Curious Life Lessons

This isn’t the subject I had planned to write on today. But a couple of things happened this past week and weekend that affected me so greatly that I found myself dwelling on how many curious life lessons we get when we aren’t paying attention. 

August has a gambling addition. He has some other potential addictions, but the the one he can feed at the moment is gambling. Because he looks for connections and control that he never got from his birth parents, gambling gives that. And he feels like he can control the outcomes. When he gets up, the high is incredible. When he starts to lose, he believes he can control winning it back. And of course, that doesn’t happen.

Now money can’t change hands while they play so that’s where it gets complicated. Because it then involves friends and family to pay off his debts. Charming and conniving from friends and begging from us to send money to the commissary accounts of those he lost to. His father and I won’t do that but his friends will. The begging always comes with life or death pleas that he’ll get beat up if this doesn’t happen immediately.

He will stop for a while…then it will start again. He knows it’s wrong, he knows he shouldn’t do it. But the addiction is fed by the Reactive Attachment Disorder which is very common. You can read more about that here. It’s sad to hear him call and talk about this with such sadness in his voice. He feels so helpless and so ashamed. He should suffer the natural consequences…the life lesson…of his actions. It’s a hard thing for a mother to think about what that might be, you know?

The other life less learned this weekend was mine. As long as I can remember, my grandparents have had my family over to their house on Independence Day weekend for a family reunion. At its height there were 45+ people at the house, sleeping throughout the small 3-bedroom 1.5-story house on floors inside or porches, and outside in tents and RVs.

We ate so well, cooking on one of the three stoves, with food from one of the three fridges or three freezers and eating on long re-purposed school lunch tables and patio tables in the garage and driveway. Everything just happened when I was little. Including the miraculous reappearance of 40+ homeade lemonade icees made every night and amazing homemade sourdough pancake mix every morning. 

So this home is my home now and I have tried my best to keep that tradition alive. Busier lives have meant that fewer family can come but we were still a great bunch of 17 this weekend. Going into the weekend, I worked as hard as possible to get the house and land ready but got increasingly frustrated with how run-down the house has gotten and how much work I hadn’t gotten done.

The house was built in 1932 and is showing its age. It sits on 6.5 acres and the grass grows fast! In my mind, the weeds were always pulled and the gutters cleaned and the house never needed painting when I came to visit. All of that needed doing when the family showed up! 

But once everyone got here, I kind of forgot about all that…

My sister finished mowing the yard which hadn’t gotten finished because of the rain even with my partner Billy mowing well past sundown Thursday night! My cousin Jennie’s husband Sean cleaned the gutters on the outbuilding and repaired the roof and he and my cousin Bryan stained the gazebo. Everyone pitched in on cooking and cleaning and we had homemade lemonade icees and homemade sourdough pancakes. Kids from the neighbor’s came over to play because we were the place to be!

On Sunday as people were getting ready to leave, Bryan’s daughter who is only two was so sad. She did not want to go. She clung to me and hugged me for what seemed like forever. Rachel had brought her partner Jake’s teenage son and he’d put up a good front but had said on Saturday that he wanted to come back. And Blake, a boy from a few houses down who was up from Florida visiting his great-grandpa came over to say good-bye when they were leaving. He ran over to where I was on the porch and gave me the biggest hug with tears in his eyes. 

When my grandparents first moved to that house in 1969 they started measuring us grandkids out on the porch wall. You can see some of the faint lines with our names and the date of the measurement. I’m not even on there anymore because the pencil lines have long since disappeared. Yesterday we measured my cousin Bryan’s daughter, and Jake’s son and Blake after he got done hugging me. Two of them aren’t even related to me but they are all a part of why I bought that house and why I keep this Independence Day weekend tradition.

Those moments were my life lesson. It wasn’t about the perfectly fixed house or the mowed lawn or the weeded sidewalk. It was about making those kids feel special that weekend and the names and dates on that wall.

I wish someone had put August’s name on a wall. 

 

Summer “School”-Summer Writing Ideas for Kids

This may be one of the hardest subjects to find a summer  “work around”. I know for August, he’d rather pull out his      own teeth than write. In fact, it was something we ended      up getting an accommodation for on his IEP. That he could  do everything on the computer rather than have to hand write any papers. He hated it so much and his fine motor skills were so delayed. But being able to write a coherent sentence is a critical skill for so many aspects of life. So let’s learn some tricks for doing some writing this summer!

First, a DO NOT do. DO NOT drop your child at the kitchen table with a pencil and a journal and make them write something every day with a fixed length and a subject prompt. You are sealing the casket of their never wanting to write again as long as they live. I mean it, don’t do it. For one, it’s summer and that sounds boring even to me and I’m a grown-up. For two, no one, especially a child is going to want to write or write well about a topic not of their choosing. 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s try some good ideas:

  • Get outside and find something fun to write about. Get cheap clipboards and paper and head out to the park and sit in the grass. Let them find a bird or a tree or a flower that looks interesting and describe it. Or go for a nature walk and find a bench to sit on a see what’s around you to write about. Maybe a frog hops by and you can make up a story about where it came from and where it’s going. 
  • Write a story together. August loved Goosebumps books when he was younger and a few of them were written so that the reader could decide how the story went. You get to a page and then it gives you a choice of which page to turn to next. Your choice decides how the story proceeds. He loved those. Taking turns adding a sentence to a story you create together allows you to connect and engage with your child. Neither can see the sentence the other writes until you are finished so you don’t know where the other is taking the plot. At the end you can read your creation for the rest of the family!
  • Write to distant relatives. I talked about this in a previous blog but it really is such a special idea. I now live in my grandmother’s house and as I’ve gone through her things (she was quite the pack rat) I have found letters she saved. Some from me and other grandchildren, great nieces and nephews, and other children in her life. All these sweet letters in their big chunky little child handwriting that she obviously treasured can’t be replaced by an e-mail or a facetime video. Even a postcard would make grandma’s day!
  • Get a pen-pal. When I was in middle school I had a pen-pal in Australia. I don’t know how I found her but we wrote for several years before we lost touch. I remember learning that our seasons were opposite. That blew my mind. I loved getting those letters. In the days of technology I know it is super simple to just find someone on the internet but the point of this is to make the connection. If your child is adopted maybe find someone from their home country. There are a few ways to find one here. Another option is www.globalpenfriends.com. I’ll put both of these on my Resources page so you won’t have to remember which blog post you saw them in!

If you are the parent of a RAD kiddo, I’d like to suggest a writing opportunity for you. As I was researching this post, I came across a place called Blue Monarch. It is a facility for Moms and their children to stay when the moms are trying to recover from addition and abuse. Many of the children staying at the facility have not had a stable grown-up in their life and the facility seeks pen-pals for the children. If you are interested in being a pen-pal to a child there, check out the program here

As always, being a good role model is one of the best ways to get your children involved in writing. Writing down five things you are grateful for at the end of each evening as a family, maybe after dinner, would be a nice way to connect and show your dedication to writing. There are lots of ways to incorporate writing into your summer!

Until next time,

Shannon

Inspirational Messages Help You and Bother You

I had decided that the first Monday of every month would be just inspirational quotes that everyone would fall in love with.  You would print them out and hang them on your bathroom mirrors and laminate for their wallets. This is  because they would be so moving and perfect and meaningful. But then I realized that the same messages that hit someone in the heart and fill them with hope and peace may also hit someone in the heart and fill them with anger and resentment. Because that has happened to me. So here I present Inspirational Messages to Help You and Bother You.

How can they bother me, you ask? Well, here’s one story. My former father-in-law was a Baptist minister. A wonderful, devoted man. My ex-husband and I struggled with infertility for seven years before adopting August then surprisingly getting pregnant almost simultaneously and having our younger son seven months later. During those seven horrible years, after every failed attempt, when talking to my in-laws I’d hear my father-in-law say, “If it’s God’s will…” followed by some platitude about next time working out. And I’m not going to get into a religious conversation about IVF or my personal beliefs. But you can bet that I cannot imagine anyone wanting to believe in a God that would have me go through the anguish I did for seven years. Much less be reminded regularly by my father-in-law that God was the one controlling the process! 

That being said, I know not every inspiring, hopeful message will be received the same way. So I tend to gravitate toward ones that might be funny, witty, or more real than others. Like not worrying about whether the glass is half empty or half full, just being happy there’s still something in the damn glass!

Having kiddos with Reactive Attachment Disorder is so much about survival and the day-to-day that words like “hope” and “peace” don’t rise to the top of the pile very often. Being more intentional about finding ways to get them into our daily thoughts is a challenge I encourage all of us to accept. Maybe forgetting the platitudes and just pondering those individual words for their intense simplicity is enough. Say them quietly to yourself and try and find time to focus on what hope and peace look like for you. And if you want to print this and tape it to your fridge, I won’t mind…

Until next time,

Shannon

 

Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh…

 

“Humor is to get us over terrible things.” —Ricky Gervais

I wrote about this a few months ago, but I find myself wanting to revisit it. Because it’s true. Laughter really can be the best medicine. And sometimes you just have to laugh. To keep from crying or screaming. Maybe to keep from giving up or giving in when you know you need to stand firm. Sometimes what your RAD kiddo thinks is the most horrible, awful thing they can say or do is really just hilarious in the big picture of everything that’s been done. As time goes on in parenting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder your perspective changes a lot.

When August was little we tried to find humor in his actions as much as possible. It got harder as he got older and more aggressive but some of the earlier behaviors were just hysterical. Before we recognized it as hoarding, watching him walk around the house with an old cell phone charger attached to a hair brush, a hanger, a small plastic truck, another old cell phone charger and a toy phone all dragging behind him was delightful. He’d have intense conversations on the phone in a language known only to him (not even Russian) then bring the whole mess to a chair in the family room and pile it on. That was his stuff and his chair and you touched it at your own peril. 

A couple years later for some reason he got scared about someone breaking into his room. Again, not funny but the way he handled it made it hard not to giggle a little. He set up booby-traps on the window ledges of his room which were a variety of miscellaneous things that any intruder would knock over on entry. He also had a bag of Doritos and a spork (yes, a spork) on which he had drawn faces. These were protectors. They had names and they stayed by the bed always to guard against anyone coming in to snatch him. And then there was a prolonged period of sleeping in his closet. We never figured out what triggered this period but eventually it subsided and he went back to sleeping in bed and I believe the Doritos got eaten.

The point of these couple of stories is that our RAD kiddos are always throwing us curve balls. Each child is different due to what they have been through and how they react in different situations. Their triggers are different and we spend a lot of time in “trial and error” parenting, not always knowing what the outcome of our decisions will be. A sense of humor can be one of the best coping mechanisms we can use to get us through when one of those curve balls hits us right between the eyes. It can diffuse a tense situation; it can also help us remember that maybe that situation isn’t as bad as we may think.

So, I jumped on the Internet and searched for “Funny RAD stories” to find other examples from other blogs or sites of when RAD kiddos had done things that made their parents or grandparents giggle. Not surprisingly, that’s not what people who write about Reactive Attachment Disorder devote any time to. Which is unfortunate. So instead, you get a site of funny parenting moments which shows that all parents have times when their kiddos do things that make you tear your hair out. But you just have to laugh. For a little laugh break, click here.

So bad…

My recommendation is find the funny. August is hilarious. And frustrating, aggressive, explosive, impulsive and exhausting. But as all parents do, we try to find the best in our children; make the best of the bad situations. And laugh!

Until next time,

Shannon

Summer “School”? Let’s get down with Science!

We’ve talked about Reading and Math so what’s left? Science! And we figured out we could find ways to do reading and math everywhere all summer. Can we do the same with science? You bet! Let’s find some ways to have Summer School Science with our RAD kiddos in fun and creative ways.

OK, so is the hair standing up on the back of your neck the way it was last week with math? Does any word ending in “-ology” make you break out? And were you the one they still tell stories about that start with, “Remember that girl that blew up the Chem Lab…”? Don’t worry, you don’t have to be able to build a DNA molecule to have fun with science. And you don’t have to be afraid to jump in and try to some fun ideas that will get you and your kiddos laughing and learning together!

Nature Walk
Here’s one of the first and easiest ways to experience science with your  kiddos. Go on a nature walk. But don’t make it about the destination; make it about the journey. A scavenger hunt of things you find on a walk at your local nature trail could include (depending on your location):

  • cocoon
  • worm
  • pine cone
  • bug
  • sedimentary rock
  • spider web

You see the idea. Check the internet for many printable  scavenger hunts which are designed based on the age of your children. And don’t be afraid to get dirty! Because that’s the fun part! And remember, when you’re walking, take only pictures; leave only footprints. 

Science Experiments
This can be another fun event for a rainy day. Luckily, many science experiments use regular household items and don’t require a lot of special equipment. And the best part is they get all of you together to do something interesting and the learning is kind of secret! Shhhh!

Here’s one I used to do when I was a kid. I don’t have an explanation for how it works, but it has fascinated me to this day. Maybe there’s a scientist among you that could chime in and give us the why.

  1. Fill a shallow pan halfway with water. Doesn’t have to be a particular temperature.
  2. Sprinkle regular black pepper over the top.
  3. Put bar soap in at the edge of the pan.
  4. Give it a second and watch what happens!

There are a lot of these kind of quick and easy home science experiments you can try here

Board Games
Another way to learn and have fun together is science board games. And there are several that can help learn general science and specific disciplines. Here are a few that jumped out at me:

  • Totally Gross: The Game of Science – Kids and parents will enjoy plenty of laughs answering silly science questions and acting out the Gross Out challenges
  • The Magic School Bus Science Explosion Board Game – Use science knowledge and strategy skills to be the first to explode a volcano!
  • Dr. Dreadful Scabs and Guts Game – Learn fun facts while exploring your anatomy!

For a very comprehensive list of science board games, check out this site.

Science can be dirty and gross and fun and a great way to connect with your RAD kiddo. They will love the chance to explore and won’t even know they’re learning! And that’s the best part.

Until next time,

Shannon

 

Music Hath Charms…

“There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

It’s possible that this quote jumped out at me because I got two new kittens over the weekend but it was true for me before! And it also struck me because I am always fascinated by the bond between music and mental health and science. For example:

“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” ― Albert Einstein

The ability of music to affect our bodies, our mind, our moods is well-documented. This article lists 10 ways, some of which were surprising to me. There is even a whole bunch of conspiracy theorists who discuss the way in which music was written to brainwash people back in the early part of the 20th century based on harmonic frequency. I’m not going there…

But I did want to talk about how much music can help with mindfulness and calm for both you, your child and your relationship. From my own experience. 

When we knew we were going to adopt August, before we went to Russia, I enlisted the help of my friend Susan to make a mix tape. Yes I’m that old and yes it was that long ago. There were plenty of lullaby CDs out at that time but I didn’t want sappy baby songs or traditional lullabies. For one, he was already three. And for another, I was going to have to be able to endure them as well! So I collected beautiful music from my favorite artists. You’d be amazed at how many contemporary artists have written lullabies! She got to work putting together a full cassette of all my choices which was ready when we got home. I thought for sure it would send him drifting into La-la-land by song two. 

You know what kids with RAD and ADHD don’t do? That’s right. Sleep. They don’t sleep. That cassette would play one side, then the other, then the first side again and he’d still be awake. I’d have fallen asleep and woken up one or two times lying next to him. But at least I liked the music! 

We did bond over the songs though. He loved the tape and we sang the songs and others every night and he would pick ones that he liked for me to sing. Before he got more English proficient, the singing was a nice bridge between Russian and English. As he got older, we’d talk about music and his tastes and mine diverged greatly. But I tried to keep an interest and let him tell me about the artists he liked because it was a connection we could maintain because I loved  music too, even if it wasn’t the same style. Music is music, even if the style is different.

I use music now in lots of ways, as probably many of you do:

  • Stress relief
  • Background noise when cooking or cleaning
  • Ambiance for entertaining
  • Motivation for yard work or working out
  • Keep me alert while driving

And each of these occasions requires a different kind of music sometimes. For me actually not completely. My go-to music since I was six years old has been Simon & Garfunkel. My parents had the “Bridge Over Troubled Water” album and one of those stereos that looked like a piece of furniture and I played it constantly till I had it memorized. They have been my favorite every since and actually work for me in all those categories. But I will switch it up on occasion. 

I have friends who love heavy metal. I am not a fan but that’s their jam for working out or house cleaning but I can’t get around it. They love it and I suppose it would keep me awake while driving! 

But here’s the thing, the science behind this says that it doesn’t have to be Barry Manilow to be calming. Check out this article to see how music can be beneficial no matter what kind it is! 

I will be posting some of my favorite music videos (expect it to weigh heavily on the Simon & Garfunkel) in the Resources section. Please share some of your stories of how music has worked for you personally or in your relationship with your RAD kiddo. 

Until next time,

Shannon

Sending Your Child with RAD to Summer Camp

About a month into summer break, most parents can’t wait for those two blessed words…Summer Camp.  The knowledge that you are sending your child to summer camp which means a week of peace and quiet for you with no responsibilities is like winning the parenting lottery. But for parents of kiddos with RAD, that may not always be a possibility. Let’s discuss some of the precautions to take and some of the possible pitfalls. I’ll start with a story about August and camp.

August went away to camp for a week when he was in middle school. At that point he was on three different medications which he took both at night and in the morning. I remember standing in line to drop off the medications and thinking if he gets half these pills in him it will be a miracle. I also remember thinking that when I was growing up, I don’t remember knowing any kids who took medication. This line was huge! And it didn’t even include the kids who were just dropping off inhalers. The child in front of us was dropping off Tums. I remember thinking, “What could be so anxiety-producing in your short life that you need a regular diet of Tums?” Now I didn’t know the whole story of this child but it just seemed odd. But I digress.

After we got him into his cabin and he found his bunk and we got him unpacked he was ready for us to leave. One of the few advantages of RAD; there is no homesickness or tearful good-byes. We couldn’t leave fast enough in his opinion. The next part became how much to tell his counselor. Enough to warn him so he’s not caught off guard but might make him not like August from the beginning? Or not enough so August gets off on the right foot but this young man isn’t prepared for what August can dish out?

Decision made to err on the positive, hugs and waves good-bye and prayers for no phone calls during the week. Pick up the next week didn’t seem to include any weird looks or need to pull us aside. The strangest part was August coming home with some other kid’s underwear…

So there’s the one big “pro” why camp is a good idea: a nice break for you, your child and their siblings. Here are some very real “cons” to consider:

  • Medication delivery
  • Camp staff ability to handle RAD behaviors
  • Schedule/routine disruption
  • RAD wanting same kind of entertaining/attention upon return home
  • Similar triangulation found with teachers or other professionals

If you decide that an overnight camp may not be right for your child at this time, a day camp might be a good alternative. Most cities have a variety of day camp options including general YMCA-type day camps as well as specialized camps dedicated to particular sports or interests.

There are also therapeutic camps designed specifically for RAD kiddos. For example, Nancy Thomas who is considered an expert in the field of Reactive Attachment Disorder runs a series of them over the summer. You can find that list here. I have no experience with them but if you do, please share in the comments It would greatly help other families. I would recommend looking at camps that are specific to RAD. They’re out there. Camps that cater to autism or general mental health issues or children with “behavior issues” are fine but as we all know, RAD is a whole different animal. Quite frequently even trained staff won’t have heard of it. 

I have added a resource page to the site where I will be adding lists of books, camps, treatment centers and other helpful tools as I come across them. If you have any to share, please send them my way. They are by no means endorsements but just a one-stop easy access place to see what’s out there. To head over there and see what’s there now (which isn’t much, don’t get all excited!), click here.

What it boils down to is you know your kiddo and your level of sanity. Would you rather stick it out another week with them at home or send them off to camp and spend the week on pins and needles hoping you don’t get that phone call? August did summer camp away three times I think and I never got the call. Doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have; just means I didn’t. 

Until next time,

Shannon

 

Summer “School”? – Let’s Do Math!

I love math. But I continually find I am in the minority. When I was working in advertising I remember a young Account Coordinator crying in my office saying, “I got into advertising because I thought there’d be no math!” And believe me, advertising was nothing but math. And  you might be getting the same from your children during the school year! So how do you get them interested in math over the summer when it’s already been a battle? Of course, you have to make it fun!

Since August is adopted, I can brag about him without sounding egotistical. He’s insanely good at math. He can do calculations in his head freakishly fast. The biggest problem he had in school was having to show his work. He could always get the right answer in his head; he just didn’t know how he got it and he couldn’t show you how. His fascination with money was the root of this math wizardry I think, so it’s not that he came by it with good intentions but hey, however it worked, right? 

The great part about math is that it is everywhere and there are opportunities to work on math and be very sneaky about it! Depending on the age of the child you can find ways to build math knowledge and they may never even know they were learning. For some great ideas, check out this article from Great Schools. Things like cooking, estimating how many beans are in a package of jelly beans, adding up prices in the grocery store and more all engage children and allow for great connections and conversation around the topic of math.

But for the child who just can’t get away from the screen…maybe on the long car trip or in the doctor’s waiting room, there’s an app for that. Some children just do better on their own and that’s OK. Common Sense media has this list of the best math apps to help boost math skills over the summer. Sometimes we all need the quiet that some screen time gives. If it includes some learning, all the better!

Money Bags Game

Last week we talked about what to do on a rainy day. It could be educational! There are a lot of board games that use money not to mention having to count how many spaces to move your little guy around. Depending on the age, try Monopoly, Life, Pay Day, The Allowance Game and Money Bags. All involve a variety of math skills and allow for the whole family to connect and play!

The biggest part of helping with math skills over the summer is getting out of your own way with disliking math. If you don’t like it, they won’t either. So work it out for yourself, play a game, and “add” math to your fun-filled summer!

Until next time,

Shannon

Getting Outside and Your Mental Health

When I was little I was a  nerd. A book worm. I played piano and I loved puzzles. I wasn’t what you would have called an “outdoor-sy” type kid. But I had this spot in a weird tree-bush in my back yard that I loved to climb up and sit. I could nestle there and read or sing or dream or spy on the cute boy next door. And there I found comfort and peace. 

I also loved to go camping which we did fairly regularly. Food tasted better cooked outside for some reason. I loved fishing and I loved ice skating on outdoor ponds while my dad went ice fishing. Maybe I was more of an outdoor type than I thought!

August at a state park near our house whacking at things with sticks!

August is a HUGE outdoor kid. He loves being outside and it immediately calms him. I remember once the psychiatrist asking what his favorite thing to do was and his father replying, “Go outside and whack at things with sticks.” And that was pretty true. He’d stay outside for hours even by himself and never seem bored.

When he was having a hard time he’d say, “Mom I need to go run around the house.” And he would literally run around the outside of the house. And when he came in he would be a different kiddo. Calm, collected, ready to listen. It was like the outside exorcised whatever demons had hold of him. Nothing outside ever scared him. Except snakes. That child is deathly afraid of snakes!

A picture I took of a hummingbird at one of my feeders.

What is it about being outdoors that has the power to ease our minds and quiet our hearts? There are sounds and smells and sights outside that have a mesmerizing effect.

I have four hummingbird feeders next to my backdoor. I live in what used to be my grandparent’s house and my grandmother put them there so I have continued to keep them there and filled because hummingbirds return to the same locations year after year. Every year I fill them in late April and wait. And I am overjoyed when I see them arrive usually in early to mid-May. They are so tiny and so fragile and to watch them furiously flap their wings and hover over the feeders to eat is amazing. Hummingbirds also fight for position and will swoop down at each other and perch on my clothesline and wait their turn. I can feel myself get calmer and more centered in the few minutes I stop to watch them. They have no idea how much they help me.

You don’t have to believe my anecdotes to know the value of the outdoors to your mental health. This article discusses several ways that being outside can be good for reducing stress levels, boosting mood, helping with anxiety and more. And MentalFloss, one of my personal favorites for information, lists not only mental but also physical benefits (more than just exercise) of getting outside. Read about those here.

Sunset one night in my backyard.

The days are getting longer. Depending on where you are reading this, summer starts in just a few days. Take every chance you can, with or without kids, to get outside and enjoy the free therapy of the outdoors. Work as a family in the yard planting flowers, take the dog for a walk, take yourself for a walk, just sit in a chair at sunset and listen to the night wake up. You will be amazed at the results.

Until next time,

Shannon

Rainy Day Crafts for Bored Kids

Look like your kiddos?

If you’re like me, the worst sound in the world is when you wake up on a summer morning and hear rain. The plan was to go to the pool all day, or the park or some other outdoor activity that would run the kids ragged. Now, about 30 seconds after their eyes open you’re going to hear the two most hated sentences, “We’re bored,” and, “Can we play video games?” And for kiddos with RAD, this unscheduled time can be so hard.

Breathe. You’ve got this. While structure and routine is important for children with RAD, a little rerouting of the day is not a recipe for disaster. You just need to have something to do that will feed their needs for action and tactile play. So today, I am giving you…instant puffy paint.

Of course this isn’t the only choice, you can google hundreds of rainy day craft ideas but when I saw this, it looked like something I might do by myself it looked so fun. And the other thing I liked is that it required things that you most likely already had at home. There’s nothing like deciding to do something crafty only to find that it needs some ingredient or item that no one keeps around the house. So by the time you head to the store you might as well just go to a movie and skip the hassle.

Clabber Girl is made right here in Terre Haute where I live!

But you’re the super-parent and this is going to be fun! I promise. Here’s the recipe:

  • All Purpose Flour
  • Dash of Salt (around a teaspoon)
  • Water
  • Baking Powder
  • Liquid watercolors or Food Coloring

The amount of flour and water depends on the number of children. I read many recipes and most say a cup of each per child. If you use all-purpose or self-rising flower that already contains baking powder you may be able to skip it if you don’t have it, though some say it makes the paint puffier. However, just a tablespoon is enough. You want to whisk it thoroughly to get all the lumps out and the consistency is of pancake batter. Thinner is fine, it just won’t be as puffy.

Put the colored mixes in ziploc bags and seal and let the children help with the mixing. Make sure those bags are zipped! If it were August, I would add duct tape. These also become your painting bags (think icing a cake). Snip off the small tip of one corner and let the painting begin! You can use regular paper, recycled cardboard, just nothing metallic, of course, as whatever you paint on will be going in the microwave.

Image courtesy of happinessishomemade.net (I’m not that creative!)

The finished creations should be microwaved for 30-45 seconds, depending on how much paint they contain. Watch closely because depending on what the paint is on it could start to burn. The paint will be extremely hot when it is finished so a grown up will have to take it out and it will need to cool.

Now this may not fill up an entire rainy day. You may still need that movie or those video games, but its a good way to connect the family and share some laughs. It practices fine motor skills which RAD kiddos many times have issues with. And it creates some good memories which come in handy when maybe things aren’t so good.

Have a great weekend! Until next time,

Shannon