So today, I've felt under the weather. There's apparently some stomach bug going around or it's stress or something. Long story short, my stomach hates me.

But I had to pull myself together long enough to go to the eye doctor. I haven't had contacts in six months or so and I really want some before I leave for London to visit my in-laws in a week.

Last year I didn't make an annual check-up with the eye doctor, so my husband, Dominic, dropped the glasses and contacts coverage. We are separated and it's really a moot point anyway since his employer changes insurance companies every year.

So, my mind was boggled to discover that the new insurance doesn't cover having your eyes dilated. Then, as I am checking out, I'm told it doesn't cover contact lens exams either? So what the Hell does it cover? I honestly don't know. WTF? I would've done better going go one of these places like America's Best or something. And this local doctor charges you $20 for a copy of your prescription if you are going to pick up glasses or contacts elsewhere...again, WTF?

And the real pain of all is that my prescription is exactly the same as it was two years ago!!

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The Plot Thickens... 1/20/10

The past week or so has been particularly draining. I've been meaning to write an update blog over the past few days, but have put it off because I'm tired and feel like I'm coming down with something.

Okay, so I last left off with the official diagnosis of ADHD and our plan of action for it.

We got the Strattera for Tate. As soon as I got to the car, I opened a capsule to see how it tasted. If it was innocuous enough, maybe we could hide it in her strawberry milk or something. Unfortunately, it was absolutely diabolical. A few grains touched my tongue, but the taste lasted for quite a while. It reminded me of the way nail polish remover smells. There was no hiding that!

So, I ended up doing what the psychiatrist had recommended and sat Tate down and discussed ADHD and the treatment for the symptoms. Of course, she was not pleased at the idea of having to take a pill. The first night took about 3 hours for her to work up the nerve to take it. The second night was about 3 hours, although I am certain she did not take the pill and disposed of it in some way. (I had given her some room and didn't sit right at her to make her feel uncomfortable and when she "took" the pill she didn't put up a fuss. Then, the next night she tried to pull a fast one 5 times!) The third night took 4 1/2 hours and I ended up giving up just before 1:00 no pill was taken. The fourth night took about an hour, Dominic was visiting and threatened to take her to a Dr. to see if he had any suggestions for helping her take the medication. The fifth night was about 20 minutes! And then tonight, we went back up to about 2 hours.

The main problem is that Tate's tongue pushes the capsule up to the back side of her teeth, making it nearly impossible for it to go down. Not to mention, I wrap it in a fruit roll-up to keep her from "tasting" it and that weighs the capsule down. Otherwise it would most likely go down a lot faster and easier. But we are working on it. While it is an emotional roller coaster, it has brought me closer to Tate. She isn't mad that I make her take the meds. I think it has helped remind her that what I say goes. There have been so many times during her young life that we've just let the little princess have her way. Although, my sister and I were talking about it tonight and we think that this generation is born without the fear gene. When I was a kid, if my parents gave me THAT look or spoke to me in THAT way, I knew they meant business. Today, my kids don't take that seriously at all.

So, Tate and I are working on it. She has a classmate who may be taking the same medication. They have apparently talked about it and compared descriptions of the capsule, so I think that makes her feel a tiny bit better about it. And while I know it's not the meds just yet, she is more compliant when I ask her to do things. She is less whiny. She is a lot more affectionate and I get more unsolicited hugs, kisses and "I love you's". Another thing she is very interested in are the yoga exercises on the Wii Fit, which is wonderful because yoga was recommended for her to help improve her focus and concentration. She is doing really well with that too.

Dealing with Tate's school and teacher is still a challenge. We had our meeting with the teacher, speech therapist and principal last week. And on that very day, her teacher sent her home without her new books for the reading program. WTF? We had a meeting with the teacher last September and explained that she would need to stay on Tate about making sure she has her books and is testing like she is supposed to. When she was left to her own devices, she flew under the radar and only tested on 8 books that first month of school. That's why she got so behind in the reading program. So, I sent her an email explaining that it was very disappointing. The deadline for their mid-year goal is the 22nd. And Tate is going to make it, but just barely. The teacher's response is that there aren't enough library passes for the students. Okay, what? Are you kidding me? The classroom is directly across the hall from the library! Not all kids get to go to get the supplies that they need?? That seems completely preposterous. (On a side note, the mid-year reading goal is reading and passing tests on 200 books! But the goal for the rest of the year is 9 chapter books.)

She then went on to mention that Tate is not doing well when they have math work on the computer and wanted to know what I would suggest for that. I explained that the only suggestions we had were on the report from the psychiatrist. But the deal is that Tate is an auditory learner. To stick her in front of a computer and leave her to it is simply not going to work. In a meeting with Dominic this week, her teacher explained that she can call out math problems to Tate and she can easily rattle off the answers, so this just proves the point. She needs someone to read the problems in order for her to process them.

And last but not least, the teacher mentioned that she was already making modifications to accommodate Tate, but that Tate still lacks focus and concentration. SO, she's passing the buck off to the kid with ADHD. This pissed me off.

The email pissed Dominic off too, so he made a special trip up to meet with these yahoos again. I did not go. I know that I am getting to the point where I cannot hold my tongue anymore. Not to mention that some of the idiotic things Tate's teacher says makes me want to smack her one. (One day she'll gush about Tate improving so much and doing so well and the next it is all doom and gloom, with a possibility of failure. If anyone needs meds, it's THAT woman.) Unfortunately, the principal couldn't be there. It's unfortunate because very early on it was quite apparent that Tate's teacher had NOT read the report from her Dr. The speech therapist had, she was able to keep up with everything Dominic discussed and was familiar with what he was speaking about. Tate's teacher was lost. She asked if the recommendations he discussed were ones made by Tate's pediatrician, but didn't even realize that they were all outlined in the psychiatrist's report she was holding in her very hands. It's pretty sad, really.

Oh, and the school uses this 40-year-old, Letterland program for spelling. It was created in England. The school is a pilot school for having the program in second grade. I can tell you that it is does not help Tate with her spelling in any way. The stories they create to try to remember rules are confusing and difficult to remember. What is really funny is that Dominic's brother, who is a teacher, told him that the Letterland program was abandoned in England about 15 years ago because it was too time consuming, distracting and ineffective. Makes you wonder what the hell is going on here? How is it a good idea to use an outdated program?

Dominic's theory is that she is a teacher that does very well with the students who succeed, but the ones who don't get left behind. I am growing to agree with this thought. She is a well-loved teacher. But I think it's more because she is friendly, dresses very fashionably and puts on a good front. My Mom recounted an occasion she was in the classroom when the teacher totally lost it on a student...picked up his desk, moved it so he was isolated, excluded him from what the class was doing and yelled at him in an inappropriate manner. Kinda scary.

I am also dismayed to hear that the classroom phone is still a distraction for Tate. The other day she told me she was upset because she never gets to answer the phone, this other kid always gets called to do so.

All in all, it seems like some baby steps are being made...although Tate actually taking her pills is quite a gigantic leap, even if it is a struggle!

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The ADHD Saga Continues... 1/12/10

A few entries ago, I wrote a blog about how Tate was having such problems in school and how we were going to have her tested for a variety of things to see what we can do to help out and make life easier for her.

I've not really mentioned much about it since then because it has been a lot of hurry up and wait. Tate was evaluated and the final conclusion is that she has ADHD with lots of anxiety and some depression. While the news was absolutely heartbreaking, it was not a surprise.

After the diagnosis, we had to wait for almost a month to get the formal report. This report has all of the details lined out for us and recommendations about what we can do at home and what the staff at her school can do for her. The report is very interesting. The results are all over the place. She scored averages on a few things, below average on a couple of tests and superior on a few. And what struck me as odd is that the scores were opposite of what her strengths and weaknesses are in school.

The psychologist explained that some of the lower test scores may not have been accurate because either Tate got distracted, couldn't remember the instructions or just didn't understand or care that she had time limitations on them. At one point, the Dr. had to turn Tate's back to a window because she became so engrossed in what some squirrels were up to.

There is no debate that Tate is extremely bright. Her pediatrician used the best analogy: Tate's mind is like a souped-up, race car engine...but it won't stay in gear. Her psychiatrist said that in all her years, she has never come across anyone like Tate. What is going to be difficult for me is that Tate does best with auditory learning. I learn things visually. So this is a learning process for me. I have to re-learn how to do things in a different way so I can help her figure things out and remember them.

The psychiatrist's recommendations for life at home are all things we are already doing, that made me feel very good. Her recommendations for school are quite lengthy. To be honest, I am skeptical that the proper modifications will take place. But I'll go into a little more depth about that in a bit.

Finally, the psychiatrist recommended medicating Tate. Obviously, this is something that is not to be taken lightly. Dominic comes from a family that has always preferred alternative medicines. And there are some homeopathic options that have been proven to help some with the symptoms of ADHD. I, on the other hand, come from a family where if something was wrong and there was a pill for took the pill. But when it comes to Tate, I don't relish the idea of her having to take meds, but the hope that her life could be easier, with less worry and stress really makes me open to the idea. She has been a worrier since birth and I would really love the opportunity to see her be a fun, carefree girl. That thought brings tears to my eyes.

The next step was to meet up with Tate's pediatrician to discuss our options. He is a really fabulous doctor and he is very cautious which is why we value his opinion and trust him. He started out by explaining that while there have been studies that show some correlation of diet to ADHD, there simply is not enough consistent information to support it. He did mention a couple of herbal supplements that have shown some evidence of improvement. After that he explained the different types of prescribed medicines that are available.

**Before I go into this, bear in mind, I am NOT a doctor. Please to not jump all over me if there are any inaccuracies.**

First he talked about Prozac and Effexor. He mentioned a drug called Vyvanse. Then he mentioned Strattera, which sounded particularly promising because not only could it help out with the ADHD symptoms, it may also help out with the anxiety and depression. And it's not a stimulant like Ritalin or Adderall, which were the last drugs he discussed. They have a higher success rate than Strattera, with visible results seen in the first 5-14 hours of use, but as I said before they are stimulants and they only work for as long as they are in the system. Tate already has wild mood swings, I cannot imagine what being on a drug with such highs and lows would do to her.

Although it's a cumulative drug and will take longer to see any changes, we decided to go with Strattera. I think that Dominic and I both feel that a life with less worry, anxiety and stress for Tate is something we never thought we would see. We are trying not to get our hopes up. And even more importantly, while it seemed like the most attractive option to us, it is what her doctor recommended too.

He said that it's an issue of which came first? The chicken or the egg? The anxiety or ADHD? Well, I can answer that. The anxiety was first...from a very young age. The ADHD symptoms have arisen only in the past two years or so. I can't help but think that if we can get that under control, maybe the other things will fall into place a little easier.

I know that medicating a child is frowned upon by many. Please do not judge our decision. All we want is a better life for our daughter.

Of course, Murphy's Law had to kick in at some point. Today we went to pick up the Strattera, but our insurance won't cover it. There is no generic for it and they want us to try one of the stimulant drugs first. I'm so glad that our insurance company, who has no idea about what is going on or what Tate's needs are, thinks they know better than our doctor. So, we had to call them up to find out what we needed to do to get it approved, then we had to call the pediatrician to see if he will call them and explain that he does not approve of stimulants for Tate. But he's been out of the office for a week and is playing catch up, so who knows when he will get around to calling them? And of course, if the insurance company wants to be stubborn, they can still refuse to cover it. Without insurance, it's $180 for a month.

More waiting...

This morning, we met with Tate's teacher, principal and speech therapist. (Tate has a lisp and has been approved for assistance with that.) What is most disconcerting is that Tate's teacher kept pushing for us to medicate her. (Saying things like, "When we decide what the RIGHT thing to do is, she thinks there will be drastic improvements"...etc.) The long story short is that I think she feels that if Tate is medicated, she can rest easy and not work on making some of the suggested modifications to facilitate Tate's learning. We ultimately ended up telling them that we are exploring alternative options. If we can ever actually get the Strattera and start administering it, it will be a great way to gauge how it's working when we hear feedback from the teacher. The changes won't be fast like if Tate were on Ritalin. And that way, with any luck, the teacher WILL make the necessary modifications to help Tate. We all have to work on this, at home and school, there is no magic pill to cure ADHD and make life rosy...there is no cure.

Last but not least, I am struggling trying to help Tate with her spelling. The school uses the Letterland program, which is about 40 years old and originated in England. Apparently it is quite successful with the kindergartners and first graders, but this school is a pilot school for using it in the second grade and they are not pleased with it. They have found that it is more distracting for the older children, wasting a lot of time and not really adding much to the learning process as a whole. Well, that's great but that doesn't do anything to help me help Tate. And there are no resources available online or anything because essentially there is no second grade Letterland program for the masses since it is only being tested out in a few schools. Even if resources were available, the resources for the kindergarten and first grade levels are available to BUY...which I think is a total rip-off. So in the meantime, the teacher has agreed to send me the little grammar stories they use to help try to remember things.

Anyway, I suppose that is it for now. We are doing the best we can at the moment and hoping things will get better.

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Education Lamentation - 9/30/09

Actually, after yesterday's blog and today's "stuff"...I am almost too mentally drained to write.

Last night Dominic came up for a visit since he had the evening off and the morning off today. This morning he joined me on my visit to the school and sat in on the class with me. Yesterday, I had requested Tate's report cards so I could go over them with her teacher today, but apparently the teacher put in the same request shortly after I the receptionist told her, "That's funny, Tate's mom asked for them too!" Tate did alright in kindergarten, but she was painfully shy, so she improved, but had a slow start. Last year, however, she excelled the whole time. Of course her teacher focused on the kindergarten report card. "Well, Tate did have some problems there..."

The same chaos as yesterday ensued. And while it didn't seem as severe, it seemed like a more steady stream of distractions. The only thing I can compare it to would be a scream to a nagging, droning sound. Each are annoying and disruptive, but in very different ways.

The teacher got attendance recorded much earlier today. But she really didn't get that much into a lesson. She had work posted that the kids needed to do while she conducted one-on-one student assessments. While she did that in the back of the classroom, with her back to the class, the students started to lose focus as a whole. About a six kids got up and streamed in and out of the bathroom. Apparently no one asks permission for that sort of thing anymore. When the kids finished their assignment, they had to take it to the front of the classroom. And of course, they dawdled and took their time, meandering around to avoid doing much else.

And the teacher's son made two more appearances before class started and one during class.

The teacher called out to them a couple of times when she heard talking, etc. but she didn't go up to the front of the room, she did it from her seat in the back. Most of the kids didn't even pay attention...why would they? She was not commanding their attention. OH...and the kicker is there is a class leader (called a camp counselor - they have a camping theme this year) and the teacher explains that when she is doing these assessments, the kids are to direct all of their questions to the camp counselor. So...they ask questions to a fellow classmate who is in the same boat as they are??

My father has described it as a self-service education. You get what you take from it, but that's pretty much all you're going to get.

After we stayed in class for a bit, Dominic and I went to make an appointment with the guidance counselor. It turns out she had some free time, so she saw us today. We explained everything to her. She made lots of notes. She didn't have many suggestions at this point, we will be having a meeting with her and Tate's teacher next week. But she did continue to explain that the state's requirements are insanely strict and Tate's teacher explained. She also told us that Tate's teacher had 4 or 5 students last year who required extra help. She is an advocate for the parents, children and teachers, so she is trying to see things from all sides, which is fine by me. I am in no way trying to circumvent Tate's teacher, but I want to make sure that we are using all the resources available to us to optimize Tate's educational experience.

We have also set up an appointment with a psychologist to have Tate tested for a myriad of things...ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, anxiety, etc. With any luck that will help us pinpoint something and we can begin to formulate a plan on how to address it.

Then I went and picked my baby girl up today and she was upset because some girls were mean to she says to me:

"I hate this school."

"I don't want to go to this school anymore."

"Won't you just let them kick me out?"

"At first I thought this school was going to be awesome, but it's not."

"I don't want to go back there."

"Don't make me go."

I tried to get more info out of her to see if it was ONLY about the girls or if it was more. But the only other thing she said was that she was worried the other kids thought she was dumb.

She is at my Mom's house now and my Mom has reported back to me that Tate has only talked about the girls being mean to her. So, maybe that is it.

For now, we wait. The teacher/counselor meeting is the 6th. Her next therapy appointment is the 10th. The psychological testing is the 12th. Then we will see.

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The School Rant - 9/29/09

I have got to vent. Sorry...while I try to stay positive, this is THAT sort of blog.

For the past two years, Tate has succeeded in Union County schools. She has been at or above grade level in all areas of study.

It turns out that Caldwell County schools are surprisingly more difficult. It's funny, my Dad was worried that Tate would become a little country bumpkin! I think that there are some adjustment issues and those, coupled with the much tougher curriculum is really taking it's toll on Tate. She is no longer succeeding, in fact it's very much the opposite.

I've had multiple meetings with her teacher and I know that Tate has problems listening and focusing. She struggles with those things at home. But the teacher keeps explaining that the state provides their lesson plans, hence the super-fast pace and that even she is having a hard time adjusting to it.

Tate has not had the benefit of participating in things the kids at Sawmills Elementary have been. From kindergarten, the kids participate in the Advanced Reading program and the Letterland spelling program. This work is very fast-paced. Tate is finally starting to pick it up. But we were set up for failure last week with her spelling. Every week we get a sheet of paper with 4 lists of words: tricky words, list A, list B and list C. Every week the tricky words and list A words are highlighted and those are the words that are focused on for the week. Up until now, 70 was Tate's highest grade on her spelling test. Last week, we really busted our butts and practiced over and over. Her hardest word was "thought". I just knew that she had nailed it and done wonderfully on her test! Much to my dismay, the test came back a 70. Tate missed 6 words! BUT 5 of those words were from List B...which is not highlighted and not focused on at all! Had I known that these words were going to start to be integrated into the test, we would've gone over them!!! Had Tate NOT missed those 5 words, she would've had a 90 or 95! I think a taste of success would only motivate her more, yet she just seems set up for failure.

The teacher has explained that the words in List B (that do not overlap with the words in list A) are in similar word families as the ones in List A and Tate should be able to figure it out. That's all well and good, and I am NOT making excuses, but I know that the most effective way for me to learn things is to write it down and have it tangibly in front of me, rather than only relying on an intangible concept in my mind. I am certain Tate is the same way. So now, we have to add 8 more words to her spelling list just so she will be ready for the extra words that may or may not show up on the next test.

We've just been working so hard. It's not uncommon to devote a couple of hours to this 2nd grade homework to ensure that she "gets" it.

When it comes to the Advanced Reading testing, the kids choose their own books and the first ones Tate chose were way out of her was even a chapter book. Where is the teacher to help make sure this doesn't happen? Even some of the easy books have content that is too complicated for a 2nd grader. For example, in the book about a dolphin's life cycle, it is stated that a dolphin searches for food by echolocation. Their tail fins are made up of two flukes. The process of echolocation isn't even explained. The kids are just supposed to remember the word. Doesn't make sense to me.

Tate's teacher and I are keeping in close contact. We speak on a daily basis...but it's getting to the point where there is no point in talking. Yesterday she told me not to worry about the spelling test, Tate is improving every day. Today she told me that if Tate keeps up the way she is, then she will have to repeat 2nd grade. SO which is it? And she keeps going on and on about how hard it is for her to keep up with the state's lesson plans. I can only surmise that the kids who fall behind will be left behind.

For the past few mornings, I've been going into school with Tate to monitor her morning activities and make sure that she completes all of the things she needs to get done before school starts. Her teacher said that it was taking Tate 30-45 minutes to finish the morning tasks she must do. With my presence, we have halved those numbers.

But today, I ended up getting stuck in class because the teacher immediately went from the morning recap into a lesson. It was an eye-opening experience. The class is in a constant state of chaos. There's a kid who takes all the paperwork sent back to school to the teacher's desk. There's a kid who goes and checks the sign-in attendance sheet. There are other things I cannot recall at the moment...but it's not like back in the day when nothing is done before attendance is called. All of this is going on while the teacher is talking too. And after attendance was assessed, the teacher stops what she is saying and goes to enter it into a computer. Of course, this takes a couple of minutes to do, since the mornings are busy and the teacher explains that all teachers have to do this. (I don't know if she usually makes asides to the class or if it was strictly for my benefit.) Then she gets back to addressing the class, only to have her 5th grade son come in and interrupt. The bell had rung...why wasn't he in class?

Ultimately, the teacher complains about the pace and apparently cannot stay focused herself. Every time we talk, she says those same things over and over. So my question is: How on Earth does my child stand a chance in this she totally set up for failure?

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Hi and Welcome!

You may already know me from the blog "All Things Glam". But I've decided to make that a blog that is strictly about my, photos and all things glam. This is going to be the blog about me and my trials and tribulations. Anyone who knows me knows I tend to have a crazy and hectic life. And occasionally I just need to vent, so this will be my forum for that.

I will be moving the blogs about my journey with my daughter, since we discovered she has ADHD last year. While I am NOT an expert, we are learning as we are going...and if my experiences help anyone else, then all the better.

If you're new to me and my blog, I'm a freelance make-up artist and photographer. I also like to craft a lot. I sew, make jewelry, paint and draw...actually...I'll try anything artistic! But I wish I could crochet. Not sure why, but I wish I could!

As for the name of this blog, "Holy Stoltz!"...there was this one time I was explaining to my good friend Jenn Ryan about this film I saw with Eric Stoltz where there is this scene of him just standing naked on a beach. My reaction was "Holy Stoltz!", thus a new term of shock and awe was coined. (The movie is called Naked in New York, if you're wondering.)

And there you have it.

The first few blogs here are going to be the ones I'm moving from the other blog. I'll be sure to post the dates they were originally posted.

Thanks so much for reading! I've been told I'm pretty funny, so we should have fun!

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