Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Being a Mom doesn't mean being perfect.

"Why do I love you so much?" I asked my son one day. His response? "Because you have to!!! You are my Mommy!!! Duh!!" From the mouth of babes!!! I think he is a genius, or maybe I am just over-thinking things. Maybe we are all over-thinking things.

Both my kids have told me at one time or another "You are the Best Mommy EVER!!!". And I know that isn't accurate, no matter how much I would like to think so, or how much I wish for it. I also happened to ask my son not too long ago how he knew I was the "Best Mommy EVER!!!" and he slashed my fantasy down to size with his truthfulness. He told me very matter-of-factly "every Mommy is the best Mommy ever to their kids! That is how it is supposed to be!!!".

Yep, he knows something most of us Moms don't, or if we do we burry it deep in our subconscious and indulge in obsessing over how good or bad a job we are doing. 

I don't know how many times I have read articles, blogs, Facebook postings about how Pinterest has turned motherhood into a bloodsport. They all included rhetoric about how seeing how other Mom's constantly posted pins of beautiful birthday cakes, magazine like Easter dinners, the craftiest of kid crafts...that those pictures undermined how they saw themselves as mothers if they had not tried or had and failed to reach perfection level.

I also read a Parenting.com article in reference to how posting cute, smiling pictures of your kids was equivalent to a lie (not exactly in those words). The author went on to elaborate that she held off from posting such pictures on Facebook because it mislead others to think it was always about laugh and giggles at home. In my opinion, I like taking those cute pictures to remind myself of why it is all worth it, because there are PLENTY of moments when you forget. Who is so diluted to think life with kids is all about laugh and giggles?? Someone who hasn't been around kids for more than 10 minutes maybe, but everyone else has seen how quickly it can turn into a see of tears over "not letting them drink the bath water" or other such examples, like this new trending tumblr page http://reasonsmysoniscrying.tumblr.com or even this truthful website and blog about motherhood www.scarymommy.com

They aren't always happy

I am a mother of two, and a career woman, but also love trying to do "what I can" to indulge is some of the things I see posted on Pinterest. I don't see it as a competition. I don't see myself as inadequate if I don't do it all.  I don't see others as inadequate if they don't try at all. I think as Mothers, but especially as Women, we need to stop tearing each other down. We need to lift one another up. Encourage each other. 

Making Pizza at home

When life isn't perfect (which it constantly isn't) we need to remember we are doing our best, and that is good enough for our kids. They love us just the way we are, because we love them. Love is all you need....and lots and lots of humor. Feel free to laugh at yourself. Don't worry about those cupcakes that don't look exactly like those magazine microphone ones, and enjoy the moment. 

How my cupcakes were supposed to look.
They don't exactly look like the magazine or Pinterest

I do the best I can, but I am not doing it to impress anyone else. I do it because I think my kids will appreciate it. Last year I made the cupcakes above. I thought they looked dreadful. My daughter apparently didn't as she asked me if we can make them again next year. Wow!!! That made my day!!!

I know wonderful mothers all across the country and the world, and I am lucky enough to call them friends. All of them love their kids, and it shows. And when they do post a picture of their kids or their terrific craft, I let them know what a wonderful job they are doing. Maybe I can do the same craft. Maybe I can try and have an epic fail. It doesn't matter!!!! We all still have to turn around and wipe a snotty nose, pick-up toys from the floor, tuck our kids into bed, and all of that is worthy of praise. We are not perfect, but we are Moms, and we are perfect for our kids.

Do you feel like you need to be "The Perfect Mom"?

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Monday, April 8, 2013

My current shopping wish list

A good 7 months or so have gone by since I last took a look and my shopping wish list. Some of the items have been purchased, some are still on there, and some new ones have appeared. Sadly, none have made it OFF of the list due to changing my mind. 

On the top of my list is a camera. The Nikon D3200. I have always wanted to get more into photography, and it just hasn't happened yet. I am hoping by the time I finally decide to purchase this WANT I can make as much use of it as I imagine. Because I am a complete amateur at this I don't want to invest too too much in something I don't know how to use, but I do plan to dive deep into learning the ins and outs once I have it. 

Then there are these amazing exercise pants from lululemon. They are the Get Up and Glow Tight style, and they are perfect for running. They keep you visible in low light and has a little pocket in the back for your keys or maybe some ID. I have to be honest and admit that I have plenty of exercise pants (about 5) but I have seen these pants on some many different women and absolutely every last one, regardless of body type, look great. Actually almost any pair of pants from lululemon has this "age and gravity defying" attribute it appears. I say this not randomly but because I have seen some of these same women in jeans and they don;t look half as good as they look in a pair of lululemon pants. OK, ok, so I haven't tried them out myself, but I will, and I will report back. 

Still on my list is a flat iron from Chi, the TURBO 1.5". I am glad I waited because it looks like it is 65% of now, and yet I am not rushing out to buy it yet because it isn't a need, and I am also not so happy that it is digital. Maybe later.....and maybe by the time I make up my mind it is cheaper....

Then again, they could be completely unavailable, like these grey flats from TOMS. I had said I wanted them back in June of 2012, and now they are all gone. So now I am looking all over to find a pair just as cute and just as comfortable in grey. No luck yet.

I need to be quicker about some of these decisions. But hey, sometimes swim classes for my kiddos at the local YMCA take priority. 

What is on your shopping wish list currently?

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Going Green for a Healthier Scalp

I have to admit, sometimes my green efforts sound outrageous even to me, but I have been surprised by how well most of them end up working. I already use a homemade laundry soap (sort of- mixing washing soda and good old fashioned ZOTE soap) and my clothes are doing great. I have been using green deodorant for years and love how that has turned out. Now, my scalp has made me jump into something I thought I would never do, do green with no-poo (without shampoo)

I have been reading about all the harm we cause ourselves with shampoo, starting with the harshness of the chemicals like parabens and sulfates. Then I find out maybe my shampoo is making my itchy scalp worse. I happen to have somewhat sensitive skin, and I can’t use just any moisturizer, so why would my scalp be any different.

I was considering going “no-poo” for about 2 years but keep getting deterred by the idea of having icky feeling hair, let alone the smell, but I kept reading on different blogs how many women had maybe just a week or two of the ick factor and none of the smell issues. So I decided to give it a whirl. But I could not do this cold turkey! No sir. I needed to ease into it. So first I decided to start by washing my hair less often to begin with, by doing it every other day, then just twice a week. Man was that hard!!! I kept wanting to wash it, but I held strong.

Then I thought “I’m nuts! How can my hair get cleaned without some sort of soap if not a shampoo??” So I looked into it and decided to try out a castile soap with tea tree oil to help my scalp issues. I went for the Dr. Brooner’s brand. It is a soap, not a shampoo, and it uses all natural ingredients. That worked out rather well, and the tea tree oil started helping with my itchy scalp. I went about 2 weeks with that (maybe 3 washes so far). 

So I took the leap. I had prepared the baking soda and water mix (1 tbsp. baking soda to 1 cup of water) to clean my scalp, and also prepared the apple cider vinegar and water mix (2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of water) to condition it, and left them in my bathroom, but couldn’t make myself use them. Then one night I just did it. I had gone 3 days without washing my hair and thought, “if it doesn’t feel clean I can always go back to the castile soap”. 

I poured slowly the baking soda mix from the clear squeeze bottle and worked it into my scalp, rubbing every inch, making sure not to miss anything. I kept picturing a corner of greasy hair if I didn’t make sure every strand was covered. I followed the instructions on the many blogs and did only the roots and not the ends. Washed it out after about 2 minutes of rubbing, and my scalp and the hair felt almost squeaky-clean. How could this be?? It isn’t soap!!! But wait…this does feel a bit….dry?!?! So how the heck is apple cider vinegar supposed to make this feel better??

So there I went. I poured slowly the apple cider vinegar mix from the clear squeeze bottle and worked it into the ends, rubbing every inch. The smell was strong at first. It wasn’t feeling very different, but it did say to leave it in a few minutes. I also made sure not to go all the way into the roots since they said it would make my hair greasy…yeah, vinegar makes hair greasy, go figure!!!

5 minutes went by while I kept showering, and the smell wasn’t so strong. Time to wash it out. I kept picturing myself walking through the halls at work and people craving a salad for lunch al because of my hair, so I washed and washed.

I was tempted to pour a bit of conditioner, but I didn’t. I could always pull my hair back the next day. I wrapped my hair in a towel and let it dry a bit while I put on my moisturizer and pjs. By the time I took off my towel and started to brush it out it was amazingly manageable. If you have ever used conditioner you know there is this creamy feel to your hair, and if you go without you feel it dry and hard to comb through. Well this was sooooo not the case for me. My hair felt clean, really clean. Not creamy like with conditioner, yet completely comb-able (if that makes any sense). I have a bloodhound nose, so I could tell a scent of vinegar was still there, but an hour later is was almost completely gone (like I said, I am part dog).

Ok, so let’s see how it feels in the morning. I’m sure this can’t last long. Nope…morning came and my hair was still feeling pretty good. Brushed it with my boar bristle brush and stilled it as usual (I don’t use product because I have never liked how it feels), and off I went. It is close to noon for me and my hair still looks and feels good. It isn’t a miracle treatment by any means, and it has only been one day so far, but I expected much worse. 

If you are interested in a bit more information about the harms of shampoos (and deodorants and fragrances) here is a link that may interest you http://www.mnn.com/communityblogs/oddlyocean/the-harm-of-shampoos-deodorants-and-fragrances

I’ll do an update as the time passes to see how my scalp is doing, but I was planning on keeping a schedule of Sunday night baking soda and vinegar, and Thursday night castile/tea tree oil soap and vinegar (I liked the tea tree oil part). I may also look into some essential oils to help add some “oomph” to how my hair smells because right now it doesn’t smell like anything at all, and there is something to be said about nice smelling hair.

Have your tried going green for your scalp?

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Monday, April 1, 2013

I take issue with your news story NYT

I struggled greatly with the idea my daughter could be diagnosed with ADHD as early as age 4, and it took me close to 3 more years to agree to get her diagnosed, and a few extra months to agree to use prescription drugs. I read as much as I could about it and when I finally did take that step with her I still felt some hesitation. No amount of drug company propaganda or doctor reassurances made me feel any better until I saw with my own eyes how she reacted to it. As I have mentioned before in this blog, it wasn’t an easy road, but what did make me feel a bit better about taking that first step was reading other parents’ experiences with their children, and still and proceeded with caution.

If I had any long lasting proven alternative to prescription drugs I would go that route in a heartbeat, because I know the cons to prescription drugs as well as I know the pros, and at this point in time the pros outweigh the cons. As a parent I feel it is my job to safeguard my children by being informed, and I happen to think my physician’s office is not the end-all-be-all for information. That may not be the case with other parents.

I take issue with reporting that “Several doctors mentioned that advertising from the pharmaceutical industry that played off parents’ fears” such as Shire’s Vyvanse showing a parent looking at her son and saying, “I want to do all I can to help him succeed.” I saw that ad and I still didn’t want my child on medication, but those exacts words came from me months afterward when she finally was on medication and succeeding. If anything, that ad is SPOT ON. Whoever thinks otherwise has obviously not gone through the angst of deciding to medicate their child with a stimulant.

The below is their current ad campaign for Vyvanse, and I think very accurate about the work still needed regardless of the medication.

Other drug companies may have similar ads, but I am greatly familiar with this one as we use it in our family.

I also take issue with physicians and other healthcare providers making less of our parental concerns. I heard Dr. Hallowell refer to stimulants as being “safer than aspirin,” and I knew that wasn’t accurate. Aspirin actually has several risks, but we live with them anyway because we weigh the options. Yet, most people aren’t given those options to weigh up-front and in the open. The information is there for the taking, but in fine print, in libraries, in medical publications, in places you need to go out and look for. It isn’t the first thing they give you when diagnosed. It is actually one of the lasts things they give you, and usually after they have given you a prescription.

I know many people are still reluctant to take their children to get evaluated because of all the negative media surrounding ADHD and medication. I have personally spoken to several parents who had concerns about their children and getting an ADHD diagnosis, and their chief complaint was exactly that. I don’t make less of their worry, I relate, but I also share my experiences with both my children. I also advocate for them to get informed and show them the way to several publications.

I don’t doubt there are plenty of children being misdiagnosed, and I know there are some teachers out there not helping matters by pressuring parents into getting their children medicated as if that was the one and only solution. There could be a happy medium. Healthcare providers could be more careful in their diagnosis, and provide parents with additional reading resources so they can make informed decisions.

Scare tactics by the media, and the New York Times in particular with yet another article blowing out of proportion ADHD diagnosis and treatment, is not the way to go. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/01/health/more-diagnoses-of-hyperactivity-causing-concern.html?pagewanted=all I have read this article published yesterday several times now, and I understand there is some very accurate information in it (although two corrections have been made from yesterday to today, so maybe they were too quick to the punch), but it also has very alarming language that can make a hesitant parent steer completely away from even getting their child diagnosed fearing the worst. Several other people I spoke to who read it had the same first reaction I did, which was that of an “alarming” story. It wasn’t till I pointed out other facts in it and some of my own that they realized they walked away with only the negatives and none of the positives, such as the wording changes expected from the American Psychiatric Association to the criteria for ADHD diagnosis to allow that symptoms merely “impact” daily activities, rather than cause “impairment.” This is actually a good thing, which they attempted to point out, and yet I still find their choice of words didn't help when saying:
 merely “impact” daily activities
It make it feel unimportant, small, insignificant. This “merely” has some heavy repercussions when the symptoms show up every day several times a day. A leaky pipe can have some permanent damage on the rest of your house.

My kids have shown great improvement through medication, but also through patterns and structure in their routines and some diet modification. We are doing so well that we can have our weekends OFF of medication. Their symptoms are still there, but less prevalent and a bit more manageable during days that don't require so much focus on detail and where their impulsivity can be curtailed by their parents (i.e. me and Hubby).

I am just tired of people who don’t know what it is to live with ADHD to pass judgment. It is a daily struggle, and you are not making it any easier. If only one child gets better options simply because of the diagnosis alone it will make their life that much better, even if they choose not to use medication. Don’t scare them off. Medication is one small part of treating ADHD, but this sort of publicity makes people stay away from the rest when it can make all the difference in the world to simply KNOW.

Do you think some news stories get exaggerated?

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Change is difficult…duuuhhh!!

Change is difficult to cope with for most people.  There is security behind routine. There is a whole industry making money teaching people how to cope with change. And since I deal with change management at work I should be an expert in it, right??!?! Nope!!!

I am probably one of few people out there that actually enjoys change, but it depends on the circumstances. I find it exciting to try something new. I have no qualms in trying it out and giving it a good chance, and if the cost isn’t great, moving on to something that may be better. This has actually worked in my benefit for most my life, and in particular when finding solutions for the 3 ADHDers I have at home. I would read about a particular strategy, schedule, meal plan, and if it sounded like something that would work for at least one of mine I would give it a go. We have found many solutions that way.

This same attitude made it easier, for me at least, to see a particular solution stop working all of a sudden for one or all of my ADHDers, simply because of the nature of who they are. They get bored, tired, frustrated a lot quicker than others, and sometimes there is just no use in swimming up stream.

I had incorporated so many new things into our lives as of late that I really didn’t take into account how they felt about YET ANOTHER CHANGE!! Oh yes, you know what is coming, that big BOOM is near!!!

So my ADHDers have been taking medication for a few years now, and since Dad is the one that takes the kids to school because I have to be on a train to work at that time, Dad is the one that dishes out the pills. One small problem here….Dad needs a pill too….a pill that helps with what again?? Oh, that’s right, with focus (a.k.a. not getting distracted and doing what you are supposed to do). So it came as no surprise to have a day pop up here and another day pop up there where we had stronger ADHD symptoms show up in one or two or all in my clan. We came to figure that it was very possible someone didn’t take their pill that day.

We had never really counted pills, nor did we think we had to or wanted to. Imagine counting as many as 90 pills a day to find out if all 3 had taken their dose. NOT GONNA HAPPEN!! So I talked to some people, looked on some blogs, and read some advice columns. I came to the conclusion that a pill box for each would be a great solution. I found ones that came with dividers not only for the 7 days of the week but also for AM and PM. Awesome, right? Hubby didn’t think so. It was messing with his routine. So I let it go…till we had 2 more incidents of forgetfulness and going without a pill. It had been him that didn’t take his pill, or so he thought…he couldn’t be sure, and he couldn’t take a second pill just in case. So I very quietly ordered the pill boxes for all four of us (I have my own set of medications and vitamins, etc. so may as well get us all in the same habit). 

Two a Day Pill Organizer, Small

Pill boxes arrived, in different colors for each so there was no confusing medications, and I was excited. Daddy wasn’t so excited, and with good reason. I didn’t ask him. I didn’t prepare him. I didn’t even consider him. Not my M.O., but I somehow felt it was O.K. to go ahead anyway because it was in everyone’s best interest. HAVE I LEARNED NOTHING FROM ALL THOSE BOOKS OF “CHANGE MANAGEMENT”???? What was I thinking?? And I did it in my own home!! Shame on me.

The kids, on the other had, were rather excited to have a pill box of their very own. But we will have to see how this NEW strategy works. Hubby warmed up to the idea after I apologized and told him he didn’t have to use his box if he didn’t want to. After allowing him a few hours to calm down and maybe think about it a bit more, I asked him if he wanted me to prepare his box for him, and he nodded yes (reluctant acceptance). Victory?? Nope, not yet! Not in this family. Victory is only if it actually works, not if they agree to try. So I counted my blessings.

Last night everyone took their PM share from their pill boxes. We were all excited to start. This morning, running out to go to work as I always do I almost ran out without checking my pill box, till my kids pointed out they would be checking theirs once breakfast was done. Jeesshhhh!! And here I was complaining about them forgetting their stuff and about how hard Hubby took to my idea for this change. I got a look from hubby that was a mix between a smile and a silent “I told you so”, but we have been together way too long to say it out loud, so early in the morning, and before our coffee was all gone. I learned my lesson. Fingers crossed and this will actually work long term.

What have you changed recently that was hard to get used to?

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Revisit your jewelry box

I had been seeing for years a lot of cute necklaces in stores that had some sort of ribbon accent. I always thought to myself "I can do that at home? why would I ever pay for it?"but I never really got around to doing it.

Then I started seing it more and more on TV, in magazines, on people walking by....and it had this air of shabby chic that I just craved for. But some looked way more complicated than what I wanted to get (work wise for a home craft)

But then I saw this one that looked like they just pulled together a few necklaces and that was it. The one below obviously had more work than just pulling it together, but still.

So I took a plunge into my jewelry box. I pulled out one really heavy necklace that I had not worn in a while because it just looked to plain. I also pulled out another thin one that my Mother had and I had never really used. Pulled out a ribbon, which truth be told I purchased for this type of craft about 3 years ago but never finished.....so now what???

I played around with lengths for a bit. Tied it in a bow a few times playing with the right length, and finally came up with this.

I had actually forgotten I was wearing this today, until a few people at work commented on it. I guess it was a success.

What do you have in your jewelry box you could revisit?

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Time stops for no one, so enjoy it! Carpe Diem

Around this time of year I really get thinking about how quickly time passes by. My son's birthday is at the end of January and my daughter's birthday is at the later part of March. Additionally, my Mom's birthday is today. All those things together make me be enormously grateful that I get to spend another moment with my kids, that I get to go home and see them, and that I get to enjoy watching them grow into such caring wonderful people.

I enjoy having them crawl into bed with me just to snuggle and cuddle because they want to be with me. I may be sleepy and want a few more minutes in bed, and they do let me stay in (although chatting away in a whispery voice). I can't even make myself open my eyes yet, but I love those precious moments under the covers.

I enjoy having them ask me to make them something yummy, because "your food taste so good Mommy. It must be because you make it with LOVE!!"

I enjoy reminding myself that our brand of crazy isn't crazy at all, it's just US, and we love it.

And even if our humor isn't for everyone, it is for us, which is what matters.

And I definitely enjoy that all the hard work, sleepless nights, constantly guiding them in the right direction....is actually paying off in terms of building these warm hearted individuals. 

I was shocked to realize that all the things we say to our kids that appear to go in one ear and out the other actually do stay in their heads. While on a road trip to go spend Christmas with our family back home, I heard my little girl tell a complete stranger at a gas stop restroom what she was most excited about for this Christmas. When asked if she was excited about presents she said "No, not the presents for me. I am excited about giving presents to my family. I want to see them happy, because Christmas is not about getting, it is about giving and family". Wow!!! She actually heard some of what I have been saying. My explanation was a bit more religious of course, but I am glad the major points stuck with her.

I've always thought you have to seize the day, but with the hustle and bustle that is everyday life with 2 kids it can be easy to forget to do so.

And a message to my hubby: Babe, we've done right!!! And we did it together!!!

OK, so not the best grammar, but this is not English class but it is So Perf!

How do you make sure you seize the day?

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Avoiding dairy. Harder than it sounds!!

Since my son was diagnosed with a dairy allergy I went into full-blown research mode (as I tend to do with everything that is new to me). I read medical journals, went into dairy-free forums, blogs, books, and even some Facebook pages that talked specifically about this topic.

One website with tons of good info is www.godairyfree.org.

I liked the info on the website so much that I bought the book “Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living”. 

That had tons of good recipes but also information. 

My husband wanted even more information about dairy allergies and ADHD, so he purchased for us “The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook, Updated and Revised: The Ultimate Guide to the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet”. 

That is another good book as well. It also shared some very appealing recipes. All fine and good, but my son is a picky eater, and I searched far and wide for recipes that besides being dairy free could be appealing to him….visually and taste wise….so I hit the jackpot with “Cooking for Isaiah: Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Recipes for Easy, Delicious Meals”. 

The author of this book, Silvana Nardone, also has a website http://www.silvanaskitchen.com/ , a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/silvananardoneglutenfreedairyfree?fref=ts , and is the Editor –in-Chief of “Easy Eats” http://www.easyeats.com/ . This last one is more of a gluten free site, but many times gluten free recipes are dairy free and a good source. My son has seen all the pictures in the book and is excited every time I tell him I am trying out one of the recipes there. So far so good. Anecdotally I can say he is doing much better, both with his allergies and with his ADHD. I can even say all four of us (Mom, Dad, Daughter, Son) are all doing much better health wise, so much so that even if his allergy goes away we will continue to do our best to be dairy free.

It is a pain to be dairy free though. My focus is more on dairy and I was surprised how many thinks use dairy or even casein. The strangest to me was to find out my kids’ multi-vitamin had milk http://www.centrum.com/centrum-kids#chewables.

I have become an expert food label reader. And it is exhausting.

We have decided to do our best to go organic, free of most preservatives, and thus mainly fresh products. We have also decided to do our best to avoid gluten and artificial colors, like Red 40. Red 40 is another one that surprised me how many things contain it. I expected it in my son’s bag of skittles, but then it turned up in a Duncan Hines icing, and again in that multivitamin I already discarded because of the milk. Jeshhhhh!!!

So as I am about to hit the “purchase” button on a vegan multivitamin that is milk free and red 40 free http://www.nowfoods.com/Supplements/Products-by-Category/Vitamins/Multiple-Vitamins---Childrens/M075933.htm I am hopeful that my whole family will benefit from leading a more simple way of life. 

Don’t get me wrong, because I still am enrolling my son in a study to slowly increase his tolerance to milk, but that is only so he can partake in pizza and cake at birthday parties at some point. Hopefully starting this journey so early in his life will make him a life-long healthy-lifestyle convert. Time will tell.

What healthy life-style changes are you making lately?

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Friday, January 4, 2013

How we got through the holidays.

I had been giving this a lot of thought when in reality that is exactly the opposite of what I needed to do. How we got through the holidays is by simply enjoying them. And don’t think that was an easy task either, not with 3 ADHDers and one very worrisome Mom. Going to see family has always been a bit stressful, beginning with the fact that we have very limited amount of time to spend with them since we live far away, and then splitting up our time between his family, and my family, and making it all count. Then you add the fact that my kids are very rambunctious, Dad is very strict, and a lot of the Holiday events are somewhat formal…this equals some more tension.

So I had a conversation with my husband before taking off on our trip. We chose to drive given the high prices of flights and the need for our own transportation once there. We also decided we would break up the long trip into 3 shorter more digestible drives, making our first stop a bit over 6 hours into it at a hotel, our second stop the next day at a bit over 7 hours at my brother-in-law’s house with his wife and kids where we spent the rest of the day, and the last stop in less than 5 hours with my in-law’s.

We also decided we needed to take enough for the kids to be entertained both on the drive there and during our stay, so we got them their Christmas presents early, which where 2 mini iPads, loaded plenty of movies, books, and games. We also brought along some regular books and toys.

One key factor for us at least was planning some time for the kids to decompress, which meant making time for them to be just with us (Mom and Dad), and not having the pressure to “behave”. Don’t get me wrong, my kids behave pretty well with us, Mom and Dad, but they can get a little out of hand with all the excitement of seeing relatives that they can forget their manners in an attempt to be funny. Coincidentally we had the opportunity to stay at my sister-in-law’s house while she was at her in-law’s, and that made that decompression time a bit easier. If we had not been at a different house alone we would probably had made pockets of time for the kids to be alone with us, like we did on our last day when we did spend the night with my in-law’s and chose to take the kids to a movie. The movie was a way for them to let their hair down, besides the fact that my kiddos crave entertainment on a regular basis.

Another part of my conversation with my husband was to have a mutual understanding that we would somewhat disconnect. What I mean by that is that precisely because our kiddos are so rambunctious we tend to need to supervise them constantly to make sure they are not setting the curtains on fire or sticking a fork in anything electric (I say this in jest….a bit….but not really) . Needing so much supervision, and a lot of it being repetitive given their ADHD, can make any parent a bit irritable, but a Dad with ADHD even more so. So we both agreed to not supervise them so much. We would have to roll with the punches. Hopefully one of their cousins would tell on them if they decided to juggle knives.

We were also traveling with a newly discovered constraint, which is my son’s milk allergy. Although his allergy is not life threatening and could very well continue to eat dairy with some antihistamines, we have seen improvements in his ADHD symptoms and also my daughter’s ADHD symptoms (who doesn’t show any milk allergy symptoms) since we decided to lead a dairy free life to the best of our abilities. With that in mind we decided to take a few measures to continue this diet as much as possible on our trip, but to also break a few rules and let them eat some dairy if it was right in front of their face, like Christmas cookies, or some other yummy treat.

I am happy to report that with much of the dairy products evaded during this trip, and since we were on vacation and let our hair down, we actually went a few days without ADHD medication without many complaints. I believe their ADHD symptoms were very reduce (including Dad), but pair that up with our “vacation” attitude, and we faired really well.

We knew we were asking a lot out of them during this trip, both for being in a car for so long and with behaving with relatives, that we also planned a tiny reward for them at the end of the long journey. Our second to last stop back home was Universal Studios. We ate out, walked the park, rode the rides, saw the attractions, walked away with 2 very cool transformers’ T-shirts for the kiddos, and stayed 2 nights at the nearest Hilton (one to rest up before the day at the park, and another to rest up for the last bit of driving).

It was a total of 10 days, and although I did do some laundry in the middle, I came home to do a ton of laundry on the 31st. We were all so tired, but so happy to be home too. One very excellent way to tie 2012 in a perfect little bow. So Perf!!

How did you get through the holidays?

Rossana G-A