Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Parenting Pandora

"You held out your hands, opened your arms, and accepted the puzzle that is your child. It's a puzzle make of up of 1000 pieces. The picture on the box does not match what is inside. There are missing pieces, but also the pieces of a dozen other puzzles mixed in. It is impossible to put the whole puzzle together as it was new. Some pieces will never be found".
Quote from Parenting Pandora, section titled "It's Not Your  Fault", by Essie Johnson.



 



See, I wrote this little e-booklet thing to raise funds for the trip Genea and I are taking to visit Broadway in NYC. I don't own a cookie sheet so a bake sale was out of the question. We did a car wash, and raised $34.00, and that will cover some food, which is cool.  I thought I would explain a little about the contents of my booklet and maybe sell a few more!

(hint- go to the end for a coupon!)

 My main premise is that the kids compulsively manipulate to control their constant internal anxiety by forcing the people around them to act predictably.

"Child, you sucked the nothing out of me six months ago!"

I cover relentless attention seeking, and why negative attention is not negative to the child with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Why that fake charming behavior in public is actually a good thing. I suggest using inconsistency to change unwanted behavior and talk about why standard parenting techniques do not work when your child has RAD. Here is an example:

Love and Logic does not work because "a child with RAD has not developed a system of logic that responds to loving guidance. Her logic developed in response to trauma".

(consider the booklet as a gift for teachers, therapists, family or friends!)

Included is a brilliant, if I do say so myself, idea for managing voluntary daytime pea-ing. Perhaps the best idea I ever had about anything. In addition, is my unusual opinion on why kids with RAD are so dedicated to pea-ing.

Of the ways suggested to manage lying, is this. Let them lie and watch closely for "tells". If there aren't any perceptible "tells", plant one.

The booklet is self published. Reading through it again, that fact stands out even more than it did originally. Admittedly it is a little janky. I really tried to be clear and not wander off on tangents and such, but some of it reads very 'amateur'. 

The beauty of self publishing is there was no editor to remove my *ummm* jokes. Here's my favorite "The child is told to wipe down the kitchen table after lunch. She does, and it's an excellent job on all but one conspicuous corner. I call that the "F-you spot". Heh heh, still makes me laugh.

The unfortunate side is there was no editor to say, this is stupid and makes no sense!
(I did recruit a lovely friend to give it a look. Hi Tia! She's why it's not super awful)

SO! I am offering a discount coupon for the time up until our trip. 20% off!
Go here:
Parenting Pandora
The link goes to Smashwords, the publisher I used. You can download to any e-reader right there! Kindle, Nook or others. It will also download to any computer or i-gadget.

Then enter this coupon code:
JK43W

That will bring the price down to 10 bucks and change. I programmed in a free sample which gives the first 20% of the book. I did not understand how it worked until after I put up the final copy so the sample is just some introduction and not really the good stuff. However, it is free :)

If anyone wants to put this on their facebook or twitter or whatever else, I will give you a big juicy smooch! If anyone leaves a better-than- suckass review on Smashwords you will get TWO smooches! (Does not apply to anyone I will meet in the next couple weeks). (Ok, honest truth, I'm only saying that because it won't happen).

When Genea and I return from NYC, my plan is to drop the price significantly. I would feel like a shitty person if I was not upfront about that. So if you are truly interested but cannot afford the $10, hang on.

Remember, if you are like, but WAIT ESSIE! I want to send Genea more! Or, I don't want your janky booklet can I just send funds? YES! Use the link on the left that says "Broadway Bound" to send us a much appreciated donation.

Speaking of, a BIG THANK YOU to AKP for your recent donation!

I'm SO freaking excited to be doing this! Genea is starting to have nerves about the changes in her routine, and it will be hellish until we leave. So she's SUPER excited and a bit flippy too. Once the anticipation is over she's always happier and she'll have a fabulous time.

The first stop after we get off the plane is a theater where she will workshop with an actor who has been in The Lion King for 20 years. Parents are not invited- we go to the hotel. So I asked her if she would be okay by herself, thinking she would be scared to death about it, and offered to take up the issue and insist on my presence. No, she said, I'll be okay because you'll be with me the rest of the time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I'd be a lousy southerner

Where do you go when you want to take a vacation but all your funds are tied up, choking and gagging?

You impose the hell out of yourselves on relatives, of course!

The Husband's grandmother from way south Ohio moved into an assisted living place, leaving her home of 70 years empty. To kill 2 birds with one minivan, we ventured out onto A Dreaded Road Trip of Brain Death. We could stay at Granny's house, visit Granny, and roam to random places of interest in Kentucky. We could visit with other extended family too, those who refer to my kids as "yer young'uns".

So one might think I dread the road trip because of my charming family. One kid with ADHD in the 97th percentile, and one with DSM- NOS,( also known as more mental health diagnosis' than can be counted on one hand). And lest we forget, a husband who loves minutiae more then gravy.

That's not it, actually. Truth is, it's me who is miserable on a long drive. Its awkward and uncomfortable to knit or read. I get so antsy and bored my brain feels like it was replaced with steel wool and everything else in there set on fire, whether I'm driving or not. Plus, I am annoying and short tempered. I even annoy myself. But gawwwwwwd I get SOoooooooo BORED!

At any rate, that's what we did. It's a 10 hour drive to Granny's house, a fantastic microcosm of every decade since 1940 (specific post to follow because omg, that house!).

Here are my observations of Kentucky.

People talk funny. HA! No, what was striking was the dramatic difference over the border. Ohio-ins have a typically Midwest sort of accent with the strong vowels mellowed, where Kentucky-ins have an outright full blown southern accent, to the extent I had to translate for the kids! The Husband pointed out, the Ohio- Kentucky border is the line between being a northerner or a southerner. I did not know this bit of trivia.

(side note- growing up in the Chicago area, my education was ethno- Chicago- centric. We were taught many "facts" putting Chicago in charge of the US. Such as, newscasters around the country take elocution lessons to learn how to speak like Chicagoans. Not exactly true).

HOLY CRAP THE BUGS! Bugs the size of vermin. Several bugs that carried weapons. One spider looking thing that was wearing a black leather biker jacket and toting an AK- 47. Only I've never seen a real life spider that big and so maybe it was some mutated giraffe. Pictures to follow, so YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, skip the pics!

Inhabitants of Kentucky do not find me funny. It's possible they find me appalling. Ooops. I cracked to a cashier that my family needed badly to shower. Maybe I added that in my opinion, it could take several showers to undo the funk. She made that half-laugh -omg grunt sound as when a person is horrified and doesn't want to be rude about it. She repeated the words "OH MY", alternating with that grunt, 6 times. I wonder if she was struck with the genius of my comedic comment. Maybe not.

Mammoth Cave is big. There is no cell service down there.

Kentucky is beautiful. Lush, rolling hills with lots of green. Highways are clear of billboards and lined with trees. I say that as the sandwich topping to my next comment.

We went to a Wal Mart, in Kentucky, on a Sunday night. Yikes. As Mr. McKay on South Park says, "drugs are bad, mmmkay?". Zowie. Seems I saw on a news magazine show they have a bad meth problem in Kentucky. Can confirm. 

Other side of the sandwich- the people who are not on meth are really nice. People are friendly, pleasant and helpful. Genuinely kind. They smile and were extra sweet to the kids. Called them "Beautiful little darlin'" and such.

(I'm not judging the people on meth, they might be very nice too, I just didn't talk to any since they seemed in a hurry).

Photographic evidence of vermin sized bugs:
(hoo-da-hell goes on vacation and takes pictures of bugs?)

 

What is this thing?
 Meet Satan's Spider. It's a sucky picture because I was not going to get any closer, and it's like 12x's magnified. The white blob is a water faucet.  The black blob to the right is the spider.








This appears to be an orange wasp. Freaky thing was the size of my fist. It threatened me and gave me the finger. IT DID.













After my evidently offensive comment about unpleasant stenches, I tried to be more culturally sensitive and use nicer language. I hollered across a room to The Husband (I guess that was probably not great, the hollering) I was taking the girls to the "delicate ladies resting room". So naturally, the girls were all like, WHAT? WHERE ARE WE GOING? WHY ARE WE GOING THERE? I NEED TO GO POTTY!

So! The south! I think they'd prefer I stay north. Too bad though, because I really liked it.

Friday, September 5, 2014

You've got this!


Starting a new school year is not easy for someone who dislikes change. Even though it's the same thing every year, it's the disruption in day to day living that will change. And, a new year is NEW so therein we have a double offense to our gossamer thin sensibilities.

I've written about the really hard transitions Genea has going from summer break - back to school several times. Notably because they have sucked mightily. We spent many an August month marinating in every circle of hell Dante thought up. Plus, I'm certain we invented a few more.

At any rate, I was pretty sure nothing less than renting out all of Disney World for ourselves would make a dent in this summers transition. It's been especially evil this time because...

 *cue drama music*

Genea changed over to  middle school.

Just the thought has sent my nerves tap dancing every year since she started kindergarten! The dread, I tell you, my stomach clenches just writing this. Not only was middle school the setting for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it brings so many changes, oh dear lord the changes!

So we have talked about it A LOT. She had the usual fears, but escalated to hot-air balloon proportions. Since *we* still are not terribly clear on expressing ourselves with words and using our multiple calming strategies, *we* rely on our faithful EPIC TANTRUM. The Husband and I have done so much coaching we could write 7 books and still have plenty more to report. My best advice has been, smile, say hi,  keep your tongue tucked in your mouth, and it will work out. We told her, everyone is nervous, teachers too (she didn't believe me until I texted a college professor friend who confirmed). Even if it is the worse day of your life -and it won't be- it WILL end. Whatever happens, at 3:00 it's over.

Then I thought, if I describe to her some of the other scary things she has done over the past several years, she might see that while this is big, she has done LOTS of hard things and come out fine (ish).

"Look at ALL the hard stuff you have done! You rode a horse!  You walked to the park by yourself! You went zip-lining! You put your face under water! You perform on stage! You ride a bike! You did all that stuff and you can do middle school too! You've got this!"

I even told her I expected a whopper tantrum. Before anyone calls the Rotten Parenting Commission, I had reason. Because sometimes, it's okay. She would be doing a lot of new things and it would all be really hard on her. It might be too many things to manage and if it was overwhelming, go ahead and let it out. We'd work through it when she was done. With great pride (yes, that go-eth before great fall, I know), it turned out she handled it all minus the meltdown!

She accepted my offer of a ride the first day. We actually drove her to school for several years to avoid the chaos and frazzle of the morning bus. I always felt if she started her day freaked out because she could not control all those other kids, she would not make it through school without falling apart. Oh yeah, and learning stuff too. She took the bus home everyday. Anyway, she did not want me to walk her in, just drop her off in front of the building.

Whoa.

I appreciate it if you read through all this. Truth is, it's mostly a post so I have an excuse to brag and post these super cute pics.








First day of kindergarten! OMG she was so cute and LITTLE!






GET. Me. OFFA. This. BUS!





 Waiting to leave. Excellent posture suggests extreme stress.
 
Getting there. I told her dumb jokes and she relaxed a little.

Walking the wrong way to enter the building. Ah well, she figured it out. I dropped her off a good 20 minutes early.



She rocked her first day of middle school.

She's got this!







Friday, August 22, 2014

What the EPIGENETIC?

Quick Take:
A recent study found evidence that child abuse, and trauma from abuse, causes actual changes in the body.

I came across some interesting- to- me stuff, and thought it might be interesting -to- other- people too.  So I'm going to write about it as I understand it, given their excessive (IMO) use of ultra big words and fancy terms.

The study focused on epigenetic changes in children who had been abused. "Epigenetic" is when a gene changes in response to something external. So, lets say you put a hot dog in the microwave for too long and it splits (but on the inside where you can't see it, to make the example work). It started as a hot dog and is still a hot dog. It's still made out of beef or whatever, but a part has been changed. The microwave caused an epigenetic change.

When a child is abused, it flips a switch in their bodies and changes their genes.  The switch makes stuff called "methyl group". Methylation can wake up certain genes and put other genes down for a nap. The genes have now been changed, and are activated for cancer, autoimmune disease, mental disorders, and diabetes.



 
 
 
 
Here is a very readable link for details Abuse Casts a Long Shadow by Changing Children's Genes
 
 
The gene that helps manage stress, NR3C1, was altered following traumatic abuse. And guess what NR3C1 affects? Cortisol! And the Adrenal gland! It makes a burst of energy and amps up vigilance while shutting down processes that are not important during the perceived emergency.
 
So does it seem like kids with RAD are stuck in fight or flight? They are!
Like the kid wakes up already amped and on edge? Yes!
Like once she gets going in a meltdown she can't pull herself out of it and it goes on forever? Totally true!
 
Research in epigenetics proves children are not resilient (I so totally fucking hate that phrase). They are changed by what happens to them. It also shows why a child who experienced traumatic abuse as a baby for example, has problems from it decades later.
 
The good news is, this is not bad news! Before the study on children was a study on rats that was essentially the same. When the rats were later paired with nurturing mothers, the gene went back to the way it started. No one has figured out how to reverse the change in a human yet, but there is a huge puzzle piece filled in.
 
The next time someone says, "you're too hard on her/ too easy on her, have you tried *fill in the blank?*", you can tell them this: "We are trying our best to help her but her NR3C1 gene has been methylated and epigenetically altered, what do you suggest?". 
 
 
 
Epigenetics yo'! This stuff is so cool!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Housekeeping

It's time to arrange a few things.

I have a blog list going on the sidebar here, and many of them are older than dirt. If you want your blog listed, I will be happy to pull my hair out, scream new cuss words, and ultimately, list your blog.


Giving out a BIG FAT THANK YOU to all the people who donated to our trip. I'm not sure how to manage  etiquette vs. personal information. To the following folks, MWAHHH!

PC
MK
CW
DS
WJ
AM
CC

I wanted to write out first names, but one is fairly distinctive and after all, I don't use MY real name here so I just did not want to risk any sort of anything. Anyway, seriously, THANK YOU SO MUCH! I've been awed, each time I see a donation in my email, to think that people I've never met (some who have never even commented in the 6 years this blog has been around) are helping us out. It's amazing!

THANK YOU as well to people who bought a book! I have no way of knowing who you are, though out of the 6 there are only a couple mysteries, ha ha.

For fun, a few one-liners around here this week:

Genea: "I sure am glad I got stuck in a home I love"!

I came out of the shower and the mirror was fogged up except for the writing, which said, "I knew you were TROUBLE". Courtesy of Teena, the Taylor Swift fan.

Unknown family member: "Sometimes I go to grab a t-shirt from the laundry and grab underwear instead. They're both huge".

I have had the most brain splintering headache for 2 weeks now. I don't think it's allergies, but I don't know what it is. I want to smash my head through concrete because that would hurt less.

I am shocked and stunned by the news of Robin Williams suicide. I look at him, the homeless street person, and my daughter and see the same thing. It is a profound tragedy when a person cannot trust their own mind to accurately relay the world around or inside of them.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Hoping for Help!

Last year Genea started taking performing arts classes at a studio near by. She has been singing, dancing, acting, and most recently, tapping her little feet out for local audiences. At Christmas, the whole studio does a show at our largest venue and this year, it was filmed and shown on PBS stations across the state. So, it's a serious thing.

 She is somewhere in there, I swear!





Genea has gone from a shuddering, soggy, mess of hair to a sort- of confident and brave performer. She gets excited and struggles with a triple dose of overwhelming anxiety but to her, it's worth it to push through and try her best.



Girl can sing. Not just I'm-her- mom- I have- to -say-that sing, really sing. She has a beautiful, sweet voice with a natural vibrato that is startling to hear from a kid. She is starting private voice lessons in the fall, and earned her way to a higher level ensemble group at the studio.

So, am I just bragging or what?

Well, I'm super squeamish about this. My bragging is about to turn into begging.

This fall, the studio is taking a trip to New York City and Genea and I signed up! We will stay in Times Square and spend a lot of time in Broadway theaters. She will attend performance workshops, see a professional show and go back stage. Meet real actors and actresses, and be able to ask questions.

 NYC is an expensive place and the trip, while pricey, is within a reasonable range as far as these things go. The problem is, Genea and I have to have our own hotel room. Most people are sharing rooms, which cuts the cost down by a huge chunk. I guess if anyone has been reading here for a while, it is easy to imagine why we cannot share a room with another mom/daughter. Just Genea's medication list would probably scare the crap out of any regular family, not even considering the ocean front bedding issue. Regardless, it's going to be a LOT for Genea and so far out of her comfort zone she will be able to touch Jupiter. There's no way we could go if room sharing were required- thankfully we have the choice. We just have to pay for it.



*Begging Alert*
(argh, the hair on my legs is cringing I dread this so much)
If anyone out there should, you know, think they maybe might want to help out in the financial department here, there are a couple things.

I wrote a tiny little short 40+ page e-booklet about Reactive Attachment Disorder. For the longest time my biggest struggle with Genea was why. Why is this happening, why is this not working, why am I getting this reaction, why why why. I wrote down what I figured out, and threw in some tips, tricks and idea's. It probably sucks. Argh. Anyway.

It's available on Smashwords.com It is called Parenting Pandora, Understanding Reactive Attachment Disorder. Written by me, Essie Johnson. It is priced at $12.99 which should result in an $8-$9 dollar donation for our trip. It can be purchased directly from Smashwords for any e-reader and in about a week it will show up on book retailer sites like Amazon, B&N, ibooks, etc.

I got the title, Parenting Pandora, from the Greek myth and not from the ipod app. Pandora was a goddess given all the best qualities at birth. At her wedding, she received a gift  from Zeus. When she opened the box, the evils of the world were released. All that was left in the box was hope.

"But wait Essie, what if I just want to send like, a thousand dollars but don't want your ebook"?
I thought of that! I put up a link to Pay Pal on the top left sidebar hoping for donations.

SO THERE YOU GO! I am sucking it up and doing this, lol. I know people do fundraisers all the time on blogs so I shouldn't be flipping my lid but I AM. I am actually planning to cut costs and take an electric kettle so we can sort-of- cook. I figure I can pack a bunch of protein bars, fruit, ramen noodles and instant coffee which should save us a couple hundred bucks. We are having a garage sale fundraiser for ourselves, and doing car wash fundraisers with the studio for group workshops.

If anyone can help us out it will be SO GREATLY APPRECIATED YOU HAVE NO IDEA!!!!!!!

AND, if you like the book and could link it on your facebook groups, message boards, twitter etc I would be SO happy!
 
 
(Click the words not the picture. Surely there is a way to imbed the link right in the picture but I surely do not know what that might be)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Yooooohoooo

Hello Wendy? You won the book, Beauty from Ashes! Yippee!
I have your email address from the comment you left, so will send you a message to get your information.

In other news, we have a BIG THING coming up. It's very exciting, (it's not Oprah though) and I have a few things going that might be interesting. How's that for vague?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Beauty from Ashes

The subtitle to this book is "An Eyewitness Account of Haiti's Tragic Earthquake", written by Melanie Wright Zeeb.

Tragic indeed. 

As did many others, I followed the news in horror. I knew several people who adopted from Haiti and had met their children. It was terrible to imagine all the families around the world who were waiting somewhere in the adoption process but had not yet brought their children home. The process of adoption was already arduous, but became near impossible once the buildings that held records were reduced to gravel and dust.

The author was employed by God's Littlest Angels, an orphanage outside Port-au-Prince. Children were placed there by parents who either intended to come back for them, or wished for them to be adopted. Ms Zeeb was responsible for updating adoptive families with photos and information about the children. Following the disaster, they were of the few who still had communications, and helped tell the world of the devastation.

The book focuses on the children- all of whom survived-  and the difficulties and concerns in trying to keep them safe and alive. Haiti was already a hard country where it was difficult to meet life needs. A good example given by the author is simply water.  Before, to have running water, one had to pay a company to deliver it by truck. After, there was no way to know what would happen. Had the owners of the business even lived? Were the trucks intact to make deliveries? Were roads passable? Was the water source clear?

The author develops strong visuals for readers describing the actual earthquake and it's aftershocks. She states the ground was constantly moving to the degree that people experienced motion sickness. It went on for weeks with the earth moving a specific direction, so that some things moved and others did not.

Readers meet many of the intended adoptive families. We learn of the incredible logistics in trying to legally evacuate the children and the constant uncertainties. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll stop here!

The book is highly detailed and concise.  The author concentrates on the effect of the tragedy on children of the orphanage, and spends very little time on the horrors many of us saw on TV. I think that makes is a safe read for most people.

So! Details!

Beauty from Ashes: An Eyewitness Account of Haiti's Tragic Earthquake
An Eyewitness Account of Haiti's Tragic Earthquake
Written by Melanie Wright Zeeb

AND since the book was given to me I would like to pass it on! To win this copy, leave a comment with your email address and I will draw a name next week. Hmmm, lets say Wednesday.

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