Thursday, January 29, 2015

The most powerful word

Sharing a post from last year that still applies to my life today....

Afua doesn't walk....yet

Afua isn't communicating with signs....yet

Afua is not drinking from a cup....yet

I find myself  using these phrases at doctor's appointments, school meetings, discussions with friends or relatives. I can't seem to say the first part, without adding the word yet. I wonder if my yet is viewed as a mom who is unhappy with the way things are or if they will truly understand my feelings behind using the word yet. 

 Right now, the word "yet" gives us power to hope for Afua's future. It gives us permission to say that we know more miracles are around the corner. That the hours she works so hard in therapy each week are for a purpose. And we hope that she will get to experience new things as a result of that hard work. 

Yet, if nothing changes, if nothing improves, if life tomorrow is exactly as the days before, she is loved just the same. Her performance is not a measure of her worth. 

So I guess this is really the heart of parenting a child with special needs. We live in the moment, we hope for the future and we constantly worry that our moments with our kids are cut short. Balancing all these feelings is 90% of my journey.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sensory Fun for February

All kids benefit from sensory activities, but I've noticed that my children with trauma and special needs absolutely require them. Our play room is slowly transforming into a sensory friendly space with a swing, trampoline, wobble boards and activities for gross motor movement. We are also focusing on tactile sensory activities to do with our younger ones and I wanted to share our February project.

This is my favorite play dough recipe, it's safe for all my kids. Today, I added just a drop of food color (not needed if red dye does not agree with your child) and a dash of vanilla. My daughter thought it smelled like cupcakes.
top: with glitter, pink created with 4 drops of red food color, purple was 6 drops of red, 3 drops of blue

Some of these things I picked up at our Target dollar spot, others at a local craft store. Just make sure the items you choose are age appropriate and don't pose a choking hazard.

cookie cutters, pom poms, heart shaped pony beads and spikey balls

We used our dough today to make cookies. Rolling dough is a great "heavy work" sensory activity.

Even our boys got in on the action, this recipe makes lots of dough for all.

the spikey balls made fun designs on cookies
This was a great sensory activity. Kneading and rolling dough, using cookie cutters, various textured "toppings" and the smell of vanilla dough kept my kids busy for an hour. Perfect for a cold, snowy day. 

Monday, January 12, 2015


Oh, how I hate the word orphanage.  I hate what they do to children. I often say "children belong in families, not orphanages" and it's more than just a cliche to me.

Raising a child who lived in an institution, an orphanage, lets you in on the devastating truth about what that life does to a child. The effects are long lasting and they are heart breaking. That is why I advocate for children and want orphanages emptied out.

When Afua first joined our family, I could place her in the middle of a large room and she would only move the area equivalent to her crib. She didn't know a world larger  than that existed. She didn't know about toys, music, about tickles or a brother's love. After a short amount of time, she was tired and wanted to be alone.

discovering toys

She wouldn't cry, because in an institution crying does not amount to positive attention, only punishment. Institutionalized children feel little pain, they can shut off their world to block out feelings and they stop experiencing reality. Some rock, some bang their heads, some cause harm to their bodies. That is familiar and that brings comfort. Mother's arms feel scary and unknown. 

It's hard to describe the orphanage experience without exposing what my children went through. And it's just as hard to think other children are living that reality every day.  My children are brave, resilient survivors of a life that no child should endure.

This is why I advocate. Because I went, I saw and I experienced the after effects with my children. I know more children need families. The ones who are hidden in cribs, need voices to share that they exist.Because a picture of a child that is malnourished, neglected, disabled is hard to see. And it's sometimes scary to say "yes" to the unknowns that it brings. But on the other side, a family can be a game changer.

And this can be the result:
experiencing childhood joys