Monday, September 29, 2014

First Reading Book

Give a 3 year old a tube of chap stick......
and even the cats will benefit!

This cat puts up with pretty much anything

Guess who is learning to read? Yes, my first graders. Kiana brought her book home on Friday and Joseph came in the door today full of smiles....he got his reading book! Sam, sob, sun, set, sat.... He offered to read to Lia and she was a willing listener. I just hope the level of enthusiasm doesn't diminish as the words get harder.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Play Dough Recipe

Rainy days make me feel like curling up with a good book and a cup of coffee. Miss Lia however, had other idea's and my work was calling so I put my sleepy self to work. Here is a glimpse of our morning:
I read stories, some of them several times.

I lit several candles and baked a double batch of our favorite chocolate chip cookies

Took a break with Miss Lia and enjoyed some warm cookies

I poured myself a cup of hot coffee to enjoy with my cookie

Made Apple Cinnamon Play Dough

Ate lots of play dough cookies made just for me. Lia told me, "I a mom, you a girl." I was supposed to come to her door and ring the doorbell before eating her cookies. Between eating play dough cookies, I got the floor swept and a little bit of cleaning done. How did I do it when I had 3 three yea olds??? I know I used to get tired of talking and answering "Why, mom" till the end of the day but this girl trumps them all. Perhaps it is because she and I are banging around the quiet house by ourselves.

Apple Cinnamon Play Dough

1-1.5 cups flour

1/4 cup salt

1.5 Tablespoons cream of tarter

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup boiling water

2 teaspoons apple pie spice

1.5 teaspoon cinnamon

1.5 teaspoon nutmeg

mix all of ingredients together except water. Blend thoroughly add water and mix adding extra flour till the desired consistency is reached. Continue to knead until soft and pliable. Add red food coloring and enjoy! You may wish to add more spices to increase the apple scent.

I found this recipe while looking for sensory play idea's. This is perfect as it involves the sense of touch as well as the sense of smell. To add a bit of a different texture add glitter to your childs play dough. 





Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Childhood Trauma and Trust


  Early child hood trauma leaves it's mark on people. Things like a fire drill at school can cause terror and major acting out....speaking from experience here! What makes it even harder is when your child doesn't trust you enough to believe you when you explain that fire drills are nothing to fear. Our child was looking for the fire engines even after having me walk him through the steps and whys and wherefore's of a fire drill!
      We have only recently figured out why one child "flips out" when it is time to leave someplace, be it a friends house, Grandma's house or other gathering. When we tell her it is time to tell your friends bye, she melts down in a puddle of sobbing. It was getting so frustrating!  We finally began putting the pieces together and feel it stems back to being removed from her mom as a baby. Saying bye, triggers that feeling of terror, of loss. The same with hoarding "junk". When you have what is nearest and dearest taken away, you naturally cling to anything you can grasp. At our TBRI training the other week we were told that every behavior has a meaning. We began analyzing various behaviors and sure enough, we came up with logical explanations for them.
   I have had to let go of, or at least am trying to let go of the "what will people think," attitude. What do you do when your child stomps his foot and yells, "I don't want to!" after being told to pick up his toys, then throws a few at you for good measure? I look at all the little ones half his age who are busily picking up toys and cringe. When you are in the store and a child goes limp because you held his hand when he wasn't able to keep his hands off merchandise. Then refuses to walk, forcing you to carry him, or worse begins screaming. My first thought is, how am I going to prove that this really is my child and I am not forcing someone else's child to come with me. I wouldn't be the first mom who has experienced this, especially if the child is of a different nationality than you are. I should begin carrying documentation, but keep procrastinating. Or how about when your parenting looks inconsistent. Like the time one child threw a fit when told to do something and you gave consequences but five minutes later another of your children does the same thing and you hold them and comfort them? Do you explain that the first child is testing his boundaries and knows that he gets consequences for throwing fits while the second child was triggered by your command and is reacting out of fear. Their tantrum's look very much alike to the untrained eye but parent them for a few weeks and you will be surprised at the differences you see. My wise husband tells me to stop worrying what other people think and concentrate on doing what is best for each child. If only I would default to that mindset rather than the "what if," mind set.
    I think a lot of my fear stems from our CYS investigation. When you have to explain why you did thus and thus and why you didn't do this or that and are you really sure you made the right decision, you begin to question yourself. What makes it worse is that there are times when we are just "winging it". Praying as we go and trusting that God would show us what to do next. When you really don't know what is going on with your child who has been screaming for hours and he either can't or won't tell you what is wrong. Do you send them to bed, try to reason with them, hold them, cry with them or what? If you do the wrong thing you could make the situation many times worse but if you give the child what he needs, you could stop the raging in it's tracks. At the Empowered To Connect Conference, they stressed giving your child a voice and making them use words rather than screaming (or whatever is their way of getting their feelings out). Some of our children had a hard time the first few days but more and more often they only need a few prompts to get them talking. When we came home from the Conference we immediately began implementing some of things we learned. Tristan wasn't impressed with the new techniques, as they applied to him as well. He said, "Ever since you went to those meetings, you are doing things different". That wasn't a compliment either!
    Then there are days when everyone is smiling and happy. We savor those times and they are happening more and more often, praise God! Even though the way is tough we wouldn't trade our blessings for anything,. They have made us stretch and grow in painful but necessary ways. I can't be thankful enough for the safe childhood I had. By God's grace, a large amount of humility and lot's of love, we hope and pray those memories and triggers will fade.


Let go, and let God,
do what is best
even though we must
go through the test.
Let go, and let faith,
work all things out
even though we may have
some lingering doubt.
Let go, and let the Spirit
guide and lead
lest we forget
our spiritual need.
Let go, and let trust,
do its part
even though we might have
a wavering heart.
Let go, and let Christ,
give His perfect rest
so He can show us . . .
how much we are blessed!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Crock Pot Pumpkin Spice Latte

            CROCK POT PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE


I love pumpkin desserts n coffee so why not combine the two?

Here is my recipe for crockpot pumpkin spice latte:
8 cups milk
         6 cups brewed coffee
1 cup sugar
                 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
         1 cup canned pumpkin
            1-2 Tablespoons vanilla
                           Whipped cream and cinnamon for topping

Combine first 6 ingredients in a crock pot and whisk together.
Set on HIGH for 2 hours. Serve with whipped cream and cinnamon.

Lia and I made caramel apples this morning. I got several good pictures of her but when I downloaded them into the computer I accidentally deleted them. I will have to get Dean to find them for me.  Enjoy your day!


Friday, September 19, 2014

Sleep Update

I know it has only been a few days since I asked for advice on making our school mornings go smoother but things are already going better! Don't know if it is due to the fact that we are using TBRI or  the earlier bedtime but whatever it is, we are thankful. A doctor told me that children who struggle with the things Joseph struggles with (not officially diagnosed so I won't go into detail but there is little doubt in anyone's mind) need at least 10-12 hours of sleep a night. Children with that diagnosis tend to have their sleep patterns messed up so that they appear to be getting a good nights rest but really aren't.  He was getting a good 10 plus hours which I thought was plenty, however since he has been getting 12 hours he has not been having nearly as many melt downs. At first he wasn't so impressed about the early bedtime but each night it gets easier and he knows he is feeling better. Makes me feel like a bad mom. I hated to send him to bed early so I took the easy way out and left him play. However it is so worth it to have a happier more rational little guy. One mom suggested putting my first graders to bed fifteen minutes earlier each night until we find how much sleep each of them needs. Joseph asked how long I am going to do this. I told him when he isn't so sleepy mornings we will know he is getting all the sleep he needs. He said that probably won't happen till he is in fourth grade! Miss Kiana has been going to bed earlier too and is much more reasonable mornings. Next week is my turn to drive school van which means earlier mornings so maybe I shouldn't be claiming success yet. An earlier bedtime for the little people also means Dean and I have a few extra minutes to talk without ears stretching to hear what we are saying. :)


Flowers from our church family. We feel so blessed to have a church that supports and blesses adoption.



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Happy Fall Ya'll

Yesterday felt so much like autumn that I couldn't resist making my house look n smell like fall. First I cleaned the children's bedrooms. Before I started I was thinking house cleaning but till I hit the halfway point I decided to forget it and just do a through cleaning instead.

Lia helped me do some baking. She wanted to taste everything I put in the bowel, including the flour. I told her it won't taste very good. Her response was to stick her finger in it and say, "It is so good, mom!"

Lia found a cup from her tea set and used it to taste test the brown sugar

Licking the beaters 

The finished product: Cinnamon Apple Cream Cheese Coffee Cake (recipe below)


Yes, the edges are sagging  and the center settled causing the glaze to puddle in the middle



Lia wanted me to take a picture of her beside the cake so I obliged. By the way, she is headed for her bed which is why she has that nuk in her mouth. I never thought one of my children would have their nuk at her age but that was before I knew about loss trauma and bonding. I promise she won't have it when she goes to school. :)

I got my fall decorations out, such as they are. When it is cold outside I like to burn candles, makes the house feel cosier

CINNAMON APPLE CREAM CHEESE COFFEE CAKE
    Cake
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • Cream Cheese Filling
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 apple, peeled and sliced

  • Crumb Topping
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • Cinnamon Glaze
  • 1/2 c. powered sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Instructions
  1. Adjust oven rack to the lower third position in oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8-9 in springform pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  2. To make the crumb topping combine brown sugar, flour, butter and cinnamon in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine egg and butter on medium speed. Add the milk and 2 vanilla extract and beat until mixed. Set aside.
  4. In a different mixing bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Turn mixer on low and add to the wet ingredients slowly. Mix until just combined. Pour into prepared springform pan.
  5. In a medium size mixing bowl beat cream cheese on high until smooth. Mix in vanilla, sugar and cinnamon until combined. Spread over the cake batter. Layer with sliced apples. Top with crumb topping, gently pressing into the batter.
  6. Bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick is inserted in the center of cake and it comes out free of cake crumbs, remember the cream cheese mixture will stick to toothpick. Cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing pan sides and glazing with cinnamon glaze.
  7. For the glaze whisk together powdered sugar, milk and cinnamon. It should be just thin enough to drizzle. I added a little more sugar and milk because I like plenty of glaze.
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Morning: Sleepy First Graders

How do you get your first graders up and at it on school mornings? I have tried everything. Letting them lay in bed awhile before telling them they need to get dressed, dressing them, pushing them, making picture "to do" charts so they know what to do next, setting the timer and threatening to take them to school in their pj's. I know that last thing was a no no for troubled children but their mama is becoming troubled as well by the morning battles! We have revivals this week. We went Monday evening and Tuesday morning they could scarcely function. Last night we stayed home and the ones who needed it were in bed by 8:00, which means they had 11 + hours of sleep and they were still tired this morning. I remember when Tristan was in first grade I would read aloud until the van came. He had to be dressed, have his breakfast eaten and back pack by the door before we did any reading. That tactic was a no go for me this year. What works best for you?



My little people who are not morning people, unless it is Saturday morning. Why is it that the same people who struggle to get up mornings can be up bright and early Saturday mornings?


I have been implementing this box for about two months. It was mainly to keep the children from setting their stuff on the table, floor or counter tops when they came in the door. The plan is simple: you leave your stuff out, mom picks it up and puts it in her box. To get it out you pick a slip out of the envelope and do the chore written on it. The your stuff is yours once more! Depends on the situation I do remind them once or twice to pick their things up. Tristan was NOT impressed. He told me it is one of the weirdest idea's he ever heard of. He didn't see how it would prevent anyone from leaving their things lying about. Guess what? He was the worst for letting things lay around and I haven't had to pick up his things even once!


This morning I cleaned the boys and girls room's and plan to implement the box plan for bedrooms as well. I know they won't be happy with me but when I saw how well they did in making sure they didn't leave things lay around in the kitchen and family room, I knew it was time to include the bedrooms.


These are some of the chores I have written on the slips. I turn the papers backward so they can't choose the easier jobs. 
-wipe off kitchen chairs
-wash stairway walls
-organize childrens books
-pick up toys in the basement
-get the trash out of the Explorer
-sweep porches
-sweep bedroom floors

here is the link to the website where I got the idea:
http://247moms.com/2013/02/uh-oh-box-toy-ransom-box/



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

SPD Empowered To Connect #2

I am going to take a stab at explaining sensory processing. I always thought if a child has SPD (sensory processing disorder) he doesn't like his hands dirty, tags on his clothing may bother him and he may be a picky eater due to his dislike of different food textures. Braden saw a therapist once a week for about a year for SPD. At the time I was busy and didn't take the time to do any research. When he no longer seemed so sensitive to the world around him his therapist said he no longer needs her help and we discontinued therapy. After our training this past week I learned that there is a lot more than meets the eye to sensory problems. So like usual, I got out my computer and looked what Google had to say. Did I ever get a lot of info!

 TACTILE SYSTEM: is the sense of touch. This sensory system teaches our bodies about the world around us. People who suffer from Tactile dysfunction may have the following problem(s):
-avoid messy things
-shy away from hugging and kissing
-their clothing may bother them, tags, seams etc.
-wind blowing on bare skin
-may dislike wearing shoes or sandles

VESTIBULAR SYSTEM: is the sensory system that responds to accelerated and decelerated movement. It is through this system that we learn about direction and sense where our bodies are in relation to the things around us.
Symptoms of vestibular dysfunction:
-may dislike playground equipment such as swings, slides
-prefer sedentary takes, be slow, appear wimpy
-lose balance easily, be clumsy
-fearful of having their feet off the ground

PROPRIOCEPTIVE SYSTEM: This system is the sensation from muscles and joints. It tells our brain how much the muscles are expanding and contracting and how joints are compressed and stretched.
Propriocetive dysfunction may include:
-poor motor planning
-poor sense of where body is in space
-chews on things; pencils, sleeve cuff
-consistently spills or breaks things
-need to be hugged tightly (or may avoid hugs)
-stomps or slaps feet when walking

   A sensory disorder may involve any one or a combination of all three of these systems.

What causes SPD?
Stressful pregnancy
difficult birth and or prematurity/NICU
early hospitalization
abuse
neglect
trauma

If the birth mother is under extreme stress for long periods of time while pregnant the stress hormones will cross over to her baby. Those hormones alter brain development.
After a baby is born it is placed on it's mother. It gets immediate skin to skin contact which is vital for attachment. If the baby doesn't get that comfort but is whisked away and under goes painful medical procedures he will associate touch with pain. This baby also experiences trauma which in turn affects it's developing brain.

Functions of Sensory Input:
ALERT: attend to new or important stimuli
PROTECT; defend us if a stimuli is to overwhelming
SELECT; filter out nonessential information
ORGANIZE: this is accomplished by the central nervous system and is usually done automatically.

Some of our children were/are hyper alert. They are super aware of what is going on about them. They need to know what is going on in order to protect themselves. These same children don't appear to be able to select what is bombarding their brains and so they either shut down or melt down. As Dean and I were discussing all we learned we had to wonder, is attachment disorder partly a sensory disorder? What do you think?
Children with attachment disorder shrink away from touch. They do it to protect the wall they built around their hearts but could it be, touch hurts, or reminds them of trauma?
They will gorge themselves from lack of food but does their stomach "tell" them when they had enough?
They scream and tantrum but is it in part due to all the external stimuli?

I found the following website to be very informative:
http://www.cherringtonsawers.com/tactile-vestibular-and-proprioceptive-senses.html

*Some information obtained from Empowered To Connect



Monday, September 15, 2014

Empowered To Connect #1

Friday and Saturday found Dean and I at Reston Bible Church in VA. learning how to connect with our children from hard places. It made perfect sense when we sat in the seminars and watched Karen Purvis in action but implementing TBRI  (trust based relational intervention) at home is a different matter all together.
   We met a group of foster/adoption parents at 4:45 Friday morning, stopped for breakfast and arrived at the church around 8:30. Plenty of time to sign in and find seats before the seminar began at 9:00. Friday's sessions were basically a crash course in attachment parenting 101. It was all information we had learned through years of therapy. However, it certainly didn't hurt us to hear it again. Saturday we learned about sensory issues and how to implement TBRI. I think we have a lot more sensory things going on with our children than we realized.
   Since I am still processing all I learned I will share bits and pieces with you. As more of the teaching finds it's correct file in my brain, I will hopefully be able to share more.

#1. Recovery of function recapitulates learning: only when you have reached your child's needs at all levels, body, soul n spirit, will the brain begin to heal and make progress. For instance if your child is cold, hungry and sad and you supply him with a blanket and a snack you will still not totally connect until you provide him with techniques or give him a voice to get past his sorrow. I always knew that, but hearing it at the conference really drove it home.

#2.Empowering practices:
-hydration
-food every two hours
-protein snack at bedtime
-sensory activity every two hours
-LOTS of hugging, kissing, touching, laughing, playing

#3 Anger trumps all other feelings/emotions. If your child appears angry he may actually be sad, scared, in pain or any number of things. For children from hard places anger trumps everything

#4 You need to make sense of your past, be realistic about your future and be fully present in order to help your child heal. That, folks is a big order! You can be sitting beside your child who is playing toys but if you are reading a book you are not fully in the present and not connecting with that child. A quote from Karen Purvis, "You cannot lead a child to a place of healing if you do not know the way yourself."

#5 You need to balance structure and nurture. Our children thrive on structure and so most of us naturally learn that a structured routine works best. However I forget to up the nurture as well and am left with children who are unbalanced. I find it easy to nurture my babies and toddlers but once they hit the preschool/school age I find I have to make a conscious effort to nurture them. Here are a few ways I nurture my school age children:
-rub their hair or massage their ear while in church. Joseph loves this. Before I even knew about attachment parenting a speaker at Penn Valley (a place where they hold week end meetings for Mennonite foster/adoption families) said how he did this with his son and how his son enjoyed it.
-massage their hands/feet with lotion
-cuddle up with a fuzzy blanket and read a story
-take them out individually and just talk about their interests
-buy them their favorite snack and tell them I was thinking about them when I was shopping
-when talking to someone while the child is in ear shot, sing their praises on a recent accomplishment.
-stick a note in their lunch telling them you love them/are praying for them
 These are just a few of the many ways to nurture your children, leave me a comment telling what you do to encourage and nurture your child.

I want to cover sensory things in one of my next posts as that seems to be one of the "missing pieces" for some of our children.

You can visit: http://www.etcconference.org/ to find other Empowered To Connect Seminars. I highly recommend you go, you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Memories

Since I am feeling uninspired about writing, I am going to take the easy way out and post some of my favorite pictures from past years:
Tristan and Kiana enjoying a breakfast?? Popsicle.

Tristan and his cat taking a snooze


What happened??? :)


Kiana... the other day she said, "Mom, if you want to be a princess on the outside you must be one on the inside too." 

Lia

Braden and Joseph first hug since Braden went to TAP

Christmas 2005

JR hunter

Tristan

Little people ready for bed

Joseph and Kiana

Joseph enjoying a bottle

The car everyone fought over

Joseph eating an ice cream cone

..and here is the rest of the bunch

Braden holding Blackie

Lia with her favorite snack, watermelon

Joseph and Braden with their younger bio brother.






















Wednesday, September 10, 2014

10 Tips For Finding a Good Attachment Therapist

1. Does the therapist understand and have experience with children who have attachment disorder? Not just book knowledge, actual experience.
2. Does he/she allow you to be in the room during the therapy session, does he/she encourage you to participate in therapy?
3. How many years has he/she been a therapist, what is his/her success rate with attachment disorder children?
4. Does he/she believe and support you as the parent or does he/she take what the child says at face value
5. Does the therapist invite you as parents into the office prior to the first appointment with your child to go over the child's history and discuss problem area's and any trauma the child has experienced.
6. Is your therapist on call for emergencies or can you reach him/her when needed. Does he/she take your concerns seriously when you call
7.Does the therapist understand that the child needs to form a bond with mom and if the child is "attaching" to the therapist something needs to change.
8. Is your therapist willing to tell you when he/she is out of his/her league?
9. Is the therapist able to try different modes of therapy if one form is not helping. Not all children with attachment disorder respond to a therapist who is eternally loving and empathetic. The child needs to learn that his/her actions have consequences.
10. Is the therapist able to smell manipulation/triangulation when confronted with it.

These are tips we learned from the many therapists we visited while looking for help for our children. One therapist had no experience with AD (attachment disorder) but her boss studied it. That isn't good enough. Our child blind sided her so badly she didn't even know anything was going on. One therapist dressed in black from head to toe and had wildly died hair, this did not resonate well with the child. Another one had the child sit with him alone for 45 minutes then I came in and we sat and all talked together for 15 min. That didn't work either. One child stuffed toys in his pocket and brought them home. That same day the therapist was telling him what a good job he was doing. You know your child better than anyone and usually you intuitively know if a therapist is a good fit or not. Go with what your heart is telling you. John H. told us that mom and dad know the child best and they must advocate for that child. Someone who see's the child for one hour a week cannot see what you see when you are with them 24/7. We so appreciated him telling us that as we were told many negative things about our parenting at that time and we truly did/do care for Braden but sometimes what is right is not easy.
   Someone told Dean that sometimes what we as humans view as a failure is not a failure in God's eye's. Sometimes having us humans "fail" is part of His redemption plan for others. That was very thought provoking but led me to once more remind myself that Dean and I need to follow God's leading and not worry over the what if's. If we are called to cross the bridge of "what if" God will be there and He will lead us across.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I Don't Feel Safe

Ever since school began, Joseph has been acting out. We figured it has to do with the stress of adjusting to a new routine. The things he did at home and at school are behaviors we typically see when something is bugging him. We spent hours talking, trying to get to the bottom of the problem. I don't think Joseph himself knew what was wrong. Last night during yet another talk he said, "I don't feel safe at school." That was all the explanation I needed to understand the problem. He was acting out to see what would happen, his teacher was cutting him slack because he is a first grader, he does have some special needs, school had just started etc. For the past few years we have been drilling it into him that we give consequences because we love him and want to keep him safe. So in his mind, lack of consequences=being unsafe. Joseph must feel safe in order to progress in life, as do all children however he suffers to a greater degree. Having been "trauma parents" for several years one would think we would have easily figured out what was going on emotionally. Obviously we have lots to learn. After our talk Joseph jumped up, hugged me, put his pj's on, ate his snack and jumped in bed where he immediately fell asleep.





Monday, September 8, 2014

Understanding RAD

I had many people contact me after I wrote the post on PTSD and RAD, asking for permission to share the article with family & friends who didn't "get it." I am glad I was able to help them out but at the same time it brought back those memories of "the early years." That period of time when we knew something was wrong but had no idea what. I remember sitting on the sofa beside our son while we had family devotions and wondering why I didn't feel the same love and protection for him that I felt toward my other children. After all, how hard is it to love a 2 year old? They are inquisitive about everything, always trying to do what they see mom and dad doing and full of hugs and kisses. I now know that in order to have a relationship the give and take must go both ways. When I cared for Braden, he panicked because he felt that pull of connection. In order to keep that feeling at bay he would push one of the babies or mess up their toys. It was his way of saying," I don't want your help." But since he was only two he needed my help. Imagine how frustrated and scared he must have felt? After kissing his ouchies and attempting to hug away his tears only to have him retaliate, I backed off thinking, this is one strong child, he doesn't need to be comforted when hurt. We got into more and more control battles. If the child refuses to dress, you can dress him yourself. If he refuses to pick up his toy, you can give him a choice, pick it up himself or mom picks it up and sets it away for a day. One thing you cannot do is make a child eat. As one therapist told me, "You cannot control what goes in and out of a child." When your child decides to go on an eating strike because he doesn't want to do something, who gives in? One mom told me that it is our duty to protect these children from themselves as they so need to being in control they will fight till the end. I remember one time Braden was refusing to eat a sandwich, just to be obnoxious and prove his point. I knew his MT (mobile therapist) was coming in a few minutes so I decided not to fight with him and let her handle it. Well she walks in the door and see's my sad little boy sitting dejectedly at the table and asks what is wrong. He told her he doesn't like his sandwich. I explained that he did like it he was just testing his boundaries. So she asked him if he would eat a sandwich if mom made a different kind. Of course he would! As I had my back turned making the sandwich the MT said, "He is laughing at you!" Umm, yes, he is! He just got another adult to side with him against mom! I have since learned to pick my battles and not make an issue out of it. I should have told him, "Your sandwich is in the refrigerator if you get hungry" and walked away. Live and learn.
   There were times when Braden would act as though he had made a huge turn around and be as good as gold. He was so good, I walked on pins n needles because he was too good. You say I am hard to please. Maybe so, but trust me, when you have a child who tries to manipulate you, you get very good at deciphering his motives. I thought long and hard about how to explain how we as parents learn to read our children who have RAD. One day it hit me, how do mom's know when their new born is tired or hungry? By his cry. Dean and I got so good at reading Braden that we often knew what was wrong before he did. See, he couldn't/wouldn't tell us what was wrong when something was bothering him. He would become hyper alert and on edge. By quickly running through the days happenings we could usually figure out what was bothering him.
   Your child will learn very quickly what triggers you and he will push those buttons incessantly. Children with RAD are like a wild animal caught in a trap, their senses are all on high alert at all times. Our brains were not created to live in a world of hyper arousal and the damage is great but I will leave that for another post. Braden had a way of knowing everything, whether we talked about it or not. For instance if we planned to go to Grandpa's some evening, we didn't tell him until it was time to get ready as going away was stressful for him. This was due to the fact that he had so many more people to read and his brain had to scramble to find words/actions so that he would know where everyone stood in regards to their awareness of his feelings. Anyway, he would know we were going to go away, even if there was no visible sign that we had plans. His therapist told me that these children can be in the basement and hear what is whispered in the attic. When Braden was having a good day it helped if we sat down and told him where we were going, who would be there and what he would be doing. We kept him in eye sight as he was much like a toddler in that he couldn't control his excitement level. Picture a toddler running and playing with his siblings, he goes and goes until he ends up crying. Children with RAD are the same way, they cannot "read others visual cues to know when enough is enough. They often end up hurting either themselves or others. Children with AD suffer from an inability to read others facial cues, so if you are reprimanding your child, he may laugh in your face. This is utterly frustrating if you are frazzled to begin with. However knowing why your child does this helps dampen your irritation. Some would say, "your child will never learn to monitor his emotions if he is not given the chance to learn by being with his peers." That is true, however that is a "lesser need" than learning to attach. Before your child can grow emotionally he first needs to learn to attach. A child needs to go through every stage in life and as long as the child does not attach, other emotional things cannot be instilled. God created us to first bond, then grow in emotional maturity.
  If a child has RAD he often has PTSD and will be triggered by sights,sounds and smells. You may be eating a meal and your child smells something that brings back a terrifying memory. Perhaps Dad beat him while mom was making hot dogs. Guess what happens when you make hot dogs? Your child panics and says some nasty words, kicks his chair and pushes his cup over spilling the water onto your lap. If you don't understand PTSD you will be frustrated and quite possibly send your child away from the table. The child then feels like he is being punished for his fear which is not at all what you want. The correct response would be to rapidly run through various scenario's as to what caused this out burst... what did I just do/say that could have triggered this? Then if your child is receptive, you can stand beside him and say, "You are safe, now." "Mommy is safe, Daddy is safe. " Other things to try are slow, deep breathing, standing up and stretching or massaging those tight muscles. You have to figure out what works for your child. Ours all respond differently and it takes trial and error to learn what works best.
   By no means do I have all the answers but after several years of therapy sessions, I have come to understand the basic elements of attachment and a few techniques to hasten that attachment. And as a disclaimer, all children respond differently, what has worked for us may not work for you.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Lego Review

Lego's are one of our childrens favorite pass times. They spent hours around our Lego table last winter. Over the summer they are usually outside but come winter the Lego's are back in business. Tristan has requested Lego sets for his birthday and Christmas gifts. He has his finished creations on a high shelf in his bedroom so little hands cannot reach them. I have been in contact with the folks from the Lego company and am doing a post on their products.
Here is the link for the Lego City Surveillance Helicopter: 
Description: Raid the crook hideout with the high-powered police helicopter!
The crooks have arrived at their hideout and are offloading their stash of stolen goods. Help the policeman on a stakeout monitor their every move from the barrel using his camera and special radar. Then use the walkie talkie to call in the police helicopter with its detailed engine, cockpit and rear crew compartment. When it arrives, hover overhead, slide the side door open, attach the policeman to the rope and launch a surprise abseil ambush! And if the crooks try to get away, slap the handcuffs on them, load them into the helicopter and fly them back to prison! Includes 5 minifigures with assorted accessories: 3 policemen and 2 crooks.

I found a huge tote of Lego's at our local re uzit shop. There were several girly sets included and Kiana picks those pieces out and plays house alongside the boys who are building boats, planes and tractors.

Adorable and fun little girl play. This is the link for the Lego Friends Jungle Falls Rescue:

Description: Rescue the tiger cub from the water and explore the beautiful Jungle Falls!
Help the tiger in trouble at the beautiful but powerful Jungle Falls! Rush to the riverside and find the tiger stranded in rough waters. Wade in and help Olivia build a dam to stop the waterfall before pulling the tiger to safety. Then head up to the cliff-top hut to cool down with a drink and some fresh fruit salad in the company of the friendly chameleon. Later you can explore the jungle caves together. Who knows what treasures you will find! 



I like how the small pieces encourage fine motor control. A year ago my 6 year olds had a difficult time taking the bricks apart. With much practice they strengthened their finger muscles and are now able to pry them apart with ease.

We can't forget the Duplo Brick's for little hands!
I personally think these animals are adorable. They would be helpful for learning colors, for memory: which block goes on next and of course, pretend play. I know Lia  would enjoy these. I remember spending hours playing with the Duplo Blocks as a young child. The idea's were limitless!
Here is the link for these cute Lego Duplo Creative Animals:

Description: Let your child enter a creative world of easy-to-build animals!
Introduce your child to a whole animal-themed world of creativity and building fun with this fun Creative Animals set! Use the inspiration cards to help your young creator assemble the easy-to-build giraffe, bunny, dog and worm, each with its own distinctive, bright color theme. Then get ready to embark with them on a world of unending play possibilities.
*all pictures/descriptions/Links are from LEGO

And there you have it... one of my children's most loved toys! Go to the Lego website for idea's for the perfect Christmas and Birthday gifts