Tag Archives: Tyler

Tyler is a Teenager!

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I have no idea how it happened and where the years have gone, but my baby is now 13!!

I think I am more shocked by that realization then I am about Molly heading to college and Grace getting married. I suppose Tyler is forever frozen in my mind as an impish, dirty, forever moving, six-year-old boy. I look at him now and catch glimpses of the man he will one day be and it causes me to pause and question where the years have gone.

I am now exclusively a mother of teens and young adults…wow!

Thirteen is a big birthday so we wanted to do something special for our boy’s big day. We already had plans to buy him a bike for his birthday gift, having outgrown his last one and knowing that a means of burning off energy is a wonderful self-regulation tool for Tyler, but we wanted to plan an experience as well…

This required some creative planning as his birthday week was packed to the brim with activities. His actual birthday was already designated as set-up day for Gracie’s bridal shower and his birthday evening was her bachelorette party,

So we moved everything back a day and celebrated his birthday on the 22nd.

His request was to go to an indoor trampoline park…a perfect activity for my bouncy Tigger,

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We allowed him to pick a couple friends to accompany him.

On Thursday we headed to Cranberry to Urban Air, the coolest trampoline park we have ever seen!

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In addition to the expected trampoline areas for bouncing,

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This trampoline park included…

Climbing Walls:

Dreaming of free climbing? Maybe start in the harnessed safety of our climbing walls. Build muscles and hone your skills as you defy gravity and master your ascent while enjoying some cliff side fun.”

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A Ropes Course:

“Get some extra hang time with our gravity-defying obstacles on the Urban Air ropes course. Learning the ropes has never been more exciting; with another up-n-the-air adventure that tests your balance and agility. The stakes are high as you and your friends learn confidence, however safety is assured since you are securely harnessed as you make your way through the course.”

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A Ninja Warrior Course:

“You’ve watched those warrior ninjas from your living room, now try it for yourself. Perhaps one of the most exhilarating team building events, Warrior Obstacle Course lets you face off against your friends while you test your balance and strength. Give it your best as you battle to be the last Warrior standing. Maybe we’ll see you on Mt. Midoriyama.”

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A Battle Beam:

“Think balance beam plus sword fighting. Only the swords are foamy. And the pit below is lined with cushy blocks. Sort of a foamy battle to the death. But instead of perishing, you’ll probably just giggle. Is it all in good fun? Or is there really no better feeling than defeating your friends on the Battle Beam. Decide for yourself.”

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The Drop Zone:

“Drop on in for a little fun, while practicing your flips, spins or other amazing acrobatics, all with the confidence that you’ll land safely on a giant, inflatable airbag. The perfect testing grounds to perfect that new trick. This attraction is safe, fun and available to all ages.”

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An Indoor Zipcoaster:

“Time isn’t the only thing that flies when you’re having fun. You can too with our Sky Rider indoor coaster. Strap in and zigzag overhead while you scout out all the other attractions. It’s literally a way to take your fun to new heights.” 

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A Dodgeball Court:

“The funnest sport in PE plus trampolines? Yes, please. All ages are welcome and everyone loves the experience. Only downside is that once you’ve experienced Ultimate Dodgeball, you’ll never want to play normal dodgeball again. Bring a birthday party or friends from work. Or jump in on pickup games that are held daily. So hop on in and let ‘em fly.”

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The Slam Dunk Zone:

“Get your inner Jordan on and show off your favorite dunk moves. Even if you’re not a seven footer, you can still sail above the rim while testing out your famous back flip, behind the head, windmill, double clutch slamma jamma.”

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It was an awesome place and perfect birthday location for our overgrown Tigger and his teenage friends.

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Happy 13th birthday, Tyler!

 

Axes and Arrows and Knives…Oh My!

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This year has been a year of growth for my youngest son. I have watched him blossom in magnificent ways as he has slowly grown toward the man he will one day be. This year has provided Tyler with opportunities to gain a level of security, confidence and connection with others that has come as a result of extra learning support, Ozzie’s increased healing, a lot of one on one time as the two of us spend hours in the car driving to various daily appointments, and an awesome group of friends at church. He really is in his renaissance and my heart overflows with gratitude for the many ways God is working in his life.

Last Saturday was the 11 year old scout activity put on by members of the stake primary. As soon as Tyler received the invitation and found out his group of friends from church would all be attending he began counting the days until its arrival. This is an activity offered each June for the boys who will be turning 12 in the upcoming year. It is a special event put on by the stake to celebrate the boys’ time in primary coming to an end as they move into the young men program.

The agenda for this event varies year to year depending on the group of adults who are planning it, so Tyler lucked out because this year’s 11-year-old scout activity was AWESOME!

Tyler rode up to the activity with his friend, Carter. Carter’s mom was one of the chaperones for the day and she graciously offered to save me a trip to Butler since she was going anyway. She also kindly captured the fun of the day through photos so all of us moms who weren’t able to attend could enjoy a peek into the boys’ fun.

Their day consisted of a lesson in first aid, shooting with bows and arrows, a lesson on knife and ax safety, knot tying, and foil dinners for lunch. Tyler had a blast and hated that he had to leave 30 minutes early so we could get him to his equine therapy session. When he left he was given a gift to take home…

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His own personal pocket knife!

Which he put to good use immediately, whittling the hour away as Ozzie had his horse lesson and Tyler waited for his turn in the arena.

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My baby boy is growing into a pretty awesome young man!

 

Klondike Derby

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While Ozzie was home this past weekend, and we were enjoying some fun by the warmth of the fireplace, the other boys and Toby were braving the cold at the Klondike Derby.

“A Klondike derby is an annual event held by some Boy Scouts of America and Scouts Canada districts during the winter months and is based on the heritage of the Klondike Gold Rush. BSA units have been running Klondike derbies since 1949.

The event varies by district, but the typical Klondike derby consists of several stations where patrols/units must test their Scoutcraft skills and their leadership abilities, earning points towards a total score. Often, one or more races are included while the Scouts navigate between stations.

The unit must transport their gear on a homemade sled pulled by the Scouts.”

This winter camporee rolls around every February, and while it is a huge hit with the 11 and 12 years old’s I have found enthusiasm for camping in freezing temperatures seems to decrease incrementally with an increase in the age of the scout. By the time the campers reach their 40’s and 50’s there is nothing but sheer determination and a heavy helping of fatherly guilt driving them to forgo their warm beds and sleep outside in freezing February weather.

Toby goes each year and while he loves camping, winter camping is not his favorite way to camp. I think he would enjoy the Winter Camporee a bit more if it was held in April or October, but he is a good sport (and a great Dad) so he continues to show up for this frigid tradition year after year.

This year was Tyler’s first year to attend officially as an 11-year-old scout. He was very excited. On Friday he helped Rusty cross off the items on their packing list while I whipped up three foil dinners for them to cook over the campfire later that night.

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I was headed down to Pittsburgh to pick up Ozzie when Toby got home, and they headed out, so I didn’t have a chance to wish them well. They arrived at camp by 5:30 pm, set up, and started their fire.

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Friday night was spent getting settled, starting a fire to cook on, cooking foil dinners, and playing in the snow. The boys had snowball fights and built a snowman, only to light its “hair” on fire in an attempt to melt it…such a Boy Scout thing to do. 😊

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When night came Rusty slept in one shelter with the other boys in his scout troop while Tyler camped with Toby in the leader’s tent.

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Toby said Tyler did well and aside from waking up around 3:00 am because of the cold, he survived his first Winter Camporee with flying colors.

The real action happened on Saturday when the scouts met up with other troops to compete in a series of skill building challenges. Our troop did really well, as they always seem to at these activities.

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The challenges included the Klondike sled race,

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Fire building competitions,

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And two-man saw races.

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For their next big scouting adventure Toby and Rusty will be heading south. This Boy Scout adventure promises to be much warmer and a tad more thrilling than the Winter Camporee. They will be headed to the Florida Keys for a 7-day sailing adventure.

It sounds incredible and is the payoff of all the hours Toby has invested in the less glamourous scouting adventures he has helped with over the years.

It will be an adventure of a lifetime and I am thrilled Toby and Rusty get to embark on it together!

Lots of changes for Tyler

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This past month has been a big one for Tyler. He has had some “big news” moments that should be recorded for posterity so we will dedicate this blog to all the latest Tyler news…

Tyler continues to be blessed by equine therapy. Animals are one of Tyler’s greatest therapeutic tools and the affect this horse based therapy has had on his emotionally well being is astounding. He looks forward to these Saturday lessons and his skills and emotional stability have increased by leaps and bounds.

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He is currently working with a horse named Pumpkin. He outgrew Smokey (his first horse) and so his therapist was debating what horse to pair with him next. It is fascinating to observe this process. The pairing of rider and horse isn’t simply a match of size and skill but also a match of personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. After graduating from Smokey his therapist paired him with Rosie. It was not a good match. His trainer felt the pairing would go one way or the other. Either it would be a match made in heaven (assuming Tyler was confident and dominant enough to lead Rosie) or it would go the other way and Rosie would walk all over Tyler (figuratively not literally 🙂 ) leaving him feeling insecure and frustrated. He wasn’t dominant enough to manage Rosie and she definitely set him back a few paces in his confidence. He is now paired with Pumpkin and the match is perfect. He is gaining confidence and connecting with her in a way he never did with Rosie.

The lesson begins with horse care as Tyler brushes down his horse, cleans her hooves, and saddles her.

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Then he climbs on and has an hour long lesson where he learns the skills of horsemanship while also doing therapeutic work with his equine therapist. He loves it and has made awesome gains.

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He now rides independently with confidence. He can stand in the stirrups, trot and canter.

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Glade Run Adventures has proven to be a great blessing in Tyler’s life!

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Tyler has also acquired a new smile in the last few weeks.

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Once again Tyler’s bottom front tooth broke. A few years ago he chipped that front tooth while on a bouncy pad at a corn maze outing. Since then he has had it repaired many times. Its location and Tyler’s natural bite has resulted in that cap breaking off time after time. The last time it happened his dentist felt it was beyond his scope of ability to fix, fearing the break was too close to the root, so I set up an appointment at Children’s Hospital’s dental department. We went in for a consultation and they had no concerns about their ability to patch it. They also took note of his two canine baby teeth that were holding firm despite the adult teeth pushing in from above and erupting through the gums just north of the firmly held baby teeth. They suggested that we pull those two baby teeth at the same time they were repairing the chipped tooth.

A few weeks ago was the follow-up appointment. Toby took Tyler. For the dental work they used laughing gas and put Tyler into a twilight sleep. Tyler left the appointment having no memory of the experience, the only evidence that anything had happened was his new and improved smile.

He came home eager to show it off and share the good news that the dentist gave him permission to have ice cream for dinner that night.

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Tyler’s look changed even more this week with the addition of glasses.

Yes, you read that right. Tyler is now in glasses, leaving this Momma as the last one standing without spectacles. Toby and all my kiddos now wear glasses in some fashion or another while I continue to hold on proudly to the bragging rights of 20/20 vision.

Last week at Tyler’s annual physical he failed his vision screening. He score 20/20 in one eye and 20/70 in the other so his pediatrician sent us for a more comprehensive eye exam. His appointment was Tuesday morning. We went in and sure enough glasses were in order.

His vision test confirmed a strong right eye, a weak left eye and a stigmatism that led to the recommendation of glasses for Tyler. These glasses won’t need to be worn 24/7 but rather for anything that requires seeing details both near and far (like  school work, computer work, movies, etc.)

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Once the need for glasses was confirmed we heading out to the display cases to pick a style.

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Tyler, who is typically pretty indecisive, knew very quickly the frames he wanted. Once he found the style he liked he didn’t want to try on any others.

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His glasses will be in on Friday and we will officially have another “four-eyes” in the family!

Tyler continue to makes strides in all areas of his life. This has  been a breakthrough year for Tyler, as he has really come into his own. His growth physically, emotionally, behaviorally, socially, and academically have been HUGE.

School has been a dream this year. The struggle is a thing of the past and we can now sit, do lessons, and really have fun with it without the usual battles, bribing, and tears (mine, not his!). It is no longer like pulling teeth. He is engaged, eager, and so much fun. Much of his success comes from the additional reading support he is getting thanks to the Children’s Dyslexia Center of New Castle and Jan Newman, his Barton Reading tutor. This week he passed his level 3 assessment and is now in Barton Reading level 4. This is a HUGE accomplishment and a reflection on how hard Tyler is working.

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Tyler has come so far. He is a delight. My days are so starkly different now than they were two or three years ago that I sometimes forget that things weren’t always this easy with Tyler.

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His is in his renaissance, fully thriving and finally “settled.”

This past Friday he was invited to a friend’s birthday party from church. Tyler and his best friends went for pizza and laser tag to celebrate Carter’s birthday. It was the first time I was able to simply drop him off with a “Have Fun!” farewell and have no worries. He had a wonderful time.

What joy fills my heart to see my youngest thriving.

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We are so proud of you, Tyler!

Happy Birthday, Tyler!

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Last Wednesday marked the first day of the 2017/2018 school year for my kiddos, but it also was significant in that it was a certain little boy’s birthday!

There are traditions in our family that come with it being your birthday. One of which is a day off of school if your birthday falls on a school day. This year the first day of school happened to also be Tyler’s birthday so he got to begin the new school year a day later. Instead of doing school he chose to go to work with Dad.

The day began with us waking Tyler up early with the traditional cupcake and birthday song.

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He then prepared to go to work with Daddy. He had a date that day that he was looking forward to. Mimi Joy invited him out for a birthday lunch and a shopping trip to pick out his birthday gift. Since Toby is currently working at Joy’s house it all worked out perfectly. Tyler got his day with Dad and also his birthday date with Mimi… and I got 8 hours with just the big kids.

It really was a gift for me as well.

For the first time in a long time I didn’t have to actively parent. I was able to get some tasks done and prepare for the upcoming school year with no interruptions. The house was so still and silent with Molly and Rusty anxiously engaged in their studies and everyone else out of the house.

It gave me the opportunity to just be.

To hear myself think.

To be creative.

To hear the whisperings of the Spirit…

all of which have been a struggle amid the escalation that has become the new “normal” in our home.

For the first time in months I felt myself exhale. Tyler was having a wonderful birthday with Mimi Joy and Daddy, Ozzie was in a safe place, and I could just focus on the big kids and my own needs. It was a God-orchestrated respite…one that would prove to be all the more essential when hit with new trials in the days that followed.

While Tyler was away I was able to prepared for his celebration that evening. We were blessed that both girls would be able to be home for Tyler’s birthday. No one had work…a rare occurrence nowadays…so we were able to plan for a family celebration.

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Having just seen “The Emoji Movie,” Tyler requested an Emoji themed birthday celebration.

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Being an 11 year old boy with a love for inappropriately funny bathroom humor, we indulged him with poop emoji cupcakes.

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He was thrilled, so the lowering of all my parenting standards was worth it.

Tyler’s request for his birthday was that we all go to an arcade and play games together. This activity combines all the things Tyler loves most: games, competition, and time with family. We decided that since Toby was already working in Cranberry, we would meet up at Fun Fore All. I went online and found coupons for $5.00 of free tokens with the purchase of $10.00 and printed them out.

We met up with Toby and Tyler in Cranberry and had a fun evening of playing arcade games.

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Then we returned home for the birthday celebration.

The kids all had gifts they had purchased/recycled for Tyler. Each were excited with the gift they found and were eager to give their gift to Tyler.

Rusty gave Tyler some Minecraft figurines and a yoga ball:

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Molly gave Tyler a “Just Dance” Wii game:

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And Grace bought Tyler a game that she played at a recent Young Men/ Young Women activity called, “Lightning Reaction Reloaded.”

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In this game each player is racing other players to have the fastest reflexes. Four players each take hold of game handle and watch as the light in the middle of the game board blinks red, all while playing spooky music. When the light turns green you must press the button on your handle as fast as you can, trying not to be the last one to click your button. If you are the last player to click in then an electric current passes through your handle giving you a shock.

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It is one of those games that cause my blood pressure to rise as I am overcome with anxious anticipation while playing, but for Tyler it is everything he thrives with: competition, high stakes, elevated adrenaline, and quick reflexes.

The game was a hit!

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Tyler’s gift from Mom and Dad was the one item on his birthday wish list: light up shoes.

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He has been asking for light up shoes for a year and was thrilled when he received them for his birthday.

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We ended our celebration with poop emoji cupcakes.

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Happy birthday, Tyler! We love you bunches!!

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A Cub Scout Christmas

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A few months ago I was called to be one of the leaders over Tyler’s cub scout troop. Since there are four of us this means that our turn to run the cub scout meetings and be in charge of planning the activity only rolls around once a month. On our “off weeks” we assist the leader in charge with crowd control.

Because of the small number of boys in the bear, wolf and webelos troop we combine them into one group, adjusting the planned activities and lessons to meet the requirements found in each of the different cub scout books.

This past week was my turn to be in charge and I lucked out with the easy assignment of planning a Christmas activity for the cubs.

Being Tyler’s mom has made me quite familiar with the interests of 8-10 year old boys and  I’ve learned the key to any successful Cub Scout activity is FOOD and RUNNING.

The first requirement was met through our first planned activity. I had baked Christmas cookies for the scouts to decorate. Each boy had four cookies to decorate, two to eat there and two to take home.

This activity was built around a lesson on the “ingredients” that go into making a happy family. Using The Family: A Proclamation to the World as our “recipe” we talked about why a recipe is needed in cooking and what happens when we leave out certain ingredients. Then we likened it to leaving out key “ingredients” when trying to create a successful and happy family…ingredients like respect, work, compassion, prayer, and family fun.

Then it was time to decorate cookies.

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It was funny watching their individual personalities shine forth with some being very thoughtful and precise in their decorating, while others hurried through the task, eager to eat and play. The one trait seen in all the cub scouts was a “if a little is good, a lot is better” approach to icing and sprinkles.

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I felt a tad guilty sending them home to the poor mothers that would have to tuck their sugar strung boys into bed.

The second part of our evening was “Minute to Win It” games. Knowing Tyler, I knew fast paced, competitive, silly games would be a hit with the scouts and I was right.

It was as much fun for the leaders to watch as it was for the scouts to compete.

Some of the games included:

Christmas Cookie Face: in which the boys, using only the muscles of their face had to move the cookie from their forehead down to and into their mouth.

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Candy Cane Pick-up: in which the boys had to hook and move candy canes from one plate to another using only a candy cane held between their two front teeth.

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Rudolph Nose: in which the boys split into two teams and raced, relay style, to a plate of pom poms where they had to pick up a pom pom using only their noses coated in Vaseline, and return back to their team without it falling off.

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Peppermint Tower: in which the boys had to build a tower of peppermints on a lollipop  being held between their two front teeth.

Christmas Wreath: in which the boys took turns tossing marshmallows through a Christmas wreath. The team with the most goals won that round.

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It was a fun evening with some special scouts.

Merry Christmas!

Blitz on the Bay

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Tyler did not play football this year.

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We spent the bulk of little league football season traveling around the country. As a result Tyler was not a Blackhawk Cougar during the 2016 season. That was definitely a downside of the trip for Tyler who lives and breathes football.

So you can imagine his thrill when midway through our journey west the coach texted Toby to invite Tyler to play in a special one time game in Erie called, “Blitz on the Bay.” This special  game was scheduled for November and would be played against the McDowell Trojans. Playing in the “Blitz on the Bay” would allow Tyler to join up with his teammates for this one time game..

In preparation for the big game the boys had eight practices in the two weeks leading up to the game. Tyler loved these evening practices with his coaches and friends and they provided a great outlet for some of the anxious energy that came with Toby leaving.

Tyler is a different child during sports seasons when he can release his hard emotions through strenuous physical exercise.

This special game had added appeal when Tyler found out that following the game the team and their families would be going to Splash Lagoon Indoor Waterpark as a group.

Toby was able to come home for the game and Tyler could not be more thrilled!

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The day was a needed distraction at the end of a hard week.

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Jerseys were ordered for each of the boys on the team. Tyler’s team, made of boys from the Blackhawk and Chippewa leagues, had special jerseys with their combined team initials: BCCI (Blackhawk Cougars/Chippewa Indians)

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Tyler was also thrilled that this new jersey boasted his name on his back, unlike the typical game jerseys.

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It was a perfect day for football. And while the weather was a bit chilly for those sitting in the stands, it was perfect for the kids running up and down the field.

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It was fun to see Tyler play again.

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He is in his element when he is on the field, and we see a different side of our son when he is playing.

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Both teams were incredibly talented but in the end the Trojans were the stronger team, beating the BCCI team.

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After the game we headed with the team to Splash Lagoon Indoor Waterpark.

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We arrived at 4:00pm and the kids had 5 hours to play until closing. Tyler spent most of his time playing with his teammates in the ball pool. The ball pool is a large pool lined with basketball hoops and filled with small, floating basketballs.

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Tyler opted to ride most of the waterslides once and then spend the rest of the evening playing water basketball with his friends.

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The older kids went off on their own and rode all the water slides Splash Lagoon had to offer.

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In between riding the thrilling water slides they enjoyed soaking in the hot tub and floating in the lazy river.

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Toby and I decided to save the extra admission fees and not swim. Instead we found a table in the corner that was within view of Tyler and enjoyed a “date night” and a little adult conversation before Toby had to drive back to Michigan for work.

The kids had a good time. It was nice to escape for the day and by the time we got home from our 90 minute drive from Erie, Tyler was fast asleep.

It was a good day.

Adoption: The Inside Scoop

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It as always been my goal to be authentic with this blog. My goal has been to share the reality of our journey: both the blessings and the bumps. In sharing the blessings my hope is to point the focus on the Giver of our blessings, not to say, “Look at us.” To God all the glory!

And in sharing the bumps we encounter along the way my goal is not to invoke pity, or plant feelings of discouragement to those considering this path, but to offer hope and a feeling of camaraderie to those walking a similar path and to say, “Yes, it IS worth it.”

I don’t share to complain or demean, but rather share with hopes that some nugget of wisdom might touch the heart of a friend who needs it. Before I type a blog I always pray that my words might not be self-seeking, but rather God-seeking. I don’t share anything about my children without praying if and how I should share it first.

So often people have one of two very distorted views of what adoption looks like.

There is the Hallmark movie view of adoption that shows a family warmly open their home to an orphan. The family gathers with open arms and a orphan runs into their waiting arms, grateful for a loving home and they all live happily ever after. It is this view of adoption that leads people to falsely believe those that choose adoption are a family of saints.

Then there is the Inside Edition view of adoption that shows the worse case scenario of Reactive Attachment Disorder playing out in an unprepared adoptive home. This one plays out as a scary horror story involving fire starting, stealing,  and life threatening aggression. Most who buy into this view of adoption believe those who adopt are just crazy “kid collectors” and gluttons for punishment.

So, are we the saints or are we the crazies?!?

The reality can be found somewhere between these two distorted views of adoption. We are simply a family called to grow in an unorthodox way as we stumble along this journey toward the family God has planned for us.

There are Hallmark moments and Inside Edition days. There are breakthrough blessing moments and heartbreaking burdens. It is a two step forward, one step backward dance of endurance, as we commit day after day to never give up on our adoption treasures and to love them through the good, the bad, and the ugly.

And there can be a lot of “ugly”…

Nasty scars and messy emotions tied to experiences they had no control over and no say in. It is an interesting journey of discovery as you learn to parent a child who has experienced more trauma in their first few years of life than you have in your entire life.

It is accepting that there is a part of their life that you will never be part of, even though in your heart they feel as though they have always been your child.

It is trying to navigate out-of-control emotions, behaviors, and trauma memories that you are not even privy to, and having to play detective as you try to read between the lines of your child’s behavior without the help of a translator.

It is accepting that your child experienced horrible things, and as a result changed from who they might have been, because of experiences you could not protect them from.

Is loving them though the hard stuff and being humbled as you realize you can’t fix it…sometimes all you can do is sit beside them as they remember it.

There is not a hurt in the world that compares to the hurt of a mom watching their child suffer. I don’t know when my heart has ached as deeply as it has this last week as I have watched Tyler suffer through the hurt of remembering.

The walls have fallen.

For the last three years Tyler has safely hidden away the memories from his past from us,  behind a wall of protection. It was a wall that he built for survival…for self-preservation, because the memories of his early years of abuse and neglect were simply too overwhelming for his little mind to handle. Now with the help of the right medications and a superb and patient therapist, the wall is crumbling…and the memories are pouring out…

and my pour little boy is trying to stay above the waves.

Memories from his early years are coming to the surface and with those memories he is transported back to the thoughts, feelings, fears, and survival behaviors he was dependent on at the time.

Among the behaviors we are seeing are:

1. Hiding: His early years were spent locked in a closet with his biological siblings. This has led to a fear of the dark and closed rooms. He no longer can sleep in his room alone at night because of the vivid nightmares he is now having as memories come forth, but during the day it is a different story. I keep finding him hiding in small spaces, crying. I will hear his muffled cries and find him in the backs of closets, in boxes, under a turned over laundry basket, with his hands pressed to his eyes. “I can’t make the pictures go away,” he cries.

Two weeks ago at co-op he hid under a classroom table when it was time to leave. He refused to come out. So I sat on the floor next to him as he raged. “You aren’t my real mom!” he cried. “I’m never going home with you again.” It took 2 1/2 hours before he would get into the van

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2. He has begun hiding and hoarding food. Tina, our therapist, suspects this is due to memories of being hungry as a toddler that he had suppressed. In reading his file we knew that he and his siblings suffered great neglect as children. Food was scarce and often they would be locked in a closet with just a box of cereal to share. I have never shared this information with him but he has recently begun asking questions about it. We he found him multiple nights, hiding in the pantry, stuffing his face frantically. With the memories of early childhood comes a great fear that he will be hungry again, even though he has not done without for the three years he has lived with us.

Understanding the affect of trauma can be mind-blowing. Despite all signs pointing to the fact we will never let him be hungry again, there is an innate fear that he can never truly be sure another meal will come. So to help bring some security and ease a bit of that anxiety we created a food box during our daily therapy time. We marked it with his name and filled it with food that no one else can eat. It sits in the pantry with the promise that it will always have food in it. The rule is that he can eat anything from it, he just must ask permission first. He understands that no one else will eat that food.

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It is amazing the affect this little exercise has had. We haven’t had anymore food hoarding or sneaking food. He doesn’t even really ask to eat the food in his box, he just checks on it every now and then to make sure it is still there and filled, and that is enough to bring some peace.

3. The big thing we are working on, however, is feeling and naming emotions. Memories and emotions are spewing forth at a rate that often leaves Tyler paralyzed. Rather that working on “managing” these emotions, like we have been doing with Ozzie in therapy, we are just helping Tyler “purge” his emotions. After year of them being trapped behind a wall Tina feels like Tyler just needs to release them. We have been doing this through coloring. It is amazing the relief he gets emotionally from coloring out his feelings. He has attached an emotion to each of his colored markers and colors the emotion he is feeling. He can work for hours on one memory he is processing.

He has moved from simply using colors to show emotions, to adding facial expressions and words. It seems to be the one thing that brings relief when he is drowning under the  memories.

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4. He has also begun to ask about his biological mother. He suddenly is having pieces of memories of her come forth and is struggling with the weight of remembrance. He suddenly is longing for her love and attention and is feeling the heartbreak of her absence. This work has been hard for me. I know it is essential. I know it is an important part of his identity and key to his future security but it is hard, and I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that.

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But the blessing that has come from his seeking out knowledge of his biological mother is a closer connection to me. He has chosen me to be his travel companion down this hard road. It is no longer Toby he asks for at bedtime but Momma who he whispers his heart secrets to.

Our middle of the night chats go something like this:

“Why did my real mom get rid of me?”

“Was is because I was such a bad baby?”

“I wonder if my real mom took videos of me.”

“I miss my real mom.”

“I wish I could call my real mom.”

“I had lots of moms and they always gave me away because I’m such a bad boy .”

“All I want is a picture of her.”

And then he cries, and I hold him until he falls asleep.

After much prayer and discussion with Tina we decided that the next step in Tyler’s healing journey was to let him see a picture of his birth mom. I searched and was led to a picture of her online and put it in a frame for him. I gave him what his was asking for…a picture of his biological mother. The result has been a mixed bag of emotions and behaviors. He carries it around like a treasure and I find him studying her face, searching for clues to who she is, for familiarity, and for glimpses of himself in her features. He sets her picture in front of him as he colors his emotions. And we have started making a list of questions he may one day want to ask her.

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It is hard stuff. I struggle with feelings of resentment and judgment toward the woman who hurt him so badly and yet who he loves with such devotion.(This is me sharing the real stuff.) I struggle with feelings that she doesn’t deserve his devotion or the title he has given her of his “real mom.”

But I know those are my issues to work through…my own insecurities, because the reality is:

She holds a place in his heart that will never be mine, just as I hold a place in his life that will never be hers.

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He loved her first. Hers were the eyes he looked into first. Hers were the hands that held in his tiny hands. And if my heart is breaking, oh, how hers must break too as she lays awake at night thinking of the nameless, faceless, woman who is holding her son.

The reality is: Tyler isn’t hers, nor is he mine. He belongs to God. I just need to keep reminding myself of that truth as we work through the tough stuff.

Adoption is a beautiful thing.

It is a necessary thing.

It is a God ordained blessing…

But it is no Hallmark movie!

It is a messy, heartbreaking, beautiful, awe-inspiring, miraculous, faith driven, white-knuckle ride.

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Helping Tyler Heal…Helping Tyler FLY!

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“There are wounds that never show on the body, that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”  -Laurel K. Hamilton

Here is the question I lay awake at night pondering:

Am I willing to sacrifice today’s comfort for the promise of life long peace.

The answer seems simple, right?

What if I present it this way…

Knowing that your child will battle a threatening, painful, chronic disease 20 years from now would you be willing to remove an infected limb today. Would you be willing to allow pain, discomfort and loss today for the hopes of a more promising future tomorrow?

That one is a little bit harder. Isn’t it.

As parents our lives are driven by this instinctual, basic need to protect our children. We would jump in front of a train for them. We would fight off a Grizzly to protect them. So when faced with the knowledge that to protect their future you must allow them to feel pain and discomfort today…well that is a hard pill to swallow.

This is the reality we are living. We are choosing to allow our son to feel horrible/ heart breaking pain today with hopes that it will save him from a lifetime of heartache in the future. But you can believe I would shoulder that pain in a minute, and save him from one more minute of hurt, if I could.

*sigh*

The walls are falling down.

Miss Tina, Tyler’s therapist, is doing amazing work.

Tyler is doing amazing work.

God is performing miracles.

After years of firmly cemented walls circling Tyler’s memories we find ourselves watching the bricks begin to fall. It all began with Tyler creating a road of his life in therapy. On a large piece of paper we have mapped out a road. Along the road we have drawn in milestones of his life. He is choosing the memories to add to his road. We are working to help him remember his life before us.

And now that we have chipped open a crack in that wall, the memories and emotions are flooding out. And Tyler is drowning in the waves. The result: paralyzing fears, terrifying nightmares, scary images in his head, triggers, tantrums, and tears…so many tears. This past week I have found him hidden and crying many times, trying so hard not to be caught in his “weakness.”

It breaks my heart but also causes my heart to sing praises, because tears mean trust. Tears mean attachment. Tears mean felt and shared emotions, and ultimately tears mean healing.

This week I found him crying in the bathroom. I sat down beside him on the cold, hardwood floor as he squeezed his hands to the sides of his head.

“Can you name your emotion?” I asked.

He shook his head, “No.”

Then he tentatively suggested, “But maybe I could color my feelings.”

Praise God!

I was singing the Hallelujah chorus inside as I gathered markers and paper. He took the art supplies, crawled under the dining room table and began releasing the feelings locked inside in frantic scribbles of black, red, purple and blue.

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As he colored he informed me that black= fear, blue= sad, purple= really sad, and red= mad sad.

He asked me to sit at the table as he worked.

As I sat at the table listening to the sounds of scribbles beneath me Tyler began to talk. In the same manner that he was coloring, the words tumbled out of him at a frantic speed, as though he couldn’t hold them in any longer.

The questions were powerful and profound and heartbreaking. They came from the deepest recesses of his soul and poured out as the flood of memories washed over him.

He began with, “I’m sad my brothers can’t live with me.”

Then asked, “Why did our birth parents not keep us?”

And then, “Was it because we were so bad?”

As I paused to consider my answers, I prayed, “Help me, Lord. Give me the words…Your words.”

I answered what I could and made notes for Tina on the things he said.

The words kept tumbling out.

The questions kept coming, not only that night but all week long…

“Why did my birth mom not love me?”

“Why could no one handle all us kids?

“Why couldn’t Michael just take care of us?”

“Every family always got rid of me. It is because I am so bad?”

“I want to remember what my birth parents looked like.”

“Why did God take all my memories of my mom away?”

“If I remember, will that turn me into a bad dad like my birth dad?”

Oh, my heart broke and my eyes leaked as his heart and greatest fears were laid bare on the floor before him.

And then he climbed from under the table, his paper in hand, to show me his work. It may not be worthy of a place in the Louvre, but I must say it is probably the most moving piece of art I’ve ever seen.

It is my son’s heart.

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“I feel better now, Momma,” he declared with a quick hug and a bounce.

“I think Miss Tina is going to be proud of me.”

I know she will be. We all are, Tyler! ❤

As a Momma I’d give all that that I have, all that I am, to take away the hurts and heal the hidden wounds. I wish there was some way I could save him from the painful journey that lies before him. I wish healing could come from sealing off the hurts and cauterizing the wounds, but that is never a lasting fix. The only way those deep down, infected, throbbing wounds heal is by opening them up and releasing the infection within.

These sort of hurts must heal from the inside out, which means opening wounds that have long been scabbed over. It is heartbreaking, as a parent, to know you must purposely rip off scabs and open hurts that have been sealed off, and allow for short term pain, all with the loving hope that the long term result will be feeling… and then healing….

And then my son will fly.

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And as a result of his powerful example

we will learn to soar too!

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All About Smiles

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“Your never fully dressed without a smile” – Annie

We are happy to report that Tyler is now fully dressed…

thanks to All About Smiles.

In October, at our corn maze field trip, Tyler bonked heads with another boy from co-op. The result: a broken front lower tooth.

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And of course was an adult tooth. 🙂

We set up an appointment soon after it happened to have it bonded. Our experience with Ozzie and his two broken front teeth left me feeling less concerned, knowing that it could be easily fixed in our dentist’s office.

Which is why we were so surprised to have our dentist tell us that he wouldn’t be able to fix it. He was pretty certain there was damage to the root as a result of the large break. He said we would have to set up an appointment with an endodontist (a dentist who specializes in the pulp of teeth…aka root canals.)

Unsure of how to proceed I asked our pediatrician’s office if there was someone they recommended. They suggested All About Smiles.

I called and set up appointment for a consultation. They informed me that nothing would be done at our first appointment except set up a treatment plan and (if needed) book a date for oral surgery.

Tyler was disappointed that they weren’t going to be able to fix his tooth. The rough edges of his broken tooth has been driving him crazy, but luckily there has been no pain or sensitivity.

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When we arrived we were taken straight back where Tyler received a set of x-rays and waited for the dentist to see him. We were surprised and thrilled when she walked in, carrying his x-rays, to inform us that he just missed hitting the root and that his tooth could simply be fixed with bonding. Not only was it an easy fix but she offered to go ahead and fix it right then and there so that we didn’t have to come back at a later date.

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Yipee!

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Tyler was a bit nervous but the dentist quickly reassured him that the procedure would be painless and that he wouldn’t even need a Novocain shot. She was good about explaining each step to him as she worked on him.

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The end result…a fixed tooth and a happy boy.

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We both left smiling!