Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Shirt

He sat under the tree as all his friends ran and played. I watched him on and off distracted by the friend who had joined us, deep down I knew I had made the wrong call. In a moment of frustration, I completely dismissed him, his trauma was inconvenient and I pushed it all aside for my ease. His sister had packed the pool bag and she had forgotten to put his swim shirt in the bag, he panicked and in my impatience I gave him a choice he either can sit out or take off his shirt and just swim.

He wrestled with the depth of his fear and the fear of missing out. I watched him attempt to take his shirt off a few times only to drop his hands and give up. Trauma won that battle and in that moment I chose not to be his partner, I didn’t put my loving arms around him, encouraging healing to flow. Instead, in my impatience I left him alone to fight the hard battle alone, my heart was heavy for I knew I had missed an opportunity.

Trauma parenting is hard, frustrating and exhausting. Behaviors and coping skills surface without a moment’s notice after some mysterious trigger. Trauma parenting takes time as we untangle the root system of lies planted in our children’s hearts. Trauma parenting is counter intuitive. Some days it feels carefree and light, other days it is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos; hard, unsuccessful and tiring.

We packed up and headed home, we didn’t talk about it as our night progressed. Once my house had fallen quiet, the interaction at the park came flooding back, tears filled my eyes as I pictured him under the tree all by himself. I felt mad at myself, I believe one of the keys to successful parenting is forgiveness, so I write this post not from a place of shame but from a heart that was broken by the reality of my son’s experiences and my lack of support for him in that moment.

I played the scenario out in my head and wondered what was the big deal, why couldn’t I have let him wear the t-shirt he had on? We were going straight home afterward and getting that wet was no big deal at all. Am I taking the approach of teaching and training my kids to healthy adults meeting them where they are at or am I using shame to get them to perform a certain way, the way I expect because getting them to just act a certain way is easier for me?

I processed and refocused myself, his healing is my main objective, it is the reason I make most of the parenting decisions I do, the reason we go to therapy, the reason we press in and address the big and small behaviors. It is the reason why I spend many hours a week talking through the hard things and big and small choices. It’s why we do power poses and lead with kindness. I take our trauma seriously and we do whatever we can to help that healing take place, here and now.

I asked myself a simple question, do I want my parenting techniques to merely force my kiddos into compliance or do I want to continue to attack the root of the fear in their lives? That day I was not united with my son and we both knew it. He was hurting and I left him in that pain to spiral and process, overwhelmed by the thoughts swirling in his head. Walking with people through trauma is a long journey but it is there on those paths I have found deep gratitude and my own healing. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The fade of summer.

We have officially reached the end of summer, our lack of structure and routine is catching up to us. We can only thrive for so long without those boundaries that exist in our daily lives. Boundaries that help keep our trauma triggered responses at bay; the air is filled with such anticipation this time of year as our bodies begin the shift towards routine.

My three oldest are all in school. I am so thankful for our small community and the school we attend where our teachers know us and our story. I am also so thankful to see that schools are beginning to have training on trauma and its effect in the classroom. Navigating new teachers and classroom dynamics is a change for any child; kiddos who have trauma, often have unhealthy coping skills that can be intensified with things change. This time of year is hard on my kiddos as coping skills and trust are put to a test.

We have had fabulous teachers that are willing to learn how to best teach and redirect my kiddos and also are quick to partner and find solutions for classroom. I am encourage this by talking with them upfront about what sometimes shows itself when change is introduced. My crew has healed and grown so much over the years that these conversations have become fewer and farther between. Our story is unlike so many other kiddos who have endured foster care, none of my children have IEPs but our hurt shows up in attachment disorders and anxiety that overwhelms them.

My oldest is beginning a whole new chapter of a new building as she enters middle school. With this change she will go from one to six teachers with the new challenge of changing classrooms. She is motivated by success and getting things just right. This time of year with all the unknowns and questions causes her to be insecure and filled with the desire to retreat. We are working on staying present and the things we can control.

My son will begin 4th grade, a pivotal year of growth where many new habits are made that will affect the rest of his education journey. His greatest struggle is the what others think of him; when he feels insecure the impulse control goes away and the struggle to focus becomes the greatest challenge of our day. I watched this week as he spent several minutes deciding where to sit in his new classroom, that was insightful as I watched his process. We are working on anything we can do to help him feel confident as he starts this new year off. This kid has a heart bigger than the moon and he cares so deeply.

My daughter will begin her 2nd grade adventure, her baby teeth are gone and she is growing in taller by the second it seems. I think back to our first two years together in preschool, at that time I was still foster mom and she was still healing and learning to trust. She has grown so much from our days of me getting called to pick her up early from the principal’s office due to behavior. Attaching to new people is a struggle, when she doesn’t know you, she doesn’t trust you and therefore she will likely not do what you asked. Each year as she heals and grows and with that her trust comes quicker.

School has not always been easy for us, we have had teachers that have worked with our family and our needs. I have advocated, had after school meetings and shared resources as I partner with this team to help my kiddos be successful. This time of year is filled with opportunities and hope for success. We are excited to kick off the this new year as we move towards healing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


‘Mama, your heart is in my heart.’
‘Yeah baby, always.’
‘Is my heart in your heart?’
'Always and forever.’

Here we are again...where the ache is deep. Our home is changing, the call came and it is again goodbye for us. These last 5 months have been a roller coaster, Little Man was with us one year, then he left our home to be with mom, he was gone 6 weeks, then 2 months later he left again for 10 days and he has been back with us two months now. This is our third goodbye. #thisisfostercare

Our dinner table was full tonight with loved ones as we shared our last meal together. Losing him is hard but watching him trying to make sense of this all is devastating. During dinner tonight, we talked about some upcoming plans, he looked up at me with tears in his eyes, ‘I don’t want to miss that.’ 478 days (give or take) I have been his mama, kissing his owies, soothing his anxiety, watching him grow and celebrating him. Selfishly, I don’t want to miss a moment, I know what my days look like when he isn’t a part of them.

It never gets easier, this time we are sending him to biological relatives. He will be with his siblings and he will have a piece of his history. My rational brain can state that this plan is best for him but my mama heart is screaming, NO! #thisisfostercare

I say goodnight one final time, soaking him in. Desiring to not lose any of the details that make him up. Memorizing the way the light dances in his bright blue eyes. Engraving his smile upon my heart.

I told them all Sunday and we prepared our hearts for today by counting down sleeps and talking about how we all were feeling. This beautiful crew of mine is brave and so strong. They love well, they press in and still after all these years, allow themselves to love deeply enough to know the ache of loss. May we never stop loving. May we love deeply, embracing this hard calling. May we love hard enough that loss is felt. It is there in that balance where beauty dwells and hope is born, among the ashes. 


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Meet the Crew

We have had so many new people following our story that I thought I would take a moment to introduce ourselves. I use “nicknames” for us all, partially to help protect their identities and partially because several of my kiddos are still in foster care, so I try to keep details vague.

Jules: Mama of the crew 

A few things you should know:
  1. I am left handed, I will die sooner but at least I am creative.
  2. I am the HR Director for a local coffee shop, based out of Omaha, NE. I have worked there 5 years and have been everything from barista, to shop manager, to coffee roaster. I am still in love with coffee after all these years. I love walking through our shops and seeing people meeting over coffee; falling in love, dreaming up the future, starting a business or new friendships. 
  3. I have been vegan 9 years, a journey that started for health reasons but over time has lead me to live this lifestyle more from a stance of compassion. We have a vegetarian household, my kids eat the eggs we get from our backyard chickens and the occasional cheese. I teach my kids to be educated consumers, when we go out they choose what they eat. Sometimes they shame-free eat meat but they know where it comes from and we give thanks for that life that was shed for our consumption. 
  4. I am a true extrovert, I get “drunk,” with all the greatness of FRIENDS. Our parties quickly get out of hand, with 30-40 people packed into our house. I love entertaining, on a normal week we have friends over to join us several nights for dinner and a Saturday morning brunch with my gal pals. There is a sign that hangs in my dining room that reads, GATHER, we take that seriously. 
  5. I am an Enneagram type 2, the Helper. I don’t know what I need and will get around to figuring that out someday. Until then, I will welcome you in, feed you, take your coat and the load off your back. 

Charlotte: 11

Charlie is big sister to the crew, she has a beautiful smile with sparkly eyes. She is quick to help and loves to be involved in the plans and details. She is strong, a defender and guarded spirit. She has this ability to jump into any sport and excel.

A few things she wants you to know:
  1. I love pets, currently training our new puppy, Mabel. 
  2. I love being adopted because I have a new family.
  3. I like meeting new friends, I like being a good friend, quality time is my main love language.
  4. I love swimming. 
  5. When I grow up I want to be a doctor that helps people have babies.

Daniel: 9

My sweet boy, he is compassionate and has a heart for others. He inspires me, a few weeks ago he walked up to a man sitting asking for money and offered his hard earned last dollar to him. He is a kind soul, he thinks of others first and is quick to share with people around him. He is funny, silly and still loves to snuggle with me.

A few things he wants you to know:

  1. I like sharks, the story of Bethany Hamilton, created this obsession.
  2. My favorite thing to play is mermaids, I have a mermaid tail I love to wear and flop around the house in.
  3. I love swimming, takes me to my mermaid roots.
  4. I love doing flips, anywhere and anytime. We now have a designated “flip” couch in the house. 
  5. When I grow up I want to be a doctor for animals.

Kennedy: 7

This girl is fierce. She has her own thoughts on things and lets you know. She is quick to crack a witty joke, she often leaves people speechless. She makes friends everywhere we go, people are drawn to her but she makes you work for it.

A few things she wants you to know:
  1. I love wearing dresses, pants are the worst, great punishment.
  2. I am always hungry, even when I am eating. 
  3. She has an incredible imagination, making elaborate games for her younger siblings to play. 
  4. I love being a big sister, she is so delighted she can now pick up baby girl. 
  5. When I grow up I want to be a teacher.

Little Man: 4

This Little Man has been a part of our life the last year and a half. Recently he has left our home twice, returning shortly after. Each time we fall a little deeper in love, as we settle in. He has found his voice, healed and grown so much over our time together. His smile, still takes away my breath.

A few things he wants you to know:
  1. Paw Patrol is my jam. 
  2. My name starts with a “T” like turtle. 
  3. I have blue eyes that sparkle and light up the room. 
  4. I am compassionate and love our dogs. 
  5. I love keeping up with my big siblings, if they can do it, I can do it. 

Little one: 3

She is the biological sister of my older three. She left our home late May, 2016 for the second time to be with biological mom, they are doing so well. We have an open adoption and this Beauty gets to come to our home every weekend to help bio-mom out with daycare and to bless us all. She is radiant, smart and silly.

A few things she wants you to know:
  1. She is all about babies, eats, sleeps and plays them. 
  2. She loves giggling with Little Man, they are best friends. 
  3. She loves her big sisters. 
  4. She is smart and says these witty sentences. 
  5. She still walks up to me and says, ‘I hold you.’ 

Baby Boy/Henry: Almost 2

This boy is pure joy, he lights up the room and charms strangers. He was my first newborn and has spent every day with me since he was born. It feels like yesterday that I brought him home from the hospital. Current words; Mom, dog, car, Gaga, Papa, cup, banana, bye and hi

A few things he wants you to know:
  1. He is fearless, as in zero fear. 
  2. His dimples, make any correction very difficult. 
  3. His is obsessed with cars. Plays with them, sleeps with them. 
  4. He is a thumb sucker and I love that about him. 
  5. He is charming, smart and determined. 

Baby Girl: 8 months
She and Baby Boy share a biological mom, born just one year apart. She is her own little person, all smiles and rolls. She watches the world around her, seeming to soak it all in. You can almost always look up to see her smiling at you.

A few things she wants you to know:
  1. She weighs 17.5 lbs 
  2. She has zero teeth but loves real food
  3. She is rolling over and army crawling 
  4. Her jumper is her favorite thing
  5. She is sleeping through the night