Sunday, December 12, 2010

Remember when I wrote this post last week about how fast Noah's mind and body were going?

Well, it's taken me some time to be able to come back and tell you about the aftermath. I needed some time to process, and to decide if I should be writing it here or not. That part I'll discuss a little later.*

Noah was in what I believe is a manic state, or perhaps a hypomanic state. Everything was running fast. He was mostly pleasant, but you could tell it wouldn't take much to push him over to the edge of anger. And it happened. He went from enjoying the first night of Hanukkah to raging and screaming, throwing and kicking. Like a switch was turned on. He alternated between the raging and aggression with hysterical crying, during which he was hiding in the bathtub or his bedroom closet. During those time he told us several times he wanted to die, that he was an idiot, that he shouldn't be in this family, that he was a looser and someone please give him a knife so he can kill himself.

It was the most gut wrenching, horrifying thing I have ever heard. My boy, who is not even eight yet, saying he wanted to die.

We were trying to take him off one of his medications. Obviously that wasn't going to work. We are slowly tapering him back up. He is doing better this week, but is still quick to frustration. It's like walking on egg shells around him. It's exhausting and frustrating. I worry for him, for his future.

*I'm considering starting another blog that would be password protected. I no longer feel safe writing here, and I haven't for a year. My writing has changed because of that and I know I have lost readers. But most important for me, because I've changed what I write, I've lost a big part of my place to work through things.

I think I'll keep this blog and just put the more emotional posts in a password protected one. I need to figure out how to go about it so that those that I want to read get the password.

Anyone else gone this direction? Thoughts? Regrets?


Sunday, December 05, 2010

A Christmas Tree Decorating Poll

If you have kids and a Christmas tree, please answer the following poll.

When decorating your Christmas tree you:

A.  leave everything exactly where your kids hang it, even if 2/3 of the ornaments are on the same 1/7 of the tree. You would never do anything to stifle their creative nature, right?

B.  let your kids have their fun then go back and rearrange things when they aren't looking. You don't want to hurt their feelings, but damn, 2/3 of the ornaments on the same 1/7 of the tree is lopsided and makes you a bit twitchy.

C.  carefully direct the placement of each ornament. Thank goodness you have kids that actually listen and follow directions, right?

D.  convince the children that there is a tree decorating fairy and one morning they will wake up and magically the tree will be decorated, then you do it yourself after they are asleep. Because OMFG, 2/3 of the ornaments on the same 1/7 of the tree! Do I need to say anymore?

E. ornaments? Are you crazy? My monsters broke all of ours ages ago.

My careful calculations tell me that I have approximately 33 regular readers. So I'm expecting 33 responses in my comments. 'mkay?


Tuesday, November 30, 2010


NaBloPoMo - I posted every day in November!

I'll be back to my regularly infrequent posting again soon. Tonight I'm burning the midnight oil trying to make a 3am deadline to get photo books done and submitted so I still get the discount.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday, Monday

I woke up this morning covered in little boy pee. Damn diaper failure. At least it wasn't my own though!

The bus was early, but she waited for us. The bonus was I had a few extra minutes to myself before I had to leave for work.

Too bad I didn't take that time to remember to put my laptop in my briefcase, because as soon as I arrived at work and turned on my desktop I realized that the project I was working on was saved on my laptop.

Fortunately, I'm only about 12 minutes away at that time of day, so I was home, project retrieved, and back at work in less than 35 minutes.

Unfortunately, on my way back to work I drove by a police officer standing on the line in the middle of the road, shooting an injured deer on the side of the road.* I mean I literally drove by as he was aiming the rifle. He waited until I had just passed him to pull the trigger but I heard the crack of the shot. What made it even worse was that the deer was laying down on all four legs, but her head and shoulders were up and she was obviously conscious. She was gorgeous. I know there wasn't anything else that could have been done, but it was still shocking to witness. Of course I started crying and sobbed the rest of the way to work. Just because I grew up a country girl doesn't mean I want anything to do with hunting, even if I understand the practical need for it. I could only think of two things:  that she probably had her own babies that would miss her (I don't care of that is probably romanticizing deer family life) and worse, what if I had had Noah with me and he had witnessed it. He has enough confusing thoughts and nightmares without having to see something like that. Thankfully it was just me.

Work went fine and the day flew by. I even managed to score a couple Pillow Pets at Kohls for $16 a piece with free shipping. Whoo hoo!

Noah got off the bus this afternoon and I could tell his body and mind were moving fast. It took him almost twenty minutes to change into his karate uniform. He spent five minutes of that time running around the house naked. Every part of him is on hyper-drive when he's like that. He talked non-stop to and from karate and during vision exercises, homework and dinner. It continued until his night time meds kicked in and slowed him down enough he could go to sleep. This is his second "manic" period in less than a week. I think it is safe to say that he needs the mood stabilizer we are trying to take him off. He has been off it for ten days and in that time he has had two of these manic episodes and eight out of the ten days he has had major meltdowns in the evening. It sucks that the only way to know for sure if he needs something is to try and take him off of it.

Right now Kiel is in the middle of a bedtime strike and is attempting to charm his way out of the bedroom and down to the couch. Good luck kid.

Better day tomorrow right?

*I live in the 'burbs in an area that was once only farms, fields and woods. It still has plenty of all of that interspersed in the developments that have been built in the last 10 or 15 years. This was a very wooded area.


Cats Playing Patty-cake, what they were saying...

I nabbed this from Dooce.

It made me laugh.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

He's graduated to the serious stylists!

Both boys were in desperate need of a haircut, so Rich and I each took one with us while running errands this morning with the plan of meeting at the kids haircut place at some point. They don't take appointments there, and I wasn't going to be anywhere near there, so I took a chance and called my stylist to see if they could fit Noah in. 

His hair has changed so much in the last few months that I figured he could use a good cut and I could use someone to tell me how best to work with it. We were in luck and within an hour of calling he was in the chair. 

 This is the gal with the magic fingers! Noah thought getting his hair washed was pretty cool.

I know I'm totally biased, but I think he is so handsome! And looking so grownup in these pictures.

We had a great time and Noah was just eating up the attention. He thought it was awesome I was taking pictures and making such a big deal out of his "man" haircut. It's wonderful to see him happy like this, it doesn't happen as often as it should. Damn but I love this kid!


Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving from the MNT boys!

Happy Fall Colors Fall
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View the entire collection of cards.
Despite their outward lack of excitement, all of us in the MNT family wish you a happy holiday season.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

It's not Thanksgiving without Pumpkin Pie!

Tara at Feels Like Home shared her favorite pumpkin pie recipe with me a few years ago. I made it the first time and haven't used any other recipe since. 

Gourmet Pumpkin Pie
  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie shell (see recipe below)  

  • 3 2/3 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2. Blend the egg, pumpkin and condensed milk. Add sugar and spices to pumpkin. Pour mixture into the unbaked pie shell.
3. (topping) Combine the brown sugar, flour, chopped pecans, butter and cinnamon with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle crumb mixture on top of pumpkin mixture.
4. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 50 to 55 minutes or until a knife inserted in near the center comes out clean. Let pie cool before serving. 

A couple comments on the recipe:

I typically skip the topping, although it is to die for. I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to pumpkin pie. I also find I need to bake it longer than 50 to 55 minutes.

I also use quality spices, which I think makes a big difference. I typically get mine from Penzeys. 

And if one of your kids sticks their fingers in the finished pie and you don't realize it until after it has arrived at your nephews house for dinner and his wife unwraps it? Well, just consider it extra yummy.


Now, I've tried a number of pie crust recipes over the year. At one point I gave up and just used Pillsbury's refrigerated pie crust. But then, I found this recipe on and it changed my pie baking life.

Butter Flaky Pie Crust


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, frozen
  • 1/4 cup ice water

A good pie crust is all about technique. 

1. Combine the flour and salt. Then grate the butter into the flour with a cheese grater. 

Freezing, then grating the butter, is the key. The little bits of frozen butter are what makes the crust so flaky. After grating in the butter work quickly, because you don't want the butter to get soft.

2. Add the ice water a tablespoonful at a time and mix in until the mixture forms a ball. 

3. If you've worked fast enough and the butter is still frozen you can roll out the crust now. If not, refrigerate it for a couple hours. I've heard refrigerating it helps prevent shrinkage, but I can't say that has always been true for me. 

Try not to overwork the dough when you roll it out. I roll mine out on parchment paper so it's easy to move it to the pie pan. 

The magic ingredient in my pie crust is my great-grandmothers rolling pin. And since I'm not giving that up, I can't exactly guarantee your crust will turn out as awesome as mine. I still bet it will be pretty darn good though! 


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Two out of Three

Noah doesn't have school this week so Rich and I are taking turns staying home.

He had two awesome days this week, yesterday with me and Monday with Rich. Today he had a horrible afternoon with Rich. Like he was a completely different kid than he was yesterday.

Maybe there were some warning signs yesterday. Or maybe there is no warning and it just is, like a switch is flipped. To the right = awesome; to the left = hell.

After his vision therapy appointment yesterday afternoon we went to the market to grab a few things, which of course turned into a full cart. Noah was so awesome. He was happy. He was helpful and fun and accepting. A joy to be with. Except he was going at 1.5 times normal speed. He didn't stop talking the entire time. Everything was just fast. Not bad fast, just fast. Not-normal fast.

It's so bizarre to watch.

And absolutely heartbreaking when it turns into a day like today, a day where he is definitely not happy.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Is he failing second grade? Or is second grade failing him?

Tonight was Noah's parent-teacher conference.

Not surprisingly Noah is struggling academically and behaviorally. Two years ago we thought his problems were only behavioral, that academically he was strong.

It's hard not to feel discouraged after meetings like this.

My discouragement is shifting though. Instead of all of it focusing on Noah and his struggles, some of it falls on the educational system and how it is failing him.

Very simply, Noah's brain was not given what it needed to grow properly in his first six months of life, possibly even before he was born. 

It's like the foundations of his brain was built on sand, instead of on rock. And the wiring was done by a plumber on crack instead of an electrician. 

If the foundation is not secure, and the wiring is fucked up, how can you expect to successfully build on it?

The educational system we are in is trying to build on a foundation that is failing. So they throw a few sandbags around it and try to add another floor. More cracks form, so they try to patch them, and then build another room.

I admire Noah's teacher. She has more patience in her little finger than I will ever have in my entire lifetime. I know she wants Noah to succeed. I know she works very hard!

Yet, as we sat there and listened to her describe how Noah isn't at grade level in reading, and listened to her explain the different tests they do to determine that, and then listened to her tell us that although we both know he knows his math fact, he struggles to show that in timed tests, well, I started to get frustrated. And when Rich asked her how you can test a child like Noah using the same tests you use for a "normal" child I could tell he was getting frustrated too.

Then she showed us a reading comprehension test that Noah had failed miserably, and said they repeat it in the spring, and hopefully he will show improvement. And I sat back and told her flat out that "No, I don't think he will show improvement." 

If he doesn't have the foundation to build on, how is he going to show improvement? And I don't mean that he wasn't taught the basic facts. I know he was taught all of that. But his brain is so disorganized that at a certain point I think he reached overload and now he struggles to access what he does know. 

I know he is a smart kid, but if we don't figure out how to untangle that mess of wires in his brain, and strengthen the foundation, he is going to continue to struggle. And as he matures and begins to understand more, he's going to think he is a failure. But it isn't Noah that is a failure, it is all of us that are failing him.

I don't think the school system knows what a child like Noah needs. Hell, I know Noah better than anyone and I still don't know what he needs.

I do know that what the school is doing for him is not working. How can they continue to offer him the same programs yet see him falling further behind and think that is OK?

Noah needs an educational program that not only teaches him the academics, but one that helps retrain his brain. And it needs to be a program that can let go of this idea that he is on the autism spectrum and recognize and understand what attachment disorder is and how it ties in to a brain like Noah's. 

Does a program like that exist? How do I find it if it does?

How do I create it if it doesn't exist? 

Where do I start?


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Birthday Boy Pics

 Cupcakes at school.
What you can't see are the kids on each side of Kiel who are both going "ohhhh." 
Birthdays are a exciting!

Nom, nom, nom, nom, nom.

 Noah and I decorated with lots of balloons.
 Including some big Thomas the Train ones.

 I think Kiel was surprised! I know Noah and Thor were excited!

Cake time.

Here is Noah being a good sport and wearing his train cap for Kiel. Noah was just as excited as Kiel was for the birthday party. And he was such a great big brother helping out and being on his best behavior.


Trying out his present from Mom Mom and Papa, with his other favorite toy (Chuck the Talking Truck) next to him. 

Chuck kept talking and moving while Kiel was trying to play with his new Smart Cycle, which was annoying Kiel. Kiel kept telling him "no, I don't want to play" and "No move, stop." It was hysterical because he just couldn't understand why Chuck wasn't listening and doing what he told him.

It was a wonderful evening and both boys went to bed happy with belly's full of cake and frosting.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Three Firsts

1. All four of us were able to sit through a movie together today! We saw an advanced showing of Tangled. It was so good. Definitely worth taking the kids to when it opens.

2. At three years and one day Kiel has started asking why. I thought we had another year or so before the "why" stage started. I guess I don't remember when Noah started asking questions like that.

3. Noah spontaneously mentioned to someone that he was adopted, and then said that he didn't grow in my belly. He also said that he didn't have anyone when he was born. I don't remember the exact conversation because I was somewhat in shock that he initiated it at all. At one point he said something about how lucky he was to come to this house, which I took as meaning family. I told him I thought "this house" was very lucky that he came to us.

Earlier in the week we were talking about an event we were going to attend that was for adopted kids. Noah wanted to know if Kiel would be there too, and said something about Kiel being adopted. I reminded him that Kiel grew in my belly. For the first time Noah asked who's belly he grew in. We have talked about this with him before, but clearly he didn't "get it." So we talked about it again and he asked some good questions about why, and if his birth mother (he didn't use that term, but I forgot how he phrased it) is still alive, and then said he would like to meet her sometime. His side of the conversation wasn't quite as clear as that; it was somewhat intertwined with a bit of odd fantasy, but most of his conversations are.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I'm at a loss

I came downstairs this morning and walked through something gritty. In the approximately 20 minutes Noah was alone down here to eat breakfast he took a packet of powdered lemonade and spread it all over the dining room floor.

Apparently he felt like it.

Despite a rough day at school he did great this afternoon. He was focused doing homework and his vision exercises and didn't give me any grief when I told him he needed to shower before we went to karate. 

At karate he attended a special hour seminar with Ed Parker Jr, where he was focused and in control. They paired up and learned some new passive self-defense techniques. He was awesome working with the other kid and the joy on his face was radiating. He even had his belt signed by Ed Parker Jr.

He was excited to get home and see Kiel because he said he hadn't seen him all day! 

And then it was time to take Kiel up to bed and Noah became upset and started to get wild and tried to encourage Kiel to go to the basement with him. When Noah wouldn't listen or change his attitude, Rich told him to go upstairs and get his pajamas on.
As I was changing Kiel, Rich came up and saw a large wet spot on the hall carpet between the kids bathroom and the laundry room. Noah said "Stell did it." I sighed and said if he did that then he must be unhappy about the state of the litter box.

But then we got a bit suspicious when Noah didn't have to pee and I knew he hadn't gone since right after school. Rich smelled it and it was definitely not cat pee. I smelled it and it definitely was human pee. Noah pee. And he continued to try and deny it was him. And then he became hysterical when we told him he had to clean it up. Sobbing and keening. And then later screaming that he hates mommy and daddy. The icing on the cake was his rendition of "Mommy and Daddy are lame" sung over and over again.

This kind of behavior just confirms for me we are on the right track considering reactive attachment disorder. What I don't understand yet is what an effective consequence is for these types of behaviors.