Thursday, April 30, 2015

A RAD Video

I have watched this clip several times and it never fails to bring up the feelings of panic, disbelief, frustration, terror and pain I felt every single day while parenting Braden. It is amazing how much healing time can bring about. Last night I was missing Braden and thinking, maybe we should bring him home, maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought it was. I can't believe I even thought that.
        I watched a video we took of one of our "discussions" with Braden. He was full of control and had fully convinced himself that he would be much happier living in the woods by himself. If he lived in the woods he wouldn't have to build any relationships, no one could abandon him and he could be fully in control of his life. That looked like a much better alternative to living in a home and being under the authority of two adults, especially when those adults insisted on loving him. 
   As an adoptive parent of a child who has RAD, I question and re-question myself time and again. What if we would have done things differently, what if we would have flew across the country and found an attachment therapist even though his CW said he was perfectly healthy and local therapists said he was to young for therapy? If only I would have known about RAD when Braden came to us, would he have been able to heal? I know this line of reasoning doesn't help anyone and since we cannot change the past, why continue mulling over it?
  I think the answer to that question is simple: I still haven't come to grips with the knowledge that I have an 8 year old son who is emotionally unhealthy and cannot live at home. What kind of mom does that make me?


Lia loves to play doctor. Kiana and Joseph get tired of being her patients and I will admit that I get tired of it sometimes as well. Last night no one wanted to help her play and both Dean and I were busy so I suggested she doctor her kitty.

Tristan stopped long enough for her to check his ears.
Dean explaining Tristan's math lesson. This picture brought back memories of my dad and I sitting at the kitchen table. Math was not my favorite subject to say the least and many times he sat down with me, explaining and re-explaining how to work my math facts. Some rather heated discussions take place over this particular book but Tristan is always glad for his dad's help.



Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Losing Emmie


Yesterday our dog Emmie died. She had been sick for quite awhile already and since she was "elderly" in dog years Dean and I knew that this was going to happen sooner or later. We were all sad but Joseph was inconsolable. So much so, that I was getting concerned. Dean saved Emmie's tags and gave them to Joseph. I tied them onto the stuffed tiger he sleeps with. That helped him feel a little bit better and eventually he was able to calm down.
We have been researching service dogs for children who have FASD and we thought perhaps now would be a good time to look into it a bit more seriously.
 4 Paws For Ability is where other parents have bought dogs for their children. However the $22,000 price tag made us reconsider! 
We promised the children we would buy a puppy. Kiana said she doesn't want a puppy she wants Emmie back but when we talked about all the fun things you can do with a puppy, she had to smile and admitted that it would be fun. I am remembering all the holes puppies like to dig, how they chew on everything and all the trouble they get into. If a puppy helps the children work through losing Emmie then I will gladly put up with all the mess a puppy makes.



Monday, April 27, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Hike

Sunday afternoon found us hiking the Horseshoe Trail that is just behind our place....a favorite hiking spot when the weather is nice. I had to wake Lia from her afternoon nap and she declared her legs were to tired to walk so Tristan offered to carry her.
Burning energy. Joseph insisted on carrying a 4 inch round "log" as we walked. He found a small stick and pretended it was his drumstick. He beat his drum (the log) all the way back to the golf cart.
Don't you just want to squeeze those chubby cheeks?



Lia is very much a Mama's girl but her daddy is her hero. In her eye's nothing is so hard that daddy can't make it better. I cherish this stage, when their problems are small and they totally trust that mom and dad will be there for them no matter what. Our children are blessed with a daddy who will lay aside everything to talk them through whatever is bothering them. Although they don't always consider it a blessing...it is much easier to bottle everything up and pretend nothing is wrong. When I see Dean stop his work to throw a baseball for Tristan to catch, nail boards together for Joseph or give the girls a few pushes on the swings, I thank God for blessing us with a husband and daddy who takes time out of his busy schedule to meet our needs. 

After supper we played Bocce Ball. Tristan wrote out an invitation inviting us to play a game. Kiana was the mail lady and delivered it to us. How can you resist such an invitation?








Saturday, April 25, 2015

Casting Blame

                                                                                                                                                                                             Image result for living with trauma memories quotes

Memories have been falling out of the cabinets this week. Those memories aren't good ones either and they are hitting us all on the head.

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Kiana and Joseph are beginning to comprehend that their parents mistakes cost them the right to parent. They chose a life of pleasure over caring for their children. That no matter how you look at it, their parents failed them. This realization is breaking their hearts and they are doing everything they can to ignore this new understanding.
    We have stressed over and over that their parents did love them even though they made choices that ultimately ended in having their children removed. I honestly believe their parents did the best they could under the circumstances. I often think of the quote, "But for the grace of God, there go I."   
        My children have a rudimentary level of understanding concerning drugs and alcohol and they know that these things played a part in what happened to them. What they cannot understand is that their parents have their own hidden pain they are attempting to assuage with substance abuse and all that goes with it.            
      Kiana and Joseph only understand that their mom's didn't keep them safe, they didn't make sure they had food and a warm bed and they are angry about it, and rightly so. The problem is that they have a deep sense of loyalty their birth mom's. They aren't mature enough to understand that you can be angry about what happened to you but still love the one who allowed it to happen. They think in black and white, either someone is good or they aren't. So they look around for someone to blame. Their adoptive parents are the ones upon whom their anger, fear and misunderstanding falls.
     They think, "As long as I am feeling angry at my adoptive parents, I won't betray my loyalty to my birth mom." Being angry with her means admitting that either she is responsible for what happened or I (the child) am the one who caused this and that option is to terrifying to consider.
   I jokingly told Dean we should have kept a tally of the hours we spent talking to our children over the past five years. I know it is time well spent and I am so grateful for my children. They have taught me so much about myself and how we were created but I am human and find myself selfishly wishing things wouldn't be so hard. 

Playing dentist, Lia's favorite game.

                                                   
Lia wanted to cut something while I was cutting out a dress. I taped a large piece of paper to the floor and she cut between the strips of tape.

Kiana matching socks, a much disliked chore around here






Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Enjoying Spring

Lia and I took a walk and soaked in some of the delightful sunshine and fresh air God has blessed us with today.


Lia loves to pick flowers. She thinks it isn't fair that some people have lots of pretty yellow flowers (Dandelion) growing in their yards and we don't have any! 
I tried to get Lia to pose but I didn't have much success ... she seems to have forgotten how to smile naturally.

Walking off her excess energy

....and last but not least meet:
SUPERHERO, Lia's acorn!




Sunday, April 19, 2015

Phrases To Help Your Child Self Regulate

If you were a little mouse and lived at our house, you would hear these words quite often:

 "Remember to use your words." Or, "Do you have a mouth? Does it work? Okay, then you must use your words." 
We say this when a child is acting out or if he is struggling with something such as getting dressed we remind him to use his words and he will often remember he can ask for help.

"Good eye's, No you must look at my eye's not past me, good job!"
Children from hard places often struggle with good eye contact. When our children ask for something or are talking to us, we expect them to maintain good eye contact.

"Use an indoor voice, please." 
It should be obvious why we say this. :)

"Would you like a consequence or a redo?"
This is a popular technique used to give the child who has control issues a way to be in control but under his parents authority. It also gives children an "out" so they aren't constantly getting consequences.

"You must get rid of your mad before you may play again."
 This one is something our first graders hear pretty often. They get upset about something and when we have worked through the problem there is still some anger inside. We remind them of the various techniques they have to help get rid of that anger such as jumping on the trampoline, doing a job for mom, doing jumping jacks or tapping.

"Do you want me to help you figure out what is bothering you?"
The child who is acting out usually hears this. Kiana often needs this prompt before she is willing to admit she is upset about something.

"Do you need anything? Drink this cup of water then we will talk."
When a child is tantruming and will not/cannot calm down I offer them a cool drink or snack. This helps them realize mom is on their side besides giving them something they need but may not be aware of.

"Good job! Thank you for your prompt obedience."
Prompt obedience always gets praised at our house.

"What could you do to make mom and dad stop loving you? You'r right, nothing!"
A reminder given when a child is sure mom and dad do not love him anymore.

"Remember if you choose to lie, you get double consequences."
This one is heard when a child is asked about a wrong doing. (We only confront them when we know they have the ability to tell the truth)

" ..... I have decided to show you grace since you ..... Do you remember what grace means? It means getting something you don't deserve or not getting a consequence you do deserve."
Sometimes our children need to be shown grace, just as our Father shows us grace in our journey through life.

"Stop and think before you answer me, think.... think....think. Do I want to tell the truth so mom and dad can help me or do I want to tell a lie and get a consequence?"
Joseph hears the think, think, think pretty often. If we say it slowly and calmly sometimes he is able to tell the truth before a lie comes tumbling out of his mouth.

"Do you need a hug?"
Sometimes our children simply need a hug from mom and dad.


We have a host of other phrases we use to help our children stay calm and regulated however these are the ones we use most frequently. I am so used to these words that I don't think how odd they might sound until I see someone watching me with a puzzled look on their face. Our children are very familiar with these words as they hear them in some form or another multiple times a day. We began using them when we learned about therapeutic parenting but as time goes on we use these prompts for all of our children, much to Tristan's dismay. If he is being grumpy and we remind him to use his words, he usually has to laugh because he knows better than acting out his feelings.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Beautiful Day

Isn't this weather glorious? I just love it! 
This playhouse is a freebie I found beside the road this winter. Lia spends hours playing in it when the children are at school. I had to put some restrictions in place, she was taking my cups and plates, hot pads, silver ware and anything else she thought would be nice to have in her house.

Joseph thrives on this warm weather. He plays hard and sleeps soundly. I learned another thing about him and FASD this week. On one of the first warm days he was outside with his winter coat on. He had the zipper up to his chin and his hood up. I asked him why he has his coat on and he said, "You never told me not to wear it." His brain never "told" him, he was to warm. Poor boy had a sweatshirt on underneath his coat, to make maters worse! Last summer he used to play outside in the heat and his face would get beet red. I never thought that his brain may not be telling him he is too warm! Recently I read a story about a child who had FASD. Her mom wrote how her daughter was unable to regulate her body temperature. If I wouldn't have read that story, I probably wouldn't have connected the dots and would have just thought Joseph's face gets red when he is warm. I am continually amazed at the methods God uses to teach me more about my children.


I made this pizza on the grill for supper one evening this week. It is a favorite of ours.

Make your usual pizza crust and roll into a rectangle. Grill over indirect heat until the dough is no longer sticky. Remove from heat and top with your favorite BBQ sauce. Layer with grilled chicken, sauteed onions, bacon and shredded cheese. Return to the grill until cheese is melted and it is hot through.



Friday, April 17, 2015

Update On Joseph

I think I can safely say we have Joseph's eczema on the run! The doctor prescribed some cream when we were there a week ago. Within 24 hours of using it I could tell a big difference. The redness and pimples were disappearing. On Tuesday we got him started on antibiotics (let's just say it took a long time to get the medication so it was several days after his appointment till we finally had the antibiotics) for the eczema that had gotten infected from his constant scratching. He cannot leave scabs alone which made things that much worse. His eczema looks good but I am not sure if the anti anxiety medication is making a difference or not. Joseph has had good days since he began taking it. We are waiting to see if that is coincidence or if the medication really is helping.
   Braden's FASD doctor told us that children with FASD metabolize medication differently than you or I. With that in mind I was a little apprehensive about the anti anxiety medication but I needn't have worried, Joseph hasn't had any problems so far. 
   I have become a familiar face at school. I think the explorer would drive there itself if it were possible. This morning I had to take Joseph's medicine to school because he forgot it. Or rather I forgot to hand him the bag. His teacher called to ask about it because she thought perhaps he was no longer taking it. There was also the very distinct possibility Joseph may have done something with it and she wanted to be sure we were all on the same page. After dropping it off at school, Lia and I went for a few groceries. When I came home I saw Kiana's pill lying on the table. She forgot to take her morning meds! I don't know how I missed seeing it before. I called to school and had the secretary ask Kiana's teacher if she would like me to bring it to school. I didn't hear back from her so things must be going okay. Monday morning I will make certain the correct meds go to school. 

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It is always nice to have something to blame my forgetfulness on! I did better when I had three babies and a preschooler....maybe I used all my brain cells and now I have a deficiency.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Yes, We Still Love You

    Kiana and Joseph have had a rough week and so have their parents!  Joseph had quite a few good days in a row last week (when his brain is doing what it is supposed to do instead of firing randomly) so we knew things were going to blow sooner or later.  We occasionally get to see glimpses of the little boy he would have been if he wouldn't have FASD when he has a good day and it hurts. 
     Lia has begun to pass him emotionally and intellectually on his lower functioning days. On his good days however, he is way ahead of her. 
   When he isn't functioning well, he cheerfully (sometimes) follows Lia's lead. She plans what they play and is the boss and Joseph does what she tells him to. On his good days however, he wants to be outside playing boy things and he is the one who bosses Lia around. You can imagine how well that goes down on her part. Suddenly the brother who is content to be the dad when they play house with their stuffed animals and play hide and seek with her, no longer wants to do those kinds of things, instead he is racing on his bike and digging for "war stuff" in the woods. He told me he is going to dig until he finds things from the war because one of his classmates found stuff. :)
   Kiana is sure we don't like her anymore and if for some reason we do like her, we will soon stop because she does naughty things. The fear drives her to quite the behavior, which had us baffled. I asked her if we love Tristan even though he..... or Joseph even when he does ...... and she said she knows we do but we might stop loving her. Seems we heard that line from her brother not so long ago. I asked her if she ever did anything naughty before or if this was the first time. She gave me an odd look and said she did lots of naughty things before. "Were they all little naughty things or were there some big things to?" I asked. She said she did some pretty big naughty things before so I asked if we had still loved her then. Kiana nodded and got a relieved look on her face. "So do you think I will stop loving you now" I asked. She shook her head and gave me a hug. A few minutes later she came to me and handed me this note.
                
These are the moments that make parenting children with trauma rewarding. When we can see them grasping that we really do love them and will love them no matter what. 
A funny quote from Joseph: "I am glad I am a Zimmerman because Zimmermans... at least most of them, know their nouns."

Monday, April 13, 2015

Lia


This young lady keeps life interesting. This morning she was outside playing while I was gathering dirty laundry. She yelled, "Mom, I have a bootifull surprise for you, Mom, where are you?" My bootifull surprise was a dead bird, which she laid on the table.  I threw it out and scrubbed her hands. Then I explained that touching dead birds can make you sick and she must not pick them up. She said, "It wasn't a bird mom, it was an eagle!" Don't touch dead eagle's either, I said. Then she changed her mind again, "It wasn't an eagle mom, it was a cuzzer (buzzard)." 

The kindergarden Sunday School class is held in the basement of our church. Yesterday Lia came running up from Sunday School and said in a loud whisper, "I lost my shoes, they are in the basement somewhere!" I found them under her chair in the classroom. That is what happens when I buy cheap shoes, they slip off of her feet and she leaves them lay.


The egg dance.... we have a lone hen that lays her eggs in our barn. Lia loves to check for eggs. Yesterday she told me there were two eggs but she didn't hold the one right and so it broke all over the ground.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

My Name Is Faith

    I just finished watching MY NAME IS FAITH.  I don't know what I expected to learn from the movie other than I was hoping it would be another resource  I could share with people who are parenting a child with RAD or those who say the parents are making a big deal about typical child hood behavior. My heart aches when I see or hear about a family who is coming apart at the seams because their child's trauma is more than they can handle.  
   My Name Is Faith  validated all of my feelings as a parent of a child diagnosed with RAD. One mom shares how she has turned into a person who has a very difficult time trusting people since adopting her child. 
Another mom said she has turned into someone she never would have dreamed she could be. She feels so angry and conflicted inside.
   One of the counselors at the camp Faith and her family attended said they have seen all kinds of parents, even those who do the unthinkable when their child has pushed them to far.
   I saw my pain flowing from a mom's eyes when her child was raging and wouldn't accept her love.
   I saw Braden's terror at bonding in the childrens eyes. They looked so scared and vulnerable but refused their parents help. 
    I know Nancy Thomas' therapeutic tactics are greatly disputed but I would recommend you watch it if for no other reason than to validate that YOU are not the one causing the conflict, it is your child's trauma. You need to give your child a voice so he can verbalize his pain. When he can verbalize it, he will be able to process what happened and you will have begun the road to healing.

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Cautiously Optimistic

What a morning! I took the children to school then went to the grocery store for ice cream. PVMS is having their annual pig roast fundraiser tonight and I said I would bring ice cream. Procrastinator that I am, I waited until the last minute to get it. 
   Joseph's eczema has gotten really bad again. His allergy doctor told me he wants to see Joseph the next time he has an out break because it didn't look very bad when he had his first appointment. I called the Denver/Stevens office before I went for groceries. They said they don't have any openings until April 20. I said forget it, the rash will have improved by then. The secretary told me I could try their Lancaster office perhaps they would have an opening today. I called and left a voice message, bought my ice cream, dropped it off at school, dropped several prescriptions off at the pharmacy and went to Garden of Eden for fresh veggies. While I was looking over the produce my phone rang, it was the doctors office, could I have Joseph at their Lancaster office by 10:30? I said I would do my best but couldn't promise since I didn't even know where their Lancaster office was! 
   I called Dean and asked him to get the address while I drove to school to pick up Joseph. Turns out, it wasn't in the city of Lancaster and we made it to the office a little after 10:00. When I checked in, the secretary informed me they were waiting for a consent from the insurance company (This is the doctor's office that we had insurance issues with before) and I shall just have a seat until they get the number. I thought, but didn't say that I was going to be very frustrated if I had brought Joseph in and then wouldn't be able to see the doctor.

             

  We waited awhile before they called us back to the exam room. Then waited at least another half hour before the doctor came. He was surprised at how bad Joseph's skin looked since we had done everything he recommended at Josephs previous appointment. We went over the past few days and I explained what all had happened stress wise and asked him if he is familiar with FASD. He told me I am enlightening him. Uh oh! He agreed that it was quite possible that Joseph is reacting to stress and said he will write a prescription for A---- can't remember what it was called but it is an antihistamine and anxiety med in one! 50 years ago it was used as an anti anxiety medication. So maybe we have found our answer! I don't want to get my hopes up to high but wouldn't it be wonderful if this medication, helped Joseph's anxiety AND his eczema? It would be almost to good to be true!

                                     



...we are bored so mom is taking pictures of us

  
I taught them a clapping game

   We waited another hour while he tried to get insurance stuff straightened out. Then ended up leaving when they still hadn't heard from the insurance company 2.5 hours after we arrived! 
   Lia and Joseph were beyond bored and I was picking my brain trying to keep them occupied while we waited. If we found something that will help, those three hours I planned to spend doing laundry and cleaning will have been well spent!

                                          

Yes, I bribed them with french fries if they did a good job while we waited. We stopped at Sonic and they wanted HOT DOGS of all things, so hot dogs it was!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Self Care Tips For Parents Of Traumatized Children

I asked my readers for their self care tips. Here are their responses, thanks for sharing!

-Run

- Leave the children with dad when he is home and go to town

- chatting with friends

- getting a massage

- receiving and encouragement gift, phone call or text

- week ends away with friends who "get it"

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- indulging in a special snack

- treating myself to a favorite coffee drink

- posting Bible verses throughout the house
- online support groups

- having a therapist for myself, someone who listens and can guide my hurting heart and help me see the truth

- putting my child to bed early so my husband and I can refuel
- eating healthy/drinking lots of water

- having a mentor

- sending my child to school even though homeschooling would help him bond.

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- having a hobby 

- I cut myself some slack. I cannot participate in some of the obligatory activities of the social world and that is ok.

- walking/exercising 

- I put my child in respite 

              don't forget to:
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