Monday, November 24, 2014

WhyPeople think I am a 'Mean' Mom to Princess

I know many view me as too controlling and even 'mean' with our adopted daughter, Princess.  We do have to keep a tight reign on her for many reasons.  That being said she has a lot more freedom that 4 years ago when we first brought her home. But it's been a LOOOOONG road and there is still a LOOOONG ways to go.

One of the main issues is Princess has no concept of discernment.  If she allowed to do something in one situation then she thinks she can in all situations.  So we have to be very strict on what she is and isn't allowed to do, or a better word would be CONSISTENT.

Plus we deal with so many different issues because of Princess's past.  Things that most children don't ever have to address.  So that often leaves me looking 'mean' when  dealing with Princess and addressing issues that are well, non issues for most kids and families.

I wish it didn't have to be that way. Believe me.

So today when I came across this article I found myself nodding my head in agreement more than once.  Especially since we have been dealing with a lot of regression lately from Princess(issues and behaviors that we thought we conquered years ago that suddenly rear their ugly head again).

I wanted to share it with everyone to give you a little insight into how things sometimes are for adopted children and families.  So think twice before judging.

The expectations and realities of parenting 
a post-institutionalized child

Jeltje Simons
BGCenter counselor

Before adoption I never fully realized how much of careful planning and organizing would be needed to spend a quiet day at home or take my children to places, meet people etc. Before you adopted you too might have had ideas how your child would have friends and would be able to decide where to play in an afternoon without much of your intervention. I thought I would take my child to a swimming pool and it would be a relaxing experience and he would enjoy swimming, and my child would be attentive to me, and of course, my child would cooperate and be happy to be hugged by me.

Then it turned out that I cannot leave my child just to get on with anything, and if I do, he causes trouble, hurts my pets, breaks toys, steals food or other family member's belongings. Swimming is not that much fun either, he resents hugs and physical contact on my terms, yet is pushy and heavy-handed when he demands hugs on his terms.
My 8 year old needs a supervision level of a 4 year old and it is sad and worrying but true. In reality this means that he cannot just walk in and out of our backyard whenever he wants to play, he cannot play with other children without adult supervision, he cannot be left alone with his older but more vulnerable brother longer than 5 minutes, he cannot go upstairs to his bedroom during the day whenever he feels like it as he 'stores' food and other 'taken' things there. When he uses the toilet, the rule is that the door is slightly open, as he may eat cat food there and other things he gets his hands on (yes, I do feed him well!) - I want an access whenever I think he is up to something.

Of course there are adopted children who adjust more easily to their new families, and after an initial period they manage it quite well. Unfortunately a lot of adopted children have been not only through the trauma of abandonment and have acquired institutional behaviour that is now deeply ingrained, but they also have various degrees of brain and nervous system damage. And those children are very tricky to parent and it takes a long time and a lot of intervention to give them the best chance in life.
When I look at my child's and my own life as a child, there are a lot of differences: I could go to play at friend's houses whenever I wanted as long as my mother knew where I was, I could play in my bedroom whenever I wanted, I was allowed to cycle around the village, play outside by the river or on the street, I was free as long as I was home at 5 o'clock and my mother knew where I was. I was a "free range" child. When I compare the things I was allowed with what I allow my children to do, there is a world of differences.

My oldest is allowed certain freedom like cycling alone to visit my(!) friends (he does not have his own really). But my youngest child is very restricted even it is perfectly safe for other children to play outside in the place we live: it's necessary to keep him out of trouble and safe to function in my family. I prefer to prevent things going wrong instead of fixing the problem after the fact. And that is really what most post- institutionalized children need: not freedom but structure, and boundaries, and preventive parenting until they prove they are able to deal with more choices and ultimately with more freedom. Set up situations for them so they succeed, not fail.
I have to say there are periods when I feel my child can deal with more freedom, and I give him a tiny bit more of it, but at the moment when I write this, I just took all this newly gained freedom back (he was allowed to cycle in front of the house alone during the last 2 weeks or so) as I just discovered that he had broken my car's window wipers.

The answer was: "Because I felt like it'.

Straight back to parenting that 3 year old: no more cycling or playing alone outside for a while. And he gets to do some chores to 'pay back' the money I'm forced to spend to get the wipers fixed.

I have friends and acquaintances who do not agree or understand the rules I impose on my child. They see a very compliant, sweetly smiling boy and find it harsh that my child is not allowed to play outside; after all he asked so politely: 'Mom, can I please play outside?' I feel slightly uncomfortable saying: 'No darling, not now, you can play with the legos or read a book'. And of course he asks it at that moment when he knows I do not have full attention for him.
I get their questions, but I do not really want to share that last time he was alone outside, he took the garden tools and threw them in the ditch 500 meters away from my home, that he cannot be trusted as he leaves gates open, that he climbed on the car hood and scratched it with his boots, that he ties up the dog, that I found a lot of money under the bin outside, that he throws stones in the drainage pipes, etc, etc.
I quickly learned that the whole world has an opinion on how to parent my children, but they do not live with them 24/7 and attend meetings with the teachers who have no clue, and are not there to pick up the pieces when my child is overwhelmed by experiences at school, has a tantrum and is uncooperative and challenging. So, in case you do, stop feeling guilty that your child's life is restricted. Stop giving your child more freedom than he can deal with because you were allowed those things when you were a child, or your birth children or neighbor's children of the same age are allowed, so you feel it would be unfair not to allow the same to your adopted child. The reality is that it would be unfair towards your adopted child to allow them freedom they cannot deal with right now. Hopefully over time it will get better and they will learn to regulate themselves.

If you have to correct your child all the time because you have given him too much freedom, then it is difficult to keep the atmosphere in the house positive. Do not fall into the trap of arguing with your child when they point out that it is unfair that they are not allowed to cycle alone outside while their sister/friend is. You can say: "I understand that it is difficult for you not to cycle outside right now, maybe on another day you can cycle with your sister" or 'When you are 13 (the sister's age), you too can cycle alone outside".
Whenever we go out of the door, we have to deal with strangers; and if your child has an invisible disability this can be tricky at times.

Here are some examples of situations you might encounter:

When my oldest was just weeks home he had the habit of running away from me whenever given a chance, so I held on to his wrist to prevent it (he did not tolerate giving hands). The problem came when I needed to pay in a shop: the moment I reached for my purse he was gone. Then I decided to let him fold his hands and stand with his feet together whenever I had to pay. As he has autism, I needed to give clear instructions: "Fold your hands! Put your feet together! Stand here!", pointing just in front of my own feet. It worked wonders but people were looking at us with disapproval. After all they saw a 'totally normal' child, who was made to do such a weird thing.

When children are younger, it's more likely that total strangers would try to 'help' or give opinions when they see a child with challenging behaviours. When children get older the disability becomes often more obvious and strangers no longer think the child is spoiled or misbehaving. A 5 year old who has little eye contact is viewed as being OK (after all there is so much else to see in the world!); in a 15 year old the same behaviour makes people feel that something is 'off'.

We swim in a lake every summer and there is one changing room for the boys and one for the girls. You can lock the door in the changing room, but it is communal so of course you should not do that. Two years ago my oldest had a habit of locking this door; he would open it if people knocked. Obviously I told him a 100 times not to lock but he did it anyway. I choose my battles and did not think at the time that this one was urgent to address. How wrong I was! One day there was a man who wanted to get inside. He knocked and then started shouting 'open the door, open the door'. Knocking changed to banging on the door, his behaviour was out of control. No excuses for my child, he should not have locked that door, and of course the man did not knew the boy needed 20 seconds or so of processing time before he complied with the demand. Of course I apologized on behalf of my child but the whole awkward scene could have been avoided.

My youngest child would walk up to a man sitting on the wooden platform above the lake and sit down in front of him; he can take the hand of a stranger I talk to; he walks up to any stranger who smiles at him ....

How do you deal with children who behave inappropriately and involve strangers in their actions? Do you tell the child's diagnosis? Do you tell the child is adopted (this might be obvious if the child is of a different race). Do you explain the why's, the trauma's? Most people have no clue what kind of challenges adopted children face anyway. It depends. My oldest child has autism and this is a 'good' diagnosis when it comes to getting sympathy of strangers. Of course when I walked up to the banging angry man, he was super apologetic when I told him: "Sorry my son locked the door, he did not mean to let you wait, he has autism."

For my youngest it is a different story. He appears so bright for the untrained eye, his verbal skills are 'good' for the untrained ear. In my experience you can say to people what you want - they will still make up their own mind about your child. The child looks normal so that parent probably has a problem. So I take my child away from the situation (the stranger) and then talk about the rules around strangers, about his behaviour that was not acceptable and how he could have behaved differently in a similar situation (the rule about an arm's length distance, the rule about not talking to strangers, etc). And this is so difficult for him to understand, he knows no strangers. He has made progress to the extent that he rarely displays those behaviours when I am there. But if I turn my back then he's back to his old survival behaviours.
I do not address my child's behaviour with a stranger unless they were affected. I try to forget about it quickly, especially if it was an embarrassing situation and laugh about it afterwards. Like when my then 6 year old peed against the wall inside a car showroom; he thought he was outside I presume! After all cars are supposed to be outside....

Do you get fed up when well meaning friends or even teachers say 'but all children do this'? I know this, but the problem with our children is that their behaviours do not stop, are more extreme, take a lot of effort to correct, and are often appropriate for a child half their age, not their chronological age at all. This means that you should measure them by the norms for a child who is basically half their emotional age to prevent them from failing. In my case, would I allow a 4 year old to lock the toilet door? To play outside whenever they wanted alone? To play with friends alone without supervision? To be unsupervised for long periods of time? The answer is NO. Do I feel the urge to give him more freedom than he currently has? Not really, as he proves me right every time I give him that little more freedom...
 Parenting special needs children (and all children raised in orphanages are with special needs to some degree) is very different from parenting neuro-typical children. It sometimes feels more like a job than anything else, but I accept the fact that this is just how it is and going to be for at least another few years.I am optimistic about the future as I see progress and I see how they respond to intervention in a healthier way; how my younger one often just tells the truth when he got himself in trouble; how he now accepts consequences without huge crying sessions and tantrums. Maybe one day he can deal with freedom too and make good choices without my help.

Many Blessings,
The Mama 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mockingjay Part 1 Movie Review

Hubby, Sissy, Bubba and I went to see the premier last night of last Hunger Games book-Mockingjay Part 1.

I thought it would be a little slow since the last book is being broke up into 2 movies.  Most of the action happens in the last half of Mockingjay.  My hunch ended up being fairly true but the movie is all laying the ground work for what's to come.  The movie reminds me of looking at a placid lake but just under the surface is a deadly current.  And that's what you feel in the movie.

The director did a pretty good job sticking to the book.  As always there were things that were left out that makes the movie seem a bit flat to me.  Some things were added. Books are always better.  Period.  But really they did a very good job sticking to the book.  Though I was upset they did not include on important thing in Katniss's requests of President Coin.

With that being said we have been singing The Hanging Tree all morning.  Can't get it out of our heads.  There is one scene that does not occur in the book but you can easily picture happening given what was going on in the districts.  It was very powerful and haunting and includes the song.  I think it was probably the most powerful part of the movie.

Sissy gave the movie 5 stars and Bubba, Hubby, and I gave it 4 to 4 1/2.

One thing that bugged  me the entire movie is that Katniss looked different. I couldn't figure out what it was but we all agreed.   I don't know if her face was just fuller or if it was her hairstyle or if she had work done.  Whatever the case, she looked really different to me.

And now we wait a full year for the next movie!  But I am glad they split it into 2 movies like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  That way they don't have to sacrifice too much of the details of the book to squeeze it all into 1 movie.

If you have seen it let me know what you think!  Just try to be careful not to leave any spoilers for other readers.

Many Blessings,
The Mama

Saturday, November 15, 2014

36 Weeks,Apple Recipes w/no refined sugar, Cloth Diapering and Dresser Redo

I was 36 weeks yesterday.  Feeling VERY pregnant and sore.  I am ready to trade the pain of pregnancy for the pain of a C-section recovery.  I am ready to trade sleepless pregnancy nights for sleepless newborn nights.  I am just ready! 

I have made my packing list which oddly I found difficult given the fact that I am having a winter baby which I have never had before and that I will be attempting to nurse again after a 14 year hiatus. 

We have a very busy month so the time is flying by.  There is 2 weeks and 6 days till the baby's arrival!  I met with the surgeon who will be performing my surgery and got everything officially on the books for early December 5th.

I've been trying to finish up all my Christmas shopping so I don't have to worry about that after the baby comes.  It would be easier if I had the money now lol

I refinished a $20 dresser:

This is an image I found online but it's the exact same dresser just a 3 drawer instead of a 4 like I got.
I needed to find a new one for Little Miss so I could put her changing table/dresser in our room for the new baby.

Wow, the lighting is bad.  But after 3 coats of white paint,an accent color of teal-ish, and an awesome husband who put on my new drawer pulls I think it came out fantastic!

I also got all my cloth diapers in!  Yay!  We have been using them for Little Miss for nap and bedtime and they are awesome!  It is amazing how far they have come with cloth diapering. 

It's so stinkin' easy( pun intended).

I got most of my info from this fabulous lady on youtube:

Click on the link to learn more about all the different ways to cloth diaper. 

After looking at some different reviews online, watching the youtube videos and talking with some friends I decided to  go with Bum Genius Flip Diapers and Inserts. 

You can use them from 8-35 pounds.  All you got to do is some laundry.  You reuse the outside diaper(cover) and then you have inserts you stick in after each pee/poo to 'change' the diaper.  

So I have 8 covers and I think 25 inserts.  Enough to last a few days with a baby. 

Easy peasy!

On the house front, we have had no call for a 2nd showing after the initial one post fire.  I can't say that I am upset.  The thought of a showing right now is terrifying in the midst of everything else.  

We did put our trailer in storage for the winter.  Shout out to Terry who helped us find a great deal! 

Got to go and use up the rest of our 2 bushels of apples( bushel=48lbs) to make a couple pies for the holidays to stick in the freezer and some more crockpot applesauce with no refined sugar
I was way skeptical of messing with my grandmother's applesauce recipe but did a small batch to try it out and WOW!!  It is the best applesauce we have ever had.  It could be a dessert.

The link doesn't tell you to put in the crockpot but I found another crockpot applesauce recipe( but with sugar) and decided to use that method but the other recipe.  So I just peel and slice my apples( actually the kids do that part) and then cut each slice in half to make chunks.  Then throw everything in the recipe in the crockpot( low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4), till the apples are soft.

Then I just get my potato masher out and Snuggle Bug loves to mash it all up.  

I make a double batch each time and then put it in a gallon freezer bag or container and stick it into the freezer.  

I've also made some Apple Crisp with no refined sugar, another scary recipe but we all thought it was so yummy.  I made Apple Bread with no refined sugar.  I added small chunks of apples to it but it did increase the baking time because of the added moisture( I added 2 cups) so the outside got a little done but it was yummy.  I also doubled the cinnamon.

I made Apple Fritters with refined sugars but with whole wheat flour.  And of course we've been eating tons of plain ole apples the past month, which are anything but plain 'ole.  We used Fuji(sweet apple) for applesauce and crisp and Golden Delicious for the bread and will use it for the pies(tart).  

We also made some apple cider and that is what I was using for my applesauce recipe too when they called for juice or cider.  I used fuji apples for that.  This also makes some left over applesauce but it's a bit heavy on the spices but still ok.  Be sure to leave the cinnamon sticks in the cider while in the fridge.  Makes a big difference.

Ok so with all that said I still have to go make applesauce and pies!

Have a fabulous weekend!

Many Blessings,
The Mama

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Trick or Treat, Mercury Levels, and a Fire

Finally heard back from the Dr's.  Actually I called them.  Both of the girls mercury levels were with in normal range!  Praise God!  Thank you for the prayers!

We decided for the first time to hand out candy for Halloween this year.  The kids were still able to dress up and since the weather was FRIGID( 40mph winds with wind chills in the 20's and snow), they were very ok with not going door to door.  Actually we have a policy at our house that once you become a teenager you can no longer go door to door.

We also don't buy costumes, we always make them.  But we did buy one on sale for Little Miss because it cracked us up so much!  And I bought one for like $2 after Halloween a few years ago that Princess wore.

So here are some of their costumes.  See if you can guess them all:

Ice Cream Cone 

Did you guess it?

The most natural Cleopatra ever.

How about this one??
We have a football theme going with most of our costumes.

How are you doing guessing? 
Her shirt says Ceiling at the top if you can't see it.
And that is a pom pom she is holding.
So that makes her a...

And just what every 34 weeks pregnant women needs-
A bright orange shirt to call attention to her belly.

My shirt says:

Go To Your Room!!

So what am I?
30 points to you if you know it.

Ok fine.  I am "Intentional Grounding".
There's the football theme again.

We were all loving the witty costumes this year.  And so easy and cheap to make. Bubba taped a dollar to each ear last year and was a Buccaneer( get it?  Buck an Ear) which is what got all of us on this kick. 

That brings us to our fire

You know, because our lives aren't exciting enough.

The really bad part is that this happened at night after an entire day of cleaning the house to get it ready for a showing this morning.  Talk about a Halloween horror.

Our fireplace isn't operable but we wanted to try out those great gel fuel can things.  So we put a small one in and it worked great!  We thought it would be perfect for our showing.

It worked a  little too great for our set up as the flame was higher than we wanted.

So we tried to put a lid on it to smoother it( per instructions), but as we were doing so the can tipped.

This presented 2 problems:
  1. Our fireplace goes all the way down into the basement where they had a place for all the ashes to go and they could clean them out( back in 1900).  So when it tipped it went down into the grating.  Into our basement.
  2. Way up in the chimney there were some old newspapers someone had stuffed up there many a moon ago( to stop drafts??).  When the can tipped there was a big flare up.  And all those old, dry papers caught on fire up in the chimney.  And the chimney no longer vents to the outside.  It was cut off at the roof line and ends in the attic now.
Oddly enough, I just told the kids on Weds. where our fire extinguisher was and went through a tutorial and how to use it.  So when we put the fuel can into the fireplace, Bubba got the extinguisher right away, just in case.

He was the one that spotted the flaming newspapers way up in the chimney.

So Bubba sprayed the extinguisher and then Hubby sprayed again a few seconds later when we could still see some flames.

It wasn't until we started seeing something billowing out of  near the ceiling where our pocket doors are in the adjoining room that we started to worry that the fire may not be contained after all.

We also noticed that our room which is directly above the foyer/fireplace was also smoky.

We immediately called the fire department and got everyone out of the house.  I had to wake Little Miss up, a couple of kids just had socks on.  I did have them grab blankets as they ran from the house because as I have already stated up in the Halloween portion of this blog, it was frigid outside.

We had a couple of kids crying and we all went into the trailer to be warmer and then eventually into a neighbors house.

The fire dept. checked the walls for hot spots and found nothing.

It was likely just all the fire extinguisher powder billowing out of the crack and crevices everywhere in the other rooms.

We were so relieved!!  

And then we had the mess in the pictures above to deal with.  


Fire extinguisher powder is much simpler to clean up then a broken light bulb! Sissy pointed this out.

The powder is just gets everywhere.  And the picture just capture a small frame of the mess.  The powder found it's way around the entire main level and up into the 2nd floor via the stairwell.Not to mention our house smelled like, well, it caught on fire.  Odd right??  

At 2:30 we finally hit the hay and had to be up at 7:30 to get ready for a church event. I was so sore from all the cleaning yesterday though and didn't go.  I still got up and gave the floors another mopping and wiped everything down again.

I really can't complain too much though.  Our house could have burned down or we could be dealing with water and smoke damage.  I will take fire extinguisher powder any day! 

And our showing went fine this morning.  The potential buyer looked at a few houses this morning so don't know what she thought of the rest.  Her fiance had something come up and couldn't come along today so we are simply hoping for a 2nd showing.  

Maybe by then I can get all the powder cleaned up and the house will smell better!

Many Blessings,
The Mama