Monday, November 18, 2013

Giving thanks Day 18

On this day 4 years ago I sent out this text message " I am his and he is mine and we are family."  So today as I sit here looking at the mess in my house, and the piles of laundry I need to do I am very thankful to be his mom!

 Little Man has brought so many blessings into my life! Today I give thanks that I get to be his mom! There will be a longer post later, but for now I wanted to get this up!

4 years from Jennifer Kramer on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Falling behind

I have been bad about keeping up with my "thankfuls" this last week
So here goes:

Day 6 Having an Auntie Lauren that sends cute footie pajamas in care packages just because. Tonight  Little Man curled up warm and cozy in his new PJs!

Day 7 Having great parents who support me and love me. We don't live nearby each other and I often wish there was a transporter that I could just get in and be there immediately. But it does mean the times I get to see them are sweeter.

Day 8: Today I am thankful for the chance to present professional development to my staff with 3 other amazing ladies. I am blessed to work each day with them and have a blast learning new technology and teaching it to our staff with them.

Day 9: Today I am thankful my house. We spent most of today at home, just enjoying time being quiet and warm in our house

Day 10: Today I am thankful for a developing new friendship. I have known this person for a while, but we are establishing a friendship now and I am excited about it

Day 11: Today I am thankful for the Veteran's who have fought for our country. I often forget to remember all the things I have today because of the sacrifices they have made.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

30 Days of Thanks Days 3, 4 & 5

Okay I need to get better about doing this every day….I will work on it!

Day 3-   I am thankful for the wonderful people at the church I attend. Not only are they fun to worship and be with, they are genuinely amazing people. They support me and Little Man.They make us feel welcome and at home and the honestly LOVE us like God taught. I love watching Little Man interact, play, giggle and pray with these people.

Day 4- I am thankful for the teachers I work with each and everyday. They lift me up and challenge me to grow as a person and a professional. I was proud to stand with them as we "walked in" to work yesterday. I am proud to share my passion of teaching, technology and kids with them everyday as mold the adolescents at our school.

Day 5-  Today I am thankful for the teachers at my Little Man's school. They are helping me for all those hours I am not there, raise and educate him. They are patient when they need to be and push when they need to as well. I am loving watching him grow and thrive at his school.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

30 Days of Thanksful- Days 1 & 2

Day 1:
    I am thankful to Mr D and Adison. Two wonderful men who have taken on a mentor role for my Little Man. I teach with Mr D and he also teaches a Tae kwon do class two nights a week. His son Adison works with the Warriors group (4-8 year olds). They have taken brought Little Man in not just to the Tae Kwon Do class but to experience other new things. Last weekend they took him for his first fishing trip. So on day 1 of this 30 days I am thankful for these two who are willing to do things with my Little Man.  Who are willing to be amazing male role models for him!
Proud of his catch

Fishing with Mr D

Day 2:
  Today I am thankful for care packages. Little Man and I were blessed with an amazing care package from a friend in CA today. It contained a quilt and a cross, made by people in her church. It was sent as a reminder of the comfort, love and support we have as we struggle through tough times and smile through the good times. Thanks Mrs Shirley for loving us from a far and for today making that distance seem a little smaller.
Care package cross and blanket
Safety and sleep 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Stuck with super glue

Stuck with super glue is a phrase commonly heard around my house.  This phrase has helped to calm anxiety, helped to lessen stress, helped to bring in to focus the here and now versus the then. It is a phrase we have spent two years working on and today it makes life much easier. Today we can drop off at school without tears, we can enter a new situation and hold hands, not be in mommy’s arms. Today he knows that mommy comes back to “get me” every time, because we are stuck with super glue. It is often the stretchy kind of super glue that lets him be in one place (school, friends house) and me be in another ( work, running errands) without him being panicked or hyper vigilant to the when or, worse in his mind, if I am coming back to get him. 

Two years ago I called my pediatrician after several weeks (okay honesty, months) of rough nights. Rough nights sometimes meant 2 hours of sleep followed by 4-5 hours of wired wide awake because he was afraid to go back to sleep, or it meant night terrors that led to him trying to physically hurt himself or me. He was two, almost three and had been with me, in my house for almost two years, the night he had a night terror so bad he left bruises across my upper arms and chest. He was fighting so hard in pure terror. It was primal fight or flight response and I knew that the sweet little boy I saw during the light of day needed help to fight the darkness of night. So my pediatrician gave me the information for a lovely lady named Donna Potter at CCFH. The day that Donna called and talked to me, I wanted to cry. Here was someone who believed that my little boy could have significant trauma pre-adoption that we needed to deal with now and she said magical words...” we can help and I think you need to see Rebecca Hubbard for CPP therapy.” I had no idea what CPP therapy was, but I was happy to go try anything that would help, that would allow him and I to sleep. 

A few weeks later we went in for our initial evaluation at CCFH. I talked to someone for a while and then we were introduced to Ms Rebecca.  Little Man did not seem to want much to do but play with the toys there that day, but a relationship with Ms Rebecca was started and healing began. We started once a week visits in 2011 just before Thanksgiving. The first time we were in her office Little Man was falling over everything, not able to control his body. He didn’t have any regulation of emotions or his body, so we set goals and started the work.  Some weeks were harder than others, but it didn’t take long to realize that while he was just a “baby” when he came home the trauma of loss had left a huge mark on his heart. 

I believed we had attached and even actually attached pretty securely, boy was I wrong. Even six months in to the therapy I could see how attachment was changing and how much deeper it could be. He started to talk about things and I realized my reality needed to change. I had adopted an infant, the books prepare you for trauma and hardships (sort of, at least they allude to there being some) when you adopt older. But very few mention how much the body remembers of trauma in a young child. Little Man held feelings of loss, abandonment, fear and the triggers were everywhere. Leaving him at school in the morning, entering a place where it was loud, lots of people and busy, telling him to wait because I was cooking dinner and he didn’t need a snack right that minute. Any of it, all of it could send him spiraling and neither of us knew why. But we were learning with Ms Rebecca and we were both getting better. I was stressing less and listening more to him, to his body language and mostly to his sleep patterns.  Sleep has been his dead give away always. When he trusts, when he is secure then he sleeps, when one or more of those is missing sleep and dark are not our friends. 

I am not sure when the phrase “stuck with super glue” came in to our therapy conversations, but it was pretty early on in the process. Little Man explained pretty early on that “I should have been in Africa earlier.” It became a daily conversation as we drove to school, it was a daily comment when I picked him up, it was a nightly routine to be “stuck” together for a while on the couch watching a show or in the rocking chair reading a book or even sometimes sitting on his bed as he went to sleep. We talked about how super glue sticks things together strong and that sometimes our super glue has to be stretchy so he can be one place and I can be another, but we will always “snap” back together. 

As therapy progressed it became less about me reminding him we had super glue, but more him commenting in moments of need about the super glue, almost as if checking to make sure I remembered that we were “stuck” together. Today we talk about there being super glue on our hands and that we can go to the mall or some place crowded and just hold hands as a reminder that we are together, that I am not going anywhere and that I will keep him safe.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still moments of hard, times that he gets triggered where fear and panic override any logic. But they are less and less, and more importantly we deal with those moments in the moment and they cause less “damage.” We recover faster. Sleep is still my “thermometer” to how calm his brain is each day. Most times it is better. Right now we are in a rough patch, but I know why and while I can’t remove the why, I can help him process it and reassure the what. Right now we remember and discuss super glue everyday and most nights. 

Little Man has control, as much as a not quite 5 year old can, of his emotions and physical movements of his body. There are things he choses not to control and we continue to work on those, But Ms Rebecca and CPP have “stuck” us together forever and he knows it, not just in words, but the body memory knows it. Through games, role plays, daily reinforcement  and weekly time with Ms Rebecca, his body memory is remembering new. 

So we celebrate how far we have come. We celebrate the work he has done. We celebrate that super glue “stretches” so we can go apart and come back together each and every time. 
2 years ago as we started therapy

Recently having fun as we look at our cotton candy tongues
Finished with therapy!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Virtual Run- Childhood Cancer Awareness

Today 36 families will hear words they wish to never hear and honestly never imagined they would hear...."We found a tumor/mass and believe your child has cancer"

We look at our kids each day, watch them laugh and play, grow and change, never imagining that the cough, the headache, the pain they complain about is something as serious as cancer. But sadly everyday of the year, there are 36 families who hear that news and even worse there will be 7 families whose child loses their fight against childhood cancer.
My little man and my nephew

A few weeks ago my best friend, of 24 years, and her husband heard probably the second worst set of words they can imagine, "the cancer is back."  I live far away and can only offer words of encouragement over the phone and the computer. Or so I thought. 

It is Childhood Cancer awareness month in September, so I have written a letter to the American Cancer Society to support getting more than the current amount to fund childhood cancer research and worn a gold ribbon and now I am going to sponsor a virtual 5k run/walk or family fun mile to help raise funds for their medical expenses and neuroblastoma research.  Please see the virtual run tab to sign up for the run. The run is from Sept 15th to Oct 31st.  I will start sending out the medals at the beginning of October. Just post the date you did your walk/run and the time it took you and I will ship away! Hope you like the medal I designed!.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Guest Post

         Today I got the opportunity to share and blog over at this website :

I can't promise I won't spend a good deal of time this month talking about kids cancer, but I promise I will share Little Man news with you as well. I have a longer post and a picture to share later this evening but for now I wanted to share that I was "published" on a different blog.

Also I want to encourage people to check back tomorrow as I am going to be hosting my first virtual run. The details and all will come tomorrow. And if you aren't sure what a virtual run is than please check back and learn!

Have a great afternoon...I'll be back later/

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

It is September 2nd and childhood cancer awareness month started yesterday. If you follow me on FB you know that my nephew is starting his battle again.

In the last week I have looked for and sought ways I could be of help to my family and other kids who are battling this disease.  I don't have financial means to make great donations for research or fly across the country to help them at this time. I was feeling stuck, my own bills mounting and yet this desire to do something.

 The night I found out  that the cancer was back, I quickly made a ribbon for Little Mr M! and then inspiration struck. I have opened a page on Cafe Press to sell some artwork I created for this month. (with the help of my Mac and a tagexdo).  Here is the site please share it, purchase something if you are so inclined.. But also for this month could you wear a gold ribbon, put one on your social media page, something to bring awareness.

I may be only one person but I have the power to make change if I use my voice to inform others. Join me in making a change, in helping not just my family but lots of families who fight this disease.  Go here please and shop for something, the proceeds will go to help a kids battle cancer either their personal battle or for research that is actually aimed a pediatric research.

 Below are some statistics I was not aware of until recently, they floored me, hurt my heart and made me angry all in the same breath.
- Each year in the U.S. there are approximately 13,400 children between the ages of birth and 19 years of age who are diagnosed with cancer.
- That means about 37 kids a day, every day 
- About one in 300 boys and one in 333 girls will develop cancer before their 20th birthday
- Approximately 7 kids a day will die from pediatric cancer- that is about 2550 kids a year. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Back to School!!

  So several months ago I started on a new business adventure to try and help offset some medical and daycare cost. I have not been as diligent as I should have been about getting the business up and running. But I have had some wonderful friends support me so far and want to give something back to all the people who have stood by me. I am in love with the company, the products and the connections I have made working with them! I have a private FB page that I would love to add you to if you want to keep up with other specials I will be running from now through the holidays..but for now here is my first special I am offering as a Thirty-One Products private consultant!

Special Offer for YOU!!!
Collect orders through catalog or online 
from now until Aug. 23rd and 
I will donate 20% of all sales to you.
You can use the money to buy supplies for your classroom,  to donate to your childs classroom teacher or for some personal fun
if you collect $500 in orders 
(which is $100 in your pocket
I will also give you a $50 credit towards any Thirty-One product of your choice.

Just a token to say THANK YOU for all that you do as teachers or homeschooling momma’s.

YOU ARE APPRECIATED more than you know!

$200 = $40 for you
$300 = $60 for you
$400= $80 for you
$500= $100 for you PLUS a $50 credit for Thirty-One

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Stuck together with super glue- remembering the past and rejoicing in the now

             The last few days have been a bit hard with Little Man. Between being tired plus a change of schedule and current boundary testing, he has been  off. Trying not to add too much thought into it, this has historically been a hard time of year for him as well. (Yes, I know he is only 4,  how much history is there, but there is history) So I have taken tonight after I got him to sleep to sit and look back at where we were and where we are now.

He is also angry about something right now and he is spending time yelling at me, but he trusts enough to yell and know I am not leaving. He is doing all those things he should have done to test boundaries at 2 & 3 but didn't really do because he was dealing with too many other things. He is challenging me and I am tired, but when I look back, I am no where as tired as I was 2 years ago.

Two years ago at this time Little Man was having nightmares (night terrors) so bad I was  lucky to be getting 2-4 hours of sleep a night. The terror would wake him at between 12 and 1am and he would be wired, terrified of sleep coming, so he would force himself awake for hours on end. Generally falling back to sleep around 4am. The day would start for me around 5:30 and him around 6:30. I am not sure how we made it through those days, but we did and we managed to laugh and love and grow closer in our relationship. The night terrors went on for a long time; with periods of calm followed by periods of chaos.
     I just pushed through until it all got too hard and I finally reached out for help. I called our pediatrician explained the night terrors, his reactions and where we were at. She said it was time to get help. I am thankful everyday for that phone call.
   I had a phone conversation with an amazing woman Mrs P., who gave me hope and more importantly let me know I was not losing my mind. Shortly after that phone conversation we met Ms R.  and started therapy. We started to work on the things that were causing the night terrors.  I learned things about a young mind that floored me, humbled me and inspired me. Therapy has given us nights filled with sleep, days filled with more love and laughter. It has created an attachment between little man and I that never thought we would truly achieve. It has allowed him to rest, to grow, to feel safe and secure. When we started the therapy Little Man was affectionately known as "the floating head" He knew lots of things in his brain, but refused to actually feel the rest of his body. Today he mostly allows himself to take it all in. We still have work to do and we will continue, but we have come so far.

About the time we started to get help with the terrors, we started having the issues with his GI tract. Eating became a challenge again. I overlooked it, blamed it on the sleeping being weird, it being developmentally appropriate anything, but thinking something was wrong. It got worse until we landed in the hospital twice in 2 months and again for a barrage of testing  two months later. T

The GI tract is still an issue, his response to physical pain- still a challenge, getting caught up emotionally to his chronological age - still a process. But he is secure and he is doing things a 4 year old boy should be doing and I rejoice in that. We have worked hard at weekly therapy for 20 months, we have started medications to help calm his brain so he can process that this, our family, is permanent. We still are seeing doctors to work on neurological and physical issues, but we are working the process together, with a better understanding of what is going on and how to handle it.

Tonight I am drained, in every sense of that word; mental, emotional, physical, financial all of it. We got not so great news at GI today and so we face the next challenge. But at the same time we got news that the MRI looks good. Therapy is going so well that we are cutting back, scaling down the support. Mrs P. and Ms R. believe that I can handle it, that he is doing awesome and we together are good. I am nervous but excited. They have been my support and understanding in ways that are sometime hard for the outsider/casual observer to get.

But tonight I am also thankful that when he laughs and smiles with me, that  his big brown eyes can light the room. The joy goes all the way through him. That tonight he could tell me "God is in my heart and all around me and He loves me."

There will always be growth, as there is with any parent/child relationship. But tonight in this moment Little Man knows the super glue has dried and we are stuck together forever. It will stretch to let us go apart but it will always bring us back together.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Interesting information: How one as little as Little Man can have to fight the past.

   Most people who meet Little Man or who look at pictures of him comment on how happy he is and then usually comment on his eyes or his smile. All of which I love and agree with! He is a happy kid, most of the time.

 As I have traveled the road of being a mom of a child from trauma I have found that I encounter people who respond usually in one of three ways to the journey we are on: 1) Acceptance and/or even knowledge of the road we travel and what it, at least, generally looks like. 2)  A want to know what  or how something like this can remain in a child who was so young's mind. And a belief that the road Little Man is walking is real and hard 3) Complete disbelief that a child who came to me at a year old can have memories and trauma "when he was just a baby."

From the beginning none of these responses have shocked me.  The people in group one have become my safety, those that I call on in the dark moments; they cheer me on, lift me up and try to help me understand what is going on and how to help. The people in group two have become my cheerleaders and support system as well. They listen, ask and are willing to accept and help when, where and how they can. Some in group 3 move quickly into group 2 or even 1 and some in group 3 move quickly out of my life. I have lost friends over this journey which makes me sad. Please know that I am by NO means an expert at what is happening in my child's brain that causes these triggers and response. I am learning every day with him and how to help him. But I know that look of fear in his eyes, the sound of his breathing, the stiffness of his body and the beat of his heart when he no longer feels the safety of his present and is in the grasp of his past.

The other day a friend of mine from that first group of people, who happens to be walking the road and has intimate knowledge of what it is like sent me this link:  Trauma Doesn't Tell Time

This article does a great job of explaining what is happening and why.

This paragraph at the beginning of the article explains a bunch of the questions people ask me in ways I have never been able to explain it.
Traumatic experiences, even the earliest and preverbal traumatic experiences, remain stored in our children’s brains. The normal information processing system that stores memories in the appropriate places in our brain is thwarted by the cascade of hormones and neurochemicals that are released during a traumatic or frightening experience. The memory- along with the images, feelings, and body sensations, remain literally frozen in their nervous system.

Please go read the article: I learned a lot about what Little Man is going through and even some things to help him. If you are in our lives and want to know more this is a great place to start and then talk to me, ask me questions let me share a little about it with you.  For those of you who already talk, ask and listen, this article just puts it in words that I have never been able to.

Thank you to all the groups of people I encounter, yes even the group 3's because they challenge me to make sure I understand and can explain it. For those who are my support system: I am not sure I say it often enough you guys are my rock when I am not sure how to stand. Thank you so much for all of  the love, kind words, time, hugs and so much else you give to us!

Monday, June 10, 2013


  The last several days have been filled with blessings and I am taking the time to count them right now!   I have recently let myself get caught up in negative thinking and worry so tonight I focus on the positive!

Blessing # 1    Little Man finished school last week and got a wonderful end of year "report card." He has shown growth in almost every area. There are a few of his scores that just made me chuckle at, like apparently he doesn't want to help clean up at school. I asked him why..his response " mommy at home it is you and me and I help there. In class there are lots of people to help the teacher clean up." Just had to shake my head. He is growing so much!

 Blessing # 2   Now because his school ended and mine has not there were a few days I had to figure out care for him  before his camp started. A wonderful teacher that I work with offered a while ago to watch him for me if I ever need it, so I asked her if she wanted to have some Little Man time for a couple days. She happily said yes and spent two days caring for him while I was at work. They had a blast. In face the first day when I came home he was "mad" I was home and that Ms R was going home! It was kind of cute, he crossed arms and stomped upstairs telling me to go away. He went to bed that night and got up the next morning double checking she was coming back...think he developed a little crush!

Blessing # 3   Those words you didn't even know you needed to hear but once they are voiced make such an impact on you. Friday afternoon Little Man and I got to spend some time socially with some people I work with. Now one of the people who was there has seen him since he was about 18 months old, which was about 6 months after we came home! As we were sitting at the table talking, she said to me "Wow he has grown so much. It is amazing what school and everything has done for him." She continued to go on and be more specific about things that she saw as growth and even mentioned that she wanted to share a little with "her man" so he would know how amazing it was to see Little Man like he was that night. She is well aware of all that we have and are going through, but I am not sure she has any idea how much those words, her observations and comments meant to me. I think all parents like to hear that their kids are growing, but as a momma of a child from a trauma background to have someone comment on his "growth" is sometimes all the encouragement you need to keep going down the tough roads. Thank you Tonya for the comment, for noticing..for giving me, probably totally unknowingly, a light to keep holding on to when there are dark moments.

Blessing # 4  Living like family! Little Man and I got a chance to spend some good quality time with an awesome family at church yesterday and today. We spent the day/night with them yesterday and had so much fun. I am always so grateful for the time with them. On top of having us over for the day, we stayed over night and they helped cover the last day of care I needed for Little Man. On top of them helping, two other amazing women from my church came and played a part. One of them was already planning on watching their two kids today while they were at work, with a little conversation another friend and her one month old son came over to add and extra pair of hands so that Little Man could add into the mix of care. That meant that for a time period there were 2 four year olds, a one year old and a one month old! Vickie and Megan I can't thank you enough for being willing to help and add Little Man into the mix today. To the Aguilar family, thank you for opening your home to add us in yesterday and today. Upon giving a thank you "gift" I was quickly informed that is what living like family means. Yes, it is! Thanks for loving us like family and reminding me how my "family" is growing!

I am blessed! Life may have some tough moments and I may be in the midst of them in several areas right now, but if I take the time I am reminded that there are more blessings to count if I just take the time!
Water play with friends today!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Bedtime conversations

One of my favorite times is putting Little Man to bed, (not because it means quiet time is coming for me) but because I love the routine of that time. We do all the typical bedtime things and then climb in bed and read 2-3 books. Little Man generally curls up, head on my shoulder and "reads" with me. We finish reading and he begs for another one, no matter how many we have read. Then it is hugs and kisses time; butterfly, eskimo and regular kisses and the now "hippo kisses", invented by a cute little boy who was looking for one more way to stay awake and another reason to laugh. I go to leave the room, he asks me to "sleep with me mommy." I say I have things I need to go get done and he very sweetly with 2 fingers in the air says "2 minutes mommy, just 2 minutes " Generally at that point I relent and lay down for "2 minutes" He cuddles in and I enjoy the sweet snuggles of my little man. Now sometimes it truly is only 2 minutes and I leave him, sometimes I stay until he is asleep and sometimes I stay until I wake back up again :) lol

But tonight the conversation turned a little more serious and a lot more sad. I had left and he came down to tell me he was scared. I took him back up and we talked about what he was scared of and why he felt he need the "big" light on in order to sleep. It started out as simple scared of the dark and then he kept talking about his being scared. Scared of the spooky things he said and then his eyes gave him away.  The sad overpowered the "scared" So I asked "Little Man what are you sad about?" The conversation then proceeded like this:

LM: Mommy how strong is our super glue? ( a phrase we have used to tell him that we are "stuck" with each other)
Me: Super strong buddy
LM: What kind of super glue is it?
Me: A special kind that allows us to go different places like school/work and yet always come back together.
LM: When does it break?
Me: It doesn't
LM: You mean we are together forever and ever and ever and ever
Me: Yeah buddy we are together forever
LM: I thought it went here is your is your is your is your daughter..I thought it went like that
Me: What do you mean?
LM: I thought that soon they give you daughter and I go away. That we not stuck together forever. When you came I was scared of you and didn't want to go with you..I was so little like Charlie the Caterpillar when you came to bring me to this place, but now you help me grow and I would be scared to leave. 
Me: It is okay that you were scared of me. You were little and I was new.
LM: Were you scared of me?
Me: Nope, I knew I loved you, that you were in my heart and that I would take all the time you needed to not be scared of me.
LM: That is good and now we stuck with super glue. 
Me: You still scared or think you can sleep?
LM: I go with you to turn on big light and I go to sleep, not scare the spooky will bring you a daughter and take me away. 
Me: Okay...I love you Little Man.

3.5 years home and man oh man I wonder what goes on in that little man's head. I wonder what great things he will do. 
Sometimes "super glue" keeps us close during nap time.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


As I look at you sleeping in my lap, the smile tips the corners of my mouth,at the same time as the tears sting the corners of my eyes. 

I watched you fight a battle I have not seen in a while as you faded not so gently off to sleep tonight. While you have needed to know I was nearby lately, it has been a while since I have seen the pure panic in your eyes as you fight with all your being to not sleep. 

Wiggle the legs.....fiddle with the fingers......shift position...... now shift again.....whatever it takes.... don’t go to sleep, just keep checking. 

At last you curled on to me and asked “am I safe?” And the past came forward once again and the whispered mantra of many nights slipped from my lips. “You are safe, mommy is here. You are safe, I will not leave you.” Slowly, softly until the panic subsides, your head nods in agreement and eventually your body accepts and drifts off to sleep. 

And so the smile plays with the corners of my mouth as I look at you my beautiful son, sleeping with your head in my lap. Knowing that I am mommy and that those words, that reassurance relaxes and comforts you to sleep. I smile, my heart fills.

And yet...

The tears threaten to come as I look at the scar on your forehead from a nightmare that got you, before I could get to you. As I watch, even in sleep the tense movements of your body. I sit waiting for you to relax, for true comfort and rest to win. The tears silently slide as I wonder how to heal a hurt I can not truly comprehend. 

And yet for some reason this mix of emotions in both of us seems almost appropriate this night..the eve of Mother’s Day weekend.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The sweet taste of success

 Little Man has been seeing his therapist for the last 18 months. She is an amazing woman who has saved my sanity more than once. She has made hospital visits, answered phone calls and generally been available whenever we need her.  This week we had a session that was a sweet taste of success for all the work that he has been doing. He spent 55 minutes creating stories, laughing and playing with a sparkle in his eye that even made her comment.."wow what a great sparkle his eyes have."

His stories he created were age appropriate, 4 year old fight the bad guy, make him good bring him to our side little boy stories. There were no scary moments in the story, there were no babies being left by mommies that didn't want them, there were no people jumping out of the darkness to grab him, there were no ghosts trying to take him away. Nope none of that. There was just giggles and full out belly laughs as he played with his therapist and I.  Quite a change from a week ago when he role played a mommy who looked at her baby and said "I just don't want you go find another mommy"

Progress is so sweet. That laugh...that sparkle (which I do see in him more and more lately) make every penny I have paid and am in debt worth it. His happiness, safety and security are worth it all.

Grow and heal Little Man...embrace the world and show them your strength. You are unstoppable!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Standing humbly before you..

There are moments in life that strip you bare and leave you raw. Some of them are wonderful amazing moments, but lots of them are hard, tough moments. Whatever kind of moment they are, the final outcome is almost always growth.

Becoming a mother was a strip me bare and leave me raw moment that was both wonderful and hard. I think most parents would agree that parenthood does that to you whether you have a biological child, adopted child, step-child or foster child. And most certainly there has been growth out of that moment when I became a parent.

I live for those moments that are wonderful and amazing and I believe that I revel in those. People at work are probably sick of the pictures I share or the funny "Little Man-isms", but those moments, those funny statements, those happy pictures bring such peace to my soul. Those moments bring hope..bring the future to me now.

At some point when you are parenting a child from a "hard place", you lose the realization that you are facing those strip you bare hard moments until the one that knocks you flat to the ground, down to your knees. I don't share much about all the medical stuff Little Man is going through because it is his privacy and because there are lots of people who don't/won't understand all that he goes through.  I am choosing to share a little more today because I am on my knees, picking myself and him up.

Little man was diagnosed over a year ago with PTSD and has been seeing a therapist. She is awesome and he is doing amazing. She and I often sit back in amazement, looking at each other with questions in our eyes about how 'old" he really is, not on paper, but in his soul. He "remembers" things and shares things that break me...shatter me...and rebuild me all in about an hours time. "He was so little,"  "He was just a baby"...I have said those things, fought those thoughts and realized that my knowledge of what the body/brain holds on to..."remembers".... is limited to my world.

His world before me was not my world it was hard in ways I can not imagine, nor do I really want to, but I listen to him...I learn from him...from my 4 year old. He teaches me to reach further, to try hard, to laugh and smile at the moments that make you happy.

His medical struggles continue from there...they involve seeing specialist in both GI and Neurology. But for his privacy I chose not to divulge it all on my blog.

Why am I sharing any of it, you may ask?  Because the recent loss of our dog has triggered things in Little Man that set us back a few paces. That brought both of us to our knees slightly bloody as we fight to get back up. I will fight along side him, because he truly is the greatest inspiration to me. He can be fighting a demon I can not see, cuddle up to find comfort in me..sleep for a few and then awaken and find the beauty in the world, things to laugh at, flowers to pick and reasons to say I love you.

But this fight is costing money and lots of it. I am a single mom, who is a teacher. I love my child and I love my students. Economic times are hard and salaries are frozen while medical costs increase. I have reached a point of not having enough. But I won't stop his care, it is too important. So here I stand humbly before my friends and family asking you to join my fight for this precious boy. Prayers are always welcome. Phone calls and visits are a blessing. But in being real and honest finances are where the help is most crucial. I have set up a place for people to donate if they can. Any amount helps. If you can donate we are thankful, if you can't but will pray or call or visit we are just as grateful. If you would share the link and ask for help on our behave, I will have to pick myself back up from a stripped bare raw moment of gratitude.

I set the account up last week and was blessed rapidly with $500 in donations, it is a start on the mountain of debt I have accumulated. But I have to keep asking for it will not magically fund itself.

Thank you to all who have supported us along the way. To those at work who hug me, reassure me and listen to my stories you are a greater blessing than I can ever repay. To all who have walked this journey with us knowing or not knowing the details of the  struggles, your presence in our lives is a blessing.  While I am working my way to standing up and cleaning up. While I am holding Little Man high up so he can reach victory I am remind that God is walking with me, for he has placed you all in my life.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

When new loss triggers old loss

This post is long overdue, but things have been a little crazy. So it is catch up night on the blog.

About  4 weeks ago, our doggie suddenly passed away. Cassi had been with me for 9 years and had been Little Man's best buddy from the beginning.  Cassi was patient, kind and generally wonderful as Isaiah crawled all over, including on her! He would use her to pull up on and try and walk and she would just sit there patiently letting it happen. He would "exchange" toys with her, because in a babies mind the one the dog is chewing on must be more interesting than my toy :) And she would even help him clean his plate at every meal!

I knew it would be hard when she passed, but I really thought I had a few more years with her. Little Man handled it for the most part amazingly well. He commented that "Jesus took his dog", not in anyway angry about it just kind of matter of fact. While he still occasionally asks for her or where she is mostly he has moved on..during the daytime hours.

What I forgot to anticipate in the midst of my own grief, was what loss was going to trigger for him.  It has been 4 weeks and we are mostly back to a normal routine. For the first few nights he was a "popcorn" child....up and down, up and down checking, rechecking and verifying that I was still here, that I had not disappeared. He would only fall asleep if he was touching me, could see me, feel me. His world of safety had been disrupted. Everything he had grown to believe would be there, the things he had trusted would be steady were not anymore. He is too young really to understand death and that life will end. And while he can not verbalize it completely, while he can not truly comprehend it all at 4, his body remembers loss...his brain stored the emotions..the fear..the hurt. And so we take a few steps back in order to move forward. We pause..regroup as a family and re-establish safety. We talk..oh how great it is now to be able to talk to him and have him talk. I love the growth we have experienced and while those weeks were hard I love seeing where we came to on the other side!

We love you Cassi girl and we miss you tons. Waiting to see you again at the rainbow bridge!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bald and beautiful

      So yesterday I made a small contribution in the fight against kids cancer.  I say small because I recognize that it will take much more than the $900-ish dollars I earned or even the $24k my team earned to make a sizable dent in finding cures or even just better treatments for kids cancer.

    Now I recognize on a different level than money, I made a much bigger contribution. I have had more conversations in the last 24 hours about kids cancer research than I probably have in ever.  When you go from having hair halfway down your back on Friday to no hair on Saturday it makes people stare, it makes people ask questions, sometimes appropriately and sometimes not :) Now as someone who chose to shave my head I expected the stares and questions and am not bothered by them. (and having a child of a different race has made me well aware that most people do not know how to ask questions appropriately.) I have also been the recipient of many compliments.

   My goal in shaving was to raise some money, donate hair ( was 17" donated when I cut it yesterday), stand beside one precious little boy (Mr M), lets lots of kids know I believe in them and their fight and most importantly strike up some conversations with people about research for kids cancer. I think I have accomplished all of those.

   What I did not expect is what I would gain from  the process of shaving. I have often felt that as a female in this society I was identified on some level by my hair (how long it is, how styled it is, what color it is and so on.) Yesterday I took that identification away. My hair is a quarter of an inch long now and I have never felt more feminine. Yeah I have felt pretty at times when dressed up for weddings or special events, but now it is different. Now I get to let me shine through. I get to be vulnerable as people ask questions, as people try and identify male or female. Please note the vulnerable thing is hard and scary for me. And identifying myself as beautiful is even harder.  But I have never doubted the internal me, the me that loves and cares with all my heart, the person who sometimes forgets a boundary when caring about a friend. That part of me I knew/know is good. Now I get the opportunity to let that strength be what people see because I can't hide behind my hair. My femininity, my beauty comes out in the caring I have for others, my strength comes out as I say "nope I am not fighting cancer, but lots of little kids are and they need our help. I shaved to financially contribute to St Baldrick's, but also to make people aware that this is an area we need more money for research." Now I get to show myself in my actions and in some ways I get to do it while thumbing my nose at the way society defines beauty.

    Today I see the beauty that my friends have always told me was there. I hope to hang on to that, but I am well aware that there will be times I fail at holding on to that truth.  That vulnerability and societal perceptions will creep in and test that.  As a victim of past abuse I will stumble, the voice in the night will come back. But for today I hang on to the beauty I see in the mirror. I hang on to all the people who have called, texted and commented that I "rock" the bald look, that my "head is nicely shaped", that I am beautiful.

 So tonight as I think it through, the lesson I want my son, my middle school students, the cancer patients young and old, male and female, bald or not to know is that their beauty is so much more than their hair or any part of their physical appearance. Their beauty is the way they care, the way they persevere, the strength visible in their eyes and their character. Their beauty is who they are, how they carry themselves, how they radiate from the inside, and they LOOK beautiful !



Immediately after
Glad to have support

Little Man kissing my head. He loves how soft it is, but misses the long hair!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

20 do you see it?

   Last night I attended a friends' wedding. I don't get dressed up with hair and makeup done often, but it is fun to do when I get the chance. People tell me I should do it more frequently, but it is generally laziness on my part that keeps me from doing it :) I admit it.  So this is how I looked last night

Looking at this picture I think it has finally really hit me how much hair I will be shaving off in 20 days.   I have a lot of hair :) I have wondered since I started this process and people have questioned me, if it was about me losing my hair or the perception from society about women and hair.

Last night I got a little sad about the fact that I would be bald. I wondered if people would have complimented me as much with no hair as they did with long curly hair. (Don't get me wrong I know my friends compliments are genuine and lots of them are about the beauty of me as a person enhanced by me being dressed up and done up!) But as I sat in that thought for a minute I remembered the teenage girl battling cancer getting ready for a school dance or her prom and having no hair. Or the elementary aged girl whose friends have pigtails and braids when she can't. I can't imagine how unbelievably  hard that scenario is for those girls or their parents.

It is easy for me in my mid thirties to decide to shave my hair. To chose to face societies looks, stares, comments and questions about being bald. It is easy for me to say hair is just hair and it grows back. But I am not the one losing it as a side effect of medicine. I am not losing my hair providing a daily reminder as I look in the mirror of the battle being waged inside my body.

So while I am nervous and I am sure when I see all the hair gone will be a little sad and maybe even emotional, it is minute as compared to all the kids battling cancer. So friends  I have a challenge, if you see a child, male or female, young or old whose is bald take the time to tell them they are beautiful! Make them smile.

Donate if you will to help Child Cancer research

Friday, February 8, 2013

22 days

                    In 22 days I will go from having hair halfway down my back to being bald. I have been told I am crazy, insane, amazing, weird and a variety of other questions/comments  have been thrown at me as to the why I am shaving my head.  I have been asked why not just donate it to Locks for Love, which by the way I am doing as well. The answers to all of this started out simple and easy in my mind, they have become a little more complex but the root of they why is still the same.

Childhood cancer SUCKS. It has always sucked, but when it touches your life, your family, suddenly the reality of it becomes much more apparent, much more tangible.  This little boy is the reason I will go from long hair to no hair in 22 days.

At the beginning of March 2012 my best friend's life was turned upside down. Her family became the "1 every 3 minutes" that heard the words none of us ever want to hear, your son has cancer. Since then it has been a whirlwind of doctors appointments, treatments, hospitals and tests. Through all of it M has stayed happy and charming. In fact during the "off" treatment times you might not even know he was sick if you didn't know. His parents are rock stars and his big brother is awesome! 

I am far away, the other side of the country, so I don't get to be there to be a daily support. I call and check in but it is not the same. So when my school signed up to do St Baldrick's for the 3rd year, I knew it was something I could do to "help". I wanted to do something to make a difference and show this little boy what a hero he is to me.  I am not sure that at 2 he will understand the symbolism behind why I am shaving, but he will know someone else is now bald like him! 

Hair is a simple price to pay if it helps find a cure!

If you feel moved please donate to my head shaving :)