Saturday, February 27, 2010

Houseguest - attachment therapist

This week we were so blessed to have one of the LEADING attachment therapist in the country stay at our house!

Deborah Hage and her husband have 2 birth children, 7 adopted children and were therapeutic foster parents to 5 children.  She is now one of the most well known attachment therapists and our family got to have her undivided attention for 3 days!

(Kiana, Me, Deborah, Jada, Jazmine, Kishawn)

It was an amazing experience having her in our home doing trauma work with the kids and helping Brad and I fine tune our therapeutic parenting skills. 

The trauma work she did with the kids was awesome.  Finally they were able to get all of the "skeletons in their closets" out.  The secrets that held onto, that eat them up inside were taken out into the open analyzed, discussed and now are not nearly as terrorizing as they were.  It grieves my heart to know the horrors they have experienced.  I even learned of more of the traumas they have been through.  Through it all though, I felt strengthened and lifted up by unseens hands.  I know that my Heavenly Father is looking out for us!

Therapeutic parenting is NOT natural instinctive parenting.  It is geared toward helping traumatized children feel safe in their environment, with us their parents, and in control of themselves.  It is VERY difficult parenting to do, BUT the most loving kind of parenting there is for traumatized kids.  For our family, it means ABSOLUTE STRUCTURE.  I can almost guarantee that the amount of structure we must have within our home cannot be understood without seeing it in action.  With it, the kids can grow, heal and thrive.  Without it?  Catastrophe.

I have to say that I feel that, with Deborah, every cent of what we paid to have her come was worth it.  She stayed up at night brainstorming ideas to help our unique family.  Every fiber of her being was focused on helping us.  I feel like I got a HUGE second wind to keep me moving forward.  HUGE progress was made with the kids as well.

I cannot begin to explain what it means to have support like Deborah.  So Deb, if you're reading this thank you from the bottom of my heart for the precious gift you have given our family this week!  We look forward to working with you again and again!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

She's her mother's daughter

I often hear from people that Makenzie looks a lot like me.
I LOVE that!
Yesterday Brad was cleaning out some boxes and found this picture.
 Laree                        and                    Me (on the right)

Compare it to this one...
Me                       and                         Makenzie

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I LOVE homeschooling!

Before homeschooling - 
  • My kids stole and hoarded food and toys.
  • They would rather do ANYTHING, including staying in their rooms, than do something with the family.
  • They thought that THINGS would solve their problems and fill the emptiness they felt inside and became desperate if they didn't get the most recent THING they thought they had to have.
  • They fought us on EVERYTHING, especially anything related to school.
  • They absolutely could NOT and would NOT interact with other children, especially each other, in an appropriate way. 
After homeschooling - (First off I should qualify this saying that we are still working through a LOT of stuff with them, but our definition  GOOD is way different than it used to be.  And THIS, for our family, is not only good it's GREAT!!)
  • They LOVE books and are starting to LOVE reading!
  • They no longer look for THINGS to fill the emptiness they feel.
  • Although school related things can still call for extreme control battles, they are taking more initiative in seeing that they get their work done on their own.  
  • We are starting to have short periods of time every now and then when they interact with each other in a healthy way!!
Today, out of the blue, Jazmine said,
"THINGS aren't important.  Family and having parents is important."

They are also starting to develop self-esteem.  In the past (and still sometimes now), when they weren't able to do something correctly or when they got corrected they completely shut down.  They felt terrible about themselves and their feelings would manifest themselves in their behavior by bullying someone else, getting defiant and disrespectful and throwing fits.  I love the little moments that show that they are finally starting to see value in themselves.  For example, yesterday and today we took Jazmine to the pool that Brad works at and had her swim with the swim team to see if she liked it.  At one point they were diving off the diving blocks and Jazmine didn't get how to do it.  When she was finished, her comment about it was, "I'm still working on learning how to dive but I'll get it.  I loved swim team." 

I don't think anything could make me feel happier than to see my kids finally 'get it'!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

How to know when progress is happening...

Today a whopping 3 of 4 kids finished their school and house work before lunch!! That, in and of itself, is a miracle in our household. Among the 3 finishing kids there were minimal control games played and lots of enthusiasm!

To celebrate we took them to the local thrift store to find some ice skates for them. There is an outdoor skating rink within walking distance of our home, but we haven't been able to use it due to lack of skates.

While we were there, Brad asked Kishawn to choose between getting ice skates or snow boots for his snowboard. (Kishawn snowboards down the hill in our backyard every chance he gets, but right now he has a cheap flimsy plastic board. He LOVES to snowboard!) So, what was his answer?

"I think I'll take the skates 'cause then I can do that with the family."

That melted Brad's heart and he bought him both of them.

Then...

Jazmine said (completely on her own without any prompting) that she wanted to buy Gramma Mia a necklace to replace the one she broke. She used every bit of her birthday money to buy Gramma the necklace. She must have said at least 5 times,

"I feel so happy that I bought this for Gramma! I can't wait to give it to her!"

We drove to Gramma's work (she is now working as a nurse!) and Jazmine gave her the necklace. She cried and Jazmine was thrilled!

Then...

When we were driving home, Kishawn asked if we could go out to eat. Brad answered that we could go to the 'Porter House'. He said they have great food there and I added that the chef was fantastic (Brad is the cook in our house). I told them the chef's name is Bradley Scott Porter. (Typically a 'no' answer elicits an immediate tantrum but instead...) The kids got it and talked among themselves. It went something like this...
"Oh yeah that place is great! It's actually in our house!"
"I know I love that place!"
"And what's cool about it is the maker (chef) even gets to eat with us!"
"Oh cool! I love that!"
"It's so cool to have that in our house!"
Whatever has happened to my kids, please stay this way at least for the rest of the night?!
I'm loving this!!!!!