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I picked up the pen and began to write.

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After taking a break for the last two years, I have decided to return to my blog (among other related projects on the horizon). Why did I stop? Well, life. Specifically my children’s lives.

The last two years offered up many challenges. The details are not my stories to share. I was in the trenches with them, barely able to come up for air. I am grateful for an amazing life partner, and friends that showed up offering their hearts, time and relief from the chaos.

Trauma is a peculiar thing, it manifests in people differently. Trauma is contagious. Whether it’s second hand trauma, or it awakens buried trauma from the past, one does not live with someone(s) with PTSD without experiencing it.

What have I learned in the last 2 years? I have learned that there is absolutely nothing I wouldn’t do for my children. I have learned that no matter what they do, how empty my cup is, my love for them still grows. Sometimes slowly, but it’s always moving forward with them.

After gaining weight, eating bad, and generally not taking care of myself, I learned self care is not just important, but critical, and required of caregivers. Compassion fatigue is real.

Mostly though, I have learned all about the brain. I have devoured anything trauma related. I went back to school  and earned a certificate in holistic mental health. I spent 32 hours in trauma-focused parenting classes.

At one point our family was in therapy 14 hours a week. This does not include alternative therapies that we were involved in. But, the truth in that, is that we were getting help. When other Moms were shuffling their kids between dance and karate, I was shuffling between IEP meetings, therapy and  trauma-focused classes.

I joined facebook groups looking for support and answers. I learned what resources were hard to come by, and which resources were non-existent for parents.

We made big changes, this included tightening our circle of friends. Letting go of relationships that no longer served our family. We created new habits, and let go of old.

Our lives are calmer now. Healing will do that.  Looking forward, we still have a lot of work to do. This isn’t a quick-fix, and this is a life long journey. We still don’t have all the answers, but we uncovered enough to find a little peace, and let go of the chaos.

Welcome to the next chapter on our journey.

Turn! Turn! Turn!
The Byrds, Words-adapted from The Bible, book of Ecclesiastes
Music-Pete Seeger

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too lat

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I Have a Dream!

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Every year we celebrate Martin Luther King day with a baking project. We go out to the chicken coop and get a few white eggs and a few brown eggs. We talk about diversity and how on the inside the eggs are exactly the same, and the birthday cake we bake with these eggs is still just as sweet!

Last year we made cookies and decorated those instead of making a birthday cake. We ate a few, then we visited the fire station and police station to give plates of cookies to those that work to help protect us everyday.

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This year, our chickens have slowed down with producing eggs and I decided to come up with a different lesson. I used a mixture of red and green apples for applesauce  in the same way I used different colored eggs for the birthday cake. The kids enjoyed it, and we took our time coloring pictures, and watching videos of MLK Jr.

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This year was even sweeter, because 50 years ago, Dr. King stood on those Washington DC steps and said “I have a dream….”, today we watched President Obama stand on those same steps and accept the responsibility of his 2nd term as our US President. Happy Birthday Martin Luther King Jr.!

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“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”- Martin Luther King Jr.

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They Came Upon a Midnight Clear

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It was the Friday before Christmas (just 4 days away). I was rushing around getting ready to go to D&L’s Christmas performance and party for school when I got THE CALL. Even though we have been preparing for over a year, how can you really be ready? Boy? Girl? How many? Ages?

It was a 5 year old boy, T and his 2.5 year old bio-sister Bug. We accepted. Not much was known, and our usual case workers were on their way out of town to celebrate the holidays. At 3:30 they brought them to us…two sleeping angels. Little bug didn’t move from the couch for over several hours, her sadness filled the room.

I can’t imagine what these two little people were going through. To be taken from their family just days before Christmas, and put into a home that smells different, sounds different, the food is different, rules are different…NOTHING is familiar.

We spent the first night eating frozen yogurt, looking at Christmas lights and getting acquainted with each other.

By the end of this first day we saw smiles and heard laughter…everything is going to work out just like it’s supposed to.

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The Gift of Memories

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When L & D were toddlers, like most kids they had a difficult time with the concept of time….”Is my Birthday tomorrow?”… “Are we going on vacation today?”… “When is Santa coming?”.  So early on I came up with an idea to help them figure out time through visual cues.  At Christmas I strung a line of mittens. I filled each mitten with a surprise, much like an advent calendar. Each day we took down a mitten and opened the surprise. This was also a great tool when they were learning to count.

In the past years, I have mostly added candy or a small toy to the mitten. I am not a big fan of candy or using candy as a prize or gift, there are so many more options available. With that said, I despise all the little plastic, useless toys that fit perfectly into the mittens.

As a parent, I am learning and correcting my parenting skills, approach and traditions constantly. But, the one thing that has held steady is my philosophy, goals, morals and beliefs that I feel is important fort them to learn.

The commercialism of the holidays saddens me.  I have never participated in the madness of Black Friday.  I love that time with my family too much to waste it, just to get a ‘good deal’.  A few years ago, as an antidote to Black Friday, I chose that day to stay home with L&D and use that time to make presents for friends and family. L&D now look forward to this.

This year I am challenging myself with the ‘garland of mittens’. There will not be candy or cheap toys. This year, only memories. Each day L&D will open the mitten to find a new adventure, that brings us closer, and and adds to our treasure of family memories. After all, When they are adults, will they say “oh I remember that chocolate kiss, that was such a memorable moment”, I doubt it. But I hope they will say “I remember driving through the neighborhood, sipping hot coco and looking at the lights with my family”.

I challenge you to do the same with your family, whether you have small children, grandchildren or just a partner that brings you joy…take this time to create some great memories.

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A Day to be Thankful

 I am big on tradition. I love hearing traditions that other parents have adopted, and adapting them to fit into our family. I have said it before, but it’s worth repeating, that I think traditions built on love and instilling values is the glue to our family.  With that said, Thanksgiving is a big one in our home.  There is no mention of Pilgrims or Indians (unless you count the Indian headdress Lola made in school, and has been wearing the last week. but even that is her “Mayan Princess Hat”).  What we do celebrate is a day to be thankful, a day of gratitude to come together to eat our favorite foods, and enjoy each other over a long meal. We give thanks to the farmers, and farm workers that grow our food all year, and buy as much local food as possible.  Our menu does not contain turkey, as a matter of fact there is no mention of turkey at our table at all.  I usually make tamales, everything else is the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, except for the addition of Yucca con Mojo.

The kids favorite part of Thanksgiving is building our “Thankful Tree”.  This is so easy, and it really helps everyone to think about all we have to be thankful for. The tree trunk can be made out of a paper bag. The leaves are made by tracing our hands and cutting them out. Different color construction paper works best, but paper bags can be used as well. Each day in November, we make a new leaf and write down what we are thankful for. When Thanksgiving arrives, this is what we have.

 

Another tradition that I started the first year L&D were home is our tablecloth. I bought just a basic white table-cloth, and each year we add our names, handprints, drawings…whatever we want to it. We usually do this in colored pencil, then I go over it in fabric marker, that way I can throw it in the wash, but all the drawings are still there.  I then try to embroidery each new signature in time for the following Thanksgiving, but since that doesn’t always happen, at least the name is saved with permanent pen. There are a few red wine stains (and I am sure a few more to come) but this just adds to the appeal.

Something new I added this year, is our Homemade Friday.  It makes me sad that the commercialism and buy-buy-buy ethic surrounding the months of November and December has reached such a frenzy. Instead, the day after Thanksgiving (also known as Black Friday) has become a chill day for our family. We bake, listen to music and make Christmas crafts. I have always had the kids sit down and make Christmas gifts for friends and family each year. This offers them the benefit of knowing the joy of giving. They are always so proud of the gifts that they make.  We also take them around our neighborhood and give them to our neighbors. So when so many are  rushing around the stores buying up the best deals in town, I know that we are creating a lifetime of priceless memories!