Ewww That Smell

I mentioned in my one of my last posts that I would talk about the ninos and their smell.

Well, here goes.

When our little guys and girl came to us almost two years ago they were coming from different foster homes. Chief and Nana were in the same home. The other boys were separated too. So four kids, three different homes. Yet they all had the same funky smell. They didn’t smell per se. It was their clothes. It took months to get that funk out. They all were in clean homes too and ours was a clean home.

I talked to another adoptive mom about it. How no matter what I used, how many scented beads I shook into the washer, their clothes still smelled. She said her boys did too. Stress related. She can actually tell when one of hers would be lying by his smell.

I did some researching, just a bit to see how studied this really is. Here is what I found:

http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/signs/body-odor

http://www.springdaleclinic.com/how-does-anxiety-cause-body-odor/

http://www.medhelp.org/posts/Anxiety/Aniexty-and-body-odor/show/5052

There isn’t really much info on kids from foster care “smelling”, but there is evidence that anxiety and body odor can be related. There are also other types of B.O. that golly, I really didn’t know existed. B.O. I’d rather not mention here.

Recently I posed this question/topic on a foster/adopt Facebook page. The result was better than the internet search. Yes, it really is a “thing”. No matter what kid. No matter the background. No matter the age. They all came with some kind of smell. Some reported taking a year to get rid of the smell. Other than the stress factor others suggested they kids diets as well.

Brave Little Solider

The Wednesday before New Year’s the General suffered a broken leg. Long story short, he got tripped.

img_2068All of the boys were playing in the playroom and I was getting dressed after my shower when I heard loud, painful crying. I quickly went to see what was wrong. Oldest son had the General on our counter trying to see what was wrong. He started taking off his shoes, nothing, except crying. The General wouldn’t tell us were the pain was. We took off his pants, nothing except crying. Even thought we couldn’t see anything amiss I knew something wasn’t right. I took him unto my bathroom away from the crowd (sometimes our family can be a crowd) to see if he’d calm down. After about 5 minutes we were all on our way to the ER.

After about 3 hours of MUCH pain, MANY tears, X-rays, a nurse who I still want to yell at and way too much paper work for a mommy holding her scared injured little one to fill out, we found out his shin was broken in two places. Clean breaks but still. The nurses in the ER put the splint on him and sent us on our way, discharge papers and script in hand.

Our little guy was in pain every time we moved him to use the restroom, to clean him, to feed him, to go anywhere…the splint really wasn’t helping much. Again, one angry momma here wanting to yell at some people. The General has been through a LOT in his little life, enough doctors to fill his lifetime quota. With pain, the unknown, or things he thinks he may not like he gets TERRIFIED and screams, cries and fights. He fought us each and every time we took him to the toilet, every time we moved him. Hubby slept in the General’s room for those first two nights, just to comfort him, move him, give him his pain meds. It took two of us to put him anywhere. It was really a big ordeal for those two days.

The following Friday he got his cast on!

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(It was SOOO good knowing that we weren’t hurting him now every time. We surely needed the cuddle time together after the first three days.)

The actual getting casted was another huge tiring ordeal. Most of us were near tears. BUT once that bright orange cast was on the pain started to decrease. The fear wore off with each passing day. He even let Biggest Brother doodle on it.

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Thankfully we had kept our stroller. I seriously was going to get rid of it the week before. The general did so good adjusting to his new limitations and didn’t let it stop him too much.

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He scoots around for the most part. He rode around on a dolly you use while working under your car. He can get in and out of bed, open doors, look out the windows, get himself all of the way up to the arm of the overstuffed chair in the playroom, and even sneak into the garage to hang out with Dad. All while not putting weight on his leg!

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We were able to rent him a kid sized wheelchair. (It had to be ordered from out of state!) The wheel chair is so much easier than the stroller. He mastered maneuvering around the house and even Walmart (he wanted to) super fast. He loves the freedom it gives him. It also enables him to ride the school bus again. The General, as friendly and as talkative as he is, made a new friend since being in the wheelchair with another student on his bus who is also in a wheelchair.

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Using the toilet and sponge bathing are the biggest challenges for us. But if you find yourself in this situation I have a few tips:

*Get a lint roller, especially if you have dogs. The amount of dirt and hair your little one will pick up on his bum from scooting around is frankly, embarrassing, no matter how much you sweep.

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*Keep hand sanitizer near by in the restroom and in your purse. As hand washing proves to be tricky especially when not at home.

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*Rent a wheel chair if at all possible. Life saver! Worth it in every way.

*Improvise. There are so many things they can’t do in this condition.

*The bruises on your hips from carrying your casted little one will go away. So will the sore toes, from the wheel chair. And your sore back from lifting and caring him everywhere.

*Get old pants or buy cheap ones. Even if jeans fit over the cast, they are a bear to get down quick enough when your little one needs to pee. Cut the casted leg off of the pants if needed. Know that they are going to get worn out quicker than normal from all of the rubbing against the cast. Same with socks.

*Lotion…his little toes are so dry it’s not even funny. Even on his good leg.

*Enjoy the extra cuddle time you will get. For us, it has been good since we didn’t get to “baby” him as a baby. I truly think this has helped him/us in the healing (from the past trauma) and bonding process even more.

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One last thing I cannot fail to mention. At our second X-ray the doctor informed us that the General’s bone was not healing straight. We were possibly looking at operating. He waited another week. We prayed for a miracle. At our third appointment, they took the cast off, which I didn’t expect and took a third X-ray. (they can X-ray through the cast). I think they expected him to need an operation. The X-ray proved our God is a big God. His leg straighten out!! No need to operate! He was so brave this go-around. Got to wear headphones and hold some tools. We go back in one week. Hopefully, this will be it. Hopefully he won’t need a cast anymore.

 

 

Achievement

(note: the topic covered here are a bit old)

Two of our kiddos earned awards at school.

 

Let that sink in.

 

Nana and Mr. Bubblewrap earned a place on the Honor Roll.  Mr. B also earned a math achievement…the only one in his class.  Math is one of his harder subjects.  Last year Mr. B failed 2nd grade.  Only 3 months into the new school year and he made the honor roll!!! Miss Nana is also repeating (our choice).

Awards and achievements weren’t something these kids got before coming to live with us.  They were surviving. Now they are starting to thrive. Thank you Jesus!

Whack-A-Mole

Yikes…! Where does the time go?

I have had so many good blog posts formulating in my head. So many.

Posts about our holiday break, raising a big family, helping kids overcome and thrive, setbacks…you get the picture.

BUT, I am a mom. A mom of 6 children from toddlerhood to adulthood and all in between.

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To be honest, this year started like last year ended…full of emotions. We have had every type going on here. And me, I am trying to keep myself in control and reset my mind. Some days we are just surviving, barely hanging on. Playing Whack-a-mole as the kids take turns having issues. You never know who or what is going to happen.

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There are the boys. These boys…LOVE them to pieces, but they can really twist and turn the tides of the household dynamics. Let’s see we have one who was doing SOOO good only to go back to what we call foster mode (total emotional chaos, absent-mindedness, etc.), one doing super good, maturing and functioning on all cylinders (which doesn’t always happen). So good I called my mom. This one even gave me a hug! Another got tripped and broke his leg. (another post for later). We have lost wallets, tensions on high, sometimes overly aggressive boy behavior and Hubby and I trying to navigate our way through it all without losing it ourselves (which as humans we have). Can I repeat when one (just a certain one) of ours goes into the foster mode it really throws us all.

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Then there are our girls. One is preteen and still trying to find her way and place in our family. She finds it and then I think becomes uncomfortable. Our oldest, well, is great but for me learning how to have our, sort of still new, the adult relationship can leave me wondering if I am doing too much or too little. Overall the girls have been more help than not.

So this year is slowing coming together and slowing down I am trying to readjust some of my thinking patterns. Trying not to be so reactive. Trying not to change (fix) those in my immediate life. I am giving them to God and trying to let Him do the work I can’t. Letting God make up for all of these times I fall so very short. And learning grace again.

Okay, off to do laundry, dishes, my hair, laundry, make an appointment, oh did I mention laundry?

Can I Get a Rewrite, Please?

Murdering Your Darlings is the title of a current podcast I am listening to. It is a writing podcast. By murdering your darlings, the author (who speaks with an academic British voice) is referring to going back and rewriting your old work, work you may have shelved.

Oh, how I wish I could go back to certain portions of my life, certain moments, and rewrite them. Like when my firstborn was little, I would not have been so hard on her or hard on Hubby for having a different parenting style as me.  Or the many times I fretted about things that I really shouldn’t have.  There are so many hindsight moments in my life when in my older age, I look back or after going through something rather difficult I realize,”I could’ve handled that better” or “that wasn’t so bad”.

More times than I care to admit I have heard myself tell someone, “If I had a crystal ball…to see how far we/they have come” in reference with our ninos. I may not have been so affected by their behaviors.  I could surely use some rewrites for the last almost two years.

Not to get too deep here, but I think it’s what we would do if we really got a chance to rewrite some of our past stories, moments that really matter.  Why we would tweak it here and there. I know some people would leave it as is. Our past is who we are no matter good or bad. We build on those choices, those moments. While we technically can’t go back in time and rewrite our history we hopefully learn from them.

The author in the podcast stated that “the best test is to read your story out loud, and read it to someone.” He went on to say that, and I paraphrase, more or less in my own words, if it doesn’t sound quite right then rearrange some words or sentences until it sounds smoother, more cohesive. Man, I don’t know about you but there are parts of my story (and I am a pretty open book) that I do NOT what read aloud by me or anyone, especially to someone.  Thank God for God’s forgiveness and grace right here. However, it does make me stop and take note that I can look back in time and rewrite my future by not repeating the not so positive choices I made in my past.  I can even rewrite the positive by making it even better.

On ending a novel, the podcast concluded, there are many ways one could choose.The open-ended version of like Anton Chekhov “And so it began to rain” or “have multiple endings, one that offers closure or a conclusion or something else.” Here is where the writing challenge was assigned. To read a story, “and locate the moment when a fissure is planted in the narrative. Some gap between scenes for example. Your aim is to write a story that fills that gap, stays with the original subject and to do so using the author’s narrative style and the point of view.” He gives further instructions to “try to bring your story to a close after 1500 words, but attempt to end it like Anton Chekhov. Give it an open ending.” I like that, especially when applied to life. Locate the fissure and basically rewrite it, giving it an open ending. Because life is open ended.

This December

I have, to be honest.  December loomed big on our mental calendars this year. With foster kids or kids who have experienced trauma in their short lives holidays, birthdays, celebrations and/or big events can be triggers.  For us, November is our wedding anniversary and Thanksgiving.  December started right off with us adopting our four ninos at 8:30 in the morning (yes, get seven of us courtroom ready and there by that time!!!), next day was one of their birthdays, throw in all of the regular Christmas time activities, sprinkle in house hunting, top it all of with a child who got triggered by all of the aforementioned and BAM! you have the December from hell.  Seriously, it was the hardest December for us ever.

You see our now nine-year-old son suffered the most trauma and came with the most pressing behaviors of the bunch.  Tantrums, shutting down, self-harm, every emotion in the book, lying, pooping in his pants (he has no physical problems), screaming, hurting others, failing school, totally absent-mindedness, unable to focus, forgetful, hurting our littlest dog, major fears, calls from school…it goes on, was what we were dealing with, not all on a daily basis but very much more than one per day, everyday.  Then came December!!  We had been warned about triggers, but getting a warning and living it are two completely different animals.  It ALL happened in a huge way in December.  After ten poopy pairs of underwear in under three weeks, we gave up counting.  No amount of time outs, time ins, very early bedtimes seemed to help.  No amount of hugs, reassurance seemed to help either.  No one had answers for us.  We kept praying and stayed steading on our course.

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This December, this year, has been so different.  NO, I repeat, NO poopy underwear!!!!!  I cannot tell you how much that upended our home and lives.  Most of the above behaviors are all but down to normal levels.  He has come so very far this year.  I wish I would’ve had a crystal ball to see where we, where he, is right now. It is so nice to be able to get to know him, who he really is without all of the trauma induced baggage that was slapping us all in the face.

Our Mr. Bubblewrap is so sweet, a true gentleman, a quiet leader, a very perceptive young man.  He is funny, sensitive, smart and a pleasure to be around.  The house is quieter when he is not around.  This young man is going to have a second Christmas (gifts) in January if he keeps it up!

Our Silly Names

Chief Potato

Mr. Bubblewrap, or Donkey from Shrek

Little Man aka Little General

Nana

What’s up with these and what do they mean?

Chief Potato: second oldest son, oldest is our adopted sib group.  He also is a self-proclaiming lazy person, hence the potato=couch potato reference.  Chief just fits.

Mr. Bubblewrap: third son and third in our adopted group, needs bubble wrap as he is constantly getting hurt.  Donkey: a Shrek reference…just think about how much Donkey talks and how he acts in the movie…you get the picture.

Little Man/Little General: the youngest in all categories, just an affectionate name I gave him after I bought him a onesie with “Mom’s Little Man” on it.  It makes it easier to refer to him instead of going through the mental list of boys in our family as well.  He just acquired a new nickname that fits even better; Little General/The General as he so thinks he is the boss of all his siblings, even our adult ones.

Nana: our second daughter and right behind Chief in the birth order of our adopted ninos, it’s what The General calls her.

Ninos: a simple reference to our adopted children.

 

 

Read to Me

Read to me and I will grow.

Read to me about the things I should know.

Read to me right by my side.

Read to me and these things I will apply.

(by me)

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“Read to them”, “Have them read to you”, read, read and read.  This was the most common advice for all of our ninos, who came to us behind on various levels.  The advice came from their teachers, therapist (OT, Speech, etc.), everyone at their IEPs. Yet books, when the kids first came, were foreign, something they just didn’t “do”.

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The first summer reading program was like pulling teeth just to earn their T-shirts.  This was a blow to my mom ego, as I had been bringing my bios to story time and the summer reading program since they were in diapers.  Literally.

But we pressed on and this past summer reading program the children’s librarian commented, “You have some good readers.”  Boost to the ego for sure.  Mine and theirs.  The general is our bookworm.  Nana is reading big books.  Still working on the comprehension part of reading, but we’ll get there.

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Here Mr. B is reading to the library’s cockroach. Mr. B really struggled with reading.  Could not sound out words to save his life.  It was such an emotional time having him read to us. I had to give it up for awhile.  Hubby stepped in and yet the little wires in Mr. B’s brain seemed to be having such a hard time clicking and connecting.  Fast forward to the most recent report card…Mr. B is ON level in reading!!  This guy has accomplished so much already.

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We read everywhere.  In just about every room in the house.  We read labels, cooking instructions, homework, the Bible, street signs, etc.  It helps them realize why they need to read and understand what they are reading.  Mac-n-cheese doesn’t taste too good if you can’t read and/or follow the directions.

There are also some good online sites that read the book to the kids. Storytime Online, Storyline Online.  Also, if you have kids from birth to 5, be sure to sign them up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.  The kids just love getting the books in the mail with their name on the postal label.  These are all free!

 

How reading helps kids:

*Sitting still.  Can’t say enough about sitting still.  For all kids but especially kids who don’t know what still means, what safe means, being still means you have not been on alert, not worry about what’s going on around you.

*Focus.  Focus on what the pictures are telling you, what the words are saying.  Again, focus on the story and not fear what’s going on around you.

*Comprehension.  When you can put words to the pictures you see you can get a better understanding of what’s going on in the story.

*Vocabulary.  Reading alone won’t build vocabulary, but alongside comprehension, it will.  It a child can figure out what a certain word means by deciphering the context of the sentence then they have pretty good problem-solving skills and can figure out just about any word.  If you don’t now the words you’re reading, reading won’t be any fun.  Chief Potato and Nana don’t really enjoy reading out loud to me.  I stop them often from seeing of they understand certain words, if they comprehend what they are reading.

*Problem-solving skills, relational skills.  When you read how the main character solved the conflict in the story you gain the knowledge you may need to get out of a jam in the future.  You learn how not to be a bully and what to do about bullies, and so on and so on.

*Increases the imagination. Do I even need to explain this one?  You can go anywhere, be anyone when you read books.

 

Tell me your favorite kid books, book sites, or tips on how to get kids to read.

No Trick or Treating

We don’t trick or treat.  We didn’t with our bios and were aren’t with our four ninos.

 

Here’s why:

*We are born again christians.  While other christians celebrate and dress up on this day it is our conviction not to.  To us, the holiday has so many dark, superstitious roots that we just can’t.

*Our ninos have been exposed to too many scary things in their young lives that they don’t need any more exposure.  Last year just going to the store would provoke fear in two, sometimes three of the four.  One, sometimes two, is drawn to dark things.  He, she doesn’t need any more darkness to feed that spirit.  We make it a fun day, a happy time, a family event.

*To me the whole idea of going door to door for “handouts” and the notion of the trick just doesn’t set right with me.

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Here’s what we do and have done.  With our bios, it was mostly a regular day.  I bought them candy that lasted a good long time. Sometimes they’d do stuff with their friends.  With our ninos, we make it more of a fun day.  When they came to our home they were stripped of some stuff and had to adjust to so many new things that Hubby and I decided to compromise.  We make it about having fun together as a family.  We have made Halloween-ish/fall crafts, carved pumpkins, had a pumpkin ring toss, the kids paint each other’s faces, just fun games, eat easy, fun food.  This year I even made a Pinterest treat, which ended up being a Pinterest fail!

This is what we do.  Do you have any Halloween alternatives?  I’d love to hear about them.

Grateful for Sippy Cups

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Little Man is four and still uses a sippy cup.  Yes, I hear you, I hear you.  It is bad for his teeth.  We are all too aware of that, especially the way he drinks them (more on that later, maybe).  He can and does drink from a regular cup.  However, he doesn’t eat fruits or veggies (except for bananas) and this is the only way to get them in him.  We don’t know why this is.  Sensory issues?  Something with a possible problem with his cleft pallet?  Or just plain old picky eater syndrome?  For now, we are fine with him drinking his fruits and veggies and getting him to “try” some that I serve on his plates.  (Bribing anyone?)

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Just a side note.  I tried making my own smoothies for him, awhile ago (see the top photo).  However, that was a one-time event.  He wasn’t having any of the others I made.