Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Friday, March 06, 2015

Tyden

     MY   FAMILY
        BY   Tyden    J     Deutsch

My   family   rocks!  I am going to tell you about my family!

The oldest  person is dad.  He is really cool.  He is making us really cool bedrooms. They each have a desk and wardrobe. And a lot of space. DAD  ROCKS!
                     
Mom is next. She takes care of all 7 of us with no breaks. I could not do that! She is very loving and sweet to us. On Saturday mornings she makes blueberry waffles while we watch TV! Mom is always doing things for us. She is really nice.

Next is Jayla. She is 13. She is very crafty. She is also very helpful to mom. On Tuesday nights mom goes to Sam's for groceries and Jayla takes care of us. She gives us lots of ice cream!

Now there is Onyx. He is 11. He is very tough. Onyx likes to collect stuff he has more than 200 Pokemon cards. He is also very  smart. He is really good at making friends. He is a great brother!

Next  there is meadow. She is 10 or 11. She is very tall. She is also very positive. She is the best jump roper I have ever seen! She is also very helpful. Plus she can get along with almost anyone she meets! She is an awesome sister!

 Now there is Flint.He is 9. He shares a room with me. He is really fun to play with. He has the whitest smile ever! He loses a tooth like every day. Flint is really cool!

 Stryder is very energetic. He is 8. He can go outside in the snow with no shoes. He loves playing with Onyx. He is also very good at wrestling and fighting. And he loves to do dot to dots.

Clover is the youngest and the cutest. She is 7. During the summer she will wear swimsuits all day. She is kind of bossy. She has a lot of stuffed animals. She also has 2 blankets.She always has at least 1 of them with her.
       
That is all of my family!!!!!    

Unless you count my grandma J.J. She likes to have us over to her house! 



 

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Meadow

My dad is so awesome!

He is making us new bedrooms. Jayla has one with a triangle shaped closet. It also has a little cabinet for her craft stuff. Clover has one with a little bench at the bottom. My bed is taller than both them. All the beds are different. My dad is even making us a window seat. Our built in loft beds are awesome.

He also made Tyden and Flint a room. They have a symmetrical bedroom. They have built in bunk beds. The desks and dressers are on opposite sides of the room.The window is in the middle of the room.
   
Onyx and Stryder have not gotten a room yet. When they get one it will be the last one he does. All the rooms are going to be awesome! 

{Reading to Stryder in her temporary bedroom while (awesome!) dad finishes the girls' room.}


Onyx

    
What I Learned In School This Year
                                                 By: Onyx Deutsch

I am in sixth grade this year and these are some of the things I’ve learned:

Math:
This year I learned better how to add, subtract, multiply and divide fractions. 

If you are adding or subtracting you find the LCD ( least common denominator) which is where you find the smallest number that both denominators go into evenly. 

Adding: First you have to find the LCD then you add the numerators of both fractions and if the denominators are the same then you leave it as it is.

Subtracting: once again you find the LCD then you subtract the numerators and leave the denominators the same.

Multiplying: I think this is the easiest one of them all. All you do is multiply the numerators and the denominators by the other one.

Dividing: what you do to use the reciprocal on the second fraction and then multiply straight across. 
Reciprocal: all you do is switch the denominator to the numerator.

Improper: you find how many times the denominator goes into the numerator. How many times it goes into the numerator is the whole number in the mixed number. And what is left over is the numerator and your first number is the denominator.                    


         History  
We learned about the pony express and how they wanted skinny small boys to ride across part of america to deliver mail. They would ride for one hour on one horse then switch to another horse and keep riding.then that boy would switch and give the mail to another boy.

Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin. What it did was it separated the cotton from the seeds. This really helped slaves because they didn’t have to do it by hand. But when he showed people his invention everyone easily copied his idea and so he did not make any money. 

When Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana purchase from France he sent out two explorers ( and 90 men) to explore their new territory. On the way they met many tribes and in one a girl said she would lead them. Her name was Sacagewea and when she was leading them through the new territory she was carrying a baby on her back.

 
             Science

We learned about how robots are being used to milk cows so people do not have to milk them by hand. On some the cows walk in when they are ready. They had tags in their ears so when they walk in the computer detects their tags and prepare to milk them. And the computer strains and bottles the milk. 

We also learned about microwaves and how they use a magnetron to produce microwaves that cook food on minutes. Microwaves are are very short radio waves and if they were to escape the oven it could be fatal to people. That is why the microwave does not work unless the door is tightly sealed. There is a fine layer of mesh between the pieces of glass that blocks most of the microwaves. Microwaves only heat the food they do not heat plastic or glass. But if you were to put a spoon in the microwave it would spark. The difference between a microwave oven and a conventional oven is the air in a regular oven gets hot and dry and so the food gets crispy and dry like breads and pastries do. But in a microwave oven the air does not get hot so food does not get crispy.

I hope you have enjoyed reading some of what I have learned!


Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Jayla

During this cold, snowy, cooped up spell we've had I thought it would be interesting to task the kids with writing and typing a guest blog post. I gave them free reign to say whatever they would like on any topic of their choosing. We figured these would make fun, memorable additions to our family's blog book. 

Personally, I just love to see their creative juices flowing. It's a tremendously empowering thing to sit down with a blank screen and fill it up with unique thoughts in the precise way that only you could imagine. I've grown to heavily rely on the cathartic qualities I find in the emptying of myself as a page fills with words. 

Every single entry these children will produce is sure to prove a slice of masterpiece, I have no doubt...

Here is Jayla's: 

25 Things About Me
I like to chew gum a lot.
I love to listen to music while I do my schoolwork.
I could bake something every day.
I don’t care about the brands of my clothes or if I got them from Goodwill.
I like to craft and decorate my bedroom.
Planning parties is fun for me.
I don’t mind doing school most of the time.
I am without doubt NOT a morning person.
I can do braids but not in my own hair.
I don’t enjoy most snack foods but like almost all meals.
I like to organize things.
I am good with little kids.
I can’t stand baggy pants.
I can’t draw people/animals very well but abstract patterns are easy for me.
I am not a good singer (unlike my mom).
I don’t enjoy cold weather (most of the time).
I am not a girlie girl.
I don’t like the taste of tea but I drink it anyway because my mom makes me.
I am very close to my mom and dad.
I’m not a huge fan of reading unless I have a good book.
I love my baby dogs.
I don’t like the color green.
I try to make instead of buy everything that I can.
I can’t sleep during the day (most of the time).
I get dizzy spinning very fast.
Thank you. 
The end. 

Making snow ice cream - chocolate, strawberry and cookie dough

Concerts and Epic Fails and Winning Anyway

We had been talking about it and planning for it throughout the entire day. So excited, we decked her out for the occasion in her pioneer girl outfit, complete with Laura Ingalls braids and hanging bonnet. In the past, their charter-school-for-homeschoolers music concerts were all on the same night. This year, there are three concerts scheduled on three different dates for our family's five elementary students. I had it marked clearly on my calendar. February 17th, First Grade Concert. Clover's Night to Shine. It was also Meadow's approximate-estimate-randomly-chosen birthday. I had a lot to coordinate. So we met big daddy in town for a Happy approximate-estimate-randomly-chosen Birthday Fun Mickey D's run, including cupcakes and gifts, before we headed to the school to listen to the 1st grader in costume sing her blessed heart out.

Except it's Clover we're dealing with. No big surprise here...when it was time to hit the stage, the shy little female child just wouldn't go up. Period. No amount of cajoling, bribing, encouraging, or offering to march directly up on that stage full of pioneered first graders right along with her would do any good. She wouldn't budge and only hid her pretty embarrassed face in her dad's coat. 

Truth? I didn't mind. That's my babe! To be expected. We know the girl well. 

Then, just as we figured it was time to pack up our schoolhouse pride and sneak out the door and into our van of shame, one of the teachers called them up. SECOND GRADERS to the stage, please. 

Jayla: "Mom, did you hear that?"

Me: "Hear what?"

Jayla: "They just called 2nd grade to come up."

Me: "So what? The 1st graders are already on stage and Clover wouldn't go. We're going home."

Jayla: "What about Stryder?"

***Panic Button***Sound the Mental Alarm***Catastrophe Alert***Beep  Beep  Beep***Epic Mom Fail***You Will Burn In Maternal Ruin For all of Eternity While The Good Moms Who Would Never Use a Single Swear Word, Wear Yoga Pants Nor Forget Their Child's Concert Date and Time Tormentingly Mock You***

In Subpar Mom's Brain: "Oh! Stryder! He's in 2nd grade! Was his performance supposed to be tonight? But he's not in cowboy attire! Or farmer wear! Or general hillbilly red neck hick clothing! All those boys are wearing red bandanas and hats! Stryder has on a black and grey camo jacket!"

Frantic But Trying to Play it Cool Mom: "Stryder, honey, it's your night, dude! Let's get this jacket off you so you can run up on stage!" 

"@#$%^ fizzlestix! Your uncowboyesque Spiderman t shirt has a giant wad of gum stuck to the neck! How did that happen? Not stage worthy. You'll have to wear your jacket, okey dokey?" 

Stryder: "It's okay mom, I have on my cowboy boots!"

Mom: "SCORE!" 

A little wobbly, slightly unsure, just a bit jittery due to his disappointment for a mother's lack of preparation, the boy trotted up with his costumed classmates. Nothing screams you are not worthy of the badge of motherhood quite like sending your child up on stage in regular clothes with a bunch of dressed up kids whose moms got clearly got it just right. 

Whatever. 

My boy. Watching him up there, spur of the moment, totally unprepared and more than an ounce uncertain with a giant sticky mound hiding underneath his jacket caused my heart to rise high and soar and leap and rejoice and pulse big and red and sugary and happy, happy, happy. I've never loved him more than in that very minute. We locked eyes. His face! For a time, I forgot my blunder and could bear to harbor nothing but pure adoration and elation and ethereal pride. The guilt was erased. It effortlessly shifted to otherworldly love and it all stopped spinning and there was nowhere on earth but that exact moment on that snowy night in that charter school auditorium in Colorado Springs. As for me? Glowing. 

These wonderful, beautiful, brave and nervous and shy and courageous and costumed and underdressed children, I think they are going to be alright, even in spite of me.

I couldn't have greater fortune. 

Though I fail, I win. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Structure and Nurture with Delight

We've never been a huge "rules" family. 

To some people, (not naming any names, ahem) hard, fast rules can be really difficult to choke down. They might feel unnecessarily oppressive to freedom of spirit, restrictive in liberty of thought and progression, and binding in conduct. They kind of get stuck in the throat. To this unruly fringe, (of which no one I know, personally, is  a part...) rules may tend to be seen as simply a list of rather arbitrary requirements imposed upon other people by those in power. And power, in the hands of humans, is rarely ever not abused.  

Phrases like obey the first time every time, renew your mind, control your thinking, and do it with a happy heart were what we were taught parenting was all about in our Christian cult. Where if you consistently do A)  your children will automatically do B) making you look like the most awesome, well respected authority figures in All The Land. Put a feather right in that self righteous cap!  When we decided to leave the ways of the group behind, these quips left a bad taste in our mouth, to be sure. So we haven't been big on using them.  

Instead, the adults who are posing as mature leaders in this racket called child rearing have made an effort to think of our home's vibe more in terms of guidelines, expectations, and preferences. I mean, hey, we had children in the 2000's!

The idea we have mostly tried to foster is sort of like this: We are your parents and we want what is the very best, most ideal and enjoyable for each of you. We will do all we can to give you everything we've got so you have all you need to reach your fullest potential. Living in this home together, there are things that must be done to ensure we are all learning, advancing and maintaining our individual and collective responsibilities. There are expectations for you, the children, there are expectations for us, the parents. But, we are adaptable and when something's not working, we'll go ahead and make amendments because change when necessary is a mark of humility and true progress, alright? Let's work together, okay? Rah, rah, rah! Go, team Deutsch!

Um, it doesn't always work. Not in terms of results, anyway.

My guess is it's because we're dealing with human beings here. Willful, brilliant, thoughtful and thoughtless and selfish and generous and scatterbrained and lazy and determined and scarred and ambitious and competitive and strong and weak and interdependent and independent and collaborative and opportunistic people. People! We are such a messy breed of organisms. 

Our expectations, they are regularly defied. Children, they tend to forget. Then forget again. And not remember. Right after they fail to recall. And forget to remember to not forget.

Bobby and I are at the place where we don't have any real answers. At all. The older we get, it seems the less we know for sure. Over the years we have tried just about every single thing known to grown ups dwelling with youngsters. Charts, stickers, consequences, rewards, point systems, insentives, you name it, we've probably given it a whirl. Some techniques work for a while, others not at all. Most of the kids kind of transition through stages then grow out of them. Some stay stuck in behavioral ruts they can't break out of. We're coming to realize more and more, you truly can't control anyone but yourself. Not ANY ONE. And sometimes even controlling your self is beyond your scope. All in all, we're basically at a total loss for how to steer this ship. 

So last night after a dinner of fettuccine alfredo and green salad, (of course!) we took it to The People to gather their input, gain clarity and whip them into shape with some cold, hard, rules. Oh, I kid. 

It was really a family brainstorming session.

We asked the 13 and under population, if we were to form a list of rules for our home, what would they be? 

This is what they said:

1) Do your morning and afternoon routines and any chores you have well
2) Put away what you get out
3) Do what you're asked to do by your parents
4) Be honest
5) Don't steal
6) Do your own school work (no cheating)
7) Don't wear muddy shoes inside (Flint's contribution. :))
8) Go to bed quickly when asked (as opposed to the 45 minutes it usually takes)
9) Keep conflict rules with siblings (no hitting, do what makes for peace and resolution)
10) Be quiet when doing your school work

Then, we asked them what the expectations or rules should be for the parent:

1) Provide for the material/physical needs of the children
2) Provide education
3) Give attention, be involved
4) Keep home in good repair
5) Provide transportation
6) Allow space and time for a social life and friendships
7) Provide indoor and outdoor activities to encourage physical, mental and emotional growth
8) Teach morality to the best of their understanding
9) Provide medical care when needed
10) Be kind, not abusive

We talked about how even adults face natural consequences and our responsibility in preparing them for the real world through requiring them to maintain responsibilites.

It's such a tricky balance, parenting. There is so much to do. So many mistakes to be made, so little time to muck them all up.

All in all, as we were throwing out ideas and having actual conversation and I was looking into the faces of these people who are emerging independent and bright and responsive and articulate, I was reminded of how simply it really all breaks down, no matter how many rules we might want to put up. 

There are no easy answers. Only maintenance and adjusting and forgiving and remembering not to take it all too seriously as it passes you by. 

The two basic places where I feel my main focus should be: To provide structure and nurture, structure and nurture, structure and nurture, and remember to delight in them as they grow... 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

On Snowy Despair and Hopeful Birthdays

The Snowpocolypse may not have amounted to quite what we anticipated over the weekend, but we still enjoyed a nice, long cooping up effect. Actually, in a lot of ways it was really great. We played our fair share of games and watched a couple movies and read books and quizzed each other and sat by the fire and ate until we burst the seams on our sweatpants. I used to d r e a d these times. Intensely. When the kids are small and have next to no ability contain their boundless energy while indoors Cabin Fever is an actual, literal, like, disease. One that is known to reduce moms to fits of wailing outbursts, shaking her fists in the air cursing the sky from whence all frozen flakes fall, random bouts of sweating profusely despite the -20 windchill, deliriously feverish hallucinations of reclining on A Beach Where There Are No Children, and full body outbreaks of itchy, red, allergic-to-snow hives. In more serious cases, she might bundle the whippers up (The Christmas Story style) and throw them out in sub zero temps for an energy sucking romp, (then lock the doors behind them for a few glorious sips of coffee alone). I don't blame that woman. It's seriously a thing.  

As the kids have gotten older these times have become far more enjoyable. I might even miss them when they're gone. Though I could easily live right as rain in The Land of No Snow. 

Still, it wasn't our miss Meadow's finest weekend. Lots of bonding time, with nothing to do but bond, bond, bond all over the bonding place can throw that one in a bit of a bondspin. There were frozen fistfulls of less than ideal circumstances flurrying about. 

I may or may not have handled them with my finest therapeutic parenting skills I'm endeavoring (most some of the time) to develop.

Oofda.

Can I just say? Those techniques take A LOT of mental fortitude and a whole bunch of I'll lay down my life for you type of thinking. 

Sometimes I just wanna say, 

S  T  O  P  I   T   A  L  R  E  A  D  Y  !

I  A  M  N  O  T  I  N  T  E  R  E  S  T  E  D  I  N  T  H  I  S  *explicative* ! 

A  T  A  L  L  ! 

Because, wow. It takes a ton of effort to do things the hard way. And maybe you'd like to just sit by and savor a good, old fashioned Snowpocolypse every now and again. 

As I was talking to a friend online, wallowing in my parenting kids from hard places misery, I was reminded of something I really ought to acknowledge. 

Last week was Meadow's birthday. 

This hasn't typically been a super happy, comfortable time of year for her. Last year, for instance, she took every single one of her presents and put them in a bag in her closet and never pulled a solitary one out to use. For months. And months. Until I *suggested* she *might.* No wearing the clothes, no using the art supplies, none of it. For whatever reason, it all was more than she was able to accept.

But this year? Not at all that way. Girl was a GEM with her gifts. The face beamed! She thanked everyone graciously, smiled an easy smile as she was opening them, brought them home from the restaurant and immediately put them all away, then began using them the very next day. She made beautiful thank you cards, not only for the grandparents, but also for all of us. A tootsie roll with a note of thanks for each of her siblings and parents.

Oh my heart, it grows and wells and oozes hope and love and tenderness and all the joy, joy, joy. My tears, they spilleth over. 

And when the times are tough and the behaviors flare up big and I feel the weight of despair over the future pressing in, I can remind myself of moments like her birthday. 

My girl, this sweet, beautiful, kind hearted, gentle natured young lady, she has come so, so far. In no way at all is it easy being her. Not a single day could I imagine exactly what it's like to be in her shoes. It's the least I can do to buck up and keep sojourning along with her. Even through the damn snow...  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Out Crazy the Crazy

It was a phrase I had heard Christine Moers use. You've got to out crazy the crazy. 

I received a clear explanation of how this could could work during our phone consult last week. 

For example, I described to her how our lovely Meadow would swipe the belongings of the other children and store them away up on her triple top bunk, where no one could see them. Then, once caught, the lying about how the items got there would be the natural progression. This type of thing would typically lead, in our house, to an hours long blown up battle over the importance of telling the truth and why stealing is wrong. There would be tears and denials and lecturing and maybe even shouting and on and on...etc...etc...etc. 

Once said and done the entire scenario would leave me drained, depleted, frustrated, and entirely ineffective as I was SURE we would face it again. Because we always do. We always face everything again. And again. And again. 

Christine suggested I talk at the things instead of at Meadow when a situation like this presents itself. For instance, "Humph! It looks like these treasures found their way up to your bed when they should have been in your siblings' rooms. They must just really want to be with you! Maybe they are looking for a treasure hunt game. I think they want us to go around the house and find where they belong and return them to their rightful owners. Let's go get started!" 

{Possible interjection by Meadow: "But I didn't steal them!"}

"Well, honey. I didn't say you did! I just think we ought to go ahead and put them back where they go."

And so on....

I found a chance to use this tip this morning, so I tried it out.

While grading Language Arts books for Tyden and Meadow (both 4th grade), Jayla discovered a page where Tyden missed several and Meadow got them all correct. (Uncharacteristic for her.) Jayla asked Meadow if she used the answer key for her work. Meadow emphatically insisted she most certainly did not! 

Due to cheating in the past we had already ripped the answer keys out of the back of the books and placed them in the cabinet to help remove temptation. It just so happens that Meadow got up very early this morning, and sat at the kitchen table, alone to begin her school work. When it was time to grab answer keys to grade work, what do you know? Fourth grade language arts was on top! Using my brain that is all rocket scientist-y and everything, I figured out what happened. She had used the answer key to do her work and earned herself a great, big A+. Score! 

Rather than addressing her directly as I would have done in the million and ten times past, I decided to use Christine's approach. It went down something like this:

Me: "Meadow, I know you wouldn't cheat because you understand how crucial it is for you to do your own work so you can gain a proper education and grow up smart and strong and able to do anything you want to do in this life. But those answer keys? They are naughty little buggars. When they see a child sitting alone struggling with their work, and they KNOW they won't get CAUGHT, they JUMP out of the cabinet and HELP that child by GIVING them the ANSWERS. They can't help themselves! It's their job! To provide answers! So, they saw you all by yourself at the table and they figured it was the least they could do to give you a hand. Now, because they have shown themselves untrustworthy, I'm going to have to move them to my room where they won't be tempted to do a child's work for them. They need to understand that you all have your own work to do because this is YOUR education at stake. And that education is ubber important. I don't blame you honey, I blame them. I'm just going to give you another worksheet on the same concept to make sure you are learning what you need to know in order to advance because 4th grade material matters a lot. Okey dokey artichokey?" 

There were tears, yes. Lots of them. Because she was embarrassed and she was caught.

What there wasn't was conflict between she and I. 

Nor did I have a gargantuan headache. Nor did it ruin the rest of the school day.

She was gulping and crying and I just hugged her and told her I understand.

Now, later I can go to her and we can talk it out, when she is ready to speak truthfully, which she will be. I know she will. She's come a long way and she wants to be an honest person. I really believe it. She just has trouble getting there sometimes. 

I can totally relate to her. Honesty is not my difficulty by I have a whole big gaggle of other challenges I face. I have a hard time getting to where I want to be too. Every day I have a hard time. Every single blasted day. It's plain crazy how difficult it is for me to be the person I want to be when there are so many opportunities for me to act like a total jack wagon. 

I need someone to out crazy my crazy.   

 A note written to me from Meadow in code for me to solve: My mom is amaze balls. 
 

Monday, February 09, 2015

For the longest time I wasn't ready...

I was comfortable with what we had going and I held tightly to it. 

We had our share of challenges, yes. But for the most part, my family's Pre Adoption Life suited me well. Well enough that I figured we could pretty easily provide exactly what a child in need required, entrance to our family. All they needed was us...a couple of parents and a slew of siblings to love and care for them.

It has taken me years (years!) to come to accept how wrong I was - that my former life, our former family, my former self, would never be the just right fit for them. 

I slowly, painstakingly, through repetitive trial and heart crushing error came to realize, no matter how hard I pushed, lectured, doled out consequences, pleaded, and worked to force them to become the people that would make our lives together easier to live, they barely budged. 

Their behaviors were constantly undesirable which made my responses constantly undesirable which made them afraid of me because I was the lady with all the consequences and the anger and the frustration and the face of horror which propelled us into a cyclone of undesirableness all the way around. In their minds, I was easily earning the rightful title of Cinderella's Stepmother. 

Something had to change. 

As much as I longed for it to be them, the wake up call was was that it had to be me. Jagged little pill to swallow. 

Through the years I had read the books and watched the videos and tried the most palatable therapeutic parenting tidbits here and there. But honestly, deep in my bones I craved an easier route, the more natural and default version of parenting that worked decently well with my other kids, with whom I am so closely bonded. The things I was supposed to do for our adopted children made me cringe. The techniques took tremendous thought and effort. Worst of all, they went against every instinct I possess.

In so many ways it felt like giving up the authority I believed a parent should maintain. Like if I yielded to them too much, said "yes" to more than I was accustomed to, allowed behaviors I would never permit in the children I gave birth to, I would lose control of my home.

So I continued down the path of sameness, banging my head against the wall over and over and over and over until it was bruised. Suddenly, I recognized something tragic. The only one who was carrying the weight of the tumult that turned me black and blue was me. The kids? They didn't so much mind me lugging the sole responsibility of extending great effort on their behalf. 

Now, they were the ones settled, comfortable, relatively content and quite unwilling to budge as I was sweating, straining, exerting myself to fit the square peg of regular old authoritarian parenting into the round hole of mothering children with a history of trauma. 

As I reflected on five long years in, I frustratingly, tearfully grasped what was really happening here. We were at an impasse. Stuck in a rut. I was, am the only one willing to take the responsibility to get us out. It was going to involve some serious change in strategy on my part. 

I had nothing left to lose. Our connection was depressingly far from where I hoped it would be by this point. Everything that I was doing wasn't getting us beyond our old familiar cyclical treadmill, the one they didn't mind at all. Distance has always been their ally.

The one who was suffering most was far and away, me. 

What I failed to concede to for so long was that until our relationships evolved to the point of a certain basic level of trust and attachment and bonding, my adopted children would remain unresponsive to me. 

Me harping on them to change their behaviors to ones that would be more pleasant to deal with was of positively no effect. Their desire to behave better would have to come from within themselves. I couldn't want it enough for both of us. 

These days, my main focus is lightening up in every aspect. {Keep it moving} is my motto. Allot no time to stew on each situation that used to devour hours of my day and tons of mental energy. Make quick corrections where need be, don't ask questions, ESPECIALLY the dreaded, "why?" and move on. 

With practice, I'm actually getting pretty good at it. 

I just let it go like Elsa. 

I'll admit, I'm doing it mostly for me. I really couldn't live that way any longer - the tension was robbing me of my joy, devouring the precious years I have to enjoy with my children. 

The crazy thing is the natural byproduct of my changing is they are more comfortable with me and we're actually getting closer by their choice. 

I guess it shouldn't be a surprise, really. 

I mean, everyone prefers the snow queen to the wicked step mother.   

 *Showing my kids during school this morning what old school discipline was like by pretending to spank her with a kitchen utensil. (There was zero follow through.) 

*No children were harmed during the taking of this photo.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

That time I stopped talking to my daughter and she began talking to me...

Listen, I'm not faulting her. She is far from alone. We, all of us in this house, we have issues, people. Issues, I tell you! We are an issue-y bunch of issuers who go around issuing each other all over the every which where. My gnarliest issues crop up all the days that I wake from my only escape, a blissful, issue-less slumber. 

It's just the way it is and it's just the way it always will be. 

We humans, we have issues. Do I hear an amen? Holy, hallelujah. It is the anointed truth.

Kind of liberating to acknowledge and embrace, right? 

Still, to become the healthiest set of People With Issues we can, we work on our stuff from time to time. Not every day, but on our Biggest Person Days because every day is simply too much to ask. There is a lot to be said for the well timed art of wallowing in misery for an appropriate stretch. It gets us ready for the battles that lie ahead in warring against our unrelenting selfishness and haughty pride and lofty egos and shallow vanity and self righteous judgement, which takes a LOT of WORK. Then, when we are braced for combat, work at it we do. So we grow up a bit and learn from our mistakes and try to splatter a little less and allow grace to abound a little more.    

Miss Meadow's primary challenge is with truthfulness. It's a big one for her, always has been. Understandably so when a child comes from where this one has. 

It ebbs and flows, usually flaring up most during times where she is feeling most insecure and self conscious and unworthy. She, like all of us, behaves best when she feels best. 

She was in a real slump for a while and it was one that began to involve her siblings more, most notably her closest sibling, Jayla.

Now, not only did I appoint myself the task of working with Meadow on grasping the importance of telling the truth, but also of smoothing the road for she and Jayla. 

It was wearying me. Big to the time. Because like many of you, dear mamas, I often carry the load for my children. 

So I did what any good, self respecting, therapeutic parenting mother would do. I stopped asking Meadow questions to which she could respond with a lie, because she always, always, always did and it wore me out trying to figure out how she could continue to look into my eyes and do such a thing, even after all I've done for her. (Enter my friend, Self Pity.) 

Basically, I let her be altogether and kept essential dealings with her as breezy as possible.  

Just. Like. That. I. Stopped. Exasperating. Myself. 

I stopped providing her ample opportunity to lie to my face and break my heart and cause me to worry over the future...where I was certain she was destined to wind up incarcerated for fabricating one too many half truths to the authorities that throw adopted children whose mothers didn't get adequately through to them in the clink and threw away the key. Like, forever. And it would be all my fault. The shame I would surely bear. 

Even the things I typically would feel like I needed an answer to, I went without. If I knew she had done something she tried to hide, which is customary for her, I simply told her (in the lightest tone I could muster) I knew what happened and moved on. 

Funniest thing, the child who usually lives her days on the very verge of fight, flight or freeze, began to lighten up. She became less scared of getting caught and interrogated.

Lo and behold, she started talking to me. Without my prompting it. Because she could relax. Because the drill sergeant had left the premises. A few nights ago when I was saying goodnight, she even told me she loved me. First. For the first time. Ever. My heart, it melts. 

It has been wholly lightening for all three of us - Meadow, Jayla and myself.

It's been three weeks. And just today, she informed me she is ready for me to ask her questions again. 

She said wants to practice telling the truth.

And the whole choir sang, amen.  

Thursday, February 05, 2015

The Day I Spent $25

I had a parenting coaching session this morning with Christine Moers. Because, you know, I need to be coached on how to be a parent and everything. Serve me up some humble pie, a great big slice of it. I'll swallow it whole.

Hundreds of dollars in therapy, I tell you the hundreds I spent with Mr. What's His Name could not compare to this one hour segment of sacred time.

I think it may be partly because I am just so ready. My mind had previously determined, demanded of me that 2015 is the year for me to try something radically new with these Ethiopians I treasure. As in some profoundly different and exotic and uncharacteristic thing.

My innate instincts that are so deeply ingrained in the very fiber of all that I am work out pretty alright with the biological brood to which I contributed my fair share of chromosomes. There is a far greater margin for error there. The relationships we hold are steeped in love and affection and mutual adoration until they are golden brown and sweet and bubbly. The dance we share is steady and when we find ourselves spinning off the floor, it's not all that difficult to recognize our missteps and recover.  

But the other ones? The ones with a history of trauma and abuse and three years in an orphanage? Every natural inclination I possess seems to work in direct opposition to my desires, goals and objectives. 

Still.

Even after 5 years together. 

Which gets me {right here}. Kind of like a butter knife square in the ticker.

Perhaps never have I felt so incredibly ineffective over such a long period of time. 

I'll let you in on a little secret: It's a real kick in the pants feeling like a colossal failure all the livelong day and the everlasting night because you simply can not connect with your kids in a way that hits the radar as genuine and meaningful and reciprocal. Tiring. It's tiring.

Enter: Christine and my $25.

I'd been a fan of her blog for years. She's written a whole host of posts about therapeutic parenting (among lots of other entertaining things). 

So, I may have been the teensiest bit nervous to talk to her. I figured she had every right to rake me over the coals for my *obvious* lack of accomplishment in the prized adoptive parent category: All Things Therapeutic. 

Plus, I was afraid she would give me homework I would hate. Say, tying our wrists together with a bandana as we go about our daily business. Or making us dress like twinsies. Or drawing my tween daughter a warm bath and washing her hair with a cup of water while softly humming You Are my Sunshine into her ear. Please, hear me when I say this: Ick

Right out of the gate she put me at ease by putting herself in my meek little shoes. 

She was, far and away, simply and purely and exquisitely relatable

She listened like a champ. I mean, a pro. She must have taken notes because she often referred back to things I said, using my name, Tisha. Which is a big deal since I know she works with a whole lotta folks who need a whole lotta help. Then, spoke to me, with me, near me, like a friend to a friend, a peer to a peer, a woman who has been there to a woman who has been there. 

She did not berate, but offered suggestions and ideas and methods to break the cycles we find ourselves repeating as the days wear on. She gave understanding and sincere bits of encouragement and truly useful information. She is, if nothing else, an absolute master at shaking things up and being wonderously unconventional.

Mostly, she reminded me of hope. Hope that things would get better. Hope that I would learn to better accept things as they are. Hope that our lives would continue to intertwine in a way that is not what I initially imagined, but genuinely beautiful nonetheless.

I'm super grateful. 

Best $25 I spent today. For sure. 
 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

On Not Fitting in and the Darker Sides of the Force.

It's a weird thing not to fit in anywhere. 

Too liberal for the conservatives. Too conservative for the liberals. Too doubting for the Christians. Too believing for the Atheists. Too right for the left. Too left for the right. Too home educator for the public schoolers. Too charter schooled for the home educators.  Too skeptical for the inter country adopters. Too snarky to be sweet. Too sentimental to be salty. Too many questions for satisfaction. Anywhere. 

I've long felt that way - on the fringe of it all. Mostly outside, looking into places I don't really, fully belong or embrace. I'm just no longer one of those people who can completely buy in, all the way commit, pay my membership dues and proudly carry an I.D. card, proof of my undying devotion and affiliation. To anything.   

I don't know if it's good or bad. It can definitely be lonely. Where are MY people? You know, the ones in My Club. Where we drink beverages together and talk about All The Things and we actually, like, agree. Hello? Are you there? Peeps? Anyone?

Recently, I've discovered the dark, (what I thought was secret) underbelly in the homeschooling community, of which I am a part. But apparently lots of people knew about it. 

There are a whole host of first generation born and bred homeschooled kids who are now grown and speaking out against the child rearing of their youth. 

They talk about the abuse they suffered at the hands of their parents, the ultra religiously conservative fundamentalist Christian faith of their families, the way they were taught to fear the outside "secular" world, the environment of complete control in which they were raised, the respect they were required to maintain for authority, even when their authority figures repeatedly ill treated them, their lack of identity because they were never allowed a voice of their own, distinct from their dads and moms, the damaging effects of a household steeped in the absolute power of patriarchy, the happy faces they were forced to paste on so they might show themselves a living epistle for all to see, God raises children this way.

Gulp.   

It's the complaints of the daughters of the local family I mentioned earlier, the complaints of hundreds, maybe thousands like them, who tell tales of deep love and devotion from their parents, misapplied. Parents who openly, publicly promote their lifestyle as a higher, more noble way to live and vigorously encourage others to do as they have done, to follow where God has led them because if you're truly surrendering your life and your parenting and your fertility to Him, He will lead you there also. 

It's the lifestyle that has inspired me deeply over the years with its passionately convicted couples who are willing to live far outside the box of normality for a counter cultural existence they wholeheartedly believe is pleasing to God. 

It's the lifestyle that has, when taken too far to an extreme, led to the deaths of innocent children whose parents bought heavily into the To Train up a Child ideology. 

It's the lifestyle that has produced many young adults who have grown to follow the convictions of their parents for themselves.

It's the lifestyle that has produced many young adults who have grown to see the treatment of their parents as abusive and inordinately controlling. 

It's like finding out that golden couple you spent hours envying for their sprawling, tidy homes, cars still shiny though they transport a load of children to various sporting events where each one of their offspring is awarded MVP, annual Disneyland vacations, robust 401 K plans, Facebook selfies from the beach in the summer and from the slopes of Aspen resorts in winter, and Barbie and Ken bodies because-we-only-eat-Paleo-and-drink-wine-from-sexy-glasses is getting a divorce. A DIVORCE!And their kids don't even like sports and dad has been getting it on on the sly with the super hot dental hygienist 20 years his junior and mom is addicted to Splenda packets and even Mickey Mouse himself denied them a pair of ears the last time they graced Walt's magical kingdom. 

It shakes the ground beneath you causing you to wonder if every single thing you've ever known to be Real and True is, in fact, a dastardly, deceitful lie devised to con the whole of humankind by Lucifer's slithery little serpent. 

Attention All The People: We've been duped. 

At some point, at some time, by someone. 

It feels kind of like the awakening I felt when I entered Ethiopian adoption territory and found the ethics involved in our adoption far below what I would expect of a Christian organization. Punched in the gut. Plagued ever since. 

There was this whole other portion, what I felt was mostly unseen, (unnoticed?) unwilling to be peered into and pried open for fear of living entire lives with the complicated, unanswered ethical questions that would inevitably be raised.   

What am I aligning myself with, participating in, consenting to, lauding as noble and godly and worthy of emulating?     

It's something I ask myself often anymore, as my hand dips into several chosen realms, none of which I care to be all the way part of, though I recognize bits of myself firmly rooted in each. I guess it's part of growing wiser to the ways of the world and realizing nothing is as pure as it seems from the outside looking in. There are always, always dark spots better hidden from the light of day.

It's rather sobering. 

I just don't want my life to be like that. 

I'm working to be "what you see is what you get." For reals. All the way. 

Not necessarily easy, but definitely liberating. 

Anyone with me in living honestly, flaws and foibles and imperfections hanging out all over the blessed place? I will be your people. 




Thursday, January 22, 2015

The lines we draw...

...all over each other's faces. 

It seems throughout all of every bit of 2014 it was impossible to go a single week without hearing The Great Legging Debate. It's not so much a debate, really. More an assortment of essays detailing Here's What You, Virtuous Christian Women, Ought to Do. For yourselves, of course. And most importantly, for heaven's sake, for all those males in the world who posess two eyeballs with which to ogle you and minds with which to recall the exquisite shape of your utterly divine quadriceps. The rubbernecking alone is enough to sound the Warning Bell of Sin! Just think of all those crooked chiropractors making a buck off the poor Christian men of America who simply can not resist their very own impulses to crank those innocent craniums atop their unwilling necks in your direction. 

Oh, my. The shame of it all.

I get it. I really do. In our house we have what I feel are some pretty stringent modesty guidelines we like to follow too. Because they fall within our level of comfort and peacefulness and self respect. Leggings just doesn't happen to be one of them. I mean, we do wear shorts in the summer. Like the kind that show an actual bare leg. Oy. The disgrace.

Anyhoo.

It reminds me so much of when I was a younger mom and every October would incite virtual internet riots over The Most Crucial Question: To trick or treat, or not to trick or treat? Which reminds me of one December when my ladies Bible group sparked a lively discussion about what all the good parents do with regard to Santa. Which reminds me of all those blog posts I read telling me I should not read Fifty Shades of Grey which only made me want to read Fifty Shades of Grey all the more because my spirit, it tends to be rebellious. Which reminds me of when we got into that huge back and forth argument over fasting. Which reminds me of when the topic of rated R movies and how much wine is too much wine was passed around as fodder capable of terminating otherwise wonderful friendships. 

Surely this is the stuff that makes God Himself throw back a pitcher of suds every time he plays Thunder Bowling. 

The funny thing is, Nov. 1st, no one aside from your dentist really cares all that much whether or not you allowed your children to participate in Halloween festivities. And Santa can come devour your milk and cookies or Santa can refrain his jolly self from your hot chimney, and it basically doesn't matter in The Big Scheme of Things. And a person can fast the days away and another person can fast not a single day and one can watch a rated R movie with a glass of wine and one can stick to G movies with a cup of scandalously hot tea and we can all still be friends. 

Personally, if you read Fifty Shades, I'm not mad at ya. And if you didn't I'm not more impressed with you.

We, dear Christians, have this tendency toward eating each other alive. For breakfast. Then for lunch. Then for snack. Appetizers. And dinner too. I have to wonder, is this the kind of thing that causes outsiders to roll their eyes and chuckle at us, laughing us followers of Jesus, off into oblivion because we are so out of touch with The Real Issues of The Day? Stuff that really does matter. Like, human decency and the ability for all people to have what they require to pursue a life of liberty. Do they think we would rather type one another a formidable list of Should Nots than spend time doing something truly radical on our Should List? I hope not.

To me, it all seems a great matter of personal conviction, best left to the person with the conviction and less to be scattered abroad for all to condemn. Remember, happy is the (wo)man who does not condemn (her)himself in the thing which (s)he allows. Where was it I read that, again? Gosh, I forget. Somewhere celestial, I bet.   

I mean, surely there are bigger fish to fry than current fashion trends which will soon be forgotten...until 20 years from now when they come back around. At which time we will be a bunch of old ladies  anyway.

Wearing polyester pants with elastic waistbands, every single last one of us...


Me in my leggings after a little walk in the snow today. The ones I also wore to Sam's to buy $456 worth of groceries. And to the liquor store for a 6 pack of beer for the man of the house and a bottle moscato for the lady. We might drink them while watching something rated R. Not that I'm judging myself.

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