Trauma Doesn't Take a Holiday

by Debra Delulio Jones, M Ed, Founder and Owner of Parent Intervention & Training

The barbecue sandwiches are stacked on the platter, the hungry crowd has lined up to fill their red, white and blue paper plates, and the smell of chlorine is dripping off the kids. The dinner blessing has been said thanking God for the men and women who served our country well and the privilege of our freedom we share to even enjoy this day.

Just as Momma unleashes the devourers to her kitchen, it starts... the epic meltdown!

It could be over NOTHING! I mean something as small as why he didn't get to go first in line, why are we having pulled pork instead of beef, or how come his new fidget spinner is white and his friend's is green. 

Deep breathe! You try to hold it together knowing trauma is the driver of this train-wreck about to derail your fun-filled Memorial Day party. 

As your guests begin to eat, you excuse yourself and attempt to keep the boiling over child on medium low. But the scene escalates despite your best calming strategies. Cussing, crying, and raging trumps the sounds of the Beach Boys playing on Pandora. You know if you could just get some food in him, the blood sugar will rise and reasoning can return, but you didn't catch it low enough to turn it around. Thankfully, this was not a scene at our home this year, but one similar could have occurred on many holidays throughout our parenting journey.

We talk often in Trauma-land about what to do about the child in crisis, but today let's talk about YOU - the Momma and Daddy who just had a huge scene hijack your well-panned event for family and friends. A scene you know so well you could have predicted the holes In the sheetrock and the thrown plate of yummies that you're wiping off the floor as you apologize to the in-law who now has barbecue sauce on her white swimsuit cover-up! 

Family will never fully understand - as much as we try to explain the upstairs/downstairs brain. "How old is he now?' UGH! If I hear that one more time I'm going to spew! "Maybe you don't discipline him enough..." SERIOUSLY!!! You're thinking something along the lines of, REALLY?!?!?! Then why don't YOU take the next decade and see how that works out for you!

It not only hurts to have a child who suffers daily with the trauma of his past and the damage done to his brain, but it perhaps hurts even worse to feel judged for your parenting, especially since you've spent countless sleepless nights searching for answers on the internet, reading or watching everything you can get your hands on, and begging the God you trust for answers and healing. 

You thought that maybe this holiday would be different....  He'd had some good days and you strategized like preparing for war with fidgets and snacks and a sensory gym in your backyard, for Pete's sake! You are doing your part, but it never seems like enough. 

How do we as parents cope with the constant disappointment of well-laid plans gone South? Like Taco Bell, heading South of the Border SOUTH!

We've coined a new phrase as we see things getting heated in working with kiddos and parents, "You can turn this around! Not going to Taco Bell today. Breathe so this doesn't go South of the Border!"

Sometimes our playful tone can disarm the fear that drives the simmering, soon-to-be meltdown. But when we missed it, caught it too late, or for whatever reason that meltdown didn't follow suit and tame when we used our calming strategies tool box, how do we have the stamina to not just head to Taco Bell right along with 'em?

Here's a few reminders you probably already know:

1) This is not about me. His trauma is not about me or my need to have a flawless party. I have a special needs son who lives moment by moment with the scars of trauma. They are invisible scars to the untrained eye, but they are there. They will arise at the most inopportune times.
I am his Momma. I will meet his needs and do my best to prevent behavioral escalation, but his brain is still developing, healing, and overcoming, and I will not diffuse them all. 
2) I must ask for what I need. If I need the crowd to step out to remove the audience factor, I must ask. If I need a few minutes to regroup once it's over so I don't cuss like a sailor and call my child names he doesn't deserve to my sympathetic guests, I must take the time to let my whacko neurochemicals come back down.
If I need to take my child to a quiet place to reassure him once it's over, I must excuse myself for a while. If I need my cousin to serve dessert, I will ask her to do just that. Healthy people ask for help. That's a behavioral script I use on myself just as often as I teach the kiddos. 
3) I can't pretend this will all go away magically. A child or adult with a permanent disability such as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has a disability that causes behavioral escalations and lack of emotional regulation. Period!
This is not a behavior problem such as willful or spoiled kid stuff. My friends and family either understand or they don't, but I must stay in reality. Things will happen. Over and over again. This won't be the last family gathering that will be derailed. 
I can prepare, but I can't prevent everything. I must know what I'm dealing with and come to a level of acceptance. That was so hard for me. It involved much grief and loss. Loss of dreams I had for him; dreams I had for me; dreams I had for our family's future. Grief is brutal, but it is part of a hard parenting journey. 
4) I must view meltdowns as a moment in time. Because it is exactly that. That moment might be an hour, but it is in the big scheme of things a moment in time. I can either bitch and moan about how he ruined our event or I can reset my mind, yoga style, and get back to my party when my child and I are calm. In fact, the best thing I can do for my child is get back on track.
If I can be the bigger person (and trust me - this took years to grasp and I still screw up sometimes), but if I can show unconditional love and forgiveness and get back to a place of joy after a full-blown Taco Bell SOUTH interruption, I model for my child that he can get back on track too.
We can be mindful and think about our thinking. Then realize we have a choice even about what we choose to allow our thoughts to dwell on. 
5) I need validation and to express my feelings. This is so much to deal with so I have a trusted friend or family member I can spill my guts to when I need to make sense of what happened. The whole party doesn't need to hear my deepest fears for our future or my temporary desire to disown my child who I just secretly called a really ugly name behind his back! 
I need someone to feel what it feels like, but I don't expect everyone in my circle or on social media to bear the weight of this burden. They don't and really can't understand because they aren't living it TWENTY-FOUR/SEVEN!
Quite honesty, it is more than most people can handle and so they react, they defend us, they ill-advise, and try to protect us which isn't always the right answer for our special needs child or our family. And they haven't practically earned an unofficial PhD in trauma and the brain in search of answers. My soul-mate friend can understand, and she is there. You might need two or three of these because let's face it, it is a lot of "heavy" to put on someone. 

When my reset is done, at the end of the day or maybe the week or could be longer - I choose love. I choose safety, both physical and emotional safety. I choose commitment to my family. 

And on a really good reset, I choose thankfulness. Miss Karyn always said, "Have an attitude of gratitude" to Dane. Wonder if she knew how much she was really teaching me....

How do you reset after a holiday disappointment?

P.S. Don't forget the red, white, and blue wrapped chocolates. They aren't just for the yum and the fun; the serotonin boost is for YOU!

P.S.S. Need time for a big "reset?" Join us in beautiful Lake City, CO on July 13 -16th. 

 

 

Is Summer a Bummer? Tips for the transition from school to home by Angie Proctor MS, LCDC, Parent Trainer for Parent Intervention & Training,

I Know what you are thinking, "I'm not ready yet! What will we do with the kids when they get out of school?"

Just as they become accustomed to their schedule at school, BAM! They are home all day every day. Now they have to get used to a different schedule. They don't like change, AHHHHH! Transitions are hard for most of our kids to handle. Planning for that will help you to have a smoother time together this summer.

Some of you may be worried about the big vacation you've planned knowing it may be overwhelming to your high-risk kiddos. Fearing what behaviors will need to be managed on the big trip triggers anxiety and fear in you. Do we go? Do I stay home with the child who will struggle and allow everyone else to go? No, that feels like a punishment. But if he or she goes, it will punish everyone else. What to do?

First - stop and breathe.... (in and out).

Mindfulness is a big key to a healthy parenting journey. Breathe and capture those thoughts and feelings of anxiety. Name what it is about. What is the trigger? Is it not knowing how to handle the behaviors? Is it worrying what other people will think when you are out in public? Are you even wondering if you will be stuck in your house all summer because you are afraid to take them out because of their poor coping skills?

Once you name what your own fears are about, you can start working on a plan. Try to be proactive about the things you know will be hard for your kids this summer. Here are some suggestions:

1) Create a summertime schedule - your kids need structure, so provide it for them. It might be helpful to make a poster that includes wake up time, breakfast, activities, appointments, snacks, etc. It helps them know what is happening each day. If they struggle with control issues, this can help them to process ahead of time what the day will look like. Don't forget to transition them to new activities with verbal cues. "In 5 minutes we will be going to the pool. What do you need to be ready?" Help them process what it takes to move to the next activity.
2) Be mindful of their physical and emotional needs - strategically plan times for sensory integration activities. Pinterest is amazing for ideas! Don't forget they need food and hydration at least every two hours to keep their brains on track. If you see a meltdown coming, ask yourself, "Has he or she eaten or had water lately?" Be careful not to overload their schedules. Too many transitions from one thing to another can cause emotional escalations. Try to catch low levels of dysregulation. If you see it coming and acknowledge that you see they are having a hard time, you might prevent a big blowup.
3) Use this time for opportunities to CONNECT - summer is a great time to build in personal time with your kids. Take the extra cuddle time in the morning if you don't have to be anywhere. Play games and take the time to just BE WITH. A clue to secure attachment is being emotionally present to your children and providing a sense of being with them. By doing this you send the message to your child, "I see you. I know who you are. I cherish you. I DELIGHT in you." 
4) Always have a Plan B - have a contingency plan even when you go on the big trip. Plan out what to do if you all go to Six Flags and one of your kids can't handle the noise or the crowd. If you see a meltdown starting, can you tag team with your spouse or another adult that is with you? Or do you have an older child that can take the other children on a ride while you help the melting child to calm? Know what it takes to calm your struggling child. You can be proactive by letting them practice calming strategies when they are feeling safe and well-rested. Let them try different exercises, textures, sounds and techniques. The ones they choose the most, keep in mind when they start coming unwound. You can use these strategies with them when they cannot think of what to do. Remember, you may have to regulate for them. They need you during this time. Then when they are able to calm, plan with them what will happen next. If they can rejoin the group, get right back on track. When it is over, it's over!
They have enough shame to fill an ocean. They don't need the reminder that they have disappointed you and possibly ruin a trip for everyone else.

 

 

 

Balancing it All on a Hard Parenting Journey

How do you balance it all on a hard parenting journey?

by Debra Delulio Jones, M Ed, Founder and Owner of Parent Intervention & Training

Some days it seems like there just isn't enough of Momma or Daddy to go around. We have so much to juggle between the meals, the wheels, and managing all the feels!

Housework? Schoolwork? Yardwork? UGH! A never ending list of "to-dos! So much to do and so much to be concerned about as we protect, teach, and provide for our littles and bigs.

Parenting is tough enough these days when our kids are exposed to so much through media and social media. It is challenging to protect their fragile, developing minds, and they are influenced by so much that seems beyond our control. 

It feels like we need to have several extra pairs of eyes to keep our precious ones physically, mentally, and emotionally safe. Add the extra pressures of parenting a child with early risk factors such as abandonment, neglect, abuse, trauma, and/or substances in utero and the balancing act is even tougher.

We need to spend many additional hours with connecting strategies to build trust and secure attachments as if starting over with an infant, but in a much bigger body. Their resistance can make this quite difficult and try our patience. 

Many kids from early harm require intensive therapies such as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, play therapy, or programs which address various learning differences and processing problems. Some children do well with equine therapy, music therapy, or may require specialized appointments such as neurofeedback, auditory processing programs, or brain integration therapy. Special education meetings and teacher conferences may also fill our calendars. 

It is a lot to prioritize and manage. These scheduling demands can drain our energy and leave us feeling quite overwhelmed as the laundry begins to form peaks that rival a small mountain range and our feet stick to yesterday's spilled Dr. Pepper on the floor. 

Here's a few suggestions to help keep it balanced and in perspective:

1) Determine what must be done by you. Most of us are not great delegators. We tend to try to do it all, but clearly the things that can only be done by you should be top priority. What builds relationship? What makes my child feel safe? What routines and rituals help attach my child to me? That is where my time is most needed.
2) What therapies or treatment programs are most helpful at this point in time? At times in our need to help our son reach his highest potential, we did too many interventions. They all seemed important, but if it kept us running around and feeling rushed or irritable, it became counterproductive. It can feel like all your time is spent in appointments, and in reality parents are sacrificing the more important building of skills in attachment and felt safety. 
3) Learn to say "No." This is easier said than done. Making your world smaller during the tough parenting years is an investment that requires you to be mentally attuned and well-rested. Outside commitments may need to be limited for a season while parenting your child's unique and complex needs. It is okay to say no and be on the receiving end rather than the giving end of ministry. In fact, receiving care is one of the four skills of a securely attached adult, and we are modeling that for those in our care.
4) Ask for help. Speaking of receiving care.... how well do you negotiate your own needs when life is overwhelming? Can you ask a friend to watch the kids? Do you answer truthfully when a church member or neighbor asks how they can help out? Or do you proudly pound the giant S on your chest and hold tight to maintain your SuperMom image or (Super Dad)? Many people are not educated about the complex and unique needs of high-risk adopted or foster families. They won't understand if we aren't honest and forthcoming about our need for help.
5) Hire menial tasks when you can. There is no need to feel guilty that you can't get it all done. If someone can scrub a tub, mop the floors, or mow the lawn, then you can spend more time playing with your kids. Child directed play is the pathway to building a healthier brain and a more securely attached child. Many problem solving skills and relationship skills can be taught through play, and I mean the kind of play that doesn't involve a screen! 

Balance is vital to keeping yourself physically and emotionally healthy for the long haul. If we as parents run ourselves ragged, we can't model healthy skills for our children and teens. So rest well. Be intentional about where you spend your time. And don't feel guilty for making relationships with your spouse and your kids a high priority during this season of your life. 

What tips can you suggest for keeping a balance?

Deb

P. S. To prioritize your relationship with your spouse, why not join us in beautiful Lake City, CO for a Parent Training Mini Vacation this July. 13th - 16th. Check it out. We still have scholarships available!

 

 

Overcoming the Guilt of Parent Self-Care: Restoring the Heart of Te Fiti by Angie Proctor

Do you look like this?

Are you throwing fireballs at your children because you are so tired and weary of all the pressures and struggles of caring for a child from trauma?

The movie Moana tells the story of Te Fiti, the goddess who forgets who she is and takes away all the nutrients of the sea. She doesn't meet the needs of the island people. Moana in the end, restores Te Fiti and helps her to remember who she is and what her purpose is.

Who are you? And what is your purpose?

Parenting at-risk children is a long, hard journey. You commit to loving unconditionally and do your best to meet all the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. You often have to decode what the needs are due to poor coping skills and maladaptive behaviors. All of that is exhausting. How do you do it?

I know how you do it. You DON"T STOP!

You keep moving all day long, trying to keep your head above water, caring for everyone's needs but yours. You are lucky to get to bed in time for a few hours of sleep.

But oh, wait! You can't sleep because you're thinking of what needs to be done or how your child is drowning in a world that doesn't seem to understand the complexity of his challenges.

You keep moving for fear that if you stop, you may DROP!

Where is the balance? There is none! The needs are so great. You need balance and peace... somehow... somewhere.

According to recent research, the more stress we have in our lives, the more it impacts our physical health. The ACE's study, www.acestoohigh.org, even suggests that traumatic events can impact our life expectancy. The more adverse experiences we have, the more likely we are to develop physical and mental illness. 

So how do you take a breather without feeling guilty? How do you convince yourself that it is worth investing in your own physical and mental health?

Here are a few ideas to help:

1. When you are worn out and fried, you aren't able to give your kids your best self. It is easier to react to things that typically would not trigger anger and frustration because you are already up to your limit and need respite.
2. When you stop to meet your own needs, it promotes healthy boundaries and relationships. This generates emotional clarity and opens the door to hope and joy.
3. You don't have to go on a week vacation, although if you can, go for it! Or you can start small. Go take a long bath, walk around the block, sit on your porch with a cup of coffee, or call a friend. None of these options even require getting in your car! (and don't cost anything)
4. If you are able to get out and spend a day or two away, it is worth it! Make sure it is time that you are able to breath in deeply and rest. If is possible, reflect and regroup. Some parents are so compassion fatigued, they just need to start with breathing. That is okay.
5. The more you do self-care, the better you get at it. I worked as an administrator for a group home for many years and the foster parents received a full week off every 5th week. This was our organization's way of ensuring our foster parents had time to regroup. They are on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for four weeks, and looked forward to that time when they could do something for themselves. Many parents felt like they had not talked to each other for 28 days! The longer they worked for us, the more creative they became with their time off. You can do it too!

Don't feel guilty for taking time for yourself. You are better for it. It will allow you to rejuvenate your desire to connect with your children and see them as they are.

Bring back Te Fiti!

 

Self-Care??? How Do I Find Childcare? by Debra Delulio Jones

One of the questions we get a lot when we ask parents how they are doing on self-care is, "Where do I find someone qualified to watch my kids?"

In fact, this is probably the number one reason parents find it difficult to attend Parent Training events which they desperately need. Children from backgrounds of early harm have self-regulation and problem solving issues that are beyond what a typical teenage babysitter can handle. 

In order to feel confident in the child-care providers you hire, we at Parent Intervention & Training recommend that you train your own in Trust-Based Relational Intervention. If you aren't familiar with this model, check out video at the end of this blog.

Once you've become skilled at Trust-Based Parenting, in order to stay emotionally healthy and able to implement it for the long haul, you will need some respite. Dr. Karyn Purvis often reminded us, "This is a marathon, not a sprint." Individual self-care and if married, time with your spouse, are vital to keeping your family sane. Safe, trusted adults to give you a break are a must.

 Here are some ideas to get you started:

1) Start with adults you know such as church friends, teachers, counselors, or child-care providers. Ask who they know who might be interested in being trained to watch your child who has early risk factors. Be honest about the types of behaviors that are typical of your son or daughter, and explain that you will train them in a model with a high success rate.
2) If you are new to the area or don't know many people, some of our families have reached out to local colleges and talked with the psychology, counseling, and special education departments where you will find students with an interest in working with children with learning differences or emotional/behavioral challenges. 
3) Once you've found someone, set them up for success by training them in the strategies that you've found to be most effective. I recommend that before they are left alone with your little (or big) ones, the child-care provider spend time with the kids while you are still there. Let him or her watch how you interact and the ways you empower, connect, and correct using the TBRI strategies. Having them there with you will help build a relationship and trust before you leave the children alone with them.
4) Be sure you emphasize that a harsh tone or punitive strategies will cause survival, fear-based responses and will increase behavioral escalation in your child. Teach them how to de-escalate a meltdown with calming strategies that you've found to be most helpful. Most children don't have the severity of meltdowns with a care-taker that they do with their parents, however, you want to err on the side of caution and preparation.
5) For large families or extremely high needs children, you will need to hire two adults. Let's face it, even Jesus sent the disciples out in twos and what we are asking of the child-care providers is often more than one qualified person can manage alone. I've trained some child-care providers from my church to babysit for adoptive families, and we felt sending them in pairs was also a protection for liability issues as some children with insecure attachment have been know to falsely accuse adults. Having a witness is a safety precaution.
6) In some cases, the "divide and conquer" method is necessary. Split the kids up and have them cared for in the adults' homes to reduce sibling issues or for children who require one-on-one care. 
7) For overnight getaways or mini-vacations, some of our parents who attended our Parent Training Cruise last year used one child-care provider or relative for the day and someone else at night. This gives the workers a break and reduces the fatigue that can lead to more irritability in the adult - which the child will pick up on in a heartbeat! Children with early harm are hypervigilant and highly sensitive to feeling that someone is not happy with them. Shame drives a host of maladaptive behaviors, so it is important to practice felt-safety and being emotionally present with them.

Does this sound like a lot of preparation and expense? Yes, it is. 

But... it is worth it!

 My husband, Alan, and I quickly learned that on a hard parenting journey, we could train and pay on the preventative end or on the "train-wreck" end! We had quite a few train wrecks before we figured out that our effort and money was much better spent Pre- rather than POST! Medical and relational secondary effects of parenting a high-risk child are quite costly.

My prayer is that you will find trust-worthy people who can make your journey easier. I also hope that as churches promote adoption ministries, they will train competent adults to help meet the many and complex needs of the families who are bringing home children who've experienced tremendous loss and grief.

What have you found helpful in finding safe and qualified child-care?

Blessings on your journey,

Deb

P.S. Wanna join us for a Parent Training Mini Vacay? We're heading to the beautiful Rocky Mountains in Lake City, CO this July and would love for you to join us. Refer another couple who registers and SAVE $100 on your trip! ($50 for a single registration)

Also, we still have some scholarships available thanks to the generosity of great folks at Billy's Hope Fund/Miriam's Heart/Lifesong for Orphans.

Parent Training Lake City, CO

SELF-CARE: It's not just hygiene! by Debra Delulio Jones

"How's your self-care? I asked a hurting mom recently.

"Uh.... I took a shower. Does that count?" she replied.

"Not exactly what I had in mind, Sweet Friend! That's called basic hygiene."

I might have gone for it if she'd said a nice, long bath with scented candles lit, bathing in essential oils of lavender, listening to relaxing tunes such as Enya or even Frank softly playing on Pandora. If you don't know me well, I of course mean - as in Sinatra! All this, while sipping a nice hot mug of chamomile tea. 

But, I do remember quite well the days when I was lucky to even get a shower because our lives were in total chaos!

Nearly all of our energy was spent parenting a high-risk adopted son who was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, then neglected, and experienced trauma from early orphanage life in Romania.

But just a daily shower isn't the kind of self-care that will sustain us when our families are overwhelmed with the complex, multiple, and near constant needs of a child who is suffering from the effects of trauma, abuse, and/or substances in utero.

We need some help. AND...
I needed a trip to the Bahamas! (Still do)
Or maybe a spa day that pampered this bod from head-to-toe.
At least an afternoon of shopping and lunch out to relax and have fun with my chick friends....

I'm often surprised that moms severely neglect their own self-care even when their husbands encourage them to take a much needed break.

So what gives?

Perhaps if many of us were brutally honest, we somehow think we don't deserve it. Ouch!

Self-images can become entangled in a version of self-sacrificing to the point of self-neglect.

Neglect is a strong word. But if parents have emotional and possibly even physical neglect in their personal histories, it is common for them to neglect their own needs. We actually see it quite often in our work with parents on hard journeys.

It might even be wrapped in a veil of sacrificial spiritual talk that makes it almost appear holy. It is NOT holy; it is costly and in some cases, it is even deadly.

The Bible has much to say about rest. If the God of the Universe took Day 7 off, shouldn't we give ourselves appropriate respite and rest?

Here's one of my new favorite quotes:

"Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Jesus (Mark 6:31b)

I have more to say about this topic, but I'll save it for another day. You need rest, and I encourage you to focus on this aspect of self-neglect with these 3 questions:

1) Do I neglect my own needs?
2) If so, in what way was I neglected when I was young and what belief systems have I developed that need to be corrected?
3) Now that I see it, what will I change?

In child development, neglect is far more damaging than abuse. Our sweet Karyn Purvis used to say, "The message of abuse is                          I don't like you, BUT the message of neglect is You don't exist."

You do exist, Dear One. 

You are loved and have loved ones you care for in many and various ways. You need rest, love, joy, peace, contentment, laughter, and play in order to be emotionally present with those you adore.

Sooooo... enjoy your shower, but my next question is, "What can you do today to practice healthy self-care?"

Need permission? You can give yourself permission. And Deb says, "You have it!"

Can't afford it? Then you sure won't be able to afford the medical bills and therapies coming your way. This is one of those, "Pay now or PAY SEVERELY LATER" topics!

Need a list? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Long bath with all the feels (see above)
  • A nice walk in the park
  • Take in a baseball game
  • Lunch date with a close friend
  • Fancy coffee bar
  • Pedicure
  • Manicure
  • Gardening
  • Read the sports page
  • Massage
  • Swimming
  • Hot tub or hot tub party with friends
  • Fishing or hunting
  • Take a cooking class
  • Plan a luncheon with a small group of your trusted Peeps
  • Small group Bible study
  • Art class
  • Play with your favorite pet
  • Plant lots of colorful Spring flowers
  • Salt or sugar scrubs
  • A round of golf
  • Afternoon Tea Time (or Dr. Pepper - Ask our Parent Trainer, Tammy Winkler)
  • A restful nap
  • Yoga
  • A game of tennis
  • Grown-up coloring books
  • Play your favorite music
  • Lock yourself in your room, turn up the Rock 'n Roll and dance like a wild child. Really! Get your moves on!!!
  • Funny movies
  • Redecorate a room or area in your home
  • Retail therapy (that's shopping for those who may not know)
  • Visit an elderly, wise soul
  • Ice Cream Sunday (Did you know ice cream boosts Oxytocin, also known as the "love hormone")
  • Visit a museum
  • Dance lessons
  • Lazy time in a hammock
  • Tour botanic gardens
  • Curl up with a good book in a snuggly blanket
  • Sunbathing - use your sunscreen, Peeps!
  • Jogging/Running - I had to list it, but my knees call this torture rather than self-care
  • Go to a concert - seriously, how long has it been?
  • Poolside time 
  • Cupcakes - no explanation needed
  • Swinging or rocking on the porch
  • Learn a new skill or take up a new hobby - Novelty gives you a healthy dopamine boost
  • Ride roller coasters - your excitatory neurons will love you!
  • A day at the lake
  • Bicycling
  • Try a new restaurant
  • Datenight with your spouse or SNO (Sig Nif Other)
  • Take a night alone at a nearby hotel with an indoor pool and spa where YOU control the TV remote. You can do that! Who knew?
  • Weekend getaway such as our Lake City Parent Training Mini Vacation #4ParentsWithParentsByParents

That's enough to get the wheels turning. Just add to this list in the comments and then we'll all have more ideas to share with our fellow parent peeps. As our friend, Wayne, always says, "Share the love!"

Love, hugs, and prayers,

Deb

P.S. If your belief system somewhere along the way got skewed to thinking that self-care is selfish, I assure you it is NOT! There's a reason the flight attendant trains you to put on your own oxygen mask first.

 

HAPPY EASTER, PEEPS! by Debra Delulio Jones

Some of my greatest childhood Easter memories are of getting all dressed up in my new Easter dress and heading to church with my family. Momma would get my brother, Ronny, and me all gussied up, and we'd first pose for our annual Easter picture in front of Daddy's roses that he'd pampered for years.

A New Angle in 2017 by Debra Delulio Jones

Sooooo! Happy Valentine's Day to my Favorite Peeps!

Peeps that share my DNA. Peeps that were adopted into my world. Peeps that learned with me at WHHS - well, most of us learned somethin'.... Peeps who wore big earrings and drove pink cars. Peeps who taught lil's and bigs. Peeps who help and love kiddos who have been harmed. Peeps who worship and pray with us. Peeps who helped and still help our kids. We love ya. Truly! Grateful for ya!

V'Day brought a lot of reflection for me.

Love. In love. Loving others. Letting others love you. Love that sometimes hurts. Love that seems absent. Love never fully attained. A love you "Hubba Hubba" loooong for! LOL! AND Love in a Special Needs Body with a Childlike Mind. Ouch.... In case you're wondering, Alan and I do not want to write the book entitled, "Brain Injury and Sex Ed," so somebody better hit the keyboard fast!!! 

Reflecting on love and my loves.... And as I reflect, the last insane year came to mind:

2016 - the year from H. E. DOUBLE Pick-Up-Sticks!!! The year I bought my favorite T-shirt just for Monster Sue's benefit, "I Love Jesus, But I Cuss a Little" is the shirt I wear unashamedly!

2017 - Fresh start. Great relationships forming. New Beginnings in our Parent Intervention & Training business. REST. Recovery. Reconciliation!

I worked hard to catch my breath from nearly missing my plane yesterday to our first "paid work" in months (a downstairs brain moment TO BE SURE for those who know this adrenaline-laden surge in your being) The heart pounds while they hold the plane for you as you chunk your walker and "Missed Bag-Check Time," FAT, carryon to the attendant; then you not-so-quickly make your way thru First Class apologizing to those seated that you might indeed fall on them while your service dog has to follow you down the skinny-ass aisle.

Disability is not the fragrance I would have chosen to embrace, let's just say! Not in my life, not in my special needs son's life. Too hard, and we like easy. "Easy Peasey" to quote my sweet friend, we call Miss Boo! I was the chick in high school that said I had and always wanted an easy testimony. None of that suffering stuff for me. I was havin' fun!

Punctuality is my name, yet these days I find myself always behind.

Everything takes longer now. Not a complaint, necessarily, just a reality as it takes two of us to get me ready most days. For those who may not know, I have an enemy named Monster Sue. Her other name is Multiple Sclerosis. Anyway, Sue has taken me down several times in a big way over the last 28 years, but on my Mom's birthday, Dec 4th, 2016, the day of this picture... she got really ugly and I've been working to kick her SIX back into remission for 10 weeks! Longer than it has ever taken.

I wasn't late for the plane, but lots of airport and airline mistakes "helped us" become late. 

My plan, since I was late, was to read over the notes I'd taken from my client's initial phone consult so I'd be well-prepped to meet this family. Like know their name and stuff. Little things. LOL

Instead, I decided to eat the NON GF cookie and write out my Christmas cards that somehow never got sent. (And yes, my tree is still up!) I'd purchased a bunch of Valentine stickers 'cuz my fam is cute and some of my peeps were probably wondering why they didn't hear from me, so dual holiday greeting cards were born!

I wanted to take a picture of one of my custom Christmas/V'Day designs, but from my little office I'd created in my lap on the plane, the glare was not letting me take a pic of my pic. I finally turned it at an angle and lowered an AA window and snapped this shot. Hoping I can figure out how to post it since I haven't written a blog in over a year and this is the first on this website. Hello Again. It's Me. (insert Neil Diamond song from Jazz Singer)

Then, his thought. Hmmm. Sometimes ya just need a new angle. This last year has taught me a LOT. A lot I wouldn't have seen, felt, sensed deeply if I hadn't landed on my SIX. Not that I'm giving Monster Sue any excuses for her Sorry Self, but that whole suffering thingy can be a teacher. Well, yes. It can.

I needed a new angle on quite a few things, apparently. So 2017, we are doing some things differently.

I'm choosing to take a new angle. I'm looking at things in a new light. We're making adjustments to accommodate Sue until she can fully find that exit door that we call MS remission.

And we, The ManByMySide'TiliDie and I, we are now Yogis. We love our adaptive yoga class at MindSet. We ARE serious about self-care. We really have no choice. So those who get me for a parent trainer, you will hear a lot about self-care. It's the only way to sustain a hard parenting journey. 

One of our new angles: We are also throwing parties for a living! Don't get me wrong. We are working hard, will work hard, and so will those who come if they want things to change in their relationships with their children. A Parenting Practice Party (PPP) was born in 2017! Playful engagement at it's best for the parents on hard journeys. 

We so hope you'll join us! Check it out on our Events page and you can Register for our next one, March 3/4 in BEAUTIFUL Colorado Springs, overlooking Pikes Peak! Great View, Amazing Food, Eat Too Much, Fun Stuff, Lots to Learn, Some Laughs, Maybe a Tear, and most importantly, Parents who understand your journey.

#4ParentsWithParentsByParents

Blessings and enjoy your V'Day!

Deb

P.S. That crap about RED dye #40 and sugar not affecting behavioral escalation. Naw!!! Better call Gma after school today if you want to stay a nice person!

P.S.S This pic should be at the top and should not be ginormous, but I have to get in the tub! Next self-teach on Squarespace....

Timing Matters! by Debra Delulio Jones

Timing Matters! Ya know that 'ol saying, "Timing is EVERYTHING." Well it really is, especially in parenting.

Speaking of timing, I really am not sure I have time to write this blog before I head to an intervention early this Saturday morning. I haven't even had my coffee yet, but I was reading my Jesus Calling App on my phone and this quote got me thinking of our parenting.

Pray - Play - Stay

It's the holidays which means most parents of kids from hard places are struggling. Me too. Hopefully your family had a good Christmas, but I know many of you are worn out. Even if your high-risk child, teen, or young adult made it through Christmas Day, you may have had the morning-after-meltdown which feels like it robbed the fun moments you did experience.

3 Tips for Family Gatherings

I was telling my Facebook friends yesterday that I might come up with a bloggette. You know, when I just have something quick to say, but don't have time to really write, think, edit, be exceptional, driven, perfectionistic, find the WOW factor, be concerned that I found the right pic than won't get me sued for not crediting properly - you know, stuff like that! So here goes. (Don't get the red pen out, teacher friends!) HOLIDAYS!

"I felt safe there."

Alan, Dane, and I had an amazing evening last night at the 10 year anniversary celebration of the TCU Institute of Child Development.

WE. LOVE. THESE. PEOPLE!

It was like a reunion with Dr. Karyn Purvis, Dr. David Cross, the staff, and 150+ trust-based advocates, many of whom we count as dear friends, who have helped further the work of the Institute.

PACT Parent Training/Respite Cruise for Adoptive & Foster Parents

Do you know anyone who could use a break on this tough parenting journey? Feel like you need to know more, do more, be more for your kids from hard places? Want to spend a week with parents who are "in the same boat?" If so, get in the boat next February with us! Debra and Alan, Angie, and Tammy are excited to announce the details of our PACT Parent Training and Respite Cruise. Click PACT Cruise for information, bios, and session titles.

Encouraging Moms on Hard Journeys

Deb and the kids Happy Mother's Day to Moms on Hard Journeys!

Perhaps you have this idealistic picture in your mind of how Mother's Day should go. Something like you wake up to the smell of bacon and eggs as your adoring children are preparing breakfast in bed for you. Your night in shining armor strokes your hair as he tenderly tells you that you are the best mother in the world. Darling little cherubs thank you for the many sacrifices you've made to parent them well....

BUT, things don't look quite like that in your world today. Daily meltdowns exhaust you. Sibling fights. Sensory overload. Marital stress and financial strain. Your mind is consumed with what program, doctor, treatment, or therapy to invest in next to try to help your hurting child. You'd really just like a day off for Mother's Day, but even if you were to go away your stressed out mind goes with you - churning with thoughts of how to make things better.

Today I want honor you, thank you, and pray for God to bless you in some unexpected way. This parenting journey of unconditionally loving high-risk kiddos is hard work. It can feel thankless at times. I want to encourage you to spend time with someone who builds you up, even if just for a few minutes of your day. It is so easy to isolate yourself on a tough parenting journey, but stay connected. You are loved, you are precious, and you are courageous to keep on keeping on. Hold on to hope that things can get better and they indeed will if you continue to use trust-based strategies to help your children heal.

Your children may not be healthy enough to honor you the way you deserve today. Mother's Day is a very difficult day for children who lost their first Mom and that grief can present as rage, often directed at the adoptive or foster mom who is loving them well. Should a meltdown or hard day present itself, remember to get out your Q Tip - Quit Taking It Personally. Your child's pain is not about you; it is about their history. It is about their brain development, their neurochemistry, their attachment, and their sensory impairment. But their pain can trigger your pain, and it is important to recognize and make sense of your own history to stay emotionally connected. Keep progressing on your own healing journey.

We Moms have to stick together. Find one person who understands your world and encourage one another. It's okay to say, "Happy Mother's Day to Me!" I'm still here. I'm still moving forward. I'm still trusting God for the healing of my child, whatever that may look like and however long that takes.

My Mother's Day now looks like my picture I'd always dreamed of. My kids honor me, take me out for a nice dinner, bring presents, and stick together as a family. My husband and I are on the same page most days and he praises me for the successes we've had in our family. We didn't get to this point without lots of help, many needed changes in our parenting, and many encouragers.

So Happy Mother's Day to you! Please hold on to hope. Please know you are not alone. And please practice healthy self-care. And may you have a Mother's Day that is blessed by your heavenly Father.

In hope,

Deb

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."

Thessalonians 5:11

P.S. It's a great day for some retail therapy!