Getting my Girl Back

For those of y’all who may not know, Aidan has been diagnosed with ADHD for about 4-5 months now.  Her type of ADHD is primarily hyperactive/impulsive. She has no problem with inattentiveness and can concentrate on a given activity for hours, especially arts & crafts and cooking.

This past school year, when Aidan was in first grade, her new teacher in AZ was shocked to learn that she was on Concerta. She would call me to rave about how sweet she was & how she wished she’d had her all year long & would love a class full of Aidans. I felt like telling her, we’ve come a long way, baby!

The beginning of first grade at Randolph Elementary in San Antonio was pure hell.  Between acting out violently towards me, inappropriate behavior in class, and Aidan being impulsive ALL.THE.TIME, her teacher, Ryan and I were about at the end of our ropes.  We tried positive reinforcement, taking away toys, and just about everything else we could think of and nothing worked in the long term.

After Christmas when her behavior started to get atrocious, I removed the emotional element & approached the situation as an educator.  If Aidan were one of my students and was acting like this, what would I do.  So I started doing research into her impulsive behavior since that seemed to be the driving force behind everything she did, impulsivity.  The more I dug, the more the compass needle started to point towards ADHD.  I never thought of her as hyperactive, I just always figured she had two speeds: full throttle and off.  Yup, that’s hyperactive!  And hyperactivity goes hand-in-hand with impulsivity.

So off I went to school with a handful of research.  We were very blessed to have two counselors at Aidan’s school who cared very much for her well-being and had a great rapport with her.  I took the research to them and as soon as the words “I would like her assessed for ADHD” were out of my mouth, it was like light bulbs went on over their heads.

You’re probably thinking: “Why didn’t the counselors catch this? Isn’t this what they do?” The vast majority of (ADHD) studies have been conducted solely on boys, or, have included very few girls in the sample. As a result, the scientific literature on ADHD/ADD is almost exclusively based on male subjects. Among the girls who were diagnosed with ADHD/ADD…only 7% had the Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive type. (From here) Plus, Aidan has been tested as intellectually gifted (she was tested in kindergarten) so that makes it even harder to detect.  So now, by being gifted and ADHD, she’s considered twice exceptional or 2E.

So now we have our assessment results from the school stating that yes, she is in fact ADHD, so off to BAMC (Brooke Army Medical Center) we go to see the Child Psychologist to confirm the assessment and the pediatrician to get medication.   Unfortunately getting meds from her pediatrician was like pulling teeth. She was what you might call a “Tiger Mother”, didn’t believe in ADHD or medicating children. We had to get her child psychologist involved to interpret the assessment results for her & explain that “Yes, she really does have ADHD” & we do need to try meds to see if they work for her in the classroom. Her ped actively tried to make me feel like I was trying to drug my child so I didn’t have to deal with her. This did not sit well with me. I had to explain to her that I did my research & wouldn’t put her on medication if it wasn’t warranted. Don’t tick off this educated Mama Bear!

Once we got her on Concerta it was like I got my baby girl back.  No more impulsive behavior, no more violence towards me, nothing but my sweet girl.

We saw her new pediatrician here in Arizona yesterday for a new dosage (she’s grown & put on weight over the summer) and he was a dream…SO unlike the ped in San Antonio.  (The “nurses” on the other hand, were a WHOLE different story…I don’t like to be talked down to, especially about things I know WAY more about than they do).

If you think your child, especially your girl, might have ADHD, advocate for her.  You know her better than anyone else.  Do your research.  Check out quality website like the following for symptoms, check them against your child’s behavior & present your findings to the school counselor.  Be clear about what you want.  Tell them, “I want my child assessed for ADHD”

Deco Mesh Patriotic Wreath

If you’ve been around Pinterest, Etsy, Ebay or any crafty blogs lately, you’ve seen the craze that’s sweeping the Internet: deco mesh (also called poly sinamay mesh) wreaths.  They’re beautiful, fluffy and weatherproof!  No wonder people are snatching them up like hotcakes to put on their frontdoors for every holiday!  I was especially inspired by this wreath on Picture Perfect Cooking, that I found on Pinterest.

I belong to the school of thought “why buy it when you can make it!?!” As soon as I began seeing all these wreaths coming across my Pinterest feed, I started doing research into how I could make my own.  The first thing I learned was, Mardi Gras Outlet, based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has the best prices & selection of deco mesh ANYWHERE on the internet.  I live in a TEENY TINY town that has one sorta-kinda craft store…so I have to order any kind of crafty thing I want on the internet. This place is awesome.  They have all the supplies you need, all sorts of colors, widths, lengths, varying wreath sizes & all sorts of accessories to make your wreath really pop.  Additionally, they have a blog with fun ideas using their supplies that is updated all the time and a Pinterest board.  I cannot recommend them enough.  I ordered my supplies on a Sunday and they arrived on Thursday.  Pretty darn quick considering I didn’t pay any extra for expedited shipping.

Supplies:
21″ Poly Mesh Roll in Cranberry
21″ Poly Mesh Roll in Navy Blue
21″ Poly Mesh Roll in White
20″ Round Box Wire Wreath Form
Red, white & blue chenille stems
American flag bow

Directions:
1.  Lay all of your supplies out so you know what you have and it’s within arm’s reach. This is my mise en place as it were.  The nice thing about constructing this wreath is, it doesn’t require much in the way of tools. Just something to cut the mesh and the chenille stems. The only other thing you need is your hands.

2.  Decide what color you want on the inside ring.  If you’re doing all one color then it’s easy.  I did three which made it a little more difficult.  I chose red for the inside ring.  I cut my red chenille stems in half and attached them to the inner ring of the wreath frame, one to each section.  I just twisted them on like bread twist-ties.  It’s a whole lot easier to twist them on before hand, then to try to hold the mesh in one hand and twist a stem on in the other.  Believe me.  Once you have the stems twisted on, gather up the end of your mesh, leaving a couple inch tail and attach it with the stem.  Here’s where I encountered a bit of a learning curve.  I didn’t twist-tie the red mesh on tight enough at first.  But, the great thing about the mesh and stems is, it’s all reusable.  If it’s not tight enough or a puff isn’t big enough, you can go back and fix it. Once you have the end attached, go out about 6-8 inches, depending on how big you want your puff, and twist-tie again.  Keep doing this all the way around.

Just a Little Note: Once you finish the inner ring, you may be thinking or even saying to yourself, like I was, “This thing is skimpy, I can see my chenille stems! This whole thing looks like crap! Why am I even doing this?” But DON’T give up!! It will get better! I promise!!  Once you fill it out with the other layers/colors, it looks SO much better.

3.  With the next color (white for me), repeat the same process all the way around.  Try to keep your puffs about the same size so one color doesn’t overwhelm another.  Again, if you’re doing all one color, it really won’t matter, but if you’re doing different colors, you want them all to show evenly.

4.  Finally, with the third color, on the outer ring, repeat the process.  Make sure once you twist-tie on each length of mesh, to take the ends to the back side of the wreath and twist them back there too. It tightens it and gives the whole thing a cleaner look.  It’s a whole lot easier to do this as you go then to have to go back and do it all at once.

5.  Once you get all three colors on, you’re done with the mesh.  Tuck your tails in, make sure your chenille stems are tight and get ready to accessorize.  Like I mentioned before, there’s a serious dearth of decent craft stores in this little berg so I have to rely on the Internet for everything.  I opted to go simple for this wreath, for frugality’s sake as well as aesthetics.  I got an all-weather American flag bow like the kind you see on mailboxes and such this time of year (have I mentioned I can’t tie a bow to save my life? Yup, I can do pretty much anything else crafty but when it comes to bow-tying, it looks like a monkey did it.)  I attached the bow with the gold chenille stem that came with it.

6.  Time to show off your work!  I hate wreath hangers.  Really I do…they either scuff up your door or make it where it won’t close correctly. Plus they position the wreath too high on the door.  I like my wreaths pretty much in the middle of the door.  So here’s my solution…feel free to steal away!  First, because we’re military and rent our homes (so we have to return things the way we found them), I use a Command Hook, stuck to the center inside top of my door, UPSIDE DOWN.  Then I use either a matching ribbon, fishing line, or, in this case, dental floss (cause that’s all I could find) loop it through the wire frame of the wreath and hang it from the hook.  The floss, ribbon or fishing line is thin enough that it doesn’t impede the door from closing and, if it’s floss or fishing line, you can’t even see it.  And, you can’t even see the hook from the inside of the house, it pretty much fades away.

VOILA! Here she is!  (The bow is a little crooked, I’m just now noticing…gonna have to fix that tomorrow.)

That’s it! I’d love to see what you make! Leave me a comment with a link to your blog with pictures of your wreaths!  Also, feel free to pin this.  I’m still trying to figure out how to add a “Pin It” button to a WordPress blog without needing a Computer Science degree.

Edited to add: I’m linking to the Pinterest Challenge that’s being hosted by Centsational Girl & Young House Love.  Their goal is to get people crafting rather than just pinning!!  Check it out!!

Father’s Day Difficulties

As you probably already know, Father’s Day is rapidly approaching on Sunday, June 17.  My step-father, Aidan’s Papa, is a super easy person to buy for.  He is a huge lover of all things wine, travel & Texas History. On top of all that, he is  completely crazy about his six grandkids.  So, anything I can find that relates to wine, travel, Texas or says something about being the world’s greatest Papa, he’s going to love.  He is super easy to shop for for Father’s Day (or any other gift-giving holiday).

My husband, on the other hand, is the world’s most difficult person to shop for!

He’s a gamer, but doesn’t advertise the fact by wearing t-shirts or anything like that.  For example: A few years ago, I got him a “Pwn Star” t-shirt.  (“Pwn” is l33t speak for pown or “to own”.  A gamer term.)  I think he wore it once.

He’s an officer in the Army but that doesn’t define who he is, nor does he walk around advertising what he does.  Another example: I got him a t-shirt that said “Blue Falcon, buddy is only half the word.” (It’s very much a military thing…suffice it to say, it was a joke he & his roommates in OCS talked about…they called their room the “Blue Falcon’s Nest”).  I think he wore it once or twice too.  I saw another t-shirt that said “Secret Squirrel”, suggested it to him (he wears A LOT of t-shirts, it’s basically his civilian uniform) and was forbidden from buying it.

He loves technology but isn’t a gadget geek (that’s me…I LOVE gadgets). Anything tech that comes into our house, he purchases because he wants to review the specs, the Consumer Reports, etc.  Basically do all the research on.

If I buy him clothes, but those aren’t looked at as “Ooh wow, thanks for the new outfit from Old Navy!” they’re looked at as utilitarian and necessary (is it the soldier in him?)

Lest you think he hasn’t a sentimental bone in his body, he has nearly everything Aidan has ever made for him, most of it hanging in his office, right next to awards from the Army.  She has it easy, make him something, put “I love you Daddy” on it and he treasures it forever.  Meanwhile, I’m at a loss.  They drew and colored a Coke can together (art is something they share), he framed it and hung it in his office.  He has a foam necktie with “I ❤ U Dad” that she made for Father’s Day when she was 18mo old in Sunday school in Georgia.  That has hung in every office he’s had since she gave it to him.  One of our movers folded one of her paintings and he got mad.  I guess Father’s Day is easier for kids?

So, I wound up getting him what he asked for, a Craftsman tool chest.  He’s quite the handyman around the house (he actually built me an upholstered headboard…post to come about that) and does other handy stuff like install ceiling fans & I think he gets tired of his tools getting spread out.  So, off to Craftsman.com I went to find him a nice Craftsman tool chest/cabinet.  It’s the Limited Edition Black & Platinum set.  I got quite a deal too, the bottom cabinet portion was originally $329 and the top chest was originally $269.  Sears marked the bottom half down to $155 & the top half down to $145 AND I didn’t have to pay shipping because they’re in stock at the store so I can pick them up…although Ryan will be getting his gift out of the car himself if I can’t find anyone to lift it out for me, these things weigh nearly 150 lbs together!

Good luck with your husbands & father’s, ladies.  If they’re anything like my husband, you’re gonna need it!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Photos from: Two Paperdolls Shop, Ranger Up, & Craftsman

Food Memories

Sitting here, late in the evening, with our new dog Abbey sleeping by my feet, I’m reading a wonderful article on Bourbon & Boots called Top Ten Southern Pies & Cobblers.  As I’m reading through the ten distinctly Southern pies & cobblers they’ve chosen to list, I’m reminded of my childhood.  So many of my childhood memories are all tied up with food.  I suppose this is an inherently Southern thing.

One of my favorite memories from growing up was playing in our next door neighbor’s “tree house.”  I say “tree house” in quotes rather than tree house because, unlike our rather rudimentary tree house that consisted of a wide plank of wood wedged into the crotch of the Chinaberry tree in our backyard, our next door neighbors had a “tree house” that was a two story Taj Mahal compared to our set-up.  But, it was next to their tree, not in it, so, “tree house” it was.  Our next door neighbors’ dad had the forethought to build their Taj Mahal “tree house” right next to a beautiful, fully mature red plum tree.  Every summer my brother and I would foresake our crummy little tree house and go next door (through the convenient gate between our yards that our dads installed one summer so we’d quit wasting electricity by going in & out of our respective houses) to play in theirs’…and eat plums fresh off their tree.  If you’ve never had a red plum fresh off a tree, still warm from the summer sun, wiped “clean” on your shirt, juice running down your arms, off your elbows, you’ve never really lived.

Another memory that particularly stands out from my childhood also involves the summer and my beloved Granddaddy.  My grandparents came down to the Gulf Coast from West Texas pretty much every summer of my childhood.  The neighborhood where we lived still had vacant lots towards the back where all the kids played & rode their bikes.  Some of the lots had names based on the features of the lots (given by the kids, of course), like “The Dirt Place”, “Glass Hill”, etc.  Along the edge of The Dirt Place was a huge (or it seemed huge when we were kids) field of wild blackberries.  Every now and then we’d come home from riding our bikes with the tell tale signs of having sampled the goodies the field had to offer, but, with shorts and sandals on, no kid in their right mind would venture very far beyond the edge of the field.  (Blackberries have thorns, dontcha know?)  One late Summer afternoon, Granddaddy suggested that we put on blue jeans & long sleeves, get butter dishes from Mom and go get enough blackberries that we could make a cobbler with and maybe enough left that Mom could can a jar or two of preserves.  Climbing into those blackberry brambles with Granddaddy was an adventure.  We found luscious berries the size of a grown man’s thumb.  My brother and I, of course, turned it into a competition (everything was a competition between us…still is) to see who could find the largest berry.  When we got home, we were hot, itchy, purple fingered and loaded down with berries.  We enjoyed the fruits of our labors after dinner that night with bowls of fresh blackberries with “good milk”, as we called (it was really evaporated milk).  To this day, blackberries are my favorite berry, and one of my favorite ingredients in a cobbler.

The only other thing I’d rather have in a cobbler than blackberries are cherries.  Nearly every July as a kid, I spent in West Texas with my grandparents.  My parents would pop me on a plane, fly me to Lubbock and I’d spend 2 weeks with each, paternal and maternal, since both lived within 30 minutes of each other.  My maternal grandparents, Momoh and Granddaddy, lived just East of Lubbock on a 1 acre piece of land that seemed huge when I was a kid.  My Granddaddy, a machinist by trade, was a farmer at heart.  He could grow anything.  He had a garden going for every season, had an orchard with assorted fruit and nut trees and, seeing as to how he and my Grandmother were children of the Depression and Dust Bowl & knew how bad the West Texas wind could get, he cultivated a wind break out of cedar trees around his property to keep his top soil from blowing away & protect his crops.  My favorite part of their whole farm were the cherry trees that grew out in front of their house.  Momoh would send me outside with a butter dish (always with the butter dish, my family never throws away a Country Crock butter dish) and tell me to fill it up so we could make a cherry cobbler or, sometimes she’d save the little pie tins that pot pies used to come in, and we’d make individual sized cherry pies (ostensibly so she could teach me how to make pie crust).  She knew I’d eat way more than I’d bring in but that never seemed to bother her.  Those sweet and tart cherries, fresh off the tree, still warm from the sun have completely spoiled me, even to this day.  I still prefer tart flavors to sweet and can’t stomach a processed cherry (marachino cherries make me want to gag).  Every summer we spent plucking those ruby red jewels from those trees until one summer the trees were gone…well, not gone but dead.  The county had come along and sprayed weed killer in the ditch on the other side of the trees, it leached into the groundwater and killed the trees.  I still mourn the loss of those trees.

So many memories tied up with food, food that I went out and got myself, food that I helped turn into a dessert with my mom or my grandmother.  I wonder, will my daughter and her generation have the same advantages?  My parents don’t live on a farm.  Aidan isn’t growing up in a neighborhood where all the kids know each other and play with each other until the street lights come on.  What kind of food memories will she have?

What are your favorite, most beloved food memories? I’d love it if you shared one or some with me in the comments.

Gratitude

I keep trying to write this post and I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve deleted it. I’ve written it and rewritten it over and over in my head.  It always sounds so much better there than when I try to type it out here. When I get here it always sounds so trite and like I’m trying too hard.  So, here goes, I’m just gonna say what I want to say with no superfluous frou-frou-ey extra stuff.

To the #foodiemamas, I want to thank you all for your friendship, your kindness, your camaraderie, your shared love of good food and your love. You may not know this because I didn’t tell anyone, but you pulled me out of a very deep, dark place last year.  No amount of medication, therapy, and/or self-help could do what you ladies did for me and I will be eternally grateful to you.  When my mother said I “lost my starch” you gave it back to me by giving me friendship and a reason to enjoy life again.

So, thank you Bry, Emily, Claire, Colleen, Melanie, Amanda, & Neven. (My sincerest apologies if I left anyone out!)  You ladies will be in my heart forever.

Go West

I mentioned earlier that we’re getting ready to move.  We’ve got orders in hand and we’re headed 863 miles almost due west to Sierra Vista, Arizona.  The movers will be here on Tuesday and Wednesday to pack our household goods and then Thursday to load everything onto the truck.  We’ll take the weekend to get the empty house into tip-top shape and then head out Monday morning.  Unfortunately, we don’t have a house to move directly into.  We’ll be staying in a hotel once we get there and will be searching for a home from there.  Other times when we’ve PCS’ed we’ve had time for one or both of us to go find a house.  This time, there just wasn’t any time.  So for the next week or two we’ll be occupied with moving our life west.  I’ll catch y’all on the flipside!

 

I Love San Antonio

We’ve been in San Antonio for going on three years now and, as anyone familiar with the military knows, three years means it’s time to move on.  We have our orders and we’re packing up the family truckster and heading west to Arizona.  Ryan will be attending a 5-6 month long course at Fort Huachuca.  The town right outside the post is called Sierra Vista.  We’ll be an hour and a half south of Tucson, thirty minutes north of Nogales, Mexico, and 315 miles west of El Paso, Texas.  While I’m a little excited and anxious to see what new adventures this move will hold for our family, I am sad to be leaving the friends I’ve made here and the best city the Army has ever put a post, San Antonio, Texas.

My friend, Emily of Defining Delicious, suggested that I make a list of favorites. I thought that was a great idea, so here we go.


My favorite things about San Antonio…in no particular order:

  • The Monterey
  • il Sogno
  • The Pearl Brewery
  • The River Walk
  • Lūke
  • Southtown
  • Zinc Bistro
  • The Alamo
  • Mission Trail
  • ¡¡FIESTA!!
  • Tubing the Guadalupe and/or Comal Rivers
  • Close to Gruene, New Braunfels, the outlets at San Marcos & a short drive to Austin
  • Central Market
  • Historic Preservation
  • Birthplace of Tex-Mex Cuisine
  • Focus on the arts
  • Diversity
  • Several farmers markets
  • Burgeoning food truck scene

I’m sure once I post this, I’ll think of a dozen more things that I love about this city.

Living here for the past three years has been a tremendous lot of fun.  I can definitely see why so many veterans choose this area when they retire…it’s definitely on our list!

Wish us luck on our new endeavour!

Aidan’s First Spring

Seeing all these Bluebonnet pictures have reminded me of Aidan’s first Spring.  She was 10 months old, we were about to PCS to our first duty station and I was cramming in all the Texas I could…sounds like now only 6 years later!

We drove into Central Texas to Brenham, found a flowery spot, I dressed her in her Easter finery, sat her on a white towel and started snapping photos.


We have this one framed in our house.


Unfortunately, we haven’t done Bluebonnet photos since then. We lived in Georgia for 3 years, then when we got back, Texas had some of the worst droughts ever. This year we just happened to get rain at the right time, late winter & early spring & have had a beautiful Bluebonnet season. Hopefully we can get some new ones, just in time to move again!

Locked In

We’ve all done it. Gotten distracted, out of our usual “getting out of the car” routine and locked our keys in the car. At least it’s an annoyance (if you happen to have a spare stuck under your car or in your purse), at most it’s a call to roadside assistance or a locksmith (or hubby at home with your spare keys) to come bail you out of your jam.

But what if it’s summertime and your baby is locked in there with your keys? Suddenly it’s not annoyance…it’s an emergency.  Accidental lock-ins can quickly turn life-threatening in Texas, especially in the summer. According to the organization Kids and Cars, an average of 37 kids die each year from being accidentally locked in the car.

Pop-A-Lock San Antonio provides free, 24/7 locksmith services if a child is locked inside.  As a locally owned locksmith company, Pop-A-Lock San Antonio is happy to offer their services to the community to keep families safe. It’s a completely free service, and it’s easy to use. They work with San Antonio fire departments, so parents can simply call 911. To get even faster service, parents can call the direct number at 210-637-0303. There’s more information about the free emergency door unlock program on their website, www.popalocksanantonio.com. Pop-A-Lock has rescued thousands of babies, toddlers, and older kids and seniors who couldn’t get out on their own.

Don’t let your family become a part of the statistics.

 

* I was not compensated in any way for this message. I was asked by Pop-A-Lock of San Antonio to provide this public service announcement.

Siclovia 2012

Síclovía 2012 is a biannual San Antonio event that turns Broadway into a safe, fun place for walking, bicycling, jogging and enjoying outdoor activities, and best of all, it’s free!  Síclovía is Spanish for “bike path” or “bike lane.” Events such as this promote not only healthy living, but alternative modes of transportation as well. Broadway was closed for four hours, just long enough to bring awareness while also getting a workout in.

Ryan, Aidan and I brought our bikes out, drove down to Fort Sam and rode the rest of the way to Broadway.  Aidan had fun seeing all of the kids on their bikes and  the dogs that were out with their owners.  Events like this are one of my favorite things about living in San Antonio.

Some photos from the event:

Now if only my derriere weren’t still so sore!