PHEW! That was a close one!

For those of you who are not on my email list and sometimes check in to the blog to see if anything new has come out, you may have been faced with the horribly traumatic experience of finding that the blog was gone recently. Or at least, you couldn't find it at gracefulchicken.com!

You see, apparently when you set up a domain for auto-renewal and then cancel the credit card it renews on and then don't read your emails in order to get the final notices that the domain has not been paid for and therefore will not renew, the registrar takes it away! I know, crazy, right?

So after a week of hair pulling stress, too much reading and rereading (in a failed attempt to understand how it all works and what I need to do to reacquire my domain name), several conversations with different people at the registrar who told me the best they could do was have me transfer the name so that they could charge me for it so that I would have access again, (which still doesn't make sense since I had no access to the domain anymore in order to transfer it) and then a little stroke of luck as the light went on (briefly) in my brain and I put two and two together and figured out a way to get around it......www.gracefulchicken.com is back up and running.


That was on top of a ridiculous week that included (but was not limited to): missing an IEP meeting for Liam, as well as five kids' dentist appointments, sending Solly to school with an ear infection (and apparently "because he wasn't running a fever and needs to suck it up" wasn't a good reason when I spoke to the nurse who calmly replied, "Yes, but he hurts."), missing the bus every. single. day., and then losing a rabbit (seriously, who loses a rabbit?.... Fortunately, it missed us and came back....sucker!), and finally, showing up at the Vet's office to get meds for the dog but forgetting my wallet. (As it turns out, you can run a tab at the Vet's office....they are good like that!) And then, because I forgot my wallet, I couldn't go get the medication at the pharmacy that I needed to pick up for Aidan who also had an ear infection (which he had been complaining about for weeks but I had just finally gotten him to the doctor that week, because SOMETIMES I SUCK AT MOTHERING!)

Apparently, this is what I get for vowing, after the death of another friend the week before, to appreciate each and every day, regardless of what it brings. Serves me right!

But all faith in the world was restored when my bestie showed up at the Pharmacy to bail me out, pay for the meds and even had a Starbucks drink for me to brighten my day. Never a day goes by that I am not thankful for my friends!

Have a great weekend, friends!


More OCD Tales

People ask how Madeline is doing all the time. She is doing fairly well. She is still in school and only begs me maybe once a week to homeschool. This is great progress.

Her intrusive thoughts currently all revolve around cheating, which is not surprising with school in session. (Did you write the answers on my pencils? Are the answers on the tags to my shirt? Am I cheating? Oh no, I need to change into a different outfit because there are answers on this one!)

It is sad and scary and sometimes a bit ridiculous bordering on comical all at the same time. She suffers. She is tormented. But she also recognizes the illogic of it all. She knows her brain is tricking her, that her mechanism for turning off irrational ideas is simply not working, but it is so real to her that she suffers all the same. There are set backs, and there is progress. And she is pushing through.

She was getting out of the car the other day, wearing a tank top and heading in to take a quiz when she stopped and looked at me, that wide-eyed horror stricken look I have come to know so well.

"Did you write the answers on my arms?" she asked.

"What?" I asked, exasperated. "That's silly. Just the OCD talking, Madeline. Move forward."

"You did! You wrote all the answers on my arms!" she exclaimed, emphatically.

"Madeline, do you see answers on your arms?" I calmly asked.


"Do you have a potion to reveal the invisible ink that I must have used to write the answers on your arms?"


"Then I would suggest you just wipe the invisible answers off your arms and get into school," I said, half amused with myself.

"You are so mean," she said as she rolled her eyes and exited the car.

Yes, yes I am.

What's worse is I wrote the WRONG invisible answers, kid!

(I swear, I am the worse mom for this job......or maybe, just maybe exactly what she needs....)


First Day of School

If you know me well, you probably know I have "Time-Management Issues" (which I like to think of as a symptom of being an optimist.....I am just so sure I can get those dozen things done before I have to be wherever it is I am going next.)

Well, believe it or not, summer went by in a blink of an eye. And as we were nearing the first day of school, trying to keep Madeline's anxiety at bay while the other kids excitedly prepared, I didn't really manage the time like I might have had I really believed school was actually going to start on the 31st.

As it turns out, the school district was not kidding about the start date and so the night before, I scrambled to figure out what the kids would need, and if we even had those things since my one futile attempt at back-to-school shopping was met with a Target that was mostly out of stock on all the essentials. (And then I forgot to get to Staples to finish collecting supplies......because in my mind, there was still plenty of time left, Summer! Way to ruin a perfectly good dream! Sheesh.)

Aidan was the last to go to bed since, like his mom, he struggles with time management issues as well and was trying to finish up his summer reading project. At 10:00 p.m. I told him he needed to pack up his backpack and go to bed. He emptied his backpack (from last year, still full of cookie crumbs and other assorted gross stuff) and asked which folders and binders he needed. I went through the list. I had only managed to find 2 of the right colored folders (for PE and Computers); not exactly a gold-star moment. I did get excited when I saw I had gotten the black binder needed for math but then quickly remembered that, oh yeah, his math class is at the high school so this middle school list does not apply for that class.....(I made him take it anyway because it's better to have something than nothing.....assuming we are not talking about diseases.....then nothing is pretty darn great!)

Anyway, Aidan was up by 5 a.m. working on his assignment and was out the door early to catch the bus. (One down, four to go.)

Madeline was up by 6:15, almost an hour early but was too excited to go back to sleep. (Given her nerves over the past couple of weeks, we were just happy to see her smiling and ready to go.)

Lily awoke, already in her school clothes (that she wore to bed, as is her norm) and quickly got to work making her lunch.

Liam kept an ongoing count down to let us know how much time we had before the bus arrived.....his nerves getting more and more edgy as the clock ticked away. (Think: FOUR ALARM FIRE when there was only 20 minutes left!)

Needless-to-say, with all we have going on, I felt a huge sense of relief when I sent these three off:

And with smiles no less! We were so grateful (even if it was a short lived happiness.....)

Then there was one.....one kid to get to school.

Solly started Kindergarten this year. Our district only offers half day (because they hate us) and so I signed him up for afternoon as it is one less kid to get ready in the wee small hours of morning.

Solly was excited about starting Kindergarten but he definitely had some reservations as the morning went on. (I also had some reservations because they put him in a class with a teacher who used to teach middle school reading lab and has ZERO experience with Kindergartners. She is a grandma and "loves children, loves reading to them, doing puzzles with them, playing games" but when I met her, I got the feeling that, in her rosy colored world, she had no idea what it would be like to have a classroom full of Solomons.....and I put my money on Solomon breaking her.....give it a month.)

After reading a random email from his teacher the night before, I realized she had given out a supply list at the orientation night (that I happened to miss since almost everything that happens in the district is Tuesday or Thursday evenings when I coach.) At any rate, I wrote the teacher, requesting the list and she wrote me this lovely email, apologizing for the unnecessary stress this must have caused me. I chuckled. There are many things that cause me stress but whether or not Solomon has a pencil box on the first day of school is certainly not one of them. (Whether he chooses to keep his clothes on at recess or pee in the bushes instead of using the bathroom, well, those may be on my list.....)

As we were driving home from Staples with his supplies (and his Starbucks lunch of champions: chips, chocolate chip cookie and chocolate milk......because I am mother-of-the century here.....) I got a call from our neighbor whose 5th child (of 7) is also starting Kindergarten. She wanted to know if I knew what time school started for the boys.

"Oh, thank God I am not the only one!" I told her.

I drove Solly to school at what seemed like a reasonable drop off time (12:30) and pulled up in front where there was an enormously LONG LINE of parents and kids waiting to go inside. There was ONE CAR in the actual car line and I hesitated. I must have missed the memo saying we were supposed to walk our kids in and seriously, why are all these parents doing that? I called my neighbor. Is this normal? While I had no intention of parking and walking in, wasting 20 precious minutes of this three hour block of FREEDOM, I felt this slight pang of guilt......She assured me Solly was independent enough to go it alone.

I watched as the little girl in the car in front of me got out and stood in the back of the line all by herself. I felt another wave of guilt.

"Solly," I said, turning around to look at him square in the eyes. "You are going to go into the school like a big boy, all by yourself, show all those other kids how it is supposed to be done, ok?"

"Got it!" he exclaimed.

"Great. You go on out there then and have a fantastic first day."

He gave me a kiss and got out of the car, heading toward the wrong door. I rolled down my window:
"Solly! You have to get in the line and go through THAT door," I hollered, pointing at the line and then the door.

He took one look at the ridiculous line, looked back at me with a daring glance and then ran through the grass, behind the trees, avoiding the line completely and stealthily snuck in the door behind the teacher who DIDN'T EVEN NOTICE HIM.

I guess he was dressed appropriately:

The little girl on the left is the end of the line.....Solly looked like an old pro cutting through that grass in his camouflage.....

I will admit, I said a little prayer.....for the teacher and the entire school for that matter. They will need it.

(Day two he tried to climb out the truck window at drop off.....I had to explain to him that he really should use the doors at school.....so he pulled his backpack back in the car, opened the door and literally fell out in a heap on the ground....he got up grinning: "I'm ok!" and rushed away. Oh lord help them.....)

What Doesn't Work With OCD

Having a child with a mental health disorder makes life far more challenging. What's worse is that it is really not something I can completely explain to people unless they have seen the symptoms and meltdowns for themselves, which of course, they haven't because children with OCD are very good at hiding their symptoms from people until they burst. From the outside, someone who knows Madeline might just sense a little anxiety or discomfort when really, a war is raging inside her.

This has certainly brought out some of my less than perfect parenting as I try to navigate what sometimes seems like an enormous abyss.

My parents have been privy to some of our more difficult moments; those marked by some of my greatest parental fails (and some successes that were total shots in the dark). And believe me, so much of this walk has felt like darkness......we go along, trying to understand, trying to figure it out, to research, to learn but time and again we stumble, fall flat on our face, shake our fists to the heavens because what the heck is this? AND WHY? There are just so many unknowns.

Nonetheless, here are some of my greatest fails to date, (I do not recommend trying these at home).

1. The therapist told me to have Madeline hold an ice cube to distract her from the intrusive thoughts causing the meltdowns. At one point, when forcing her to hold the ice in her hand was simply not working, I just poured the entire cup of ice on her. (For the record, while it did stop the screaming momentarily, the screeching that followed was probably not worth it.)

2. Madeline had been fighting the need to repeatedly wash her hands for several days. One night, towards the end of our FL trip (she had unfortunately had a relapse and was really struggling again), she went into hysterics and she spent ten full minutes washing with the bar of soap, lathering her hands over and over while in the shower. When I came to see what was going on and stupidly asked why she was doing it, she said her hands were dirty and wouldn't get clean so she had to wash them again and again. I took the bar of soap away (insert hysterical screaming) and she rinsed the soap off, (still screaming) and demanded I give her the soap back because her hands were still dirty and needed to be washed again (screaming, screaming, screaming).

Impatiently I exclaimed, "Madeline, this is your OCD! Your hands are NOT dirty," and then I impulsively grabbed her hands AND STUCK THEM IN MY MOUTH to prove how clean they were. She got quiet, wide eyed yet somehow still glaring.

"Ok, um, well, they might be dirty now," I said, handing the soap back.

3. At one point, we were walking inside and Madeline started walking to and from the door repetitively. Without even thinking, I slapped her on the back, as if that would snap her out of it. Ever try slapping someone out of a diabetes episode or an asthma attack? Yeah, it works about that well! (For the record, pinching does not work either, unless you are just trying to make the kids really mad, then I highly recommend it.)

I am sure there will be more where this came from because if there is one thing this experience has taught me it's that I am far from a perfect parent, maybe not even close to a good parent when you throw in big obstacles......but onward we press because at the end of the day, that's what loving parents do....just keep swimming, just keep swimming, whatcha gonna do you're gonna swim, swim, swim....

(It just might not be a very straight path.....)