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Parenting with SAD, Part 2: Treatment

Last week, I was late to the holiday party at my son’s daycare because I had to sit in front of a special therapy light before heading to the party. I debated skipping the afternoon session of light therapy so I could make it to the beginning of the party, but I had missed my afternoon session the day before and barely made it through the evening, falling asleep while putting my daughter to bed at 8:00. It’s better for my kids (as well as myself and my husband) if I am late to the party instead of missing a session of light.

Treatment for my Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that will truly work for me within the constraints of my life is critical to my health, my children’s well-being and Londo’s sanity. It has taken me years to figure out what the right treatment is for me, and unfortunately the constraints of my life seem to change every year since having kids. At least every year I learn something from the year prior, and each year I’m getting better and better at staying on top o…

Question of the Week - Do You Believe in Magic

This is the first year that the Pumpkin really has any idea who Santa is. I wasn't sure I would play along with the whole Santa thing, but it just kind of happened.

The first year we had the Pumpkin, I had this big conversation with Londo about how I didn't think I'd want to do the "Santa thing." I felt like it was actively lying to our children to pretend that Santa really came to our house, left presents and ate cookies. Londo pointed out that it was a tradition in both our families and that he wanted to have presents from Santa for our kids.

At the time, the Pumpkin was still little, and I figured she'd never know. So I let it go, and we had presents from Santa. I justified it and the books about Santa in my mind as just stories, the way Frosty the Snowman is a story. It was just a passive omission that those characters weren't real.

But this year... Well, this year she knew who Santa was. This year was the deciding year for whether or not we played alo…

Parenting with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Part 1: Valid Concerns

Two days ago was the winter solstice: the day of the year with the shortest amount of daylight in the northern hemisphere. That’s a problem for me, because I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Sunlight increases the production of serotonin (a happy brain endorphin) and decreases the production of melatonin (the brain chemical that makes you sleepy). The lack of sunlight in the winter causes me to go from tired to exhausted to depressed to severely depressed.

I’ll never forget when I first figured out that I had SAD 8 years ago. It was such a relief to finally know why I had recurring depression and to understand the cause of it! Not everyone who suffers with depression gets a definitive reason for it and the ability to give a scientific explanation about chemical reactions of the body to an outside source. I had those, and I was also able to look back on my life and put pieces in place that did not previously make sense. To think back to difficulties in my childhood and disparitie…

Question of the Week - Holiday Moments

Two weekends ago, we pulled out the Christmas/holiday decorations. With the Pumpkin close to 4 years old and the Pookie 18 months, Londo and I were really excited to decorate with the kids this year. These are the ages where they can actually help and enjoy the decorating and be excited by all the of the neat decorations we have.

In fact, this year has been really special with the Pumpkin. She is learning Christmas songs, which is bringing the joy of Christmas music back to Londo (who spent too many winters in retail at a mall). She knows about Santa and Rudolph and Frosty. She knows about the menorah I set out to recognize Jesus's religion. And she was/is super excited about the lights and tree.

So this year, when I pulled out the boxes that contain the Christmas ornaments, my daughter had such a look of anticipation. As we pulled out the ornaments and set them out to decide which to put where, my daughter was delighted by each discovery. As she helped me hang the ornaments on ju…

Clumsy Toddling

A few months ago, the Pookie walked up to Londo with his little toddling steps, looked at him, roared like a lion and then... fell down. This is pretty typical for my little boy.

For months now, my son has really loved walking around everywhere. He loves to climb and run and do that arms-thrown-up-legs-going-from-bent-to-strait-not-really-jumping jump and try to keep up with his sister. He didn't start crawling or walking as early as his sister did, but he's definitely within the range of normal. And once he did start moving, he didn't want to stop.

The problem is, well, he is clumsy. It's also probably in the range of normal for a toddler, but Londo and I just aren't sure. In addition to being early with her gross motor skills, the Pumpkin also had natural balance and, I don't know, the opposite of being clumsy. And when she did fall, she would just laugh, get back up and keep going. She rarely actually got hurt, and we think she must have naturally braced hers…

Question of the Week - Childhood Cartoons

It's amazing how much better one feels when one is on the correct dosage of medicine (and light therapy), plus a weekend of sleep and rest. I was having a tough week, but I'm doing better now. Hopefully I can get back into the bloggy swing of things.

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People on Facebook have been changing their profile pics to cartoon characters from when they were kids. I'm not going to get into urban legends about why this trend started or what changing your profile picture will do or won't do. I personally just thought it was a fun way to remember the cartoons from our childhoods. I especially enjoyed seeing who picked which cartoon. (I'm not alone in my love of Jem!)

Man, I loved cartoons when I was a kid. I was really into the action cartoons, although I also loved me some girlie girl cartoons as well. I wished that everyone had changed their profile pic, because there weren't nearly enough of my favorites represented. So I though this week's Ques…

Holidays Are Really Becoming Enjoyable

Before I start my blathering about Thanksgiving, I want to send out a congratulations to Jac. on her new baby girl! Welcome to the world, little one!

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As I said previously, Thanksgiving was lovely. Truly, it was.

The Pumpkin was fully recovered from her surgery, and spent her Wednesday off from school at my mom’s “helping” her cook and decorate. When I called my mom in the afternoon and asked if the Pumpkin was truly helping or hindering, she laughed and said, “Both!” I know how that goes, and in fact I got to experience it once again on Thanksgiving when we baked together.

Because of my love of and skill for baking, I bring a pie for family holidays. Londo makes the best mashed potatoes and mashed sweet potatoes I’ve ever had (except possibly tied with his mom’s mashed potatoes), so I insist encourage him to make that for our holidays. I let Londo have the kitchen first, and it worked out that the Pookie needed an early nap so I was able to bake with the Pumpkin…

Question of the Week - First Movies

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving. We certainly did. We (okay, I) also packed it full of Things To Do, which included a number of firsts for the kids. The Pumpkin's first? Seeing a movie in a theater!

Londo and I agreed that the Pumpkin was now old enough to probably sit through a movie in the theater and handle the experience. So the Pumpkin and I joined my sister and brother and their 4 year olds (and my brother's teen!) in seeing the movie Tangled!

The Pumpkin is in this phase where all sorts of things "scare" her, even things that aren't really scary. Knowing the Disney formula, I warned her on the way to the theater that there would be scary parts, but it would also be funny and adventurous. I reminded her about how a part that seemed scary in the Tinkerbell movie we watched recently wasn't really scary (spoiler alert: the cat just wanted to play, not to hurt the fairies). We talked about that a little, and I also told her that if she wanted to le…

Question of the Week - Thanksgiving Dishes

Well, people, things have been busy round here. Very busy. The Pumpkin is recovering from her surgery and doing better now. The Pookie is in a clingy-and-only-mama-will-do phase (is it a phase if it's all the time since birth?). Work is crazy busy. Thanksgiving is tomorrow. And I'd like to spend a little time with my husband. Unfortunatly, that means that the 3 posts I'm in the middle of writing, including the one about the Pumpkin's surgery, are simply not getting finished.

Even though I don't have a chance to finish those, I at least want to hear from my bloggy friends! Considering tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the US, this week's question of the week is:

What is your favorite dish at Thanksgiving/family holiday dinners?

Since I know not everyone is in the US and celebrating Thanksgiving, I thought I'd make the question more general. Feel free to answer about any holiday you'd like, or multiple holidays.

My favorite dishes are the pies. Of course. I h…

Question of the Week - Taking My Mind Off Surgery

Tomorrow morning is the Pumpkin's adenoid removal surgery. I am (understandably) nervous about the whole thing, as is Londo. I hear that the adenoid removal surgery by itself is usually pretty easy and kids recover very quickly. But as Londo pointed out last night, we can never expect anything to be easy or even typical with our daughter. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst, I always say.

I took her to a pre-op physical with her pediatrician yesterday, and even though she has a cough and a bit of a cold, they gave her the go-ahead. The appointment was not with our regular doctor, but I did pass by our regular doctor in the hall and told why were were there and that her surgery is on Wednesday. Our doctor looked at me and said, (I quote) "Good. I really think this is a good idea and the right thing to do for her." She really thinks it will help the Pumpkin's breathing and generally improve her quality of life, possibly even her quality of sleep. That helped a lot…

Getting What He Wants Without Words

The Pookie is almost 17 months old. He has really great receptive language skills. He obviously understands a great deal, and he generally knows what the words are that we are saying to him. His own verbalizing, however, is not as advanced as his receptive skills. He does have quite a few words, but his pronounciation leaves a lot to be desired.

For example, instead of "mama," he says "nahnah." I'll take it, of course, cause at least he's saying something intending to be mama. But he does not pronounce Ms when he should. He also says "ick" instead of "milk," but he accompanies it with the sign for milk, which he does for some other words, too. He's makes specific noises and is learning the signs for cracker, cereal, water, more and all done. Actually, he has the words "all done" down pat.

For many other words or to convey meaning, he indicates with gestures and noises which we try to figure out. He gets frustrated, and that…

Question of the Week - Joining the Circus

I just finished the book Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen. I LOVED it. It's been a while since I found a book this engaging, this enjoyable from cover to cover. It was well written and well researched, with interesting characters and a good plot. Best of all? It was all about the circus!

There is just something about the circus. Something dreamy, something magical. Even knowing that some of it is pure illusion, there is still a lot of hard work and the feats that people and animals can do is just amazing.

Londo's never been to the actual circus. When we were in grad school in Georgia, the circus was coming to town. I really wanted to take him, but he said he wanted to wait and go his first time with his own kids. That was so sweet that I didn't push it, even though I would have really enjoyed going to the circus. (A few years later, we did go to a Cirque du Soleil show, and though absolutely amazing, it's not the same as an actual circus.)

So I've been waiting... …

Halloween with Peanut Allergies Wrap-Up

We had a wonderful Halloween at Casa Di caramama! The neighborhood party had pizza and juice, and the trick-or-treating was great fun afterwards. Though we carried the epipen around, we didn't need to use it!

I even dressed up at a fairy to go with my daughter's unicorn costume and my son's dragon (/dinosaur) costume, although I put a jacket and pants on, with the wings on the outside of the jacket. It got pretty cold that night.

At first, I brought the Pookie up to the houses with the Pumpkin, but after a half dozen houses, the Pookie sat in the wagon while Londo pulled him around. He was very happy just watching all that was going on. Such is his personality. At 7:00, Londo took him home and put him to bed while I continued around with the Pumpkin.

She had a blast! She loved going up to houses and saying trick-or-treat. She loved the decorations and the costumes and talking with the kids and adults at each house. We held hands between just about every house, and I went up …

An Allergic Reaction, But From What?

Sunday morning was Londo's turn to sleep in. I had a great morning with the kids and fixed them a breakfast of eggs and toast. In fact, I thought I was doing awesome because I staved off a tantrum over the toast with some quick thinking.

The Pumpkin had requested regular toast with jelly, so I fixed it just the way she likes it and put some homemade strawberry jelly from my MIL on top. After a couple bites, all of a sudden the Pumpkin said she wanted toast with just butter. She was about to freak out about it (ah, Three-And-A-Half, you don't make things easy), when I offered to give her the cinnamon raisin toast with butter I was just fixing for myself. Well, that would do nicely! And tantrum averted!

At the end of breakfast, I saw a couple red spots on my daughter's face. The Pumpkin has sensitive skin, so she is always getting odd bumps and spots of eczema and the recent impetigo and whatever else. So I looked at it as I wiped her off and thought I'd keep my eye on th…

Last Night

It's his teeth.
Again.
The hard, sharp, white edges
pushing through
soft, sensitive, pink gums.
This painful
process seems flawed in design.

The molars are the worst. They
push through,
recede,
push through again,
recede again,
before finally coming out for good.

His sleep is disturbed.
He can't settle
himself. His cries escalate, disturbing
our sleep. We take turns
going to him
because he is uncomfortable lying down.

I walk with him in my arms more steps
than I care
to count. I pace the floor for longer
than I want to track. Is
he asleep enough now? Or should I continue
another minute,
two minutes, five minutes?

I try putting him down. I rub
his back when
he stirs, settling him back
down. I ease up the crib rail.
He stays asleep.
I tiptoe across the room, avoiding

the creaky spots in the floor.
He stays asleep.
I carefully turn the door knob.
It clicks loudly.
He wakes crying, reaching for me.
I sigh and return to him.
Again.

Question of the Week - Halloween Fun

Halloween is my favorite holiday, and since having kids of my own, it's gotten even more fun for me. I don't yet have the time or energy or belief in the consistency of 3.5 year old choice to make costumes for the kids myself, but I do plan on that in the future. For now, we've bought costumes, Londo has put out the outdoor decorations, I've ordered peanut-free candy which has arrived, and we've already done one set of trick-or-treating!

This past Friday, the Pookie's daycare had "trunk or treat" in which a bunch of parents decorated the trunks of their cars, lined them up in the parking lot and handed out candy to the kids who went around trunk-or-treating. The daycare is a nut-free school, so we felt relatively safe letting the Pumpkin go trunk-or-treating with her brother (although not all parents were thorough about the no nuts, included one parent having Reese's Peanutbutter Cups in their bag of candy to hand out! URG!). And the daycare/schoo…

Our First Parent-Teacher Conference

We had our first Parent-Teacher Conference the other day. This to me is a sign that the Montessori school is a real pre-school, not just a daycare pre-school, like the Pumpkin's earlier pre-schools were. No, this was a real appointment on a day she had off from school where we sat down with her teachers (in very little chairs) and discussed how she is doing.

And the first thing that her main teacher said was, and I quote, "She's not having as many meltdowns anymore."

Greeeeaaaaaaaat!!!! I believe that Londo and I both put our hands to our heads. We didn't know there were meltdowns at school. Certainly, there's been plenty at home, but you know kids. They don't really talk about what happens at school.

Apparently, she'll get upset about something (mostly minor things, it sounds like), start crying and saying that so-and-so "hurt her feelings." The teachers noted that they don't usually hear that verbalized from 3 year olds. I explained th…

Question of the Week - What Are You Drinking?

A couple months ago, I was annoyed at my husband. I don't even remember why now, other than it really wasn't a big deal. I'll be honest, I was PMSing and stressed about work and the kids had been sick (again!). I was doing dishes while he was putting the Pumpkin to bed, and I was thinking about some little thing that Londo did, getting more and more annoyed over what was virtually nothing (I mean, I literally don't even remember what it was now).

A glass and a half of wine later, I realized I was getting pissy over nothing. The mellow from the wine had kicked in, and I started to let it go. Instead, I started thinking about what a great dad and husband and worker and man he is. There he was, putting our daughter to bed after a difficult evening for all of us. I was cleaning dishes from the dinner he had made the family, drinking the wine he had picked up for me from the store. None of us are perfect, and he has a lot going on lately.

I also started thinking about a phr…

Individuality and Clothes

They called me tacky turtle.

I was a fourth grader, and they were fifth graders. It would happen in the lunch room, since our lunch tables were next to each other. Either my clothes didn't match or they were too loud or too patterned or too... I don't know... different, I guess.

When I read a recent post by Her Bad Mother, it all came back to me. Just like her daughter, I didn't care what was in style or what would be normal or what would be considered matching by typical standards. Instead, just like her daughter, I wore what I felt like wearing that day based on my own desires.

No, the clothes didn't always match. They were probably even tacky. It was the 80s, after all. I have this picture of me at that age wearing splatter-paint paints in primary colors, a jaguar sweatshirt, a florescent pink belt and a pastel pink satin jacket. It totally didn't match. But those were all of my favorite things at the time, and I wanted to wear them all at once.

So, they called …

Spending My Time

I am totally out of my normal rhythm, so you'll have to excuse me if I'm not keeping up with the blogosphere. There are good reasons, and not-so-good reasons.

First, this weekend I went away with one of my BFFs and my cousin's college-age daughter to my cousin's house at a nearby lake. My BFF and I left husbands and kids behind for a girls' weekend! It was fantabulous! We stayed up late talking or playing games, we slept in late in the mornings, we ate out for every meal, we saw Life As We Know It and got ice cream, we sat outside on the deck reading in the sun on a beautiful fall day, and we generally did whatever we wanted!

I came back Sunday night, immediately picked up my daughter and Mom and aunt, and drove up to my brother's house for my mom's birthday dinner. The Pookie had a stuffy nose, so Londo stayed home with him. I had a great time, especially since the Pumpkin and her cousins that are around her age all ran off into the basement to play BY THEM…

Sometimes She Confuses Me (Shorts)

Lately my daughter has been talking about "biting snakes" which I assume are snakes that bite, as opposed to those that don't. Generally, she talks about being scared of biting snakes and look out because there are biting snakes over there (with the crocodilles and giants who invade our house, apparently). And then the other morning, she shared this nugget of information:

Pumpkin: Biting snakes are scared of ghosts. Biting ghosts.
After a short pause, while I stood there a bit confused, but hadn't said anything...
Pumpkin: Biting ghosts are the same as regular ghosts except they are not regular. They are biting ghosts.

Glad we got that all cleared up!

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The other morning in the car, we had the following conversation:
Pumpkin: Do you want to hear a song about the highway?
caramama: I really do.
Pumpkin: Highway, highway. Every day is the highway.
Highway, highway. Every day is the highway.*
Pumpkin stops singing and asks me: Do you want to hear a song ab…

The ENT Specialist's Recommendation

A few weeks ago, I brought the Pumpkin to an appointment with an ENT specialist recommended by our pediatrician. After the multiple ear infections last winter/spring (five total) plus the regularity of liquid build up in her ears when she had any sort of cold, the pediatrician thought it would be a good idea to get her ears checked out by a specialist. Knowing that we tend on the side of less medical intervention, she recommended a specialist she said was generally conservative in his recommendations.

I put off making the appointment, as I tend to do. The Pumpkin's ears weren't bothering her this summer, so I just wasn't thinking about it or worried about it. But then, we started having sleep issues again. And then I read a blog post about tonsils and adenoids that got me thinking: Maybe there is more to the ear infections and even sleep issues. Maybe there is some underlying health reason for both, in addition to my girl's personality making it difficult for her to go…

Question of the Week - At the Zoo

The rainy, cloudy skies cleared Saturday morning, making it a lovely day for an outdoor activity. It was sunny and warm, but not hot. A perfect day to go to the zoo! We packed up a day bag, put the double stroller in the car, and headed down into the city and to the zoo.

Since the Pumpkin was born, we've been to the DC zoo quite a few times. However, each time it has been hectic at one point or another. Either we leave late after a baby's morning nap and then don't have much time there in the afternoon, or we have to leave early for an afternoon nap. Because of the time crunch, we usually hit a few key spots and then go. This time, with one child who doesn't nap and the other who has napped in a stroller, we thought things might be different, though we were ready to be flexible.

We got there a little before 11:00 and saw the lions and tigers lying around looking beautiful. Then, we stopped in the restaurant for lunch. After lunch, we decided to stroll all the way to the…

My Solo Parenting Journey

I previously wrote that I was doing the solo parenting thing a bit lately. I knew I'd be doing it more and could handle it. But in the second week of being the sole parent, I realized I was going to be taking both kids down to visit my inlaws BY MYSELF! We would meet Londo down there, but the 7 hour trip (5.5 without-kids trip) would be me, a 3 year old and a 1 year old. That was when I really started to feel overwhelmed, both by the solo parenting and by the idea of taking the car trip with the kids on my own.

So I did what any parenting blogger in my position would do: I reached out to another blogger who would have some good advice. In this case, I knew that Kristen wrote a column called The Sometimes Single Mom, so I tweeted her and asked if she had any posts she'd recommend in particular for what I was going through already and any for taking a solo trip with kids.

Not only did Kristen give me links to a few posts to help me in the solo parenting in general, but she even w…