Monday, February 28, 2011

This and That

We are currently experiencing crazy weather in Georgia.  I've had the windows open for going on almost 3 weeks.  Yesterday and today it was 75 degrees and the trees are blooming and budding out.  Freaky deaky.  Big storms tonight. 

The birds are happily singing me awake every morning.  Love those spring sounds.

Trying to tie up loose ends so that I can blast out of here on Thursday morning.  I really should make a list but I'd rather torment myself by letting my brain spin with everything I need to accomplish before I leave.  Who knew I could be so excited about a 10 hour drive?  So looking forward to a weekend with people that I admire and adore.  Cannot. wait.

I spent Christmas and New Year's with the flu.  Today I started getting a sore throat.  E m e r g e n C in massive doses.  I. am. not. getting. sick. Nothing is going to mess this up.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

More on Embracing RAD

Thanks everyone for not beating me up on the last post.  It was a scary thing to put out there to bloggyland.

There's more to report.

So I've been keeping my mouth shut and waiting on the other shoe to drop and the blog fates to step in on this new HUGE step in J's healing heart.  She's holding her own so far and seems to be coming into another level of maturity as well. 

There's been one morning where she was a little iffy around the edges for a couple of hours and I was holding my breath waiting on it to sit and stay a while.  Immediately I went to her and told her I was so grateful for RAD that saved her life and I was glad he was still hanging around.  Now when I said it I was NOT genuine.  My tone was snide and dripping with sarcasm.  It. didn't. work.  Big surprise. :( We both took a time out.  A little bit later I was able to go with a genuine heart and thank RAD again and I apologized for being sarcastic before. I also told RAD that he deserved to have fun too because he'd been so busy saving J's life that he didn't have any time for fun before. Total change up.  Things that make you go hmmmmm.....

Lesson to myself a.g.a.i.n.:

 If I reject RAD I reject J because it is an inherent part of her. 

Now I have a big sticky note on the fridge that says "Thank you RAD for saving J's life" cause I need the visual reminder.  Then I put one on J's bulletin board that says,
"Thank you RAD for saving J's Life.

As you can see from the picture I am not crafty nor good penmanship mom.

That which I accept does not control me. 

Big "duh" moment for me.

Kristy had told us last week to start being thankful for ____________(insert whatever is the problem). 
Thank you for RAD.
Thank you for this problem.
Thank you for this chore that I don't want to do.

Well I didn't want to hear it and therefore didn't do it.  (Yes I was doing it on RAD but not on some other REALLY big, life changing, problems in our family.) So Kristy told us AGAIN this week.  J practiced in session over something that she didn't want to do.  When we came home she did it on her particular problem.  Then she opened her eyes and went about doing the thing she was just thankful for.  No complaints. As soon as she was finished she happily reported that it worked!  Well....I can't let my kid out-do me so I had to do it too.  It worked for me too.  I don't understand it but I don't have to.  I'm not one of those people who have to know why.  I just do it on faith.  I'm trying to do the same with all the changes in J.  Taking it on faith that we are on to something great here.

It is not lost on me that this goes hand in hand with my last post.

I wish someone had told me this 4 years ago.  WAIT! I wouldn't have listened 4 years ago.  I was too busy trying to exile RAD to have heard it.  This has been an enlightening and growing journey for me.  I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Embrace the RAD

Last week I did something I NEVER thought I'd do.  I embraced RAD.  Before you haul out and clobber me hear me out.  Pretty please.  I'm going to muddle through and try to splain myself.  If something doesn't make sense please let me know.

During therapy and all the explaining of attachment cycles (as in previous post), Kristy has been actively telling J's RAD brain that we appreciate it coming and protecting her when she was little.  BECAUSE if she didn't have RAD she would certainly be dead by now. There is no doubt about it.  It served a purpose to keep her alive and it worked.  BUT...that she could tell her RAD brain that it could take a little rest "if it wanted to" because now she had a mom that could handle it and protect her.  Our homework for the past few weeks was to daily tell her RAD brain how much we appreciated it coming to protect her when she needed it the most. y'all know about pink love right? ("Pouring" love in J by touching foreheads and humming sounds as it goes in.)  The color of her love is pink so that's why we call it by the color.  After every therapy session I "pour" pink love in her head.  I also give some to Little J.  Little J is the part of her that was so hurt when she was so young.  Little J needs love too.  No one was there for her.  No one saved her.  It was just one more trauma after another raining down on her.  Little J's love color is pink also.  Last week I had the stellar idea to ask her if RAD needed some love too.  She closed her eyes and asked RAD if it wanted love.  IT DID!  So then I told her to ask RAD what color it's love was.  She closed her eyes then said it was red.  Imagine that!  So then I told her I was going to give her some red love just for RAD and asked her if she would give it to "him." (she says her RAD brain is a boy).  I proceeded to pour red love into J's forehead that she was supposed to just give to RAD. 

I have been giving RAD red love every day whenever we do J's and Little J's pink love.  We have had 8 glorious days.  Like over-the-top, unbelievable, can't-believe-life-is-this-good, better-than-NT, is-this-really-my-kid days!!!  Freakily so because there hasn't even been a tiny little blip on the radar. 

Now you know the blog curses are going to get me.  I don't care.

Kristy and I always have a little 5 minute wrap up session without J after therapy.  Kristy was very proud that I thought to do this and also explained it as embracing all of her.  Just like I have so many different parts of myself and have to accept all of those parts, the good and bad, to be a whole and healthy person, so should I embrace all of J.  Let me tell you that it is HARD to tell RAD that you love it. envisioning RAD as what kept her alive and helped her survive during all the trauma I can indeed embrace it.  I do NOT focus on what it's like to live with RAD or the behaviors.  Only on the fact that RAD helped my daughter survive until she came home.  For that I am grateful and I can genuinely give RAD love for protecting my child. 

So I am consciously remembering that I am so appreciative of the people in my life that ACCEPT me and LOVE me.  All of me.  The good and the bad.  It's very freeing for someone to give me this acceptance.  Why should RAD be any different?  Don't we all want to be accepted unconditionally exactly where we are right now?  Am I not grateful for the people that protected me when I was a baby?  RAD was the only "person" that protected and "saved" her from volumes of abuse.  Shouldn't I be grateful for that?  Plus I have found that the more accepting I am of myself and others the more willing they are to reciprocate.

So I've forgiven RAD and am honoring and embracing it because it saved my daughter's LIFE and I've found a way to be grateful for it.  For today anyway I am embracing RAD.  With love.

Now you can clobber me.  Respectful clobbering will be published.  Mean clobbering.....probably not. :)

The quote of the day is from an anonymous friend.  We were emailing back and forth the other day and she made some profound statements.

"We have had struggles with our daughter since she was about 2 years old (adopted at birth), and I’ve just finally reached the point of being willing to call it attachment.  Therapeutic parenting works wonders with her, and ‘typical’ discipline is a flop!"

I get the being willing to call it attachment.....being willing to call it RAD.  It's tremendously frightening to admit and define what you're living in. Truthfully it doesn't matter what you call it.... just do the right things so that the problem will get better.  Do the right thing so the child can heal.  Just do it.

Attachment Cycle

During the course of attachment therapy, over the years, we have explained to J that she has RAD and shown her a diagram of healthy attachment and unhealthy attachment cycles. It was something I was really apprehensive about at first because I didn't want J to know that anything was wrong with her or for her to label herself OR to allow her to make excuses for her behavior OR teach her to see herself as a victim. Kristy honored my wishes cause she's awesome like that but I was wrong on so many levels.  It turned out to be a big mistake on my part because once we explained it to her you could see the relief in her eyes.  She had no idea WHY she had so much trouble or WHY she was so different from other kids.  She had felt lost because she didn't understand and it only exacerbated the problem.  She got it on the first explanation.   Now we remind her on an as needed basis.  Whether it's FAS or just different levels of healing, she needs to be reminded of it.  And the light bulb goes on again for her every. single. time. 

Kristy has a chart in her office that we use to explain this to her.  A diagram of the attachment cycle to use with our kids can be found here.  I'm going to print it out and use it at home as well. It certainly can't hurt.  On the first diagram, during the explanation, we explain what are some of the needs a baby has and what the mother does to meet the needs.  The second diagram we go through what the baby needs and how the mother doesn't meet the needs.  The last diagram we go through what happens with during the 2nd year of attachment and how the child learns limits and boundaries.  Now that J is healthier and been through these explanations a gazillion times she can rattle them off all by herself.  Every time she does she gets a little better because she internalizes them each time she says them.

Just sharing what has worked for us.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ginger Ale

Back in the fall we were in Asheville, NC to grab some pictures.  On Saturday night we discovered an eclectic, little restaurant called The Admiral.  We had to sit at the bar because we didn't have reservations.  The food was fabulous but before our food arrived the bartender/waiter handed J a glass of ginger ale to try.  Then he told us it was homemade and that they made it fresh every week and ran out of it a lot. I'm not surprised.  I had no idea that ginger ale could be that delicious.  The stuff you buy in the store is more like they waved a ginger root over a roomful of carbonated water and called it ginger ale. 

The bartender gave me a breakdown of about a dozen ingredients and I hastily scribbled them down on a napkin.  Then I lost the napkin.  AAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!  I remembered bitters, cayenne pepper, fresh grated ginger, sugar, lemon juice, grated lemon zest, lime juice and zest, black pepper, and a cinnamon stick.  The rest of it is a mystery.

Alton B had a pretty good starter recipe that called for yeast so it would "carbonate".  All Recipes had another recipe where some of the commenters left some great helpful hints including adding a lot more ginger.  Here's wiki "how to".  Vegetarian Times had this recipe.  I'm scared to death of any recipe with yeast.  Yeast never works out well for me.  Ever.   So I made a combo recipe from all of the links and using all the ingredients I remembered.  Boiled the ingredients sans yeast and let it steep for one hour and strained it once cooled.  Then poured over ice (1ish - 2ish parts) and added club soda.  It is soooooo good.

Whenever I am sick I really crave ginger ale.  But I would never, ever make this recipe when I'm sick so I freeze some individual servings to keep on hand in case of emergency.  I make this recipe on regular basis.  We LOVE it!  It's not as good as the ale at The Admiral but it'll do in a pinch.

Someday I'm going to be brave and try the yeast version.  Someday......

We all know it's great for colds and stomach aches but did you know that a beverage steeped with a good amount of ginger is a more powerful pain reliever than mor phine?  I've been told that by several herbalists/health food stores so I'm taking that it's pretty true.  No wonder I like this stuff! :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Andy and Kiara

Allow me to introduce Kiara who commented on my crunchy post last night.  In case you don't go back and read comments here it is:

I commented last night about our whipped body and hair butter, and Lisa said it's okay to share more. (Thanks, Lisa!)

We are selling our whipped body and hair butters right now as an adoption fundraiser.

If you'd like to try some, you can have a free tub if you blog, twitter, or FB about our fundraiser and I'll send you some!

Check out our family blog if you'd like to learn more.  (or click on my pic to see my profile and link.)

Thanks! :)

There's more right here about Kiara's fab body butters and lip balms.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Homemade Crunchy Stuff

 This past 6 months has been the trying of "all things homemade".  So far it's working out wonderfully well.

In the effort to be better to the environment, better to our bodies and save money I wanted to try some homemade products.  OK...I'll be totally honest, this is in the wrong order.  It's really to SAVE money, be better to our bodies and then better to the environment.  And....truthfully I really wanted to be able to pronounce the ingredients in some of our daily product usage.  I have been more than pleasantly surprised that I LOVE all the products below BETTER than the store bought products that I used before.  They only take mere minutes to make and I don't have to shell out big bucks for things I can do simply at home.  Once I got in the groove it has turned out to be so much easier than I ever expected. 

Sheri made me get off my hiney and start making homemade laundry detergent and I LOVE it.  I still have to add a cup of bleach to our whites every couple of weeks but that's no biggy.  The stuff lasts f.o.r.e.v.e.r.
1 tablespoon for medium loads and 2 for large loads. And the price savings is huge.  It cost me about $3.00 to make enough detergent for about 6 months.  On the next batch I'm going to use Dr. Bonner's peppermint bar soap instead of Pels N aptha just to give it a try (mainly because I love peppermint).  I put off doing this forever because most of the recipes called for a 5 gallon bucket and lots of water.  I did not want to have to go out in the garage and refill a container of laundry detergent every few weeks nor did I want a 5 gallon bucket sitting in my laundry room.  Then my next stall was that I did not have any idea how the dry soap would work with my front loading washing machine.  Discovery: It works great!!  Here's another recipe from SouleMama.

Sheri is also responsible for getting me off household cleaners.  It took some convincing but we now use a spray bottle of vinegar-water and a sprinkling of baking soda to clean the fiberglass showers, sinks, toilets, dirty pans, etc., vinegar water also cleans our counter tops, windows, and mirrors as well.  It works like a charm.  To dust we use a warm damp (well wrung out) dusting cloth.  It works better than furniture polish and the damp cloth works better than those electrostatic thingys at holding the dust.  We just wash it out between rooms.

My shower is marble with clear glass doors.  Hate, hate, hate those clear glass panels.  They're a pain in the arse to clean.  Then I found a recipe (have no idea where) for a daily shower cleaner (green bottle above).  3 parts rubbing alcohol, 1 part water and about 10 drops of jet d r y.  I mist the shower walls down while they're still wet, let them sit while I dry myself off then squeegee the walls down before I get out.  Takes all of 30 seconds. Then I spray the shower floor every fews days.  I don't rinse it or wipe it down.  I also keep a bottle of bleach-water mixture (white bottle) to spray the mildew when it decides to rear it's ugly head.  I haven't had to "clean" my shower in months.  Seriously. (I think the original recipe called for 2 parts alcohol but I decided more had to be better cause that's how I roll.)

Then we move on to the no-poo.   Sarah Beam (Big Mama's daughter and just for the record they are both as beautiful, witty, charming and entertaining in real life as they are on their blogs) convinced me on to no-poo. You're going to seriously think this is crazy but I've discovered that I love it and my perpetual dandruff has disappeared.  My hair is so long and curly I haven't been able to do the homemade conditioner and am still looking for a good recipe.  For the no-poo I boil my water (to get rid of chlorine, hard water stuff, etc.) for a few minutes then dissolve my baking soda in the boiling water.  Put it on the counter to cool for a few minutes then pour in the bottle.  A bottle typically lasts me about a month.  The trick to making it work is to apply to dry hair and on the scalp only.  My routine after applying is to gently scrub my scalp then wash my face while letting the no-poo sit on my hair for a minute.  Then rinse.  Easy peasy.  The bottle on the right is apple cider vinegar-water which I use as a rinse about once every couple of weeks after conditioning.  (I only use conditioner on the ends.) Too much ACV dries my hair out but if used prudently really makes it shine.  Crunchy Betty writes about no-poo here and here.  High on Health wrote "Would you shampoo your brain?" here.

Moving on to toothpaste.  Not sure how this one is going to work out for my really sensitive teeth so more will be revealed later. This powder recipe is from Crunchy Betty who I believe got it from someone else. It's baking soda, salt and ground cloves.  It tastes delicious.  When this is gone and my peppermint oil is here (I always keep peppermint oil cause it makes everything better) I'm going to try CB's recipe here.  I didn't know that peppermint kills bacteria.  Double bonus for bad breath.

Now we're on to facial cleaners and moisturizers.  No more.  I've learned to do the Oil Cleansing Method and no longer have to buy either of those products anymore.  I had serious reservations about this because I have mixed up skin.  It's dry, oily, scaly, and acne prone.  So I had some serious doubts.  Was I ever surprised!  Seriously loving this.  Great for wrinkles, fine lines and my face feels delish.  Gotta love that.  CB did a post on it last week so rather than look up my recipe I'll point you in her direction at this post.  I've gone with the castor, avocado and apricot kernel oils with a drop or two of lavender or tea tree oil.  I do the OCM before I go to bed and only hot wash my face in the shower in the morning with no soap/cleaners.  Works like a charm.  Also, be sure and check out CB's facial masks, scrubs, lip balms, etc. She's got some great recipes.

That's enough for tonight.  Coming soon.....homemade deodorant, dishwasher detergent, body wash, ginger ale and hair color.  The hair color business could be interesting. 

Does anybody have any homemade product recipes they'd like to share?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

J's Post and Mine

From Mom:
We had a great day in therapy today. We talked about J helping other RAD kids that Kristy sees.  She has a monthly group therapy with other RAD kids and she does really well with helping others.  The other kids love it too because they realize they aren't alone.  While we were talking about it I brought up the idea of doing it through J's blog and that she could talk with other RAD kids to help them figure out ways to help themselves and to turn off their RAD brains.  Then we started brainstorming and came up with a plan that if you (the Mom) could ask your child if they would like to talk to another child with RAD to help them if they are radding out on you (not if they're going to destroy the computer in the process) but if they are stuck.  Then we could set up a time and use Sk ype for the kids to talk to each other to figure out their problems.  We all thought it might be helpful but it would have to be at our (the mom's) discretion.  J could share her toolbox and give them ideas.  Hopefully it would be great for all involved.  We thought we'd give it a try.
So if any of y'all want to try it let me know and we'll see how it goes.  Guess we have nothing to lose.

J tried to get her blog up this afternoon to post this.  It didn't work and neither of us could log in.  The email we were using before isn't working anymore. At least I think it's the email we were using. It said it would send us an email to let us know the login.  So didn't work.  Ack.

From J:

Dear kids,
In case you don't know I have RAD just like you.  I would like to be able to help you if you're stuck in your RAD brain.  I know how it feels to be RAD and to be stuck and stubborn.  You're not alone. It's not a fun thing to have RAD.  Actually it's pretty miserable.  The good news is that I have a lot of tools in my toolbox and I'll be glad to share them with you.  I would like to help you get over this and learn how to feel love and trust.  I'm still learning and it gets better every day.  I used to have no good days, then I started having a few good hours, then good day and then more days.  Now I have more good days than RAD days.  If I can do it you can too!!!!!!!!!   Ask your mom if you can Sk ype with me and maybe we can help each other.  Remember you are not alone!

I also need to let you know that I'm pretty shy and may be nervous the first time we sk ype but I get over it in a few minutes.  Please be patient with me.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Little Valentine

We took off after lunch making tracks for the big city. Staying in a hotel, enjoying the pool, and sushi across the street.

Taking off from school in the morning for a late breakfast, and more swimming. Heading home tomorrow after lunch with a short stop to renew my passport.

I received an I p a d for valentine's day. Trying to blog on it is really frustrating. Commenting is worse. Internet went down yesterday (and phone too but who cares about the phone???) but it's supposed to be repaired by the time we get home. Wish the I pa d keyboard matched the iph on e.

Just discovered there is no hot water in the shower! Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh
Considering I don't think I'm clean unless scalded this is terrible. Ack!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Growing Love

I took this picture Tuesday night because it made me think that we're purposefully growing love.  We're being pushed away, stomped on, kicked, bit, spit on, peed on, pooped on, challenged in ways we did not think possible, and we still keep on planting our love, feeding it, regulating the temperature for optimum growth, nurturing it, singing to it, encouraging it, soothing it, keeping it safe and protected....we keep on growing the love.  No matter the obstacles in our path.  Sometimes we have to start over with better soil, light, conditions....but we keep on keeping on.  We do what needs to be done. 

The Love Farmers.  That's us.

The importance of growing the love in me is not lost.  This is something that I have to do to be able to grow J's love.  Feeding my is an important way to feed myself beauty and love.  If I'm keeping myself in the optimum growing environment beautiful things happen between my child and I.  As mother's it's a hard job to do.  There is always something else that needs to be done and we are forgotten.  We can't forget ourselves.

What are some things that you do to grow your love?

Sunday, February 6, 2011


If my kid turns you to a puddle of mush you're not the only one.  I haven't read the comments to J yet but I will when she's through with school tomorrow.  She will be thrilled.  I totally meant to do it after school today.  Yes, she did school today.  Transitions are still difficult for her so we decided in therapy to go 7 days a week for a little bit to see if it would help her.  We don't do full school days on the weekends but enough that we stay in the groove.

 Diana wrote a great post yesterday but this paragraph really hit me like a ton of bricks.  "All that crazy crap they pull isn’t about the purposely being naughty or hateful or manipulative. It is about them t trying to survive in a world they believe is out to get them. Given that perspective, what they’re doing IS perfectly logical and rational to them. Does it really make sense to punish them for that? Not really. Doing so will only increase their already off the charts fear, stress, and cortisol levels."

Do you know how long it took me to get that?  Like 3 forevers.  Seriously probably about 3.5 years.  I am so slow sometimes and it's so easy to see all the behaviors and not see what is driving it.  The really sad thing is that I probably wasn't able to internalize it until J was able to verbalize life as she saw it.  I am so hoping that she will go back to posting on her blog again.  She gets so frustrated because she has a processing disorder where she has trouble getting the thoughts from her brain to the computer keys (or pencil).  But...when she is able to express her thoughts she grows so much emotionally.  Then when she gets positive affirmations from y'all her self-esteem gets a huge boost.

I watched Op rah this week (gasp) with Goldie H awn and the topic was happiness.  They stressed many things that are great for happiness.  O challenged people to meditate for 1 minute every day for 10 days.  I've never included J in my meditations but after seeing this program I decided to give it a go.  It couldn't hurt. We sat in the strong sitting position, facing each other, with a birthday candle lit for a focus point in between us.  We did it until the candle burned about 1/4 of the way down (about 3 minutes). It was very cool.  I wrote J's meditation on a piece of paper and gave it to her.  She memorized it but kept it laying on the floor in front of her in case she forgot. Hers was "peace" (silently) on the inhale and "love" on the exhale.  Mine was (because I'm always feeling like there isn't enough of me to go around to remember to take care of me), "I'm here for me." on inhale and "I'm here for you" on exhale.  A couple of times I had to remind her to breathe from her "tummy" but she really did great.

Practicing deep breathing is really good for our kids.  It's incredibly calming and soothing for both of us.  That is when I don't get caught up in life and actually remember to do it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

From J

Dear RAD moms and RAD kids,

Thank you very much for the comments and noticing how hard I've worked on my RAD stuff.  It makes me very happy to help other RAD kids and RAD moms.  RAD moms have a really, really hard job helping their kids.  RAD kids have a really, really hard job trying to get better because they're really, really terrified even if they won't admit it.  That makes it harder for RAD moms.  Someday if they work really hard they'll be able to tell you thank you for helping them.  Maybe if they can't tell you now I'll tell you for them, "thank you for working so hard to help your kids get over RAD. Keep telling your kids that love is stronger than fear.  Love is stronger than anything in whole wide world.

I'm sorry that we make life hard on RAD moms.  We don't really mean to it's because we were hurt so much. 

I'm thinking about going to work on my blog. My mom and I'll talk about it and we'll see.  I don't like typing so my Mom typed this for me.  If I write on my blog I have to do all the typing.  I'm not crazy about that.

Ms. Corey, my mom read your blog to me.  You were so smart not to make a big production over V's "you".  She would have exploded.  You're a smart mom!  It makes me very happy that V was able to tell you she cares about you.  I know that was hard for her.  Tell V don't ever quit, it' s worth the hard work to feel love.  Love is really beautiful and you have a lot more fun when you figure out it's not so scary.

Keep hope.  We're worth it.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Recovery Day

Thanks so much for all the supportive comments.  I get by with a little help from my friends. :)

Today is a little better and I'm not a puddle of snot.  By lunch the swelling had gone down enough that I could actually see.  The headache (always get one when I cry) is subsiding.

There will be more to come, I'm sure.  Grief always rears it's ugly head at the most unexpected time.

This afternoon I decided to take J to the Big City to get some sushi, in an attempt to make it up to her for being such a lame parent yesterday.  Ummmm, made it almost inside the perimeter and discovered it was sleeting mixed with freezing rain.  Guessing I was a pretty lame mom today too since it never occurred to me to check the weather.  I made a u turn and tried to beat it back home. 

I forgot to tell you how much your comments meant to J.  It boosted her self-esteem in ways that are still showing themselves.  Honestly I think her self-esteem grew three sizes on Saturday.  Her face beamed and her giggle box turned over.  Thank you so much for giving her such a tremendous gift.  And....she loves it when she thinks she's helping other kids.  She had some things she wanted to say to you and I was going to let her post today but I completely forgot and she's gone to bed.  We'll try to do that tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Today has been the hardest day.  I'm not sure what happened but I think grief has finally arrived. 

I've been waiting on it....wishing it would hurry up and get here so I could get it over with.'s here now.


I've started crying (this morning) and I can't seem to stop.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Comments and emails from folks asking about self-regulation.  Here's your post:
It's different for everyone.  Some of the most helpful things for me have been:

Al-Anon - I had several years of Al-Anon working on my stuff and practicing detachment with love prior to getting J.  Detachment with love is something that is extremely hard to do and I'm grateful I had years of practice before J.  With RAD kids you have to take a step back and not let them poke you with a stick, like Corey describes.  It is beyond hard.  Working on my stuff is incredibly hard too.  Dang.  I. do. not. want. to. do. it.  Christine got it right, as always, right here.

Therapy - I have an hour every week before J to continue working on my many issues.  At the moment Kristy has me reading The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Know to Make Love Work by Terrence Real (no, I am not getting married) and True Love by Thich Nhai Hanh  and (gasp) doing the exercises in the book. Both books are excellent and money well spent.  I made the mistake of getting New Rules on k i n dle and hated it because I couldn't highlight all the profound passages to death.  So then I had to order the paperback.  True Love is an easy read but very profound book.  One of the exercises is to meditate for a minute on "Dear One, I know that you are suffering, that is why I am here for you."  I'm practicing it in all areas of my life but it's especially helpful with J.  This book has really touched my heart and is making me more open to seeing things differently and framing situations differently.

I rub on my sore spots.  Sometimes I do it in front of J (because I think it's good for her to see me using tools to help myself), sometimes I go hide in the bathroom.

Even though I'm having a really hard time right now, I'm a totally great person.
Even though I'm feeling like a crappy mom today, I'm a totally great person.
Even though I'm exhausted and drained, I'm a totally great person.

Even though I don't think I can do this RAD thing one more minute, I'm a totally great mom.
Even though I don't know how I'm going to make it through the day, I'm a totally great person.
Even though I'm so frustrated with J, I'm a totally great person.

The psychological reversals (rubbing) work almost immediately for me (and J).  I don't know why.  I don't care.  It only matters that it works. 

Call/email another RAD mom.

Last but certainly not least - I put myself in a mommy time out.  Everyone goes to their rooms and I get just a few minutes alone.  Once I have regulated myself I can then help regulate my daughter.  If I don't get regulated things go downhill fast.  My newest thing is to do the mantra above from True Love while hiding in my bathroom.  It helps.

I have all of these tools posted on the fridge.  I need to have them handy when the crazy happens.  Cause when the crazy happens I can't think.  So the note on the fridge thinks for me so that I don't have to spiral down with my kid.

Please share what you do for regulation... I would love to hear your ideas.



I used to believe that kids didn't remember stuff in the pre-verbal stage. But they do. Younger children remember it and it comes out in behaviors. Memories will return even if the children were very young. I've had several therapists tell me of children straight out of the womb having body memories of being placed with another mom, being moved, adopted, abuse, etc. Babies that have no concept of time will have body memories and then have behavioral issues around the same time every year. Their body will instinctively know and remember a trauma that occurred. How???? I have no idea. I do know it's another stellar reason to wear your baby if at all possible.

If you can make it to the end (this post is long - I'm sorry) there is info to give teachers so they can help your kid too.

There's little bit about it here. has a link to some info here.

Honestly, with 3 plus years of living and breathing PTSD and trauma anniversaries it's hard to explain all of it here. Articulating this subject is very difficult because it's so complex.

On 12/1/09 we found out in therapy that J was sent to the cellar (her words) a lot. Today she stated that she was made to sleep in the cellar quite a bit and sent there for behaviors to sit in the dark with dirt walls. She was with this foster family on and off from the time she was 9 months old until she was 5. Explains why she is off the charts terrified of dark areas. We're not talking typical scared of the dark stuff. You can see the PTSD in her eyes. Total fight or flight response to dark areas, (closets, when it's becoming dusk before we turn the lights on....). It has become much better over time but you can see it as soon as it is triggered.

In case you fall asleep before the end....remember to shake it to help trauma body memories!  Yes. It works.

I found a pretty good explanation online by Kelley Gallagher but blogger wouldn't let me do the link so I've copied and pasted here:

I don't agree with all of the helpful information but it does give you a general overview and what works for one child might not work for another so take what works as you know your child better than anyone.

Children & Trauma

Children who are old enough to laugh and experience pleasure, can and do experience trauma.

Trauma is a sudden, unexpected, dramatic, forceful or violent event which involves emotional shock and mental confusion. It may involve bodily harm such as physical/sexual abuse or domestic violence. However, trauma also refers to the overwhelming, uncontrollable experiences that psychologically impact victims by creating feelings of helplessness, vulnerability, loss of safety, and loss of control (James, Bevery, 1989). Traumatic events may be violent or non-violent.

Traumatic experiences shake the foundation of a child’s belief system—destroying their sense of safety and security, shattering their assumptions of trust, and challenging their faith in the future.

Trauma has a profound impact on the emotional, cognitive, behavioral, social and physical functioning of children. Experiencing a traumatic event/ or series of events overwhelms the coping skills commonly used to handle expected problems in life, and strips children of their sense of safety and security

According to the National Institute for Trauma & Loss in Children, the number of children in the United States exposed to a traumatic event in a one year period exceeds 4 million. Children are exposed to trauma as surviving victims, as witnesses to violent or non-violent incidents, by being related to the victim as a family member, friend, peer, or simply because they live in the same community or go to the same school, and/or by simply listening to the details of the traumatic incident.

Trauma or Grief?

Trauma reactions are different from grief reactions. Trauma reactions overpower grief reactions.

This information taken from What Parents Need to Know, by William Steele, TLC Institute, 1997


Generalized reaction is SADNESS

Grief reaction stand alone

Grief reactions are generally known to the public and the professional

In grief, most can generally talk about what happened

In grief, pain is the acknowledgement of the loss

In grief, anger is generally non-destructive and non-assaultive

In grief, child says “I wish I would/would not have…”

Grief generally does not attack nor “disfigure” our self image

In grief, dreams tend to be of the deceased

Grief generally does not involve trauma reactions like flashbacks, startle reactions, hypervigilance, numbing, etc.


Generalized reaction is TERROR

Trauma reactions generally include grief reactions

Trauma reactions, especially in children, are largely unknown to the public and professionals

In trauma, most do not want to talk about what happened

In trauma, pain triggers tremendous terror and an overwhelming sense of powerlessness and loss of safety

In trauma, anger often becomes assaultive even after non-violent trauma

Trauma guilt says, “It was my fault. I could have prevented it.”

Trauma generally attacks, distorts and “disfigures” our self image

In trauma, dreams are about self and potential victim

Trauma involves grief reactions in addition to trauma specific reactions

Responses to Trauma

Traumatic events may cause both physical and psychological reactions in children. A child’s reaction will depend upon the severity of the trauma, prior exposure to trauma, developmental phase, personality makeup, characteristic coping style, and the availability of support to assist the child in understanding and working through the traumatic event.

1. Re-experiencing

a. Intrusive or involuntary thoughts and/or images

b. Recurring nightmares or bad dreams

c. Reenactments of the traumatic event in play

d. Physical reactions/ Somatic complaints when exposed to events that are similar to or symbolize the traumatic event (headaches, stomach aches, etc.)

2. Avoidance

a. Cognitive – unwilling to talk about it

b. Emotional—dissociative reaction

c. Physical – avoids reminders or displaces fear into other situations

3. Hyperarousal

a. Sleep disturbance

b. Irritability or outbursts of anger

c. Difficulty concentrating

d. Hypervigilance or overprotectiveness—extreme concern with self or other’s safety, anxious in crowds, seeking out “safe places”…

e. Exaggerated startle response

f. Attachment reactions—wanting to sleep with parent, not wanting to be alone, clinging…

Trauma reactions can be mistaken for depression, oppositional behaviors, anger and aggression (behavior disorders), attention deficits and attachment problems.

-TLC Institute

Traumatized Children Need:

1. To know they are not alone with their terror and grief

2. To hear the stories and see the reactions of peers also traumatized by similar events

3. The opportunity to express their feelings of sadness, fear, terror, guilt, etc.

4. Tools to allow them to express and experience their feelings in a safe place

5. To learn that their reactions are normal

6. The opportunity to re-attach emotionally to the adult world which they often perceive to have betrayed them by letting this traumatic event happen

7. To have time and trauma-specific attention needed to help them find relief from their terror and develop a sense of power

8. To replace the terror and the sadness with happy memories

-What Color is Your Hurt, TLC, William Steele

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder


Although most research on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been done with combat veterans, research and interest in childhood PTSD has been growing over the past 5-10 years. Children exposed to traumatic events may have a range of PTSD symptoms, behavior disorders, anxieties, phobias, and depressive disorders (Schwarz and Perry, 1994).

Many children exhibit signs and symptoms of PTSD following a traumatic event. However, when the symptoms persist for over one month or when the symptoms greatly interfere with the child’s ability to participate in daily activities, close attention should be given to that child and his/ her needs. Some traumatic events continue to be overwhelming to both children and adults long after the trauma has ended. Trauma is especially challenging to children because they are still developing their sense of self, have a limited perspective on life due to their age, and have a limited repertoire of coping mechanisms.

It is important that the child receive a comprehensive assessment by a licensed mental health professional to make an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan. However, it is helpful to understand the basis symptoms of PTSD in order to make accurate referrals and suggestions to families:

Re-experiencing the traumatic event (thoughts, dreams, and play themes).

For example, you may observe children:

• Repeatedly acting out traumatic events/ themes in play.

• Reporting distressing dreams about the trauma or sleep disturbance.

• Feeling distressed when exposed to events that resemble the trauma or at the time of the anniversary of the trauma.

• Acting or feeling as if the trauma is happening again.

Avoidance anything that may remind the individual of the trauma and

A general numbness to all emotional topics.

For example, you may observe children:

• Avoiding all activities that remind the child of the traumatic event.

• Withdrawing from other people/ changing friendships, etc.

• Having difficulty feeling positive/ happy emotions.

Increased “arousal” symptoms/ Increased anxiety.

• Having difficulty falling or staying asleep.

• Appearing irritably or quick to anger

• Having difficulty concentrating.

• Heightened startle response.

The symptoms that the child is dealing with must be interfering with the ability to participate in daily activities: school, family interactions, etc.

A Developmental Look at Trauma

Information adapted from The Scared Child, by B. Brooks, PhD, & P. Siegel.

Infants & Toddlers (Birth to One Year)

It can be very difficult to determine a very young child’s response to traumatic events due to the limited ability of these children to communicate verbally. However, it is important to look for changes in a young child’s behaviors. Children who have been trough a traumatic experience may exhibit the following signs of distress:

• Increased fussing/ irritability.

• Loss of developmental steps already achieved.

• Inability to progress developmentally.

An infant will not be diagnosed with PTSD—However, infants do experience trauma and need assistance in reclaiming a sense of safety, security, and trust. Problems will persist and increase if a sense of safety and security is not reestablished for the infant.

Preschoolers (Two to Five Years)

Preschoolers live in a world that combines their understanding of reality with magical thinking. Events that happen in sequence are believed to have a cause-effect relationship. For example, if a preschooler yells at his/her mother and later that day his/ her mother and father get into a physical altercation—the preschooler will often feel that they caused the altercation. In addition, preschoolers are egocentric. They believe that the world revolves around their needs. Finally, preschoolers often do not tell their parents/ caregivers about their fears/ feelings. They don’t have the words to express what is going on inside of them. Look for these signs of distress:

• Increased anxiety, clinging behaviors, fear of separation.

• Developmental regression.

• Aggressive play with peers.

• Playing the same game over and over again.

• Expression of magical thinking… “Daddy left because I was bad”.

• Expression of having positive feelings about an activity without the physical expressions to validate this feeling. For example, some children will report enjoying an activity while appearing sad, sullen, withdrawn, and fearful.

School Aged (Six to Twelve Years)

School aged children have a more realistic outlook and awareness about traumatic events. This is helpful in creating an understanding of the event. However, this is also challenging because school aged children are aware of the real threats of this world. School aged children also understand the impact of their feelings on others. They may stay isolated following a traumatic event to protect others from their feelings. Look for signs of distress including:

• Reverting to developmentally immature behaviors.

• Self blame for traumatic events.

• Reckless behaviors that may result from the knowledge of not being able to control all events in his/ her world.

• Significant changes in school performance.

• Difficulty concentrating or becoming intensely focused on schoolwork to the exclusion of having fun.

• Increased defiance/ rule testing.

• Changes in friendships.

• Sleep disturbance.

• Increased aggression.

• Magical thinking and increased fears.

Adolescence (Thirteen to Eighteen Years)

Adolescents have a grown-up grasp of reality of the traumatic situation. However, their behaviors will swing from that of a mature adult to that of a very young child. It is important to watch for signs of PTSD in this population.

• Many adolescents believe that only peers can understand what they are going through. However, a marked change in an adolescent’s relationship with parent(s) should be noted.

• Increase in risky behaviors, such as experimenting with drugs, sexual activity, and truancy. Adolescents who experience a traumatic event often feel that the future in limited. They have a belief that whatever they are working for could be taken away without warning.

• Negative self-image.

• Feeling of powerlessness.

• Engaging in revengeful fantasies and feeling guilty about these fantasies.

• Isolation from friends/ others. This may signify depression and increased risk for suicide.

Treatment Options & Types of Community Referrals

Traumatized children have special therapeutic needs. They have a difficult time trusting new adults and building a secure relationship in which to explore the traumatic event. Therapy is aimed at assisting children in reprocessing the trauma in a safe and supportive environment. In addition, children may need to change previous patterns of helplessness and feel more in control of their lives by developing new coping skills, self expression tools, and problem solving methods. There are a variety of treatment options that may work alone or together to assist children experiencing the painful symptoms of PTSD.

Behavior Therapy: Behavior therapy works to address the child’s intrusive thoughts and behavior patterns created by the trauma. Children also learn relaxation techniques, identification of feelings, and connection between feelings and behaviors.

Cognitive Therapy: Cognitive therapy assists the child in identifying their personal values, goals, and the influence of the trauma on the child’s thoughts/ behaviors. Cognitive therapy may also help the child to reinterpret traumatic events and feelings in more positive ways.

Art & Play Therapy: Art and play therapy are particularly useful with young children because play is a comfortable mechanism/ tool for children to express themselves—using toys/ materials as words. Story telling, problem solving, re-experiencing trauma, communicating feelings, and releasing feelings are all part of the therapeutic process.

Family Therapy: Family therapy is also helpful as it offers parents and siblings a supportive environment to share their fears/ feelings/ and reactions. Caregivers are provided with guidance and education on ways to support their child and take care of their own needs following a traumatic event.

Group Therapy: Group therapy can also be helpful in encouraging children to share their experiences and reactions to similar traumatic events. Group members help one another to normalize the feelings, fears, and behaviors that are problematic for children following traumatic events.

Medication: Medication can be helpful in curbing the symptoms of PTSD. The symptom relief that medication provides may assist the child in participating more effectively in supportive therapy options outlined above. Medications may be able to assist with severe anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances.

Helping Children at Home

Suggestions adapted from the National Association of school Psychologists.

Trauma & Children handout compiled by P. J. Lazarus, Ph.D. Florida International University.

1998 National Association of School Psychologists, 4340 East West Highway, Suite 402, Bethesda, MD 20814

• Establish a sense of safety and security. Children need to feel protected, safe, and secure. Be sure that all basic emotional needs are met including love, care, and physical closeness. Spend extra time with the child to let them know that you care about them and want to provide comfort and security.

• Listen to the child’s words and behaviors. Adults frequently worry about saying the right thing at the right time—it is perhaps more important to actively listen to the child in a nonjudgmental way. Children are often reluctant and inexperienced at telling their story of the trauma. It can be very helpful to ask the child what they feel other children would think/ feel about the event. In addition, children have an easier time talking about what they saw, smelled, heard, and physically felt during the event. It is more difficult to attach feeling words to these experiences.

• Help the child retell or reexperience his/ her story. Children need to retell their version of the traumatic event or reenact this experience in play. This is a big step in the healing process. Once the child has put words to their perception of events, they may repeat the story over and over again. Adults should listen supportively to the retelling of this story. Reenacting the trauma in play may also occur repeatedly. This experience offers the child the opportunity to make sense of the trauma and perhaps to gain mastery or a sense of control over the trauma.

• Validate the child’s feelings. Help children to understand that all their feelings are acceptable. Children will most likely express a multitude of difficult and contradicting feelings that may include guilt, shame, rage, anger, sadness, pain, isolation, loneliness, and fear. Children need to understand that all of their feelings are “normal”.

• Allow children the opportunity to regress as necessary. Regression is one way that many children “emotionally regroup”. Try very hard to be patient and not to ridicule—regression is usually a temporary coping strategy.

• Clear up misconceptions. Help the child to understand important details of the traumatic event. Include detailed information about safety plans, prevention, and security issues.

• Educate yourself about trauma and crisis. The more you understand about the traumatic events that the child experienced, the more confident you will be in assisting the child to achieve a positive resolution.

• Affirm that your children are capable of coping and healing after the trauma. Reinforce that children can heal from traumatic events. Outline the people who are available to the child for love, support, and security.

• Seek professional consultation and encourage mental health treatment if necessary. Find mental health professional who has experience working with traumatized children. Keep in mind that asking for help can be very difficult for the parent(s) due to their own challenging feelings and beliefs about the traumatic event(s). Much support may be needed to identify the need for and to facilitate this community referral.

Tips for Teachers

Your students may be tired – you might want to provide some extra quiet time with soft music. Stress to the children to go to bed early.

Your students may startle easily – they are on the look out for danger – keep distractions to a minimum and keep your regular routine.

Your students may become more irritable, aggressive and acting tough – keep firm expectations in place. They are feeling powerless.

Your students may forget what they have just learned – instruct in short chunks of time with lots of psychomotor activity – drawing, cutting, creating, etc.

Your students may regress in their behaviors – remind them they are to talk like, act like “big girls, big boys,” etc. in a gentle way.

Your students might withdraw and want less to do with their friends – encourage them to participate in activities.

Your students might develop school problems you haven’t seen before – stay firm but loving, chances are when things are calm, the problems will go away.

Your students might have more stomach aches, head aches, etc. – push them gently to stay in school.

Your students might fixate on one issue that is happening in his life – allow him to talk through it – he is trying to gain power over it.

Your students will need more nurturing. They may want to be physically closer to you. We need to do all we can to let our students know they are safe with us at school, and we are there for them. Abandonment is a major fear for children.

Minimize homework – they may not have help at home.

This is a good time for writing about different feelings in journals. This is a good time to draw pictures of them also.

Take extra breaks during the day. Physical exercise is very important to release stress.

Give honest brief answers to children’s questions. You may be the best source of information they have.

Create opportunities for children to talk with each other.

If a child keeps asking the same question over and over again, it’s because they are trying to make sense out of their confusion.

Keep your sense of humor and bright outlook on life – you may be the only stable person in your student’s life.