Friday, December 31, 2010

Five Years Married!

Wow... I can not believe that my husband and I have been married for FIVE YEARS!  I feel like sometimes we live life in fast forward, but then we slow it down at times too. 

Having our girls has proven once again to me why my husband is one of the most wonderful men I know! 

He'd rather cuddle with me than watch a sports game.

He's passionate about helping our girls with whatever trouble they might have at the moment.  Rather it be balance issues, or just needing some hugs and love. 

He still knows how to make me smile and giggle after all of these years... and is delighted when he's successful at telling a joke.

He's awful at song lyrics (even to songs he writes) but he's a wonderful "player" of many instruments.

He loves me... no matter my shape, size, mood... he does his very best to make me feel better.

He's affectionate... my girls cheer when he gives me a quick kiss... he has also helped them to feel comfortable with appropriate affection.

He knows what I am thinking before I do. 

He is my lover (and a darn good one! woohoo!), my VERY best friend, and the one and only person I can imagine spending "forever" with (and no I don't mean celebrity forever, REAL forever).

I love you honey, more today than yesterday... I couldn't do any of this without you by my side!

So happy New Year friends... and HAPPY ANNIVERSARY HONEY!! 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas, Wedding, and Stuff!

Wow... I didn't realize it had been so long since I had updated my blog.  Things are going well these days, so I find myself feeling the blog urge less and less.  The girls have enjoyed their break from school and their vacation to Florida to meet their (my) extended family. 

Christmas was a very fun day with the girls.  They got many gifts and had a fun time learning about their new family.  They also did very well on Sunday when we went to the beach to have our little "wedding"/commitment cermony to them.   Unfortunately, it was VERY cold and windy, so we didn't get to bask in the sunlight and play in the sand.  We did get a few good photos though.  I will post some of the faceless shots below. 

All in all, we have had a great trip.  They did amazingly well in the car.  Right now we are heading to Atlanta, GA to visit the area and see the Aquarium.  The girls LOVE ocean life, so they are very excited to see a real aquarium, they think the fish wall at Petsmart is an aquarium. 

Hope all of my friends here had a great Christmas and I also hope you have an AWESOME New Year!




Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spelling Mommy

My 4 year old is just too cute for words sometimes.  She knows how to spell two words now.  The first is her name.  Although she makes the Y backwards.  Ally is a short version of her full name.  We like that Layla has the same letters.  

The next word she wanted to learn was MOMMY!  How sweet!   At her preschool they have a "card station" for the kids to send Christmas cards.  So far I've gotten two cards from her.   We're still working on her "Y" but she's doing much better.  It used to look like an X.

I thought they were sweet, so I am sharing. 

Merry Christmas! 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

5 Reasons To Stop Saying "Good Job"

I found this article rather interesting and enlightening.  We do offer a lot of praise, but we've seemingly fallen into the exact trap this article highlights.  Meaning, IT IS NEVER ENOUGH! 

Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!"
By Alfie Kohn
NOTE: An abridged version of this article was published in Parents magazine in May 2000 with the title "Hooked on Praise." For a more detailed look at the issues discussed here -- as well as a comprehensive list of citations to relevant research -- please see the books and .Punished by RewardsUnconditional Parenting


Hang out at a playground, visit a school, or show up at a child’s birthday party, and there’s one phrase you can count on hearing repeatedly: "Good job!" Even tiny infants are praised for smacking their hands together ("Good clapping!"). Many of us blurt out these judgments of our children to the point that it has become almost a verbal tic.

Plenty of books and articles advise us against relying on punishment, from spanking to forcible isolation ("time out"). Occasionally someone will even ask us to rethink the practice of bribing children with stickers or food. But you’ll have to look awfully hard to find a discouraging word about what is euphemistically called positive reinforcement.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, the point here is not to call into question the importance of supporting and encouraging children, the need to love them and hug them and help them feel good about themselves. Praise, however, is a different story entirely. Here's why.

1. Manipulating children. Suppose you offer a verbal reward to reinforce the behavior of a two-year-old who eats without spilling, or a five-year-old who cleans up her art supplies. Who benefits from this? Is it possible that telling kids they’ve done a good job may have less to do with their emotional needs than with our convenience?
Rheta DeVries, a professor of education at the University of Northern Iowa, refers to this as "sugar-coated control." Very much like tangible rewards – or, for that matter, punishments – it’s a way of doing something to children to get them to comply with our wishes. It may be effective at producing this result (at least for a while), but it’s very different from working with kids – for example, by engaging them in conversation about what makes a classroom (or family) function smoothly, or how other people are affected by what we have done -- or failed to do. The latter approach is not only more respectful but more likely to help kids become thoughtful people.
The reason praise can work in the short run is that young children are hungry for our approval. But we have a responsibility not to exploit that dependence for our own convenience. A "Good job!" to reinforce something that makes our lives a little easier can be an example of taking advantage of children’s dependence. Kids may also come to feel manipulated by this, even if they can’t quite explain why.

2. Creating praise junkies. To be sure, not every use of praise is a calculated tactic to control children’s behavior. Sometimes we compliment kids just because we’re genuinely pleased by what they’ve done. Even then, however, it’s worth looking more closely. Rather than bolstering a child’s self-esteem, praise may increase kids’ dependence on us. The more we say, "I like the way you…." or "Good ______ing," the more kids come to rely on our evaluations, our decisions about what’s good and bad, rather than learning to form their own judgments. It leads them to measure their worth in terms of what will lead us to smile and dole out some more approval.
Mary Budd Rowe, a researcher at the University of Florida, discovered that students who were praised lavishly by their teachers were more tentative in their responses, more apt to answer in a questioning tone of voice ("Um, seven?"). They tended to back off from an idea they had proposed as soon as an adult disagreed with them. And they were less likely to persist with difficult tasks or share their ideas with other students.
In short, "Good job!" doesn’t reassure children; ultimately, it makes them feel less secure. It may even create a vicious circle such that the more we slather on the praise, the more kids seem to need it, so we praise them some more. Sadly, some of these kids will grow into adults who continue to need someone else to pat them on the head and tell them whether what they did was OK. Surely this is not what we want for our daughters and sons.

3. Stealing a child’s pleasure. Apart from the issue of dependence, a child deserves to take delight in her accomplishments, to feel pride in what she’s learned how to do. She also deserves to decide when to feel that way. Every time we say, "Good job!", though, we’re telling a child how to feel.
To be sure, there are times when our evaluations are appropriate and our guidance is necessary -- especially with toddlers and preschoolers. But a constant stream of value judgments is neither necessary nor useful for children’s development. Unfortunately, we may not have realized that "Good job!" is just as much an evaluation as "Bad job!" The most notable feature of a positive judgment isn’t that it’s positive, but that it’s a judgment. And people, including kids, don’t like being judged.
I cherish the occasions when my daughter manages to do something for the first time, or does something better than she’s ever done it before. But I try to resist the knee-jerk tendency to say, "Good job!" because I don’t want to dilute her joy. I want her to share her pleasure with me, not look to me for a verdict. I want her to exclaim, "I did it!" (which she often does) instead of asking me uncertainly, "Was that good?"

4. Losing interest. "Good painting!" may get children to keep painting for as long as we keep watching and praising. But, warns Lilian Katz, one of the country’s leading authorities on early childhood education, "once attention is withdrawn, many kids won’t touch the activity again." Indeed, an impressive body of scientific research has shown that the more we reward people for doing something, the more they tend to lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward. Now the point isn’t to draw, to read, to think, to create – the point is to get the goody, whether it’s an ice cream, a sticker, or a "Good job!"
In a troubling study conducted by Joan Grusec at the University of Toronto, young children who were frequently praised for displays of generosity tended to be slightly less generous on an everyday basis than other children were. Every time they had heard "Good sharing!" or "I’m so proud of you for helping," they became a little less interested in sharing or helping. Those actions came to be seen not as something valuable in their own right but as something they had to do to get that reaction again from an adult. Generosity became a means to an end.
Does praise motivate kids? Sure. It motivates kids to get praise. Alas, that’s often at the expense of commitment to whatever they were doing that prompted the praise.

5. Reducing achievement. As if it weren’t bad enough that "Good job!" can undermine independence, pleasure, and interest, it can also interfere with how good a job children actually do. Researchers keep finding that kids who are praised for doing well at a creative task tend to stumble at the next task – and they don’t do as well as children who weren’t praised to begin with.
Why does this happen? Partly because the praise creates pressure to "keep up the good work" that gets in the way of doing so. Partly because their interest in what they’re doing may have declined. Partly because they become less likely to take risks – a prerequisite for creativity – once they start thinking about how to keep those positive comments coming.
More generally, "Good job!" is a remnant of an approach to psychology that reduces all of human life to behaviors that can be seen and measured. Unfortunately, this ignores the thoughts, feelings, and values that lie behind behaviors. For example, a child may share a snack with a friend as a way of attracting praise, or as a way of making sure the other child has enough to eat. Praise for sharing ignores these different motives. Worse, it actually promotes the less desirable motive by making children more likely to fish for praise in the future.
*
Once you start to see praise for what it is – and what it does – these constant little evaluative eruptions from adults start to produce the same effect as fingernails being dragged down a blackboard. You begin to root for a child to give his teachers or parents a taste of their own treacle by turning around to them and saying (in the same saccharine tone of voice), "Good praising!"

Still, it’s not an easy habit to break. It can seem strange, at least at first, to stop praising; it can feel as though you’re being chilly or withholding something. But that, it soon becomes clear, suggests that we praise more because we need to say it than because children need to hear it. Whenever that’s true, it’s time to rethink what we’re doing.

What kids do need is unconditional support, love with no strings attached. That’s not just different from praise – it’s the opposite of praise. "Good job!" is conditional. It means we’re offering attention and acknowledgement and approval for jumping through our hoops, for doing things that please us.
This point, you’ll notice, is very different from a criticism that some people offer to the effect that we give kids too much approval, or give it too easily. They recommend that we become more miserly with our praise and demand that kids "earn" it. But the real problem isn’t that children expect to be praised for everything they do these days. It’s that we’re tempted to take shortcuts, to manipulate kids with rewards instead of explaining and helping them to develop needed skills and good values.

So what’s the alternative? That depends on the situation, but whatever we decide to say instead has to be offered in the context of genuine affection and love for who kids are rather than for what they’ve done. When unconditional support is present, "Good job!" isn’t necessary; when it’s absent, "Good job!" won’t help.
If we’re praising positive actions as a way of discouraging misbehavior, this is unlikely to be effective for long. Even when it works, we can’t really say the child is now "behaving himself"; it would be more accurate to say the praise is behaving him. The alternative is to work with the child, to figure out the reasons he’s acting that way. We may have to reconsider our own requests rather than just looking for a way to get kids to obey. (Instead of using "Good job!" to get a four-year-old to sit quietly through a long class meeting or family dinner, perhaps we should ask whether it’s reasonable to expect a child to do so.)
We also need to bring kids in on the process of making decisions. If a child is doing something that disturbs others, then sitting down with her later and asking, "What do you think we can do to solve this problem?" will likely be more effective than bribes or threats. It also helps a child learn how to solve problems and teaches that her ideas and feelings are important. Of course, this process takes time and talent, care and courage. Tossing off a "Good job!" when the child acts in the way we deem appropriate takes none of those things, which helps to explain why "doing to" strategies are a lot more popular than "working with" strategies.
And what can we say when kids just do something impressive? Consider three possible responses:

* Say nothing. Some people insist a helpful act must be "reinforced" because, secretly or unconsciously, they believe it was a fluke. If children are basically evil, then they have to be given an artificial reason for being nice (namely, to get a verbal reward). But if that cynicism is unfounded – and a lot of research suggests that it is – then praise may not be necessary.

* Say what you saw. A simple, evaluation-free statement ("You put your shoes on by yourself" or even just "You did it") tells your child that you noticed. It also lets her take pride in what she did. In other cases, a more elaborate description may make sense. If your child draws a picture, you might provide feedback – not judgment – about what you noticed: "This mountain is huge!" "Boy, you sure used a lot of purple today!"
If a child does something caring or generous, you might gently draw his attention to the effect of his action on the other person: "Look at Abigail’s face! She seems pretty happy now that you gave her some of your snack." This is completely different from praise, where the emphasis is on how you feel about her sharing

* Talk less, ask more. Even better than descriptions are questions. Why tell him what part of his drawing impressed you when you can ask him what he likes best about it? Asking "What was the hardest part to draw?" or "How did you figure out how to make the feet the right size?" is likely to nourish his interest in drawing. Saying "Good job!", as we’ve seen, may have exactly the opposite effect.
This doesn’t mean that all compliments, all thank-you’s, all expressions of delight are harmful. We need to consider our motives for what we say (a genuine expression of enthusiasm is better than a desire to manipulate the child’s future behavior) as well as the actual effects of doing so. Are our reactions helping the child to feel a sense of control over her life -- or to constantly look to us for approval? Are they helping her to become more excited about what she’s doing in its own right – or turning it into something she just wants to get through in order to receive a pat on the head.

It’s not a matter of memorizing a new script, but of keeping in mind our long-term goals for our children and watching for the effects of what we say. The bad news is that the use of positive reinforcement really isn’t so positive. The good news is that you don’t have to evaluate in order to encourage.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

FOUR MONTH UPDATE!!!

Can you believe it?  We're almost to our four month mark of living together.  December 17th will be our official 4 month anniversary!  My kids are so different than they were four months ago! 

We will start with Layla.  Layla has made the most progress.  Soon she will be five years old, and she's growing like crazy!  When Layla came to us, well, if you've read my blog before, then you know how completely terrified she was.  She had PTSD RAGE FILLED tantrums daily, and now we've gotten to a pretty "normal" level of tantrums.  I would say once every two weeks TOPS!   It's amazing.  The difference is amazing.  Layla is also very attached to us.  She is so caring and loving.

Today was a big milestone for her.  She moved from attachment therapy to play therapy.  We think the play therapy is coming at the right time for her to process some of her big feelings.

We are SO HAPPY AND PROUD of the progress she has made!

Moving on to Molly.  Well Molly is moving a little slower to processing things.  Although she isn't as depressed anymore, she still has a difficult time properly expressing her emotions.  Any expression we get from her is a bit "over done" and "dramatic".  She can't just cry because she is sad/angry/frustrated.  It has to be BIG and ELABORATE!  She will stomp, slam the door, plop on her bed, do the wailing/screaming cry...  "I am just such a stupid kid, everyone hates me.  I have no one that loves me anymore.  I guess I am grounded until forever.  I can't do anything right...  stupid, stupid, stupid ME!"    I realize that might seem not too dramatic to some of you... but that is the craziness I might get from her for asking a simple thing like, "Did you finish your home work at daycare?"  or "Did you pick up the toys in your room yet?"  

We worked in therapy about the "over doing it" way of showing our emotions, and the "just right" way.  

On that note... Molly tries VERY hard.  She is doing great in school.  She is always willing to help with things at home.  Sadly, she's gone years with untreated depression and a major sensory disorder.   She certainly had some very traumatic things happen to her as a young child.  Plus, this is the first time that she's been "allowed" to be a kid.  She doesn't have to take care of her sister anymore.  That is OUR job.  

So four months in... looking back... WOW!  We have made so.... much.... progress!  But we still have a long road ahead of us. 

We're heading to Florida next week.  Can't wait!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Renewing our Wedding Vows!

Over the last few months my littlest girl, Layla, has asked me on several occasions when my husband and I are going to get married.  See... she is confused by the fact that we are already married, because she didn't watch us get married.   I realize in a normal parent/child relationship you don't usually witness the marriage... but for her it seems to really and truly matter that she sees us marry one another.  

Last night as I tucked her in, we were going out on a date and had a sitter come to stay while we were out.  Layla asked me if my husband and I were going to kiss on our date.  I told her we probably would.  She then said, "Mommy, I want you and Daddy to get married on a beach."  Then she said when we're done getting married we can dance and go into the ocean, but we might get scared if we see a crab. 

When we were on the way to dinner, I told my husband about her revalation and how important it seemed to be to her to watch us get married.  So he said when we're in Florida for Christmas, we should renew our vows! 

So we're going to tote the girls and my parents, sisters, neices, and nephew to the beach and have a quick ceremony so that the girls can (hopefully) feel like they are part of the family even more. 

December 31st will be our 5 year wedding anniversary, but I think we will hit the beach a few days before. 

It will make for a fun day of photo-ops either way!  :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Legacy of An Adopted Child Poem

Legacy of An Adopted Child
Author Unknown
  
Once there were two women,
Who barely knew each other.
One is in your heart forever,
The other you’ll call mother.

Two different lives,
Shaped to make yours one.
One became your guiding star,
The other became your sun.

The first gave you life,
And the second taught you how to live it.
The first gave you a need for love,
And the second was there to give it.

One gave you a nationality,
The other gave you a name.
One gave you the seed of talent,
The other gave you an aim.

One gave you emotions,
The other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile,
The other dried your tears.

One gave you a family,
It was what God intended for her to do.
The other prayed for a child,
And God led her straight to you.

And now you ask me
Through your tears,
The age old question through the years.
Heredity or environment…
Which are you a product of?
Neither, my darling… neither,
Just two different kinds of love.

Music

Music

One thing that happens when you have kids, is you all of the sudden recognize all of the negative media messages.  Both of our girls LOVE music.  If you read this post:  http://quackenbaby.blogspot.com/2010/08/music-and-lies.html you can learn about how much rhythm means to Molly.

I want them to listen to music that touches their soul and has meaning in the lyrics.  The last thing we want is our girls breaking into “booty” dancing to some rap song! 

With that said… it is hard!  So my wonderful husband bought me an awesome MP3 player which I’ve loaded with Dave Matthews mostly, since he’s my FAVORITE of all time.   I also have some Sara Bareilles songs on there, and Allison Krauss.  I have a very wide variety of songs and artists I enjoy. We also sing a lot of these songs before bed at night, because I love to sing even though I am AWFUL at it!  Here is a list of some of the girl’s favorites with Youtube Videos so you can quickly listen:


Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison  Click For Youtube Video

I’ll Stand By You by The Pretenders Click For Youtube Video

What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong Click For Youtube Video

Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles  Click For Youtube Video

Everyday by Dave Matthews Band Click For Youtube Video

You and Me by Dave Matthews Band Click For Youtube Video

Sister by Dave Matthews Band  Click For Youtube Video

1234 by Plain White T’s  (I love this song!)  Click For Youtube Video

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell Click For Youtube Video

Cross My Heart by George Strait  Click For Youtube Video

Sittin’ On The Dock of The Bay by Sara Bareilles (they love this version, and so do I) Click For Youtube Video

Landslide by The Dixie Chicks (version) Click For Youtube Video

Godspeed by The Dixie Chicks Click For Youtube Video

When I Need You  by Rod Stewart (his version is a cover, and Celine Dion covered it too) Click For Youtube Video

I Give You To His Heart by Alison Krauss (it’s just sweet)  Click For Youtube Video

Now That I’ve Found You by Alison Krauss (totally for couples, but I’ve changed up the words when I sing it to the girls)

Everytime You Say Goodbye by Alison Krauss (the girls especially love the music to this song)  Click For Youtube Video

Reason by Alison Krauss Click For Youtube Video

Lucky One by Alison Krauss  Click For Youtube Video

**OK… I LOVE Alison Krauss!**

Layla by Eric Clapton (for my Layla) Click For Youtube Video

Molly Smiles by Jesse Spencer  (for my Molly) Click For Youtube Video



I have also ordered http://www.samesamecd.com/  which has some cute songs for adopted children. 

One song not on the list, is the Ghostbuster’s theme song.  I thought this song deserved special recognition because if my husband is driving them, they will ALWAYS ask for this song! 

We have many more, but these are a good sample of the “music” we do allow them to listen to. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Turkey Craziness!

Well, Thanksgiving is over.  It was a rough day for Layla.  As was today.  She's been very clingy lately.  As I am typing that last sentence though, I realize we finally had a cold spell here, and she and her sister were removed from their birthmom around this time of year two years ago.   Hmmmm... well we will see what happens tomorrow.  Hopefully she can keep it together!

So Thanksgiving morning we did a big breakfast, and went around the table to say what we were thankful for.  Both girls said for us, their house, their rooms, toys, etc.   I said I was thankful for them, and my amazing husband who works very hard to give us a nice house, cars, things.  Layla goes, "Yea, daddy is like Santa!"   It was cute.

That is about all going on here.  The tree is up, but not decorated yet.  Layla is not going to be able to decorate with us because she chose not to nap today, and the consequence for her choice was not decorating the tree.  She also pitched a GRADE-A F-I-T!  So she is having a time out from the things she would normally enjoy. 

KIDS!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

No News... Is Good News!

Well, I guess that it is true; no blogging is a good thing!  Meaning that if I am not blogging, then I don’t have much to vent about, which is a very good thing right?

So this past week things have been relatively “normal”.  Good days at school.  No huge emotional breakdowns.  We’ve just had a good week.  I hope there are more to come.

The girls are making progress, this is for certain.  Three months ago they were totally different kids.  Sad, anxious, worried, angry, covering up their true selves.   We’ve seen them blossom into kind, caring, a little less worried, happy-go-lucky kids.  This isn’t to say that those “negative” things don’t pop out from time to time, but it is much less frequent now!

Yesterday was the Thanksgiving lunch at the girl’s school.  I went and ate with both of them.  My oldest, Molly, was in line and boy in her class asked her why her mom was white.   Molly told him, “She’s not my birthmom, she is my adoptive mom.”  Then he asked “what is an adoptive mom”? Her answer sounded just as she had “rehearsed” it over the last few weeks… “An adoptive mom is a mom that takes care of you forever if your birth family can’t, and even if you’re not a good kid all of the time they are nice and love you no matter what”.   BOY… she sold us well!  I bet that little boy was wondering if he could trade up to an adoptive home!  :)

I thought it was sweet.  She is slowly processing WHAT adoption means to her and her sister.  I certainly can’t imagine being in her shoes, so I am letting her process at her own pace, and answering any questions she has. 

In other news, we get to go to court on December 16th to discuss the girl’s next step in the process.  It’s basically just a court date to tell the judge the girls are in an adoptive home and that as soon as our waiting period of 6 months is over, they will be adopted by us. 

We have also been doing some Christmas shopping.  I bought the girls both the Mobi-Go game systems for our Christmas trip to Florida.  They are also getting some other things, but that will probably be their favorite! 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!!!  We are so thankful to have our little family!  :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Liar Liar!




Lying is something every parent deals with.  When you are parenting a hurt child, you can bet your bottom dollar they know how to lie and manipulate.  It is a survival instinct.  “I must lie to keep myself safe/fed/clothed/liked/loved/happy”.  

Some kids lie to “flatter” you!  Some lie because they want their way.  Some lie because it is what they’ve learned from bad adult role models.  Some realize and feel remorse for their lies.  Others, well, it becomes a pathological defense to prevent harm.  They don’t usually even realize they are lying.

I thought this would be a good topic to cover because in our house we have liars!  I mean big, fat, liar liar pants on fire, LIARS!   No fault of their own most of the time, but inexcusable none the less.


First, let’s start with my four year old.  She is your “stereotypical” child that lies.  “I am dressed” while her socks lay on the dresser still.  “I put it away” while her toy is lying in the floor.   “Mommy I like your hair today” when mommy didn’t shower and just woke up with a big poofy mess for hair.   These are normal lies that every child tells.  It helps them feel they are somehow in control of their “fate”.   

Yesterday, my four year old told my husband she doesn’t get to eat breakfast at school.  We have to feed them at home due to the early start of the day, but then she eats a small breakfast with her class around . The TRUTH was she was still hungry.   Instead of saying she was hungry though, she LIED!  She said that she wouldn’t get to eat anything until lunch.  Last night at dinner, I confronted her about lying, and she admitted to the truth, which was that she DOES get to eat at school too. 

This morning, I explained to her that we don’t lie.  When you do lie, it shows people that you don’t TRUST them.  I explained she would feel very unsafe and upset if we lied to her, and we feel the SAME way if she lies to us.   She got the point and we discussed that she needed to apologize to Daddy. 

She begins with, “I’m sorry Daddy!”  Then he asks her why.  She said she doesn’t remember (another lie!).  Then she slowly says…”well, I said I wasn’t gonna eat until lunch, but then I did get to eat”.   So he probes around to try and get her to say “I’m sorry I lied to you”.   She wasn’t going for it.  So I step in and explain it to her.  She responds with, “Mommy, it’s really hard to say”.  

Finally, she admits to the “lie” and apologized for lying.   She also stated she was still hungry.   Which was fine, we explained THAT would have been the TRUTH and if she had just said she was still hungry, we would have given her more to eat. 

I found it so funny that she just had a terribly hard time saying “I lied”.  I also found it really encouraging that she KNEW she had “hurt” us by lying. 



Moving right along to my Molly… this kid can LIE!  Sometimes she is quiet convincing.  What she doesn’t realize is that her mommy grew up as the oldest of 7, so I know ALL about lying. 

Molly is what I call a back peddler now.   She gets halfway into the lie and then tries her best to back peddle out, usually by creating more lies to try and prevent her from getting into trouble.  I commend her willingness to try and “fix it” but usually it just ends with my complete and utter frustration that she CAN’T JUST TELL THE TRUTH!

Molly’s lies are all over the place.  She lies to us, her friends, her sister.  She says she has things she doesn’t have.  She’s done things she’s never done.  It’s scary! 

I know that she’s had to build her life around lies though.  Promises of “forever”, people promising her things and experiences that she won’t actually ever see them come through on.   It’s very sad.

Molly’s remorse for a lie usually is just to cry about how AWFUL her life is, how it’s just not fair, how no one ever taught her, etc.   She will use your words/adults words in her favor.   If someone told her, “You’ve had a rough life”, when she tells a lie/gets into trouble she will usually just cry and say, “It’s just so hard Mommy, I’m just heart broken, I’ve had such a rough life”.    Which in theory is true… but it is NOT an excuse to lie. 

My typical response to this would be, “Yes Molly, YOU HAD a rough life, I realize that was hard on you, but telling a LIE and LYING to people will continue to make your life rough, and I want you to be safe, happy, trustworthy, and have an easy life”. 

Some of the things she comes up with amaze me.  The fact she thinks I will believe the stuff amazes me more! 


So, to deal with lying in our house, we have two techniques that have proven to be beneficial in at least curbing the lies intensity and frequency. 

1)      Do not ASK a child if they lied if you actually know they DID lie.  Give them the chance to fix the lie.   An example, Molly spills nail polish on her bed…I don’t ASK her if she spilled it, of course she did, and it was probably an accident, what I do is give her the chance to fix it.  So I would say, “Molly there is nail polish on your bed, go get some paper towels and clean it up”.   This is usually met with “BUT I DIDN’T DO IT”!  To which I respond,  “I didn’t say you did it, I asked you to clean it up”.  

This basically seems to disengage her.  At this point she’s not thinking “I got away with it” she is thinking, “Wow that bad thing that I thought would happen didn’t so now I can feel safe if I do tell the truth”.   I would say 7 out of 10 times she will then admit that she did whatever she originally would have lied about. 

2)      I LOVE Bryan Post’s video at  http://www.postinstitute.com/  if you go there to his front page, watch the Youtube video he has posted.  Basically, he states when a child lies, they are (in their mind) thinking the worst thing that has ever happened to them will happen again.  This goes back to the last strategy, because I need to disengage that “fight or flight” reflex in her (and me sometimes too). 

Bryan reviews in the video a method to help with the lying.  Child lies, you ignore the lie, do not ignore the child.   Later you come back while they’re involved in something else and say, “When you lie to mommy, it makes me feel like you don’t trust me”.    NOT when you LIED… you’re not accusing them of lying, you’re just telling them how it makes you feel when they do lie.  This will get their brains going and thinking about the lie.    GO WATCH THE VIDEO!!! NOW!

So that is all I have for today.  If you want advice on anything specific let me know.  I see Bryan Post’s technique working though.  Slowly, but surely!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day One: ADHD Medication

Tuesday, November 9 was the first day Molly took her Vyvanse.   WOW!  I expected to see a small difference, but what I got was a HUUUUUUUUGE difference.  Her focus was 100% better.  Yet she was still funny and a kid.  The “zombie” effect was my worst fear.  I didn’t want it to change HER, but to change her level of focus and the impulsiveness.

Their case worker visited yesterday for the monthly visit, she stayed about an hour.  Molly played quietly in her room for about 45 minutes on her new “laptop”.  I was so pleased.  Then at bed time last night she needed a bath.  I ran her water, she got in, bathed herself while I did laundry, and then got out and dressed herself in about 3 minutes.  Normally, PJ’s take a minimum of 15 minutes and 5 reminders to get them on… but not last night!

Then this morning, she needed to get herself ready for school.  She was dressed, socks, shoes, and teeth brushed within 5 minutes.  AMAZING!  My frustration level was so low this morning.  I praised the heck out of her and told her how proud I was of her.  She was pretty proud of herself too!

I hope we continue to see this focus from her.  It makes life much easier for all of us!

Monday, November 8, 2010

ADHD... and Sensory Disorder!

Well, it is official, our 6 year old Molly is diagnosed with a Sensory Processing Disorder, as well as ADHD.  When her PCP entered the office today, before I said a word, Molly was bouncing around etc.  She said, "I guess the Prozac worked, and I know why you're here"!   She started Molly on Vyvanse every morning for the ADHD.   She said we should see an instant difference.  I sure hope she is right. 

Due to the recent impulsiveness that Molly has displayed, we have decided to limit any "pop" music.  So, I am happy we get to turn off the Top 40 station and listen to some "real" music!  I sort of have an old soul when it comes to my music anyway.  

Molly's favorite song at this moment is "Sitting on The Dock Of The Bay" by Otis Redding.  

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Journaling

First, thank you to my dear friend over at http://hurdles-lifelovefamily.blogspot.com for this idea.

Our 6 year old, Molly, has had some escalating impulsiveness lately.  I won't go into the full details, but we found out she's been hurt a lot more than we originally realized.  She is also a chattering kid.  She talks non-stop and it is usually about NOTHING!  Although we've explained to her that the more you talk, the less people listen, the point wasn't getting across.

Enter journal....  the other night we had a long talk about life, right and wrong, lying, "sex" (in the context a 6 year old needs to understand), and good and bad touch.  She did well with the talk and had good questions.  I told her any time she needs to talk we will talk more about those serious issues.  Then I presented her our journal.  I told her it was a special place that she can I can write to one another.  I told her daddy and Layla do not have a journal like she and I do, so it will be our special place to tell one another how we feel and what is on our minds.  She LOVED it.  I mean, she was beaming with excitement!

We even worked out our own "secret" phrase between us to let one another know we left a note.  In general, I told her we're not allowed to keep secrets, but this was more of a special thing than a secret.  So our phrase is, "Heart Me Love"... hey she's 6 and it was her idea!

Her first entry was:  "I feel loved.  I love you mommy.  You are a very good mommy.  I love you, MK."  Then a HUGE heart at the bottom.    This is also a good exercise for her to practice reading and writing.

My reply was:  "Dear MK, I love you so much!  I hope you feel better inside soon so that you can be happy!  Love, Mommy".

I will see what new message awaits me tomorrow.  She asked if she could take it to school, and considering how nervous and anxious she gets, I am hoping her teacher will give her a 5-10 minute period where she can write me during the day to help her get out her feelings.   I sent the teacher a note to see if she will let us do that. 

So thanks again for the idea!  I think it's going to work out well for her.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

You’re a COOL MOM!

Well Layla has this cute shirt that says, “My Mom Is The Coolest”.  It has become one of her favorites recently.  She seems to generally like any shirt with words, but being the mama’s girl that she is, she especially seems fond of this one. 

Yesterday at Wal-mart, she told me that I am a cool mom!  I don’t think or know that I am actually a cool mom, but either way, it makes me smile that I am HER mom. 

So now for some long over due updates on “us”.

I will start with the easy update on Layla first.  She’s really doing fantastic!  We had a small tantrum last week, very small in the grand scheme.  It was over a piece of candy.  I think she was also reacting to my overall negative/tired mood that day, and it seemed to put her on edge.  I was already frustrated, and the fact she was spiraling into a tantrum just frustrated me more.  I used a not so friendly tone with her during my frustration, which I apologized for profusely once we had both cooled down.  I hugged and loved on her and told her I was SO sorry for taking out my bad day on her (I will get to why the day was bad in a minute).   She hugged me tight and stroked my hair and said “It’s ok, you’re still a really good Mommy”.  To which I busted into a full on teary sob.  I was really sick about how I treated her, which really wasn’t that bad, I just felt guilty. 

So despite her little fit that night, which was merely triggered by my poor attitude at the moment, I am going to say she has officially gone ONE WHOLE MONTH without tantrums…SOOOOOOOOO AWESOME!!! 


Moving right along to Molly… wow… where to begin?  Her anti-depressants have finally set in, which is good in one regard, but awful in another.  Now that she is no longer “as” depressed, her focus, impulsiveness, and just general disregard for most things has SKY ROCKETED!  She was off the charts CRAZY last week.  She was bouncing from floor to ceiling, chattering like crazy, lying, and just really poor decision making all around. 

During her PT appointment last week, you might have thought she was feral.  I mean I was SO embarrassed to be in the same room.  Her behavior therapist and I discussed the possibility of her having a Sensory Processing Disorder, and she gave me the preliminary checklist/questions to answer.    Yes, she does have SPD, probably in addition to ADHD.  She scored very high in the “Under responsive/Seeks Sensation, Auditory Filtering, and Low Energy/Weak” categories.  She also scored in the medium range for “Tactile Sensitivity”. 

We see her PCP on Monday the 8th to discuss medication.   At her Child Study meeting the teacher and I had the exact same concerns.  Her grades are A’s and B’s, but they’ve been pulling her out of class for extra help in reading/writing.  For now we’re not going to do the IEP, we’re waiting to see what difference medication might make.  Her focus and impulsiveness at school is just as bad as at home. 

So we’re having a lot of work to do for her.  It is really hard because she’s a big 6 year old, almost 80 lbs.  She wants to feel like a “baby” but we physically can’t carry her etc.  With the SPD stuff though, she’s almost like a 3 year old.  It’s very difficult to get the right balance of what she needs vs. what we’re able to provide.  We have a limited amount of time at home each night before bed.  I guess it is the balance all working parents struggle with.

So that is all I am in the mood to type today.  I will do my best to update more this week if I have time. 


Saturday, October 23, 2010

I'm YOUR Mommy!

Last night we had dinner with my daughter's twin brothers, as well as their first foster parents.  I was really worried about this, but I figured I needed to bite the bullet and take whatever reactions came from it.  Thankfully, there weren't any from my girls.  It was a pleasant dinner.  The FFP's couldn't believe the MAJOR difference in Layla (4 year old).  They just kept saying they've never seen her so well behaved.  She stuck right by my side the entire time. 

I told her that it was ok for her to visit and talk and have fun, but I am her mommy, so she needs to listen to me, and the boys need to listen to their mommy.  She was an angel!  :)

This made me see that she is mine!  No one can change that now.  She sees me as HER mommy!  I keep her safe!  I listen to her!  I hold her when she needs reassurance that this is forever!  

The best part about the visit was getting a TON of pictures from them of the girls.  So now I have pictures from when Layla was 2, and when Molly was 4 up until now basically.  Plus we have some great shots of the girls and the boys together, as well as the boys on their own.  We bought a scrap book and after I get additional copies and scan the pictures, we will be scrapping for days! 

So I smile because my little girl is making so much progress and she is truly healing.  She amazes me to the point that some days I can't even remember the "bad" days we had just a month ago. 

The medication is helping, and she KNOWS it is.  In fact, she will ask for her medicine when it's time because I truly believe she can tell it is wearing off because her anxiety returns. 

I know I haven't posted much about my 6 year old lately, and I really need to.  I promise we don't just ignore her!  :)   Her progress is at a bit of a stand-still, and we have a lot in the works for helping her more right now.  I think for the first time since she entered care she is finally able to start processing the trauma, the loss, and she's trying to be a kid and fit in, but she's having a tough time!

I will post about her Monday because we've had some behaviors at school and this coming week we have some new appointments to help get her back on track! 

Overall, I couldn't be more pleased.  I feel like we're finally getting into more of a groove and I see the benefits of it for both of the girls!

Sad Day... Please Be Thankful!!!

First, the sad day wasn't ours. 

When I was TTC I was a member on the What To Expect forums.  I met a friend there named Lindsay, and she and I were both from Virginia, and pretty much in the same time line for appointments etc. 

We went on and stopped fertility treatments to adopt.  Lindsay and her husband did a cycle of injections and an IUI, and they conceived twin boys.  So very very sadly, just a month from her deliver date, with all of the plans made, Lindsay was in a terrible car accident!  She has many broken bones, but is on the mend physically.  Sadly, one of her prematurely delivered twin boys did not survive.  I am just so sick over this and completely heartbroken for she and her family.  I can't even imagine how she feels and my eyes well up with tears every time I think of her situation.   Please keep her family and her baby that is still trying to thrive in your thoughts. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Attachment Therapy Games (Part 2 of 2)

Attachment Therapy Games (Part 1 of 2)

Blog 100!!! VIDEO BLOG!

As promised, we recorded the video blog for Attachment Therapy exercises.  I hope to do a few more video blogs (vlogs) in the future.  Once my girls are adopted, I would really like to include them in the videos.  My 4 year old is actually in the "Twinkle Twinkle" video, because we couldn't lift Maddie, but you can't see "Layla" because she's inside of the blanket. 

So enjoy the videos posted in their own posts  (there are two total).

Friday, October 15, 2010

Attachment Therapy Activities (A Must READ)

Attachment Therapy Activities

Feel free to share on your blogs.

Be animated, be funny, and be happy! 


Popcorn/Jellybeans:  When we first get into therapy (and at night now) we need to take our shoes off.  So we sniff the air and we smell popcorn or jelly beans.  Then we start to hunt around the feet to see if that is where the smell is coming from.  Then we take off the shoes and socks to find popcorn/jelly beans.  Then we pretend to eat the food/tickle her feet. 

Lotion on our Boo-Boos:  Next we ask if she has any boo-boos/freckles/etc. we need to look at.  And we put lotion on the “boo-boo” (as long as it wouldn’t hurt her). 


Climbing Up The Mountain:  Next we rub a TON of lotion on our hands, and take her arm into our grip, we then use our hands wrapped around her arm to “climb the mountain”.  We sing a little song… “I’m climbing up the mountain, I’m climbing up the mountain, I’m climbing up, and climbing up, and climbing up the mountain”.   Then at the top of the mountain (arm pit) we loose our grip and sliiiiiiiiiide down and ask her to catch us and then we boom and thrash around. 

Taco Girl:  She lays in the blanket aka taco shell.  Then we put all of the toppings with different sounds for each.  Hamburger, lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, salsa, then we wrap her up in the blanket.  Next, we pretend to “eat” the taco.  Tickling and saying, “this is one very yummy taco” the whole time. 


Twinkle Twinkle:  Since our Taco Girl is already laying in the blanket, one adult grabs the corners on their end, the other adult grabs the corners on their end, we lift her up and sing, “Twinkle, twinkle, little star WHAT A SPECIAL GIRL YOU ARE, up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky, twinkle, twinkle, little star, what a special girl you are”.   ---THIS IS A FAVORITE---


Weather Report:  This is done in therapy with her shirt on, but at home, we do it shirt off, w/ lotion for her back.  She sits facing away, and you sit behind her facing her back.  Then, you basically draw out the weather on her back.  Tickling, swishing, circling along the way.  “Right now it is dark (hands down back) and there is a moon in the sky (draw the moon) there are also lots of twinkling stars (dot out the stars), and some clouds too (clasp fingers together and blot clouds into the sky), OH LOOK, the sun is rising (draw the sun around the bottom of her back like it would be on the horizon, then it rising into the sky)  and the wind is blowing (breeze fingers left and right across her back).  You can get fun and creative with it… either way it is a favorite for my 4 yr old. 


Mirror:  Mirror is pretty simple, one of you is the person, the other is the mirror, and you mimic the person’s actions.  Do funny faces, wave hands, etc.  Personally, I love to do the “I love you” where I point to my eyes, make a heart, and point to her. 

Basketball:  Get a little stuffed toy/beanie baby and put it on your head, then she makes a basket ball hoop w/ her arms.  Then you try and bend your head down to make the toy fall into the hoop. 

Hide the Cotton:  Take five cotton balls and have your child hide them on herself.  Then you try and find them while making funny actions in the process.  I love to look in her ears, at her belly button, in her mouth, up her nose… etc. 

Cotton Ball Hockey:  Take a standard sized pillow, and each of you hold one end.  Then you put a cotton ball in the middle and blow it to knock it off.  You do this back and forth to try and score points. 

Push and Pull:  This is where you sit on the floor, knees bent in front, and she holds your hands and pushes you back, while she lands on your shins and you can lift her in the air or just rock forward and put her feet back on the floor.  Another variation could be lifting her on your feet like an “airplane” zooming in the sky. 

Snack Time:  Each therapy session we have a snack.  Favorites are Goldfish, Fruit Loops, and Fruit Gummies.   Mom needs to feed, and then child can feed mom too.  Then we pretend to be an animal or thing.  For Goldfish, you could be a whale, or dolphin… and when you want another bite, you make the sound that animal makes.  For Fruit Loops, you can be any animal, but a bird is fun.  I hold her in my arms and ask if the little birdie wants a snack.  She chirps.  I feed her the various flavors and describe them as fruits.  “Here comes a cherry little birdie”, “Chirp, chirp”  “Here comes a blueberry”, “Chirp, chirp”, “Here comes a lemon, lime, orange grape” etc.   

I also like to pretend I am picking the gummies from a fruit tree and feeding them to my baby.  So I will say, “Oh a patch of strawberries, I bet my baby likes strawberries” she will then cry and shake her head while I feed her.  Repeat for every type of fruit the gummy represents. 

She loves the snack time!  It is a lot of fun for both of us!


Shoe Race:  At the end of therapy, the doctor and I do a sock and shoe race and see who can get the shoe and sock on the fastest. 


I will be adding video of these the first of next week.  I will also add more activities as we discover them in our therapy sessions!  My lovely God-Daughter Maddie will be assisting me in the videos, since sadly I can’t record my girls for the public yet! :(

Creative Parenting/Theraplay

Parenting a hurt child is hard work.  They test you, they hit you, they spit at you, they scream obscenities but at the end of the day it is YOUR hard work that makes them feel safe, loved, and valuable.

My 4 year old and I go to therapy together each week.  We have an amazing therapist that has helped us a lot already.  We are doing attachment/Theraplay therapy.  It is fun, fast paced, and great to do at home too.

I wanted to touch on some of the creative things I do to encourage my girls first, and then go into some of the Theraplay activities.

First, getting out of bed for school can be so much work for a young child.  Heck, most days I just want to stay in bed.  Our 6 year old wakes up ready to rumble, whereas our 4 year old just wants to lie in bed until I get frustrated enough to pick her up and dress her.  Well, NOT ANYMORE!  

Every morning, I get up, shower, wake up my 6 yr old, wake up my 4 year old, and I tell my 4 year old, “It’s time for you to help Mommy blow dry her hair”.  She springs out of bed and heads for the bathroom.  I flip over my head and she blow dries my hair.  When she is finished, she goes into her room while I flat iron my hair.  I say, “Show Mommy how fast you are at getting dressed”, and she announces every piece as she puts it on herself.  “Mommy, I put on my panties”!  It has made my morning much more fun and enjoyable. 


The next thing we do to encourage them is we just let them HELP!  My girls take so much pride in what they do!  Letting them help (although rarely does it meet my “standard”) makes them feel special.  My 4 year old can cook her own corn-dog in the microwave, my 6 year old knows how to make a sandwich, pour drinks, etc. 

They love to mop/sweep my floors, hauling all of the laundry to the basement, filling the dishwasher, filling the dog food bowls.  

We don’t call it a “chore” because chore rhymes with “bore” and I don’t want them to think of it as a boring chore.  I want them to see it as a way to be in, and help their family. 


In an effort to keep this blog a little less cluttered.  I am going to post our Theraplay activities in their own entry. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Books on Adoption/Foster Care


Yesterday our new Adoption Case Worker came to visit and meet us all for the first time.  She is very sweet, knowledgeable, and the girls loved her.  One thing this visit brought to light, was that my girls didn’t understand what “Adoption” really means.  I know we’ve explained they’re living with us forever, but forever doesn’t probably seem like a long time to a 4 and 6 year old who are presently in their 5th home. 

So, their worker is sitting aside some books for us to read to the girls, and I went ahead and ordered some myself to keep and then eventually pass along to my other foster friends. 

I have to remind myself that even though this feels natural to me… it feels foreign to my girls.  They’ve not been in a home like ours with constant love, affection, guidance, and permanence.    I need to do a better job at explaining and reassuring them this is FOREVER… well at least until they’re adults!  :)

Here are the books I purchased:

"A Mother for Choco (Paperstar)"
Keiko Kasza; Paperback

"When I Miss You (The Way I Feel Books)"
Cornelia Maude Spelman

"Rosie's Family: An Adoption Story"
Lori Rosove

"Murphy's Three Homes: A Story for Children in Foster Care"
Jan Levinson Gilman

"Kids Need to Be Safe: A Book for Children in Foster Care (Kids Are Important)"
Julie Nelson

"Families Change: A Book for Children Experiencing Termination of Parental Rights (Kids Are Important Series)"
Julie Nelson

"The Way I Feel"
Janan Cain

"I Wished for You: an Adoption Story (Mom's Choice Award Recipient, Book of the Year Award, Creative Child Magazine)"
Marianne R Richmond