Changing Things Up


Kieran is currently taking his annual holiday break from his meds. He was taking breaks every weekend throughout the fall without his doctor’s permission or our knowledge (until he caved and told me)… he feels that the medication is keeping him from being taller.

Kieran off meds: a bit frantic, happy, eating, sleeping, walking away mid-task to do something else, a bit obsessive.

He says he feels more creative off his medication.

Kieran on Concerta: angry, restless, focused, having difficulty with some physical symptoms (don’t want to mention due to embarrassment), growing, but possibly more slowly.

Because of the anger and physical difficulties (which I was proud that Kieran had researched himself), we have decided to change up his medication starting in the new year.

I did some research and read some blogs about side effects of this new medicine: Vyvanse.

It lasts only 9-10 hours, so parents seemed pleased that their child was able to fall to sleep. If not, melatonin was recommended.

Appetite was definitely decreased.

Something I had never thought of, was having the child take the medicine around 5 a.m., fall back to sleep, then have it “on board” for the morning routine.

Kieran has nixed this idea. It would also mean no medicine for homework.

We shall see what the new year brings.

I’m glad that Kieran is a part of the conversation and process now.

He has a voice.

Standing Up


This past summer, Mea started to go to camp at her new elementary school to get to know a few kids before she started attending in August.

While Mea gets along with most anyone, one kid was different.

He had trouble getting along with all of the other kids.

Mea was no exception.

One day, she came home wanting to talk.

She said that during a playground game, this kid said to her that she couldn’t get him “out” because she was black.

This was the first time that anyone had negatively commented on her race before.

This was a big moment – I searched in my head for words that would help her and let her know how wrong he was.

I asked, what did you say?

She had said, first, I’m brown. Second, you’re out anyway.


I was so thankful for her strength and that all of her talking back was paying off.

We talked about how she felt and why that boy might say something like that, and that no matter what, he was very wrong to have said it.

I asked if she had any questions and if she was okay.

She said that she felt good for not letting him get her down.

Good girl!

Liam Does Get Mad


Liam is such an easy-going, compliant child, that it’s hard to imagine that he gets mad.

But it happens.

I’ve learned to help him through such times, as his emotions often come on intensely.

He will fly down the steps after Kieran says something insulting to him (mostly because he is not doing what Kieran wants).

He will fling his hands to his face and crumple to the ground if he gets yelled at for a reason he does not understand.

Sometimes, he cries – he is so upset about what has happened.

I use logic to bring him back into balance.

I guide him to breathe – to focus on something other than what happened and what he has heard.

I ask him: What are you feeling?

What do you want to say?

Sometimes, I even ask him to show forgiveness to a situation or person who didn’t realize they were being mean.

It doesn’t happen in public – he saves these emotions for his safe place – home.

Maybe it happens at home more often because this is where he is more likely to take things more personally or show us his honest feelings.

His quiet and calm exterior does not mean that he cannot be hurt.

Or that he does not have moments of, what the boys call, “rage” when he has been wronged.

Dicipline that Works


With Kieran, positive reinforcement is key.

He really does not respond to other types of discipline, especially tough love.

I remember one time that I said how disappointed I was with a choice he made.

He proceeded to cry and share how unloveable he was.

I was stopped in my tracks.

I took it all back.

I wound up apologizing to him.

Not only had he taking my words seriously, he took them too seriously.

He did another thing as well.

He noted my response…

The next time we were in a similar situation, even though I tread lightly, he immediately brought out the “unlovable” argument.

He was manipulating me!

I learned my lesson.

In sixth grade, I also learned an important lesson about what doesn’t work with my child.

My tipping point of defending him, instead of acknowledging his mistake.

One of his teachers, frustrated with his behavior (and rightly frustrated), asked Kieran in front of the class if he needed to be brought to my office (which was located adjacent to his school) in order to listen.

Not only was this lesson and his behavior lost on Kieran, he was so embarrassed that he wound up losing trust in the teacher for a while.

He literally saw red when he explained to me what happened.

If he had been approached privately, he might have been penitent.

I learned that when I need to address Kieran, I will have more success in redirecting his behavior, appealing to his logical mind, or asking him for a favor.

Tough love is too tough for this sensitive kid.

Happy 8th Gotcha Day!


(one of my all-time favorite pictures of Mea).

Eight years ago today, we officially became Mea’s parents.

She became the final, essential part of our family.

Some adoptive families call this “gotcha day.”

There’s even a song!

A colleague who is adopted was sharing with me yesterday, that when he was only in first grade, he got into trouble for telling his classmates: your parents had to have you; my parents chose me – with pride in his voice.

I love how strongly he felt about being a part of his family.

Just two days ago, Mea and I were not seeing eye to eye. I shared with her that I knew that God chose me to be her Mom, so I was going to do the best job possible, not slack off like she was hoping I would.

Yes, “gotcha day” can be seen as sad.

It is a day of loss for another family.

A mom or dad who permanently gave up their child.

At the same time, they loved her so very much that they gave her a family and a life that she otherwise might not have had, with education and health, and possibilities that might not have existed for her otherwise.

And for that, we are extremely grateful and will celebrate Mea today.

Best Therapy: Jazz Band


In eighth grade, Liam tried jazz band, which required him to play a tenor sax (he plays the clarinet).

This was the first “stretch.”

His incredible band director then asked him to play an improvisation solo during one of the songs.

This was taking a huge risk on Liam, as it was a competitive jazz band.

Initially, thinking about the solo was stressful for Liam.

His brain doesn’t easily improvise.

It imitates exquisitely, but that is not exactly how to play a solo in jazz band.

His band teacher did recommend imitating, to give him a “mentor text” to follow.

He said if you have nothing else to play, use “happy birthday.”

Liam started off tentatively and grew more comfortable with this type of playing throughout the spring.

It was yet another first for him – showing that he can learn and try to be creative, even if he was not initially wired to be that way.

Improv and jazz are good for the mind and soul.

The Group Chat That Made His Year


About mid-way through sixth grade, Kieran was added to a group chat made up of boys from his math class.


He hadn’t had a friend that was a boy since about third grade.

Not consistently anyway.

He was a little obsessed with the chat at first.

We talked about how to “be cool.”

He didn’t always know what to write.

We practiced when and how to say (write) something, when to reply with an emoji, and when to not write anything at all.

Sometimes, the chat was inappropriate; they are sixth grade boys. It was mostly silly, harmless stuff. No bullying.

We talked about how they were including him, so he needed to keep these friendships “alive” during face-to-face times:

Choose to work with one of these boys in a class project.

Talk with some of them during band.

Run with one or two during cross country.

While he still hasn’t been invited to hang out and still sits at a lunch table with all girls, he has made inroads with the sporty boys.

He has more friends, thanks to a group chat.