Wednesday, March 30, 2011

To Make You Feel My Love

Today MK had a tough time after therapy.  The back and forth out loud about being adopted.  Not sure if she wants it... betrayal to her birth family... she can take care of herself... why would I want her anyway... she will just tear up those papers if the judge signs them...hiding in the closet when we got home...crying... not understanding (still) what adoption means for all of us...scratching her arm so it would bleed...utter confusion over her place in this world...

BUT I know she loves me, I know it's the hurt parts talking when she says she doesn't need/want me... and I love her too.    

This song came on my Pandora as we were driving home and it was just SO perfect as to our walk together. 

To Make You Feel My Love

When the rains blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I would offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love

When evening shadows and the stars appear
And there is no one to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love

I know you haven't made your mind up yet
But I would never do you wrong
I've known it from the moment that we met
There’s no doubt in my mind where you belong

I'd go hungry, I'd go black and blue
I'd go crawling down the avenue
There ain’t nothing that I wouldn't do
To make you feel my love

The storms are raging on a rollin' sea
And down the highway of regret
The winds of change are blowing wild and free
Yeah but you ain't seen nothing like me yet

There ain’t nothing that I wouldn't do
Go to the ends of the earth for you
Make you happy, make your dreams come true
To make you feel my love


G'night and G'mornin' To Ya!

Our Tuesday morning was AFWUL!   Tantrums and all!  Not my idea of fun.

Then Tuesday night rolled around and it was REALLY GOOD!  We had tears from MK because she "thought" she was in trouble for getting a "Yellow Face" :-/ at school.   She talks a lot and sometimes forgets to stop even when she's been asked to stop several times.  It was short lived.  We try to leave school at school.

Layla was in a delightful mood.  They ate their dinner, cleaned their rooms, and MK read Junie B. Jones while Layla layed on her bed  mattress on the floor and wrote her letters on the pad of paper I unearthed when I cleared her room of all things "breakable." 

The best part about Tuesday night was I was able to use a MARVELOUS  Love and Logic (L&L) delayed consequence on her.   Over the weekend we had 4 tantrums.  Not including the Tuesday morning tantrum. 

So 4 days, 5 tantrums = not good for Layla's social life! 

She brought home and invite for a PARTY her friend is having on Saturday.   I sat her down on the couch and we sort of did a "week in review" about how she's been feeling, acting, treating others, and how she ruined the last "party" she went to (MK's) by throwing a fit when she didn't get her way (it's not my party and I'll cry if I want to?!?). 

After our conversation, I asked her... "Would you like to accept my NO for going to the party, or will you be choosing to throw a fit about it?"   To my surprise... SHE ACCEPTED THE NO!!!!  :)

Bedtime was a breeze.  We were going to bed at 7:30, but due to the obvious need for more rest, we went back to ol' faithful 7:00 last night. 

This morning they were both in good moods.  MK's focus was off because her medicine hadn't hit her system yet.  Overall though, it was a GREAT morning. 

Fingers crossed for no post-therapy regression this afternoon!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Cool-Down Zone!

Layla has been having a tough time with her emotions and behaviors lately.  We will say 50% is age appropriate testing.  She wants to see what will happen if she "bucks" the system.  The other 50% is certainly trauma induced.  Because many children throw fits, tantrums, etc.   But not all children plot out how they plan to kill you during the tantrum. 

I am not sure what she is processing, I don't know if it is just her personality trying to develop, I just don't know.   What I do know is I am OVER IT!   I am sick of her refusal of "no, stop, please don't".   The words "I don't want to"  or "Yes you will"(directed at me) make my blood boil!

So, in an effort to help her regulate her emotions, and work on her "happy face"  I saw this at ROSS the other day and bought it for her.  I set it up last night in her room (because if she's really pitching a fit, she can't be out with the dogs in the living area)  and we did a few "practice" runs of her getting mad and me asking her to take a break in the "Cool-Down Zone".  

She did very well last night during practice, but this morning she was in a "my way or the highway" defiant mood... and sadly for her this momma doesn't have a highway option.   We will continue to practice tonight over and over a few times to get her into the groove.  I do think it will work, because it's like a cocoon with little distraction. 

I will keep you posted!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy Birthday MK!

A positive blog only!!!  

Here are my TOP 7 things I LOVE about MK!

1)  She has a goofy smile that can light up a room!
2)  She has a giving heart.  She makes me a "gift" almost every day.
3)  She is super smart!  She's gone from not knowing how to read to being above grade level in 7 months!
4)  Her love of animals is very adorable.  If the shirt has a dog on it, you can pretty much guess she wants it!
5)  She's a GREAT eater!  She picks broccoli over french fries and loves to try new things.
6)  She pays back my "energy drains" with a fantastic foot massage!  I think she could make some big bucks!
7)  Even on her darkest days I can give her a hug and talk about things in the end and she opens up to me about her feelings.  Sometimes I'm not 100% sure that she is being truthful, but she gets to see that talking is better than acting it out... and she talks a lot more these days. 

I love you MK!  I see through all of the hurt to the little girl inside that has so much potential to do amazing things with her life!  

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Blog... For Therapeutic Tips!

Hi Everyone,

I hope you will come and follow a new blogging endeavor I have embarked upon.  

Yesterday at MK's therapy session, her therapist said,  “You could write a book on the therapeutic moments you have with [your daughter] and help a lot of people.” 

Well I thought about it all evening, and this morning on the ride into school, I thought I should start a blog and let some of my other friends that have adopted or are fostering also list the various "Therapeutic Moments" they have had with their children.

I think in this journey, we have to work together to help our kids heal.  I never realized just how large my "village" would be.  I have so many amazing friends that have come from this journey, and I know there will be many more to come.

So head on over to  and follow us!



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sometimes We Just "Click"

As a follow-up to my last blog... tonight my girls were both AWESOME!  (knocking on wood)

MK had therapy, and since she's not able to shop with me right now, I dropped her off at daycare afterward so that I could run to Wal-mart.  I was back to pick both girls up within 30 minutes.

We arrived home around 4:30.  I told them if they could shower, wash their hair, put on lotion, and eat dinner by 5:30, then we could watch "Megamind" tonight.

THEY DID GREAT!!!!!  It was so nice!  No yelling, no fussing, no fighting...just compliance the full night.

We watched our movie, they went to bed, and I sat on the couch and SMILED!

What A Weekend!

Where should I begin?

This past weekend was C-R-A-Z-Y!  I am not going to divulge the full details, because I feel like I’ve finally gotten over it.  

Saturday we visited the Durham, NC Museum of Life and Science.  This was an exploratory trip for the girls to do something fun with us, as well as a time for us to check out the Raleigh-Durham area to see if we might want to relocate there after adoption is finalized. 

We had the best day at the Museum!  The girls listened well, were very behaved, and overall it was a very joyous day for my husband and I. 

After our 5 hours at the Museum, we stopped for dinner at Chili’s, then we found a hotel room with a suite/pull out couch.  MK slept on the pull-out, and Layla on the couch cushions made into a “pallet” on the floor.  We closed the doors to the king sized bedroom and watched some TV.  I was exhausted and fell asleep quickly.

Sunday morning rolled around and we hit the town early to check out the different areas and to get an idea of if it felt like a place we could call home.  Then around lunch time, we had seen enough and decided to grab lunch and head home.

After lunch, on the way out of the restaurant, MK, my 90lb beast of a (almost) 7 year old threw the biggest tantrum, fit, rage whatever you want to call it in front of the Red Lobster. She's never pulled one in public, and this was the worst ever.   I had to hold and restrain her to keep her out of traffic.  It was a nightmare!

I was so exhausted, angry, confused, annoyed, upset, I mean there are not enough words to describe it.   I know she was probably feeling the same way.

In hind-sight, I don’t know for sure what triggered it all. 

The thought of moving?  Which we’ve discussed in detail, that everything comes with, including family, dogs, cats, toys, beds, that this move isn't like all of the others in her past etc.  

The payback for a good time?  Which we had an awesome time, and I did explain to them before that payback wasn’t necessary and they did deserve fun!

The impending adoption?  She says she is scared about being adopted.  I guess she thinks things change once the judges pen hits the paper.  We have assured her this is not true and we already live like they’re adopted. 

And last but not least…

Do we need a medication adjustment?   MK’s rage was terrible back after Christmas, and changing her Vyvanse from 20mg to 30mg made a HUGE difference.  I am seeing that same January kid again, and I don’t like it.  Her impulses have been over the top.  She’s bouncy and jittery.  She is squealing and shrieking at things instead of just saying “thank you.”   

Right now I am not sure.  We see Dr. K tomorrow for Layla’s 5 year check-up and I will be talking to her about MK’s present issues. 

I told MK this morning that we don’t have to talk to Dr. S (therapist) about it.  I have already decided to drop the matter.  Her consequence is she isn’t allowed to go anywhere alone with me until I can trust her.  If my husband hadn’t have been there, who knows what harm could have been done to both of us. 

Monday night, I told her the other part of the consequence was mandatory cuddle time with me because it was obvious we were feeling disconnected.  It was nice, but by no means did it really make a huge difference in her temperament. 

So we will see…. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Congratulations.... JEN!!!   Layla was asked to pick a number 1-10 (including Gale's entry on my reminder blog) and she chose 9!!  :)   I will email the details!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I am not sure who was luckier yesterday... MK because she received glowing reviews at our Parent-Teacher conference, or ME because I was in the therapeutic parenting zone.

After therapy yesterday MK was in a poor mood and went from 7 year old to 2 year old in about a 10 minute time span.   I will leave out all of the details, but it ended up in her stabbing me with a pencil and slapping me.  I handled it well, the "I hate you!" stuff just went in one ear and out the other.  In the end I hugged her and consoled her as she voiced her concerns that the judge will decide not to let us adopt her and that is scaring her.  I assured her the judge wouldn't be telling us no.

What helped me through that little saga?  Well, while she was in therapy, I read over some things that her teacher gave me.

One from Valentine's Day and the other was about 'How Do You Feel?'.

Valentine's Day:  

"Happy Valentine's Day to mommy and daddy I love you.  You are nise (nice) to kids and kind to kids.  You love me I love you. We love eatch (each) othr (other)."

How Do You Feel?:

"This is how I feel.  When my mommy gives me hugs I feel loving.  When I do somethings ralung (wrong) I feel guilty.  I cry when I feel sad.  When my dad or mom buy me something I feel happy.  When I get drest,(dressed) I feel proud.  When I get yelled at I feel angry.  When I watched goosbumps (Goosebumps) I was afraid.  When I go to my room I am lonely.  When it was my birthday I feeled surprised.  When I am at the stor (store) I feel bored.  When the kid came to say hi I feeled shy.  I feel sorry.  I feel jealous.  I feel confused. I feel excited. I feel embarrassed."  

In Therapy, she said that she gets angry at herself if we yell.  Also, we didn't allow her to watch Goosebumps, they watched it at daycare.

So reading those gave me hope... and we're getting closer every day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

$25 Giveaway... It's Not Too Late!

I am doing a drawing for a $25 gift certificate to CSN Stores on Friday the 18th!!!   So be sure to go leave a comment on this  post  GIVEAWAY!!! if you want to be entered to win!!

Everyone loves FREE STUFF right?  Feel free to share with your friends and send them over to enter.

Monday, March 14, 2011


One of Layla's big triggers is black men.  We obviously don't know all of her past, but the parts we do know usually involved a black man (since she is also black... or BROWN as she says).

We've been working on that trigger in therapy using EMDR therapy.  It's not 100% but by golly it is way better now.    When she first came we couldn't even take her to a store for fear of her being triggered into a full-on rage.

When I was in a store with her for the first 4 months at least, I would find myself panning the room and avoiding anyone with her skin tone.   That may seem strange, but a rage tantrum is not something any parent wants their child to experience.  When you have PTSD you are often subconsciously triggered by things you don't understand.  It could be a smell, a sound, a person, many things can trigger a child with PTSD.

I wrote all of that to write this.  Our fantastic friend we will call him "Uncle B" is a black man.  He's like a big teddy bear with a kind heart, and he is great with the girls.

Saturday, I had to film for my show, and the girls were with me because my husband was "teaching" some computer geeks that day (I wrote that for his entertainment).   So "Uncle B" entertained the girls while I filmed my scenes.  He showed them that if you color in tiny circles it is easier to stay in the lines.  My girls just really adore him.   He is a great male influence of their same race.   I am thankful to have someone like that for them to see, because prior to "Uncle B", there were not many black men they could look up to or trust.   When Layla first met him almost 5 or 6 months ago, she wouldn't talk or even sit near him.  Now it's like they are old pals!

So we're certainly seeing some progress there.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Special Play-time Toys

For info on the Special Play-time... click HERE

Toy Checklist for Special Play-Time
Note: Obtain sturdy cardboard box with sturdy lid to store toys in (box that copier paper comes in is ideal–the deep lid becomes a dollhouse). Use an old quilt or blanket to spread toys out on and to serve as a boundary for the play area.

Real-Life Toys (also promote imaginative play)
Small baby doll: should not be anything “special”; can be extra one that child does not play with anymore
Nursing bottle: real one so it can be used by the child to put a drink in during the session
Doctor kit (with stethoscope): add three Band-Aids for each session (add disposable gloves/Ace bandage, if you have)
Toy phones: recommend getting two in order to communicate: one cell, one regular
Small dollhouse: use deep lid of box the toys are stored in–draw room divisions, windows, doors, and so forth inside of lid
Doll family: bendable mother, father, brother, sister, baby, and so forth (ethnically representative)
Play money: bills and coins; credit card is optional
Couple of domestic and wild animals: if you don’t have doll family, can substitute an animal family (e.g., horse, cow family)
Car/Truck: one to two small ones (could make specific to child’s needs, e.g., an ambulance)
Kitchen dishes: couple of plastic dishes, cups, and eating utensils
Puppets: one aggressive, one gentle; can be homemade or purchased (animal shaped cooking mittens, etc.)
Doll furniture: for a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen
Dress up: hand mirror, bandana, scarf; small items you already have around the house

Acting-Out Aggressive Toys (also promote imaginative play)
Dart guns with a couple of darts and a target: parent needs to know how to operate
Rubber knife: small, bendable, army type
Rope: prefer soft rope (can cut the ends off jump rope)
Aggressive animal: (e.g., snake, shark, lion, dinosaurs—strongly suggest hollow shark!)
Small toy soldiers (12–15): two different colors to specify two teams or good guys/bad guys
Inflatable bop bag (Bobo clown style preferable)
Mask: Lone Ranger type
Toy handcuffs with a key

Toys for Creative/Emotional Expression
Playdough: suggest a cookie sheet to put playdough on to contain mess—also serves as a flat surface for drawing
Crayons: eight colors, break some and peel paper off (markers are optional for older children but messier)
Plain paper: provide a few pieces of new paper for each session
Scissors: not pointed, but cut well (e.g., child Fiskars_)
Transparent tape: remember, child can use up all of this, so buy several of smaller size
Egg carton, styrofoam cup/bowl: for destroying, breaking, or coloring
Deck of playing cards
Soft foam ball
Two balloons per play session
Selection of arts/crafts materials in a ziplock bag (e.g., colored construction paper, glue, yarn, buttons, beads, scraps of
fabrics, raw noodles, etc —much of this depends on age of child)
Tinkertoys_/small assortment of building blocks
Tambourine, drum, or other small musical instrument
Magic wand
Reminder: Toys need not be new or expensive. Avoid selecting more toys than will fit in a box—toys should be small. In some cases, additional toys can be added based on child’s need and with therapist approval. If unable to get every toy before first play session, obtain several from each category—ask therapist for help in prioritizing. Note: Unwrap any new toys or take out of box before play session. Toys should look inviting.
Here are some pictures of our setup.  We do NOT have all of the toys listed.  I do have a "bopbag" but I didn't have it setup for this session. 

"Special Playtime" Therapy Session

Since Layla has attached to us, her ODD has become overwhelming some days.  We really hadn't complained about the ODD much, but her therapist picked up on it over several sessions and asked to talk to my husband and I privately without Layla.  So we went to her office and she trained us in a "new to us" type of therapy to do with Layla. 

*** Due to the copyrighted nature of the course our therapist taught us with, I am unable to post the actual handouts here on my blog.  I will be happy to email you a link with the full walk-through on these sessions.  Feel free to leave you email in the comments, and I will delete the comment once I read it***

The point of these sessions is to strengthen the relationship between the parent and child by holding a "Special Playtime" for 30 minutes each week.   At our house, we do this once a week, for 30 minutes, on the weekend. 

The session, unlike attachment therapy, is completely led by the child. 

This is not a typical playtime. It is a special playtime in which the child leads and the parent follows. In this special relationship,there are no:
  • Reprimands
  • Put-downs
  • Evaluations
  • Requirements (to draw pictures a certain way, etc.)
  • Judgments (about the child or his play as being good or bad, right or wrong)
You literally state facts only.  You basically act like a sports caster, "You are picking up the balloon, you have decided to choose the red balloon" etc.

In the next post, I am going to list off the various toys you will want to have. 


"Lazy Pee" a Followup!

First,  Becca, thanks for the comment on my original post!  I want to say that had she not explained it herself as "just being lazy"  I would not have used that terminology for what was happening.  On the flip side of that though, I knew something wasn't right.

Additionally, despite the reply I had imagined I would get, her therapist said I handled it exactly how I should have.   I did not shame her for peeing, I but I told her how ashamed I was of her choosing to lay in it and causing me extra work when I would have otherwise been able to spend that time with her.   Her therapist said that a low level of "I am very ashamed that this is happening" is what needs to happen for her to understand her actions DO effect others.  And she agreed that this was indeed an ACTION not a REACTION to her fear, anxiety, control etc. 

So as a followup, we did away with the pull-ups, and MK was on board with that idea the second I brought it up. 

I decided the first few nights I would wake her around 10:00 (she goes to bed at 7:00) and take her to the potty.  She went every night when I took her, then went right back to sleep.  Friday and Saturday nights she takes Mirtazapine to help her sleep fully, and when I went to take her Friday, she said, "Mommy, I don't have to go".   So I left her be. 

For an ENTIRE week, she has not wet her bed.   So that says to me, that we probably indeed were experiencing what I will now refer to as a convenience pee!  Not lazy, just convenient. 

So I am happy to report she is doing well, and even if we have a set back from time to time at least I will be able to know it is not happening due to an over dependence on her pull-up.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Attachment Exercises... Updated... A Must Read!

I have added to the list of attachment exercises.  I plan to podcast these in the next week or so but I didn't want to delay on posting them because I know these exercises help kids heal.  Enjoy!

Attachment Therapy:

Today, I want to talk about attachment therapy, also referred to as Theraplay by many professionals. These therapy sessions are meant to be touch oriented, fast paced, spontaneous at times with the therapist/parent having in mind the activities for the day. The activities should be fun, calm, and nurturing.

During a session NEVER scold your child if they get overly excited or out of control. If that happens, you need to refocus the session in to a calming exercise, like rocking.

The point of these sessions is to help your child attach in a fun, playful, non-confronting way.  These things are things many of us would do with a biological child.  Children with tough starts do not always get the joy of sharing these fun games with their birth family, so our job as adoptive parents is to help recreate the attachment cycle that was missed out on for our children as infants and toddlers.

The Scene/Supplies:

First, you want to set up a blanket on the floor with a bunch of pillows around for comfort and for some of the exercises.  A bean bag is a great thing as well because it will give the children a "special" seat.
You might want to get a small plastic container to hold the supplies. It's great to be able to grab a box and get to work.

The main things you will need are:
A large throw blanket, 4-5 pillows, lotion, cotton balls, feathers, stickers, bubbles, play-doh, powder, a baby blanket, small stuffed toy, comb/brush, construction paper, crayons, yarn/toiletpaper/streamers and snacks that kids like gummies, gold fish, M&M's, Skittles, etc.

Popcorn/Jellybeans:  When we first get into therapy 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/Childs Name:  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”.  

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.

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. 

What's That?: In this activity, you need a feather, cotton ball, and maybe one other soft item. Then you have the child close their eyes, and you touch them with the item, and they guess what it was that you used to touch them with.

Lotion Spots: For this you have a dab of lotion, the child closes their eyes, and you put the lotion on them. Then you tap around to "fake" them out. Before they open their eyes, they guess where the lotion is on their body.

Drum Copy: For this you need a drum, or a plastic bowl will work. You tap a tune, then the child copies you. You can trade off with the child. It really gets you in-sync with one another.

Lullaby: Parent cradles child in arms in such a way that eye contact is fully maintained. Parent sings lullaby to child, inserting, wherever possible, child's name and descriptions of his or her features. Example: "Twinkle, twinkle little star, what a lovely boy you are. Nice brown hair and soft, soft cheeks. Big brown eyes from which you peek. Twinkle, twinkle little star. What a lovely boy you are."

Peek-a-boo: With hands, feet, towel, blanket, hood of coat, behind pillow or door.
Where's the Baby?: Where you have the child pretend they are in your belly and cover them with a blanket. You can get descriptive too.

This little piggy went to market.

What Will Happen When I Push This Button?: Parent gently presses nose, ear, toe and "beeps," "honks," etc.

"Pop" Cheeks: Parent fills own cheeks with air and guides child's hands to push gently on parent's cheeks with fingers to pop out the air, encourage child to fill up cheeks and parent pops. Toes can also be used to pop cheeks.

Patty-Cake: Played with hands or feet!

Various experiences with touch and textures: Lotioning, making hand or foot prints in powder, pressing hands or feet into play dough or shaving cream, baby oil for back rub with the child facing you. Be aware of possible sensitivities to odors. You can put lotion on the child's feet/hands and then sprinkle powder on it. Then have them stamp their feet or hands onto a piece of construction paper.

Find The Sicker: Parent puts sticker on own nose and helps child pull it off, can do on other areas (watch out for hair).

Blow The Cotton Ball: Parent puts cotton ball on nose with a dab of lotion, child blows it off.

Pillow Tower:  Place on pillow and have you child stand on it.  Then cheer for them keeping their balance (with assistance if needed).  Next, have them step off and you will add another pillow.  You keep repeating this and having the child step on them until you get about 4 or 5 pillows high.

Belly Balance:  After you have those pillows in the "Pillow Tower" exercise stacked up to 4 or 5, have the child lay on the top pillow on their stomach, and then hold their hands while you pretend they are flying like a bird, airplane, etc.

Bubbles: Blow bubbles in front of child and help him pop with fingers or toes.  You can also have the child alternate and wait their turn as you switch back and forth popping the bubbles. 

Lotion Pass: The Parent puts lotion on nose, passes to child's cheek, helps child pass it back to parent's forehead, rubs lotion on child.

Comb Hair: With child facing you, commenting on special color, texture, etc.

Tower of hands: Put lotion on parent's and child's hands and make a hand stack, alternating slippery hands. Move from bottom to top and top to bottom.

How Long Are You?:  You measure the child out with yarn, toilet paper, party streamers, to do this, hold the "string" up to each body part, legs, arms, face, feet, hands full length of their body and tear off a section for each body part.    Then you can have them guess which pieces match to which body part!

Any song or rhyme paired with movement: such as dancing, bouncing, rocking, moving limbs, finger plays. Personalized wording, as in Twinkle above, is preferred. Examples: Rock a bye baby, Patty cake, Itsy bitsy spider, Ride a horsie, The wheels on the bus, Rub a dub dub, I'm gonna get you.

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. 

** One new thing we've been doing as we work on self-esteem, is I have her tell me one thing she loves about herself before the next bite. **

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

I promise to add more as we learn more!
I am not a trained professional, but I am a mom that does these exercises (interchanged) sometimes daily with my children.

If you would like to watch videos of several of these exercises, feel free to click here and here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

GIVEAWAY! Exciting Stuff Inside!

Well, recently I was contacted to do a review, but I decided I would rather be a great "friend" to my followers and do a random giveaway of a $25 CSN Store Gift Certificate. 

The great thing about CSN is that they have a vast array of products and websites to choose from.  Tonight, I checked out their LCD TV Stands, of which they have a HUGE variety.   I really like some of the "modern looks" they have and once I share the link with my husband, I am sure he will find a new project for our "media" room!

So here is how to enter...  just leave a comment!  :)   Each comment will be assigned its own number based on when the comment is submitted, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and so on...  then I will be getting the girls involved to draw the number on Friday, March 18th.  

In the meantime, feel free to tell your friends and have them follow my blog, and leave a comment!

Choco, Googling, Space and Pee!

This morning was a really good for the girls and I.  Maybe the "done talk" helped?   So I woke up and knew they were already awake.  I step into the hallway, and Layla's light was off.  I look over to MK's room and there laid my two girls in bed together and MK was reading to Layla.  She was reading "A Mother For Choco" .  It was a very sweet little scene. 

The girls got ready for school quickly, and as they were brushing their teeth, Layla took some water into her mouth to rinse things out.  MK proclaimed, "Layla, you're supposed to GOOGLE it, not just spit it out!"  I just had to chuckle. I didn't even correct her with, "It is gargle honey."

On the way to school today was "Space Day."  We listened to "Rocket Man" and imagined STOP signs were Mars, Christmas Trees were aliens, and empty farm fields were Jupiter.  It was a lot of fun!

Monday is "Yellow Submarine" day!

The new rule for the girls is that if their butts are in their car seats at 7:20, they split a piece of gum for the ride to school.  Gum is naturally calming for them, so we have a delightful time.

In other news, MK has not wet once since the great pull-up debacle!  We've been waking her at 10:00 when we go to bed to take her to the potty.  She's went every night, and woken up dry the next morning.

So overall, it was a good morning!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Saying "We're Done"

Yesterday during MK’s therapy session, her therapist and I talked about being DONE.  Not DONE with my kids… but DONE accepting their poor behaviors, attitudes, and overall defiance. 

Dr. P said that often times when you use that exact word followed by what you are DONE with, that you will see pretty immediate results.  She followed that up with, “And if you don’t see results, at least you only wasted 10 minutes of your life.”  

So last night as dinner was happening, the girls were finishing up,  I went downstairs to switch out the laundry, and my husband turned his back for just a moment, and the girls decided to blow bubbles in their drinks. 

Now, don’t think of us as these tough parents that never allow fun in our house.  We do.  However, both girls know not to blow bubbles in their drink, and instead of obeying that simple rule, they decided to SNEAK and do it anyway. 

Sneaking and lying are hot topics for my husband and I, we’re probably two of the most honest people I know.    That being said, we have both been extremely burned by other people that were liars, thieves, and sneaks.  So that is the #1 behavior we will not tolerate.  It is really one of the only behaviors we consequence EVERY SINGLE TIME.  In my eyes, if you’re not lying or sneaking, you’re probably making right choices and there is no need for any consequence.

So after being busted for sneaking, both girls were given a very stern talking to/with.  Husband and I both made it incredibly CLEAR we were DONE with the lying, sneaking, and defiance.  There is no reason for it, and from now on we will NOT tolerate an ounce of it (not that we were before). 

I know my kids had tough starts, I realize some things do not click into place,  I am very patient with them most days and I keep in mind that it doesn’t always get through their walls.
Last night we had tears and words of manipulation from MK and defiance and rudeness from Layla.    They both heard us though when we said we were DONE and OVER their poor behaviors. 

We played a little game of “What If You Were The Parent” with Layla.  Some of the questions were:

If you were the mom would you be happy or upset if your kid lied?  “Upset”
If you were the mom would you be proud or disappointed if your kid was being sneaky?  “Disappointed” 
If you were the mom would you be happy or sad if your kid had a good day at school? “Happy”

And so… now that we've reviewed what Layla would do if she was a mom… we said,  “So when mommy and daddy do the SAME THING you would do if you had a kid, what makes our choice wrong, or makes us mean?” 

Layla quickly retreated as that light bulb went off.  She then transformed back into a loving sweet kid!

The biggest thing that gets me, and I realize it is both age and trauma appropriate is that she is SO focused on if we are right she is wrong, and then pity party ensues because she “ain’t never not right.”  She is so determined to have that control, that she doesn't even understand or recognize all of the control we give her each day.  

Last night we explained that all of the times we aren’t telling her she did something wrong/made a bad choice that she IS RIGHT. 

We also highlighted all of the choices she gets to make in a day.  And that if she makes the wrong choice, we are her parents, and we have to let her know about that. 

So we will see what their moods are like tonight.  I think we all just needed a fresh reminder of the fact that some things just can not and will not be tolerated.  We’re 7 months into this, the rules haven’t changed, only the players personalities have.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lazy Pee

I know this will come as a surpise to many... but the one thing I HATE more than laundry... is laundry that smells like urine! 

Maybe if I had a laundry room that look something like this I would feel more encouraged to spend time in there.  I don't though, so I just don't enjoy laundry much.

Last night, I (as well as my husband) tossed and turned and finally fell asleep around mid-night.   Well, about 12:30, MK decides to thrash around in her bed thunking her head against the wall.  My husband gets up to find her room overcome with urine odor.  

Once again, MK had wet her pull-up, in turn, it leaked onto her bed.  This happens most nights these days.  Even though she went for over a month without wetting back around January. 

He sent her to the bath, at this point I am wide awake and "PISSED" OFF!  

I finally enter the bathroom and tell her to hurry up bathing so that she can get back to bed.  Then I told her, there  was just no way she didn't know she was soaking wet with pee.  Her bed was damp, so I knew it had been hours since she wet herself.   I get wetting from a bad dream, what I don't get is laying and sleeping in it. 

I then told her, "There just isn't a way for you to make me believe that you weren't just being lazy and deciding to lay in your own urine!"

Then, get this, SHE ADMITTED to just being lazy.  She said she does that a lot... as in wets herself and sleeps in it... ON PURPOSE!  

I was so over it.  I explained (with tears) that laudry is a lot of work.  Missing sleep makes me feel grumpy.  I just don't get it. 

So at the end of this, I told her no more pullups.  She uses them as an excuse to be lazy and it is beyond disgusting.   I did my best not to shame her, but in my half-wakened state, I was beyond angry. 

Since I have to wash the sheets whether or not she is in a pull-up, I am taking the pull-up away. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I Think I Figured Out The Problem...

Our clothes have been coming out of the dryer covered in hair....

Now I know why!

My husband left the door open and Triangle, our cat decided it was the best Kitty Condo she has ever seen! Sadly, we can't afford to let the cats use our $800 brand new dryer as their bed.

Cuddle Couch

Well, we finally decided to buy a new couch for our living room.  Prior to this, we had a 4-piece media chair set, that while comfortable (it had cupholders!), lacked the possibility of any cuddling.

So after a ton of searching, we settled on The Metro Sectional from Big Lots.  It is a "pleather" fabric which is soft and not sticky like leather, plus it stands up to my four dogs nails and the girls!

Prior to the new couch arriving, we gave away the media chairs, so the girls had to improvise for their Sunday morning cartoons.  They made a pallet in the floor and cuddled with the dogs and each other.

Then, while Ms. S stayed and babysat the girls, we went to pick up the new couch.

I must say, we absolutely love it!

What's This Self-Regulating?!?!

Wednesday is MK's therapy day.  We go, every Wednesday, at 2:30.  I pick her up at school just before 2:00.  There hasn't been a change in that routine in about 4 months.

For the last few days MK has been off a bit.  Bad dreams about her parents seem to send her off into la-la-land for a few days a month.

So after a rough morning where this mom (with this face when frustrated)
 had ZERO patience I was concerned about taking her shoe shopping after therapy.  With that said, I have few opportunities to just take one child into a store with me, so I needed to figure out something.

When I picked her up at 2:00 though, she was in a very pleasant mood.  She was going to do her homework on the way to therapy, but her pencil was out of lead and we didn't have a traditional pencil in the van (I keep a stash in the truck because normally that is the vehicle I drive when I pick them up).   So we decided to wait until after therapy for homework.

She went in for her hour... I sat on the porch and enjoyed the warm sunshine.   After therapy, I needed to go to the Dollar Tree to get the Play Therapy toys needed for the new Child-Lead Therapy sessions at home (don't worry, new blog and podcast coming soon on that topic).   We went to the Dollar Tree and she did very well through the store.

THEN... we arrived at checkout.  She wanted to touch everything, and our Dollar Tree has the glass figurine/granny decor/everything breakable in the store displayed right next to the register.

Thankfully, my Vitamin D infusion totally put me in therapeutic mode.   As the cashier rang up the goodies, I brought MK close in to me, knelt down, and I calmly said... "Sweetheart, mommy can tell you're a little overwhelmed and unable to focus right now, but there are many breakable things around us, and I think it would be safer for you to stand right here and work hard to focus".   And she did.

The cashier said to me that I was one of the kindest, best moms, she had ever witnessed in the store.  She said most moms would have yelled, jerked the kid, or spanked them right then and there.

I told her thank you and we walked out of the store with our things in tow.

On the walk to the van, I said,  "MK, I know you're having a hard time, if you want, we can put off shoe shopping today and go on the weekend, I do not want you to feel overwhelmed".

I was SO proud of what happened next.  She goes, "Mommy, I think I just need a few minutes of quiet and calm, and I will feel better to go shoe shopping".   We hopped in the van, she sat in her seat, I drove across the parking lot, and we did just that, we sat for about 10 minutes while she regrouped and regulated herself.   During those 10 minutes she finished her homework (compliments of the pencil Dr. S gave us).

Shoe shopping went smoothly and we bought both girls new shoes.  We love Rocket Dogs at our house.  Layla got these...

And MK decided on a $5 pair of dress shoes and a pair of Rocket Dogs with a blue glittery pattern.   I didn't get a close up shot of her feet this morning.

I am just so proud of her ability to recognize the issue and come up with a solution to solve the problem.  This is proof that our work on her self-esteem and self-reliance (in a healthy family setting) is finally paying off.

I hope we see this replay often for both girls!