Mommy…I can’t sleep

Standard

A phrase I’ve heard way too much of lately.

Seriously…I’ve heard it at least once a night on 12 of the last 14 nights from the same child.

Since right before winter break started, Tommy has been having trouble getting to sleep. This is not uncommon in children with ADHD, and we’ve seen it before. And yes, if he takes his medication too late in the day, that will also make it more likely to happen. We also know that Tommy really needs structure and routine, so we’ve kept bedtime the same for the break. Other than going to school, we’ve done everything we can to preserve his normal schedule over break.

I’ve consulted many sources regarding how to help my child sleep. We keep bedtime the same every night. He’s not allowed to have chocolate after dinner. Dessert has to be done a certain amount time before bedtime. We play a CD of ocean waves as white noise to fill the room. Recently, I also read advice that parents not dismiss their child’s sleeping difficulties. (Apparently its common for parents to just tell their kid to be quiet and go to sleep.) I definitely don’t dismiss them. I know that his sleep issues are real. I have them myself. I’ve told him this, and I’ve taught him all of my best relaxation techniques that I use. Muscle relaxation exercises, deep breathing, counting, even getting back up and writing/drawing what’s in his head to get it out. A shower before bedtime doesn’t really seem to calm him. We’ve also tried some of the calming activities that he learned in OT.

Now, I must admit that our bedtime routine isn’t fantastic, but we try. Plus, the routine has been rough for quite some time…not a new development. So, the questions still remain unanswered…what is the trigger that has caused this to happen recently? What the heck am I going to do about it? At this point, he’s lost anywhere from 1-2 hours of sleep every night since school got out. He’s still waking up at pretty much his normal time, so the lack of sleep HAS to be catching up with him.

I really don’t know what else to do to help him. I’m afraid that when he goes back to school next week he’s going to be a complete and total wreck. Sure, maybe going back to school and resuming a completely normal schedule will help set him straight. But, if it doesn’t “fix” his issues, then what?

At this point, I dread bedtime. I know that it is the beginning of a nearly 2 hour time period of me going up and down the stairs every 20 minutes. When he thinks he’s tried “everything” to get to sleep, he climbs out of bed, turns on his light, comes out into the hallway, turns on the hall light and yells down to me…”mommy…I can’t sleep.” I keep telling him that getting out of bed and turning on all the lights is just restarting the whole process, but he just won’t tolerate laying in bed unable to sleep.

I don’t have a magic mommy button, and I haven’t the foggiest idea what to do to fix this.

Looking a bit like Christmas around here

Standard

Slowly but surely, we will get the Christmas decorating done this year. Free time is pretty scarce these days, so the decorating is getting done a bit at a time. There have also been a few speed bumps that have slowed our progress.

This year, we hit the ground running by putting the lights up on the garage way back on a warm Saturday in November. Since returning from Thanksgiving, decorations have been going up bit by bit both inside and outside of the house. Sure, I’d love to have them all done, but with all that we have going on these days just seeing progress is enough for me.

We got the tree up the Monday after Thanksgiving, but it stood with only its pre-attached lights, for a whole week. This past Monday night we were able to get the ornaments out and actually start decorating it. Even before putting any ornaments on, we went ahead with getting the topper situated. (Its a big tree, so the ladder almost has to go in the tree in order to reach the top, which always disturbs the ornaments.) The kids take turns and each year one of them gets to help daddy with the tree topper. He used to actually hold them on the ladder, but they’re too big for that now.  It used to look like this:

This year was Tommy’s turn:

So with a the topper in place it was time for ornaments. Oh wait…I forgot to mention one little thing. While Aaron was adjusting the topper to get it just right, I heard a disturbing crack. I looked up to see Aaron holding the snowflake, with the base of the topper still attached to the tree. My topper was now in 2 pieces.

Everything stopped.

I’m not kidding.

I literally froze in my tracks, jaw to the floor, staring at my precious tree topper. Christmas traditions are a big deal to me, and that topper has been on every tree that Aaron and I have ever had, and I was looking forward to it being on many trees to come. What’s funny is that I had always imagined its demise coming by the hands of a child, perhaps shattered to pieces on the tile floor. This was certainly not the ending I would’ve predicted.

Did I want Aaron to try to fix it? Not really, because it wouldn’t be the same. Did I want to get a new one? No.

I dried my tears and we went ahead with putting ornaments on the tree. The next evening Anna and I went out in search of a new topper. Before we left, Aaron reminded me that he had always wanted an angel atop the tree. I don’t have any problem with angels on my tree...but I was still hoping to find another snowflake. As we walked out the door, Anna said “maybe we could find an angel and a snowflake together.” Cute thought from my ever optimistic little princess. Two stores and 3 phone calls later, Anna and I returned home with new topper. She was totally hooked on it, but I needed some convincing.

Here’s’ what we picked out. You can’t tell from this picture, but the angel is actually holding a snowflake in the little fiber optic light in her hand. Guess Anna knew what she was talking about.

So, the angel is on the tree and it is great to have the tree finished. Do I like the topper? Sure. Do I love the topper? Not yet. I just don’t feel any attachment yet. I’m sure she’ll grow on me over time. In the meantime, I’m glad that everyone else likes it.

The happy ending to my story…here’s our pretty tree:

(try to ignore all the junk around it.)

Thank you Shutterfly!

Standard

When it comes to Christmas cards, I’m a creature of habit. I get the kids all dolled up in their Christmas clothes and take anywhere from 45-60 shots of them standing on the stairs or in front of the Christmas tree. This involves a lot of time, crabbiness from them, and stress for me. If I’m lucky, I get 2 or 3 good ones to choose from.

This year I didn’t really feel like going through all the drama. I had seen a note on the kids’ school pictures about a promo of some sort from Shutterfly I decided to take a look and see what they had. I liked what I saw right off the bat on their website. I had a ton of fun playing around with several different card styles…putting various pictures in, changing them around, tweaking things till they looked awesome. Here’s what we’re going with this year:

Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.

Overall, I’d say this was definitely the way to go. Much less stressful for me and no crabbiness from the kids. It would’ve been less time too, but I just couldn’t resist checking out all of my options.

Deal or no deal?

Standard

Any other time of year, I love a good deal. I get a sense of personal satisfaction from hunting down, finding, and getting a good deal. Even my kids know at the grocery store that if its not on sale, mommy won’t buy it. It just kills me to see how much some things cost. I hate paying full price.

When it comes to Christmas shopping, that rule goes out the window. Why? Because I refuse to stand in a crowded store full of rude people grabbing and fighting for that last “must have” item on the shelf, just to save 20 bucks. No, not everyone who shops holiday sales is rude, but there are just enough who are to really make it miserable for me. That type of shopping experience really kills my Christmas spirit.

So, I am happy to say that I have finished my Christmas shopping for the kids. I picked up a few things online and shopped in a grand total of 2 stores. Even then, I did my homework before leaving the house and knew exactly what I was going to buy so that I didn’t have to spend much time in the store.

While others (including many of my friends) are furiously plotting their shopping plans on Thursday and heading out in the cold in the wee morning hours of Friday to get these fantastic deals…I will be relaxing with my family. We will be enjoying that other holiday that is on Thursday that so many people seem to overlook these days. (oh…but that’s a whole other story.)

The Last Hurrahs of Summer

Standard

This week was our last full week of summer.  The kids start school on Wednesday.  Having just returned from vacation, I purposely didn’t schedule any camps or anything for this week because I thought we might just have a lazy week.  We did a couple of lazy days, but that’s really all that my kids can handle in one week.  By early Wednesday, they were driving me nuts.  They were sassy with me and fighting with each other.  I knew I had to break the cycle, so I packed up snacks, a book, and a comfy chair and we headed off to the biggest park around here.   Seriously…this park is unbelievable.  It has 3 separate playground areas (maybe more), a huge sand pit, swings, and a giant climbing structure.  We were there for 3 ½ hours!

Thursday morning, I cut them off from the hours of morning TV they’d been watching and started giving them chores to do again. LegoMan was far more cooperative than Ladybug, but I didn’t let that stop us from having a good afternoon.  LegoMan got the choice of activities and chose to go see the Smurf movie.  We ran a few errands, went to the movie, ran a few more errands, and came home for dinner.  Overall, a good afternoon…and a very cute movie, by the way.  After dinner, LegoMan was rewarded for his earlier cooperation with the privledge of renting a DS game.

After another morning of chores that played out much the same way as yesterday, we ‘re off at our fun outing of the day for today.  As I speak, the kids are running around like complete and total crazies at an indoor playground.  Imagine a fast food playland, only larger and MUCH cleaner.  They are having a blast.  And I am having an even bigger blast sitting here with my own thoughts and watching them enjoy themselves.  We were here over spring break and, as one would expect, it was insane.  It was very crowded, hectic, and loud.  Today it is so much better.  I think some of the area schools may have already started back.  Plus, it’s a nice day out so some are probably basking in the sun at an outdoor venue.  All the better for us.

FYI: My children really know how to play. We ended up being at the playland on Friday for 4 1/2 hours.  We shut the place down.

Can’t wait till the kids start school

Standard

I know it might sound bad, but let me explain.

This summer was my first ever summer at home with my children.  Headed into it, I was actually very worried about how it would go.  Tommy is one who easily gets out of hand without structure from daily routines.  It’s summer…I didn’t really want routines.  He also does better when he knows what to expect.  I didn’t always want to tell him what I was planning because I wanted some element of surprise in it.  It took me a couple of weeks to find a good balance, but I did find it.  We did a lot of fun things (not quite everything that I had up my sleeve, but that’s OK.) and neither of them is complaining that it was their worst summer ever.  I would definitely say that’s a success.

Yes it was fun, and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to spend this time with them, but I’m glad that it’s coming to an end. I think everything seems a bit more annoying right now because this is one of the few weeks in which we have absolutely nothing scheduled.  After vacation last week and school starting next week, I thought we could just coast through this week.  Not so sure about that now, so we’ll probably have to be spontaneous to keep them from killing each other.

There are many things that I have learned (or been reminded of) about their perspective on life having been with them all summer.

-There is no such thing as personal space.

-The kids get first dibs on any and all food that comes into the house.

-Quantities of food that come into the house must be divisible by 2 and it is my job to keep track of how many items each one has consumed.

-If I want to disrupt that balance of food, I am expected to consult with them first.

-Whining and growling are considered acceptable forms of communication.

-I am supposed to be able to read their minds.

-When I say no, it doesn’t always mean no.

I’m looking forward to those few quiet days I have to myself after they start school and before I start my classes.  I miss being able to eat what I want, when I want, without having to share.  I miss being able to get in the car and just run my errands without having to explain where I’m going, why I’m going there and how long its going to take.

House Rules

Standard

I’ve been saying for quite some time that there would be some new rules around here. I even went as far as to tell the children that this summer would be different. It would not be all fun and games…there would be structure. Over the first couple of weeks, I tried to use potential playdates as motivation to behave and do things around the house. That didn’t work. They had decided that they weren’t going to put forth the effort. So then I just started taking away privileges. They weren’t allowed to go play with friends, to go to movies, to go to Tastee Freeze, and so on. I thought I was prepared to stand my ground, but I didn’t. After a couple of days in the house they just fought so much I couldn’t stand it. It got to a point where I was the one being punished. That was when the promise of rules became a reality.

In the past when I’ve thought about these rules, I’ve come up with a VERY long list. That’s part of why the rules had not yet materialized. I couldn’t decide what to include and what to leave off. I also was unsure of how to word some of the rules so that the children didn’t find loopholes. So, last week I Googled “house rules” and “family rules” and started putting together a list of possible rules by looking at examples from others.  I printed out this long list of possible rules and my husband and I went to work. We eliminated some things; we grouped others together as related. Amazingly enough, by the time we were done we had 9 clear cut rules for our house.

1. Do what you are told, when you are told.

2. Do not talk back to mommy and daddy.

3. Tell no lies.

4. Keep your hands and feet to yourself.

5. If it will hurt someone’s feelings, keep it to yourself.

6. Respect other people’s property.

7. If you…

–     Open it, close it

–     Turn it on, turn it off

–     Take it out, put it away

8. When inside, use your inside voice.

9. Chores must be done before friends come over or the TV goes on.

So far, things are going pretty well.  Yes, they are definitely still breaking the rules, but I feel like they take me more seriously now.