I've been praying for wisdom on timing for telling the boys the dates of the adoption.

I talked with Therapist C today about it to get her thoughts.  She asked if I thought either boy could handle the news right now.  Yes, they can handle it.  I don't have exact dates yet. 

She cautioned me against giving them the actual dates, because adoption hearings sometimes change and if it doesn't happen on the day I say it will there will be an issue with trust. 

Her thought is that a week notice for them is appropriate.  Much more than that and I will get big behaviors caused by anxiety and less than that will give me behaviors caused by surprise.

I am praying they will be the same week.  If they aren't I am not sure how to handle it.  If one has to be before the other Younger Boy is much more capable of being the second than Middle Boy is. 

I know it will all work out in God's timing.  I just have to trust.
Middle Boy's bag is going to be the death of me.

I think I have mentioned this bag before.  It is actually a backpack filled with EVERYTHING he deems important.  It is a bag he could grab at anytime in a moments notice if he had to leave and he would have the things he cares about.

I get why he has the bag.  I really do.  He has moved FOURTEEN times.  Some of those at the last minute with no notice or chance to gather his things.  Not only has he lost his family, but truly nearly every material possession he has ever really cared about.  I get it.

I am having a hard time understanding why the reliance on the bag is getting stronger.  It used to be that the stuff was just in a pile on his dresser.  Then the stuff moved into a bag which he left at home under his bed.  Then the bag became something which went everywhere with him and now the bag literally cannot be out of his sight.

This is causing a problem at home, because he likes to keep the bag on the floor next to him.  Sophie likes to chew on the bag.  It is part of their love/hate relationship.  He refuses to pick up the bag and put it somewhere Sophie can't get it.  He would rather yell at her and scold her. 

I asked him to be part of the solution by picking up the bag.  In fact I asked FIVE times for him to be part of the solution.  I picked up the bag.  You would have thought I set the bag on fire from the reaction I got. 

I really want to understand the reliance on the bag.  He isn't going to be able to lug it around to his classes at school in less than two weeks.  I'm not sure what to do about it.

Prayers for wisdom in how to talk about the bag and Middle Boy's reliance on it.
Middle Boy has been recording more music.  He is really pretty good.  Of course, when he gets his mind set on something EVERYTHING associated with it becomes a sense of urgency.

Tonight it was creating a cover for his CD.  He has some basic computer skills and he knows what he wants it to look like, but doesn't have the skills to execute these designs.  He also doesn't have the communication skills to convey his ideas. 

His expectation is I would IMMEDIATELY drop everything and create CD covers.  My understanding is it is NOT an emergency or honestly even urgent.

He absolutely thought we should go to the store and buy blank CD covers so I could make the covers last night. 

He ended up getting mad at me and going to his room.

Prayers for understanding of urgency and being respectful when you want help with something.
I took Younger Boy to the doctor this afternoon, because he really isn't feeling well.  He is sleeping the majority of the time and not eating too much.  He is also complaining of headaches and dizziness.

Last night he had his second nosebleed which lasted more than 10 minutes.

They did a blood test to determine if he is having a platelet problem or if he is anemic.  He is neither.  The doctor gave us some nasal medication and said if he continues to have nosebleeds on a regular basis and one lasts more than 20 minutes to call and he will order more blood tests.

He thinks the nosebleeds and feeling generally yucky are a coincidence.  He believes the rest of it is being caused by a virus.

Prayers for feeling better soon.
Younger Boy and I had lunch today with Dad J and Older Boy.  It was a nice time.

It was good to hear about how he is doing.  He was quite respectful the entire time during lunch with one exception of a smart aleck response he gave to Dad J and immediately started back pedaling.

We took the opportunity to question the boys about what Middle Brother might be remembering.  His doctors believe he is having PTSD flashbacks, because there is no medical reason for his seizure-like behavior multiple times per day.  During these times he clearly has fear in his eyes.

I asked the boys point blank if they could think of ANYTHING Middle Brother might be remembering that would make him very scared.  It was interesting to watch them, because every time one of them started to talk it almost seemed as though they were looking to the other for approval that it was okay to say anything.

They mentioned Bio Dad shooting at Middle Brother with a paint ball gun.  This is the brother who is severely handicapped and in a wheelchair.  They also mentioned him witnessing a lot of fighting between Bio Mom and Bio Dad.  They also talked about Older Boy and Older Sister being the caregivers most of the time, because during the day their parents were at work and in the evening they either went to school or went out.  They talked about drugs and alcohol.  They talked about Middle Brother laying in his bed and crying and crying.

I wasn't expecting the information to just flow.  I was expecting to get stonewalled.

I thanked both boys for helping their brother and told them I was very proud of them for sharing.

Prayers for healing for these kids...there is a lot of "stuff" in there that needs to come out.
We had a review hearing for Younger Boy today.  It was for their entire case so Older Boy and Dad J were there as well.

Younger Boy told Judge D he is getting angry a lot less often and his behavior is improving.  He told Judge D he has realized he was getting way too mad about the things that shouldn't be a big deal.  Judge D told him the adults in the courtroom could learn something from him.

He agreed he needs to see Older Boy and Middle Brother more often.

Judge D and the courtroom gave him a round of applause for turning around his behavior.

Older Boy spoke as well.  Wow...he has changed.  He seems far more mature and respectful.  Granted, this was just a small glimpse.  It also made me realize it has been a long time since I have actually seen him.  We really do need to spend more time with him.

The boys hugged in court.  It was neat to see it.

All in all the case went well...with one exception...GAL is pushing for them to do sibling therapy AGAINST the recommendation of both therapists.  He is also pushing for Older Boy to move to our therapist.  They have made GREAT STRIDES with Older Boy from everything I have heard from Mom J.  Why would you throw in the towel and start over?  Thankfully, it wasn't Younger Boy he was recommending the change for.  I would have come unglued.  To my knowledge the court did NOT act on his recommendation, but took it under advisement for the next hearing in six months. 

Praises for a relatively peaceful hearing.
This morning at the attachment and trauma center Younger Boy continued work on his timeline.

Today he added "bio mom's boyfriend" to the story.  Both Therapist C and I were a little bit confused, because Bio Mom and Bio Dad were married the entire time as far as we knew.  He also added a couple more events to the timeline.  Both of the events involved Older Boy.

He asked Therapist C why they write the timeline and story.  She told him they write the timeline in order to get the big memories out so he can feel better about them.

There were a few times he was teary-eyed today.  We talked about events in life being lucky and unlucky and that the things which happen to a kid are usually just that...lucky and unlucky...not anything they caused themselves.  Sure, he was angry, but he had eight years of confusion building up which came out as anger.

She asked Younger Boy if he knew this was "not his fault".  He said, "Yes, but..." and couldn't finish the sentence.

Over the course of the session it became quite obvious he has a VERY DEEP rooted anger for Older Boy.  This anger and blame are the next things we are going to address with EMDR.

Praises for a good therapist.
Over the last couple of weeks I have been in conversation with two different couples who are considering foster care.  Both couples would be AMAZING foster families.  Both families would have their own unique sets of challenges with being foster parents.

I am so thankful God has given me the opportunity to talk to families about caring for the orphan.  I am thankful He has given me the passion for the orphan and the courage to challenge others.

I know there are a lot of people who don't "get it".  Honestly some of them are in my family, but that's okay. I don't really need people to "get it", because I do.

Pray for these families as they explore the possibility of being foster parents...whether it be fostering or becoming forever family, they would be making a difference in God's kingdom and ultimately that matters.
Younger Boy had me send a message on FB to his camp counselor from last week.  He asked me to tell him he was the best camp counselor ever.

His counselor replied "(Younger Boy) was such a pressure to have in my cabin." it a fraudian slip?  Was it auto-correct?  Either way it made me laugh.  I hope he meant pleasure, but if he didn't...welcome to my world!!
I have decided to go back to be a small group leader for our high school ministry again this fall.  I was a leader the previous two years and I REALLY MISS the girls I had for the previous two years. 

I asked the high school leader if I could have my same girls back.  I asked them if they would have me back.  Those four girls in my small group...amazing ladies.  Girls with a mature faith.  Girls who make me laugh and stole my heart.

I am so looking forward to spending their last two years of high school with them.  I love those girls!!
My organization "system" needs help.  Grandpa has been telling me this for years and while I have believed it to be true I have never actually done anything about it.

Now I need something...THIS WEEK.  Most people would find the item I am looking for in a filing cabinet, a safety deposit box, or even a desk.  Not me.  I am relatively sure I will find it in the a box...a box of stuff that was on a desk until I decided to give the desk away for a friend's fundraiser.

That's why I was in the garage tonight.  Not because I am packing up the garage, because I am looking for some important papers.  While I am looking I should get my social security card off the top shelf of the closet, my birth certificate out from under the printer, and my passport from my backpack.

I swear when I move to the new house I will get organized....
Today I asked the boys to clean their room...most especially their closet.

I took the doors off before they moved in and it seems to always be stuffed full of junk things they can't seem to live without.

I want them to box up the stuff which will be moving to the new house.  I am 99% certain that was the direction given.  Leave it to that darned 1% though.

Allegedly I just told them to get the stuff out of the closet.  That they did.  Right into my master closet.  So much junk stuff that I can barely open the door.  Why?  No idea.  How is this helping get the house packed up?  I don't know. 

I was working in the garage which is a different story entirely.  The boys "rearranged" it a few weeks ago.  Then we added the furniture last week.  Now I can't really explain it.  Maybe I should take a "before" picture.

It makes me want to cry.

At least they didn't bring the stuff from the closet to the garage.  I would have likely been pushed over the edge.

Prayers for focus and direction following to get us packed up before the move.
I saw this translation online and it struck my heart...

"Once our eyes are opened we can't pretend we don't know what to do.  God who weighs our heart and keeps our souls knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." --Proverbs 24:12
Last night was a long night.

I was awakened at 2AM by Middle Boy telling me something was wrong with Younger Boy.  He woke up with blood pouring out of his nose and it was all over his shirt.

We were able to get the bleeding to stop after about 10 minutes, but it was pretty bad.  He has no idea if he hit his head in his sleep or what.  He woke up and woke Middle Boy who was pretty freaked out by the whole thing.

It took them both quite some time to settle down and be ready to rest again.

If it happens again we are going to have to have someone look at it.

Prayers for healing.
While they were showing the house my goal was to do all of our school shopping, clothes minus shoes and school supplies while they were showing the house.  They are boys after all and when Middle Boy will only wear plain white t-shirts it isn't like they need a ton of time to pick their clothes out.

We had a coupon for 25% off at the store where they like to get their clothes so they got pretty much wrapped up.

As we were getting ready to leave the store Younger Boy told me he didn't feel well and he went into the restroom and vomited.

No school supplies today.

Prayers for feeling better!!
Today they were scheduled to show our house between 3PM and 4PM.  We didn't have a ton to do, but we cleaned for a couple of hours and cleaned all of the carpets.  I'm not sure who is more guilty of the carpet issues...Sophie or the boys. 

I know I was cleaning toothpaste and chocolate milk out of the carpet in their room.  I also cleaned mustard from the floor in the basement. 

We were just wrapping up at 2PM when they got there.  Younger Boy answered the door with the toilet plunger in his hand.  He was supposed to be taking it to the garage.  Hmmm....wonder what kind of impression it gave about our house.  A little frustrating they got there an hour early.

Prayers for a buyer for our home.
I was sleeping quite peacefully last night when I was awakened at 5:03AM with a really loud thump in the boys' room.

I stayed in bed just to see if there was a follow-up commotion to the noise and there wasn't.  It was loud.  It was clear someone or something had fallen either out of bed or fallen down in the room.

When the boys got up I asked what had happened.  Apparently Middle Boy was trying to get his head closer to the box fan which is currently about a foot away and he fell out of bed and onto the fan.  He said he was so tired he just got back in bed and stood the fan back up and went back to sleep.  He thought maybe his head hit the fan first, but he couldn't be sure.

Praises for sound sleep.  Younger Boy didn't hear that or Sophie barking trying to figure out what was going on.

Praises there was no "falling out of bed" injury.

Tonight we hung out as a family for the entire evening. 

Earlier today when we were driving around it was Younger Boy's request.  Actually his request was that we all cuddle, but Middle Boy and I had to draw the line!  Instead he cuddled with Sophie who was quite happy to oblige him.

We laughed a lot tonight.  It was really good!!

Today I went and got a much needed massage.  The muscles in my neck and shoulders were so tight it almost brought tears to my eyes to have them massaged.

Maybe I waited a little bit too long this time.  Maybe I have a little bit too much stress right now.

I am thankful I have the ability to be able to go and get massages as a form of stress relief and to be able to take care of myself.
Today we drove the 30 minutes it takes us to get to Middle Boy's therapy just to find out their group session would be 15 minutes long since the only one ready to present was Middle Boy and Therpist L is at a conference.

So...Middle Boy made his presentation and was passed by the group and away we went.

A bit frustrating that we drove for an hour for 15 minutes of therapy, but this is one of those things you just have to roll with.

Praises for a passed assignment.
This morning Younger Boy had an early morning baseball game.  It was pretty cool outside so that was nice.

Before we left I filled his thermos with ice water and made sure his glove and the thermos were next to his baseball bag.

We got in the car and were ready to go.  Middle Boy had a headache.  My theory is it is a two fold problem.  He didn't get enough sleep last night and he also doesn't drink nearly enough water.  We were talking about it when Younger Boy realized he didn't bring his thermos of water.  So...back home we go.

We get nearly to the YMCA where his game is held and he realizes he didn't bring his glove.  So...back home again.

Don't worry though.  He brought his iPod for the car ride.

Prayers for attention to detail.
I love the Olympics.  I prefer the Summer Olympics to the Winter Olympics so today I am excited about the opening ceremony.

I am relatively sure neither of the boys understand the Olympics. 

We watched the opening ceremony and they were both asking a ton of questions.  A lot about which countries are going against each other in the tournament.  I think we got squared away though.

I loved the opening ceremony.  We watched almost the entire thing as a family.

Praises for quiet family time.
I have signed myself up to do respite for a 9 year-old boy from camp.  At this time there is no known date, but this is a kiddo who is on my heart.

What does God have planned?
I just received confirmation our loan is completely straightened out now and we can close on the house at any time.

I am going to wait until August 10th to close and the weekend of the 17th to move.  We won't be ready before that anyway.

Prayers for motivation to get ready for the move.
Today I got confirmation from Younger Boy's Service Coordinator we could in fact have a copy of the court order.  She is going to put them in the mail.  Good thing since they are public record.

We have court on Tuesday for Younger Boy's case.  It is our normal follow-up hearing for their foster care case.  Younger Boy's portion of the hearing is very small compared to that of his brothers which will also be a part.

Younger Boy wants to go and see the judge so he is going. 

Mom J told me Older Boy has requested to go as well.  He wants to tell Judge D he doesn't see why he needs all of the "f******" therapy anymore and his behavioralist sucks.  I can't wait to have a front row seat for it.  I am guessing no amount of preteaching on the part of Mom and Dad J will result in any impulse control on the part of Older Boy.

This should be it until the adoption hearing.

Prayers for the hearing and wisdom to voice my opinion of the work of the state in a politically correct manner.

I have been so frustrated by the boys comments when it seems like they don't believe I am going to adopt them.  I am.  I have struggled with why they don't believe me.  Don't they trust me?

When I was at therapy yesterday something Therapist M made me change my perspective.  Both boys have been in homes before where they were going to be adopted and the date approached.  Here they are though...still no permanency.  M told me they aren't going to believe it until it is official.  They have been here before.  It failed before.  In their minds they failed before.  Now I get it.  It isn't me they don't trust.  It is their own insecurities based on past events causing the doubt.

In my own mind I have been struggling with how much to tell them about where we are in the process.  I haven't told them the subsidies are signed and the adoption packets are at the attorney's office.  I'm not sure why.  I would imagine we would know our court dates soon.  I guess I am a little unsure, because the closer we have been getting to adoption the worse the behavior was getting.  In my mind maybe if I wait to tell them I will have less behaviors to endure.  I suppose it will depend when the hearings actually turn out to be.  At this point it is looking like it will be between September 4 and September 28.  Still no word on whether we can get the judges to agree to doing them at the same time.  At one point I was told we would be doing good to get them in the same week.

Prayers for wisdom in how to handle the news of the adoption dates.  Prayers for my perspective.
Tonight as I was writing I realized something....we haven't had any "big behaviors" in a couple of weeks. 

There has mostly been typical teen and preteen boy behaviors.

As I type this I am wondering if I am immune to the big behavior and it doesn't bother me anymore or if we truly aren't having any. 

Praises for good behavior.
Tonight Middle Boy was playing the "blame game". 

He was angry with Younger Boy, because he had left their bedroom door open and Sophie went in and chewed up a set of headphones which were on the floor. 

I asked a lot of questions.  Could Middle Boy have put the headphones somewhere other than on the floor?  Could he have checked if the door was open or closed?  Could he have kept an eye on Sophie?

He was pretty angry.  Younger Boy felt VERY guilty and kept apologizing.

I explained to Middle Boy that I get how frustrating it is to have your stuff chewed up and ruined and I am sorry it happened.

He apologized to Younger Boy for making him feel bad and told him he wasn't angry at him.  He was just frustrated.  I didn't prompt any of this.

I am proud of Middle Boy for recognizing he was blaming someone who had no control of the situation.

Prayers for continued recognition of misplaced anger.
Denise our house the allowance and chore thing has been morphing over time.  I am hoping what we are starting this weekend will be the last changes we make.

In some ways the boys are like toddlers in terms of making requests when we are shopping.  There is rarely a time at the store they don't want a toy or candy or something.  I don't think either of them has ever worked on this with them.

Here is what I decided....

We still have the chore chart and the "just because you live here" chart.  The chore chart has tasks the boys can earn money for.  The pay is based on earning five dollars and hour and me figuring out how long the task should take.  The chore has to be logged on the day it was done and signed off by me.

The "just because you live here" chart are things you must do, because you are a member of this family.  For these things, if they go undone, you are fined.  They are things like picking up your own dishes and putting them in the dishwasher, cleaning up your own trash, hanging your towel after showering, and putting your clothes in a hamper.  The fine is twenty-five cents per item and the tasks must be done before 8PM.
I log these on the chart.

The new item is allowance.  The boys will each get money for the week.  They must follow the 80/10/10 rule with it.  From this money they will be buying their "wants".  I will continue to purchase their needs and their wants (at my discretion), but all other wants come from their money.

They can no longer "borrow" money from me.  They must remain debt free.

I bought them each a ledger.  Honestly the purpose was two-fold.  It is to teach them to track where their money comes from and goes, but it is also to help them with math.  They are keeping a running log of their money in the ledger.

Is this complicated?  Yes.  Will it be easy to manage?  The chore chart has gone smoothly for the last few months.  Will trips to the store be easier?  Hopefully since I won't have to entertain a bunch of "needs" anymore.

Prayers for implementation and follow through.
We have to do something about Sophie.

She is completely defiant right now.  She is chewing up shoes and pretty much anything she can find.  Tonight she grabbed a piece of food out of my hand when I was standing in the kitchen.

We take her outside and she comes inside and pees on the floor.

We can't open the door without her running outside and us having to chase her. 

She isn't going to be happy, but she is going to get to spend more time in her kennel.

Prayers for wisdom in how to train Sophie, because right now she is the biggest behavioral issue in the house!!
The boys and I are working on math again.  Earlier this week I bought workbooks at the level where I think they really are...third grade.  We had a discussion about not freaking out when they saw the level on the workbook, just working through it and learning math.

We are going to work on math 30 minutes a day until the boys feel better about math.  How long will that be?  I'm not sure.  I am not expecting math wizards, but just not a fear of math.  They are both smart boys.  They just didn't get a fair shot in math.  If you moved four times every school year you probably wouldn't be good at math either.

This is what blessed me tonight.  The boys sat down at the kitchen table without complaining.  Younger Boy set the timer for 30 minutes and they started.  They stayed focused and worked at their own pace asking questions as needed.  At the end of the thirty minutes they gave me their work to check.  They went back and corrected their work where they had an incorrect answer and I signed off on the sheets.

At the end they both thanked me.  What?  I wasn't torturing them?

They even asked what time we were going to start doing math tomorrow night.  This makes me proud.  It makes me happy they are open to learning and hopeful for the upcoming school year.

Praises for focus and learning.  Prayers for continued good attitudes.
As of noon today it is official.  I am the person in the family attending the most therapy.

I go to two hours a week with Younger Boy, one hour a week with Middle Boy, and an hour a week by myself.  I am learning SO MUCH.  My hour today was so helpful to me.  It is through my foster care agency and it is basically helping to get through the emotional roller coaster of being a foster parent and being part of the system.

We analyzed a lot of the things the boys say to me which are hurtful.  We tried to figure out what they are trying to tell me so that I can see it from a different perspective.  For the most part I am really good at knowing it isn't me they are angry at and they actually think I am a good parent.  When they lash out it is their fear of abandonment coming out.  That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt sometimes.

I am so thankful they are offering this service.  It is such a blessing to me.
This morning was just one of those mornings.  A morning when no one was moving very fast.

The boys have ceased using an alarm clock, because they can't hear it over the BOX FANS they insist on having blowing directly at them.  I was the only one who heard it and went to turn it off anyway.

When I got up I went and woke the boys.  Sophie went with me.  She loves to do that.

I went back in my room to get ready.  Sophie got back on the bed and got under the covers.

The boys were moving slower than snails.  In fact, as a former co-worker used to say, "if they were moving any slower they would be backing up".

I finished getting ready.  I ate breakfast.  I took my meds.  I gathered all of my things and I waited.  I waited and I waited some more.

I asked for a status update.  No answer.  I waited again for five more minutes.  Another status inquiry.  No response.  Finally I saw Younger Boy.  He went down the hall and lay down on the couch.  What?  Get ready.

Middle Boy finally got ready...with his wafting of Axe cologne behind him and went to the car.

Younger Boy asked if we were going to be late.  Yup...everyone is going to be late.  Middle Boy said "at least we aren't grouchy".  True.  I guess it is all about perspective.  Sometimes you just have to laugh.
Tonight was the first of three nights IN A ROW when we have nothing planned.

Obviously we need to be packing up for our move, but we are all still quite tired.  Tonight we just hung out as a family and played some games and went to bed early.  The only member of the family who had ANY energy at all was Sophie and she was running around the house like a maniac...darting everywhere.  It was fun to watch her for a little while.

The next two nights we need to be packing.  Of course both boys have it in their mind that if we pack for a good couple of hours we should be ready to go.  I estimated 100 hours and then both about fell out of their chairs.  They immediately talked about how that was going to ruin the rest of their entire summer.  I explained how sometimes when you want to do something like move you just have to suck it up to make the rest of your life better.  I said the other option was to stay in our current house.  They don't consider it an option. 

Hopefully I can get myself motivated to pack...let alone the two of them. 

Praises for good family time the remainder of this week.  Prayers for the motivation to get started packing and to keep the boys focused and on task.
So...yesterday I requested court orders from both Service Coordinators.  I got the one for Middle Boy right away.  His Service Coordinator has been much faster about getting me things and answering me since I talked to her supervisor.

Younger Boy's...totally different story.

Here is the chain of email...

Initial Email:

Service Coordinator,

Would you send me a copy of Younger Boy's most recent court order?  I haven't received my copy from State.


Her response:

I'm trying to find out if I can give you the court order.  My supervisor would like to know why you would like a copy of it.  I'm not trying to be difficult.  Just trying to get more information.

My response...not very nice:

I want to know what it says.  As the foster parent I can go get them.  Service Coordinator didn't have a problem sending Middle Boy's and I generally get them from State.  Have your supervisor call me.

Foster Care Specialists (my advocate in system) response:

Service Coordinator, all foster families get copies of the foster children's court orders.  Some get them from the court, others from the case manager.  Usually case managers give copies to foster parents and our agency at family team meetings so there shouldn't be a reason you couldn't give a copy of the court order to Denise.  Actually, I'm supposed to keep copies in the children's files at Agency, so I will also need a copy of the most recent order.  Thanks in advance.

We haven't received the court order yet.  I am sure she will try to find a way around giving me a copy.  It is mostly because since the last court date she has tried to tell me MULTIPLE things are "court ordered" that I  know are not.  I am going to talk to Judge D about it on Tuesday during court. 

I'm not going to be holding my breath until I receive it.

Prayers I don't lose my cool with her today.
As a foster mama I have been wondering about those things I missed and will probably never get to know...
  1. How much did you weigh when you were born?  How long were you?
  2. When did you get your first tooth?
  3. When did you take your first step?
  4. What was your first word?
  5. How old were you when you were potty trained?
  6. When did you learn to write?  Who taught you?
  7. What was your favorite toy?
  8. Did you have a favorite bedtime book?  Did anyone even read to you?
  9. What did you look like as a toddler?
  10. When did you first get glasses?
  11. Did you ever have chicken pox?
  12. When did you lose your first tooth?
There are so many more things I wish I knew.

These are the things I have the privilege to know now though...things your biological mama may never get the chance to know...
  1. The kind of man you grow up to be.
  2. What you decided to do after high school.
  3. When you learned to drive a car.
  4. Who was your first love.
  5. When you accepted Christ in your heart.
  6. Who you married.
  7. How many kids you have.
  8. The things which make you happy.
  9. The things which make you sad.
  10. How artistically talented you are.
  11. How you are compassionate and observant.
  12. How smart you are.
I'm glad I get to be your mama...forever...until I draw my last breath.  God chose me to be your mama and Middle Boy and Younger Boy...I will love you forever.
This afternoon I took another step forward in the adoption process.  The subsidy paperwork for the state is signed.

The adoption packets have gone to my adoption attorney and now I wait for him to contact me to file the adoption petition.

I have some decisions to make about custody of the boys in the event of my death since I am a single parent.  There is a form I will need to fill out giving the state the information or giving custody back to the state should I die.  Don't all volunteer at once to take the boys!!

It's exciting and scary all at once.  This is a big step.  We have been a family for a while now, but this makes it OFFICIAL.

I found this quote by another foster parent and it touched my heart....

"Sometimes (actually often) if we are listening, God asks us to do things that are hard. He asks us to do things that hurt. He asks us to take risks for His kingdom. He asks us to be used in ways that don't make sense to the world, so that the only explanation is Him . . . It is God's strength, and His love he has put into our hearts for these kids, that keeps us refreshed."

So beautiful and so true.
Over the last couple of weekends at camp I have had the opportunity to reflect about life.  I used to have a lot more time on my hands, but now for some reason I seem to be in short supply.

I do this, because it is what God specifically called me to do.  He asked me to be on this journey and I said yes.  I stopped hitting the snooze alarm on "doing something" and actually "got out of the boat".

How do I know this is the journey He intended for me?
  1. Honestly I never wanted to have kind of kids in my care.
  2. I don't have much patience.
  3. He created me with the ability to laugh at the absurd.
  4. He gave me a heart for the orphan.
  5. He directed my path in such a way that this was inevitable.  When my plans for life didn't work out it was because His plan was this and it is better.
  6. He gave me the courage to do what others believe is crazy.
Without Him I am incapable of doing this.  The everyday of foster care is daunting.  It is hard.  I'm not going to lie.  There are times when all I can do is cry out to Him.

There are times when I look at these boys and I think to myself...very funny, God, very funny.

He had some lessons for me to learn about myself.  He wanted to show me those areas of life where I needed to check my heart.  I'm learning...sometimes quite slowly...but I'm learning.

I'm going to keep saying yes to this journey and to every journey God has planned for me and my family, because this is worth it.  He is worth it!!

This post is part of a blog hop! Join me in reading about some journeys of other foster families.
Tonight bedtime was rough again.

We didn't get home from Middle Boy's therapy until after Younger Boy's bedtime.  His task when he got home was to take Sophie out and then get in the shower and go to bed.  Nearly two hours later he was just getting out of the shower.

He was in the kitchen wandering around and I asked him to please go get into bed.  This resulted in him going in his room and screaming "f*** you, all I wanted was a snack". 

He never mentioned a snack when he was in the kitchen.  He was playing with Sophie and spinning around.  I must not understand what grabbing a snack looks like.

I had him come back out and discuss a better way to handle what had just happened.  He screamed, "Why don't you just give me a consequence?  How about no TV for a week?  How about a month?"  Really?  That isn't even what I asked.  I asked how it could have been handled differently.

He did a redo.  He went into the kitchen.  I asked him to go to bed.  He said he was a little bit hungry.  I told him to grab a string cheese and head for bed.  Much smoother, but apparently we had to go through the stinkier way to handle it first.

Praises for teachable moments.  Prayers for learning to control anger.
Everything is a debate with the boys lately.  I'm done debating.  It is exhausting and ultimately gets us NOWHERE.

Tonight Middle Boy wanted to know on a scale of 1 to 10 how much I trusted both him and Younger Boy and why I chose that rating.  I gave them both a 7. 

I told him my biggest problem with trusting them is their lack of follow through when it comes to keeping their word.  My opinion is when you say you are going to do something and you don't I can't trust you.  Middle Boy said he often tells me he is going to do things with no intention of doing it, because then I will stop talking to him about it. 

I told him when he tells me something it is giving his word.  He disagrees.  To him giving his word means he promised to do something and used the word "promise" in the agreement.  I tried to explain to him his definition doesn't work in life.  When you agree, promise or not, you have given your word and then expectation is you will follow through.

The discussion turned into him "defining interrupting", because obviously I never learned it (disrespectful) and he said it is his RIGHT to be disrespectful if he feels like he has been interrupted or accused.  The problem is you can't have a conversation with him and give him an observation where he doesn't feel like you are interrupting or accusing.  You can't say things like "it seems like this makes you angry".  That's an accusation.  If he asks a question while talking and you answer you are interrupting, because you didn't let him finish.  However, if you make a comment on his interrupting that is an accusation.

When you have a serious conversation with him in the middle he will stop and say things like "Barney shot a rainbow unicorn" and then get mad when I don't think it is funny.  Even when I am not having a serious conversation I will NEVER laugh at a random statement like that.  It just isn't funny to me.  This generally results in him telling me I have NO IDEA how to have fun and I should lighten up like his mentor or Younger Boy's mentor or virtually anyone else in his life.  I asked if he is disrespectful to those people when they are "lightening up".  Hmm...nope.  I figured that out from the non-answer. is completely exhausting to talk to him sometimes.  I hate doing this every night.  He insists on it.  If I don't engage he will sit there and say things like.  "Nice talking to you chair.  Nice talking to you wall."

Prayers for wisdom on how to make this STOP or change.
Tonight was out first family session for Middle Boy's therapy.  It was rough, but in the end really good.

It started with Therapist L telling Middle Boy she is tired of the excuses.  He is BARELY meeting the minimum requirements of therapy.  She feels he is too comfortable.

The point of family therapy is once this therapy is over I will be his support system so he has to tell me about his struggles and talk them through with me.  He IMMEDIATELY became defensive and angry.  He said the whole thing with having to present his homework to me was stupid and served no point.

Finally he decided to present a paper on Sympathy, Empathy, and Apathy.  He gave me the definition of each and then Therapist L told him to give me an example of each in his life from the past week.  He had nothing for any of them. 

She had me talk about my thoughts about how I am treated by Middle Boy.  She asked if he was respectful of me and followed my directions.  No...he is not respectful of me the majority of the time.  She asked him why and he said, "Because I like to win."  She asked what he is winning by being disrespectful.  What is the prize? 

She had him define the types of abuse.  She asked me to give examples of the way he talks to me.  She asked him to tell her if the way he talks to me falls into any of the abuse categories.  He wouldn't answer.  She told him it makes her sad that he is emotionally abusive to me. 

She asked him to give her a definition of what a parent should do and how a family should be.  He didn't have anything.  It became his homework for next week.

She pointed out to him that he has MANY walls built up and he is in a "push-pull" relationship with me.  He "pulls" me toward him, because he really wants to have a parent/child relationship, but as soon as he thinks he might be hurt he "pushes".  She confirmed we are aware there have been many things which have happened to him which shouldn't have happened to him.  She confirmed since none of his previous foster families have worked out for him they have all been dysfunctional.  She explained to him how with this family it isn't dysfunctional and because that is the only thing he knows he is working as hard as he can to introduce the dysfunction.  This INFURIATED him. was a good session.  A really good session.  We are going to start doing them once a month.

I am thankful for Therapist L.

Praises for God putting Therapist L in our life.  She is a Christianity-based therapist and it has been incredibly helpful.

Prayers for understanding and wisdom.
Tonight on the way to therapy the boys and I got into a discussion about image and who you choose to associate with.  I'm not even sure what started the conversation.

Middle Boy insists his life is filled with "gangsters" and it is the only way he knows how to act.  I told him I believed those were his choices and he could absolutely choose something else.  He said it is too hard to change.  It is hard to change.  He is right.

Younger Boy generally chooses to associate with the kids in school who mess around quite a bit.  Middle Boy chooses the friends who skip class and aren't engaged academically.

They are both going to new schools this year.  They have choices to make.  I want them to feel comfortable with their friends, but I also want them to understand their choices influence the outcome of their lives.

Prayers for finding friends who are a good influence.
I love the therapeutic approach taken by the Attachment and Trauma Center.  After they have a few sessions with the child to get to know them they do a timeline and write the child's life story.

The timeline gives them a basic overview of how the child views the events in their life and also gives insight into the big things that have impacted them.  From this timeline they talk about detailed events.

When Therapist C told Younger Boy we were going to make a timeline so we could write his life story he immediately hung his head.  It was pretty obvious he didn't want to go there.  She explained how if he made his life story ultimately he would feel better about the things that had happened in his life...not happy about them, but maybe they wouldn't control him anymore.

He agreed to make his timeline.

All I can say is WOW....there are is so much trauma there.  In his perspective he has been in at least FOUR abusive homes.  He blames Older Boy for him being in foster care.  He thinks he has used all of his chances in life.  The words coming out of his mouth and his view on his life devastated me.  There were a number of events I had never heard mention of.  Some I had.

Next week we will start the actual story. 

Therapist C told him at the end of therapy she had an assignment for him.  He is to leave those memories on her sheet of paper this week and be busy being a kid.  She told him sometimes those memories are tricky and they sneek off her paper and back into kids minds, but she told him if that happens he should talk to me immediately.

Prayers for therapy and this approach.  It makes COMPLETE sense to me.

Praises for finding ATCN.
This morning when I got to Younger Boy's therapy Therapist C wanted to chat a little bit before the session.

She told me Service Coordinator had emailed her to ask for her plan for sibling therapy for Younger Boy and Older Boy.  She told Therapist C it was court ordered for them to do therapy together.  What?  Why are we hearing about this now when the last court date was in MARCH.

Therapist C went on to tell me this is VERY RARE and she would be shocked if this were the case.  Also, since she doesn't treat Older Boy she would have to have an authorization to be able to speak with his therapist to develop a plan.  She doesn't have the authorization.

I knew this was coming, because Mom J called me yesterday to tell me Older Boy's therapist had mentioned it to her.  His therapist is writing a recommendation they NOT do sibling therapy until they are both in a more manageable individual place.  Therapist C absolutely agrees and is planning to follow lead.

Honestly I doubt it is court ordered.  I am trying to get a copy of the orders now, but no one can send them to you or fax them.  You have to go to the court house to pick them up.  They are supposed to be mailed to the foster parent by the Service Coordinator, but in all the time I have been doing foster care I have only received one copy for each boy.

Service Coordinator has "gotten mixed up" on multiple occasions and made people jump through a lot of unnecessary hoops for no reason.  This is likely the same circumstance.

Good thing I am actually going to court this time and can speak on our behalf. 

Prayers for getting this straightened out.  Literally some days Service Coordinator makes me crazy...CRAZY.  Prayers for getting the court order in a timely manner.

Over the weekend someone gave me some furniture.  To me it was sight unseen.  Realtor M gathered a group of people to bring it to me.

This is beautiful furniture.  I am not sure who our angel is.  I know all of the angels who delivered it.

I appreciate this gift so much.  It was something we don't NEED, but will certainly use.

God is so good!!
The boys want to learn to budget.  They want to learn about money.  They wanted to talk about saving, spending, tithing, and credit vs. debit.

This is a lot.  It is complicated by the fact the boys really struggle in math.  So if you say 10% it honestly means nothing to them.  I decided we would start with the 80/10/10 rule of money. 

I explained how the 80/10/10 concept means you save 10%, you tithe 10%, and you have the remainder to meet your financial obligations and to spend as you wish.  Since they are kids they don't really have financial obligations.

I asked the following question...if I gave them 20 dollars how would the money be divided up using the 80/10/10 rule.  Middle Boy said he would give 10 dollars to savings and 10 dollars to church.  Younger Boy was going to do five dollars to savings and 10 dollars to church.  Both wondered how much they would have left to themselves.  I don't know where the disconnect is.  I don't know if it is a complete lack of understanding of percentages, but I suspect it might be.

I think this exercise is going to be a lesson in math almost more than money, because it is SO HARD to manage your money if you have NO IDEA how math works.

As soon as the boys are no longer wards of the state we are going to get savings accounts so they can actually watch their money grow.

Prayers for wisdom for me in how to best explain this.  Prayers for understanding for the boys. 

Praises for the ability to be able to teach them this important life skill.
Tonight we had our first family dinner in a while.  I don't know when the last time was honestly when we all sat down at a table and ate together.  No one had anything court-ordered this evening so we were able to just eat together.

It was a nice dinner.  We could use some work on table manners, but I'll take it if that is our only issue at dinner.

Praises for a good amount of family time.
Today Middle Boy had his monthly med check.  He has been doing pretty well with the exception of this past weekend when he didn't take melatonin, because he was having too much fun playing video games with JP.

We are going to continue on the therapeutic dosage of his antidepressant.  It seems to make a difference in his motivation level and his ability to sleep through the night.  A symptom of depression is being awake between the hours of two and four in the morning on a consistent basis.  This happened to him in the couple of months he was off of the medication.

Middle Boy also had a lot of general questions for Dr. L.  He wanted to know about budgeting and insurance.  It mainly started because Dr. L was telling him about insurance at the beginning of the appointment.  Dr. L was patient and answered his questions.  I am not sure I would get financial advice from a psychiatrist, but to each their own.

Praises for finding a med which makes Middle Boy's quality of life better.  Prayers for the day when he will no longer need it, but until then I am thankful for it.
Grandpa is going home. 

When he had this reversal surgery all the initial indication was he would be in the hospital five to seven days.  He is getting out today...Day 13.  His body doesn't seem to really agree with general anaesthesia.  Some of his organs take a little while to "wake up" after surgery.

It is such a relief to know Grandpa is back on his way to good health.

I will miss seeing Grandpa and Grandma all the time.  That has been the blessing in all of this, but I am SO GLAD they are getting to return to their "normal" life.

Praises for healing!
Here's where we are in the process...with some corrections and new steps:
  1. Adoption home study interview - Mom
  2. Adoption home study interview - Middle Boy
  3. Adoption home study interview - family
  4. Fingerprints - Mom
  5. Adoption study paperwork - Foster Care Specialist - waiting for the results of my fingerprinting...which by the way has been done SEVEN TIMES in the last two years.
  6. Determine baseline monthly stipend - Service Coordinator/Mom - This will be done at our FTM in June.  I am going to have to figure out how this works.
  7. File stipend collateral paperwork - Service Coordinator
  8. State determine final subsidy payment and schedules subsidy negotiation with foster parent. - We have been in this step since June 6, 2012.  Both service coordinators have tried to get a status update in the last couple of weeks and their emails and calls have gone unanswered.
  9. Select adoption attorney - Mom - I can do this.  I just have to find the paperwork I got from CASA with the recommendations.
  10. Prepare adoption paperwork - Adoption Attorney - He is on vacation this week so hopefully he can wrap up the paperwork
  11. File adoption paperwork at courthouse - Adoption Attorney - Ideally this would get done on June 21, 2012, the first available day it can happen. - This did not happen since the subsidy is not completed.  It will not happen until two weeks after subsidy negotiation is completed and signed and at this time there is no tentative date for the meeting. - This could happen by the end of July.
  12. Wait 30 - 90 days - Everyone  Wait 4 to 8 weeks.  I was wrong about the days.
  13. Adoption hearing - Everyone - There will probably be two of these, because the boys have different judges and are on different court dockets.  The boys really want them to be on the same day, but I don't think we have much control over that.  Ideally they would at least be in the same week.
  14. Big party - Everyone - no details yet, still wondering what this should be.  Younger Boy will want a big party...Middle Boy will want to be a small family celebration, because he doesn't like the attention drawn to him.
The closer we get to adoption the worse behaviors get in our home.  The boys are expecting a magic wand to wave over us at the hearing, but it isn't likely to happen.
Tonight after arriving home from camp I took a different approach than I did last week.

Instead of everyone doing their own thing we did a family activity.  I asked the boys what they wanted to do.  They decided they wanted my help with a quiz game they were playing online.  It was a game where you identified product logos.  Between the three of us we did fairly well.  There are seven levels.  We only got to level two before we were all exhausted.

Praises for good family fun!!
Here is what I realized at camp this week...
  1. I love camp with all of my heart.  It changes my perspective and my life every time I go.
  2. Teenage boys are the most fun kids to be around.  I have a passion for them...not in a creepy way, but I "get" them.
  3. My life has been beyond blessed.
  4. Camp is a life changing experience for everyone...adults and kids alike.
  5. There are a lot of amazing godly men in the world.
Praises for this amazing camp and the amazing role models these men are.
I have loved hearing all of the counselors and their descriptions of Younger Boy.  So many of them called him a Rock Star or a Super Star.  Some of them described him as smart while others said he was kind and compassionate.  The camp grandma said he was absolutely adorable.

He is all of those things.  It made me smile to hear it.

He was a little bit of a scam artist at camp, too.  He somehow convinced EIGHT people to give him their push-up for dessert on Saturday night.  EIGHT PEOPLE fell for his charm.  I am proud to say I was NOT one of them.

During the camp I had to encourage him to spend time with his counselors and cabin mates, because he can hang out with me all of the time.  I was also able to help him a couple of times when he became frustrated.

Praises for the complements of Younger Boy.  I was a proud mama!
Middle Boy had an awesome day with JP, his caregiver.  He learned how to play xbox live.  Not really sure this is an important life skill, but he was pretty pumped up about it.  He desribed their awesome day like this...we slept, ate, and played some video games.  Yup...probably pretty awesome in the eyes of a teenage boy.

Camp was amazing today.  The shirts are BEAUTIFUL and the boys loved them.  LOVED them.  I am so thankful for it.

There was a concert at camp tonight and the drummer from the band gave his testimony.  He was a former foster kid and he let them do question and answer.  Their questions and his answers were pretty powerful.  Immediately following the campers got to each pray with their counselors and the outcomes of some of that time together was amazing.  There were lot of tears on the parts of the campers and the counselors.  The men who do this camp are nothing short of incredible.

Praises for an amazing day for everyone in our family.
Today was a great day at camp.  RIDICULOUSLY hot, but great.

We tie-dyed the shirts...prayers they don't turn out brown.  We had an amazing bonfire.  All around a good day.

I called Middle Boy at the end of the day.  He had been waiting up for my call.  It was good to talk to him for a few minutes.  I am sad he isn't here at camp this year.  I am missing him a lot.  This is where I met him last year.

Prayers for two more good days at camp.  Prayers for Middle Boy as he is home missing camp.
Today I am heading to the last camp of the year.  I am actually really excited about this camp.  Of the three it is probably my favorite.

I got my stuff together in a timely manner and felt good about getting ready to go.  I wasn't crying and I wasn't really procrastinating...more than usual.

It made me feel better about camp and going on the trip.  The boys are ready for the weekend.

Prayers for a fantastic camp where lives are changed...the lives of the kids and the adults alike!!
This morning I went to the hospital to visit Grandpa and Grandma.  By now Grandpa should be out of the hospital, but he is not.

We had a pretty nice visit.  I am enjoying spending time with them.  It doesn't happen nearly enough on a regular basis...with the exception of these hospital stays.

While I was there the chaplain came in to talk to them and I saw just how frustrated the two of them are.

I pray for peace for my parents.  I love you!!
I went to my meeting with the state expecting a battle over the subsidies for the boys.  Honestly...I just want what is fair.  If there is a subsidy available due to certain behavior and the boys exhibit the behavior I feel we should get the subsidy.  I don't think it is that complicated.

The woman we met with was so nice.  We went over every single line item and we have to write one letter for auditing purposes and were denied one behavior.  The behavior was "severely disturbing behavior" for Younger Boy.  We were lobbying due to all of the behaviors he has had with bathroom issues, but it did not qualify as "severe".

The whole thing made me wonder if all you had to do was meet with them to get the full amount.

The state will finalize the paperwork and I will sign it early next week. 

Praises for an easier process than I had anticipated.
I absolutely, positively LOVE this blog post!!

Diary of a Foster Mom
I got a call just a little while ago from Middle Boy.  He wanted me to come and pick him up RIGHT NOW.

They were filling water balloons for an afternoon activity and he didn't want to get wet.  They were also painting a sign.  Allegedly he got paint and water on his clothes.  I have learned over the last couple of months that this is ABSOLUTELY a trigger for Middle Boy.  He freaks out!

He ran (as fast as you can run on a sprained ankle and dislocated toes) into the YMCA while swearing at his counselor.  He was stopped by the director of the teen program to see what was going on and he told her to f****** figure it out.

When he called he was screaming at me.  I told him to call me back when he was able to stop swearing and yelling at me, because it wasn't me he was mad at.

In the meantime the director called me and said that while he has been doing great the last two days he has been over the top with his anger.  I'm sure he will say that it has nothing to do with his be over-tired.  She asked if I wanted to call and talk to him or come and pick him up.  I told her I would call and talk to him, but wanted him to have to figure out his behavior.  I said if it was still over the top right before lunch to call me and I would come get him, but not to let him know that.  I don't want him to think of it as a reward.

He called me back and we discussed when it is appropriate to swear and yell at people in authority.  My answer is NEVER.  He said "I was mad."  I explained it was an excuse.  It is still unacceptable.  I told him he needed to apologize to the director in person and tonight we would also write her a note of apology.

I also asked if he thought his anger level was over the top for the events which happened.  He didn't think so.  I gave him the chain of events and made him list them out to me.  He got really quiet.  That's how I knew he realized he was over the top.

Prayers for behavior.  It is a combination of things.  He is tired.  He was at respite last weekend and will be again this weekend.  He can't go to camp.  Prayers he recognizes what is going on.
I have had a lot of people comment recently about how much I have going on and how "when it rains it pours".  Those things caused me to stop and reflect a little bit on life. since last fall has been hard in many ways.  When I mentally list the things even to me it seems a little bit overwhelming. 

Here's the perspective I have:
  1. Middle Boy was in the detention center for two months.  During that time I was allowed to have one on one with Younger Boy and really get to know him.  Also...Middle Boy is back home now and that is what really matters.
  2. Middle Boy and Younger Boy have had their really stinky behaviors.  This has presented the opportunity to me to learn about reactive attachment disorder and help others by presenting what I am learning.  At the same time making my home life much better.
  3. Grandpa was really sick.  Like "this is not good" sick.  Grandpa is still here and is getting better.  Hopefully as good as he was before.
  4. Grandma had surgery.  She is doing great and feeling better than before. 
  5. The health of Grandma and Grandpa.  This showed me without a doubt how much my parents love each other.  Not that I ever doubted it, but I watched it and it is a cool love story.
  6. My relationship with my sisters.  The health of Grandma and Grandpa pointed out the reality that my relationship with my sisters essentially sucks.  I wish I had a different perspective on this right now, but I don't.
  7. Our house is on the market and hasn't sold.  Our move was delayed.  Other than being a hassle of rescheduling this has been a blessing.  We weren't really ready to move and during the entire time we had a roof over our heads.
  8. Work has been busy, but I have a job which pays me well and allows me the flexibility to parent the boys in the manner I need to.
  9. Camp has been time consuming.  The lives of 128 foster kiddos were touched with the love of Jesus in ways that might not have otherwise happened.
  10. My time for myself and my friends is limited and non-existent.   Yet I literally have HUNDREDS of people willing to jump in and help me out if I just say the word.

I am beyond blessed.  God has blessed me in ways I never would have imagined.  Sometimes in the comfort of my life I forget this.  I get a little woe is me and I get exhausted.

Praises for blessing and a renewed perspective.
The boys went to bed last night at 7PM. 

I had to answer the tracker call for Middle Boy and wake him up to take it.  He immediately fell back asleep.

Both boys woke up exhausted again.  They aren't anywhere near being caught up on sleep and are a little bit grouchier today than yesterday.  Both agreed tonight needs to be another early night.

Prayers they will remember that this evening!!
Younger Boy "gets it".

Today we talked a lot at therapy about how "tricky brain" (the emotional brain) can sometimes take over "smart brain" (the logical brain) and make us do things we know don't make any sense and are wrong.

When I picked him up at daycare he told me there were two times at daycare that day where smart brain was able to tell tricky brain that he was going to get into trouble if he did something.  HE GETS IT!!

I am proud of this progress!!

Praises for the tricky brain-smart brain analogy and the acknowledgment by Younger Boy.
Tonight when I picked up Middle Boy he was SO TIRED.  Honestly he was a mess.

He immediately started in on how I ruined his day by making him mad this morning.

I stopped him and asked if he thought a part of it was because he was so very tired.  I also tried to discuss with him what Younger Boy and I had discussed in therapy.  I asked him why he had stayed up late the previous two nights.  He said because he felt like it.

I told him that to me it felt a lot like he was trying to get back at me for being gone.  That he was mad and so he decided to make me mad. 

He immediately countered with the fact that he NEVER intentionally tries to make me mad, but admitted that sometimes he works very hard to be irritating.

I asked him again what his reasoning was for staying up late and he told me it is because there are all these "mixed up" things going through his brain and it won't relax.  I asked him what kind of things.  His answer "thoughts and feelings".  Really?  That might have not occurred to me!  It was also an indication that it is likely just random things he isn't attuned to.

I told him I would MUCH rather have him talk to me when he can't sleep instead of me thinking he was staying up late just to make me mad.  He has to come to me though.  I can't mind read between the two.  I asked who had the responsibility when the thoughts were too much.  He said he did.  I asked what he should do and he said "I don't know."  AARGH!!  Yes, you do.  You don't want to do it, because then you can stay up late, because even though it isn't a conscious decision you are still choosing it and it is meeting a need you have.

I also mentioned to him that Younger Boy had told me Middle Boy hurts his feelings, because he doesn't know when he was joking.  Middle Boy immediately started to argue with me.  I explained I was just passing on the information and that when we got home we would figure it out.

He felt HORRIBLE about hurting Younger Boy's feelings AND agreed he needed more sleep tonight.

Praises for insight.
Over the past few weeks the person Middle Boy committed a crime against has been repeatedly contacting us.  First it was requesting to be his friend on Facebook three times.  Now she is texting and calling me.

As a term of probation he is to have no contact.  She is insisting to see him.  Today it escalated and I had to get the court involved.

I want her to just stop. Stop texting, stop calling....STOP.

Prayers for our safety through this.
This mama is starting therapy.  My former foster care specialist is working on her masters in therapy and specifically for foster parents.  It is free because she is still a student and it is part of her research.

I'm on board.  You don't have to ask me twice.  I whole-heartedly recognize the value of therapy.  I already trust this person and she has already worked with me in another capacity for the better part of a year.

There are so many things I want to talk about.  So many things other people don't understand. 

I'm so excited about this opportunity. 

Praises to God for putting people in my life who help to make me a better person.  Praises for the offer of help when I am hesitant to ask.

Last night was a rough night for Grandpa.  He didn't hold down the food he ate yesterday and now has a tube draining the bile from his stomach.

He is off of all liquids and foods until they figure out what is going on with him.

Both Grandpa and Grandma are discouraged.

Pray for healing and for peace.
We had attachment therapy this morning.

We worked on why there has been virtually no sleep at my house this week.

The dominoes went like this:
  1. Mom needed to go out of town.
  2. Younger Boy was sad, because he would miss me and worried I might not be coming back.
  3. Younger Boy had fun at respite, but missed me.
  4. I picked up Younger Boy, but was tired.  It was bedtime when we got home.
  5. Younger Boy had in his mind that we were going to do a family activity when we got home, but didn't say anything.
  6. I took a shower and was ready for bed.
  7. Both boys stayed up way too late, because they were mad we didn't do a family activity.
  8. I got up and went to work and took the boys to daycare.
  9. I picked them up and we had errands to do.
  10. We went to the hospital to visit Grandpa.
  11. We came home and hung out for a few minutes, but it was bedtime again.
  12. The boys were expecting a family activity unbeknownst to me.
  13. I went to bed at the normal time.
  14. Boys stayed up way too late.
  15. We got up.
  16. Both boys screamed, swore, and cried to their respective daycares.  They told me how I was the worst mom on the planet and I need to learn to be a parent.  Middle Boy asked me not to speak to him for four or five days.
Therapist C helped Younger Boy to see that the dominoes falling could have stopped at number 5 if he would have just told me how he felt.  Then he wouldn't be completely exhausted and have to miss his late baseball game tonight.  That was a result of the behaviors this morning and not sleeping the last two days.

Prayers he "gets it".
One of the interns at the attachment center is using our case as a case study.  We remain anonymous, but she presents the findings and then the class diagnoses the child.

Therapist C told me about the presentation today.  Apparently the class diagnosed Younger Boy with reactive attachment disorder and possible conduct disorder.  Their professor doesn't believe there is such a thing as reactive attachment disorder and that Younger Boy (and all children who have been traumatized) know exactly what they are doing and it is just oppositional defiant disorder causing the behaviors.  He went on to say that they could be strictly punished out of the behaviors.

I laughed and asked where I could drop Younger Boy off for this parenting so this professor could see that this is REAL.

Therapist C went on to tell me that there is a movement in the therapeutic profession to have reactive attachment disorder changed to trauma delayed as a diagnosis, because that is really what it is.

Prayers people will start to get it.
Day two of repayment for sending the boys to respite for the weekend. 

The way both boys have chosen to punish me is by refusing to sleep.  Sunday night they were up until just after 2pm and last night until after 4pm.

I have just gone to bed at my usual time.  They wake me often and are really loud, but I am still getting some sleep.

This morning both of them are one step from unbearable to be around.  They are a mess.

How long will I have to pay for being gone for the weekend?
Earlier today I got an email from a friend about her brother and his plight in the foster care system.  He is a single pastor who has college kids living with him and has had a teenage foster son for the last year.

Over the past few months it has become apparent to him the child needs something else, but he is agonizing over it.  As soon as I got the message I felt compelled to email him because I know there aren't a lot of people who "get" what he is going through.  I do.  I came to the same realization with Older Boy about a year ago.

I prayed for him.  I listened and I encouraged as best I could.  See...this guy...he said yes when God asked him to.  He provided a home for this boy for a year when his own family was mixed up.  He gave God the time to work in someone else's heart to take this boy in. 

Everything he said and all of the feelings he had I could relate.  I knew.  As time has passed for me it has gotten better, but every now and then there is guilt.  Why didn't I try harder?  Why didn't I give it one more shot?

Pray for foster dad.  His heart is breaking.  Pray he knows he made a difference and an impact he may never understand this side of heaven.
We went to visit Grandpa tonight.  Things seem to be going fairly well in his recovery from surgery last week.  He is tired tonight, but he had a big day of doing a lot of walking in the hallways.

He was able to eat solid foods today and has a couple more goals to meet and then they will be on their way home.  It could be as early as tomorrow.

Praises for a quick recovery.
There is a glitch in the home buying since my house has not sold.  It has to do with the types of loans I have and not being able to have two loans of the same type at the same time and there are exceptions I qualify for do I want to do it. 

Is this God telling me this isn't the right house or the right time?  It is going to take past the closing date to straighten it all out.  Do I get an extension?

So...pray for what to do with the house.
After being armed with all of the available information about the loans I have decided to get a 30 day extension on the closing date.  This will result in the ability to straighten out the loans and hopefully also sell the house.

This is honestly a blessing in disguise.  It will give us the opportunity to actually get ourselves packed and ready to go without me having a nervous breakdown.

Thank you God for protecting us.
All during camp I was trying to stay in the moment.  In the present with these girls.

One of the things I have realized about this journey is that God has made me bold.  Bold in ways when sometimes I even think "who has the courage to say that?"  I also noticed how many times God gives me the words I need right when I need them.  How He speaks through me.

There are two specific instances where this comes to mind.  This first was this...I was in the craft building sitting working on crafts with Camper G who I have known for about four years.  She has been in my cabin a couple of times and I've done relief for her a couple of times.  On this particular day I noticed G is a cutter.  For those of you who don't know the term it is a self-harming technique in which you physically cut yourself.  She cuts her forearm...on the top.  The scars are DEEP.  Some were fresh.  Ordinarily I would look away or pretend I didn't notice.  God didn't let me.  Instead I tapped the scars very softly and said "do you want to talk about this?".  I told her she could absolutely tell me that it was none of my business, but she didn't.  Instead she told me she wasn't quite ready, but before the end of the weekend she would.

On Sunday morning at breakfast G came to me and as I put my arm around her she told me about her view on her life and how it is hard.  I asked her if cutting made how hard life was go away.  She said no, but she didn't know how to stop.  I asked her to make me a deal.  That instead of cutting her arm when things were hard would she instead take a deep breath and pray.  Ask God to make the hard things more bearable and take away the desire to hurt herself.  She agreed and she told me she will let me know how it is going.

The other instance was with Camper A.  She was semi freaking out at the lake, because she didn't know how to swim.  She was wearing a life jacket, but she was scared other girls would push her under.  She was in a mini-meltdown.  I stopped her on the beach.  I had her look at me and I explained how the life jacket works.  I told her if she just relaxes and lays her head back the jacket will keep her face out of the water.  Then I volunteered to help her learn to swim the next day.  What?  I hate swimming.  Why am I volunteering to help someone learn to swim?  Thanks God.

As I reflect I see growth.  Bold growth.  Sometimes I look at the things I do.  Things where I am courageous and bold...both not by nature....and wonder.

Praises for these girls who help me see the courage God has given me to be bold.
I met the coolest girl at camp this weekend.  Camper N is funny and smart.  She made me laugh on more than one occassion.  She made me think if I wasn't the mom of boys how I could be her mom, but I can't.

She told me more than one time how she is a "big nerd" and loves to get good grades and read.  She is well spoken.

I loved how she had questions about God.  Questions about whether or not HE could ever love her.  He can ABSOLUTELY love her...for eternity.  We talked about that. 

I love this girl.  I would love for her to be in our lives even if just every now and then. 

Until then I will be praying for her!!
Tonight I got a call from home.

Middle Boy is so ready for me to be home.  I can just tell.  He commented I sounded like I was having a good time.

Younger Boy could be gone for months and not blink an eye.  He has started calling me Mommy.  It is a new thing within the past couple of months, but he said he could stay at respite longer if I needed him to.  This is the same boy who on Thursday asked me if I would be picking him up or if he would be moving on Sunday.

It was good to talk to the boys.  I miss them a ton!!
Today the majority of my family went to Younger Boy's baseball game.  So did Middle Boy's mentor and his wife.  In all he had eleven fans at the game.

He said he could hear all the fans cheering for him and it made him play the best he has ever played. 

He was SO EXCITED to be able to pitch in front of them.

I'm so thankful they were there.  I wish I could have been as well.

Praises for "faithful fans" to make him feel special.
This weekend was the second time I have failed at making tie dye t-shirts at camp.  FAILED MISERABLY.  Luckily it has been once at girls camp and once at boys camp.

We set out this weekend to make fuschia, turquoise, and yellow tie-dyed shirts.  We ended up making "cotton candy" shirts.  What a me.  SO FRUSTRATING.

I was THRILLED with the amount of help I had washing out the shirts and making sure the campers got them for the concert.  I couldn't have asked for more help!! figure out what went wrong before boys camp next weekend so I don't ruin theirs...TWICE.

For weeks I have been worrying about girls camp.  Not the logistics of camp.  I have been there a million times before.  What I was worried about was no one would help me with craft and I would have to do it all by myself.

I even went so far as to ask A and H on the way there to pray I wouldn't completely explode if I felt like I didn't have enough help.

God provided.  I was worrying for NO REASON.  We had more than enough help in activity centers.  The girls had a great time.

Praises for a fantastic group of volunteers who stepped in a helped me when I was fearful!
This is the line of the text I could see when I opened my phone this morning.

It was from Grandma.  I nearly had a heart attack.  It showed me how I was a expecting the negative.  I don't know what I thought had happened, but I actually thought to myself  "surely Mom wouldn't text me bad news, would she?"

It turned out Grandpa had met one of his goals for being able to go home.  So my momentary panic was for nothing.

Praises for the meeting of goals and having life be one step closer to normal for Grandpa and Grandma!!
After the day I have had I have NO DESIRE to go to camp.

T came over to help motivate me.  Essentially she loaded the car and packed up everything while I sat on the couch and repeated that I was not going. 

I threw my own stuff in a bag with complete disregard for things like matching outfits or even checking the packing list.  My heart wasn't in going and if I looked like I didn't want to be there it was because I didn't.  I was too tired.  I was too overwhelmed and I didn't have anything...not a single thing to give to those girls.

T left to go to the church and I left to follow her.  I called my mom and cried all the way to the church to pick up the people riding with me.  I couldn't do it.  I felt like I had to.  I just wanted to stay home and sleep/cry.

Grandma really did encourage me to drop the stuff off and leave.  She knew I needed to be able to give myself permission for it to be okay.

I just couldn't.  I couldn't bring myself to do it.

When we got there A told me she was going to text me, but couldn't bring herself to do it.  Here would have been the words of her text "You are going.  Sometimes the only thing in life you get to choose is your attitude."  Might seem harsh, but it is the phrase I repeated OVER and OVER one year at camp.  Had she sent it I would have literally laughed out loud.

Camp changed my life five years ago.  I will be there.
As I was driving away from Walmart halfway done with my errands so I could have a peaceful day I got a call.

I was going to be home WELL AHEAD of the 45 minutes I had told Grandma.  I didn't want an interruption.

I reluctantly answered.  It was Middle Boy.  He had injured his foot playing soccer at his day program and needed me to come get him and take him to get his foot x-rayed, because they thought it might be broken.

When I picked him up he was in quite a bit of pain, but also VERY AGAINST going to the doctor.  He was in so much pain he vomited in the car.  Not good for me, because I could hardly keep from vomiting myself.

When we got to urgent care we needed to get consent to treat.  It took 70 minutes and six or seven phone calls.  Good thing he wasn't actually dying.

We were at urgent care for four hours, because they had to take multiple versions of x-rays and consult with an orthopaedic surgeon to figure out what is going on.  In the end he had an ankle sprain and a couple of dislocated toes.  We already had the crutches at home from his last ankle sprain.

The interesting thing is this....the last time I was going to be away for a weekend was when he sprained his ankle the first time.  Attachment or coincidence?

Praises for a thorough doctor and medical tests.  Prayers for a quickly healing ankle.
All week I have been looking forward to having a quiet day to myself before I leave for camp.

I got up at the normal time of the day and then dropped the boys off at their various daycares.

I continued on to the hospital to spend some time with Grandpa and Grandma.  We had such a nice visit. 

As I was leaving I told Grandma I was going to go to Walmart and Walgreens and would be home in 45 minutes.  She told me she thought there was NO WAY I could make it.  I set out to prove her wrong, but God had other plans.
Tonight we had a quick visit with Grandpa.  He is still eating only ice chips.

The boys love spending time with both Grandma and Grandpa.  The would do anything to make sure we can stop to visit them every single day while they are in town.

Praises for my mom and dad and getting to spend time with them.
Younger Boy had baseball practice tonight.  I thought his practice was for one hour.  I must have been wrong, because it didn't end until an hour and a half later.

By the time it was over I had explained to Middle Boy at least 20 times it could be my fault and he wasn't going to punch Younger Boy or say anything about it.

First thing when he got in the car Middle Boy interrogated him...not what I asked him to do.

This stuff makes me irritated.

Normal kid stuff though.  Not a RAD behavior.  I'll take that any day.

Praises for "normal kids".
We had a family team meeting today for Younger Boy. 

The GAL again showed up in his Hawaiian garb.  I want to throw up everytime he does this.

It was a good meeting.  Younger Boy is such a different kid than when he first moved in and we used to do these meetings.

We talked about the subsidy and how I was not going to accept it.  GAL said to let him know if I couldn't come to an agreement with the state.  What he is going to do...I'm not sure.

Mentor R was at the meeting for the first time in a long time.  It was good to see him there.  During the course of the meeting his wife called to let him know she was in a car accident.  Younger Boy was really worried.  In fact he stopped the meeting so we could all pray together.  His prayer was quite sweet and heartfelt.

Praises for a good team meeting...maybe next time I'll wear a grass skirt and a coconut bra!
I am getting ready to leave for another camp again tomorrow.  This time it is just a weekend.

I'm NOT READY.  Not in any way.  Not physically, not emotionally, not spiritually...NOTHING.

Honestly I have never felt this unprepared for camp, but also lacked this much motivation to do anything about it.

I know God will provide what I need at camp, but I think asking him to get the supplies packed up and loaded in the car might be asking a little much!

Pray for camp.  Pray for the kiddos who are still "uncertains".  Pray for the kiddos who are confirmed attenders.  Pray for all of the adults making preparations to leave tomorrow.

The boys went to visit Grandpa tonight.  It was good for them to see him doing well and joking around.  It relieved a lot of stress for them.

It was good for me to see him joking around, too.  There were multiple sarcastic comments he made to the nurses which made me laugh out loud.  That is the dad I know and love.

Praises for continued recovery!!
Today was Middle Boy's family team meeting. 

It went REALLY well. 

We talked about the responsibility Middle Boy has been given at the YMCA with the food program.  The entire team thought it was amazing!

The best thing we learned is all of the team, Service Coordinator, Probation Officer, and Tracker are all going to recommend there be no more electronic monitor or tracking after the August court date.  That would be such a blessing.

Praises for a great team for Middle Boy.  Adults who truly have his best interest at heart.

You might know I am the registration coordinator for camp.  That means I also do the counselor pairings with each other and with the campers, because at this time during camp I am the one who knows the most about behavioral issues and special requests.

Today it got ugly.  The campground we use didn't reserve the correct cabins for us either camp weekend.  As a result we needed to change the counselor and camper pairings and the housing...two days before girls camp.

I hope to finish tonight and get it sent out first thing in the morning.

Praises for having a campground to go to.

Prayers for those campers who still need to get their applications turned in and for those I am still trying to confirm.
Grandpa came through surgery just fine after a drop in blood pressure immediately following anesthesia.

In fact...when we saw him in his room right after being in recovery he was making jokes and giving Youngest Sister and I advice on a multitude of things. is the most like my dad I have seen him since this whole thing started.  It was SO GOOD to see that!

He commented to both of us that this is way harder on Grandma than it is on him.

Prayers for a speedy recovery and peace for Grandma going forward.

Praises for the doctors and their wisdom.
We are accepting applications for the following associated with our pressure here.

Help packing.  This position is open at the following times: 

7/25 - 7:30pm to 9:00pm
7/26 - 7:30pm to 9:00pm
7/27 - 6:00pm to 10:00pm
7/28 - all day
7/29 - all day
7/31 - 6:00pm to 9:00pm
8/3 - 6:00pm to 10:00pm

Help moving things from TWO storage units to the new house.  This would include the use of a truck or possibly driving a rented U-Haul:

7/28 - anytime
8/4 - anytime
8/11 - anytime

Directing traffic for moving company at old house:

8/4 - 8:30am  POSITION FILLED

Taking down shelving in garage at old house, transporting to new house, and reassembling it in new basement:

8/4 - anytime

Babysitting Sophie during the move:

8/4 - all day

Helping unpack and put things away:

8/4 - all day
8/5 - all day

Taking down bunkbeds and delivering them back to their owner who let us borrow them:

8/4 - anytime

Transportation of Boys

7/28 - Younger Boy baseball - 8:30am to 10:00am, Middle Boy therapy - 11:00am to 12:00pm
8/4 - Middle Boy therapy - 11:00am to 12:00pm, Younger Boy baseball - 11:30am to 1:00pm

I'm sure there are other positions available, but I can't think of any at this time.  All applications will be considered!!

All furniture and boxes from the old house will be moved to the new house on the morning of August 4th beginning at 9am.

We would be so blessed by people if they were able to help!  If you knew me well you would know that I HATE asking for help.
Thanks so much!!  We appreciate all of the help we can get!!

The third class in this attachment parenting class was helpful.  It is really helping me to change my perspective on some things.

Here's my synopsis and the notes...

Have You Found Yourself Saying...?
  1. She keeps doing the same things over and over.
  2. He'll never learn.
  3. I should know how to handle this.
  4. I don't like my child anymore.
  5. I feel guilty.
  6. I have told him 1000 times.
Fear Triggering Fear

Scared Child becomes Scary Child becomes Scared Parents becomes Scary Parents becomes Scared Child and the cycle just keeps continuing.

Calm Creating Calm

Scary child with a mindful parent can become a calm child.

Thoughts That May Be Helpful
  1. Trauma changed my child's brain.
  2. My child has a hole inside he needs to fill some way.
  3. Wants are needs to my child.
  4. My child developed these behaviors as a way to self-comfort and feel good.
  5. My child is scared to be vulnerable.
  6. My child is not evil or bad, he is scared.
  7. My child needs to feel in control in order to feel safe.
  8. Early trauma in childhood is similar to having a brain injury.
Anatomy of a Meltdown

There are three specific phases in a child's meltdown.

Phase 1:  Acting Out (Panic)
Phase 2:  Acting In (Shame)
Phase 3:  Repair and Reconnection (Emotional Pain)

Phase 1:  Acting Out - Panic

Your child's brain is stuck and there is no logical thought occurring.  All thought is emotional and is similar to a panic attack.

During this phase the child:
  1. Can't tell the difference between the present and the past
  2. Survival brain is activated.
  3. Verbally and physically out of control.
  4. Can't tolerate touch.
  5. Often times don't remember what happened.
Managing Phase 1

Attune and calm the child.
  1. Create a wider boundary by giving the child some space.
  2. Tag team with a partner for calm, consistent presence.
  3. Stay near and continually check in.
  4. Use calm tone and repeat "I'm here and I love you."
  5. Remind yourself the child's behavior is a reaction to the past.
  6. Focus on one moment at a time.
  7. Prevent injuries and property destruction.
Phase 2:  Acting In - Shame

Your child's brain is still stuck.
  1. Negative beliefs.
  2. Overwhelming emotions are still present.
  3. Pushing away or reaching toward parent.
  4. Coming back to present.
  5. Fear of rejection or abandonment.
  6. May or may not tolerate touch.
Managing Phase 2

Attuned Containment and Grounding
  1. Create a closer boundary for containment and may or may not include physical touch.
  2. Give reassuring messages of love and safety.
  3. Verbal grounding to help child return to present moment.  Example:  Cany you feel your feet on the floor?
  4. One parent is primary unless overwhelmed.
Phase 3:  Repair and Reconnection - Emotional Pain

Your child's brain is unstuck.
  1. Child is back in present time.
  2. Feelings of shame and anxiety about meltdown.
  3. Can tolerate physical touch.
  4. Needs to connect physically and emotionally.
Managing Phase 3

Attuned Restoration of Relationship Bond
  1. Increase physical touch by rubbing their back or holding their hand.
  2. Continued reassuring messages and affectionate touch.
  3. Connect on an emotional level.  Logic still doesn't work.
"Falling Dominoes"

The dominoes in a behavioral meltdown generally fall like this:
  1. Child is vulnerable.
  2. Child is triggered.
  3. Feelings.
  4. Negative thoughts.
  5. Body sensations.
  6. Meltdown.
Two scenarios where this might play out:

  1. Child is tired.
  2. Mom asks child to do homework.
  3. Mad
  4. Homework is too hard.
  5. Hands are clenched.
  6. Acting out child hits table with fists and yells.
Call from School
  1. Stressed and behind in school assignments.
  2. Teacher says "I'm calling your mom about missing assignments."
  3. Ashamed and fearful.
  4. I am no good and stupid.
  5. Stress headache.
  6. Child throws backpack and screams "I hate school."
First Domino:  Vulnerability Factors

Think of situations in your child's recent past that increase their likelihood of being triggered.
  1. Sleep issues.
  2. Physical illness.
  3. Parental mood and behaviors.
  4. Recent misbehavior and consequences.
  5. School related stress.
Second Domino:  Triggering Event

Think about things/events that trigger your child:
  1. Teacher yelling at child at school.
  2. Child caught in misbehavior.
  3. Asked to do a chore.
  4. Homework.
  5. Parents angry face.
More Dominoes:  Negative Thoughts About Self
  1. My parent/teacher is mean.
  2. I am not safe.
  3. I am a bad kid.
  4. I am not good enough.
  5. I don't do anything good enough.
More Dominoes:  Upsetting Feelings
  1. Shame and guilt.
  2. Anxiety
  3. Anger
  4. Frustration
  5. Powerlessness
  6. Hurt
  7. Grief
More Dominoes:  Body Sensations
  1. Heavy chest.
  2. Headache
  3. Tension in neck and back.
  4. Sick feeling in stomach.
  5. Trembling.
Last Domino:  The Meltdown

Understanding and Responding to Concerning Behaviors

Why They Do What They Do

Children who do not trust their caregivers will do what they think they need to do in order to:
  1. Survive.
  2. Protect themselves.
  3. Comfort themselves.
  4. Attempt to regulate themselves in maladaptive ways.
These children lack core trust.  This situation was compared to the way a person would behave if they were a POW.  In a POW camp the prisoners are relying on their caregivers, but don't trust them.  It is the same with a kiddo lacking attachment.  This is why there is rarely remorse seen, because they believe they are doing what they need to do to survive.

Survival Mode

Basic mistrust leads to a need for self comfort leads through:
  1. Stealing.
  2. Sexualized behaviors.
  3. Lying .
  4. Food issues.
There are two types of lying which are prevalent - survival lying and lying to create an increased sense of self.

Core Mistrust

Basic mistrust and poor emotion regulation leads to:
  1. Defiance
  2. Aggression
"I won't do what you say because I don't believe you have my best interest at heart."

Children Who Miss the Window of Opportunity for Regulation (Birth to Age 2)
  1. Poor sleep.
  2. Food issues.
  3. Bathroom issues.
  4. Poor emotional regulation.
What Children Need From You to Get Better and Feel Better
  1. Attune when you notice your child is in survival brain.
  2. Strengthen the connection through acceptabnce, mindfulness and play to gain their trust.
  3. Lots of time, energy, and patience.
Food Issues

Calming Thought:  "My child has a hole he needs to fill in some way."
Attuned Response:  "I know you feel like you want to eat."  "It's hard for you to trust me.  You can come to me."


Calming Thought:  "The child is in survival brain, instinctually lies."
Attuned Response:  "I know this is hard for you, but we need to work on being accurate with your words."

Defiance and Aggression

Calming Thought:  "The child thinks I am against him .  I need to help him know that I am on his side."
Attuned Response:  "I love you.  It's my job to keep you safe.  It's my job to keep you safe.  It's my job to guide you.  I am on your side."


Calming Thought:  "Wants are needs to my child."
Attuned Thought:  "I know it feels to you like this thing will make you happy.  It's hard for you to trust that I will give you what you need."

Bathroom Issues

Calming Thought:  "My child missed this window of opportunity to learn these skills."  "My child thinks I am the enemy."
Attuned Response:  "I am not the enemy.  I am here to help you."

Sexualized Behaviors

Calming Thought:  "this may have been the only kind of touch he knew."
Attuned Response:  "We will work with a therapist on this.  We love you no matter what."

Concerning Words

They say - "I hate you."  They mean - "I hate the way I am feeling."
They say - "I wish I was dead."  They mean - "I want to escape from these feelings."
They say - "I wish you were dead."  "I want to kill you."  They mean - "I am hurt and I blame you."
They say - "I wish you had never adopted me!"  They mean - "I feel I don't belong."
They say - "I would be happier with my birth parent."  They mean  - "I am grieving the loss of my birth parent."
They say - "You're stupid."  They mean - "I'm upset and I don't know how to talk about it."

Understanding Feelings and Beliefs driving the Behaviors Can Help You Become...
  1. Mindful
  2. Aware
  3. Insighful
  4. Pro-active
  5. Flexible
  6. Empathetic
  7. Connected.
Not every behavior has to be punished and not everything needs to have consequences.  Sometimes it is best to just sit next to the child and hold their hand.  You need to do whatever you have to do.

Integrative Parenting
  1. Over time your mindful, attuned approach will help your child develop integration between the emotional and logical brains.
  2. With assistance from you, your child can learn to think about this thinking and to think about his feelings.
  3. Self reflection = sensible decisions.