Category Archives: Parenting Challenges

Halloween Adventures

Holy Crunch Bars and Butterfingers. I feel like I just ran a mommy marathon. I also feel like this happens every year…

I build the holiday (any holiday, not just Halloween) up for weeks, doing crafts and making costumes. Participating in whatever activity we can and watching whatever “spooky” movies we have.

The day comes and we start out strong.

We awoke to a foggy day…PERFECT for Halloween!

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We attended our Thursday morning Library Reading Program and got to do some Trick-or-Treating warm-up exercises…

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Autumn’s not a very good Trick-or-Treater. She looks at you like your nuts for giving stuff away. Once she takes whatever it is you give her, she gives back.


Lincoln was having a moment.

Lincoln was having a moment.


Once warm-ups were over, Autumn set out to do what is typically done in a library…

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By mid day, I start to putter. The kids start feeling it too, but they go down for naps. And if Aidan’s home (i.e. – it’s the weekend), he’s still going strong. That kids is like the Energizer Bunny.

Lincoln, Autumn, and I picked up some eggs from our local country store, The Country Trail, and came home for a quick bite to eat….Lincoln requested scramble egg sandwiches.

We made our way over to Aidan’s school for his class Halloween Party. We were all looking forward to it.

The kids all sat on the rug. Each child got a turn to stand up and pick on someone to guess what they were dressed as….

IMG_3875-2 copyAidan picked A2 (aka The Birthday Girl) to guess what he was.

Both Kindergarten classes then paraded to each classroom in the school. It was adorable! And I, of course, left my camera in the diaper bag. In the classroom.

And whenever there is a parade, there is usually a party to follow (I learned that from the Irish).

Lincoln and Autumn slid themselves right in with the other kids.

Lincoln and Autumn slid themselves right in with the other kids.

The party ended. It was time for Aidan to get back to his scholarly work and for Lincoln and Autumn to nap.

After school/evening time rolls around and I’m eh. And it’s raining.

Yes, eh. It’s an emotion. A legitimate emotion. Especially when rain is involved.

But the kids? It’s like they just woke up. Which Lincoln and Autumn just did. And they want to go Trick-or-Treating.

Um….waiter? Can I please have whatever it is they’re having?

I’m sorry, m’am (yes, people are starting to call me that) you’ll have to shoot myself up with illegal substances to match their energy level.

Right. I’ll stick with eh, thank you.

Anyhoo…I started to freak out a little. On the inside. Maybe slightly on the outside too?

It was 4 o’clock. Dinner wasn’t done yet. Trick-or-Treating was starting in an hour. It was raining. Like raining raining. Autumn was congested and I knew she shouldn’t be out in the rain. And I was cold and didn’t want to be out int the rain either.

Freaking out a little turned into a mommy meltdown. Complete with tears and all.

There was a serious conversation about not going Trick-or-Treating this year.

Since the kids can’t eat 3/4’s of what they get anyway, Nana offered to take them to the toy store. AWESOME!

We sat down. We ate.

I calmed down.

The rain stopped.

My brain reset and I realized Trick-or-Treating was a must.

The boys didn’t care about not being able to eat the candy they collected. They just wanted to wear their costumes and say “Trick-or-Treat”.

And… Nolan went through boxes in two different locations in search of the kids’ Trick-or-Treat bags.

He found them and had them sent to us the day before Halloween.

IMG_3851-2He did this because I said we HAD to have them. I made them 3 years ago. They have become a part of our holiday. And I couldn’t see us Trick-or-Treating without them.

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So, I took the boys to the center of town. Nana stayed home with Autumn, who got a delicious cupcake and a nice warm bath (much better than not-so-warm rain).

The boys were delighted! And I loved watching them love every moment of it.

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The Police Department handed out colored flash light necklaces so the kids could be seen by passing cars.

The Police Department handed out colored flash light necklaces so the kids could be seen by passing cars.


As I was taking this picture, Aidan informed me that I didn't have to take pictures of "everything". Um, yea I do Aidan.

As I was taking this picture, Aidan informed me that I didn’t have to take pictures of “everything”.
Um, yea I do Aidan.
Oh, and there is candy in that boot to the left of Lincoln.


My most FAVORITE picture for this Halloween!

My most FAVORITE picture for this Halloween!


We bumped into Aidan's soccer coach. One of Aidan's school friends was part of his T-o-T group, so we joined them.

We bumped into Aidan’s soccer coach. One of Aidan’s school friends was part of his T-o-T group, so we joined them.


It ended up raining most of time we were out, but I didn’t mind. The boys were having fun. They were listening and staying with the group (if you’re a parent, you know how much easier that makes things).

And Trick-or-Treating up here felt like something out of the movies. It’s something I’ve never experienced. Something I’m really happy I was able to experience with them.

Once we completed the Trick-or-Treating route, the boys and I headed home for some yummy cupcakes and Halloween books.

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It was a perfect ending to a busy day.






I Poisoned My Kids…Not Really, But Kinda Sorta.

I should probably start this post by saying that no one is dead, nor are they in the hospital.

We are a gluten and dairy free household.

It started with removing gluten from Aidan’s diet on January 22nd, 2012. It feels like AGES ago.

How do I know the actual date? Crazy. Yes, I know.
It was the day after Aidan’s 4th birthday.

he's trying so hard to show me 4 fingers...

he’s trying so hard to show me 4 fingers…

Aidan had been displaying self injurious behavior (behavior in which he inflicts harm onto himself). He was also acting out, both verbally and physically, towards us and Lincoln. Large groups and loud noises tended to set him off. The Pediatric Developmentalist was questioning whether or not to put him on the Autism Spectrum.

We were already seeing a pediatric psychologist, receiving occupational therapy (both in school and through a private practice) for various sensory issues, and implementing numerous behavior modification plans.

These things helped, but just weren’t enough.

We needed to do more. Something in addition to everything else.

Nolan and I had discussed removing the protein from Aidan’s diet for months. After weighing the pros and cons, and seeking advice from a dear friend (aka Mrs. Fantastico) who had experience with dietary restrictions, we finally agreed it was worth a shot.

We noticed a difference within the first month.

After 6 months, I felt as though Aidan had plateaued (from a behavioral viewpoint). He had been making such great progress and then all of a sudden it just stopped.

Another pow-wow with my dear friend.

We removed dairy from Aidan’s diet (this was in June of 2012).

HUGE difference.

Not only was Aidan’s behavior improving, but so was his focus and ability to rationalize his feelings.

My boy went from turning into a tornado of rage and fury; spitting, cursing, throwing fists and toys when Lincoln knocked over his train track to being able to call to us for help when he felt bothered or annoyed by his little brother’s actions.

And still is!


The next to go was Autumn and me.

When Autumn was about 6 months old, Nolan and I noticed that she would occassionally stop breathing in her sleep. It was never more than a few seconds and she always self corrected.

We thought it was just a baby thing.

At around 6 1/2 months (December 2012), I went food shopping with Lincoln and Autumn. It was a Monday. Autumn had fallen asleep in the car seat. I removed the seat from the base and put it on the shopping cart. Lincoln and I went about our trip while Autumn slept.

At the very end of our trip, I remember it like it was yesterday…we were by the refrigerated almond milk at the back of the store, I looked down at Autumn. She was still sleeping. She coughed. And then stopped breathing.

I waited, like I always did in the middle of the night, for her to self correct. She didn’t. Instead, she started to turn blue.

I ripped her out of her car seat and began blowing in her face.


I patted her back and blew some more.


I tipped her upside down and blew again. And again.

A cough. And then a cry.

Thank. Fucking. God.

I probably should have called 911 right then and there, but she was fine. Granted she had never turned blue before, but this this breathing thing happened often. And she had a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday.

We went home. I told Nolan and he agreed that we would talk to the doctor on Wednesday.

Wednesday came. We saw the doctor and told her about what was going on and about what happened at the grocery store.

She sent us to the hospital.

Lots of testing and tens of thousands of dollars later, no one had an answer for us. Instead, they could only guess she was experiencing sleep apnea caused by reflux. We were to see a pulmonologist and undergo a sleep study.

She's a fashionista, even with wires coming out of her head and chest.

She’s a fashionista, even with wires coming out of her head and chest.

The BEST piece of information I received during our stay came from the Chief of Pediatrics (yes, he personally took care of our sweet girl). He explained that during sleep, the body will close off the airway when experiencing reflux. It’s a defense mechanism to prevent drowning on said reflux. The downside to this defense is that you stop breathing.

But he couldn’t tell me what was causing the reflux. And in my mind, I knew if we could stop the reflux then we could stop the apnea.

After lots of research and a consult with my dear friend, my gut was telling me to take gluten and dairy out of my little miss’ diet. And since she was exclusively breastfeeding, that meant out of my diet as well.

Autumn’s reflux improved, as did her sleep apnea.
And they continued to improve until, eventually, both stopped.


And then there was 1.


Little Man had always had stomach issues.

As a baby, this kid couldn’t keep a feeding down to save his life.

He had been complaining pain in stomach, as well as his butt.

I lost count of how many times we saw the doctor about these 2 issues.
Every time she would examine him. And every time there would be nothing wrong.

There was obviously something wrong.

After Autumn and I went gf/df, it only made sense for Lincoln to go as well. Everyone else was. And I didn’t feel like making separate meals anymore.

And do you want to know something?
Lincoln’s stomach and butt pains eventually went away.


And this brings us to present day.

Aidan, Lincoln, and I went to the grocery store after Aidan’s soccer game. We needs bread and cupcake liners (for the class Halloween party on Thursday).

I decided to get a special treat. Aidan had done awesome at his game (he scored 5 goals). And, to be honest, I wanted something yummy.

I found some creme filled chocolate cookies that fit our needs. And as a bonus, found some fig newtons. We haven;t had fig newtons in SUCH a looooooong time.

I gave the boys 2 each in the car for good behavior at the store.

We came home. Had lunch. And everyone got 1 fig newton (including Nana and Aunt Em) after they were done eating.

Nap/quiet time came and went.

Nana and the boys put on a movie and made everyone a snack bowl…. blue corn chips, pretzels, and 1 cookie each.

The boys started to get whacky so I turned off the movie and told them to play in their room (located upstairs and behind a door).

I prepared dinner and called them down when it was ready. Thankfully, they sat nicely and engaged in conversation. The boys finished dinner and removed their plates from the table.
I did notice a welt by Aidan’s left eye and asked him what happened. He shrugged and I didn’t make an issue of it. But the fig newtons came to mind.

The boys went into the “brown living room” (we have names for the living rooms….you can read about here) and began placing pillows and blankets behind one of the chairs. They were calling it “garbage”, which was fine. They were playing nicely.

And then things got funky….

Aidan began pacing around the house in search of more garbage. He had a crazed look and couldn’t slow down. Everything about him was rushed and careless.

“What was in those cookies?” my mom asked.

My gut feeling was something was up. I got the bag from the cabinet and right there on the front it read…..



fuck. fuck. fuck. AND fuck.


How STUPID and LAZY of me.

I skimmed the package and saw “FREE” and “DAIRY FREE”. Assuming the 1st FREE was GLUTEN.

I didn’t take my time. I wanted to get out of the store and didn’t take my time. The boys were asking a bunch of questions and I wanted to get our of the store AND I DIDN’T TAKE MY TIME.

Thank god they aren’t deathly allergic.

But my mother’s poor living room was destroyed. Not really. But all the folded laundry was unfolded and the couches and chairs were pulled away from the wall.

Aidan was beyond thrilled to learn that he had eaten gluten. so much so that he made a song…

Gluten! Gluten! Gluten! I LOVE gluten! I LOVE fig newtons!

The only way I was able to get Aidan to calm down was to turn off the living room light and allow him to bury himself under the pile of “garbage” (aka blankets and clothes) he had collected.


After which he soaked in a bath of Epsom Salt to help him detox.

Oh, and Lincoln began to itch his butt and complain of it hurting after bath time. I informed him that it was probably going to be itchy for a while.
He did NOT like my response.
Sorry kid. Mommy fucked up.

I didn’t even attempt books tonight. I put on the reading lamp in the boys’ room and allowed them to read (aka look at) books in bed until they fell asleep. This had always been calming for Aidan.

I’m a bit frazzled, but everyone is fast asleep.

It’s probably going to be a long day tomorrow. I can only hope that this reaction wears off by Monday…in time for school. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m probably going to have to write a note into school and make a phone call or two.

And to think they wanted me dress up as Super Mommy for Halloween…






Acts of Kindness and Lessons in Faith

I woke up Saturday morning with an activity list of things to do.

1. Although I find lists extremely helpful, making them overwhelms me.
2. If I get a list made, I become overwhelmed with trying to cross everything off.

It was a fairly simple list….

1. Return stuff at store
2. Aidan soccer game
3. Food shopping
4. Pick pumpkins at the Alpaca Farm
5. Admire and possibly pet said Alpacas
6. Come home and eat lunch
7. Put Autumn down for nap
8. Have boys paint and decorate pumpkins

Aidan’s game was at 10 and I somehow managed to get everyone fed, dressed, and out the door by 9:15. Plenty of time to run to the store.

That is, if your car will start.

The thought of telling Lincoln to close the car door the previous day comes to mind as the car is making funny clicking sounds and the RPM and speedometer hands are having seizures. He mustn’t have closed it completely, which left the cabin light on. All night.

I ran next door to see if the neighbor had jumper cables. Her mother-in-law did. AWESOME!
She drove her car down to mine and I hooked everything up.

Attempt 1 to jump my car failed. By attempt 2 I noticed the cables were beginning to smoke.


Let me just tell you, smoking jumper cables are fucking HOT.
I burned myself. Nothing awful, but it hurt. A lot.

I forgot to mention that my mom and sister were in Boston at a college open house, so I was flying solo.

No car means no anything when you’re living in the sticks.

At 9:50 I tried calling the coach. The thought being maybe he had cables, or someone there had them and could give us a hand. He didn’t answer. So I left a message, explained the situation, and let him know we weren’t making it.

Aidan was upset. I was upset. Lincoln didn’t like the sun in his eyes. And Autumn was as cool as a cucumber.

I had a “thinking moment” and remembered that my mom’s best friends (we’ll call them Aunt J and Uncle P) were coming to Aidan’s game. I gave them a call. Within moments they were parked beside me.

You’re thinking cables, right?

Nope. No cables.

They took Aidan to his game.

I was upset. Lincoln was upset. Autumn didn’t notice a thing.

It was at this point that I remembered why I hated lists.
It was also at this point that I realized we weren’t going to be able to do any of the things we planned. More specifically… pick, paint, and decorate pumpkins (aka the highlighted activity for the day… aka the thing we spent days preparing for and talking about)
And it was at this point that I lost it and became a heap of tears.

Tears? Over pumpkins?

Yes and not necessarily.
Like I said, it was our highly activity for the day. One that we spent days discussing what the boys wanted to make. And days discussing the plans to turn their visions into reality.
I LOVE it! Pumpkin decorating is one of my all time favorite things to do.


It’s amazing how some things have a way of working out….
Aunt J must have known how much this day meant to me. She must have known how much I needed it because this is how the rest of the day went…

Aidan got back from his game and the story I’m told is that the team was down a point or two when he arrived. By the end of the game, Aidan had scored 5 or 6 goals. Aunt J and Uncle P lost count. According to Aidan, he score 80.

Aunt J called AAA while I was making lunch. They got here shortly after we finished eating and jumped my car.

Autumn had gone down for a nap so Aunt J offered to stay at the house so I could take the boys for their pumpkins.

We got back and the boys played outside for a while.

By the time the boys were done playing, Autumn had woken up (I don’t think she ever fell asleep).

Pumpkins were painted and decorated.

…and it went this way because of her. And even though I hugged and thanked you before you left on Saturday, I want you to know that your small act of kindness made a HUGE difference in my day.


And, without further adieu, I present the pictures….


Pumpkin picking at Plain View Farm

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The chosen pumpkins…



Alpacas...what the heck are they? An alpaca is a domesticated species of South American camelid. It resembles a small llama in appearance.

Alpacas…what the heck are they?
An alpaca is a domesticated species of South American camelid. It resembles a small llama in appearance.
Alpacas are bred for their fibers (aka hair), which are used for making knitted and woven items, similar to wool.



Really wishing he could pet an alpaca...

Really wishing he could pet an alpaca…



Really, really, really wishing he could pet an alpaca...turns out they don't like sudden movements or loud noises.

Really, really, really wishing he could pet an alpaca…turns out they don’t like sudden movements or loud noises.



The kids had the task of finding their perfect pumpkin for $5-.  Their 3 pumpkins came in at $7- total, leaving them with enough money to purchase 3 finger puppets (1 for each of them)

The kids were given $5- each to find their perfect pumpkin.
Their pumpkins came in at $7- total, leaving them with enough money to purchase 3 handmade finger puppets (1 for each of them)



Onto painting and decorating…

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Lincoln working hard on covering his pumpkin in black paint.


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And Aidan worked with the white...

Aidan working with the white…



The peanut right as she started painting...

The peanut right as she started painting…


And The Peanut right before we cleaned up.

And The Peanut right before we cleaned up.


Autumn really enjoyed the activity. So much so that she painted for 45 minutes.

Autumn really enjoyed the activity. So much so that she painted for 45 minutes.


This is how she felt about cleaning up.

This is how she felt about cleaning up.


The Final Products…

Aidan needed some kind of a scoring system, so this is what we came up with…



Bloody Mummy.

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Black Bat.

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Most Original.


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There have been a lot of challenges for me in Massachusetts. The biggest being having to function and carry on despite negative outside forces (i.e. dead car batteries).

There have also been a lot of lessons learned since moving up here; two that stand out.
1. I am strong and capable.
2. Sometimes you have to take a step back and have faith that everything will work out. Maybe not the way you would like it to, but anything is better than nothing at all.