Adoption Isn’t Pretty

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I get a little sick when I read articles about pretty families adopting a bunch of kids from difference sources (international, domestic, foster, birthmom, etc.).

The adoption isn’t what makes me ill.

Nor the number of children (usually very high, in these articles).

Not even how they acquired the kids.

The thing that really bugs me is how happy everyone seems.

Unsuspecting, good-hearted people read these articles and think, “Wow, they just adopted enough kids to have their own sports team. Look how happy they are. Everyone gets along. So cool!”

And then they find a real-life adoptive family and tell them how amazing they must be.

And then they sign up to be foster parents and can’t figure out why things aren’t hunky-dory.

What happened to amazing???

And then they think,

“If that family could take in fourteen and a half kids who now succeed in school and have fabulous…

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Truth is Stranger

Thanks Casey fir this great story, it’s better the second time around. M

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I’ve been working on a fiction story for the last few weeks but keep getting interrupted by reality.

At our house, you just never know what’s going to happen.

Tonight, as I wrote about a princess, my German Shepherd came galloping up the stairs.

He’s my safety net; hopefully I won’t need help anytime soon, but I’m training him as a service dog.

We’ve been working on things like:

  • Help! (I lie on the floor as if I’ve fallen and he helps me back up.)
  • Dish. (He hands me his bowl.)
  • Open. (He uses a paw to open an unlatched door for me.)
  • Take it to the laundry. (He trots whatever I hand him back to the laundry room. That one’s just for fun.)
  • Sit-stay. (He waits for me to verbally release him from a sit.)
  • Hush. (He stops barking at other dogs. We’re working on this.)
  • Leave it. (He ignores whatever…

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Adoption= Insanity? (Chapter 1: Only Try This if You’re Crazy)

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**Four years ago to the week, this was my first post on Hypervigilant. Ah, memories…

Ever notice the words “adoption” and “insanity” have the same number of letters?

Coincidence? I think not.

It’s been almost three years since the Wednesday they arrived, dropped off by another foster parent. At the time, we didn’t know that a Social Worker was supposed to be present to “facilitate” the situation. The kids had no idea what was happening. Neither did we. Married ten years, with approximately 20 years of “kid experience” between us, we thought we could handle it. The kiddos, then 5 and newly-turned-7, had met us and seemed to like us. Surely, this would be a breeze. They were so teeny and adorable..like baby jackals.

Surely you’ve heard the phrase, “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.”  That Wednesday evening foreshadowed the next two years of our lives with fair accuracy. We took them to…

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Residential Progress — Hypervigilant.org

Last fall, we admitted our son to a residential facility, expecting a 30- to 60-day stay. Just to get his head straight. From then through early spring, his behavior spiraled so far out of control that he didn’t have an off-campus pass until mid-spring. He earned a 6-hour off-site pass…and promptly spiraled again. He didn’t […]

via Residential Progress — Hypervigilant.org

Our Three Songs

Thank you Casey for sharing with us. Great songs. M

Hypervigilant.org

Music plays in my head all day. Choose three songs…the choice is almost as impossible as picking my favorite organs. (The ones that keep me kickin’, not the musical instruments.)

However, I must admit, three happen to be currently at the top of my cerebral playlist.

First, a quick backstory for those who haven’t read other posts:

Hubby and I adopted two kids (5 & 7 when they came to us via foster care). My good friend, an English teacher, says bambinos are “children,” not kids. “Kids” are baby goats. In our case, “kids” is accurate; a herd of goats would have been less destructive. More often, we call them the wild hyenas. During the first six months, if they were conscious, we couldn’t let them out of our sight. With one who couldn’t conk out until after midnight, and one who woke screaming almost every morning at 3 am, sleep was a pipe dream (pun…

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Battle Gear — Hypervigilant.org

Related to: Put on Your Armor, Part 1 and Part 2 Several times, now, I’ve “diagnosed” our children in the face of therapists who disagree…only to have a psychological evaluation support my assertion six months (or more) later. This is not because I’m more intelligent or have higher qualifications. I don’t point this out to […]

via Battle Gear — Hypervigilant.org

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Put on Your Armor, Part 2 — Hypervigilant.org

Continued from Put on Your Armor, Part 1 Preparation for helping our kids also applies to the spiritual side. If, during a professional baseball game, the umpire decided to forgo the mask and padding, we’d think he was crazy. If a policeman waded into a firefight without his bulletproof vest, we’d consider him nuts. And […]

via Put on Your Armor, Part 2 — Hypervigilant.org

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Put on Your Armor, Part 1 — Hypervigilant.org

Do you slip into stilettos to run a marathon? Would you slather on sweet-smelling lotion before slogging through the Everglades? Have you ever heard of Mt. Everest climbers leaving all the sub-zero gear at base camp? A little closer to home: Do you take Monopoly money to the market, leave your gas tank on empty […]

via Put on Your Armor, Part 1 — Hypervigilant.org

Microsoft’s Missed Opportunity

Thanks Casey!!!!!

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Microsoft is missing an enormous opportunity.

I’m a little bit shocked, actually, that the company’s PR people don’t appear to have noticed.

What opportunity, you ask?

First, a few statistics:

NUMBER OF HOMESCHOOLERS:

According to the U. S. government’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the National Home Education Research Institute, approximately 1.7 million students (ages 5-17) were estimated to be homeschoolers in 2016. In other words, 3.4% of the student population.

DIVERSITY OF HOMESCHOOLERS:

HSLDA’s article quotes NCES: “among children who were homeschooled, 68 percent are white, 15 percent are Hispanic, 8 percent are black, and 4 percent are Asian or Pacific Islander.” A quick look at the U.S. Census Bureau site reveals the diversity in homeschooling closely mirrors diversity numbers of the U.S. population.

SUCCESS OF HOMESCHOOLERS:

Chris Weller’s article in Business Insider says, “homeschooled children tend to do better on standardized tests, stick around…

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Three Things Every Kid with RAD Needs

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There is NO silver bullet and NO easy way to overcome Reactive Attachment Disorder.
Kids exhibiting RAD symptoms have endured deep loss and continue to grieve.
As I understand it, their brains have rewired to compensate. They may experience low levels of emotion or pain. Our daughter was able to turn off her emotions at will, but some of her lack of emotion was not intentional and concerned her. She used to ask me if there was something wrong with her because she didn’t always cry when she thought it would be appropriate (e.g., funerals, pet loss).
Our son’s pain receptors don’t work properly; at the treatment center, our guy broke his hand by punching a wall in a fit of rage. When I confronted the nurse on duty after seeing his hand (swollen three times normal size), she said they’d checked it earlier and assumed he was…

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Adoption Reddit

Thanks Casey for the great information.

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You may already be familiar with Reddit. Have an interest? Reddit probably has a running discussion; it’s a treasure trove.

(Careful…it can be addicting. Hilarious kitty pics are hard to ignore.)

If you have Adoption connections, I’d like to recommend that you join the Adoption group* (sub).

If you’re part of the Adoption Triad (an individual who was adopted/fostered, an adoptive/foster parent or a biological parent) or if you’re considering fostering or adoption, it’s a great place to hang out.

Many members who were formerly adopted or in foster care provide excellent advice for adoptive/foster parents with honest questions. I won’t list user names because there are too many (and I’ll end up accidentally leave someone out), but believe me, if you have a concern, someone can help. It’s also a great place to talk with other parents in similar situations.

*I feel as though the sub has gotten…

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Why Would I Say That?

So happy Casey has made so much progress with her daughter.

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I used to write down funny things the kids said.

(For those of you beginning the journey, keep a journal, send yourself a text, etc. You’ll definitely want it later).

Looking through old texts to myself, I found this one from early 2016:

Me (to my daughter):

“I couldn’t hear what you said, but it sounded like ‘I love you so much!'”

She (with emphasis and attitude):

“Why would I say THAT?!”

Wordpress Photo credit: Steven Depolo

At the time, we were in the throes of RAD. She and I did not get along. Every time she considered loving me, her trauma triggered anger and fear.

Two years later, LOVE WINS.

We have come so far, this girl and I.

We’ll probably have more roller coaster days and maybe months ahead, considering she’s now a teen, but we’ll make it.

She’s gone to camp and I really miss her…

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Why Kate Spade’s Suicide Doesn’t Matter

Excellent post by Casey on what really matter’s when someone commits suicide. Thanks Casey. M

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3366568233_06827861dd_z Photo Credit: Housing Works Thrift Shops

Kate Spade had it all.

Met a cool guy named Andy. Started a business with him (and they later married). Business skyrocketed and became a household name (at least, in any household including teens or young women).

A New York Times headline describes her as the woman “Whose Handbags Carried Women Into Adulthood,” passionate and approachable.

She and Andy seemed to be unbelievably well-matched partners. He came up with the rough draft. She ran with his ideas and crafted the finished product.

Friends said the couple were “perfect” partners in business and life.

She sold her stake in the business shortly after the birth of their daughter. Even in her absence, the website still seems to draw from her unassuming, quirky, vibrant personality.

The designer told Moneyish last year she wouldn’t trade the time with her only child in exchange for her self-titled brand “in…

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Foster Care Reform (a Discussion with My Daughter)

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October 3, 2014, I wrote this letter to my daughter.

Just over three and a half years later, I see some of the predictions blossoming in amazing ways. I never expected to be here so soon.

In our world, here is progress. Back then was awful for all of us. There is the goal for which we strive. We are not yet there, but we are definitely, beautifully here.

In recent weeks, my daughter has begun to grasp a concept beyond her years.

She is not the only child with troubles.

Children (and many adults) have an automatic bent toward self.

To see the plight of others is difficult; when your own crises are blinding, understanding that anyone else might have a similar—or more dire—situation is almost impossible.

I thank God for Henry Ford and his counterparts. As counseling offices go, four wheels and a metal cage traveling at speed is the…

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Residential Swings

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7869062282_d21067424d_z Photo credit: Derek Bruff

I have a love-hate relationship with playground swings.

More hate than love these days, since the unreasonable swing manufacturers refuse to make swings properly. Back when I was ten, they made the swings so much larger; a perfect fit with no pinched thighs…

The part of the arc that sails me up to the sky makes my heart soar. I defy gravity. I fly like a bird. I touch the clouds. I…

drop like a rock back to earth.

As everything below rushes up to meet me, as my stomach drops away, I grit my teeth and brace for impact.

Every time.

Because once, on a cheap plastic yellow swing with a rusted chain, it happened.

Just as I realized my pinky had caught in a chain link, I fell. I don’t remember whether the seat cracked or the chain snapped, but I ended up on…

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Let’s All Go to the Movies

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Movies move us.

Movies tell stories. Storytelling is a powerful way engage your audience, to provoke thought, to connect with others.

Movies often involve popcorn, soda and other treats.

Bottom line: movies are fun.

Other bottom line your kids don’t need to know: movies provide the opportunity to craft therapy experiences specific to your child. Often, the best therapy involves realizing others have similar battles to our own.

Let me give you an example of what I mean:

The last few years have been a struggle. I wonder if anyone else thinks the way I do, or if I’m just weird and everyone else is doing fine. Maybe I’m just different from everyone else on the planet, but when life throws a difficult experience in my lap, I feel alone. I feel that no one can understand. I feel different from everyone else on the planet. 

Oh, you’ve felt this?

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A Letter to My Son

Casey has a strong backbone and strong belief in God. She’ll get thru the pain when the time is right. Love M

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My dearest boy,

This year has been one of the most difficult I’ve ever lived. Let’s speak with honesty: you created most of the mountains and valleys.

Some people say hindsight is 20/20 regarding past mistakes. This phrase means that when we look back at the past, we have a clear picture of the choices we made, as well as the ability to see how the present might be different if we’d made other choices.

I see so many mistakes in our beginnings, due in part simply to ignorance. In some cases, these mistakes were coordinated by individuals trying to cover their wrongdoing. Sometimes, our vision was clouded by the possibilities. Other times, we were just too exhausted to see the right path.

In almost every case, the mistakes were not your fault. Unfortunately, those mistakes are partly responsible for your current location, in residential treatment—which doesn’t excuse your choices to…

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Monopoly on Happy

Thanks Casey, sounds like a break thru of sorts or at least an understanding of how he brings the behavior on himself.

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The problem is that you are putting in all the effort to see me and I’m not doing any effort to show you that I want you to visit.

This was my son’s explanation of the main problem in our family relationship during a phone call.

He continued, “when I don’t do what I’m supposed to do, I’m sending the message that I don’t care if you come to see me.”

The kid is smart. He knows what he’s doing.

In the beginning of his residential treatment stay, we visited our son every weekend. However, his behavior escalated and his actions became increasingly violent. We reduced the frequency of visits based on his behavior.

His therapist agreed he needed to have some responsibility in our family connection, unrelated to other behaviors. As part of his therapy, we created a behavior plan which required our son to do a chore and…

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Testing, Testing, 1-2-3

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7674804806_7bd5ff8688_z Photo by Shannan Muskopf

This week, the girl participates in her first annual testing session since we’ve been homeschooling.

It is less a test of her abilities and more a measure of my prowess as a teacher.

I’m a bit nervous. Possibly more than she is.

I actually had trouble sleeping, which is not unusual, but I don’t usually worry myself awake. Most nights, my brain spins stories or posts destined to never see an audience because I fell asleep halfway through.

Before we adopted, I didn’t understand when my friends bemoaned their children’s test anxiety. You’ve heard the phrase “pulling out my hair” in frustration…I’d never seen it in action until one of our little friends showed up with no eyebrows. He was anxious about testing and pulled them out, bit by bit. (There’s a disorder called trichotillomania, but they ruled that out and said it was just…

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Flashback

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This is a week of appointments.

Ever since we adopted the kids, my life has involved appointment after appointment.

Doctor’s appointments, counseling appointments, dentist appointments, psychiatric appointments, eye appointments, in-home counseling appointments, testing appointments, occupational therapy appointments, speech therapy appointments…I see you’re getting the idea.

They used to get in the car after school and cheerily ask, “do we have an appointment today?”

They were (and still are) a little bit addicted to appointments because having one meant they got 100% attention from me, hubby, and whatever doctor or therapist might be involved.

They even love the dentist (now THAT’S just crazy).

Thankfully, as the years passed, the number of appointments have diminished in both intensity and frequency.

I added a number of appointments to our calendar over the last month. They all landed on this week, which is beginning to feel something like a flashback.

I managed to schedule…

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Leave it the Shell Alone

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When you have children, you finally appreciate all your parents have done for you.

You’ve heard this phrase, I’m sure (possibly from a frustrated parent when you were a teen).

For me, adopting the children did not bring the magical instant awareness, mostly because my parents never dealt with this brand of crazy or needed to make the kind of decisions we do. (That’s why I started this blog, because almost no one I know in person can say, “yes, I understand exactly what you’re talking about!”)

However, when we began home-schooling this year, I finally realized the level of work my mother did behind the scenes while teaching four children at home.

Sometimes I believed I was homeschooling myself, even in elementary grades.

I’ve seen a specific expression on my daughter’s face when I direct her to go back to the textbook and look for information. I recognize…

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Once Upon a Birthmother

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Have you ever noticed how many movies involve children without parents, kids in foster care and adopted children? Before our kids came to us, I noticed.

The themes made me yearn for a time when we’d have our own adopted littles.

Spawned fond ideas of happy endings, possibly after a short time of adjustment.

Let’s take a moment and smile at the memory of my innocence. 

Okay, moment of silence over. The dissonance between my dreams and my reality isn’t our topic today.

Since we’ve had the kids, both Hubby and I started noticing the plethora of movies centered around loss and adoption.

Take a minute and make a list of the movies—especially children’s movies—that do NOT have at least one missing parent.

How’s it going?

If you make a list of movies involving a loss, I believe you’ll have an easier time.

Disney movies in particular thrive on the…

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Living in 3D

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Writing used to be cathartic, therapeutic.

If necessary, I’d write in the middle of the night.

For the last few months, I’ve struggled to force it. Until this week, the reluctance to record has baffled me.

I don’t easily admit, even to myself, “I have a problem.”

As you may know, the last 6.5 years have been a true roller coaster. When I scrolled through a few posts from a couple years ago, I read HOPE. I read PROGRESS. And I realized

I’ve been living the last few months in 3D.

But not the thrilling “let’s see a movie with those fun glasses” 3D.

Discouraged. Depressed. Distracted.

These three D words have ruled my life of late—and I didn’t even realize until now.

Discouraged

I drive Hubby a little nuts sometimes. I am the Optimist who makes everyone roll eyes at least once in our friendship.

Hitting every red light?…

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Wishes

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I’m sitting next to a family.

Two parents with three most-likely-bio sons. I watch the oldest roll his eyes as the youngest runs around the cafe, repeating with gusto,

“I spy with my little eye…”

The middle boy colors quietly by himself.

I don’t know the names of the older boys.

The youngest is definitely named Liam.

Father and mother halfheartedly chase the towheaded toddler in turns, calling his name.

He expertly ignores, then evades them.

It is a blissful scene of family togetherness, childhood glee and parental exasperation.

Sometimes I watch other people with their children, heart aching.

Wishing.

Grieving.

I am not the woman who gave my children life.

Every so often, I wonder whether things would be different if I’d held them in my arms from birth.

But

a few days ago

I saw a lady watching as my daughter and I walked through the store

arms…

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Homeschooling is Fabulous

Casey shares the up’s and down’s of homeschooling in her usual honest heart. M

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I’ve been trying to catch up on writing about the craziness in our life. Let’s not leave out the good craziness. 

The kids started begging me to homeschool them almost as soon as they came to live with us. They spent some time in a foster home with homeschoolers, which prompted the begging.

That particular household embraced the philosophy that many of the minutes during a public school day are wasted.

I agree with the logic.

Kids in private school also deal with transitions and lost moments, but in a large public system, the problem is exponentially larger. Time is wasted in transitions, in moving between classrooms, waiting for everyone to get a drink of water at the fountain, waiting for everyone to finish toileting, waiting for everyone to finish lunch, waiting, waiting…

And waiting for at least 80 percent of the class to catch on to ideas.

Kids who…

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Guilty

Casey/Hypervigilant shares more of her story. I’ve being waiting to here where the story goes. M

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Continued from Desolate

When the kids first came to live with us, I clocked three to four hours of sleep a night. The girl wailed until after midnight; the boy woke screaming around in the wee hours.

Every. Single. Day.

The initial sleep deprivation lasted about six months; four months for social services (still the legal guardian) to approve meds and two more months for the doctor to find the correct dose.

I still remember the relief I felt the first morning after we found the right combination, waking around 6 instead of 4 am.

I’d forgotten how it felt. September brought it all rushing back.

This time, I think, was worse.

Digressing a bit: I’ve had a recent epiphany that I experienced almost no change in stamina from the time I was seventeen. Until now.

Sometime this year, I looked in the mirror and realized I am no longer…

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Desolate

Thanks Casey for sharing Chapter Three of your families wild ride. I pray for the best. I want him to be a good boy somewhere deep inside.
M

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4828929438_4169bf10a2_z Photo credit: Dustin Spengler

Continued from Excruciating Ride, Part 2

If you asked for a one-word description of my internal landscape during early fall, I would use the word desolate.

Desolate, synonyms: miserable, despondent, depressed, disconsolate, devastated, despairing, inconsolable, broken-hearted, grief-stricken, crushed, bereft

Dark storms on the horizon and a long, lonely road ahead.

His six-day stint in acute psychiatric care only seemed to magnify his behaviors. He literally came home worse than when he left. Although he fed us lies about some aspects, we observed serious lack of supervision in the acute facility. He came home with a softball-sized bruise on his arm from playing a “punching game.” Roll the dice, the other kids punch you. Granted, there’s a good chance he willingly participated, but there’s no reasonable explanation for kids getting away with that kind of assault under true supervision.

He hid his shoes in the…

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Excruciating Ride

Anyone else dealing with craziness? You’re not alone.

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Continued from Roller Coaster, Part 2

Angela Duckworth, author of Grit, believes we reach “expert” level by practicing our craft for at least 10,000 hours; K. Anders Ericksson specifies those hours are spent in “deliberate practice.”

Therefore, I would like to announce that

I am an expert.

For at least thirty years, I have deliberately practiced…procrastination.

Don’t even have to try anymore; Hubby agrees my practical level of procrastination is unbelievable—even mind blowing.

Blog procrastination happens when I know it’s time to write but I’d rather pretend nothing is happening.

Writing about the last six months is painful, terrifying, discouraging.

I’ve been procrastinating.

As I mentioned earlier, the roller coaster with our girl has morphed into a super-fun ride most days. (And yes, I know that super-fun is technically not a word.)

The roller coaster ride with our boy…not so much.

Right now, his roller coaster is excruciating.

When…

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Roller Coaster

Finally, I remembered to reblog… 🙂

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Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson

Riding a roller coaster with my brother is one of my favorite childhood memories. Whenever we could, we stayed late at the amusement park; as long as no one waited in the queue for our seat, the coaster operator allowed us to ride again. We rode so many times we lost count. Once, we even rode in the rain, drops pricking our skin like thousands of tiny needles.

Thanks to amazing guts of steel, we never puked. (I consider this a point of personal pride.)

Hubby and I choose to ride a different kind of roller coaster. Again and again. Every. Single. Day.

Sometimes the coaster is fabulous; other times, the ride makes us queasy, but we opt to stay on.

The summer of 2016 included a few twists and surprise dips but generally kept us smiling and laughing with hands in the air. We thought…

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Making Time

See what Casey of Hypervigilatant.org has been up to. Hope she has time to write soon. I miss her humor. Thanks Casey. M

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Photo by Michel Curi

Sometimes, real life interferes with writing.

Writing is my self-prescribed therapy; the hectic days, weeks and months I have the least amount of time to sit with my laptop are the days, weeks and months I need it most.

Lately I’ve been writing a lot in my head, but haven’t found time to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard, in this case).

It’s killing me. 

Speaking of writing…I’m on a rather spammy email list from a prolific actual (read: published) writer.

Sometimes the nudge to join his newest master class or buy his latest book feels a bit too pushy. My mouse often hovers over the “unsubscribe” link, but at the last second my finger declines to click, because in that moment I find the gem.

In the last email, he spoke of having no time to write. Of setting up a typewriter…

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Taking Control

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We’ve come to realize that almost all of the recent craziness stems from our son’s obsessive need to control every piece of his own life.

Unfortunately, he’s too young.

We give him as much control as possible, whenever possible. Even when there isn’t technically a choice (as in, “get ready for bed”), he decides the order of operation.

He always chooses his own clothes (although I sometimes send him back with the directive “pick something that can be seen in public” when he tries to don a dirty, worn t-shirt for a trip to our favorite coffee shop, or to wear torn jeans to church).

“But these are my holey jeans. HOLY jeans.”

Sorry, no.

His in-home counselor (yep, she’s here about 10 hours a week) asked him what he wanted to control.

“What I eat” was at the top of the list.

This utterly confused me.

He orders his…

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H E Double Hockeysticks

Scout Tent

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Scout Tent Photo by Patsy Wooters

Since June, I’ve wanted needed to write about what’s going on but felt I should wait for perspective.

Some words should stay in my head. 

In June, I was ready to toss in the proverbial towel. Actually, I wanted to fling the towel. And maybe some other things.

At my kid.

We’ve found that when he’s in line of sight of a parent, our guy tends to have great behavior.

The problem starts about thirty seconds after we’re gone.

We can’t leave him alone with other adults (he won’t listen) or kids, and he simply does whatever he wants.

The first week after school ended, our son was scheduled to attend Scout camp for a week.

I was concerned; he’d been generally out of control the entire school year. After a 45-minute explanation of our boy’s background and behavior, the Scoutmaster assured me of his ability…

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To Be or Not to Be…Medicated Part 2

In depth view on medications or not for problem behavior. I love Casey’s logical process and she leaves it on you to decide. M

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Continued from Part 1

I’m not 100% comfortable with medication as a solution for attention problems.

I can’t deny the efficacy of certain prescriptions—last week, our son had his FIRST PERFECT WEEK at school.

Granted, we only had two days in class due to snow but this is still a first. Two days, back-to-back, with only green marks (given for helping, staying on task, getting behavioral compliments from teachers in supplementary classes, etc.)? Never happened before.

The potential for success is incredible.

Possibility of side effects, now or in the future, concerns me.

I can say, in good conscience, that we tried EVERYthing before turning to medication. Still, nagging guilt plagues me, an oppressive feeling we “gave in” to the road more traveled.

Some of my friends say things like

Drug companies are the devil

and

Pharmaceutical conglomerates care about making money, not about making kids healthy

and although I’m not sure…

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Ode to Seuss

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Why I Write

I write because I love it.

I write to keep me sane.

I write when I feel happy

or sad or just mundane.

I write because Hubby says,

“if you neglect to do

writing every single day

your attitude is poo!”

I write ’cause I adore it.

I write because it’s free.

Writing’s a true essential;

costs less than therapy.

I write because I want to.

I write because it’s play.

Sometimes I just write to learn

what my thoughts have to say.

Ask me if I’ll ever stop—

the answer is, I won’t.

And I write because my head

will explode if I don’t.

***

I write because I love it.

Why do you write?


Photo credit: Casey Alexander

*revision from earlier post

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Adoption = Colorblind

Looking thru Casey’s archives I find many great post on adoption, the early days. No doubt, someone is the same position and will benefit form her knowledge. M

Hypervigilant.org

Today I’m not in my usual coffee spot, but this scene is a passable substitute. All available: caffeine, a comfy chair and cool conversation. Good enough.  Today’s crowd is more I’m-yuppie-but-think-I’m-hipster than eclectic, so I settle in, find my bubble and ignore most of my surroundings. Jerky movements catch my eye. I focus on the individual at the counter.

Let me digress one moment. We tell our children “everyone’s alike on the inside; if you cut us open (which, by the way, is not allowed), we all look the same.” Hubby describes my inattention to difference this way: “If a prostitute walked into church and sat alone, Casey would be the first one to go sit with her.” That’s why this next part really bothers me.

As aforementioned, I focus on the gawky guy waiting for his brew. Gawky really isn’t the right word. He obviously thinks he’s “gangsta.” Skinny, almost anorexic; his elbow bones…

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Five Reasons NOT to Adopt (and Why You Should Ignore Them)

A great post. Asking yourself if adoption is the right answer for you.
M

Hypervigilant.org

Thirty years ago, families with biological children were unlikely to adopt. In our present culture, considering adoption has become almost trendy, thanks to celebrity endorsement, movies like Annie and educational campaigns like National Adoption Month. Individuals, couples and families with children (both young and grown) are adopting.

In spite of the increase in attention, 102,000 children in the foster care system alone wait for an adoptive family (adoptuskids.org). This number doesn’t account for children awaiting agency placement. So, should you consider adoption? Here’s why you shouldn’t (should).

1. “Adoption is too expensive.”

Cost is a valid concern. Our friends adopted from China; the total was well over $30,000. Agency adoptions in the US can be just as expensive. Shelling out that kind of cash is not an option for most people.

Here’s the good news: simply search “Financial help for Adoption” to find hundreds of available resources online. Private funds, special interest…

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Adoption= Exceptionally Happy

From the 2014 archives of Casey at Hypervigilant.org. Great article and tips for parents adopting. M

Hypervigilant.org

I just read a really cool article by Jeff Haden: 10 Daily Habits of Exceptionally Happy People. http://www.inc.com/ss/jeff-haden/10-daily-habits-exceptionally-happy-people#0

For adoptive families, many of his points will resonate. I borrowed nine. (Used with permission.) 

Granted, there are times the descriptors “Exceptionally Stressed” or “Exceptionally Insane”  more accurately correspond with our circumstances, but being joyful is a decision and a mindset. (Think of the terminally ill patient who ultimately inspires those who come to encourage her.) Life isn’t a breeze, but we can be Exceptionally Happy. Read on:

1.  “I will not interrupt.”

It’s easy to assume that we know what the kid is going to say. (Especially when she uses the same excuse every time…what IS it with ten year olds?) Something to remember, though: interrupting is more than assumption. It’s more than rude. It’s a message. “What you have to say isn’t important.”  For an adopted or foster child, this is confirming something deeper…

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Super Advice from an Adoptive Parent

If you have a question about Adoption, please contact Casey at
http:hypervigilant.org She is a wealth of knowledge and continues to share her experience as the children grow older. She’s a must read for anyone considering Adoption or newly Adoptive parents. M

Hypervigilant.org

If you haven’t checked out Reddit’s Adoption community, it’s time. Here’s an example of the amazing support you’ll find in the adoption sub. This post, written by a parent who’d like to be anonymous, is in response to a heartfelt plea from another adoptive parent. I’m telling you…go: Reddit.com/r/adoption

Dear friend,

As an adoptive parent, I feel for you and appreciate that this is incredibly hard. And hard in ways that are triggering. And hard in ways that are deeply despairing.

We fostered a 9 year old with the intention of adoption and finalized last year (2 years later). He had been through a lot – the adults around him have consistently failed him. Instability, violence, abandonment, inconsistent schooling, serious felony activity.

Our first months were actually very harmonious. As we built trust, it got very intense. Defiant. Screaming. Running out of the house. School refusal.

This is where I…

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The Next Thing

Hypervigilant.org

After muddling through six years of public school, advocating for services, collaborating (and occasionally arguing) with school staff, stressing out every time the school number appears on the caller ID (what happened NOW?) we’ve finally decided to Give Up.

We used every resource we could find. Brought every possible idea to the table. Suggested successful methods tried by other parents.

Although we have done everything within our power, both kids’ performance and behavior at school has continued to tank.

He doesn’t want to interact with other kids and attempts to get suspended so he can come home.

She’s failing on purpose because she “gets more attention for a failing grade than a passing grade.” (Not kidding. Parenting a kid with RAD is the equivalent of standing on your head and reading backwards. Toss out everything you know about parenting.)

Finally, we’ve reached the last straw. I am going…

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Back in the Saddle

Puled from the archives of Casey at Hypervigilant.org.
Thanks Casey, Have a great weekend. M

Hypervigilant.org

Hey, everyone!

I’ve missed you.

In September, I accepted a part-time job. In October, I agreed to work full time when my supervisor said those two little words I can never resist: process improvement. Almost nothing makes me happier than finding better ways to do…well, pretty much anything.

The downside is a sharp decline in free time and I’ve really missed writing.

Tonight I listened to a goal-setting webinar led by Michael Hyatt. I chuckled a little bit when he talked about his own goals. Maybe one of his goals for the year is to sell a lot of the “5 Days to Your Best Year Ever” program he offers at the end of the webinar.

Sales pitch aside, I learned (re-learned) a few things:

  • Goals must be written. 
    • I believe the statistic on the webinar was around 40% more likely. I found a couple articles with statistics up…

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The Dream

No doubt you’ve had more of those type of dreams.
Thanks Casey. M

Hypervigilant.org

We agreed for a little girl to live with us while her parents sorted things.

Dad is in jail, mom was on drugs but is trying to get clean.

She is ten, with thick, frizzy brown hair pulled back in a low ponytail. Round, sweet face, eyes made owlish by thick glasses with dark purple frames.

She wears a purple puffy jacket, which should be my first clue it’s a dream.

Those went out of style decades ago. Then again, trends cycle. Maybe she’s ahead of the curve.

We meet at a small, family-owned restaurant with a store attached. Evidently this is where she has spent her after-school hours starting back in pre-school. Her babysitter used to work here but is long out of the picture.

“She was such a good little girl” that everyone else agreed to jointly keep an eye on her until her mother sent a ride…

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Adoption = One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

Beyond words, how unconditional love will pull you thru.
M

Hypervigilant.org

Yesterday was a tough one for our little guy, and most of it was his own doing.

When the kids first came to live with us as fosters, he was an angry, insane-as-a-hyena mess. I’ve referenced this here, here, and oh, here. Reading those posts again, I realize how inadequate the descriptions are in communicating our…situation. The absolute insanity that ruled our home for the first eighteen months. The unbelievable chaos a wild five year old created (our girl, then seven, worked hard to be “perfect,” in keeping with her RAD). The utter defeat Hubby and I experienced, knowing no consequence–positive OR negative–motivated this child.

The last few months, in comparison, have been heavenly. Synonyms for “heavenly,” as described by the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, include:

awesome, bang-up, banner, beautiful, blue-chip, blue-ribbon, boffo, bonny (alsobonnie) [chiefly British], boss

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Tougher than Expected

Casey
Great example for son in a relaxed environment. Great dialogue but what melts me heart are his words. “That’s why you’ll never get rid of me, even when I’m bad?”
Huge step forward.
M

Hypervigilant.org

“These shutters are a lot more work than I expected,” I sigh. “Thanks for helping me.”

I agreed to paint shutters for a friend. Too late, I discovered they hadn’t been properly prepped before the previous owner covered them in enamel; it flaked off like autumn leaves but gummed up my sander. The only option was tedious scraping. 

Each slat. 

Both sides. 

The paint only held fast where edges met, the hardest part to clean…on every slat.

A five-hour job ballooned into a week-long project. The only saving grace? The lead paint test was negative. 

My ten year old son shrugs, scraping an edge.

“If they’re so hard, why don’t you just take them back and say you can’t do it?”

“Because I agreed to paint them. I didn’t say I’d only paint them if they were easy to prep.”

He flicks a piece of peeling paint. “But this is too hard…

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Adoption = Forgiveness with a Side of Chocolate

Thanks Casey

Hypervigilant.org

Our daughter harbors heartbreaking, heart-aching, anger toward her birth mother.

Thanks to a fun little disorder called RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder, not the cool 80’s “rad”), most of that rage is directed at me. One of RAD’s hallmarks is misdirection of anger toward the person who most closely represents the individual who caused pain. Most children with RAD aren’t aware of what’s happening; it’s not intentional, and it’s important for the “target” to understand that most of the child’s behavior is not a personal attack.

In general, she presents as an almost perfect child and is great at surface interactions. Anyone outside our home or very close inner circle of friends would be shocked that she’s anything but an angel. I did not immediately realize she creates that image on purpose, so was taken aback the day she complained about a classmate who did not like her, stating, “but I’m so sweet!” If…

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Bad

Great post Casey
Just think what we might learn looking at the world thru our child’s eye. M

Hypervigilant.org

I live in a room

The door is locked

My mother is on the other side

I have a blanket

It’s okay

I’m okay

Sometimes I sleep

Sometimes my mother brings me food

So I eat

Sometimes I poop in the corner bucket

Mostly I wait

One day, strangers open the door

One is a lady

This is bad, she says

Very bad

Very very bad, the others nod

I look around at my room

My room is okay

Do they mean me?

Am I very very bad?

Police come to my room

Police get bad guys

This is bad, they say

Very, very bad

And then they get me

I never knew I was bad

They don’t take me to jail but almost

There are other kids

The lady screams at us

BE QUIET!

BE STILL!

STOP PULLING ON THE DOOR!

She sits on me

I’LL TEACH YOU. BE STILL!

I…

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He’s Trying

Welcome back Casey, it’s no fun when you’re not writing. M

Hypervigilant.org

From Dictionary.com:

trying [trahy-ing]

adjective
1. extremely annoying, difficult, or the like; straining one’s patience and goodwill to the limit: a trying day; a trying experience.
irritating, irksome, bothersome, vexing.

try [trahy]

verb (used with object), tried, trying.
1. to attempt to do or accomplish: Try it before you say it’s simple.
2. to test the effect or result of (often followed by out): to try a new method; to try a recipe out.
3. to endeavor to evaluate by experiment or experience: to try a new field; to try a new book.
4. to test the quality, value, fitness, accuracy, etc., of: Will you try a spoonful of this and tell me what you think of it?
5. Law. to examine and determine judicially, as a cause; determine judicially the guilt or innocence of (a person).
6. to put to…

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