Friday, August 28, 2015

Healing Trauma With Reenactment

There is so much joy in watching our kids engage in life--especially our kids adopted at older ages!  They missed so many positive experiences! 
Being adopted at an older age also means there were past traumatic experiences--times they were not cared for in the way they deserved. 
When one of my children shares a painful memory I tell them how sorry I am, and how different it would have been in a loving family.  I often go into great, loving detail, on how it should have been. 
As an example, some of my children were hospitalized while still living in the orphanage, and they didn't receive the one-on-one love of a parent.  One child was left for long periods, all alone.  It was very traumatic.
That's often how it is for orphans.  Orphanage staff and even foster families are not always able to stay with a hospitalized child--and even if they do they might not lovingly care for the child.  It breaks my heart.
Even though I talk to my child about how it should have been, the trauma leaves a gaping wound.  One child in particular had deep grief over a hospitalization pre-adoption.  No matter how much we talked about it, it remained. 
In trying to heal that child's trauma we came up with the idea of a "reenactment."  It wasn't enough to tell our child how it should have been--we decided to show them! 
It was a day of silly fun as we pretended our child was sick for a full day!  The day included the couch, with soft blankets, and we brought Jamba Juice and favorite foods.  We even coordinated with relatives and had them send a "get well soon" card.  The relatives wrote sweet words about how much they love our child, and how they will always be there for them.  My child's Godmother made a special "hospital" visit.  There were even gifts and balloons--just like a real hospital stay.
It was a fun day!  BUT it wasn't all unicorns and rainbows because a lot of negative feelings came back too!  Memories came flooding about the real hospitalization.  There were tears and deep sadness. 
In the end though, I truly believe there was healing around that caustic memory.  The memory is not erased of course, but it is softened. 
I share in hopes that this "reenactment" might help another child.  It's never too late for our children to learn the way it should have been.  To learn what they deserved to have. 
It's never too late for healing. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Abusive, Destructive, Controlling Relationships--Part 4--What To Say To Victims

I'm winding up my series on destructive relationships.  If you need to catch up read
I've covered my reasons for sharing this topic, the warning signs, and some facts.  As we've discussed, it can be very difficult for a victim to leave his/her abuser. There's an excellent paper written by Dr. Sarah Buel, a lawyer and activist against domestic violence.  Her paper is titled 50 Obstacles to Leaving aka Why Abuse Victims Stay
If you know someone who is in a destructive relationship please talk to them about it--even though it can be hard to know what to say.   
Sometimes the best thing to say is something simple.  Here's some ideas from Sarah Buel:
  1. "I'm afraid for your safety."
  2. "I'm afraid for the safety of your children."
  3. "It will only get worse."
  4. "I'm here for you."
  5. "You don't deserve to be abused."

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Fun Project--Butterflies!

I was going through some old photos and remembered when we hatched butterflies last summer. 
We actually bought the kit a few years ago, but decided to reuse it.  Through the awesomeness of the internet I found we could order new caterpillars and enjoy the fun all over!  It's amazing to watch how teeny tiny little larvae turn into beautiful butterflies!
Here is an example of the set we used (it even comes with a coupon to get your caterpillars) and I just saw it on Amazon for $12.  A fun end-of-summer project (or beginning of school project for homeschooling families). 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I Love Summer

I wish summer could last forever!  There's been some very special memories made including a trip to the cabin:
And a trip to my nephew's wedding:
Which also included a family reunion at an amusement park:
The kids have been enjoying impromptu water balloon baseball games:
Vacation Bible School:
And Lan Lan enjoyed her birthday gift seeing One Direction (Lizzy too).

Can we please just keep celebrating summer?  And never go back to school? 
In fact, I refuse to go back into school mode.  Ugh.  Noooooooooo!  Heeeelp!!!

Monday, August 17, 2015

How To Make Your Car Bigger--Large Family Living

Outgrowing your vehicle?  Need more space? 
Have I got a deal for you!
When we downsized from our Big Blue Beast it was tough.  I LOVED my Momster, because it could carry a huge amount of people and half our household!  But alas, it was breaking down all . the . time.  It also got 10 miles to the gallon.  I don't miss that part.
But going on trips has been tight.  To say the least.  We still haul 6 kids on a regular basis and the vehicle we use is an 8-seat Honda Pilot.  Yea.  Sardines.  (We do provide roadside entertainment at stops as strangers watch the clown-show pile out.)
Once we get all the people in the car, there's not much room for anything else.  We rented a utility trailer for camping, but for normal trips we've recently found quite the way to extend our vehicle.
First, we put on a car-top carrier.  You would be amazed how many kids much stuff we can fit up there--including golf clubs and sleeping bags. 
And now Hubby found this awesome invention for the back--it's called a Hitch Haul.  It attaches to the hitch on the back of the car.  It was only $80, can hold 300 pounds, and carries our giant cooler and a large box of food. 
Hubby says it's important to make sure it has a long enough neck to allow your tailgate on your vehicle to open, or you will have to remove the hitch every time you need to open the back.  You can find this awesome addition at most sporting goods stores--even Target or Walmart.  (And no, I do not get any money for endorsing this product.  But if you love yours you can send me coffee and chocolate.)
The only caveat I would add is that it would be easy to forget it is on the car while backing up.  We have a back-up camera that sends a reminder signal, but if I didn't have that I know I would need a little sticky note on my steering wheel to remind me.  Because I am very much like my cousin Dory in Finding Nemo.   My memory is often lacking.  I saw Dory on a recent trip to the aquarium. 
Come to think of it, is Dory yellow--or blue?  (See what I mean?)

Anyhoo, we've figured out how to haul all the stuff for a trip--now if we can just figure out how to add more legroom to the inside  of the car. 
Uh-huh.  Hmmm. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Camping Successes--And Fails

Our recent camping expedition was a lot of fun--and we learned some new camping wins.
There were two fails:
Leaving the lights on in the car = dead battery.  Twice.  And in our state it is not easy to find someone to give the car a jump because there are so many hybrids.  What a hoot!
The other was much more concerning.  In all my years of parenting we have never called an ambulance.  That is now past tense.  Patrick had a really bad bike collision with another boy.  He was in shock and thought he had broken his arm.  He laid on the pavement without moving for 20 minutes until the ambulance arrived.  Luckily, both boys were okay--although I'm STILL not sure I've fully recovered from that horrible, terrifying feeling.  I was literally shaking--long after Patrick had gone back to hanging out with his friends. 
On a positive note we discovered some new tricks of the trade. 
Since we sold the Big Blue Beast we rented a trailer.  Not a trailer trailer.  We still use tents.  It was a U-Haul trailer but such a WIN!  And totally worth the $.
My sister also created an amazing camping oven and she made deliciousness such as chili cheese fries and apple cobbler.  Yum!  I'm guessing you can Google how to make one?  It includes a foil lined box and charcoal.
She also brought the recipe for "omelet in a bag."  Put a couple eggs, cheese, and desired toppings in a ziplock FREEZER quart bag and place in a pot of boiling water until done (you need a large pot).  Yum!
Other wins were Starbucks Via instant coffee, Cup of Noodles (a camping staple), and on the last night, PIZZA DELIVERY right to the campground!  Now THAT'S my kind of camping! 
An idea from a friend--instead of sending the kids to the campground shower with shampoo and soap (which is inevitably left in the shower!) send 3-in-1 shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in a paper cup.  Shazam! 
Fire starters are the and baby wipes are my new favorite camping item.  Oh, and did I tell you that we had tent sites with ELECTRIC outlets this year???  We strung sweet garden lights all around our campsite, made great use of our rice cooker, and -- get this -- I was so cold at night that I bought an electric heating pad and then proceeded to sleep in a warm cocoon.  I don't think I will ever be able to camp without electricity again! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Campout

We just had an awesome week at our annual adoptive-families campout!  We had lots of our relatives, which made it extra special and extra fun!  It's been a wild-ride of a year, so it was great having happy time.  Living each day with intention and making memories!  LOVE!