Max. Oh, Max. I want to eat this kid. Curly headed little ray of sunshine. I am fairly blind to anything but the perfection of him. It's not hard to do. He is funny and has the best sense of humor. He is handsome, sometimes I stare at him because he is just so good looking, I literally love the look of him. He hears a commercial or a song and the lyrics stick in his head like glue. He can act out the entire "Jake from State Farm" commercial, it's HILARIOUS. You never met a kid that could memorize like him. He is such a talented reader and is way ahead of his classmates. He does math in his head and already gets points taking away for not showing his work. Because he doesn't need to show his work. He is a performer is his heart - which is not something we have pushed at him since Lily is really our theater girl. We didn't want them to compete, but we can't hold him back. He wants to act, so we let him. Max. Max. Max. He is my sunshine when skies are grey. I can't resist my future American Ninja Warrior.
So, when I started getting frequent notes home from his first grade teacher I knew it was her not him. How could anyone not fall in LOVE with the glory of this child? She doesn't get him. She'd too old. She retires after 30+ years at the end of this year. She's mean. She's boring (she is actually boring). When she first suggested that my perfect baby had ADD I knew she was off the deep end. He is a bizarre thinker I always thought. He is a bad listener. You have to given him lots of extra time to get ready in the morning because he gets off task. That's just his quirks. His teacher is a crazy old ____________ (insert one of the many choice things Josh and I called her). I was taking Quinny in to the doctor anyway so I brought up this crazy ADD crap. We both rolled our eyes and said this teacher was nuts. My kids doctor is wonderful. I love her. Yet, she is new to us. We have only had her for the last few months. She has met Max one time for about 10 minutes. She has never done his spelling words with him - the ultimate torture test of endurance. She has never had to get him out of the house dressed and presentable. She had never tried to have a conversation with him that is longer than a few minutes.
The doctor gave me a form to fill out and one for his teacher to fill out. You rate the kids behavior on a scale, five being the more often you witness the behavior. Things like "How often is your child easily distracted by external stimuli, like something in their environment such as a noise or another conversation?". 5 stands for several times a day. As I am filling this thing out my heart drops. You don't have to be a genius to realize that all 4's and 5's on this thing is a pretty strong indicator that things are not exactly what you thought they were. When I started the hyperactive part of it I was writing down 1's and 2's. As I started researching this whole issue I realized that not only does Max have ADD, but it isn't just a little mild case to be ignored. He has high moderate to possibly severe ADD. And it isn't a maybe kind of thing. How could I have been so blind to this? Totally in an alternative reality about the whole thing. This kids head has a ping pong ball bouncing around in it, hitting on random thoughts no matter how they fit in to his reality. What do we do? We attack it. I am ADD. I was also hyperactive. I interrupted constantly as a child and was dangerously impulsive. You don't have to know me for long to know that I am still ADD in lots of ways. The hyperactive has mellowed into high energy, now I think of it as a super power. I just have more energy than most people, I get lots of crap done. I don't have to worry about channeling Max's hyperactivity - that's not the problem. He is active and sometimes wild, but not hyper. His attention span is the issue.
I grew up with my learning issues and my parents had a strong opposition to medications. So strong that I couldn't even talk about meds as an option for Max. I am trying to be more open minded. At some point in Max's future he may need medication to help him, but I am going to exhaust all options first. The number one reason I don't like meds as an option for Max is because one of the big side effects is poor appetite and poor growth. We have been chasing this kids calorie intake for years, trying to get him to eat. He is finally in the 50th percentile for height and I am not going to do anything to risk his growth. Not yet.
I have a meeting next week to talk about treatment options for this guy with his pediatrician. I am going to do what ever it takes to channel this creative little genius into a high functioning adult. He has limitless potential. We just have to find his personal plan. I am researching like crazy this whole thing to make sure I am informed. I am devoted to this. This kid is not going to slip through the cracks. Our school has a top notch principle that I have met with to get Max's treatment with the resource room teacher started while we pursue additional outside of school options. I am currently not interested in essential oils, healing crystals, or medications - besides that I want to hear about peoples experiences.
Recently it was the fourth year since I went through the loss of my third baby.
Let me explain that statement. I have been pregnant four times. If you ask me how many children I have I will say four. You will think I gave birth to those four children. You would be wrong. I would not correct you. It's too long a story. Emma did not come from my womb. She has a mom, a great mom. The position is filled. But she is still mine in my heart, so I don't say I have three kids and a stepdaughter. Because she owns an equal slice of my love to the children I gave birth to. Besides - I did have four children come from my womb. But, one died. See - its all too complex to be explained when a random person says, "How many kids do you have?"
What do I call the baby we lost? We did name him. But even that seems odd now. I am trained in infant loss in my job. A big part of that is using the babies name, acknowledging them as a person. Maybe it's because I know that trick, but I don't really like to talk about him by name. When I tell the story I usual say, "We named him Zack." Not, "His name was Zack." It has different inflection. It honestly doesn't matter that much - the name part of it all. But what do I label him in my mind? When I say I have four kids the 4 includes Emma but does not include the baby we lost. Is that really fair to him? He was real, We knew each other, I was in love with him. But, I don't mourn his loss like I did, not for that first year.
That first year broke my heart. When he died and I had to deliver his dead body I was a shattered soul. My brain was off the tracks for a bit. It took me pulling Max out of preschool and making him stay with me all day, changing jobs to a whole different hospital and unit, and delivering another healthy baby to pull out of the gray zone. That's exactly what my depression was, a gray zone. I wasn't gone, but I felt like I was SO tired all the time and that my emotions where underwater. They felt lesser in all ways, my anger was only luke warm, my happiness was just light grey instead of bright yellow. All the color was turned down and I hated it, but only in that luke warm way that I could hate during that time.
It got better, the colors where turning back on and things where improving. Then my rainbow baby Q was born and the world was spinning right again. It was so NICE, refreshing, rejuvenating, relieving to be back to me again. I like being hyper and I like feeling strong. Those two things were not possible during that grey year.
Now it has been four years. It doesn't seem possible that time had flown that fast. I'm so glad to have that behind me. To have that in my past and not in my current problems. I can tell my story when it suits the situation and not cry. It's not a secret in my past, it made me a fundamentally better and truer to the real me person than I was before I lost that baby. And then there is Quinny.
Quinny is the last baby, the youngest in a family of four kids. He fits the role perfectly. He is Max's twin in looks and Lily's rival in dominance. That kid was meant for me. And he would have been an egg that would not have been used if we hadn't lost that other baby. I don't mourn that baby anymore as the person that we lost. I feel fear and great sadness that that kind of depression lived in me and affected my family for that year. I wish they hadn't had to go through that journey with me. I wish Lily hadn't been afraid the entire time I was pregnant with Q that he was going to die. But I don't miss that baby, I don't ache for him like I did. I really took his place in my heart and let Q have it all to himself. I'm not sure that really is ok. To just forget the love I had for that baby. But that is just how my heart healed and I have examined it all pretty closely recently. I don't think there is a secret black hole of sadness waiting to pop out at some point. I think it really is that his death left a hole and Q just filled it right up.
Time will tell, but the gist of it all is I am still a stronger and truer Brooke than I was prior to that hardship. I like the new me way better than who I was before. I immediately became a stronger person, and my whole family has benefited from it since I could shake off the grey cloud. I write this last part with Q actually wrapped around my neck like a scarf trying to grab something off my desk.
Not since the great Emma baby has a child been able to give such a high quality dirty look,
This child has mastered the Stink Eye.
He has a highly developed sense of stranger danger.
I never worry he is going to walk away from me in a store.
He might try to sneak away in public, but the first person that tries to talk to him will have him running back to me.
When Q's older brother Max ended up with curly hair I was shocked.
I have been so secretly pleased to see my Q have very similar hair.
Please note that Q is brushing a goat.
He is funny like that. He has to always be doing something?
Brushing, organizing, throwing, jumping.
The man has a mission.
He has to figure out how things work.
He HAS to!
Just let him.
It's not worth the fight to try and make him stay in line.
Here he is happy as can be on Christmas morning when he put his Lego guy into my homemade pumpkin bread that I was taking to my inlaws.
He had to help me paint.
Again - don't fight it.
Just let the man help.
Look how happy he is.
If he has to go outside when it is raining he wears his shirt like this.
He is hilarious.
He teases all the time but he loves to be funny.
Caught figuring things out again.
He is a professor of world studies.
And duck chasing.
He can chase ducks all day.
It's good exercise for everybody.
He LOVES to eat.
He fell asleep eating the other day.
He eats ALL the time.
I feel like I need to use capital letters a great deal with discussing Q.
He lives his life in CAPITAL LETTERS.
This kid loves the shower. He can shower for hours.
It's a great baby sitter.
Overall, my little Quinny is a perfect end cap to a great crew.
He is the most snugly of all of them. He will nest with you for hours.
He is my co-pilot. I take him just about everywhere.
This kid has an amazing amount of understanding about technology. He amazing me how well he can take my phone and open up Netflix to watch JustInTime.
This kid and his Dad are best buddies. Josh is the first thing Quinn talks about when he wakes up in the morning. "Where is my Daddy?" I am a very distant second place. But as long as I remain second I am ok with that.
Seriously - I can't explain this kid to you. He makes no sense. He tell jokes that are so bizarre that we all stare at each other while he rolls around laughing. He might be the weirdest kid I have ever met, but his weird is just so damn appealing that every one adores him.
He gets love notes in his backpack from girls at school. I don't blame them, he is irresistible.
He takes 45 minutes to get ready in the morning. It's the slowest process ever and he had to take breaks to warm up in front of the heater. He eats four pieces of toast every morning with THICK butter. It may be the majority of his calories for the whole day, because otherwise he hardly eats.
He gets notes home often from his teacher, that are NOT love notes. He is brilliant at school. Straight A's and takes to learning like a natural. Yet - he doesn't listen and struggles to stay on task. Basically, that means he isn't even trying and he still gets straight A's. What's going to happen when we can harness that genius into an outlet? The sky is the limit.
He is left handed, just like his Emma.
He is actually fairly athletic, but lacks the focus to be able to do sports. If the action lags for one minute he is picky flowers in the outfield.
He loves drama class and has a chorus roll in Legally Blonde the Musical.
Of course - his hair is his signature look.
He gets into the least amount of trouble of all the kids. When he does get in trouble he is the only one that I feel bad about punishing. He just looks at you like he is so sorry. Again - he melts my heart.
All four of my kids have different reasons why they own me. Why my soul is locked to them. Mr Max is always going to have my gratitude. He was the right age at the right time and when we lost our baby a few years ago he was the only one that didn't give a shit if I just wanted to fall apart. He wanted his cereal and he wanted me to take care of him. He didn't humor me, because he was too little to humor me. He didn't look at me with pity or concern like any normal adult (or even Lily) that cared about me would. He was in the oblivious older toddler phase where they really don't care about anything but themselves - and he was the perfect medicine to my soul. He was going to act normal even if my heart was broken.
First - let me thank my Emma for taking all the pictures and my Josh for not grinding up Xanax and drugging me. I get so nervous before a party and it kind of blows his mind.
The treat table came together perfectly.
Emma had the great idea of cutting out an animal hide from the extra brown fur left from the hiccup costume.
Josh threw in the two deer hides he had made last season to help set the stage.
Josh also has access to a large format printer and printed out the two dragons on the backdrop.
My usual cake lady made the amazing cake again. She is so talented and her pricing is really reasonable.
The treat table has dragon poop (more on this latter), dragon teeth (Hershey kisses), dragon claws (bugles), and dragon eggs (grapes). We also had gold fish crackers and Swedish fish to feed the dragons.
Dragon poop was a big hit.
You melt a whole bag of green candy melt then toss in marshmallows.
I used two forks to get out about eight marshmallows at a time and put them in little piles.
Then I covered them with green sprinkles.
(This idea is 100% off my pintrest board, it is not my idea at all. I totally copied it from here.)
Our local donut shop has decorated donut holes that I try to get the kids for every holiday. Those puppies were gone in minutes!
Sheep pops looked really cute.
These were so easy to make!
Brown M&M's cut in half for ears.
The cake decorating aisle has the sheep eyes.
Then I just melted some chocolate for the sheep heads.
She is so clever.
Josh's deer hides.
Some inexpensive dragons stood guard.
Oh the cake...
Usually when I dream up a cake I want to combine pieces of several other cakes.
On this one I gave my cake lady one picture and told her it was exactly what I wanted.
I am a wife, a mom, a NICU nurse (who fakes it in the ER), a city mouse learning to be a country mouse, a smart mouth, an over emotional nut jar, a normalish neo-homesteader, and a converted spoiled brat.