Friday, October 27, 2017

29 Weeks

He's Incredible. 

(It's okay to be biased.)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

October Celebrations

October is, without question, our favorite month of the year. 

We have so much to celebrate in October!

Like our 9th anniversary.  Wow. 

And Casey's birthday.  He's officially old, so someone really nice made him this from-scratch chocolate cake.

With a baby on her hip at least 80% of the time.  I had to throw that in there.  I like the sympathy vote.

Of course, there were other things (besides food) to celebrate.  Like pumpkin patch visits.

And costumes to be worn.

This costume brought to you entirely by my husband.  He has been plotting this baby for several years.  Of course, this year, we were one too many to go as just the Incredibles.  Fortunately, Livvy didn't mind taking on the role of Syndrome.

So, something interesting we discovered while out and about?  When you dress as the Incredibles, people will talk to you as if you are the Incredibles, and stop you often for photos. 

Oh my goodness, it's Mr. Incredible!  Can I get a photo with you?  My daughter loves your movie, it's her favorite!  

That one definitely caught me by surprise. Of course, the kids completely loved it.  I'm pretty sure they thought they were actual celebrities by the time our day at Boo at the Zoo was over.  Maybe it was because we had all the genders in the right order?  Or because we came complete with Jack-Jack?  I don't know.  But, it was pretty cute to have little kids running up to us in sheer delight.

The adults who came without children to pose for photos?  Well... that wasn't quite so cute.

We also stayed up late to enjoy a fun Family Night, complete with glow sticks, flashlight tag and smores.

We got really excited about the first snow of the season. 

It wasn't much, but ooooh, we do love the white stuff.

Friday, October 20, 2017

28 weeks

Well, the sweetest of sounds came out of my big guy this week.  His first word.

What was that long awaited, much-treasured word?


I got a mama out of my big boy, and of course it was music to my ears.

Hooray for Luke!  I'll take as many of 'em as you can give!

Friday, October 13, 2017

27 Weeks

Oh my goodness.  The wonderful things we are doing this week.  Luke can now sit up, all on his own, with full dexterity.  I no longer have to worry about him falling over, he's mastered the concept. 

He is growing like a weed.  At 6 months, he weighs 18 pounds even, and his "little" head is still floating somewhere waving down at the 99th percentile far beneath it. 

He is happy all the time - with the exception of the five minutes immediately before he goes to sleep, when he cries and tries to tell me how he's totally not sleepy, mom, before his eyes roll backwards and he drifts off. 

Luke is still rocking the nine month clothes, and at this point, we can't even attempt anything less. 

We love, love, love that sweet baby. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

CC Cycle 3 Week 5: George Washington

Hands down, this week has been our favorite.  Which is basically what I said last week, too, so if I'm overselling just how much we've enjoyed our sojourn through the revolutionary war, you'll have to forgive me.

For the record: we really, really love George Washington.

We cheer when Washington successfully crosses the Delaware.  We boo at the deceit of that treacherous villain Arnold.  We root for the downfall of the dastardly Cornwallis. 

Many a squabble was had this week over just who was going to be Washington and who had to be Cornwallis.

In the end, they abandoned Cornwallis so that they could play together and fight on the same side.

Seems a good trade to me.

This week's reading list includes:
George Washington by Ingri d'Auliare (Our Favorite of the week!)
Liberty or Death by Betsy Maestro
This Country of Ours by Elizabeth Marshall: The Birth of a Great Nation
The 4th of July Story by Alice Dagliesh
Story of the World
Book of America: Yankee Doodle
Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling
Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
The Burgess Animal Book by Thornton Burgess
Poetry: When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne

We used Draw Write Now to practice drawing our hero, and mapped out Washington's Delaware crossing.

As it is a new month, we began studying a new virtue.  October, as our favorite month of the year, brings us none other than Joy: choosing to praise God in all things.

We are nearing the end of our composer study on Bach, but, being the month of Halloween, they were particularly enamored with this one, Toccata and Fuge in D minor, for reasons that become obvious the moment you hear it.  YES!  That's good stuff.

For picture study, we tackled (yes, you guessed it!): George Washington by Charles Willson Peale.

Although next week we will move out of the Revolutionary War and on to the next amazing chapter of American history, this has been such a fun place to linger.  

Thursday, October 5, 2017


It's okay not to be okay, or so the saying goes.

One of my passions during the time I studied for my Masters degree was the physiological effects of trauma on the brain.  It has been so helpful to me over the last year and a half as I've attempted to raise a traumatized teenager here in our home.

Trauma parenting is so different than regular parenting.  Parenting in general is hard and worrisome, but if parenting is like riding a bicycle, then trauma parenting is like trying to ride one backwards on a tightrope.  That may or may not be on fire.

Trauma and attachment issues present themselves in literally every aspect of a child's day, from getting dressed to selecting food to choosing friends and going to school.  Loss, grief and lack of trust govern much of their thought process and behavior.  They are terrified of intimacy, keep people at a distance, hide their feelings, they are prone to prolonged periods of fear, and have a limited ability to trust.  They manipulate and lie.  They take literally ten times longer than children without trauma to learn new skills (even simple ones) and new patterns of behavior. They make the same mistakes over and over (and over and over and over).

Let me be clear, because it cannot be overstated: none of these things are the fault of the child. Only deep love, compassion and the formation of secure attachments can begin to promote new brain growth and impact the biological and emotional development of trust (I am safe), self-worth (I am precious) and self-efficacy (I am heard).

But the parenting process.  It is exhausting.  It is constant.  It is overwhelming.  It is neither natural nor instinctive in many ways.  It is necessary, valuable, and worth doing - but it is all those other things, too.

Parenting is the ultimate exercise in leadership.  When we agreed to take on a child with trauma, we instantly became responsible not only for his physical well being, but also his emotional development and his relational healing.  We had to build connection when we were virtually strangers, identify and heal wounds that we didn't inflict and redeem ground we didn't lose.  We had to quickly become experts on a child whose 14 year history we barely knew so that we could become the agents of healing he needed us to be.  We became versed in neural rerouting and self-regulation and trigger responses, and most of all, we had to have the tools and time and self-reflection to develop and put in place strategies and environments that would promote healing. 

Most of that fell on me, partly because of Casey's travel schedule, but also because it is "in my zone" professionally and personally.  Meanwhile, there were three small children to be cared for and schooled, a home to be run, a pregnancy and life happening abundantly all around us.  Major transitions - whether positive or negative - are always difficult to navigate in the life of a family, and we have had a LOT of them.

And then... sixteen months later... this opportunity came up for him to go home.  He had struggled with the loss of his friends and his life as much as with the loss of his father, and now he had a shot at going back to a place where he felt more "normal."  Where he was more securely attached and hopeful.  He felt that way, and because we love him, we did, too. 

But it was a loss for us too, particularly for the kids who truly opened their hearts with love and compassion in the most amazing ways.  Love, as they say, is a verb, and theirs was so much more than just lip service. 

We feel a little like the team that goes to the Superbowl and loses: proud that we made it this far, gratified by our efforts and teamwork.  As a family, as individuals, we know that we left everything we had out there on the field, but ultimately, it didn't go the way we would have liked.

And now... we have to pick up the pieces.  To stop and recalculate.

It's hard

I'm physically and emotionally exhausted after the work and the non-stop stress of the last year and a half, compounded by what we went through in the spring.  The kids are sad, and we all have a little bit of our own PTSD (mild on the spectrum, but real nonetheless) to contend with. 

We are not okay.  And, while I know that we will again be okay, it takes time to get there.

We took September really slowly.  We stopped for no reason to do fun things and build happy memories.  We focused on connection above all else. 

We did things that made us laugh. 

We took lots of breaks and were very intentionally aware of our commitments.  We applied grace liberally to every aspect of life. 

We got out of our routine and enjoyed beauty.  Because we can.

We focused on joy, peace and rest.

I don't see much changing for us in October.

In many real ways, we're rebuilding our family.  We are different people on the other side of this experience.  I know that our foundation is still there, and that foundation has proved, and continues to prove, incredibly strong.  But it is again a matter of establishing our new normal. 

We will get there, and we will get help if the path becomes too difficult.  We are worth fighting for. 

And while it's hard, there is grace.  And Halloween Bingo.

For parents dealing with attachment and trauma: Don't miss these amazing resources!  THIS is what we used during my MA program as foundational for connecting with "kids from hard places."  It is a game changer.  Also: this, and this are phenomenal. 

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