Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Play Dough Recipe

I think winter is here! Brr. Joseph is outside playing inspite of the cold. He is building a rock wall in the woods. He is getting fresh air, exercise and using his muscles all things that he needs. He comes in to check on me periodically. In many ways he is still in the preschool age range emotionally. It is helpful to have a 3 year old to help in gauging what is normal preschool behavior. 
How do you keep your children occupied during Christmas vacation? Tristan is spending the day with his uncle, which is very helpful. He seems to think housework is below his status level. I had him doing some cleaning the other day and he was less than impressed. He thought I was just thinking up work for him because he never see's me doing the jobs I assigned to him. By the way, those jobs were things like sweeping the basement and cleaning out some corners. Disclaimer: I do sweep my basement and clean. I usually do it during school hours so he doesn't see me.
   I saw a recipe for Crayon Play Dough on FB. It was just the thing for the three little people! Best of all, the recipe was really simple and I had all the ingredients.





This little lady is quite impulsive. I always pictured impulsiveness as something that small children are plagued with. I imagined them grabbing toys and getting into all kinds of mischief because they didn't stop to think. In a sense that is how all small children are so I didn't think it would be so difficult. Hah! I now understand why it is a problem. Kiana is constantly acting before she thinks and the older she gets the more inappropriate and problematic it becomes. I would like to give her something natural to help with impulse control but when I began researching it, I found so many pro's and con's I decided to ask people what they give their children. She is on medication which helps a lot but because of her history I really want to get her off of it. 

Here is the recipe for the play dough:

CRAYON PLAYDOUGH
         1 Tablespoon oil
              2.5 broken crayons 
 1 cup water
    1.5 cups flour
                            1 Tablespoon cream of tarter
          3/4 teaspoon salt

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Heat oil in a kettle, add broken crayons. Slowly add water, stir until crayons are dissolved. Add the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Dump onto a heat proof surface and knead until smooth. 

*If you have glitter crayons, they make awesome glittery play dough.

I adapted this recipe from one I found here.













Monday, December 29, 2014

Book Giveaway

Ann has quite a story to tell. It makes me weary just reading about some of things she and her husband faced but they came through stronger for their trials. Ann and Jim have a daughter who has a rare medical condition, they have also adopted a set of five siblings, who had a very rough start in life and suffer FASD and attachment issues. Ann fought the mental health system for help for her children and ultimately found a group home for her daughter. Ann and Jim are truly an inspiration!

I am giving away a copy of this book. Leave a comment on FB, my blog or send me an email. Next Monday I will be drawing a winner! I would love to hear your suggestions for my blog so if you share topics you wish I would address or have any tips for me I will enter your name in the drawing twice.


P.S. I am hoping to draw out those people who read my blog without commenting...that is fine by the way, I am just curious. :) 


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Joseph!


Happy Birthday Joseph! He finally turned 7 yesterday. Joseph thought he had to wait an awfully long time for this birthday to arrive.


Joseph loves presents, don't we all? :) There is a downside for Joseph though. When he receives a gift he equates the gift with love. He knows we love him and he can usually take in that love. Giving a gift however, equals a greater dose of love in his mind and while he likes that feeling it is very scary because he remembers a time when he opened his heart to love and his birth mom neglected him. When he receives a gift, especially if it is from mom n dad, that helpless feeling is triggered and he panics. A year ago we figured out why he panics and have since then been able to talk him through his feelings. He is getting better at understanding why he gets scared when he receives a gift. Understanding is part of the battle.

Can't quite manage a smile.

We love you Joseph and hope and pray the day will come when you will believe with your whole heart that we will always love and care for you. Until then, we will continue telling you how special you are!








Saturday, December 27, 2014

Braden

Braden is back at TAP, let the meltdowns begin! Seriously though, things have gone surprisingly well considering Braden was not ready for a home visit, we celebrated Christmas and some of the children had a few personal things they were working through. Braden is++ terrified of any sort of relationship so we cared for his needs and didn't push the relationships. Braden has everyone puzzled with his total regression. The people working with him have never seen a child regress and stay stuck in that place. We know FASD is playing a large part in his inability to think beyond the moment and think how his actions will affect his future. Granted he is only 7 but even a two year old soon learns if I do ____, such and such will happen. Braden cannot link cause and affect. Thanks again for praying and please continue to pray for Braden. 
    Joseph celebrated his 7th birthday today so for a few hours we had three 7 year old's in the house!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Week

The past week has been busy with extra activities and celebrating our Saviour's birth. I brought Braden home on Tuesday. Thanks to everyone who has been praying for our family. Things have been going as well as can be expected. It hurts to see how terrified Braden is of forming a bond. When asked what the best thing was about being home for Christmas he said, "the gifts." The worst thing was the relationships. 

We made taffy on Christmas Eve. I told the children if they cheerfully help with the housework we will do something special when daddy gets home from work. 



I didn't get pictures of Dean and the children pulling the taffy as I was to busy wrapping the candy and supervising the pulling process. Needless to say, I gave the kitchen floor a good scrubbing after the children were in bed. There were globs of taffy on the floor and sticky fingerprints everywhere.

Matching dresses

My silly boys










Joseph loved his cardboard castle. He likes small places, it helps him with his sensory issues. He may even color on the walls and mom won't be upset with him. He likes to write his name on my walls and can't figure out how I know he was the one doing the writing. :) Notice Kiana's grumpy face? She has major jealousy issues. Some of it has to do with the losses she experienced, we see it in some of our other children as well but Kiana is definitely the worst. How do you help someone who views things as security? After another of our famous talks we got it worked out and she agreed to allow Joseph to use her art supplies to color on the castle walls if he lets her play inside with him.

Thanks to everyone for the prayers and acts of kindness you have shown our family this past week. It is your prayers that are making Braden's home visit go as smoothly as it is.  














Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Rough Weekend

I think I can finally process the weekend we just came through. Wow! Talk about tantrums, fears and rage, we saw it all in some form or another. It is safe to say that between Kiana and Joseph someone was in a funk from Saturday morning until late Sunday evening. I told Dean I am beginning to feel traumatized and he just grinned and said, "I wonder why?" I know you can't take on others trauma or you will be no help to them but sometimes you begin to feel saturated in it and it affects you whether you want it to or not.
   Saturday morning Kiana and I went away for a few hours and Joseph panicked. Rather than talk about what was bothering him he was angry and into all manner of trouble. We tried all the techniques we knew to help him process what was wrong but by his actions we came to the conclusion that he wasn't ready or able to talk. So we hunkered down to weather the storm. Sunday evening I had another go at figuring out what was going on and once more he mentioned that he didn't like that I went away. I asked why and this time he said he worried I would have an accident. Now we were getting somewhere! So if mom has an accident what do you think will happen? He thought I might get in trouble. Joseph processes things best when we can give examples so I went that route. I asked if he gets in trouble when he accidentally bumps into someone and makes them drop their papers. He shook his head no. I told him that is why it is called an accident, it is something that you don't do on purpose. If mom had an accident she wouldn't get in trouble because she didn't do it on purpose. I just hoped he wouldn't ask if all vehicle accidents were "accidents". His face cleared a bit but something was still eating at him. "What if you had a big crash," was his next question. I repeated his question back to him, "If I had a big crash, what would happen?" He thought I might get hurt. "Mom might get hurt or maybe even die, then who would take care of you. Is that what you are worried about?" I saw the light coming back into his eyes and knew I was finally on the right track. I began listing off the people that would be able to take care of him and he was relieved to see we had more than two hands full of names. "I know of a little boy who used to worry that both his mom and dad would die, do you ever worry about that?" Joseph said he didn't so I left it. I didn't want to put more fears/ideas in his head but if we didn't weed out every last bit of fear, it would soon consume him again and we would be right back to where we started.
I hugged him and assured him there were lots of people who loved him and if mom couldn't care for him there would always be someone else who would be sure he is fed and has clothing. And people try to say children who are placed in a safe home as baby's won't remember the trauma??? Joseph came to us at 6 months and his body remembers very well!
   We have been explaining to Kiana how the "baby Kiana" inside her needs lots of love and care. When she is sad or scared she needs to stop and think what the baby Kiana needs. The other day she was upset about something and said, "Mom, I am so tired of this baby Kiana, she is always causing problems!" I had to smile inside but was thankful she was at least recognizing her internal needs. We still have to coach her along and Sunday evening was no exception. We had church Sunday evening and I noticed Kiana was in tears. Afterward Dean told me they are going out to the explorer awhile. They had time to talk till the rest of the children and I came out. Sitting quietly in church gave Kiana time to think and her feelings got the best of her. Dean finished talking with her when we got home and I spent some time with Joseph. The scared feelings he had endured all weekend just kept wanting to come back and since he didn't like those feelings he got into trouble in an attempt to block them out. 
  Once everyone was finally in bed, Dean and I had a chance to talk. We couldn't decide if we should laugh or cry. :)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Choose Joy

I found the quote: Choose Joy and decided that it is what I need to do more often. Since I am so forgetful, I asked a friend if she could paint something with those words on. She painted this sign for me and I set it above the corner cupboard in the kitchen, where it is visible as I go about my day. It has been a help quite often this week...when Joseph gets in a funk over school issues, Lia accidentally on purpose spills her milk on the clean kitchen chair, or Kiana and Tristan are having a word battle yet again, I try to remember, Choose Joy!
    
I should have had my Choose Joy sign along at the doctors office yesterday. Kiana needed a new prescription and Tristan needed a booster shot. I made the appointment right after school so I had all four children along. I figured it wouldn't take long but we were there for 1.5 hours! Lia passed the time yelling and smearing chap stick on her face. Needless to say, I was feeling anything but joyful till we were finally ready to leave.
Tristan was very annoyed with all the whining Lia was doing. He kept telling her to be quiet. The more frustrated he became the more she whined. 
Kiana...Lia hid her face because she didn't want me taking a picture of her snooty face.

Joseph was beyond bored

We eat lots of cereal around here. Deans mom gave us some granola one time and the children fell in love with it. I gave some for a gift recently and Kiana got upset with me for giving it away. She told me that is her favorite cereal...I shouldn't be giving it to people!

A friend dropped by with this gift basket. What a day brightener! Thanking God for friends today.

This post shared on:


  Grace & Truth : A Weekly Christian Link UpSeeking God
.

I Choose Joy!







Wednesday, December 17, 2014

THE DARKNESS OF CHRISTMAS

Someone shared the following article with me. I thought it was such a well written piece and wanted to share it with you all. We all have different pain and trials in life but no matter what we may be enduring now, the story is not yet finished, God has a master plan for us and the grief you are facing today will be used to glorify the Father if we are but willing to be vessels for his use.

         THE DARKNESS OF CHRISTMAS

Christmas season has always been my favorite time of year. I love the food, the carols, the parties, and the giving of gifts. I love the focus on the incarnation of Christ. I love the bright lights and hues of green, silver, and red. And I will even admit that I love a good, cheesy Hallmark movie. Christmas makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Until one year, when it didn’t.
I had been married a little more than a year when my first dark Christmas hit. I had every reason to think I would be bursting out of my normal clothes and growing a little baby. But I wasn’t. There were no food aversions, no bouts of nausea, and no need for stretchy pants. The baby inside me had stopped growing weeks before. I was devastated. I felt little Christmas joy that year; there was only Christmas ache and a longing for what might have been. It wasn’t my last sad Christmas, as we waited for God to provide us with children. What was once such a happy family time for me, suddenly became a stinging reminder of the very thing I wanted most but still lacked—a family filled with children of my own.
Whenever we talk about Christmas we think about happy, joyous times, and that is most certainly the case for many. In the years since our first loss, we’ve had Christmases of joy and Christmases of sorrow. We know the feelings of both. But for others, Christmas can carry a dark cloud of sadness, a sadness that never seems to let up and is only exacerbated by the happiness swirling around you. For some, Christmas is a reminder of the darkness of painful circumstances. It carries no tidings of great joy. Maybe you are facing your first Christmas without your spouse or parents. Maybe you are reminded every Christmas season of your longings for a spouse. The loneliness can make celebrating the holidays too much to bear. Maybe your table is missing a beloved child who is wayward, and things never seem the same without him. Maybe your parents are divorced and you shuffle between two houses on Christmas day, while your friends spend family time together. Christmas feels isolating and meaningless when all is not as it should be.
Whatever darkness you are facing this Christmas, know this: with all of the songs and festivities that point to good cheer and great joy, Christmas recalls darkness unlike any we will ever experience, but a darkness that brought light into a fallen world. 

Mary’s Soul-Piercing Pain

While Christmas is about the dawning of great joy in the coming of our Savior, it also foreshadows the darkness of his crucifixion. Simeon told Mary of her son's purpose, that a sword would pierce her own soul (Luke 2:35). Mary, the woman whose heart warmed for her son with every kick in the womb. Mary, the woman who nursed and diapered the very Son of God. Mary, the woman who loved and raised her son like any other mother would do. And while he was no ordinary son, he was still her son. Bearing the Son of God did not make her numb to the often painful realities of motherhood, and her pain would be excruciating. No earthly person felt the weight of Christ's purpose like she did. While many were rejoicing at his coming, she would one day face the agonizing grief of watching her son suffer on the cross for her sins and our sins.
It’s easy to idolize Mary as a super-human vessel, ready to do whatever was asked of her. While she was certainly godly, she was still human. She was still a mother. This is what Simeon is getting at in his prophecy. With the atonement for our sins came the motherly pain of Mary. As she stared at that little baby in the manger, she may not have fully understood all that was going to take place, but God the Father did. The birth of our Savior carried an ominous shadow of the darkness to come.

God’s Chosen Pain

Mary may not have fully understood what Jesus was sent to do, but God the Father knew of this imminent grief and ordained it to be (Isa. 53:10). Jesus knew what was expected of him, and he agonized over the grief and suffering waiting for him at Calvary (Luke 22:39-46). With every shepherd’s praise and magi’s gift, the Father knew that the perfect fellowship would soon be momentarily broken for sin. In her book When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty, Joni Eareckson Tada wrote of the Father and the Son’s grief at the cross:
The Father watches as his heart’s treasure, the mirror-image of himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin. Jehovah’s stored rage against humankind from every century explodes in a single direction. “Father! Father! Why have you forsaken me?!” But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who cannot, who will not, reach down in reply. The Trinity had planned it. The Son endured it. The Spirit enabled him. The Father rejected the Son whom he loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished. The Father accepted his sacrifice for sin and was satisfied. The Rescue was accomplished. God set down his saw. This is who asks us to trust him when he calls on us to suffer.
With the joy over this little baby in the manger came the promised reality that the joy would soon turn to momentary grief. We have a perfect heavenly Father who knows what it means to grieve over loss. The darkness of our Christmas is not foreign to this God. He is not aloof. He is present with us, because he knows us deeply and walks with us in our pain. He has endured deep pain, too.
When we think about Christmas and are heartbroken to face another holiday with tears, we have hope. While Mary faced heart-piercing grief as she birthed her son, this grief was for the good of us all. While God the Son suffered at the crucifixion, by this suffering we are healed (Isa. 53:5), and he is a great high priest who can sympathize with our sufferings (Heb. 4:15).
Whatever darkness you face this Christmas, it is not the final word in your life. It may be lifelong. It may feel like it will never let up. It may threaten to undo you at times. And it is real. But we can grieve this holiday with hope that one day the baby who came in a manger will wipe every tear from our eyes and make his blessings flow for us forever (Rev. 21:4). The darkness that hovered over his cradle did not win. And it won’t win over us either.
Courtney Reissig is a writer, wife, and mom to twin boys. She is married to Daniel, and together they live in Little Rock, Arkansas, and serve at Midtown Baptist Church. You can read more of her writing on her blog or follow her on Twitter.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A New Cousin

Last night we went to see my newest niece, Kiara. 
Kiana and Joseph have been doing a lot of "grief work" regarding their lives as baby's before coming into care. Seeing a newborn made those feelings even more real. They realized how tiny and helpless a baby is. A baby is not able to do anything to make it's parents not care for it. That was freeing for them but then they needed to face the fact that their birthparents didn't nurture them and that was hard. I am glad they were able to process it because for so long they blamed themselves and I knew they needed to get beyond that to find healing. 
The weekend has been hard for both of them. Dean and I talked, hugged and reassured until we felt drained ourselves. The film we saw on Saturday evening at The Journey To Bethlehem showed Jesus walking down the street and dirty, beggar children reaching out to touch His hands. I was reminded how Jesus was fully God yet fully man and grew weary just as we do. I cannot imagine the fatigue he must have felt, when reaching out and caring for all those needy people. 
Children with early childhood trauma miss the nurturing so necessary for emotional development, thus we were taught to connect with the baby inside. While working with Kiana I asked her what she thinks Baby Kiana must have felt when she was cold and hungry. She said she was scared and sad. Scared that no one would take care of her and sad because she was afraid no one loved her. I told her that since she didn't have all of her needs met as a baby, when she is faced with similar situations, Baby Kiana begins to cry and we need to meet that baby's needs. She has a fear that people won't/don't like her. I assured her that daddy n I love her. I asked her what she thinks baby Kiana needs and she whispered, "A hug." I held her for awhile and when she jumped off my lap, she went to get her pj's on singing away. 
After that break through we were able to get her to tap. Tapping (tap your knee with one hand and then the other hand, simple EMDR) helps compartmentalize those trauma memories that get "stuck" between the left and right brain. When the child or adult, taps while thinking about their trauma feelings, those memories get put in their correct "file cabinets" and the memory is no longer so troubling. Note: Do not do this with severe trauma. My therapist said in training they were strongly warned against doing this without a professional present, however for "simple trauma" it is perfectly safe and beneficial. After our talk Kiana was willing to tap and get those feelings processed. Before the memories hurt to badly to even think about so they built up until she exploded. We have by no means worked through all the pain but we are thankful for the one layer we were able to peel away.

Joseph was amazed ate how tiny and soft Kiara is. I could see the wheels spinning in his brain. "I was a tiny baby one day. Why are some baby's so loved and cared for when I wasn't?" Joseph didn't have much to say but knowing him it is rolling around in there and will come pouring out sooner or later. He had a tough morning and I highly suspect it had to do with the renewed realization that it wasn't his fault that he isn't living with his birth mom.
Guess what Lia was begging for this morning? A baby! She hasn't a clue how much a baby would upset her little world. 





Sunday, December 14, 2014

Journey To Bethlehem

Last night we went to Journey To Bethlehem at Woodcrest Retreat. This has become a tradition for us and we look forward to it every year. You have to register and pay your taxes, then a tractor and wagon take you to the start of the Journey. The first scene is of the angel telling Mary she will be the mother of Jesus. We then followed a candle lit path to the town of Bethlehem and watched Joseph knock on the door of the inn, trying to find a room for the night. Then it is on to the market where you can use a coin to buy a small cup of crackers, receive a head dress, and a lantern to carry on the journey. We came to the field where the shepherds were watching their sheep and were served mugs of hot chocolate while the shepherds told us how the prophets fortold that a Saviour was to be born. They were watching and waiting for the day when this would happen. Suddenly the sky lit up with a bright light and an angel proclaimed that Jesus had been born that very day. We followed the shepherds to a small stable and saw the Baby Jesus. The final stop was a short film of Jesus' life and the plan of salvation was explained. A bus took us back to the parking lot.
Lia keeping warm in her blanket


 Kiana and Joseph with their head dresses




 Listening to the angels announce Jesus' birth

Looking at Baby Jesus

We warmed up with hot chocolate and cookies when we got home.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

This Week

 Signing Christmas cards for their classmates. 

Snack time: 2 ice pops, a handful of peanuts, a serving of mac n cheese and she wanted more! She stalled on the second container of mac n cheese.

.... Her favorite food, french fries!

Chowing down on a Big Mac. Gone are the days when a cheeseburger filled him up!
Tristan had an orthodontist appointment this morning. I treated him to McDonalds to celebrate getting his expander out! Yippee, no more slurping noises when food gets stuck on top of it.  They also took impressions for his retainer, only one more month of braces! 





Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Joseph Another Step Forward

   There has always been one aspect of Joseph's behavior that hasn't made sense. He often seemed to "want" consequences. We thought perhaps it was low self esteem but that didn't feel quite right. There seemed to be something more to it but what? He would get into trouble repeatedly and when questioned say he did it because he wanted consequences but at the same time he felt we were being unfair to him. We went round and round on the issue with out reaching a conclusion. I know you shouldn't ask a child, why he did _________ but we were at a loss to know how to figure out what made him do the things he did.
   Yesterday we had to deal with another school issue and after an hour of talking, explaining and coaching we learned he deliberately gets into trouble so he will get a consequence. He then gets angry about the consequence. He uses that anger to cover up the pain he feels regarding his birth mom. He uses his consequences to fuel his anger.  It made perfect sense when we finally figured it out. Joseph couldn't tell us that but when we broke it down into small steps explaining each action and the reason behind it, his face cleared and he seemed relieved to know why he does the things he does. A burden appeared to roll off his shoulders and he was singing away as he got ready for bed, such a change from the angry, raging boy of a few minutes ago. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to have "big feelings" and not have the words or understanding to work through them.
 
   

Monday, December 8, 2014

Weekend

I worked on my Christmas cards on Saturday. 

Made some Peppermint Bark

Burned some candles...
and that is pretty much the extent of my weekend. We went to church Sunday morning but other than that we took it easy.
Today I ran a bunch of errands as did many other people in the area. The grocery stores were packed for a Monday morning...I told Dean the weather man and the grocery stores must be in a business together... predict lots of snow so the stores can make a larger profit. I shouldn't talk because obviously I was one of the shoppers!


Friday, December 5, 2014

Gingerbread Men

Lia and I made gingerbread men yesterday. We enjoyed them with hot chocolate when Dean and Tristan came in from hunting.



Lia rolled and cut out her own cookies. She was convinced the dough was play dough...she rolled some into a ball and threw it. It landed on the fan much to her dismay.


Gingerbread Men Cookies
1/2 cup of butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg
2 Tablespoons water
2 2/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon, allspice & nutmeg

Mix butter and brown sugar. Add the molasses, egg and water. Combine remaining ingredients and add to first mixture. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate until dough is workable.
Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Place 2 inches apart on a buttered baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. 















/