Anger

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”
― Mark Twain

It has been a hard 2 weeks and 2 days. We lost our Mom on June 13, 2012 to her battle with alzheimers. I have not been able to write about it yet. I feel that one will have to wait until I get home and can sit and ponder a while. Please excuse my absence.

But today, today I need to purge myself about one particular subject.

Anger.

I learned quite a while ago that raging (against machine or man) is rarely productive. Sure, in battle it can give you the drive, the passion, the energy you need. Take the berzerkers of old. Their anger made them legendary. However I live in a time and place where battle is rarely physical. It is usually emotional, mental, philosophical, and political. Anger does not always serve these battles best.

What happens, however, when anger comes to your door? When anger seeps inside you and wells up in you working it’s way up from the toes? What happens when that anger gets the fires in your blood going and you can’t seem to put them out?

I have known real anger before. Anger over wrongs done to me. Anger over my circumstances, or the people I loved who’s circumstances didn’t seem fair. I spent years of my life trying to quell that anger (and other emotions) enough to function. Ironically, cancer helped me learn that. Guess what? Life’s not fair. Then you die. Hopefully not from the cancer you were just diagnosed with. Does it help to be angry at cancer? No, in fact, many experts would tell you it does the opposite. That being angry at cancer – being stressed out about it – feeds the cancer, helps it to grow.

So, if anger feeds cancer… What else does it feed? Hatred? Envy? Wrath? Violence? Pain? Destruction? Division? Yes. All of these and more.

Why is it so hard to rid myself of anger? Why do I find my mind wandering back to the source of the anger and to the pain it is causing?

Is it not my choice to accept this anger? Is it not my choice to send it on it’s way? Is it not my choice to sit quietly, to meditate on it, to let my body relax and let go of it all?

Anger is a powerful thing. Like all powerful things it takes real concentration, real will power, to stop and think and let go.

“Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you are.”
― Cherie Carter-Scott

I know I am more than my anger. I am more than any one emotion.

Face your anger with truth, calmness and openess. It will reveal the real root of your anger and perhaps THEN you can be free of it. (note to self)

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Sleep Study part 2

I went back to do the second half of my sleep study (finally) last night. It was last minute so we could get it done before I go out of town and I had to go to another location.

Lesson 1. Always request the location in the rich part of town – even if it’s all the way across town. SO much nicer.

Lesson 2. Sleeping with something on your face blowing air into your nostrils all night is uncomfortable. So uncomfortable that I had a massive panic attack in the middle of the night and had to take it off, do deep breathing and try to meditate to get through it.

Lesson 3. If you feel badly enough you are willing to do almost anything to feel better. Even to try to get used to something that gave you a massive panic attack. (my doc assures me this will help me feel better as I stop breathing 15 times an hour on average and my pulse oximetry (oxygen level in the blood) drops below 70 – it’s supposed to be above 90)

Lesson 4. Retired army guys from Georgia – not the most sympathetic people during an anxiety attack in the middle of the night. (saying “you really are breathing” does NOT help someone who feels like they are suffocating)

Dear Cancer:

There is a funny thing that happens to you when you survive cancer. (all of us are survivors from the time we are diagnosed until the time we die – even if we are still fighting) Cancer starts to define your world. Suddenly you see cancer license plates and t shirts everywhere. You see women with chemo head and ports tucked under pale people’s shirts. You see children who have chest scars like yours and you see people who are obviously loosing the fight if not to cancer, then to another terrible disease that mimics it. I was in Walmart one day and a young teenage girl stopped dead in her tracks looking at my scar. She slowly unwound a scarf from her neck and I saw a fresh thyroid scar. I seriously teared up. We had an instant bond, and it hurt me to see what she had gone through at such a young age.

Perhaps this happens with all major diseases, I can only speak to cancer.

Another funny thing seems to happen. Some nameless, faceless, bodyless thing becomes your enemy. You rail against it, you hate it, you curse it, you hope against it, you talk about it, you want to tell people what to do to “try not to get it”, you answer questions in a grocery shopping line or the museum check in area. When the lady behind you sighs and takes a step closer because she can’t believe you are taking up her valuable time by talking to the cashier about cancer, you shoot her a withering look as if to say “I am talking about CANCER here, lady – step back and wait your turn, cause this stuff matters!!!”

I found out today that a person I knew growing up died of Kidney cancer. He was the father of several girls in my age range. Last week the mother in law of a cousin died of cancer. She had fought it far too long.

I feel like I am personally being attacked when this happens. When someone I know, or know of, is diagnosed with or dies of cancer, or has it return… I honestly feel like it’s a personal attack. I don’t know why this happens, or where it comes from. I do know that I’m not alone. Many of my “thyroid cancer sisters” I’ve met over the internet feel the same way.

I may not know where it comes from, but I can put into words EXACTLY how I feel, because they run through my mind every single time.

“Hey cancer, fuck you! We have had enough of you in my corner of the universe. You need to get out because I dealt with you long enough that no one I ever know or even know peripherally should ever have to deal with you again.”

I truly feel this way, in my core.

Yet that’s not the way it works. I have had several friends contact me to say their parents or other relatives have cancer. Most of us have a friend or two that go through cancer in their lives. My grandmother died of lung cancer, my other grandmother had to go through treatments for breast cancer (luckily caught early), my father had prostate cancer. It doesn’t matter how long you fight it, or how hard your battle is, it doesn’t exclude you or your “clan” from having to deal with it again. THAT is why cancer is a ruthless, evil, downright ugly piece of no good garbage.

I wish that my experience could save my son from this fate. I hope he never has to see another person he ever knows go through this. But the chances are not only that someone else he loves will go through this, but also the chances of HIM getting it are higher, because he has it on both sides of his family.

Cancer sucks. It sucks big time, and I hope one day to see better treatments and better preventative medicine in this field.

Until then I suppose I will just keep fighting it in my life, and hating it in other people’s lives.

Living with the In-Laws.

I haven’t posted much about this yet. Partly because I don’t want to admit that sometimes I am petty and not a very nice person. Partly because if there is an off chance my husband’s family or friends might see it, I don’t want the news to get around to the in-laws. And let me tell you, you can’t do anything in this community without everyone knowing.

My husband’s parents came here from Russia about 13.5 months ago. I’m not counting. Obviously.

We worked really hard to get them visas so they could work here when they came. It took much longer, and much more paperwork, and much more money then a regular travel visa would have. We did it this way for a few reasons. We wanted them to be able to come back and forth as they wanted. We wanted them to be able to work while they are here. We wanted them to be able to come together. Often with a tourist visa, if you apply together you aren’t always approved together. With a tourist visa you have to come when they say and go home when they say, and reapply when you want to come again.

So, we got them “green cards” or permanent resident status.

And they came.

Let me be clear, I was under the distinct impression (based on the tickets we bought) that they would be coming for 6 months and going home. I’m not sure my husband necessarily LIED to me about this. Perhaps I just assumed too much.

So, it has been an interesting year. In the beginning everyone was really polite and trying to get to know each other. We developed a little routine – what things my MIL did, what things I did, what things we had my FIL do, my husband went to work and came home and that was about the extent of his involvement. My MIL didn’t like it at first – she couldn’t get work and my son took a long time to warm up to her. We really couldn’t communicate, she didn’t want to just sit home. My FIL had some friends he saw regularly and got his driver’s license (though how he passed the driving test I have no idea – worst. driver. ever.)

After a few months my MIL started working and my FIL was the one stuck at home with nothing to do. The tables turned. One of his friends went back to Russia, one of them started working more because they were busy at his work. He has tried a few jobs, but either they were temporary or he didn’t like them and quit. You may wonder where two people who don’t speak any English work in the US. We have a very large Russian and Armenian community here, so they find jobs among those people’s companies. Or even in their homes – nannying, taking care of elderly relatives, maid service.

At this point this is our life: My husband goes to work early, gets home late. My MIL has him drop her off at work 5 days a week, and my FIL has one job all day – to go pick her up around 6:30. I take care of my son and the house. My FIL putzes around the house – mostly studying English, watching Russian TV, watching Armenian music on youtube, or pacing around the back yard. He used to take my son to the park or on walks, but stopped that a while ago. Son didn’t listen and I always had to come rescue FIL in the car. On her days off, MIL cooks a bunch of Russian food because FIL stopped eating my food about 2 months after he got here. I can’t eat most of what SHE cooks because it has cabbage in it (can’t eat with my thyroid meds) or onions (makes my stomach angry) or is too spicy (again, angry stomach) or has too much milk in it (again… stomach). So I make food for my son and I. No one else eats it. I take the boy where he has to go. I keep the house somewhat presentable. Though I will admit I have been slacking with the house lately.

I feel claustrophobic a lot with them here. It’s not that they are “in my way” or that they are “bothering me”. Honestly, we hardly interact most of the time. It’s just them being “in my space” or doing things differently then I do them. I have gotten to the point where little things really bother me.

I’m sure they have no thoughts about it being an imposition on me or about me not wanting them here forever. Where they come from it’s traditional for 3 generations to live together. Grandma/grandpa live with their kids, and help raise the grandkids and take care of the family. When the kids grow up the parents live with them and their kids. It’s a never ending cycle….

I have had one discussion with my MIL about this. Some people we know (a couple with 2 school aged boys) moved in with the husband’s parents. Who lived in a 2 bedroom apartment. 6 people in 2 bedrooms. I said I couldn’t do that and my MIL tried to lecture me on the benefits of saving money when you all live together. I told her I couldn’t do it. Again.

If they HAVE thought about the fact that I might not love having them here forever, I’m sure that they just think I’m spoiled or something. But that isn’t the truth. It’s just that you are used to the way you grew up. Here in our country we are raised being told we will move out and get on with our own adult lives at 18 or so. We are told we will have a family and buy our own house and have our own kids and do this all away from our parents. It isn’t unusual to live days away from our parents when we are grown.

There you don’t leave your parent’s area unless you are moving far away. Like America. Or maybe Moscow – but mostly another country. Then you are doing it for a better life.

I would like to sit down with my MIL and politely encourage them to be on their way. I can’t speak Russian well enough to do that. When I tell my husband that perhaps it’s time for him to hint that they can’t stay here forever (like another year tops), he tells me “they won’t. They will go back home some day.” It’s quite frustrating really. You don’t want to be the bad daughter in law, but you don’t want to just let them take over your life.

Then one day you are talking with your husband about buying your own house next year. And his mother is trying to be an uninvited guest in the conversation. She says something about “can you get a walk out basement for us in case we stay?” You just stare at her. Like she has lost her damned mind. And you let it go. Because honestly, what else can you do?

Feeding Therapy

Wow! So I posted on Facebook that our son’s feeding therapy is actually helping – baby steps right now. I recieved the biggest response! People asking what we do, people private messaging me to see if I could give them ideas or links on the internet. I had at least 15 responses.

I decided it might be easiest to write in a blog and post that.

The thing is, when your child doesn’t eat “properly” it really makes you feel inadequate. Other parents try to tell you what to do for him. Most of the time you have already tried those things and they didn’t work. Which makes you feel even more inadequate. The doctor tells you what to try. It doesn’t work. You get parenting magazines with articles that have titles like “How To Get Even The Most Picky Eater to Eat Healthy.” You open to that page and find suggestions on how to make Quinoa more appetizing or how to make smiley face whole wheat pizza rolls. Your child won’t go near one food in this article and you close the magazine with a sigh, feeling even more defeated. Pretty soon you have given up and just feed your child what he wants, because then at least he is eating. But inside you feel alone and scared and like you are the worst mom ever.

Some children have trouble swallowing or chewing. Some have troubles with the concept of eating.

My son has sensory processing disorder. He has a very hard time with eating. Certain tastes, smells, and textures bother him a lot. He gags at a lot of smells and has thrown up with some mushy textures like oatmeal. He was a normal eater as a baby and early toddler when we first introduced table foods. Then he slowly narrowed down what he would eat. He now eats 3 main dishes and a handful of side dish type things – as well as some fruits and cucumbers. He also has geographical tounge – which I am told contributes heavily to his ability to taste even small differences in foods (he knows if something isn’t the right brand by taste).

We started going to feeding therapy because he just isn’t getting enough nutrition. Thankfully he gets enough calories and is growing normally. We know a family who’s son has had to be put on a feeding tube because they can’t even get enough calories in him. He is 4 but is the size of a 2 year old.

Let me state I am not an occupational therapist. That is who we see, and she is great. But I will share the things we are doing at home to help and maybe that can help y’all.

First: the rules.

1. The family eats together, food is served family style at the table. (many parents in our situation get so frustrated with meal times that they just stop having them – and let the child eat when he wants, often in front of the TV or at least where he eats the best).

2. The adults choose what goes on the plate, the child chooses what to eat. (make a meal, then serve it with some of the child’s preferred foods. Some of everything goes on the plate, but the child chooses what he eats. Divided plates may be necessary to avoid melt downs, or a “trainer” plate – a salad plate on the side where he can put the non-prefered foods. Most of these kids are afraid of “cross contamination”.)

3. The child helps pass the food around the table – don’t dish up at the stove, put it in bowls, etc ON the table and pass it around like you did when you were a kid at home. This way the child sees and smells the food.

4. If the child touches or plays with the food, let him. That is part of learning about food. I know – it’s gross and you don’t want him playing with his food. He needs it.

6. Don’t be negative. It’s hard not to. Don’t turn your nose up when he plays with his food, don’t get frustrated when he spits out a bite after trying something new. That is allowed. He needs to feel safe. Always say “you can try it and spit it out if you don’t like it”. Don’t lecture about the child not eating. I recently gave him a huge high five and a hug after he tasted a piece of pizza and spit it right next to some grandma’s feet.

7. The child sits at the table until allowed to leave.

8. Don’t force feed.

9. No tv, movies, games, etc during meal time.

10. No grazing – the child eats at specific times every day – 3 meals and 2 snacks if you can. You don’t have to be too rigid – if snack is at 10 and he says he’s hungry at 9:45, it’s ok to bend the time a little. Older children should be able to wait a few minutes for snack or meal. (“It’s almost meal time, have some water and I’ll let you know when it’s done.”)

11. Take things out of the package. Some kids, like my son, are very visual. If he sees the “frigo man” on his cheese stick instead of the “kraft” logo, he won’t even touch it. Taking things out of the package should help desensitize that.

12. Let them help prepare food and clean it up. My son will cook for everyone else, but doesn’t want to eat it – that’s ok, he is smelling and touching it and that is important.

Second: dialogue.

This has been an eye opener for me. Before when my son would say “it tastes different” I would just get him something else. Now we are talking about food. All the time – not just at the table. This causes some anxiety some days – just the talking. Try to be positive and help their inner monologue about food change. Some of the things we have learned: If he says it tastes different, talk about whether it’s a big difference or a little difference in taste. At first he will say “big” about everything. But we just keep trying to help him change that inner talk by saying “really? I think it’s a really small difference”. Talk about what will happen if he tries something he doesn’t like. Will he explode? Is it going to eat his nose off? Is it going to make the house fly away? Silly things that cut the anxiety and make him realize that even if it’s uncomfortable, it won’t really do any damage. Also talk about the food itself – what texture is it? What color? Does it smell like something similar that we like? For example, does he know that pizza tastes kind of like spaghetti? Talk about similarities and differences. They may be obvious to you, but they are not to your child. I never let him say he doesn’t like something he hasn’t tried until we talk about it. Always stress that we are still LEARNING about the new food. Stop letting people talk about what a bad eater your child is. I say “We are learning about foods right now. One day maybe he will like them all.” And then I may have to ask them later to stop saying negative things in front of my child. Most of my husband’s friends and family do this – talk about what a bad eater he is right in front of him. If someone says you are a bad athlete every day you will get it in your head that you might as well give up on athletics… same with negative talk about food.

Examples: “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do” “Is it a big difference or a little difference?” When he says he doesn’t like something new but hasn’t tried: “No, we are still LEARNING about this food. Our tongue doesn’t know if it likes something or not until we try it 10 times.” “Did that surprise your tongue?” “What makes you worried about this food? We are just going to learn about it.” “this food is a lot like ______. What can you see that makes it alike?” Say “you can” instead of “can you” because if it’s a question the answer is going to be no. I say “You can spear those with your sword.” or “You can try that cucumber with the apple.” We have even recently been talking about how “brave” he has to be to try new things – like some of his favorite super heroes or the girl in the movie “Brave”.

Activities we are trying at home:

The order of desensitization usually goes like this: sight, smell, touch, touch part of the face, taste. So we started out by just putting some new thing in front of him. We started with “veggie sticks” at feeding therapy – they are 3 different colors, look different than most foods we eat, and have little taste. In fact, they kind of taste like potato chips. This is the one he will eat now. The good thing about these is they can be used in a lot of ways. She had to start by just letting him leave the sticks in front of him on a plate, not pushing them away. We talked about how they looked. The colors, the shapes, etc. Then they crunched them up into “puppy dog food”. They used their hands at first, but after about 4 lessons she let him start using a chopper for things we have already explored with our hands. Then he smelled it. Then she did the impossible. She got him to put the sticks to his mouth. First he just kissed it and freaked out that there was salty stuff on his lips. Eventually she got him to put it in his lips to make “rockets” out of them and he spit the rockets into a bowl. Since he is a boy he liked that. But it gets the taste into his mouth and the smell and helps to desensitize him. Eventually he licked them and even licked the crunched up part, now he will eat them. THEN she used them to branch into new things – crunching up some very small part of something else (dried fruit or pretzels) into the “puppy dog food” and then licking it again. Talking about if we could taste the new thing, or if it tasted different.

Back to the at home stuff we do (wanted to give you a background).

~ We start with something he already eats. Say graham crackers. He will eat the regular graham squares, but won’t touch teddy grahams. I bought some teddy grahams and some graham crackers shaped like spiderman. I put them all on his plate at once and that was what we had for snack that day. He crunched them, stacked them, and did a taste test with them. He still didn’t like them, but didn’t freak out and tried them. We also shot rockets with the teddies.

Applesauce – we got different flavors of applesauce to taste test. He now eats those.

Cereal – he likes honey cheerios – I will try another flavor next.

All of these things have to be repeated over and over again. We ate graham crackers for 2 weeks for one snack.

~ We tap our lips or our nose or our ears with a food – a cracker for example – and sing a silly song, “tap tap tap, I can tap my nose… tap tap tap, I can tap my teeth…”

~ Use something he likes to try another food. For example, if your child likes pretzels, use the pretzel to scoop up applesauce instead of a spoon.  Use bread sticks to color with pudding. I saw on pinterest today an idea to cut sticks of celery, put peanut butter on the end, and use it like a “fishing pole” to pick up goldfish crackers.

~ Toothpicks. So he doesn’t want to touch the mac and cheese. Who can blame him? It’s on his plate with something else he likes, so why not use that opportunity? Have him stab the mac n cheese with a toothpick. My son especially likes the sword shaped ones. See how many he can stack on it. See if he can make the toothpick stand up in the food… get creative here people.

~ Play with food. I know, your mom said to never play with food. And honestly, I have a hard time letting my anti messiness go with this one. But he has to touch and smell things to get used to them. So we take those little square cheese sticks and make boats out of them (toothpick for a mast and put little foods like fruits on it as the people). Paint with pudding or applesauce or jello. Make cereal necklaces.. There is a ton of stuff you can do, just let your imagination take over. We make cheese sticks into an octopus or a tree. Etc.

~ Make foods look different. I started using sandwich or cookie cutters on waffles. I have been cutting up fruit and cucumbers into different shapes. I am going to get some mini cutters to make it easier. Trying something that is a different color (green eggs) or different brand then they are used to. Changing the way the child thinks food “should be” helps a lot. Cut strawberries and bananas up in the same bowl…

My son now has experimented on his own with no suggestion from me. He made cucumber and saltine sandwiches, he tried some cucumber in the same bite as his macaroni the other day. He even tried a different brand of pizza at a party yesterday. He didn’t like it and didn’t eat it, but he tried it and didn’t freak out.

THE BIGGEST THING is to keep it up. These kids need lots of exposure. Perhaps you will have to play with teddy grahams for weeks before he thinks he likes them. That’s ok. The more he learns that he can change his ideas about foods, the more his ideas about foods open up and the more you can try. Keep at it, it’s frustrating, it’s tedious, it’s boring. But you must keep pushing with the home activities. Every single day, mix it up, change it up, change what your child is doing.

I will add some links I have found helpful here, but if you google “sensory food issues” or “feeding therapy ideas” you can probably find plenty more. OH – and look up “food chaining” – it’s the idea of going from what he will already eat to something just a tiny step away from that – to another step… Like waffles to pancakes to french toast to toast to sandwiches.

http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/picky-eaters.html

http://www.speechlanguagefeeding.com/category/feeding-and-picky-eating/tips-for-parents/

http://www.earlyinterventionsupport.com/parentingtips/feeding/problem-feeder.aspx

http://arktherapeutic.wordpress.com/

How to make food look fun:

http://www.circleofmoms.com/article/smiley-face-quesadillas-04722

http://kitchenfunwithmy3sons.blogspot.com/

http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2012/01/fresh-food-friday-25-kid-friendly.html

http://www.kids-cooking-activities.com/

http://www.kids-meal-ideas.com/

Last but not least: If you think your child has sensory processing disorder, or even sensory issues (things are too loud, things are too scratchy, things are too wet, dry, mushy, bright etc ALL the time) – a general sensory diet is supposed to also help with feeding issues – you can google sensory diet and find tons of stuff, but I will also make a point of doing a post dedicated to that this week. I have had my son sucking on straws and chewing on chewy tubes, chewing on bubble gum, and filling his mouth with water as full as he can get it, then spitting it out as far as he can (outside, of course), and a vibrating toothbrush. He likes to stuff his mouth full of food and chews on his shirts or fingers, so I know he needs oral stimulation. This has seemed to help with his feeding issues some, and I am going to get a vibe stick soon – it’s a contraption that vibrates your mouth with tips of different textures…

Sleep Issues

I have had sleep issues since my late teens – started having insomnia. I didn’t have a hard time falling asleep, it was the waking up at 3 am and not being able to get back to sleep that was the problem. I do remember having terrible vivid nightmares at a young age and having to go to my parent’s bedroom if I could even get out of bed. Sometimes I was just frozen with fear. I still have nightmares off and on, but having a son has helped my insomnia – I sleep much better now, because he wears me out.

It seems my son has inherited my sleep issues. (I know it’s not from his father – he sleeps like a log any time any where.)

When my son was a baby he had terrible night terrors – it started about 8 months. He also could never put himself to sleep. We tried all sorts of “methods” but he just couldn’t do it. Now looking back I think everything was “too loud, or too scratchy, or too tight, or too loose, or too hot, etc” – that’s how he is now, but of course back then he couldn’t tell us. So, when I was at my sickest and needed my rest, we brought the baby into our bed. He had to sleep, we had to sleep. It seemed the best solution.

We moved to a new house when he was a little over a year old. He did not like the upstairs in that house. I was never sure why. He wouldn’t play in his room, he couldn’t sleep in his own bed, he cried in our bed. My husband started sleeping with him on a blanket bed on the living room floor. Yep, you read that right… That was the only place he would sleep. And my husband got up at 4 am to go to work, at which time I went to the living room floor to sleep with him. It was really ridiculous. We were still trying unsuccessfully to get him to sleep alone. He needed to touch someone when he was sleeping. He would put his feet on us and push against us. He would push his head against us.

We moved into a new bigger house and we tried to get him to sleep in his own room. To no avail. He was just over 2 years old at this point. I had another surgery and my husband tried to sleep with him in his room on a futon bed. We put a toddler bed in our room and he would sleep there part of the night and then move to our bed in the night.

He still had night terrors – woke up screaming, shaking, crying real serious sobbing tears. He woke up so upset from them he couldn’t go back to sleep. When he was old enough to tell us what they were about, sometimes they sounded terrifying “I fell into the big water and couldn’t breathe.” And sometimes we didn’t understand why they were so scary to him. Once he had the worst dream that his dad stole his cookies. His dad couldn’t come in the room without him throwing stuff and screaming at him.

At this point he was coming to our bed some, I was going to his bed some. Neither of us were really sleeping.

It wasn’t until he was 4 years old that he stopped waking up all night and started staying in his own bed in his own room for most of the night, most nights.

I decided it must be a comfort problem. I got him the most comfortable types of pajamas I could find. He liked the all cotton ones that were tight – like long johns but not textured. I bought them. (they are expensive from a specialty store) I finally decided we had to buy him a better bed. We bought a double bed with a good mattress (I mean, not a sleep number, but not a cheap one), we bought him very nice soft sheets that fit the mattress well. We bought him new pillows and rearranged his room.

All this time I had been doing the bedtime routine and the quiet time before bed and all the things the experts say to do.

Finally, finally he started sleeping through the night for real. And finally I started getting him to go to sleep on his own. It was hard work, I still had to check on him several times when he was falling asleep. But he did it.

He hasn’t had as many bad dreams and rarely wakes up at night. He has had a few big bad dreams, but for the most part he is ok.

Every time we take a vacation or something it throws off his sleeping. I try to stick to the schedule and if possible have him sleep in a bed separately from me. I try to keep him on track.

I was gone helping my mom for a week last month. His grandparents here refused to make him go to bed, so he didn’t get to bed until after 10 most nights – way later than his usual. My husband let him sleep in bed with him. I got home and felt like I was back to square one. I guess with a kid like him 7 days is just too many to let him be off schedule.

It has been 4 weeks. He is still telling me he can’t sleep alone and refuses to go to sleep on his own. It takes so much out of me and so much out of our evening.

In a couple weeks we are also going on vacation, so I know I shouldn’t push it. We will just have to go back to the way things were when we get home….

Sigh.

Russians yell a lot.

So, I had a very frustrating morning. Let’s just leave it at that for now.

I came home from taking the boy to camp and was doing the dishes. My FIL came down to ask me something about his bank. He had his ATM card with him and was asking about credit or withdrawing money, or telling them to give him money…on and on really … in Russian.

Let me interject at this point that I know how to talk about certain things in Russian, but not other things. And they know how to talk about certain things in English, but not other things. It’s what happens when you learn a new language. You learn what you need to learn at first. When my husband started working delivering appliances, he could say all sorts of stuff in English about refrigerators, or washers and dryers, or tv’s. But if he tried to tell you what was wrong with his car he had to look up a translation. I can talk about things at home, cooking, washing, etc, but not banking.

I didn’t understand my FIL at all today. And I tried. I really did. I tried asking questions for him to answer, I tried to say it in English, I tried to translate what he was saying.

He got frustrated and started yelling. He said “why don’t you understand???” Apparently not yelling at me – according to my husband. But it felt like it. So I asked him why he was yelling at me. That if I didn’t understand I didn’t – he speaks Russian, I speak English, and he doesn’t understand a lot either. He got kind of withdrawn like he was embarrassed and said it was ok, and that he wasn’t yelling at me. (basically – this is all in Russian – even what I said – and what I said was probably incorrectly phrased, but he got it – and I got it – and he went upstairs.)

I call my husband and tell him to call his father and figure out WTF he wants because he is yelling at me and I will not have that shit. If he needs help I can help, but I don’t know what he wants. Of course hubby tells me he just doesn’t understand anything and he gets frustrated when I don’t understand – but he isn’t yelling AT me. So don’t take it that way.

Which brings me to the title of this post – Russians yell a lot.

If you ever sit in a room with several Russians – especially men – bring your earplugs. Cause it’s gonna get loud up in there. They are loud when they talk, they are loud when they eat, they are really really loud when they drink. It’s just how they are. Their language has much more inflection than ours does. I can hear my MIL and FIL talking on the phone from all the way across the house and down the stairs. They just talk loudly and with more inflection. Often to others it sounds like they are yelling at you when they aren’t. The fact that they also use very big body language doesn’t help either. You have some 200 lb Russian dude standing in your face, waving his arms around like a crane and talking loudly and deeply, you are going to think they are yelling at you. Chances are they aren’t. They actually don’t yell at people they don’t know much.

My husband isn’t like this. I don’t know if it’s because he is more of an introvert, or if it’s because he went to school and knows that we speak more quietly and with less inflection, so he needs to be quieter here. Though I don’t remember him being particularly loud in Russia and he isn’t with his friends either. Maybe it’s just him.

I used to be a very loud person until I had my vocal chord paralyzed in a surgery. But I was never this loud.

My son is really really loud sometimes – he can’t always tell if he is being too loud or not – especially when he is excited. Too bad we don’t live in Russia. He’d fit right in.

Anyway. Just so you know, Russians yell a lot. They aren’t necessarily yelling at you, even if it feels like it. But they do yell. Try not to take it the wrong way like I do.

(American Girl’s Guide to Living With Russians soon to come – LOL)

Link

My MIL has wanted to go to Royal Gorge Bridge park since last year when a friend told her about it. I have kind of been putting it off because it’s a good 3 hour drive, but we finally went yesterday. I wish we could have left earlier and stayed longer because it rained and we missed a good chunk of the park part on the other side of the bridge, as well as the little train that is part of the park.

For those who have no idea, Royal Gorge is a canyon on the Arkansas River near Canon, Colorado. It is 1,250 feet deep at it’s deepest, 10 miles long and 50 feet wide at the bottom. It has crossing it a suspension bridge that is truly amazing – and kind of frightening. Especially when cars come by you, shaking the whole bridge.

http://www.royalgorgebridge.com/Home.aspx

We had a great time there. We rode a carousel, we crossed the bridge, enjoyed a magic show (which my son truly enjoyed and after purchased a magic kit in the gift shop to do his own magic.) We looked out over the canyon and headed toward the bungee swing (which my son wanted to go on but his dad didn’t – plus it was really expensive) and the animal area. Apparently there was a petting zoo, but about this time the rain started to pelt us. My husband and I were fine walking in the rain. My FIL and MIL didn’t like it and my son hated it. We did look at some buffalo including a white buffalo and her calf – which are supposed to be special, some elk, some mules, donkeys, and horses. We found some shelter under a picnic overhang, and then the bus came by. My son wanted to ride back so we did. We missed the mountain man town which I was really looking forward to. We drove through it and looked. Also, going across the bridge in the bus was much better for my MIL than walking in the rain and wind since she was particularly scared going across it. When vehicles came by us on the way over it really shook and she had to stop and close her eyes and hold the side.  My sensory son loved it – he looked down from the bridge, squatted down and looked between the wooden slats to watch rafters go under, and even liked the wind blowing in his face.

When we got back to the beginning of the park I wasn’t ready to go yet. We had paid a pretty good size admission fee for 5 people and I wanted to get some of our money’s worth. The rides were all closed due to rain (three cool rides) and even the tram, which my son really wanted to go on. We had lunch in the gift shop after looking around and tried to wait out the rain, they opened the tram and the rest of the family went across it and back. I didn’t want to. I hate those things. My son loved it though.

All in all we had a great day. I wish we could have gotten there earlier and enjoyed more of the park since it is so expensive and I wish we hadn’t had lunch there – none of us liked our meals.* Other than that we had a smashing good time and we were all glad we went.

On the way home we decided to hit the Denver City Fireworks display which they do on the 3rd instead of the 4th and includes a Colorado Symphony Orchestra performance. It was great, and I’m glad my MIL and son got to see them. They were both excited about it.

*Normally I don’t do bad reviews on here. But I went on their facebook page and gave a nice review of the park, then suggested they change their menu and they took down my post. So, now I’m all fired up and will be posting here. They advertised at this little gift shop grill that they had elk and bison burgers. My in-laws and husband decided to try them. I have had both elk and bison burgers before. In real restaurants. That cater to these types of wild game meats. The elk and bison at royal gorge tasted EXACTLY alike – like freezer burned over grilled hamburgers. Bison burgers are supposed to be thick, juicy, fresh, and taste like bison. Not like a hockey puck. I was not only dissapointed that they even had the nerve to serve this, but also suspicious they just used hamburger instead of bison and elk. It may have been the cook – they were staffed with mostly teenagers who were busy flirting and getting our order wrong…. But either way, not worth what we paid for it.

Breaking Boards

My son has some anger issues.

He has a temper some days and when he gets angry he gets so angry he can’t always control himself. We first started seeing this in preschool. I mean, he got angry before that, and he would throw fits, but he never got so angry he turned red and shook and spit when he talked and screamed and just couldn’t control himself. His first year in preschool was bad. I personally think part of it was the environment in the classroom and part of it was the teacher. Part of it was also having to do what other people wanted, having to do things when the teacher says, sharing, etc.

He has gotten better. This last preschool year he was doing better, and now he seems much more in control. I hope that holds because he is going to kindergarten and they won’t have that shit there.

We work a lot on what to do when you start to feel yourself getting mad, what to do when you feel like you can’t stop getting mad, who to ask for help, how to calm yourself down if you are mad, what things are ok to get mad about, what things to try to let go of, and last but not least – to never ever use your anger physically against another person unless they hurt you first.

Today was an angry day for him. I understand. I have angry days too.

At swimming lessons there are 2 girls and 2 boys. He doesn’t like the other boy, and the other boy hasn’t been there much lately. I think they went out of the country. He was back today and was causing trouble with my son. They both had to be put in time out. I had to go out to the pool area because he was so angry he was in the other boy’s face, yelling, saying mean things. I had to stand there for several minutes to get him to stop saying “you started it! It’s your fault!” at the top of his lungs and at the top of his anger level. To be fair, the other boy does usually start it, but that’s not the point…

Tonight we were talking about being angry. He started thinking about something that happened the other day. He had karate testing and had to break a board. He had done fine in practice, but those boards have a line where you are supposed to kick. He couldn’t break the board for 5 or 6 tries and he got frustrated. He kept saying he was confused. The main teacher finally took the board, put it on 2 bricks, and had him stomp it.

Tonight he brought up that when he broke the board by stomping on it, he had thought about “angry” and then he could concentrate on breaking the board.

I am going to be trying to explore this more.

I believe all of our major traits are a “gift” of some sort. Most of them are double edged swords. (some of mine seem to be sharpest on my side) If I can help him learn to use his anger in a productive manner; if I can help him learn that being angry is ok, but let’s use that energy in some way that benefits us, instead of harming us, then maybe this gift could be a good thing as well. I’m not sure where to start with it, but tonight I told him to think angry every time he works on his karate punches and kicks and board breaking. Perhaps he will – perhaps he can channel this thing.

working late

Texts between me and my husband:

Me: ??? (he’s really really late coming home from work)

Him: working

Me: Are you at the mirage? (russian night club/restaurant here in town)

Him: no

Me: Are you sure?

Him: I’m trying to work

Me: It looks like there is a party there, are you sure? (our friend posted pics on facebook from the club)

Him: NO I sold a car.

Me: Oh, well, ok, good job.

 

Next morning while he is trying to sleep discussion:

Me: So, you didn’t go to the club last night?

Him: Grunt

Me: Cause it looks like there was a party or something.

Him: I sold a car.

Me: When did you get home? I didn’t even wake up.

Him: After midnight.

Me: What took so long?

Him: sigh

Me: I mean, did they come in at closing or were you working with them all night or what?

Him: kicking off covers to get up and get ready because if he has to be awake he might as well be productive: They came in late.

Me: hmmmmm

Him: sigh

 

I need to point out – I don’t actually distrust my husband. I just like to make sure he is doing what he says he is doing. I don’t go drive by his work at 11 at night to make sure he’s there. But I do give him the second degree if I haven’t heard from him. I trust him and I should – because he isn’t a liar and he always tells me if he goes out with friends and he has never really given me a reason to doubt him. Except that once…..