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Taking Care of You…

September 19, 2017 1 Comments

One of my favorite things to do each month is to write for No Hands But Ours. I love to write. I love to share. I actually love to sit over coffee with friends and talk — but I find myself in this current season with six children ranging from toddler to teen with little time to do the things that refill me as momma.

But. You are reading this… so this miracle of writing happened — and this… this is holy time for me — so I take great care of the words I pen for you to read. Because I know like me — your time is sacred, these days extra minutes scarce — and to encourage you is a holy privilege.

As I laid in bed way past even my bed time, I prayed through what to write. What your heart might need to hear. My mind quickly shifted to all my week held. And I knew… we all needed this. ”We interrupt this regularly scheduled post on No Hands But Ours…

To remind you.

To ask you

To hold your hands — move in closer…

to first tell you to breathe… a deep breath in and a deep breath out

To ask you to take some time today to remember and brainstorm new ways to take care of you — for the sake of you, your marriage, and your family — because in the busy of parenting, advocating and being keepers of our homes we often forget to do the most simple things to care for ourselves.

I found myself this week in the midst of juggling so much more than I personally could handle alone. I homeschool two of my six with a baby on my hip. The other three children go to two different schools between them. My husband traveled all week — and can I just say we missed the bus two of the three mornings he was away?! Can I blame it on a power outage for at least one of those mornings?



I ran more carpools this week than I could (or want to) count.

I taught children at my table by day and flipped flashcards by night.

I heard a baby saying my name over a monitor in middle of the night hours — and rocked her back to sleep… more than a few times.

I scheduled an educational evaluation — and cancelled the educational evaluation after I decided to give it a few more weeks first. You’ve done this too right?

I held it together before a teacher meeting about new strategies to try — and I sat in my driveway and paid the babysitter an extra few minutes longer as I cried behind the wheel.

I texted a friend to let her know this mom gig is no joke… as if she didn’t already know.

The list goes on — and on — and most likely your week looked very similar.

We mommas find ourselves here at the end of a week — or at the beginning of a new one (depending on the perspective that makes your heart the happiest) often times just reminding ourselves to simply… breathe. We champion ourselves to focus just on today because if we think about tomorrow, it really feels like too much.

I want to remind you — who I really believe if you are reading this right now – that the Lord brought you to this quite place some how in the midst of much to remind you of this: you matter.

Did you hear that?

You matter.

I’m here for just a moment to advocate for you — what you need — because you matter so much to the heart for Jesus.

He loves you with an everlasting love.

Yes — you need to take care of you so you can better take care of them… that’s what everyone says and it is good and true. Yes — you need to be rested so you can love all the people from spouse to mouse. But you need to take care of you…

because

you matter.

You are loved.

You are His.

You are the child of the utmost King.



It’s so, so important that right now — if you have forgotten — that you remember. Not for their sake – yes you need to take care of you for them – that’s what we parents keep saying to ourselves. But. More than that — we need to remember our own value in just who we are and take care of us because He loves us and wants us to remember who we are in Him.

This can be so hard to do as we have so many needs in our home and on our calendars so I just want to share some things I have been doing lately that are breathing so much life into my life…

1. Keep a dream journal.

I started this little “dream” journal I keep in my purse (aka diaper bag). I jot down my dreams in it—and when I have a thought that will help me one step closer to that dream, I chicken scratch under it. It can be anything. To make you laugh — my first page, y’all — says “Grow long hair.” I know. I’m 40. But whatever. It’s my secret — now not so secret dream. You are laughing, but when you are taking care of all the people do you really have time to think about things like hair? No. But I had the thought — so I wrote it down.

I may have chicken scratch under this about the inversion method. What you ask? I digress but this young girl on YouTube said if I hang upside down every night and massage my head for four minutes my hair will grow. Hilarious. My middle school son may have come downstairs last week to find me upside down scratching my head, and we belly laughed together like we hadn’t in a long time! He said he didn’t know I cared about my hair, and why would I listen to some young person about that?! Because, well it’s fun. This was a step in the right direction for more than one reason. My kids also need to see that mom takes care of mom no matter how silly it seems!

So my dream journal has funny things, but also big dreams too. Either way, it’s my place to write these down, keep close by so I can jot them down when I think of them –because it can be easy to stop dreaming when your days often feel like you are just holding lots of moving pieces together for everyone else.



2. Reclaiming one thing you loved that you let go.

There once was a time that your days were filled with lots of simple pleasures that you didn’t even realize breathed life into your life — back when you took care of you.

Spend a few days thinking back to what some of those things were that you haven’t had in your life in a long time — and actively invite just one of those simple pleasures back. Maybe you realize, as you invite one thing back, it just doesn’t bring you the rest and joy it once did. If that’s the case, invite something else back until you find that thing you have missed that breathes more life into this unique part of who He created you to be that you forgot about.

It could be something small and so easy to add back! For me — I used to love reading these flea market magazines. Maybe it’s crafting, a sport, exercise, gardening or reading something that has nothing to do with kids, special needs, education, etc. Spend some time reflecting and watch how you breathe easier as you find part of you that you let go without even realizing it.

3. Taking time to physically be still and breathe.

Y’all. This might be the one thing that is really breathing the most life into me right now as I actively focus on doing the thing that is truly the hardest for me — being still.

My “be still” funny of the week — I downloaded this song Weightless researchers said was proven to help you chill — and it was honestly challenging to listen in quiet for all 8 minutes. I listened in the car — and in my fatigue I may have given someone the peace sign at a red light — so maybe don’t listen to it in the car.

Just being still and breathing — resting for 10 minutes in the middle of my day – is helping me refocus before running to another thing. So instead of using that 10 minutes to check social media or email, all of which aren’t going any where, use that 10 minutes between kids activities or waiting on a child in therapy, a sport or carpool to be still. Sit on that bench and just take in God’s creation. Breathe. Refocus and watch how your perspective on your day begins to shift. It sounds simple — but this is really helping me the most right now in our busy.



I pray that some of these things might offer you inspiration to care for yourself.

I pray you find yourself in quite places remembering who you are and seeing your value again and again. I pray you find yourself in new places you had forgotten you could enter — looking at a friend across the table, asking and reminding each other things that challenge you both to remember and keep going.

I pray your cup is filled each day and when you find yourself in hard places where you are the decision maker and advocate, you experience the peace that surpasses all understanding and rest knowing you are not alone — and no matter what you try — He is bigger. He loves the people in your care… but He is absolutely head over heels for you and wants you to feel His care and love as you rise over and over again.

As always — we love to hear from you here at No Hands But Ours — so if there is something that is really breathing new life into you as a busy mom right now — we would love to hear what that is!

(Feel free to leave that inspiration in the comments for others! We need each other and how amazing it is that we get to spur one another on!)


Help Bring Audrey Home

September 18, 2017 0 Comments

We saw this fundraiser on Facebook and were so intrigued by it we just had to share. Yih-Pai has shared on NHBO before (here and here) and we were so touched by her desire to help this sweet girl come home. Please consider getting (or gifting!) one of these beautiful pieces of art and you’ll be helping a sweet girl come home to her family in the process.


My name is Yih-Pai Chu Lotz and I am doing a fundraiser for Audrey, a talented and beautiful 12-year-old whom I met at a foster care center in China (where both of my children came from). Audrey has a sweet personality and has captured many hearts that have come in contact with her — she surely has captured mine.



Last fall I was thrilled to learn that a Houston family stepped up to adopt her. Recently, though, the family has faced many financial challenges in the adoption process, including dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

I felt compelled to help this family so Audrey can come home as soon as possible. I’m selling my hand-written Chinese calligraphy of a name of your choice (up to five Chinese characters) for $20 dollars which includes a red folder and shipping. I can either translate an English name or do an existing Chinese name (you’ll need to provide a picture of the name, for many Chinese characters have the same pronunciation).


This sample says 奥黛丽 (“Ou Dai Li”), which is Audrey in Chinese


Message me on Facebook (Yih-Pai Chu Lotz) if interested and I’ll give you the order/payment details. All the proceeds will go to Audrey’s family’s matching grant through Lifesong. If you just want to donate to the family, please write a check to Lifesong for Orphans (PO Box 40, Gridley, IL 61744) with the memo: Heinsbroek 7216 (last name and account number).

You can donate online with the same account number and name, but a 2% processing fee will be charged.

Attachment Q & A: Communicating and Cocooning

September 17, 2017 0 Comments

Attachment. Not much more could not be packed into one single word, especially in the adoption world.

We spent all of July focusing on this most-important topic and decided to continue into August – but with a bit of a twist.

This month, we’re answering your attachment questions. Because we all have them – we just don’t always have a safe place to ask.



Question:

I’m awaiting LOA for a four year old with significant delays, primarily speech. How best to prepare? Learn Cantonese? Sign? Both? How do I cocoon an almost-five-year-old with three older siblings and their activities and other needs (ages 11, 9, and 7 by then)?

This is a great question and, from what I see in discussion groups, a very common one! I had the very same question before we traveled to adopt our first son from China.

Three China adoptions later and we have picked up a few tips that should ease the transition those first few days, weeks and months as your new child learns English.


1. Use simple signs.

It was amazing to me when we went to adopt our almost-four-year-old son how just a handful of simple signs got us by those first crucial days. I agonized for months over how we would communicate with him and the day we met him, we soon saw how a child his age could pick up little simple signs for water, bathroom, sleep, and eat. We just made up simple signs – like “water” I would pretend to pick up a cup and drink. This was really more of a fly by the seat kind of approach. But hey, it worked for us and worked for our child. You can always check out this post on the top ten ASL signs and learn a few of those before travel. But don’t stress!

Another idea to foster communication is picture cards. A good friend of ours had suggested we take simple picture cards to show our son while saying the English word. So, even before he would know the English word, he could at least point to a picture card depicting what he was trying to communicate. These can be just picture cards with a picture of a child drinking, eating, sleeping or they can also have the English words and even the mandarin translation on them for older children.

Here are some picture cards we sold as a fundraiser, that had been passed down from another China mom. I am including them in this post for anyone to download. Just print them off, laminate at your nearest office supply store, cut, and put on a craft ring for easy storage (craft rings can be purchased in the sewing department of Walmart or any craft store). These cards are wonderful for any age and even for children with delays.

Our second adoption of our daughter brought on more complex issues with communication due to her delays and speech issues. She took more time to pick up on signs and cues, but we just kept it simple, repeated and used a combination of hand gestures and very simple speech.

These kids are going through so much transition at the time of adoption that simple is the best way to go. Overall I think this is one of the things I thought would be our biggest struggle and it turned out to be a lot less complicated than I thought.

Never underestimate the power of just lovingly providing for you newly adopted child’s needs with gentle touch, offering food and playing games with eye contact, and lots of one-on-one attention those first few weeks in country. This loving behavior speaks loudest to your new child. He or she will soon feel safe in your presence and this makes the best foundation on which to grow your relationship.



2. Cocoon.

So with each adoption we did practice cocooning. This did look a little different each time, depending on that child’s needs, but overall we took the same approach.

When doing this with our first son we realized pretty quickly how effective it was and so that gave us the motivation and the dedication to practice with the next two children who came into our family through adoption.

Keep their world small.

This means immediate family only (mom dad, brothers and sisters). After that initial big airport homecoming where friends and family welcomed our new child home we traveled home and allowed very few visitors that first month. Grandparents were allowed to come by for a short visit, but were instructed that they could not hold, coddle, or feed our newly adopted child. This is so beneficial for those first days and weeks that your child see the structure of a family and learn what a family is!

Get me out of the house!

Outings were kept to a minimum. We did need to get out after that initial first week so we would take little trips to Target or the grocery store. If you’re like me, I start to get cabin fever and just a little break to the outside world can work wonders! We did not do multiple errand type trips, we kept it to a minimum as to not over stimulate our new child.

Our son had horrible night terrors the first months home. We noticed on days we did too much he would have night terrors the worst. Remember, everything is so very new to them and the way their over-stimulated minds processes a lot of this new can result in fits of rage, crying, night terrors, and just over all shock.


3. Share the load in caring for your other kids.

We found that trading off between my husband and I on duties with our other kids worked best for us. If one child had baseball practice, one of us would take that child and the other would stay at home with the newly adopted child. This cut down on our adopted child being over-stimulated and tired out.

This is a perfect time to call on your “village” of friends and family members and ask for help with carpool and activities for your other children. Don’t let that mama guilt creep in and start to feel bad for not being able to do it all.

You cannot be everywhere and do it all.

Keep your focus on that new child’s needs, and communicate this with your other kids that this is just for a small window of time. Remind them that they are loved and adored. I find that our kids learn a lot about sacrifice and doing for others through adoption. We can certainly never have enough of that in this world today.

Over all, cocooning can look very different for each family. It can look different for each child depending on their needs. Look to your newly adopted child for cues on how they deal with the outside world and new situations.



If you see signs of over stimulation and meltdowns – then you know to pull back. This is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Try a simple outing, and if it doesn’t go well then you know you need to go back to keeping that child’s world small.

Good luck and happy adoption journey!

– images by Tish Goff
KelleyNHBOSig

A Life Donated: Part 11

September 16, 2017 2 Comments

Rini, our youngest of six children, was adopted in August of 2013 at end stage heart failure stemming from complex, single ventricle congenital heart disease. She was admitted to the hospital immediately upon arrival home and within two weeks it was determined that she was inoperable, her only hope would come through cardiac transplant. She …Read More

Being a Mom to Special Kids

September 15, 2017 1 Comments

All of our children our special, but some of us know just how hard it is having extra special kids. Anyone who has adopted, whether your child was listed as having special needs or not, knows what it’s like to parent an atypical and often difficult child. Sometimes it is just plain hard. Whether your …Read More

A Cultural Exchange: Incorporating Chinese Culture Into Your Home

September 14, 2017 1 Comments

“We are very fond of Chinese culture.” It was a statement I wrote sitting at a table in Nanjing, Jiangsu China on one of the many documents we signed in order to adopt our son in 2015. I promised to love him and protect him. I promised never to harm him or abuse him. And …Read More

The Catalog

September 13, 2017 3 Comments

I love a good magazine. There is nothing more satisfying to me than wiggling my toes in the sand, taking in a beautiful sunny day, and flipping through the latest home trends. However, just a few years ago I realized there was a mental magazine I had subscribed to that had become quite poisoning to …Read More

“It’s Just the Way God Made Me”

September 11, 2017 7 Comments

Anna Grace is five years old. She loves all things Disney and princesses. Her favorite outings are to the zoo, museum, or playground. She takes dance class and swimming lessons. When she grows up, she wants to be a doctor, dance teacher, singer, or dog trainer. She loves playing outside with her friends, especially if …Read More

Seeing Things Differently

September 9, 2017 0 Comments

Recently someone reached out to ask what I would tell a group of Boy Scouts if I could speak to them as a special needs mom. This friend, who works everyday as a speech therapist, had been invited to speak to a local Boy Scout troop about interacting with children with special needs. Upon reading …Read More

Waiting Child: Jamie

September 8, 2017 0 Comments

Jamie, 4, is an active, smiley, energetic young boy who enjoys outdoor play, games, music, and toy trains. Jamie also enjoys helping out with the younger children. The orphanage describes him as a big brother to the other kids. Jamie has good self-care skills. He can use the bathroom, wash his hands, clean up, and …Read More

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