Switch Hitter

Sporty checked a softball book out of her school library a few weeks ago. She asked Papa Bear what it meant to be a switch hitter because she was reading about it so he explained it means you can hit lefty or righty. Of course Sporty wanted to become a switch hitter so for fun Papa Bear took Sporty and Young Jedi down to the park for some batting practice on both sides. And by George, she can smack the ball from both sides of the plate!
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Back at It

Sporty signed up for a fall skills clinic. It ended like 2 weeks ago but I’m super behind on life. I was super mom-fail and didn’t get pictures until her last session. To my defense, I forgot my phone during one of them. Seriously, 3 hours phone free…it was both liberating and terrifying at the same time. 

It was a really good clinic, the first hour and a half was skills training, fielding and batting, base running, followed by an hour and a half of scrimmage.   A couple of Sporty’s summer teammates also participated and she made some new softball friends and reconnected with a former teammate from kindergarten.  They split the 3rd and 4th graders into two teams and they scrimmaged each other and the coaches coached them on the plays they made as they were in the scenarios, it was a great way for them to learn how to play strategically.  I love watching these girls in the dugout.  They go from not knowing one another, to cheering for each other and being friends in a matter of weeks.  Softball truly unites them.  (And in case you are wondering, yes, she will be wearing that jersey next time we hit up Disneyland)
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Controversial

Last week we made a controversial and very hard decision.  We decided to start medicating Young Jedi.  I know a lot of people are completely against medicating for ADHD, especially in someone as young as Young Jedi, and we’ll likely be judged, but after Young Jedi gave me a fat lip, plus 2 weeks of struggling at school, and 2 hour temper tantrums almost everyday for weeks (many times multiple times a day), our family couldn’t take much more.  Young Jedi has repeatedly told me that he can’t make friends easily, that he tries so hard to be good and he just can’t.  As a parent, that just breaks your heart.

Last week I happened to have my annual exam with my Dr a few days before Young Jedi was scheduled to see Dr Fix It.  She mistakenly asked me how the kids were doing.  I just let it all out about Young Jedi and his ADHD and we’ve tried everything naturally but I think we needed to start meds and I didn’t want to start meds.  And she looked at me and she said “Momma Bear, why wouldn’t you want to start meds?  He has a neurological disorder, don’t you want to allow him to be himself?”  Soul Sister has been saying the same thing to me for months now, but somehow hearing my Dr say it, it clicked.  There is such a strong stigma about medicating ADHD in children.  I needed to get over that stigma because  I want my son to be the very best version of himself.

I met with Dr Fix It last week at Young Jedi’s appointment for over an hour and we went through all of the buckets that he considers when offering medications to his patients.  Then we built of matrix of Young Jedi’s major symptoms, each of the classifications of medications and picked a non-stimulant medication based on that.

I very nervously and pessimistically started meds last Saturday.  Things haven’t been perfect, he’s had some bad days, we’ve had to adjust dosages, but guess what?  They did work and I fell in love with my son again.  He was the sweet, caring little boy I know he is, all of his best qualities that get overshadowed by his ADHD behavior blossomed and came out again.  He still dresses up, he still pretends to be in Star Wars, he still acts out Power Rangers and he still belts out The Pledge of Allegiance, the Star Spangled Banner, and Hard Knock Life at the top of his lungs.  But he’s toned down.  He still punches Sporty for no reason and he has the occasional smartaleck comment, he still got overstimulated on his field trip day but everything was toned down and manageable.  He’s a kid I want to be around again and a kid that I hope will be able to make friends easier, struggle less in school and be able to learn with a clearer mind.

I drove across town with a normal conversation with him, we went food shopping without incident (he forgot his water but didn’t lose his cool when I told him we’d get him a drink at the store, and when I got inline and forgot to grab him a drink he calmly reminded me I promised him a drink), we drove home with him calmly sitting in the back of the car drinking his drink, no incessant talking.  He fell riding a scooter in the cul-de-sac and calmly told me he was ready to go inside because his knee stung.  At Sporty’s softball practice, he sat and practiced writing his letters with little frustration.  He shared his bat at baseball with his teammates, he cheered them on and was positive.  Then when I asked him to put Uno away for bed he replied “Ok Momma, we’ll play another time.”  Later in the week he tripped and fell over Sporty’s softball bag. A week ago this would have sent him into a tailspin of slamming doors, punching Sporty, storming to his room and slamming the door and packing his bag to leave our family. This week he calmly stated “Sporty, maybe you should find a different place for your bag.”  All of these are things that would have been full blown battles and negotiations a week ago.  Things that could have sent him into def-con 10 which leads to 2 hour meltdowns.   Things that for 3 years we’ve tried to tip-toe around and walk on eggshells to avoid.  But this week, he (mostly) handled them rationally and calmly.  At night he’s told me that he can finally behave, that his brain is less crazy, that he can think better.  Such self awareness for a 5 year old.

I’ve had to make hard decisions as a parent; operate on Sporty’s feet, medicate Young Jedi’s ADHD.  Hard, hard decisions.  Decisions I don’t want to make.  Decisions I never thought going into parenthood that I would have to consider.  Decisions I can almost will away.  Decisions, I wish I could climb back into bed and quit my adulting duties until they went away.  But I can’t because I am the voice for my children, because if I don’t fight for them, who will?  I can only hope that I’m doing the right thing by him.  I lay awake at night wishing I had a crystal ball to tell me what the future holds, for both kids’ special needs.  All I know is that his sparkle is back.  Instead of correcting him, I have spent the last week complimenting him, seeing him feel proud again, to build his confidence back.  He’s lovable, he’s rationale, he’s kind again.  And for right now, that’s enough.  That’s a decision that I can live with because I just want him to be the very best version of himself.

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Nailed It!

I don’t know why but I was super worked up about Sporty’s orthopedic surgeon appointment today.  It’s been a while since we’ve been there, we’ve melted an AFO on the softball field and started soccer since we’ve seen him and things change so quickly with her feet that I was a bit nervous.  Plus she’s been having some limb fatigue (especially in her right foot which is the recently operated foot) when running hills at soccer practice so I was concerned there was something going on.  So here’s what we learned:

A) When your favorite office administrator is off but she sees you’re on the schedule and she writes a note to Sporty in her chart to say hi and to instruct her to get a lollipop, you know these are more than just Drs.

B) When the nurse and Dr Fluffy Unicorn walk in and cheer “Yay!  The Sporty family is here!” you know you’ve found a place that truly cares about your child’s well being, beyond charts and patient numbers, they truly care about your child.

C) When the Dr laughs and cheers because your kid melted her AFO WHILE on the softball field and tells her to keep it up (toss the AFO because who needs it anyway) and never quit, to get that softball scholarship and then go on to become an orthopedic surgeon, you know he sees her big dreams and builds her up to achieve them.  You realize the village stretches farther than you can ever imagine

D) When the Dr talks to the child about what’s going on, not you, the parent, about the pain she’s feeling when running hills and tells her to try to push herself to try to work through the pain but without injury and she responds back and they have an adult conversation, you know there is mutual respect.  You feel grateful that the adult is allowing the child to have a voice in their own care.  You know that 9 years ago when you chose a Dr, you chose right.

E)  When the Dr asks Sporty about her “cheetah speed” you realize again that she’s not just another patient but that he gets what makes Sporty tick.

F)  When the Dr tells mom to not worry about the tightness because that’s what gives her the cheetah speed and it’s not inhibiting her and in fact one of his old patients just got a scholarship for UCLA and one is going to med school at UCSD, you try to set the worry aside and enjoy the moment.

G) When the Dr tells you not to come back until the summer you don’t know whether to jump for joy, cry tears of joy that we’re past our last hump, or be nervous because we’ve never, ever, in the history of Sporty, gone that long (10 months) between appointments!

Today was a very good appointment.  We haven’t had one of these in a long, long time.  Today I breath a really big sigh of relief.  It could all change very quickly because that’s what these clubfeet do, but today we’re celebrating and we’re optimistic for the first time in a really long time!  Today we feel like we’re truly beating clubfeet.

We were so wrapped up in the viewing of Despicable Me in the waiting room and the good news that we forgot a picture at Dr Fluffy Unicorn’s office!  But here’s Sporty and her two awesome feet, complete with Giant’s orange nail polish.

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And here’s hopefully our last AFO, I won’t be throwing it away, because I’m too sentimental for that but I won’t mind pushing it to the back of the closet cause we’ve got soccer and softball (and running club starts tomorrow) to focus on these days!

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About This Time 9 Years Ago…

9 years ago this month we found out via ultrasound that Sporty would be born with clubfeet. I can’t look at pictures like this, of Sporty completely in her element and not think about those tense moments 9 years ago when we found out our girl would be born “less than perfect.” I clearly remember hearing the Dr tell us she would have birth defects (a word I still have trouble accepting) that had them concerned, I remember the amino needle pulling amniotic fluid to test for other possible birth defects, I remember being told that she would barely walk let alone compete, and yet here we are, 9 years later, with Sporty thriving on whatever field she runs onto.

I’ve learned in the 9 years since her diagnosis that “perfect” has different meanings, that life hands you hardship sometimes but the most beautiful lessons lay in those hardships; that nothing can ever predict the power of the human spirit; that where there’s passion and drive, there is success; and that the most valuable lessons about heroism, bravery and persistence can be packed into 50lbs of 8 year old girl.

I look at photos like these and I can’t help but marvel at how far she’s come and how far she’ll continue to go. I look at photos like this and can’t help but feel gratitude not only for Dr Fluffy Unicorn but for Sporty’s spirit and persistence. I can’t help but feel thankful for a girl who was made to run.

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Runs in the Family

Young Jedi was NOT a fan of soccer last year but we told him he had to do an activity so he chose baseball. Fortunately our city Little League runs a fall ball program for his age so we signed him up and he had his first practice last night. He had some anxiety heading to practice. I’ve learned with him that when he says he doesn’t want to do something or go somewhere and it’s stupid it’s because he has anxiety about it. We talked it over how it’s normal to be nervous since it was a new team and we didn’t know anyone but it’s ok because it’s supposed to be fun and Sporty and I were there. Well he stepped up and did great. He threw well, batted well, LISTENED to his coach well. I had sent his coach an email with a heads up about Young Jedi’s ADHD and his response was very positive. Sporty gave Young Jedi’s baseball performance two thumbs up!

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What is ADHD?

My friend, Soul Sister, posted this question on her Facebook page to see what her friends’ perceptions of ADHD were.  Remember, Soul Sister is my friend who got us in with Dr Fix-It.  Her little guy is Young Jedi’s birthday twin and has ADHD and clubfoot so we met via clubfoot and later figured out our boys were Birthday Twins.  As Sporty says, “It’s fair because me and Birthday Twin have clubfeet and you (Young Jedi) and Birthday Twin have ADHD.”  I laughed and said “Well it’s not very fair to Soul Sister who has a double whammy of both diagnoses rolled into one kid.”  That was our funny conversation for the day a couple of days ago.

But I digress…I must say, having Soul Sister go through both journeys with me has been a God Send.  I don’t know what I would do without her.

Here are some of the comments (just a handful because she got a lot great responses) that she got from her experiment:

“I have suffered my whole life with this. ADHD is hearing the whole room instead of one voice, unable to complete a task, forgetting why you went into a room, interrupting others because you will forget what you have to say, and so on”

“Inability to focus and complete a single task due to the overstimulation of environmental, emotional, physical, social factors surrounding a person.”

“Largely and grossly misdiagnosed which makes it more difficult to service the ones that truly need it”

“And often misplaced judgment when sharing your struggle.”

“Misunderstood. You can literally watch the kids fighting to control their body and being unable to stop the impulses. Then hear parents call the kid a bad influence”

For our family ADHD is a lot of things.  It’s not understanding the way Young Jedi’s beautiful mind works.  It’s constant chaos, it’s walking on egg shells waiting for the bottom to fall out even on a good day.  It’s judgement, “oh he’s young and a boy, it’s not really ADHD.  He’ll grow out of it.”  “You’re not medicating, are YOU!?!”  It’s knowing your child stands out in the crowd.  It’s losing friends, for you AND your child.  It’s the assumption that your don’t discipline.  It’s the sinking feeling when you can tell the girl in front of your child is crying because she doesn’t want to stand in line next to him.  It’s wanting to fix your child and making their world bright and happy again but not knowing how because they have to be parented completely differently than your other child.  It’s your child apologizing for getting their name on the board at school but recognizing he has no control over his body.  It’s sadness knowing your child is trying so hard but just can’t be successful.  It’s your child being behind academically, like really behind and wanting to help them but them literally not having the capacity to sit still and do more academics after 4 hours at school.  It’s your other child enduring hits and punches and kicks for no reason.  It’s your child telling you they don’t want to be a part of your family because no one loves them.  It’s a lack of resources.  It’s always being “on” and ready for the next meltdown and never really being able to relax and decompress.  It’s going to the closet and crying over the struggle your child will have in life and hoping for the strength to help them fight those battles.  It’s lonely.  It’s isolating.  It’s all of these and so much more.

But at the end of the day, these are the faces of ADHD for Soul Sister and I, two sweet boys that deserve a chance at success and happiness.  The reason to keep fighting.

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#soccermom

I had a nice afternoon of walking and riding bikes planned for today but there’s a massive wild fire nearby and we are shelter in place because of the smoke so I guess I’ll blog even though Young Jedi needs something every 30 seconds.

This weekend officially kicked off soccer season for Sporty with her first game on Saturday and a second game on Sunday.  I am now in soccer mom mode, driving around in my CR-V like the little mommy-UBER that I am.  I had flashbacks of softball weekends with the Saturday/Sunday game combo but it wasn’t so bad.  First, Young Jedi wasn’t there one Saturday so I didn’t have to try to entertain him and watch her at the same time.  He went to Marvel Universe Live with the Hubs.  Second, Saturday’s weather was perfect-o!  Breezy, cool, it was glorious.  And last and most importantly, it was 10 minutes down the road!  Fortunately, I still remember our packing routine from softball so I’ve got the wagon, supplies, and trunk arrangement down pat.

Sporty’s team looks GOOOD this season.  This is the third season together for most of them and the second season together for a handful, only because they are 4th graders and had to play up last year while the rest of the group played down.  They are in sync and communicate and they are in it to win!  Unfortunately, they lost the first game 1-2 but it was a tight game and they lost at the end of the second half.  We play them a couple more times this season so I know the girls will be looking for a win.  This team beat us a ton last year and the girls have the fire in their belly to get a win against them.

Sunday, they won 6-1.  Ironically, Sunday’s game was against Sporty’s travel softball coachs’ soccer team and she was extra aggressive going after the ball against her former softball teammates.  She got to the ball first every time, slowly her cheetah speed is returning.  Sporty didn’t have any goals this weekend but she had one assist and best of all, she was the first to high five her teammates who did score.  Let’s hear it for sportsmanship.

Sporty is loving this division in the rec league, they finally keep score and there are refs so she feels big time now!  And she’s super glad we didn’t move to the competitive team.  She’s gotten very close with most of the girls on the team and it’s so fun watching their bonds grow.

More on Young Jedi in a separate post, but I’ve seen some improvements in him the past couple of days.  He actually sat next to me on the picnic blanket and watched and cheered for Sporty’s team during a good portion of the game Sunday.  This is a huge improvement from the summer when he complained incessantly about sitting and watching Sporty play.  We are just about 3 weeks into fish oil supplements and 3 weeks without any food dyes in his diet so hoping we continue to see progress with him.  I’ll take small victories where I can get them.

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About Young Jedi

E165F5F7-5145-4B5B-A4EF-6B7F3F1FB487It’s been a while, we were able to get in a quick getaway to Monterey for a few days last week, summer is winding down and we’ve been frantically preparing for the first day of school (T-6 days but who’s counting!?! Ok, this lady is!). Sporty is falling nicely into soccer season. She did a soccer camp two weeks ago and was asked to play on the competitive team for her age group but she (and we) decided to keep softball her competitive sport and soccer her “fun” sport (but we all know she’ll make it competitive). Yesterday she spent practice running and holding hands with one of her friends and I knew we made the right decision.

And then there is Young Jedi. I’ve mentioned that he’s been a tough kid a few times but I think people think we’re over exaggerating. His outbursts and fits have gotten out of control and when he’s really upset he tells us he wants to leave our family and go somewhere else, these aren’t the normal, “well I’m going to run away from home” threats.  These are gut wrenching, pure full of despair crying episodes where he truly believes no one loves him no matter how long I sit and rub his back until he is calm and tell him I love him. I’ve expressed my concerns on his behavior since he was 2, he’s always been so extreme relative to peers. At 2 he nearly got kicked out of preschool for biting, we took him to a psychologist who said he had anxiety and a speech delay.  We moved him to a smaller preschool and got him speech therapy and things got better for a year.  He actually did really well in school, he was making friends, getting confident and showing interest in cooking.  Then things started to spiral out of control again about a year and a half ago.  He was having outbursts in school where he was telling the Director he hated her, he was kicking the filing cabinet, and just going into these rages.  We pulled him last October when I left work and things just didn’t improve, I even got notes home from his part time preschool that he was too chatty during circle time and was getting aggressive on the playground.  When I went to volunteer, kids in his class would tell me that Young Jedi was just a “big meanie.”  It broke my heart.  And it wasn’t isolated to school, we saw downward behavior at home as well.  While I can’t deny any of these accusations about Young Jedi, I also know that he’s compassionate, generous, creative, he’s the first to rush to comfort a crying person and deep down past the Dark Side of the Force he has a tender and loving heart.

Finally in January his doctor agreed he should be seen. It took me 4 months to find a psychologist who would see a 5 year old and take our insurance. Seriously don’t get me started on the state of our medical system. I came across a behavioral health counselor through our insurance who seriously has been a lifesaver for me, she did all of the research, touches base with me monthly (now that we’re on a treatment track), and just makes me feel like the world isn’t out to make us fail. She is assigned to us so we always get her and she’s just such a great resource. Well one meeting with Young Jedi and an ADD/ADHD survey and the psychologist passed us over to a psychiatrist for ADD meds. I mean Young Jedi was the picture of ADD at the appointment, he was laying upside down on a chair, kicking his feet and imagine he had 1000 web browsers open in his head and he was just bouncing his conversation from Icees, to hating school, to Star Wars, to wanting a dog, and back to one subject and then to another.  He was in rare form.  We were and are hesitant to start right in with meds (though there are some days that I’ll take whatever relief I can get from our despair) and our pediatrician wanted a full evaluation on him before agreeing to the diagnosis and medicating a 5 year old. So I called the developmental pediatrician she referred us to the first week of May and got scheduled for November 7th!?! November 7th!?! 6 months out!!!  I literally cried on the phone.

Then I learned Stanford has an 18 month waiting period. Then my dear friend (whom I owe immensely) spoke to her son’s Dr in late June and some emails with his assistant, tons of paperwork with a big glass of wine, and we miraculously got him scheduled for an August appointment, still a long way from June but hands down 100 times better than November 7th!  Things were going from bad to worse so at the urging of my friend, I dropped the assistant a note asking if there were any cancellations, he called me less than 24 hours later (what, a Dr that responds!?!) and it turns out they had an opening 2 days later, did I want it.  Um yes, do wild bears poop in the woods?  So I put on my big girl pants and drove to the city with Young Jedi for an hour evaluation. Have you ever tried to drive in rush hour to the city with Young Jedi? It’s not for the faint of heart! Of course he had to pee as we were waiting for the metering lights crossing the Bay Bridge.

I can’t even tell you the amazingness of this Dr (let’s call him Dr Fix-It).  First of all, he was on time.  Second of all, we went into the exam room and he was on the floor and addressed Young Jedi before acknowledging me and started playing blocks with him and dinosaurs.  Within 5 minutes, Young Jedi was agreeing to go off to the observation room with him and left me with the resident to fill out more questionnaires.  They were gone the bulk of the appointment.  Ok, it took 2 Legos to get Young Jedi to go see Dr Fluffy Unicorn after he broke his leg to get a cast put on said broken leg and he has literally known Dr Fluffy Unicorn his entire life.  But Dr Fix-It, he just runs off with within 5 minutes.  That’s serious skills!

Friday Hubs and I went without kids to meet with Dr. Fix-It and on Friday Young Jedi was diagnosed with ADHD and Inflexibility Temperament, cause apparently there’s a medical term for being a giant stubborn pain in the arse.

Our heads are spinning. There’s a lot of work to be done but the last two times we’ve left Dr Fix-It, I feel like there is a light. We’ve got some therapies, we’ve started DHA/Omega-3s (ever try giving a kid who can tell the different brands of milk, fish oil???) and I’m taking out all food dyes and trying to slowly wean out preservatives. It’s very daunting. Meanwhile we’re just trying to manage his temperament while we do our research (The Explosive Child, Mindset, are our super fun summer reads!).  Oh and Dr Fix-It is making me drop Young Jedi’s naps, I’m heartbroken.
It’s been a tough weekend. I’m mourning the acknowledgment of the struggles Young Jedi faces. I really wanted to have the Dr tell us that he was tough, but that he was within the normal boundaries of a 5 year old boy.  You know, the “Oh he’s just a boy!” excuse, I could almost will it out of him.  With Sporty, we were diagnosed in utero. I had 16 weeks to accept, research, and plan for treatment. With Young Jedi in a matter of minutes, it’s this is what we’re dealing with, here are starting treatments and you need to educate yourself on the diagnosis, all while trying to implement strategies while learning them. I feel like I’m messing it all up! I don’t want any of this for him or us and I fear there may be more diagnoses as he spends more time with Young Jedi. The Dr made a comment that he could tell that once you get to know Young Jedi, he’s the type of kid that you have to walk on egg shells around. It is so dead spot on, we fear the wrong move or comment (Sporty is the queen of coming up with these igniters) that can send Young Jedi into a downward spiral that becomes a 2 hour meltdown, or as Dr Fix-It calls it, Defcon 5.  I worry about him starting school and getting off on the wrong foot next week.  Like beyond stressed about kindergarten starting.

I’ve thought about keeping his diagnosis private, but then I’d feel like I’m embarrassed by him. Yes, sometimes (ok frequently) I’m embarrassed by his behavior but I’d never be embarrassed by my son. I’m more scared of the battles he’ll have socially, emotionally, and academically.  I haven’t seen him smile or be carefree in a really long time. I just want my happy, carefree boy back. I want to know he’ll come back. I got a glimpse of him yesterday and it was amazing, he was laughing his big belly laugh and acting silly and fun but today he is gone again and I’m sad about that.  I’m trying desperately to get that belly laugh back.  I’ll do whatever it takes to get his belly laugh back.

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The Old Switch-a-roo

Well, it's that time of the year again where we transition from softball (though we still have a few weeks left on her developmental team) to soccer. Today she started a soccer camp. (We tried to convince Young Jedi to join her so I would have 2 1/2 glorious hours to myself but he loathes soccer so no such luck there). It's just 2 1/2 hours this week but hopefully it will start to condition her for regular season which starts next week.

She had a good time and told me that her foot did not hurt "one bit" after camp. 👍👍

Oh and she was totally embarrassed to pose for a picture. I've officially hit embarrassing mom status. Why am I so excited about this!?!

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