Monthly Archives: September 2013

My Son is NOT a Brat

Have you seen this floating around Facebook?

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As a parent of a child with a Sensory Disorder that causes behavioral issues, I find this offensive. I find it offensive to my son, to my husband and me, to our mothers, to my son’s siblings, and to everyone who is and has ever worked with him.

I will never be able to feel how my son feels. I will never be able to fully know or understand what it is like to walk in his shoes. What I do know is that it is difficult and although he has come such a long way from where he began, he still struggles. He puts so much effort into trying to act/behave in a socially acceptable manner and does a great job at it. If you don’t know what to look for, you would never know. But it’s exhausting for him. Simple tasks that take me a moment take him 2-3 times longer. He doesn’t want it to, it just does. It’s how his brain processes information.

You don’t believe me? Take a look at this video…

My son is not a brat. He is not a poorly behaved child. My husband and I are not bad parents. We do not give in to his every whim. We have put in hundreds of hours into seeing specialists and therapists. Hundreds of hours into evaluations and therapies. Hundreds of dollars into sensory tools and products to help make things a little easier, a little more comfortable for him. I have spent hundreds of hours researching alternative practices and diets. Hundreds of hours implementing those findings. I have spent hundreds of hours crying because it was just so much. So much for him, so much for me, so much for our nuclear family. And I’ve spent hundreds of hours worrying. Worrying about the judgement of others.

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My son is intelligent, compassionate, and witty. He’s got an amazing sense of humor and a smile that can light up the sky. He’s an amazing soccer player and an awesome friend. He can tell you a story full of emotion and suspense. He’s a person with dreams and fears, just like you and me. He’s a person with likes and dislikes, just like you and me. He’s a person with feelings and emotions that are capable of being hurt, just like you and me.

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So before you call my son, or any child for that matter, a brat, take a moment to realize that there may be something more going on that what you see. That child may have been fine 2 minutes before that fire engine drove by or before the beeping coming from a truck backing up. There is so much more to our children than their behavior.

Oh, and by the way, when “you” were a kid  your mothers drank and smoke cigarettes while pregnant and not everyone was allowed to drink out of the same water fountain or use the same restroom. But who’s judging. Not me.

What’s in Your Pockets?

As I’m sure you know, things get pretty chaotic during the day. There’s a boat load to do and hardly any time to get it done. I’m not talking about taking care of the kids. That’s a constant. I’m talking about everything that comes in between taking care of the kids… dishes, laundry, food shopping, pick-up/drop-off for school (Aidan take the bus), making sure there isn’t anything on the floor that anyone can put in their mouth and choke on (aka tidying up), etc., etc., etc. Taking care of the kids is easy. It’s everything else that’s exhausting, specifically the tidying up.

I don’t have a moment pee alone, never mind putting everything little thing I find on the floor away in its proper place. That’s where my pockets come in handy. I’m always wearing my modern day version of a house coat (it’s really just a jersey cotton cardigan) and by the end of the day, the pockets almost always have something in them.

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I have 2 (this one and a gray one) and the sleeves are usually rolled.

As I was emptying my pockets at the end of the day I couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness of some of the items…i.e. a pair of Lincoln’s underwear that I took off of Autumn’s head and 2 unused tampons that Autumn thought were food (they’re the small tampax ones…perfect for keeping in the diaper bag). This got me curious. I wonder what and how much stuff I pocket throughout the week. So I did what any normal person would do and I started a “Pocket Jar” and emptied the contents of my pockets into this jar. Sometimes I looked, sometimes I didn’t (like when Lincoln was coming out of bed for the bajillioninth time…separate post). I did this for a week and this was what my jar looked like by today…

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And here’s exactly what is looks like laid out…

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There are 40 pieces of random stuff. Yea, 40. They include soap, 5 broken toy pieces, 2 marbles, 2 caps, 2 baby wipes (Lincoln took a nap with these. They are clean. Why he wanted to take a nap with, I don’t know nor do I care. All I care about is that he took a nap), a bunch of lego pieces, and the rest I honestly don’t care to name.

I’m sure I’m not the only out there who pockets the random shit found scattered about the floors, tables, couches, etc. of their house (I thought about whether or not I wanted to use the word “shit”, but if we’re calling a spade a spade then this stuff is shit. It’s random shit). If you are like me, I’d love to see what you pocket (even if it’s just in a day). You can post your picture to my Facebook page or on Instagram (just use #dap_inmypockets and tag me @dragonsandpeanuts). I can’t wait to see what you pocket.

Shhh…I Have a Favorite.

I’m the oldest of 4, below me is a brother 15 months younger, and two sisters (8 and 10 years younger). Growing up, we all thought my middle sister was the favorite. If ever we brought this up with my mother, her response was always the same, “You’re all wrong, I don’t like any of you.” She’d laugh and we’d call her a liar and continue to believe that Victoria was in fact the favorite.

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Victoria is on the left, and I no longer believe she is the favorite.

If you ask my husband who his favorite is, he’ll say Autumn with no hesitation. Having a family has been my husband’s life long dream since he was 10. He had his daughter’s name picked out since he was 14. Before you start hating him for not loving his children equally, stop. He would take his own life if it meant ensuring the safety of any of  his children. It’s just that the sun rises and sets on Autumn, end of discussion.

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Whenever I was asked  my immediate response was always, “How can I possibly have a favorite?”

Well, I changed my mind. I do in fact have a favorite. Actually, I have several….

 Favorite Sleeper:

Aidan

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From day 3 of life, Aidan has been a champion sleeper. In fact, he has always been my favorite when it comes to falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up at a reasonable hour in the morning. This kid falls asleep within minutes of his head hitting the pillow and then sleeps like a rock.

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Favorite Going to Bed:

Autumn

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I don’t know if it’s because she has her own room, which means she can’t engage in mischievous behavior with anyone but herself (i.e. – screaming matches, toy tosses, etc.), or if it’s because she still a “baby”, but I put Autumn down and she goes to bed.

Aidan comes in 2nd. He’s usually pretty good about getting into bed and not getting out, but he’s got Lincoln beneath him (they have bunk beds) and Lincoln likes to instigate and make noise.

Lincoln doesn’t even place (there’s a post coming about Lincoln and sleepless nights)

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Favorite Displayer of Affection:

This is a close one, but it goes to Lincoln

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Oh my goodness, can Lincoln give a kiss. And his hugs are just as good. I’ll be sitting on the floor (lord knows why) and Lincoln will just come over and give me a hug and kiss. He will also stroke my hair and say, “You look so beautiful, Mommy. Like a princess.” Ugh, melt my heart and boost my self confidence.

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Favorite Helper/Cleaner-Upper:

Autumn, no questions asked

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This girl willingly helps me clean-up. I don’t ever ask, she just does.

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Favorite Back Scratcher:

Aidan

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He’s awesome. It’s like he can read my mind. He knows exactly when and where I need a good scratch. Doing dishes is so much more pleasant when someone is scratching your back, wouldn’t you agree?

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Favorite Cheerleader Cheerer-ONer:

Lincoln

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Whether it’s for me cleaning “Go MOMMA! You can DO it!” or at Aidan’s soccer games “GO TIGERS! GO AIDAN!” or for a mini Autumn accomplishment “YAY, Autumn!”, it seems like Lincoln has a cheer for everyone no matter what they are doing. There really is nothing better than having your own personal  “cheerleader” while cleaning the bathroom.

The point I’m trying to make is that I don’t actually have an overall favorite child. I love each my children with every fiber of my being. I try to focus on each of their strengths. By doing so, I’m able to forget about the things that drive me crazy (short temper, poor listener, terrible sleeper).

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Make a Pit Trap – Weekend Activity for the Kids

Living in Massachusetts, more specifically the country, has it’s advantages and disadvantages.

A major advantage is that we have a huge yard over looking a pond (6.85 acres of land and water to be exact). It’s pretty awesome.

I try to make sure that kids get out and utilize what’s just outside their back door. And while riding the big wheels down Nana’s driveway is a lot of fun (and easy for me), I like to engage the kids in at least one, at home, hands on activity a week.

I found a book on nature experiments at the library and knew Aidan would really enjoy looking through it. And he did. I gave him some post-its and told him to mark the pages/experiments he’d like to conduct. There were a few of them. After some discussion, we decided to build a pit trap. It’s super easy. Aidan had a blast building it and was thrilled with the results.

Autumn was on board for this particular experiment.

Autumn was on board for this particular experiment.

What is a pit trap?

Trapping pits are deep pits dug into the ground, or built from stone, in order to trap animals.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pit_trap

 

What you’ll need:

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a piece of wood (we used bark)
4 large supporting stones
leftover scraps of food (the stinkier the better)
trowel (hand shovel)
glass jar

 

Instructions:

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dig a hole in the ground large enough to hold the glass jar.

Place the jar in the hole and pack loose soil around the jar to hold it in place. Make sure the rim is level with the ground's surface, so animals (insects) will fall in easily.

Place the jar in the hole and pack loose soil around the jar to hold it in place. Make sure the rim is level with the ground’s surface, so animals (insects) will fall in easily.

Put some bait in the jar. We used some apple scraps, but any leftover scraps will do. Try and use those with strong smells. The smell of the bait is what will attract passing animals.

Put some bait in the jar. We used some apple scraps, but any leftover scraps will do. Try and use those with strong smells. The smell of the bait is what will attract passing animals.

Place the large stones around the four corners of the trap.

Place the large stones around the four corners of the trap.

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Place the wood or tile (we used a piece of tree bark) on top. This will prevent rain form getting into the trap and harming any animals that have been caught.

In the morning, take the lid off the trap, lift out the jar, and empty your catch into a bowl.

In the morning, take the lid off the trap, lift out the jar, and empty your catch into a bowl (we skipped this part b/c it was a school morning)

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After you have examined them, put the creatures back (we caught two black beetles).

We only set up the trap once, but you can try varying the bait to see if different kinds of food attracts different animals. You can even set up different traps in different places to see if the types of visitors vary and then record your results in a notebook to find out where different creatures live.

How to Stop the Whining

Sometimes you have a day, or in our case a week, where everyone is just off. And by off, I mean cranky and miserable and annoying. And despite your best efforts to engage in a constructive activity, it just won’t matter. Off is off and that means you, as the parent, will suffer (or in some cases, the kids…but they need to know what it feels like from time to time, so don’t worry if you have a mommy melt down).

I was able to hush Autumn’s whining with a bag of wooden memory blocks. The act of taking blocks out of a bag and placing them on the floor kept her busy for about 30 minutes, which is shocking because Autumn is more of the “wandering about the house” or “clawing at my leg” kind.

IMG_2267Autumn wasn’t the issue at that moment, on that day.

Lincoln was…

So what is one to do when placed in a situation like this?

You put on noise canceling ear muffs, of course, and….

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IMG_2237-2..and vacuum some more.

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You vacuum until the crying and whining stops.

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Mexican Jumping Beans… not your ordinary bean

My mother bought Aidan Mexican Jumping Beans while getting a gift bag for the birthday party he was invited to this past Saturday. Apparently he HAD to have them, as did the birthday girl (who happens to be one of the THREE girls in his class who wants his hand in marriage. That is an entirely separate story and one that will be shared)

These are Mexican Jumping Beans. They don't look like much, right? WRONG!

These are Mexican Jumping Beans. They don’t look like much, right? WRONG!

So we’re at this party. I’m meeting other moms and am in the middle of saying how although I’m from New Jersey, I do not know the Jersey House Wives, nor do I know where they live, when Aidan runs up to show me his jumping beans. They are in this little clear plastic box, and Aidan tells me there are little worms in the middle of the beans. These worms eat the beans which makes them “jump”. Once the worm eats all of the bean, it turns into a moth.

Me: A moth!

A: YEA!

Me: Well, let’s make sure we keep them in the box.

I made a funny and the other mom’s laughed. I thought Aidan was just being imaginative.

Fast forward to the next day and my mom has some friends over for dinner.Everyone is chatting and the jumping beans are brought up.

Jumping beans? What the heck are jumping beans?

My mom tells Aidan to get the jumping beans and he hands them over our friends. My mom is explaining how they “jump” when they get warm and tells them to hold the beans in their hands. She proceeds to explain that there are tiny worms in the beans….

Me: Wait! What? Worms?

My mom: Yea.

Me: Really?!

My mom: Yea.

Me: HA!

At this point everyone is looking at me like I’ve lost my mind. I explain the jumping bean party story and how I thought Aidan was just telling me a silly story. NEVER would I have ever believed that these beans have worms in them that turn into moths.

Monday comes. Lincoln and Autumn are down for their afternoon nap and I’m doing dishes. The house is pretty quiet with the exception of this clicking sound. I stop running the water and look around. I don’t see or hear anything so I go back to washing. I hear it again. This goes on for a while before I realized Aidan’s beans are on the window sill above the kitchen sink. And they’re jumping.

I honestly hope I’m not around when these things hatch because I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep my composure.

Don’t believe me? Check out this video. These are Aidan’s Jumping Beans…

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Dragons and Peanuts…huh?

Where on earth did Dragons and Peanuts come from? Good question.

Let me start by saying, trying to come up with a blog name is like naming one of your children. You want to be creative, but you don’t want to look like you tried too hard.

I was originally going to name my 4th child “Babes and Books”. Long story short, we were leaving the library and someone commented on how my arms were full of babes and books, which they were. And since moving to Massachusetts, we’ve become quite the book worms and library hoppers. Anyhoo…I looked up booksandbabes.com and was directed to an Asian website with an image of a half dressed Asian female (don’t believe me, check it out). On to the next name, “Babes and Books”. Ummmm….sounds like a book fetish porn site.

My husband and I must have thrown out names for about 30 minutes before getting really silly. I’m talking like “Boogers and Poopie Diapers” silly. And then bam…. “Dragons and Peanuts”!

You see, I was trying to nurture the children’s creativity and brought out the markers for coloring. Instead of drawing on paper, Lincoln drew on himself. He used the red marker and turned himself into a dragon. Aidan, not wanting to miss out on the fun, used a variety of different colors and made himself a “rainbow” dragon. The two of them proceeded to fly about the house, roaring, and setting fire to everything in site. It was such a beautifully fun moment that I didn’t even think to grab the camera, sorry.

There’s your “Dragons” now what about the “Peanuts”…

It’s quite simple. After Autumn was born, Nolan gave her the nickname Peanut. This nickname has evolved into much more complex versions like Little Lady Peanut, Little Lady Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwich, Little Lady Peanut Butter Jelly Pumpkin Pie. And the boys now call her Peanut and Little Peanut and Little Lady Peanut, making “Peanuts” fairly obvious.

And so, a blog was born.

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