Monday, November 28, 2016


I joined up with EDUCENTS to bring you these special deals for CYBER MONDAY. Take advantage of the great prices to find toys and educational supplies for your home school or therapeutic items for your special needs child.  

Click on this link to access  these awesome deals!!!! 


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Loving Our Children

  When most of us entered the world of foster care and adoption we did so with an understanding of what we thought love looks like. We thought we knew how to love and nurture a child. We thought there was one correct way to parent, which was the way we had been brought up and the way our friends and family were bringing up their children.

  In this world of foster care and adoption however, love may take on a different appearance than we were used to.

 Love means helping our children bond. When a biological child enters the family, we think nothing of passing the child around for people to hold. We even let them give our child a bottle without giving it a second thought. But the children we bring into our homes need to learn who mom is, they need to learn that she is safe, that she will feed them and meet their needs. newborns need this as much as an older child. To do this, only mom or dad holds baby while in a crowd and only mom feeds him. This is a critical stage for a "new child." As foster and adoptive parents, we long to pass our baby around so others can snuggle and admire her. But we also know there is a lot at stake, we know that keeping our child in our arms equals stability and love for them.

 As they grow this same concept may need to be used. Some children attach and bond easily, others struggle for the rest of their life and as parents we need to keep that in mind. Loving them means we take in consideration where they are in the bonding process and parent them accordingly.

 Sometimes "our children" as I will refer to them in the remainder of this post, need to learn the hard way, just as all children do. However, some of our children come from places where they needed to be in control to survive, this can even apply to infants. These children learn best from immediate natural consequences. It can be hard to follow through with a consequence when you are not with in the confines of your home where everyone knows the rules and expects immediate action. Love can mean following through with a pre agreed upon sanction, even though it may make you as the parent look bad. Our children thrive on the knowing that mom and dad are going to do what they say.

Sometimes loving our children means we have to say no to the things we as parents would enjoy doing. Our social life at the moment consists of church, family night and a few other activities because that is what one of our children needs. Love means saying no when we want to say yes with all our hearts.

Love may mean placing our children somewhere where they will receive the help they need. 

Love means advocating for our children even though we tremble in our shoes at the thought of doing so. Especially when speaking up and questioning someone wiser than you was always something you avoided at all costs.

Love means holding your child close and assuring them of your love after they have called you every name in their limited and sometimes not so limited vocabulary.

Sometimes love means putting distance between you and someone who is hurting your family by their words and actions. May be they undermine you in front of your children or they may do it in more subtle ways. We would all like to be strong and say these comments don't affect the way we relate to our children, but we are human. Right now the most important thing is to meet your child's needs, not revamp your parenting so someone approves of you.

Sometimes you have to put distance between your family and a child who is being abusive. This is another form of love, although it might not look like it and it certainly won't feel like it! By not allowing the child to continue to mistreat your family as well as sparing siblings more abuse, you are showing love.

Sometimes loving our child means listening while he pour's out the pain in his heart. Hearing things like, "I wish I could live with my birth mom, cause I grew in her belly." Listening and empathizing when only moments before he was screaming and throwing things at you, is a form of love. 

And then there are times where love means forgiving and showing grace. Our children are familiar with grace. If you ask them what is means they will say something like, "Not getting a consequence even though you deserve one." 

  "Sometimes LOVE looks and feels like anything but LOVE.  However if you search long enough, buried deep beneath what anyone else can see, is... LOVE!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Updates, Memories And An Educents Sale

Three years ago today, my sister and I were leaving to pick B up at TAP for his first home visit. I remember how nervous I was. 

For one, I was making the 3 hour drive myself for the first time, driving on 6 lane highways was a new experience for me! 

Also I was terrified Dean and I would somehow undo the progress B made at TAP. For the first time we were getting a glimpse of the little boy hidden beneath the pain and trauma. That little boy was a lovable little chap, one I could easily bond with and I was so scared we would do something to send him back into hiding.

  I am glad we couldn't see into the future. The few home visits B had that were a success were enough to show us he could heal and that we were not doing anything that was "making him this way." Which as anyone who has parented a child with RAD will tell you, is exactly what we fear...that this child's problems are somehow our fault.

 Joseph had a rough day on Sunday. We have no idea what happened. Things were getting scrambled on their way from his brain to his mouth and hands. Monday I was called into school twice because he was melting down. Thankful for friends who can take Lia on the spur of the moment while I go to school. This same friend served us lunch when I returned from the first meltdown, what a blessing!

  Yesterday I spent the afternoon with 15 energetic 5 and 6 year old's. I signed up to be the class mom for Kindergarten as I naively thought my life would be less hectic when my children were all in school. It was a joy watching their excited faces as we played games. They are so vibrant, enjoying life to the fullest. I took my camera along but it never made it out of my purse! Yet another friend took it upon herself to make supper for us. The food was delicious and it was another reminder that God cares, because yesterday afternoon was anything but peaceful around here so we probably would have had a frozen pizza. 


                  Kiana's class made these cute turkeys at their Thanksgiving party. 

Notice the sparkle in her eye's? It is coming back!!!! We are thanking God for antibiotics! While she still has a long way to go, she is certainly making progress. I no longer cringe when I ask her to do a chore, she plays nicely with Lia again and the screaming has pretty much gone away. Our little girl is coming back again!

Kobi waiting for the school children to come home. every afternoon around 3:15 he climbs up on the stump to wait for them.

I joined up with an educational group called educents. They have toys/learning aids for home schooling as well as special needs children. Check them out, they have some awesome sales going on right now.


*contains affiliate links

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Because Love Is Not Enough

    Before I took Joseph to Geisinger they requested his medical records from the pediatrician. There were copies from his previous evaluations included in the records they received and those records contained information on B because his diagnosis played into what Joseph was facing.

The nurse was clarifying family information and she simply couldn't figure out how B played into this.

"So B is Joseph's brother?"


"Does he live with you?"
"No, he lives with another family?"

"Okay, so you have Tristan, B, Kiana and Lia living with you?"

"No, B doesn't live with us."

"I am confused, it says in Joseph's records that you have a child named B living with you..."

"B is Joseph's bio brother and he used to live with us but due to xyz he was readopted by another family. So Joseph's records are correct but B no longer lives with us."

"Oh, okay."

I know she didn't mean anything by her questions, she was naturally confused but having to explain the how and why kicked my PTSD into full gear.

  Yesterday I had brunch with a lady I met via my blog. She was in the area and took the time to meet with me. Her story is somewhat similar to ours so even though we were virtual strangers, we could have talked much longer than the almost 2 hours we had until I had to pick Lia up at my sister.

I was sharing about B and how when we got into foster care our goal was to lessen some of the pain in this world but when we disrupted B's adoption it felt as though we were adding pain and loss.

  This dear lady said, "You know when a birth mom relinquishes her child because she cannot provide for it, we speak of the great love she has for her child. She put her child's needs before her desires, that takes love. Is it any different than what you did for B? You could have kept him even though you knew finding him a new home was what was best for him. You did what was best for him because love was not enough to bring him healing."

  "You have the unique perspective of being an adoptive mom as well as giving a child up because you couldn't meet his needs."

 I needed to hear that, her words helped create another layer of healing. I know I have said it before, but sometimes I am amazed at how much healing has taken place while other times I wonder if the hurt will ever go away. I have a feeling it won't, there will always be a dull ache when we think of B, the death of our hopes and dreams for him and the pain involved in relinquishing a child.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Joseph's Appointment At Geisinger & Life At Our House

Keep calm and fill out the next form....  a quote regarding the many forms adoptive parents have to fill out.

  After today I realized I would do well to add things like my child's birth date and the name of his psychiatrist to his medical folder. I don't know what the poor folks at Geisinger thought when they asked me supposedly simple question's and I drew blanks time after time. 

  I remember when B was the only child I took to this type of appointment and I had all his information on the tip of my tongue. Now I tend to give information about the wrong child and forget basic facts. The doctor wants to do some genetic testing before we pursue anything further for Joseph. We spent four hours on the road for a 1 hour appointment and I came home feeling weary....it's been a long week!

Joseph didn't complain about another appointment, after all he got to miss school AND we stopped for lunch!

When a friend stops by with iced coffee and GF cookies, you feel blessed!

I need some tips on how to get a child to eat breakfast before school. Lia has always eaten breakfast around mid morning, something I couldn't change. It wasn't a problem but now that she goes to school it is, I hate sending her out the door with an empty stomach. I have begun packing a sandwich which she eats at first break.

The other day while shopping, the lady in line behind us at the check out asked if she could buy Lia a treat. I said that would be fine and she told Lia to choose something off the candy rack. Lia was one happy girl!

Joseph drew this picture for me. His latest passion is drawing and coloring. When the children come home from school they have a snack then go to their room for 20 minutes of quiet time. Having quiet time was Dean's idea when he heard what my afternoon's were like, thankfully it is working! After quiet time Joseph usually gets a piece of paper, a pen and a few crayons and begins drawing.

Keep praying for Kiana and her mom n dad. After we finished eating tonight I quietly told Dean that it almost seems as if Kiana is already responding to the antibiotics. I should have kept quiet, she had an "episode" tonight, PANDA speak for a full on meltdown. I am reminded of the song, "One day at a time sweet Jesus, that's all I am asking of you...." except that I might change it to one moment at a time!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A New Diagnosis = Renewed Hope

   Thanks to everyone who has been praying for Kiana these past weeks. Yesterday I took her to the doctor and she thinks Kiana may have something called PANDAS, which is an autoimmune disorder. When a person contacts strep, their body produces antibodies to fight against it. Sometimes these antibodies attack the brain which results in neuropsychiatric behaviors. Kiana is being treated with antibiotics at this point. If she truly does have PANDAS she will develop symptoms every time she is in contact with strep, so it isn't a once and done thing. There can be many complications but we are hopeful that the antibiotics will help her this time around and we leave the future in God's hands. 

   I was praying for answers for Kiana while researching ways to help her/what could be causing her symptoms. In a trauma forum someone mentioned PANDAS and on a whim I looked it up. The symptoms people shared sounded so very familiar and we felt like there might be a way made after all. When I took Kiana to the doctor I wasn't sure how to ask the doctor if strep were a possibility (at this point the PANDAS diagnosis is still very controversial) when I explained what we were seeing in Kiana the doctor said, "Did you ever hear of PANDAS?" I felt God smiling down and reassuring me, "I have this, just trust me." 

   Tomorrow is Joseph's appointment at Geisinger. I was told to expect the appointment to last several hours so today I am taking it easy in preparation. I also spent sometime organizing his file. I have a plastic binder for each of our children and I store their test results, doctor visit reports as well as the papers from their neuropsych evaluations in them so I have everything at my finger tips when I go to these appointments. I have included doctor and pharmacy phone numbers as well as addresses. Keeping things organized is the only way I can keep track of everything. 



Thursday, November 10, 2016

Loving Our Children By Making Them Responsible For Their Actions

I am back! We didn't fall off the face of the earth as some may have supposed, nor did we hightail it for unhinhabited lands as I have have been sorely tempted to do from time to time. Instead, life happened and then the computer crashed, plus I didn't know how to write this post. In hindsight I shouldn't have promised to share the "new parenting techniques" we have recently imposed. I don't mind sharing what we are doing but in order to explain I need to share some stories and I was not quite sure how to do that in a discreet way. 

   It all began in August when one of our children lost a family member, then school started, then October arrived (the month that is full of trauma for our family) things were snowballing. Dean and I realized we need to get some help because we sensed we were losing our children's hearts, something that is awful for any parent but when you have had a child with RAD it brings a whole new level of fear and terror into your heart. We were ready to do whatever it takes to get back on track but nothing helped. One day God brought this book to my attention. I ordered it only half hopeful that it would make a difference but remember I was grasping at straws!

  I read it and quickly realized my mistake was that I was caring to much! Simply put, I was carrying both sides of the relationship while my child orchestrated my every response. She had me over the barrel so to speak and what child won't take advantage of such a situation? She knew I wanted a relationship with her. The level of control she had over me and our relationship made her feel both powerful and fearful. Powerful because she was in control and fearful because deep down she knew if mom wasn't strong enough to make her mind, neither was mom strong enough to handle her big fears and emotions.

  And I was falling for it! I was talking with her when she didn't want to hear what I had to say. I was nurturing her which she didn't accept because she was in control. I was doing all the hard work of maintaining our relationship while she lashed and raged in response, making me work harder.

 I should have known better, but my excuse is that I am human.

So I made her responsible for her actions, by allowing her to bear the brunt of the result of her choices. Plus I required her to carry her half of the relationship.

The other morning she failed to obey and still hadn't done so when the school van arrived. Other mornings she would go out the door still very angry with me and her fellow passengers bore the brunt of her anger and fear. Remember, children will always strive to gain the upper hand but they don't feel safe when they succeed. 

   Of course she was anything but happy with me when I told her she cannot go to school until she does what I told her to. When she realized I was not going to do what I usually do, which is talk and help her understand what she is feeling emotionally and why, she got quiet.

 Then she tried to get me to scold her. If I would have scolded her,  she could have retaliated and perhaps drawn me into a verbal sparring match. Instead I just smiled (not in a cynical or unkind way) and agreed with her.

"I am going to be late for school!"
"Yes you are."
"Take me!"
I wasn't planning to go to school today."
"How am I going to get there?"
"You are smart, I am sure you will figure out a way."

An hour later she came quietly to me and said, "Mom, what shall I do?" She was in control of her emotions. She wasn't angry, best of all she was ready to listen, she wanted mom to help her.

 I told her she has two options, she can do some chores for me to pay me for the time it will take me to take her to school or she can make some phone calls and see if she can find someone who would be able to drive her.

"I am not calling anyone, that is your job!" She exclaimed.

"That's okay if you don't want to call anyone, I don't mind which option you choose," I said and calmly walked away.

   She chose to do chores and life has been much more peaceful ever since. We have been using the same technique for all the children to some extent or another. Of course you have to take into consideration their mental abilities among other things.

 Yesterday Joseph was debating whether or not to obey me when I told him it was time to put his toys away. Kiana looked at him and said, "You better would or mom will make you pay her back with chores!" She wasn't angry, she was stating a fact. 

   I fell into the ditch alongside the road of trauma parenting. I was working so hard to make our relationship work but forgetting that a relationship is two sided. I was working too hard and not requiring anything of my daughter and this was unhealthy for both of us. I was going easy on her because of her past trauma, something that is sometimes necessary but this time she needed to be held accountable for her actions.

  Making her responsible for her actions took the frustration of being solely responsible for our relationship off my shoulders. Nor was I trying to keep her happy to avoid a tantrum, which left me with the energy to be empathetic and loving.

   Is this the answer to all of our parenting struggles? Not by a long shot, but it has certainly helped. Before you implement the idea of making your child responsible for their actions, please read the book because I feel as though I have done a poor job portraying what the author has so eloquently put into words.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Triggers, Trauma And Life

  Parenting children with trauma creates traumatized parents.

Our children have been struggling with school this year prompting many phone calls and texts from their teachers asking for advice. If you are one of my children's teachers, thanks for calling it is what we want you to do, nevertheless hearing my phone ring is traumatic. The other day Dean went hunting for awhile before going to work. He had his phone lying on the counter and he kept receiving texts. I jumped and my adrenaline started pumping each time it made a sound. Panic set in and I immediately began wondering which child was struggling. Telling myself to calm down because it wasn't even my phone made no difference. 

   The other evening I was listening to a webinar by Deborah Gray on, Practical Tips For Disciplining While Maintaining Attachment. She said something that grabbed my attention. Our mornings have been anything but peaceful and sending my children out the door to school with unresolved issues is partly why I jump so badly when my phone rings.

 "Sometimes a child will act out to create a distance between you and him emotionally because he knows he will soon have to say good bye. When he creates the distance by acting out, he feels more in control." This is a brief paraphrase of what Deborah explained in detail.

   Kiana acts very much like a child with RAD on school mornings. She is nasty, defiant, disobedient and irritable, nothing I do makes a difference. I have tried loving her, ignoring her, kissing her hand so she has a kiss to take to school, putting notes in her lunch, talking to her and holding her among multitudes of other things. Nothing has made a bit of difference. I was certain there was something behind it and she had a list of reasons but none of them seemed to be quite the right answer.

   I am almost certain that Kiana is actively putting up a wall of anger and defiance because she cannot bear the thought of leaving. Leaving has always been a trigger for her, so this makes sense. Now that I know what is going on, I feel better equipped to handle the situation. I need to be kind, gentle and loving besides being proactive in finding ways to alleviate her anxiety. I find having things to try and knowing why my child acts as he does goes a long way in reducing my stress.

I received this book to preview. It is written by an adoptee who gives a glimpse into her world, while affirming adoptive parents and giving constructive criticism.

Lia made this lamb at school. 

My cheerful dish dryer. Joseph's teacher was sick one day this week so I kept him home. He wasn't sure which is harder doing school work or helping mom. :)

Friday, November 4, 2016

DIY Weighted Animal

     Last week there was a video on FB showing how to make a soft dog chew toy into a weighted lap animal for your sensory seeking child. I immediately ordered an animal from my favorite online store. the tutorial said to stuff the toy with small pebbles but I decided to use the beads I used to make weighted blankets for my children. I thought the beads would be a bit more user friendly for my little people since they are prone to throw things when they are upset.

 You can watch the video here: DIY Lap Weight

You take an unstuffed dog chew toy, fill a few small plastic bags with pebbles making sure to duct tape the bags tightly closed before stuffing them inside the animal and tada! You have a cute weighted lap animal.

  As with many things, it isn't quite that simple. For one you will want to make sure you use a very sturdy chew toy, the one I ordered was so thin it already had some seams coming open. I want to try it using a teddy bear or other sturdy stuffed animal such as one from Build A Bear. The suggested toys are fairly small making it difficult to make it heavy enough, however if you use rocks/pebbles like the tutorial suggests it would be easier to reach the desired weight.

  I tried putting the beads in bags like the tutorial suggested but it made the animal feel very bulky. I poured the beads inside and sewed the velcro opening tightly closed.

  Despite those things, it is an awesome idea. When Lia held the finished toy she said, "It feels like it is real!" I know Joseph will enjoy holding it, plus it is much cheaper and easier to make than a weighted blanket. 

*post contains affiliate links

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Keep Trying And Maybe The Shoe Will Fit

  Our children like most human's, get in a rut from time to time. The rut of using the same ineffective method over and over when trying to conquer a problem.

  Dean and I fall into the rut of either too much structure and not enough nurture or vice versa. We know better but our human weaknesses get in the way.

   One evening Dean was trying to impress upon a certain child that when life is hard, alienating people and lashing out will not solve the problem. A hard lesson for anyone, much less a child.

He gave the child one of his work boots and said, "Put my boot on and see if it fits." The child of course was adamant that it would be too big.

  "Keep putting it on, maybe it will eventually fit," he encouraged.

   The child looked at him and said, "Putting the shoe on will not make it fit! It doesn't matter how often I try!!!!"

   "Don't you think it is the same thing when you hurt people to try to take away the hurt you feel in your heart?" Dean asked.

  The child admitted that getting angry and lashing out wasn't fixing the hurt.

  "How about you try something different," Dean suggested, "You can ask mom and dad to help you, then you wouldn't have to carry this hurt all by yourself."

  This analogy didn't solve the problem but if someone in the family gets stuck making the same poor choice, ourselves included, Dean or I can be counted on to say, "Maybe we should try on one of dad's shoes....." and the guilty party promptly gets the point. The comment doesn't always solve the problem but it does get people thinking.

The picture which prompted this post.