Monthly Archives: July 2012

Daddy-Little Man Date

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For those parents who have more than one child, do you try to schedule one-on-one individual time each week with each child? What kinds of activities do you do? Just curious–with two little boys around the same age, it is sometimes difficult for us to do on a regular basis. Today the hubby and Little Man ventured out together with their kayaks and had a blast!

Be Still Friday

[Stealing a moment just for me. Taking a deep breath, being still, capturing a fleeting moment of beauty.]

It’s been far too long since I’ve completed a Be Still Friday post. I’m on a mission to get back on track.

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a new green friend

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lighting up the night

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tiny flowers

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backyard bounty

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the next batch

For more, visit my other Be Still posts

Child Safety {Call Me Cuffs}

Two seconds.  

That’s how long I let go of his hand, and it was two seconds too long.  He was gone.  

Luckily, we were in a safe place, surrounded by those who knew us.  He was quickly located.

This was the first time Big Brother wandered off.  I never, ever, under any circumstances let go of Big Brother’s hand in public if he is not restrained in a stroller or cart.  Yes, he is almost 6 years old, but like many children with cognitive impairment and autism, wandering off is a daily reality*.  In the above scenario, I let go of his hand while I was trying to help another child, without even realizing it.  As soon as I became aware that I had let go of his hand, it was too late.  The worst part is that although he is somewhat verbal, he cannot communicate his name, point me out in a crowd or recite his address.

So when the creators of Call Me Cuffs contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in trying out their product, I excitedly said yes. I had been wanting to try some sort of safety wristband for a long time, but didn’t know what kind to buy.

The Call Me Cuffs are simple.  They are temporary ID wrist bands for children that you can customize with your phone number and allergy or medical needs. Let me emphasize that they are great for all children, especially those times when you will be in a large crowd.  I imagine they would also be a great item to have on hand for field trips, too.

All children, whether they have special needs or not, can be at risk of becoming separated from their parents in a crowd. The added layer of being unable to communicate, however, makes the Call Me Cuffs even more useful in my opinion.

So I tried the Call Me Cuffs on Big Brother. I let him choose the design in hopes that he too, would be excited about trying them out.

At first I was hesitant because I thought that Big Brother might not like wearing the bracelet as he has some major sensory issues.  I was also afraid that he may spend all day picking at it in an attempt to remove it.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that Big Brother loved wearing the wristband and didn’t once try to remove it all day.  In fact, Little Man wanted to wear one as well!  So they both have tried them out and love them.  Neither child tried to remove the wristband and they both thought they were pretty cool dudes while sporting their “jewelry.”

my number has been blacked out in the photo

What I loved about Call Me Cuffs:

I love that these wristbands come in a variety of colors and designs, that they are customizable and they can be purchased in a package of 12 or 28. I also was very impressed with the fact that they are not easily removed and also comfortable to wear.

I’m happy to report that I was pleased with all aspects of the Call Me Cuffs and have nothing negative to report!  I will be using these wristbands for Big Brother in the future as well, and I encourage you to check them out at their website:

https://www.callmecuffs.com/

There are many ways to help keep children safe in case of wandering off or accidental separation, and this is one easy, fun way to do it.

I received a complimentary 12 pack of Call Me Cuffs in order to review.  All opinions expressed in this blog post, however, are completely my own.

_______

*Some staggering statistics about wandering off in individuals with Autism:

“In a 2007 online poll through the National Autism Association, 92% of parents reported that their children with autism have a tendency to wander, but no formal estimates are available.”

“In 2012, the National Autism Association found that from 2009 to 2011, accidental drowning accounted for 91% total U.S. deaths reported in children with autism subsequent to wandering, and that 23% of total wandering-related deaths occurred while the child was in the care of someone other than a parent.”

‘According to data released in April 2011 by the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) through the Kennedy Krieger Institute:

  • Roughly half, or 49%, of children with a autism attempt to elope from a safe environment, a rate nearly four times higher than their unaffected siblings
  • More than one third of children with autism who wander/elope are never or rarely able to communicate their name, address, or phone number’

“WHY WOULD A CHILD OR ADULT WITH AUTISM WANDER OFF? 

Many reasons. Mainly, a person with autism will wander to either get to something or away from something. Like dementia, persons with autism gravitate towards items of interest. Other times, they may want to escape an environment if certain sounds or other sensory input becomes bothersome. Outdoor gatherings present an especially large problem because it is assumed that there are more eyes on the child or adult with autism. However, heavy distractions coupled with an over-stimulating setting can lead to a child or adult wandering off without notice. School settings are also an issue, especially those that have un-fenced or un-gated playgrounds. A new, unfamiliar, or unsecured environment, such as a relative’s home, may also trigger wandering, as well as episodes of distress, meltdowns, or times when a child or adult with autism has certain fears or anxiety.”

-http://www.awaare.org/

Adoption: Myth vs. Reality

country, musicI have a confession: I’m not a fan of country music. Now I know that may seem to be a silly and somewhat trivial thing to profess, but living in the land where country music reigns supreme, it’s kind of a big deal. So you may find it a little weird that a country song inspired this entire post. Stay with me, folks.

A few weeks ago as I was riding in the car, I just couldn’t fight back the tears that came when a certain country song came on that I hadn’t heard in years. I immediately felt the tears welling in my eyes upon the lyrics “How long do you want to be loved? Is forever enough, is forever enough?

So here’s my second confession. Years ago I would listen to that song daily as I endured the long, winding  and excruciating wait to becoming a mom. The wait for Little Man was very drawn out and sometimes tortuous (that’s a whole ‘nother post, my peeps, that involves lawyers and international battles.) The song became a comfort to me, a little pick me up to get me through the wait. That song, you see, is a lullaby written to express a mother’s love for her child. Each day that I waited, I would listen to the words and conjure up images in my mind about how wonderful it would feel to finally become a mom. In my day dreaming state, I would hold my sweet precious baby, he would smile and coo at me, we would rock and sing together…..it would be divine. Life would be absolutely divine. I was building a wonderful fantasy in my mind of what motherhood would look like, of what it would feel like. I wanted it more than anything and my entire life revolved this beautiful dream of motherhood.

Months later the big day finally came. My baby was placed in my arms, only he wasn’t that much of a baby at 11 months of age. There were no smiles and cooing. In reality, my son could not stand to even be touched. After 11 months of laying in a crib for 23 hours out of the day with a complete lack of stimulation, the last thing my baby wanted was to be rocked. He would violently rip and scratch his flesh and pull his hair out if I tried. Banging his head against the wall or the ground was the only source of stimulation he was accustomed to. He was scared of me. In an instant, my fantasy that had taken years to build had crumbled down around me. My reality was that I was now a mom to a deeply traumatized little boy. There were no warm, fuzzy lullabies that would make this better. There were not many carefree moments to be found, much less to sing about. There were tears, grieving and profound trauma. It stung like a cold, hard slap to the face.

Oh, but Hiking Mama, you must have been prepared for this, right? Oh sure, I had read every adoption book, followed all the best adoption blogs and even gone through hours of agency training. But still, it’s so different when reality is sitting in your presence, screaming a deep, sad moan of pain and hurt. We all secretly hope that we will be the lucky one to have our fantasy come true. We all hope our baby is the lucky one that will have escaped the trauma of neglect and institutionalization.

Nearly four years later, I am happy to report that my sweet Little Man has come a long way from those first few months. We still deal with the trauma from his past, but it is very trivial as compared to when we first brought him home. After all of this, you would think I would have become some type of adoption expert. That’s what I had thought, too. But fast forward a bit and I’m sitting in a room in China, staring at a four-year old boy who is completely detached from his world. When we met Big Brother, it took days for him to even notice that we were anything more than a piece of furniture or some other inanimate object.

Trauma? Oh trauma was his middle name. And first. And last. He showed absolutely no emotion or hesitation to being ripped away from his current life by us “strangers.” Sleeping in a new bed with people he’d just met who didn’t even speak his language? OK. Whatever. Sure. He had been so hurt by this life that he had completely retreated inward. Life was just something that happened around him; he was merely surviving. There were no Hallmark moments between mother and child. We were in survival mode as we prepared for the long journey to bring him back to life.

Hearing this long forgotten song last night did something to me that I never expected. I have never really minded the fact that my grand fantasy of motherhood didn’t quite shape up as I had expected. There were no tears shed for a loss of my perceived dream of what motherhood would be like. The tears I shed were in honor of the beauty of this journey. As I thought back to those days of day dreams and fantasies, and then considered all that we had been through, I couldn’t help but think, “wow, what a beautiful journey it has been.”

And here’s the thing–had I know how difficult, how painful and how difficult (did I mention that already?) it would be, I don’t think I would have journeyed down this path. I would have been too scared and would have doubted my ability to parent children from hard places. And had I not, I would have missed out on something far more breathtaking and amazing than any fantasy could ever offer.

I have gone to the ends of the earth for my kids. I have fought like hell for their love with every fiber of my being. I have found a strength in me that I didn’t know existed. I have fought for their trust. I have given all of myself to them in order for a chance to receive their love in return. I have fought for them, prayed for them, rallied for them, defended them and supported them. I have often felt defeated, my heart has been broken countless times and my soul has been stretched too thin at times. But I have seen trauma overcome and obstacles melt away. I have seen miraculous progress coupled with sad regression. I have felt joy that makes my heart explode. I have felt pride that is as deep as the biggest ocean. I have seen the scars of trauma soften. I have seen tiny victories that are indeed monumental feats. I have seen my children rise from a darkness that not many of us can fathom. And in the light, they have given me a chance to see the world through a new set of eyes.

We are still a work in progress. A glorious, wonderful, beautiful work in progress. There’s no fantasy that can compare to something like that.

—-

“Lullaby”

They didn’t have you where I come from
Never knew the best was yet to come
Life began when I saw your face
And I hear your laugh like a serenade

How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough, is forever enough
How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough
Cause I’m never, never giving you up

I slip in bed when you’re asleep
To hold you close and feel your breath on me
Tomorrow there’ll be so much to do
So tonight I’ll drift in a dream with you

How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough, is forever enough
How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough
Cause I’m never, never giving you up

As you wander through this troubled world
In search of all things beautiful
You can close your eyes when you’re miles away
And hear my voice like a serenade

How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough, is forever enough
How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough
Cause I’m never, never giving you up

How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough, is forever enough
How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough
Cause I’m never, never giving you up
Is forever enough
Cause I’m never, never giving you up

Barefoot Books: Review and Giveaway

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”
– Jacqueline Kennedy

Throughout life, there is very little that remains unchanged. Reading, however, has been one of the lovliest and most unwavering pleasures of my life. I can vividly recall stories read during childhood and reflect upon how they changed my view of the world. Even today, I feel like there is hardly a more divine way to pass the time than diving into a good book. I hope that I can pass on that same love of reading to my children. That means I am always on the hunt for books that will help ignite that spark in my two boys. So when I came across Barefoot Books the other day, I just knew I had to get my hands on some of their amazing books. It seems that their passion for weaving nature, the earth, different cultures and global communities into their stories aligns pretty well with my own motherly aspirations. The wonderful folks at Barefoot Books offered to send me some books to review and even offered a giveaway for my readers. Y’all, I am so excited!

A little bit about Barefoot Books:

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“Barefoot Books began with two mothers who wanted their children to have books that would feed the imagination, while instilling a respect for diversity and a love of the planet. Today, we are a world-wide community of writers, artists, storytellers, musicians, and others who are committed to providing timeless stories and captivating art that can help children become happy, engaged members of a global society.”

The Review:

The boys were thrilled to open the package from Barefoot Books when it arrived. We were sent two lovely books, Portside Pirates! and My Mama Earth.

Portside Pirates! was a major hit at our house.

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This colorful book also includes a CD so thay you can sing along with the melodic story. The boys went crazy over the very catchy pirate song and it’s been playing in my car stereo for days now. I’m even singing it in my sleep. But I digress. Not only is this a fun book with a great sing along CD, but the book also includes some history in the back about famous pirates and boats. It’s an all-around awesome book and my boys are really enjoying it.

My Mama Earth is another wonderful book that I enjoy reading to my boys at bedtime.

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I love that this book “emphasizes the essential role that nature plays in everyone’s life by equating it to the significance of a mother.” The illustrations are gorgeous and whimsical, and the story conveys the timeless theme of a loving mother-child relationship. It certainly makes for a wonderful addition to the bedtime routine. I have to say that I really enjoyed this one myself.

These two books are lovely, but most of all my children truly enjoy reading them. I cannot wait to add some more Barefoot Books to my collection, especially some that highlight other cultures from around the globe (they even have an adoption themed book, a garden book, a yoga book and a book about Moon Festival that I’ve got my eye on….heck, I guess I just need to order the whole catalog!) They have a large selection of titles for all ages, so I am sure there is something for everyone.

Barefoot Books also has a unique Ambassador program that allows individuals to earn income or fundraise for a child’s school by selling books. They also have a blog you can follow and free storytime podcasts for you and your family to enjoy. Check it all out right here.

The Giveaway:

Want to win a Barefoots Book of your choice? Well now is your chance!

Rules for entry:

1. Visit the Barefoot Books website and choose your favorite title.
2. Come back here and leave a comment telling me which book you picked. (Make sure your name and email address is included. Also, you must have a North American shipping address- no PO boxes.)
3. One lucky winner (randomly chosen) will receive their choice of one Barefoot Books title. The winner will be notified directly via e-mail.
4. Contest closes Thursday, July 26 at midnight.

For Additional Chances to Win – Please leave separate comments to let me know you have done any of the following:

Follow Barefoot Books @livebarefoot on Twitter
‘Like’ Barefoot Books on Facebook
‘Like’ Hike.Blog.Love on Facebook
Follow @Hikemama on Twitter

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I received two complimentary books from Barefoot Books to review, but as always, all opinions expressed on this blog are entirely my own.

an anniversary

On July 15th of last year, we walked out of a court house as a new official family of four. Although Big Brother had been home with us from Hong Kong for the preceding 6 months, the adoption was finally finalized in a court of law. I don’t really get excited about the July 15th anniversary as he was already “ours” (in my opinion) the day he walked out of the orphanage holding my hand.  The court date was just a formality to complete the legal side of things.

But I couldn’t pass up a chance to reflect on the last 1.5 years. You can read about Big Brother’s first 6 months home right here, in a post that I wrote the day before the finalization in court.  You can go back even further and read plenty of posts about our struggles and triumphs in the Adopting? or Autism tabs at the top of the blog.

Our very first meeting was heart wrenching.

So where are we 1.5 years later?  Well, it’s difficult to put into words.  We are in a good place.  Big Brother has made remarkable progress in every area imaginable. We still have struggles….massive struggles.  There is still so much that breaks my heart about his past and about how his past manifests in his everyday life. There is still a lot of trauma to be undone.  But we do the best we can with what we have.  And at the end of the day, I know we are one step closer to where we want to be.  There are days where I feel that I am not doing enough and days where I feel like we’ve conquered the highest mountain in the world.  We have our share of good days and bad days, good months and bad months.  Love is still something Big Brother is trying to understand and accept.  Attachment is a never ending ebb and flow of progress. We march forward and do the best we can.  It’s hard–parenting an older adopted child with significant special needs and a past of significant trauma. Friends, it’s so, so hard.  Sometimes the road is lonely.  Sometimes the road seems so steep that I just want to stop the forward marching for a bit and slow down to catch my breath.  But one thing is for sure.  We are all in this together and we will not ever give up.  I believe that love is enough, and someday Big Brother will understand that.

So here’s to 1.5 years together, my precious Big Brother.  Through good times and bad,  I promise you that I will continue to do the best I can and will always show you what love really means. I do love you, and always will!  

—-

“I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.” -unknown