Category Archives: Mollinator

A Week of Thanks

Every November I try to say what I’m thankful for on Facebook on each day of November. I’m not going to lie, we had a tough week this week but I still managed to start out being thankful for my kids today. In the grand scheme of things, they are pretty awesome, quirkiness and all. However, I feel like I had a lot of be thankful for this week and I feel like I should have started out giving thanks earlier than November first. So, I will share here what I was thankful for this week.

1. Yoga. On top of it’s breathing and relaxation techniques, I’m thankful for the flexibility and strength it has given me. Without out, I don’t think I would have been able to wrestle Molly into her car seat, twice, without all that extra bending ability and core stability.

2. Wine. This should go without saying, but I’m extra thankful for the nice people at Bota for putting it in box form. And making that box slightly classier than Franzia.

3. Radio. Nothing drowns out a child kicking and screaming than Top 40. To be honest, I don’t even know what I was listening to, I couldn’t hear it over the screaming.

4. Swedish Fish. I’m thankful to whichever neighbor gave us Swedish Fish in Charlie’s bag on Halloween. That way at every other house when he handed us a Snickers and said “open this” we could give him a fish and subdue him until the next house.

5. Sleep. I cut my coffee intake by half this week and although I feel much better physically and seem to have less brain fog, I can’t sleep. I’m thankful for it and hope it returns soon.

6. Preschool. Especially the aide in Molly’s class that peeled her out of the car kicking and screaming as if it was nothing and she was happy to see her. Let’s face it, we all know she was thinking “oh Jesus” or maybe not since it’s a Christian preschool but I’m sure whatever her thoughts were, they weren’t great. No one could be excited to have that child in that state being handed to them. I’m her mom and I would run the other direction.

So, there you have it. What I am thankful for this week. I wish I could be thankful for Stampy bringing home some food from his happy hour, especially a cheese plate, but I know that won’t happen.

Therapy Thursday: Expect the Unexpected

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Wow… today was a bit of a doozy. For starters we had a field trip to the pumpkin patch where Molly decided that she was terrified of picnic tables and had me hold her for the next twenty minutes. So, after being exhausted from tending to her all morning I decided for a nice quiet time activity. I’m tired and think I’ve hit the jack pot with a pumpkin painting activity so naturally there were tears (mine) and screaming (hers) and a time out (mine).

Anyone else have their 4 year old send them to a “calm down spot”? No? Oh, well, mine does. Honestly, I don’t mind the couple of minutes of quiet where no one bothers you.

I was super psyched that our social worker was coming today. I was having the internal struggle of meeting Molly’s needs and wants and feeling like I was failing big time at everything. Should I have carried her at the pumpkin patch? Did she really need fresh paints when hers mixed? Should I just have ended craft time before losing my temper??? I needed our counselor to talk me through it and keep me out of the wine. She listened then she questioned “what if this isn’t what a 4 year old should be doing?”.

Crickets chirp.

Oh. Even though I was having some concerns with some behavioral shifts, especially toileting and becoming more and more helpless, and the fact that her teacher had made more than one report home about some difficulty I was still telling myself that Molly was 4 years old. I also knew that in a lot of cases she is on par with Charlie emotionally, but it’s something else when it is put out in the universe. That looming question that I don’t have an answer for because I tend to dance around it on a daily basis. Honestly, I still don’t have an answer for it but I do know that what I have always suspected is right on. So I got over my punch in the stomach (which I asked for) and said “what do we do?”. For now we were given 3 options: do nothing and ride out this school year; have her retested through Child Find; or see the psychiatrist through our youth services bureau. I picked option 4: have our counselor talk with the teacher and observe Molly in class so we could make a more informed decision. Mostly because I don’t want to go through Child Find again and have her not qualify. The testing is long and exhausting for everyone and I can’t put us through that again and have the same outcome. It’s ridiculous.

So, that’s where we stand. Waiting. Waiting for an answer of where to go next. I have a feeling we will often be in this limbo with Molly so I should get used to it.

The Lake and The Water Tower

I hate the lake and the water tower. Especially today, after a rough evening home with the kids, I remember why I hate them. The lake and the water tower are 2 things that we pass on the way to OT and these 2 things can make or break our day.

The first time we went to our OT’s office, I had to map to find out where it was. Now, mind you it is a block away from where I worked for 5 years, but I still had to navigate my way there. Of course we went the shortest mileage, but longest time-wise way. It took 3 trips for me to realize there was a faster way. That’s right, 3. 3 trips to realize I was going the wrong way. I obviously need help. In those 3 trips Molly fell in love with a reservoir (the lake) and a water tower that we passed along the way. I suppose in her mind they are significant, but so is a tiny piece of string she finds on the carpet so I try not to actually comprehend her object’s importance. Trip #4 my brain returned and we took the faster, 1/2 mile longer way to therapy and it was a big mistake. HUGE. Molly realized that she hadn’t seen her beloved lake and we were going a different direction and the tears started. Not just any old tears. Full. Blown. Sobbing. She sobbed for 10 minutes then refused to cooperate with her therapist and she persevered about the water tower and the lake. For an hour. A week later for our next appointment she reminded me to go the right way. Now I always go the longer way to OT now and point out like a stark raving lunatic when we see each because God forbid she misses them because she’s distracted by something else.

These 2 things symbolize pretty much everything during our days. The inability to cope with the different and our need to over stress to keep her balanced. Every Monday I have a struggle as we drive our 20 minute drive whether I should point them out or just see what happens. Usually “seeing what happens” means “keeping your cool while your child screams” and a lot of days I just can’t bring myself to do it. After working all morning and having the kids by myself until bedtime, I just can’t add extra stress. Today, I forgot. I actually forgot about them. We were listening to music and I had 50 things running through my mind and I missed the lake. Aaahhhhh…… she didn’t notice! Oh, wait, she did. 2 minutes later she realized that we were passed it and she didn’t see it. The next 10 minutes she bawled. She missed the water tower because she was crying. She cried more. I wondered if I had wine in my purse. I did not.

You can bet on the way home I became that over zealous mom, “LOOK!!! THERE’S THE WATER TOWER!!!!! ARE YOU LOOKING??? LOOK AT THE WATER TOWER!” If I wasn’t seat belted in I probably would’ve done more gesturing and jumping.

And if it’s not a lake, it’s waving to people as they drive away. Or sitting in the exact same spot on the couch. Or brushing teeth before going to the bathroom. Or waiting at the top of the stairs for me to say “good morning” or one of her 10,000 other external rituals that keep her grounded, I have to know them all or face the consequences. I should probably start writing them down. Although chances are, I would never find time to read the list anyway. Instead I’ll just keep dealing with each tantrum and routine as they come in hopes that one day they just might phase out and I can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Until that day, I will just have to invest in my wine purse.

We Are Supposed To Be Having Fun!

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This weekend was the Fall Festival in our town. We don’t have the standard summer carnival, instead we have a big event for 3 days that includes carnival rides, music, food, crafts and games. It’s a pretty big event for our little city and of course it seems like the perfect way to spend a Saturday morning if you have kids. Or I should say, if you don’t have our kids.

Three reasons why we should stay home:
1. Food Allergies. First and foremost pretty much all delicious carnival food is a no no. All those peanut oils and chocolates and deep fried foods are all a danger to Charlie and being in the air is enough to make me almost insane. Peanuts are one of those great food allergies that become environmental when cooked apparently so there’s the fear that random peanut proteins will jump from the fryer and into Charlie’s mouth, eyes or nose. Plus Charlie thinks ground food is equally if not more edible than normal served at the table food so I’m on extra alert.

2. Motion Sickness. Charlie gets car sick. He has now vomited twice in the car and complained of being sick and hot numerous times while driving. Needless to say, one ride and he was done. I’m honestly amazed he made it on one. It’s the first time he’s been on a carnival ride by himself. And probably the last time.

3. Molly.

I can’t tell you how many times we do things that are “family fun” oriented and end up leaving stressed, tired and with cranky kids. Molly tries her best but when push comes to shove, she can’t regulate that much stimulation so she ends up trying to soothe herself which means she ends up trying to hang from all my limbs or asking to be carried. Have you ever carried a 35 pound 4 year old for a prolonged period of time? I have. More than once. I have carried her through the zoo, I have carried her through the tractor show, I have carried her on walks around the block and I saw myself carrying her from our Fall Fest. It was coming: the whining, the hanging and the carrying. You could see it in her deteriorating behavior and we quickly opted to leave, unused ride tickets and all.

Then there it was…. the playground.

An entire carnival the kids want nothing to do it with but a playground?? Hells yeah! After 10 minutes and Charlie trying to play in a near by dumpster and throwing himself on the mulch face first in a fit, we quickly gathered the kids and headed for home.

I hope the kids remember these times fondly, as we have no real pictures of the kids not enjoying are family fun outings.

Teacher Susie

When Molly was 9 months I expressed some concern to our pediatrician that she didn’t respond to us when we talked to her. She seemed lost in her own world a lot. He asked if she responded to sounds, I said yes, he said he wasn’t concerned.

When Molly was 18 months I expressed concern that she seemed to be bothered by things such as her hair being too long, her sleeves being pushed up or wearing clothes. The pediatrician said she was starting to express her individuality.

When Molly was 2 1/2 and again at 3 I expressed concern that she was having a lot of behavioral issues, more than I deemed “normal”. I was told by our pediatrician that she was bored and not to worry, she wasn’t autistic.

We are no longer with this group of pediatricians.

In the fall that Molly started 2 year old preschool I was at my wits end. She was almost 2 1/2 and having tantrums at every little event. I read parenting books, articles and blogs. I read anything I could get my hands on and talked to other parents for advice, but nothing worked. I was failing as a parent, I was failing my child and I felt like I was failing my family. Depression doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt.

“Give you child choices, so they feel empowered” I would read. I would give Molly choices and she would pick something else, like ice cream for breakfast and then throw a 30 minute fit because I wouldn’t give it to her.

“Ignore the tantrum, it will go away”. After 45 minutes it gets easier to ignore because you start to become numb to the the screaming, but after about the 4th one in a day your nerves are shot and you end up giving them some attention during the tantrum. Now, I have failed, she has broken me.

“Don’t overuse negatives like No, Don’t, Stop, etc”. Even though we still try to do this, I can only say “we sit on the couch” so many times before I go insane.

Enter Teacher Susie.

Teacher Susie came to us through the Parents As Teachers Program in our local school district. (I highly recommend this program if it’s available in your school district). She would come week after week with her tote of fun stuff and play with the kids. I would discuss our behavioral issues and she would supply real life solutions, then she would see them fail and say “hmmm, we’ll find an answer”.

Oh, how our family loved her totes though. The kids would be diving into them before she even took her shoes off and for an hour everyone was happy. There were new toys, challenging toys, sensory toys, fun crafts, those totes were awesome. Then there were Teacher Susie’s folders and in those folders were my goodies. There was information on development, on behavior, and new solutions to our problems. Finally, our concerns were falling on open ears. Teacher Susie worked with us for almost a year and then came the day that she witnessed Molly in full Molly form and me on the verge of a nervous breakdown and it was finally said “I think you need professional help”.

I blinked away tears and said “yes, that’s why you are here”

Teacher Susie: “I think it’s time our behavioral counselor came to talk to you. I can only do so much and you guys need the help”

I honestly just sat there and cried. I left to go back to work and cried some more. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach but I knew she was right.

A week later Marie showed up. I had taken notes over the weekend (Molly made it quite easy) so I could have everything I wanted to say easily at my finger tips. Then she had Stampy and I fill out a questionnaire about Molly’s behavior. Apparently we filled it out pretty quickly and without much discussion with is rare.

When Marie returned with our results, she had met with Teacher Susie first who informed her that we would be relieved. Marie still showed up with a look on her face like she was going to tell us that someone died. “Normal” is considered a child’s age + or – 2 years, Molly came up with a behavioral and emotional development less than an 18 month old, she was 3 1/2. Not only that but scored in the 99th percentile and off the charts for most categories.

We weren’t insane and we weren’t failures, we had a child that had difficulties and now to start therapy and find out why.

A year later we have lots of answers and lots of smiles and little mental breakdowns and we have Teacher Susie to thank for that. Without her, I don’t know where we’d stand today. She has since left the Parents as Teachers Program and often I want to email her or send her a card but how do you thank someone that gave you so much. How do you thank someone that finally listened and stood with you and helped? No card or email or gift seems to do justice what she did for us. I don’t know if there is ever a way to truly have her understand our gratitude. Teacher Susie gave us our family and she gave us our little girl back and for that I am eternally grateful.

Therapy Thursday

Therapy Thursday is by far my favorite day. I get an hour of therapy. Plus, she helped us with the whole dozen-temper-tantrums-a-day thing. That was good too.

But seriously, I don’t know why more parents don’t go to therapy. It’s awesome. Or maybe our social worker/family therapist is awesome, but whatever the reason it has been what our family needed.

Then the worst and best thing happened today. We realized that we probably don’t need therapy anymore. We sat around talking about the past month (scheduling had kept us from meeting before this point) and realized that we had nothing to report other than good things.

  • Molly has started saying “I love you”
  • Molly has become more verbal about telling us when she’s uncomfortable
  • Molly has transitioned back to school without difficulty
  • Molly has started to play with other children
  • Molly is getting her face wet without screaming

The list could go on and on and we realized we are only left with one basic problem: dealing with Molly in places that make her uncomfortable with her sensory system. Molly’s biggest sensory hurdle are noisy areas. That seems to be the last thing that still causes her behavior changing, life stopping anxiety. Luckily our therapist has just come back from a conference learning about dealing with anxiety in children. She warns us that therapy is still in the research stage, but I’m okay with being a guinea pig if it gets results. At least this lands us another session!

I’m scared to leave therapy. We have come so far with our hand held, I feel letting go is like jumping into the deep end without my swimmies. I know we can do it (I’m pretty sure I know how to swim), but I’m terrified. Our therapist has done so much for us over the past year. She is the one that took notice and said we weren’t crazy when we said that Molly wasn’t developing normally. She was the one that got us into Early Intervention. She was the one that kept me from ending up in a full straight jacket. She’s the one that taught us how to be a functioning family. I’m really not ready to go at this on my own. No matter how good things are.

What if I forget what I’ve learned?

What if Molly has a backslide when she starts kindergarten?

What if I just need an occasional pat on the back?

Last October when we started, Molly had the emotional development of an 18 month old. She was 3 1/2. That doesn’t mix well. Today in discussing how Molly seems to still lack empathy we found out it was normal. Normal? Molly?? Those words don’t go together.

But, they were said together.

And it felt kind of good.

Maybe I can do this.

Toddler Beds: Molly v. Charlie

Our neighbors gave us a twin bed. It was in great condition and Molly was 3 so it came at perfect timing. I figured she would outgrow her toddler bed at any time. We put her new bed in her room and she was so excited to go to Target and pick out brand new sheets. She was so proud as the cashier rang up her “Mad Bird” sheets (what she calls Angry Birds) and even announced they were for her new bed. At bed time she climbed into her new bed with her animals and snuggled in. I was amazed at how easy it was to transition her into a new bed. I left her room and turned on the video monitor.

Not as easy as I thought.

She had already moved her blanket, pillow and lovie into her toddler bed and fell asleep. Seriously, she must have instantly moved beds the second I closed the door.

She’s almost 4 1/2 years old and still sleeping in her toddler bed.

We kept a full sized bed in Charlie’s room as a guest bed. Charlie was in a toddler bed for a week before he climbed out of the toddler bed and into the full sized bed. It’s been 2 weeks and he’s not looking back. He sprawls himself out taking up every last amount of space he can with his 36 inch 30 pound frame. He loves it.

I never thought I would be taking apart Charlie’s crib before Molly’s.

On the bright side, we can just move Charlie’s mattress onto Molly’s bed since hers has started to rip.

We Don’t Say Those Words

One of my many fails as a mom was my inability to control my potty mouth when Molly was a baby. She had been verbal for way too long as swear words were still flying from my mouth as easily as saying “how was your day?”. In my defense, I did share a rocking chair with my blue mouthed Grammy until I was 6. Some things were bound to wear off on me. Then it happened. My 2 year old said “Jesus Crazus” which was her interpretation of “Jesus Christ”. The bad part was is that I found it somewhat amusing. Not because of what she was saying but how she was saying it. There was a string of exasperation that went along with it, “Oh my! Oh my goodness! Oh my gosh! Oh my Jesus Crazus!”. Plus, she had a look on her face that she knew she was saying something taboo. However,  we couldn’t have her blurting this out at Christian Preschool, so we did what all good parents do when their toddlers say things they shouldn’t, we ignored the behavior.

Only the behavior only got worse.

At first she banged her head into the door and said “shit” as she walked away. I couldn’t hide from that one, she was imitating me. But it didn’t end there. I was explaining to her about God, she asked “like God Dammit?”. I said “well, yes, but he doesn’t use his last name”. This one could’ve been either Stampy or myself, but it was probably me. Still, we were trying to ignore the words as they came out. I mean, if you don’t react to the behavior should stop, right??

Nope. It gets worse.

My sweet little girl said it. She said the F bomb. She used it correctly. Then she said it again. And Again. And Again. In fact, last year on our vacation trip she shut herself in the bathroom and preceded to scream it at the top of her lungs multiple times. We tried ignoring it, she said it more. We tried explaining it wasn’t nice. She continued to say it. The problem when your child is smart is that they know from day 1 that it isn’t ok, and that’s why they do it. And when we ignored it she would keep saying it until we would address it. We were trapped. We were trapped in a F’in horrible situation. We didn’t know what to do. I think they only thing that really worked was divine Jesus Crazus intervention and she eventually moved on to something else to get our attention. Like strangling her brother.

We had our sweet mouth girl back.

Then she turned 4. And the words have become worse.

Shut Up and Stupid.

Now, I might have a potty mouth but I don’t have a mean mouth. We have limits in this house and those 2 words are definitely on the not-under-my-roof-you-don’t type list. I even skip over those words in the Berenstein Bear books. We have had several talks and time outs for using “mean words” and I think it’s working. Last night Molly said “Mom, I’m not going to say shut up. I’m going to tell you that S-H makes the ‘sh’ sound and that’s the sound that begins shut up” and continued with her dinner. Yup. She gets it. And she gets how she can get away with saying the black listed words without getting into trouble. She’s 4. I have a long road ahead of me.

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What words on your “black list”?

Parent Fail: Miniature Golf Style

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Doesn’t this look like a fun family outing? Everyone is enjoying a round of miniature golf, the Wild Card is even wearing a collared shirt, but in reality it was a disaster. A parenting fail at its worst. The Mollinator is a perfectionist at the age of 4 and thanks to her Sensory Processing Disorder she also has motor delays, primarily in motor planning. It’s hard enough for a 4 year old to grasp the hand-eye coordination to successfully putt the ball through obstacles and into a hole, now imagine one that can’t sequence all of her movements correctly or figure out how hard or soft she needs to hit the ball to get it to the hole and on top of that have her be a perfectionist so when she doesn’t get a hole-in-one she thinks she failed. Did you get all that? I can tell you that it’s a recipe for disaster and tears next to a #8 flag. She actually sat down on hole 8 to exclaim she was a bad golfer. She’s 4 and the thought that she couldn’t hit the ball into a hole in one shot was just too much for her to bear. Luckily it was a rainy day so the course was pretty empty but those that were there saw parenting at its worst best.

As parents we want our kids to have fun so we tried everything in our power to turn that frown upside down but nothing worked. Her frustrations got bigger and our patience got smaller. I tried to avoid it but I walked to the car with a screaming kid in tow. I did my best not to yell, I just handed her putter to Stampy and walked away, but honestly I wanted to scream. Not at Molly, this isn’t her fault. I wanted to scream at the universe for making this our reality. Our reality that we will most likely leave places early and in tears. Only to come home and have whiney temper tantrums and cling with all her might to me. It’s the reality that some days make me want to peel my skin off and it’s the reality that ends in alcohol or exercise.

So I take a lot of pictures in hopes that when I look back at them I will remember the few moments where we smiled and laughed. So I remember fun outings with the kids. And so when Molly accuses me of never taking her anywhere, I can show her that we did. Maybe I’ll also show her this post to explain why our outings were so few and far between.

The Wild Card was there too. I assumed he would run like a crazed monkey all over the course so naturally he tried to play golf and stayed right by me. He also got carried to the car screaming, but that was because he was having fun and didn’t want to leave.

I Love Therapy!

Today is a Therapy Thursday and that always makes me smile. Before it would make me smile because I really saw the benefits of our behavioral therapy in our day to day lives. We had minimal tantrums and the ones Molly did have were only 10 minutes as opposed to 45 minutes (and who doesn’t love less crying??). Now I love Therapy Thursdays because I get an hour to discuss my parenting/toddler problems to a professional and be told that I’m doing a great job (and who doesn’t love that boost of confidence??).

We are in the minority that does not find out the gender of our children before they are born. Throughout the pregnancy I made the mistake of saying 3 things:

  1. I don’t want the baby born on my birthday
  2. I don’t want a red head
  3. I would prefer a boy

It’s not that I didn’t want a girl, it’s just that I had an older brother and to me it just seemed natural to have a boy and girl in that order. I didn’t want a red head because I didn’t want my child bursting into flames the second she went outside (which red heads tend to do) and I didn’t mind sharing my birthday, I just didn’t want to spend my birthday in labor. In a hospital. In labor. I wanted to put my feet up and have some cake. So on my birthday at 11:11pm, after 26 hours of labor (I guess technically I did put my feet up), came a bright red haired baby girl. Yup. I really should have known from day 1 what we were in store for.
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Bringing her home from the hospital we knew we were completely under prepared to take care of a child so when the struggles came, I just assumed it was because I had little idea about what I was doing. I’ve always been more of a “I’ll just wing it person” and I took the same approach to parenting. Naturally when she was colicky, sleep deprived and suffering from acid reflux I handled it like a pro. And when she turned into a tantrum-y 2 year old, I handled it a little less like a pro and when she turned 3, I had a nervous break down. I seriously thought I was a failure at parenting. I couldn’t remain calm during the 7th tantrum of the day like the “professionals” recommended, my child was unhappy, my marriage was suffering, I learned that people that were supposed to love me were calling me “irrational” behind my back, and my nerves were fried. Then, in walked Marie. Our Social Worker from Heaven. I wasn’t crazy and I wasn’t a failure. In fact I was doing quite well since I was still a functioning human being raising a child that was emotionally delayed like Molly. I liked Marie from day 1. Turns out we were raising a 3 1/2 year old that had the executive functioning of an 18 month old and the intelligence of a 5 year old. Apparently that makes for a lot of red flags to go up in the child development world.

Almost a year later we are happy. The stress is still there because, let’s face it, we can’t change who Molly is. We can change how we see her and what our expectations are for her. We are learning to balance what she really needs vs. what she thinks she needs and is trying to manipulate us for. Most importantly, I’ve learned that help is a good thing and that it’s ok if it takes a village to raise your child.