From the Mommy Files…

Archive for the ‘behavioral issues’ Category

Hey there! How’s it going?

Yesterday was the last day of school. Like you, I’ve been mired in all the end-of-the-year events, shopping for teacher gifts, etc. Plus, I’ve been working on an exciting new project, which I will share with you soon. I didn’t want you to think I had succumbed to a new malady, so I thought I’d better check in! 😉

Boo and Bebs enjoying the beach on California's Central Coast.

Boo and Bebs enjoying the beach on California’s Central Coast.


Like you, I like to read blogs. (Thanks for reading this one!) Some posts really resonate with me, and I share them on Facebook or Twitter. I thought it would be fun to share them here with you.

Here are my 3 favorite posts from this past week.

1. Saying These 8 Things To Your Kid Every Day Could Change Their Life

I came across this on Facebook, from The Breast Cancer Site. It really hit home. Recently, I have experienced a mindshift in my parenting. I’d been reciting mantras, reading affirmations, trying to motivate, inspire, uplift myself — and boost my confidence. I realized my kids needed this too. These are some great tips to help your kids feel good about themselves, gain confidence, security, and courage.

2. To Build (or Break) a Child’s Spirit

This one comes from Huffington Post Love Matters, by Rachel Macy Stafford. This post reminds us that what we say and how we say it can have a profound impact on our kids. We do get frustrated. Absolutely. No one likes to be yelled at — not even us. We aren’t bad people. Sometimes we make bad choices, and make mistakes, but that doesn’t make us bad people. We have to find ways to turn these incidents into lessons of what not to do, and how to do better. Even something as simple as spilling milk — I know, even when it’s the 100th time — can get our goat. I’ve realized that we need to be positive and use these as teaching moments. We can make they feel awful, or we can teach them that mistakes happen, and remind them they are loved, and they can do better. Sometimes easier said than done, but we all need the reminder sometimes.

Now something just for fun! 😉

3. Bohemian Momsody

This one’s from Scary Mommy. If you don’t subscribe to Scary Mommy, go now and do it! There’s some great stuff there, and some chuckles too. I’m sure we have all felt like this at one time or another. Enjoy!

What are some of your favorite posts this week? What are some of the other blogs that you follow?

Did you ever have one of those days – or weeks or even years – when you said to yourself, “I didn’t sign up for this crap!”

I think I’m the poster child!

Life seems to get more complicated by the day.

Can we start 2014 again?

I seem to have lost half a year!

Let me explain…

I started the year all fired up… hospital sign

I had a meeting with my editor to jump start the rewrite on my molar pregnancy book.

I had set some goals.

I was going to make things happen.

It was going to be my year.

Then reality set in.

My 5 year-old, who’d spent 3 days in the hospital in November for Encopresis, had begun seeing a psychologist to help her get over her refusal/fear/aversion to poop.

These sessions resulted in hours more work for me.

Driving an hour to the appointment, an hour there, an hour back.

Then there was the charts, and then coaching and cheering, and sourcing prizes and incentives.

I realized I was spending about 3 hours a day on this.

And I didn’t have 3 hours to spare.

I never thought I’d cheer for poop, sit so long in a bathroom trying to coax a poop out of my child.

It seemed we’d take one step forward, then five back.

Then I got a sinus infection.

My immune system has never been the same since chemo, and when I get sick, it knocks me on my rear, and for a long time.

There were days I could barely get out of bed.

To put breakfast on the table, make lunches and pack backpacks was a difficult thing.

My husband had to take the girls to school and pick them up – every day.

After three weeks, I went to the doctor. He decided it was something bacterial, and put me on pneumonia watch. Yikes.

Two different kinds of meds, and those ribs that I fractured a couple of years ago when I had a bad, enduring cough during chemo?

Those were sore again from the coughing.

It took about a month for me to recover.

Now you may know that my mother has had a lot of health issues, and we have been dealing with her refusing to take her meds, her growing meanness to my dad (the only reason she was not in a nursing home was because he put all his energies into caring for her, and waiting on her hand and foot, though it was never enough for her)

In the beginning of February, Mom was not feeling well.

We wondered if this was her way of bringing attention back to her (she’s done this before) following the death of my dad’s brother’s wife (my dad began calling Greece day and night, fearing his brother would soon follow his wife), and the issues with my little one.

I got a call from the nurse at her doctor’s office.

Mom had gone to see her.

I had no idea.

She had a UTI, and they were going to prescribe antibiotics.

I spoke to Mom, she said she didn’t go to the doctor because she thought she had a UTI, she just wanted to go.

OK, well, at least we found this infection.

She is a frequent flyer on the UTIs.

My guess was always poor hygiene, and a growing laziness to even get up out of her chair to use the bathroom.

Mom was always a difficult sort, and seemed to be her own worst enemy.

A few days into the antibiotic, she seemed to grow weaker.

My aunt—Mom’s sister—is a nurse, and lives a few minutes away from my parents.

She went to check on Mom and decided we should press the emergency alert button and summon an ambulance.

Mom couldn’t get up out of the chair.

She didn’t think she could make it to the door.

My mom seemed out of it.

When I got to the hospital, they were still running tests, working her up.

Finally, they told us her UTI had not responded to antibiotics.

Mom is allergic to many antibiotics and has grown resistant to others (since she takes them so much).

Her bladder was severely infected.

She’d have to be admitted, for some heavy duty antibiotics to be administered via IV.

We gathered her things to go up to her room.

As we got Mom out of bed, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before.

Mom had lost a ton of weight.

Now we thought she’d lost a little; we could tell in her face.

Mom was well over 200 lbs, and she’s only 5’3”.

She could stand to lose some weight, but wow, she had lost quite a bit.

Once in the room, the nurse brought in a scale.

Mom was 157 lbs.

Not two months earlier, she tipped the scales at 215.

What was going on?

She never got out of her chair, and never changed out of her huge nightgowns, so how would we know?

Mom was almost lifeless.

She was incredibly weak, and they started her IV antibiotics.

The next day, they told us the antibiotics weren’t working.

There was no change.

They’d have to increase the dose and the duration.

Hopefully that would do the trick.

In the meantime, she begged and pleaded with Dad not to leave her alone.

She was scared, thought she was dying.

Dad never left her room that week.

A psychologist took us out in the hall to speak to us briefly, and Mom freaked out.

Dad barely ate.

I took him home a couple of times to shower and change, and he wanted to go right back.

Mom expressed to him that she was afraid she’d die, and didn’t want to die alone.

And then of course she threatened that if she were to die alone, she’d haunt him forever.

So what’s a man to do?

So here we are, mid-February:

I’m not 100% well yet.

I’m dragging the Bebs to the psychologist, being a “poopy” cheerleader.

Boo is feeling a bit neglected, acts up. Rare for her.

Then one night, while sitting on the toilet, between poop cheers, Bebs blurts out,

“Is YiaYia going to die?”

I guess I hadn’t thought much about it to that point.

“Will you lose your Mommy?” Boo asked.

Honestly, I lost my mommy a long time ago…but that’s another story for another time.

I guess it was really possible that her body was finally giving up.

The phone rang.

It was the urologist who I’d been chasing for days to get more info on her test results.

 The news was worse than I anticipated.


Many of you know that I experienced a molar pregnancy in September 2010.

It was with great anticipation that I looked forward to the birth of my 3rd child, only to have my world decimated by the revelation of the molar pregnancy, and of course its aftermath, wrought with complications.

And then there was chemo.

As I struggled to deal with it all, I proclaimed that I was now the mother of 2 daughters and 1 angel baby.

Since the day of that earth-shattering diagnosis, I have prayed for that little angel baby.

He’s visited me in dreams.

Ok, you’re saying, “Stop the truck! HE?”

He’s come to me several times in dreams and pronounced that he was a boy.

So I finally got my boy, but he’s an angel in Heaven.

Many times I have contemplated how and when I would tell the girls about their baby brother.

There was never an “if”. I would share it with them someday, somehow.

That day came much sooner than I expected.

A few months ago, the girls were arguing about who was the big sister.

Bebs was not satisfied to be just the “little sister.”

I tried to explain to her that I was a little sister, too.

“But you’re a big sister too!” she retorted, with all her 3 year-old wisdom.

I am.

And she kept repeating, “But I am a big sister! I am a big sister! Mom, will you tell her?”

I paused for a moment to ponder what she meant by that. How could she possibly know?

I recall talking to her about the baby when I first found out I was pregnant.

She was 18 months old. I figured she wouldn’t tell anyone.

I never told Boo. For some reason I thought she’d run to school and tell everyone.

This was strange, because I hadn’t kept any of my pregnancies a secret.


A subconscious safety mechanism for what was to come?

Who knows?

Then I wondered, could Bebs actually remember that, on some level?

I thought the best thing to do was to go with it. After all, she really was a big sister.

I sat the girls down.

Mommy: Yes, Bebs is a Big Sister.

Boo: And who is this other person?

Mommy: It’s an angel baby. He lives in Heaven with Jesus.

Funny, there were no other questions.

Good thing, cause I wasn’t sure where to go from there.

From time to time, the girls mention their little brother—but only as Bebs refers to him—as the BABY ANGEL.

Last night, after one of Bebs’ monster tantrums (it’s tough to be 3, after all!), she started talking about the baby angel.

Bebs: I’m sorry, Mommy. The Baby Angel said I am a good girl, and I should be one.

Mommy: Did you talk to the Baby Angel?

Bebs: Oh yes, Mommy!

Mommy: What did he say?

Bebs: He said not to have tantrums. That I’m a sweet girl.

Mommy: Yes, you are a sweet girl. Can we see more of this sweet girl?

Bebs: OK.

Mommy: Do you see the Baby Angel a lot?

Bebs: Yes, Mommy.

Mommy: Does he look like you?

Bebs: No.

Mommy: Does he look like Boo?

Bebs: No.

Mommy: Does he look like me or Daddy?

Bebs: I’m not supposed to tell you.

Mommy: Why not? I’d really like to know. (I’m curious, after all!)

She paused for a moment.

Bebs: Well, he looks like Jesus!

Mommy: Really? Does he have dark hair?

Bebs: Mommy! OK, well, he has white hair…

Mommy: Really?

Bebs: I can’t tell you that. It’s a secret.

Mommy: What else does the Baby Angel tell you?

Bebs: It’s a secret between a Big Sister and her Baby Angel.

Wow. I guess she’s right. I’m really not supposed to know.

Not to be outdone, Boo chimed in.

Boo: I know what the Baby Angel looks like!

Mommy: Tell me.

Then she presented me with a small painting her godmother gave her, of an angel watching a baby in its cradle.

She pointed to the baby.

Mommy: This is the Baby Angel?

Boo: No, Mommy. We are the baby, and the Angel is our Baby Angel, watching over us.

 5 year-old wisdom.

As a tear came to my eye, I thought this would make me sad.

But somehow it did not.

It’s actually comforting to know he’s here with us.

Knowing the girls acknowledge him too, and he’s part of regular discussion.

This morning, Bebs was acting up again.

Mommy: What would the Baby Angel say?

Bebs: Oh, I don’t think he would like it.

Mommy: Then you should be a good girl, a good big sister.

Bebs: You’re right, Mommy. I’ll be better, for the Baby Angel. I have to teach him things. That’s what big sisters do.

Yes they do.

And if he can help with behavioral issues too, A-W-E-S-O-M-E!

I knew losing a child could change a parent forever.

Who knew the influence that angel child would have on his siblings.

Bebs turned 3 more than a month ago, and boy, she’s really giving us a run for the money.

I remember vaguely that Boo had some issues too when she first turned 3.

After a couple of months, she just kinda mellowed out.

I recall asking her teacher about it.

I said something like, “I thought 2s were supposed to be terrible. They haven’t seen 3s!”

She agreed. She did have some advice. But I can’t remember.

I don’t think it has anything to do with the brain cells I lost during chemo.

Or the lingering mommy brain, that I’m told you never quite recover from.

It’s Selective Memory.

I believe that when it comes to our kids, God gives us selective memory, so we forget a lot of the bad stuff.

If we remembered all that awful stuff, we probably wouldn’t have any more kids.

And we’d share all the horror stories with others, causing them to skip procreating.

It’s about survival of the species.

Our lovely Ms. LaRoux has turned into a beast – a beast in frilly dresses, of course.

I joke when I call her a beast, but let me tell you, these tantrums are about to kill me.

There was the 30-minute one (no exaggeration) the other day, when I told her to put her shoes on herself.

One day, she had a 15-minute tantrum, because the panties she wanted to wear were in the laundry hamper.

A few nights ago, she carried on for about 20 minutes because her blanket didn’t cover the ENTIRE bed.

On my last nerve, I reached out to my Facebook and Twitter friends, and asked for suggestions on how to tame our 3 year-old beast—and save my sanity.

Overwhelmingly, the responses were to share the info when I got it.

Well, I never got any suggestions.

Unfortunately, none of us knows how to tame the 3 year-old beast.

So I guess we just ride it out.

Get some earplugs.

Maybe I can learn selective hearing to go with my selective memory.

As you know, we are working with Bebs on potty training.

And as always, this little one is giving me a run for the money.

She knows what to do and when, but she still has accidents.

And many times they are on purpose.

At school, they are working with her on the potty training as well.

A couple of days ago, I picked her up at school and I asked her if she went potty.

She laughed and said yes.

The teacher said she only went once.

Apparently when told it was time to go potty, she put her hands on her hips and asked,

“Do you have M&Ms? I get M&Ms at home.”

Her teacher told her that she doesn’t work that way.

And Bebs told her that she doesn’t either.

OK smart aleck 2 year-old!


I told her I am not buying any more Pull-ups, that the time has come.

She’s a big girl.

At home she does OK, some accidents of course.

There have been times recently where she tells me she can’t go because she’s going to fall in the potty.

Even if I hold her.

Sometimes the only way I can get her to go is with M&Ms.

Not the best way, but I want her to keep using the potty.

Wednesday came along and we were getting ready for school.

“I think you need to bring the Dora seat to school.”

I wouldn’t bring the seat because what if we go somewhere and there’s no Dora seat?

She has to learn to do without the Dora seat.

I told her when I dropped her off, that she must use the potty.

She asked again for the Dora seat and I told her we only use the Dora seat at home.

They have little potties there and she won’t fall in.

The teacher even told her she would hold onto her while she sat on the potty.

No such luck.

Utter and absolute refusal to use the potty at school.

The teacher thanked me for not bringing the Dora seat, and expressed her frustration.

And she works will hundreds of kids. And she’s frustrated!

Oh boy.

Yesterday we wore panties all day.

She did great for most of the day.

We sat down on the couch to read and we were all cuddle up – she was sort of laying on me.

Then I felt something warm.

You guessed it!

I lost it.

It’s not fun to be peed on!

She apologized, we cleaned up, changed clothes.

She was good for a few more hours.

We got ready to go pick up Boo from school.

She went potty here, no problem.

I told her we would go to the potty as soon as we arrived at Boo’s school.

She said OK and there was no issue.

…Till we got there.

I took her to the bathroom and she let out a roar like I haven’t heard in a while.

I lifted her up to put her on the potty and she straightened and stiffened her body while yelling bloody murder.

The entire school heard her!

“I’m gonna fall in!” she kept yelling.

I kept telling her I wouldn’t let her fall in.

Then I asked how was she going to go to school there?

She can attend there as soon as she’s potty-trained.

When we are there, she never wants to leave and asks all the time when she will go to school there.

I always tell her, as soon as we get rid of the Pull-ups.

Finally she went a bit, but we had to go a few rounds before she did.

Back at home, she had another accident. # 1 and #2.


So I told her… “We only pee and poop when we are sitting on the potty.”

I told her to repeat it and she kept pretending like she had no idea what was going on.

We cleaned up, changed clothes.

10 minutes later…



She had that look and I just knew this was now a game.

I started to lose it.

Finally, I didn’t say a word, just took her to the bathroom, cleaned her up and changed clothes.

This time, I put a Pull-up on her.

I kept silent, and she kept asking me questions, kept repeating herself.

It was driving her crazy that I wasn’t responding.

“Why do I have a Pull-up? I’m a big girl! Do I get M&Ms?”

Can you just imagine the smoke coming out of my ears as this little thing had the nerve to ask for M&Ms even after she went in her pants?!

A little while later she came to me.

Bebs: Mommy, are you happy?

(She tends to pose this question when she knows I’m upset with her)

Mommy: No.

Bebs: I want you to be happy. I love you.

(She’s working it)

Mommy: I want to be happy too. But I’m very upset with you.

Bebs: How can I make you happy?

(I’m telling you, she’s a politician in training)

Mommy: You can pee and poop only when you sit on the potty, and not have any more accidents. OK?

Bebs: (Looking down and in a pitiful voice) OK.

She walked away and came back with her new party dress. She wanted to wear it.

I promptly snatched the dress away.

I told her she could not have it until we were done with the potty training.

She said, “but that’s my party dress! What will I wear to the Christmas parties?”

Oh boy.

I think she just told me this is going to go on for awhile.

God help me.

When I was a kid (and it really wasn’t that long ago), things were different.

They were freer.

As in much more carefree.

We’d run around the neighborhood alone; we could stay out and play all day, as long as we went home when Mom called for us.

We walked to the store alone; we roamed around department stores alone, and met up Mom and Dad at the checkout aisle.

We know much of that has changed as the world has changed.

When I was little, my Thio (uncle) Panagos came from Greece and lived with us for several years before returning to the motherland.

One of our favorite things to do was get ice cream from the Ice Cream Man.

The familiar music would echo through the neighborhood, announcing his imminent arrival.

We’d yell, “Thie, pagoto!!!” (Uncle, ice cream!) and jump up and down with excitement.

He’d either hand us a dollar each or walk out to the curb with us to get some ice cream, a popsicle or push-up.

And we’d savor every minute of it.

It was something he enjoyed too, as he observed the great happiness this brought us.

Well, again, times are a-changing.

This fun summer pastime is also shot to you know where.

Recently, the girls and I met a friend and her daughter at a church festival.

There was the ice cream truck.

“The Ice Cream Man!” the girls yelled, with the same enthusiasm I had.

One asked for a Spider-man popsicle, which meant they all would have Spider-man popsicles.

I wasn’t thrilled with this prospect, since this is a super-sized world, even the popsicles have succumbed to that phenomenon.

Something else struck me, as they unwrapped the popsicles with great anticipation.

The colors were so incredibly vivid.

I knew it must be artificial colors and dyes.

I wasn’t thrilled, but thought, OK, just this once.

They melted faster than you can say, “how was that popsicle?”

And, they stained the girls’ hands.

Red streaks were set in their skin, wherever the popsicle had melted.

We washed and washed, but the dye remained for several days.

I immediately declared no more popsicles.

Well, this past weekend, we were at another festival, and there was the ice cream truck.

Ever-nostalgic, and always wanting the kids to experience all the simple joys, my husband, with all his good intentions, announced he’d get popsicles.

Of course I shot him that look.

You know the look I’m talking about. 😉

I reminded him that we don’t do popsicles anymore, and that we were going to buy forms to make our own.

Of course, once you make the announcement that you will give kids something they aren’t supposed to have, it’s difficult to retract your statement.

And surely, Daddy thought Mommy was overreacting again and not being fun.

Daddy took off on his errand, and returned with two jumbo-sized red, white and blue popsicles.

They looked like rocket ships, and nearly a foot long.

Well, the girls were out of their mind, and went to work on those popsicles with zeal.

Bebs vs. Popsicle

But seeing excitement and enjoyment in those few minutes wasn’t worth it.

Again, the frozen delights began to melt faster and faster. They didn’t even finish half of it.

It was melting faster than Frosty in the greenhouse.

Blue dye covered the girls.

All over their dresses.

Bebs' hand, 2 days later

I was not happy.

We wiped, wiped, wiped.

Nothing worked.

Finally, Daddy proclaimed we’d skip the ice cream truck from now on.

Another simple joy we have to ban.

This also prompted a new nickname for Bebs.

We began calling her “Lady Blue Hands.”

Seems like everything lately is enhanced by artificial colors and dyes.

An article called “Worst Foods of the Week,” illustrated that pretty much all the popsicles out there are loaded with these awful additives.

Even the ones that say “real fruit added” don’t have any nutrition to speak of.

Fla-Vor-Ice, one of my faves growing up, is just water, sugar and dyes.

The article suggests some better alternatives, the best being homemade popsicles.

Open Eye Health posted an article called “Dangers of Artificial Food Dyes.”

This one will really open your eyes.

It talks about how dyes are often added to make fruits that were picked before ripening, look fresher and more appetizing.

It cites an article from Natural News that states that these dyes are made from

Hold onto your hats…



This piece also recommends making your own popsicles from your smoothies or even simply freezing a banana.

Then it ends with a “fun fact” that will make you shudder.

Food dye Red #4, also called carmine, is made from ground up insects – beetles.


Blogger Kelly the Kitchen Kop has written on this topic several times.

Here, she includes a link to an earlier post where she writes about the dangers of artificial colors and dyes and offers some healthy alternatives.

She also includes a link and excerpt from an LA Times article on the subject:

Almost every parent has a story about their kid bouncing off the walls after downing a package of jelly beans or eating a neon blue-frosted cupcake at school. Most blame the sugar.

But some new research suggests that the rainbow of artificial colors may have a bigger effect on children’s behavior. And in other parts of the world, some organizations are starting to take action on these ingredients.”

All of these pieces suggest that these are great reasons to spend the extra money and buy organic or locally grown produce.

A Webmd article cites research that draws a link between artificial colors and dyes and ADHD.

They are in many of the processed and packaged foods we eat.

I’m sure you’re thoroughly convinced now to skip the Ice Cream Man.

What do we do about these fun summery treats?

Do we just ban all the fun stuff?


I guess I better get out the blender and make some smoothies to freeze into popsicles.

And search for some easy recipes for homemade ice cream.

I didn’t need to make more work for myself.

But at least I will have the peace of mind to know that when my kids are enjoying these sweet and fun treats, I know what’s in them.

“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!”

It was diaper-changing time.

You know, that time of profound discussions between mother and child.

Boo came in the room, as I was finishing up with Bebs.

Somehow the question came up.

I can’t remember if a tantrum was brewing.

I don’t quite recall how the conversation started.

It’s that darned chemo brain!

Anyway, so we were discussing tantrums.

Why do little girls have tantrums?” I asked.

“It’s a monster,” Bebs replied.

It sure is a monster.

Then I asked, “So the monster comes and takes over?”

“The monster comes, and then you have a tantrum,” Boo explained.

I see.

How in the world do you get rid of this monster?

The explanations were many. So many that my head was spinning.

I can’t remember all of them.

The other day I asked the girls again about this monster.

Mom: Where does the monster come from?

Boo: He comes from outside.

Mom: And how does the monster get to you?

Boo: He sneaks in during the night, like a little creepy crawler, and it gets in you.

Mom: Then what?

Boo: Then it waits.

Bebs: It waits! A monster!

Mom: So what makes it come out?

Boo: We’re not quite sure.

Mom: How do you get rid of it?

Boo: You have to get a tissue really fast and blow your nose. If you don’t get it fast enough, it goes crazy.

Mom: I see. Well, that explains it!

Boo: Do you understand?

Mom: Yes. Is there a way to stop it from coming in, before it gets in you?

Boo: I’m not sure. But we’re working on it.

Mom: So you don’t like tantrums either?

Boo: No way!

Bebs: Not me.

Mom: We have to figure out how to keep the monsters away.

Boo: The answer may be in the snow.

Mom: Is that why there’s more snow today?

Boo: Yes, I ordered it.

Then they went off to play with their dolls.

There you have it.

I’ll let you know if the answer is indeed in the snow.

Or if we discover the key to keeping those little creepy crawly monsters out of the house.

She’s 4 you know, and she knows these things.


I just thought of something.

If we figure that out, well…

We’ll be in touch.

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