i’m lovin it

Friday, September 28, 2012

Five things I’m loving this week:

1) Fall weather: I filled my drawer with sweaters, wore tall socks under my jeans, and felt the happy exhaustion after spending too long outdoors slightly underdressed.


2) Scandal: Revenge gets most of the tantalizing evening-soap press, but Scandal is the perfect amount of juicy soap and procedural. I don’t love Shonda Rhimes as a rule; I think Grey’s jumped the shark awhile ago. (I still watch, but I can’t quite figure out why since I mostly dislike it. It’s a strange dilemma.) However, Scandal was terrific last year, and this year’s season premiere was first-rate television.


3) Kroger Pumpkin donuts: it’s that time of year. Kroger makes the absolute best pumpkin donuts in the world. I shall commence my annual denial of the actual calorie count per said donut. (Hint: it’s FAR too high for any one person to justify eating more than 1 a week.)


4) My workout playlist: I love it. I’m not tired of it after 3 weeks of listening. It doesn’t have a weak point. I’ve perfectly calibrated it to absolutely match my cardio routine. It’s fun when I need it to be, it’s got a down and dirty bass line when I need it, and it’s celebratory when I’m ready. It’s a point of pride, to be sure. Well, except for one song which is more profane than I would prefer to be listening to on a regular basis, but for the life of me, I can’t find a suitable replacement. I need that particular vibe and beat at that specific point in my workout – find me a similar sounding, cleaner song, and I will thank you forever.

Current List (32 minutes)
It’s Time – Imagine Dragons
One Foot – Fun.
One More Night – Maroon 5
Freaks – The Hawk in Paris
Church in the Wild – Jay-Z & Kanye West
I Will Wait – Mumford & Sons
Girl on Fire – Alicia Keys
Better Life – Paper Route


5) The new Mumford & Sons: I do not care for the musical snobbery that makes it fashionable to hate on Mumford. I love them. I don’t care if every song sounds the same – it’s a sound I enjoy. I especially hate the ‘emotionally manipulative’ criticism. Of COURSE it’s emotionally manipulative – good music should make you feel something. If you aren’t feeling something when you listen to music, either your music isn’t good or you’re dead inside. Amen. I will say this album is a little more polished and less wild and free than their first (not a compliment).

attachment theories

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Some new developments in Baby D’s case have virtually cemented his place in our home for several more months. I’d been longing for a breakthrough in this case because the schedule was truly beginning to wear on me. I imagined that breakthrough to mean that he would go home. Kind of the opposite happened, but it did mean that visits have now been reduced to one visit per week, four hours, at the visitation center. At least for the time being. Answer to prayer, I guess?

I’m really interested to see how Baby D does with this new schedule. When he came to live with us, he was grieving, and he loved his mama so much that I didn’t even hesitate to support multiple lengthy visits per week. He did better when he saw his mom. When she had to miss a visit, and he didn’t see her for a week, he grew fairly lethargic, almost depressed. The day he saw her, he was back to his old cheerful self. I was fully in support of all the positive things that I saw from their relationship.

Now that things are dragging on (next week will mark 7 months with us), I’m feeling less certain about how things should proceed. Baby D doesn’t seem any more bonded with us than he would with a daycare worker. I guess a more accurate way to explain it is that Baby D has kept himself a bit separate from our family. I probably wouldn’t understand it if I wasn’t living it, but this baby has decided who his family is. He’s right; it’s not us, but I still don’t know if it’s healthy for him to have not switched his primary attachment to us at this point. My gut says that it would be healthier for him in the long run to fully attach to us, to love us like a mom and dad. I still hope and pray for his return to his family, but I can’t guarantee that will happen at this point. If he stays with us, if he goes with relatives, if he goes home, or even if he goes to another adoptive family, I think it would be easier and healthier to transition from our home to that one if he were fully engaged as a member of our family.

This is only our second week of one day a week visits. We may only get a month of this schedule before visits increase again, but I’m curious to see if this month makes a difference. If he sees his parents less, will he bond to us more? Will he ever call me Mama? He should; it’s the developmentally appropriate thing to do. Yet he doesn’t. He says mama sometimes, but usually it’s just his word that he says he wants something. Any person can fulfill that need; he definitely doesn’t mean me specifically. I’d like to see that happen sometime soon.

This is a critical period for Baby D. If infants do not develop healthy attachment to a mother during this time period (typically the first two years, although I’ve read some reports that 15-18 months is the most important time), or if that attachment is disrupted, there are irreversible and significant consequences to that. Baby D has already had a disrupted attachment when he was removed from his mother. If he can’t healthily shift his attachment to me, I worry that he won’t ever be able to attach fully. I am parenting the consequences of unattached infancy with my own youngest two children right now, and I don’t want that future for Baby D.

If any of you reading this are foster parents, have you ever had a baby who just didn’t attach to you? What did you do to help that attachment along? Or should I not be worried and just let him maintain his primary attachment to his mother even though she’s not his primary caregiver and may never be reunited with him? The longer this case continues, the more questions I have that I don’t know the answer to. Isn’t that always the way of things?

mama’s time-out

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Some days, I struggle to make it through those horrible hours right before dinner time. With three kids five and under to try and keep track of plus two school age kids constantly fighting or complaining or asking me to give them the answers for help on their homework, I just can’t seem to get anything done. I can’t make dinner because that puts me in a room separate from the family, and well, unsupervised children…. I can’t keep them in the room with me because our kitchen is just too small. I just can’t find the magic that allows me to function normally, accomplishing what I need to accomplish during the period of time.

Last week, I had just completely lost it. I knew the situation was out of control – both them and me. I called Wendell, said “come straight home when you’re done”, and just sat with a cup of tea, trying to ignore what was occurring in the house. I kept an eye on things, in case I would need to intervene for physical safety, but other than that, I quit.

I don’t normally advocate this course of action, but it was what I needed to do at that specific point in the day for everyone’s safety. Wendell came home, and I left. I just needed some time. He knew it. I knew it. The kids knew it. I did a couple errands, then I headed to the gym and ran out my frustrations. I ran until I felt I couldn’t do it anymore (trust me, it didn’t take long), and then I kept going. Eventually my endorphins kicked in, and I felt like I could function normally. I got off the treadmill, tired, more at peace, and headed back to the craziness. But I no longer felt crazy, and so I knew I could go home and parent. (Wendell had crazy eyes when I returned, so I felt a tiny bit validated that it wasn’t just my problem.)

I am unbelievably grateful to have a husband who parents with me, who’ll come home to take over when I need him to, and who encouraged me to renew my gym membership precisely for this very scenario. I have previously written about my affection for my local gym, but it’s worth repeating again and often: I love my gym. (and my current workout mix – I’ll share that soon, too.)

Today, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, and like you are about to lose control, just remember: sometimes mamas need time-outs too.

favorite song of the week

Saturday, September 22, 2012

You know I love to share some music on Saturday, and I am really, really excited about this one. I found this via Seth Haines’ twitter feed this week. It’s my new favorite song. *(Well, probably until Tuesday.) It depicts relationships in a pretty real way – messy, longing, daily.

HoneyHoney - "Yours to Bare" (Live at SXSW 2012) from Jam in the Van on Vimeo.

five(ish) friday podcasts

Friday, September 21, 2012

My podcast list is embarrassingly long. Well, I’m not sure if I’m actually embarrassed by it. I grew up in a house where the radio turned on in the morning when we got up and not turned off again until we sat down for dinner. There really aren’t too many great radio stations anymore, so the soundtrack to our home is half music/half podcasts. I’m used to a radio station that mixes talk programs with music segments, so my children are getting a similar upbringing. We listen to a lot of podcasts in the car and mostly music at home. This crazy visit schedule we’ve had for the past 6 months has resulted in us spending a minimum of two hours in the car three days a week, not counting regular errands. While not as horrific as some people’s commutes, I’m sure, that’s still a lot of audio media consumption.

Usually I do five things on Friday, but I just have way too many podcasts to limit to just five. I’ll stick to five categories – will that make it apply? This list looks intimidating. It’s not as bad as it seems. I don’t listen to every single episode of every one of these, especially the daily ones. I skip the ones with topics that don’t pertain to me – I’m not an empty nester, I don’t care about snakes, and so on. Some of these podcasts are irregularly put out, so I listen to them only when there’s a new episode…every once in awhile. Someday I’m going to have a newer phone with the podcast app, and then my listening will be even more streamlined. Someday.


1) Edutainment – Some of these are more educational than entertaining; some are more entertaining than educational. Several that would technically fit here, I had to put in the last category. (But doesn’t NPR always deserve its own category?)

The Moth Podcast
Here’s the Thing
This American Life
WNYC’s Radiolab
Freakonomics Radio
How to Do Everything
Stuff You Should Know
The Simple Mom Podcast
The 9 Thumbs Podcast

2) Sermons – I get a lot of input from other churches. I can’t even imagine going back to a world where the only message I would hear is the one from my home church every Sunday.

Ginghamsburg Church Video Sermons
Mosaic Video Podcast
Lifechurch.tv: Craig Groeschel
Renovatus Church Audio Podcast
Timothy Keller Podcast
North Point Community Church
The Village Church – Sermon Audio

3) Other ‘religious’ podcasts – Most of these are more traditional radio programs. I just like them how I like my TV – on demand, with ability to skip commercials. Also, half of these are a half-hour or even less. Which I like.

Relevant Podcast
Catalyst Podcast
FamilyLife Today with Dennis Rainey
Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast
Steve Brown, Etc.
Key Life with Steve Brown
If God is Real with Jennie Allen
Midday Connection
The Phil Vischer Podcast
Neue Podcast

4) Adoption/Foster Care – Self-explanatory? I think so. The first podcast is weekly, but half are about infertility which I am not tremendously interested in at this point in my life, so I just delete all of those episodes. If you are interested in foster parenting or adoption, listen to Tim and Wendy’s Foster Parenting Podcast. Every episode, from the beginning. You won’t be sorry.

Creating a Family: Talk about Infertility and Adoption |Blog Talk Radio Feed
Foster Parenting Podcast
Our Foster Parenting Experience
Fostering with Love Podcast: The Journey of a Foster Parent

5) NPR – I have a great affection for NPR. The only downside to listening to public radio programs as a podcast is that you are not the recipient of the famed musical interlude that is all too prominent on most public radio stations.

Talk of the Nation
NPR: Fresh Air Podcast
NPR: TED Radio Hour Podcast
NPR: Pop Culture Happy Hour
NPR: Tiny Desk Concerts
NPR: Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me


Good grief, that’s a long list. I hope you’re not frightened away from me forever. If I were absolutely forced to pick one from each category, I would choose the purple ones. Are there any podcasts you love that I’m missing? This list is fairly fluid. I start new ones; I let some go. I’d love new recommendations!

mid-week zoo day

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Yesterday, we took a mid-week trip to the zoo. (Turns out the zoo is an actual destination and not just the word people use when referring to our family) The older kids had a day off from school, and our three littlest have never been to the zoo. We knew that summertime or weekends would be too much for them to handle – too many crowds, too hot, just not ideal. Wendell took off work, and we headed to meet his sister and our two nieces for the day. We are blessed to live close to one of the best zoos in the nation. (Arguably, the best depending on what list you want to reference.)

The weather was perfect – 70 and sunny – and there was virtually no one there. Which was perfect for the ways that we need to parent our children. They were able to have some freedom to explore and run, which we would have been unable to do safely if we’d be in crowds. We were also able to have some freedom to allow them some ‘incidents’ and to wait for them to be ready to move along.

We’ve discovered there’s nothing much to be gained in forcing our children to do things when they’re too scared, anxious, or just plain defiant. If we have the time, the space, and the safety to allow them to come around, we are all better off. When we started parenting traumatized children, we were fully on board the ‘it’s not obedience unless it’s immediate’ train. First time obedience is a bandied-about phrase that we find less and less use for the longer we parent. Early on in our foster parenting journey, we learned some principles that really and truly revolutionized our parenting.

1) By sharing power with our kids through appropriate choices and compromises, we prove that it’s ours to share. We cannot share power that we do not possess. This in no way diminishes our authority as parents.

2) If my child complies with my request, whether it’s immediate or when they are able to, I still win. I just have to ask myself, “what’s the goal?” Is it for me to prove my ‘power’? What do I gain by that? If I’m honest, usually my goal is that my child complies. So if they comply, does it matter how long? Not usually. Clearly this doesn’t always work. I can’t wait for Niah to listen if she’s darting out into traffic. Sometimes we have appointments, and I can’t wait until one of them ‘feels’ like putting on their shoes. But I have found that the more opportunities I take to allow my children to come around when they feel capable, the more immediately compliant they are the rest of the time.

“Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived.”
Abraham Lincoln

There were a couple of events yesterday where Brenden just shut down. The general public (including me, for many years) are plenty familiar with two options that we have in the presence of stress: flight or fight. Truth is, there’s a third: freeze. This is Brenden’s go-to defense. The benefit of this particular day at the zoo is that when his defenses were up, when he was frozen in the middle of a pathway for minutes, we were able to allow him the freedom to work through it on his own rather than force him to continue with something he wasn’t ready for. I stood a couple paces ahead, told him I could wait as long as it took until he was ready to move on, and eventually he was able to move past it and join me. I took his hand, kissed his head, and on we went to join the rest of the family.

A couple of years ago, he wouldn’t have been able to do that. I would never have even thought to allow this with my older two kids. I’ve learned better. I’ve learned to evaluate why my heart is so set on ‘obedience’. I’ve (mostly) learned to temper my responses by choosing to not focus on the right behavior at the expense of relationship. Brenden’s learned better too. Now he has skills, he has trust, and he knows that no matter how long he takes, we’ll be waiting. All of this is a Very Big Win.

The other big win of the zoo day? This:



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Just a quick note this evening to say that I am not emotionally equipped to handle this season of Parenthood. Couldn’t there have been some regular episodes before all of the hard-hitting emotional stuff?? Fortunately, the family had gone to bed before I watched it, because it’s humiliating to cry over a television show.

I’m ready for Community to return. It never makes me cry. (unless it’s with laughter)

five things I’m reading right now

Friday, September 14, 2012

I was always an extremely loyal one-book-at-a-time kind of girl until I hit about 30. (lots of things changed when I turned 30) Now while I wouldn’t describe myself as a classic promiscuous reader, I’m definitely a multi-tasker. I’m reading several books right now, depending on what mood I’m in or what room I’m in or what time of day it is. My library card and my Amazon account get a lot of use. Not to mention the Kindle app on my iphone. I don’t prefer to do any serious reading on a screen as small as my phone’s, but it is nice when I’m stuck in a long drive-thru or a waiting room or something similar.

Here’s five of the books I’m currently reading:

1) Playful Parenting - Lawrence Cohen

2) The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton

3) Mended: Pieces of a Life Made Whole - Angie Smith

4) Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir) - Jenny Lawson

5) The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry

I figure I have some leeway since there’s such a wide variety of genre – poetry, non-fiction, fiction, memoir… That makes me slightly less schizophrenic, yes?

As a bonus – I’m not currently reading this, I finished it two weeks ago, but it was the best book I’ve read all year. It definitely lives up to the hype. So, so good:

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn


What are you reading right now? I’m down to around 10 books on my shelf that I haven’t yet started, so it’s clearly time to start compiling a list for what to read next…

giggles and tears–a baby D update

Thursday, September 13, 2012

For the first time since Baby D came to live with us almost seven months ago, I feel uncertain about his future. The complications pile up. I have the words of a couple professionals who have been in this a lot longer than me saying, “well, the longer a case goes, the more stuff happens, the more stuff comes out.” I have my own reticence about that being an appropriate attitude. When is it about one child’s safety, and when does it become about something a bit more, something a bit meddlesome and intrusive? Poverty, intelligence, and culture are not reasons to keep a family apart. Poverty, intelligence, and culture do, however, carry some baggage and barriers – certain ways of living, no matter if they are your culture and family structure and economic station, are unsafe for children. One’s past isn’t enough reason to keep your child from you, but one’s past should be looked at with extreme caution as a possible indicator of future behavior. Fortunately, I don’t have to make the decisions, but unfortunately, I do have live with the consequences and the second-guessing and the uncertainty.

On top of some discouraging news we received on Tuesday, first thing yesterday morning, I found myself driving home from a visit bitterly disappointed, fairly angry, fighting tears on behalf of the sunshine baby who was also disappointed and crying for his mommy in the backseat of my car. Four words, this kid says, and one of them is Mommy. He doesn’t mean me.

I wish he were more bonded to me. There’s a bond, to be sure, but I’m not confident it could actually be termed attachment. I wish he loved me more. I struggle with whether to try and work really hard on it, woo him, so to speak, or if I should continue to step back, support his attachment to his mother. So far, I’ve stepped back a bit. He knows I’m the babysitter. Maybe that’s been the wrong tactic? What if she isn’t able to regain custody of him? What then? At what point would he fully attach to me or someone else? What happens in three more months when Children’s Services will meet to determine if the case plan will remain classified as ‘reunification’ or whether they will file for permanent custody?

I have a certainty in my spirit right now that this baby isn’t meant for our family permanently. Even these disappointing setbacks haven’t changed that feeling. I pray that means he is reunited with his mama. For the first time since he moved in, I have a few doubts about that. If Baby D could talk, I have no doubt he would tell us he’d rather live with his mom. How can I advocate for him best – honoring his clear preferences, even as a baby, while still thinking about his best interests? I have no desire to see yet another family permanently torn apart, but neither do I want this sweet smiley baby to go home to an unsafe, unhealthy household.

He spent the afternoon refusing to nap, still clearly upset by the events of the day. After a short successful slumber, he woke up all smiles. Toddling around the living room, chasing Niah, throwing himself on the ottoman in delight. Something about the way he giggles can bring light to my soul on the dreariest of the days. I’m in love with the way he raises his eyebrows at me when I scold him, how his too-long hair causes him to walk around with his head at a slight tilt so he can see under his bangs (pray that mommy will let us give him a trim?), and the way the brown leather classic baby Stride Rites I bought him today are just delicious on his little feet.

I continue to pray, now with not a small amount of anguish involved, for mercy for our sweet boy. I honestly don’t know that the case plan will change at all given this week’s set backs. There’s still time. It’s unknown if what’s happened is a big problem or just a minor glitch. I am just mourning the loss of a fairly simple case that was progressing well, albeit slowly, towards a positive conclusion. Now things aren’t so certain, and I feel sad. Sad for our boy, sad for his mama, sad for the darkness and pain in the broken parts of this world.

the whole-brain child (chapter 6)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The intro post for this series can be found here.
Read along and give your opinions!

Chapter 6 really brings this whole thing full-circle to the place where I really felt like I needed some solutions. Once we teach our kids about themselves, to identify their own feelings, and how to deal with their own stuff, then how do we move from that to teaching them how to relate better to others? The authors ask “how do we teach our kids to move to ‘we’ without losing ‘me’?” I think this is one area where I often expect too much of my kids. I want them to consider others first, but is that at the expense of themselves?

The brain is set up for relationships. One thing that has gotten quite a bit of coverage in child development/adoption circles is something called mirror neurons. However, we don’t just imitate behaviors, we also identify with others’ feelings. Given that, it is really important to remember that every interaction we have without someone else literally alters both our brain and the that of the other person. When I first learned about this in foster training, it didn’t quite connect as deeply as it did once I saw the extent of how my kids’ brains were altered when they came to us from a background of trauma, abuse, and neglect. The relationships that our kids have experienced and are experiencing still are what dictates what they expect in the future. It’s not just a feeling. It’s hard-wired into their brains. It has been a powerful revelation for my parenting.

“It’s really not an exaggeration to say that the kind of relationships you provide for your children will affect generations to come. We can impact the future of the world by caring well for our children and by being intentional in giving them the kinds of relationships that we value and that we want them to see as normal.” 
Siegel, Daniel J. and Bryson, Tina Payne (2011). The Whole Brain Child: 12 revolutionary strategies to nurture your child’s developing mind. New York: Delacorte Press.

Strategy #11 – Increase the Family Fun Factory: Making a Point to Enjoy Each Other
Fun enjoyable experiences teach kids what it means to be in loving relationship with each other. Another fun tactic is to use ‘playful parenting’: engaging conflict with playfulness to diffuse the situation. Christine Moers will calls this type of thing “out-crazy the crazy”. Complete silliness is often the best tactic.

My own take-away: I wish this was my first reaction to crazy behavior. I also have to really watch myself that I don’t turn silly parenting into a mocking situation. I don’t need to be mean-spirited to change a situation. Snark has its place, but parenting young children is not a place where it belongs.

Strategy #12 – Connection Through Conflict: Teach Kids to Argue with a “We” in Mind
1) See through the other person’s eyes: help kids recognize other point of view
2) Listen to what’s NOT being said: teach kids about nonverbal communication and attuning to others
3) Repair: teach kids to make things right after a conflict. This could be a specific and direct reparation like paying for a broken object or cleaning up a mess they made, or it could be more relational instead.

My own take-away: Oh arguments. With five kids, I feel like every day is one big long argument. This is going to require a concerted effort from me to interject and help diffuse the anger. I tend towards the denial form of parenting my children’s arguments. If I pretend they’re not happening, I don’t have to worry about it. While they are definitely learning to work out some problems on their own, I do recognize that there are times and situations when I don’t step in when I should. This strategy gives me a specific action plan which I hope will make me more likely to engage in these situations.


What’s your takeaway from this chapter? Are you a playful parent? What are some ways you are teaching your kids how to argue healthily?

I covered a lot of stuff over the past six weeks, but please believe it is only a fraction of the detail that the book includes. The authors also include an extremely helpful graphic at the end of each chapter to give you concrete examples of how to engage with your kids and teach them about brain function. Another aspect I found particularly helpful was in the appendix where there is an age by age breakdown of brain development, strategies, and applications. If this interested you at all, I highly encourage you to read it for yourself. You’ll learn way more than you are from my vague summaries each week.

I really enjoyed working through this book – I’ve found myself implementing several of the strategies over the past few weeks. Some have been successful, some not, although the failures are more likely due to my laziness and inconsistency rather than through any fault of the strategy. What was your favorite part of the book? Learn anything new? I’d love to hear!

a saturday feel good tune

Saturday, September 8, 2012

small steps

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I’ve been holding this piece of joy close to my heart for a couple days now, and there is just a bit of lightness in my soul. (and only part of it is because football has started again, thank you Jesus.) The smallest of the small things that has just turned my week completely around:  Our son woke up in the middle of the night, we heard the door chime, Wendell went to check on him, and….he told Wendell he was hungry and needed a snack.

Shut the front door.

If you’ve been reading here for awhile, you might remember that we have some serious food issues in this house. (From ‘food’ posts earlier this year: Part 1 and Part 2) Brenden has never, never ever, told us he was hungry in the middle of the night. We’ve been up with him while he cries or while he goes to the bathroom, but often in those scenarios, he would allow us to comfort him, put him back to bed, and then later, he would still sneak out of his bed and get into food. He has never once admitted a need like that to us in the middle of the night.

Lest you think I’m making too big a deal of it, it was one of the first things he talked to me about in the morning. It was a big huge deal to him also. We went over the facts of it – he told us what he needed, and then what happened? We got him what he needed. The simple cause/effect relationship that healthy children learn as newborns has never connected for our sweet boy. The connection is fully in place for him yet, but this small step, this miraculous little act of trust on his part, is a foundational building block. We put it on top of every other block that we build when we provide for his needs. When we give him hugs the minute he comes near. When we whisper I love you even in the middle of a rage. When we make snack bags ahead of time for him to feel safer when we’re out of town. When he wakes up and goes to sleep in his own bed, in his own home, in his own family every single day. We are living life, building a solid foundation of love and acceptance and presence to teach our little boy that we are staying put. We’re not going anywhere; he’s not going anywhere. Every need he has we are trying our best to supply.  Day after day after day.

Don’t mistake this for a 'it’s finished’ type of post. This was a very little, maybe even isolated, incident. An incident that shows us, even in the quiet, middle of the night, smallest of ways, that our son is taking a giant step forward. So if I’m laughing more these past few days, it’s because I bear witness to miracle. If I seem more confident and at peace, it’s because I’m feeling the delight that comes when a hurt, scared, fearful little boy is learning to trust. If you see me look at my boy and smile, it’s from the sheer joy of watching him heal.

the whole-brain child (chapter 5)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The intro post for this series can be found here.
Read along and give your opinions!

Chapter 5 begins to deal how we help our children recognize the different parts of themselves and teaching them to understand their own minds. These are the strategies that help our children as they learn to distinguish I “feel” from who I “am”. The authors use the visual of a wheel. Too many times, our kids will put their circumstance or their emotion at the center of the wheel. Everything else in their life revolves around whatever negative event or feeling they are experiencing at the moment. With help, they can learn that they themselves are the hub of the wheel. Their circumstances, their emotions, other people’s emotions, all of that revolves along the outside. They learn that they can choose where to focus their attention and behavior because they are not ruled by circumstances or emotions.


Strategy #8 – Let the Clouds of Emotions Roll By: Teaching That Feelings Come and Go
We have a responsibility as parents to teach our kids that feelings are temporary. They change. We will not always feel the same way that we feel right now.

My take-away: How many adults do I know that don’t recognize this fact? I really need to focus on this with my kids. So many bad decisions can be prevented by just reminding ourselves or those we love that our feelings will someday change. Maybe not right now, maybe not tomorrow, but the fact is that we will not always feel the way we feel right this very minute.

Strategy #9 – SIFT: Paying Attention to What’s Going On Inside
By teaching to look at other factors surrounding their circumstance, we can help them become aware of what feelings they’re actually experiencing. The authors share this simple acronym to use with our children.

Sensations: What’s going on inside their bodies. (stomach butterflies as nervousness, desire to hit as anger or frustration, heavy shoulders as sadness, etc.)
Images: Images may be from the past or even from their imaginations, but those images are affecting the way they look at and interact with their present situation
Feelings: Teach kids to move from vague feelings (fine, bad) to more specific ones (disappointed, excited, anxious, etc.)
Thoughts: This is the portion of the acronym that accesses more of the left-brain – what we think about, what we tell ourselves, how we tell our story…in words.

My own take-away: If I can just remember this acronym when we’re in the midst of a Moment, then I can hopefully help my children to focus on what matters about each situation and what they’re actually feeling and experiencing. I also need to obtain a chart of facial expressions to help my children learn to specifically identify feelings. I have one in particular that never will admit to feeling bad and doesn’t seem to be able to identify negative emotions. This chart could be really helpful in teaching my kids about emotions they are more unfamiliar with naming aloud.

Strategy #10 – Exercise Mindsight: Getting to the Hub
Dr. Daniel Siegel coined the term “mindsight” – what he describes as two things: understanding our own minds as well as understanding the mind of another. We need to teach our kids that they are the hub of the wheel. Instead of focusing on the negative emotion or circumstance, we teach them to refocus their thoughts and energy on something else. We can teach them to practice relaxation, meditation, any number of calming and focusing techniques to get them to move past the negativity.

My own take-away: Teaching my kids to take a moment before they respond is crucial to functioning both as individuals and as a family. If I could just model this every time I’m tempted to react to a circumstance or an emotion as if it is the hub of my wheel…well, then, probably they’d learn this skill a little faster.


What’s your takeaway from this chapter? How have you taught your kids to identify emotions?


Monday, September 3, 2012

Yesterday, I watched my tired boy full of smiles lay flat on the floor with a plastic pot over his head. Not sleeping, though, no sir! The unwillingness to nap even at the onset of extreme exhaustion led him to near delirium before the day was over. What is it with our unwillingness to rest? What are we afraid of?

For me, I fear that if I stop, things won’t get done. I’ll fall irreparably behind. Even more than that, I fear that if I slow down, I’ll realize how tired I really am. This past weekend, however, I took the afternoon to do just that. Stop. Rest. Think. In my teeny-tiny house that is usually filled with five loud little voices and busy bodies, I took a few hours of an extra-lengthy naptime while the older kids were away to just be.

Today…I pray you can rest. I pray you can take the time to just sit. It’s ok to not unload the dishwasher or start another load of laundry for a couple hours. Sit on your favorite chair, read a favorite book, drink a cup of hot tea.

honest conversation
long-overdue tears
looking into my little boy’s brown eyes
a few quiet hours
play – the children’s work
my ipod – I wouldn’t want to make my lengthy commutes without it
a toddler’s calming body under her weighted blanket
feeling liked (FINALLY) by our happy sunshine baby
putting words to paper, self laid bare
a praying, loving friend with the perfect words of encouragement
Josh Garrels, Earl Grey, and Gone Girl – my favorite afternoon in a long time
time alone to process through loss
looking to Him who can heal my wounded heart
the remains of the hurricane, soaking into our parched earth
my boy sitting quietly on the lap of his most favorite friend during church
Thai chicken pizza
birthday board games with my sisters

sunday [23]

Sunday, September 2, 2012


thank you NPR

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Here’s what you should be listening to today:

CopyRight © | Theme Designed By Hello Manhattan