Friday, January 29, 2016

Snowstorms, Stress and Swings

A cup of milk before bed

Is it possible the cold snowy weather was affecting them?

How many stethoscopes does one doctor need?

We have been struggling to regain lost ground the past week. The snowstorm triggered a lot of anxiety especially since Dean was gone all day Sunday plowing snow. 

When bedtime rolled around and daddy wasn't home the behaviors went through the roof. I should have seen it coming, but I totally missed it.

 Kiana was beyond reasoning and I wouldn't tell me what was wrong. After awhile she asked if I was sure daddy would come home. Then I knew what was troubling her so I called Dean and he told her good night and gave her a kiss through the phone. He promised her he would come home and he would give her another kiss before he went to bed. That was all it took to stop the tears and defiance.
Lia and Joseph couldn't verbalize their feelings but having their schedule messed up played havoc with their security. 

Kiana is struggling with loving me and her birth mom. She doesn't think she can be loyal to her birth mom and love me at the same time. I can't imagine how confusing it must be for her. While one part of me empathizes with her, my human side gets frustrated with the blatant disobedience and defiance she throws at me.

This morning I read an article Toxic Stress and I realized anew why my children react so strongly to situations that are merely a blip on the radar for most children. It also explains why their reactions to these situations create such huge reactions in me. I strongly encourage you to read this article it is excellent, explaining things in layman's language so we can understand it. 

Kiana spinning in circle's on the swing, a great sensory activity. I can't even watch her, it makes me too dizzy but she loves it.
Our swing is a cheap hammock that we bought and tied the ends together and attached to a beam.

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

This Week In Pictures

Friends are such a blessing. I sent a text asking for prayer one day when things weren't going so well. Half an hour later, I heard a knock at my door, there was my friend with flowers and a frappuccino!  I am blessed!

The girls dressed up in Deans hunting clothing. 

This is how I found the girls when I went to wake Kiana for school one morning.

Dean attached a plow to the trail wagon, just in time to plow snow! When Tristan came home from school yesterday, one of his jobs was to fill the wood box. Kobi likes to ride along.

When it snows Joseph plays Lego's. 

It is snowing and blowing

This fire feels wonderful today. There isn't anything as cozy as a wood fire when it is snowing and blowing outside. I have chili simmering on the stove so it is ready when Dean and Tristan come in from plowing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

An Inch Of Tears

     Recently a friend loaned me a stack of books to read, among them was the book Forgiven, by Terri Roberts. Terri is the mother of Charles Roberts, the man who was responsible for shooting several school girls in Nickle Mines, Pennsylvania a number of years ago. 

     Terri writes about the grief counselor Cheri, who helped them work through the trauma of this experience. I found healing in the words Cheri shared, "You will cry buckets of tears. Right now your buckets are full to overflowing, and nothing has to happen for those tears to flow, but that will gradually subside. It is not that tears will not continue to come. But in time those buckets will no longer be full. Over time, as the level of tears goes down, you'll find more resilience in life, but there will always be an inch of tears in the bottom of the bucket."

      "An inch of tears in the bottom of the bucket," what a perfect description of grief and loss. I think I cry easier now than I ever have in my life. The "inch of tears in the bucket of my heart," overflow without warning. Tears are healing though, there is something about crying that cleanses the heart. They act as a type of relief valve when the pain reaches a certain level.

    I have really been struggling since B left, most of the time I didn't have words to describe what I was feeling although guilt, relief and loss were the main three. After a row of "good days" I awoke one morning with a feeling of heaviness and sorrow. I figured it was just going to be one of those days where I was going to have to put forth extra effort to stay on top of things. That evening Dean asked me if I remembered the date. I didn't, so he reminded me that it was B's birthday. Now the heavy feeling made sense! Of course the tears came, but they felt so good. I cried for the loss of B, for the years of pain and because we weren't able to help him but when the "inch of tears in my bucket" were dried up, I felt much better.

    As I thought about B and the sadness I felt but couldn't quite place earlier in the day, I had to think of my children. When they have big feelings, we try so hard to figure out what is behind it all. Sometimes we come up empty handed and I will admit it can be frustrating trying to help a child figure out what is bothering them, only to put them to bed with the issue unresolved. Being triggered and not knowing why was a good lesson for me, there isn't always a visible answer for the big feelings. Sometimes it is best to cry with your children and tuck them into bed, then pray for a better tomorrow. Other times you have to tuck them in and go have a good cry by yourself because they don't want you around.

 "Tears are how our heart speaks when our lips cannot describe how much we've been hurt."

"Nothing is more beautiful than a real smile that has struggled through tears."

"Rain falls because the clouds can no longer handle the weight. Tears fall because the heart can no longer handle to pain."

A women did a study on tears, she found that different tears have different "shapes." You can read the full article here. Who but our great God, could create something so small with such great detail!
Tears from laughing until crying
tears from laughing until crying

Tears of change
tears of change

Tears of grief
tears of grief

Tears from onions
tears from onions

Faith 'n Friends Blog Hop

Saturday, January 16, 2016


Joseph's speech is typical of those FASD. He likes to use big words and it is amazing how often he uses them in the correct context beings he has no idea what the words mean. 
  He has difficulty finding the correct words for things, for instance, mayonnaise is sometimes called white ketchup.
    Sometimes he will say something and when I comment he will look at me with an odd expression because he didn't know he was talking.
  Here is an example of the mental workout we experience when carrying a conversation with Joseph:

While doing lessons...
   "We got mixed up and I did the wrong page so the teacher said I don't have to do anything." Since Joseph is smart enough to try to get out of work, I looked through his papers to see if I could figure out what he needed to do.
   "I think you are supposed to do these two pages," I told him.
   "No, we did the wrong one so now I have to do this one."
   I showed him the correct pages again and he said, "I know that mom, that is what I was trying to tell you!" 

  "Did you buy paint when we were at the store?"    "Oh, I thought you said you need to get more paint and I didn't want you to get it on my new floor."  

   "I need to go catch my snot." (Excuse the term)

 The boys were dressing for school one morning when Tristan reported that Joseph was talking about shooting. 
  "I am not! I didn't say anything!" Joseph shouted.
   "I heard you talking Joseph," I said, "Why don't you take your shoes to the family room to put them on and Tristan don't worry about it."
   Joseph was furious, "You are saying things that aren't true about me and I feel like you don't like me anymore!" He cried. 
   "Joseph it's okay, I wasn't scolding you," I told him. 
   "But you said I was pretending to shoot and I wasn't!" He retorted. So now he is upset with me because he says I believe something that isn't true.

  Joseph:  Someone at school said there are diamonds in lava.
  Me: Maybe he got mixed up
  Joseph: Maybe he meant hurricanes

  Did you know that old people look dead when they close their eyes? I learned it when I saw old people. 

Joseph: Thomas Walker, was he there?
Me: Where?
Joseph: At church the preacher said he will worship with us."

While looking at a fact book, Joseph said, "Mom, why would the average person spend three years on the toilet? I explained that it meant over their whole life.
   "That would still be a long time to sit!"

"If you make me say the thing I don't want to say then I won't say the thing I should say...Or what did you say?"

"Four more hoops then I am ready!"

"You may NOT be funnier than I am!"

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

How To Support Your Child With FASD In Elementary Years

Image result for iceberg

     I saw a picture of an iceberg on FB and my first thought was, "What and apt description of parenting a child with FASD/RAD/AD." 
   Most of these children look perfectly normal and when you see the supports put in place, you may wonder if they are necessary.
   What you don't see are the invisible disabilities that are hiding under the surface. 
   Another thing to remember is, the child may be doing well because of the supports. Take his props away, and you will catch a glimpse of what lies beneath the surface.
    We have put many supports in place to help our children, especially Joseph. We all need supports that are unique to our needs.

  We keep Joseph in line of sight all the time. He needs an adult to be his external brain. Someone to guide him, question him before he acts and so on. We can see how he interacts and coach him on the correct way to relate to his peers and siblings.

      Recently we have rearranged his school schedule. We have a one to one teacher/child ratio and already we can see a difference in Joseph. His teacher is able to keep him regulated, something that is next to impossible in a mainstream classroom. Staying regulated is the key to more freedom for Joseph. Last night it snowed and he played outside with the other children for 15 minutes without having a meltdown! What was even more amazing was that Dean and I weren't outside with him. We could easily see him through the patio doors but we didn't have to be right by his side! 

    We have an alarm on Joseph's bed so we know if he gets up at night. We use it for naps and times that he needs to be in a safe place while I do something like make private phone call. We are working on his new bedroom. A room where he can have all his toys and play safely without the temptation of getting into his brothers things. Before we installed the alarm, Joseph found his big brothers toys to tempting to leave alone. Inevitably things got broken sometimes accidentally and sometimes they were in Josephs way when he was upset.

    We hold Joseph's hand in public places because we don't trust him to stay with us. He is like a toddler, they don't walk very fast until you have your back turned, then they vanish in a moment. The thought of all the unsafe people out in the world and my vulnerable little boy who has no stranger danger at all, is scary. 

    I bought him an Emergency Alert Me Band in case he does get lost. I don' know how helpful it would be but this way I know I am doing all I can.

    We don't have a 504 or IEP for Joseph but the school/teachers are aware of his struggles and are working with him accordingly. Joseph attends a small private school which makes it easier for us to work closely with his teachers.

   He receives OT once a week and it has done wonders for him. His therapist is amazed at the progress he made in the past months. There are many services out there for our children, unfortunately sometimes it can be a struggle to attain them.

   Many children with FASD also have SPD to some extent. Joseph likes his beads and weighted blanket. There are a lot of tips and ideas for children to get their sensory needs met on P*nterest.

    For those of you with children prenatally exposed to alcohol, I found an awesome website. You can find it here. I haven't had a chance to listen to all of the webinars but the few I have listened to were excellent. 

  What supports do you have in place for your prenatally exposed child?


Friday, January 8, 2016

Lia and Joseph, Best Friends and Worst Enemies

      We have revamped Josephs school schedule which means he spends more time at home. It also means my two youngest have more time to argue. Joseph has the largest vocabulary but Lia knows how to use the words she has to her benefit. 

   The argument of the morning was, "Did Baby Jesus cry?" Joseph says no. Remember the song Away In A Manger says, "No crying he makes." Lia says he did cause when we went to Journey To Bethlehem, the baby filling in for Baby Jesus cried. They were both right and both wrong but neither could understand the others point of view.

     Joseph likes to play farm with his tractors and Lia likes to play doctor. Both children wanted their sibling to play with them. I tried having them play one thing for awhile and then switching but that wasn't very successful.
    Joseph tried to butter Lia up by asking her to help him with his United States puzzle, which Lia did. He even showed her the equator around the United States. :) Each state on the puzzle has picture's of things the state produces or is known for. The children were discussing which places they would like to visit. I heard Joseph say to Lia, "You want to go to Texas? That is where they catch wild bulls and pull milk from them!"

    When they were finished with the puzzle she told him, "Now let's go play doctor."
      He said, "If you come back to my bedroom and help me get my tractors, I will let you pick one to play with."
      "If you play doctor, you can be the sick person and I will give you candy for pills," was her counter offer.
    Neither was persuaded to join the other so I told Joseph to get a book and Lia to doctor her doll.

      This morning Joseph complained that his foot was hurting. He often has aches and pains when he wakes up so I wasn't alarmed. He came to me and said, "Mom, I wish I could chop my toe, no my whole foot off but I can't."
   I played along and asked him why not.
   "Because Tristan read a story about a man who had only one foot and he died."
   Guess that would be a logical reason to keep ones foot. :)

            I found a big bag of Thanksgiving Foam art at a local discount store. It kept these little folk occupied for awhile.

This quote sums up Lia and Joseph's relationship quite well!
 Image result for sibling quotes

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Getting To Know You Adoption Talk Link Up

   I am joining the first adoption talk of the year, entitled Getting To Know You.  Here is the link if you wish to contribute a blog post in the future.

 Hi, I am mom to four wonderful little people. One by birth three by adoption. We dove into foster care head first. Our bio son was 4 when we received Kiana who was our first placement. She was an adorable little girl with a head full of curly hair. We fell in love with her. Her case was an easy one and we felt we had this whole foster thing down pat so we took in two little boys, Joseph 6 months and B 17 months. Kiana was 8 months at the time so it was sort of like having triplets. Tristan at four took to being a big brother like a duck to water. In 2012 we received another placement, a little sister for Kiana. Lia was doted on by her big brothers and sister, who thought it was wonderful to have a baby in the house.
      Our journey through foster care hasn't been easy our children suffer from the trauma they experienced in their early years but in spite of it all, we can say we are blessed. 
      Sadly B, who came to us at 17 months and whom we later adopted no longer lives with us. He faced huge challenges, way beyond what we could safely and fully meet with four other children in our home. We worked with an agency to find him a family that could give him what he needed, without those things his future looked very dark.