Sunday, October 30, 2011

Positive Words - Days 7-10

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were okay. 

Cupcake stayed home sick Wednesday, and I thought it might be a real challenge, but Sugar stepped up to the plate and played quiet games with her.  She's a rock star!  Thank you, Sugar.

Saturday went great until the end.  Things spiraled down into a toxic vortex in a matter of minutes.  Ugly, ugly, ugly.  I'm still not sure what happened.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Positive Words - Day 5 + 6

I do not recall any negative words from Monday.  Monday seems like 5 years ago. 

Today, I mumbled many unkind things in traffic.  Tuesdays are SO HARD, because I'm in the car ALL DAY LONG...and it's SO EASY to complain about other drivers because they can't hear me.  I would never say that stuff to their faces.  I guess I'm no better than rude anonymous commenters, huh?  God is really working on me on this one.

Blessings to you,


Positive Words - Day 4

Sunday was smooth sailing, except for some little glitches before church.  We'll call them the "Biscuit Incident" and "Snarky Girls".  It's amazing how little things can make the stress level go from 0 to 60 in a millisecond.  But I think I held my tongue.

After my epic fail Saturday, I spent the day very angry with myself and pretty angry with my daughter.  I was a miserable piece of cheese. 

In the late afternnon, I had a thought...."What if she loses her hearing and what I said is the last thing she ever hears me say?"

It turned my heart around in an instant.  Confessions, apologies and hugs followed.

So, tonight, I ask you, "What if your child went deaf, and the last thing you said to her is the last thing she ever heard?"

Blessings to you,

Monday, October 24, 2011

Praise God

We had Cupcake's hearing tested this morning.

Everything looks great!

Her hearing has not changed at all!

That leaves us with two possibilities.  Either she is choosing not to listen or she is too distracted and preoccupied with everything in her life to actually hear us.  Or some combination of both.

Either way, we'll take it.  :-D

Thank you for the prayers.

Blessings to you,

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cupcake's Hearing

The first year Cupcake was here, we learned that she is deaf in her right ear.  Her left ear hears normally (slightly better than average).  In February '09, we found out why.  Cupcake has cochlear malformations in both ears.  The  ENT (Ears, Nose and Throat Dr.) told us that when kids are born with this, they are typically profoundly deaf in both ears.  She had never seen a child that could hear at all with this particular defect.

Until she met Cupcake.  :-)

Since the doctors don't know why she can hear, they could not guarantee that her good ear would hold out.  It could gradually get worse over time, or it could suddenly stop working for no apparent reason.  Or it could continue working throughout her life. 

So, if she loses hearing in her good ear, it's a big deal. 
This week, Cupcake is complaining of not being able to hear well.  She's saying, "What?" and "Huh?" a lot.  :-(

We're concerned.  :-(

We are going down to Children's Hospital tomorrow to have them check it out.

We're hoping for ear wax or an ear infection or something equally mild.

I'd appreciate prayers.

Blessings to you,

Positive Words - Day 3

Epic fail.  :-(

'nuff said.

What Fear Sees

When you look at life through the lens of fear, you see things other people might miss. Or you might see things that aren't there at all.

I was reminded again just how powerful fear is in Cupcake's life. It always sits just below the surface, only to be awakened in an instant.

Wednesday night, I was driving the girls home from church on a major thoroughfare (4 lanes, 50 mph, limited access highway with stoplights). Suddenly, we came upon a man pushing his car off the road – slow, faintly lit emergency flashers, but no lights. He was backed against the car with his eyes facing the traffic from behind (so he could jump out of the way when someone didn't see him.) I hit my brakes and put on my flashers so no one behind me would cream him. I leaned out the window and asked if he needed a push. He said, "No, but I could use a jump start."

In a split second, I surveyed the scene (he looks like a regular dad, it's directly under a streetlight, there's lots of traffic, it's a good part of town, his teenage daughter is in car, I've got my cell phone, it's definitely his battery) and decided to help.

(Note: I am not in the habit of helping men with car trouble at night without Steve. It's never happened before and will probably never happen again.)

As I slow down to pull off, Cupcake starts to wind up.
"MOM! What are you doing?!?!"


"Calm down Baby. It's going to be all right."
{Crying, Wailing, Yelling}

"Baby, you've got to trust me."


"He is not going to steal me, Honey."
It was an adrenaline rush, for sure. I was hyped up on high alert. I was more concerned with turning my car around on the highway, so my engine could face his. Then there were the crazy yahoos that didn't slow down or move over. YIKES!   Sugar was ever vigilant while we were stopped. She had my cell in her hand, ready to dial 9-1-1. She had written down his license plate number. That's my girl! J

We tried a jump start but his battery was completely dead. Then his wife came. So he thanked us and we left.

When we got home, Cupcake let me know how furious she was. Stomping and storming and yelling. Wild-eyed anger. She was keyed up like I have never seen her. She kept asking me why he was jumping like that. (I didn't see him jumping.)   And why were his hands behind his back? And how did I know he was a good guy? And what if I was wrong? He looked like a bad guy. What if he was a bad guy? And what would happen if he did take me? And what if he took Sugar? What if she was all alone? Who would help her?

Oh, dear me.

But why was Cupcake so sure he was a bad guy?

Finally, I made the connection. He was leaning against the back of his car to push it. His hands were against the trunk and he was pushing with all his might. What I saw as a man who was desperate to get his car off the road before he got killed, while she saw as an escaped convict wriggling to break out of handcuffs.


We had a l-o-n-g talk that night. It was good. J I have needed to reassure her several times since then that I will not be stopping to help men with car trouble. I also learned to stop and listen to her heart. She is an expert at being sensitive to any sign of danger.   Sometimes I should listen.

But, you know the best part?

The worst day of her life would be the day that I wasn't in it.

She said so. And that makes my heart happy. J

Blessings to you,


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Positive Words - Day 2

Well, I was off to a good start.

I really was thinking that carpool line would be one of my biggest challenges.  It will be.   Every newsletter from the beginning of time has clearly explained the drop-off/pick-up procedures.  It's not rocket science.  "C'mon People." almost rolled off my lips yesterday, but I stopped it just in time.

All went well at home until bedtime. My verbal self-control goes way downhill when I'm tired.  :-(  The girls fought.  Cupcake began to physically harrass her sister.  I stepped in.  It got physical.  After that is when my verbal onslaught started.  I did not hide my anger, frustration, or disappointment.  I did not use words that build up.  And the things I muttered under my breath and in my head were worse.

I decided before I began that I would challenge myself to go 14 days in a row, but if I blew it, I would not start over.  I will confess, apologize, and trust in God's unfailing grace.  His mercies are new every morning.

The purpose of this is to make my words a priority...To think before I speak. 

Blessings to you,

Friday, October 21, 2011

Positive Words - Day 1

Well, I think I made it through yesterday without any infractions. 

I say "I think" because often I can't remember what I just said.  This short term memory loss could work to my advantage ;-).

I have enlisted the help of my family to hold me accountable.

Blessings to you,

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Challenge

My friend, GB's Mom accepted a challenge to use only positive or neutral language for 14 days in a row.   Then she asked if anyone else wanted to join in. 

I'm in. goes.

I guess "language" includes tone of voice, huh?

Deep breath.

I'll be logging my journey here...for accountability.  I'm not sure I will ever make 14 days in a row, but I'm going to give it a shot.

Blessings to you,

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

When Helping Hurts

By Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

I read this book recently.

It wrecked me.

I was expecting to read about failed programs of poverty alleviation and successful models for doing it right.

I did.

But, more importantly, I read about my own poverty, my own mistakes, and my own false assumptions.

It was a very humbling read. In fact, by the time I got to Chapter 4, I put it down for over a month – because I didn't want to read it.  You might say I put my hands over my ears, shut my eyes, and shouted, "…na…na…I can't hear you!" 

Very mature of me, I know.

Well, eventually, I did pick it back up and finish it.   I'm slightly more self-disciplined about spiritual growth than weight loss.  But I digress.

Each chapter begins with some questions to get your juices flowing. It is designed and works best if you write down your answers to the pre-chapter questions before you read the chapter, so you can refer back to them at the end of the chapter. By doing this, you force yourself to actually think about the way you think about poverty.

At the end of each chapter, there are more questions to help you sift through and apply what you just read. Again, write down your answers so you can nail down your thinking. These questions are excellent for small group discussion. I would have appreciated thoughts from multiple points of view as I digested the material in this book.  In fact, I'm seriously considering leading a small group through a study of this.

Even though When Helping Hurts was painful to read, I highly recommend this as a must-read to the following people:

  • Anyone who sincerely cares about helping the poor, oppressed, needy, weak others
  • Anyone going on a short-term mission trip
  • Anyone considering long-term missions
  • Anyone who calls themselves Christian
  • Anyone who is thinking about helping anybody with anything :-)

Will you take the challenge?

Blessings to you,

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Soccer Update

Well, here we are, halfway through the soccer season, and I have an update. 

We are still playing soccer! 
You laugh. 

We were not so sure we were going to make it this far.  We had 4 practices before the first game.  The first 3 practices were in the 100° temps.  By practice #3, Cupcake was convinced soccer was a parental torture scheme.  ;-)  That day, I dragged  brought her to practice and she told her coach she quit. 
Her coach is great.  He's very gentle with the girls.  He reacted with , “Oh?”, a nod of the head, and then turned around and walked away.

Within 5 minutes, she had sucked it up and ran out to the field to practice. 

The next week, the weather broke.  It was 55° and raining.  She was not happy about practice, but she went.

The following morning, the skies cleared and she suited up in an official uniform.  :-D   Once she got in the game, all the weary stuff of practice  fell away.   (Things like pointless drills, useless running, and all that yammering by the coach about positions, rules and other such nonsense.  ;-)) 
Cupcake doesn’t understand the finer points of soccer, but there is one thing she gets.  


 Struggling against others in order to come out  on top…that’s right up her alley.  She’s scrappy.  She’s not afraid to get in there and battle for a kick.  Jostling elbow to elbow is invigorating!

When we got home from the first game, I noticed something about the pictures. 
My little Cupcake, who really has to work at happiness, was positively beaming in almost every picture! 

Every week, it’s the same thing - ear to ear smiles when she’s on the field.

You may get sick of all the soccer pictures I post, but I can’t help it.  In them, I see the true Cupcake, living in a moment of pure joy.  Not the forced smile of a child who wants the world to think everything is wonderful.  Not the tight-lipped grin of one who is enduring another photoshoot with Mom.  Not the somber expression of a child who carries the weight of the world.  Simply a child living life to the fullest RIGHT NOW.
And that brings joy to my heart.  :-D
Blessings  to you,

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Soccer Camp

This post was written back in August, before vacation, but somehow never got posted.  I have an update in the works.
Cupcake had her very first experience with soccer on Thursday.  She had a pre-season camp.  She was excited, but a little bit hesitant at the start.  The coach was outstanding and, before long, she was running, kicking, and giggling with the other girls.  I think this might be a good thing for her.

As I studied these pictures, I noticed something....Cupcake, in general, does not walk around with a smile on her face.  Happiness, or joy, does not come naturally to her.  Most of the time, she has to work at it...or we have to work at it.  But in these photos, I see almost contentment, or a hint of joy.   That's cool.  :-)

Blessings to you,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Therapeutic Parenting 501

This is the advanced course.

Don't worry, I won't hold your score against you if you've never parented a child from hard places.  :-)


Please read the following story and answer the questions that follow.

The Story:

Traumatized Child (TC) is picked up from school in a good mood.  Everything went well for the day.  TC asks, "What are we doing now?"  Mother answers, "We need to go pick up your brother from his class.  (Note:  This is the first day of teenage brother's class.  The mom of a homeschool acquaintance picked him up to take him to class.  Mother would be bringing both boys home.)  After a good healthy snack, Mother and TC drive to location of class, enjoying a fine conversation.  On the way, Mother mentions that she needs to remember to pay the teacher when she gets there.  Arriving before class lets out, the Mother rolls down the windows of van and allows daughter to sit in passenger seat while they cheerfully chat together.

After a short time, the door to the home opens, the Teacher stands in the doorway, one Homeschool Mom and several boys exit the house and walk toward their cars.  Mother says to TC, "I'm going to go pay the Teacher.  I'll be right back.  Mother walks to front door, pays Teacher while maitaining line-of-sight with TC, and stops to chat with Homeschool Mom.  Homeschool Mom has a wide range of well-behaved children who are all flourishing in their activities.  Meanwhile, brother and his friend climb in the van.  Conversation moves on to upcoming class schedule.  Unexpectedly, TC puts on her Miss Sassypants attitude, hangs out the window, hand on hip, and loudly demands, "Mother, Get your butt over here this minute!"


1. What just happened? What is the reason for TC's behavior? All clues are in text.

Multiple Choice:

2. How long did it take the Mother to figure out what actually happened here?
A. 3 Seconds
B. 3 Minutes
C. 3 Hours
D. 3 Weeks

3. What is the Mother's primary emotion?
A. Joy
B. Embarrassment
C. Compassion
D. Pride in her little angel

4. What is Mother's reaction?
A. Bewilderment
B. Flushed Face
C. Angry Eyes, Low Growl
D. "I will give you one.more.chance to"
E. All of the above

5. What is the Homeschool Mom's reaction?
A. Properly Horrified
B. Judgemental
C. Thoughts of "What a spoiled brat!" and "That kid needs a good spank!"
D. Awkward Moment
E. Unknown. It does not matter.

The Story Continues:
The moms return to their conversation.  TC again speaks up, this time pouring on the charm, "Mother, please get your bottom over here now."  Mother turns to TC and firmly tells her, "One minute."  TC jumps out of van, walks over to talking women and attempts to interrupt their conversation.  Mother quickly excuses herself and steps to van, breathing deeply as she approaches.  Once in the van, TC politely asks Mother for a Tootsie Roll.  Mother firmly declines, siting the disrespect that just occurred.  {insert lecture here}  Later that evening, Mother asks TC to write an "I'm sorry" letter to the Homeschool Mom and Teacher.  TC readily complies.  She seems genuinely sorry for her outburst, and apologizes to Mother.     

6.  T/F  TC's second attempt to get her Mother's attention actually showed improvement.

7.  T/F  Lectures are useful.  The lecture sealed the deal for repentance.

8.  T/F  This Mother did everything right and ought to be commended for her brilliant parenting skills.

9.  T/F  Disrespect is perfectly acceptable behavior.  It should be ignored so as not to damage this child's self esteem.

10. T/F  Everything has been resolved and all relationships are set right. 


Are you ready for the answers?

1.  What really happened?  TC is freaked out because a somewhat strange boy/man got in the van with her brother.  Her Mother did not seem to notice this alarming situation.  TC is oversensitive to feelings of danger due to her early trauma.  TC knows that her Mother is safe and will come when called (unless she is summoned by an obnoxious tyrant).  TC also likes attention.  TC thinks sassy is charming and funny.  When the alarm did not bring the needed Mother, her brain re-worked the message to a gentler, but still urgent phrase.  TC makes a last-ditch-effort to go get her Mother.  Once Mother was safely in the van, all danger was gone and normal operations resumed.  Later, TC was genuinely sorry for her outburst.

2.  D.  Yes, it took three weeks of contemplating the situation to figure out what really happened.  This story is true and I didn't even include all of the variables.  Therapeutic parenting is HARD.  There are no easy answers.  You have to get into your child's world in order to figure out their strange behavior and reactions.

3.  B.  Embarrassment is the primary emotion.  Anger is secondary.  Embarrassment remained my primary emotion every time I remembered the situation during the 3 weeks it took me to get to the bottom of things.  Once I saw the situation through my daughter's eyes, the primary emotion became compassion. 

4.  E.  All of the above.  Yes, I did.  Not my greatest parenting moment.

5.  E.  It doesn't matter what the other mom thinks.  The greatest concern for a therapeutic mother is to be the right kind of parent, regardless of tsk- tsks, raised eyebrows, gasps, unwanted advice, or pursed lips.  Focus on what the child needs. Being the best mom to this child right now is the priority.

6.  T.  Recognizing the effort would have been worth bonus points in our relationship, even if the world does not appreciate the subtle nuances in tone and wording.

7.  F.  Lectures are not useful.  What TC heard:  "That was very disrespectful...blah...blah...blah..blah..blah...."

8.  F.  This Mother failed on several counts, most notably not going directly to the child to handle the exchange immediately.

Mother succeeded in:
  • Healthy snack
  • Cheerful attitude at the start
  • Reminded TC she would be right back
  • Maintained line-of-sight
  • Recognized her own bewilderment and anger 
  • Did not react immediately in full blown rage
  • Waiting until later to work toward making things right
9.  F.  The child must be corrected.  Disrespect is unacceptable.  A child will feel less self-esteem if she is allowed to continue to disrespect adults and authorities in her life.  However, harsh, punitive, and consequence-driven methods will not work, and they will certainly not get to the heart of the problem.

10.  F.  All relationships were not restored until Mother recognized what really happened and apologized for not coming over immediately.  Then TC shared how scared she was.  They hugged.  Then all was right in their world.  One more brick in the bridge to attachment is laid in place, even though both Mother and Traumatized Child messed up at the start.

I write this not-so-flattering account in the form of a test for two sets of eyes. 

For the other trauma mamas out there, please learn to look for and pick up on subtle clues. Learn from my mistakes.  We can do so much right, and still miss the point.  It is HARD to figure out what is really going on with our kids' hearts.  It is HARD to maintain composure when faced with these kinds of behaviors.  It is  HARD to act in love and concern when there is steam coming out of our ears.  But keep plugging away!  Replay the ugly scenes in your mind again.  Did you miss a clue?  Pray for guidance.  Even when we both failed, in the end connection was made.  Don't give up.  Don't lose heart.  Your child needs you.

For friends, family, and innocent bystanders, please understand that my child is not a bad kid.  She is a hurt, scared kid with a big, bad attitude act as a coping skill.  She doesn't need a good spank.  What you see on the surface is only a picture of what's going on in the heart.  Please see that therapeutic parenting goes so much deeper than making bad behavior stop.  No amount of techniques and behavioral modifications are going to get to the heart of the matter.  My kid puzzles me.  Sometimes, I'm trying to assess the situation, sometimes I'm trying to figure out the best course of action, sometimes I'm purposefully not reacting in order to get my own emotions in check.  Please cut me and other parents some slack.  This is the hardest job we've ever done.  It wears us out physically and emotionally.  Encouragement does a lot more for us than advice. 

I want to be sure to note that the Homeschool Mom in the story above did not appear to pass judgement on us.  She was very gracious, though I'm sure the whole scene made her quite uncomfortable.  This was only taken from what I would have thought if I had been her.  :-) 

Blessings to you,

Monday, October 3, 2011


Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

For the first time in over 4 months, I have not taken any pain relievers of any kind in more than 36 hours! 

Every day this past week, I have been able to skip a dose here and there, or take less than the maximum. 

Prior to that, I was on daily, round-the-clock prescription and over-the-counter meds, at the maximum allowed limits or I was curled up in a fetal position, whimpering to my hot water bottle (sometimes both).

I don't know what happened, but I'm hoping I've turned a corner.  :-) 

I know some of you have been praying for me and I thank you for that.  Don't stop yet, please.   :-) 

Blessings to you,