So, when did my kids become good? I mean, really. We went on vacation for three days, spent a total of 20 hours in the car, purposely left the Focalin and melatonin at home and still I don’t have a single complaint about our vacation. I am wondering when it was that they woke up, had a meeting and decided they no longer needed to do really dumb shit in public. It’s kind of messing with my hobby of making fun of them.

I yanked them out of bed before the sun came up. I forced them to eat an entirely unhealthy breakfast of sugary cereal. I yelled at everyone to get off their asses and hurry up with the brushing of the teeth and packing of the toothbrushes. I hurried Hubby along, complaining that the cat was going to be alone too long. I complained that there wasn’t going to be enough room in the front seat for my camera, purse, book and snack bag (I’ve learned my lesson countless times when I’ve packed the snack bag in the back seat).

When we were finally on the road, they were all too happy to just chill and listen to music. If anything, the worst behaved person on the trip was my oldest child – the hubster. But that’s nothing new. I expected that, so I made sure there was at least one rogue Red Bull in the snack bag, a baggie of mustard flavored pretzels, and a few Slim Jims. The happy hubby trifecta. He still complained, but at least he wasn’t hungry and tired. We ate fast food lunch. We cleaned fast food wrappers from the van. We cleaned fast food chunks from beneath Jack’s butt. We cleaned fast food grease from the windows, seats, headphones and hands. We cleaned fast food crumbs from the van a week later. In case anyone cares about my opinion, I highly suggest a nice healthy picnic lunch to be eaten outside your car on long trips.

And after ten hours, we arrived at Great Wolf Lodge, the funnest indoor water park adventure we’ve been to. We’ve been here three times, I think. And let me note that I am biased as it is the only one we’ve been to.





As per usual, the kids and I wait in the car whilst Hubby checks us in. We wait. And wait. And wait. The kids are bouncing around as if they had been cooped up in seat belts for ten hours and were excited about something. Damn kids. I had a headache and anticipated a frown from Hubby as he walked out to the van (not because I’m a pessimist or because he’s an asshole, mind you. Because every time we go somewhere, something pops up that puts a kink in our plans. And neither one of us are particularly ‘fly by the seat of our pants’ people.) But as it were, he walked out smiling! A home run!

We found the room easily enough, after piling three days’ worth of luggage for six people, a crock pot full of Sloppy Joe’s and three grocery bags of groceries (more Red Bull, some chips, soda, chocolate . . . necessities, people) on top of one of those rolly luggage racks things. Being the ‘you need to work hard to earn this shit’ mom that I am, I did make all the kids carry their own backpacks. Our room had the promised ‘Happy Birthday’ sign on the door and a large bag full of the birthday package treats we paid for in this nifty little add-on appropriately called the birthday package.


Let me go into painful detail here, as this thing was so cool:

At this water park, you pay for your room and you get as many water park passes as people you list staying in your room. So on this particular trip we had 11. Since it was Liam’s birthday, I thought, why the hell would I not add this $125 package to the mix? The Internet claimed that we would get a meal comp, a birthday cake, a poster, a scrapbook and tokens for the arcade for four kids. Let me tell you, at Great Wolf Lodge, they don’t skimp on their packages! I assumed we’d get a meal comp for four people, a crappy paper scrapbook with an ugly, flimsy cover and a tiny birthday cake. Instead, we got a meal comp for nearly all 11 of us (it was pizza, salad, breadsticks and soda. We had to buy one pizza because a. I like my fatty food, b. our three boys can eat an entire box of cereal in one breakfast, so dinner has to be large, and c. my Hubby is excessive in everything he does), a HUGE round birthday cake, decorated and personalized, eight arcade tokens for each kid, a chocolate bar for each kid and a scrapbook that cost $29.99 in the gift shop. I checked. Ooh, and I almost forgot what had me so impressed. The birthday child was to receive a ‘stuff the animal’ and outfit in the gift shop, akin to Build-A-Bear. I checked that out, too. The animal was $24.99 and the outfit was $19.99. So far, just the extras tally to $75, not including dinner, the cake and the arcade tokens. I’d say that the tokens should have been about . . . (ugh, maths) $8. That leaves like $40 for an entire pizza dinner and a birthday cake (don’t you dare refigure my math. That would be embarrassing. I did it all in my head with no paper and pen. I’m impressed, but I haven’t checked my work with a calculator). Regardless of actual birthdays, I’d say it would be a great idea for anyone going to GWL to add this package on. I mean, who doesn’t want to eat cake and pizza in their hotel room?


Pizza party

Back to the main attraction – my sweet baby niece made her appearance at her first vacation! At seven weeks old, she was a vision in pink. Her dark skin and hair made everything she wore look custom-colored just for her. I’d also mention the color of her eyes, but that little booger kept them closed for like the entire time she was there. Seriously, if I were a jealous person, I’d be insanely jelly of my sister and her super duper easy, sleepy baby. And the pinkness. Yeah, the pinkness would make me jealous. If I were a jealous person. Which I’m not.


Marley Renee, as pretty as her mommy

I got some great pictures of my mom sleeping in the water park.


I got a few cute pics of my kiddos smiling. I got a great shot of the birthday boy blowing out his candles. I got a few cute pics of that sweet, pink little baby. With her eyes closed, of course.

And that’s it.

See, nothing even remotely funny in three whole days.

Except for when Jamie got pulled over and received a speeding ticket with all four kids as witnesses. I was a great wife and didn’t say a single word, though inside my head I saw myself pumping my arm in the air and screaming, “YESSSSSSSSSS! It’s about time!”

Just kidding. No wife wants her hubby to get a speeding ticket.


And that’s the end of that. I must really be into this blogging thing because as Officer Not So Friendly (actually, he was kind of a dick – is it normal for a cop to ask the driver what color their car is?) was running Hubby’s license and registration, I very seriously contemplated whether I would/could be reprimanded for taking a picture of said cop handing the imminent ticket to my speeding Hubby. I wish I had done it, in hindsight. A reprimand from a crabby cop would have been great fodder for this. As would the resulting photo of shame.

I wonder what else I would do just to be able to write about it.







Unsolicited advice for all you ADHD/ADD virgins

When my son was first diagnosed with ADHD and ODD, I was thrilled to have an answer for why he was so difficult, but simultaneously gobsmacked by how much I didn’t know about any aspect of it: the testing, the therapy, the psychology, the copays, the medications, the behavior training, etc.  It terrified me!  I wished, while I was going through it all, that I had known someone who had also gone through it and could give me their sage, sweat-soaked advice.  Recently, a family member approached me and asked my advice in the subject – and while I highly doubted my sarcastic input would suffice, I was immediately grateful that my somewhat arduous experience could benefit a newbie.  The following are some tips I’ve compiled and should be read as an opinion and certainly not professional advice.

You may wonder when your child sprouted fur and turned in to a guinea pig.

The sad reality is that anyone, kids or adults, with behavioral/mental issues will eventually feel like a guinea pig.  And yes, it is normal.  I think we tried five different medications and combinations of insomnia-fighting agents before finding the perfect mix for us, which happens to be fifteen milligrams of Focalin XR and three milligrams of melatonin.  We started out at five milligrams of Focalin and gradually upped it over the course of a week.  With Number Two being only seven, our hands were kind of tied with what we could give him as he was not yet able to swallow whole pills (and still can’t at nine).  So there went the vast majority of behavioral health medication.  We tried Adderall (made him a total zombie.  No joke.  Sat and stared for hours.)  We tried Concerta, Strattera, and Metadate.  (These were tried two years ago, so I can’t remember the exact side effects, but at least one of these was a whole pill that I was never able to get him to swallow, try as I might.  And try I did – bribing, cajoling, yelling, hiding it in a bite of lunch meat or in a spoonful of ice cream . . . and crying.  Yes, I totally cried in front of my kid to show him how important it was to take it.)  I began giving him a dose of Benadryl at bedtime to counteract the stimulant side effect and lived for a week with him not falling asleep until 2 am.  Once I discussed this with the doctor, he suggested melatonin – a lifesaver!  Three milligrams in his mouth as I’m kissing him goodnight and it’s lights out in fifteen!  Easy, peasy.  But be warned – melatonin does not cause sleepiness per se.  It simply assists a person in falling asleep.  I have learned, through many cases of trial and error, that there is a window in which it can help.  When I say I give it to him while he’s in bed, I mean it.  That way he is laying still and quiet in the dark and then has the opportunity to help sleep arrive.  There have been times when Number Two comes out of his room ten minutes after I tuck him in and I know we’ll miss the window . . . and I really don’t want that to happen to you!

You may not know how to give your child the medication and consider just shoving it down his/her throat.

Especially if he/she can’t swallow pills.  Most whole pills absolutely should not be crushed or cut in any way, and honestly, you may be on your own there!  I have no clue how to make a kid swallow a pill . . . because my kid is super oppositional.  But, on the bright side, I can tell you little tricks I’ve worked out with taking the medication that can be opened and poured out.  When our psychologist suggested pouring Focalin into a spoonful of applesauce, I didn’t really think that was the only medium we could use (but I am no professional . . .).  I gave it to him in spoonfuls of sherbet and pudding (super yummy and agreeable, but we noticed no change in behavior those days because it seems Focalin beads won’t dissolve right in the body with these consistencies and one should not do this unless they want to waste that super expensive pill) and peanut butter (okay, in hindsight, this was child abuse.  He licked and smacked and chomped for ten minutes.  And there were tiny white Focalin beads still stuck to his lips when he tried to go out to the bus. Needless to say, peanut butter did not work!).  Applesauce gets boring, so we try to switch it up between cinnamon and regular as much as we can.  There have been days where he is throwing fits all morning and absolutely refuses to take his medicine.  Those days I am not ashamed to admit that I bribe him with a sucker, a cookie, or even a full size candy bar before school.  After all, if he takes his medicine and it helps him focus, how bad is that sugar going to affect him, really?  (Click here to read an article about sugar and ADHD.  I told you I was no professional!)

You may not understand the full benefits of the timing of the medication and/or why they can’t just make a constant release medication (these drug companies must not know a single child with ADHD).

I learned the hard way that this type of behavioral medication should be given as early as possible to keep you from strangling your child, but not too early that it wears off before homework can be completed (and you strangle your child).  In our home, Number Two gets it at eight am, after a big breakfast (remember, this stuff has the tendency to curb the appetite, resulting in a child that looks like they’re on meth . . . well, dexmethylphenidate).  That way, there are still a few good hours after school when he can complete his homework without too much of a fight (if he doesn’t lie about not having any.  Behavioral medications are not miracles in pill form!). I once forgot to give him his medication and remembered at noon.  Being new to the situation, I gave it to him then and then struggled until nearly three am to get him asleep.  Needless to say, that wasn’t pretty!

If your kid already mystifies you, be prepared for when they try to tell you about how the meds make them feel.

My son says some pretty weird things already – his psychologist actually asked me if he “normally communicates that way,” causing me to immediately question if his diagnoses were the only things wrong with him.  The doctor assured me that this difficult-to-understand way of communication was pretty normal for ADHD as the hyperactive brain may fire differently, causing the thought paths to crisscross and jump around (that’s how I understood it, anyway).  As his mother, I understand a lot of what he means, but strangers most likely have no idea what he’s talking about.  When asked how the medication makes him feel, he has responded with “heavy,” “my heart hurts,” “my brain pays attention,” and “I can’t stop thinking.”  I guess I understand that.  Wouldn’t it make so much more sense if parents could test out the medication first before giving it to the kids? Instead, we expect seven-year-olds to tell us what is happening in their brains – most of the time, seven-year-olds cannot properly convey what is happening in the bathroom!

Like I mentioned more than once, I am not a professional.  I also don’t know what I’m doing and am most likely completely and utterly unqualified to offer advice.  But, if you are going through something similar, I’d love to hear about your experiences and/or tips!