Wit’s end–sensory disorder unraveled

I had the privilege to attend the Empowered to Connect Simulcast this past Friday and Saturday.  When I first heard about the conference, I thought I knew what it would be about.  Karyn Purvis’ name was attached to the conference and I’d read her book, The Connected Child, and watched many of her videos on you tube.

However, as soon as I got comfortable in my chair Friday, I realized I had been sadly mistaken.  I found my hand cramping as I took note after note.  EVERY.SINGLE.THING made sense in my head. FINALLY.

Before we adopted Desta, we had been well versed in RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder). We’d seen the well meaning Christian adopt the Russian orphan, only to find heartache and great frustration explode their lives.  We’d read the books. We’d gone through the trainings. We believed while not experts, at least we were well aware of what we might be heading into.

And for the first few years, it seemed that we had a very well adjusted child on our hands.  Sure there were issues, tantrums, strange behaviors (how long has your child held their poop?)  BUT our other two children, biological, had similar issues so we figured it was an age issue.

When we moved back to Colorado from Florida, our lives took a very different turn.  While wanting to protect Desta’s privacy for future years and internet web searching, I’ll simply say we had gotten to a place of isolation, frustration, inability to know what the hell to do!

“Regular parenting” wasn’t working.  Nothing we tried was working.

I sat in that seat Friday and for the first time, in a VERY LONG TIME, felt hope.  And I felt deep, deep grief for my sweet baby girl.  I mourned all the things she had to deal with her young innocent life.  I had to sit there and really let myself understand her brain, understand WHY she reacts the way she does.

I came out of the doors Saturday afternoon at 6 pm with deep hope of what can be done.

If you are an adopted parent finding yourself moving closer and closer to your wit’s end, please take some time and watch these videos.  There is hope and it’s simple. It’s not a quick fix and it requires super intentional work.  For this introverted mommy, it is hard.  And for this super type A mommy, it’s really hard to leave the mess and focus instead.

What I do know is this:  Having just spent 48 hours employing some of these new techniques, we haven’t had a level 1000 outburst.  Bedtime has gone smoothly.  Transition to different activities wasn’t crazy.  EVEN the big trip to the YMCA childcare ended well.  There is hope.

Here’s just a few basic things we’ve started doing:

1. “2 eyes, 2 hands”  I get down on  my knees, level with my sweet girl’s eyes and I ask for her hands.  I talk to her, really talk to her. The broom gets put down, the stove top turned down and I see her for who she is.

2. Gum jar.  Desta knows that when she uses kind words and kind actions, she can ask and GET a piece of gum.   This goes hand in hand with the biggest change we are making…

3.  Turn my “no’s” into “yes’s”  I realized just how often I saw No when I could actually say yes.  Matt was gone for work all weekend and I tried this out.  I was amazed how once I started saying yes, it became easier and easier.

See our little people need to have their brains retrained.  It’s our job to help them see hope; to give them a voice.

I have much to learn and I’m so thankful that I get a chance to have “do over’s” with my kids too!


Chapungu Sculptures

While Madeline graciously watched our kids, Matt and I snuck away to the mountains for a few days this weekend.  Unfortunately the warm weather decided to play hookey and we got 8 inches of snow our first night.

20150404_112220Hiking plans tabled for the day, we headed to Loveland having no idea the surprise of sculpture and art awaiting us.

Chapungu sculpture park butts up right against a mall.  Thankfully the grass and trees help hide PJ Changs and JCrew.

While we wandered the mile and half loop, I was struck with the deep core beliefs that are throughout all the Zimbabwean sculptures.  Most of the artists are part of the Shona tribe.

My favorite was the sculpture below—not because I loved the piece but rather, the quote that represented the piece.


Over the past few weeks, death has seem to surround me–touching the fringes of my life.  It’s gotten me thinking about the value of life; where do we come from and where do we go.

“Many years ago, I walked for weeks to seek work in this land. Now, at the end of my life, I must return to the home of my ancestors.”

It dawned on me.  Maybe home is the place before birth and the place after death. Maybe, as this quote says, the life we are living is truly the in between to the great before and after.  That longing that says, “there is more, there is a home beyond” — that’s because my home is not here truly but in another land.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippines 3:20

On this Easter Sunday I look at that old man sculptured out of clay, read those artist words and think, yes, people who’ve walked this land a thousand years before me, felt the same way.  There is an all knowing sense that we are part of something much bigger than what is here.

Not a wall flower

When I was younger, like 13 years old younger, I was concerned what people thought of me. Exterior mattered greatly to me.  My 8th grade year was spent in a small (think 250 people) town of Munich, ND.  I was definitively the outsider, coming from Africa for my 8th grade year.  Try as I could, it is not easy catching up to speed on four years of missed fashion, tv shows and music.  I stood out, I thought, like a sore thumb.

Almost every Saturday I’d walk the 1/4 mile to my grandparent’s house.  I’d watch my grandmother make her weekly baked goods; saw how she kneaded the dough, squeezing rolls from her fingers.  Bars and pies, cinnamon rolls and strawberry rhubarb jam were on the list each week.  My grandfather, with his amazing blue twinkling eyes, would tease me while I hung out in their living room. Oftentimes I’d fall asleep on one of the four couches along the large window over looking the baseball fields.

Those Saturdays were lifesavers and reprieves to “real life” for me.  At my grandparent’s house I was just me, Melody, not “the kid from Africa.”

I remember thinking at that time that when I was an adult, I wouldn’t ever feel like I stood out. I’d fit in, I’d belong.

Funny thing about grown up life; it’s just childhood amped up.  Parenthood smashed those childish illusions of blending in.

Today I struggle with wanting to just hide and blend in.  One of our children has the most deeply caring heart I’ve ever seen. This dear soul feels so strongly, physically manifesting deep thoughts.  As their parent, I struggle knowing when to push them and when to gather them in my arms.

There is no hiding when you walk alongside  a deeply feeling child.  You stand out like a sore thumb talking your child down from the ledge of hysteria.  It’s soul crushing tears pouring down your cheeks driving away leaving your child. In your heart you know the strength of character is built with tough tasks but leaving them to learn that seems like the meanest thing to do.

No, I cannot hide when my child is spitting in my face or throwing a tantrum on the ground.  I cannot hide when a fun trip to the store to bless others turns into a “I want, I want” rant instead.  There is no blending in.

I didn’t get this until I had kids. I didn’t understand that I would a thousand times over stand out if it meant my children learned and grew because of it.  Parenting is the most humbling task ever handed to man.


Going to stories

flowersThe days have been full.  Do you feel that way too?

For me, often the morning starts before dawn, scurrying to get to emails and complete tasks before the kids are up.

I keep lists of tasks, working hard to strike out all the lines before the night sky comes.

In this season of work, I often find myself discouraged, overwhelmed and caught up in all that I didn’t do rather than strong, hopeful and encouraged with what got done.

storiesI go to stories.  I read tales of hope.  I remember that my life is full and great.

Check out these links.  Be encouraged today.  You’re not alone!


Do you dare greatly?

multivitamins for the soul

I love lists Friday!

Glacier on the Move

Water and Kids: You CAN make a difference



Bunk or Legit?

20150316_081133There are two of us that really struggle with stomach issues in this house.  I blame antibiotics!

For the past several months I’ve heard about essential oils.  While reading about them and hearing testimonies, I wondered if it really was legit or just psychotic bunk.

Caroline brought a terrible cough to Phoenix. So did a few other soccer players.  Our room was sans oils while the second room had it diffusing all day, all night.  At the end of the four day tournament, Caroline was still hacking up a lung and the other room; well, they were better.  No coughing, no hacking.

Hmmmm, if it works that great, maybe, just maybe it would work for two stomachs in this house.

So I took the plunge 2 weeks ago and bought my kit–I went with Young Living Oils.  I know DoTerra is great as are many others. In fact, just get on Google and you’ll have reading fodder for weeks about the pros and cons of which brand to pick.

Caroline and I have been using peppermint oil regularly since the oils arrived.  As Shrek so eloquently said, “I’m a believer.”

I had the WORST stomachache this past week–probably had something to do with the piece of banana bread I thought would be okay to eat.  I looked 7 months pregnant and was doubled over in pain.

Hey, I had nothing to lose so I slathered my stomach with 3 drops of peppermint oil.  About 10 minutes later I realized my stomach didn’t hurt.  What?

Yes, I’ve read all the science and I believe me, I still can’t figure out how it works.

What I do know is that it works!

Maybe it’s a fluke.  I’ll keep you posted. BUT for now, peppermint oil is my friend!