therapist that I see weekly just because I need to simplify things. I'm finding that it's really hard work trying to take care of myself while still doing what I want to do for my kids. Either way, I am grateful to my new friend for helping me find good care and talking frankly (but gently) about her observations about me. I'm also grateful to all the readers of this blog. Thanks for reading, caring, commenting, and sending me your emails. I love the emails. All of this helps me be a better mom. This is certainly not the end of Can Mom Be Calm. I know this because I am still so far from being calm!

(Pictured: With no direction from me, sometimes Logan will do something really sweet for his little brother like build him a bead maze so that he can have fun. He knows Spencer so well. He knows when his brother has made progress in speech "Mommy, Spencer said two words together!" He even knows what Spencer wants when he throws a tantrum. "He wanted to pet the dog but Mommy wouldn't let him." Hey Spencer, you are one lucky toddler!)