Feb 102017
 

This post contains affiliate links.

date night nice

One of my anxieties with moving, a fear of mine actually, was knowing friends and support systems are not a given and often take a long time to form.

We had lived in 3 different communities before landing in Small Town.  In none of those first 3 communities did we form what felt were solid friendships; we were in the community but not a part of the community.  Perhaps if we had stayed longer, those budding friendships would have solidified into something more.

Once we moved to Small Town, it took over a year to solidify a friendship with my neighbor, even longer to get to the point of canning together or starting the roadside stand.  This friendship ended up growing so much, we now refer to them as “aunt” and “uncle”.  It took my kids several more years before they asked, “how exactly are we related to Aunt and Uncle?”  :)  Blood does not always make a family.

It took 4 years, after joining the rural community, before I joined the local MOPS group and began to make a few close friends, which also resulted in participating in my first Farm Market Swap.

Farm Market Swap collage

During the years of having small kids, my husband and I were not always blessed with the ability to take time for ourselves, to get away as a couple for a few hours a week, or even once a month. At times it was possible, but at others it seemed like we came back to a situation that was harder than if we had just stayed home. (The idea of a weekend away was out of our realm of reality at that point.)

Often, we had to settle for coffee and a movie at home, hoping to not wake up the kids and not to fall asleep before the end of the movie.  Those first months were filled with kids scared to go to sleep, scared that you would not be there when they woke up, scared of … night time was not a good time, which was a shame as the days were filled with hyper-vigilant, hyperactive, inquisitive, take-life-by-the-horns, I-know-best kids.

As they grew a bit older, things calmed down some, but the anxiety is always there in the background.  Now we were dealing with official  diagnoses of ADHD, and unofficial sensory and trauma related issues, as well as lesser known issues that come with ADHD beyond the attention and hyperactivity issues. (here,too, but there is a bit of language.) (This was a great read for me recently, helping to connect some of the dots to other issues I otherwise could not find the cause of.)

The mere idea of moving brought me anxiety.  Not only was I going to have to meet a lot of new people, but my kids were going to be reminded (subconsciously) of times in their early lives, when things were not consistent, when there was a lot of loss, when they had no control.  I was anxious about how they would react. However, a move was happening and we would have to deal with the outcome.

My husband was excited to find out the local YMCA had a monthly Kid’s Night Out, where parents could drop their kids off for a few hours of games, fun, and pizza.  I was less than excited. Way less. The mere idea made my stomach start to knot up. My husband could not understand why, though he found out after the first night we tried.

See, the time to drop them off, it began about an hour before the kid’s bedtime and lasted for up to 3 hours.  Night time is the worst time of day for our kids.  Their ADHD behaviors, their sensory/trauma issues, and developmental issues have been a struggle all day, making their brains tired.  Their bodies, however, act as if they are full of energy.

Jack gets so overloaded with things (noise, activity, expected social behaviors) that his brain goes too fast for his body.  He then runs and hides in a quiet place, or turns in circles (vestibular sensory seeking), or hits, or … he does not handle it well, especially when tired … an hour before bedtime. (Yes, our kids go to bed early, but they also sleep 11-12 hours still.)

We tried it once, was well as a three day Holiday Day Camp where I had to clarify a few things with the director on the second day or risk one of my kids being kicked out, before agreeing this was not working for us.  We mentally set ourselves up for a year+ of home date nights and switching off if one of us needed to be gone in the evenings.

Been there, done that, we have the cappuccino mix at home.

(The picture below shows a ‘date lunch’ where we took the kids with us.  They sat at the corner side of the table watching a movie, while we were on the other side having cake and coffee; they got some goodies too.  They were not allowed to talk with us until the movie was over. Sometimes, you do what you need to do.)

cake children coffee shop date afternoon line

Then … then, we continued to visit a particular new church.  George loved the kids’ activities and new people.  Jack, well, it was hit or miss at first.

Being a new place, we did not share the unique aspects of our family.  For starters, we did not know these people well.  Secondly, not everyone reacts the same way when I share things.  Sometimes they judge our kids (or us) before taking the opportunity to get to know us.  Thirdly, I was hoping our kids would handle the change calmly at first.

In the past, unfortunately, it has often been the case that in these situations, that the adults in charge say, “Sorry.  If your child is not willing to act in these socially acceptable, calm ways, s/he can not be here.  You will need to come with them or keep them with you.  It is too distracting and hard for us.” I have missed quite a bit of church these past few years due to kids not being able to handle/exhibit the expected behaviors.

Much to my surprise that is not what happened at this church.  After one obviously trying Sunday morning for the kids’ teacher, I determined to go early the next week and talk to the preacher’s wife.  She was one of the few I had met whom I felt would hear me out and could then direct me with whom I should talk.

Keeping things to ourselves was obviously not working.

This talk turned out so much better than I could ever have imagined.  As we were talking, she stopped me and said, “I think you should tell all of this ____.”  The person she said?  The only other lady in the church I knew, the one who had told me the week before that their household is never quiet because she and her husband were such extroverted people.  That comment alone made me want to become her friend immediately.

These ladies and I missed all the beginning of church that week as I shared everything – how we became a family, struggles of ADHD, some other learning/developmental struggles they may face.  I also stated the fact that if my kids were not adjusting well to the kids’ classes, they were welcome to sit with us.

What I got was – “Well we were just discussing this in our morning meeting and how to handle it … do you think having an older teen with them would help?  … I will let the teacher know not to call on them to read out loud the harder passages … we could move them to a younger class, but that might cause more issues (and explained why) … how about we try these out and see how it goes?”  They offered a few other options as well.  I came away feeling more encouraged than defeated.  It was an unexpected change for one.

A few weeks later, I got an email from the teacher asking, “How can I help him/them while in class?  What can I do to not make things worse?”  WHAT?!?!  Not only was this person still willing to have them/him in class, but also asking what to do to make things easier for my child!

I cried.

Then I put together a response, explaining a few struggles that were probably appearing, how they might manifest themselves, and list of basic things that seem to help me in that situation.

valentines cupcake decorating children collage

Last week, my husband had mentioned the youth of this church were hosting a Kid’s Night Out this coming weekend, so the parents could have a night to themselves (for Valentines Day).  If you had said this a month ago, I would have dismissed it.  By now, however, I told him I thought the kids would do well and we should take advantage of it.

Why?

  • The kids knew the adults.
  • One of the teens has watched the kids during mid-week gatherings and did fabulous (actually will try her as a babysitter this month).
  • The setting was familiar.
  • The group was small.

Though there might be a bounce house (shhh) and other activities, I doubt it will be as loud or chaotic as the ‘Y’ was. (Please do not think we do not like the local ‘Y’; we are actually going there weekly for a kids exercise class and it is going fabulously.  Of course, it is a small group and does not last for 3 hours.)

This year, for one of the few times in our marriage, my husband and I will get a chance to “celebrate Valentine’s Day”.  Though it is more like – “having a date near Valentine’s Day” as we don’t really celebrate this day any different than other date nights.  The first year of our marriage we did our taxes and didn’t even realize the date until we had to sign and date our forms. Yup, we are such romantics.

If your significant other or someone important in your life is as oblivious to the day as my husband and I are, you are in luck.  Bring them some coffee (bought with a gift card?) and a cookie and they will thank you for your spontaneous gift.

If they are not so oblivious, you need to get a move on with something beyond a card signed with your name.  How about a gift card to their favorite store?  Or one to use to take them out for a special evening, while earning points back?

Do your Valentine’s Day shopping through Swagbucks and get cash back for all your purchases!

The best part? Through Valentine’s Day, select retailers are offering double cash back or more! Just click here to sign up for Swagbucks and learn more.

If you don’t know about Swagbucks, it’s a site where you earn points (called SB) for doing things like shopping, watching videos, discovering deals, searching the web, and taking surveys! You redeem your SB for gift cards or PayPal cash.

As a special bonus, if you sign up through me and spend at least $25 in shop, you’ll get a 200 SB bonus!

Nov 272016
 

This post contains affiliate links.moving-van-at-gas-station

Recently I took the longest Sunday drive I had ever taken.  The view out the side windows was nice, or at least the part I could take my eyes off the road to look at was nice.  The view out the front? Well, it was nice part of the time, but over 8 hours of being reminded that beautiful things do not last is hard.  The view may have become a bit blurry a few times, which was quickly remedied by a tissue.

Due to a job change, we moved.  This was not an “across town move”, but different zip code, different state, different growing zone move.

No longer are we residence of Zone 5, but now get to experience gardening (and living) in Zone 7.  Actually, my husband moved a few months ago, though I did not want to advertise that fact.  I am sure you can understand why.

This particular Sunday Drive was so the kids and I could join him.  After a few months of parenting solo, finishing up on home remodel and regular home improvement items, decluttering, and putting our house on the market, moving to a rental house sounded like a vacation.  Well, sort of.

Reading the post I linked above, something I posted just over a year ago, reminds me very clearly about how much we have done this past year concerning our house.  When we started that project, we did not think it would take as long as it did.  My thoughts were along the lines of 6 months, not 2  years.  As it turned out, the only reason my husband even saw the hand rails on the stairs was that he came back to help drive the moving truck.

While we saved money (thousands of dollars) in the overall home remodel project by not having someone else act as a general contractor or do all the work within one company, the trade-off was time.  It took longer as we did not have the connections to electricians, drywall installers, insulation installers, etc.  The last step alone took about 6 months to finish as the carpenter was working on other jobs. Once he was able to focus on our house it was finished in just a few weeks.

No, we did not foresee a move coming when it did, or else we would not have taken on such a large change to our house.  If only we all had a magic ball that could see into the future …. Since we do not, we make decisions with the best information we have at the time.  That is all any of us can do.

“The best information we have at the time”, that is also one of the prompts for the move.  My husband graduated with his Masters, after 2.5 years of night classes while working full time, back in May.  While I was looking forward to a year of calm, time where we could spend as a family reconnecting and reassuring, it was not to be so.  At least, it is not going to look like I thought it would.

There were some changes coming down the line at his work, something he had picked up on but which had not been announced by the higher-ups.  In June, his work officially announced the changes. The majority of workers were surprised, being unsure of what this meant for the future. Thankfully we had talked about these possibilities, looking at our options and talking through what-ifs. While things could have turned out better for us, they could have stayed the same or gone worse.  It was a huge unknown with no guarantees.

Even with that emotional preparation on our part, having news like this become ‘official’ makes it all the more real.

Blessing Others decluttered childrens clothes

Going ahead with a job search, moving to a new state and out of Small Town, moving again to where we do not have family or a support network was not easy decision or task.  We have done it before, though this time we have the added challenge of two kids.  Two kids who do not handle changes in routines very well.  Two kids who still struggle with feeling secure some days.  Yes, we took that into account.  We kept coming back to “we can either move now, or wait and potentially have the timing decided for us at some unknown point in the future.”

Knowing that raising of our kids is our responsibility is why we have taken classes, read books, worked as a family to find things that work for us.  We have tried to grow and become the parents they need us to be.  We have tried to find ways to help them grow as people, to become contributing, well balanced adults in the future.  Are we perfect at it?  Oh, gosh, no! I fail just as much as anyone.  Also, I hold myself to a higher standard now, which makes my introverted self-analyzing all the more intense. However, sometimes I get it right, and we all get to take two steps forward.

So, we have moved.  All the blog posts flying through my head, all the possible things I have wanted to share, all the wonderful fall ideas I have taken pictures of to show you and spring-board your inspiration for autumn porch decorating ideas or garden improvements have had to take a back to seat to the knowledge that every day I chose to do something else meant a day longer of parenting by myself, of having my husband live the life of a bachelor in a new place with no supports.

I feel as if I have made this excuse before, but really, is this not the story of all of our lives.  None of us can do it all, there is only so much time in the day.  There are things you need to say “no” to in order to say “yes” to others.

sun light through autumn tree leaves

We now live in the equivalent of former Big Town.  It is not a Huge City, but large enough to make me uncomfortable and feeling crowded after our years in Small Town and having grown up in the country where you could not see your neighbors due to the hills and trees.  It has taken me time to start feeling upbeat about this move, to be honest.  From former moves, I know that I can live in a Huge City and still survive.  I have already started mental lists about all the positives of our new location, which helps begin to see the beauty of the place.  This always helps with attitudes of gratefulness rather than murmuring and strife.

So, this is the big project I have been up to lately.  This is what has prompted several posts on change and saying good-bye.

Thank you all for sticking with me through these odd times, where I would post for a week, then disappear.  Or where gardening posts were sparse while other things were on my mind.  I hope you continue to stop by and see what this new adventure brings for our family, and my (hopefully) beautiful garden.

A Wise Woman Builds Her Home
Sep 162016
 

red bicycle

continued from Part 1

Well, it should not have been a problem as the kids and I have bikes.

The first morning, we all rode our bikes to drop George off at school. No problem.  We got there. He parked his bike appropriately.  Jack and I headed back home, our legs a bit sorer but otherwise no worse for the wear.

In the afternoon, however, when it was time to go, Jack refused. He threw a tantrum – i.e. threw a remote control, argued with me, screamed at me, refused to get shoes on, ran to hide in a different part of the house…you know, all the fun things a kid who does not like change does when transitions happen. Yes, this happens even when given”we are leaving in 10/5/3/2 minutes” warnings.

In the end I did what I should not have done, but what in my irritated and schedule focused mind I decided to do, I led a shoe-less Jack out of the house (no worries, he rides barefoot all the time, against my clearly expressed wishes), locked the door, got our bikes out, and got on my bike. The whole time Jack is still screaming at me, though at least he is standing in one place … with his arms firmly crossed and body pressed against the garage door.

Now I realize the pickle I got myself into. He was now VERY disregulated and may or may not follow me on his bike. I didn’t care if he screamed at me the whole way, I just needed him to follow.

He did. Sort of, but not really.

He started to, I saw that part. However, he stopped. This part I did not realize till I was almost half way to George’s school (it was a straight shot down the road).

Now I was the one frozen in place.  Do I continue or go back? If I go back, there was no guarantee Jack would come and I for sure would be late for the appointment our house at right after school. If I go on, I can ride faster, get George and get back home faster than Jack and I would have even gotten to the school.

I kept going.

Before you judge me too harshly, it is a small town, remember? I also was 90% sure Jack would ride back to the house and wait for us. For all of his loud exclamations of dissatisfaction when made to stay with us, he does not like being left behind. When scared, he usually goes back.

On the way back home I found Jack. Seems that when he got to the end of our block he remembered that he is not supposed to cross the street by himself. This is what he chose to remember and obey. He also knew he was not supposed to be at home by himself. So, there, at the corner is where he waited, torn between two rules. His young, trauma affected brain not allowing him to realize that going home, a block away, would have been better than standing at a street corner. (Our family therapist saw it a slightly different way and praised him for making a safe choice, i.e. not crossing the road alone when he knew he was not supposed to.)

The next morning, I was determined to make it to school on time and without stress. Ha! As if. Why do I even tell myself that is an option?

To be continued….

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Aug 202016
 

school lessons learned again

A new school year brings new lessons, even if it is something you have done several times before.  Situations change. People change.  The phase of the mood moon changes. There is always a lesson or two waiting in to be learned.  Here are a few from our first day of school(s) yesterday.

In preparation:

1. Do not ladle hot pudding into plastic containers. They will melt.

2. Donut holes covered in honey is a yummy breakfast.

3. The habit of a morning routine is great.  No, they had not gotten it down, without reminders, all summer long even though you did it Every. Single. Morning.  No, they will not miraculously suddenly start doing it just because you now have a 5-times weekly appointment to get to at 8 a.m. (any opinions on this book?)

melted plastic containers

Actual school day:

1. You do reach a point where you do not cry when leaving your child at school, for better or worse. Maybe on a day where you feel less stressed (cast iron tub issues, home remodel, kids’ trauma issues and ADHD clashing, and more anyone?) you will remember exactly what it is you have done, making up for the lack of tears. For now, though, it’s all good. Your social bug is excited/nervous to be back in the throng of so many people to talk to. Constantly. Even with a speech issue, though most do not notice it now.  Boy oh boy, God sure did make this one a talker. He must have some sort of plan for him, or else this is one big double-edged thorn in his side. Love him to pieces.

2. On the way home you realize that you did yourself a favor by starting your home school year 1.5 weeks early (the first few days will be light days) and including a walk to the library on the first day of school.

3. Timers are wonderful things. You work till it goes off, then switch to the next thing.

4. Putting off the start of the school day till after the floors are swept and vacuumed makes you feel less of a failure as a homemaker when you look up between lessons.

5. Tests are not evil things. It is okay to see where your child is in order to know what you need to focus on. That does NOT have to mean bubble sheets and hour long sitting sessions. FYI: part if our tests involved markers and oral descriptions. I had to sigh at the addition of Light Sabers to the map.

6. Remember your clip boards?  Yeah, remember your clip boards and get them out to use. 😉

Afterwards:

1. (leftover) Donut holes are a great after school snack for the ever hungry kid.

2. At bedtime, kids will still be nervous for the second day of school, even if the first day went well.

3. It is okay to only mow 1/4 of the yard at a time.  You do what you can when you can.  However, next time, remember to put the downspouts back on so you do not have to get out of bed and run out in a downpour at 10 p.m. to put them back on.  It may be said that washing you hair with rainwater is a good thing, but I really could have done without the soaking wet clothes that went along with the experience.

4. Remember the “timers are wonderful things” mentioned above?  Well, that goes for setting your alarm to pick up your kid from public school as well.  Especially on the first day of school when they had early release.

In all, this was a great first day of school.  Even with a light school day at home I was reminded of the need for sensory input, mainly along the deep muscle and vestibular kind.

We made it on time for George in the morning.  Earlier this week we had gone to the school and found his homeroom, as well as another class he will frequent, and his locker.  This simple step make a world of difference to him, taking away one unneeded worry.  At bedtime, he told me, in his Grown-Up-3rd-Grader voice, that I would not need to walk him in for the second day; he knew where everything was and could find it.  (I think he has a fear of being lost and not knowing how to get where he is going.)

So, I will let go on this one and allow him to do it himself.  Of course, on day 3/4/5/115 he might change his mind and I will be there to offer the support he needs.  After all, is that not why we are here?  To help them grow into confident, independent, knowledgeable adults?  Well, that is our hope at least.

This post contains affiliate links.

Mar 162016
 

snow filled basketball hoop

This was written as a rant, after an episode.  It was not a horrible episode, though it was headed that way.  I was the mom who stepped down from the bleachers and walked over to the bench to do what was needed.  As an introvert, it takes a lot for me to do that. I am trying to step back more and let my kids learn on their own, though watching other adults fail, then get mad at my kids for said adults lack of observation, usually gets me over my introverted tendencies.

Parenting is an adventure. You are given responsibility of a crew with the goal if getting from point A to point Infinity. The catch, your crew were not given the choice of joining, and they do not always want to be there.  You gave to somehow convince them to follow you.

This wonderful opportunity for personal growth is made all the more adventurous when you add in kids from hard places.  Their brains are wired differently. That is a fact, not just a saying.  Trauma of any kind changes you, some more severely than others. Ever heard of PTSD?

The minds of children are especially prone to neuroligical changes that can not be undone.  The first 2 years of your life contain over 80% of your brain development.  Whether those years contained time in an ICU, surrounded by beeping machines and people you did not know, all the while not being held or touched enough; chronic sickness, resulting in going to the doctor a lot; stress in your parents’ lives resulting in less attention given to you; lots of yelling, fights, or even frequent moves; being in foster care or even private adoption (loss of main caregiver); not to mention drugs, abuse, and chronic neglect (not enough food, ignored, needs not met, etc.); trauma has a huge impact on the brain’s wiring.

In a neurotyipical child cause and effect are learned at a normal rate. Things ARE eventually learned.  However, those from hard places (histories involving trauma) have trouble with this connection. Studies show they are more likely to have ADD/ADHD, impulsiveness, end up in prison or be arrested, unemployed, drop out of school, etc.

And here is what gets me, all the effort to get foster parents, to promote adoption from foster care … I have yet to hear anything aimed at teachers, coaches, employers saying, “When you are in a place to influence these kids, here is what you will most likely see ….. and here is how to handle it …. ”

Not that people purposefully set out to keep these kids on a path to failure, they truly do not realize their brains process data and situations differently. And that makes me so sad. And mad. To the point of tears, which means I am beyond yelling mad.  It means I have to be hyper-vigilant around certain adults to make sure they do not cause my (young) kids to completely escalate and explode.  Again, they are not doing it on purpose. The methods they use, the way they respond works very well with their neurotyipical child.  It does the exact opposite for mine. Trust me, I tried and thought I was going crazy when it did not work.

In these situations I resemble an Army Apache helicopter parent. My scopes are set, ready to step in at any moment. However, it is usually to remove my child from the situation, rather than tell you that “little Johnny can’t help himself”.  Then we go off to a safe place while I spend the next 30 minutes to an hour undoing what just took the other adult under 5 minutes to create. Better for me to do that than let it escalate and have to spend a whole day ‘fixing’ it.

I am a big believer in self-control, personal responsibility, manners, and growing into a responsible, independent adult.  We are working on it. Doing better. Still a long way to go. So, while I understand most other kids that age can handle this situation without reacting this way, mine can’t.  So, please, just do not make it worse. Act like an adult and think, do not react off the cuff, it will do wonders for modeling it for my child.

Jan 162016
 

bird seed snowflake children craft

Cardinal Cottage has some great photos if, what else, cardinals.  There are a few craft ideas and paintings as well.

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Penny spinners look like a great craft for any time you need a fairly quick idea. I am going to file this away for an upcoming holiday shindig with a few other families.

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I love how Two Peas And Their Pod took a simple tomato soup and with the help of a few simple additions too it to a more adult level. I found this right before making tomato soup for supper. I tried the addition of Greek yogurt, but forgot to measure.  While it had to be thinned with some whole milk, this is one addition I am up for keeping up my sleeve.

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In an effort to find information to support a point of mine involving siblings and arguing, I came across the following 3 links. While they all belong to the same website, the first really hitting home. I have been feeling that this is an underlying issue in our home, but have not been able to put it into words. While our kids deal with childhood trauma, developmental delays, speech issues, attention issues (due to trauma?), and other labels, there has been something as of late (building in the last 12 months or so) that has been holding us all back.  I have started seeing it in how the kids treat and talk to each other, especially when they are mad.  I was having trouble pinpointing it. After reading this it felt like someone went into my brain and decoded my feelings.

Out Of Control Child, Stopping The Family Anxiety

Learn To Love Your Difficult Child

Outbursts And Temper Tantrums

Update: I was able to talk with a professional about the first article, and the one from last week.  This is a person who knows our family history and dynamics.  It is always good to get an outside perspective on how things are playing out, especially if you tend to be like me – over analyzing and internalizing everything.  This person said while part of the issues in our home are from Family Anxiety, which honestly is a part of every family and something we all have to learn to live with, that is not the main reason.  Yes, the idea of it had been causing me anxiety.  :)  

I did use the reminders in the second two articles as encouragement.  When it feels as if we are surrounded by neural-typical kids and trauma-free families, I need the encouragement to keep doing what I am doing.  This is especially true when it feels like what I am doing looks like I am babying my kids or not being stern enough.  This is why I held the hand of my 6 year old all through the second half of our field trip yesterday and let him stand on my feet while I swayed him back and forth and he hung his head and watched reflections in the puddles on the walkways.  It was an action I would have done with a toddler, but it is what he needed (vestibular sensory activity, help with boundaries, staying on track, etc.).  Yes, he wanted to run around with the older boys, exploring the edge of a pond 100’s of yards away from us, opening doors to see what was behind them, touching everything in sight, kicking poles to see what would happen, playing follow the leader through the group of people listening to the presenter … not exactly what you should be doing while visiting a maple syrup business and a commercial green house.  So, as the parent I gave him what he really needed, even if he thought it would be more fun to “see what this does.”  Boy, he does keep you on your toes.

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Here are a few pdf’s and links talking about starting transplants at home.  Just like listening to Christmas Carols all through December gets you in the mood for Christmas, reviewing information on growing transplants gets me excited to get started on my own.

Iowa State University Extension “Starting Garden Transplants At Home

Utah State University “Grow Your Own Transplants At Home

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension “Timely Tips on Starting Seedlings At Home

tomato seedlings 2013

Jun 032015
 

 

Before we ever had children in our home, I had been browsing blogs of homeschooling families.  The idea appealed to me, as I have known several different families over the course of my life who home schooled, and I was curious about what all they did on a daily basis – what did it look like?  Though my husband said we would, “Talk about it later”, in other words “We are not homeschooling” :) ,  I kept browsing.

While preparing to become foster parents, I started taking note of what they did with their preschoolers and mentally adjusting to what we could do with kids to help them while attending public schools.  Any foster children that came into our home were required to go to public school.  You could request a variance to that, but I do not think they grant many of them. Their reasons usually fall under:

  1. The kids are often behind in various areas and need extra support catching up or not falling behind
  2. Increased appropriate adult role models
  3. More eyes to make sure everything is okay with the kids
  4. It can be very emotionally and physically draining to deal with traumatized children. The more people to help, the more likely it is that the placement remains stable. (i.e. the foster parents do not request a child is moved due to it being overwhelming.)

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When George (3) and Jack (2) came to live with us, that knowledge became very helpful.  See, for over 6 months, if you ever turned on the television when they were around a tantrum would ensue. It did not matter if you turned on an adult show, a children’s cartoon, or a show aimed at babies.  It was the oddest reaction I had ever seen.

They required constant attention from me during the day, then from my husband and I at night.  They did not know how to play on their own, so there was no sitting them in front of a pile of blocks while I sorted socks.  They just could not do it.  (This is why my sorted and filed paperwork ends right before they came to live with us.  It has been in an ever-growing stack since then.)

Add to all of this the fact that both boys were basically non-verbal.  Jack would point and grunt.  George could say some words, but no real sentences.  It was not exactly like you could ask if them they wanted trucks or balls.

Additionally, the habit of Obedience was not one they processed.  I am not sure if it was a result of their previous home life or a result of the upheaval their little lives had just experienced.  While one was better than the other at responding to boundaries, it still was not safe to take them out of the house unless they had on their harnesses or you held them.

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This resulted in me trying all the ideas I had been gathering on my mental list of preschool activities.  The main things were: reading out loud, going outside, schedules, including them in your work around the house (this was easy as they would follow me everywhere), and hands-on activities.  What commenced was a series of trial-and-error experiments to see what worked and what did not.

The result was amazing growth in a relative short period of time.  It may have seemed to take forever, and our stress levels were pretty high, but in the long-term view it really was not all that long.

  • George began talking in 5+ word sentences within 7 months.
  • Jack learned a few signs, then a few words.  Within a year he was almost caught up verbally.
  • I worked with George on saying my (proper) name.  We took it a syllable at a time, which sounded pretty funny at times.  He never really got there till after living with us for over a year, but …
  • After being tired of Jack not calling me anything after 3 or 4 months, I sat down with him one day and tried to get him to say my name.  He got the one syllable while looking directly at me, so I earned a new nick name.  It was easier for George to say also, so my name was ‘officially’ changed.
  • Several children’s songs were learned, even if they could not sing them.  They would respond and sometimes ‘sing’ along.
  • Once they learned to talk, they could ‘fill-in-the-blank’ on words I left out of poems or songs we had learned.
  • George went from having 2 half-day preschools the first semester here, to having 1 specialized half-day preschool and more time at home.
  • Jack slowed down on his eating and rarely choked on food.
  • Jack went from biting off the corners of a newspaper, to loving books.
  • After about a year, I almost fell off my seat when one of the children said they did not like a certain food.  This was a HUGE milestone and I almost hugged the kid.
  • Now, if I go somewhere with George, I can usually trust him to stay where he is supposed to or behave as he is expected.
  • Jack has turned into a hard worker, who loves to help.
  • The children went from never having attended church, to Jack being able to sit through most of the service on my husband’s lap.  George had a harder time as he did not want to use appropriate behaviors.  He outgrew that phase, which I attribute to him ‘finding his words’ and overall calming down.  Jack, however, has since found his independence and has had to work hard at controlling it.
  • The children went from screaming in the car drive was longer than 10 minutes, to being able to tolerate car trips several hours long and traveling via airplane.

Wikki Stix 2

Things still are not perfect, nothing ever really is, so we keep working and growing.  As much as the children have changed, my husband and I have also changed as parents.  I think differently now than 4 years ago.  I look ahead for problems that may arise and try to avoid or dissipate them.

I could not have foreseen all that has happened.  Sometimes I am also amazed at what we have come to consider to be ‘normal’.  Other times I wonder when this roller coaster is going to end.  Till then I want to share some resources/links with you that have helped us.  First up, reading ….

 

Mar 102015
 

flat tire morgue file

(Picture from Morguefile.com since I could not find the one I took.)

What an exciting month and a half it has been, and not always in a good way.  Here is an example from a few weeks ago that never got posted.

We started off with a flat tire one Sunday morning.  Thankfully it happened as we were very, very close to home.  We turned around and switched car as we were already running late.

Monday morning, when faced with a tired change, my husband suggested we use a great benefit that comes with our auto insurance – road side assistance.  Yes, they will even come to your house if you need assistance.

It felt a bit odd calling them to change a tire, but was worth it as our cars are currently parked on the street and I had both George and Jack home with me that morning. Oh, and it was COLD outside. Changing the tire would not have been that hard of an endeavor.  The challenge would have been either keeping the boys away from the street while I was changing the tire, or keeping them in the house and warm while I changed it.  After all, “Where Mommy is we must be also … especially if she puts on her shoes” seems to be their motto.

The more I thought about my husband’s suggestion to give the roadside assistance a call, the more I saw the wisdom in it.  Add to the fact that this was a free service provided through our auto insurance and it did not take long for me to make the call.

Side Story: While you would think at 7 & 5 they would know (and remember from all the reminders) that they should NOT play in the street, it was only a few weeks before that I found Jack out there trying to ‘direct traffic’.  He and George had been playing in the yard with pallets, building tree houses, ramps and various other boy things when I needed to go inside to get something.  I came back out to find him standing in front of my car IN THE STREET with one hand out and the other waving the oncoming car to go ahead. Outside playtime ended so fast and I learned that he is not yet ready to play out there without adult supervision, even if George is with him.

Where was George in all this?  Standing there watching his brother.  When he also got into trouble his answer was, “But it was Jack who was doing it, not me!”  I pointed out that he stood there and watched his brother do something he knows Jack shouldn’t have done and did nothing to stop him.  I also emphasized that this would have been the time to come tell me what Jack was doing. He seems to have his list of things to tattle on mixed up.

Two hours later the tire was change and no kids had played in the street.  Another example of using our resources to help make our days easier.

 

Shared at:

Feb 282015
 

It was a bright snowy morning.  Anticipation was in the air as new snow was expected by nightfall.

Upon waking up and realizing Mom and Dad were still asleep, we skipped our morning routines (who needs diffrent clothes, we were already fully covered) and went straight to PLAYING.  So many things to get done, so little time.

Without delay, we followed the track the Rescuebots had left in the snow overnight.  Yes, it may have meant disobeying by going out onto the porch and leaving the door open a bit when we came in …but we didn’t go IN the snow.  It was cold and we were thinking ahead.  Mom would have been proud, though, I even had on underwear. And pants.  :) You’re welcome, Mom.

After following the tracks around the house, by looking out windows, we could contain our excitement no longer.  We HAD to share it with Mom.

No,worries, she wasn’t sleeping – she opened an eye when we opened the door. That meant she was wide awake and ready for a volume of speech usually reserved for coaches yelling at their players. Hey,this was exciting stuff!

After telling our story we left to set traps to catch any Transformers, least they should reappear.

snow on red cedar trees

Years later, Mom finally had crepes ready for breakfast. Not sure what took so long, she only had to stop every 5 minutes to tell us be quiet, stop an argument, separate us, send one to our room, return said kid to room, remind me not to hit the walls,remind me not to run, … yeah, not sure what took so long. Really, if she wasn’t so worried about teaching us how to not break our stuff, or her’s, things would go a lot faster around here. I wonder if she knows that?

Dad ate breakfast really fast. How does he do that?  It couldn’t have anything to do with him actually eating, since that is so boring. Not only can you cut your crepes, but they are also rolled! How great is that?! Of course I have to unroll and reroll each piece.  Who cares how sticky my hands get. It is all part of the experience.

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Mom dashed my dreams, yet again, by telling me that you can not get things off a t.v. and you can not get into a cartoon.  She went as far as making a short ‘movie’ of her coffee cup turning in a circle. Do you know how she did it? By taking a series of pictures, then scrolling through them quickly.  I smiled and pretended to understand.

Next she made a thing called a flip book. She made dots on a page.  Not really exciting. Then, she flipped quickly through the pages AND THE DOT MOVED! Ah, now I get it!

As that was so 30 seconds ago, I got bored and went off to play.  For some reason Mom got aggravated and sounded like she had other plans for the day.  In case she didn’t understand what we were doing, I clarified, “I don’t have time to brush teeth/get dressed/take dishes to the kitchen. I. Am. Playing.” By her reaction, I don’t think she still fully understood. By the look on her face though, I figured I should obey.

While I was going to obey, I first needed to run away from her when she went to give me my toothbrush, do a headstand on the couch, do a circuit through all the rooms, and then back to the couch.

For some reason Mom had decided to leave without me. Can you believe how unfair she was being? Didn’t she understand that I was on my way to obeying?

At least she put on The Brinkman Adventures when we got into the car. If I had to put up doing what she wanted, at least I could be listening to something fun. Right?

Hey, look, we are in Big Town! “Mom, can we go to the library? I want to go the library.” I wonder why she didn’t answer me?

Look, we pulled into the library. Glad she listened to MY plans.

However, she wouldn’t let me go straight to the computers.  I humored her by paying attention, sort of, in the art thing she wanted us to do.  I tried to slip out, but she kept making me stay by her. Maybe if I try again … maybe now …

“Stand up quietly,” she whispered finally, “and go to the desk out there.”

While we signed up for computers she disappeared. I wonder where she went? Oh well, she is here somewhere. I have places to go and things to find.

(And this is where Mom disappeared to while boys were otherwise occupied. Lovely books. So many places to go and things to find.)

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