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Monday, September 26, 2011

Ritalin or not... that is the question...

Here is another serious one folks. One of the things that I love so much about blogging is that I can write about whatever I want and I know that this next one may have some people definitely talking and ultimately that is important because we should always be able to look at each other’s point of view and agree to disagree.

My son is about to be six and he was in kindergarten last year and he didn't do very well academically. He is so amazing in his social development but when it comes to paying attention, well... let's just say he is not always there.

I have been worried about his development since he was one. He was in speech therapy at that age. I had to quit my job because it was daily therapy and Darion (my oldest) was also going through some health issues as well. I wanted to make sure that they both got the medical care that they needed without having to schedule it with my job (as I am currently doing).

Fast forward to these past few weeks. I was told my son's teacher that he was still not where she wanted him to be this year in kindergarten. He is still not focusing enough and spaces out quite frequently. I have always kept it in the back of my mind that one day I may to consider Ritalin for him because his dad has ADHD and had to take Ritalin in elementary school 

His pediatrician has been advising Ritalin for about a year and half and I have staunchly refused because I worried about the side-effects that it may have for him, not only short-term but long-term as well. I have tried regular exercise and I changed his diet but none of these has seemed to work, I have gotten her (pediatrician) to hold off on the finality of medicating him but I am worried if this will also be a bad decision if he can't keep up with his classmates academically.

Their dad said that he stayed on it for a couple of years and that the drug helped to control himself to a point where he didn't need it anymore, but... drugs react differently in everyone. Here are some articles I found helpful:

More side-effects

If you are seriously considering medication here is a guide to might help you find the right medication.

I wish I could tell you that I knew what I was going to decide. Medications scare me and I love the way Jaden looks at the world, I don't want to take that away from him. Parenting decisions are often fraught with the hard choices and what makes it worse is that your choices will affect your children for the rest of their lives. I am not an absent parent; I work with both of my sons as much as a single working parent can. I got to all the parent meetings, special events, and very rarely go out without them. I say all that because there are so many people that would like to blame the absent parent for the academic demise of the child, however in this case it couldn't be further from the truth. Their academic, emotional, and over-all well-being is of the utmost importance to me. My children truly are the best presents that I have ever received. I am unbelievably blessed to be able to call them "mine".

With that in mind, I am in no way saying that drugs are the answer but what I am saying is that they are not a decision to be made out of frustration and we must try other alternatives 9even if they inconvenient for us) first before we, as parents, think about taking that step. I encourage you to take some breathing room, go for walk on your own, pray, meditate, and be calm when making this kind of decision. Surround yourself with a supportive team (i.e. teacher, doctor, friend, grandparents) because this road is not easy (parenting alone is hard enough) and make sure that all of you know all the side-effects and other pertinent information.

I am not a doctor and can in no way give anyone advice. I strongly advise that you get second and third opinions from pediatricians before making this kind of decision. Sometimes even a change of school may be in order because let’s face it, some kids learn differently in an environment that they either don't feel comfortable in or one in which they don't.

Lastly, if you haven't, spend one on one time with your little one, sometimes that extra attention really helps. Parenting is a crazy journey, but it has been rewarding in the best of times, and never boring at the worst of times. :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Back to my basics..

One of the days that I dread every year is the first day of school. One reason for this is because I usually feel extra guilty because I can't stay for all the morning like a lot of the stay at home moms. I wish I could spend more time with my boys and the first day of school is my first reminder that I am missing so much of their life and they just keep getting older... *sigh*

This year my oldest son started the third grade and my youngest started kindergarten. I am so overwhelmed by how much they have grown (both literally and figuratively) in just a year. In November my youngest will be turning six and it is crazy that just six years ago I was pregnant for the second time.

I am not sure why but this year has really made me reminisce on where I was when I was pregnant with Jaden. I found myself pregnant in Minot, North Dakota, all alone. My husband left us and I had no job, in a town where I had no family. To say that I was scared was an understatement. I was not new to being alone and pregnant because when I was pregnant with my first child he was deployed to Iraq. However, this time I was faced with my worst nightmare: being a single parent, for the rest of their lives.

Just thinking about this time in my life makes me feel so incredibly sad and I wish I could go back to just tell myself that I would eventually come out of it, no not that everything would be okay, but that I would not always be that broken person in the mirror..

I have always been incredibly blessed because in my life there has been full of people that have stepped in to be exactly what I needed at the time. Surrogate moms, incredible friends, and strangers that have offered immense help in some very troubling times.

I say all of this because of the MANY opportunities that having a blog has opened for me I had forgotten that one of the reasons I started a blog in the beginning was to get my story out, I don't know if would want to call it my virtual diary .. but it was to be a way for me to say a little bit of what went on in my head and also maybe help someone not feel so "alone" in a situation that may mirror mine.

Be encouraged, stay focused, you are not alone.

Love (hugs),

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Jorge and me ...

I had a big wish when I was little girl-- I wanted a pet. Not just any pet, I wanted a pet monkey just like "Curious George". I would sit for hours reading about all of his escapades and laugh and dream that I was right there with him, like when he painted animals on the wall of an apartment or when he helped a chef "cook" spaghetti.. he was one of my dearest childhood friends (along with Ramona Quimby .. but that is a story for another day).

That is why when I got the opportunity to write about the upcoming BRAND NEW season of Curious George that premieres on Labor Day (This Monday!!) I was very excited. I got the materials to review during the week but I have a very strict policy of no TV during the week (yes.. I know that sounds crazy .. but hey.. believe me it pays off) we hunkered down to watch the episodes yesterday.

You will not be disappointed as a parent because you already know that if it's on PBS it is educational but they have outdone themselves with these shows because they are not only educational they are exposing the children to the wonders of the arts.

He delves into an auction, goes to an opera, reads a map, becomes a detective, sculpts,and  takes pictures. Also, George's Latino friend Marco is back! Those episodes are scheduled to re-air the week of September 19th in celebration of September being Hispanic Heritage Month.

Thankfully, my boys and I have always made it a point to go to museums, watched live performances online (we can't really afford to go to the opera at the moment) but man .. because we can't go to some of these things just seeing them and being exposed to them has made my kids think that they can create anything. They have some AMAZING imaginations (maybe I am bragging a little.. but I would say this even if they weren't my kids).. they have created spaceships, oceans, ships, and armies all with comforters and paper. I love shows that don't just entertain my children because I want the time that they do watch TV to feed them ideas not zap those ideas out of them.

I used to let them watch TV while I cooked and they would be like little zombies in front of the TV and when I would ask them what they just finished watching they would just talk about kids on TV hitting each other, or making jokes that I thought were kind of inappropriate, but when I drew the line was when my EIGHT YEAR OLD SON who weighs 40 pounds soaking wet said he didn't want to wear sweaters anymore because they made him look fat. I didn't want to just haul the TV out and leave it on our front door (okay.. maybe a little) but knew that I had to be more vigilant about what they were being exposed to and decided to limit the TV time they were having.

When I was growing up I loved all of the cartoons from PBS and that I learned a lot from their shows and so I had my kids watch all my old favorites. They were hesitant at first missing their old shows (I let them watch those every so often) but all in all they are in love with the PBS line up and I love that they are actually learning something.

The PBS family also wants our kids to be more involved in the arts and so sometime in February Curious George will be having their very first DANCE CONTEST!! Parents will be able to submit videos of our little ones dancing to the Curious George theme song and those videos will be posted on the Curious George website. One lucky monkey will be awarded a special prize (my boys are practicing now.. :-)

We had a ball watching the season yesterday and I believe that your kids will learn so much and maybe will be inspired to get out there and be creative just like our friend : Curious George!!

Here are some videos and links -- Enjoy!

Please visit the Curious George website for updates and more info:



All pictures and videos are courtesy of: Curious George® & © 2011 Universal Studios and/or HMH. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. PBS KIDS (R) Public Broadcasting Services