When the learning curve is a vertical line….

Our dream of adopting is happening!  It’s so incredibly exciting, and yet…. so incredibly ….  difficult isn’t the correct word…. or is it?

dif·fi·cult [dif-i-kuhlt, -kuhlt]
adjective
1. not easily or readily done; requiring much labor, skill, or planning to be performed successfully; hard: a difficult job.
2. hard to understand or solve: a difficult problem.
3. hard to deal with or get on with: a difficult pupil.
4. hard to please or satisfy: a difficult employer.
5. hard to persuade or induce; stubborn: a difficult old man.

Yep, difficult is the correct word.

The process to get to this point, with two additional wonderful, beautiful, loving, hurt, scared kiddos in our home has been difficult.  It required skill to navigate the government paperwork; it was not easy in the least.  We thought that portion was difficult.  We had NO idea what was to come.

Now that they are in our home, as foster children, the real difficulty has set in.  They have been bounced around from family members and foster homes to finally, our home.  They are adjusting rather well.  The difficulty comes from within.

I knew the stories of how integrating new children would be difficult, with most of the drama coming from the new kiddos.  Well, not so much in our case.

Whiz must have had a much different picture as to how this was all going to happen.  We asked him if he would mind sharing a room (a bigger room), and he said he would like to share a room.  We asked him if he would mind sharing a few toys, and he said okay (a little more hesitant).  We let him select which toys to share and he picked out a decent amount.  We asked him to share a few t-shirts (the kiddos didn’t come with much and we had a day or two before we could go shopping).  He reluctantly said fine.  Uh-oh.  Fine.  Fine does not mean fine.  Fine means no, but I know I should say yes.

Whiz has been argumentative, distributive, and just plain mad.  And I feel like the worst mom award will be given to me in some back alley horrible mom contest.  We asked so much of our little 8-year-old – share his space, share his toys, share his clothes, share his parents, share his time – honestly, what were we thinking?

We were thinking out 8-year-old had the maturity of a young adult – obviously we were wrong.  Yes, we do expect him to share, but that was a lot of sharing to happen all at once.

We are going to remedy the situation.  We are going to utilize all 5 bedrooms.  The hubs and I are staying put.  Little B will stay put (she’s in Wyatt’s old room).  Tater (CRM – new nickname that he seems to love) will get the current guest room (with the queen size bed and a tv that the hubs will need to set the parental controls).  Whiz and Big B are going to split up, even going to opposite sides of the house.  One will get Tater’s current room while the other stays in the new room.  I’m thinking Big B might like Tater’s old room better.  We will see.

I also went out and bought Big B some toys.  They were from Goodwill, but they are still in very good shape, and he loves them.  I will keep on looking for some more toys as well.

As for sharing time, well… Whiz is going to have to share.  I am only one mom – I only  have 24  hours in a day (and I must spend 7 hours sleeping or I will not be pleasant).

Going from two kiddos to four virtually overnight is difficult.  We didn’t have time to adjust our routines gradually.  We didn’t have a last ceremonial dinner as a family of four.  We didn’t have that threshold to cross over.  Our passage to a family of six was a crazy night of driving to gas stations to pick-up kids, not at all what we expected.  Our learning curve looks like a vertical line, but it’s good; it’s all good, even though it is difficult.  As the hubs said the other night, nothing good is easy.

Chia Pudding – It’s What’s for Breakfast

The boys get tired of the same ol’ eggs, bacon, and fruit for breakfast.  I’ve been trying to change things up a bit and came across the Chia Pudding recipes on Pinterest.   Pudding for breakfast?  I thought it was worth a shot.

Whiz loves it to the point where he wants it several times a week.  CRM on the other hand, mildly tolerates the gelatinous goop, as he calls it.  I’ve tried several difference recipes.  After some experimentation, I have made my own that is gelatinous enough for my weirdo Whiz, but creamy enough for my traditional CRM.

Gather the following:

1 can full fat coconut milk (room temperature) (um, just yummy and it’s a liquid)

Almond milk (I use Silk Almond Coconut milk blend)  (a lower calorie liquid, tastes good)

Plain Greek yogurt (protein and to help make it creamy)

Honey (sweetener)

Vanilla (because it’s just good)

Chia seeds (fiber, some protein, magnesium, it makes it gelatinous, and it is call Chia Pudding)

Fruit of choice (blueberries, mango, banana, and strawberries work well) (sweetener, fiber, vitamins, and it’s good for you)

a medium mixing bowl

a hand blender (not 100% necessary, but makes it quick and easy)

two pint mason jars with lids/rings (I use old lids for this type of thing) (you can use bowls, but the boys think it’s neat to eat out of a jar)

Directions:

Place 1.5 T of chia seeds in the bottom of each mason jar.  Set aside.

Prepare fruit (wash, cut, slice, chop, or whatever).  Set aside.

Empty the can of coconut milk in the bowl.  Make sure to add the whole can – coconut cream and the coconut water on the bottom.

Add in 1-2 T of honey, depending on how sweet  you want it to be.

Add 1-2 t of vanilla.

Pour in 1/2 C of almond milk.

Add 1/2 C of plain greek yogurt.

Using your hand blender, or a whisk, mix it until fully combined.  Don’t over mix or you will get coconut whip cream, which is delicious, just not what you want in this recipe.

Gradually pour the milk mixture into the mason jars, leaving space for the fruit.  I usually add about 1 1/2 C to each jar.

Stir.  Stir.  Stir.  Make sure you get all the seeds incorporated into the milk mixture.

Add in your fruit of choice.

Place the lid and ring on the jar and give it a good shake.

Place the jars in the fridge for at least an hour.  The longer it’s in the fridge, the more gelatinous it will become.  You can make it the night before as well, it will just be a little thicker.

If you have any milk mixture leftover, it makes excellent coffee creamer!

IMG_2901Please note: This is not a low-fat breakfast.  I am not concerned about the fat content, but some of you might be.  The fat in this pudding comes from coconuts.  It’s a good fat, from a plant.  As long as you use a clean coconut milk (with one or two ingredients), and don’t eat it every single day, you should be fine.

Summer School!!

With Florida temperatures and humidity continuing to climb, we are officially in the throes of summer.  Long gone are the days of lazily watching television.  Oh no.  My boys brains are not going to turn to mush.  We are continuing on with homeschool.  Mmmmwwwwhahahaha!

At first, the boys thought I was evil, especially my school hater, Whiz.  Don’t get me wrong, the kid loves to learn, just not do school work.  Yeah, I’ve had to wrestle my head around that concept more than once (or even a dozen times).  After I told them they would be in charge of picking our their reading, their history, and most of their writing, I was no longer completely evil.  My remaining evilness was due to the inclusion of math.  Oddly enough, I feel compelled to complete our second grade workbook before moving on to our third grade workbook – how utterly harsh I can be.  (<– sarcasm)

Our session of summer school includes:

MATH:  We are finishing Whiz’s second grade Bob Jones workbook and continuing to learn our math facts.  CRM is chugging away through Bob Jones Pre-Algerbra.

READING: They both choose EDCON reading workbooks to start.  Once they are complete (later this week), they have decided to read the Greek Myths.  After those, who knows, but they have 15-30 minutes of reading daily.

HISTORY: They decided to study Ancient Greece.  We have done some map work and learned about their language and how it relates to modern English. We are working through a workbook together and will finish sometime in late July.

WRITING:  CRM is writing a new episode for Dr. Who.  He is working his way through Amazon Prime Dr. Who episodes.  Whiz is writing several short stories, each dealing with a different emotion.  He will then illustrate each story and then build his story out of LEGOs.

OTHER:  Yep, we have a subject called other.  This includes some Spanish, piano, art, kitchen science, home economics, etc..  It depends on where their interest takes us.  We are currently using this time for piano practice for CRM, and initial piano instruction for Whiz.

Here’s our daily breakdown:

4:15am – The hubs alarm goes off and I mentally throw it into the wall.

5:00am – I’m up with a goodbye hug from the hubs as he heads to work.  (I’m technically not out of bed until closer to 5:15.)

5:30am – My feet are hitting the pavement 4 days a week to work on my running.  It’s already hot, humid and buggy.  I must ingest a quarter of my daily protein requirement in bugs flying into my open mouth.  Pleasant thought.

7:00 – Breakfast is served!  Usually eggs or smoothies; occasionally Chex or gluten-free pancakes with bacon.

8:00 – Crossfit time!  In my garage, with the fan on high, and I’m still sweating glistening like a sumo wrestler in a sauna.

10:00 – School is in session.  (I have taken a shower by this point, no need to offend my children’s sensitive noses.)

12:00 – We are done with school!  But no electronics (except 30 minutes each of computer time), no tv (occasionally I relent), and no hassling mom to take you somewhere.  They fill this time with LEGOs, playing outside, creating artistic masterpieces, practicing piano (beyond what we did during school time), free reading, fighting, nagging me to take them somewhere (it is inevitable), finishing their chores, etc..  It is completely up to them to entertain themselves most days. While they are busy being kids, I am cleaning, prepping dinner, reading, working in the garden, resolving conflicts between them, and even occasionally typing this blog.

2:45 – Off to swim practice three days a week.  We could go everyday, but this is summer, and I wanted to have some chance of relaxing, so I nixed two of the practices until August. (If we don’t have swim practice, we will usually run errands or continue with our free time.)

5:30 – Home and dinner time!

6:30 – Family time – pool, board/card games, a walk, tv, etc..

8:00 – Boys bedtime.  Yes, they go to bed early.  They are children.  They need sleep to grow and they are usually tired by this time.

9:00 – The hubs and I go to bed.  We are the picture of lame.  We are in bed most nights before 9pm.  And sadly, this does include 75% of Saturday nights.

Our summer schedule is only slightly different from our regular schedule.  We like it that way.  The boys don’t mind school during the summer anymore than they do during the “school year” which means CRM will readily do his work with no fuss, while Whiz fusses and complains, but ultimately does it and even enjoys it (except math – he has told me he will never, ever enjoy math).

What does your summer schedule look like?

I am THAT mom….

Yes, I am that mom.

I am the mom that makes my kiddos do school during the summer.  Think of the brain as a muscle; if it is not used, it will atrophy.

I am the mom that can’t wait for one of them to tell me they are bored so my baseboards can get clean, or my flower beds weeded.  Boredom is a state of mind that is easily remedied by doing something unpleasant.

I am the mom that does not entertain my children, but will tell them to go play because children need to learn to entertain themselves without adults, without electronics.

I am the mom that makes one meal for each meal and says “Eat it or be hungry.”  I have rarely had a child leave the table hungry (unless they were growing, but that is a completely different topic).

I am the mom that will politely leave my shopping cart at customer service with an apology to the clerk so I can take my misbehaving kiddos from the store.  No one needs to see a child be disciplined.  It’s ugly; the tears, the yelling, the stomping of feet, followed by a silent nod and a realization that they were wrong.  It’s a private matter between a parent and child – it is not for public viewing.

I am the mom that will not buy my kiddos toys except for Christmas, birthdays or a very, very rare treat.  Learning to be content with what they have, as well as learning to save their money to buy their own items are gifts that can only be taught through practice.  We all need to practice this.

I am the mom that bakes cookies (gluten-free of course), makes ice cream, and shows my children how to do the same. Homemade treats are ALWAYS better than store-bought because the little dash of love and time thrown in can never be replicated.

I am the mom that wants what is best for my children, even if the best is not easy.  Homeschooling, swim practice, removing privileges for minor infractions of household rules – none of it is easy, but the lessons learned are worth the pain.

I am the mom that is not afraid to step out of the herd.  Stepping outside the herd the first time is scary, but eye-opening.  There is more to the world than where the herd will go.  Teaching children to do the same is hard – peer pressure is a real, unrelenting pressure, but teaching them to be true to themselves is a priceless gift that needs to be demonstrated.

I am the mom that actively prays for her children.  Relentless prayers, even though some might be along the lines of, “Lord, please let him learn walk in his new size feet; I have run out of band-aids.”

I am the mom that shows affection to her husband and will also disagree with him, in front of her children.  Children need to see what a healthy relationship is – it’s kisses and hugs, and discussions, compromises, and resolutions.  It’s not all rainbows and unicorns, and it’s not all stormy seas.  By seeing a true relationship in their home, they will be better prepared to have their own true relationship.  (*soapbox moment* TV is the absolute worst at representing relationships.  Children who only see those relationships are going to have a real messed up idea of how a relationship should work.  Please please show your kiddos a true relationship within your marriage!  *this is the end of this soapbox moment)

I hope and pray that I am not the only mom that is that mom.

Proverbs 22:6Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Our journey into ADHD

Some of you may know that Whiz was diagnosed with a myriad of “issues.”  We’ve always known him to be just a little more different from most kiddos.  As he’s gotten older, these differences have become more apparent to those close to him.  To everyone else, he seems like a pretty normal kid.

We have tried for years, YEARS! to get him seen by a specialist.  His oddness was just a little too odd to be normal.  This is a brief list of oddities that we had noticed:

- complete dislike of loud, crowded places (yes, even church fell into this category)

- anger, lots and lots of anger (at pencils, at mom, at the mailman for being 1.56 seconds later than yesterday, etc.)

- tantrums over silly things (like subtraction)

- stubbornness (think Job times 5,000)

- worry, worry, worry (what if a tornado comes while we are having an earthquake while there is a wildfire all while we are choking on a granola bar while hiking and a bear attacks?)

- complete dislike of organization unless it is done in his exact haphazard way

And really, the list goes on and on and on.  One or two would be typical in any kiddo, but everything is to the extreme with Whiz.

Long story short (er), we finally get an appointment with a developmental pediatric specialist.  In two short hours of observation, basic testing, and a few questionnaires they determined Whiz has the following “issues:”

- ADHD (emphasis on the Attentive, not the Hyperactive)

- ODD (primarily towards mom, his main caregiver and teacher)

- Generalized Anxiety

- OCD (not the must tap the wall 5 times type, just a more subtle type that goes along with the anxiety)

- A disparity in his IQ (verbal IQ is through the roof high, but spatial IQ is smack at normal)

After the doctor gives me all the diagnoses, he pulls out a brochure to go over medication options.  Just like that.  After I politely told him “No thank you.” close to a dozen times, he handed me the brochure and told me to talk it over with my husband and to make a follow-up appointment when we had reached a decision.

The hubs and I decided to go a more natural approach, one the doctor did not mention.  We immediately cut out all gluten, drastically reduced the amount of processed foods, along with reducing foods with dyes, and the amount of dairy he ate (except yogurt, which had beneficial gut bacteria).  We also started him on an omega 3 chewable and breathing exercises.  Within the first week, we noticed minor changes.  His tantrums were less explosive, he wasn’t constantly battling us when asked to do a chore, and he stopped having night-time accidents.  After a month, we have days without tantrums (AMEN!), he offers to help around the house (occasionally, but a big gigantic step in the right direction), and we are able to get through a math lessons without tears.

At our follow-up appointment, the doctor was still pushing us to medicate Whiz.  Again, I declined.  I did tell him how we had seen improvement in his behavior by modifying his diet.  I kid you not, the doctor hrumphed, as if to say, “Sure he did, wink wink.”  He completely ignored my comment, and went on to ask which medication me and my husband had decided upon.  I again declined the medication.  I asked if we could do anything about his anxiety, i.e. counseling, therapy, etc..  He said no; the only way to help an 8-year-old with anxiety is with medication.  Let’s all pause and think of the face I made:

2427743-1_base

Yep.  That’s about the way I looked at the doctor.  Ooookaayyyy..

So, what about the learning disparity?  Nothing he could help us with because Whiz is in the normal range for spatial reasoning, but if we put him on medication, it may help.  Say wha?

I quickly said thank you (my mom taught be to be polite, even to those who are about one comment away from seeing you disregard a social graces) and left.  We did not make a follow-up appointment.

As parents, we are the guardians and champions for our children.  We have chosen to take a more holistic and natural approach to managing Whizzle’s behavior.  It may not work for every kiddo, but it does work for him and for us.

 

Unfinished Business

***Please pardon any grammar/spelling/syntax errors.  I’m am only doing the briefest of proofreading on this article.  No more unfinished business on the writing side of life!***

It’s been on my heart and in my mind to write.  I want to write, and I have!  Oh, I have!  But nothing is finished.  I have twelve (TWELVE!) articles started, and not a single one finished.

A few of them were written during an apparent emotional venting process and will quickly be deleted (no need to air out that dirty laundry; it has since been washed, dried, folded and put away).  I’m not even sure what another one was supposed to be about.  I couldn’t comprehend what I was saying, and bless it, I was the one that wrote it.  Others, I think I will finish.  They were from the heart, about things that are important, but something else important distracted me (the boys, the hubs, life, the smell of burning dinner, etc., etc.).  Probably not today, or tomorrow, but someday, I will finish those articles.

I have found being with my boys all day is great (90% of the time) , I have very little (ummm.. usually zero) time to myself.  Peeing has become the extent of my privacy, and sometimes even that gets interrupted by a knock on the door because someone has a question about their work that couldn’t possibly wait 32.8 more seconds.  No, they are not toddlers, but sometimes I wonder.  With so little free time, I just can’t seem to get anything finished!

We have made some adjustments to our schedule recently.  It helps that I have really become a little less of an OCD control freak (answered prayer accomplished through daily prayer).  Get this tid bit – we don’t do but 45 minutes of school on Fridays!  GASP!  I know – it’s awesome!  We finish our week with a spelling test, any other unit test that would have had to wait until Monday (ugh – tests on Monday? No thanks.), and journal writing that is always the same:  What did you do well?  What didn’t go well?  How can you improve next week?  BAM! DONE!  The boys are so eager for their free day, they take their spelling tests while eating breakfast.

With this bit of “free time” I hope to be able to one day finish those articles.  Maybe even finish some of the other unfinished things around the house.  Maybe.  Or I will spend it outside playing with the boys, searching for frogs and lizards, starfish and seashells.

My go-to Paleo meal

Are we still a cave family?  Yes!  and no.  During our three month transition to Florida, we ate whatever could easily be prepared on two burners and an oven that didn’t like to get above 300°.  We tried to eat as cave-like (aka Paleo) as possible, but we had days where it didn’t happen.  At first, I stressed about it, but then I realized it was only temporary.  Yes, our tummies hurt a bit, clothes got tighter, we were all moodier, but was that the food or the situation?

Once we settled into our new home, we switched gears.  We are back to 95% gluten free and Paleo around 80% of the time, or more depending on if you count full fat dairy as part of the plan.  It was not easy transitioning everyone back to this way of eating.  They begrudgingly gave up their sandwiches for leftovers, their cereal for eggs (they still get gluten free cereal once a week or so), and regular granola bars for KIND bars or homemade bars.

We’ve spent the last six weeks transitioning our diets back.  A few things still plague us (those pesky Girl Scouts!), but, it’s a way of life, not really a diet.  I have been asked if it is expensive.  Personally, I don’t think so.  I do not buy the grass fed beef, the hand-massaged chickens, and hand-fed pork.  I buy what we can afford.  I don’t buy all organic everything.  I do buy organic lettuce and any other organic product that is on the Dirty 15/20 lists – but only when we can afford it.  But organic, gluten-free honey nuts-os?  No thanks.

Here is one of my favorite, inexpensive paleo meals.  I prep everything in the afternoon and when we get home from swimming, dinner is ready 30 minutes later.

IMG_2407For the chicken:

Thaw desired amount of chicken thighs and a package of bacon.  Cut each chicken thigh in half.  Season with salt and pepper.  Wrap half a slice of bacon around each halved chicken thigh.  Place on a foil lined cookie sheet.  Keep chilled.

My bacon wrapped chicken chillin' in the fridge.

My bacon wrapped chicken chillin’ in the fridge.

For the potatoes:

Wash desired amount of potatoes (I used 10).  Wash more than you think you need because they are great for breakfast the next day!  Once washed, cube those suckers.  Place them on a foil lined pan.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

For the broccoli:

Chop it into spears or dump it out of the bag from Sam’s/COSTCO.  Chop 2-3 cloves of garlic and sprinkle them around the broccoli.  Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

The veg.

The veg.

I place the broccoli and potatoes in the COLD oven until we get home from swimming.

Once I’m ready to cook it up, I take everything out of the oven and then turn it up to 425°.  Once it’s hot, place the chicken and potatoes in the oven.  Fifteen minutes later, put the broccoli in.  Dinner is ready fifteen minutes after the broccoli joins the party in the oven.

I didn’t get a picture of the final product.  The boys devour this dinner every time I make it.  I hope y’all enjoy it!

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