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10 Tips for Moving with Kids

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If you’ve ever contemplated a cross-country move or are facing a short-distance move with your kids, you somehow know it’s not going to be as easy as loading them up into the car and just going. Recently, I was thinking about our many moves (I think about 12? 2 international, 1 cross-country but I’ve lost count). I noticed how much better the process has gotten with these last couple of moves. I think that moving with your kids is a topic worth pondering, since kids are sensitive, taking security in the daily routine and their friends down the street, and all those other givens. So, what to do when it’s go-time and how to incorporate them into the process in a meaningful way?

Here are my top ten tips for moving with kids.

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1. Talk often and early. If a move is even a remote possibility in your near future, talk about it with your kids. It doesn’t matter if it never happens. But if it does, you won’t regret opening things up for discussion early. This gives kids a chance to process the idea of it and to think of questions for you. Make the discussion an ongoing one though. And if they’re asking things you don’t know the answer to, then say, “I don’t know.” Tell them you’ll get back to them. But make sure that you do revisit it with them. Be clear about explaining *why* you believe this is the way your family should go and *how* it will benefit you as a family.

2. Pray ahead. Your kids’ number one concern will probably be leaving their friends. Reassure them that there are good people everywhere. I know this is to be true from our own moves. Pray ahead for new friends. Encourage them with God’s words that He will go before you and with you.

3. Don’t involve your kids in the house search unless you absolutely have to. Kids have a tendency to latch onto things emotionally. My kids fell in love with a house solely because it had a playset in the backyard. The house itself and the location weren’t right for us. Kids don’t care about that. All they remember is the awesome playset. Or maybe you bid on a house and it falls through. Disappointment is a part of life and that is something they should learn. But not right now. Not in the middle of this huge upheaval in their little lives. Whatever house/apartment you end up choosing, they will love it. Not involving them in the house search isn’t mean, it’s one less emotional issue for them to deal with. One other thing. When we look at houses, regardless of whether we’re renting or buying, it’s usually a pretty intense process, with long days of driving around and being very decisive, very quickly. That’s physically tough on kids, especially little ones. So if you do have to bring them along, bring games, a DVD, the iPad or another distraction, and snacks!

4. Let them pack a bag of precious things. Regardless of whether you’re traveling by plane or car, you’ll have most of their stuff in boxes. With our latest move, we stayed in temporary housing for a month. The kids had a few of their *special* things with them, which made all the difference in making them feel at home, when they weren’t. It also had the advantage of proving kids can get along just fine without heaps of toys. They will use their imagination more.

5. Take time for fun. Like going out for frozen custard. While most of our time is spent on unpacking, we’ve learned to take time to get oriented to the new town. Take a break from unpacking and moving stuff, and head to the aquarium, the library, a museum, the zoo, the botanical gardens or a park. This has the triple advantage of helping you navigate your new place as well as spending time together as a family, and staying busy, which helps them not focus on feeling sad. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. The library’s still free, so are playgrounds and the farmer’s market. Some places have reduced ticket prices on certain days/hours. Look for coupons online too.

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6. Learn as much about the new place as possible ahead of time, to build anticipation. If the new place has mountains and hiking is popular, talk about checking that out. We planned on visiting an outdoors store with lots of kids’ games and fun displays. Even though we didn’t go the first day we moved, they were excited about it and looked forward to it during the first few days!

7. Find a church online to visit before you arrive. Go with your instincts on this. Because this is about the easiest way to feel welcomed, and to have your kids be with other kids right away, in a good environment.

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8. Be prepared for some sleepless nights. For some kids, nights are a time for reflection and the quiet and the still is when sadness can well up. I’ve found that making allowances in the sleep department provides stability and eases the transition. For example, when we stayed in the temporary housing, two of my kids who don’t usually share a room, shared a room. Not only did they really enjoy this but I believe it reminded them that they were in this new place together, and that things were going to be okay. Leave their door open if it helps them sleep. Remember everything is new to them, including nighttime sounds. If you’re worried about getting too off course, don’t be. It’s hard to maintain any order when you move anyway and things will correct themselves when you get more settled.

9. Tell them God determined where you should live and when. This gives me a lot less credibility with my kids, which is actually a good thing, and it helps them believe in something much bigger. It reminds them that God cares about the tiny details of their lives, like where they’ll live and who their next door neighbors will be.

Your attitude toward the move will largely influence your kids. Are you excited? Or are you daunted and complaining constantly about everything on your to-do list? Are you fully committed to this move and do you believe it’s where you’re supposed to go?

10. Involve them in meaningful ways. Have them help unpack a box or two. Have them help decide how to arrange their bedroom. You’d be surprised how good they’ll feel about helping put the new space together. With our second last move, my daughter (who was 7 at the time) and I unpacked the entire kitchen together. Stuff will maybe get broken. But their sense of worth and purpose is much more important.


Adoption, RAD & Asperger’s

It’s been just over four years since Elias came home. And while we were already parents before we adopted, there are some things I wish we had had more awareness of.

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The first thing I would say is that you should always trust your instincts.

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There are several disadvantages to starting your life out in orphanage. As if that really needs to be said. While we often don’t know our child’s real history, we can sense early on if something is *off*. Connections that weren’t made. Developmentally, things that *should* have happened.

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We noticed certain things that just weren’t going away. For example, forgetting words previously learned. A lack of emotional bonding to us or anyone. Difficulty interacting with others. Not being able to read the emotion in the room. Saying odd things at inappropriate times. Preferring to be alone. Obsessing over strange objects and details. Resistance to touch. Freaking out over being hugged. Major sleep issues. After we felt like enough time had passed,  these behaviors weren’t going away, we decided to talk to our pediatrician about it. To make a long story short, after seeing an occupational therapist and a psychologist, we eventually walked away with a diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and Asperger’s Syndrome.

I don’t fear the labels for him. I see it as an avenue to learn.

But the reality for us is that we considered the current therapies proposed by psychologist futile. Unwilling to put any of our children on medication for something like that, we read and read and read about these things. Most recently, Temple Grandin’s book, Thinking in Pictures, has been very insightful. She also confirms traditional psychologists were pretty much useless to her and only those types who thought outside the box, were helpful.

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So we struggle to find a balance between preparing him for the world that awaits, while still allowing him to retain the freedom to be his unique self. We continue to read about the brain; why we are wired the way we are.

We remain committed to homeschooling, because we feel that a diverse, creative, individually-tailored education is best. We also pursue unconventional learning methods and try to observe where his strengths lie, to use that as an avenue to his learning path.

We’ve also felt for a long time that being immersed in nature and caring for chickens (or something else) would allow him to keep pace and thrive. And ultimately, give him a way to participate meaningfully in life in an enjoyable way.

We just takes things one day at a time. And the learning curve continues.


in this city

J has been working hard in the yard, and things are looking more presentable…

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I met a true foodie yesterday, a super kind lady- she was raised on a farm. She told me they had cut down trees in their suburban front yard and planted an orchard because *home-grown, non-GMO, pesticide-free food is more important than how my front yard looks*.

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We’ve never really been ones to fall in line anyway and our yard proves it! Our neighbors are very understanding of the fact that we have corn planted near our mailbox.

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This week it was Elias’ one year anniversary coming home (last year Mother’s Day). Click here for a recap.

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Can you tell I told him to smile?

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It has been a bumpy {sleep} ride but he is doing really well {excepting the normal terrible two’s}… especially the last couple of weeks… his personality & intelligence are really shining through… like his ability to count up to 10!

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One of my favorite promises from the Bible is in Acts, when God promises Paul *Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.*

That came to mind this week as I think about how many people He has in this city.

This week we met a sweet little boy who has the same limb difference as Elias, and is from the same province in China. Who knew we would have such an opportune meeting in this somewhat small & unlikely place?

Then there are those friends of ours who work tirelessly on behalf of the orphan. Those who have given up a summer vacation this year to travel to India solely for the purpose of serving orphans and others in need. Right here in my city! I am so proud to know them.

It’s so encouraging. I have lived in places I never thought I would even visit. No matter where you are, He will meet you there. He has scattered His people everywhere, and in the unlikeliest of places.


where we are with sleep

We have about a 4am wake up call from Elias almost every night.

No crying, just yelling, running around, pulling everything off his bed.

Theories: plain old terrible two defiance, adoptive child trying to control environment, leftover bad orphanage behaviors, stress

Attempted solutions: limited one hour nap per day, sharing room with Seb, spending hours outside every day to wear him out, repetitive routine every night

Success = zero

When I came downstairs this afternoon and saw this, I just had to capture it.

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My one and only decent sleeper, Seb. Believe me, I’m grateful he is.

There’s a reason sleep deprivation during interrogation is a form of torture.

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I know this trial is for a purpose, I just don’t know what it is yet.


spring potholder sale

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Spring has arrived.

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And apparently that means it’s time for Jo’s annual potholder sale.

Here are the details:

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Two for 6c, what a deal!

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When I suggested she could give them away as gifts, she said, *No, I want to make a sale!*

There’s a popular dance school here that was started by two home schooled kids. And check out these 9 CEOs who started businesses as kids. 

You just never know… so I’m glad I didn’t laugh at the sale idea!


precision

Yet another moment of Elias’ precision and high functioning with his little arm.

He keeps right up with everyone else.

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I still wonder if he even knows he’s different. Regardless, he’s the one educating other people right now.

For anyone considering adopting a child with an upper limb difference, so far for us, it has been a non-issue. Elias has figured out how to do pretty much everything. He’s even almost dressing himself.


cracking wheels

What indeed!

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Seeing Daddy & a few others dressed up like astronauts had to be slightly confusing for the boys.

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It was P@rmaggedon! The annual world record for most # of wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano cracked at the same time {at all the Whole Foods stores in the region}.

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…as documented by Jo.

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She went to a different store last year with Daddy to watch.

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I had never seen a wheel being cracked before.

It was pretty cool, those wheels are huge.

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And it was really delicious and fluffy.

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The kids lined up twice. I told Jo her pics were pretty good- maybe I’ll get her to do this more often!

On a related note, yesterday Whole Foods announced it is going to require labeling of all genetically modified (GMO) foods sold in its stores.

Read more about it HERE.


bethany’s story

A few posts ago, I shared about the i am second films. Well I’m still on the bandwagon.

I guess this one struck a chord with me because of Elias’ limb difference. Although Bethany’s was as a result of random trauma, her story reminds us that God can heal any trauma and He is always near to us in our distress, no matter what the source.

What she was able to achieve after she lost her arm too is simply inspiring.


celebration

Today we have a lot to celebrate! Elias is 2.

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J & I turned 8 yesterday.

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And we have dear out-of-town friends coming to spend the day with us.

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The sun’s coming out~

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this is a good day! More to come.


his story

I don’t know if I have ever really told Elias’ story. We don’t know much. Only what we’ve been told.

The only reason I tell it is to show how protected he was and how his exit from that place was orchestrated entirely by God and not by us.

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On February 20, 2011, he was left on the steps of a hospital. As far as we know, there was nothing with him.

Many babies are left in public places: parks, bus stations. But I think the fact he was left near a hospital shows a thoughtful concern for him.

February in Qingfeng is pretty cold. The average high this week was around 35 degrees- yet when he was found he had a perfect body temperature. How long he was there we don’t know.

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After he was found, the police were alerted and after searching, they could not find his parents or other relatives, he was confirmed an abandoned infant. We have a copy of the newspaper ad that was placed for him. It is in a column with pictures of other abandoned children.

The police took him to the Puyang City Social Welfare Institute (SWI). Both children and adults can live in an SWI, while a Children’s Welfare Institute is just for children.

According to his physical condition, his birth date was estimated to be February 19, 2011. Therefore he was abandoned at one day old.

He was given the name Pu Min En.“En” means grateful or grace. The rest of his name refers to ” citizen of Puyang City”- all the kids at that SWI had the same last name. His very name promised a legacy of sadness.

After his adoption, we re-named him Elias (“the Lord is my God”) Jordan (“descending, flowing down, the River Jordan”).

When my other two were one day old, they were attached to my side. Not only because they got kicked out of the hospital nursery for crying and waking the other babies, but because I wanted them with me. Elias was lying outside, alone, in the cold.

But now he’s here. Plucked from a city of millions, here with us now.

So… next week we look forward to celebrating. No, things haven’t gone perfectly. But we will celebrate the fact that he’s here with us.

And we look forward to the unraveling of God’s plan for his life.