Author Archives: Jill

Flowing With the Blog Journey

“An alive person, or an alive relationship, or anything that is alive, has to be unpredictable. What is going to happen in the next moment cannot be forecast.” -Osho

Since I haven’t written a post in a while, I thought we should check in. Something is nudging us toward a change; we don’t know exactly what that is, but we’ll see where we end up. After five years of blogging, a year on this particular blog, things are kind of in limbo-land for several reasons. Daniel and I have been re-thinking this a great deal, and would like to have a blog in which we both contribute equally, and one that doesn’t go in so many different directions. Let’s see- we have adoption, urban farming (which goes everywhere), personal attachment issues, spiritual insights, etc. We happen to be in the process of simplifying our environment even more, so it makes sense that this would spill over to our online world. Anyway, let’s just say some changes are in the works, especially considering the ages of our boys and the even greater privacy they’re needing now that their peers are beginning to surf the web. Like many blogs before, I’d say it may be time to re-design or have this one printed out in book format, and move onward to new volumes.

We don’t know where we’re headed, but we’ll post about the changes as soon as we find out!

Posted by: Jill


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Chickens, Ducks & Watermelon

The hens and ducks have enjoyed our delicious watermelon harvest. Lucky for them, we had several huge vines in the front yard garden, and we ended up buried in melons. They were so happy this evening!

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Parenting: Mischievous Two’s

Our little angel is still tucked away, hard asleep this morning. I normally feel grateful for these quiet mornings while the rest of the kids are at school, but today I am clinging to every last second of peace and sanity. Angel? Amelie is the sweetest, most loving little button alive. Lately, however, I’m concerned her two year old psyche has been hijacked by demons!

Terrible two’s? Probably. She came home at 11 months old, delayed in all areas due to institutionalization, so it makes sense that her terrible two stage isn’t starting until almost three years old. She’ll be three in a month. At two, she went through all the usual stuff, including getting into everything in sight. She has always had to be watched closely, but when she did something naughty she willingly put herself in time-outs. She was always so eager to please. She still has a bit of that looming in her head, but the screaming and crying has started (albeit the spells are short-lived, thank God) and yesterday she was lying on the floor and kicking her bedroom door.

Mischief or terror? How about walking into the living room to find she’s holding a pair of scissors, has a sofa pillow unzipped, and she’s starting to cut the fabric? How she got hold of the scissors, we have no clue. The boys keep craft boxes, and it’s possible she knows how to work the latches, but I have never seen her do that. Then there was the time, two days ago, when she was under the sun room table licking the cement floor… don’t even ask me what she was licking because it makes my stomach turn a thousand times… all I’m going to say is that we have dogs.

Yesterday was insane. She was grabbing every single object off the kitchen counters, from knives to scissors, to pens to salt shakers and dishwashing soap. She’s gotten a lot taller, and while I’m preparing things she keeps grabbing everything she can. When my back is turned for even a second, she’s done something crazy. She took a large popcorn bowl, filled it up with what appeared to be spit bubbles, and then proceeded to scrub the sun room floor with our dish towel. That all happened when I stepped out to use the bathroom. Next thing I know, she’d gotten the Windex (which I was using earlier, so it was sitting on a shelf I mistakenly assumed she couldn’t reach) and was spraying it on everything, including the pets, and used pieces of clean laundry out of a nearby laundry basket. She’s also been taking items, like dish towels, silverware, and edible items, and just tossing them into the garbage. God only knows how many things we’ve lost that way.

It’s not so much what she’s doing that has us loopy (although she has upped the ante considerably, and is really testing boundaries, bigtime) but the rate in which she’s doing these things. Yesterday I made sure to remove all pens, markers and crayons from the sun room. Poor girl can’t even draw alone any more because of what she does with them- eats the crayons (normal for this age, I know) and uses pens and markers anywhere but on paper. I was getting dressed yesterday for 5-10 minutes, and the next thing I knew there were crayon scribbles all over the sun room windows, all over a large glass cabinet, on the tiled kitchen floors, and I even discovered marker scribbles on the sofa. All of that happened after she’d been told no markers and no crayons for the afternoon. She’d seen me put them all away, and even uttered a little “Okay, Mama.” My point is that she seems unstoppable! We’ve been hyper-vigilant about putting things away, but we live in a small house where stuff ends up under couches and sofa cushions, and Amelie seems to know where everything is. She thinks, “Take away my crayons or scissors? I know exactly where we’ve stashed extras.” Of course, she gets reprimanded and put in time-out. If she’s tantruming in the chair, she’s sent to her room to cool down. She cools down within seconds, and it’s all over. Not much of a consequence, when I think about it. No wonder she isn’t deterred from having so much fun!

Bottom line: Amelie is testing her boundaries, seeing what we’ll do, what she can get away with, and making sure she’s safe and taken care of within those boundaries. I get that. It’s completely exhausting, and I felt it last night when I hit the mattress.

For now, before the tornado of Amelie awakens, I’m going to be cleaning out every nook and corner, every single box and cubby hole, under every sofa cushion, and behind every cabinet. I’ll make sure nothing is within reach. How to do that is beyond me. I’m often asking the age old question that all parents ask, “Why can’t she just behave?” We could say that about all our kids. Oh, life would be so easy… far too easy, not to mention boring. Daniel and I find ourselves laughing about these antics at the end of the day, and they will make for some interesting stories when Amelie is older. She keeps life fresh and interesting. Of all our five children, Amelie has definitely won the Mischief Award!

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(RAD) Parenting: Scolding = “Mom Hates Me”

Compliments, support, and encouragement are part of my role as a parent. Those are easy, and usually welcomed by any child. Reprimanding, correcting, enforcing consequences, sticking to rules is not as easy, and in this household it feels like a crime. My conundrum lately has been: what on earth is a parent to do when the latter sends a child spiraling into an abyss of anger, sadness, depression, self-loathing and contempt for his parents? Well, I should say contempt for me, specifically, because even if Daniel does the correcting, Sky decides it’s me he’s upset with. It makes no difference that the scolding happens with the most calm and firm tone. In Sky’s perception he’s flawed, not good enough, we’re pointing it out, therefore we must hate him, and as a result he hates the mother figure more than anything. The extreme reaction takes the attention off what he’s done, and skillfully places it upon those scolding him and what they’re doing to harm him. It’s his way of punishing us for punishing him.

This extreme reaction is not a typical problem most parents of psychologically healthy children deal with, so I’m hesitant to write about it. I have four kids who have handled corrections the usual way, so I know what it should look like. Most parents will not understand where I’m coming from, but I know there are thousands of parents out there with kids who have serious attachment issues, so maybe I should write about this stuff anyway.

This is a daily issue, and it occurs multiple times throughout the day. RADish children (those with reactive attachment disorder) tend to misbehave around the clock, and they make a sport of it. Everything is a game to them, they’re rarely straight with parents about anything, and are always, always, always seeking control. This makes being in the authoritative role of “parent” the most difficult role on the planet. It’s a lose-lose position to have, and the pay is terrible unless you’re willing to do some major inner work on yourself. In that case, it can be an enormous blessing, like winning the lottery. But at the end of the day you still have to bring your strengthened, empowered, healed, and more wise self back home with someone who despises you 80% of the time. That takes a great deal of self-discipline and mental focus– focusing on yourself and the well-being of the entire family far more than the one RAD child, which the child also despises. Have I lost my non-RAD parents yet? I wouldn’t blame you.

This morning’s scenario: I switched on the light to wake up Prasad and Sky for school. Prasad usually gets up first to use the bathroom while Sky lies in bed, whining. This time, Prasad was walking to the bedroom door, and Sky ran, shoved him aside at the top of the stairs, and bolted out the room to be first in the bathroom. It was extremely rude, and Prasad was very upset by it. Sky said nothing. No “excuse me” or “sorry, I have to use the bathroom badly”… nothing. I told Prasad I’d have a talk with his brother, and not to make it a big argument. When Sky came out of the restroom, I took him aside and in a matter-of-fact way pointed out his behavior and how rude it was, and that it hurt his brother’s feelings. Again, no words, he just walked away and went to get dressed. As he walked away, I told him I wanted to hear an apology to his brother this morning.

When Sky came down after getting dressed, he was pouting and sulking. His whole demeanor had changed, and he seemed very depressed. One would guess he felt guilty for treating his brother badly, but when asked what’s wrong it’s always about himself, and me disliking him. He also says often that he’d prefer it “if everyone could be nicer” to him. He feels victimized every time he’s told that he’s done something disrespectful, unkind, or dangerous, regardless of how others are affected. This is a core problem with RADish children- they have little empathy, they think the world is out to get them, and they work so hard at making sure it doesn’t. He has stated that he’d like it if we didn’t point out what he does wrong, and that he’d “be happier and nicer that way with a more open heart.” So, if he has to follow rules and keeps receiving corrections, he’s going to continue being unpleasant? The logic used to make my head spin, but I no longer try getting inside his head. I remain in my own, rational, nurturing & maternal mind, and let him know I love him. If I didn’t love him, I would never correct or scoldĀ  him for anything because I wouldn’t care. I remind him in a very matter-of-fact way that all the people in our home have the very same rules to abide by, I speak the same way to all of the kids, and love them all equally. He knows this is true on an intellectual level, but he can’t seem to grasp it emotionally, especially when he’s been corrected.

I guess the difficult aspect for me is the sour taste after every incident. The very real sense that while he’s being corrected, he’s thinking about how much he dislikes me.. feeling it. It becomes so personal. From our past discussions, I know he’s always wishing he were back in Guatemala, and never adopted in those moments of being corrected. It’s the old Grass is Greener on the Other Side Syndrome. Darkness pours from his eyes, yet I keep flooding love back at him through mine. It’s an exchange that often leaves me empty until I fill it up with love for the light that I know lives inside him. I’ve seen and felt it, so I’m well acquainted with it. Being despised, and remaining loving through all that negative energy is the key. That’s the test. It’s why I have a RAD child. It’s difficult, but I’ve learned it can be done. To scold or not to scold? By definition, I don’t mean yelling and criticizing, but loving corrections. Everyone needs those. Love goes beyond warm and fuzzy feelings, or making your kids happy in the moment. I don’t know about my RADish, but I’d feel pretty lost and forgotten if my parents weren’t paying enough attention to how I treated others. This role I have to play is more than tough, but I’m playing it out; I will compliment, support, guide and even scold as long as I truly love my kids. Anything less, and I would understand being despised. For now, I need to work at letting that wounded darkness go. It’s heavy, and I’m sad it’s there, but it’s not mine to carry or heal. With parenting, in the end it’s all about ourselves and our own growth… RAD is one of the greatest fertilizers on the planet.


Filed under Adoption, Family Happenings, Kids, Living with RAD, Parenting, RAD kids, Thoughts & Insights

Goodbye Mortimer

Mortimer came and spent over seven months on our little farmstead. We adored him, watched him grow from a little brown duckling into a beautiful taupe and green Mallard drake, and he gave us so many laughs with all his character. Being part of a mated pair with Phoebe, it was a tough goodbye, but a necessary one. That last two days he was here were not pleasant, especially for him since he kept getting quarantined. The mornings were the worst, running up to any duck he could and pecking them, grabbing them, chasing and chasing every duck in sight. He was not a happy guy, and the whole flock suffered. Even Phoebe has stopped laying eggs from all the stress… She’s a daily layer, but she’s had three days with no eggs!

Morty left yesterday with a great guy who resides in Harrisonville, Missouri. He has property with a pond in the country. He keeps several ducks, including Runners like Mortimer, chickens and even a turkey. He’s in very good, loving hands which made the goodbye a lot easier.

Now, for the sweet gift I found today. It was laying next to our roses:

It’s a curled tail feather from Mortimer (grainy image, but you get the idea). Only mature males have these curled tail feathers. It was a very special find, and we’re keeping it to remember our very first, beautiful male duck. So long, Mortimer, thank you for the joy you gave us, and may you enjoy your new pond & flock!

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1 Rabbit Run Down, 1 To Go

Building the split run has been a huge project this Summer (male buck on one side, female doe on the other). It’s been dragging along due to all the excessive heat we’ve had… we simply cannot build in 95-100 degree temps or extreme high humidity. Because of the delay, our buck, Forest, has had to endure a longer time in his small hutch until it’s completed. It ate at us, and we felt terribly for him since he was growing so much. Finally, today, the door on his side was built, attached and latched. He has about 9′ x 5′ to hop around now. He’s officially a very happy bunny! He really deserves it because he’s such a sweetheart. He loves humans, and follows us around the yard like a dog. Here’s the door:

Daniel & Prasad showing off the new gate

Prasad admiring his bunny's side of the run

..and here's a peek at Forest resting behind his hutch. Bunnies love to hide and curl up. We let them hop all over the yard every day, but after 10-15 minutes they always end up going back into their hutches

Now, on to Meadow’s door. They’ll both be able to see each other through the rabbit wire soon. Most of all, we’ll have fun watching them hop around from the sun room windows.


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Filed under Home Projects, Rabbits, River Living, Urban Farmsteading

Here’s a little peek at the chicken run. Prasad points out his hen, India, a Light Brahma, and hand feeds the hens grass. These animals are such a joy every day.

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