Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ode to Mike Rowe- "Honest work looks an awful lot like dirt"

One of the coolest men on earth, besides my husband of course, has to be Mike Rowe.  Most of you know him, I'm sure from Dirty Jobs.  But that isn’t his only job. In fact he narrates everything under the sun, from Ghost Hunters to Deadliest Catch to Wild Pacific, Ghost Lab.  And he has hosted Shark Week.  And of course who can forget the Ford commercials.  Or the Lee Jeans.  

Anyway, here is my tribute to Mike Rowe
My top ten reasons I want to have a drink with Mike:

10- He sang in the opera. How many men can say they’ve done that?
9- He has read to students who were visually impaired when he was a boy scout
8- He believes in playing in the mud

7- He has created his own Jelly Belly flavor
6- He has brought light to hundreds of jobs no one thought existed
5- He likes to be dirty.

4- He helped dirty Oscar the Grouch's pig on Sesame Street
3- He has fondled horses, cows, birds, sheep in the name of the job and has not gotten arrested 
2- He spoke on the behalf of the working man during a Science, Commerce, and Transportation Congressional Hearing on the importance of not forgetting the trade services!!!
And the top reason I would love to have a beer with Mike Rowe is….
1. He can shoot the "pooh" as good as he can shovel it!

Check out Mike's Foundation at http://www.mikeroweworks.com/

Monday, May 30, 2011

Save, Spend, Donate

Money can be a good avenue for teaching children about compassion and giving.  Often, it is during the winter holidays is when we tend to do this.  But why not make it a year long process?

So today, I sat down with Boogie and said, "Hey, honey, do you want to go through your banks and make some new ones?"  "Yeah!" he replied quite happily. I got out 3 labels- Save, Spend, and Donate.  Then I placed one each bank.  He read them aloud and said, "Well, I will put the dollars and cool coins, you know the ones that are really different in the Save one."  Good idea, honey.  Then he wasn't sure about the others.  So I suggested to put the pennies into the DONATE container. "Oh that is good mommy because they are all brown and just one cent."  Yes, I told him, but all of those pennies will add up to make someone very happy, like when we counted 20,000 pennies for the A Wish Come True.  "Then we can put the nickels and dimes into the SPEND bank."  Sure, I think that is a good idea too.  "And when I want to buy a new Beyblade I will take out these."  Yup.  Boy you are smart.  Coincidentally, he had just finished his chapter in math which was about money and coin identification, so it really meant something to him.

Boog was incredibly proud of himself after separating his money, and quickly showed Kyle and Mudget his new banks.  It made me feel good, too, knowing that I am instilling a sense of responsibility, compassion, and money management early on so that he can make this a part of his everyday life.  And of course reap some of the benefits of earnings from his Responsibility Chart or the occasional birthday card. So if you want to try to work on the spirit of giving, coin identification, or chore rewards, having 3 separate banks may help with these skills to build a money smart kid.  

Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go. ~ Mother Teresa

Sunday, May 29, 2011

"The meaning of life is to live life”- Jon Blais

I don't think jogging, especially morning jogging, is healthy. I mean if morning joggers knew how tempting they looked to morning motorists, they would have just stayed home and done sit ups. ~Rita Rudner

So today I ran my first 5k in Seekonk, Massachusetts for the Blazeman Foundation's People with ALS.  ALS is also known as Lou Gherig's diseases and as the disease that inspired the book Tuesdays with Morrie. But as my first race, it was very inspiring and appropriate on this Memorial Day Weekend.  The Blazeman Foundation for ALS focuses on two main causes: awareness and research fundraising to one day find a cure for ALS...So Others May Live.  Jon Blais was a teacher, a tri-athelete, and a good friend to many.  In 2003, Jon Blais was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.  And as strong willed as he was, advocating strongly and becoming a voice for those with the disease, he passed away in 2007.  

In honor of his strength and commitment, the foundation was born and today, I became a small part in it. Jon Blais' father started with a ceremony scattering his son's ashes on the field on which he enjoyed playing sports. It was incredibly touching and invigorating.  So off I went with music on and determination that I would run (ok slowly jog) an entire 5K.  And dammit I did. 43 minutes and 30 seconds later, hot, sweaty and red faced, but smiling,  I crossed the finish line.  

I was incredibly proud of myself for doing what I set out to do.  Granted, we will see what the next two days will bring me, but is fine.  Bring it. Because I know I will do another one, when it is not humid and 80, and beat my time :)  Happy Memorial Day.

The Blazeman Foundation: http://www.waronals.com

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Summer guide 2011...

It arrived the other day, the ProJo Summer Guide. I was actually kinda excited to see some of the activities going on in the Ocean State this summer. There are things I knew and shared about already, and then I found some new things I wanted to do, like ...

The South County Hot Air Balloon Festival July 22-24. Www.southcountyballoonfest.com

The Rhode Island National Guard Air Show June 25-26. Www.riairshow.org

Free Bowling for kids all summer long. Www.freebowling.amf.com

Visit Www.gonewport.com for a full listing of Newport summer events like The Great Chowder Cook-off June 4th or the 7th annual family day at Fort Dams State Park also on the 4th.

Waterfire, a Rhode Island staple, has its summer schedule out. Visit www.waterfire.org

Frerichs Farm in Warren, RI is holding a Fantasy Faire on July 9th, including pirates, fairies and a unicorn. Www.frerichsfarm.com

Festival Fete, an arts and craft festival with Big Nazo and Ten 31 performers, will be in 3 locations over the summer. The Garden City Art Festival June 11, The City Art Festival August 6, and East Greenwich Art Festival September 3. Www.festivalfete.com

Battleship Cove, www.battleshipcove.org, has the largest collection of preserved US Navy ships in the world, right in Fall River, Mass.

The Kaleidoscope Theater in Cranston hosts a bunch of family friendly plays throughout the summer. Www.kaleidoscopetheater.com

Theatre by the Sea is also showing 6 children's shows. Www.theatrebythesea.com

So if you are really at a loss with things to do, pack up the kids, do eeni meenie miney mo, and try something new...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mom, what is Memorial Day about?

Well, if you have heard this question, or wondered it yourself, you know it is not supposed to be about the 3 day super sales. But it is what it has turned into. So how do you explain it and celebrate it with kids?

First, a little history lesson. It originated after the civil war as a day of remembrance for those lost in the battles, symbolized by placing crosses and flowers at the gravesides of fallen soldiers. Then in 1868, retired Major General Logan declared that the 30th of May be a time of remembrance for the brave service of men and women who gave their lives for their country. Now, it honors those who died in any of the wars, past and present, from the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and Desert Storm, to the current battles still being fought in the Middle East. It was declared a federal holiday in 1971 and we use this day to also remember loved ones as well. Parades and dedications of memorials are usually part of the day's activities to commemorate the holiday.

So when you and your family are celebrating the extended weekend, make sure you take the time to think about why. Get your kids involved by going to a parade (bring ear plugs, sunscreen and water). Make a craft, and visit a local dedicated park or playground honoring service men and women. But make sure to share with them the importance of the day.

"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself." ~Joseph Campbell


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sprinkler Time

Mudget has been dying to use this Buzz Lightyear Sprinkler since he received it for a birthday present in February.  He just kept looking at it and asking if it was warm enough to take it out.

So when we got home from school, out came the sprinkler, as if it were the forbidden fruit, gleaming in the light of the 80 degree sunshine.

And this is what occurred....

There is something to be said for that....

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

OT SOAP BOX: Being on the other side of the meeting table

I have participated in many many many staffings and IEPs over the past few years, and I always made it a point to be compassionate and sympathizing.  I recently have had the luxury of empathizing as well.  

Mudget has always had a nasally sounding voice.  Our family often mocked him (I know it is terrible) Like when he asked "Auntie Tata for a nyack."  She replied, "You want a nyack?" "No! I want a nyack!"  And this would go on like a Laurel and Hardy skit.  He's had ear tubes placed twice and adenoids out.  And every visit to the ENT, I say, boy doctor, he is really nasally and he can't blow bubbles or a pinwheel without holding his nose.  And that doctor would reply, "oh he doesn't have a problem. If he did, he would sound like this..."  And he would talk in a voice that sounded just like Mudget's.  So needless to say, I switched ENTs, got a second opinion and a referral for a speech evaluation.

At the evaluation, the speech therapist used a standardize test, as well as just talked with him to hear his typical voice and speech patterns.  And when we met the next day for the staffing, the meeting at which you determine if he qualifies for special services, she stated that he has nasal emissions (talking through the nose resulting in air coming through), and though it is at the end of the year, try some of these activities over the summer, and she will look at him in the fall when he enters the new local preschool to see if we need intense therapy to alleviate the problem.

But it got me thinking.  I am well aware and have many resources and supports to utilize to my advantage. I know and feel comfortable asking questions and advocating for my kids (birthed, and not birthed).  But for those new to the experience, it is very daunting.  So I wanted to share some info and apps so that people can better and more comfortably understand the process.

iAdvocate is a free app developed by Syracuse University with responses to problems, strategies and resources about how to advocate for inclusive services.

ASHA, the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association, has a number of resources on the development of speech and language.  According to ASHA, by the end of Kindergarten as child should be able to do the following:
  • Follow 1-2 simple directions in a sequence
  • Listen to and understand age-appropriate stories read aloud
  • Follow a simple conversation
  • Be understood by most people
  • Answer simple "yes/no" questions
  • Answer open-ended questions (e.g., "What did you have for lunch today?")
  • Retell a story or talk about an event
  • Participate appropriately in conversations
  • Show interest in and start conversations
  • Know how a book works (e.g., read from left to right and top to bottom in English)
  • Understand that spoken words are made up of sounds
  • Identify words that rhyme (e.g., cat and hat)
  • Compare and match words based on their sounds
  • Understand that letters represent speech sounds and match sounds to letters
  • Identify upper- and lowercase letters
  • Recognize some words by sight
  • "Read" a few picture books from memory
  • Imitate reading by talking about pictures in a book
  • Print own first and last name
  • Draw a picture that tells a story and label and write about the picture
  • Write upper- and lowercase letters (may not be clearly written)
Taken from http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/kindergarten.htm  This also has clicks for each of the grade levels through 5th.  

They also describe the differences between speech and language.  http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/language_speech.htm

So keeping this all in mind, if you think your child has a problem, talk to your pediatrician and his/her teacher about your concerns.  You are the parent. You know the child.  And follow your gut. You are you child's best advocate, unless of course you suffer from Muncheusen's By Proxy....

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What to do with a frozen banana....

Get your blenders out! I found these recipes very helpful when the Mudget decided he really didn't want to eat. I knew he liked to drink so I tried these, and it helped boost his nutritional intake.

Next time you are at the grocery store, buy a bunch of ripe bananas, peel, and freeze in a ziplock bag. Make sure you have a working blender. Then try some of these smoothies for breakfast or a snack.

Chocolate smoothies:
into the blender, 1 frozen banana, 1 cup milk, 1 chocolate instant breakfast. Blend till smooth, and it will remind you of a McDonald's shake.

Tropical smoothies:
1 frozen banana, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup pineapple juice. Blend till smooth.

Strawberry heaven:
1 cup frozen strawberries, 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1-2 tbsp honey or a splenda equivalent. Blend till smooth. You will have a healthy alternative to strawberry ice-cream

You can create your own recipes with the basis of the frozen banana and 1 cup of a liquid. And you can change it around depending on what fruit is on sale, in season, or starting to get too ripe. Frozen berries and mangoes work great. Just freeze, add liquid, and blend. And for those late nights once the kids are in bed, they (would) make a slammin' daiquiri.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!!!!

Sweet! It is time again for "The Eve of Destruction" at Thompson Speedway in Thompson, CT. And if you don't know what it is, I suggest you take a little trip to this family fun event. E.O.D. is a combination of events from bouncy house galore to dirt bike races and extreme (and odd) destruction.

Last year, we packed up the boys and headphones (because it gets loud) and hit the stands.

For $18 for adults and $10 for children, the kids were able to enjoy unlimited access to bouncy haven. Then they watched in amazement the jet-fueled outhouse, jet-fueled bus and the jet-fueled car. And then you can't forget the fire beathing transforming t Rex machine. I think the demolition derby between cars, busses, and trucks was mesmorzing especially for the adult crowd. Oh yeah, it was quite up the alley of my two boys, and I enjoyed it too.

This year, the demolition rally will be a staple but it sounds like a human cannonball has joined the entertainment roster, as well as drag racers, fireworks, and monster trucks. So if you are looking for something different to do this Memorial Day weekend that is a little out of the ordinary, you might want to check it out. Gates open at 1:30 and show starts at 6. By the way they do have a cooler policy, you can bring a personal sized cooler but you need to leave the alcohol and glass products at home.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

The beauty of Donors Choose

If you work in the school system then chances are you know about Donors Choose. Perhaps you may have even submitted or donated to a project. This year was my first experience with it. And I recently received my first donation, for which I am very grateful. So I wanted to share the story behind this wonderful community asset and maybe inspire some more random acts of kindness.

DonorsChoose.org grew out of a Bronx high school where teachers experienced first-hand the scarcity of learning materials in our public schools. Charles Best, then a social studies teacher, sensed that many people would like to help distressed public schools, but were frustrated by a lack of influence over their donations. He created DonorsChoose.org in 2000 so that individuals could connect directly with classrooms in need. So DonorsChoose.org engages the public in public schools by giving people a simple, accountable and personal way to address educational inequity. And hope for a nation where children in every community have the tools and experiences needed for an excellent education.

So as the school year comes down to an end, thank the teachers, assistants, therapists, and PTO, check out donorschoose.org and think about how you can make a difference in so many people's lives with just a click of a mouse.

And if you want to donate to my project you can find it under providence, RI, bring my kids to life

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Looking for Something to do this weekend? Tomorrow Starts the Rhode Island Great Outdoors Pursuit

Last year, we signed up for The Rhode Island Great Outdoors Pursuit.  Though, we only made it to one of the events, it was a lot of fun, and it was free.  The RI Parks and Rec Association organizes this 12 week event to help families discover and enjoy the recreational resources and outdoor activities our state parks have to offer, and to get moving toward a healthier lifestyle. Tomorrow May 22, 2011, launches the first event of this years game at Lincoln Woods, Lincoln RI, off of route 146.  Last year, there were tons of things to do including fishing, games, giveaways, etc.  The boys had a blast. And so did we.

To play the Rhode Island Great Outdoors Pursuit, you need a minimum two-member team (one adult 18 years or older and one child under 18) and the desire to have a great time. You’ll decode clues, discover Rhode Island’s beautiful state parks and participate in fun activities and challenges - all for a chance to win great prizes.
You will be invited to participate in up to seven “Pursuits” over a 12-week period. See the events page for the schedule. At each pursuit, you’ll be able to participate in free and low-cost activities such as hiking, fishing, kayaking, rock climbing and children’s games. Each Pursuit will also feature music, food, environmental and health-related exhibits, and free raffles, give-a-ways and samples.

Five of the Pursuits require attendance on specific days. The remaining Pursuits are "self-guided" that you and your team can do on your own, before the Grand Finale. See the events page for a list of options to choose from.

So we are looking forward to it again this year, in hopes to get to a few more events.  And maybe we will see you there!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Beauty of Sick Days....

Last year I think, my average work week was 4 days long during the fall and winter months, since Mudget was ALWAYS sick.  Ear infections, tube placements, more ear infections, adenoids out and another tube placement.  Snots. Fevers. General malaise.  You name it, he got it.  I even took him to an allergist/immunologist because it was so friggin frequent.  For the most part, I could call up the pediatrician and they would call me by name, saying how very nice it was to see me… again. 

This year was a little better, not as many sick days needed for them, but quite a few for me.  And now today, I am home with a sick Booger.  Though he doesn’t need them often, when he does, it is kind of nice.

As he is still 5, its ok that we can cuddle, do puzzles, watch a movie and I can dote on him.  We don’t get to have as much one on one time, as I think we both would like, so we will take advantage of it. There are those little plusses to the Sick Day.  You get away with a little more, eat and drink whatever you want, play a little more DSi, watch a little more tv, color, and wrap up in a blanket.

So today, me and the Boog will chill out and enjoy some quality mother son time.  Of course, I still send the Mudget to school, because frankly, he will just piss off the sick one, and it is not worth the aggravation.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The definition of a Mudget

Mudget: (noun) origins in Rhode Island, however found as roads and avenues in New Hampshire.  (1) The colorful combination of F^%# midget, so that it is not so obvious when a 5 year old sibling calls the child in  public.  (2) The short, younger sibling on a Booger (3) The incredible adorable, yet manipulative and creative 3 y.o. that lives in our house.

For those that do not personally know me, you were probably thinking I was quite odd for nick naming my children Booger and Mudget.  Booger's nick name is quite straight forward, originating from his infant, snot filled days.  And it just stuck.  Mudget, well, that was more thought-out.

You see, from a very young age, the Mudget was a low key kind of infant, just a go with the flow kid.  Until he started to move and talk.  And that's when it happened.  Kyle and I kept wanting to call him (lovingly) an F-ing midget.  But that wasn't very appropriate in front of his older brother, grocery store goers, postal workers, etc.  So, at first, we thought a "Fidget" but that didn't quite fit the bill.  Then "Fudget" was too close to the original.  So "Mudget" was born.  Perfect. And 3 years later, as I am writing this in between 17 placements into time out for being, well, a mudget, it fits the bill more than ever.  Oddly enough, if you google it, which we did much later after the process, there are other definitions of a Mudget.  But this one, is ours. We love it, we love him.  Even if he is an F#$%ing midget at times. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stir Crazy ???

OK. If the rain and gloomy weather is getting under your skin, then don't fret.  There are places to go and things to do.  Especially around here...

Rhode Island Rock Gym- Lincoln, RI
If you are feeling adventurous, try out rocking climbing.  These guys are great at what they do.  I have taken kids from Mudget's age (3) to my 60 year young friends.  Check your Entertainment Book, because you may just have a coupon in there as well.  www.Rockspotclimbing.com

Pinz- Milford, MA  
This is a great place for "big ball" bowling.  Not only do they have a kid friendly restaurant adjacent to the facilty, they also have an arcade to kill time.  http://www.pinzbowl.com/home

Town Hall Lanes- Johnston, RI 
This place has a wonderful family atmosphere for "little ball" or duck pin bowling experience.  There is a small concession stand there too. You can sign up for specials and discounts! My kids love going, and so do I. http://www.townhalllanes.com/

Kidz Kastle- Warwick RI- A great place with free Wii Fi! Let your kids free play and get energy out doing bouncy houses, karaoke, basketball, imagine stations, and more... http://www.kidzkastleri.com/

Ecotarium- Worcester MA
I can't help but recommend it. Well worth the drive. Pack a lunch and enjoy the day.  And if you sign up for their family plan, you can also get some reciprocity for Boston Children's Museum, Providence Children's Museum and Boston Museum of Science (just to name a few) http://www.ecotarium.org/

Burger King/McDonalds Play Places- All over, but here a few I have found
McDonalds- North Attleboro MA- clean and updated play place! One of my favorites.
Burger King- Johnston RI- It is more geared for 4 and up.  Mudget has difficulty and often needs help manuvering through the obstacles
McDonalds- Putnam CT- clean, but parking lot is a pain to get out from
Burger King- Cranston RI- big, pretty clean.  Down the street from Garden City for shopping incentive

Cinema World- Lincoln RI - 
They have a great Summer program called The Summer KidFest - free films, seven days a week, all summer long! Every day at 10am, Cinemaworld features a Family-Friendly G or PG rated film for your kids to enjoy, with new movies premiering on Fridays.

IMAX Providence Place Mall- Providence RI- 
3D, full IMAX experience. You gotta try. But I STRONGLY urge you to bring some ear plugs if your kids are sensitive

And if you come across any others, please feel free to share! I know we are always looking for things to do!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hey Ferb, I know what we're gonna do today... How to get ready for Summer Vacation

There's a hundred and four days to summer vacation
when school comes along just to end it.
And the annual problem for this generation is finding
a good way to spend it...

Like Phineas and Ferb, I find myself trying to think of things to do during the summer with my kids.  I am blessed with a wonderful job that allows me to have my summers "off" with my children.  But I approach it like my job because if I don't have things planned, I may go crazy.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the days in the backyard, swimming in the pool or going down to my grandfather's beach house.  But if I don't have my activities in my back pocket, my children may attack.

So last year I purchased an accordion folder with some file folders and got to work.  I created themes to my folders, for instance, bugs, dinosaur, farm, ocean, and the important rainy day section.  Then I kept my eyes peeled at any of the pamphlet stands, you know the ones that have all of those brochures outside many restaurants and convention centers, and grabbed them all.  
  • I also searched the Entertainment Book.  Most include great deals on local venues including places to go and eat, like the Children’s Museum or Newport Creamery, as well as India (great Mango Daiquiris, btw).  
  • Another great value is your AAA card.  If you don’t already have one, it is a great investment.  Many destinations give a AAA discount on tickets, and let’s not forget about discounted shopping bonus, as well, like Wrentham Outlets and Target.com.  
  • The other great find I discovered was the Breathe New Hampshire Fun Pass http://www.breathenh.org/Page.aspx?pid=328.  This is great for the Northern New Englanders or the day trippers.   For about $30, you get around 100 coupons of BOGO free or half price for destinations in Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire.  It is paid for basically with one visit to Story Land.

Once basically organized, I made little bingo or scavenger hunts or just printed some off the free learning websites like www.abcteach.comwww.familyfun.com, or www.dltk-kids.com.  This creates the added bonus of making learning fun, even if the children don't realize I am doing it.  

The moral of the story is that to be the Phineas and Ferb your kids want you to be takes a little effort. But the exploration and organization pays off in the end.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The therapeutic use of a Beyblade...

So after playing Beyblades for over an hour with a sick Mudget today, I did whatever any mom who happens to be an Occupational Therapist would do: I did an Activity Analysis’ of the Beyblade.

For those of you who aren’t privy to “Letting it Rip,” a Beyblade is a line of high-spinning tops distributed by Hasbro(http://www.beyblade.com), costing usually under $10 depending on type and where you go.  Activity Analysis is basically the ability to justify anything as therapeutic.  As an Occupational Therapist, I use the therapeutic use of play (in this case) to increase independent function, enhance development and prevent disability.  OT may also include adaptation of task or environment to achieve maximum independence and to enhance quality of life. 

Because an activity analysis can be very looooonnnnggggg, I decided to only pick a few items to share,.  So here it goes:

Performance Area: Play

Performance Components:
You need to be able to grasp the top and the launcher (bilateral coordination, dexterity, strength, tone, praxis). 
Then you need to lace the rip stick into the launcher (visual motor integration, midline, dexterity, praxis)
You need to be able to gauge your force with which you pull the rip stick (proprioception, tactile, right/left discrimination)
You need to be able to aim for the battle stadium (depth perception, figure ground, spatial relations, position in space).
You need to be able to hear your opponent (auditory processing) as well as say “1, 2, 3, Let it rip” (oral motor control, functional communication,).
You need to be able to pull the rip stick to engage into battle (range of motion, strength, postural control). 
Once in battle, you must be able to wait to see who will be the last Beyblade standing (postural control, endurance, level of arousal, attention span). 
Then if you lose, you must be a good loser (Values, interests, Self concept, Role performance, Social conduct, Interpersonal skills, Self expression, Coping skills,  Self control)

Performance Context:
Recommended age is 8 and up (temporal aspects)
It must be allowed in your home (cultural, social and physical)

Imagine, it just took a Bachelors’ in Science to do this. And Kyle thinks all I do all day is play with kids.  So next time you have an argument with someone about something you or your kids want to buy, try using activity analysis to justify it.  You will be amazed with the results…

Sunday, May 15, 2011

God can even see you in the bathroom

He knows when you are sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've bad or good
So be good for goodness sake

Nope. Not Santa Clause. God.

I find it quite amusing what comes out of Booger's mouth. As basically a non practicing Jew and non practicing Protestant, the choice to send Booger to Catholic school was one of necessity. He needed to be challenged and supported, and our public school just didn't fit the bill. So off he went and it has been wonderful for all of us. Especially because he is teaching us all about God.

Mom, you can't tell me what to do. Only God can.
Dad, God has all powers, even Web power.
He made everything! Even Beyblades and TV!
Don't worry Mudget. God will watch you in the bathroom so you won't fall in.
God is invisible and made everything, but not cars and things like that, he made people for that.

Somehow the awesomeness of a higher power has not escaped this 5 year old's mind. In fact I think because he is so black and white, anything that is said in school must be true. Oh how this might bite us in the ass later.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Raising my spirited child Part 3 ....How Supernanny and other tactics worked

So after all of that, what did we do? A hell of a lot. 

First, I had to take care of myself. The stress of dealing with all the behaviors caused anxiety and insomnia. I am normally a pretty balanced person (shut up Kyle) but this threw me for a loop. So I talked to my doctor to get support and options to help me be the mom I wanted and needed to be. 

Then we looked at diet. We ate pretty healthily, but we took a hard look at our foods. We eliminated most food dyes and high fructose corn syrup and went organic as best we could. And let me tell you high fructose corn syrup is in EVERYTHING. But we found good and non-expensive options like Nature's Promise brand at Stop n Shop, Kashi, and Healthy Helpings at BJs.   Eventually we were able to be less aggressive with the corn syrup but not the food dyes; too much of those increased the likelihood of a meltdown. The other thing with diet was the importance of good snacks, scheduled during the day.  Just like me, Booger would become very cranky and hypersensitive when his blood sugar got low.  We even had the doctor give us a note for school to ensure he gets his snack to limit problems during the school day.

Play therapy gave us some options. We got a few referrals for play therapists but we also checked the play therapy association for certified therapists http://www.a4pt.org/. Called around to get the first impression and found someone who fit our needs. We started going biweekly, then weekly, then once a month to finally graduated from the service. Our therapist focused more on giving us strategies like the reverse timeout, me leaving the situation for the time allotted. Or the take five. Change the name of time out and help him deescalate with his own special tools and toys. Some of it worked, some of it didn't for us. But we were getting support.  

We also completed a neuropsychiatric work up but decided against the sensory evaluation since I had a good understanding and background, as well as the Neuropsych was covering it.  Side note- we were relieved to find out that there was nothing clinically wrong with Booger, though he did have some anxiety traits, and have super high non verbal learning skills.

We continued to read and educate ourselves. The Explosive Child by Ross Greene gave us some ideas (though not very helpful for our situation) and Magic 1,2,3 by Thomas Phelan, definitely more of what we needed.  But what gave us the best advice that worked was Supernanny http://jofrost.com/. We love Jo. We have never met her but she changed our lives for the better. The house rules, constant time out techniques.  Just the idea of taking the confrontation out of the time out. It was amazing. For a black and white kid the house rules gave him written expectations like no kicking, no hitting, use kind words. It was good for all of us. 

So why have I shared this with the world? Part of it is that I didn't think a year ago we would be at a point of retrospect, of how chaotic and out of control things were and how much better they are now.  Both the boys and us have greatly benefited from the techniques.  And we are generally a much happier family because of it.  The other reason to share was just to support those that may be going through similar things, that you are not crazy or a bad parent, just someone at wits end.  It's just nice to know you are not the only one.

FDA advisers want more study of food dye-ADHD link 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Raising my spirited child Part 2....Now what does this all mean...

So Booger is spirited. What the heck does that mean for us?  Well first let's look at the "traits".  According to Kurcinka, spirited children have 9 temperament traits. 

1. Intensity- how strongly a child emotionally reacts. For example , boog has powerful reactions and is labile at times, easily frustrated
2. Persistence- if the child is involved in something how easy is it for him to stop when told. He does not easily let go from an idea. Frequently he wakes up in the morning remembering exactly what was promised to him
3. Sensitivity- how aware he is of all the senses.  Tags, noises, smells, tastes, etc. He is quite good at finding his just right noise level and he is quite the picky eater
4. Perceptiveness- the ability to notice everything about everything. I read this part of the chapter and laughed out loud because earlier that day we got out of the car and the first he said was "wow mom look at that amazing rainbow in the oil puddle". 
5. Adaptability- how quickly he can deal with change. Why do you think I live my life with a timer? He needs to be aware of change before it happens. Don't mess with the routine or you'll be sorry. 
6. Regularity- eating sleeping and other bodily functions. 12 hours sleep. Can set your watch to when food goes in and out
7. Energy- quiet or active. Booger is both depending on mood
8. First reaction- what is the child's first reaction when asked to do something new? No!  
9. Mood- positive or not? Booger is analytical. Frequently he was very solemn. 

After seeing how "spirited" he was, I really had to take a look at my own personality and temperament traits to see if I was creating some of this head to head combat. And I have to say I can see some similarities and differences. I am definitely a negative first responder and pretty persistent.  Taking all this into consideration we became more aware of how to approach him. But we were still in the infancy of 'how'.

I don't want you to think we didn't seek medical help. Since the age of two we called the pediatrician at least twice a year about his behaviors and tantrums. And we got "oh that's normal boy behavior". Ummm when is it normal to have adults afraid to discipline a child because they fear his reaction? Or to have a four year old say he wanted to kill himself because he wasn't allowed to do something? Or beat the crap out of you just because you put him in time out?  I work in preschool. I see typical behavior. And I see not so typical behaviors. I think I can tell the difference. 

When you are asking for help and not getting anywhere it is frustrating.  So by June 2010 we basically told the doctor to give us a referral for play therapy. Then to give us a referral for a neuropsych evaluation to make sure we weren't missing something serious like bipolar disorder or asperger's.  The pedi also pushed for an OT evaluation for sensory integration related to some of his quirks. And to be honest the only reason I wanted to do it was to get tips for me at work.  As an OT myself I had a pretty good feel and access to materials to figure out what he needed but she pushed and pushed because he "covered his ears".  Once we got our referrals, we switched pediatricians. .When the pediatrician can't support the family when they have clearly asked for help, then frankly it is time to change (thank you Peter Brady). 

just fyi yes children on the spectrum will have sensory processing disorders but children with sensory processing disorders do not necessarily have autism  and not all kids who cover their ears have sensory processing disorders 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Raising my spirited child....(Part 1)

So it has been almost a year since we were at our wits end trying to figure out how to handle the almost 5 y.o. Booger.  By July 2010, he was having out of control rage episodes, screaming, hitting, kicking, 2 hours tantrums, refusing to do simple tasks, having breakdowns at daycare, to the point they were really sure what to do either.  But let's start from the beginning, and work our way back to now (this may take a few entries).

Booger was a typical pregnancy with the only real complication of insulin dependent Dia"becca".  We had level 2 ultrasounds and genetic counseling because of familial histories, and were told "you have a 20% chance of having a child with Down's Syndrome because his femur length is short." Really? Have you looked at my stature.   Anyways, he came out healthy.  And colicky.  Oh sweet lord could he scream.  It took us four months of complaining, switching from nursing to soy formulas to finally get him on reflux meds, which helped greatly.  In the mean time, for four months we spent our evenings from 5--9 pm jumping in the bathroom with the fan on.  Not just the screaming, but the full stomach dumps that he chose to do on me after every evening feed.  Awesome, I know.

He developed normally, walking by 11 months, talking later but within typical range.  We were blessed with having our close friend watch him when I returned to work.  And all was well.  He was a very smart and sensitive, but incredibly intense child.  That is really the best way to describe it.  You didn't want to poke the bear.  His fits were unreal.  But when he was good, he was gold.

Flash forward to when he entered preschool at the daycare at 3.  I was at this point working in the school system and just had the Mudget as well.  He had difficulty attending in group, refusing to participate in certain tasks, and difficulty with adult direction.  For the next year, we winced at the daily sheet, wondering if it would be another "tough" day.  I started pulling out my OT tricks.  Social stories with pictures, reward charts, sensory play.  You name it, we did it.  But his off days were getting worse.

By the summer of 2011, I had lost it.  I was starting to refuse to take the kids out, be around anyone but the closest family members, because frankly I didn't want to have to deal with the looks and stares of people when he lost it.  I had already been embarrassed as I had to carry him from the playground, kicking, hitting, and screaming at me, while a father asked if I needed help. I was mortified.  And after getting to work in absolute tears after a 45 minute battle for getting dressed, I went to Barnes and Noble.  And sat in the child psychology section.  And read the back of every book.  The Explosive Child. Nope.  The Bipolar Child.  Nope.  The schizophrenic child. Nope. The ODD child. nope.  Then I got to Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and almost burst into tears.  I actually started laughing.  And the lady around the corner must have thought I was nuts.  It was Booger, to the T.  It literally could have been a snap shot of our lives. "The word that distinguishes spirited children from other children is more.  They are normal children who are more intense, persistent, sensitive, perceptive and uncomfortable with change."  Holy Crap, I thought.  And felt some relief that I wasn't insane.



Tuesday, May 10, 2011

If you give a kid a bug, he'll probably....

As I have know for quite some time, we are a sick and twisted family. The new favorite show in the house is Science Channel's Monster Bug Wars. The basic premise of the show is natural bug vs bug, who will eat or be eaten.  Now, the first time we dvr-ed the show, we decided to watch it with Mudget and Booger, not sure how they would react.

Well I discovered my kids are sadists.   They were cracking up every time The Assassin Beetle killed and ate the Katy Did.  Yes, Booger cried but not because he was scared.  He kept guessing the wrong "winner". Then not to be out done Mudget insisted he was a green jumping spider and proceeded to jump on me and bite My leg.  I couldn't help but laugh.  It was funny.

So if you have a mini entomologist in your house and are tired of watching Nickelodeon, try Monster Bug Wars, premiering new shows on Tuesday's at 10 pm.  You can also find it on your On-demand depending on service provider which is great for us.

If this doesn't inspire your inner entomologist I am not sure what will. If you let your kids watch Monster Bug Wars, your kids will probably want to go on a bug hunt. After applying copious amounts of Deep Woods OFF, your kid will probably want you to get out your magnifying glasses. But he will notice you don't have anything to catch the bugs so he will probably ask you for bug catchers.  But whe he catches the bug he will probably want to draw it so he will ask you for a notebook with crayon to log your findings. And after he catches and draws the bug he will probably be hungry and ask you for a cookie.

By the way, I highly recommend www.orientaltrading.com to get cheap crafting and bug hunting materials.

If you want to check out the show, go to http://science.discovery.com/tv/monster-bug-wars/

Monday, May 9, 2011

The great outdoors: Passport to the Trails

If you are looking for a free outdoor activity besides a playground, check out your local Audubon trail. The Audubon Society of RI currently is promoting their Passport to the Trails.  The premise behind the Passport is to explore the 10 refuges listed and find the hidden symbol.  Then record your visit with a crayon rubbing into your Passport.  

Complete 6 trail rubbings by September 30, 2011, and return it to receive a cool prize.  Complete all 10 and earn a little bit more, plus get entered to win the Grand Prize of Pentax Binoculars.  Go to either the Smithfield or Bristol locations (or you even might find a booklet at the REI in Cranston) and pick up the little green booklet. Then pick one of the 10 sites and start exploring.  Check out www.asri.org for details.  
On Saturday, I took the two mini hikers to the Powder Mill Ledges Refuge in Smithfield, RI.  The kids were able to complete the 1.25 mile loop with ease, and occasional rest stop and bug search.   When you are hiking in the outdoors, regardless of the length, there are a few things I recommend. Though it is short hike, I always pack water and snacks.  And don't forget the sunblock, bug spray and a crayon (for the rubbings).  I also hike with a mini first aid kit, since my kids are accident prone.  And if you don't have it, I highly recommend the Poison Ivy spray, as Booger has fallen into a patch or two over the years.  In the words of George Washington Carver, "Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in the books."

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Davis Farmland- Our Mother's Day tradition, 5 years running....

I think I first came across it in my Entertainment book (don't bother looking the Providence one, it is no longer there) when I told Kyle and then 18 month old Booger let's go up for mothers day. And to our surprise, I got in free and was able to use a AAA discount. Our experience was great. So here we are 4 years later sticking to tradition and enjoying the day at the farm.  

If you haven't been yet and you have children under 12, it is a must. First, it is New England's first handicap and child accessible farm. Strollers, wheelchairs, and walkers can manage most of the pathways with ease. There are bountiful picnic tables with a container of baby wipes to do quick hand wiping while eating either your packed or purchased food.  They also have plenty of bathrooms, including family style with changing pads and short sinks for little ones to use. And there is a child-safety checkpoint at the exit. The staff there are wonderfully helpful and kind as well.

Now onto the fun. Besides having a well organized petting zoo with friendly roaming animals, there is a toddler compound with tons of room to explore, dig, and move. For the older kids there is a new Adventure area with peddle go karts, a dino dig,  playground equipment, and more. Summertime Bonus,  bring the bathing suits. The Adventure Play and Spray is New England's largest zero- depth water sprayground.  In the fall you can pick your own apples or go across the street to take a try Davis Megamaze corn maze.  It really is an all day affair.  For all of the things to do, it is quite well priced. What is great too, are all of the special events and discounts.  Mom's get in free mother's day, dad's on Father's Day, even grandparents on Grandparent's Day.  And there are umpteen others, checkout their website www.davisfarmland.com for their latest weekend events and discounts. It is well worth the drive. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

So you just found out there's a sex offender living nearby....

Or perhaps you had no idea.  It is light outside till 8pm, your kids are out later. And if you live in a suburban area, chances are you might let your kids play unsupervised.  Which is fine, except I just found out that a level 3 sex offender moved in across the street from my niece last night.  Yes, the town is feverishly sending out the notices, as they must by law, to those who live within a mile of the registered sex offender's new address.  But in the mean time, I bet you don't know how many are nearby.  I found it imperative to get you educated on how to find out if there is a registered sex offender living near you.

There are multiple sites you can search:
On Family Watchdog, you can enter your street address and it will plot a map of any sex offenders in the area.


Search by Town or Zip Code.  Sex Offender Fact Sheet Notification of Release in Rhode Island: 

It even provides a listing of Level III Offenders in the state. Sex Offender Community Notification Information. Pursuant to Rhode Island General Laws 11-37.1-1 ET SEQ., the individuals who appears below have been designated a Level III Sex Offender by the Sex Offender Board of Review and/or the Superior Court. The Board and/or the Court have determined that this individual is at a high risk to re-offend and that the degree of dangerousness posed to the public is such that a public safety interest is served by the providing information below to the public availability of notification information

Sex Offender Registry Board of Massachusetts
To obtain a list of offenders in a geographical area (County, City or Postal code) enter information in that field only. For example; entering “Boston” or "Bos" in the “City” field and leaving all other fields blank will result in a listing of Level 3 offenders registered in the City of Boston.

Connecticut Sex Offender Registry
Use this search to view all published offenders within a specified radius of your home, business, school or other desired address.

Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website

US Immigration and Customs Investigation on Child Exploitation and Operation Predator.

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.