November 21, 2012

24 hours of childhood trauma

     Today I felt the urge to document the past 24 hours in my house. Panda has a three week track break from her school. Poodaloo will be off school starting tomorrow through the week of Thanksgiving. They are both going to a local gym for day camp tomorrow. Am I glad? You better believe it.

     Any change in regular routine is difficult for Panda (as with most kids who have experienced pre-verbal trauma). At school they have a set routine posted on the board. This is very comforting for Panda. I've tried doing the same at home. It does help her but I'm lousy at keeping it current. Posting the monthly school lunch menus in the kitchen is a stretch for me.

     During track break, multiple times each day she asks me 'what are we doing today?' If there is anything she especially likes on the agenda, it must be done NOW. She gets agitated with any delay. I attempt not to allow her to control when things happen but it is exhausting. We have been together for two weeks now, with another ten days to go. Twice a week she goes to the day camp so I get a break.

     Yesterday was a camp day with swimming at a local pool. When we arrived at the gym, Panda informed me she did not have her swim suit because I said I'd get it for her and I did not get it. Fortunately, there was time to return home and fetch the swimming suit before the campers departed.

     Poodaloo had not been feeling well and I let her stay home from school. She is a model sick kid and is perfectly happy watching TV. I worked in my sewing room and did laundry most of the day. I suspected Panda would not be happy to learn Poodaloo had stayed home with me. Boy, did I get that right. Panda complained about Poodaloo's sick day for (what seemed like) hours.

     Baba has worked late all this week. He gets home in time to see the girls briefly before they go to bed. This is another change of routine which has Panda on edge. As the girls got ready for bed, Panda realized one of the blankets was missing from her bed. (Both girls sleep on pads in our bedroom.) I said it was downstairs because I had used it to cover Poodaloo when she was cold.

     That was all it took to cause total dysregulation. She screamed and threw things around the bedroom. Baba ran upstairs to see what was going on. I asked him to bring up the purple blanket on the couch. He returned with the wrong blanket. Screaming and fit pitching again. Finally the purple blanket was upstairs for her but she could not calm down. Poodaloo was afraid to get into her bed (right beside Panda's bed). Baba offered to lay down between them. I read a couple chapters in a book, as usual. Reading has always been a resource we've used to help her regulate.

     The night was relatively quiet and both girls slept without waking. In the morning, Panda snuggled up to me for a few minutes. She then followed Baba about the house. Eventually, Poodaloo awoke. She crawled into bed with me. Then Panda came into the room and saw her with me. I scooted over so Panda could lay on my other side. Each of the girls tried to get more than half of my body space by inching out the other. This is not a relaxing thing so I quickly got out of bed.

     I went down stairs to make coffee and start breakfast for the girls. Poodaloo is not much for eating breakfast but she will always drink a cup of warm chocolate soy milk. I figure that is a pretty good dose of protein and don't worry too much if she doesn't eat anything more. Panda does not like to eat in the morning. She really NEEDS to eat a good serving of protein to stay regulated. I made sausage patties for them. There was a smidgen of hamburger in the refrigerator so I mixed it into the sausage meat before making the patties.

     When the sausage was cooked I called the girls to come eat. Panda wanted to know if the patties were sausage only. I explained about adding a tiny bit of hamburger. She would have nothing to do with eating because she 'hates hamburger'. It isn't possible to force her to eat so I asked her to please find some kind of protein she wanted to eat. (Yes, this is a common morning battle.) She likes to eat turkey pepperoni with cheese melted on it. She made herself a plate with a dozen or so pepperoni pieces on it.

     It was time to get in the car and take Poodaloo to school (we had not been ready to catch the bus because of the sausage fiasco). Panda carried her plate of pepperoni into the garage so she could finish eating in the car. Poodaloo followed behind her with her backpack. She accidently bumped Panda and it knocked the plate of pepperoni onto the floor. It shattered. Panda got hysterical. I remained calm though and asked her to please make herself more pepperoni. We walked back into the house together (I had to get the broom). Got it cleaned up and Panda came back into the garage, still muttering about Poodaloo bumping her on purpose so she would drop the plate.

     It is a few days after I wrote the previous part of this post. Surprisingly, not much has been said about the plate incident. I am certain it will be mentioned again at some point. Both girls have been home together for six days now. Today, the girls were really snipey and nasty to each other. I was tempted to leave home but couldn't think of anywhere to escape. 

    We had a plan to fetch J-Bear from her daycare and go to see a movie. I was not particularly in the mood for the outing, but staying home seemed a worse option. We went to the cheap theatre and saw 'Brave' because it had a family friendly rating stamp on the theatre website.

     Good grief - I cannot imagine the criteria for family friendly. It was very scary!! By the end, Poodaloo was in my lap crying, Panda was clinging to my arm and J-Bear was sitting on Panda's lap. Everything turned out hunky dory in the end so we gave it a 'so-so' rating. Then I delivered all three kids to my sister's house for the night. Yippee!!!!

September 22, 2012

Dare I write this?

     Panda has experienced an huge leap in emotional stability. Hardly any throwing things. She can often stop herself before she explodes in anger. This has been over the past several weeks. Her recent therapy sessions have focused on working through a book called, What to Do When You Grumble Too Much.

     We aren't sure if this book has wrought the change but the timing is right. Could be all the strategies we've worked on the past year are finally coming to fruition. Perhaps is it a result of her Baba resigning from his job and landing another job. He is so much more relaxed and engaged in family stuff without the stress from work.

     I suppose it doesn't actually matter. We are thankful for the changes, no matter the source! We love her so much!

Panda and her gigantic cabbage. All third graders in the school district receive a cabbage to grow over the summer.

September 17, 2012

Why do French people do that?

     My girls love listening to audio books in the car. We always have one in the CD player. I like them, too. It has been fun revisiting or hearing anew books for kids. My faves have been the books written by E.B. White because he reads the stories. How cool to hear the author reading his own books. Can't decide if I liked Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little or Trumpet of the Swan best.

     Which was your favorite kids book? Maybe the library has it on audio and you can listen in the car. No one else has to know. My lips are zipped.

     From time to time we select an audio book I realize is too old for them. But by the time I figure out they are hooked on the story. For example, there is a series written by Jennifer Allison about a young lady who considers herself to be a psychic investigator. We've listened to three books in the series. It was the second book, Gilda Joyce: The Ghost Sonata, which was too mature for Panda and Poodaloo. In the story, 14 year old Gilda receives her first kiss. Afterward, in the way of teenage girls, Gilda and her friend Wendy Choy talked about the kiss. To wit*, it wasn't a French kiss, just a regular kiss.

     As you might imagine, Panda and Poodaloo wanted to know what is a French kiss. I always try to be factual & matter of fact when they ask questions of that nature, so I briefly described a French kiss. At the time, that completely satisfied their curiosity and they continued listening to the story.

     Several weeks later, Poodaloo mentioned she and Panda had tried French kissing. Then she said, "Mama, why do French people do that? It's just sharing germs! Yuck!"

     Totally cracked me up.

Meaning of 'to wit' in case you aren't sure (like me).

September 16, 2012

Summer fun

     Random photos from our summer adventures.

Girl Scout retreat in June. It was colder than our past retreats but everyone still had fun.

End of school and early summer adventures.

Vegetables, cats and swimming lessons!
Girl Scout horse camp near Salmon, Idaho. They loved it and hope to go back next year!

Moderate to severe . . . .

Note:  I began this post in April. Before it was finished, things got wild in our lives. You could say May, June, July & August kicked me in the rear-end. It was definitely a kick that caused me to neglect this blog and my five followers. 
Sorry . . . . I will start posting again. Cross my heart.

     A few weeks ago my therapist told me she thinks I am depressed. I completed some screening questions and the screening indicated I am 'moderate to severely' depressed. I made an appointment with my PCP (primary care physician - what a silly acronym - I call him Dr. R.) to change or add to the anti-depressant medications I take each day.

     I've taken antidepressants for several years. Prior to starting antidepressant medication, I had the attitude of a certain dwarf*. I didn't realize grumpiness is a symptom of depression.My doctor told me that one of every three patients he sees suffers from some degree of depression.

* Grumpy

    It also runs in families. My mother battled depression for many years. She was diagnosed as bipolar, except it was called manic depression in those days.

     Previous to starting antidepressant medication, I had no idea depression was so common. Now, I make a point to talk about my depression and medication whenever I can. It is not talked about enough. People need to know they are not alone with it.

     Over the past year I have noticed there are certain signs telling me I'm getting depressed. The problem is, when you are depressed, knowing it's happening is not enough to get you out of it. If I have an especially bad day, at least I know tomorrow will most likely be much better.

     One sign has to do with my medications and the other with laundry. I don't remember to take my meds every day when I'm getting depressed. And, I cannot make myself fold and put away the laundry, either. I usually get it washed and we have to dig for clean clothes in baskets.

May 29, 2012

School's out for summer . . . sorta

    May is almost over and it was a whirlwind of activities. Poodaloo is out of school as of Friday. Panda is very unhappy about the situation (i.e. she has school and sister does not). I'm in shock, thinking there was one more week before Poodaloo is out.

     Golden parenting moments are when you are part of an experience that positively thrills your kids. And, it didn't cost anything, you didn't have to drive anywhere or make snacks. These were those kind of moments, a mirror, a fan and imagination.

Look! I'm praying with one hand.

I'm a mirror image of myself!
Making your voice sound weird by talking into the fan.
     May brings flowers (and showers) to the yard. Panda and a neighbor girl helped weather seal the new elevated garden bed. It is the herb garden and so beautiful. Then there is the new planter (which formerly resided in our purple bathroom).

Yes, those are snow boots on her feet.

Sprinklers are irresistable. The far raised bed looks very lush. Unfortunately, it is  an outstanding crop of weeds. Ugh!

This looks even cuter as the plants grow & grow.

Elevated herb garden.

Out-of-this-world gorgeous clematis.
     This past weekend, Baba and I had an unexpected opportunity. Panda went camping with her friend J. Poodaloo spent the weekend with J-Bear (triple sleepover). While the kids were away, the parents played and rested and did any thing we wanted. It was the longest time we have been kid-free since we became parents. What a concept ~ must do this again (and again and again)!

May 7, 2012


     Spent the latter part of last week (Wed-Fri) in the Wood River Valley attending a conference. My first official dietitian job was at the small hospital in Sun Valley. St. Moritz (name of hospital) has been replaced by a modern facility south of town.

     The conference was put on by the dietetic association in the state. I was very active in the association during my time as an employed person. I know people from all over the state and from many disciplines of dietetics. The conference is a highlight for me each year. This one was no exception.

     The agenda seemed geared for my personal education, although I'm sure that was not the planning committee's intent. There were several presentations about relationship development within the health care team. One doctor presented information about functional and integrative medicine even though the session was called Metabolic Syndrome something-or-other. There was an allergist who explained a great deal about allergies and how he works with registered dietitians to help patients. A PhD candidate RD talked of her research in the area of autism. (Many parents of autistic children use a gluten-free, casein-free diet.)

     And the best part of all? My family survived*, even thrived, during my absence!! Thursday morning was a little dicey, but they were all feeling fine from that point on. In fact, the only known undesirable outcome: Hogan ate four meals a day while I was gone. Gigi gets very unnerved without me around. She won't let Loren feed her. Hogan has no such qualms.

     This next thing has nothing to do with dietitians or my trip to Sun Valley. Here is a fun monologue. I had a similar experience with my children a few years ago. It began with cows instead of frogs. Enjoy . . .

* Friday morning Poodaloo complained of being too sick to attend school. Daddy brushed her off and sent her to school. At 10:30 he received a call from school. She had upchucked and they would like him to take her home. By the time I got home that evening, there was no evidence of illness.

April 25, 2012

School carnival

     The next big event was the school carnival. It was held on a Friday night. I don't know how the faculty and staff can be so cheerful and excited on a Friday night.

Hoping to win a cake.

Panda is in a purple-blue shirt in the center. She's wearing colorful sandals.

The cake walk markers were countries from around the world (instead of numbers).

One activity included glitter in the hair and face painting.

Of course, there was food. She can't eat the bun but that just meant more room for  hot dogs. Panda ate four  dogs! (We ate dinner before going to the carnival.)

Poodaloo takes aim for that teeny, tiny hole.
     They also have a silent auction. I love silent auctions! Unfortunately, I 'won' several items - including a new cordless drill. I thought the item was a $90 gift card from Lowes. I was sure someone would outbid.

     I don't need another cordless drill. If YOU need a cordless drill, give me a shout - I will make you a really good deal. Really, . . . . call me!

The Easter bunny was busy

     It was a gorgeous Easter weekend here. The girls love to hunt for and dye eggs. We celebrated with the Girl Scout troop families on Saturday. Spent Easter Sunday at church and then with my sister's family.

A first this year ~ we let the kids colored eggs at the party. Panda is in the middle in green shirt. Poodaloo is on the far right.

Must make time for some horse play!
(Action shots are my very favorite style of photo. It's a special treat to capture one.)

And ~ they are off!!

Panda strikes gold.

Poodaloo and M count their booty. Only 12 eggs allowed per kid.
     The next day it was off to church and brunch with the family. The church egg hunt has a twist. The kids hunt for cans of food. They exchange the canned food for a book. The food is donated to the congregation food bank. (Forgot to bring camera.)

     An egg hunt with Aunt Shaw has been the tradition since Panda's first Easter with us. Shaw takes a special photo of Panda and the sunflower each year. See how she has grown. (Have I mentioned my sis has a blog? She's far more prolific at posting.)

Papparazzi capture the digital moment.

April 4, 2012

Reno bound and back

     We loaded the van and headed south last week. A spring break trip to see Grandma and the family was in order. We invited J-Bear to come along. Everyone was excited. And, a good time was had by all during our brief two day visit (plus two long days traveling on either side).

     This was our first trip since beginning the gluten-free, dairy-free, egg & beef-free diets. No small feat to prepare for travel. The tradition for our visits is to have pizza at Grandma's house the night we arrive. I bought supplies for making 'safe' pizza for the girls. The only problem was I forgot to bring the most important supply: pizza crust! Upon arrival, Aunt K and I headed out in search of gluten-free pizza crust. Three grocery stores later, we hit pay dirt. Enough to say I am not impressed with the GF foods available in Reno grocery stores.

     Following is a pictorial view of our visit!

Cheers! A picnic in the back yard on Friday.
Playing computer games with cousin L. Notice J-Bear is not much of a gamer.

Bath and ice cream on Friday night. It was non-dairy frozen dessert. We still call it ice cream!
     Saturday was a busy day with a tree planting service at church. The tree was planted in memory of Grandpa B.
Digging the hole in preparation for the tree.

Watching the diggers from inside where it was not windy.

Poodaloo adding a handful of dirt.

A happy tree planting crew.
     After the short tree service, everyone went to Grandma's house for brunch. Grandma P. from Gardnerville joined us for a visit. Both sides of our family live in the area and we try to see everyone during a visit.

     After brunch, Baba and his brother took the children to Scheel's to entertain them. Deer in the headlights is the look I received when gently posing the idea of taking a camera. Six kids and two men = no photos. It was later learned there had been one point when five of the kids had gone missing. The good news is everyone had a fine time and they returned with the appropriate number of children.

     While the kids were off playing, the quilting bee commenced with the ladies. The ladies from Nevada are master quilters who oversee a quilting group at the church. They were very knowledgeable about how to divide up the tasks. With teamwork, we pieced and tied a quilt for the neonatal unit in our local children's hospital. The kids returned in time to help with tying the quilt (although some were too tired to help).

J-Bear getting her first taste of quilting.

Grandma is an expert at piecing and tying quilts.

Panda tying.

Poodaloo and Baba took a nap.
     Then it was time for the long drive home. Ugh . . . . halfway through the trip we stopped to blow the stink off everyone! This is typical of the 'scenery' for most of the trip.

Poodaloo and J-Bear running amok. (They are NOT running on the highway!)

Wearing the nifty hats they bought at the mini-mart in Lovelock.
     We arrived home around 8pm Sunday night. School and work for almost everyone the next day. Mama slept a good share of Monday.