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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The poor middle child

When I found out I was having a third child several years ago, my first thought flew to Jilly who was going to quickly become a "middle". For some reason, middle children were the objects of much pity when I was younger. Woe is the poor, neglected middle child, and all that jazz.

I bought a birth order book to figure out how to keep my middle child from being totally screwed up by her place in our family.

I shouldn't have worried.

If memory serves me correctly, this book basically said that "middles" were some of the most well-adjusted kids in the family. They weren't pressured and hovered over like first borns, and they weren't babied like the, well, babies.

And, while Jilly is only seven, I think this book may have been right.

A good friend recently wrote about her:

I don't think I've ever met anyone who is so unashamedly *herself* as (Jilly).

I LOVE this quality in her. I love that she hugs everyone, including adults who often look so surprised when they find her arms around their waist.

I love that she dances backwards in the supermarket while I push the carriage toward her, singing "you can't catch me, you can't catch me" as she boogies through the store.

Here she is dancing in Express:

I love that when her YMCA camp held tryouts for their YMCA's Got Talent show, she tried out. By singing opera. I asked her, "what are you going to sing???" and was told, "Mom don't be silly! Opera doesn't have any words!" She didn't make it to the finals, but she was content with her lollipop for trying out.

And when the last day of camp came to a finish on "Hollywood Week", she donned an outfit much too warm for the 80 degree morning, but she sure looked cute.


Her fashion sense is ridiculously awesome. I only wish I could dress with as much freedom as she does. And look so cute in knee socks.

I think my "poor middle child" is doing okay, don't you?

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Drug-free zone

For the past week, I've driven my oldest child back and forth to a day program for kids with a whole host of issues: anxiety, anger, separation issues and one kid who likes to see people in pain (ouch). The purpose of this program is to "stabilize her" and teach her coping skills so that when she feels anxious, she knows how to deal with those feelings.

Did you see my quotes around "stabilize her"? That's because "stabilize her" is another term for "let's see how she's doing on the drugs we prescribe".

When I sat down to talk to a therapist on our child's first day in the program, I was told that we'd both be meeting with the doctor that day. He would evaluate our child and tell us whether or not she needed drugs.

What percentage of children does he recommend medicating?, I asked with the same trepidation I felt when asking a doctor for his c-section frequency.

90%, I was told matter-of-factly.

Pffffff. Surely, he'd take one look at my daughter, talk to her a bit and realize she was in the 10% that doesn't need a thing. She's anxious, not jumping out of her skin. She has tantrums, but doesn't punch holes in walls or hurt family members. He'd see she is just a little girl who could use some help finding her way.

I was wrong.

After 20 minutes of conversation with her, and a quick meeting with me, I walked out with a prescription for Risperdal and about 10,000 more questions, which I proceeded to ask this doctor over the course of the week.

Why this medicine? (it will stabilize her mood.)

Does she really need drugs? (not sure. maybe! it's worth trying.)

What about these crazy side effects? (we have her on the lowest dosage possible. maybe she won't have any side effects. thoughmaybeshewill.)

Shouldn't we try therapy first? (um, yeah, in a perfect world, but insurance wants kids to be "stable" before we do therapy)

But this isn't an anxiety medication! (I really have to get going. . .)

In all fairness, the doctor was very understanding of our hesitation, though when my husband called him with a similar list of questions, he heard the frustration coming through loud and clear. I don't think he wants to talk to us anymore was the text I got that afternoon.

But, starting on Day 2 of the program, I was asked Is she taking her meds? from the therapists as soon as we walked in the door.

Nooooooooo. . .not until we're sure she needs it, I'd lamely reply, not sure if I'm doing the right thing at all.

Our pediatrician backed me up though, so I didn't feel totally alone. I filled the prescription and put it on top of my refrigerator in case we decide to use it, but I just can't do it so early in her treatment.

And, here's the thing: I'm not anti-pharmaceutical. I take five drugs to manage my asthma and allergies every single day. Some of the drugs I've taken have side effects that make me hesitate, but they work, and I can breathe. My kids are vaccinated and take OTC meds when needed. I know wonderful, smart people whose wonderful, smart kids have benefited greatly from medication.

But, to prescribe something after a 20 minute meeting with my child seems too quick. As my pediatrician said as I fumbled around to justify my decision: You are her mother. No one knows her better than you. No one is going to make a decision in her best interest more than you. Do what you think is best right now.

Though if someone came up to me with a little pill that promised to instantly turn her back to her old self without any side effects, I'd snatch it up in a second.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010


I have no less than five posts started that are all completely and totally depressing. To say that the issues we're having with one child's anxiety are all-encompassing would be an understatement.

One post wonders if I did this to her. By homeschooling her. By being a Type A personality. By yelling too much or not paying enough attention to her.

One post struggles with my fear and sadness over what has happened to our family.

One post goes through our thoughts about the whole "medicate/don't medicate" debate.

And then there are others that try to change the subject but all come back to the realities of our life.

But, instead, I'll hit publish on this one.

Today, I have hope. I am allowing myself to see some light at the end of the tunnel, however dim it may be and no matter how often I may lose sight of it. We will get through this.

Even if I have to repeat this a million times, it will be my mantra: We will get through this. And we will be better, stronger, happier for it.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summing it up

This isn't our summer. We knew if before it even started.

Sure, we had a busy, fun-filled week with our visitor, and have plans---many plans----coming up that whisper of escape and sun and splashing and laughter.

But, when one child is suffering, we are all suffering. Even if we smile and laugh and splash.

We now have a diagnosis after an exhausting, tear-filled Wednesday: social anxiety, with a side dish of separation anxiety. Not terribly uncommon among adolescents, though not so extreme for most.

The bad news is it won't go away on its own.

The good news is we have a plan to move forward that includes lots of outside support from people not so emotionally attached as we are. In other words, people who can deal with this without crying (yeah, hi, I'm a crier).

I just know I'd give just about anything to have my smiling girl back.


Summer is calling.

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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Like a breath of fresh air


A bus pulled up this afternoon around 4, carrying our child.

Finally, after last year's disappointment, we got a child.

There was a crowd of us waiting, with handmade signs, to cheer the bus into the parking lot. A smaller crowd than normal since there were only 15 kids on this bus, not the usual 50 or more.

I wondered if there were 35 kids who could not be placed because there weren't enough host families.

But, we have our girl.


Her name is blurred out but she is very real, almost nine, and fitting in well.

And for the next week, our Fresh Air girl will be part of our family. I'm sure the experience will be as special for us as it is for her.

Welcome A! We're so glad you are here.

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Monday, July 05, 2010

Say cheese

I don't really get jealous over people with bigger houses than mine (too much to clean) or better bodies (they must never eat chocolate) or who drive fancy cars or wear expensive shoes (too much to worry about when they get scratched or muddy).

But, there is one envy I feel to the middle of my bones: It is jealousy for people who are great at photography.

Every time I see a baby photo that makes my heart stop, I think, why didn't I do that when my babies were little?!?!

If I go to the zoo, I don't even bother taking out my camera because I know I'll end up with a bunch of teeny animals swimming in the middle of a big circle of nothing.

Even my pictures of food don't look like anything I'd want to actually eat.

I know, I know part of my problem is ignorance. I know nothing about the mechanics of photography except Use Natural Light and Shoot Your Subject Off-Center, and I know both these "rules" have asterisks after them for the exceptions.

But, I finally got a "good" camera, though it is a point-and-shoot, not one of those SLR jobbies. Hey, if it doesn't say "Auto", I'm in trouble. And, I'm trying, I'm trying. I actually signed up for month-long photography workshop after I reviewed it for Cool Mom Picks.

Picture Summer isn't a class, per se. But, with such limited time and brain space for photography lingo, I like that it's forcing me to actually bring my camera with me and, this is important, use it.

How's it going? Well here are my favorite shots from each day (I upload about three each day to the gallery). I'm still working to capture action and emotion up close, and learning how to keep an eye on the background so it doesn't distract from the subject.

And, I'm also taking the photo on the same day as the prompt. No searching archives or, worse, using one of my husband's pictures as my own.

Day 1: A sign of summer

have a seat

Day 2: Splashy (water shot)

bike wash

Day 3: Getting Centered (see the photo on my July 3rd post as well)

dirty angel

Day 4: Holiday Traditions

up for air

So, if today you see me taking a photo of a glass of water in various places, please don't look at me funny. I'm doing my homework.

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Saturday, July 03, 2010

On the eve of her birthday


We just finished our third year of history, following a program called Story of the World which moves along in chronological order from ancient times to modern over four years.

This year, we covered such big subjects as the Revolutionary War and the Trail of Tears---moments that made me feel so proud to be an American, and moments that I can't believe we don't have to apologize for every morning, first thing, when we wake up.

As we closed our third year of history, America still had slaves and Native people had been driven off their homelands. Slums surrounded every major city, and outlaws ruled the west which has been driven mad by the prospect of gold in that thar hills.

An imperfect past, I'd say. And I don't need to think too hard to come up with more problems going on in this country right now.

But, today, my children shared candy at the parade with little boys too young to grab the stuff fast enough as it was tossed by those marching by. We came home and made mud pies in the comfort and safety of our yard. And the only explosions I hear are from fireworks going off all around my house.

I wouldn't want to live anywhere else, though I hope we continue to try to make this a better country for those in it, and those who will follow.

Happy Birthday old girl.