Friday, April 22, 2016

Dear School, A note about my Puffer Fish and I...



Dear School,
A note about my little Puffer Fish and I.

First off. If I could and it be socially acceptable, I would like to begin every phone call with these two sentences, and every IEP, 504, behavioral planning meeting with them written in sharpie, on my face.
So it is the first thing you hear or see.

Before we begin.
I DID NOT DO THIS TO MY CHILD.
MY CHILD DID NOT CHOOSE THIS FOR THEMSELVES.

If you are educating a child who is struggling, a child who is actively acting out, rude, obstinate, and sneaky and to you feels like their objective is to create chaos and disorder.

Yes. You are absolutely correct.

Also you are wrong.

That child, unless diagnosed with a specific mood or conduct disorder ( and those kids too) if you look back far enough, in their history are surviving. They are surviving the effects of complex trauma.
They are coping.
YES, they are difficult.
YES, they make your life harder.



Yes, they may seem like obstinate, selfish, controlling chaos makers enjoying their ability to create mayhem.

Yes they argue.
Yes they take no ownership.
Yes, they balk at your consequences and answer that they don’t care.

You see they are puffer fish.
Have you ever seen one?
I mean you deal with the proverbial ones all day every day…but a real salt water guy swimming around looking pretty normal, acting pretty cool, going with the actual flow…until a perceived danger occurs…

and BAM.

Survival mode kicks in, they literally puff out their chests, push out their protective poisonous spikes and wait.you.out.

and they will….they have learned that survival has more to do with endurance, with staying alive and the strongest the longest, for you see that is how they have learned to live another day.

Real live Puffer Fish according to Kids National Geographic .com (because let's be honest they actually used terminology I could understand) explain them as ; “
Also known as blowfish, these clumsy swimmers fill their elastic stomachs with huge amounts of water (and sometimes air) and blow themselves up to several times their normal size.

Some species also have spines on their skin to ward off predators….”

Huh, yep. That.

These kids you are working with, are constantly in a state of survival. They have very little ability for anything else, and what is so very confusing is what looks to be difficult behavior, is actually them coping.

Loudest most obnoxious kid in the class?
Maybe that kid grew up in an orphanage, or home where drugs were the priority and they are SO desperate to be seen, heard, because as a baby their screams and crys of pain and hunger, primal need of actual connection and safety, fell on unavailable/uncaring ears.

That kid that steals, lies, hoards.
Maybe they have never had anything be concrete in their lives. Maybe they know what it is to not know when their next meal/hug/need being met  is coming.

That child that charms, and is studious and perfect, yet the parents look exhausted and constantly ask about their seemingly perfect child’s behavior, is the child that may have been taught, the perfect ones get away with the most, the perfect ones control the adults, the perfect ones get the best attention from the adults, and that insures survival, control and then they go home and spin out.

The children that seem more sexualized, maybe that child learned early on, it was easier to give it away, than have it taken from them….

The kid that doesn’t seem to react to any consequence? If they have been starved, neglected, raped, abused, there isn’t much a expulsion, or F Grade can do to motivate them towards better behavior... they have already experienced the worst of the worst...you won't and can't motivate them with fear.

They can’t show weakness.
Weakness means not being strong, being stronger and smarter and not caring more than anyone else means they can’t get hurt….because these “Struggling kids?” Are really suffering kids.

Where you see miss behavior and disrespect, I promise if you dig a little deeper, you may also find trauma, you may find survival, which looks an awful lot like behavior.

Because a truth deeper than the ocean is what we all know about ourselves and others…happy healthy people who feel safe, don’t act out in this way. They don’t need to.
They aren’t afraid of anything, they don't  have anything  to control, they have nothing survival contingent to fear.

Happy people are happy because they feel safe.

Suffering people are suffering, because they are in pain, and afraid of that pain.

and I get it, I do. My kid who ran away and pulled down his pants and told the school P.O. to “suck it”, doesn’t look like a terrified little first grader. The way he laughs in your face, and says “I don’t care” .


I get it the teen age girl with the ‘eff you attitude’ that stole her teachers wallet and bought lunch for all of her friends....seems callous and fearless, is actually trying to prove that she isn't terrified of not being cool, unaccepted or left behind.

I get it the boy who calls on the adult, when he is using foul language and goading him on to “go ahead and HIT HIM”…is actually maybe trying to have a say this time, in how and when he gets hit, because in his past he may have has no say.


He makes you believe those spikes are really there, a part of him. The more scared he is the further he will push them out and prove to you, he is scary, he is mean….he feels in so much danger , he wants you to feel that too.

But.
Have you ever seen a puffer fish, deflate, after it realized it was safe, that the harm was gone, that the environment could support him and keep him safe?
I am talking about fish again…but then again, maybe I am not.

Have you ever tried speaking gentle to him when his spikes are out. Have you ever just stayed, accepting the spikes and sat, not making any sudden movements and allowed calm?

A child of trauma with a perceived need, will stop at nothing to get what it is they believe they need to survive. Actual necessity or not, if they believe it is something they need, morality takes back seat to survival, every time. It has had to. That’s why they are still here.

I know this is a lot to remember when my child is refusing, ignoring , obstinate or disrespectful, but if you could , every once in a while…see my little puffer fish for exactly who he or she is…and help them realize they are safe, that the harm is gone, that the environment can support them and keep them safe?
I promise, their spikes and puffed out chests may pop out, but they will have the ability to deflate that much faster.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter, and
about my little Puffer Fish and I.
I would like to repeat my sentences one last time.


I DID NOT DO THIS TO MY CHILD.
MY CHILD DID NOT CHOOSE THIS FOR THEMSELVES

Also, thank you again.

and if you ever have any questions, or I can help in any way, I am here, I am open, and I am grateful for the people helping me surround my sweet child in safety.

Sincerely,

The Mama Bear who loves her Puffer Fish 

 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Heart Shaped Rocks


Sometimes I take my children on a hunt for heart shaped rocks….
Really, I am taking them on a peaceful walk and practicing calm.
Finding success in their ability to put one foot in front of the other.

I don’t tell them bilateral stimulation gets both side of the brain working together.
I don’t tell them while walking as a group I have turned their hypervigilance off of each other or the thing that is dysregulating   them, and helped them focus on one single thing.
Sometimes if they need more stimulation not to make word wars with each other, we add music.

And there we are subconsciously walking to the beat, maybe humming along putting one foot in front of the other, and repeat.

Sometimes we talk about “the thing” big or small…most often times we do not, funny, it seems to disappear in the horizon behind us, simply by walking,  and being, and matching step.



Somedays that’s all we get....

The walking.

Somedays I find that in the process I have to over and over remind them; “I like it when you stay on the path, that way I know you are safe.”

Somedays we get home faster all together, somedays we complete the full three mile circle, and sometimes…we have to turn around and go back the way be came.
all of it is perfect and just right for that day.

Somedays they try to run ahead, and yet, find a stopping point and wait…because they do want me with them…somedays I worry they won’t slow down, or will run to far off the path into the canal, or barbed wire.
 

Yet they don’t. and never have.

Sometimes we find dozens of heart shaped rocks.
Sometimes we might find two.
There are days they find a round rock and try to convince me it is indeed heart shaped.
I don’t argue, that is not what this practice is about.


I accept that it is, and we put it in our pockets and keep going.

I should in theory have buckets full of heart shaped rocks.
I don’t.
Somehow they disappear.
Somehow at any given time I can only find 3 or 4.

I don’t know if they are throwing them in the field behind our house.
Burying them…or perhaps have these heart shaped rocks hidden somewhere in their rooms, secret treasure.

What I do know, is in the search, in the quiet, in the acceptance, we find a pocket full of peace.



 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The pot holes in Great Expectations


         Recently with the guidance and recommendation of a local therapist, I have been meeting with a brave, hurting group of parents that are beginning to learn the ropes (and marathon style life) of therapeutic parenting.


Our first support class began with a conversation about expectations…and the need to recognize why sometimes being the parent to child that struggles with behaviors or special needs can make us feel so lost, sad and frankly desperately angry at times.


Simply put, whispered into the depth of our truths;
“This is not what I thought it was going to be.”
“They are not who I thought they were going to be.”
“I am not who I thought I was going to get to be.”


Damn expectations.
Those daydreams that were used to fill the time when our arms were empty for them, and our hearts felt like they would burst in the wanting, to love a child, to parent a child, for the relationship that was to come and how amazing it would be.

Sure there were to bumps and bruises to be expected, maybe a cast, or a broken window or two…
BUT NOT THIS.

Not what is here.
Not who I have become to be in the moments I don’t recognize myself.

Author Brene’ Brown did a humans study on forgiveness.
I am paraphrasing her glorious work when I say, “that in order for forgiveness to occur, a death has to happen, something needs to be buried….so something new can be reborn.

I remember watching that and my jaw dropping open.
“YES, I yelled at my computer screen! YES”

In order for acceptance and the ability to move on from what I thought my parenting experience was going to be, I needed to grieve the child I thought I would have.
I needed to mourn who I thought I was going to be, I needed to tell them both how much I loved and wanted that day dream, and then I needed to kiss them good bye, and bury them, in order to fully face what is here and now and to come.


Admitting  this isn’t what I wanted, that I am not amazing, as much as I am just present.
That this is hard and messy, and there are days I long to lock myself in my bedroom in pajamas, binge watching Netflix, and eating an entire bag of Doritos in one sitting, doesn’t make me a bad anything, it makes me human…

cuz that’s what we get.
That is who we are, we are human.
... and as humans we see snippets of people’s Instagram, and create a whole life for them in our heads. We see humorous Facebook posts, and think, “gez, nothing bad must happen over there”…
We see crafty pictures on Pinterest and  believe  the myth that nothing but a perfect family walks the hallowed halls of that amazing Craftsman’s style bungalow.

Buuuuulllllshit.

Because, no matter the person, no matter the day or year, bank account or body type we all mourn something. We all have expectations blow up in our faces.   So.

Whatever it is that you needed to do today to get you and your kids through the day?

Going to the drive through at McDonalds because you didn’t have the energy to make dinner?
YOU are an amazing parent!

Slapping bandaids on yourself  after walking a child through an angry rage/
YOU are an amazing parent !!

You screamed at your kid to “GO AWAY”…because you just couldn’t be whined at or fought with for one more second?
YOU are an amazing Parent!!!
…and tomorrow is another day.

We are not our daydreams.
We are not a picture on Instagram
Our Craftsman bungalows have broken, kicked-in  doors and swear words written with crayon on the walls.

and in the wise words of Stitch, from Lilo and Stitch.

“This is my family. It is small and it is broken,
but it is still good.

Yeah, still good.”





~In tandem with the local parenting support class, my amazing friend Christine Moers and I are offering a live "Coffee Hour" with Christine and Lindsay online via Skype group on this very topic of "Expectations" through April 1st.
If you are interested in the details, and would like to join us, please check put these links, and we will see you there!
March 31st: https://onlinecoffeehourmarch31.eventbrite.com

April 1st: https://onlinecoffeehourapril1.eventbrite.com

Friday, March 11, 2016

Yes, You may absolutley Run Away....



 
 
 
I said that.
While driving home from my kids therapy appointment last week.
“Yes, you may absolutely run away.”

You see, this ‘running away thing’ has been a ’thing’ since this kid was three.
He would get over stimulated, or mad, and take off.
Naked, with one sock..whatever…he was shoeless joe Jackson in the making.

This same kid, likes to hide.
Now, all of these things, not fun, or good, but then  add a lil’ thing like type one diabetes to the mix, and I was dealing with a runner and a hider could kind of welllll die, if I didn’t catch them or find them in time.

So last week as we drove home from therapy, while as usual processing what was being worked on, what homework he had, and what still seems to be tough issue, the running away came up.
I point blank asked.
“How come you run away, can you help me understand what goes on in your brain?

“I am mad. Usually something bad happened at school and I am sad/mad, and don’t want to be anywhere. I want to get away. I want you to KNOW I am running away and having big feelings. I want you to worry, so I won’t be the only one feeling bad!”

“Wow, thank you for sharing that with me, dude, that was really honest and insightful.”

“yeah”

“What if I told you,
“Yes, “yes, you may absolutely run away.”


He just turned and stared at me, confused.
“Don’t you love me anymore.”

“Oh baby, I do, I am just trying to really listen to you and what you need, and I think I have an idea….
What if, I told you, yes, you can totally run away, whenever you need to, but we have some ground rules…”

“Like what?”

“You have to come in from the Bus.
“You have to tell me you are running away”
“You may run away to anywhere on our property.”
“You will have a back pack packed with a blanket and snack to take with you…”
and…need to tell me which place you are hiding so I can come out and check your blood sugar on the half hour.”


“Can I still scream that “I am running away” and slam the door?”

“Absolutely.”

“Deal”.

And we shook on it.

This week he has ran away three times. Twice to our out building and once when it was raining to the old pick up cab. ( I may have left a note that it was raining and this would be a dry option to run away to)

Our kids’ behaviors have need and feelings behind them.
We can’t always stop a behavior, but maybe we can reign in those boundaries, and still give them room.
Sometimes when I can remember, it isn’t exactly the result that they are looking for, but the action, in the doing. I needed to put on my big girl britches and remember “HE is NOT doing this to ME, he wasn’t running away from ME, in a way, he was asking me to join him in his feelings, of feeling out of control.


 Our little people don’t always have words for how they are feeling, but they absolutely find ways to speak it…our job is to listen, to meet them where they are at.
We found a way to help him get what he needed, in a way I could support, and feel much less panicked about…and sometimes that is as good as it gets….


and in my world, that looks an awful lot like winning.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Feeding an Army 30 meals a day close to $1.50 per person, per meal

Last week I posted this on Facebook:

LOL, and there was a lot of response.
Asking me meal plans, menus recipes, and all in all, HOW THE HECK do you do that?

I am going to preface, this is how I do things, it may not be the answer for you, it may not be what your family eats,our meals may be too strict for you, or not strict enough, and thats O.K.
I can only speak to what we have found works in our cray-cray casa, what foods work best for our health, our emotional, behavioral, and financial needs.

Our goals are to eat whole, healthy, mindful, meat on the side,primarily organic produce, cassin, gluten and refined sugar free.
I personally eat as vegan as possible.

We CHEAT. We are not perfect, if you are looking for a perfect model of Organic, whole foods NEVER an m&m, passes our lips...keep looking!
Yes we do, because we are human, and we like rewarding ourselves with treats, or are offered to pick or glean free food, we.will.take.it gratefully!
I love the term “flexitaran” my friend Christine uses.
Thats exactly what we are.
If you give us otter pops ( though I may cringe, and let my husband eat the blue and red ones, we will say thank you)

Our goals are healthy, aware of where most of our meat comes from, and yet sticking to a very strict budget, and if free food is available, we will do the hard work to preserve and use it.

I am a crazy person about food waste.
Like, cleaning the fridge out makes me cry.
I don't know if it is my experience working in Orphanages in Haiti, or growing up with a single mom, who supported us with her waitress job while she went to school, but.I.hate.waste.
One of the things I will share is HOW, to use the bits and pieces most people throw out.

One of the ways we limit expense, waste and the constant question of what to make and feed all of the people is a rotating Breakfast and Lunch menu.
I switch it up pending on Season, what we have in the garden, and orcahrd and free food that has come available.
What a rotating menu means is every Monday, we eat the same Breakfast and Lunch combination.
Monday through Sunday, is something different, but weekly that combination is what we and the kids expect to be eating and making.

We take lunches, we can our own jams, salsas, sauces, pickles, relish ect.
We also have chickens for eggs, glean potatoes in the fall, buy in bulk, and stock up on sale items.

We drink water with our meals.
No juice, soda, or milk.

This is what our rotating menu looks like right now:





BREAKFAST
Monday ~ Cereal ( usually Rice Chex) almond/coconut milk ( we don't drown our cereal, in milk, nothig bugs me more than dumping a bowl of milk down the sink), and banana (this is the only day of the week we eat cereal, and I buy iy in bulk when the boxes are $1.50 each)
Tuesday ~ Oatmeal sweetened with Organic Syrup, sometimes raisins and nuts tossed over ( in the summertime homemade granola)
Wednesday ~re-Heated pancakes or waffles w/ peanut-butter or berries , and eggs
Thursday ~ Baked Oatmeal with fresh or Preserved fruit from our Orchard
 ( summertime zucchini muffins, or oatmeal muffins, and coconut yogurt)
Friday ~ Breakfast Burrito or Hash-brown Casserole
Saturday~ Pancakes/waffles/french toast and Bacon or Sausage ( theses are always doubled or trippled and frozen for Wednesday breakfasts.
Sunday~ German Pancakes w/ fruit salad

LUNCHES
Monday ~ P.B. Roll ups ( Peanut-butter in a corn tortilla), baby carrots, string cheese and trail mix ( homemade)
Tuesday ~ Turkey sandwich (
gf bread, romaine lettuce),Apple, Granola Bar
Wednesday ~ Rice Crackers, P.B. ,Snap peas , string cheese, trail mix
Thursday ~ Tuna Sandwich (
gf bread, romaine lettuce) clementine orange, string cheese, granola bar
Friday~ Rice Crackers, Hummus, cut up Cucumbers, string cheese, trail mix
Saturday~ Quesadilla's w/ beans, salad
Sunday~ Pizza and Kale Salad (
sometimes a GF frozen pizza, gilled zuchini homemade pizza, mini homade pizza)

When this rotation gets old, or the seasons change we switch it up.

THIS MENU IS ALWAYS HANGING ON MY FRIDGE.
My kids NEVER have to ask what is for breakfast or lunch...and that makes us all VERY happy.
:)

In the Summer and harvest, meals are planned around harvest.

We large eat salads at almost every single meal, with occasional meat, or grains.
Majority of our meat is from Family raised animals, purchased organically from the Farmers market ( I always buy in bulk from these farmers and they cut me a deal, especially at the end of the market season)

In the Winter and colder months meals are based on food storage items, and we eat a lot of home grown frozen, or bought organic veggies.

In Winter and Colder months soups and chili's, potato's, brown rice, corn tortillas or chips, beans, brown rice pasta are the vehicles for our meals.
I bulk shop twice a month at Costco.

Winter Meals have a theme, I generally stick to:
Monday ~ Mama's break, usually something simple, from the freezer ( pre-made) or left overs, one of my casseroles, pre cut up frozen veggies or salad, over romaine, or pasta.

Tuesday ~ Taco night ~ which pretty much means anything with Mexican food influence, stuffed bell peppers, Tortilla or black bean soup, Enchiladas, Taco Salad, Tamales

Wednesday ~ Rice. Usually a Vegetable Stir-fry, maybe Sweet Thai Meatballs from the crock pot, Haitian Rice and Beans, Risotto.

Thursday ~ Soup, Chili, Potatoes, Something created out of the pantry...
(we always have the makings for a Baked Potato, or a Roasted veggie Melody, or a Potato Soup or Chili)

Friday ~Veggie-mania, sometimes fresh sauce over pasta, sometimes as a dip-dip night with lots of fresh vegetables, and a lot of fun dips. Cold pasta salad, Artichoke Hearts in a dairy free Alfredo Sauce.


Saturday~Clean out the fridge, and eat left overs, Get creative, check out what is around, and use it.Sunday~ Big meal. Usually Crock pot or grill a meat, a whole baked chicken, Asian BBQ Chicken wings, Pot Roast, Shredded Pork sliders, Grilled Steak, or Salmon, Open face Burgers, or BLT's....its a meat day. :)

To extend specifically ground meats I use brown rice, lentils,and beans. I never use more than 1 lb of ground meat during a meal.

One thing I have learned over the last 5 years cooking for 10 people, 30 meals a day , is CUT IT ALL UP.
If you are already in the kitchen, chopping up, an onion, peppers, cucumbers, pineapple, watermelon. Take the extra 5 minutes and cut all of it up.
You aren’t going to want to chop up a half used week old onion in a plastic bag in your fridge...BUT you will toss in fresh frozen chopped onion in a soup, or while browning meat, or in a stir fry.
You will eat that already chopped up pineapple waiting for you in the fridge, if you are already in the kitchen use the time.

If you are already making a big pot of Potato soup, make 3, and freeze it.
Enchiladas? Lasagna? Tuna Cassarole? MAKE 3 and FREEZE them!
Oh my goodness will you be singing yourself praises, of already making your family a meal you just have to heat up, on a rough day.

You made a baked chicken? Save the bones, toss them back in, and make a broth over night to use in a soup the next day, or freeze for fresh broth.

Here is a great example of flexible meal planning:
On Mothers Day Sunday my husband took 4 steaks too many out of the freezer, and grilled them up, anyway, and chopped them into strips.

On Tuesday I cut bell peppers and red onion in strips, and made Fajita's with the leftover steak.
We had 3 peppers and half an onion left, and so I chopped them up, and tossed them in a plastic saver.
Saturday I sauteed the peppers and onions, and garlic in butter, and used 6 cans of black beans with juices, chili powder, cumin, and other spices..and made an amazing black bean soup served with tortilla chips.

Good staples I always have in my pantry:
Organic Brown Rice
Organic Black Beans
Organic Kidney Beans
Oatmeal
Brown rice Pasta
Tuna
Potato's
Honey
Maple Syrup






I can, and freeze:
Spaghetti Sauce
Jams- savory and sweet
pickles and relish
Grape Juice
Salsa
Asparagus
Beans
Corn
Hash browns
French fries
 
Broccoli
Veggie melodies
Stirfy veggies

We constantly double or tripple batches of:
Muffins
Soups

chiliesMeatballs
Black bean veggie bugers
casseroles
In the fall we don't say no to anything.... if someone is allowing people to glean potato fields, we are on it,someone has grapes they dont want to pick, extra produce, that we have to work for or process...we do it.


We eat cherry cobbler at Christmas from our Cherry trees, frozen.
My kids eat Peanut butter and Plum jam, sandwiches , from our trees.
Our freezer is full of Elk Sausage, Organic Whole chickens, gallon bags of frozen pea's, corn, green beans, pumpkin, berry's, hand processed hash-brown's and fries from fall harvest.

It isn’t easy.
We do fancy meals for holidays and birthdays.
We realize the “American expectation of Meat, starch, and side veggie, isn't whats most important in a meal.
We eat an entire broccoli salad until we could burst.
We have a full meal of grilled corn, asparagus, and tomatoes, and know that, is a full meal.

We make an amazing trail mix, full of protein and fiber for snacks, we also pop organic pop corn, eat fruit, and oatmeal cookies with raw honey, and peanut-butter.

Things we cheat on:
String Cheese.

Skippy Peanut-butter ( I know its total crap, but it is a concession in the war on health I am willing to make. )
Kirkland Mexi-Cheese
non organic Eggs when my lady's aren’t laying as much in cold weather.

Treats.

Heck yes, we occasionally buy our kids ice cream cones, or chocolate, we make homemade snow cones with juiced watermelon or homemade peach, or lemonade.

Junk food, is a novelty, as it should be.
Potato chips are a giant treat, for a trip, or a family BBQ.
Sugar cereal too, a special snack that they are excited for.

My kids LOVE and live to eat, they also have developed such a taste for real, and good, the times they have BEGGED for school lunch, they have never asked again.

I don't know if I helped a single person, or made an sense of our madness...but this in a little blue print, in the how's, of what our clan eats.

Lets me know if you have any questions.
<3 Linds


Monday, April 6, 2015

Dear Church, do you want to know why those of us that have adopted the fatherless....


Aren't “there” Sunday morning?
Aren't as easy to ask to participate in service?
Aren't as open to people in our home, community activities and it seems our beliefs, our demeanor or just “we” have changed.
Yes. Yes, we have.
Those of us that have brought a hurting and healing child into our homes, are working on constantly healing things most people can't even begin to understand that have been broken, or teaching and adding things that were never even there in a neglected, or abused child...and then healing the new broken in our own homes, and then in ourselves.

You see. We can't be the same.
We may have been called, felt an inkling, had an ENORMOUS boulder placed in our path saying “ADOPT”....we may have taken in family members, experienced infertility, all these things, choices, good and right and in biblical terms “Godly choices”.

We also have had dreams and expectations, with no real idea of the sacrifices that would be made, the losses we would experience, the judgment we would face in the name of loving or helping a child.
We also had very little real understanding of the weight it would put on our marriages, other children, and friendships, as well as our relationship with God.

What you may not understand is simply by living the lives that we do, we feel like strangers to our community now, heck until we find ourselves again, or recreate ourselves,our old selves are strangers to our new stronger, wiser, more eyes wide opened selves. We are struggling to re define, everything.
And I mean EVERYTHING.

I remember the out pouring of prayers and support when we were waiting, to be chosen by a birth mother, parental rights to be terminated or for our children to come home. When my pain and hope was palpable as I walked down those church hallways, the way I threw myself into callings and service,hoping my efforts would somehow bring miracles faster....and when they came home, the balloons and dinners, and pats on the back of “Aren't you so grateful? God is SO Good!”

and I would nod. Because of course I am grateful, how could I not be? And yes, he is good...but could ya ask him...that maybe they would scream for only 23 hours a day instead of 24?

I couldn't tell all of these shiny eyed so happy for me members...that “OH MY HELL, THEY ARE PEEING ON EVERYTHING, 5 x a day a toilet is plugged on purpose, I am flipped off and called a whore by my four year old, The adorable 18 month old that makes you “want one too” has required me to get stitches 4 times.” Yes. I.am.so.grateful.

I remember sitting watching my 8 babes under 8, singing in their first church program.
Standing in the back, making sure every cherub could see their proud supportive mama's face, and looking down, and realizing, in the right light, my white linen dress had massive urine spots where one of the 8 cherub choir had obviously emptied their bladders, on my new dress, as a gift of their tangible hate, shame and anger towards me.
As hot tears dripped off of my chin, I remember a member kindly coming over , putting her arm around my shoulders and saying, “I can't imagine how many times you have dreamed about a moment like this.” and I JUST nodded...and instead of screaming “NO, not exactly, because one of those adorable little A-holes pissed all over my Easter dress, thank you very much.” I just continued to nod, and cry.

Why do you LOOK different? Have gotten a tattoo, eat different, moved, become a total hippie, home-school now, NOT home-school now, seem MORE alternative, seem to accept more things...ect.

Because, what this life has taught me is in the constant throughs of HARD, you have to hunt down joy like a man, thirsting for water in a desert. YOU.ARE.DESPERATE.FOR. JOY. Desperate for balance, peace, and HOPE.
You DO what is best for YOU, for THEM. and if that is MORE family time, you do that..if it is MORE structure in a school environment, you do that. If it was standing on our heads and painting ourselves purple would help we would do THAT.
If twinkies/gluten/dairy/red food dye are making them MORE crazy, you take that &*@% AWAY!
You don’t have time for judgment.
Time to worry that someone's daughter who wore an immodest dress to PROM, you are just hoping your teenager isn't sending topless pictures to the bishops son. Your focus becomes more on, NOT shaming people for their choices,but hoping that girl felt BEAUTIFUL in what she was wearing, and doesn’t hear any of the whispers. Life becomes TOO short, the church mouse drama, and gossip, SOO not a priority....and lets be honest...how much of it is now about us anyways?

Our ability to take our kids to activities on a regular basis changes. Too remember ALL of the THINGS, my scout didn't have his scarf? DUDE, he pants on...I am fist bumping myself right now.

HOW do I have someone understand? I AM so sorry, because I also have special needs kids at home, my one child that needs CONSTANT line of sight supervision (yes the charming one) can't be there, and my child that CAN attend, needs a ride home, because as unbelievable as it may sound, I can not drive in my car with one of my children to pick him up, without them trying to jump out of a moving car, or beating up everyone, including me, while I drive. It's O.K. If you sigh and roll your eyes every time I text or call and beg for a ride for him, every.single.week. but if you could JUST help me, I would be so grateful.
I need those prayers now.
I need those times you believed in what I was doing for my children before they came to me, to be JUST as strong now they are here.
I need you to understand, I am WAY more financially broke trying to help these kids heal, with constant therapies and tools, and simply fixing all of the things they break...than I ever was trying to raise money to adopt them.

I am more accepting of other people and lifestyles, because, everyday I have to accept and love someone that rejects me, seeks to hurt me, lies to me, steals from me...and creates barriers between me and others on purpose. I have to hug a child that on purpose threw my wedding ring away in the garbage, I say sweet dreams and tickle a kid who tried to light my house on fire, I pray for a child that broke my very bones...I NOW know how to LOVE PEOPLE and accept them AS IS, in all of their exactness and worthiness to be loved and accepted. That is a hard earned beautiful gift my children have given me.

I don't fit in anymore.
I DO want fellowship, badly, but please without that enormous pill of “We SURE have noticed you guys haven't been attending as regularly” THANKS, but no, I hand capsule my own guilt these days...and don't need any shame pills from you, or the “means well” congregation.
I need friends, people that say, “so good to see you, how are you all hanging in there?”

We need people to BELIEVE US, not lessen our concern, or boundaries for our kids, the MORE support and understanding you can provide, the MORE you are going to see us sitting in those benches.

Know that in the name of sheltering and loving and bringing into our homes a hurting and healing child, as the Bible councils us all to do, we also have lost and sacrificed much to do so.
This for us is our “calling” our life long work, and no, most the time it doesn’t get easier , or better, it just changes, the needs becoming sometimes less complex, often MORE. If you don't want us to give up on the church...don't give up on us.

This is such a lonely, loving, long suffering journey...how we would love a community surrounding us, and if not...we still have to walk this path,with, or without you.




Saturday, December 20, 2014

Are you choosing kindness?


15 days loom in front of me.
15 days of holiday splendor and family togetherness.
Whimper.

This morning we have rung in this 'festivus of fun' with tantrums, orchestrated fights, screaming, and a plethora of door slamming. Fa-la-la-la-, la-la-la-la.
Here we go...

It's a lot.
It's a lot to expect children with trauma backgrounds, and spectrum autisim to cope with a 2 week 'vacation' void of their norm, daily structure with added twinkly lights and anxiety driven entitlement, and very little availability for therapies and here you have a poo storm a-brewing.

I get jealous of neuro-typical familes, where a movie night might consist of some pop-corn,blankets, fire in the fire place and : enter scene.
Sure kids might argue about movie title choice and who gets to sit where...thats expected....there may even be a “ so-and-so got more pop corn than me.”
I miss that, sometimes our movie nights do and can look like this.

These days the “Movie” is chosen before the night is planned...its a take it or leave it kinda thing, “sure sweetie you can stomp your feet that we are watching “A Christmas Story” but I guess what you get to choose in this moment is whether you want to be mad about the movie choice and sit down here and eat your popcorn, or go upstairs and read in your room, your choice baby cakes.”

“Oh, you don't want your brother touching your blanket? Awesome, could you have said that without throwing your shoes at him. Lets pause the movie and figure out a repair....and get the blood out of the carpet. “

I am not seeking peace this Holiday season. With 10 people shut in a little house, while it rains outside, I have very little expectations than a couple moments of quiet and some alone time hiding in my closet eating chocolate.
By the handful.

I am seeking kindness.
I am going to be the ambassador of kindness.
At least 13 times since school released my fanged cherubs from the bond of the educational system yesterday, I have asked and prompted all, but specifically one child on this one thing.
In the moments they become revved up, over all the fry sauce being gone, me asking them to sit at the table , and not stand in the middle of the kitchen glaring at me, to go put pajamas on, “Oh silly duck, is that frilly church dress the new style of pajamas?”
Maybe to brush their teeth with toothpaste this time. “No I don't think they were tying to make you mad by giving you the yellow bowl, I don't think they know you wanted the pink one , because you didn't use your words, and we all forgot to put our special mind reading socks on today...I think mine are in the wash, again.”

“Baby, in this moment, is being angry(sad, mad, depressed controlling),and looking for a fight bigger and more important to you, than having a good time and enjoying the time you have with your family?”


"Take a minute. Decide what you want most in this moment and get back to me.
Sure, blink the lights off and on and stomp up the stairs while you decide, EXELLENT idea!"
Once you are calm, can you choose kindness?”

When words get harsh, or more adult than I prefer.
“Are we choosing kindness with our words?”

Yes, why yes, if you are wondering if I have gotten the response “F#%# KINDNESS” from one of my children, why yes, yes I have.
Its adorable.
But I still go back to it, for them and for me.

In the moment.
When there is a cross-road.
When one reaction can manifest the outcome for the next hour.
I am helping them recognize just that. Can I look at this situation, realize what I really want from it, and choose the kind reaction. Can kindness be selfish? Sure, at first, but it has this wicked way of flipping it and allowing it not only to be self serving, but selfless.
Sneaky kindness.

Up until Christmas, I am rewarding my kids with special treats for accomplishing their secret elves duty. We don't have a sneaky elf on a shelf lurking around our house. Why would I need a fictional imaginary elf that gets into random Shtuff around my house? That service is provided for free.
What we do, do , is have an assigned person we preform secret random acts of kindness for.
Its a chance to be sneaky in a very good way. Some kids need a little more help than others, but I am truly touched by the gifts and smiles we are seeing as we continue to give this practice a go for the 5th year in a row.

This being the first year 90% of my children were enrolled in school, to watch them excitedly give their teachers the gifts we had prepared for them, it was a one of the first times I could again talk abut the joy of giving vs. receiving and actually have a full car of understanding head bobs.
Progress.

Kindness doesn’t have to come from a fully healed heart. It has healing properties of its own.

And importantly.
My need for kindness to myself.
This year my little local Farmers Market booth has exploded to a small online business and has me spread in a very good way, thinner than I am used to.
These next 15 days I am beginning my own radical practice of self kindness.

30 minutes of exercise daily, reading 30 minutes by the fire, eating healthy amongst the handfuls of chocolate, 30 minutes meditation. Forgiving myself completely when I loose my patience and mess up completely....and don't choose kindness in the moment because in that moment I wanted to be frustrated and mad, or angry and loose my SHHHTUFF, for a bit.
Being kind to me...because this whole dang practice has to be modeled...and it sure isn't easy.

Merry Christmas dear ones....even to your Angry elves.
And if peace is waning a little bit this holiday season, lean into kindness...lean in deep.