Monday, February 22, 2010

Getting back to it

So, it occurred to me that I should actually write about acting, or something tangentially related to such - given the title of the blog and all. Of course, that meant I would have to get my @$$ in gear and actually do something to write about. You see, theoretically, I'm pursuing a part-time acting career. This generally translates into me going on a string of three auditions in a week and then not doing anything remotely acting-related for a month or two.

It's not that I'm not motivated, it's that I'm usually at a loss for what to do next. It's not like a regular job where A leads to B which leads to C, etc., etc. I tend to lose focus without structure.

So, yesterday I took a baby step forward. I updated my headshots with Mike Lemon Casting and Diane Heery Casting. Doing so made me realize it had been far too long since I checked my profiles with them - couldn't even remember what login name I had created. But I eventually got it all squared away. Yay for me!

So now what? Now I check various web sites to look for audition opportunities and hope for the best. Wish me luck!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Kindness of Friends and Neighbors

February here in Southeast Pennsylvania has seen much more than it's usual share of snow this year. Now, I'm from Erie, in the opposite corner of the state. Up there, this is just typical winter stuff. I saw more than one white Easter growing up. But there, they deal with it a lot better. Roads get cleared faster and even when they haven't been yet - people know how to drive on them. And here's the kicker - snow doesn't generally cause power failures back home. Doesn't matter how heavy the snow, it just doesn't happen (or it didn't when I still lived there). The only winter power outage I can recall was because of a storm that coated the city in over an inch of solid ice.

But here, snow can cause power outages and we were hit by a doozie last week. Not the first storm - the one that buried us under about 2 feet of the white stuff, but its little sister that hit a few days later. This one only dropped about a foot, but it was wetter, heavier stuff that just stuck to the trees and power lines. Two of the pine trees in the yard behind mine got a good dose and lost most of their branches, right on the power lines running down the middle of the block. (Actually, I think that's why snow outages don't happen in Erie - they keep the lines well above/away from trees.) The kids and I did the best we could to be productive and entertain ourselves without electricity, but about four hours later, we were starting to get pretty cold.

Luckily for us, our good friends across the street still had power and were happy to take us in. We had figured out by this point that we probably wouldn't have electricity back by that night, so I took the kids over and came back to get our overnight things, grab perishables to stash in their refrigerator and put the other freezer/perishable items in a cooler in the back yard, which was certainly cold enough to keep them from spoiling. I then went back and we cozied in for the night. P & R went above and beyond. Not only were they keeping us warm, they reminded me to charge my cell & laptop, fed us a delicious and hearty soup for dinner (perfect for a snowy day) and offered me a beer as soon as I walked in the door. Now THAT'S what I call hospitality.

Of course, the kids thought this was all great fun. Oh, wait...I haven't mentioned DH, have I? Well, that's because the stinker was lucky enough to be out of town for work. And Denver had less snow than we did. Hello? Twilight Zone, anyone?

Anyway, our "sleepover" was a big hit with N & A. The next day, I tried to do my part to help out by participating in kid-wrangling and bringing over our Wii. And an update from PECO let us know were were likely to be without power until the next day...AAAAAAAARRRGGHH! And DH was due to return late that night. P&R had only a single bed in their guest room, so we were a bit stymied. Thankfully, another family of friends had offered us refuge as well, so we checked in with them to see if they were really up for an invasion. And wouldn't you know it? They offered to put us up for the night, and yes, their guest room had a double bed.

So, the whole lot of us (including P, R & their son, M - who are also friends with the I family) headed over for a pizza dinner, kid chaos and some grown-up conversation. Again I say, incredible hospitality. These folks were invaded by twice the numbers and did it with grace. After the kids were all snuggled in for bed, I stayed up to wait for DH and then went to bed myself.

Of course, in addition to all of this, I had put in two marathon shoveling sessions. So you would think that I'd sleep like a rock, right? Of course not! I never sleep as well out of my own bed, but add the worries of the situation and I tossed and turned both nights.

The next morning, DH is ready to go out and buy a generator. I don't mind the idea, but wished he had been around two days earlier with it. Because as happy as I was to have such good friends take care of us, I hated having to impose on them. Because as much as the kids thought they were on an adventure, their excitement was starting to make them a little frayed around the edges. Because when it comes right down to it, I love my comfy house with my family and my critters and life just the way it should be.

Turns out, we got power back just when he was in the car to go to Home Depot. How's that for irony? So, off he headed to work and I gave the house about an hour to get warmed up before packing up our stuff and my kids and coming back home. I've been largely hibernating ever since. After a couple of days of forced exile, I just don't want to leave.

But I'm ever so grateful to know that we have such good, loving friends that I can turn to if we ever need to again. And I hope they know that we would be happy to return the favor.

Thanks - P, R, M, B, K, K & C - you guys are the best!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The medless ADHD son

Okay, so when I started this blog, DH asked, "Are you going to try to make some money from it?" I was all, "huh?" I had no idea that was even a possibility. But it turns out, by letting there be ads on my page, I could theoretically make some money depending on how many people click through to the ads from my entries.

I mentioned in my last entry that A is on a special diet to treat his ADHD, without meds. So, guess what ads I see on my page today? ADHD meds. Guess they must have automated searches to find keywords that they think might be appropriate to the blog's content. I want to be absolutely clear, while I realize that there are some children who really do require the drugs, I strongly believe that most of the kids taking ADHD meds today could successfully manage their symptoms with dietary modifications.

When A was 4, he was evaluated by the DCIU (our county's early intervention program) and found to have an emotional/developmental delay. Basically, he didn't always respond appropriately to social cues, and had a difficult time controlling his impulses in interactions with other kids. He would lose his temper quickly and sometimes yell or even act out physically with me or a playmate when things didn't go his way.

After a little over a year of educational support from the county, I saw improvement, but had a gut feeling that there was something more going on. The impulse control was better, but still a problem. Watching him, I could see his body acting before his conscious mind could interrupt and moderate his behavior. At times, he literally appeared to be out of control. But ADHD seemed inappropriate, since A could certainly maintain focus on things that he was interested in. Still, I had to figure this out; so, I did a little research and learned that there are three different types of ADHD - the mainly attention-deficit type, the mainly hyperactive type and combined type. A seemed to fit the mainly hyperactive type. So, I found an ADHD specialist associated with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and took steps to have him evaluated.

Four months later, we finally had our appointment with Dr. Glanzman. Based on questionnaires that A's teachers and I filled out, plus tests she did with him in the office, the good doc determined that A was at-risk for ADHD. We made it clear that we would only use medication as a last resort, and really wanted to explore other options, first. Dr. G said she could recommend some dietary changes. My heart sank. I had heard about how some kids on the Autism spectrum benefit from a gluten-free/casein-free diet. I had also heard how difficult and expensive it could be to follow. But I steeled myself and was ready to take it on, if it would help my boy. Surprisingly, the doc asked if we had heard of the Feingold Program. I hadn't - so she explained that it is a program that eliminates all artificial flavors, colors and certain preservatives from the diet, as well as personal care items like toothpaste, soap and lotion. I was so relieved that she hadn't said GF/CF, I perked right up and said, "sure, we can try that!" She added that increasing the ratio of protein to carbs in his diet would help even out his blood sugar, which would also be beneficial.

A was in kindergarten at this point, and within a month of starting the new program, his teacher was thoroughly impressed. We certainly made a believer out of her. My family (especially my Mom, who is a nurse at a special needs school) was mightily impressed when we went for visits, as well. I can't say enough about how wonderful the Feingold Program has been for our family. Not only did A's behavior improve - his palate began to expand dramatically. The kid whose only plant intake had been carrots and bananas now eats just about everything under the sun! (Except apples, for some reason, they make him act up.) Of course, the whole family is pretty much Feingold-ing, since I don't buy foods that A can't have. I've noticed that N (my daugher)'s eczema has improved as well. Plus, none of us gets sick as often as we used to - and generally recover more quickly when we do.

The only thing that's tricky about Feingold-ing is that you can't just do the diet by reading ingredient labels. Trust me, that would make life much easier. Some of the eliminated substances (especially preservatives) can be hidden within other ingredients, in packaging (that can leech into the food), even a non-stick spray they used to cook the food (which would not be considered an ingredient, even though it gets absorbed). So, in order to know you're really following the program, one must join the Feingold Association ( Then they send you materials explaining how to work the program, including a 200-page book called the "Foodlist and Shopping Guide" which lists what foods they've researched and found to be free of the offending ingredients. I never go food shopping without it. There's lots more I could say about Feingold, food labeling and ways I've learned to make the program easier for us to follow - but I think that's another post.

So, ignore the ADHD meds ads on this page...unless of course, you just want to click to help me earn a little dough.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Balance has never been my Forte

Like pretty much every mother I know, I struggle with finding a balance in life. Between kid time and grown up time, between housework and hobbies, between doing too much and not doing enough. But here's the thing...this is not new to me. Ask my mother - she was always telling me I had too much on my plate. Of course, back then it was plays, cheerleading, chorus, know, school stuff.

Now I find that I have days when I can't focus on anything for more than five minutes, because there are too many things I want to do. So what happens? I end up accomplishing very little. It's frustrating as all get-out! But does this stop me from wanting to do more? Of course not! That would make way too much sense. I'm on the board of our local community theater, plus I write and distribute press releases for them, am on the show selection committee and directed for them earlier this season. I'm trying to build a part-time acting career by going to local auditions when I can. And along those lines, I've even gone to auditions for some non-paying gigs in hopes of building up the resume to get better offers. I have two kids, one of whom is ADHD and on a special diet (it's called the Feingold Program and allows us to manage his symptoms without meds - feel free to ask me about it) - N (my daughter) takes dance classes, A (son) has weekly basketball. And of course, they each have their parties and play dates to get to. We have a dog and two cats - but I would have more pets if M (the hubby) would let me. I'm a sucker for animals.

Doing all this stuff is mostly fun for me. But the problem is - it's like pulling teeth to make myself keep up with the household chores. And outdoor stuff? Fuggedaboudit. It's not that I don't care how the house looks, inside and out - I just have the hardest time finding the motivation to actually DO it. And all of my other activities don't exactly help.

Although today, my focus was forced for a whole 2.5 hours. I was called in to sub as a teacher's aid at my daughter's preschool. This is always a huge dose of cute! I love being able to see how the little ones spend their mornings and I get exposed to lots of different kidly personalities. Of course, it also usually means that the whole rest of my day gets thrown off track by the change in routine. But today, for once, I actually managed to get some stuff done afterward. I actually ran errands and got the kids' school valentines sooner than the day before their parties, managed to get myself less behind on the laundry (which reminds me, I need to put the sheets in the dryer), loaded and ran the dishwasher and finished clearing the kitchen peninsula (can't call it an island, 'cuz it's attached to the wall on one end) of papers. Who knows...after 37 years of teetering, maybe I'm finding my balance after all. was a fluke. But I can still enjoy it!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Testing...testing...Is this thing on?

So, for some reason I don't quite understand, I've been feeling the urge to "blog it out". I have a few friends with blogs of their own, and have admired their humor, insights and chutzpah. In a way, I guess I sort of want to see what I do with a blank canvas that's all mine. I can't help but wonder if I can come up with enough interesting things to say. Can I be funny? Can I be deep? Do I need to be either? Guess we're about to find out.

The title probably needs a little explanation. I consider myself an actor, although I don't get to practice my craft as often as I'd like. Creatively speaking, it's my biggest passion. But unlike the actor stereotype, I have very little patience for people who just can't help but stir up drama. Off the stage, I tend to be a pretty no-nonsense type of person and do my best to take things in stride and just deal with them the best way I can.

All that being said, who doesn't have some unavoidable drama in their life? I have two kids, so there's a source, right there. And my family? Well, let's just say divorced/remarried parents and multiple sources of siblings and step-siblings tend to produce a certain amount, as well.

So, that's me. At least a simple intro. Gonna let this digest a bit before deciding what I really want to Blog about. Besides...Lost is almost starting.