Monday, March 25, 2013

Snowy Monday

A little over a year ago we met a wonderful lady named Miss Laura. She is Bradens therapist @ COBYS. Laura has also been my therapist while I worked through some junk that came up while helping Braden wade through his junk. Laura is the first therapist we have gone to who understands RAD. She is also a christian which is such a blessing. After going to 4 other therapists and trying a head start program and in home therapists we were almost ready to give up then we met Laura. Anyway, she has always given us good solid advice and we value her opinion. Last week was a rough one and when Braden and I went for our weekly therapy, I was ready to blow. While Braden played in another room Laura listened to my woes and then told me I must be thankful! The best way to deter the crazy cycle we moms with needy children find ourselves in is to count our blessings. That and ask God for help. I knew all that, I wanted sympathy! I left in a slightly less disgruntled frame of mind but still feeling out of sorts. Beginning the very next morning God began to put "thankfulness reminders" in my way. I heard it on songs, read about it, heard sermons on it and the Sunday School lesson I was studying was on Jesus crucifixion and how he gave his all and forgave all! I think God was trying to get my attention. So today I am making an effort to be thankful and it is helping but for those of you who know all about RAD.... the happier mom is, the more the needy child must act out in order to get mom back to where he feels he is in control. Can you guess how Mr. Braden is acting?


Guess what we have???? SNOW! We have several inches although it has gone down quite a bit due to the almost 40 degree temperature. Tristan was really hoping to have a snow day. When I reminded him that if he took today off he would have one less day of Easter vacation he changed his mind. His thought is to go and get it over with!

Our dogs Emily and David. We aren't very good at naming dogs! I took the picture through the window    cause I didn't feel like putting shoes on and going outside, thus the fuzzy picture.

This coming week end we plan to go to the cabin with friends. Since getting ready to go to the cabin looks like a mountain, I am working ahead a bit. That included doing some baking. I made fudge puddles and had plans to mix up some cookies, only to discover I am out of eggs. Deans birthday is today and I had also planned to make him a cake or a pan of brownies. I found a recipe for Ooey Gooey Brownies that didn't call for eggs. They smelled wonderful but when I tried to remove the wax paper they fell in pieces! Rather than admit defeat I put them back in the pan, smashed them together and put icing on top. Might have to serve them with a spoon. Thankfully Dean isn't picky .... see there is something else to be thankful for!

        The partially filled fudge puddles, I ran out of the ingredients for the chocolate filling


Kiana licking the spoon



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

RAD

When we went through training prior to becoming foster parents we did a course on how to parent children who do not bond. I never gave it another thought. After all we knew how to care for children, give them lots of hugs n kisses, feed them healthy food and keep them warm n dry. What poor deprived child wouldn't be oh so, happy to be with people who would be their new mommy n daddy plus supply all their needs and a few wants besides? Turns out we were just pretty ignorant. No, we were very ignorant!

Five years later we are in a dark place of anger, fear, anxiety, rebellion and resentment. Who would have ever dreamed something so nasty could come from something a beautiful as adoption? Not us, but boy did we learn in a hurry!

If a child is not loved and nurtured as an infant, he looses his ability to bond with people naturally. A child is an open slate and generally a new mama has a blank page in her life story just waiting to be filled with love, snuggles and the excitement of new motherhood. That is how God intended it to be and I trust in most families that is how it works. What if mom however, was never loved as a child or maybe she was abused or this child was a product of abuse? How will she feel towards  this helpless newborn? Probably not very loving. Dear baby is all ready to love his mommy but she doesn't come when he cries, no one changes his diaper or cuddles him and eventually Baby does the only thing possible; he blocks out the pain and no longer acknowledges it. Soon, he doesn't even feel pain. When he first looked at mommy's face he expected to see love but if he only see's angry, depressed eyes glaring at him he learns to avoid looking at anyone. He blocks off his emotions as well. As he grows he learns he must care for himself. It is the survival of the fittest. Bite or be bitten.

Now this toddler is placed with  loving family. They feed him, hold him and try to play with him. Sonny pushes them away because he is sure they are going to desert him so why allow himself to become close to them. His first mommy didn't care for him so why should his new mommy? Daddy tries to give him a hug and Sonny gets all stiff and has a terrified look in his eyes. When baby grabs his cookie Sonny hits baby and pushes him over. No baby is taking his food! As he grows Sonny does all he can to control the lives around him. He is so scared and out of control inside that he needs to micromanage those around him. He gets a birthday gift and promptly breaks it because he doesn't feel worthy of receiving any gifts, besides gifts make a crack in the armor he has placed around himself and he feels a wee ray of love peeking through. So he breaks the toy and slams that door shut. In spite of himself Sonny does need love and hugs, rather than risk getting close to mama and daddy, he goes to others for his hugs. Doesn't matter if it is a complete stranger. He has also learned that when he hugs other people mommy gets a hurt look in her eye. That makes him feel in control, he can manipulate moms feelings. In order to do that he must keep hurting her and daddy so that they cannot love him. Maybe if he acts out bad enough they will send him away as he is sure they will do when he finally pushes them to far. He pulls out the "big guns" because maybe this time they will send him away and he will get that parting over with. It is inevitable right? They are not strong enough to care for me and my big feelings. I know it is going to hurt when you leave me. I spend hours worrying about it. The fear infiltrates my dreams, my play and my daily life.... oh, if only it would just happen so I could stop worrying about it!

This is where Dean, Braden and I are at. We try to love him and he reacts in fear. It is a constant push and pull. I keep reminding myself that with God all things are possible. At the same time years of stress are taking their toll on our family. Living in a state of heightened emotions for any length of time is not good, when it goes on for years......  Please pray for us!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Smoked pork

We bought this used meat smoker the other week. Dean finally had the chance to try it out on Saturday. He put the pork in around 10 and smoked it all day.


We wrapped the meat in foil and left it set for an hour after it was finished


Soft, juicy pork!


We pulled it with forks. It just fell apart. We enjoyed a taste even though it was past bedtime.


We had a dinner invitation and plans for the evening yesterday so we had to wait until supper tonite to enjoy the pork. I think I will enjoy this latest hobby of Deans. If he cooks I won't complain especially if it is this good!


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Random

I sewed three dresses for Kiana this week. She badly needed some new ones. Somehow Kiana's dresses always have the hems out, seams ripped, buttons popped off or stains of some sort on them. She had two that were good enough for church and going away, the rest were demoted to her everyday drawer. Now I need to sew for myself. Somehow I just don't enjoy sewing my dresses. I have had people sew for me off and on ever since the summer we got the boys. I always end up feeling guilty and go back to sewing them myself.

Tuesday the three youngest and I went grocery shopping midst the pouring rain. The other day a group of ladies was trying to decide how much money they spend on each family member per week for groceries. A select few were at $10, most were around $15, some at $20 and then there were a few of us who were $20 plus. Yikes! Some of the ladies shared how they didn't get groceries for a month, they used what they had. Of course they had to get dairy products and fruits and veggies but that was it. I am trying to convince myself that this would be good for me to do.

freshly roasted coffee beans!


My maid was here this morning. Poor girl! She once more did my weeks worth of ironing. I baked two kinds of cookies. One batch got beautiful and the other was a flop. My children love Snickerdoodles and I like the fact that they aren't very messy. I make them pretty often and they got ok. The other week W@lmart had these huge bags of Whopper's candy on sale. I was shopping after a therapy session with Braden and that chocolate looked too good to pass up. I remembered seeing a recipe for cookies with crushed Whoppers candy in them. Since I couldn't keep my hands off the candies adding them to cookies seemed like the perfect solution. They baked beautifully but refused to come off the cookie sheet even after I used parchment paper and sprayed it with Pam. I now have a container of crumbled cookies plus a a plate of bars. I dumped the last of the batter into a bar pan and baked them like that. The cookies are nice and chewy even if they are broken up.

The children playing train. 

We got the date for TPR (termination of parental rights) for Luna, April 22! Hopefully we only have a few  more visits. I don't mind taking Luna to Reading for visits, but I do not like the turmoil it causes. Luna's mom is a sweet lady and I feel so badly for her. She loves Luna as much as we do and it doesn't seem fair that she cannot keep her daughter. At the same time, I would be devastated if we couldn't adopt her. Mother hearts are not to be trifled with!


Tristan practicing his shooting skills

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Trials n Blessings

When things look overwhelming God send angels to our rescue! The past several weeks have been tough for everyone around here. Joseph is struggling with rejection. If my mommy loved me, why didn't she keep me? Where was my dad? Didn't he love me either? The feelings of rejection come out in anger and rage. Dean and I have had many heart to heart talks with him explaining that his mommy did love him she just made some bad choices and had some big problems that prevented her from caring for him. Same with his daddy. We assure him of our love, spend extra time with him, give him extra hugs n kisses but in the end he has to choose to accept our answer. Sometimes the grief and pain I see in his eyes is more than I can handle, then he turns and is  lashing out at me and being super stubborn and I have a hard time controlling my anger.
 Then there is Braden. He has a diagnosis of RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder). He trusts no one. Thus he lives a life of anxiety. He worries about his next meal. Where will he live when Dean and I die? How will he know how to get to Heaven? What happens when the earth is full of dead people and there is no more room to bury people? Will he die if he doesn't eat healthy food? He asked me if his food is healthy the night I served hot dogs for supper! Dean said they won't hurt him if he eats them occasionally. Of course Braden didn't believe Dean, so he had another worry to add to his pile. Braden has become so anxious he has trouble sleeping at night which makes his fears feel even bigger which makes him sleep less and round and round we go. All this emotional turmoil has been stressful. The other children feel it and react to it. I need to be very careful I do not allow myself to be caught in the push n pull of the anxiety, anger, grief and guilt that is swirling through our home. Bradens therapist and thus my therapist as well, told me I must pull back and stop joining my children in their heightened state of emotion because then I am of no help to them. Easier said than done! Anyway, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed when God began to show me He does care. Thanks to those of you who have allowed yourselves to be used of God to show us his love! A kind friend called me and asked if she may bring supper over. I shed a few tears of gratitude after she left! My sister in law put some food along with a few encouraging words in our vehicle after a family gathering. We enjoyed a plate of whoopie pies from yet another sister in law, received cards in the mail and people called or emailed wondering how things were going. I wish I could somehow convey our deep gratitude to the  people who have taken the time to fill our empty vessels with love so we in turn can pour love into our hurting little ones!
 

Friday, March 8, 2013

No sleep for the weary!

What a night! Miss Luna awoke app. every five- fifteen minutes from 1:30 on. She is pushing her eye teeth but she didn't appear to be in any pain, in fact she was quite jolly! It is good one of us was happy. I tried rocking her, sleeping on the sofa with her tucked in beside me, patting her while she was in her bed..... no good. At 5:00 Tristan came over to our room in tears because he couldn't sleep cause Luna was waking him up. Then Kiana was up and bouncing in the hall. I told her to go back to bed, NOW! Luna was up and chattering till 6:45, when she suddenly decided to call it a night and wanted to go to bed. Now she is crashed and this grumpy mama is trying to get her act together. I was grumbling deep inside when I saw the saying I have from UpperCase "Grant me patience to deal with my blessings". Yes, I am blessed. I just need to remember that when things are threatening to come crashing down. I am so prone to viewing my cup as half empty rather than counting my blessings and being thankful it is half full! Braden has a doctor appointment at 8:30 this morning so if you happen to be driving through Ephrata and see a silver Explorer weaving toward you, kindly move aside. I am  not at my best when I am extremely sleep deprived! Time to refill the coffee cup ..... sometime I have to tell you about Deans latest hobby, roasting coffee beans. Fresh ground coffee is so much better than any of the stuff you can buy in a can.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Coffee, muffins and girl talk


coffee cup
I feel renewed, refreshed and encouraged! What a wonderful feeling. Coffee with friends has a way of calming me and giving me the extra boost I need to conquer the mountain called mothering. I often meet ladies at Javateas but wanted to try something different. I found this place on the internet called Northern Lights Cafe. From the comments people left I gathered that the food n coffee were fabulous. We found the place, even had a sign hanging out .... but no coffee shop. There was a barber shop and a door with a "for rent" sign on it. Was disappointed but the cappuccino and cinnamon crumb cake muffin I ordered at Javateas took care of any disappointment that may have been lingering! Julia and I covered a wide range of subjects in the hour we spent together, we gave one another advice, encouragement, insight and wisdom. I then spent a blissful hour at the library all by my self. I feel guilty getting a babysitter just so I can relax. There are times when the stress level gets in the red zone and I need to get away. Maybe this short break will take care of the scattered answers, dropped dishes, bumped vehicles and misplaced items. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Happy Gotcha Day, Kiana!

Yesterday it was exactly 5 years ago that Miss Kiana came into our home. The week before we had gotten a call asking us to take a new born baby boy. We were all excited and getting things ready when the CW called and said the baby would be going to his grandparents. What a disappointment! This particular Friday morning I was busy cleaning when I got another call from CYS. This time it was about Miss Kiana. She was in another foster home and needed to be moved, were we interested? Of course we were! Her foster mom dropped her off around lunch time. She was so sweet and cuddly in her yellow pj's. Tristan was thrilled to have a chocolate baby!
                                                  Kiana, fast asleep in her infant seat




Just look at those chubby cheeks!


Adoption Day! December 23, 2009  The silly grin says it all!



Our curly haired Drama Queen! Things are twice as dramatic with Kiana around.
When she hurts herself she doesn't cry she screams, she doesn't quietly laugh about things, she giggles!
Kiana likes all things girl: dresses, shoes, sweaters and did I mention shoes?? :)
Lotion, hand sanitizer, bubble bath and barrettes disappear when Kiana is around.



This picture was taken on her birthday date with daddy. Burger King is "the place"! Last year she ate gobs of food, this year she could hardly sit long enough to eat, she couldn't wait to go play. Kiana is very much  a people person and can make up with pretty much anyone. It is not unusual to find her playing with other children who are complete strangers. If I ask her the childs name she will shrug her shoulders. Names are not important, interacting with others, is.We love you Kiana, you add pizzaz and joy to our lives. There are no dull moments with you! May you continue to love others with your whole heart.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Kindergarden

Come fall, Kiana and Joseph will both be starting Kindergarden. Where has the time gone??? Just yesterday they were in diapers and needed bottles, then it was sippy cups and latches on the cupboard doors, now we are preparing them for school? What if I wake up some morning and find they are 16???? Scary thought! :)


   A part of me wants to hang onto them with both hands because it seems once they go to school they grow so much faster. Then there is another part that says, Woo hoo! Before you label me as a bad mom let me tell you, those two are a handful and then some! Even as toddlers they would look at each other then run in opposite directions, while I was left trying to decide which one to chase. They fight dreadfully but provide a united front if another child tries to grab something from one of them. They were barely walking when we had friends over and another toddler was beating up on Joseph. Kiana came up behind the child and began hitting him over the head with her toy, you do not hurt her Joseph! They are one another's best friends and worst enemies. They plan to get married and move in with my newly married sister and her husband 
someday!


                         

 Yesterday I had them both in at Greenfield for psych evals. Even though they have been with us since they were babies their "previous life" left scars that will never go away. That damage is permanent. One would think that beings they were babies when they were placed with us the damage would be minimal and it is, to a certain extent but our brains are being formed and connections being made from the moment of conception. We can try to rewire our childrens brains but we will never be able to wipe the damage away and begin anew. Anyway, they both had a few issues that were concerning us. I spoke with Bradens therapist and she suggested we get psych evals done and go from there. If everything checks out ok, wonderful, if not we can begin to work with the problem.

 Upon arrival at the Hugh Smith Center, I was handed two identical stacks of paper, one for each child. Those papers asked anything and everything. Then it was, sign here and here and here..... We were ushered back to a little 8x8 room, with one desk, four chairs, a few books and a plastic car and no windows. We spent the next two hours back there talking about Kiana and Joseph while they listened in. It doesn't take much of an imagination to figure out how that went! I despise talking about my childrens struggles in their presence! The doctor said that while our concerns were legitimate, the children were young and she hates to label them before they begin school. Her recommendation was to send them to school and see how they relate to their peers. Any learning disabilities can also be addressed at school since there isn't much we can do at this point. So, I left the office knowing about as much as I did when I went in, both children have some problems but they could just be "normal" childhood problems, we will have to wait and see how school goes. One plus, I now know I was thinking correctly! It is a constant struggle to know when to be alarmed. Am I being an overly cautious parent or is this truly a red flag waving?