Monday, October 31, 2011

This Is What It's Like....

This is what it's like having a child with's heartbreaking. For those of you that don't know and don't understand, let me give you a glimpse into the world of an anxious child.

It's Halloween night. Every child in the USA is amped up and ready to get some candy. They are proud to show off their Halloween costume. Proud to draw attention to themselves. Proud to step up to that door and holler, "Trick or Treat".

Not a child with high anxiety. The child with high anxiety had a great time at the school Halloween party. There was not a moment where someone would have thought that the anxious child was not having fun. In fact, his dad was even at the party snapping pictures of all the smiling faces.

As the afternoon wears on the anxious child takes off his costume. When he is prompted to put his costume back on, he asked if we could go trick or treating a few minutes late because he was busy doing something else (building legos, which is an all time favorite past time that can be self absorbing and soothing). Now you might ask yourself, what child does not want to leave on time for trick or treating? The answer, the anxious child.

The plan was to have dinner at a friends house and go out trick or treating (as we have done every year for the past 3 years) with them. We always have a great time hanging out with this family and trick or treating with them is always a huge highlight of the year. Ten minutes after we stepped through the door I could tell that the anxious child was on edge. He went outside for just a few minutes after a lot of prompting but he did not play with the other kids. The kids were not doing anything wrong, the anxious child just needed to be by himself.

At the dinner table there was a lot of laughing and fun going on and the anxious child did not join in the jokes. Then the tell tale sign, he asked if he could go lay down on the floor in a quite corner.

Bells went off in my head. His anxiety was getting the better of him. I was trying to finish my dinner as fast as I could. However, before I could finish the tipping point had already passed. The anxious child asked to go outside because all the noise and chaos of the day had just come crashing down around him.

Ten minutes later I was taking the anxious child home on Halloween night. He was in tears and refusing to go trick or treating. I had just bailed on our friends that were probably wondering what in the world happened. If felt so bad but knew that the situation was not going to get better before it got worse. I was right. A full blown episode ensued with the anxious child. The day had caught up with him.

All the noise. The chaos. The attention. The different people in the classroom. The altered evening routine. Even with the prospect of collecting a bucket full of candy, it was just too much for the anxious child.

After going through some of the strategies that the psychologist has taught us, I was able to get the anxious child back down from his anxiety attack. That's literally what happens. A full blown anxiety attack in a 7 year old. It's so sad. It's so heartbreaking. And what's worse, he is realizing that he is different from other kids. He has asked why his brother can handle certain things (like play dates and sleepovers) and he can't.

I was able to get him out to trick or treat. But he wanted to go alone. No brother. No friends. So be it. For an hour he was able to feel like a kid without the weight of the world on his shoulders. It was nice to see him be a kid for a few hours.

He knows that not wanting to go swimming with a friend, not wanting to be in lego camp, not wanting to go to a friends house after school, not wanting to go trick or treating...not wanting to do those things is just not normal.

It. Breaks. My. Heart.

I just realized tonight in that moment of his pain (crying huge tears and not being able to explain how he feels) that I have pushed him too hard too many times. I have pushed him to go to a friends house when he did not want to go. I thought I was doing what was best for him. I thought he "needed" to socialize. To some extent he does. But it dawned on me tonight that when he goes to a friends house, he has no outlet to go into a room and shut the door the clear his head in peace and quite. He has no way to take himself to a calming place when he has a friend constantly wanting his attention.

How many times have I sent him to a friend's house knowing that he really wanted that friend to come to our house? I always thought it was because he wanted to be around me. Nope. It's because he wants to be able to have that outlet to go to his room and shut the door for a few minutes. It's so that he can have a way to exit the chaos without drawing any attention to himself.

I didn't get it until tonight. I have no idea why I didn't get it. Tonight, I did.

His psychologist has told me before that she wanted to test him for sensory issues and giftedness. I was always against it. Not anymore. Now I see that he is different. Now HE sees that he is different. If having him tested gets him some extra support, I am all for it.

Everyday we try to make the right decisions for our anxious child. We help pick out clothes that aren't too scratchy, food for lunch that's not to different, track his homework so that it does not get forgotten. We do what we can to make things routine. We do our best.

We switched schools after a very hard decision so that he would be more comfortable. He see a psychologist that costs more than a monthly car payment. We try to keep a schedule. We anticipate anxiety points and try to work around them. It's hard living with an anxious child. A sweet anxious child.

I have to say that I am tired of all the questions about school. I am tired of people I barely know questioning why my anxious child does not go to the school where I work. My anxious child has found comfort with a teacher at a different school. He has found comfort in the routine, in the friendships, in the familiarity of the school where he attended last year.

Any parent should understand that you do what is best for your child, not what you think will LOOK best in another person's eyes.

It may look like I shelter my anxious child. It many look like I enable my anxious child. It may look like I coddle my anxious child. But here is the point; he is MY child. Not YOURS. MY child that did not want to go trick or treating. MY child that does not want to have play dates. MY child that does not want to go swimming with friends. MY child that does not want to be in the lego club despite the fact that he loves legos. MY child that is beginning to understand that he is not like all the other kids. It's hard because he does not want to leave the house most days. He does not want anyone other than me picking him up from school. He does not want his routine altered. He does not want to be in any sport or on any club that might change his routine. There are so many confining "rules" when you live with an anxious child. No, he won't just "get over it" or "learn how to deal with it". This is what it's like living with an anxious child.

It is a constant roller coaster of emotions. A constant wave of joy and sadness. A constant craving of routine. A constant need to explain to others why we can't do certain things with our anxious child. This is what it's like to live with an anxious child.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Just One Word

Some would call it "Fate".

Others would call it "Destiny".

Maybe even "Soulmates".

I call it....

"Addie and Cam".

(Okay, that's three words but it still works.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Cutest Acorns

We actually spent a weekend at home. Of course we couldn't just sit and do nothing so we crafted away. I found this cute recipe that only involved a microwave, chocolate chips, Hershey's kisses and mini nutter butters. I substituted mini vanilla wafers just to stay away from the peanut allergies. Look how cute they turned out. (And don't forget to look at those cute kids while you are at it.)

Unwrap the Hershey Kisses.
Melt half of the chocolate chips in the microwave 15 seconds at a time. Stir in between.
Use a butter knife and spread a small dab of the melted chocolate chips onto the underside of the mini vanilla wafer (or mini nutter butter). This acts as your "glue".
Stick a Hershey's Kiss to the chocolate glue. You have your acorn base.
Set aside and keep gluing.
Next use a small dab of melted chocolate on the top of the mini vanilla wafer to glue a chocolate chip to the top for the acorn stem.
Done! Easy!

How cute are these? I have to admit, the mini nutter butters looked a little cuter, but again, to stay away from peanut allergies, I thought the mini vanilla wafers were a good substitute.

Just because I could not resist, here is a picture of my two cute acorns finding the perfect pumpkins in the patch today after school. It was windy and dusty but we persevered and found the perfect pumpkins for two cute acorns.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mount Rushmore Rocks

This boy had a Birthday this weekend. It just so happens that we also had a 3-day weekend so we took advantage of the extra day off and surprised the boys with a trip to Mt. Rushmore. They were shocked Friday morning when we told them that Dad had taken the day off and that they needed to get in the car so we could leave for Mt. Rushmore. Colin did not believe us at first. Cam thought we were joking. Six hours later (okay 6 1/2) we were on our way up the mountain to see The Face Place.

These are the pictures of our trip in backwards order. I'm just a little too tired to switch them all around right now so you get end to beginning with some narration in between.

This is Cam's birthday celebration tonight when we got home. A boy after my own heart, he wanted chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing. Yum.

What's a birthday without a goofy brother picture? Here's Colin in true form.

And now onto our trip. We took the Scenic Tour of Jewel Cave. It was amazing! Cam was a little leery at first. He was tired from swimming and going to the Reptile Gardens that morning. All he really wanted to do was go back to the hotel and play video games. However, somewhere along the tour, he got his second wind. The cave was dark and a little scary. Colin loved it and was fascinated by all of the rock formations. Jewel Cave is the second largest cave system on the planet. The amount of cave discovered so far is 155.12 miles. The discovered distance is always changing as so much of the cave has yet to be explored. It is estimated that the 155.12 miles that have been discovered is only 2-5% of the actual cave size. That's pretty amazing.

Here's Cam being Cam. He was grunchy and grouchy and decided to pose for the camera. At least he smiled all of 2.5 seconds.

Prior to the Jewel Cave, we went to Reptile Gardens

Although they did not have as many shows since it was "off season", the boys were riveted by the snake show. We saw an anaconda (pictured here that both of the boys touched....eww) a cobra, a rattlesnake and many others. This show is not for the squeamish. There were a lot of snakes. The entire facility was crammed with snakes, lizards, frogs, geckos, turtles, spiders, crocs, alligators...all things scaly, some things furry and a few feathers thrown in there too. We could have spent a lot more time there but at 2 hours the boys were tired and we needed to drive up to the Jewel Cave for our afternoon tour.

Yes, that is a cobra. We were about 10 feet away from the cobra only divided by a short Plexiglas wall. Surprisingly, the cobra is not even close to being the deadliest snake on earth.

Let's not forget this amazing hotel. Granted, the room was not fancy, the food was not great and the level of noise was what you would expect from a hotel with an indoor water park attached to it, but the boys had such a great time. This water park was amazingly fun for them. There were slides, water guns, a lazy river, a large hot tub, did I mention slides? One slide looked like a toilet bowl. It swished you down the bowl and down the tube. literally. I went down it with Colin on a raft. At the end the raft flipped over and Colin flew over me. Not so much fun. That was the first and the last slide I went on during our trip. I am not a fan of water on a good day. However, watching the boys laugh and giggle was great. We could have spent two full days at the water park. With the time allotted, we spent from 7:30pm-9:00pm on Friday and 8:30am-10:00am on Saturday at the water park. It was well worth the stomping feet in the room above us. When you stay at a hotel with a water park, you have to expect a little noise. I can't take the credit for this fun water park hotel find. You can read about my friend's trip to the Face Place and this great hotel here.

Cam started off his birthday morning opening presents. Of course he was pretty excited and both boys were awake bright and early that day. We did what we could to make Cam's day special (duh, we went to Mt. Rushmore) but he did not want too much attention put on him. He even refused to wear the, "It's My Birthday" button.

Colin was so happy to watch Cam open his presents. I have to say, I think this is the first birthday where tears have not be shed over a small bit of present jealousy from the other sibling. I love that my boys are getting older and more mature. But can we just hold their ages here please? Pretty please?

And to end (or begin) our tip, the Faces. The boys were amazed at this image in real life. I think they only thought it was on Phineas and Ferb, not in real life. However, they were disappointed that there were not any bobble heads in the gift shop. Someone is missing the boat here.

There is so much more about our trip that was amazing. The trees were beautiful. The crowds were non existent. The drive was breath taking. On our way to Jewel Cave, we even saw Crazy Horse. We saw deer, antelope and pronghorn sheep all along the way. If you ever have a chance to take a vacation to South Dakota, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Weekend Plans

It's been a heck of a week. But enough about that....we're going to Mt. Rushmore tomorrow!

I already have all of the directions printed and our plans all put together. The only thing missing is the packing of the clothes and putting all of that luggage in the car. I won't be home until at least 8pm tonight so that's not going to be a whole lot of fun. With the busy week behind me I have not had much time for laundry or packing so that all has to be done tonight.

I am looking forward to spending a weekend alone with my family. It's going to be busy for sure but someone is turning 6 on Saturday and I think this is a great way to celebrate.

The trip is a surprise to the boys since they told us after the last "surprise trip" that they always wanted to be surprised when we went on a trip. Easy for them to say. It is difficult to pack without them noticing.

So the next update will contain plenty of pictures of "the face place" and family photos. Hope you all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

1. Bet you thought this was going to be a "Ten on Tuesday" post.

2. I'm 5' 10.

3. I could eat 10 oreos in one sitting. That's how much I love them.

4. Steve and I have been married 10 years (+1). Ha ha.

5. In my high school graduation year book my 10 year goal was to be a vet or a school counselor, to be married and have kids. Close enough.

6. I do about 10 loads of laundry a week.

7. I have owned almost 10 cats in my lifetime. This includes my childhood. (Dominic, Inky I, Inky II, Spaz, Fido, Tabby, Bonzi, Snickers) Spaz lived to the ripe old cat age of 21.

8. I run about a 10 minute mile. I'm not breaking any records here but at least I enjoy it.

9. I have probably watched Twilight 10 times.

10. It has been a very very very long time since I have slept until 10am. I have usually been up for 5 hours by then.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Divine Secrets of the Cupicha Sisterhood

So if you have ever wondered what I will look like when I am 20 years older, here is a sneak peak. This is my mom with her three sisters. Cupicha's by birth, friends by choice.

Yep, I'm pretty much destined to have the most beautiful gray hair you have ever seen. That's my mom on the left with her three sisters. Notice the large margaritas in two of their hands? That would be why they all look like they are cracking up at some inside joke that none of us will ever know the punch line to. I have a feeling that the night did not end with just one drink.

This is how these ladies act whenever they are together. They laugh. They talk over each other. They each share their stories. They talk about their kids and their grand kids. They have experienced so much in their lives. Heartbreak. Joy. Death. A crazy rocky childhood. And yet they all still smile. They are separated by miles and miles but when they get together they act like they see each other every day.

And the party just goes on and on. I hope that someday that I can have as much fun with my siblings as these three ladies. Somehow, I bet it will involve margaritas.