Jealousy…

When Harry Met Sally. And if you haven’t seen the whole movie, what’s wrong with you? But it’s the scene in the restaurant where Sally convinces Harry that maybe, just maybe, not all of the girls he’s been with have had actual orgasms. That maybe some of them were faking it. She proceeds to show him how they might have done that. Right there in the restaurant. Now that part of the scene is hilarious but immediately afterward, a sweet little old lady-played by the director Rob Reiner’s mother in case you didn’t know-delivers one of the best lines of the film. To give you a little Monday giggle and make sure you read the rest of today’s blog, here’s the clip. The point of that little story is jealousy. We’ve all felt it. That little (or big) green monster has reared its ugly head probably more times than we want to confess. There’s always times when it seems a relative or a neighbor or a friend or a co-worker has it all together and you just can’t measure up. When you’re a parent with a RAD kiddo, it seems like it’s happening ALL THE TIME. When August started having school trouble, my jealousy stayed in check pretty well. I mean, shouldn’t people feel sorry for me and my sweet injured boy who is struggling so? Then we had to hold him back a year in school and then the run-ins with the law started and somehow his sweet injured self wasn’t so cute anymore. And as much I tried to keep myself from it, I started to feel jealous of parents in church and in my neighborhood who didn’t have to worry about taking their child to his probation meetings on Saturday mornings or the alcohol diversion program at 13 years old. And fast forward to today, I have just in the last month shared with my new church family that August is in prison. I’m watching friends from high school become grandparents and announce their children’s college graduations and weddings. And here creeps that large green monster once again who robs me of being able to feel true joy for them in the midst of my grief. Not surprisingly, today is again an attempt to provide you all with some helpful tips that just maybe by typing them I will get some help for myself in the process. Here are five ways to handle jealousy when it whacks you upside the head (which may not be what it feels like to you, but does to me!)

  1. Be a copycat. When something wonderful happens to a friend and you are immediately jealous, use that. Follow your friend’s example. Maybe you walked into your friend’s house and she’s completely renovated her kitchen. You may not be able to do that but you can change something that will make you happy. Buy new hand towels or a new curtain. If a friend is going on a luxurious cruise, plan a fun weekend getaway. Do something similar enough to make you happy.
  2. Practice gratitude on social media. Holy moly do NOT compare your life to someone’s life on Facebook! That is for sure a recipe for disaster! Studies have shown a direct connection between depressive symptoms and the longer time people spent on social media. So use social media, but spend some time using it to be grateful, do some “Today I’m grateful for…” posts. It might lighten your perspective and you might enjoy the responses!
  3. Focus on your strengths. One of the things I have to keep reminding myself through everything with August is that he’s alive. And he’s healthy. Everything else feels like a hug parenting fail, yes. But now I’m trying to turn my experiences into something useful for other people and hopefully over time I’ll have more lessons to share as August and I continue to grow and heal. Spend time doing what you are good at and what makes you feel good when you don’t feel like you measure up in some other way.
  4. Wallow-briefly-then move on. Be a good friend to yourself. A friend wouldn’t let you stay in a negative space; so follow your friend’s advice. Have a little pity party then get up off the mat and get back to thinking good positive thoughts. Thinking positive is a much better space to operate from and it will serve you much better in the long run.
  5. Don’t hate, congratulate! There’s enough happiness on the planet for everybody. My favorite saying is, “It’s not pie.” If you stay jealous and angry you will miss all the good things waiting for you. And you will miss out on good times with those friends and your kiddos and they will miss out on the wonderful that is you. Let them have their moments and be first in line to applaud.
I’m not for one moment going to say this is last time I’ll ever be jealous now. I will say that even writing this makes me feel lighter about how I feel about my own situation so I hope it might be helpful to one or two of you. If so, let me know in the comments, that’s what they’re for! Till next time, Shannon    ]]>

Where's All My Money Go? Oh Yeah…

Two weeks from today I will be visiting colleges with my younger son. A blessed event to be sure but also one that strikes fear into the heart of many parents. How do I pay for it? Please don’t let him like the out-of-state one! With August, the money woes started long before that. I have told him since an early age he will never have two nickels to rub together. The concept of saving any money he ever got has never been an option. It all needed to be spent immediately. The lack of impulse control and need for immediate gratification was just too much. Trying to explain that if he waited to add his Christmas money from his NC relatives to his Christmas money from his Ohio relatives to buy something even better was like trying to explain how to build a space shuttle. And we were lucky enough to be fairly financially secure so he thought the money for whatever he wanted would just be there. If not in cash, then on one of those credit card things…no matter that those card things had to be paid for someday! I’m not sure how he handled his affairs in the couple of years he was living on the streets before he was incarcerated. I know a little of how he made his money. Not the best choices. He tried a job once. Lasted three days. I even helped him open a bank account. He’s drained the money from the savings account we had for him as a child, where we insisted half of any birthday money go as a way to teach saving when he was little. When he wanted to get his own place his father and I ran the numbers with him multiple times on what it took to live on his own. He kept saying that wasn’t how much it really cost. Maybe as his pre-frontal cortex continues to develop that aspect of his behavior will grow. But I fear his impulsiveness will always run the show. But for those RAD parents out there who may have that battle yet to wage, I have these tips for teaching money sense to your kiddos! Preschoolers & Early Elementary (7 & Under) Think about it like tying shoes…it’s one of those things that you learn at this age and you have to practice.

  1. Communicate about money: Don’t hide your discussions about money. Don’t discuss your stress about not having enough to pay the bills but if you get a sweet deal on shoes or you’ve saved enough for a family trip to an amusement park, share the celebration as a family. And use the money terms (“save”, “share”, “choose”) and financial values (“save for a rainy day”) so they understand how you view and value money.
  2. Involve them in your shopping: When you recognize a good deal and verbalize it, it shows your child that you see the value and are making a decision about buying it. At checkout, let the child buy something themselves, hand over the cash and all. One of the biggest problems we had with August when he was little was explaining to him that a $20 bill was better than having $18 one-dollar bills. He just wouldn’t buy it. He liked have more bills. This resulted in the purchase of a Nintendo handheld game thing one year with $150+ dollar bills and a very pissed off GameStop cashier.
  3. Open a savings account: As I mentioned above, we set the rule of half of birthday money going into a savings account. The boys balked at first but they caught on and they became cool with it (at least in public) and got good at the math when they got money!
  4. Play Games: Duck Duck Moose, Bringing Home the Bacon, or even playing with a calculator while you shop and adding up the price of what is bought. Seeing the total will help them realize the actual costs of things.
Older Elementary Kids & Tweens (8-12) These children can begin earning money and developing personalities around money and you’ll learn which of your children are spenders (August) and which are savers.
  1. Brainstorm ways to earn: They won’t care about managing your money but they will care about managing money they earn. Help them think about their passions and talents. Love animals? How about walking neighbors’ dogs or pet sitting? If they are crafty how about making something to sell? They can research and create a business plan figuring out how much to charge by looking at others doing the same thing in the market, considering costs and figuring out what they need to make a profit.
  2. Talk about spending choices: One of the hardest things to do will be to talk about what to spend the money they earn on without criticism. The positive reinforcement of good choices is more important than the punishment of bad ones but you can begin to talk about wants versus needs. If you are out and your child wants a toy you weren’t going to buy and you say OK, make sure they know it’s their money they’re spending not yours. It will be coming out of their savings account. That’s a powerful lesson.
  3. Be positive about your job: This may be where I lose some of you. I know there are days when going to work may be the last thing you want to do. Or you may be working because you have to or for the benefits. But kids need to feel excited about the idea of earning money and what it allows them to do so paint on that smile!
  4. Model Philanthropic Behavior: Even if it’s a stretch to the budget, let kids see you helping those less fortunate. Remember that kids see everything and will take those behaviors into adulthood. Even if it’s some spare change into the Salvation Army bucket at the holidays. And ask them for input into your charitable giving choices. If they want to give their money too, let them be part of the conversation.
Teens & College-bound kids (13+) Now is the time to begin to involve your kids in your family’s financial situation. This is especially true when conversations about college get closer. Talking about credit scores and applying for financial aid and scholarships should be open discussions.
  1. Track dollars: There’s an app for that! Current is great one which has spending, saving and giving “wallets” tied to a debit card which parents can make deposits to and set up notifications for. However it is tracked, make sure there’s a conversation that follows so they can see where their money goes. As for credit cards, most experts say not until they have their own source of income and can make their own payments.
  2. Play “What If?”: Discuss tricky money situations and how to handle them. Who pays on dates? How do you decide? What if your date’s family is super-rich? While there may be no right or wrong answer, having the conversations will help your child become more savvy about the situations.
I know this is a lot to take in but you really only need the parts that apply to your child’s age! Money has been and always will be a monster to deal with and RAD does not make it any easier. I’d love to hear from anyone who’s found tips or tricks that have worked for them in handling money with their kiddos! Till next time, Shannon  ]]>

It's Spring…Maybe

The last few days (except for Saturday when it SNOWED) have been as close to Spring as we’ve seen here in the Midwest so I’m gonna call it. It’s Spring. I’ve been in touch with the guy who tills my big garden and I’m starting seeds this weekend and my clematis vines are sprouting so those are the signs I needed. Oh, and the sweet kids next door left a daffodil on my back steps (I think it might have been one of mine but nevertheless…). In honor of Spring, this is the beginning of a Wednesday series on Spring Cleaning. As I have mentioned in previous posts, this is one of the, “Those who can’t blog about it” ones. I haven’t by far done all of these things, nor do I expect I will get to all of them. But writing them down makes me want to get them all on a to-do list. And you’ll see that many of them can be done with VERY active RAD kiddos so they are a nice way to get the family involved. But there are some that are just for you, for your sanity, so make sure you focus on those as well. And that’s where we start.

Spring Clean Your Mind written by Margaret Townsend Take a minute to think about what’s supporting your body right now-the chair or the sofa you’re sitting on and the ground below your feet. Much of the time, we use more energy than we need to hold our bodies up. Learning to really sink into physical support can calm nerves, soothe emotions, and relax the mind. First, become aware of your feet against the floor. Place them in a comfortable, natural spot and press them into the ground a bit to feel your leg muscles tighten. Then let those muscles relax completely, allowing the floor to hold up your legs and feet. Next, notice your back against the chair. Tense up your shoulders for a couple of seconds, then release them. Notice the parts of your back that are in contact with the chair. You don’t have to hold up those muscles right now. Breathe comfortably and give in to gravity, letting the chair support you. Allow your body to feel held for a moment. Take time to enjoy that feeling. Become aware of what else changes when you simply let the chair and the ground hold you up. You might feel a softening in the belly, hips, and breath. Also notice what you may be “holding up” that doesn’t need holding. Your jaw, for instance. What happens if you soften it? Luxuriate in the support that is right here, right now. Spend a minute or two experiencing it, breathing naturally-falling into gravity and letting the effort drop away.

vernal-equinox-happy-spring-day

 
Use this as often as you need to calm your body and clear your brain. Till next time, Shannon  ]]>

Finally Another Visit…

Next time you find yourself feeling annoyed by a noisy environment-voices, phones, traffic, lawn mowers-try this one-minute exercise to shift your experience. The idea is to tune in to sounds around you rather than attempting to shut them out. Sit up tall, close your eyes, and let your face relax. (You might feel a connection between your jaw releasing and your ears softening.) Breathe naturally and think of yourself as a sort of receiver, taking in all the sounds around you. Try not to favor one kind of sound over another. Whether it’s chatter or clanging or honking, just hear it. Is it possible to experience this “noise” the same way you might experience the sound of a river flowing? Can you relax and accept what’s around you without wishing it were different? See how you feel after just one minute of sitting with this quality of openness.

It’s a new month. Spring is trying it’s hardest to get here permanently. Always a time for hope and new beginnings. Till next time, Shannon  ]]>

Life Isn't Fair

Today I’m thinking about fairness. For a variety of reasons. I’m leaving with my younger son in a couple weeks to do the first of what is looking like many trips to look at colleges. Now he’s a smart, talented kid who’s been involved in a lot of activities and has pretty good ACT and SAT scores so I think he’s got a pretty good chance of getting into one of the schools he wants. But a couple of weeks ago, like many of you, I was caught up in the news about the vast cheating scandal that had been going on for years at many of the country’s top colleges and universities where affluent parents were paying enormous sums to get their kids into schools they would never have gotten into otherwise. Essentially take a spot of a deserving child who had worked and dreamed their entire life of playing soccer for USC or studying at Yale. For our kids with RAD, fairness is a tough concept. They have been so deprived for so long and live in a space where their own survival is dependent on their being constantly vigilant about what they can get. I was recently talking with a friend about how to divide a cookie we were going to share and I said when my boys were little, the way I did it was one would cut but the other got to choose which half first. Man, they were out there with a slide rule and protractor and ruler and calculator trying to figure out how to make those pieces the closest to equal they could! Many thanks to their father’s mother for that trick! But explaining to a child with RAD, or any child, the idea of fairness is not easy. It’s where community sports invented the “participation trophy”. An idea I loathe to this day. We don’t have to pretend that our children can’t grasp the idea but we do have to remember how they think and make sure we have the words to explain the differences. It is part of their growth and development to understand that not everything will be the way they want or what they see as “fair”. To help with explain this idea of “fair”, here are some tips to explain to children:

  1. Kids think fair means equal. Back to my point about the cookie. And you probably know some adults that think this as well. You’ve been in a kindergarten class where every child has to have a green crayon of the same length. No one can have more potato chips than anyone else. We do that with our children from a very early age and they learn the idea that fair means equal. We train them to expect that. We then work for the rest of our lives to undo what we’ve done because it’s hard (and annoying) to see a child unhappy.
  2. What it should mean is “just”. Being “just” means considering all variables, people, and sides of an issue. Sometimes it’s a practicality issue-your younger child needs new shoes because he grew a half-size in six months but your older child hasn’t. Sometimes it’s emotional-your teenager had a rough day and you offer to take them out to dinner for some one-on-one time. If your pre-teen then screams that they want to go out to dinner to and you cave and agree to take them out tomorrow night, then all is lost. It’s the participation trophy. It undermines the consideration of the feelings of the teenager and it fails to teach the younger child that what doesn’t seem fair (in their eyes) is still right and just. Because attention is solving a necessary problem and healing a hurt.
  3. Don’t say, “Life isn’t fair.” I’m sure I’m not the only RAD parent (or parent period) who’s said or been tempted to say it hundreds of times! One kid counts the number of pieces of popcorn they have and you go through the roof! Well don’t be surprised to learn that this phrase means nothing to a child. It is OK to acknowledge the feeling: “I think what you’re really saying is you’re unhappy and you don’t like it.”. And you can explain what happened, “Yep, I’m not going to scoop ice cream the exact same way every time.” But don’t overexplain. But don’t draw attention to the child and their fit by making the “fairness fight” a big deal. You can talk through when a child does recognize a truly unjust situation, like when your child comes home upset because a child acted out and the teacher punished the whole class. That’s an opportunity to discuss that maybe you wouldn’t have handled it that way but you can try to see why the teacher handled it like that.
  4. Good News! You’re building resilience. In addition to developing empathy, children are learning to tolerate disappointment. We rob them of the ability to learn resilience when we make everything equal and fine (thing again of the loathsome participation trophy). Your younger child is mad because they got one present when their older sibling got three? Explain how three smaller gifts add up to one big bike. If your child thinks they got a raw deal, sympathize then move on. Be genuine and maybe share your own disappointment, something you wanted and didn’t get and thought was unfair. Always be a model for those concepts we want our children to learn.
It’s always hard to see our children disappointed. We want them to have everything. We want them always smiling and laughing. But we do them a disservice if we don’t help them learn the skills that will make them able to handle the realities of life. Because while we can’t say it…Life isn’t fair! Till next time, Shannon  ]]>

I Love to Laugh…

10 to 40: The calories burned in 10 to 15 minutes of daily laughter. 15 to 20: The estimated number of times a day that an adult laughs. 103: The ideal number of words in a joke. 3000+: The number of Internet sites devoted to sharing lawyer jokes. 5.8: The average number of bouts of laughter in a typical 10-minute conversation. Top-29-Funny-Jokes16-500x495 I prefer comedies to any other kind of movies (I HATE horror movies-why pay money to get scared out of your wits?) I’m always on the lookout for a good joke. Or even a bad one. Sometimes the best jokes are the bad ones that come right when you just need to bust out laughing at something so ridiculous. August used to hate it when he would say something so outlandish that all I could do was laugh. Because laughter is sometimes all we have as our defense mechanism in the face of a situation so absurd that we can’t believe we’ve ended up here. And with August and I imagine the RAD parents out there reading this can relate, there were more times than I can recall when I was in a conversation thinking, “How did I get here?” The irrational, argumentative, impulsive thinking of a RAD child is so off the charts bizarre at times that the best response, the ONLY response, may be laughter. And that’s OK. Now depending on your child, it may not be prudent to do it in front of your child. Sometimes August would get so angry. But sometimes I could get him to join in and realize the craziness of his thinking and it would help defuse the situation. As I discussed on Monday, feeling angry all the time gets so old. I didn’t want my entire existence with August to be about anger. I still don’t. I don’t want to look back on my relationship with him and only remember the raging and hurt and anger which right now is the bulk of my memories. I am finding ways to re-build a life somewhat separate from him though we still have very close contact (I get to see him this weekend!) But he is an adult now. I hope to be able to look forward to laughing with him as two adults someday. We have occasional times on the phone where we laugh about a TV show we’ve both watched or something my chickens have done or anything else and hearing him laugh makes my heart swell. If you are finding laughter hard to come by, I highly recommend you seek out things that give you reasons to laugh. Maybe it’s a friend who you always know has a way to get you to giggle. May a movie, book or TV show. I’ve listed a few of my favorites below. It is true, “Laughter is the best medicine.” I am a big fan.

Books Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. This is one of my favorites of his but honestly any of his books will have you in stitches. Are You There Vodka? It’s Me Chelsea by Chelsea Handler. This one is not for those who might want something a little “cleaner” but man, she’s funny. Bless Your Heart, Tramp: And Other Southern Endearments by Celia Rivenbark. Like David Sedaris anything from her will be hilarious. I actually got this on CD for a drive with August and he cackled listening to it. Movies The In-Laws. I’m sure the remake was good but I’m talking about the 1979 original with Alan Arkin and Peter Falk. I can’t watch someone run toward me without shouting “Serpentine! Serpentine!” The Princess Bride. Please don’t say you’ve never seen it. It should be required viewing to become an adult. This is Spinal Tap. See above. And pretty much anything else Christopher Guest has ever touched. He’s a funny, funny man. Television Television is much more subjective and with so many stations it’s hard to know what everyone can get access to. But the ones that come to mind are: VEEP Parks & Recreation Curb Your Enthusiasm Brooklyn Nine-Nine The Good Place Modern Family Seinfeld 30 Rock
So send me some jokes or stories of when laughter has helped! Anti-Jokes-640x399 Till next time, Shannon]]>

When I'm Angry…

ay about being angry. Why? Well, because I am. If you’re the parent of a kiddo with RAD it might feel like this is your “normal”. And I’m sorry for that because it sucks. But I understand. 1fbe05090597f69b06922d161f59693e.jpg You’re angry at your child. A lot. You’re angry at your partner. Oops. You’re angry at all the systems and services that don’t work for your child. You’re angry at the grown-ups that were supposed to protect your child and didn’t and caused the trauma that resulted in the RAD that you are now paying for. You’re angry at the “perfect” friends and families you see on Facebook or at the store or at school who have the lives you are being denied. And if by some chance one type of angry subsides, there’s always two or three or TEN kinds of angry to take its place. Angry takes a lot of energy. I remember seeing one of those annoying posters or memes once that said it takes more facial muscles to frown than to smile so you should smile because it’s easier. Yes that may be true but it would also take a lot more energy to find anything to smile about! What I’m angry about the most today is that right now THE WORLD  SEEMS SO ANGRY. I’ve been guilty of adding to it too. And it’s exhausting. Yesterday I posted a picture of a kitten sucking its thumb-seriously-watch it herejust to have something happy to see for myself. I read this article about the two Parkland students who have committed suicide in the last week. I cried. And I got angry. The shooting in New Zealand. The floods in the Midwest (more Midwest than me) and the horrible disaster in Mozambique. And I got angry. And then there’s politics. Which seems to have made most of us angry for two years no matter what side of the aisle you sit on. Spring and summer need to hurry up and get here so I can escape to my garden for even a few minutes/hours each day. Plants don’t get angry. I don’t think. Though mine probably get a little irked because I’m not the best at watering and weeding all the time. I get lazy. But they seem to produce and love me still. I wish brains worked like that. We could throw all this mess at them and they could filter it and produce and love anyway. Our RAD kids would be so much better off. But brains work more like a compost bin. Everything that’s old and decaying goes in and stays. Our brains keep everything, packing it down into the smallest, deepest nooks and crannies. And it will stay there and just start to smell unless we turn it and let in the air and the sunlight so it can become something good and beneficial to our world.  d44329466e8bc44a7b089b8c5c30e432 My challenge to myself and to you today is try and be a plant, not a compost bin. Let your brain soak in the sunlight (hopefully there is some in your part of the world) and breathe in the air and churn up the angry thoughts and burn them out of your beautiful mind. Only through constant focus on what is good and healthy can we all make our world less angry. I truly believe we are at a turning point where we can “Be the Change You Wish to See in the World.” Ghandi didn’t seem angry very often. Till next time, Shannon  ]]>

August Turns 21-A Milestone Birthday

This is the first picture I ever saw of August. It was sent by the adoption agency along with a video (which I will figure out how to get up here at some point-the technology is still a challenge). The chair was quite shocking. And that outfit. Which was the same outfit he had on when we met him in person. He’s just a little over three in this photo. An eternity away from the skinny, tattooed inmate currently sitting in a prison cell 90 minutes away from me. But those eyes are the same. They both show the same fear. The same need for love and acceptance. The same pain behind the beautiful blue. Some things I couldn’t see at first and couldn’t help when I could. I wish I could go back and tell that sweet face just to trust me and let me help him make everything OK. I can’t remember what birthday it was the last time August and I were together. I remember it was awful. We went to dinner, then I told August I’d take him to buy some clothes. He wanted to go to a store that closed in 10 minutes. I tried to convince him not to go but he was so stubborn. So we went. And we fought over the clothes after having fought over going and he spun even more out of control to the point where I just had to let him go away. He couldn’t understand how much he was taking advantage of me and the store. He couldn’t understand that his birthday was something I wanted to enjoy with him and how this falling apart made me sad. I can’t go see him on his birthday. He’s still on visiting restrictions until the 29th. I will send him a note, hopefully he will call. I sent him some money to get extra supplies. This is how birthdays have gone for the last few years. Some years I have been able to visit with him. My heart breaks for children with RAD who should be showered with love and affection on their birthdays. This disorder means that instead their need for control and unwillingness to believe the love is real or they are deserving means these celebrations many times will blow up and end in disaster like mine and August’s. I wish August a happy 21st birthday. I love you bud. Till next time, Shannon  ]]>

The Siblings in the Crossfire

He looked scared from an early age. But August seems happy to have a baby brother![/caption] As you read this I am driving down to North Carolina to see August’s brother this weekend in his Spring musical. For those who don’t know, he lives there with his dad while I’m living on my little farm in Indiana. Living away from him is one of the hardest things for me but there were a series of events that necessitated it which would require several blog posts to explain. When I moved five years ago, August stayed down there as well but that didn’t last long and he ended up in Indiana with me within six months (future blog post material…). But this trip got me thinking about the effects of RAD on our non-RAD kiddos. The groups that belong to and have over the years have been chock full of stories of the side effects of having to dedicate so much time to our RAD children that the rest of the family suffers. One of my earliest memories was the story of a woman in Oklahoma who had finally gotten her child into a psychiatric placement but her insurance had run out and she was now faced with the following dilemma: if she went and picked up the child and brought it home she would be arrested for child endangerment because she had other children at home and the RAD child had tried to poison them by putting tile grout cleaner in their shampoo bottles. If she didn’t go get the child she’d be arrested for child abandonment. Truly a no-win situation. My youngest son was not expected. Without getting too personal, near as I can tell, we accepted the referral to become August’s parents on a Wednesday and our son was conceived that following weekend. So much was going on during the time between getting the referral and preparing for going to Russia it didn’t even cross my mind that I could be pregnant. So, yet again, the two children’s fates collided when we got our court date on Friday May 1st and found out on Sunday May 3rd that a second child was on the way. My younger son witnessed a lot of things no small child should ever see. I remember one day when I was holding August during one of his rages. This meant him seated in front of me on the floor with my legs wrapped around his legs. One of my arms around both of his and the other harm holding his head so he couldn’t head-butt me. Usually I could get the door closed so my youngest didn’t have to see this but this one happened quickly. He walked by-he was maybe 5 at the time-and I remember saying in my calmest voice, “Everything’s OK”. He very quickly replied, “It doesn’t look OK.” Out of the mouths of babes. He heard all the screaming and saw all the destruction of the house. August was abusive to him both emotionally and mentally. He spent so much time alone while his father and I had to focus on his brother. I have spoken a lot about August’a resilience. He survived the first three years in Russia first being abused and neglected by his birth family then in an orphanage. But now that my younger son is a junior in high school and I’m starting to see the man he is becoming, I am in awe of his resilience as well.  Realizing what he has survived from living in a household with a child with RAD, I know he has equal survival skills. I have been guilty (as I’m sure we all have) by going down the rabbit hole with our RAD kiddos and getting too caught up in their drama and mayhem. I’ve taken for granted that my non-RAD son is good because he always has been. And I’ve dealt with the guilt of knowing that I’ve done that. I remember once my younger son realized that August got his birthday and “Gotcha Day” because he was adopted and that I got my birthday and Mother’s Day and his dad got his birthday and Father’s Day and was upset because he only got one day (I told you he was bright). That’s just the tip of the iceberg of all the ways he’s been short-changed in growing up with a RAD sibling. I must admit he and August have had some really nice conversations since August has been in prison. August has said he’d like to make amends for what he knows was horrible treatment of him when he was little. I would love to think they can repair the relationship as they become adults. They won’t have me to kick around down the road!Please feel free to share your stories of dealing with your RAD and non-RAD children. The successes and the dramas! Till next time, Shannon  ]]>

Getting Organized…or just pretending!

Today’s post may fall into the category of “those who can’t, teach”. I am sort of organized about many things. I am NOT organized about A LOT of things. My clutter tolerance is high. Right now I am writing from a desk that is almost invisible due to the amount of papers covering it. Occasionally I reach my limit and do a massive purge and get ALMOST organized. But not quite. Never all the way. Never to the point where I have systems or processes. Some places I am better. There are a few things in the kitchen where I am a stickler for organization. But that’s mostly what I inherited from my grandmother, in whose house I live now. I put things where she did, organized just so. Now the truth is she was one stack of newspapers away from an episode of “Hoarders”, but the bins and bins of craft materials were well-organized. Sort of. I am still digging out from under some of that. In an attempt of “Physician heal thyself”, I thought I’d focus on some organization tips today that maybe I can learn from, too. I know when the chaos of RAD life is whirling all around, finding a few places where life is organized can seem a big help. Hopefully these ideas will do that.

  1. Organized people avoid the big black hole. The bigger the storage space, the larger the mess. Smaller compartments and containers are the solution. Smaller bins inside large sideboard drawers to hold candles and napkins and small pouches inside large purses to hold lipsticks and pens will help minimize even the littlest bit of stress.
  2. Organized people trick themselves with treats. Don’t think children are the only ones who can be bribed! Clean the garage gets you a pedicure? Of course it does! Laundry gets you a bubble bath and glass of wine? You bet!
  3. Organized people say no to spillover. My son was a hoarder of things. Sometimes none of it made sense. I’m sure many of you can relate. But allowing ALL the stuffed animals in the room will eventually make you want to move and leave no forwarding address! We started donating some every year before Christmas which helped reduce the population, keep a little more organized and embrace a spirit of giving. If that’s not something your child can handle, try putting some away in a bin a rotating the bins every couple of months. You keep your organization and the kids get new toys more frequently! Everybody wins!
  4. Organized people keep useful things close. So how often do you use that juicer that you always have to move to get to the blender? Take some time to look around your kitchen, your dining room, your office and arrange it so that the items you really use are handy. Anything you don’t use should be donated and anything you use infrequently should be stored up high or in the back.
  5. Organized people spend 30 seconds now to save hours later. When you hold an item, decide right then where its final resting place should be. If you drop it in a pile, then that pile will be what you spend two hours dealing with over the weekend when you could be doing something much more interesting.
  6. Organized people move their cast-offs to their car. Keeping a bin in your car and regularly moving items out of your house and to it helps you stay motivated to get the clutter out. When the bin is full in your car, head to the charity of your choice, empty the bin and keep going!
  7. Organized people have twice as many hooks (and not one thing on the floor). Look around your house. How much wall space do you have? Probably a lot. Think about how much of it could be used for hanging brooms, mops, hair gadgets, clothes, kitchen items, whatever! Pinterest is full of clever wall hanging ideas that don’t break the bank!
  8. Organized people adjust their shelves. Have you ever been bugged by things not fitting in medicine cabinets or bookcases? Most of the time the shelves are adjustable. Take a little time to prioritize what needs to be shelved and get the shelf heights you need to get things on the shelves and out of sight!
  9. Organized people think in zones. Arrange things by use. A pet zone-leash, waste bags, flashlight, treats. In your pantry put all the school lunch items together for easy grabbing in the morning or the night before (or for your kids to make their OWN lunches!) The more your arrange your life to take shorter steps, the less stressed you will be searching for an item every time you need it.
  10. Organized people never miss something they toss. Attaching emotions to things makes getting organized almost impossible. I experienced this when I had to clean out my grandmother’s house when I moved in. The hardest was getting rid of pictures. And some of them were pictures of people who no one in my family could name! Once you make your goal a happier and more organized home, you’ll get rid of the clutter with ease.
Reactive Attachment Disorder can rock your world every minute of every day. I lived with holes in my walls and August had a room with a mattress on the floor and a dresser with no knobs for longer than I can remember. You give up the illusion of the Martha Stewart home pretty early on. But a little organization can go a long way toward keeping you sane. Please share your organization tips and successes! We can all use some help! (By we I mean ME) Till next time, Shannon  ]]>