Thursday, October 23, 2014

Supporting Your Child's Dreams

It’s a fine line between helping your child pursue his dreams, versus helping them understand the reality of the situation, or in my son’s words “crushing his dreams.” At the time of this conversation my then eleven-year-old who weighed 63 pounds with a growth trajectory of 5’6 or 5’7. He was quite incensed at my audacity to suggest that his dream of paying college football in the SEC was highly doubtful.

Yes, he sometimes has grandiose ideas because we have taught him that hard work and perseverance pay off. Unfortunately, sometimes reality bites. Before my son retired from Competitive Gymnastics, in pursuit of other sports. his last lackluster gymnastics season, was compounded by a knee injury the day before State Championships. Expecting a gold medal (even without the knee injury ) was futile. Explaining that to a sensitive child, who has self confidence issues, is not an easy thing. You have to tread lightly in order to support their goals or risk setting them up for failure.

This season, as a high school freshman, my son has started as a Safety on the C Team. Next up he has wrestling season, and then Lax.  He has proven himself to be a highly conditioned, great little athlete. Don't tell him I said so, but sometimes Mom is wrong.  Who knows, maybe I will be wrong about the SEC too.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Things that Go Bump in the Night

     Halloween is supposed to be a fun fall holiday, but for kids who are experiencing it for the first time it can be scary and overwhelming. Some children have never been trick or treating or never seen someone dressed in a werewolf costume or covered in fake blood. For some, it may seem that Baba Yaga: the stuff of nightmares has come to life. 

What Can you do to Help Kids Prepare for Halloween?

 • When you read seasonal books together, you get the added bonus of snuggling up with your child on the sofa.

• Check out the Halloween department in your local Target or Walmart- Allow your child to touch and see that these items are not real. Be sure to follow his lead and leave the area if necessary. 

• Watch kid friendly Halloween shows or movies like It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. Visit a pumpkin patch and carve a pumpkin. Pulling out the gooey insides is a great sensory rich experience. 

• Let kids choose their Halloween costume. (Each year my daughters gets a bit scarier, and she has used this as a way to conquer her fear. ) 

• Have a special Halloween dinner, Be creative, think length wise-sliced hotdogs for worms, buy special items like ghost chips or Halloween shaped pasta. Pressed for time try a frozen Pizza and top with cheese squares cut into Halloween shapes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Taking Flight

From War Orphan, to International Adoptee, to becoming a Prima Ballerina: Taking Flight  is “the extraordinary memoir of Michaela DePrince, a young dancer who escaped war-torn Sierra Leone for the rarefied heights of American ballet.” A must read “ for every young dancer and those who dream of transcending their circumstances.”

“A story of great courage that all women—young and old—should read.” —Tina Brown

Sunday, October 12, 2014

White Dresses

Recently we have had a rash of weddings to go to.  The majority of these have been weddings of our friend’s children.  Most recently the flower girl- all grown up and a Pediatric Neurologist, from my own wedding became engaged, and I was able to sneak a peek at the wedding dress.   To top it off, last night, my high school aged daughter attended her first wedding without us.  Accompanying her boyfriend to a family wedding, she came home with tales of first dances and garters being thrown, while visions of white dresses danced in head.

And I too dream of white dresses: hoping that as she enters adulthood, that one day, she will marry the man of her dreams. It is my hope that, that special someone is able to love her for all her idiosyncrasies, and challenges that many internationally adopted children deal with.  All the while praying that she gets the happily ever after that she deserves. 

But for today, she’s still my little girl, and we've still got a few more years of Prom and Homecoming dresses to shop for before we start shopping for the white one; and that’s too soon for me. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Employee Adoption Benefits

What some people may not know about is Employee Benefits Programs. 
Many employers offer some form of adoption benefits to their employees, these benefits may include: 

•Direct reimbursement in the range of $2,000 to $10,000 upon actual placement (usually a flat amount designated for specific adoption expenses)
•Paid leave, in addition to or including vacation time, sick leave, or personal days
•Unpaid leave
•Medical expenses of the birth mother
•Adoption seminars and information classes, as well as counseling and support before and after placement
Even if your employer doesn't offer adoption benefits, you may request that your company to begin offering them. Work with other employees interested in adoption, gather information for the employer, and present your case.

Adoption Friendly Workplace is a program funded by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption that provides information about adoption benefits to employers and employees in both the public and private sectors.  For more information about employer benefits, including an informative packet titled “Advocating for Adoption Benefits” call the National Adoption Center at 1-800-TO-ADOPT.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Raising A Sensory Smart Child

“Sensory integration dysfunction, also known as sensory processing disorder, affects all kinds of children-from those with developmental delays, attention problems, or autism spectrum disorders, to those without any other issues. Children with sensory processing issues can be slow to move from individual, parallel play (playing next to another child instead of with another child) involving cause-and-effect toys to cooperative, imaginative play with others. This has to do with wiring in the brain.

Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues by Lindsey Biel and Nancy Peske is written for parents of children with sensory difficulties-those who struggle to process everyday sensations and exhibit unusual behaviors such as avoiding or seeking out touch, movement, sounds, and sights-this groundbreaking book is an invaluable resource.


* How the senses actually work and integrate with each other
* How and where to get the very best professional help
* "Sensory diet" activities that meet your child's needs--including new tips and ideas for kids, teens, adults, and families
* Practical solutions for daily challenges-from brushing teeth to getting dressed to picky eating to family gatherings
* Using "sensory smarts" to help children with developmental delays, learning, and attention problems
* The special challenges of helping children with autism and sensory issues
* Ways to advocate for your child at school and make schools "sensory smart"
* How to empower your child and teen in the world
* Complementary therapies, resources, and helpful web sites”

Monday, October 6, 2014

Proper Preparation Makes for a Fun-Filled, Safe Halloween

Halloween can be a scary, exiting holiday for kids but imaginations may run wild with visions of ghost and goblins dancing in their heads. Prepare children in advance, especially first time celebrants or children who have a tendency towards anxiety or sleep issues. Teach children what is real versus pretend.  Start slow and follow your child’s lead- If he’s not ready, don’t force him. Reassure children that they are safe and use the following safety precautions: 
  • Make sure children can be seen: use glo-sticks, flashlight, reflectors, etc. 
  • Watch out for cars, and always use the sidewalk when available. 
  • Don’t trip out: make sure costumes are not to long, shoes can’t get caught on costumes, and shoes are comfortable for walking. 
  • Don’t wear mask that obscure vision. 
  • Wear Flame resistant costumes and keep pumpkins, candles, matches out of children’s reach.  
  • Children under age 12 need to be with an adult. Use the Buddy System
  • What not to eat- Our rules are simple: children must ask before eating anything. Our back up plan is teaching them to not eat anything opened, given to  them by a stranger, and don’t eat candy while trick or treating.