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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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LEGO my EGO

One of the things I have been able to take advantage of, are the classes offered on adoption, behavior and various coping skills that we can teach to our children and replace the old coping methods that no longer serve them. Recently I added a new tool to my toolbox of ‘Mom games’ that masquerades as really fun ‘regular games’.

When I first started to play, I thought “No way am I going to be able to create anything cool/interesting with these LEGO’s (this was my first lesson).  Everyone sat down with a ‘kit’ in front of them, this was not a regular LEGO kit. This kit contained webs, ladders, people, flowers, money, and various other traditional blocks (unfortunately they are not for sale. But, I am sure they would be very easy to put one together from a LEGO store). The play helps kids to express feelings and creativity and gain important skills that can be transferred to a classroom. This is how the game is played:

Choose an attitude, perspective or feeling you would like to work on or explore, (it can also work well with something as simple as ‘create a robot’ or a ‘make-believe bug’ etc…) Now, by using the LEGO-kit translate that into a LEGO model. After 5 minutes, everyone shares their model.  There are rules to sharing:

Here are the rules:

  1. Everyone shares.
  2. When done sharing the listeners say “Thank you for sharing’ (I found this to be the most difficult because I really wanted to compliment the models).
  3. Do not touch anyone else’s model.
  4. Do not touch your model while other’s are talking
  5. Questions about what is on the base plate ONLY.
  6. Do not compliment.
  7. Do not interrupt someone else’s story.
  8. If they say its an XX it is an XX

Here is my “Bug”- It’s a Momma bug and the netting is helping to protect her babies in her pouch. The tools that this bug has to help her babies include (from L-R) , The first tool pictured is a flower to add love and creativity to her children’s lives, next is a phone that represents communication with her children, the brush represents the care and grooming she needs to give to her children and  a magic wand to make all the boo-boo’s and sadness disappear……..I know you want to compliment my rockin’ model…but it’s against the rules!

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The Adoption Basket

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I consciously try not to label every little idiosyncrasy that the kids have as an adoption issue. I love to see and hear of the challenges that kids of seemingly together and emotionally stable parents are facing. Not, because I wish those tantrums or outbursts on anyone, but it helps to shed light on the never ending question “Is that a kid thing? Or an adoption thing?”

I have discussed this with both adoptive parents and biological parents. It’s pretty easy for biological parents, they have one category…kid thing. Unless, of course the challenges turn into problems, and they need to discern if there is an actual issue at hand, and need to have professional help brought in. As adoptive parents, when our children act out we wonder, oh is that a result of any unknown trauma’s they faced before coming home (being adopted), or is it just a kid thing, or a serious kid thing or a serious adoption thing. Yes, I know I have been told I over-think things. But in my defense, I believe in giving kids all the tools we can to help them succeed in life. The first step to helping them with emotional issues, is to figure out where the problem is coming from. You wouldn’t go see a dentist for a broken leg.

I was told by our therapist that the most difficult situations when trying to help our children are the children that have experienced trauma pre-verbally. Something happened, but the children can not tell us exactly what it was.  So we become ‘trauma detectives’, but always trying to remember, at heart they are all just kids!

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Needing Help, Doesn’t Mean You’re Helpless

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It’s OK to ask for help. I have always been an “I can do it myself” type of person. I like not having to need/or lean on someone for help. I also like the satisfaction of knowing that I can do something new if I set my mind to it. I  am the type of person that will read everything I can on a subject matter, so that I can know what I am doing, and how to do it.

I have embraced adoption, fostercare and childhood trauma in the same way. But with this said, my children have brought me to a new understanding that asking for help does not mean you are helpless.

This last week has been the most challenging week of parenting we have had to date. T’s outbursts and meltdowns have gone from internal to external: kicking, screaming, raging, throwing stuff. Nothing works. When we tell him to do something he doesn’t want to do he replies with a raging “NEVER”! Taking privileges away do not work, he seemed unfazed that his siblings got to spend the day at the zoo, while he stayed home.

This led me to send a letter out to our ‘team’ this week asking for help, and admitting that some of this behavior is out of our ‘skill set’ to manage. It’s amazing how much our children can change us, and force us out of our comfort zone. It reminds me of the line from The Blind Side:

Beth: I think what you are doing is so great. Opening up your home to him… honey, you are changing that boy’s life.

Leigh Anne Touhy:  No, he’s changing mine!!