I'm on a journey to find health and happiness through a more holistic and green lifestyle.

I find the world to be abrasive. =) That is to say, I feel the need to armor myself, physically and emotionally, in order to face life. Don't we all? Maybe. For whatever reason, it has become a priority in my life to rid my immediate environment of irritating things. And I'm sensitive! So there is much work to be done. But. I have thought for a long time that the things I come in contact with every day, and the stuff used to clean and maintain these things, need to be gentle and non-toxic. I have had eczema my entire life. For a long time I just dealt with it, and accepted that sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it's not, and that it will fluctuate a lot. Gradually over time I have come to find that certain things, fabrics, cleansers, materials, are more irritating to my skin than others. Stress can exacerbate it. In more recent times, I have realized that every aspect of my life improves when I improve conditions for my skin. Hah! What a concept! Thus my (long time) interest in going green, and my more recent desire to live a more holistic lifestyle. (I think I've felt a desire for a long time to live in a harmonious way with myself, my surroundings, and nature, but didn't have a name for it.) Anyhow, this blog is a journal of my trials and errors, and basic crooked path to find a balanced and peaceful existence for myself and my family. Thanks for your interest! I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Coconut Oil

Two nights ago I purchased this jar of coconut oil. It seems that coconut oil was popping up everywhere: on my Facebook Eczema page, and in searches for holistic-minded natural remedies and such. I saw it again and again. So I did some brief online research. Why had I thought that coconut was not a good idea? Here is some of what I learned: LINK

Now of course there are resources on the internet that claim this is all hooey, and that movie theaters and food manufacturers stopped using coconut oil in their products because it was shown to be bad for you. I guess you have to read the research and decide for yourself. 

I have decided to put it through its paces. 

There are many ways in which people use coconut oil:

Food. People use it in place of other oils in such foods as popcorn. I used it to make a grilled cheese sandwichs this morning. It was easy to cook with, made delicious (and yes, reminiscent of movie theater popcorn smells) popcorn, toasted bread well for the sandwichs, etc. And it did not take a lot of the stuff. I will note that coconut oil burns easily at higher cooking temperatures, so keep the temperatures down. 

Hand/Skin Lotion: I have been using the oil in place of my usual hand lotion (another oil) and it has worked fine. It does not seem to irritate my sensitive (eczema) skin, it absorbs easily and is not greasy feeling after being rubbed in. 

Hair: I haven't tried this one, but apparently people use coconut oil in their hair, and it supposed to make the hair super soft. I am dying to try it. Being a non-shampoo user at the moment due to a rashy scalp, I am looking for ways to keep my hair clean and conditioned that are all natural and not too irritating. I'll report back on my trials with that! Here is what I learned at eHow: LINK Sounds like work, but once in a while... Anyhow, I'll give it a try.

Pets: I have read that coconut oil can be helpful in pets with various conditions, including constipation and hair balls. You can read more about that here: LINK You can actually buy cans of the stuff that are marketed for pets. (A funny aside is that the can I saw for pets on Amazon.com was much more expensive per ounce than what I bought for myself!)

Some information I have learned along the way: Coconut oil melts at 76*F. It is a solid at room temperature in cooler areas. It burns easily at high temperatures, so keep your temperatures down when cooking with it. 

As always, I'd love to hear from anyone with experience!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Natural Hairball Remedies For Cats

This morning I found evidence that my two cats, a male and a female, were not feeling well. First of all, last night I found that their water bowl had been diminished a lot. Now I know that cats, as a general rule, do not drink a lot of water. Some weeks back our girl kitty had been drinking a lot of water for several days. A trip to the vet resulted in our needing to remove cat treats from her diet, due to finding of crystals in her urine. During this two week trial, I had also removed dry food, after conferring with the Holistic Moms Network.  Not the smartest time to remove the dry food, of course, because when her urine tested clean, it was impossible to know if it was simply from removing the cat treats, or if it had something to do with the dry food.

Fast forward a few weeks. I bought some more dry food. I did so because the cats are getting big, and are starting to eat us out of house and home. They eat Newman's Own Organics canned cat food. The cans are 3 oz - in other words, small. The two of them were eating five cans a day! At a dollar and change a can, it was getting ridiculous. So I did some research and bought some Organix Feline Formula Adult and Kitten dry cat food. This is, from what I can tell, good stuff. It is made from organic chicken, brown rice and flax, and is minus a lot of the stuff that other dry cats foods contain and are supposed to be bad for them. Anyhow. A few days ago we introduced the dry food in place of the canned for one meal, and they devoured it. Yay! thought I.

So then yesterday, the female cat was drinking, and I noticed the bowl was low. Oh no. But wanting to be sure, I decided to wait a day or two. The bowl was fine this a.m., but I could tell the cats weren't right. For one thing, there was wet food left over from their feeding last night, which has never happened since getting them. Then they left a fair amount of food this morning. Hmmm... Then my daughter stepped in something.... uk. Ok, so there were a couple of piles of cat barf on the carpet. And they were full of fur. Ok. So is the problem crystals in the urine? Or is it hair balls? Or is it both?

I know the solution if the problem is crystals. So I'll give it another day or two, and see if the girl kitty continues to drink a lot of water. Easy solution: no more dry food.

I didn't know the answer for the hair balls, so I did a quick Google search on "natural hair ball remedies for cats." The answer? Psyllium fiber. Metamusil! Wow! As I read about it, I found that it makes perfect sense. If it helps us, why not the cats? Here's one link I found. Though this link does not mention hair balls specifically, it mentions several other conditions for which psyllium fiber is recommended by vets for cats.


This website, and many others, recommend Psyllium Nigrum for cats, which is the same seed husk fiber source as is used in Metamucil. This is a neat site in general.


I'm gonna try it. Starting today, I'm going to mix a small amount (if you try it make sure you know the recommended doses) in with their canned food. I'll report back in a few days if I see any changes or improvements.

If anyone has any experience with this, I'd sure appreciate hearing about it!

UPDATE: I put a teaspoon of flavorless psyllium fiber in the cats canned food, mixed it very well, and gave it to them. Both cats took one sniff, and would not eat one bite. I replaced it with a can without the fiber, and they ate it right away. So much for that! I may try again with a much smaller amount, but I'm thinking this is not the remedy for my cats!

Now to try coconut oil.... trial in a separate post!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Yay Montessori =) (child anxiety)

Today my daughter finished her third week at her new school, our local Montessori school.

Me: So, (daughter), now that you've been at your new school for three weeks, which school would you say you like better? The new one or the old one?"

DD: The new one is MUCH better.

Me: =) =) =)

When I asked her if she was happy it was the weekend, she replied, "Yeah. Sort of. I'll miss hanging out with my friends."

So happy!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Calmer Seas (child anxiety)

Time to update on DD.

Things are settling down nicely. Phew! DD's biggest complaint after school yesterday was that someone had moved her plant. =) I got a nice email from her teacher yesterday, too, that said that during a movement class, DD had gotten up in front of the class with another student and done a dance! Ok, she has officially surpassed me. I don't do that!! Very proud I am, yes indeedy.

That doesn't mean that she doesn't still get anxious in the mornings. She does. Dry heaves are not uncommon. Or the complaint of a belly ache. But she likes school.

We went to a school picnic two days ago. Several kids came up to her asking if she wanted to play with them, or sit on their picnic blanket with them, etc. It was very cool. She shied away from them for the most part, but I think that was more a result of me and her father and other parents being there. Something tells me she would have been off with them in a flash had it been school recess or something. And occasionally during the night she would forget herself and start to run off. Very good stuff.

I am working with her on reading every night now, as she won't read to the teachers at school. But I am not giving her a hard time about it. As I've been telling hubby in the evenings, she's made such incredible strides, and completely because she chose to, that I do not feel the need to pressure her about the reading and lessons at this point. I'll just work with her at home to be sure she's keeping up. Her reading is very slow and reluctant. We worked on it a bunch this summer, but a couple weeks before starting the new school, we stopped. It really shows that she hasn't been working on it for a while. Her confidence has decreased, and her reading is elementary at best. But she'll get there. When she decides to!

And a quick note on the little girl in DD's class. DD told me a few days ago that she thought this girl wanted to be friends with everyone in the class but her. That seems to have completely changed. For one, she approached DD a lot during the picnic, and was very friendly with her. Then I get the email from the teacher saying they performed a dance together for the class. And DD informed me yesterday that this same little girl has invited DD to come to her house on Halloween. Awright! =)

Words from a proud Mama!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day 7 of School (child anxiety)

Ah. That's better!

First of all, I got up with the alarm this morning, and both kids stayed asleep. Nice. I had some coffee, I checked my email, and just enjoyed a few minutes to myself.

Hubby brought DD down. She curled up on the couch with her cats as usual, and watched tv. So far, same ole, except that DS was still in bed. Very unusual, as he's usually the first of us to wake up. I told DD that I would provide her with something to eat if and when she told me she wanted something. I accept that the idea taht food makes her ill in the morning, especially foods with strong smells, so I'm not cooking these days.

DS finally wakes up, and joins DD. I get a box of Cheerios, and he and I happily munch on them. With about 20 minutes to go, I announce that I am going to get the kids dressed. I do so. No problems....

As usual, when the time draws near to leave, I get up and start racing around. This is just what I do. I put things in the car, and do this I do that.... DD gets up and starts to go through her routine, too. As usual, she has her "as we're going out the door" stuff she "suddenly" remembers she needs, but even this is not too frenzied today. She gets her cloth (a wash cloth. She started this at her old school. She takes a cloth with her every day. It's almost like her security blanket. In prek and K, she would chew on it, yuck. Now she just has it, I think.) She will usually jump into the bathroom at the very last second. Honestly, I can't remember if she did so today. This particular part of the routine has relaxed some, now that she is comfortable using the bathroom at school. Once in the car, DD complained of having a belly ache. I told her I was sorry, and as always, was genuinely sympathetic. After all, the poor thing got this condition from me! She said something about being anxious, and I found myself suggesting she try to focus on the moment. At this moment, I explained, she is with me and her brother, in the car, and we're fine. I could really use this advice myself! I am anxious about going away this weekend, just the kids and me. Be in the moment, Mama! =)

Drop-off was fine. She timidly got out of the car, took her stuff from me, and walked with me as far as the path, where the assistant teacher was waiting with a few other kids. She slowly walked into the building, with a wave to me and DS.

I left thinking that she is adjusting. No barf today, only a sort of resignation to the situation. Of course I wish she looked forward to going. She doesn't. But she is becoming accepting of it, and she seems to be joining in while there. Her teacher did inform me that DD won't talk to her during lessons, but that she will talk with her about other subjects. The teacher feels she will "come around," and I hope she does. I am going to focus on the amazing things she has done in the 6 days of school she's had so far, and process other areas of growth later! I did ask the teacher to let me know if there are areas I can help out with at home.

Anyhow, she's looking forward to a weekend away. A nice reward for all her hard work. =)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

SIGH (parenting)

Maybe I beating this topic to death, but I think it helps me to vent when I'm in the thick of all of this.

First of all, darling daughter IS adjusting to her new school, and seems happy enough most days. But she is throwing up every morning before we leave. Today she couldn't eat anything, and was panicked about having not eaten before going to school. I wasn't too worried about that because I know that she can grab a snack at school whenever she feels the need. Anyhow...

So today DS and I picked her up, and all was well. In fact, the kids miss each other a lot during the day, so they're very cute after school. He had told me during the day that he missed her. She came home with a picture she drew for him, with his name written all over it. Cute. Nice.

So at some point, we were just talking, and somehow the topic came up of a function my husband and I have to participate in for our son's school. It's a fund raiser, and we're being asked to work two five hour shifts to help with it. Of course my first thought was that there was no way I would get away with being gone for five hours at a stretch, so hubby and I had already agreed that we'd split the shifts. So anyhow, my daughter and I were talking, and the subject of the fund raiser came up. She asked what it was. I explained it to her, and she was excited at first. She wanted to be involved. I explained that it might be fun for a while, but five hours in a row might be a lot for her. I explained that she and her brother would just hang out with whichever of us wasn't working. She immediately got upset, saying she was going to stay with me wherever I was. I explained that I would be working, and it might get boring. She then said she'd stay home. I told her that was fine, she would only need to leave the house briefly so that hubby could come relieve me, or vice versa. She became so upset by this thought that she actually broke out in tears. (She is SIX years old) She said she was concerned about needing to use the bathroom on the drive. UGH. I told her that she'd be driving in to town and back. She went on and on about it. I told her she was being ridiculous. She said she wouldn't drive with her papa because of the bathroom. My entire insides felt like they became tied in knots. Seriously, this is getting beyond ridiculous, and it ticks me off that I have to be so confined by her anxiety!! I am so sympathetic so much of the time, but when I can't move, I get annoyed. Pissed! Anyhow, she asked me how long there was until the fund raiser. I told her that it is a MONTH away, but that even if it was a day away it shouldn't matter, because it really is not a big deal! I told her it was an obligation that her father and I have, and that it really has nothing to do with her. But she is insisting that she won't leave the house while I am away! So now my husband will be confined to the house during those shifts, not to mention our son. It's so frustrating! I suggested that we might have to get a babysitter because hubby and I will have to leave the house. She actually agreed to that plan, and said that grandma would need to stay at the house with her, and that our son would have to be with her! Her conditions are maddening!! Yes, folks, we're talking about something that is not occurring for a month! Oh!

Just needed to vent. =)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Week 2 Approaches (child anxiety)

By all accounts, my daughter had a good first week of school. Those of you who have followed this line of thought all along know that DD has some pretty intense anxiety issues, and that transitions can be very, very hard for her. And she nailed the first week of school. And at a new school where she knew no one. Atta girl! But the anxiety still exists. Of course it does.

Last night, Saturday night, she is having trouble falling asleep. She had slept quite late, so perhaps she just wasn't tired yet. But even this change in routine has got her (and ME) on edge. I am not allowed to leave the room until she falls asleep (kind of a bone-head thing I allowed to happen...I've always been there until the kids have fallen asleep) It is becoming obvious she is not going to settle down to sleep, and hubby suggests we allow her to come downstairs with us. Not ideal. Definitely not. I am quite protective of my evening time, as it is part of a very little bit of time I get to have sans kids during the day. I finally agree. She comes downstairs, sits in a chair, and waits. After a fairly short time of this (what were we going to do? We couldn't really watch the movie we've been watching - too violent. I didn't want to break out any food and set that precedence.) I gave up and decided to go to bed. We went up, I read, and we both went to sleep. Fast forward to tonight. Before even getting into bed, DD is anxiously informing me, again and again and again, that if she can't sleep, she is going to come downstairs with me. Ugh, I think. What I say is something along the lines of it being really important that she try to get to sleep as she has to get up early, blah de blah, parent-talk parent-talk. I read to the kids, DS falls asleep easily as usual, and DD pushes herself right up against me and hooks her arm through mine. I am sure she is trying to set herself up so that if I move, she'll be aware of it. I am feeling choked by her anxiety, again. I want to be understanding, and when given a little space I almost always am, but sometimes I get a little annoyed. I have gotten somewhat better at expressing something other than what I am feeling. I want her to feel loved and understood. It cannot be easy or fun to go through what she goes through. After a fairly short amount of time, she fell asleep. Hubby was about to come through the door with a creaky laundry basket, and I chased him out with a stern, "Do not wake her up!" I explained, of course, and he put the basket in another room.

Her anxiety manifests in other ways too, ways that are so a part of our lives that I forget to mention them. She refuses to go anywhere without me. Refuses. It doesn't matter where. Today we ran errands. If I went into a store, she went too. If I stayed in the car, she stayed in the car, too. She wanted to go swimming today. Hours went by and I lost interest in the trip. Hubby offered to take her, she refused. "NOT without Mama!!" She goes through short phases where she will do something with him, but mostly not. And it's been a long time since she has.

So here I am, downstairs, ready for some me time, but I have to reprocess everything first. It's what I do, and part of what I have to do to manage my own anxiety. Maybe now I can relax, and get ready to face week 2. Now that the acuteness of the first couple of days has passed, we will find out how her general anxiety plays out in this new environment. Fingers crossed and praying that Montessori is everything I have been hoping for...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

More For The Etsy Shop (sewing)

It's a funny conflict for me. With the chill in the air, I feel the urge to make things and get my Etsy shop filled. People buy stuff for school, and start to think about getting gifts for the winter holidays. I want to have stuff to offer. At the same time, I have so little sewing time, that I prefer to sew stuff for my kids, and for the house. Hm. So I have to compromise. A little of this and a little of that.

I made these for my dear son, but totally misjudged his size this time. He seems to be outgrowing some stuff, so I made this in the next biggest size. He SWAM in them. So to the shop they went!

I really should prepare during the year and do craft shows. I would probably have more success with them than I do with Etsy, simply because Etsy requires a more constant focus. Maybe next year....

My Etsy shop is here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Day 3 of School

6:30 a.m., the blasting alarm gets hubby flying. Literally. Across the room to turn the obnoxious thing off. A minute or two later, darling boy and I get up. About 7am, we collect little girl from bed. Oh, she looks tired. Poor thing. To the couch they go. And on goes the tv.

I gently move around, getting things done. I make myself some toast, and offer to make something for DD, "when you're ready." The kids are watching a Leap Frog "educational" dvd about alphabet sounds. DD periodically tells me I can make her something to eat "after the B." Then, "after the M" then "after the W" and so forth. In the meantime, I bring my toast to the couch, and DS asks for some. DD immediately turns green and starts coughing. She just can't handle the concept of food. Still way to anxious. And yet she wants to eat before school. Hm. She informs me that she has a sore throat, and makes a feeble argument for staying home today.

As the time approaches 8 a.m., I start to get the kids dressed. DD and I had previously discussed her not wearing a pull-up to school any longer, but maybe using a pad of some sort, if needed. (Ya do what you have to do, we're talking the difference between anxiety and panic attack here) I informed DD that I have not had time to make any pads yet, but I had a paper substitute she could. Unexpectedly, this resulted in her bursting in to tears, saying she could NOT use a paper one, and needed a pull-up. I informed her that she would not be using a pull-up. At this point I decided to tell her that her teacher had suggested to me that she not wear them any more, and I told her the teacher's reasons behind that. She absorbed this information for a while.

After getting DD dressed, she informed me that she wasn't in the mood for a dress (unusual) because she didn't like the idea of having to mess with it to get to her pants. Ok. (Mama is started to get agitated at this point. I'm not a terribly patient person, and this is starting to get on my nerves...) I race around, watching the clock, and find her another shirt in the dryer. She agrees to wear it, and we change her shirt.

I am then grabbing shoes and socks and stuffing them on the kids. It is officially time to go. Then, as we're walking out the door, DD announces she wants to use the bathroom. I am officially irritable and impatient at this point, and I tell her to "Go!" Of course I then feel bad for barking at her, and once she is clipped in the car and ready to go, I apologize to her and explain that part of my anxiety manifests in extreme anxiety if I think I/we might be late. This applied to most any situation. I hate to be late. (As a result I am often early, and end up sitting around waiting)

We get to school, and I explain to DS how this works. I don't want him freaking because he can't get out of the car. No problems there. On the way, DD had gone over and over and over with me what I am to say to the teacher who meets us at the car. That she had a sore throat this morning, and if she has to go to the bathroom and they are outside for recess she will tell this particular student, and so on and so on. Okokok. We greet the teacher, I give her the messages, and my daughter is on her way in, again.

Fast forward to 2:50pm, and DS and I are once again parked at the curbside, next to DD's school. She comes out, smiles when she sees us (I love that) and walks toward the car. This little girl looks beat. She is walking slowly, her face looks almost sleepy. For one thing, she hardly ate a thing from her lunch box. I'm not sure why, but she told me that she wasn't in the mood for her sandwich, didn't like the cheese, etc and so forth. I attempt to feed her, but the fact is, she is not hungry. She is calm for the rest of the day, and goes to bed quickly and without argument. She was tired. I told her, twice, how very proud I am of how she has faced her first week of school. And I really, really am.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

AAaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!! (parenting)

This is how my day has gone so far.

I am woken by my son, as usual. After lying in bed for a little while, we get up. It is 6:30 a.m. My son has had no trouble at all switching to our school schedule, it seems. We head downstairs. Dear daughter has seen us, but chooses to stay in bed for a while. Good girl. 7 a.m., she comes down, too.

The kids are hungry. It's a day off from school, so I decide to make pancakes. Awesome. The kids are in to it, and help out. Each ingredient has to be added by half, so each child gets to add some. I get an ear full when my son gets to add extra stuff. She had been busy mixing, so I just handed him the stuff. Bad call, Mama. We make the pancakes, they eat. My son is "butter man" and my daughter is "syrup woman." They both do a pretty good job of this. No major catastrophes. Before I've even made my own pancakes, they are done, and have run off. My mommy brain tells me that I have a little while before I need to check in on things, so I clean up and eat. I decide that I'll put the news on while I eat. I get absorbed in a news story about the tv Brady family, and another one of those "where they are now" shows. I only watch for about five minutes. I clean my plate up, then head upstairs.

In total, less than 10 minutes has gone by since the kids left the kitchen. I walk in to DD's room to find them systematically throwing small beads, erasers and other little things out of the hole in the window screen. The hole in the window screen?? I ask DD if she made the hole, and bless her little 6-year-old heart, she honestly nods her head. I take it what all they are doing, inform her that that was not the best idea she's ever had, and go take a shower. The shower is a way for me to think through how I want to handle all of this. Before getting in, I inform her what the purpose of the screen is, and how it will now need to be replaced. "It will?" grrr.... I take my shower.

I have not raised my voice at all. I am worried about under-reacting. I inform her that I think she'll need to help pay for the new screen with her allowance. I ask the children to stop pushing things out of the hole. They have continued to work on this for the duration of my (short) shower. DD stops right away, two-year-old DS is less willing. I start to lecture DD. I add, of course, that she is modeling behaviors for little brother. (As if she is not aware of this, as if she doesn't use him in her plots!)

I inform DD that she will need to go outside and pick all of the little things out of the landscaping before she can move on to anything else. She takes this fairly well in her stride. She gets herself dressed, and heads out. DD is SLOW in most everything she does. And she is SLOW with this. I am an impatient person, but I am working very hard at not letting myself take over and just get the job done already! I pace around as she ggrraadduuaallyy moves around the bushes, picking up one bead here, an eraser over there.........argh! Periodically she picks up a stick and sticks it in the pricker bush. Then she needs to go in to use the bathroom. Etc and so forth. When she comes out, I can't take it any more, and I start to help. She has done most of it by this point. We finish up (I'm sure there are 100 more beads out there hiding) and head in.

I inform her that what I should do is take away her play date from today, but the fact is, I don't want to take that away. For one thing, it's our main plan for today, the first holiday from school. And I need the distraction! And she does, too. And the other thing is that we are getting together with her best friend, and the two of them now go to different schools. Her mom and I understand the importance of their friendship, and really want to keep them connected. So while out there, as she complained about how un-fun it was picking up the tiny little objects, I lectured that maybe next time she would remember what a drag it was picking up after herself, and maybe she'd make a different decision next time. She told me (and I thought this was cute) that she did it because it was fun, even though she had an awareness that it was not a good idea. Enter me, saying that there are many such things in life, and that sometimes the aftermath makes the fun thing not worth it, and that hopefully she'll learn to make good decisions about these things on her own. (Please, please!)

Next scene, we're in the house, and the kids are in the living room. DD asks to watch a program. DS declares he does not want to watch a program. DD picks her program, and I put it on. DS freaks, saying he did not want to watch a program. This is an old lecture, but I remind him, again, that he does not need to watch, he can choose to go do something else. Both kids seem to think that if the tv is on, they MUST be in front of it, whether it's something the want to watch or not. I hate this. I have started to limit the tv a bit. I get so sick of it. And arguing over what program to watch just seems so idiotic to me. Argue about something substantial! Give me a break!

I am hoping our play date calls soon. It's 10 a.m.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 2 of School - End Result

* She had a good day
* She did some bonding with another girl
* She said Spanish class was boring =)
* She ate most of her lunch and all of her snack =)=)=)
* She used the bathroom at school =)=)=)
* She said there are a lot of boys in her class
* She said she wished tomorrow wasn't a day off, she wants to go to school. SHE WANTS TO GO TO SCHOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I almost wish there was school tomorrow so she didn't have the transition back to being home for the day, then back for a day, then off for the weekend, then a full week of school....

I am happy for her. And for all of us. =)

Day 2 of School - The Anxiety Wave Spreads Out

My dear daughter had a good day yesterday, but I knew that didn't mean we were out of the woods as far as her anxiety (and mine!) was concerned. Mama knows.

So this morning, the alarm clock goes off, and DD reached for me immediately. I collect her and we head downstairs. Alarms were obviously going off in her head as well. I brought her to the couch, and started through the morning routine of going through everything in the house that we could make for breakfast. DD finally settles on seasoned black beans. I make them, and put them on the table. I call both kids (DS got up very shortly after DD) to the table, and looked at DD. I've seen this look before. There was no way she could come to the table. The very idea of food was making her physically sick. (I have been through this sensation many times in the past, part of my anxiety) I told her to stay put. She says she needs to eat something mild, and chooses soup. We don't have any that appeals to her, so hubby offers to head to a nearby convenience store. He comes back and prepares chicken noodle soup for her. I am now helping her to get dressed, and starting to get in to race-against-the-clock mode. DD gets up and starts to head for the bathroom. She asks me what would happen if she threw up. Then she did so. Despite my predictions and directions to stop moving and take deep breaths. Ugh. She barfs on the floor. Then moves to another part of the room, and barfs again. UGH. She then anxiously starts saying that kids who throw up need to stay home from school, right? I told her that we needed to try school today, and if she was sick, I would come get her. Hubby comes along to deal with the floor as I scoot DD out the door. By the way, DS has managed today much better than yesterday. I explained to him at some point during the morning that I would once again be taking DD to school, and asked him what games he would be playing with Papa while I was gone. He was relaxed and understanding of the situation this time. He commented that I "always take DD to school." I explained to him that after today, he would be coming with me to take her to school. He is also starting school next week, and I"m sure all of this is a bit confusing to him! But he's dealing a-ok today.

Anyhow, she self-talks all the way to school, and asks me (a bit ritualistically) to tell the teachers that she threw up, and to call me if she throws up again. Okokok I say. I drop her off, inform the teacher who was waiting at the curb, and in she went. She looked back at me, I blew her some kisses, and she waved. Poor sweet little thing! Can't wait for 2:50pm.

Now I"m off to take DS to his school, where he has a play date today.

Onward and onward.....

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Day of School Part Three - YEAH!

I sat at the kitchen table after writing "Part 2" and tapped my foot on the floor. And waited very anxiously for it to be time to go get DD. Finally the time came, and after using the loo several times (one of my anxious tendencies) I collected DS from the couch and got into the car.

I arrived at the school and hoped I was stopped in the right spot: I was the only one there. But a short while later, cars started lining up behind me, which put my mind at ease. And then I waited. And waited. And waited!! It was only about 7 minutes, but my heart was beating out of my chest. The door opened....nope. It was someone else. It opened again....nope. Someone else. Argh! The door opened, and out walked a line of children, and.... there she was!. Before she got to me, the Head of School informed me that she had a great first day of school. She was telling me a list of things she participated in today, but none of it sunk in. I was focused on her! She got to me, I took her stuff, and put it, and her, in the car. Then DD's teacher was calling my name. (uh-oh?) She came up to me and told me the same thing, that DD had had a fantastic first day of school. She informed me that she wanted to tell DD that. For sure! So she opened DD's door, and said the same thing to her. Then off we went. I wanted to hear from HER!

And yes, she really DID have a good day! She told me about this and that. But the things that stood out, the main things that were plaguing my mind, were these: She told me that the second time she used the bathroom, there were no towels left to wipe her hands with, so she had to use her shirt. SHE USED THE BATHROOM AT SCHOOL!!!!!!!! YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ahem. Scuse me. The other thing that had me doing cartwheels was that she ATE AT SCHOOL, TOO. SHE ATE AT SCHOOL!!!!! YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Of course the way I responded was to 1) ask her if she was wet all day and 2) to  listen while she told me that they turn the lights off and light a candle at lunch time, and in neither case did I get spazzy and let her know how THRILLED I was that she chose to move on in both of these situations, both of which cause her incredibly intense anxiety at her former school. AND ON THE FIRST DAY! GO GIRL GO!

So after chatting about school for a while, I asked her what her favorite part of the school day was. She said she didn't have a favorite part, IT WAS ALL FUN.

I asked her if she's nervous about going to school tomorrow. She said, "a little bit."

Proud doesn't begin to describe how I feel. I am in awe of her ability to move herself through and past her anxieties. I know, I know. It's not the end of the story yet. We have a lot more to face, with a new place, new people, and a new set of expectations, but I have been stressing today for MONTHS, and I am so happy that it went so well! =)=)=)

First Day of School Part Two

Before driving away from my highly nervous daughter this morning, I informed her teacher that I would call in an hour or two to check in, to which she replied, "sure." I didn't want to call too soon and give the impression that I was going to be a pain. I didn't want to wait too long and give the impression that I didn't really care. I called at 11:20 a.m., after DD had been at her new school for two hours.

The phone was answered by the mother of one of DD's classmates, who works at the school a couple of times a week. This is someone I have met, and the mother of the girl I tried four times to get together with this summer, without success. Anyhow, we are familiar with each other, and I identified myself. I told her I was just calling to check in. She informed me that the teacher had been to the office to inform her that I would be calling, and to tell me that DD is "doing fantastic. No tears."

Well. That was certainly nice to hear. Now I get it that they don't know her, and maybe she is just "dealing." She has never been one to carry on and on. But I am glad to know that she is facing it with swords blazing. I can't wait to see her later!

25 minutes til I leave to pick her up. DS is napping! I forgot about that possibility! Time to myself that was completely unanticipated. Cool!

But I do look forward to getting my dear girl and bringing her home again. Starting a day with that much anxiety, and facing anything with swords blazing inevitably will result in one wrung-out, tired, and likely starving little girl. Tick-tock...

First Day of School

DD has been at school now for 30 minutes.

I woke DD up at about 6:50 a.m. She got up right away. I carried her downstairs and set her on the couch where her little brother was waiting for her.

I made breakfast, and gave it to them.

Both kids enthusiastically assisted with the transfer of the fish from their temporary home back to the plastic fishy bags that came from the pet store.

I get dressed. Hubby notes that we had better get DD dressed. It was fast approaching 8:00 a.m. Got DD dressed, and she's just starting to show signs of stress. I grab her shoes, and she tells me she wants to put them on herself. (Neat) I head of to put stuff in the car, and the full panic attack hits. And DS starts to get into the act, too. While hubby bolts the door to keep DS inside, DD bolts upstairs and locks herself in her room, screaming. I go right up behind her and unlock the door. A surprised girl then screams some more and crawls into her closet. I gently extract her, trying to gently reassure her. I start to walk with her, and she tells me that she will walk herself. (Again, impressive!) I ask her if she will walk herself. She gets down and does so. DD then needs to go to the bathroom. I wait for her to do so, with a real urgency to get out the door for DS's sake, as he has entered full panic mode at this point. DD finishes, and we head out the door. I clip her in and hand her the fish. We drive. DD self talks all the way. She processes the bathroom (she never used the bathroom on her own at her former school) She wants to identify a friend to inform if she needs to call me to help her in the bathroom. I remind her that if she has to go, she just goes. She processes this, saying that she'll go right when she gets there, right before every class, and before going out for recess. She adds here and there that she'll go if her pull-up leaks. Yep, she insisted on wearing a pull-up today. I reminded her that she shouldn't need to use it, it's just there for reassurance. And so forth. She actually said at one point that she doesn't know why she gets nervous. I took that opportunity to remind her that sometimes people with a lot of anxiety see low-stress situations as being very threatening until we become familiar with them. Etc. I was really impressed with her processing. She did have a panic attack, but then faced the situation maturely (she is only 6 years old!) and faced it like the brave warrior that she is.

We arrived. One of the teachers is waiting on the curb (forget her name - damn!) and greets us. Immediately DD's head teacher is there, and greets DD in her mellow style. She delves right in to talking about the fish (awesome) and asks DD about their names. DD answers her confidently. (Atta girl!!) Teacher says bye to me, and I drive away. I watch as DD walks with the teacher. DD carries her back pack (which I said was empty but isn't - it has her lunch. Shoot - hope she finds it!) Teacher carries her heavy bag of school supplies. She glanced at it with a slightly surprised look (hey, it's only stuff they said they require!) and carried that in for DD.

And so. I stopped at the Y as planned, and went home. And found that hubby and DS were gone. Hm. I predicted that DS was so upset that hubby didn't know what else to do with him but drive. I called him, and that's basically what transpired. They returned a minute later. Both were calm. I hugged DS and talked to him a little bit about the morning, and said that we were all nervous this morning, but we're all ok now. He said he was ok. I got hubby up to speed with the drop-off, and he left for work.

So now I watch the clock a little, write this, spend time with DS, and try to have awareness of my own tension. (I feel exhausted, slightly pre-headachey, and anxious to have the day be done) But I move forward. DS wants to play computer games, so that's what we'll do. Then DD's best friend's mom invited me and DS to go meet her and her kids for a picnic at a local park. So we'll plan to go do that. And we'll go from there.

Breathe in, breathe out. Love you, sweetheart. And thinking of you nonstop.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Chattering Teeth... (First Day of School Tomorrow.....)

The countdown to the first day at DD's new school has started, and I am anxious! I am trying to act cool as a cucumber, because I want to model a "no big deal" attitude for my poor anxious daughter. To be fair, she hasn't entered panic-mode at all so far. She has done a really (really, really!) good job of focusing on aspects of school without seeming to be freaked out too much. For example, she has bought these two fish, which will go into the classroom fish tank. She feeds and changes their water every day (just a little, fish fanatics, because there is no filter and it's kinda murky) and talks to them. But she has NOT named "her" fish, which is interesting. Each of my kids picked one fish, so DS got to name "his" fish, which he named after one of the cats! =) I asked DD if she would prefer to bring the fish on the second day of school because she will be bringing a lot of stuff with her tomorrow. But no, she prefers to bring them tomorrow, and says she's going to carry them, which gives me some hope...... but I am not fooled by it all. I have seen DD get all the way to school cool as the afore mentioned cuke, then freak with panic once we're in the room. So ....

I know that drop-off will be challenging, and I am prepared to give her a quick pep-talk on the way to school, then drive off when she is collected. (The teachers collect the students from their cars!) I have been preparing for this for months in my head! (Sick, I know) I am a bit worried that I"ll forget something. This child has to bring the usual school supply "list" of stuff. Plus shoes that are just for the classroom. Plus clean gym shoes. Plus a placemat/napkin/napkin ring. Plus her lunch and snack. Plus a change of clothing. Plus a plant. Plus the fish. Yikes! Today I started a list, and tonight I plan to get every possible thing packed and in the car. Last year I forgot her lunch on the FIRST day. Sh*t!!

After drop-off, I then plan to zip over to the Y, which is right in the same complex, and pick up a fitness schedule. Then it's home, to relieve hubby, who will be watching DS. I shall most likely be in a total state of high alert for the duration of the school day. But I will need to be mommy to DS, and that means finding something fun to do, as he will not have DD to entertain him for SIX and a half hours. Gads.

I am grateful that hubby will be here in the morning to help me get through it all.

Tonight I plan to take one of DD's old t-shirts and iron on a picture of her kitty cats. I promised her we'd do this, and it simply hasn't come to be. She did pick two photos today, one of each of them. So I will print those out and put them on a shirt for tomorrow. I am hopeful that people will ask her about them, and she can enter into one of her comfort zones. (What would we do without those cats?!?!)

I feel that DD has come far enough in her self-confidence that she will get through and past this without serious consequences. I hope I am right about that! She does like people a lot, and does like attention. I am hoping that is enough these days to pull her through. It's like a cat who is timidly hiding behind a bookcase, but just can't stand to ignore the string that is being jiggled around just a little bit away. DD's need to connect with people draws her out. She's just got to get over that hump. That anticipation which can cause her to see so many situations as being dangerous and terrifying.

C'mon Montessori, do your magic!!! And as for me, I will be relying on some time outdoors in nature to soothe my weary and nervous spirit. We won't go too far. But I think some time outdoors is key.

Forward, march.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Random Life Update

I don't have anything particular to write about. I just sort of feel like rambling on about this and that. It helps me to sort it all out.

I remember when I was in high school, I used to go up to visit with the school nurse, who was a really cool lady named Joyce. (I have never met a Joyce I didn't like, now that I think about it) She was just one of those people who would ask how you are, then keep asking questions to keep you blabbering. By the time the conversation was done, I always felt .. well .. somehow more organized! I always imagined this disorganized, messy bookshelf that had gotten tipped over. When we were done talking, the book shelf was straightened up again. I think she was in the wrong field. =)

Anyhow, occasionally I just feeling like "straightening up" by blabbering about this and that. So here goes, in no particular order.

*School starts next week. My neck is in an almost chronic state of tightness because of this fact. DD sways between "I told you, I am NOT going to school" and being excited by some aspect of it, such as the fish she has been invited to bring to add to the classroom tank. Her tension comes out in other ways, too. She has to know where I am ALL the time. She asks me all the time where I am, even if I am in the next room. She has to tell me when she is going to use the bathroom. She complains about belly aches a lot, especially in the evening as I go to take my evening "break" of one hour, which is nearly always in the house, upstairs. She has started to go through a ritual with this, telling me her plan of action if she does get a belly ache. It's the same each time. I have seen her develop rituals in the past. It gives her comfort. Personally, I look forward to the first day being over! (Not to mention the first week...) I hate to wish our lives away. But this is a tension that will be nice to have behind us.

*I am still tired absolutely all the time. I don't know what the hell to do about it except to deal. I know I need more recharge time. It ain't easy. I could push it, and probably should. But DD's anxiety issues make this hard, and hubby's quick temper with DD does too. More exercise would certainly be a good thing. But other than my one hour evening break, and the occasional weekend breaks, I am with the kids all the time. If I start to exercise in front of the Wii, they join in for a few minutes (great!) then take over. Today, which the kids were playing outside, I got on the trampoline. My dear son, usually so sweet, told me to get off, it is THEIR trampoline! Wowow! =( My diet sucks. That's another thing I could change. My biggest desire would be to have more friends. That's what it always comes down to. I am a people-person, and I am simply happier when I have people around me. I have huge stretches of time without other adults, and it makes me depressed. People are always saying that yeah, we should get together, but no one ever initiates with me. And I get tired of doing all the inviting, ya know?

*I love sewing. It makes me happy. I've always loved creating things, but this is the craft that has stuck with me the longest. It brings me a lot of happiness. So I do it a lot.

*I am happy that fall is coming around the corner. I really dread winter. But I love the fall. That boosts my spirits a little.

*My skin continues to improve with my current supplements and essential oils. That is wonderful. Just wonderful.

*I have mixed feelings about DS going to school this year. I know he'll love it, and that's why I did it. And I cannot WAIT to have some me time. I am long and desperately overdue. But I will miss him. He is my baby. After him, no more babies. Sad.

*Hubby feels the pressure of our expensive lives. He wants me to start bringing in income, as soon as I can. I want to, but I also want a little time to get myself back from the abyss that I feel I live in all the time now. And I don't know what to do for work. He sometimes says it would be helpful for me to work with him, and sometimes implies that it wouldn't work. I hated my former work. I want to develop a website for those with serious diseases, to help them find the resources they need. How do I do this and make a living at it? I am starting to look in to this. But I'll probably need something more reliable for a while.

*I need something(s) to feel excited about. I wish I knew where to start.

My "break" is ending.