Feb 102017
 

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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 142016
 

This post contains affiliate links.

reading book dress-up costume

Whenever I need some encouragement, reminders to keep moving forward, I seek out those who have been or still are dealing with the same struggles.  It helps keep my perspective, gives me ideas of things to try, and shows me that I am not alone.

Here are a couple of articles and thoughts about parenting kids from hard places.  I have talked about this before, so it is nothing new for this blog.  However, I keep finding people who know more than I do, reading what they are open to sharing, and growing in my understanding.  I could not keep it to myself if I tried.

If you read nothing else, I suggest reading the first article from Stevie Wilson, a licensed professional counselor.  I could have benefited from such knowledge during younger years, helping out in children’s programs.  Not all of this information is for parents alone.  It is good information for everyone to have and understand.

-Teaching a room full of kids can be a challenge on any given day.  Some days it is a fun challenge.  Other days … not so much.  Having that one kid in the class who does not act like the others, can test anyone’s patience, especially if viewed as defiance or being oppositional..  However, knowledge is power and a few small changes can help the day go much smoother.

Last week I had to literally stop where we were and wait for one of my kids to gain control of themselves before we moved on.  At the time, we were headed out to eat supper after the kids received a surprise visit from my parents and one of their cousins.  It was exciting and different.  While both of my kids responded with heightened activity, this particular kid seemed to be having trouble slowing himself back down.  The biggest hint – lack of eye contact.  While everyone else continued on into the restaurant for supper, I stood on the sidewalk and …..

  • watched birds fly overhead
  • watched trucks pull in and out of a gas station
  • took deep relaxing breaths (amazingly enough, I was not really fazed by all this. I was just enjoying the autumn air.)
  • watched more birds fly overhead

… basically I did anything I could do to look as relaxed and bored as possible, to slow down my energy (almost to a stop) and thereby slow down my kid’s anxiety levels.  It worked.  Once this kid could both face my direction with his body and look at me, I gave praises and very clear expectations – “we were going to walk into the restaurant and walk to our table while keeping our hands to ourselves; walking does not mean skipping, jumping, or running, it means walking.” We had a brief pause inside the restaurant as it was difficult to walk while keeping hands to oneself, but a redo resulted in appropriate behaviors.  That was the goal.

In the end, this kid behaved very well and this whole situation was a forgotten thing of the past.  Having other adults with me made it possible at that moment to react with these behaviors in this fashion.  If it had been me parenting solo with both kids, trying to keep one kid calm while brother was having trouble handling the changes, I would have had to reverse everyone back to the car for some music time or headed home for pb&j.

our school week collage 2

-What about if you are not in a public/private school setting?  What about home schooling?  Changing the location from a larger classroom to your dinning room table does not suddenly erase the potential for challenging behaviors.  What it does do is give you more options on how to address these issues.

Peek-a-boo is not just a game.

The emotional side of life is one aspect I appreciate much more now, after home schooling Jack, than I did before.  It took a short intense time during his early public school stint for us to accept that something more was going on than the normal adjustments to a full day of Kindergarten.  So far, we have not regretted this decision.  I will admit, there are times where I have the “oh, how life would be different if he were able to tolerate being in public school and I was working outside of the home” thoughts.  Thankfully, we do not need me to work outside the home and I enjoy staying home, but the grass is always greener…

Then I realized how well he has been handling the past hour of being bored, how well regulated he is acting.  For him, being bored often is what gets him into trouble, a feeling he begins to sense about 5 minutes or less into an activity which he deems unnecessary.  Learning to find ways to entertain himself without causing trouble has been one of the biggest lessons he has had to learn, and is still working on.  I attribute this learning to why we can actually sit through a church service now and why he was able to take a 3 hour car ride sans movies with me last week.

When we began schooling at home, I had visions of how things would turn out.  It did not happen that way.  As I had already been reading a fair amount of home schooling blogs when the kids were preschool age, to gain ideas of activities to do with them and help them catch up, I was not completely overwhelmed at the idea.  However, I know how it was ‘supposed’ to go.  Yet, instead of needing a few weeks to adjust, it ended up taking us almost 6 months before Jack could handle some sort of structure to his day.

2 years later I feel like we are finally at the point I wanted to be at 1.5 years ago.  Learning to step back and not take things personally, usually, has helped.  Reaching out to others has also helped.  Also finding ways that work for him, rather than keeping doing it the way everyone else seems to be, has helped.

I have come to find that, apparently, I was a bit too agressive about learning to read and it was backfiring.  So I took a break, trying again at various times till we landed upon something that worked.  Using a program like Reading Eggs, has helped take a majority of the arguments out of the struggle to read. Apparently, learning to read is boring, so why try?  Sort of like going to sleep. However, ‘playing’ online is fun and so is earning new characters.

The “But, mom, I can’t read” excuse no longer flies.  He at least can try to sound it out, with a bit of prompting, of course.  Why prompting? Because it is also easier and faster to have mom tell you the word you do not know, rather than try to figure it out yourself.  The same goes for opening doors. And putting up your clothes.  And …. it has become apparent one of the habits we will need to be working on in the near future.

sidewalk-hockey-boys-running-collage

-I need to do more of these sort of activities throughout our day. Vestibular stimulation is something we often see in Jack.  Whether it is due to a history of ear infections or hyperactivity, his need to move is often an indicator of what is going in in his head and greatly affects his ability to focus.

-Letting the little things build up till I explode is an area I need to work on.  This was a great, quick reminder and encouraging read.

Nov 052016
 

This post contains affiliate links.  I received a copy of this book for review.

At times, it feels like we are the only ones in our community willing to stand up, offering help to children who may be in unsafe situations.

At other times, it feels like we are not doing anything; we have become comfortable in our own little family.

Neither of those feelings accurately reflect real life.  One is a very self-centered, know it all, martyr mentality that dismisses all the ways others are aiding families around us.  The other comes from our normal not being ‘normal’ any more, we are used to some of the adjustments we have made to help our kids feel safe.

While neither are accurate, both come from the same place – the feeling of being overwhelmed at all that is wrong in this world.  No one person can do it all.

Make It Zero: the movement to safeguard every child by Mary Frances Bowley dives into this issue, looking not only at the obvious dangers children may face – hunger, abuse, and trafficking; but also poverty and isolation, exploring real examples of each.  Not only are they talked about, but each chapter ends with a ‘React’ section, encouraging the reader to do something about what was just read.

Make It Zero was not about children only.  It actually began by talking about adults, parents, and teenagers, not exactly who one thinks of when talking about the children in our society.  However, by the end of the second chapter I was starting to understand.  Safeguarding the children means giving them a good foundation.  That foundation is the parent/s in their lives.  If the parent is struggling, the children will struggle.

One example is that of poverty.  If there is lack of money in the home, then the parents might have to work longer hours, resulting in not being around to raise the children safely.  The kids are more likely to make bad choices, miss out on emotional milestones, and become adults who are lacking in one area or another, who then become parents themselves.

…even a giant Redwood tree starts out as a seed…

What can we do?  Social reforms have been taking place for hundreds of years, trying to remove all poverty and hunger from our world, yet it is still around.  Child trafficking seems to only be getting worse at a time when it should be easy to keep track of people.

Isolation was one of the issues that touched me the most.  You would think having a small world, not being disturbed by others would not be such a bad thing.  But how about the child left alone for hours at home, with no one to help keep them safe or teach them how to interact with others?  Or the foster teen who ages out of the system with no support network, expected to figure it out on their own at the mature age of 18?  Or the single parent household, where all the responsibility for the family and home falls on one person?  These are all situations that lead to problems much bigger than where they began.

Wellspring Living, Hire Hope, and other programs grew out of a desire to address these issues, to help the children by helping the family address underlying issues. Realizing the solution was not a simple 3 step answer, many people came together to address the needs leading to  This aspect, working to keep the family together by giving them the resources and support they needed, was one of my favorite parts of this book.  Instead of compounding the problem by saying all children should be removed from these homes, though at times it might be needed, the reader is given ideas, links, books, and other materials to help them learn to look around their community and find ways to help.

look im helping children cutting with scissors

I came away from reading Make It Zero feeling encouraged.  Yes, there are many issues out in the world, and no one person can solve them all.  However, we can all do something right where we are.  For now, that something is going to look different than it did 5 years ago, and will look different than it will 5 years from now.  This does not mean we are doing nothing, it a different type of something.

Our kids have a heart for others.  As much as they may add liveliness to my day, they are constantly asking if we can help someone else out.  They want to give all of our food to the school during food drives, they do not understand why we do not give money to every person on every street corner who is asking for it, and they are ready to hop on a plan to help those affected by natural disasters.  This is something my husband and I wish to encourage and direct.  We try to make them aware of the needs around us, finding tangible ways for them to help.  Make It Zero has given me several ideas of ways to help, as well as having opened my eyes to issues I did not know existed.

If you would like to learn more about this movement, I would encourage you to also checkout Make It Zero‘s website.

Oct 272016
 

This post contains affiliate links.

me-a-compendium

When looking something to add to our school day, Me: A Compendium: A Fill-in Journal For Kids caught my attention.  It looked fun, the picture on the cover intrigued me, and the idea seemed silly enough to hold the attention of my kids.

George has several variations of books such as this one, he tends towards the artistic thinking.  Jack, however, does not have any such books.  He is usually a black and white thinker, taking to artistic things only if it suits his fancy.  I was not sure how he would react to this book, though was hoping for something unexpected that he could do during the day when he was bored.  It would also act as a journal of his life at this point in time.

Me: A Compendium was picked with Jack in mind.

When the book came, I called him into the living room, handing him the book without saying anything.  The look in his eye was one of excitement, “Is this for me?!”  Seems it was going to be a hit with my practical child.  (George was a bit jealous, till I reminded him that he already had two books like this.  He still wanted to ‘help’ fill in some of the pages.)

As with any new book, I encouraged Jack to get to know the book before doing anything with it.  Starting at the most obvious place, the cover, he asked why it was blank.  “That is for you to fill in.  You write your name in the blank rectangle, either only your first or any combination of your names you choose. This is your book.”

Turning it over to the back cover, the questions continue.  The child is asked for favorites, descriptions of various body parts, and other information about likes/dislikes.

me-compendium-book-2-collage

The biggest surprise, though, was the inside of the cover.   “Super Secret Stuff” was a hit with this 7 year old.  He did not even want me to tell George or Dad about it.  “Mom, it is secret!  That is what secret means; others do not know about it.”  We had not even cracked the cover yet and he was already smitten with the book and the notion of filling it in as he saw fit.

me-compendium-book-inside-cover

Several pages were filled in the first day.  One of them surprised me, “This is what I’ll be doing when I grow up…”  Up till this point, he has always wanted to be a construction worker, or a constructions worker who works part time as a policeman.  This was the first time he said he wanted to, solely, be a policeman, “to help keep people safe”.  Being safe is a common thing he worries about, so this was not so surprising.

“As long as you do not want to be the person the police are chasing, I think it is a great idea”, a comment of mine that resulted in the oh so cute, “Mooooommmm” with the accompanying eye roll.

me-compendium-book-collageThe second picture took a bit of interpretation on his part before I understood what was going on – playing Frisbee with Dad.  Again, not a surprise, as this was drawn at a time where my husband was busy and not able to play with them as much as he, and they, would have liked.

Knowing Jack is not a huge drawer, I was very surprised and pleased to see how quickly he wanted to pick up drawing utensil and get to work filling in the paper pages.  If this is what it takes for my fine-motor activity adverse kid to draw, I will buy these books all day long.

I have no doubt Me: A Compendium will last us quite a while.  The cover is hard back and the pages are a heavy paper.  The drawing and fill-in-the-blank prompts are diverse, helping keep it interesting through the whole book.

Since drawing in it the first time, Jack has asked several times where this book was, as he wanted to work on it more.  This fact alone makes it a five-star book in my opinion, especially as it is not a particular cartoon construction worker and his builders, nor an alien race that can morph into various vehicle forms to fight other bad mechanical alien here on Earth.  This is a book that makes him stop or slow down, think, and transfer those thoughts to something outside of himself.  There are no right or wrong answers, and no grades.  So, if your police car looks more like a lump of coal, that is okay. 😉

I thought I would give Jack a chance to share his thoughts, in his own words.  Here is what I got:

Me: Jack, what did you think of this book?

Jack: (glancing over, sees the book on the screen, and gives a sly, shy smile, goes back to building his Lego creation.)

Me: Well, what did you think?

Jack: I don’t know.  I haven’t finished it yet.  I can’t tell you what I think of it till I finish it.

Me: Well, up till now, what have been your thoughts?

Jack: (silence, but smiling.)

And there you have it.  He liked it but was unwilling to put it into words, the normally accepted form of communication for creatures of our species, yet a form that Jack often does not like to use.  Hey, at least he did not spell it out in the air, as he is inclined to do at times.  That would have been harder to transcribe.

********************

As I was writing this review, I had another thought, “This would be great for a kid in Foster Care.”

Why? It would help create a scrap book of sorts, a place to write things down and store memories at a time where other forms may not be available.  At times there are gaps in a child’s photographic history or “This is Me in Grade ___” papers from school are lost.  Giving them a sturdy place to record various facts from their life at this moment, a way to possibly even share them with the adults in their lives, is a great way to encourage emotional connects, a connection with their personal story, and a record of this time in their life.

Me: A Compendium does not require batteries, is gender neutral, and easy to transport.  As the holiday season approaches, if you are considering being a part of a gift-giving effort, even if not for Foster Care specifically, this would be a great gift option to keep in mind.

 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sep 132016
 

red bicycle

When I was younger, I always had the thought in my head that I would adopt a kid. It was never a clear desire, no clear details, more of a picture of what my future held.  As time went on, I was even pretty sure these kids had been adopted from foster care.

In this picture, there was a field with a creek and kids playing happily until being called in for supper. Why, yes, the sun was shining as well. How did you know?

Then I grew up.

My husband and I, after we were married, moved to crowded east coast, to BIG town in a different state, to smaller big town in a different state, and finally to small, rural town in yet a different state. No field. No creek. And as it turns out, kids who have their own very clear and very not-what-mom-said-we-could-but-it-looks-so-FUN ideas.

Yup. Life has been and continues to be an adventure. At least it has not been boring.

Right now, my husband’s car is getting some routine work done, so he is driving my car to work. No problem, right? After all we live in town. A town that is basically a 1 square mile. It is not like we could not ride or walk to wherever we need to be.

Wrong!!!

To be continued

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Jul 152016
 

Kid Garden Helper

As the mother of two kids with ADHD, one hyperactive and the other inattentive, I can attest to many of the 28 Things Nobody Tells You About Having A Kid With ADHD.  It is more than having an active kid, and it takes parenting to a whole new level, especially when you add in early childhood trauma and other equally fun things.  Each of these hit me at the core, they really are true, deeply personally so many times.

These are not just “yes, my little Jimmy/Jenny also annoys me sometimes … I can not even look at Facebook for an hour without him/her whining to me about something” or “I always have crayons and scrap paper with me for those times we have to wait.  Otherwise we would never get through that 30 minute wait time at the doctor’s office.”  If you are one of those people, please, do not even try to commiserate with me.  I know you mean well, but it only makes me practice biting my tongue more.  That really hurts after a while.  Besides, it only makes me feel like more a failure in this parenting arena.  I already feel that way really, really, often and do not want to feel that way more.  Please do not be surprised if I stop talking about my kids to you, or even if I stop talking to you altogether.

Here are some thoughts I had as I went through the list, you may want to open the article in another window as you read through below:

Signs and visuals have helped, but only go so far, which is why we have “underwear check” most days … to make sure it is on AND not backwards. (Point #2)

FYI – Yes, I know my kid’s shoes are on the wrong feet, but I am tired of telling him yet again to put them on right. So, please do not ask me if I knew they were on wrong. We got to where we were going on time (ish) and that was higher on my goals list for the day.  If they bother you, feel free to tell my child who put them on, not me. I learned a long time ago which is the right foot and do not need the extra practice, thank you very much.

#3 –  I used to think I was super patient and calm.  Then I was given my two kids to raise and learned what it meant to be prideful.  That was a tough lesson.  Now I am learning to say, “I was wrong for loosing my temper.” and “I’m sorry.”

#4 – If you do not think this is true, wait till you realize your kid has NO friends to invite him to birthday parties (while brother seems to go to them all the time) and you have to try and explain why. This is also why we invite whole families, when we do invite people for parties.

#5 – After talking with a friend who had two very well behaved kids and one very active kid, whom we love, I found out she was this way until they began parenting their active kid and had an “ah, ha” moment.  Yes, you may be a great parent, but it could also be that you just have easy kids.  Don’t judge.

#6 – Sensory issues surprised me, it is something like the chicken and the egg. In our case we tried addressing all the other items first to help reduce the ADHD behaviors.  When it became obvious there was ADHD involved, we then addressed the ADHD to help reduce all the other items. Neither will ever go away, so we are learning to live with both and “tolerate” some things that normal life brings, like having to do things you do not like to do.

#7 – “Oh, they are just boys.” That is true only up to a certain point. Even I tried to tell myself this for too long.  After a while you have to admit something else is happening.  Staying in denial can actual cause longer term harm to their brains; imagine hearing “no”, “stop that”, “why can’t you do xyz”, “sit still”, “focus”, etc all day long.  After a while it really starts to affect you physically and emotionally.

#8 – They might, but we did go a year giving them almost no (and I really do mean ‘almost none’) candy, sweets, etc.  We were those mean parents who told grandparents and friends that our kids could not eat those things at Valentine’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween (which we didn’t celebrate, so this was fairly easy), Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

#9 & #10 – very much YES! Yet I still relearn this point over and over.  I could give you example after example of success and failures here, but will not waste your time doing so.  Let’s just say that I am not kidding when I say I have to prepare for a trip to the (grocery store, church, post office, museum, restaurant, special event, etc.)  This included going over what are expected behaviors, what is planned, what might happen, who might be there, etc.  Though I have to make sure not to set expectations too high, as if they are not met we have a melt down.  Not pretty.

#12-#14 – Ah, medication. Everyone has an opinion. :) Even I have changed my views on this, somewhat, after living life as a parent of two ADHD kids. (P.S. we really have a goal for at least one kid that goes like this – “Not Get Arrested”. Yup, setting the bar high over here.)

#15 – Yup, I already know people (even family) have already labeled at least one of my kids. Because of that I choose not to share about our daily life with them.

#18 – And even those within the school. Thankfully we are in position to find an alternative to those issues I less than love. Well, usually.

#20 – There are movies/video games I am ready to mark as “Banned!”in our home. I really do not feel like hearing about them for hours. Every day.

#21 – I used to wonder how our bathroom got so dirty so quickly, “Mom’s never did.” Then I started paying closer attention and realized it was not due mainly to my homemaking skills, but to the aiming skills of others. “Look where you point!” Is a common refrain in our house.

#22 – I really thought this was in our future. Instead we got help, home schooled, worked with public schoolteachers/adjusted IEPs, took more parenting classes, added in therapies, and sought resources. 1.5 years later I think be might avoid it.

#26 – Yes, this is something I deal with often.  I have to remember that we all have issues, some are just easier to hide than others.  It is easy to let the jealousy turn into anger toward the child.  This is something I have to keep my finger on, especially during the harder than normal times.

#27 – Surprisingly, even in church there are few who do this. I have made sure to tell them how much I appreciate their efforts.

All of this is to say … I love my children.  They are great people.  They have fun personalities, individual likes and dislikes, they love to help, and they are maturing.  If I were to dwell on all the points above and never on the other things, I think it would be hard to get out of bed each day.

Yes, all the above are a reality in my life at one point or another, but they do not define who we are inside.

 

Jul 082016
 

fire pit

Way back when, I needed a blog name for Jack.  Nursery rhymes were the source I was using for inspiration, but which one?  Then the day happened and I knew very clearly what it was.  Jack!

The nursery rhyme of Jack Be Nimble always confused me. Why would one jump over a candle, burn themselves, then say they wanted to do it again?  Then I became the mom of one such little boy and it made perfect sense – because it was there and he could. (Okay, that is not the historical reason, but it now seems like a valid explanation to the boy of this mom.)

Here are some adventures to give you insight:

My husband and I were looking to go out one evening for a few hours.  We have tried several babysitters, but yet to alight upon one we really thought would work well at this time of day/night.  I called a friend I knew who had a daughter with several younger brothers.  “Perfect.  Maybe she will be able to handle the boys even though they will be really tired.”  Three hours later we get back, 1.5 hours past their bedtime, and they are all watching a movie.  No problem as I told her she did not need to even try doing bedtimes.  Here is her quote, “They ate supper, played inside for a bit, then we went outside to play.  We ran around for quite a while playing X game and Y game.  We came back in to watch a movie. …. They weren’t even tired. They have a lot of energy!”  Glad to know that it isn’t because I am getting ‘old’, even the teenager was worn out by them.

They have a LOT of energy

While carpet shopping for the house, I spaced out the trips so it would not be a long day.  Instead, my goal was to make it a few shorter mornings in Big Town, thereby hopefully avoid the following scenario:

I had gathered up prices and determined where I wanted to go.  Jack and I went to the store first thing after dropping George off at school.  Mornings are Jack’s best time, so I was trying to utilize this knowledge to my benefit.  My phone is charged and his favorite app game is loaded.  We get to the store and he sees a table, with some kids toys, sitting in the middle of the carpet selection area.  With some hesitation I agree to let him  play there instead of on my phone right by me.

All was going well till toward the end.  As I was narrowing down the choices with the salesman, who had left to get another sample board, I realized Jack was not at the table.  A quick search revealed that he was hiding on the other side of the show room, among some other samples.  I brought him back, reminding him of “expected and unexpected behaviors in a store.” The sales man came back, we went to his desk to get finish some paperwork.  Jack was playing nicely at the table full of toys.

Someone walked up beside me and politely said, “Ma’am, your son is in the back room behind rolls of carpet and won’t come out.  He is not supposed to be back there, it is dangerous. He needs to come out.”  I had to bite my tongue on that last part to keep from being too sarcastic. I would have thought it was pretty obvious after the first sentence.  But, I know this was definitely unexpected behavior and something none of the adults in the room would have even considered another kid doing.

Sure enough, I found him (finally) hiding under rolls of padding, in a space about 1.5 feet high.

bike meets deck steps child

Do not ride bikes down steps…

Amazingly, we have only been to the ER once with our Lover of Life.  I was so proud of myself, keeping the kids entertained in the sand box on the deck while I cleaned out the shed.  It was a sunny afternoon and we were all in the backyard together.

Obviously my eyes did not catch everything.  I heard a thump and a cry.  Turning I found Jack face down on the ground, his bike (with training wheels) at his feet, at the bottom of the stairs to the deck.  My first concern was that his nose was broken or pushed up into his head.  Once I felt everything and found nothing broken, I carried him inside to address the gushing of blood.

We have had bloody noses before, the kids would get them by crying too hard as smaller kids, so this was not exactly a new thing for us.  George was a great help in getting door opened and toilet paper to wipe off the blood in between splashes of water.

My husband? Well, not such a big help.  At least at first.  I yelled for him to come help, as I was not sure if teeth had been knocked out, or if I needed to leave George at the house and leave with Jack.  When he walked in and saw Jack’s face covered with blood and George and I standing around the sink, his first reaction was to get mad. “What were you thinking?!”  Granted, it was out of being scared and concerned for Jack, but it was not helpful.  I told him to leave the bathroom, then closed the door.  Once the shock was gone he was much better and held and cuddled Jack on the way to the ER.

The result of this stunt was a very swollen upper lip for almost a week and a detailed report to our foster care agency.  No teeth knocked out.  No broken nose.  No black eye.  He had missed the wood border of the landing by about 2 feet.  If he had hit that, the outcome would have been very different.

But I wanted Daddy

In the time before learning how to swim well, which was any time before this summer season, the kids were required to wear life vests in the pool when swimming.  The only times they were allowed to be without them was if they were in our arms.

Even after being shown over and over how they would sink if we let go of them, how they could not walk on water (sorry, you are not Jesus), and how they had yet to learn to swim, they still did not fully believe us.

George had a healthy fear of the water.  Well, maybe a bit too much fear, but it served him well enough.

Jack, though, thought we were being mean and restrictive.  “By Golly, I want to be in the water and they are keeping me from what I want! How dare they!”  Yup, pool day was fun, full of holding Mom’s hand until she properly suited you up.

It was the end of swimming time, we were all getting out of the community pool to head home.  As it was late afternoon, my husband was also there.  I had gotten out and was ready to help the kids dry off.  Jack had been put out of the pool, I removed his vest and dried him off.  We were walking around to the other end, to get George out, when I realized Jack had turned back.  He wanted Daddy. Who was still in the pool.  Looking the other way.

In one swift move, he walked up to the edge and stepped right off into the water.  Then promptly sunk to the bottom.

I could not get there fast enough, though I tried, and yelled at my husband.  Thankfully, he turned around, scooped Jack up and sat him back on the edge.  We had one scared child. Well, at least for about 5 minutes.  He was not any worse for the wear, though it could have been a whole lot worse.

And this is why I did not take them at the busiest times of the day, even now.

Apr 062016
 

What a week this has been! Yes, an exclamation mark is needed.  A rough week emotionally.  So much so, that even though I have a list of blog posts outlined to share with you on gardening, I can’t get them written out.  Instead this is what is going through my head, “What A Friend We Have In Jesus“.

This is a hymn I grew up singing, though one I am not sure I have heard our current church use.  It was playing at Cracker Barrel, of all places, on Sunday as we were headed back home.  My husband said he did not know it.  As soon as it started, I knew this was the exact prayer I should have been praying for the 4 days following.  Yes, it was that rough of a weekend and this week as continued along that path.

I may at some point get to where I can share all the details, for now I am still too emotionally raw about it.  I will share  a small sampling, so you can get a feel for what I am meaning.

A part of my week involved a lady following us out of a grocery store, yelling accusations at me across the parking lot.  I am still shaken up by it, doubting myself yet knowing I did nothing wrong.  I am also grateful for the other patrons who went out of their way, stopping their car and getting out to stand up for me.  Less than christian words were exchanged by those other two parties, but no fight ensued, thankfully. I really thought there would be one.

By the time I was done dealing with what I needed to deal with, all other parties involved were gone. I have no idea who the people who stopped to help me were, and no way to thank them.  But I am thankful.

Take it to the Lord in prayer ….

Pray without ceasing.”  The singing of hymns is one way I have found to do this. Because of this habit I am very much in favor of teaching our kids hymns, as many as possible.

I plan to be at home for the next week, leaving to go to church, a quick trip to Small Town grocery, and maybe the library in Big Town.  Time at home, though, is what I am craving. That and a large dose of calm.  No more crazy welcome, thank you very much.

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.

Mar 022016
 

14569514458741354569099

We are back to routines for the most part, sort of. All kids are doing school at their respective locations, a load of laundry was done, lunch was cooked, and a new morning routine has been formed in my mind.

I did change things a bit:

  • During afternoon Quiet Time I took down some wallpaper.  This was aided by a kid who got up, thereby necessitating a restart of the timer. This is normally a morning activity before everyone wakes up. However I have a renewed urgency to get this HUGE project done.
  • While writing this Jack is writing his spelling words. Who says I gave to write everything at one time?
  • During math practice I expanded some seed starting pellets.
  • Jack’s computer time was used to order a pencil sharpener and switch laundry, via another computer.
  • Lunch time also found me unloading and reloading the dishwasher. (Okay, that is pretty standard.)
  • Jack’s read aloud time allowed me to clear off part of a counter.
  • We got behind on our composer studies. Thanks to a CD from an inter-library loan Franz Schubert has been playing in the house all day long. Could this be lending a hand toward me feeling calmer?
  • A shower did not get on the list for me this morning, I didn’t even get a coat on when I left the house.  So Jack gets half an hour of t.v. while I add this indulgence to my afternoon activities.

IMG_20160302_134332504

Today feels better, calmer.  Could it be because I have not had 3 boys (8, 6, & 6) behind my in the car for the last 1.5 hours?

Or because life still has a semblance of normal? 

Or because I know our new guy, who still needs a blog name, will be gone during George’s after school time. This will allow us to get his homework done and spend some QT together. He has so many big feelings going on inside, but doesn’t always know how to express them.  Also, new little guy doesn’t seem to understand leaving someone alone while they do homework. George has trouble staying on task as it is, having a new friend constantly telling you to come play does not help.

I also bought some school supplies between dropping kids off at school and coming home to start home school. Boy, things are expensive during off season and at a store in Small Town.  Saved me 40 minutes of driving, though, which was worth it.

The urge to drop a coat off at the dry cleaners was ignored. Once home, I checked the tag – wash gentle cycle with cold water. Perfect, no extra bill.  I feel like I’m handing out money left and right this week.

My car problems may be passed. Maybe. The mechanic cleared the error message to see if it would come back. So far so good. My husband is insisting the kids and I take his (smaller) car to visit family this weekend. He would rather my car give out near home instead if two hours away from anyone we know.  It is crowded enough with two kids in the back, 3 is going to be interesting. I’m thinking movies from the library and getting to our destination as soon as possible may be the only hope for my sanity. Supper will be in the car. Potty breaks? I have not figured that one out yet.