Join me Today at 1:00 pm (EST) for CHADD’s Monthly Ask the Expert Online Chat: Surviving the Holidays

Hi all,

Stop what you’re doing right now and come join me at 1pm EST today (Dec. 16) at the CHADD’s monthly Ask the Expert online chat. I’ll be taking your questions on the topic of How to Get Through the Holidays When You or/and Your Family Have ADHD.

To join the chat, please click HERE at 12:45 pm (EST) and follow the instructions on that page. This is an online chat only and no pre-registration is required! Just bring your questions!

See you soon!

What NOT To Do If You Have ADHD

In my last post, I talked about what NOT to do to prepare for the holidays if you have ADHD. One of my readers responded that it was refreshing to read a list of what NOT to do instead of what TO do, because she, as most of us, are overwhelmed with all the things we need to do but find hard to accomplish. That ADHD just keeps getting in the way.

So to expand on the idea of what NOT to do, in general, here is my list.

What NOT To Do If You Have ADHD

1. Do not compare your house, your family or yourself with anyone else. Of course, that’s something everyone should follow. But for those of us with ADHD, it’s too easy to feel our shortcomings by comparing ourselves with others.

2. Do not feel badly about “messing up.” Accept that our lives will be more challenging in general. Those without ADHD typically aren’t on high alert, worrying about getting to places on time, remembering names, meal preparation, having challenging children, etc. Give yourselves a break and relax a bit.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

4. Do not get stuck in a bad job, marriage, toxic friendship, etc.

5. Do not blame your ADHD for all of your personal shortcomings. ADD is an explanation; not an excuse.

6. Do not stick with your current meds, therapist or doctors if they aren’t helping you. It can take quite a long time to find the right med/combo. Don’t give up!

7. Do not let your children wear white.

8. Do not forget about your own needs. You work so hard, harder than most, to get through a normal day. Allow plenty of down time, trips away from the kids, and whatever else it takes to replenish and renew.

9. Do not try to be someone without ADHD. You will battle disorganization, time management challenges, clutter, and more. As Sari Solden wonderfully states, “embrace your ADHD.”

10. Do not shop at the mall the week of Christmas. You are asking to fry all of your senses. Instead, do your shopping online.

Ok, who can add to the list?

Terry’s Top 10 List of Survival Tips for the Holidays

<p><b>I am getting a ton of ADD related newsletters</b>, telling me how to survive the holidays. They all have great suggestions, too. Like starting a to-do list. Prioritizing. Remembering the real reason behind the holidays. Delegating chores. Hiring someone to clean the house. Etc etc.<br />
<br />
<b>But I’m tired of reading the same ol’ same ol’.</b> So today, I’m sharing my list of what NOT to do to prepare for the holidays if you have ADHD:<br />
<br />
<b>10. Don’t buy a single can of pumpkin filling,</b> olives or bread crumbs until you check your pantry to see if there’s one, two or even 10 cans lurking behind the cereal. Trust me, you probably have some hiding in the back, somewhere.<br />
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<b>9. Do not wear white.</b> Whoever came up with the term “winter white” should be shot. Everyone knows that if you wear white during the holidays, you WILL get cranberry sauce, ketchup and wine on it. No brainer. Even more important, do not let your kids wear anything other than blue or black between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.<br />
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<b>8. Do not put up holiday lights</b>; more than likely, they’re already still up from last year. I can spot an ADD household a mile away. They simply unplug the lights and forget (?) to put them away. Go ahead, plug yours in. Great- you’re all set. End of story.<br />
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<b>7. Do not wait till the day before Christmas</b> or Chanukah to buy gifts. Stop what you’re doing right this minute and order your gifts online- all of them. As a matter of fact, check your email; today I sent out a newsletter with all the presents you’ll need- they’re all hand-picked, just for you. This alone will save you 15 hours of work. Now you can do all of your holiday shopping in 20 minutes. Really! You don’t get my newsletter? Sign up today on my homepage!<br />
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<b>6. Do not have the traditional dinner.</b> Are those sweat stains I see on your blouse? Let me help relieve your anxieties about your traditional holiday dinner: Who says you have to have a huge nerve wracking gathering at your home? Choose between A and B:<br />
<br />
<b>A. Have only the immediate family over.</b> That way you can get away with store bought chicken and sides or even carryout. Yes, I am letting you off the hook. Blame me, I can take it. Still feeling badly? Invite the gang AFTER dinner, for dessert.<br />
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<b>B. Make reservations for dinner OUT.</b> Huh? You’re feeling guilty? Why do you always let other people’s feelings be more important than yours? Go for it.<br />
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<b>5. If you DO decide to host the dinner,</b> do NOT invite Aunt Sadie and Uncle Jack. You know they don’t tolerate your hyperactive kids, unruly dog, cluttered house and chaos. Instead, invite friends and relatives who celebrate your unique family and home.<br />
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<b>4. Do not stress over a messy house.</b> I realize not everyone can afford a cleaning crew to help you get your house in tip top shape for guests. If you’ve read my “<a href=”″ target=”_blank”>Survival Tips for Women with AD/HD</a>”, you’ll note a few great tips on how to de-clutter your house in a hurry (among other things). Here’s one: Have each family member take 2 mega garbage bags. Assign rooms to each person and have them dump the clutter into the bags. Haul them out to the garage. After the holiday, bring them back in and put everything away. Ok, let’s be reasonable. That part will take a few weeks. It’s ok. Been there, done that. It’s not the end of the world. But I would suggest that you delegate one bag for important stuff that you need easy access to, like your bills, calendars, dog food, meds, etc. Place a sticky label on the ties with a note that says “Important” or “Need to File.”<br />
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<b>3. Don’t even THINK about cleaning up the dinner dishes</b> till the next morning. Dump everything in the sink. Pour hot water and detergent on everything. By morning, everything will easily slide off. You’ll have a lot more energy to attack this chore, too.<br />
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<b>2. Do not obsess over the fact</b> that you have 645 Holiday cards to send out, knowing it’ll be impossible to get them done in time. Here’s a great tip- Order your Xmas Cards <a href=”″ target=”_blank”>HERE</a> and let THEM send them out FOR you.<br />
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<b>1. Do not force your ADHD kids to wait till dinnertime</b> for their meal. Again, rule breaking is in order here if you and your guests want a pleasant dinner. Allow the kids to eat when they are hungry. Nothing can break a holiday spirit faster than irritable kids.<br />
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<b>There- you made it!</b> Now one last thing: write down what you did this year that worked and what didn’t. Write down your menu and anything else you think will help you get through this next year. But…don’t ask me where to put it. I need to digest my Thanksgiving turkey, first.</p>

The Worst Dinner I Ever Cooked

We all have busy days where we simply can’t get a meal on the table. And many of us, who have the time to cook, might still be stumped as to what to make. I fit in both categories.

Last night, we were rushing to get to my daughter’s dance recital. Of course, I hadn’t planned ahead of time and began rummaging through the pantry/fridge, looking for a quick meal idea. Mind you, this was at 5:30pm.

I stand here before you, with an open heart and in complete honesty, am about to disclose the absolute worst and unhealthiest dinner I have ever prepared in my life.

1. Sloppy Joe. Ok, if it was made from scratch (scratch meaning browning hamburger meat and adding a can of Manwich), it wouldn’t be so terrible at all, right? But I found a ready-made tub of Manwich, with the meat and everything else, ready to go. I heated the stuff up. And while I was doing that..

2. I grabbed some Texas garlic toast and threw those under the broiler. This was my older daughter’s idea and it was a nice change of pace from the typical hamburger buns (which shockingly, I happened to have).

3. I found 4 small containers of readymade Mac & Cheese. Zapped those in the microwave.

4. Then I realized that there were no veggies on the menu, nor did I have anything green in the house- not even salad! Mind you, I had gone grocery shopping earlier in the day and forgot to get vegetables. So…I grabbed a can of corn from the pantry and heated that up.

So that was our fine dining: pre-made Sloppy Joe on garlic toast, canned Mac & Cheese and canned corn.

Who can beat me? What’s the worst meal YOU ever prepared in a pinch?

When All Else Fails, Use a Stapler

Years ago when my daughter announced, to my horror, that she wanted to be a Brownie, I led her to her first meeting with reluctance. I was happy for HER that she wanted to be part of this wonderful organization, where she’d meet new friends, learn new skills and develop a better super-ego.

But I knew that it meant new activities for me that I hate doing: baking cookies and brownies and leading activities that involve other fine motor skills that I find difficult to do. And of course, it meant being in a room full of very noisy children every Thursday afternoon at 4pm.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the whole “earning badges” aspect of being a Brownie. Or to be more specific, having to sew those cloth demons onto my daughter’s vest every time she learned a new bird whistle or saved a tree from dying.

You see, I am horrible when it comes to managing many domestic responsibilities and that includes sewing. Even replacing buttons puts me into a tizzy and I typically ask my husband or kids to take that task on.

So when I was faced with a little brown vest needing badges sewn on, I came up with a brilliant solution.

I stapled them on.

Yes, I stand here before you, admitting that I STAPLED my daughter’s Brownie badges onto her little vest. Being the good Brownie she was, she earned a LOT of badges. But I was no longer avoiding the task; I’d just grab my hand stapler and go to town.

Until one day, she came home from a meeting gushing tears.

“Mom”, she said. “The staples are digging into my skin. I can’t even sit down- I’m scratched all over!”

I don’t know who I felt worse for– my daughter with her red blotched, scraped up skin..or me and my inability to even deal with a little Brownie vest.

Sadly, she ditched Brownies the following year. Maybe she was embarrassed to show her face at the meetings, worried about any comments she might get from the crooked patches covering her vest, carefully (ahem) sewn on by her mother.

Or maybe she got sick of the generic, tasteless cookies I baked…I mean…purchased.

Unlike most mothers who worry about their children fitting in, did she know it was ME who felt I couldn’t measure up to the other moms?

My ADHD Holiday Dinner Disaster

Those of you who have attended my ADHD presentations at CHADD, ADDA and elsewhere, might have already heard about my holiday dinner disaster story, and like I promised in an earlier post, I’m going to share it with you, here.

It happened a number of years after I’d been diagnosed with ADHD and I had already gotten to the point of working hard at accepting my ADHD and learning to make accommodations for it. Still, one never knows when the ADHD blooper can take you down…

In all my adult years as a married woman with children, I had never hosted a Passover dinner. For those of you not familiar with this Jewish holiday, let’s just say that it involves about 100 different dishes that have to be served in a fairly systematic way. Ok, so I’m exaggerating. Maybe 10 dishes…

Luckily, over the last 30 years or so, my mother-the-gourmet-cook gladly took this on, inviting anywhere from 12 to 20 people to her home and cooking everything from scratch. (The cooking gene in my family obviously skipped a generation).

Back to the story. About 8 years ago, I decided that I wanted to have Passover dinner at my home. Armed with all kinds of ADD friendly tips, I knew exactly what I would do to make this successful with the least amount of stress. So….I picked up the phone and invited my family and chuckled at the gasps on the other end of the line. Historically, my contribution had been the relish tray (how hard is it to slice tomatoes and pickles?). But like I said, I had a plan…

I called the local catering company that specializes in holiday meals. When the lady asked me what I wanted to order, I froze. How MUCH chicken do you order for 12 people? How many servings of gefilte fish do you buy? One per person? Two? Already, I felt my confidence begin to fade. Until the helpful lady on the line walked me through the entire order. Stuffing or baked potatoes? She helped me decide on everything, thank goodness.

I realized at that moment, that it was a slam dunk. All I had to do now was to get the house in order (and that is a TALL order for someone with ADHD). But I felt I could get that done, again using the tips I’ve shared over the years with my readers, clients, etc.

Basically, I focused on the few rooms in my home that people would be using. I crossed the entire upstairs off my list. I got the dishes in order, set the table, and just did the best I could without overly obsessing over the whole thing. That alone was a huge shift in my attitude about living with ADHD: letting go of internalized expectations (thank you to Sari Solden’s book, “Women with Attention Deficit Disorder” which I recommend everyone read at least once).

The big day arrived and I smirked to myself as I drove cross town to the restaurant. Finally, I could be a true “grown up” and have people over for a wonderful meal. It didn’t matter to me whether I cooked it or not!

I picked up boxes and boxes of food, realizing that this method of surviving the holiday probably cost me a mortgage payment, but to me, it was worth every penny.

As I drove home, I had the window down, exhilarated by the unusually warm spring day. As I passed house after house, I got smug, visualizing all the poor women slaving over hot stoves on such a warm day.

Once I arrived back home, I decided to do another once over to make sure the house was presentable (note the word presentable; not spotless/perfect). I tidied up a bit, checked the clock, then calculated what time I’d need to turn the oven on in order to warm up all the food. 5:30 5:30 5:30. You see, I use a mantra system when I need to remember such things.

5:30 came and thankfully I remembered to turn the stove on. I opened up the refrigerator door to pull out all the food but stopped dead in my tracks.

You see, there WAS no food in the fridge. My mind raced- who took all the food? Why would someone do that? Then in a second, it dawned on me:

I’d left a few hundred dollars worth of food in my car trunk and it had been sitting in a hot garage for 7 hours. People with ADHD might be risk takers, but I wasn’t about to earn the nickname “Typhoid Terry”. I tossed out all the food. But I started to panic- twelve hungry people were about to leave their homes to come for a hot, delicious holiday meal. And I had nothing to offer, unless you’d consider tuna and boiled peanuts Passover fare.

The solution came to me in a flash, luckily, and I quickly called all of my guests, announcing that we were going to have the first ever Passover smorgasbord. I asked everyone to grab whatever they happened to have in their fridge and just bring it by. I still fretted, though- what if everyone brought day old tuna casserole??

My trusty husband, Jerry, came to the rescue. He dashed out and picked up a ton of readymade chicken, just to be on the safe side.

Luckily, everyone had great things to bring (unlike me, they COOK every day).

So though we didn’t have the traditional holiday dishes, we enjoyed this very funny dinner and realized that after all, it’s not what you eat, but who you eat it with.

Terry Meets Michelle Obama

Having worked in the White House as a clerical assistant, I was managing phone calls, email and other tasks for staffers. There was to be a photo shoot after dinner and we were all instructed to attend. I recall sitting with other secretaries when, right in the middle of the dinner, the main phone rang. I heard someone yelling to my co-worker that we really needed to be answering the White House phone.

I didn’t get the phone; I was thinking how earlier that day, a woman with a whole slew of Portuguese Water Dog puppies had been walking around the grounds and how she allowed me to take one of the pups for a few days, reminding me that I had to ship him back home to her. Also admiring the pups was no other than Michelle Obama!

At any rate, the meal ended and we were about to pose for the photo shoot. I was sitting next to a group of women who’d been working at the White House forever. They were posing in such a way so that they could be sure to have their faces seen, all but pushing me out of the camera’s range. I asked if I was supposed to be sitting with my husband, who had a high position with the White House staff, and was told they’d be photographed separate from their wives.

Suddenly, Michelle Obama swept by and I introduced myself. She kindly reminded me that we’d met earlier when I was admiring the Portie pups. My cheeks burned in embarrassment, but she was forgiving of my lousy memory.

She began to tell me something interesting- her face was animated and her hands moved in unison with her words. But my co-workers’ chattering quickly distracted me and as is often the case when I’m in a room with multiple conversations going, my brain bailed…but this time…from the First Lady. The most important meeting of my life and I turned back to Ms. Obama only to see I’d missed every word that came out of her mouth.

So I ended up doing the “Terry Nod”- pretending I’d heard every word by nodding and smiling at her, while quietly kicking myself for having allowed my attention to drift. Again.

I woke up from this dream semi-agitated, realizing that even at four in the morning, my ADHD seems to follow me.

Uh Oh: Halloween + Sugar = Hyperactivity?

As a parent, you’ve probably heard that children who consume too much sugar will become hyperactive. Your mother has warned you to change your child’s diet. Your friends who do not have children with ADHD, suggest you’re a lousy mother for allowing your child to eat a cookie or two every day, let alone drink a bottle of soda on occasion. After all, aren’t you supposed to be eliminating any cause for his hyperactivity?

With Halloween coming, you’re probably struggling with what to do about the bags of candy already entering your home. What’s a good mother to do?

Well, let’s start by getting the facts straight. First off, *studies show that sugar does not cause hyperactivity. Sugar does not cause ADHD, either. In fact as a woman with ADHD myself, I find that sugar actually calms me down!

What we DO find is an association between social activities involving treats full of sugar and a change in a child’s behavior. What does that mean?

Think about it. When does your child typically consume large quantities of sugar?

– Birthday parties
– Halloween
– Other special occasions

And when do children with ADHD typically become more excitable? Well, read the list above.

So next time someone “helpfully” suggests that you remove all sugars from your child’s diet, remind them that there are no studies that prove that sugar causes hyperactivity. Refer to the references below if you really need some ammunition. And explain that you aren’t about to remove your child from social activities that involve sweets as part of the festivities. That is, unless your child happens to become so overstimulated that it’s best to limit activities that rev him or her up!

Now go enjoy Halloween with your child!


Cormier E, Elder JH. Diet and child behavior problems: fact or fiction? Pediatr Nurs. 2007;33:138-143. Review.
Crook WG. Food allergy–the great masquerader . Pediatr Clin North Am . 1975;22: 227-238. In: Kinsbourne M. Sugar and the hyperactive child. N Engl J Med . 1994;330:355-356.
Cruz NV, Bahna SL. Do food or additives cause behavior disorders? Pediatr Ann. 2006;35:744-745,748-54. Review.
Kanarek RB. Does sucrose or aspartame cause hyperactivity in children? Nutr Rev . 1994;52:173-175.
Kinsbourne M. Sugar and the hyperactive child. N Engl J Med . 1994;330:355-356.
Mardis AL. Current knowledge of the health effects of sugar intake. Family Economics and Nutrition Review . 2001;13: 87-91.
Wolraich ML, Lindgren SD, Stumbo PJ, et al. Effects of diets high in sucrose or aspartame on the behavior and cognitive performance of children. N Engl J Med. 1994;330:301-307.
Wolraich ML, Wilson DB, White JW. The effect of sugar on behavior or cognition in children. A meta-analysis. JAMA . 1995;274:1617-1621.

Challenge Software Program for Self-Regulation

Periodically, people contact me with resources that they feel are helpful to those touched by ADHD.

Recently, I learned of the Challenge Software Program at Its developer, Brad Chapin LCP, LMLP, tells me that the program was Beta-tested by over 750 parents and professionals around the world. He recently launched the site to the public.

This interactive internet-based application uses animated scenarios and games to engage children quickly and teach them the basics of Self-regulation (the central issue in ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, Anger, Aggression, and
Emotional/Behavioral problems). Self-regulation is crucial for success throughout the life-span and is a skill that should be getting more attention throughout the educational

The program also automatically generates Pre and Post outcome Data to show improvements.

They are also offering a free trial. Check it out at If you try it, please post your experience here.

:: Disclaimer:: I have not used the program and cannot vouch for its effectiveness, but am sharing it with my readers as a point of interest and possible resource.

Up and Down the Stairs: Bedtime and Hyperactivity

I was lamenting to a friend online about my daughter’s nighttime escapades and how nothing seems to work to get her calmed down enough to drop into bed, even with the medications she takes to slow her down.

Peggy and I have been friends for years, ever since we met at an ADDA conference. Every year, we and a mutual friend would meet up in various cities throughout the country to learn about ADD and enjoy each other’s company.

When she heard about my nightly fiasco with my daughter, she described how she, too has a difficult time settling down at night. She sent me this poem today, which I’d like to share with you.

Up and down the Stairs

By Peggy Clover
(Inspired by Mackenzie and me)

Up and down the stairs I run
In and out the doors
Looking for the things I lost
Trying to do my chores.

Not all is lost
Just out of place
But no matter
I am still a disgrace.
If only I could remember
To put things where they belong
That should be easy
Am I so wrong?

But first I have to find stuff
To give it its proper position
But as I wander thru the rooms
I forget I had a mission.

Sometimes I plop down
And just sit and play
Or doodle or make a mess
And have a happy day.

Then up I jump again
Jack in the Box that’s me
On a mission once again
To see what I might see.

I have no one to prod me on
Or say how things should be
Or tell me that I should grow up
Because now I am 63.

Up and down the stairs I run
In and out the doors
Looking for the things I lost
Trying to do my chores.

Is your Child Stressed in School? Watch for Warning Signs

School is in full swing, now and more than ever, your child with ADHD or other difficulties could be struggling academically and socially. Now is the time to watch for warning signs. Is he more irritable than usual? That could be a sign of feeling overwhelmed or even symptoms of depression or other mood disorders.

Are his sleeping habits changing? Staying up later than usual? Going to bed earlier? Eating more or less? How is his social life? Is he keeping things in balance?

Children and adults with ADHD are susceptible to co-morbidities such as mood disorders, anxiety, substance abuse and more. With the stress of school, it’s more important than ever to check in and take his psychological “temperature.”

Contact his teachers to see how he’s adjusting to the new year. Talk to him. If you have concerns, call his pediatrician and start there. Consider consulting with a child psychologist/psychiatrist. Perhaps meds need tweaking, too.

Don’t wait until parent/teacher conferences or report cards. Be a vigilant and active parent.

Online Screening for Adult ADHD

There’s a number of these online screening tests, but this is one I like a lot:

Jasper/Goldberg Adult ADD/ADHD Screening Quiz
by Larry Jasper & Ivan Goldberg

Click here to take your test: Adult ADHD Screening Test.

According to my results:

How do you score?

Are you Part of the Sandwich Generation?

If you are caring for both your children and your elderly parents, welcome to the Sandwich Generation! I “joined the club” in the past year when my parents began to face enough medical problems to warrant the help and support of me and my siblings.

I’ve had my hands full, to say the least, but as this is my ADHD blog site, I figured I’d add the ADHD spin to it.
Which is…how does one juggle all of these responsibilities? How do you stay above water?

What I’ve learned so far on this journey is that when ADD is in the mix, it is imperative to reach out and get help. It’s hard enough to take care of one’s family, work, keep up with the household AND meet the needs of elderly parents.

As a woman, I’ve been “programmed” by society to take too much upon myself and ask for help only reluctantly when my back is up against a wall. With a better understanding of my own ADD related needs, I’m learning and forcing myself to reach out more than I’ve ever done before.

When friends and relatives offer to help, I no longer push them away. I accept!

How about you? What are you doing to take care of you during these difficult years?

Virtual ADHD Conference: Register by 5pm EST Today and Save $50

Last year’s conference was a HUGE success and this year’s will be even better.

The 2nd annual Virtual ADHD Conference will be held Oct. 5 – Oct. 7…and if you register by 5pm EST today (Sept 28), you will save $50.

There’s a fantastic line-up this year and you can attend via the comfort of your own home or office, since it’s all “virtual.”


This year’s presenters include Dr. Ned Hallowell, Dr. Dan Amen, Dr. Pat Quinn, Kate Kelly, Dr. Ari Tuckman, Tara McGillicuddy, Dr. Russ Ramsay, Dr. Charles Parker, Nancy Ratey, Judith Kolberg, Dr. Roland Rotz, and more.

Topics include:

Married to Distraction
Women and Girls with ADHD: Dealing with Hormones, Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders and Other Challenges
ADHD and Depression
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Adults with ADHD
Building Self-esteem in Kids and Adults
Medication and the Therapeutic Window
Working Memory Training
Alternative Treatments
Workplace Strategies
ADHD and Sexuality
Parenting Kids with ADHD
…and much more

Access sessions via phone or webcast. Each session will be recorded for your convenience. Network with others in the chatrooms. Receive a free goody bag with your registration. There is so much more!

Register now at

Why I Hate to Cook: Update

In my last post, I described the intensity of my dislike for cooking and entertaining along with a promise to update you on how my dinner went.

On the second day of my “experiment”, I tackled the roast chicken prep. I hadn’t prepared this particular dish in oh, about 8 years, and was unsure of the ingredients. Again, I hunted for the recipe which had been stored in my trusty recipe box for the last 30+ years and oh my…this one was missing as well. I can’t imagine who in their right mind would want to take off with any of my recipes, so I’m assuming I accidently threw it away. Freudians would probably disagree with the “accidently” part.

This is a recipe I had learned from watching my sweet grandmother, who was determined to have this dish handed down for generations to come. Grandma Mollie was a superb cook as is my mother. So obviously, the cooking gene skips a few generations in my family.

Back to the chicken…

I had to wing this one (sorry for the pun, really!) and went by memory. I grated onions in a roasting pan, added garlic, seasoning salt, paprika and my grandmother’s secret ingredient. About 1 ½ hrs before company was to arrive, I popped it in the oven, along with the noodle kugel from the day before, to warm it up.

On with the house chores. No comment. Suffice it to say that as my friend Dr. Ned Hallowell would say, it was “organized enough.”

As family streamed in, my anxiety sky-rocketed. This is when my executive functioning really takes a nose dive. I cannot concentrate, plan or execute much of anything when there are people, sounds and commotion near me. My oldest daughter was on hand to help me out. My youngest, when I asked her to set the table said, “Mom, let’s just use paper plates so you don’t freak so much at clean-up time.”

Finally, everyone sat down and ate. I looked at the faces and enjoyed the silence. Then I worried about the silence until my step-dad piped up, “I didn’t know you had it in you- this is fantastic!.” My mother, the former gourmet cooking teacher, beamed. You’d think I was 10 years old and had won a good citizenship award or something. “A chip off the ol’ block.”

No, not really. More like beginner’s luck.

At any rate, the meal was a success. But what’s the lesson learned from all this?

Was it worth the time, energy, effort, anxiety, stress and fear to put on a holiday meal for my loved ones? Are there other ways to spend holiday time together with family that could have been more enjoyable? All I can say is, I’m so glad it’s over and I’m trying to forget the fact that another Jewish holiday is lurking right around the corner.

How do you handle special occasion meals? What strategies work for you?

Why I Hate to Cook

Those of you who have attended my presentations at CHADD and ADDA over the years, or who have read my book, are probably familiar with the fact that I hate to cook.

Let me tell you why.

Cooking encompasses many of the skills that I and lots of people with ADHD struggle with and much of it falls under the umbrella of executive functioning. Think about it:
To cook, you have to plan. You have to sequence your activities in just the right way. You have to remember and you have to multi-task.

Today, I decided that I was going to make a noodle kugel for tomorrow’s Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. Let me tell you why, 5 hours later, I am in such a nasty mood.

It started with the scavenger hunt called, “looking for the kugel recipe.” I’ve owned this scrap of paper with my scrawled handwriting for over 30 years and have kept it in the same recipe box for just as long. For some reason, it has disappeared. I searched high and low to no avail, but made mental notes of various cabinets and drawers that need to be de-cluttered and cleaned. Finally, I went to the internet but still couldn’t find the familiar recipe – the EASY dump-everything-in-one-pot one. I called my sister in law. I’d given the recipe to her many years ago but she, too lost it. Luckily, she gave me another one that was similar enough for my taste.

Next step- a chore I hate more than I can describe: grocery shopping. All the distractions, the decision making, the stimuli- make my head spin. I can literally stare at 5 shelves of canned tomatoes for 15 minutes before deciding which one to buy.

After over an hour of getting the ingredients plus everything else that grabbed my attention, I got home and put everything away. I then realized that I hadn’t bought anything that would work for the evening dinner. But that’s for another blog…

Being the night owl that I am, I began the experiment, er…I mean the cooking…at 9pm, when I have the most energy and patience. Neither lasted very long.

I couldn’t find my trusty glass baking dish or even a spatula. Still, I moved forward, starting with boiling noodles. That went well enough with just one minor burn. On my hand, that is. Then on to melting butter. Done. Then the big dump- emptying cartons of cottage cheese, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, milk, butter and…oh…did I forget anything else… into a big bowl. Now that seems easy enough for most, wouldn’t you think? But for me, it was a nightmare- all the steps that go into this, as easy as this recipe is, was more than I could handle. My head began to throb.
I finally got everything pulled together then realize I heated up the wrong oven. No worries. It would still work- just had to take out the broiler pan that is now probably ruined and instead, insert the raw kugel.

Next step- the…clean-up. This is when I wish I were a Buddhist because instead of living in the moment, I’m thinking of alllllll the things I’d much rather be doing than scrubbing pots, bowls, dishes and measuring utensils. Even watching a re-run of Barney is beginning to sound appealing.

In another half hour, I’ll have a sense of whether this is a hit or a miss. But either way, I’ll be glad that I won’t have to deal with this for another year. Still, there’s tomorrow and the roast chicken experiment, then getting the house in gear, setting the table, and wait…running back to the store for things I’d forgotten, I’m sure.

Next year: take out. Just like I suggest to my readers, clients, conference attendees…
What WAS I thinking??

ADHD Awareness Week September 14-20, 2009

It’s here! ADHD Awareness Week! qim8cpz92f

What can you do to spread the word, share information and resources? Here at Moms with ADD, ADD is a daily event. Please post your thoughts here in the forums.

There’s tons of helpful articles, too, in my Articles section.

Also, check out CHADD’s site for more information on how you can make a difference.

Introducing Dr. Charles Parker

Every once in a while, I come upon a resource that I want to share with my readers.

Today, a friend and colleague, Dr. Charles Parker, sent me an update on the work he’s doing in the field of ADHD. Dr. Parker is a Neuroscientist and Psychiatric Consultant who has a unique “take” on ADHD and its treatment.

I’d like to share some of his fascinating work with you. Dr. Parker is in the process of writing a book but his generosity in sharing his ideas and information spills over through the many projects he takes on.

Please take a moment and read some of his work, download an audio program and read his checklist detailing the various ADHD medication challenges people encounter, at

I think you’ll enjoy reading more about Dr. Parker’s work. And if you’d like to hear him “live”, please consider registering for the 2nd Annual Virtual ADHD Conference, where he will be one of the guest speakers. You can learn more about this incredible conference at .

Connecting with your Difficult Child

Stanley Greenspan, MD, a child psychiatrist who has written many books and who has an interest in parent/child relationships, developed a fascinating program that he calls “Floor Time.” The essence of this exercise is to improve the relationship between parent and child by having “sessions” in which the parent follows the child’s lead and joins him in child-led activities–it does not matter what the child is doing, as long as the child initiates the move. This could be anything from playing a board game to taking a walk in the backyard.

Years ago when I worked with a psychologist to help my daughter with certain behaviors, I was taught the method of Floor Time and was amazed at how well it worked. At the time, my daughter was quite young. I was instructed on how to follow her lead and what amazed me was how quickly our relationship improved.

This past holiday weekend, I used a version of Floor Time to connect with Mackenzie, who is now 21. We spent a few days together at our little lake house in Canada. I was determined not to pester her about her grooming, her habits that often irritate me, her impulsive bedtime behaviors, her poor eating habits, etc. I had decided that we were going to relax together and have fun. Period. I knew that in a matter of days, we’d be back in the school routine with all the stress that goes with that.

It worked. Mackenzie’s whole demeanor changed. She was calmer, happier and her mood was great. It made me think just how much MY reactions to her make matters worse.

With school starting, how can YOU back off and enjoy your children more? I know that now is not the easiest time to even consider this, but perhaps if you begin to monitor yourself- watch yourself as you interact with your kids- maybe you’ll come up with some new strategies so that your time with your children becomes more positive. And even more fun.

School Starts! Tips on How to Wake Up!

September brings the close of summer, back to school mania and the end of sleeping in. I’m often asked by moms/women with ADHD how to get into a better sleep/wake routine but even with the best intentions, it can still be incredibly difficult to wake up in the morning.

The first step is to get you and your kids into a routine! If school starts after Labor Day, start getting the kids into bed about 15 minutes earlier each night. Get them to wake up a little earlier each morning, too.

Discuss a plan for bedtime and morning routines (now!) so you don’t walk into a disaster come September 8. You almost always will get better results when you include your child in the planning.

Lots of kids- and adults- still have trouble waking up. Ask your pediatrician (or your own doctor, if this is a problem for you) about waking up an hour early to take your morning meds, then going back to sleep. Many parents find their kids wake up ready to go once the meds have kicked in.

If all else fails, use a new system that forces you OUT of bed. One idea I like is purchasing multiple alarm clocks and putting them throughout the room and setting the alarm about 10 minutes apart. One clock needs to be far away from the bed, forcing you or your child to get OUT of bed in order to turn it off.

I have some great clocks in my store that are perfect for the heavy sleeper.

When Clocky goes off, it jumps right off the bed stand and onto the floor. You have to chase it down to turn it off. This in particular is great for kids who appreciate the fun of the chase. It also eliminates the need for mom or dad to keep pestering them to wake up.

The Shake Awake Vibrating Alarm Clock is great for the very deep sleeper who doesn’t even hear standard alarm clocks go off. Just like it’s name implies, it shakes your bed to wake you up.

Find these and other great items, all personally hand-picked to help you with your time management challenges in the time management section of my store.

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