Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thanks for your patience...

Well I know it has been a while since my last post, and there has been so much going on around here.  I am finding it difficult to put into words what we are dealing with as a family, and individuals.  As a "writer" and I use that term VERY loosely, I am struggling with knowing what to share, and what not to.  My goal is first to honor and glorify God by what I share/write, and also to be honest and open enough to help others going through similar things, but that is where my struggles reside...right now things are SO raw, and fresh, I need to be sure that I am guarding the integrity of my faith, and my family. There are so many things I would like to share right now, valid things, things that could be beneficial to others..but these truths, would be told with my feelings and emotions attached, and could be twisted and turned, and that would be detrimental to this entire project.
 "Writing" is my therapy...I wear my heart on my sleeve, and tend to be an open book.  I am an honest person, to a fault at times.  So please bear with me. I know there are many that look forward to my posts, and have shared with me how inspirational and helpful they are to them, but I have a handful of people that will pounce at the chance to use my words against me, and create havoc in my life, and I need to be sure I am emotionally strong enough to handle that. 
I have so much to share about the progress on the house, and life with the children!  Life happens, and I would love to have a pause button to hit when I have a hankerin' to write, but alas, there is no such thing!  I promise that this blog is NEVER far from my thoughts, and I have been praying for God to lead my thoughts and words, and feel that the time will be here soon for me to share again. 
Blessings to you all! May God's peace fill your hearts, and His arms wrap around you and give you comfort. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

In The Trenches (Brief insights into our madness)

 Recently I have sought comfort and understanding from a support group online.  The ladies on there support, encourage, and pray for each other.  We share stories, and techniques, we "cry on each others shoulders", and just genuinely care for each other.  It is so important for families that are "living in the trenches" to have support. 
I would like to invite all that are interested, to visit for more information.  My hope is that those who had/have no idea what we deal with, will take time to educate themselves on something outside their own world, because this knowledge/awareness can lead to empathy, and compassion instead of judgement. And for those who are dealing with the same/similar things, that they will know that they are not alone,  and that this can be used as a tool and as encouragement. 
Love one another........its that simple.

With that in mind, in an attempt to help  more people understand... I will share these....

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
in Parents of
Reactive Attachment Disordered Children

by Jody Swarbrick

Many foster and adoptive families of Reactive Attachment Disordered children live in a home that has become a battleground. In the beginning, the daily struggles can be expected, after all, we knew that problems would occur. Initially, stress can be so subtle that we lose sight of a war which others do not realize is occurring. We honestly believe that we can work through the problems. Outbursts, rages, and strife become a way of life. An emotionally unhealthy way of life. We set aside our own needs and focus on the needs of our children. But what does it cost us?

The majority of the population does not understand the dynamics of parenting a RAD child. Family and friends may think that you -- the parent are the one with the problem. Families are frequently turned in on false abuse allegations. Support is non-existent, because outsiders can't even begin to imagine that children can be so destructive.

It is a known fact, that kids diagnosed with RAD tend to target their Moms, play it cool around their Dads, and charm strangers. Where does that leave a parent? Without strong support and understanding, the parent will become isolated, demoralized, hurt, confused, and often held accountable for the actions of their child.

Families are simply not prepared for the profound anger that lives in the heart and soul of our RAD children. It's heartbreaking, frustrating, mind boggling, and extremely stressful. In essence, we're fighting to teach our children how to love and trust. Intimacy frightens our children; they have lost the ability to love, to trust, and to feel remorse for hurtful actions. They see us as the enemy. Small expectations on our part can set our children off in ways that are not only indescribable, but also often unbelievable.

Your home becomes a war zone and you feel totally inadequate. You begin to question your parenting abilities, and your own sanity. You know that your child has been hurt beyond words, you ache for them. Despite your loving intentions and actions, it's thrown in your face. Your heart's desire is to provide your child with untold opportunities, a future, and all the love in the world. You want to soothe your child. You want your child to have a fulfilling childhood and to grow up to be a responsible adult. Yet, you are met with hatred and fierce anger.

In war, the battle lines are drawn; an antagonism exists between two enemies. In our homes, we are not drawing battle lines; we are not prepared for war. We are prepared for parenting. Consequently, the ongoing stress can result in disastrous affects on our well-being literally causing our emotional and physical health to deteriorate.

The primary symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder include:

Avoidance -- refusing to recognize the thoughts and feelings associated with the trauma, this further includes avoiding activities, individuals, and places associated with the trauma.
Intense distress -- when certain cues or "triggers" set off memories of the traumatic event. You may have trouble concentrating, along with feelings of irritability, and frustration over trivial events that never bothered you in the past.
Nightmares and flashbacks -- insomnia or oversleeping may occur. You may exhibit symptoms such as heightened alertness and startle easily.
A loss of interest in your life -- detaching yourself from loved ones. Losing all hope for the future and a lack of loving feelings.
Secondary symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can include:

The realization that you are no longer the person you once were. Relationships have changed by alienating yourself from loved ones. Loneliness and a feeling of helplessness prevail in your daily life.
Depression, which can lead to a negative self-image, lowered self-esteem, along with feeling out of control of your life and environment. You may become a workaholic and physical problems may develop.
You become overly cautious and insecure. Angry outbursts may occur putting stress on significant relationships.
If you are parenting a child diagnosed with Reactive Attachment disorder, you will not escape adverse effects. It is essential to recognize that your feelings are typical under stressful conditions. It is just as essential to accept the fact that extensive stress is unhealthy. By recognizing the symptoms and seeking support, you will strengthen your abilities to cope. Counseling is readily available to families and individuals. Take advantage of resources that will help you put the traumatic experiences into perspective, enabling you to let go of past feelings by replacing them with positive skills for recovery.
Reactive Attachment Disorder and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
FAS Community Resource Center
This is soooo true:

1. Some of us have given up on social skills and don't care what we say or do.
2. We're not afraid to have A serious "meltdown" of our own.
... 3. We are tired and all the patience we have is for our kids.
4. We have A far shorter fuse for nonsense as a result of our responsibilities but A FAR thicker skin.
5. We can get you in a hold/lockdown position in less than 3.5 secs.
6.We can shoot you a look that would make a linebacker tremble in his boots.
7.Chances are it's been awhile since we've had a full night of sleep and that will give us a reason to plead insanity.
8. Our tolerance and patience is for our kids who didn't choose to have special needs, not for someone who CHOOSES to behave inappropriately and is ABLE to control their actions.
9. We're probably already on edge and it would be stupid to push us over.
10. We are sleep deprived and already defensive, and we spend all of our patience on our children, doctors, therapists, social workers and teachers, why would we waste an ounce of it on a total stranger?
11. We've had to fight from the moment of our child's birth so by the time you piss us off we're seasoned battlers and could win a war.
12.We devote our lives to our children and don't need more stress and people who don't understand our life.
13. Wherever there is a cub, there is a mama bear...We're always watching

Monday, February 27, 2012

Summer...(Many Hands Make Light(er) Work)

After a good night's rest in our own beds, we were all ready to get busy on the next phase of things!  The next phase was to begin pouring the basement floor!  Hubby and I felt confident in our experience (mostly hubby's as he had once upon a time worked for a concrete company), and decided that we could save some money and do the floors with out the cost of the professionals.  Due to the size of the project, the wet weather we had had and were expecting, and the amount of time it takes, we did the job in two pours. When the time finally came for the concrete to be pumped in, the work was done by hubby and our three boys. It was quite the sight.  I was one proud mama, and wife!

                               Here the boys are just taking a break watching dad trowel the floor.

All my guys hard at work!

                                                    Our oldest son is working the bow float.

  At one point, even our  oldest daughter was able to get in on the action as dad taught her how to use the edging tool. 

For our youngest daughter, when it came to the concrete,  there wasn't a whole lot of work she was able to do.  But she was right there, offering anyone and everyone a cold bottle of water or a snack.  She was also a huge help with meals, dishes, and keeping the dog and kitties busy and out of the way.  It was amazing to watch the whole family working so hard!  Many hands make light(er) work!  That is one of the main lessons in life... work together, help others, and be an encouragement!  What a blessing it was for all of us to come together and get the job done! 

Each of the guys that came from the concrete company were so patient with us, and helped us out so much.  They could see that my hubby was working as hard as three men, and our boys were doing their very best.  But in reality, for them, the pump job took longer than it normally would have.  And their patience and help were such a blessing to us.  The man that came on the second day was so impressed with our boys, and how hard they were working with their dad.  He took his time cleaning out the chutes and spraying off his truck and tools at the end of the day, and he spent time just visiting, and sipping on some ice water. 

My hubby tipped him a few dollars, it really wasn't much in the world of tips, but it was all the cash we had at the time..we wanted him to know how much we appreciated him going out of his way to help.  The guy, with money in hand, then asked us a question..."this money is mine, so I can do with it what I want?".  And we of course replied with smiles and "yes".  He smiled back at us as he handed the money back and told us that it would please him to know that we would take our family out for some icecream as a reward for all the hard work that was done that day.  Again, what a blessing.  The kids were thrilled, and hubby and I sat back and smiled a thankful smile.

The whole way along this journey we have encountered numerous people and moments that have touched our hearts.  I can't say it enough...we are so blessed.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Summer...(its not a house of cards)

With the new foundation in place, and the green approval sticker in plain sight, we were filled with anticipation.  We couldn't wait for the house to be set back down!!!  Our minds hardly dare think about what condition the inside of the house was.  When you take a 100+ year old house, and lift it off a crumbling, unlevel foundation, and place it onto a level surface, there is a chance that there will be some issues.  We found ourselves almost holding our breath until we could go inside and check things out.  Hubby and I once discussed that we feared that the house might just collapse like a house of cards when it was set back down...thankfully that didn't happen.

This is a view of the underside of the house.

The day came when it was time to set the house down.  The anticipation was killing us!! The process went quite quick.  The workers came and began to backfill the foundation, moving the dirt back into place.

Once they were finished doing the rough backfill, they began lowering the house.  Again, it was a slow, and precise process, much like raising it.  It went up, and then down, and then back up, each time, a shim was put beneath the supports. Sometimes the shim was as small as a quarter of an inch, then supports were removed, and it was lowered a bit more.  The entire process took a couple of hours.  I can remember when the workers were finished, hubby and I were so nervous to enter the house...we even asked the workers for if we really needed their say so! 

Before this dramatic change, our home was level with the ground, so we had no step into the back of the house.  Now, there was a HUGE step!  The threshold was almost at chest height on me.  So we began stacking landscape bricks to fashion some makeshift steps.  My hubby was the first one to step up into the house, then it was my turn. We were both so excited.  We made the kids stay out until we could take a look around and make sure everything was stable.  The first thing we noticed was that the back door no longer latched, everything was tweaked.  Then as we enter into the house we notice the mud/entry room floor is sunk down about an inch (or the baseboards went up an inch).  There were a few cracks in the plaster also, and the ceiling seemed a bit off in the corners.

Once we walked into the kitchen things there seemed good.  And as we walked through the rest of the house, things seemed to be ok.  We began walking around, making sure doors closed, and windows could open.  There were some issues with both of those, we had a few doors that wouldn't latch...they didn't even line up anymore, and we also had one casement window in the kitchen that wouldn't open.  All of the other windows worked just fine.  The more we checked things out, the more we noticed.  Our floors felt "different"...we couldn't quite put our finger on how, but they just felt "different".  There was a large sag in the living room floor, where there once was a support (a stack of field stone) and now there is nothing supporting it.  Even the kids rooms upstairs seemed a bit off.  The carpet was bumped up in the boys' room, and there was a dip in the floor at the top of the stairs.  We couldn't quite figure out how that all happened or what would have caused it, but we just were relieved that our house was still standing in one piece.

The kids were calling to us from the back door, asking if it was safe for them to come in..they were chomping at the bit. Hubby and I shared a quiet moment and a tender embrace; we were back in the house!  Finally it was time for the kids to come in.  They were instructed to stay away from the questionable spot in the living room, but all of them were happy to comply as long as they could be in the house with us.  It was a very emotional time.  Even though there was still no running water, and no electricity we all just sat there enjoying the moment. 

We had listened to the weather report on the radio earlier in the day and it was supposed to storm that night.  Hubby and I looked at each other and went to the camper and grabbed our bedding.  I couldn't bear the thought of another stormy sleepless night.  Don't get me wrong, we were so blessed to have the camper, but we had some wicked storms, and I felt like I was in a tin can during those lightning shows.  As soon as the kids saw what we were doing, they quickly grabbed their bedding also!  Within a matter of minutes, we were all back in the house.  Each one of us enjoyed that first night back in the house, back in our own beds, as we knew, there was still a lot of work to be done.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In the Trenches...(chapter 2)

Life in the trenches is far from easy.  Seldom is there a day in our household without some sort of drama.  We have adjusted fairly well to the constant defiance, and tension.  As our children get older, we have witnessed many changes.  The tantrums and outbursts happen less frequently, as do the meltdowns.  For this I am so very thankful.  What used to be a daily (sometimes hourly) battle, has now become a monthly or bi-monthly battle, with smaller tantrums and fits in between. 

Recently (over the past several months), we have been experiencing a more intense battle.  The fits of attitude and defiance have grown unbearable, and turn into fits of rage and sometimes violence.  Our son can not control his anger, and often justifies his defiant behavior by blaming others.  I have found myself standing between a raging teenager and an angry husband/father way too many times.  It is amazing the emotions that roar when pushed to the extremes.  The relentless tension and emotional exhaustion drags a person to the very depths of hell, where you truly are on you knees begging for mercy.

The strain that raising RAD kids puts on families is unlike any other stress.  It destroys marriages, and leaves a path of destruction in each life that has been touched by it.  We desperately cling to our faith.  We believe that GOD has a plan for our lives and for our children.  We constantly remind ourselves that THIS was not our plan, it was GOD's.  

There needs to be more help available to families that deal with RAD kids.  We have been struggling with people not understanding what we deal with for almost 5 years now.  There have been many times where one of us (my husband or I) will throw our hands up in the air in defeat, and want to just give up, and be done.  It is a horrible, gut wrenching, heart shattering feeling to know that you could ever feel like giving up on someone that you love.  But to just want so desperately for the hurt to stop, for the anger to go away, for the storms to calm.  The battles that we endure bring up that fight or flight reaction, it rocks you to the very core.  When you are just simply exhausted, the only reaction left is purely primal and raw.

I have talked with many families with RAD kids that deal with very similar things.  They too feel alone in their struggles, and ashamed of what they deal with.  Unless you have experienced this, it is so hard to understand.  Families like ours need the love and support of many....not the ridicule and judgment.

I have found myself in a very heart breaking situation.  My husband and I are struggling to stay focused on GOD's plan.  The attacks  that we have endured recently have been so fierce that we can't hardly catch our breath before we are under attack again.  I am sharing this with you because I need something good to come out of this.  I need GOD to be glorified in this somehow.  Whatever storm we are in, I will seek HIM, and give HIM praise.  My husband left this morning for work angry and hurt.  There was yet another big blowout, and he just can't catch his breath.  He desperately needs to be filled up.  He left because he couldn't bear to be in the same house as our son.  I know we are not alone in our struggles.  There are hundreds of families that have faced this same situation.

One could imagine what this must do to the other children in the house also.  What a burden to carry.  It is hard to be a mom when you are trying to defuse a tense situation, and nurture and comfort your other children at the same time.  We love all of our children so much, and most times are able to take things in stride.  But as time goes on, and the battles intensify, we need to find more strength, we need to rely on others to fill us up.  That is a really hard thing to do, since most of the people we know have no clue what we deal with. For example we have sat in the same church for over a year now, and I don't believe that any of them understand or have any clue what we deal with. It is hard to open this part of our lives up to people.  It makes us feel very vulnerable, and because our reality is so extreme, we fear people just won't believe it.

As I sit here typing, I can almost guarantee that our son is at school going about his day as if nothing happened at all.  As my husband and I in our perspective places, sit in agony, our son is putting on his charm, and convincing the people around him that he is a delight. It is so frustrating. The other day I had a mom from school come up to me and tell me that her child had asked her what I was like, because she thought I might be mean.  I was so crushed.  I know that there have definitely been days when I don't wear a smile, and that other kids know when my child/children are grounded or have been in trouble.  But for someone to think I am a  mean person, just simply crushed me.  People don't see what we deal with, they don't see the torment that goes on at times, just as they can't see my pain from fibromyalgia, or our sleepless nights...they only pass judgement on a brief moment, a small glimpse of our life.  I wish that they could see the giggles, and the family game nights, and the sweet moments when my husband and I are slow dancing in our kitchen, and when the girls run in to join us, or the crazy times when I just can't seem to get a tune out of my head, and we all burst into song, everyone joining in.  But unfortunately, all too often, we are so exhausted emotionally, all anyone gets to see is that moment when we are holding our breath waiting to see if our child got in trouble at school that day, or if the attitude is going to continue, or maybe just maybe there was a change of heart.

Life is hard. Love is hard.  Here we are the day after Valentine's Day, and I am at war with love.  I am fighting, desperately clinging to it, waiting for it to prevail.  Love is a choice...did you know that?  It isn't something that someone can do for you to feel it...because things fade, gifts go away, flowers die, but if you make a choice, that can last and stand the tests of time.  I choose to love, I choose to hang on during the bad times. I don't know what this day will bring, or how things are going to unfold.  I know that I am going to continue to lift my husband in prayer, pray for my children, and work at following GOD's plan for our lives.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I caved....

I caved...big time.  Today I signed back onto my old facebook page.  It was just what I needed, moments after posting my return, I received many virtual warm welcomes.  I joke that with out facebook, life was boring and friendless... but in some ways it was truly a long and lonely experience.  Being a stay at home mom, often time for myself is hard to manage... and when you are friends with other SAHM's or even moms that work, it is hard to find time to socialize!

I had at one time felt tremendous guilt for even wanting to go back to the constant clutter of gripes, massive amounts of senseless pictures, and overdosing amounts of TMI, but then I remembered that there was more to it.  I felt supported, cared about, validated and heard.  In my craziness that I love to call my life, I need to have something outside my daily routine..and I need to reach out to others and try to be a light to the world.  I was missing prayer requests, deaths, births, friends needing help, and sharing their joys. 

When I left FB I had this romantic notion that I would be able to stay in contact with people via text, phone, email, and maybe just maybe, in person...but sadly, I was wrong.  It was way too easy to fall into the pit of social starvation in a world where no one picks up a pen or even dare to drop by unplanned, for a cup of coffee.  If you aren't connected by social media, you aren't connected.  It is truly sad...but it is our reality.  So, I caved.  I made a choice to stay connected with the people that I love...and even some I don't, on this crazy thing they call facebook.  I do however vow to keep my door open for those that dare stop in for a cup of coffee...a friend will always be greeted with a smile and hug and never be turned away.

Blessings to you all, may you be filled with the joys of friendship, and the warmth of a good hug from time to time. And never forget  the friend that may not be "connected", but still desires to feel included.

See you in on the www.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year, New Bathroom!!

This is a picture of our new master bath! We are SUPER excited to see something finished! :)

This was our Christmas present and New Years celebration all in one! We are pleased, and feel blessed to start the new year in a house with TWO bathrooms!!! :)