By Elizabeth

Supporting a New Adoptive Parent

Supporting a New Adoptive Parent

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You know how the saying about assuming goes….

Supporting a New Adoptive ParentOver time I have found the creation of family to be a precarious thing. For some, the almost fairytale scenario of marriage, giving birth to children and expanding the family ranks seems, well easy. Yet for others, the road to a larger family is much more challenging. When it became apparent that we would not be having biological children my husband and I turned to adoption. We saved money, went to classes and baby proofed the house long before a child would join us. We had more ups and downs than a wicked roller coaster, but when G. joined us we felt joy, relief and amazement.

We were new adoptive parents…finally!

Interestingly much of the world saw our daughter’s adoption as fodder for conversation. They assumed they were part of the situation. If I hadn’t witnessed some of the comments first hand I would not believe them myself.

“How much did she cost?”

“Where did she come from?”

“Is she yours?”

“What is her story?”

“Thank you for saving her!”

For those of you who know me my sarcastic side wanted to jump out at every turn but most times I opted for education. Yet at each comment or question I wanted to shout “Nobody asks a pregnant woman if she can afford that child or details of conception!”

In today’s Information Age, some details are not for the public and some stories are not mine to tell. I am not advocating for closed adoptions and to go back to it being a taboo subject, but perhaps we all need to look at what is driving us. Is it curiosity? Fear? Hatred? Ignorance?

There is much grace in thinking before you speak.

Children often ask questions about our family. They want to know if those kids are ours and if we all go together. For them, an affirmative answer lets them move on. Perhaps we would all benefit from this mix of curiosity, innocence and acceptance. I  try to remember these experiences when I encounter something unknown – instead of assuming.

Here are 10 things to say to new adoptive parents:

10 Things to Say to a New Adoptive Parent1. What a blessing!

2. _________ is so cute/handsome!

3. Do you need anything?

4. How are things going?

5. Isn’t it miraculous?

6. Let me know a good time to come see you all.

7. Make a positive observation about the child ( alert, snuggly etc)

8. What is your favorite part of parenthood so far?

9. Are you getting any sleep yet?

10. I see so much love reflected in your eyes.

 

 

Circle of Control: Disney with a Sensory Sensitive Child

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For the past 18 months I have been dreading the Christmas/ New Year’s of 2015-2016. Now I try to be a happy person so why you say was I dreading this past holiday? Control. I went with my extended family on a trip to Disney World. That sounds like the opportunity of a life time, but my dread came from realizing I could not control much for my special needs child. I expected the worst: insomnia, sensory meltdowns, family arguments and much more.

Circle of Control: Disney with a Sensory Sensitive Kid

Then one day before we left on the trip I took a long hard look at my attitude. I had predispositioned myself and others to have a miserable time. That did not sounds like what I wanted for any of us. So I took a little time out for me to recapture some of the joy. We were headed to the House of Mouse. I researched food we might like to try, rides we wanted to go on, shows to see and the weather. I was a one woman excitement factory! That joy and excitement spread to my family.

We used a Disability Access Pass. As soon as we arrived at Magic Kingdom we got our pass and the cast members asked what accommodations we needed and how they could help us to have an enjoyable time. I stated what we needed and were off!

I was the cheerleader for those tired of walking, the getter of snacks and souvenirs. We counted steps walked on my mother-in-laws fitbit and tried to best our steps each day. I chose to control what I could control and let go of what was out of my circle of control. I could control if we ate, or rested or tried a new ride, but I could not control how hot it was or the speed of an lines we waited in. Each time I felt myself get frustrated, mad or rushed I stepped back to see what could I control and what was beyond me.

My family had a marvelous vacation! I loved seeing Disney World through the eyes of my children and my nephews. This vacation taught me to look to what is in my circle of control and for the rest, I follow the words of Elsa: Let it GO!

How much are you willing to risk to reach your goals?

Coalition of the Willing

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How much are you willing to risk to reach your goals?

As I sat in a professional development class last week a new idea was brought to my attention that struck a chord with me. The idea is “the coalition of the willing.” Now, on further review there are some political ideas that might accompany that phrase, but this was not at all how the presenter explained it. We were embarking on how to be more blended in our approach with technology in the classroom. If you teach or deal with technology, sometimes the thought of really purposefully merging the two is quite daunting. Over and over the presenter said, we are not looking for perfection or to have everything figured out before you start, but rather a coalition of the willing.

Willing to try, willing to fail, willing to try again.

I am a person who loves learning and in learning there are always some failures. Most failures are great teachers. I like the idea of seeking out others on this journey that want to be in a coalition of the willing.

I can see many parts of my life where this is applicable:

  1. I have much to learn and much to teach about kids and parenting.
  2. I love to find new books to read and will talk to anyone about what they are reading even if it is a genre I don’t usually care for.
  3. I aspire to learn how to crochet better and hope a high school friend that lives far away can be a mentor.

I tell my first graders that one of the most important things they will ever do is become a life long learner. How can I espouse that, and not truly be following my own advice?

In my adulthood, I have wanted to learn new things in certain wheelhouses or in my comfort zone. I now seek others that can teach me, guide me, learn from me, and fail with me so we can strive for new learning and new adventures.

May this fall be filled with adventures, learning, teaching, mentoring and fun with others that seek the coalition of the wiling.

 

How to help your kids find joy everyday.

Joy in the Journey

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I have long marveled at how my own two children approach life in so different a manner. One, is enthusiastic when giving gifts and eager to show the recipient the gift they picked out. This child is also the one that squealed with joy at a new dress her grandmother got her and said “I have wanted this for my whole life, thank you!” The other child is less joyful in giving and less grateful in receiving.

How to help your kids find joy everyday.

So, if they are being raised the same, it must be based more internally. I pondered gratitude and how to get my children to see the joy around them and cultivate that for others. It is going to be our fall project. I want to daily highlight the things we are grateful for, but not just list them of in a sanctimonious way. I think to truly be more grateful, you have to find the joy in the little things. Not every day brings celebrations, cake and presents, yet I am grateful for each day none the less. My children do have advantages in life that others do not and I want them to notice the difference and to be called to action. This fall our family will undertake to find more joy in the simple little things in life, and to cultivate joy in others’ lives.

Our habit at the dinner table is to share highs and lows or a favorite thing from the day. I love to hear the highlights of my family and what they remember at the end of the day. I plan to help us recognized our joy filled experiences at that time and to plan out how we can inspire others.

As with all new endeavors I am not sure how this will go, but I will see what we have learned next by month. Maybe we will be experts in spreading joy, and recognizing our own abundance!

How do your kids feel about going back to school?

Reluctant or Rejoicing: A New School Year Begins

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As the new school year approaches, there are a myriad of feeling swirling about for both parents and kids. Many kids are thrilled to back to school shop, break out the new backpack and head off for a grand new adventure in their new grade. On the flip side, some students are anxious about their upcoming school year. These kids might have anxiety, or be at a new school, or just struggling this year.

How do your kids feel about going back to school?

Here are some tips to help start the school year off right no matter how your child is feeling.

Rejoicing Students:

1. Help them start off organized with folders, and new supplies.

2. Talk with them about what they are most excited about as school approaches.

3. Talk with them about what they can do if their feelings change. (Like when they learn their best friend is in a different class, or they did not get the teacher they wanted, etc…)

4. Celebrate the beginning of the school year with a fun breakfast!

5. After the first day have them share out what they liked best! Some kids might like to draw or write about their day as well. A new journal might be just the ticket!

Reluctant Students:

1. Talk about the things that are making them worry. Are their things that can be done to minimize these feelings? Talking to the new teacher? Touching base with the school counselor? A good friend?

2. Go through the morning routines before school starts. Practice what the morning will look like and what the kid will need to do so there are fewer surprises. For some students, a picture schedule may help.

3. Celebrate the new school year with a special breakfast. For some students their favorite or “regular” breakfast will be a source of comfort.

4. Help the student know what each item of school supplies are used for. Sometimes they will need practice putting items in folders, using parts of backpacks etc. Model with items at home so they have a better idea how to stay organized. For those student that struggle with executive function, or focus, this will be an ongoing lesson.

5. Talk about the positive things that will be happening at school. This could be a good friend to play with, a familiar routine, teachers they know, or fun events that happen at school.

Back-To-School

The most difficult part may be to gauge what category your child falls into because it may change day to day or minute to minute. Talking to the teacher or school staff if your child is really reluctant may help so they can have a heads up and try to quickly get your student involved as they enter the building. If you have more than one child the struggle may be to keep the rejoicing student from overwhelming the reluctant student OR it may be keeping the reluctant student from stealing the joy from the rejoicing student.

Good Luck on a brand new school year! Celebrate each small joy, small victory and focus on the positive. This will help all of the students in your life!

The blessing of family: reflections from a family reunion

Blest Be The (Family) Ties That Bind

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Our family went on a recent trip with members of our extended family so it became a mini-family reunion.The blessing of family: reflections from a family reunion

Family Blessings:

I watched as cousins helped each other, argued with each other and played with each other.

I saw my mom and her cousin giggle like school girls during a card game.

My children were fed, snuggled, disciplined and loved by the closest person to them at the time, not just my husband and I.

I gratefully heard words I have said many times, come from a respected adult, so maybe they were received in a new way.

I laughed as we worked for almost a week, in groups and alone to complete a challenging puzzle.

I saw similarities in personality, interest and mannerisms from each child, some not biological.

I realized as I stood back and watched a piece of my family, that I am blessed beyond measure to hear their stories, their insight and what fascinates them, whether they are 5 or 75.

Mummy Range, Rocky Mountain National Park

Family Lessons:

My mother told me a story i had never heard before about my great-grandmother. Apparently when she and her sister misbehaved, they then had to sit and read etiquette books. I wonder what my own children would do today if I tried that tactic? Who knows maybe I will save that in my bag of tricks.

There was so much laughter and joy at our mini-reunion that it may become a yearly tradition. I love knowing my extended family, and the vastness of it, but perhaps I enjoy the relationships more.

Super Simple Organization Plan - The Bag Lady System

Get Organized with The Bag Lady System

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Organization has always been a bit elusive for me. I love to see a well organized space and truly see the value in it but as a busy mom of two, it is the reality that gets in the way.

Super Simple Organization Plan - The Bag Lady SystemSo, in my attempt to save my sanity, I devised an organizational system that works for my kids and myself. I have dubbed it The Bag Lady System, but really make it your own.

Designate a Bag

We have designated tote bags for each activity that my girls participate in. Soccer has its own bag and all soccer related stuff, including extra water, bug spray, sun screen go in that bag. The cool thing is it is a system that seems to work for my family too. If they are looking for certain items I will here them say, “look in the _________ bag for it.” I have never been accused of being over organized, mind you, but I hate getting to an event without the proper uniform, snacks or equipment.

Get Organized with The Bag Lady SystemRestock Immediately

In this type of organizational system the key is to check the bag or box after each use. If you have to wash something, make sure it goes right back. If you run out of something, replace it in the bag immediately. Now this system will drive type A personalities a bit crazy I am sure, but for the rest of us mere organizational mortals, this system seems to work quite well!

Choose Your Bags Carefully

I have also found that the style of bag can play an important role in the success of this system. I use a sturdy backpack for our adventures at a local amusement park so it is easy to carry around all day. On the other hand for soccer or swim lessons I use a big open tote so my kids can easily access towels, balls, snacks and water bottles. For school, as I am a teacher, I designate one bag for my school stuff. This bag is a professional style computer bag that I am not embarrassed to be seen with in a work setting. You may have to play around with the style of bag to see what works for you, or for the given activity.

Good luck on your endeavor to quickly and easily becoming more organized without breaking the bank or losing your mind in the process.