Friday, September 28, 2012

The Troll

After six weeks of middle school bliss, we have hit a snag. Morrigan last night told me she wanted me to drive her to school. This, of course, is not something I want to do. There is a perfectly acceptable school bus that stops a mere half mile from our house. The root source of the request? A girl I will refer to from here on out as The Troll.

Morrigan's stop is one of the last ones on the route. This is good because her time on the bus is limited. This is bad because there are few seats left from which to choose and apparently one of the only ones available is with The Troll.

The Troll has taken to telling Morrigan how ugly she is, how yellow her teeth are, how poorly she dresses and on and on. Poor Morrigan is in the back of the bus as no seats near the front are open and out of the earshot of the bus driver. Not that it matters much because of the cacophony of swear words all around her from the bus' gentlemen riders. [Which, incidentally, deeply offends the girl as well, but at least they are not directed at her.]

Being my offspring, her plan was to take on The Troll and fire back, both barrels blazing. Now, were this a girl from the neighborhood, from a family I know to be reasonable, I would be all for this course of action. But sadly, she is from outside the bubble. When I asked about The Troll's friends, Morrigan indicated she has a contingent of like-minded troublemakers on her side.

As much as it seems counter to any advice I ever give, I told her to back off. To respond to comments such as "you're ugly" with "Thanks!" or "I know." Morrigan is appalled at this course of action, seeing it as demeaning. Which it may be but it beats the hell out of pissing off a pack of mean girls with time on their hands and years with which to carry out a vendetta. What The Troll wants is an angry or hurt reaction. If you deny her that, she may move on.

Today was day one of Strategy Ignore. Will it work? Hope so - I'm not sure I have a good Plan B.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Vacation, Sort Of

One of the obligations of being a doctor is that you have to complete continuing education courses. On the plus side, these are generally [read: always] held in resort locations. So this past weekend while Tim enhanced his knowledge of pediatric emergencies, the kids and I tagged along!

The conference was on Kiawah island in South Carolina. So here is how it broke down....

The Good

The kids and I had a great time. We brought bikes and enjoyed the nice, flat, bike-friendly island. They were more than happy to miss a few days of school and enjoy the on site pool-slash-waterpark.

Not to mention, when we went back to our villa, it was sweet  - two bedrooms, complete with kitchen and larger than our first house!

The Bad

Tim was sick the entire time. By the time he was done with the educational sessions, he was just wiped and wasn't up for much adventuring. Now don't get me wrong, the kids were plenty happy hanging at the villa and enjoying the cable tv but it stunk for Tim that he felt so rotten.

The Birthday

Maggie turned nine while we were there. The first order of business was a bike ride on the beach. Ever the capitalist, she had turned down the birthday party for a cash payout ($175, not a bad deal - for either of us.) So we went to nearby Charleston on the big day. We went to lunch at a charming bistro where my children all proceeded to have chicken strips. [No matter - I had an awesome shrimp/fried green tomatoes/pimento cheese po boy.] Then we had a carriage tour of the city. 

Let's not forget ice cream!

Then the girls spent an inordinate amount of time at the "market" [read: overpriced tourist crap vendors.] But it was described by Mags as a great birthday. So it was.

Best news yet, everyone was caught up on the two missed days by close of business Monday. So it was a success, if a bit qualified for Tim.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Just Say Yes

Eion and I paid a return visit to his pediatrician on Friday. It was ADD evaluation time. Again.

In spite of having completed all the work for 1st grade last year, he is routinely the last kid done. He is still somewhat of a loner. And then there is the getting in trouble. A lot. So with mixed emotions and a great deal of anxiety, we walked out of our visit with a prescription for ADD meds.

As with any drug, there are a laundry list of potential side effects and possible bad outcomes. The drug has  only a 70-80% rate of success. But with the good outcome, you might get headaches or insomnia or that itty bitty chance of Eion's heart freaking out and leading to instant death. On the flip side, rather than calm some kids down, there is about 1% chance that they go the complete opposite direction and become uber-hyper until it wears off.

With all those looming possibilities, it is easy to see why they thought the first dose should be administered at home on a weekend. And to see why I was absolutely freaking the f*ck out when I gave it to him.

So we don't have any cliff-hangers, I'm happy to report directly that he is still very much alive. Whew. He also was not in the 1% supersonic crowd. Also very encouraging. Best yet, he fell in the 70-80% for whom the drug works.

And work it does. Like a charm.

The particular variety E is taking is Vyvanse. It doesn't need to build up in the system and only works on the days you take it. Eion took his first dose Saturday morning and about twenty minutes later, it was like someone had flipped a switch. All (well most) of the spaz was gone. He was delightful.

He did have a little headache and was up pretty late that first night, a problem that does not seem to be an ongoing issue, but overall, it went great. When I asked him about it, he said that it made it easier for him to form sentences. While I had heard reports of drugged children, moving zombie-like through their days, E was very alert and creative. He spent hours building a lego castle of his own creation. As opposed to the normal things he builds, which a symmetrical down to the very last block, this was like a wild, fantasy land concoction but with each and every piece having a purpose and raison d'etre. I should know - his added focus gave him the patience to spend at least a half hour explaining it to me in excruciating detail.

Monday, his teacher described him as a different child, in all the best ways. He finished his work quickly and without prodding. He didn't complain of the classroom noise. He colored in his journal, something he previously staunchly refused to do. My very favorite though was that he played with the other kids on the playground.

We're at day five and all is well. The headaches seem to be fading and the insomnia was a one night occurrence. The doctor said he didn't need to take it on weekends or holidays. When I told E that he wouldn't take it Saturday, he seemed unhappy about it. He told be he feels better when he takes it.

It is hard for me because I have long, long been VERY anti-meds. Probably, well definitely knowing me, vocally and annoyingly so. But the evidence so far is that I was wrong to be and it is helping my little guy.

Friday, September 14, 2012

That. Was. Unpleasant.

In the Quest For The End Of Back Pain, today was MRI day. While I am fairly squeamish about shots and many medical procedures, I was not at all concerned about this test. Enter tube, noise ensues, and you're done!

OR enter tube, open eyes once and realize you may indeed have some degree of claustrophobia. Step two, damn near a full on panic attack with elevated heart rate and the only tools with which to combat it are yoga breathing and the Jack Johnson in your headphones. I don't even know why I chose Mr. Johnson - he is really Tim's speed. I guess I was hoping he would put me to sleep. 


I spent the next twenty minutes sweating, heart racing, on the cusp of a complete freak out while attempting to hold absolutely still so as not to mess up the scan. And wouldn't you know damn Pandora had to put the Dave Matthews Band on the Jack Johnson channel. 

I hate Dave Matthews.

When I was mercifully set free after the longest twenty minutes of my life, I asked the MRI tech how many people just ejected from the test each day. Turns out about 3 out of 20 can't take it. But, she added, I had done an excellent job and they had no idea I was distressed. 

Let's hope it was worth it and they tell the doctor at Monday's appointment how we should proceed.

Come Sail Away

The kids have a Christmas break that goes from here to about forever this year. Normally, with Tim either working Christmas or New Year's Eve, there really isn't enough time to go out of town without missing school. And really, by the end of break, we are ready for them to be back in school. But seeing as they are going back so late, we thought we might just be able to get in a family adventure.

In a fit of rash and very un-McK like behavior, we booked a seven day Caribbean cruise!

Even looks like she's smiling at us!

The kids are beside themselves. They can't wait to go to three, count 'em three, foreign countries. The snorkeling! The Mayan ruins! The all you can eat sundae buffet. 

Now the adults around here are certainly looking forward to the cruise BUT have our expectations firmly set in an attainable region. Our accommodations, for example, could best be described as "steerage." Were this the Titanic, we'd be going down for sure. And as one generally unimpressed with food at restaurants, I am expecting it to be like a week at Applebees. 

That being said, going in with low expectations means they will be easy to meet and surpass! What I do expect is to enjoy some nice sunny days and have fun with the kids. Even if we are in steerage. With the public.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

And Since It's All About Me...

I have a column in the South Roanoke Circle this month. Read it here! (On page 3.)

How To Do A Swim Team Banquet Right

All our previous swim team banquets were very much the same, dress up affairs in the dining room of the Club. It was always the day after the big swim meet and we were all very, very tired. City-County ribbons and medals were passed out, some marginal food was eaten and participation trophies were garnered by all.


But someone, I don't know who but they are a fricking genius, decided that we should wait a few weeks and have an end of season pool party instead. While there was still marginal food, it is a country club after all, the formal and boring was replaced with swimming, relays, and even an outdoor movie once it got dark. The bar outside was in full swing and the adults, rather than having to threaten their children in order to keep them quiet during presentations, got to enjoy an adult beverage and talk with grown ups. It was lovely.

The only presentation was by one of the parents, Jenny, a perpetual cheerleader for the team, not to mention a damn fast swimmer herself, who fired up the kids for next season.

But the best was saved for last.

Rather than participation trophies, an item against which I am vehemently opposed, the kids each received a RCC pool towel. Hallelujah. It is practical, special, and doesn't elevate mediocrity all at the same time.

I couldn't have been happier.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Everything and Nothing

Well look at that! In spite of many repeated efforts to blog with even some degree of a schedule, when I  checked out the last post date, it was nine days ago. So we'll breeze through giving you a little bit of everything in the past few weeks and nothing too deep....

The Boy

This one is a direct cause of reduced blogging. We recently purchased him the game Minecraft, which he had been enjoying on the iPad, for the computer. Thus I have found myself with greatly reduced computing time. When I do kick the children off, I find I have lurkers behind me, wondering when I will be done and then waiting for that time to occur. We're going to have to do something about this.

E is doing ok at school. The good and bad days are about even but he remains a fairly disruptive force in the 1st grade universe. They were conducting some standardized tests during which Eion couldn't keep his yap shut. I told him that if he was done, he should get a book and quietly read. "Oh, I'm not done," he let me know, which seemed a pretty obvious reason that he really should be quiet. It seems the ADD is not improving and he may soon be drugged. More to come in a week or so.

The Middle Schooler

The transition to middle school, thus far, could not be smoother. Morrigan seems to have adapted to the class structure nicely. Another Mom, seeing as Morrigan didn't bother to tell me, let me know she had scored the highest on some test. The classwork has troubled her not at all. Socially, there have been no tales of woe and she is playing tennis everyday with the school's tennis team. She's happy and positive all the time. I'll just hold me breath and hope it continues.


Check out that City-County swim meet bling!

Same old, same old dog. Fourth grade is going swimmingly and she is all smiles.

The Activity Schedule

We are in year two of the Self Directed Activities model. And let me tell you that there has been some drop off. Morrigan is playing tennis, which is Monday through Thursday, but has dropped all else, including piano. That one hurt but even through my veil of denial I could see it wasn't making her happy. Maggie is, of course, the one with the busiest schedule. She (and Eion) dropped Tae Kwon Do but she is still playing flute and piano. She wants to set up some swimming time a few days a week with the other Margaret but we haven't quite pulled that together. Eion, well, about all he is doing is monopolizing my computer. He chose no activities and I didn't feel the need to impose any. This year is shaping up to be difficult enough. 

Is it the right strategy? I have no idea. Less driving all over town is suiting me just fine though.

And Then There's Me

The major excitement in our lives is the pending bathroom remodel, slated to begin in a few weeks. Let the bleeding of money begin!

I continue to be plagued with back troubles. In spite of trips to the specialist and some x-rays, I remain largely undiagnosed, dependent on mega doses of physical therapy and in pain a lot. MRI coming this Friday so we'll see if that answers any questions.

Seeing as I am in pain either way, I refuse to stop playing tennis. This week marked the start of the ODTA season and my entry into singles tennis. In ODTA (doubles,) I'm off to a fine start having trounced our competition 6-2, 6-1 last week. Yippee! 

Singles had me nervous. As one who came to the game later in life, I learned tennis playing doubles. I had never played so much as one singles match. The pro at the Club was a bit taken aback when he asked at my lesson, "So what are we doing today?" and my answer was "I need to learn to play singles." First qualifying that one hour might not be quite enough for that tall order, he went on to go over some basic strategy. 

Either he's a really great teacher, I am a really awesome learner, or I've gotten lucky, but my first two matches, both this past week, were victories. [7-5, 6-3 and 7-6, 6-3] I didn't think I would enjoy singles but it has been much more enjoyable than anticipated. 

Throw all that in with back to school nights (three of them, count 'em,) swim team banquets, and baseball games, and we have been one busy household. But that is a good thing.

Double rainbows off the deck last night.