Unless otherwise specified, all writing here on my blog is my own original work. If you refer to something I've written here, please be sure to give me proper credit.

COMMENTS ARE MODERATED: Please don't let that deter you from commenting, though. I LOVE to read your thoughts! I only ask that you keep it clean & respectful.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Our ADHD Journey - Part Three

Our first day back to school went well, but day two was another story. He complained, got angry, threw his pencils...anything to express his negativity toward school. I, myself, was feeling quite emotional & sent both of us to our rooms. I called my mom to vent & ended up crying to her. I felt like a horrible mother & at the end of my rope, not sure what to do but wanting to just retreat into a hole & hope everything would pass on its own. She listened. She comforted. She tried to assure me that I was not a bad mother, no matter how much I felt I was.

She asked if I wanted her to have my dad (HandyGramps) call me. I said to not bother him at work. Well, she called him anyway & shortly thereafter, he called me. Now he is more blunt in giving advice so he balanced out my mom's comforting. He wondered why we hadn't upped The Archangel's meds already & said that should be my first step.

For the next week or so, we had him taking 2 mg of Intuniv per day. There was NO change. This med is not like other ADHD meds that can be started & stopped at any time. Intuniv needs to changed by steps. Knowing that the psychiatrist would have us stop it due to no positive changes, I decided to go back to just 1 mg until our next appointment in about a week & a half.

Finally, the day of the appointment arrived & we ended up rescheduling. It was very icy that day. Our van had been giving us problems, so I didn't feel safe driving it anyway, let alone in the inclimate weather. The rescheduled appointment wasn't for another month, so I had the receptionist transfer me to the doctor's voicemail. After he returned my call & I explained what had been going on, he said to stop the Intuniv & we would discuss other options at our next appointment. He also suggested calling the receptionist back to have her put us on a waitlist. That worked out well...she called an hour later & got him in Feb. 15.

In the meantime, he did have an appointment w/ his psychologist. I asked to speak w/ her alone first so that I could explain how things had been since starting Intuniv. When she talked to The Archangel, she drew up a circular diagram (EVENT - THINK - FEEL - DO) to help him see where his anger is coming from, how he reacts, & how it starts the process all over again. It was intended to help him stop & think before impulsively flying off the handle. Did it help? Well, it didn't change things straight away. So far, I think it's more of an "after the fact" aid - a look back & see how he got from calm to chaos.

(To Be Continued)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Thankful Woman's (er...Young Man's) Book of Blessings!

My dear blogging friend, Judy, over at A Thankful Woman's Book of Blessings, hosts this meme every Wednesday. Simply list five things (or a prayer or any thoughts) for which you are truly thankful this week. Voicing my thanks helps put my life in perspective & realize that, no matter how bad things might be, there is still MUCH good surrounding me.

Last week, The Princess dictated to me a list of things she is thankful for. Well, the boys were feeling a bit left out, so I told them that they could do it too. This week we will hear from The Prophet & next week The Archangel.

So here are the five things The Prophet is thankful for...

1) I am thankful for macaroni & cheese pizza & all other kinds of pizza.

2) I am thankful for the person who created Legos & pizza.

3) I am thankful for the Wii.

4) I am thankful for my family.

5) I am thankful for food, air, & shelter.

Thank you dear Prophet! Love ya!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Our Family's ADHD Journey - Part Two

(If you missed Part One, you can find it HERE.)

Last April, when I took The Archangel for his annual well child check-up, I talked to our doctor about his (The Archangel, not our doctor's...LOL!) behaviors & hyperactivity. Based on my descriptions & The Archangel's constant movement & interruptions in the office that day, he said that it definitely was ADHD. We decided to try medicine.

I've learned over the past year that there are MANY medicines used to treat ADHD & they fall into four main categories: stimulants, non-stimulants, anti-depressants, & anti-hypertensives (originally for blood pressure). Doctors always start w/ the lowest dose & go from there. As you can probably guess, there is no quick fix, toss back a Ritalin, & be good to go! EVERY child w/ ADHD is different & many have other disorders, too (depression, ODD, OCD, Tourette Syndrome, etc.) Therefore, treatment is through a process of trial & error, lasting many months in most cases.

Whatever meds we would go with, we had to watch side effects. The most common w/ many of the meds is a loss of appetite. The Archangel has always been a little guy, barely on the weight growth chart at times. He's grown steadily, just not a lot & he's also been a VERY picky eater. Add that to the fact that he's always on the go, burning off those few consumed calories, you can see our concerns.

The first med we tried was Concerta, a stimulant. For one month there was no change in the hyperactivity, but the anger/aggressiveness increased drastically. We returned to the doctor & this time tried a non-stimulant (Strattera). While the anger/aggression went back to how it was previously, three different doses had absolutely no effect on him. Four months down...how many to go?

At this point, our doctor felt it was time for some psychological intervention & referred us to the behavioral department of one of the smaller branches of our local children's hospital. For the first month or so, The Archangel met w/ a psychologist every other week to talk about his feelings & discuss ways to help calm himself. After a couple of months & her assessment, we decided to try another med. This required yet another doctor...a psychiatrist.

After speaking to the psychiatrist, he suggested a fairly newer med, a non-stimulant called Intuniv that is supposed to be good for hyperactivity & aggression. The lowest dose is 1 mg & it usually takes about a week before you see any changes. The biggest side effect is drowsiness, which I figured would be manageable. Being homeschooled, he could take a nap if he needed to in the afternoon.

Let me say that the first week on Intuniv was Hell! Days one & two weren't bad, but by day three he was on the biggest emotional roller...EVER! The tiniest thing would set him off, sobbing uncontrollably for at least 20 minutes at a time. One instance in particular stands out.

He was in the basement playing w/ his siblings & The Saint took his bag of Lego mini-figures & dumped them in w/ the rest of his Legos. The Archangel came stomping up the stairs in tears, even though The Prophet offered to help him sort the Legos back out. He curled up on the couch, sobbing. After about 20 minutes of this, he finally cried himself to sleep. Many people get grumpy or emotional when they are tired. I think, in his case, the drowsiness hit him like a ton of bricks & he didn't know how to handle it. He did not want to be touched or consoled. No one could talk to him or even go near him. When he woke up about a hour later, he was still upset, but would at least let me hold him some.

After a couple more days of emotions (& they usually occurred around 3pm), his system started to get used to the medicine. We had a few outbursts here & there, but the hyperactivity didn't change one bit! The psychiatrist said that we could raise the dose to 2mg if we felt the need, but I hesitated. It was the beginning of December...Advent & Christmas preparations were in full swing, & all of the munchkins were excited & hyper. We decided to continue w/ the current dose until January when we returned to our school schedule.

(To Be Continued)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Challenge of the Month Update

Well, I forgot to update for Angie's Challenge of the Month last week, but truthfully...there really wasn't much to update!

I did great the first week, but as the second week came around, I got behind...first due to colds/sinus infections in our family (YES, AGAIN!) Then, my back started acting up again. I always have pain in my lower back, but the more I exercise, the worse it seems to feel. I thought Pilates would help & I still haven't given up hope, I just need to back off (yes, pun is intended!) a bit.

So, I think I'm going to change my goals a bit & for the next two weeks aim for four 10 minute sessions of Pilates per week. After those two weeks, I'll re-assess.

Have a wonderful week, my dear blogging friends!

Friday, February 18, 2011

"What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?" (Mark 8:36)

WOW! What a powerful statement from our Lord!

In today's Gospel reading (Mark 8:34-9:1), Jesus is asking His followers to deny themselves, take up their crosses, & follow Him.

How's that going for you? If you're anything like me (& the rest of the human race for that matter), you probably struggle w/ this on a daily basis. It's not all about the stuff you acquire, the status you reach in your career, or even the number of friends you have on your Facebook account.

What matters is what is in your heart & how focused you are on getting yourself & your loved ones to Heaven. We've been told all our lives that we can't take our possessions w/ us when we die. God will not judge us on the dollar amount in our back accounts at the time of our death or the award certificates hanging on our walls. He will look into our hearts & see how many times we reached out to help the poor & suffering, how much time we spent in prayer, what we did in the fight against abortion & other moral issues.

I leave you w/ this YouTube video...Toby Mac's Lose My Soul. It fits perfectly w/ today's Gospel.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Small Successes


Danielle Bean says, "It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that."

1) I started a series of posts on our family's ADHD journey w/ The Archangel.

2) For Casinodad's Valentine's Day gift, I made brownies from scratch, decorated the top w/ candied heart sprinkles, cut out a dozen heart shaped brownies, wrapped them in a box, AND decorated the box. He LOVED his gift! (Of course, the Munchkins & I were able to enjoy the rest the leftover pieces, too!)

3) I've started thinking of & making some plans for our next school year. I've even found a couple books at great discount prices already, thanks to Catholic Heritage Curricula's two day clearance a few weeks ago.

Hoping you've had a successful week, too! Blessings!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - The Vacuum Blaster

A Thankful Woman's Book of Blessings

My dear blogging friend, Judy, over at A Thankful Woman's Book of Blessings, hosts this meme every Wednesday. Simply list five things (or a prayer or any thoughts) for which you are truly thankful this week. Voicing my thanks helps put my life in perspective & realize that, no matter how bad things might be, there is still MUCH good surrounding me.

As I was getting ready to come up w/ my list this morning, The Princess woke up & came downstairs to greet me. I decided to let her come up w/ a list today.

So here we go...five things The Princess is thankful for:

1) I'm thankful for God.

2) I'm thankful for my mom & dad.

3) I'm thankful for the Manger I have.

4) I'm thankful for my brothers.

5) I'm thankful for my clothes to wear.

Thank you, dear Princess for this wonderful list! I LOVE YOU!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Our Family's ADHD Journey - Part One

Here & there, I've mentioned that The Archangel has ADHD. I decided to do a series of posts to share our struggles we've faced as we try to find the balance between peace & chaos in our home.


For as long as I can remember, The Archangel has been a hyperactive child & I've told people that he was constantly on the go - physically & verbally! I was told not to worry, he's a boy. Last year, I came across a list of ADHD symptoms put together by the American Pediatric Association (APA). The DSM-IV (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th Edition) breaks ADHD into three categories - Inattention, Hyperactivity, & Impulsivity. Those w/ ADHD can have one, two, or all three parts. When I compared The Archangel to the symptoms listed he fit:

2 out of 9 for Inattention
6 out of 6 for Hyperactivity
3 out of 3 for Impulsivity

Other qualifications are that the symptoms present themselves before age seven & occur in two or more settings. Yep, that fits!

In addition to the hyperactivity, he is also quick to anger. We've joked in the past that he has a "Jeckyll & Hyde Personality" - kind & loving, getting along w/ others one moment, then mean, spiteful, & argumentative the next. Most days we feel like we're walking on eggshells around him, wondering what will be the next trigger to set him off.

The anger & aggression really increased last year, during his first grade year of homeschooling. Many were the days (& still are) when I would set an assignment in front of him & before I could begin an explanation, he'd say it was too hard & couldn't do it. He'd break his pencil or throw it across the room, tear or crumple his paper, &/or stomp off, pushing over any chairs in his way. Once he calmed down enough to complete the work, he'd say, "That wasn't hard!"

One evening, he became angry w/ Casinodad & The Prophet because he thought they had skipped his turn on a computer game. He stomped to the couch, crying & threw his glasses...which landed by my feet in the next room.

While he argues & fights w/ all of his siblings, The Princess seems to be the one on the receiving end the majority of the time. He talks down to her, calls her names, & says that her songs/stories/creations are dumb. He belittles her & has to disagree w/ anything she says, even it she's expressing her feelings on a subject. If she's doing something that he perceives to be even slightly annoying, his impulsivity kick in. He will begin to yell at her, call her names, push or hit her, kick whatever toys she's playing with, etc. I do have to say that there are times when the two of them play VERY well together. Although those moments are few & far between, we do take the extra effort to recognize & praise the behavior.

With all of his anger & aggression, I began to wonder if he might also have Oppositional Defiant Disorder. After all, he fits all eight of the behaviors listed in the DSM-IV. One thing that distinguishes him from someone w/ ODD, though, is that their actions are intentional & they show no remorse. The Archangel's behaviors at times can be intentional, brought on by the impulse to react in various situations (especially w/ The Princess). However, most times he will apologize on his own & say that he loves us.
(To Be Continued)

The Catholic Company Book Review - The Power of the Sacraments by Sr. Briege McKenna

The Power of the Sacraments by Sr. Briege McKenna, O.S.C.

Physically, our veins carry blood throughout our bodies from our hearts. Without that blood, we would cease to live. In the spiritual sense, we also have something to sustain us..."The sacraments are the veins that flow with life." (pg. 3) These wonderful gifts from God give us supernatural life - the grace to live in holiness.

This book is a quick, easy read - only 64 pages that I read in less than two hours. Using comparisons of the physical and spiritual sides of life, Sr. Briege McKenna, O.S.C. gives readers a greater appreciation of the sacraments. These comparisons help us to see the importance of the sacraments in our lives. For example, we can be physically ill through sickness or injury and need medicine to heal us. Spiritually our souls can be sick, pulling us further away from God. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the healing medicine needed to make us spiritually well.

Each chapter, in addition to information about the sacraments, includes special stories and miracles from Sr. Briege's own experiences. Through her work, she has seen firsthand how powerful the sacraments really are and she has generously shared those with us. Now that I've read this book, I hope that I, too, will be able to witness the strength of the sacraments in my own life & the lives of those around me.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Power of the Sacraments. They are also a great source for serenity prayer and baptism gifts.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Small Successes


Danielle Bean says, "It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that."

1) Last night, I did NOT lose my temper when The Archangel was being mean, spiteful, & disrespectful. I calmly told him it was time for bed, led him upstairs, tucked him in, kissed him, & told him I loved him. Then I walked away...no confrontations, no yelling, no tears (for either of us).

2) I balanced our checkbook on the day after I received our statement in the mail. Usually it sits for a week or two before I get around to it.

3) I have not gone into a grocery store since Sunday afternoon!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - January Snow Fun (2nd Post Today)

A Thankful Woman's Book of Blessings

Please keep dear Judy & her family in your prayers. The flu has hit their home in the past week. Much love & prayers for your family, Judy!

My dear blogging friend, Judy, over at A Thankful Woman's Book of Blessings, hosts this meme every Wednesday. Simply list five things (or a prayer or any thoughts) for which you are truly thankful this week. Voicing my thanks helps put my life in perspective & realize that, no matter how bad things might be, there is still MUCH good surrounding me.

Lord, today I thank you for the gift of the five senses...

1) Thank you Lord for my eyes! They enable me to see the beauty of the many gifts you've given...Casinodad & the Munchkins, the beautiful cardinals & blue jays in our pear trees w/ the fresh snow as a backdrop, the words in books which draw pictures in my mind.

2) Thank you Lord for my ears! They enable me to hear the loving words spoken by Casinodad & the Munchkins, children's laughter, the music of nature, & music in general.

3) Thank you Lord for my nose! It enables me to smell Casinodad & the Munchkins fresh from the shower (& even when they're stinky...LOL!), the lilacs & other flowers of the earth, fresh baked goodies in the kitchen, & that pot of coffee brewing first thing in the morning.

4) Thank you Lord for my tongue! It enables me to taste those fresh baked goodies & coffee from the kitchen, know whether something does not taste right, & helps me to speak kind words.

5) Thank you Lord for my hands! They enable me to embrace my family, to feel the smooth skin of the Munchkins & the warmth of Casinodad's hand, and allow me to perform the day to day tasks needed to make our house a home.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Challenge of the Month - Week One Results

Well, I made it through week one for Angie's Challenge of the Month. My goal was to do 10 minutes of Pilates for four days last week & I DID IT!!!! This week, I need to do 15 minutes each day for five days.

The only problem I've found so far is that I cannot do these exercises when the munchkins are in the same room. The older three aren't too bad...just making noise so that I can't hear the DVD as well. The Saint, on the other hand, likes to either get underneath me or sit on my back while I'm trying to exercise. Makes it a bit difficult w/ that extra 24 pounds!

Friday, February 4, 2011

My Dad's Screen Name!

A few posts back, I wrote about how our screen names came about. I mentioned that my dad requested one for himself since I refer to him frequently on here. We've been tossing around a bunch of names & just today come up w/ one that will fit. Incorporating our need for the occasional call to 1-800-CALL-DAD & the fact that he is grandpa to the Munchkins, he will now be referred to as...

(drumroll please)


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Small Successes


Danielle Bean says, "It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that."

1) I cleared out our hanging files, something I try to do every January. I recycle/shred all the stuff we don't need anymore & put the rest in file boxes to store away. It's amazing how fast paper can pile up, isn't it?

2) I baked some super easy muffins. You only need 2 ingredients. Mix one box Devil's Food cake mix w/ 15 oz. of pureed pumpkin (canned or fresh). Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Eat as is or top w/ cream cheese frosting. I know it sounds like a strange combination, but they are delicious! (My mom also made them, but she used a spice cake mix. She said it was good.)

3) I registered for our parish's upcoming study of Jeff Cavins' A Quick Journey through the Bible. I'm really looking forward to this 8-week series.

BONUS: I actually got this post & my Thankful Woman's Book of Blessings post done up ahead of time (Monday afternoon) & scheduled to post on their days.

Please hop on over the Faith and Family Live to share your successes & see how others are doing w/ theirs.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Challenge of the Month

My dear college friend, Angie (whom my munchkins nicknamed GiGi when The Archangel couldn't say Angie!), is running a year-long challenge on her blog Pretty in Orange. Each month, is a new challenge. She says, "It might involve something for your brain, something for your soul or something for your body." Each month's winner will receive a $25 gift card for Amazon.com AND she will make a $25 donation to the charity of your choice. You can see the full details of her challenge HERE.

Angie's challenge for February is a physical one to try something new. The timing couldn't be more perfect for me! Someone had suggested that Pilates might be something good for my lower back pain. Just a couple days before I read February's challenge, I had picked up a couple Pilates DVDs at the library.

So, my goal for this month:
Week One - Do 10 minutes of Pilates, four times during the week.
Week Two - Increase to 15 minutes, five times during the week.
Week Three - Increase to 20 minutes, five times during the week.
Week Four - By this time I plan to do the whole DVD (34 minutes worth), five times during the week.

I think that is doable for me & I plan to update here each week to share my success (& yes, I WILL make this a success!!!!!!!) Even if I do not will her prizes, I win...because I will be doing something good for my body, something I NEED to be doing anyway.

As I was thinking about this post ahead of time, I began to wonder if this might be a better idea for us instead of making New Year's resolutions. By choosing one thing & challenging ourselves for one month at a time, it makes it easier to accomplish our goals & make them successful. After all, it takes 21 days to make something a habit, so why not focus on just one thing at a time.

A Thankful Woman's Book of Blessings

My dear blogging friend, Judy, over at A Thankful Woman's Book of Blessings, hosts this meme every Wednesday. Simply list five things (or a prayer or any thoughts) for which you are truly thankful this week. Voicing my thanks helps put my life in perspective & realize that, no matter how bad things might be, there is still MUCH good surrounding me.

1) Thank you, Lord, that I'm getting my voice back after being sick last week. It's amazing how much I find to say when I can't say anything!

2) Thank you, Lord, that The Saint was not injured more than just his chin when he broke a glass bottle on Friday. He received a big gash that needed about six stitches. We are SO THANKFUL that the glass didn't hit his eye, or even worse, his neck.

3) Thank you, Lord, that I was able to remain so calm when my dad called to say they needed to take The Saint to Urgent Care. (They were watching the munchkins so that I could rest my voice for the day.) I think that if I had been there when it happened, I would've been quite shaken at seeing how big the gash was.

4) Thank you, Lord, that we didn't have to take another trip to Urgent Care the next day when The Saint stuck a Lego in his nose. I was able to get it out w/ tweezers & no scratches. WOW! This 2 year old is REALLY keeping us on our toes! He was NOT alone in either instance...he's just very quick!

5) Thank you, Lord, for the eight year path on which you led Abby Johnson. Her eight years w/ Planned Parenthood gave her the opportunity to share what really goes on in their evil clinics. (You can read my review of her new book, unPlanned HERE.)