Single Mom Chronicles: Raising A Child with ADHD!

learning difficulties

photocredit: bing.com/images

This post published prematurely as I was sorting through my thoughts. What does this mean? I will say it is a challenge to figure out what is going on inside the brain of my child. Every day is completely different. The emotional demands of trying to figure out what is working and what is not working. There are so many thoughts and ideas. The one that is most frustrating is from people who say “you can’t believe everything from doctors”. I am never one to believe unless I have substantial facts behind the diagnosis. When you bring a child home you are hopeful that everything in their life moving forward is wonderful. However it is unfortunate that as a parent you cannot predict your life path and the various detours. The hope is that you will raise your children in a two parent household with all the love and nurturing they need before going into the world. Next comes divorce and you scramble to find stability especially when you choose to leave your old life.

Divorce brings a whole new level of emotions for children. I think all becomes obvious when a search for a school was a priority. When I first looked around for schools I thought spending a little more per month would render great results. I was a little disappointed that a smaller class to teacher ratio didn’t address the early signs of reading difficulty. Fast forward to Kindergarten and a great teacher. This was a trying year because it was the first time with a structured classroom setting, homework and sharing space with over twenty kids. It was a challenge however we managed to get through it and it was the first signs of struggles with focus and handling emotions. Next, it was 1st grade and the worst teacher in my experience as a parent with two kids. I have never witnessed a more disparaging individual hired to teach young minds. It was beyond a challenge and I was elated when the year ended. Unfortunately in the school aside from the psychologist’s evaluation we were left with a diagnosis and little else in terms of resources. My child’s struggles were beyond reading difficulties and although there was an afterschool reading club this was not the intense focus my child needed.

My planning process was how to change schools that would provide the resources for a child with learning differences. I researched public schools and housing in the surrounding area to determine which school district had the resources to assist my child. Thanks to a website that reviews the school districts as well as the neighborhood I found a new school district. Fast forward seven months and we moved, I changed jobs and we are in another school district. After two months of the new school year, we received follow-up from the school district to gain permission for an evaluation. I learned that the evaluation request is based on the evaluation received by the previous school. The psychologist was very thorough with communicating his testing and action plans. One month later there is a new diagnosis which closely matches the previous evaluation. The only additional assessment was to determine if ADHD was a potential factor.

Unfortunately, the conclusion of ADHD correlates with her learning difficulties in math, reading and writing. I really wanted to push to have the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting before Christmas break. It is my hope that we (school, my child and myself) all can start the New Year with a viable plan. There is now a meeting date for an IEP to address math, reading and writing support services with her current teacher, psychologist, special education teacher and principal. For some reason the word IEP has always made me feel angst because I assumed it was something bad and unwarranted specifically for African American children. I learned that I had to base the conclusion on my observations with my child and what I felt was necessary. It is obvious struggles exist and dealing with a child with ADHD creates a challenges each day. I have to tailor each step I take because of the fluctuations in her inability to focus and effectively handle emotions. As a parent, this can be exhausting because each day is different and you have to learn to adjust your temperament. I am struggling to learn what works and how to minimize the instability. It is a daily learning process and I wish I had the right formula to get us through it all.

I think what has relieved my thoughts is speaking with an aide at the school who adores my child. She told me do not worry you are in the right place both of children received support services and my daughter is a chemical engineer. As a single parent you desire confirmation and guidance when you are making major decisions so this was a proverbial “pat on the back”.

Cooking and Baking by Me: Butter Cookies

phonto (11)

Where would Christmas be without my cookie baking? This recipe became one of my Christmas cookies a few years ago. My preference is to use plastic cookie cutters, so if you are looking for some #BedBath&Beyond sells a box of 100 cookie cutters for every occasion. I used sprinkles and will frost with a Betty Crocker frosting tube. I have yet to make the icing within the recipe. If you try let me know.

The recipe is from the Land O Lakes website:

Cookie
1 cup Land O Lakes® Butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 Land O Lakes® All-Natural Egg
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Frosting
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup Land O Lakes® Butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
Food color, if desired

Combine 1 cup softened butter, sugar and egg in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add orange juice and 1 tablespoon vanilla. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Add flour and baking powder; beat at low speed until well mixed.

Divide dough into thirds. Shape each third into a ball; flatten slightly. Wrap each in plastic food wrap; refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or until firm.

Heat oven to 400°F. Roll out dough, one-third at a time, on lightly floured surface (keeping remaining dough refrigerated), to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with 3-inch cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 6-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let stand 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to cooling rack. Cool completely.

Combine powdered sugar, 1/3 cup butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla in small bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often and gradually adding enough milk for desired spreading consistency. Tint with food color, if desired. Frost and decorate cooled cookies as desired.

Variation: Best Ever Butter Cookies with Glaze: Prepare cookies as directed above omitting frosting. To prepare glaze, stir together 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon Land O Lakes® Butter, softened, 1 tablespoon light corn syrup and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract in medium bowl until smooth, adding additional water, if necessary, to reach desired glazing consistency. Tint with food color, if desired. Glaze cooled cookies. Decorate as desired. Let stand 6 hours or overnight until glaze is hardened.

 

recipe courtesy of landolakes.com

Cooking and Baking By Me: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

phonto (14)

This is my all time favorite recipes for Christmas cookies. I think this is probably my 14th year baking these cookies.

Here’s the recipe, courtesy of Quaker Oats

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 Cup(s) (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 Cup(s) firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 Cup(s) granulated sugar
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoon(s) vanilla
1-1/2 Cup(s) all-purpose flour
1 Teaspoon(s) Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon(s) salt (optional)
3 Cup(s) Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 Cup(s) raisins

PREPARATION:
Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Serving Tips: Bar Cookies: Press dough onto bottom of ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. Store tightly covered. 24 BARS. VARIATIONS: Stir in 1 cup chopped nuts. Substitute 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or candy-coated chocolate pieces for raisins; omit cinnamon. Substitute 1 cup diced dried mixed fruit. HIGH ALTITUDE ADJUSTMENT: Increase flour to 1-3/4 cups and bake as directed.

Cooking and Baking by Me: Thanksgiving Meal

phonto (45)

In the past 4 years, I have prepared Thanksgiving dinner for my family. This year was the first Thanksgiving in our new home. The staples were on the table. One year I did make a corn pudding which was quite delicious. I have to do a rewind of that recipes which I believe it was found in one of my Paula Deen cookbooks.

Typically I never follow recipes as I cook like my mom and grandmother. I add a little of this and a little of that. My mom calls this cooking by rote. For me cooking is a form of science and me being a lover of science I love to experiment with different ingredients. I also map out all my cooking schedule based on the dishes and lay out all ingredients. This saves a lot of time in the kitchen and overall clean up. This year I started cooking later than usual however by 1:00 am my turkey was done and in the refrigerator. The kitchen was sanitized and cleaned up with all dishes in the refrigerator. I always cook, store and refrigerate all of my food including the turkey. There are so many stories of food mishaps during the holidays which result in sick guests.

When people ask me for recipes it is hard for me to provide a “real” recipe however I give the basics and I guess the challenge for the cook is to make it their signature dish. My roasted turkey, cornbread stuffing (made from cornbread not bread), sweet potato souffle, mac and cheese and collard greens with smoked turkey.

Sweet Potato Souffle
4- 5 sweet potatoes
½ cup Light brown sugar
1 cup white Sugar
8 oz crushed pineapple (drained)
Unsalted Butter (1 stick)
2 tbsp of Cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1 tbsp of vanilla extract
¼ cup orange juice
½ cup of Carnation evaporated milk
½ tsp of baking powder
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel skin and boil the potatoes until soft(check by pricking with a fork) ( do not overcook). Drain the water. Place the potatoes in a mixing bowl with the stick of butter. When potatoes are done, add stick of butter and let the potatoes cool. After the potatoes have cooled add sugar, spices, vanilla extract, pineapple, orange juice, milk and baking powder. Blend with a mixer on medium until mixture is smooth and without lumps. Taste and adjust spices if necessary. *Remove the mixer wisks to remove the strings from the potatoes before adding the eggs. Add eggs and mix on high until well blended. Pour mixture into a deep casserole dish and bake for at least 45 minutes until the center is set.

Baked Mac and Cheese
16oz elbow macaroni
(4) 8 oz block of cheese (mild cheddar cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, Colby/jack, Colby) purchase a mix
of white and yellow cheeses
120z can of Carnation evaporated milk
3 eggs

Preheat oven for 350 degrees. Prepare macaroni according to package. Drain and set aside. Wisk can
of milk and 3 eggs in a shallow bowl; set aside. Thinly slice each block of cheese and set aside in a bowl.
In a 13×9 casserole dish layer macaroni and a layer of cheese, next layer of macaroni and cheese, the
final layer should be cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the casserole. Add dots of butter. Bake for 45
minutes and check if set in center.

Cooking and Baking By Me: White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies


phonto (13)

Next up is a new recipe to my holiday cookie baking. The only thing I will do different with this recipe is to refrigerate the dough between batches. I prefer a chewier cookie and this was a bit thinner than I like in my cookies. The cookie requires 2 sticks of butter which may explain why it is so sticky, the white chocolate adds the sweetness and the macadamia nuts balances the sweetness.

My new go to site for recipes, food.com

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup salted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
Directions:

1
Preheat oven to 300°F.
2
In medium bowl combine flour, soda and salt. Mix well, set aside.
3
In a large bowl with a mixer blend sugars at medium speed. Add butter and mix to until it forms a grainy paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat at medium speed until fully combined.
4
Add the flour mixture, macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips, and blend on low speed until just combined. Do not overmix.
5
Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Move immediately to cooling rack.

Cooking and Baking By Me: Not Yo Mama’s Banana Pudding

phonto (15)

I discovered this recipe after watching Paula Deen on Food Network, the recipe makes a lot and fits into a 13×9 casserole. I reduced the recipe to fit into a trifle. This is my go to banana pudding recipe, I will never use vanilla wafers. The chessman cookies add sweetness and crispy texture and not soggy. The filling is rich with the right amount of sweetness.
I sprinkle the bananas with fresh lemon to reduce the browning effect.

Here’s the recipe:

2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
6 to 8 bananas, sliced
2 cups milk
1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream
Directions
Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.

In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/not-yo-mamas-banana-pudding-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

Single Mom Chronicles: Fitness Blender Day 2 Strength and Flexibility Workout

Day 2- 8 Different Exercises, No Equpiment Needed

 

Single Mom Chronicles: My Son Insists I Get Remarried?

th (4)

 

photo credit:bing.com/images

I guess as a divorced individual the key to navigating this new life is figuring out ME!   One thing I have discovered is the fact that through compromise and settling I neglected to carve out a life that was conducive to my well-being. I never stopped to smell the proverbial roses, what do I like, dislike, want and why? When I stopped to smell the roses I created my “love of list”.   I am a lover of coffee, wine, art, theater, fitness, food, adventure, spontaneity, romance, pampering, generosity, consideration, thoughtfulness,  speaking my mind and conversation.  A day of self-reflection truly has me believing finding that level of compatibility is not worth any compromising.

I am certain my teen means well however it would take a mountain to move for me to feel up to the challenge of including another person in my life.   The time and energy to discover whether another person has the capacity to include you in their space is exhausting.    It is a smack in the face of how long you can devote your time and energy only to realize another person is not on the same page.   I am beyond trying to dissect what I can to do or how much I can do for another person!!! I am who I am take it or leave it. What I love will not be compromised for the sake of a relationship with another person who is not on the same page.

My teen is sweet for wanting me to have another spouse.     Hopefully he will realize that my life is filled as is and that it will take an extraordinary man to love me and my two kids.   There are days when I feel like it is not that important.      I joke and always say keep hope alive.

one day

 

photo credit: bing.com/images

I say if only I knew then what I know now.   This was an interesting read.

 

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Single Mom Chronicles: Fitness Blender Day 1

I started working out in 1999 and loved the results.   Fast forward 15 years and so many life transitions such as birthing 2 kids, multiple gyms, trainers, various exercises, pole fitness, etc.   I have resorted to trying an at home workout regime for at least 30 days.   This will be my low cost attempt at staying fit and lean.   A gym membership is not in the budget so I figure investing in additional free weights, resistance bands, stability ball, etc and home furniture will give some return.   My motto use it or lose it!!!!!!! My last workout regime was in May and in the past 6 months I have started a new job and moved. Unfortunatel

A friend suggested I try the website Fitness Blender.  The site allows you to input your height and weight then it provides specific workouts tailored for specific parts of the body. I would love to improve my upper and lower body. Abs are on the list, but as I have read abs are made in the kitchen. I have to significantly modify my diet for that 6 pack. It is a goal just not immediate. I will be happy to lose some inches in time for my 2 piece.

Day 1:

 

Cooking and Baking by Me: Coconut Raspberry Cake and Dinner Rolls

My grandmother passed away in March 2009 so I thought of baking one of her staple desserts would be a nice tribute to her love for cooking and baking. In light of her Southern cooking expertise, we have no written recipes so I tried to find a recipe that was very close to her cake. After talking to my mother, I found out that my
great-grandmother and grandmother sometimes used a raspberry filling for their coconut cake.

I thought this recipe was a good match Coconut Raspberry Cake. Here is my version of the recipe. To keep the recipe as close as possible I did not garnish with fresh raspberries and omitted the coconut in the batter.

 

phonto (43)

Coconut Raspberry Cake
Cake: Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

4 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cup sugar
1 1/3 cup buttermilk
½ cup sweetened flaked coconut
Lightly coat two 9″ round cake pans with cooking spray, paying close attention to the bottom. Allow the egg whites to come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes. This is important to create a light and tender cake.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a small bowl. Set aside. Measure the buttermilk in a liquid measuring cup and also set aside. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla over medium speed until well combined. With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the egg whites one at a time until completely incorporated. Add the buttermilk and dry ingredients to the batter by alternating between each until the batter shiny and white. Fold the coconut into the batter. Be careful to not over mix.
Evenly divide the batter between the two cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes or until the center springs back when lightly pressed. Remove from the pans and allow to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook
(8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ tsp. vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
With the mixer on low, cream the butter, cream cheese and vanilla until well combined. Slowly add the powdered sugar until the frosting is light and fluffy. You may need to adjust the powdered sugar ratio depending on the thickness of the frosting. It should be light, airy and completely spreadable.

Raspberry Filling:Adapted from my brain 2/3 cup raspberry preserves 1 ½ tsp. water
Over a low flame, heat the preserves and water for 1 – 2 minutes until it becomes syrup. Cool slightly.

Assembly:Place the first cake layer face down in the center of a small platter. Evenly spoon the raspberry filling on top of the cake layer. Be careful to not let the filling ooze over the edge. Place the second cake layer; also face down, on top of the first. Frost the sides and top of both layers with the cream cheese frosting. Lightly pat the sides and top with up to 1 cup of sweetened coconut. Garnish with fresh raspberries on the top of the cake.

I also made my first attempt at making homemade rolls. The picture on the website was somewhat misleading in terms of my final rolls. Classic Dinner Rolls Here is my version of the recipe:

 

phonto (42)

2 to 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 envelope Fleischmann’s® RapidRise Yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter OR margarine Directions

COMBINE 3/4 cup flour, undissolved yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Heat milk, water and butter until very warm (120º to 130ºF). Add to flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1/4 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. *

DIVIDE dough into 12 equal pieces; shape into balls. Place in greased 8-inch round pan. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.**
BAKE in preheated 375ºF oven for 20 minutes or until done. Remove from pan; brush with additional melted butter, if desired. Serve warm.

*For rest period, it is not necessary for the dough to double in size

**For a higher roll, I suggest allowing the rolls to rise longer than 30 minutes(maybe 45-1hr) with a pan of boiled water underneath the pan. Do allow to overrise.