Tuesday, December 17, 2013

All I want for Hannukkah and Christmas is . . . EVERYTHING!

I remember as a child being jealous of my Christian friends during the Christmas season.  What Jewish kid isn't?  The lights, the tree, the stockings, the songs, the presents, the fat man with the red suit and the big white beard.  When you compare some candles and a few gifts - usually socks and underwear (which, my friends, do not count as presents) - Christmas wins, hands down.  My parents didn't shield me from Christmas; they enabled my Christmas lust.  I knew all of the words to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and my favorite Christmas special - because I watched them all (claymation at its finest!) - was The Year Without a Santa Claus.  Remember the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser brothers and how Mother Earth and Mrs. Claus save the day?  It's a feminist Christmas tale if ever there was one!  Still, I was very much on the outside of Christmas looking in.  Sure, I could help my best friends decorate their 200 foot tree (we used a ladder to hang the ornaments), but it wasn't MY tree.

As a mom of two inter-faith kids (and by inter-faith I mean my husband is agnostic and I'm atheist), I'm pulling out all of the stops.  My kids who have no real spiritual grounding, who just last night asked me what the bible is (I said to my daughter, "You know, it has the story of Adam and Eve," to which she replied, "Adam and Eve?  Never heard of it."), get both Hannukkah and Christmas.  We have a menorah that we light every night of Chanucka and the children receive a small gift each night.  I would have killed for that as a kid.  We only did one night of gifts and had to wait until night #8!  Then, when Chanucka ends, my kids start counting down the days to Christmas.  For this we have stockings, Christmas Eve with one set of grandparents, Christmas morning with Nana, and Christmas dinner of Chinese take-out, this year with my dad.  It's gluttony.

I barely recall making gift lists for my parents.  I seem to remember I was happy with whatever I received, especially the year I got Simon, the panic-inducing electronic musical pattern game.  

My kids pour over the toy catalogues that arrive the week of Halloween and circle everything they want.  My daughter insists on a color-coded system, or if the markers aren't handy, initialing the things she wants and having her brother do the same.   In years past, I could count on my son circling the Thomas the Tank Engine trains and accoutrements, then Disney Cars, then Marvel superhero toys, then Star Wars.  He follows a predictable pattern.  This year he has two obsessions: Skylanders Swap Force and Pikmin.

I'm not using the word obsession lightly, friends.  We are 12-stepping it at my house . . . at least until the presents arrive.  At that point we are officially the enablers and must admit that we've created a video game monster.

Case in point, the catalogue:

Notice how he has circled EVERY SINGLE SKYLANDER ACTION FIGURE.  Just in case we weren't sure that he would like one - or all - of those as a gift.  Also important, the $70 gaming system.  

Grandparents to the rescue.  But notice that in addition to circling every figure and controller and gaming system, my son helpfully added a note:  "all all all."  I think he wants all of them.  Not sure.

The Pikmin 2 Wii game is not listed in the catalogue because it's an older game.  He just finished Pikmin 3.  He cried at the end (both sweet and a little pitiful).   Every night of Chanucka he just knew he was getting the older game.  Alas, he did not.  So, he likes to remind us at dinner that he sure would like Pikmin 2 for Christmas.  It's all he really wants.  Well, that and every Skylander toy that has every been shipped from China.

For a little variety, I noticed, my son found some non-gaming items in the Target and Toys R Us catalogues.  For instance, there's the $224.99 Power Wheels 12-volt Corvette mini car.  For ages 3 and up?  Who buys their 3 year old a battery operated Corvette?  

That is setting up some unrealistic expectations.  He has kindly circled every battery operated vehicle on this page as well.  Thank you, Sweetie, for the many options of gifts you will never receive.

Like many kids this year, my children loved Despicable Me 2, especially my boy.  He loved it so much that he wants every giant plush talking character from the movie.  

Wow, at only $59.99 why wouldn't I want all of these toys uttering 30 different phrases from the movie?  Good choice!

For the I'm a disgusting, testosterone-filled boy toys, my son doesn't disappoint:  a Despicable Me 2 Fart Gun (No) and the NEW! The Ugglys Electronic Pup, complete with farting, burping, barking, growling, and other 30 "repulsive noises" (Also, no).  We have two burping, farting, rubbing-their-ass-on-the-rug real dogs.  These gifts are superfluous.

The most surprising gift circled in the catalogue with my son's name scribbled above it is the following:

Elmo Junction?  That's adorable!  Sure you're going on 7 and will never play with it, but it's under $50, it doesn't fart or talk, and it's not likely to cause withdrawal symptoms so I'm going to say yes to this one.

Okay, I realize that my post bears resemblance to a very funny post by Drew Magary about his daughter's insane Christmas list, but trust me, I've been percolating on this post longer than he did (this started at Halloween, people!).  I'm just slower and less successful than Magary.

As I leave you with the Christmas longings of my obsessive son, I feel remiss if I don't include a few gifts that you might want to purchase for your own children or loved ones:

For spiritually confused, double holiday celebrating children like mine.

Remember, kids, don't do meth, but do try delicious meth candy.  Seriously.  This exists.

Happy Holidays to you all!  

May you get everything you want, including world peace.

Monday, November 25, 2013

And a very happy Thanksgivvukkah to you!

There's nothing like the holidays to stir my ADD into a maniacal frenzy.  Since we're in a mixed "faith" (a term that I use here to mean heritage or gift-giving holiday) family, we indulge the kids with Chanucka and Christmas.

(Side note, Mr. Auto-correct: Chanucka can be spelled this way.  It's the way my mother taught me to spell it, therefore it is correct.  Also, it's a transliteration so really, you're going to quibble with me over how to spell the sound you make whilst clearing phlegm from your throat?  Really??)

Sorry, sometimes a Jewish girl has got to put the obviously goyish auto-correct in its place.

Where was I?  Right, Christmas and Chanucka, for which if my 6-year-old son continues to call it Jewish Christmas he will receive 8 days of olive oil as his only gift.  So yes, we indulge the kids with 8 days of gifts.  Something to which my mother never would have agreed unless each gift was something practical like socks and underwear.

(Side note: I tried to find a short Hannukkah Harry video to serve as an example, but turns out . . . all of my references are dated and unavailable on Hulu.  I am old.  And yes, auto-correct, that's how SNL spelled Chanucka for the skit.  IT DOESN'T MATTER.  Oy!)

To make matters worse, this year we're celebrating Thanksgivukkah.  It's a rare year when Chanucka and Thanksgiving coincide and I know I should be awe-struck and giddy about this miracle even Juddah Maccabee couldn't have predicted (look it up).  In fact, I should be so excited about this coincidence that I should be profiting off of it,

[This poster, only $18 here: source]

or at least engineering a proper symbol of the combined holidays.


Seriously, the Menurkey designer (and CEO), Asher Weintraub, is going places.  At nine, he has funded his college education with a Kickstarter campaign.  I could learn from this child.

Thanksgivukkah has made my head spin.

I literally leapt into toy-buying action on November 1 for fear that I'd put things off and then have to make a mad dash into the Black Friday Thanksgiving Day sales.  Hold the phone.  Thanksgiving Day sales?

Guess where I'm NOT going Thanksgiving Day.

I guess some lucky retail slaves just don't get to enjoy a day off this season.

I am happy to report, however, that most of my Chanucka gifts are purchased, many are wrapped, and I didn't break the bank!  But with Chanucka falling in the midst of Thanksgiving, we don't really get to acknowledge the holiday properly.  The second night of Chanucka falls directly on Thanksgiving so we'll be with my husband's (re: Christian) family for lunch.  I'm pretty sure his uncle thinks that I'm Mexican.  Then back home for second Thanksgiving with Nana.  Third night of Chanucka?  Back on the road to celebrate - this time actual Chanucka - with my family.  Throw in several sleepovers and more family and seriously, I need a vacation!

(Side note: The article I linked to above, the one about Thanksgiving and Chanucka overlapping had this title: Thanksgiving-Hanukkah Overlap Spurs Thanks, Angst.)

Looking ahead, once the wrapping paper has settled, the turkey bones cleared off the table, and all of the candles have burned down on the menurkey, ultimately I know there is no rest for the weary.  I've barely begun my Christmas shopping.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Guest Post Reminder: Send me your writing!

It occurred to me that I may have self-sabotaged when I decided to establish a guest post series on an Attention Deficit blog.  All of the people who have indicated they would love to contribute -- have promised to write up a story, anecdote, or micro essay -- all of these beautiful people, all of YOU beautiful people, have ADD.  What was I expecting?  I couldn't have asked for a more distracted group of contributors.

But, I'm not here to shame you or them.  I get it.  Writing for my series is something that is easy to forget.  It is also one of those priorities that can easily shift to the bottom of the list.  After all, no one will die if you forget to write or submit your writing to me.  No one will suffer or go hungry.  No one will go without medicine.

I will say that I still very much would like to read what you have to say about how ADD has improved your life, how ADD makes you the awesome person you are today.  Whenever you have time, or remember.  I still love you.  Promise.

Now, get to freakin' work, people!

Oh, Hyperbole and a Half, you make me smile

Friday, November 8, 2013

Autumn Leaves Are Falling Down, Falling Down, Falling Down

It's fall in Kentucky and the trees are luminescent.  Canary yellows and golds, crimsons and oranges.  It's as if someone flipped on the switch during the daytime hours and lit each tree with incandescent bulbs.

We had a particularly wet summer, so that always bodes well for the autumn colors.  And, although I appreciate this ephemeral beauty, I wasn't so focused on it while I raked bag after compostable bag of leaves for two freakin' hours on Tuesday morning.

Don't get me wrong, I adore autumn.  I love the smell of leaves and wood-burning fireplaces in the night air.  I love the sound of leaves crunching under foot.  I love the fall flavors offered at my local coffee shop -- pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie mochas, and hot apple cider.  And I love the sights as I mentioned before, the lovely trees lined up on my street like Southern Belles in their festive ball gowns.

All except my tree.

This is what mine looks like.

Addled - Autumn Leaves Are Falling Down
That's my daughter being helpful with the rake.

While I was raking, a neighbor approached me and said, "Wow," looking up and down the street for comparison, "you really got dumped!"

Yes, neighbor, I got dumped.  Megatons of leaves flitted on my head and my car while I uselessly raked away.  I felt like Sisyphus.  Ten bags done and you couldn't tell I made a dent.

This made me think about the task at hand.  Why was I bothering?  Why did I care?  What's in this for me?

I was trying to be a good neighbor.  I didn't want the street littered with leaves when the rain came that night, creating a slimy slurry that would lay beneath the snow this winter, making driving conditions worse than they already would be.  I didn't want the mailman slipping on leaves on my sidewalk and walkway, nor did I want the dog-walkers sliding by, raising their mittened fists at my house.  I felt responsible.

I also kept going because I have a completion complex.

If you have ADD, you might have this or you might have the opposite of it.  I love finishing a project so that I can have the satisfaction of crossing it off my literal or mental list.  I feel accomplished.  That said, when faced with never-ending tasks, knowing full well that the task is bottomless, I still tackle it with gusto.  This leads to crushing defeat and self-examination.

I know.  I know.  It's silly.  I should understand the circumstances and give myself a break.

When I worked at a local bookstore in the 90s, I took great pride in the sections I stocked.  Every book was flush to the edge of the shelf.  I had lovely displays of popular titles.  When customers came and took a book, then left it shoved in or left books in a stack in the wrong section of the store -- hello, people, Gloria Steinem does not belong in the "Paranormal" section! --  I would get bent out of shape and correct the problem shelf as soon as I could get off my shift at check-out.

Same with laundry -- why do my kids persist in dirtying their clothes and heaping them in a basket?  Can't they just stand back and admire the neat pile of darks and whites assembled on their beds?  That took an hour to create, my darlings.  ADMIRE IT!

Yet I persisted with the raking and the lack of rewards it gave back to me.

This is what my yard looked like after I raked.

ADDled - Autumn Leaves Are Falling Down - Yard
Yes, I'm aware that the pumpkin is still on the porch.

And here is my yard compared to the rest of the block.

ADDled - Autumn Leaves Are Falling Down - Neighbor's
Look, my neighbor actually has green grass!

Cruel, cruel Autumn.  You haven't heard the last of me.

ADDled - Autumn Leaves Are Falling Down - Bag of leaves

Do you have a completion complex like me?  Strangely, I have loads of projects that are half-finished.  I figured out that is the case because I want everything nicely completed.  If I can't do it right, I stop doing it at all.  I also get bored easily so if I'm not getting any payoff and I'm not entertained, I'm outta there.

What projects do you HAVE to complete?  What projects get the half-done treatment?  Why?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful: Happy Halloween, Anyway

Happy Halloween, Y'all.

Here in Louisville, it's soggy and we're all a little depressed because tonight it is supposed to thunderstorm.  This has thrown trick-or-treating plans waaaaay off.  Some neighborhoods around town have voted to table the tricks and/or treats until tomorrow night.  Some folks have yelled, "That's inconceivable!" because Halloween is sacred and must happen on the 31st no matter how drenched, cold, and miserable their children might be.


My neighborhood is keeping plans loosey-goosey: if it doesn't storm, we'll have Halloween tonight; if it does storm, we'll have Halloween tomorrow.  I appreciate the non-committal, no big whoop attitude, but this mother needs to plan a little.  I have chili to cook, a house to clean, grandparents to entertain.  Which night is it, people?!

So I made a personal decision: we're trick-or-treating tomorrow.  Deal with it, neighbors. My little Luke and Leia will not be denied.

I don't remember it raining cats, dogs, and if the radar is correct on the local news channel, buffalo and woolly mammoths, when I was a child.  I do remember some wicked cold Halloweens when Mom made me wear my winter coat over the costume.  That's right, my sadistic mother made me hide my adorable purple tutu under a winter coat.  Everyone knows that you wear the coat under the costume, no matter how bulky.

After my three years as a pretty, pretty ballerina, sporting two different tutus (one, oddly, in Christmas reds and greens), I started devising my own costume ideas.  My kids like to do this as well, but usually their ideas aren't so wild that I have to get crafty.  I can usually find their desired disguise at Party City or Target where we spend too much money on them and move on.  This year they are going all Star Wars on me, which my husband and I love because we are painfully trapped in our eight-year-old brains.  I bought some bun-making contraptions called Hairagami and made two perfect cinnamon rolls on the side of my little Leia's head.

When I was my daughter's age, I went from loving fantasy movie characters to realistic movie characters.  No crazy wigs, no neon dresses, no fake blood or Dracula fangs for this girl, no.  I also wanted to go as obscure as possible so everyone would have to figure out what or who I was.  This backfired on me because even when I told my friends who I was, they didn't get it.

I went as Annie Hall.

Best Halloween Costume Ever:  Annie Hall

This costume demonstrates several things about me as a child and pretty much me as an adult:

  1. I considered myself an intellectual and was therefore a snob.
  2. I considered myself an adult because I watched Woody Allen movies with my parents.
  3. I mistakenly thought I was Diane Keaton when in reality I was Alison Porchnik, one of Alvey's girlfriends before Annie, played by Carol Kane.  Annie was as White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant as they come and Alison was a Jewish bookworm.  Of course all the Jewish boys went for the WASP girls.
  4. I thought I was being clever, but I was just enjoying a private joke with myself.  Had I lived in Manhattan as a kid, maybe I would have been clever.
  5. I totally didn't understand the purpose of Halloween.
I wish I had a photo of myself as Annie Hall to show you, but you'll have to paint a mental image of a nine-year-old with buck teeth, long curly brown hair, my grandfather's brown fedora, someone's long suit jacket, a button-down white shirt and dress pants, school shoes, and a long string of fake pearls over one of my dad's ties.  Oh, and I went around saying, "La di da," as if that would clue people in on who I was portraying.  This is act-ing, people!  Work with me!

 Mike Oncley - Annie Hall poster
I lurve this poster.  "Love is too weak a word."

Thinking back on this glorious costume - one I'm sure my mom appreciated for its simplicity and low budget - I can't help but feel grateful that my kids aren't growing up too soon.  They still want to dress up as their favorite action heroes.  They still anticipate all of the candy they will get.  They're still bummed that Halloween may be rained out, but happy enough to put it off for one day.  

Candy is candy, after all, no matter which day you receive it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The ADDled Holiday Shopping Edition - Oy, Not the Hanukkah Essentials

I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but Hanukkah comes early this year.  You know, Hanukkah.  What some people wrongly deem the Jewish Christmas.  For one reason, we don't have a set date for our holidays because Jews still use the lunar calendar to determine the dates for the next year.  Then there's also the whole we don't have Jesus thing.

This year Hanukkah arrives the evening before Thanksgiving.

Thanks lunar calendar.

Do you know what this means for the stereotypical Jewish bargain hunter?  You got it, Hanukka will begin BEFORE Black Friday.  This is grim news for the GNP.

Knowing full well that I need to collect my gift items earlier this year -- we celebrate our own interpretations of Hanukkah and Christmas -- I've been stashing little things as I find them in the bargain bins at Target or, and I've been doing way too much of this, I've been pinning the hell out of ideas on Pinterest.  I have a board full of gift ideas for the kids.

So, imagine my delight when I browsed my inbox this morning and found a link for "Oy to the World! Stock up On Hanukkah Essentials" on Fab.com.  "Great," I thought, "I need some Hanukkah Essentials."

Apparently, the rest of the world thinks we want this.

I'm pretty sure that store sites that are targeting Christmas shoppers are not trying to sell them Christmas trees.  You either have a plastic one in the attic that you bring down every year or you go to the Christmas Tree lot to buy one.  Same goes for Jews with Hanukkah.  We either have a menorah, or we go to the local shul to buy one.  I definitely do NOT want a neon menorah for a gift.

Another Hannukkah "Essential" is this:

Apparently, this is what we do on Hanukka
Okay, maybe she dyed her hair,
but that dude is NOT Jewish

Nothing like an ironic sweater featuring snowmen as Hassidic rabbis to say, "Happy Hanukkah, jerkwad."

And here's another one to keep the kiddos happy:

"I know you don't get a Christmas tree, honey,
but here are some anthropomorphized dreidel lights to dry your tears."

Okay, maybe I'm not being fair.  Sure, we need to ready ourselves for the holidays and may need to purchase a few decorative items ahead of time.  Sure, we like to decorate just as much (well, maybe not just as much) as any Christmas-celebrating household, and maybe you do buy your favorite uncle an ornament every year because you don't know what to get him.  Or an ironic Christmas sweater for your niece to wear to the coffee shop where she is a barista.  I'm not really sure what your holiday shopping and gift-giving habits are.

But I'm going to let Fab and other retailers who don't know how to market to their Jewish customers in on a little secret:

Jews like the same crap you do as gifts!

Know what my kids want for Hanukkah?  The same things your kids want for Christmas!  Toys and zebra-print clothing.

My guess is that Fab would do better business with their Jewish clientele if under "Hanukkah Essentials" they would offer the following:
  • Anything made by Coach
  • Fancy iPhone 5 cases
  • Chocolate (not the cheap gelt you get at shul, but the good stuff - Belgian, Swiss, Godiva, Ghiradelli, etc.)
  • A new hybrid vehicle
  • Stock in AT&T, Netflix or Apple
  • Plane tickets to Cancun
  • Anything from Tiffany's

I know, those were terrible stereotypical Jewish American Princess gifts.  I'm probably out of date with some of them because I've never been a JAP.  I've always been nerdy and staunchly middle class.

Fab, if you were marketing to this Jewish American Nerd-girl, I'd recommend you offer some of the following:
  • An Otterbox for the iPhone 5 (because I'm clumsy and will drop my phone in the toilet.  Again.)
  • Any t-shirt from Threadless, especially ones with typewriters or literary allusions. (I like this one, in case you're curious.)
  • Chocolate from my favorite local chocolatier, Dundee Candy Store
  • A gift certificate to the Subaru dealer to get my 07 Forester an oil change, body work, tune up, allignment
  • I would also take a gift card to get the car interior shampooed or exorcised
  • Movie passes
  • Anything vintage-inspired from Mod Cloth
  • Stock in Keen, Merrell, or Ben and Jerry's

Happy holiday shopping even though it's Halloween week.  The season has begun whether you like it or not!

(All images are from Fab.com.  I am simply lampooning them, not stealing them.  There are no link backs.)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Submissions needed for ADDled's guest blog series: My ADD Rocks!

Reminder: Submit your ADD stories for my guest blog series:

My ADD Rocks!

This can be a story about you, your dad, your son, daughter, pet hamster, whatever so long as it is a positive look at ADD.  I know that ADD can be crazy frustrating, but it can also be a positive attribute. Many creative people and entrepreneurs credit having ADD to their success.  ADDled just wants to dispel the myth that having ADD means you are impaired.

Help dispel that myth.  

Send your stories to seeamywrite@gmail.com.  Please put in the subject line My ADD Rocks!

Spread the word!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Montessori Education and ADD

As you many of my readers may know, my husband and I have two elementary-aged kids, a boy and a girl.  You may also know that both my husband and I have received ADD diagnoses as adults.  Do our kids have ADD or ADHD? You do the math.

At this point, we have chosen not to have either of our children assessed for ADD/ADHD.  This is because, at this point, neither of them have any reason to be tested.  Both are succeeding academically, both have many friends, and both enjoy and often do well in their extracurricular activities.  Until we see a reason to intervene with behavior therapy or medication, my husband and I are keeping things status quo.

Things weren't always easy for me and my husband at our kids' ages.  More so, I think, for my husband because he attended a traditional elementary school and was told he had a learning disability early in his academic career, which labeled him.  But the truth of the matter is that he was a bright, inquisitive, active little boy who was not interested in sports.  He was able to read, write, and do math at grade level.  His hand writing may have not been perfect, but have you ever seen a 6-year-old boy with perfect penmanship?

Unlike my husband, I didn't attend a traditional elementary (or for that matter middle or high) school.  I attended a small Montessori school and I believe that made all the difference between my husband's school experience and mine.

Montessori schools are based on the pedagogy of Italian physician and educator, Maria Montessori.  Maria Montessori believed that education should be child-centered.  According to the American Montessori Society, Montessori education values
the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child—physical, social, emotional, cognitive.1
Math rug work that teaches the concept of carrying and borrowing
(photo credit: Ana Nouri)
Montessori schools use manipulatives, such as puzzles and bead chains and word cards to teach basic math, science, geography, and language arts concepts and processes.  Children are allowed to work independently and in small groups, at desks and on the floor using rugs as their work surfaces.

My daughter with her 1/2/3 teacher doing a math activity
Teachers prepare lessons for new learning concepts, but there is a big emphasis on independent learning.  And once a child masters a concept, they can move up to the next task, no matter the level of their peers in the same grade.  This is a very dynamic classroom environment.  Children are allowed to move around the room and discover.  Classrooms usually have pets and the students are responsible for their care.  Mutual respect and community is fostered.  Grade levels often mix in one classroom and students are encouraged to help one another.

I attended a Montessori school for five years and I credit it for making me a critical thinker who is still in love with learning.

Guess what kind of school my children attend?

This was an extremely important decision for me and my husband.  We knew our active children would not prosper in a classroom where they had to sit at a desk all day, where they would need to wait for the rest of the class to complete their work before moving on to the next text, where they had to sit still and be quiet.  Our kids are focused on their work because they are engaged with it, not because a teacher is threatening them.

Maria Montessori first created a classroom environment for children with learning and developmental disabilities and met with great success!2

Why do we persist in setting up our kids to fail in classrooms that don't address their needs?  I think we're trying to fit round pegs in square holes.  If more schools adopted a Montessori approach with kids who learn differently (not better or worse), then I think we might see fewer diagnoses, less pathologizing.  My kids may be active, they may exhibit slower processing speeds than their peers, but they are no less smart and capable.  Their learning environments and incredible teachers regularly support and reward my children's academic successes.  My husband, who sees so much of himself in our son, told me his own behavior as a child - behavior not unlike our son's - was corrected and he was chastised regularly.  Our son's teachers told us he is curious, funny, a good classroom citizen, and a great asset to their class.  We receive reports in his agenda such as, "he's a rock star!" and "way to go!" and he has earned nine "Do The Right Thing" awards so far this fall.  My husband wishes he had attended a Montessori school that would have celebrated his strengths.

I realize the Montessori method is not a panacea for learning disabilities or the only tool to give children exhibiting ADD/ADHD symptoms, and I realize that not all children can prosper in a Montessori setting, but I do want to draw attention to the fact that children who learn differently should not be so easily labeled and pathologized.

In fact, I think there's more wrong with the education system in our country than with our kids.

Google founders credit Montessori for their success

For a fascinating case study of the positive effects of Montessori education on a child diagnosed with ADD, go to: http://www.michaelolaf.net/ADHD.pdf

For a parent's perspective on the benefits of Montessori education, go to Denise Harold's article: Why We Chose Montessori Elementary.

For an introduction to Montessori education, this is a wonderful, inviting website: http://mariamontessori.com/mm/

1 https://www.amshq.org/Montessori-Education/Introduction-to-Montessori.aspx

2 https://www.amshq.org/Montessori-Education/History-of-Montessori-Education/Biography-of-Maria-Montessori.aspx

Monday, October 14, 2013

From Blog to Book: Guest Post by Debbie Mitchell

I discovered Debbie Mitchell's blog last spring when I was one of 807,378 readers on CNN's iReport to stumble onto her thought-provoking and powerful post, "Why I Raise My Children Without Religion." After Debbie wrote this popular and controversial iReport:  she was discovered by two editors!

Isn't this what we writers dream of happening to us?  We work diligently on our blogs, drumming up support and readership, toying with monetization, trying to decide how much self-promotion is worth the time and effort it takes just to write for a living.  Debbie has been writing her blog for ten years.  Now she has a book due out this April based on her blog.

What I love about Debbie's writing is that it is heartfelt, honest, and provocative.  If she lived in my town, I'd be having coffee dates with her on a regular basis.

Please welcome Debbie Mitchell.  Read her success story and follow her sound advice for turning your blog into a book.


Blogging and Books
I’m thrilled to be writing a guest post for Amy’s blog. Thank you, Amy, for sharing your space!

I decided to write about a question I’ve been asked a few times: How did I land a book contract based on my blog? I’m happy to share what I’ve learned, and please feel free to ask if you have questions. But I have to tell you something up front: The subject of my book was not something I had expected to write about.

Like many of you, I have been a writer since I can remember. Although I’ve had many different jobs, when someone would ask me what I do for a living, I always wanted to shout, “I’m a writer! I’m a writer! I swear!” Before I even started kindergarten, I’d write down words on tiny pieces of paper, fold them up and stick them in my pocket, irritating my mother to no end when the laundry brought the paper out of my pockets and pasted dozens of tiny pieces to the wet clothes. 

Also, like many of you, I’m an introvert, and I’m hard-wired to prefer communication through the written word, to need quiet time to think and reflect. I find most writers I know are like this. We also have a running dialogue in our heads of things we are working on or want to write about, and we’re constantly scribbling ideas down. Don’t tell us your life story—you never know what a writer might “borrow.” 

About ten years ago, my father read an article about blogging in Business Week, and he suggested that I look into some of the sites mentioned. A few days later, I started blogging on Blogspot and Wordpress on various topics, but the only blog I maintained was one that had sprouted out of my frustration of living as a nonbeliever in a very Christian town. Although I wrote about a lot of other topics, my blog became a consistent and personal journal of my struggles with raising kids on the fringe. I just really wanted to reach out to people and find others who were in the same proverbial boat. So you know that cliché that your professors tell you, “Write what you know;” they were right. That’s where my most significant and passionate writing came from.

My next suggestion to getting published would be to send as many different essays and articles to as many different publications as possible: newspapers of all sizes, local magazines (even the ones you get for free), national magazines and Internet sites. Always include your blog address in your tagline so that readers can find you. If the subject of your blog is parenting, you might see if any relevant magazines or websites would be interested in running your work. Sometimes you’ll get paid, sometimes not. But you’ll be getting your writing out there—along with your blog address—and building your Publications List. I tried to write three to four articles a month, even when I worked at other jobs.

At the end of January this past year, I grew really frustrated with some articles that I had read on CNN and with some of the attitudes in my city. One morning, I sat down and wrote this piece. But I wanted to share it with the religion writers and readers on CNN because I wanted to say, “Hey! There are other folks out there who don’t think the same as you, who are doing something different.” So I uploaded my essay to iReports. And this is my third suggestion: Write about something that not too many people have tackled yet, or write about a topic in a dramatically different way.

That subject must have been on many people’s minds because the article was one of the most viewed of all times. Lots of people wrote to me saying, “I feel that way, too!” The article drove a lot of traffic to my blog, and apparently, a couple of editors, too. A few days after that CNN article ran, I was contacted by two publishers. One of the publishers wanted to turn my blog into a book, and the other wanted me to write a guide for parents who were, like me, raising their kids without religion. I chose the latter publisher and topic for several reasons, but I used a lot of the material in my blog to remind me of the struggles I faced over the past ten years. The book is called, Growing up Godless: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids without Religion, and it will be published in April by Sterling Publishing. I interviewed Amy for the book, by the way, and she shared a story about her family.

Honestly, I am often humbled by just how many good writers there are out there, and I will tell you that there is an element of luck involved in getting a book deal. I sent out a lot of queries over the years (on other subjects), but nothing ever materialized. It just so happened that I wrote about a topic that hit a nerve with me, and on that day, it also hit a nerve with a lot of people. I learned that you just never know when a piece of your writing will resonate with the crowd.

So don't give up. If you love to write, keep writing. It hones your skills. It uncovers your truth. It is how you speak to the world. It is your path into the fray; your armaments in life’s struggles. Keep going, if for no other reason than writing makes you a writer.

And sometimes, the best thing that comes out of the act of writing isn’t what we get for it; it’s what we become from it.  

Here are some useful links:

Why you should blog:

Blogs that became books:

Deborah Mitchell lives in Texas (for now) with her husband and two sons. She has worked many jobs, including teaching writing at a college near Dallas and working with underprivileged youth. She earned an undergraduate degree from North Carolina State University, and a graduate degree from the University of Texas at Dallas. Books, people, philosophy, religion and environmental science are a few of her interests. She blogs at raisingkidswithoutreligion.net.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

New Guest Post Series: My ADD Rocks!

In celebration of ADHD Awareness Month - all October, every October, y'all - I've decided to take the leap into guest posts.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, consider submitting a short contribution to my new series:


This series will attempt to de-stigmatize the image of people diagnosed with ADD and ADHD as lazy, stupid, and the butt of many undeserved jokes.

Please find the envelope button to the right of this post and submit your contribution to me via email.  All micro essays and memoirs up to 1,500 words will be considered.

Stories about ADD and ADHD can be funny, poignant, awkward, and redeeming and I want to see them all, so long as no one with ADD or ADHD is treated with disrespect.

Thank you so much for helping me dispel myths about ADD and ADHD.

You, my friends, rock!


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

ADHD Awareness Month - October 2013

According to the good folks at ADDitude Magazine, it's ADHD Awareness Month.

Yes, that's a thing.

In fact, there is even a website called Global ADHD Awareness Month - 2013.  According to the photo on this website, I am a poster child for this month-long celebration:

No, that isn't actually me, but this lady is definitely my doppleganger.  Spooky.

ADHD Awareness Month actually is a really good thing.

Sure, it's no match for its counterpart, Breast Cancer Awareness Month - also October - but as part of its campaign for ADHD Awareness Month, ADDitude is promoting ADHD myth-busting.  As a fan of Discovery Channel's MythBusters, I can safely assure you that ADHD myth-busting will not include any explosives.


But I would like to pick up the ADHD myth-busting torch and tell you a few things about my ADD (no hyperactivity as far as I can tell, unless drinking too much coffee and staring into space is considered hyperactive, in which case, yes, I'm hyperactive).

What do you think of when you picture someone, especially a child, with ADD or ADHD?

I can think of several of my classroom peers from middle and high school that fit the stereotype: fidgety, loud, boundary issues, constant yammering and interrupting, and generally a nuisance.  When I tell people that I was diagnosed, most folks are surprised.  Then a curious thing occurs: people start emailing and texting me with suspicions that they - or their child or partner - might have ADD.

I discovered my ADD through my husband.  If you're new to the blog then here's a big piece of my life you should know: my husband, a successful college administrator who has 2 master's degrees and a PhD has wicked ADD.  One night we were chatting on the couch after the kids went to bed and he turned to me and wondered, "You know, you might have what I have."

Considering I don't present like my husband, who is pretty classic ADHD, this was fascinating and a real possible answer to some of my nagging frustrations: poor sleep habits since age 12, need of background white noise or complete silence to concentrate, hyperfocus on details without seeing the big picture, forgetfulness, trouble with punctuality, misplacing items in the house, clutter on every flat surface, and trouble completing projects.

I scheduled a diagnostic assessment and guess what?  I passed with flying colors!!

But here's the thing: I didn't realize I struggled with ADD until my husband said something to me at age 42.  I had been coping and self-medicating with caffeine for about oh, my entire adult life.

So let me do some myth-busting using my life as an example.

Myth: People with ADD are lazy.
Truth:  I have held down many jobs and have been highly recommended by colleagues.

Myth:  People with ADD are not smart.
Truth:  I am working on my second graduate degree and have always been top in my class.

I want to bitch slap the person who created this.

Myth:  ADD and ADHD are just excuses for bad behavior.
Truth:  ADD and ADHD are bona fide medical disorders recognized by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Education.  ADHD is listed in the American Psychiatric Society's DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

If you suspect that you might have some of the symptoms that I described, don't feel ashamed and don't put off talking to your doctor or seeking an assessment.  Although I don't take medication, just being aware of my limitations has helped me feel less frustrated with myself and to employ strategies and use tools to help me be productive and successful.

Check out the ADDitude Printables on ADHD/ADD for information or go to the Global ADHD Awareness Month - 2013 website.  Both websites offer great fact sheets, self-assessments, and forums in which you can ask questions or interact with physicians, psychologists, and regular folk who might look a lot like you.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Two social media steps forward . . .

I've been absent.

And yet, I've been more present.  

Yes, I have limited my Facebook, Blogger, Instagram, Twitter, OhMyGodMakeItStop time because I had this sinking suspision it was, how shall I put this, making me a crazy person.

And it was.

The first week of school came and went and right about when I should have begun to regain control of my house, my life, I felt like my head was about to explode.  Why?  Because I was coming off the BlogHer conference where I learned I needed to post to my blog page at least 3 times a week if not 3 times a day.  Because I attended a really insightful SEO workshop that suggested I craft great blog photos to later post on Pinterest throughout the day and to different groups (note: I don't participate in any Pinterest groups and my photos are so-so at best).  On top of all this, I decided that a.) I needed to invest in my freelance career so I signed up for 2 freelance services - one that helps you find work and connect with other freelance writers and one that helps you understand the market.  Then I went behind my own back and started doubting this line of thought.  I sent my resume out for part-time PR work.  Yeah, but that's not the crazy.  The crazy is when I pulled my applications from said businesses because I wanted to a.) work on my freelance writing career and b.) finish my damn MFA thesis!  Oh and those two services that I paid for . . . I hadn't visited either website in weeks.  I was too overwhelmed.

At this point, I took a giant leap back and surveyed the damage:  I was a complete mess.

If I was going to get anything done, whether it was writing for publication or writing my damn thesis or even performing well at a job, I needed to invest time and focus to it, whatever it turned out to be.

So I clocked out of Facebook and Twitter and OhMyGodMakeItStop status updates.

Know what?  I felt invigorated!

The week after I renegged on the job applications, I wrote my first article for a local online publication (I now have 3 more assignments). I also started putting in 4-5 consecutive hours on my thesis (and finished the first draft, which I sent off to my mentor).

Suck on that social media.

I'm not saying that I'll never participate in the sharing and tagging and threading again, but I've scaled waaaaaaaay back.  I check in for a few minutes a day, maybe post a photo or an update, but I'm not chained to it.  I'm not a huge fan of Twitter or Instagram, so I barely log in.  Pinterest, that's another story.  I like my pictures.  Plus, it actually helps me plan projects and gift-giving.  And it's relaxing.  And ocassionally there are hilarious photos that make my day.  That's a huge difference from feeling obligated to comment on every friend's baby photo (and don't get me wrong, they ARE cute).

None of this is revolutionary, I realize that.  But instead of pinning photos of quiet places where I'd love to drink a cup of coffee or tea if only I had time away from the computer, I'm now actually having a cup of coffee or tea and enjoying the quiet space in my brain.  I may even invite you to join me to sit down and relax sometime.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day Celebratin'

What are you doing to celebrate Labor Day, this final (not really) day of summer, this extraordinary long weekend awkwardly smushed into the back-to-school week?

So far, I've had a lovely time not checking Facebook or Twitter, listening to my kids laugh, buying happy adoption day presents for Charles the Terror (yes, it HAS been a year), partying in a gazebo during a monsoon (and wishing for a waterproof Snuggie), eating sushi and having fun with one of my besties, First Laura, and yeah, I'll include it, going to The Louisville Zombie Walk with the whole fam.  But more on that in a coming post.

That's called a tease, in case you were wondering.

On this actual Labor Day holiday, the whole ADDled family is heading to the pool for a final whang-dang.  I actually feel nostalgic about this.  (I say this as if incredulous because I don't really like to swim.)

The pool is such a part of our neighborhood and represents so much of what I love about my town: socializing with every person you've ever known since birth (yesterday I ran into people I worked with in my 20s, moms from my kids' preschool, my high school chemistry teacher, my grad school methodology professor, a close friend from middle/high school, the daughter of a fourth grade teacher at my school, my daughter's 3-year-old preschool teacher, and my husband's work cohort), cooling off in a gorgeous quarry oasis, and watching all of the kids - friends of my kids - who grow get lankier and more mature each time I see them - splashing and diving and carousing.

If happiness were a place, it would be Lakeside Swim Club.  (And by the way, that's not a country club, it's a neighborhood pool that requires membership.  Just average folks floatin' on rafts and eating snack bar pizza.)

Here's a few moments of my summer.  Kiss kiss.  I'll miss you, summer.

So, seriously, what are you doing to celebrate Labor Day?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

ADD and Decisions

Do you have ADD or know someone who has ADD?

Have you ever noticed how hard decision making is for you or your friend/spouse/child with ADD?  I'm not talking about life-threatening, should I pull the plug or not decisions.  I'm talking butter or margarine decisions, or coffee, tea or milk decisions.  Decisions that to any perfectly ordinary person wouldn't even register as a decision.

I suffer with minor and semi-major (but not should we bomb another country) decisions on a day-to-day basis.

I used to think this made me neurotic and I would laugh about this "quirk" with my friends so that my irritating behavior wouldn't completely turn them against me.  Sure I'm paralyzed over which movie/restaurant/bar to go to, but I can joke about it so what's the harm?

In college this "quirk" almost delayed my graduation.  I was a serious student and studied all of the time.  I loved school, but more than five times during the course of my college career I took a class that sounded great, bought the $50-$150 text, sat in on the first week of classes, then panicked.  It was harder/easier/less interesting/more ridiculous than I had originally thought and I worried, should I continue on and trust that it will get better or should I bail?  Usually, I tormented myself for a good two weeks until a major assignment was due and then go to the professor in tears.  By the time I finally dropped the course and heaved that sigh of relief, it was too late to enroll in another class and I had to eat the cost of the dropped class.  At the end of four years I had just enough credits to graduate.  One more dropped course and I may have needed to return the following fall.

Not good planning, but this had nothing to do with planning.  It had everything to do with trusting my instincts and making decisions with which I could live.

After college, I did exactly the same thing only now I couldn't decide which city to move to with which friends.  This nearly cost me a good handful of wonderful friendships.  The decision had relatively little to do with the city or the friends or even a potential job opportunity and everything to do with doubt and worry and option paralysis and, I suspect, ADD.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not using ADD as an excuse for my behavior, I just understand myself a bit more.  Give me too many open-ended possibilities and I feel like a mouse in an IKEA warehouse staring up at a looming city of cheap wood and metal stacked to the ceiling.  That's when I start rocking myself in a corner trying to self-soothe.

Obviously, this trend in decision making still haunts me, but at middle-age I've managed it better (although with two school-age children, this can be a challenge).  I worry less and get over it quicker.  I've also lessened the opportunities for paralysis (I don't go to IKEA very often and when I do, I only drink decaf beforehand and keep the aromatherapy oils on hand).

Another thing I did in college - and sometimes still do - was over-research my options.  It was a way to delay the decision, but also put me into what ADDitude Magazine calls "attention surplus disorder."  

Does any of this sound like you or your friend or partner?  

ADDitude offers some lovely options for relieving the chest-tightening anxiety caused by decision-making, but I have to say their options aren't all that helpful.  They suggest making a pro/con list, prioritizing, thinking long term/big picture, not acting on impulse, and (my favorite) making a decision with confidence.

The reason I find these suggestions unhelpful and frankly hilarious is because if someone was able to prioritize, think big picture, not act on impulse, and make a decision with confidence, that person would not have ADD!  On top of that, I know how to stack a pro/con list  so that it is exactly even on both sides.  Completely useless.

I wish I had an answer for you, you lovely ADD brothers and sisters of mine.

The best advice I can give is to find a quiet place and meditate, if you can, or draw, free write, bake, garden.  Go for a run or swim or just take a walk.  Play a video game or watch a dumb movie.  Get away from the decision making and just be.

Picture yourself happy.

What does that look like?

Chances are you envision yourself putting butter on your toast instead of margarine, drinking that coffee with a splash of that milk and feeling really happy about that decision.  If nothing else, you've calmed the hell down.

If you have other useful advice for the option-paralyzed ADDer, I'd love to hear it.  Leave me a comment.  I promise I'll respond.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

End of Summer Give-away Winners Announcement

Hi Y'all,

Exciting news today:  We have two winners of the End of Summer Give-away contest!!

Congratulations Laura and Ana!

Laura wins the $25 gift card to Amazon, the $20 gift card to the store of her choice, a 3 month supply of a Bioscience product, and a 3 month ad on Jen's blog Defining My Happy.

Ana wins the spa kit, which includes artisan made hand soaps and lotion from Peace of the Earth (one of my favorite Louisville-owned stores) and a pedicure kit.

From Jen, Cindy, Kate and me, thank you to everyone who participated in our first-ever give-away.  It was great fun.

Winners, we'll be in touch with you so we can send you your prizes.

Happy Thursday,


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back to school they go!

Summer vacation . . . finally, it's over!

I'm assuming that most of my parent readers are currently:
a.) getting a long-awaited pedicure
b.) finally taking an uninterrupted shower
c.) taking a nap
d.) all of the above, simultaneously (good on you, multitasker).

For my part, I have gone to coffee with a friend


gone to lunch with a friend.

This isn't boding well for my writing routine, but hey, everyone needs to eat and preferably with friends.

Let me tell you a little about the last days of summer vacation with my kids, just to put my sigh of relief into perspective (and remember, my son had a head injury just weeks ago -- it didn't get much better, but thankfully, not much worse).

As soon as my son was stitched up and recovering, I headed off to the BlogHer conference in Chicago.  On my last morning there, my husband called to tell me our daughter had lice.  Remember how we had a family lice crisis not that long ago?  Well, my daughter had it worse this time.  In fact, for two weeks straight - no exaggeration - I washed and combed and combed and combed my daughter's hair.  Every.  Freakin'.  Day.  RID three times.  Cetaphil once.  Coconut oil with a Saran Wrap mummy cap overnight (basically, I wrapped her head in layers of plastic and said, "Sweet dreams, Pumpkin.").  I combed with a nit comb.  I combed with a standard plastic comb.  I combed with the lights on and the lights off.  I combed with my readers and looked like Homer Simpson balancing his checkbook.  I combed without glasses.  After two weeks, my daughter (who is 9) and I were both in tears so I called our doctor and asked for help.  A weekend and $55 later, we shampooed my girl's head yet again, but this time with crazy poison prescription shampoo called Sklice.  It worked.  And just in time for school to begin.  Whew.

We didn't suffer any more bodily harm over the past couple of weeks, but I may be permanently damaged from the noxious shampoo, the hours of standing and crouching and staring at hair, and from a sore throat induced by yelling at my kids to stop wrestling and arguing whenever I didn't plan an activity (like combing hair).

Last week I asked my son to stop talking for 5 minutes.  He began asking me a question immediately after my request.  Last week we played the "quiet game" in the car.  Both of my kids "paused" the game to ask questions (my son) or deride my son (my daughter).  Last night, I bribed my kids not once, but twice to stop fighting.  The first time was at Target: they both earned a junky snack.  The second time was at home during dinner (they each earned a quarter -- thank goodness they don't know going rate for bribes).

So, yes, it was bittersweet sending them back to school this morning.  They are both growing up fast and they were both nervous and excited to have new teachers.  I was proud and nervous, too.  But I am hoping that with the kids back in school my brain will bounce back from its attention-deprived summer, that my shoulders will resettle in the down position, and my kids might actually be too tired at night to say, "I'm bored," and argue about who gets the couch and who gets the squishy chair.  If not, I may bribe their new teachers to make them run a few more laps at P.E.

I'll load them up with junk food and quarters.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

End of Summer Give-away Update: Prizes!

End of Summer Give-away Update

Here's what you could win:
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Spa package, including artisan-made lotions & soaps
  • $20 Gift Card to store of your choice
  • 3 months free ad space on Jennifer's blog, Defining My Happy (promote business or blog!)
  • 3 months Bioscience Product (www.creativebioscience.com)
  • Possible mystery prizes.
Please follow all of the lovely ladies sponsoring the give-away through Bloglovin', Facebook & Twitter.

Click below to enter 
Contest ends 8/20

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 12, 2013

End of the Summer Give-away!

Hey Y'all,

I've teamed up with three fab bloggers to do a little something nice for all of our readers:

The End of the Summer Give-away!

I will announce the specific prizes in a follow-up post, but just know that you could win:
  1. Gift cards to cool stores
  2. Products! Products! Products!
  3. Ad space on one of our blogs
All you need to do is hit the "Enter" button below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meet your bloggy give-awayers:

top row: Jennifer at Defining My Happy & Kate at Nested
bottom row: Moi & Cindy at Everyday Underwear

The give-away will end at midnight on August 20th (that's next week, people!), so enter now.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Shock and awe. Safe and sound.

Summer is winding down.

Well, technically summer doesn't end until September, but summer vacation from elementary school is winding down.  Can you feel my shoulders start to relax, see the wine glass in my hand, hear the maniacal exhaustion laughter?  Don't misunderstand.  I love my kids with an intensity that battles Benedict Cumberbatch's glare.  But, I miss writing (and although I could get up at 5:00 a.m. or stay up past midnight to write, I'm too dang tired after a full day with the kids, and their many friends).  I also miss quiet.

     So intense

The past few weeks have been especially busy/harrowing.  I think busy-harrowing is my new normal.  Here are a few of the emotions I have had since last I posted, all experienced in a three hour period one fateful Thursday:

For those of you who don't follow my personal feed on Facebook, you may not know that a moment of turning my back lead to a trip to the ER.  It began with when I met my friend Kristina and her two adorable pixies at the Kentucky Science Center with my two munchkins.  The kids played for a good 15-20 minutes in the lobby, just putting themselves in bubbles, watching the giant pendulum, and staring at the mesmerizing Gravitron.  This machine is inside a glass case the size of a soda vending machine.  In it, a machine with pulleys and levers and shoots and gears moves a series of balls up and down.  My son and his friend went to the bathroom with K and on the way back, Toby ran to me.  I extended my arms to catch him, but when he missed me, I turned my back.  Then I heard the thud.  Then screaming.  My son had run head-first smack into the Gravitron case.  My daughter saw it and said he tripped and crashed his head into the metal corner.

I dropped my purse and grabbed my boy, pulling him into my lap as he cried and screamed.  It was a loud thud.  A sickening sound.  I knew he was in pain.  Kristina was kneeling down talking to him as I rocked and held him.  I saw my daughter pacing and told K I thought she was freaking out, so K went to tend to her and her kids.  I caught the eye of the employee working the snack stand.  He stared back.  When K came back she asked Toby to move his hands so she could see his head.  When he did, he saw the blood and screamed more.  I saw the blood and nearly fainted.  Kristina leaped into action.  I caught the eye of the employee again: "Um, can you call someone?!!!"

Eight staff member descended on us.  One man, the head of guest relations, was incredibly kind and helpful.  He knelt with me, brought ice and paper towels, water bottles and food so I wouldn't pass out.  I thought I was going to pass out.  My head rushed.  Kristina instructed the staff to call EMS.  She called my husband.  As I started to keel over, K took Toby and held him and spoke calmly to him, telling him about how her daughter crashed into a glass table last year and is now fine.  No scar.  EMS arrived.  My husband arrived.  We discussed our options.  The EMS staff checked out the wound and said he definitely needed stitches.  The ice had staved off the bleeding, but his poor face was covered in blood.  My husband saw our son's skull through the wound.  EMS brought a gurney and strapped down my boy's head, put a collar on his little neck, and strapped down his torso.  He chose my husband to ride in the ambulance with him, which made me a little sad and a little relieved. At this point I looked down at my shirt and noticed I was covered in blood.  But, those wonderful people at KSC brought me and my entire family t-shirts (and gave me my money back on the tickets.  And gave my son an cool toy from the gift shop) so I could change at the hospital.  I thanked everyone for their kindness and followed the ambulance in the minivan.  Kristina watched my daughter for the afternoon.

After I finally found parking at the children's hospital, ON THE ROOF!!, I located my family in the ER and was happy to see my son sitting up, answering questions that the doctor and attending nurses asked him.  No concussion, no traumatic head injury, but stitches.  Yes, stitches.  Seven of them.  We sat with Toby as doctors and nurses and a wonderful Child Life Specialist came in.  If you have never heard of a Child Life Specialist, they are walking miracles.  It is their job to calm down children in the hospital.  This particular woman came in with a kit and showed Toby what stitches looked like and let him touch the stitches on a Burt doll.  She also let him explore the instruments the doctor would use to sew him back together.  She also gave him toys and stuffed animals and let him watch Phineas and Ferb on her iPad while he had surgery.  He fell asleep.  Apparently this is a common defense mechanism.  

When our entire family returned home, we couldn't move.  Not one of us.  My husband didn't return to work and we just all collapsed on the couch with the dogs and 3 mindless superhero tv shows.  I held my boy close to me and kissed the crown of his head.

The next day, Toby was back to normal with the exception of the stitches and a Wolverine bandaid on his forehead.  He was silly and funny and loud.

The next day: all better

This is parenthood, my friends.  The shock and awe of 24 hours.  The worry and fear and disbelief and guilt followed closely on the heels by laughter and The Avengers.  I know that I will turn my back again one day, many days, and most days it will be inconsequential, but knowing I can't always protect my kids, even when I'm right beside them, makes me thankful for all times when they're perfectly safe and sound.  Even when they drive me crazy.