Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thankful..a month of blessings

Facebook allows me to give brief snippets of what I'm thankful for, but I needed more space to write. It's been a while since I've blogged, and I have a ton of ideas in my head, just not enough time. I'm glad that I focus this month on the things I am thankful for. Not the obvious; my God, Eric, the kids, but the small things that I tend to over look most days.

Day 1: I'm thankful that the kids were able to trick or treat and have great weather to do it in. Because October 31st had some crazy wind and rain, our community postponed the trick or treating to Friday night, November 1st. We spent the evening at my mom's, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire pit, taking the girls around for candy, and meeting some of her neighbors.

Day 2: I love watching the kids play in their sports. This fall, JD played baseball and Louba played softball (Jules played on the playset or wall ball during their games). My kiddos love sports, and for that I'm thankful. But, I'm also thankful that this was our last game day until spring! It wears a momma out going from one field to the other across town. I'm thankful for the wonderful friends we've made through the kids sports.

Day 3: Today is Orphan Sunday. A day I really didn't know existed until the year before we adopted Louba. I didn't know this was the journey I would take. It's been a long, hard, emotional roller coaster. I know it will continue to be. Adoption is HARD. But, the journey is worth every tear. Louba is an orphan no more. She has a mom and dad and brother and sister and a huge extended family who love her to pieces. I love telling our story. I'm thankful for the friends who told me the good and the bad about adoption. I'm thankful for the friends who let me cry and scream and complain that the process was not fair, that this little girl should not be without a family. I'm thankful for the friends who listen to me today talk about how sassy Louba is and how she is our "LAST ONE!" I'm thankful for a little girl, who lived for three and half years without a mom and day, but loves me as her mom.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Advocare Meals and Recipes

I'm not a doctor or a dietician, so take my advice for what it's worth.

I've had a physical in the last few months, and while I'm not dying, I'm not living to the fullest either. The doctor put me on a low dose water pill to help with some blood pressure issues I've been having for the past couple of years that we feel is stress related (our adoption, plus all the test/evaluation demands of being a teacher). I used AdvoCare products in 2010 and loved the results I had (20 pounds and about 20 inches lost) in the 24 day challenge. Over the years, I've sporatically used the products, but I haven't been consistant to say the least. But, I've kept the weight and inches off!!! We used AdvoCare to fund some of our adoption too (see the link on the sidebar for our store). But, after the blood work in November and then another test just this week, I knew I needed to do more to get those pesky numbers where they needed to be. 

I LOVE to eat.  I HATE to exercise. But, I want to be around to see my kids grow up without having a stroke or heart attack.  When I used AdvoCare consistently in 2010, I had some great blood work numbers, and I hope that the products, along with a better diet and exercise plan helped.

I've recently started back at the gym a couple days a week, and now it's time to adjust what I'm eating and the products I'm using.

Here's what I'm starting on Monday, and the meals I'll be preparing. I'll try to link to the recipes I'll use as well.
Herbal Cleanse (I love the peaches and cream variety)
Meal Replacement Shakes (in chocolate and berry for breakfast during the 24 days)
Spark (variety of flavors at our house; once or twice a day)
Omega Plex
O2 Gold (on cardio days)

Tuna Salad (with light mayo, pickles, and eggs) on lettuce wraps
Buffalo turkey burgers and salad
Meatloaf (with 93% lean beef and turkey mix)
mashed califlower
Chicken lettuce wraps

I don't love almonds, which is a recommended food on the cleanse and Max phase, so I opt for the others listed below.
fruit salad (grapes, oranges, banana, whatever looks good at the store)
raw veggies and Publix spicy hummus (cucumber, celery, carrots, califlower, brocolli)
turkey slices; not processed
homemade Kale chips

Saturday, February 23, 2013

What do you want to know?

I post a lot on Facebook and tend to neglect the blog. I've noticed I have had a big increase in traffic. So, what do you want to know about the Elliotts?  I'll try to come up with something exciting for you to read while I'm waiting.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

One Year

How can 365 days pass so quickly?!  We've had Louba in our arms for one, whole year. It was about this time, a year ago, we were sitting in a hotel in Vladimir, Russia getting ready to make the hour drive to the orphanage in Gus-Khrustalny. We would see her care givers for the last time. See the only home she knew for three and a half years (1279 days, 110,505,600 seconds, 1,841,760 minutes, 30,696 hours, or 182 weeks). Many of you have followed our journey here, on Facebook and Instagram, or in "real" life. We're so lucky to have our village helping make sure the next years of our journey go as well as this year has. 

To recap this year:
December: a Forever family!!!
January: just adjusting to a new life; told mommy she loved her
February: First American Haircut; still adjusting
March: Started pre-school
April: Meet some new friends at our LPA regional in Huntsville
May: A great 1st Birthday party!
June: attended VBS; was a flower girl in a wedding; spent LOTS of time at the ballpark
July: Family vacation to Chattanooga, first day of school
August: Fun at the Splashpad and roasting hot dogs
September: School days and learning all about pre-K
October: A trip to the beach
November: Her first Thanksgiving
December: A visit with Santa

Our plan for Louba's Day tomorrow (December 6th) is to eat at one of her favorite places (Fazoli's, Margarita House, or McDonalds) and to listen to her sing in her first Christmas program. 

Thank you to all of our wonderful friends, both near and far, who have loved on Louba this year. We're so lucky to be her (and her bubba and sissy's) parents.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Empowered to Connect 2012

still in process...

This past weekend I had the priviledge of attending the Empowered to Connect conference in Nashville. I thought I was going to an adoption conference, but it was so much more. I had read Dr. Karyn Purvis' book The Connected Child before we brough Louba home, and had flipped through it since trying to find ways to better connect and discipline her. I'll be honest, I HATED Dr. Purvis before we adopted. I didn't think she knew what she was talking about. I had two kids already that were fine. Why do I need to read how to raise another? But, after attending the conference, I really think she needs to come live with me for a few days and help me to better understand how to make these connections and help our family understand Louba's past. This woman is AMAZING!!!
I've always thought that we've had a great connection and attachement with Louba, and after the conference, I still know we do. We're not on the severe end of the spectrum of attachment disorder (or sensory disorder), just somewhere in the middle. Louba spent over three years in an orphanage. an orphanage with staff who I believe loved her and nurtured her as best as they could. But it still wasn't a mom and dad to hold her when she cried or give her things when she wants. Or, just making sure she knows she is "precious" like all children should feel. Seeing the videos from the conference, and hearing the stories from Dr. Purvis and the Monroe's, I heard Louba's story. I heard the neglect that she had to endure for those three plus years. I heard the cries that went unanswered when she was a baby. I heard the stories of the horror she must have faced when children would die in front of her. Things I know she will NEVER forget.

I sat in tears most of the weekend thinking about what my baby had to live through for three long years. But, also knowing that this is a new life for her. A life that I hope to make as enjoyable as possible. Michael Monroe, one of the speakers at the conference was such an inspiration, along with his wife Amy. (They are involved with Tapestry Ministry). One thing he said was "this is the beginning of your journey." No matter how long we have been home as parents, we can't go back, but we can sure go forward with healing and help. I really liked this couple. They gave a no nonsense view into their lives--the good, the bad, and the sometimes ugly. They admitted to mess ups and that sometimes they give the sermons for misbehavior, sometimes the steps don't work the way you want them to, but we should keep on keeping on.

I only thought our journey had begun almost two years ago. Today it's beginning again. These strategies are not easy. I was emotionally drained this weekend from listening to these stories to trying not to get frustrated when trying them on all three of our kids. I tried really hard not to yell, not to put in time out, but to disfuse the situation or to help them make better choices. I have to keep reminding myself that it took her almost four years to learn these survival strategies, she's not going to "unlearn" them overnight.

I took pages and pages of notes. Here are some snippets from them.

From the Monroe sessions:
  • know your buttons and how to deal with them.
  • It's not about you, it's about healing for them
  • Pay attention to your past to make your child's (or children's) life better.
  • You can't implement the strategies if you can't make sense of your past
  • Learn who your children are and where they come from. They are not "mini-mes"
  • Try YESES instead of always saying no. Think about why you are saying no in the first place.
  • "Today is the first day of the rest of your journey"
  • Unlearn what we've been doing and do it the right way
  • experience helps
  • help family, friends, others understand
  • Take it one day/month/year at a time
From the Purvis sessions:
  • Give them permission to negotiate
  • Our journey is "in-process" not to fix them or us
  • Help them to self regulate ("magic mustache," chair push ups, wall pushes)
  • Model honesty
  • 1 in 20 kids have sensory processing disorder
  • keep a sensory journal
  • the most violent kids are usually the most tender-hearted
  • They are surviors
  • Give them a VOICE
  • Touch, eye contact, protective, and soft voice
  • Have shared power
  • If you discipline with force, you will get force in return
  • Immediate positive reinforcement is needed within 3 seconds
  • Tiers: Playful Engagement, Structual Engagement, Calming Engagement, Protective Engagement
  • Put the bar where they can succeed! Don't raise too fast or too slow.
  • If you up the structure, you must up the nurture
  • When it's over it's over; don't dwell
  • redirect the behavior, not escalate it
  • Use their VOICE
  • 40-60% of kids in international orphanges do not survive because of lack of contact
  • Use a warm tone when you talk
  • One-on-one time is a must
If you are adopting, have adopted, know someone who is...If you have kids regardless of if they are biological or adopted, you have to read this book and try to attend the conference or even listen to or watch the videos of the conference. It will change the way you deal with behavior issues of all children.

Sites worth viewing:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Kid Interviews

I found several interviews on Pinterest for kids to answer on their birthdays, but we were so busy this summer that I didn't have a ton of time to sit down and type everything out. A couple weeks ago, I was able to sit down to some one on one time with the kiddos and get some answers.

First up, Julianne:

Julianne Elizabeth
Age 7, 2012
My favorite food: broccoli

My favorite sport to play is: softball

The best show on television is: Jesse

The coolest person on Earth is: mom

My favorite thing to learn about in school is: math

The thing I do the most awesomely is: watch TV

If I could go anywhere in the world, I’d go to: North Pole, to see Santa and the Elves

My favorite color is: blue

When I grow up, I’m going to become a: teacher

My favorite song is: "Happy Day"

One of my favorite books is: Chrysanthemum

Three words that describe me: good at softball, painter, and fast

My favorite season of the year is: winter

The snack I list the best is: trix and yogurt

One food that I really dislike is: guacamole

My best friend is: Chloe and Maddi

If I had one wish it would be: To have a million dollars

Next, my big boy, JD:
John David
Age 10, 2012
My favorite food: spasagna (from Cheddar's)

My favorite sport to play is: baseball

The best show on television is: Call of the Wild Man

The coolest person on Earth is: Ryan Lochte, US swimmer

My favorite thing to learn about in school is: Science

The thing I do the most awesomely is: play baseball

If I could go anywhere in the world, I’d go to: Rio

My favorite color is: blue

When I grow up, I’m going to become a: groundskeeper or fireman or Olympian

My favorite song is: "Drunk on You"

One of my favorite books is: Hunger Games

Three words that describe me: Small, fast, and funny

My favorite season of the year is: summer

The snack I list the best is: chocolate chip cookies

One food that I really dislike is: bananas

My best friend is: Parker, who he's been best friends with since he was 5.

If I had one wish it would be: to go to the Olympics

And last but not least, Louba Dooba:

Louba Jane
Age 4, 2012
My favorite food:

My favorite sport to play is: soccer

The best show on television is: Backyardigans

The coolest person on Earth is: Ms. Chrissy and Ms. Shandra (from school

My favorite thing to learn about in school is: ABCs

The thing I do the most awesomely is: read books

If I could go anywhere in the world, I’d go to: To cheese dip and eat

My favorite color is: pink and green

When I grow up, I’m going to become a: mommy

My favorite song is: twinkle twinkle little star

One of my favorite books is: backyardigans book

Three words that describe me: funny, I’m mean, pretty

My favorite season of the year is: winter

The snack I list the best is: red chips (Dorito’s)

One food that I really dislike is: beans

My best friend is: Sasha and Rose, Damonte

Chicken Salad

When I was in college at good ole' UTMartin, I worked in the English department office for several years. while working there, I made some of the best friends in the world, including my "boss" Judy. Judy is now a grandmother, although she isn't old enough to be. One of my memories of working in the English Dept. was our "gatherings" with all the professors and work study students. Judy made this amazing Chicken Salad and shared her recipe with me. I hope she doesn't mind me sharing it here.

This recipe makes a huge portion. I usually half it for our family (or just me since I'm the only one who eats it).
2 1/2 cups cooked chicken (2-3 cans)
3/4 c. white grapes
2Tbsp. chopped parsley
1 C chopped celery
1/2 C pecans or almonds
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Mayo
1/2 C cool whip

Mix and chill!! How easy is that. I like to serve mine with sweet Hawaiian bread or pita bread (croissants are yummy too).