I have been mulling many blog topics, so I need to get a few of them out there.  This one seems most important.

Why am I writing this?  Let’s just say that children have a way of making you eat crow.  You eat your hat. You find out even though you thought you’d been humbled since having children, you still might have a long ways to go toward being a less judgemental human being.  You have got to keep your mind open, because sometimes God has another plan, and it’s often not the one you would have chosen At. All.  If this has not happened to you yet, it probably will.  Go with it.

Dear Doctor somewhere in the greater Seattle area, as well as to those who may feel you would NEVER put a child on medication for attention issues or many other things,

I will not identify you, but I will write a public apology after having written this post about how I strongly disagreed that my child needed medication for ADHD.  I was sure we could keep going without medication.  At least I thought I had a few more options to use beforehand.  I used them.  You were right, Doctor.  My child is doing much better on medication and our relationship and his ability to function have all improved.  Here is a link to what I thought before, which has to be modified slightly.  http://wp.me/pQx9m-1o.

We began and finished a year of Vision Therapy, and it did a lot of good.   In fact, it was well worth pursuing, because my husband went to a meeting about it and said, wait a sec, that’s me.  So he decided to go to Vision Therapy, too!  And now he can read for longer periods of time and pay attention.  So that was yet another reason we should be glad we adopted.  Strange paths we travel.

Vision therapy is a lot like occupational therapy with the focus being the eyes.  Both kinds of therapy have lots of naysayers, but the strangest things do help some kids, and are worth trying.  Our son’s math improved greatly after this, but his reading didn’t.  I wish they had referred me further, but they did not.

My next realization came during a very stressful year.  I will not go into gory details, but there was a lot of stress around here, and not a whole lot of money, and I thought maybe it was just the stress of the situation that was making our child act out.  After a while, it was apparent that he was lying and stealing and having tantrums and encouraging a lot of anger in the family.  It was getting downright dangerous, how he could not control himself, and I finally decided to take him back to the counselor we saw when we first adopted him.  This was a very good thing.

Our counselor recommended a few things, and we got a full educational psychology evaluation in the same building.  It would have been expensive to do all this, but we were extremely blessed by the cadillac of insurance plans that particular year, and so we went for it.  I cannot explain this “coincidence” at all.  We always seem to get what we need when we need it most.  Insurance was it this time around.

After the full eval, the psychologist told us it was abundantly clear that he had pretty severe dyslexia and getting more severe ADHD, both of which needed a game plan.  She referred us to yet another professional in the same building, a psychiatrist.  I had, meanwhile, asked my family doctor for a referral to a pediatrician who did meds in her building, but when I met that doctor, I had a feeling he was the type to dispense meds and not really try any harder than that to listen.  My gut said to keep looking, which is how I ended up with the psychiatrist.  I figured he was especially qualified to know about side affects in children and such things, but also still an MD.

We decided to try a medication that is well known, and played with the dosage a bit.  We also found that most of our children sleep better and more quickly if we give them Melatonin, which is a simple over-the-counter supplement.  The immediate affects of the medication became clear.  First of all, he did not lack energy.  It did not turn him into a shadow of his former self or a zombie or anything.  Not at all.  But now he could make some sort of sense out of phonics.  Finally.  He also stopped the non-stop chatter that would just wear a person down.  The ongoing counseling he was going through started to have more of an affect on our relationship because he could actually make the choice to calm down and think.  Before meds, sometimes he needed a time out nearly all day in order to function in our family or learn anything from homeschooling.  I had hated fighting with him so often.  Now we had some tension, but it was possible to overcome it.  Bad side affects:  Well, he’s much less hungry and has lost a little weight.  He also gets a “rebound” affect when it wears off around dinner time, but that’s what the trampoline is for.

I should add that we tried two other things as well.  I went ahead and had the school district test him again, and he qualified for special education in math, reading and speech.  We checked with OT, but some of his physical skills were so good, the OT was amazed and said it probably had more to do with attention than actual skill.  Yeah, he’s pretty awesome at sports and mechanics.  That’s where dyslexia comes in.

In the meantime, I also began medication.  I had no idea I needed it, but irritability and depression are two sides of the same coin, and I could not stop my occasional periods of downright unreasonableness.  I went on meds before our son did.  It helped me not to overreact during an especially trying year.  I miss my more emotional side sometimes, but I like the part where I can now parent without losing it.  It’s worth it, completely.  I am also FAR more patient with my husband.  And I like myself better now that I can parent the way I meant to. I’m not perfect at all, but now my kids and husband aren’t flinching.  Really.  I’ve tried two different kinds because my baby reacted to one in my breast milk, and was thrilled to go back when I was done nursing.

My condition is called PMDD, or Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder.  People think this stuff is made up.  I promise that it is real.  You can take that or leave it.  Here’s a link to super duper PMS.  The key part to the symptoms was the fact that I didn’t know I was that difficult to get along with.  It’s a bit like Jekyll and Hyde.  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pmdd/AN01372

It’s not exactly fun to announce that our family needs meds of the psychotropic variety, but you know what?  It would be less fun to keep going like we had been and be miserable and have children who disliked us when they grew up or a very empty marriage.  These are all things that could have happened, and I think between counseling and medication (lots and lots of both), we have beaten the odds.  Part biology, part circumstance, this has been an amazing year, but we may have beat what maybe used to be what people called family curses.  Did you ever have a crazy uncle Harry in the family?  Might he have been less crazy if meds had been invented?  Maybe, maybe not.  Meds can’t always help.  Sometimes they do a great deal of harm.  There are plenty of horror stories along those lines.  That’s why you have to make a call, and a cost/benefit analysis.  Will it cause more harm doing what we’re doing, or is it worth the risk to try this route?  Only you can decide.  I wish it were easier to make that call, but it just isn’t.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention friends and prayer.  We prayed and prayed and we asked for guidance and found the best counselors out there.  We kept trying whenever we had a bad feeling about someone or something.  God has blessed us with friends who don’t judge and who keep right on helping or just saying they’ll help if we need it.  They know us and they still love us.  I wish everyone were so lucky.

Each family has to make their call.  The internet is full of sensationalism, but you have got to clear your mind.  You have to try something new if what you are doing isn’t working, and continues, year after year, to not work.  If a child cannot control himself and is always in trouble, how will his brain think?  It’s not good.  I’m so glad I took a chance.  I’m so glad we all did.  Once again, I was wrong to think I knew it all.

Next year, maybe I’ll learn something else new and mind-bending.  You just never know.

Links for dyslexia:  http://dyslexia.yale.edu/About_ShaywitzBios.html  Read Sally Shawitz’s book: Overcoming Dyslexia.  She’s not at all a fan of homeschooling, but I’ll overlook that in favor of her wonderful bios of older people and how they worked with their dyslexia, and her resources and explanations are beyond excellent.  Referred by our educational psychologist.

Links for ADHD:  http://russellbarkley.org/  Great stuff.  The best book of his might be the most work, but is something every parent should read at least for ideas:  9.Barkley, R. A., & Benton, C.  (1998). Your Defiant Child: 8 Steps to Better Behavior.  New York:  Guilford.  Referred by our child psychologist.

 I have been meaning to send this correction to everyone, so hopefully people who were interested in my caucus experience can read it.  I think it is important, and I’m glad my “friend 1” corrected me.  I knew she would, and she is the one who kept me going through this process.  She’s been at it for a while. 🙂
Me:  My hope is that more people will want to participate if they know what it might be like instead of going into it completely blind.

Friend 1: AM, you were actually one of 11 PAUL delegates from our district.  Santorum had 6.  So the Paul/Santourm combo was actually 17.  3 Romney, 3 Gingrich.
  • Friend 1: And 2 of the 3 Romney delegates from our district were no-shows at state.
  • Me: Thanks for the correction.  I figured you would find any if I messed up.  I shall adjust it. 🙂
  • Friend 1: Also, it wasn’t until the 4th ballot that any Paul supporters were elected in our LD.  In fact, NOBODY was elected on the second ballot due to about 4 spoiled ballots.
  • Me: See, I said my mind is like a sieve.  I meant it! 🙂
  • Friend 1: OK, and one more correction.  Romney still doesn’t have the 1,144 he needs.  That’s media spin.
  • Me: Can you provide some proof I can pass on?
  • thereal2012delegatecount.com

    The real 2012 delegate count, delegate count, ron paul delegates, how many deleg…ates does ron paul have, mitt romney delegates, maine delegates, nevada delegates, delegate count, real delegate count, See More
    Me:  Thanks!!
  • Friend 2: That whole “slate” system they introduced seems like an example of politicians doing what they do best: find something that’s fairly simple, and complicate it.
  • Friend 1: Actually, without slates, it would be much more complicated.  When you have 100 or more people running to fill only 10 positions, you need something to streamline the efforts or you will be there for a few days.
  • Friend 3: Just be done with it and make me dictator for life :p


This is what you get for asking a question.  Answers!  I’m amazed how much is in one of three categories: Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Classics.  I love my geeky friends.
Me:  Asking a really loaded question: What books do you think are absolutely necessary reading for a seventh grade boy? I was going to make a list for him to go to when I won’t let him on the electronic devices.
Ender’s Game. The Hobbit. Hatchet.
Well — I’d start with the classics:  the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Harry Potter, the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander. Robert Heinlein (Have Space Suit Will Travel and Space Cadet in particular).  Jack London’s Call of the Wild and The Sea Wolf. HG Wells, Jules Verne, and Arthur Conan Doyle (esp. The Lost World).  I could keep going … 🙂
Me: The Hobbit is on my list, we’ve done Prydain a LOT and it was a big hit.  No Heinlein, because it gets weirder and more mature if he wants to read more of it.  Did I say weird??  Harry Potter could use a bit more reading.  We’ve only let him at the first movie.  Thanks!
Me: The good news is, he’s read a lot of the books that are recommended on different lists
– I second “Ender’s Game” – great great book
The Bobby Pentagon series is a good read as well.
Narnia?  Enders game. Ray bradbury martian chronicles.  Anne mccafferty dragon riders of pern. Susan cooper the dark is rising series. 1980 s tom swift by … Victor appleton?
Belgariad series by David endings.
The Riddle Master of Hed series.  🙂
there’s so many Heinlein juveniles, he doesn’t have to get into the adult stuff. But as long as we’re there, Asimov is safe and easily obtainable. so much good stuff…
I read hardy boys.
Tom and Huck (there is some language but better he learn it from Sam Clemens than others)
Perhaps everything that Jules Verne wrote?  The Book of Proverbs is a good one:  “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding,for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.”
He might like Asimov’s “Foundation” series, although a few more years and he might like it even more.
Ursula K LeGuin’s Earthsea trilogy and the Prydain Chronicles were absolutely my favorites in that general age range, possibly more so than Tolkien’s work. Somewhere around those times I rather enjoyed The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, and I think some other books by that author, but for some reason can barely remember what it was about other than magic and the fae in the modern British Isles. Roald Dahl’s works I was also rather fond of, but I have an impression that they are for a slightly younger age. For some good pulp sci fi adventure, I am currently finishing off the third of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series and they would be a pretty good fit (and old enough to be in the public domain and on Project Gutenberg)
My son, who is going into 7th grade is into “Sherlock Holmes” at the moment.  He just finished “The Hunger Games” a few months back and I’m trying to get him into “Lord of the Rings”, or start him out on “The Hobbit”, but he’s not really into that kind of thing.  Some other good ones are “Kidnapped” by Robert Louis Stevenson, the good ol classic, “The Diary of Anne Frank”, “Oliver Twist”, “David Copperfield”.  I could go on and on and on.  Hope this helps…and hopefully I haven’t listed a bunch of things he’s already read.  Oh and maybe some Charles Dickens?  Okay, I’m done for now.
We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea, by Arthur Ransome (Swallows and Amazons series) and Carry on Mr. Bowditch… can’t recall author at moment…  I’ll post more later.  I am a book aholic, ya know!! 😉
Has he read the Cherub series by Robert Muchamore?  Our Thomas absolutely loved all of the books and was so sad when he had finished the adventure!!!
Me: So many good suggestions!!!  You are all right on!  I think the boys have Narnia memorized.  We have a cd set with Patrick Stewart and Kenneth Brannagh.  Thanks everyone!  I thought of Hitchhiker’s Guide, too.
Ok, now type this up and message it on your wall.  thes are awesome suggestions!
Eddings, Belgariad series.
Red Badge of Courage
Where the Red Fern Grows

Here is an interesting tangent my reading takes me on once in a while.  This is what my husband gets for giving me a whole afternoon to myself on Mother’s Day.  I get to go to the library and look at the “boring” bookshelves completely and utterly uinterrupted!  Oh Hooray, I say!  I shall walk up the aisle and down the aisle, and pick up 10 completely unrelated books and then sit down and thumb through them!  And I did!  This is one of them.

Since it is a library book, I also have to blog about it sooner than usual, so it now takes the top priority, though I have many others in mind.

The book?  Ok, Ok…

The reason this piqued my interest is because I’m generally interested in psychology anyway, and this year I have learned more about psychology than I wanted to know in real life because of various family members and even my own self.  That is probably worth a book, but since it’s private, you won’t be reading it.  See, that’s the main problem with psychology.  Most of the really interesting stuff is private.  The experiences you want to tell people about are things you can’t share because they are confidential.  Someday I’ll write down at least what I have learned from this year, but I won’t be able to tell people my reasoning very well.  Oh, so very complicated.

I paged through this book because I was wondering about different diagnoses and how accurate they might be.  The problem with a somewhat morbid interest in psychology is that you tend to want to diagnose everyone.  I know as a special ed teacher I used to do this, too.  It’s a real danger in certain fields and I was warned about it.  It’s worth keeping that warning in mind repeatedly, especially when reading a book like this:  Try not to diagnose everyone.

The personality disorders described in the book are:  Paranoid Personality, Schizoid, Schizotypal, Conduct, Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic, Narcissistic, Avoidant, Dependent, Obsessive-Compulsive, and then some further chapters on combinations of the above. 

There is a person in our extended family who has always been difficult, and we didn’t know what was wrong, but said person isn’t about to go to counseling to find out.  Actually, we have more than one of those.  Maybe that’s where my interest comes from.  I thought this person must be a classic narcissist, but I was wrong!  That was an eye-opener.  As far as I can tell, the very first one, Paranoid Personality Disorder, is the one I was looking for.  It is not the same as Paranoid Schizophrenia, mostly because there is no hearing of voices and the like.  The saddest part of the whole chapter is this last sentence: 

Unfortunately, persons diagnosed with Paranoid Personality Disorder, are poor candidates for therapeutic intervention.  This logically flows from their chronic state of distrusting others. (p.15)

Here are the symptoms, and I’m writing them down in case they might help others realize that they can not and should not try to “fix” this type of person, or even try to live with them.  It’s not healthy, and I’m not sure at what distance one can help them without hurting one’s self.  Sometimes you have to realize you cannot do what you think is the right thing, and let God handle it.

Paranoid Personality Disorder:

1. Suspects, without sufficient basis, that others are exploiting, harming or decieving him or her.

2.  Is preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends and associates.

3.  Is reluctant to confide in others because of unwarranted fear that the information will be used maliciously against him or her.

4.  Reads hidden demeaning or threatening meanings into benign remarks or events.

5.  Persistently bears grudges, that is, is unforgiving of insults, injuries or slights.

6.  Percieves attacks on his or her character or reputation that are not apparent to others and is quick to react angrily or to counterattack. 

7.  Has recurrent suspicions, without justification, regarding fidelity of spouse or sexual partner. 

The chapter goes on to explain what one can expect and how this kind of paranoia reaches across every interaction, not just at work or just at home, or just at certain times.  Each of the seven bullet points has a paragraph of details under it.

“In contrast, persons with paranoid personality disorder are distrustful in many contexts, particularly in competitive environments.  They are apt to blame others for their failure to succeed and claim discrimination and conspiracy.  Their chronic state of distrust for others forces them to be strongly independent. This independence coupled with their chronic distrust of others is frequently manifested  in a state of seething anger and hostility. Frowns rather than smiles dominate their faces and a sense of unhappiness dominates the atmosphere around them.” (pg 14)

This is a short book and an interesting one.  More books soon, I hope. 

I need to keep this advice somewhere.  This looks like a good blog anyway!  I googled “large family meal planning”, if you are wondering.

Low Budget Meal Planning.

Now that summer is here, I think you will be seeing more of me.  If you are looking.  I hope someone is, but hey, this blog makes me happy, too.  Even if no one looks, it will be the best diary I’ve ever kept.  The following is not a book review.  It is simply a “I should really write that down somewhere” and the reason is that my mind is like a sieve.  I need to write this down before I forget.

This year, my home state decided that instead of having a caucus for both parties and a primary election, it would save money by picking one or the other, and it picked caucus.  I had never ever tried engaging in such a system before, but they took away MY primary!  My DH and I decided we would go to our local precinct caucus.  I barely knew what a precinct was, but having one time left flyers on doorsteps, I can tell you it is a small area of your legislative district if you are driving a car, basically the size of your neighborhood, but dang, on foot, it seems huge.

Because of the lack of a primary, word really got around and the poor organizers ended up with between two and four times as many people as they usually expect, even during a presidential election year.  Almost all of them were new to the whole process and had lots of questions.  I was in line at a local elementary school, and one man said, “I didn’t think there even were this many Republicans in all of our county!”  Yes, the Republicans.  Obviously the Democrats don’t have as much excitement this year since they already have a sitting president and seem to want him for another term.  This year has been very interesting with the number of candidates, but now there are only two, and only one actually wants to be president: Mitt Romney.  I ended up joining the Ron Paul supporters, because I am attracted to many of the same things they are, but I like to listen as well.

When we got to our precinct table, there were only five people.  Two were us, one was someone I knew from the pro-life movement, and the two others were Romney people.  Not one of us had been there before.  I had only an inkling that usually precincts have PCO’s, which are chairpersons.  Ours didn’t have one, and may not ever have had one.  I and my friend were willing to move forward and volunteer to go to the county convention.  DH needed to watch the kids and the other two had no interest in going.  That resulted in two Ron Paul supporters going.  Some precincts had one or even no people, others had more like 20.  We filled out paperwork and followed directions, discussed party platform politics and such, and went home.

Now that I was a duly elected delegate, I waited about a month before going to our county convention.  Then I learned something very important, which is basic to people who do these things, but is not obvious to the vast number of people I know.  You don’t need to be hard core about a particular candidate.  What delegates do is elect people to move up the ladder and elect other people.  Another very important things to know about are “slates”.  I had no idea what those were.  In our county, there were Paul supporter slates and Romney slates, but in this case one was called the Unity slate and the other something else, like Conservative Values.  Some years there are pro-life slates, or something else.  It is a list of people that a block of people want to see move forward.  Delegates get to vote on their top people, be it top three, top 10, or whatever.  You keep voting until certain people get a majority of the votes in that election.  It takes a while.  In this case, there were still four candidates: Ron Paul, Mitt Romeny, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich.  This is where things got exceptionally interesting.

I should back up and say that most of the day was taken up by agreeing to the rules of the convention, first.  That took til lunch.  I had never heard of Robert’s Rules of Order, but that’s how they run the meetings.  It seems like a big waste of time, but it is really the only fair way to do things that I can think of.

The Ron Paul people in my legislative district had already been meeting in person and emailing each other in order to have a game plan.  We’d checked who wanted to move forward and what they thought were priorities, and put togther a sheet of delegates and alternates we wanted to see move toward the State GOP Convention.  The “Unity Slate” was very pro-Romney and claimed to be the new alliance between Romney, Santorum and Gingrich supporters.  It is hard to find the truth at these things, it turns out.  The truth was, Santorum had never agreed to be a part of such a slate.  It mislead quite a number of his people.  The leader of the Santorum folks got together with other leaders and eventually got on the phone with Santorum himself, who said he’d never authorized use of such a slate.  Though they’d fought against Paul supporters in other areas of the country, Rick Santorum supported Santorum and Paul supporters working together at this point in order to make sure some delegates were not strictly Romney delegates, and therefore to cause more conversation within the party, perhaps even a brokered convention.  A brokered convention is one in which no presidential candidate wins 1144 delegates at the national level, which is the majority of the country and leads to that person becoming the official presidential nominee for their party.  We now know that Romney did indeed collect all his needed delegates, and I wondered what effect that would have.  But back to the county convention.

The Santorum people were somewhat split in the confusion, but we managed to elect 11 Santorum/Paul delegates and six Romney to State.  This was a resounding success and not expected.  I was one of the 11.

Were there any people who were completely independent and didn’t vote on the slate?  Yes.  That is a big reason why we all had 30 second speeches, so people could decide who they wanted to see move forward.  I was voted in in the second round of voting.  My position was that we should take the high ground by behaving ourselves and having real, honest conversations about our convictions.  And that is also why I went to the state convention.

History probably won’t care in about five years, but it’s important to note that there is a LOT of hostility against Paul supporters for various reasons.  I actually saw a flyer being passed around that said that Ron Paul was for legalizing prostitution!  Oh. My. Gosh.  I was so mad.  That is extremely untrue.  And that is why it is important to have conversations with people. They fiind out that that not all Paul supporters are raving maniacs, incapable of reason.  There are some, of course, but there are those in every faction of any excitable organization.

Extreme word of warning: When voting for delegates, when they say you’ll be done by 6pm on a major election year, DO NOT BELIEVE THEM.  I didn’t get home til 11.  You must bring extra food and water.  Lots of it.  And something to read/do while votes are tallied.   It takes forever.  People get mad at Ron Paul supporters for being paranoid about vote tallying, but things have been messed with in other counties, so they actually have reason.  It just never makes the mainstream news.  Unfortunately, it takes forever to make sure.

One of the funniest things at the county convention was how many people from my home church were there.  I had no idea that many were coming.  I took a picture.  Most of them just wanted to have a voice and hadn’t picked a particular candidate.

Part 2 will be about the state GOP convention… coming soon.

I am so excited to have permission to send this out.

This is the MODG (Mother of Divine Grace School) newsletter for enrolled families, and it features an article on keeping your kids safe in the digital age from a Catholic perspective.  It is so wonderful because it is extremely informative without being holier than thou or anti-tech.  It says the amazingly obvious and yet not so obvious: you need to parent your kids even if you don’t like learning about all the latest gadgets.  Lots of tips, too!  Thank you so much, Cyndi Montanaro and Laura Berquist!  For more information about the school, go to www.motherofdivinegrace.org.  I have been grading papers from MODG for about 11 years now.  This is the best article ever, and my technology specialist (husband), approves, which is saying a LOT.  Enjoy!


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