"That need for chaos may never go away for them. Particularly, children who have Reactive Attachment Disorder experience this."
~W. R. Cummings
As many of you are aware that our 5 little ones were added to our family after having their start at life in another family. The journey to us was through 2 to 3 families from their biological family. The first parts of each ones childhood was not easy. There was trauma to be experienced in different levels for each one. We had thought that the last one being so young when she left her biological home might have escaped it. However, something is amidst from either in uteri or the experience of being in foster care.
In our home we have our highs and lows. Kind of like watching the stock market on Wall Street. Just like certain stocks rise up fast and some crash right down to bottom out. That is what our family life is like. Each day is something a little bit different. There isn't a crystal ball to help us see clearly what the day is going to be like.
After reading this article, 'Kids Who Need Their External World To Match Their Internal Chaos' by Wendy Cummings. I highly recommend reading it if you or someone you love has a child who thrives in chaos. It helped shed some more light with what might be going on with our little ones. They love it loud. The chaos, the noise, the hands on each other, telling on someone for something they did or even for something they didn't do. Of course with our first two children we had a little tattling and bickering but mostly calm. Though we had been around children who had behavior tendencies it wasn't every day. Our every day environment is not the one that we lived in for the past 17 years before we opened our home for fostering.
Donald and I appreciate calm and thrive in it. However, we are going to need to embrace the chaos we have been trying to push back against, or at least accept it a little better. Each of our five little ones look like any other kiddo.... just cuter. LOL Just kidding! Children are beautiful. This shed's a light on why one always tries to stir up something when nothing is going on. Why another fights so hard to pick up the simplest thing to put away and then goes into an hour long screaming tantrum. It just might be more than impulses for our RAD child when he places his hands on someone. Our daughter who likes to be the "boss" of everyone and control the situation where she has no control. Then the last one, she is a whirlwind of destruction but taken out of the chaos at such a young age of just over a month. She doesn't like all the loud around her but instead is static cling to myself or her daddy.
We get tired. Our home is not organized. Ha! Laundry needs to be caught up and definitely all put away. The idea of everything having a place is fleetingly flying out the window. It will come when they all leave the home at 25 or 30 years old.... At that time we will be 60/70... Great time to declutter and let it go.
At the end of the day we still love each one of them immensely and couldn't think of a day without them. They might be unbiologically ours, however, they are the missing parts of our heart. We give them all the love and hopefully the skills to help with a stable life through the chaos.
The above photograph was captured by our dear friend, Gina Johnson of Gina Johnson Photography. I am so happy with this image of our Bigs and our Littles.
"I still say, 'Shoot for the moon; you might get there.'"
The littles spent some time today making moon sand at one of our local free libraries. They had just got done with swim class and of course playing in some beach sand. (More of the point of making mud.) In our home we have one small container of kinetic sand or moon sand if you prefer. That stuff isn't cheap. To be honest, like most material it ends up being swept up from the floor and wiped off the table.
When I saw this fun event, I of course was excited. The littles got right to work with mixing the ingredients. It seemed to be a bit of a balance between the two that you had to have. The ingredients are simple and you probably have them at home.
4 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup of Baby Oil
*Food coloring is optional
Mix the flour and baby oil together.
Once mixed well then add food coloring.
This part might take a bit. Not sure on what might be better for coloring.
Now that all the ingredients are well mixed, then the fun starts. The kids enjoyed hours of fun with this at home after they got it home. There was 20 cups of moon sand. We might have 4 cups of that left. It sort of disperses as it goes. Thank you to Amanda at the Norwood Public Library for this amazing day.
“Children raised with good boundaries learn that they are not only responsible for their lives, but also free to live their lives any way they choose, as long as they take responsibility for their choices. For the responsible adult, the sky is the limit.”
― Henry Cloud, Boundaries with Kids: When to Say Yes, How to Say No
I shared a post the other day about why we are strict. It was "My Parenting May Seem Strict, But I Have a Few Good Reasons For It" by Mike Berry. The post was shared after it had came to my attention that there are a few individuals who have mentioned that we are too "strict" of parents. Another comment that came to us was one that we are "raising little soldiers." This came as quite a shock due to the fact the individual who said it was one that I looked up to. That just shows in the end who really supports you and your parenting choices.
A disclaimer of what is "strict" if anyone is curious. In our home we expect no running through the house and to keep our feet off furniture. If you can't keep your feet off furniture after two warnings then you are off it. Our hands, feet, and mouth do not belong on other people in a harmful way. Chores need to be finished that are their assigned chores. School work needs to be completed each day when school is in session. We use our manners with please and thank you. All this we like to call "morals" and not being strict.
At this moment, I would like to give a little bit of a statement to this morning and some behaviors we have been having the last few weeks. You see, Donald and I have let up on a lot of our boundaries. We have given multiple chances throughout the day to different actions that our littles have done. In this aspect, we were taking on a peaceful parenting approach and talked it out, then sent them on their way to continue the day.
If there were behaviors, the child having them was still allowed to go to the "fun" event that was going on. Our family has been staying out past bed times and having to come home and still do chores before bed and we rise early in the morning. (We love when we visit and never want to leave or cut it short.) This makes for some tired kiddos and tired kiddos are cranky wildlings.
All of these slips are on Donald and I for trying to let the kids be a little more like neuro-typical kids and not so atypical. However, our littles are atypical. They need structure, routine, and boundaries. All kids do, except atypical children need it just a little bit more. When we are going places, surprises don't work well and just causes extra anxiety. On the other hand of that, if a certain one of them is told a head of time (like days), that is all she can think about until the event.
We have had an increase in defiance, in lying, in hands on each other (for a few of them), and just being down right disrespectful. Some of that disrespect has spilled over to our close friends and family from a certain little man of ours (normally he wouldn't dream of that).
What has changed? Loose structure and too many chances. Not to mention saying they can't go and then letting them. We have to stay home or one of us does to follow through. If we are lucky we could find a sitter on a last minute notice. This is such a fine line to walk and not step on the landmines that can set off a series of meltdowns. Sometimes you hold your breathe to not wake the sleeping lion that is inside of them.
Today, I had those big meltdowns from one of our little guys. He was upset that he couldn't go to the beach. This was decided after multiple different behaviors that couldn't be over looked. Examples hands on siblings three times before 10 am and leaving the house without permission to go outside after he was told to stay inside. (We own a farm and need to know where our impulsive children are for their safety and the safety of others and property.)
He was sent to his room to calm down due to the fact that once he is in that state of mind he doesn't come out of his meltdown until he is ready and no amount of consoling will help him. His room is the safe place for him and we keep it as such. When he calms down he comes up and we have a discussion on the actions and the decision. If we are lucky, it ends with understanding. If not we go right back to step one and repeat the procedure that is in place for him. This is grueling and hard. He isn't able to regulate his emotions like most people and these moments can cycle over a few times until he gets to his baseline. (Again atypical children) On this day that total was five times.
Once he was at his baseline we were able to talk without him melting back down again. He understood what he had done wrong and why he couldn't go. I explained that he would be dropped off to his Dad on our way through to the event with one of his sisters and brother. (Yup! It was that kind of day. I would post theirs, too. However, you most likely have things to do.)
Little man tried to say what he did wasn't as big as what his sister did a couple of weeks previous. I explained to him that she didn't go to the event that night either. Plus we don't compare actions. In life that isn't something you can do. As parents, we don't want them thinking that they can weigh the choices others make that are not right to their own poor choices.
All five of our little ones have some specials needs that take a toll on their young lives. We work really hard to teach them the skills that they will need to be successful adults that we know they are capable of being. The fact they are atypical does not define who they are as an individual. Each is so much more. They are sweet, kind, loving, smart, creative, adventurous, helpful, and spirited. Each one along with our bigs are our world.
Currently we are working on more evaluations to get to the root of what is going on with our young ones. After answers are found (or confirmed to our suspicions) then we can get the services that they need. It is just a long road to get there. If you are a parent who struggles, know you are not alone. I am here for you. If you are a "strict" parent and have set boundaries, keep it up. You are doing just fine. In the end our children will thank us for it. Keep on parenting. It is the toughest job ever but the pay rate is one that is priceless.
This week we are working on light and sound waves for science. The littles are interested in knowing how things work. Some might not be as interested in all the facts as others. We liven it up to make it go a lot smoother.
In this experiment we used three different mediums (air, water, and sugar) and a coin to see if we could here sound through each one. Each child had paper and a pencil for recording their findings on.
To start off the experiment they each took turns with the bag of air. I filled it myself and they are used to my hot air. At least it keeps them warm in the winter. Measured half a bag of water an d sugar. The littles wanted to eat the sugar afterwards. Ummm... No thank you. I like my sanity to stay intact and their beautiful smiles. I tapped the table for each child with the coin as they listened through the bags.
Bag #1 was our first and held only air. The bag didn't want to stay inflated. It had to be filled a few times before we finished the experiment. Chloe, James, Connor, Jazlyn, and Sophie had fun the air pillow.
Bag #2 started our second round to the experiment. This was the half bag of water. Of course it was cold water. A little soothing on the ears. This one I received a few thumbs up for.
Bag #3 is the bag of sugar. We used natural brown cane sugar. This was the bag they were the most excited about. Any child I think would be. Each one took their turn. I am sure there might have been some sweet day dreams going on while they were conducting the experiment.
After we were all done the children talked about what they had heard. Air was the loudest. Water closely followed right after it. The sugar was muffled to them. Between the three mediums they got to see how sound transfers through different items. Except Sophie, she heard a fox in her bags.
Hands on experiments are the best way for our littles to learn. They do well with oral questions and going through the different parts of the lessons. Each one trying to out answer the other one. Can't wait till the next experiment.
"Alone we could do so little. Together we can do so much."
Today we went to the Canton School and got on a bus for a trip over to the Cornell Cooperative Extension Office. They were having an open house for 4-H. It was bound to be a great day. The 4-H club offers so much to the children and the community.
There was a demo cow that the children got to milk. Each one enjoyed that a lot and loved seeing the "milk" come out of the cow. They wondered if it would run out? We talked about the fact cows have four teats and goats have two teats.
Of course there was some amazingly cute critters all around the farm. Goats with does and kids. The kids are bigger than our adult goats. Loved this little chocolate Swiss baby. A dream color for our herd. The piggies loved getting their ears scratched and greeted us all with happy oinks. The cows were just chilling, but we know they were thinking about being outside and having the sun on their faces. Happy cows are important. When we traveled out of the barn there was a field of sheep. Ewes with their lambs who were not that old. They were cute little cotton balls.
We learned these sheep have multiple purposes. They are used for wool (though not the best quality wool), meat, and milk. The flock is numbered to help keep track of them. Due to the fact that goats and sheep have different mineral needs we don't have sheep. If we did they would be baby doll sheep or Suffolk sheep. Maybe some day.
At the open house they demonstrated sheep shearing. They don't shear any of the sheep until they are a year old. This is a year old ewe and she is doing a great job. All the wool is collected into a huge plastic bag that is taller than Donald. Then it is sent by truck over to Canada. There they go through the wool and process it. It is a very messy time consuming job.
Of course there were a few candids to be had of just good old fun. We met up with some of our tribe members. I didn't capture as many photos as I could have. These two littles are a riot. Diana was hiding behind Oliver. Chloe loved all the animals, especially the sheep.
The last activity that I captured for the day was the green house and planting their own seeds or transplanting a plant. Jazlyn was the only one to transplant a plant and she did celery. The others planted cucumbers or pumpkin seeds. Donald would love to put in a hydroponics system to our homestead. Someday we will make it happen.
To finish it all off, each one of the children received a huge bag of maple cotton candy. They of course ate it all gone before heading back to the school. Jazlyn shared her's with me. What a sweet girl. Last event that they did was the Paws Club for pup agility. They were fascinated and everyone of them walked a pup through the course. Our little Umma Lumma would be awesome. She cannot join due to the fact she is half pit bull and doesn't qualify to be in the club. We will just have to train at home.
If anyone has ever thought about 4-H with their families, I greatly suggest looking into it and signing up. There are so many options for different things to do. Plus, it teaches great skills that will last a life time.
Contact Cornell Cooperative Extension for more information.
A child born to another woman calls me Mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me.
Even though my day was amazing, my heart hurts for another whose day that I know was not. Another momma had empty arms and didn't get to enjoy the hugs and the smiles of our children today. There was no laughter that filled her home. She didn't get to unwrap cute little homemade gifts.
The ache that she is feeling I can only imagine and have been lucky that it isn't something felt in my heart. So many memories and moments that are happening and we are blessed to witness. While each year ticks by and she is missing out on all of these events and milestones.
Dear First Mom of Our Children,
You might not know this at the moment but you have created some very amazing children. They each are extremely creative and sweet. Every day it is astonishing to how smart they are and how hard they work. Each night they loving give hugs, kisses, and love yous.
We know that you love and miss your babies very much. That it hurts not having them and seeing them. Please know that we love them just as much and even though they are not made of our flesh, it is a fierce kind of love.
It is an honor and a true gift to have both your's and also our children in our life. We hope in time as the children continue to heal from all that has happened that we could have some contact. However, until then , please know that we are keeping them safe, loved, and cared for. They are a huge part of our hearts.
Always on our minds,
The Second Mom
Our one little guy refers to us as "first mom" and "second mom" when he is talking about both of us. This makes it easier for him to put his feelings, thoughts, and emotions into order. Now it just kind of sticks. The emotions that run through our little ones are big. Each one misses their first mom and each one loves us immensely.
The only thing we can do for now is continue our healing process. Work on our family bonding every single day. Give them a home filled to the brim with love and laughter, while working on the basics of life. At the same time sending prayers from my heart out to the woman who created these precious angels the we call our daughters and sons.
"Most mothers are instinctive philosophers."
~Harriet Beecher Stowe
Pretty little butterfly enjoying a flower on my walk.
You might be wondering what could possibly be wrong for a Mother's Day celebration with your children and spouse? Well this is being written from two different hearts point of view. Grab a cup of tea, bottle of water, glass of wine or a cup of coffee if you are a night bird. Get comfy with your blanket and start reading.
Today was a pretty amazing Mother's Day for me. I got to sleep in this morning to a little after 7 am. Normally I am up first thing in the morning. The option to sleep in a little bit was great. Then it was a delicious breakfast of French toast made by Chloe with our own farm raised eggs and milk from our goats.
When the tummies were all full, it was time for chores. Outside some of them went (Donald and the kiddos) while the Jazzaroo stayed inside with me. A whirlwind of activity happened around the house. Outfits were double checked that we had everything. Tights, shoes, shorts, t-shirts, hair bows, oh my! (Missing one hair bow that went MIA at Expo time.) Showers were quickly ran through and hairs were done. Everyone loaded up in the car. We are off to the last part of this year's dance adventure at Julie's Dance Studio, LLC. Wish each of them luck!
After the littles danced their numbers in the recital we then went to Phillip's Diner for a mixed bag celebration, Mother's Day and the success of another dance year. The food was delicious and we were all stuffed afterwards. Each little one used their manners and were so polite. They talked and joked together. Conversed with the waitress. It is amazing how wonderful they are. As I watched them laugh and smile and glow, my eyes teared up. These are my babies.
After dinner we headed home. Everyone changed and it was time to go out to the barn and get the chores done for the night. Which of course meant also playing with the baby goats. What a great way to end the day. :)
The only thing that would have made this day better was to spend time with my oldest daughter and see her smiling face. Kaitlynn did send me a Happy Mother's Day text. Understandable due to the fact she had to work. Devion joked with me. He is a goofy kid. All my children are loved with all my heart. My day was not bad. The flip side of this is in part 2 .
I hope you all had a blessed Mother's Day with your loved ones.
"The Goddess does not rule the world; She is the world. Manifest in each of us, She can be known internally by every individual, in all her magnificent diversity."
Be Free & Be Wild ~Chloe
My spirit feels free when my bare feet touch the ground. The wind lifting my hair and swirling it about my face. It tells me that life has many directions to go. I will stand to fight for what I think is right. There is no backing down. My heart loves and burns fiercely.
When this song crossed my ears, it was like a missing piece that clicked right into place. Instantly I was running through the fields and wood paths again of my youth. Found myself sitting on my favorite big rock in my hiding spot not far from home. The birds sang all around me, the pussy willows swayed in the breeze, and the creek let out it's trickling laugh.
What more could a girl have asked for living in such a beautiful, natural woodland that spoke openly? Not much of anything that is for sure. Though I thought I needed more and have lost that part of me over the years. Now I am finding my way back. The years that have gone by there is no getting them back. Going forward, my faith is being restored. I am finding me again. Opening my arms wide and letting the Goddess whisper to me. My ears, eyes, heart, soul, and mind are open. Please enjoy the song below and give Wyndreth some love. Listen to it a few times. I did. Light and love!
by: Wyndreth Berginsdottir
I am my mother's savage daughter, the one who runs barefoot cursing sharp stones.
I am my mother's savage daughter, I will not cut my hair, I will not lower my voice.
My mother's child is a savage,
She looks for her omens in the colors of stones,
In the faces of cats, in the fall of feathers,
In the dancing of fire and the curve of old bones.
My mother's child dances in darkness,
And sings heathen songs by the light of the moon,
And watches the stars and renames the planets,
And dreams she can reach them with a song and a broom.
My mother's child curses too loud and too often,
My mother's child laughs too hard and too long,
And howls at the moon and sleeps in ditches,
And clumsily raises her voice in this song.
Now we all are brought forth out of darkness and water,
Brought into this world through blood and through pain,
And deep in our bones, the old songs are wakened,
So sing them with voices of thunder and rain.
(Repeat as new chorus three times, below)
We are our mother's savage daughters,
The ones who run barefoot cursing sharp stones.
We are our mother's savage daughters,
We will not cut our hair,
We will not lower our...(x2) voice (last time).
Full Moon, October 2011
"Anything, everything, can be learned if you can just get yourself in a little patch of real ground, real nature, real wood, real anything … and just sit still and watch."
~ Lauren Hutton
Snow painting with a homemade snow recipe.
Life is crazy, busy, frustrating, gleeful, sometimes sorrowful, enlightening, loving, creative and so much more. Now that I described some of the base feelings to it. Let's just say, sometimes it is overwhelming.
Two weeks ago, I fell while ice skating and got a concussion. Of course this happens right in the midst of a home we are swapping rooms around and going through many years of acquired "stuff". Stuff and loud noises gets my anxiety up. Yes, I am aware that we have five young children at home that we are homeschooling and one of our older children still home. Not to mention a small petting zoo of different animals.
With that being said there is probably enough laundry to use a 50 load laundry detergent bottle and keep me folding for 24 hours. It doesn't help that our two littlest mischief monsters, Jazlyn and Sophie change their clothes at least a weeks worth in one day. Way to be a team player, girls. Socks are still being found sprouting all over the yard. That must be the true sign of Spring.
This morning, during my cup of coffee I decided to scroll a little through Pinterest while the house was still quiet with the wee ones sleeping. Once they are all up it is game on! First load of laundry was already started and I had my cup of bulletproof coffee ready to go.
As soon as I opened my Pinterest home page a pin POPPED right out to me. It was one that was titled "The Three Day School Week, How to Homeschool...". Now, we have been homeschooling a little over a year. Sometimes things get a little crazy and off track in one or two of the categories of life. This isn't to any fault of one person or another. Just a very diversified family make up.
What I found interesting in Mary's post at Simply Be Wild & Free is that they use a 3 day home school schedule. This doesn't mean that there isn't learning all away around the week, just in different areas of their daily schedule. Currently, this is something I think we will be working on incorporating. Something needs to be giving on this teeter totter of back and forth for balancing life, kids, home, schooling, hubby time, and most importantly, MYSELF. You can't pour from an empty cup as the saying goes.
This is going to take a trial period to see if it works for our family. The three days will be filled with core subjects and learning. Then there will be a day of field trips, maybe a co-op, library, zoos, parks, etc. There are some mommas that want to get together at the Children's Museum and I am all in for that. The last day is one that when I read from her blog post and was like an instant "YES". It is a day for me. (Mostly. Except all the little ones are still with me.) But more of a free play, catch up for them, errands, doctor appointments, grocery shopping. This would be great so we can have some more down time on the weekends and Monday night after dance (which is sadly winding down for this year).
A more maintainable schedule is needed in our home. Once the two littlest princesses are done with their work, they cause quite the distraction for their two brothers. Plus not to mention destroy our home and their wardrobe in the process. *Sigh* It is work in progress.
Quite a few people have said it would be easier to send them back to school. Noting how much free time I would have on my hands. I seem to have this ability to fill my plate at the buffet of life. Cutting out what I feel is right in my heart is not one of them though. On that note it can take a couple years to get a smooth homeschooling routine down and find one that works for your family. I will not let myself get discouraged. Ok! Maybe a little at times but then you get back up and march on. We have come so far in this amount of time already.
After looking at Mary's schedule I realized there was somethings we were missing. One aspect was using my resources for field trips. We have a few amazing libraries around us. In the last couple of weeks we became aware of some of the programs they offer. Plus there is a free nature center 45 minutes from home, and we are members of the North Country Children's Museum. The NCCM offers classes and activities at different times on top of their free play and explore areas. On days at the NCCM, we could go to the library and get an hour or so in of volunteer work at the Potsdam Animal Shelter. That is a lot of learning for one day.
The "me" time will be on Friday of course. Everyone needs that at the end of the week. Just a time to unwind, take a breath, and take care of all those things that only get half done during the week. This is needed because some days I feel very frazzled. Again, no fault of anyone's. It is just a bit of my personality. Last week alone we had four different appointments scattered on different days. These days were three right in a row. Had me spinning like a top, around, round, round, round. Now that really isn't need in anyone's life.
The weekends we do slide a lesson in here or there if we need a make up day. This doesn't happen all the time. A great time to do a few chores as a family for quick tidying up. I like Mary's idea of "family history" as our children don't know a lot about their family. The downside of being adopted. Cuddles, snuggles, and spending time with one another in many ways. The last part would be Sunday. Attending church isn't something that we have done in many years now. Faith is important to us. It needs to added to our children's lives, too. Donald will be responsible for the Christian side, Roman Catholic and reading the bible and verses with them. I will be responsible for the Pagan aspect. Nature, the connection to it, the sun, and the moon, and those traditions. As they get older each will be allowed to choose their faith that they are most connected with. This is their decision and won't be forced on them. Knowledge of other religions that they connect with will be given.
Since we own a farm Sundays of course will have barn work in it and anything needed to take care of the farm. It will be our goal not to have any other kind of work than that if we can help it. Family is important and so is taking in a little R & R.
Once busy, the littles do amazing. They are attentive, creative, thirsty for knowledge, and work hard. Each one beams when they are praised. Extremely smart and show us that on most days. Sometimes in ways that might not be as favorable. Isn't that the way with most kids.
I apologize for such a long post. Before anyone asks, our children are socialized with their siblings, adults, our family members, the family we choose ("Our Tribe"), and any other people they come into contact with. They play well with children of all ages. Only issues is between siblings, that is to be expected. Donald and I have the support of our loved ones. Our school is pretty amazing in our decision. Truly, we wish that it was same story from other schools. The religion choices we make might not be everyone's cup of tea. That doesn't matter. Our lives, our home, and our family. Will posted and do an update on how this is working for us in our homeschooling and life journey. Please take the time to go the post that started this long one of mine. Blessed be! ~Kimberly~
"The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other."
Christmas is always a whirlwind of festivities. This year was no different. We had to pick our tree and cut it down. Many festivities of being with family we were born into and family we choice. There was tons of laughing, sharing, hugs, and warm hearts just by being together. Oh, and there were cookies, too!
We normally do a ten gift under the tree and ten stocking stuffers. This year we changed a little bit. The kiddos got something they wanted, needed, to wear, to read, to make, to eat, and it was just enough. They were not overwhelm. Plus one new added toy. Less packaging, wrapping, and waste for toys they want for five minutes and than toss aside.
Us with the littles.
One of our big and the 5 littles.
Our book ends, Kaitlynn and Sophie.
The love of my life and the other half that makes me whole.
The joy that was on the childrens' faces as they unwrapped their gifts was wonderful. The fact that they didn't get a ton of toys didn't phase them at all. Devion got all of his little siblings bath items that they can use and their own caddies. Kaitlynn searched for Dungeons & Dragon books for them and added their own set of dice. The gift that Donald and I received from our dear friends, Melissa and Joseph Bellinger. It means a lot to us and we can't wait to get a photo in it to hang up.
There are so many more photographs that were taken. We haven't gone through them all yet. The ones here showcase our home and our full hearts. Blessed be to you all.