Sunday, May 28, 2006

The BEST Treatment for ADD

As most of you know, Z has been seeing a psychologist, every 2 weeks, since November. At that time, he had some pretty serious OCD issues. Z was obsessed with his health and body functions. The resulting anxiety WAS causing stomach problems. He was also depressed over his ADD issues, and felt that he would NEVER accomplish ANYTHING.

Z's psychologist, Kathy, was a good fit, at the time. She was upbeat, and well-versed on OCD and ADD. Many of the things that Kathy told Z, were the exact same things I'd been telling him. Z gained a whole new respect for his Mom's knowledge, after counseling with Kathy.

Kathy insisted that Z needed to be put on anti-anxiety meds. This idea totally freaked Z out! Z insisted that he could conquer his OCD problems on his own, with reinforcement from Mom and Dad. I gave Z a month to start showing signs of improvement. In the meantime, I made an appointment with our town's only psychiatrist, whose calendar was full until May.

By month's end, Z had shown small signs of improvement. Then we struck a deal to hold off on meds until he saw the shrink in May. Kathy was not happy about this decision. Every session, she would ask if we had made an appointment with our family doctor, to get a Rx for Z. About this time, Z's tics started waxing. He developed a pretty annoying huffing tic, and a hand flipping tic. These new tics sometimes interfered with Z's schooling, but we learned ways to work around them. Kathy then decided that Z needed meds for his tics. NO! We decided, long ago, that we would ignore and/or joke about tics unless they affected Z's health or quality of life.

At this time, Kathy started pushing for Z to return to school next fall. She is the school psychologist for a small public school, 20 miles from here. They have small class sizes and a newly acquired special ed. program. We told Kathy that IF Z returned to school, he would probably attend that school. However, the decision to return to public school, is Z's decision. Kathy remained adamant that Z MUST experience social events like prom and sports. Z told her that he wouldn't participate in those activities if he was attending public school; he's not interested in those activities.

Kathy's insistence on meds and public school caused Z to begin having anxiety attacks before and during his counseling visits. Z was making huge progress on conquering his health obsessions, and his depression had disappeared. Kathy was undoing all the progress Z had made, by creating stress over nonexistent issues. Fortunately, we only had one more appointment booked with Kathy, before we saw the shrink. I promised Z that we would discontinue his appointments after the shrink visit. I also told Z that we were seeing the psychiatrist only for suggestions on meds IF any of his conditions should worsen in the future. I praised the amazing progress he had made since November. At this point in time, everything is running very smoothly for Z. We're not about to mess with success.

Thursday was the day for our long awaited visit with the psychiatrist. Dr. J questioned Z about ALL the issues contained in his file.
Dr. J: I see you had some anger issues in 6th grade; what was that about?
Z: I was only angry at my bullies.
Dr. J: Let me tell you something. The ONLY time that anger is an appropriate response, is when you are attacked. Anger towards bullying is an appropriate response.
Z: That's what Bill(his former psychologist) said.
Dr. J: I see that you have TS. Tell me about your current tics.
Z: *huffing*...Well, that's one of them. I also have an arm clenching tic, and I've always had a throat clearing tic.
Dr. J: Do the tics bother you?
Z: Not really.
Dr. J: Good, I rarely recommend meds for tics, unless the tics are interfering with your health. Sometimes tics can be a good thing. My oldest son has always had a head tic, not TS though. His head tic made it easy to spot him in a crowd. When he played football, we could always spot him on the field. He was the one with the shaky helmet.
Z: *grinning*
Dr. J: I see you've been having some health related obsessions. How often do you think about your health?
Z: Now? Rarely.
Dr. J: EXCELLENT! How did you accomplish this?
Z: I talked myself out of it, and learned to relax.
Dr. J: That's amazing that you handled this by yourself! That's exactly how I would have counseled you through this problem. OCD meds take the edge off, and tone down the demands the brain is making. It's still up to YOU to take over the command of your brain. You're one smart kid!
Z: *big grin*
Dr. J: I see that you have issues with ADD, Executive Dysfunction, and Dysgraphia. How's school working out for you?
Z: I'm homeschooled.
Dr. J: EXCELLENT! Homeschooling is the BEST treatment for ADD!
Z: *bigger grin*

Dr J thought it was a great idea to prepare a list of possible meds, just in case Z's conditions should worsen. Anything is possible with TS. He also said that if this should happen, do NOT go through the appointment desk. Ask to speak with HIM and he will fit us into his schedule without a 6 month wait.

HA, take that Kathy. According to Dr. J, we have been doing EVERYTHING exactly right!!

Z and I literally DANCED across the parking lot after our appointment. Z is sooooo proud of himself!! But not half as proud as we are of him.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

End of an Era

37 years ago, my parents and I built their 12x16 cabin on a sand ridge, amidst the northern MN swamps. I was 13. Every Fall and Winter weekend of my teen years was spent at the cabin. I frequently brought a friend along for the weekend. My parents bought 3 snowmobiles, and we explored every trail within a 50 mile radius. Moonlit nights would find us out for a walk amidst the sparkling snow and shadowing pines. LIFE WAS GOOD!

The second winter at the cabin, we met our closest (3 miles away) neighbors, Mark, and his newlywed son, Bob, and all their crazy friends. We have all remained close friends ever since. We've shared in the joy of the birth of Bob's two children, their weddings, and the births of their children. We've shared the sorrow of the deaths of Mark's wife and Bob.

Last weekend, Bob's son(TR) and daughter(DB) brought their kids and their mother up for a weekend visit with their northern MN family. TR has two daughters, aged 7 and 5. DB has two sons, aged 3 1/2 and 1 1/2. We all had a blast.

During one of our many heart to heart talks, TR asked me if my parents were serious about spending one more season at the cabin before they give it up. WHAT?! Why hadn't they shared this information with ME, their ONLY child?

My parents are in their 70s, and I can understand that it's getting harder for them to brave the elements each winter. My Dad has to plow a spot to park his vehicle and snowmobile trailer before they snowmobile 3 miles into their cabin. They have to haul all their water, food, and propane by sled. They have to cut wood for the barrel stove, which heats the cabin. When the temperature gets below -20F, they have to haul their generator out to their vehicle to power their block heater. I guess it's just getting to be too much for them to handle.

I understand. It's the end of an era. I only wish that my parents had the decency to tell ME about it!

Monday, May 22, 2006


You two have come a LONG way in 5 years, all the way to your "cabin in the sky".

I can't wait to see what the next 5 years brings.

We love you both with ALL OUR HEARTS!!

Mom, Dad, Z-kid, and Hairry

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!

Here I am, in all my glory, for your Mother's Day viewing displeasure.

Yes, that's me putting the choke hold on SME and Z. Hey, you gotta show those kids who's boss, right?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Heeling Hairry

Do any of you have problems getting your dog to behave properly on a leash? Do you envy those people whose dogs walk sedately at their side, with slack on the leash? If you answer YES to these questions, run, don't walk, to your nearest pet store and purchase the product pictured above!

I pride myself on raising well-behaved dogs. Our dogs have always known who the pack leader is in our house; MOM. They are so well house-broken, that they won't pee on pavement. They MUST have grass to relieve themselves. They know how to sit, stay, come, leave it, lay down, and shut up, before they're 4 months old. When it comes to heeling, I've always had problems.

Our first dog, Buddy, was 1/2 Husky. A Husky's instincts tell them to PULL, the minute they are attached to a lead. Buddy responded well to a choke collar. The instant the collar became tight, he would back off and heel.

Our next dog, Boo, was a golden lab. Boo was extremely BOSSY and we continually butted heads with her. SME and L were always members of BOO'S pack, and Z was HER baby. Boo was well trained and behaved very well, in the house. Leash training was another story. Boo insisted on walking with the leash in her mouth, which circumvented the choke collar. I COULD have trained Boo out of this habit, but I just didn't have the time. I became pregnant with Z, when Boo was 4 months old; so leash training got put on the back burner.

Hairry, another golden lab, has NEVER had authority issues. He'll meekly let much smaller dogs bully him into submission. I always thought that Hairry's leash problems were a result of his enthusiasm. The minute he sees his leash, Hairry totally loses control and goes WILD! He immediately lunges to the end of the leash, tightening the choke collar, which makes him cough, gag, and wheeze. He merrily pulls us along, gagging and wheezing all the way.

I have been working with Hairry, in the house, using the one-step-at-a-time method. With this method, you command the dog to sit, as soon as they get one step in front of you. We were making SOME progress, in the house, with this method. The only problem is that this method requires DAILY reinforcement! Between work, homeschooling, and daily chores, I can't find the time for this.

I came across the Headcollar while shopping for rawhide bones at Menards this week. The enclosed instructions state that pressure at the front of a dog's neck, makes them want to pull. The Headcollar transfers pressure to the back of the dog's neck, which signals them to stop. In addition, the Headcollar has a loop which goes over the dog's nose. When the dog exerts pressure on the leash, the nose loop gently pulls their head back and towards you. This motion immediately tells the dog that YOU are in control. When the dog allows the leash to go slack, he regains his head motion.

The trickiest part of the Headcollar is fitting it properly. Hairry sat patiently for 1/2 an hour while I tightened and loosened the clasp according to the clearly written instructions.

Thursday afternoon was the only rain free time we've had all week, so I decided to take Hairry for a walk with his Headcollar. Hairry obediently allowed me to put the collar on his head. The minute I snapped his leash to the collar, Hairry went wild. Hairry stepped out the front door and lunged to the end of the leash. The nose loop immediately brought him up short, and looking at me in disbelief. Hairry then rolled his eyes and proceeded to have an all out temper tantrum. He leaped in the air, then threw himself on the ground, just like a spoiled 2 year old at the toy store. Hairry continued his tantrum for a full 5 minutes, while I stood calmly holding the leash. So this WAS a control issue with Hairry!

After exhausting himself with his tantrum, Hairry sat down and looked at me expectantly. We then took several tours around the yard so Hairry could test the limits of the collar. I got a few resentful looks, but he quickly realized that MOM and the leash were in control of the situation. We then went on the 2 block walk to my parents house. Hairry tested his limits several times, but he eventually resigned himself to allowing the leash to go slack.

The walk home was a dream come true. I allowed Hairry just enough slack on the leash so he could happily snuffle the ground as he walked at my side. He never ONCE pulled the leash tight!!

I found the Head Collar a bit pricey, at $16.95, for a couple of buckles on a couple of feet of nylon strap. After our walk, I thought it was worth EVERY PENNY!

Monday, May 08, 2006


It's raining again today, so I thought I'd share a nature lesson with you.

Last week one of my customers, and friend, mentioned that he was planting some tamaracks. I was amazed, as I had NEVER seen tamarack seedlings for sale. He bought them at the local DNR office. The seedlings came in a pack of 25. My friend had 12 seedlings left, and asked if I wanted them. YES!

My parents have a stand of tamaracks behind their cabin, and I've always loved their golden, fall beauty. Tamaracks are an oddity. They're a conifer that sheds its needles, in the fall, like a deciduous tree. The needles are green in the summer, and a lovely golden orange in the fall; as seen in the photo above.

Another plus is the habitat of the tamarack, which according to the DNR is:"Cold, wet/moist, poorly drained sites such as swamps, bogs, and muskeg; stream, lake, and swamp edges; and occasionally uplands. Boreal forests in wet, poorly drained sphagnum bogs and muskegs, also on moist upland mineral soils; It thrives on acidic, poorly drained soils and does not tolerate warmer climates or dry substrates." Well, that describes our yard to a T!

Tamarack seedlings need to be planted in full sun. In addition you want to plant them where they'll blend into their surroundings in the winter. After losing their needles in the fall, they look a lot like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree.

I found 5 perfect spots to plant my seedlings, at the edge of our yard. This worked out perfectly as I only had 6 tomato cages left. Tomato cages, you ask? L is affectionately known as the "mad mower" in our family. After mowing over 19 of the 20 lilac bushes I planted, and ALL of SME's "Earth Day trees", I discovered that strong, wire tomato cages are the only way to shelter tree seedlings from our "mad mower".

The remaining 7 seedlings, I will plant in the wooded area of our yard, where L doesn't mow. That is if it ever quits raining and contributing to our "cold, wet/moist, poorly drained site".

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I'm trying....

to make time to blog.

to clear the chaos in Z's room.

to clear the area where our garage will be.

to find time to paint our hall and master bathroom.

to design a computer desk that will be sturdy, functional, and will look semi-decent.

to dry out a box of powdered dishwasher detergent.

to get my son and husband to stick to a schedule, so our household and homeschooling will run smoother.

to find time to take the dog to the vet, meet with an electrician for our garage, and get a haircut.

to understand terrorism, genocide, and other inhuman behaviors.

not to be a menopausal BITCH!