Saturday, November 5, 2016

Teaching children Gratitude.

*Originally written for Forever Bound Adoption Website.
Thanksgiving is a special time of year when families gather, memories are shared and new memories are made.   Many families take turns sharing what they are most thankful for as they sit around the table filled with savory dishes waiting to be devoured.   Having the attitude of gratitude is an important gift we can give to the children in our lives.   November brings a great opportunity to teach gratitude.   You don’t have to have children in your own home to use these ideas.   Teaching children in your extended family, in your neighborhood or in your church congregation, would be a great way to bless the lives of children around you.   Sometimes an Aunt or Uncle or special neighbor can impact a child’s life in a unique and special way.

Teaching Gratitude starts with words:   Saying “Thank You” often is a great way to help children learn to say thank you.   When our children were little toddlers we would hand them something they wanted and we would say “Thank You”.  It didn't take long for our child to start saying those words to us.
 
Thank You Notes:  Thank you notes written to our children not only teaches by example, it allows our child to feel special and begin to understand what it feels like to be appreciated.

Stories about giving thanks:   Keep a basket filled with books, magazine articles and/or movies for all ages that teach the art of being thankful.    We try to add a new book to our collection each year .   Visiting your local library is another way to add a few books to your basket for the season.

Special acts of service:  Look for opportunities to serve others in your family, extended family and/or community.   Helping others gives children the opportunity to give back and see how their service touches the heart of another.

November “Giving Thanks” packages:  Kids love to create so taking treats to a neighbor, or creating their own thank you notes, is a great way to get kids involved in showing gratitude.   This year we are taking these little turkey baskets filled with goodies and a note of thanks to some special people in the lives of our children.


Get the pattern here.

Go here to learn how to create the paper basket.


Trace, cut and chalk or ink the sides.
Glue together.  Don't forget to dot in the eyes.
Thanksgiving baskets ready to fill with goodies and a note of gratitude.
Thanksgiving is a great time to share a special note of thanks to our children's birth families.  Any of these ideas can be used to tell the special Birth Families in our lives Thank You!   I feel  there aren't enough ways to tell my children’s birth families thank you!   Nothing measures up to the joy they have brought into my life and into my family.   When I create something with my own hands and give it to them, it is my hope they realize my gratitude and love for them runs deep.   When my children create pictures (like a hand turkey) for their birth parents they get excited because it is something they did themselves.   What a great opportunity we have to share our love with these incredible people in our life!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!


Brenda Horrocks is a mother of four children through adoption. She promotes adoption, foster care and Utah's Safe Haven Law through blogging, public speaking and writing. She enjoys time with family, reading books, running, gardening and movies. You can visit her blog here.





Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Day I Played.


One afternoon I had just settled down into the world’s best recliner (seriously…best money ever spent at RC Willey) and was very ready for a moment to myself.   My little Spencer comes up to me for the millionth time that week and asked me to play Lego’s with him.   I really don’t want to….I just want “my time”.   But something about the way he is looking at me this time makes me realize he really needs me.    So I put on my super mom cape and go to the business of doing what moms do best…..sacrifice their time for their child’s needs.   At least that is what I was thinking at the time.

I sat down at the tiny red Lego table Brad and I made for our boys for Christmas. The tiny red chair, way too small for my backside but not too uncomfortable became my station in this world he created.   The playing begins….I decided to put some of my own imagination into it and the story started unfolding.   Spencer became Batman and I was just Brenda but I was helping Batman.    I starting introducing non-Lego toys into the play and things starting getting a little giggly.   But when I placed Joker on the Lego horse and then put a Littlest Pet Shop acorn in Joker’s hand and called it a Cherry bomb, Spencer laughed so hard he couldn’t talk.   I also saw the awesome silly humor and caught the laughing bug.   Before I knew it we were both laughing so hard we couldn’t play for a few minutes.   Then things got really crazy and the laughing became hysterical!   In that moment I was really truly present with my sweet little boy and having more fun and releasing more stress then I ever could by sitting in the world’s best recliner.   

I learned a great lesson that day.   It wasn’t me putting on a super mom cape and sacrificing my time for my child’s need.   The superhero was really Spencer.   He helped me relax, have fun and laugh away my concerns of the day.    He was taking his time away from his short childhood to include me in his imagination play.    What an amazing privilege it was to be invited into his amazing world!!!

I now look forward to our continued “game” in Spencer’s Lego world.  Best therapy ever!!!!
I love my Super Spencer.
Hero of my heart!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Overcoming

Sometime in very late January or early February I came home from work and Haley pulled me into the living room and poured her heart out to me about how badly she was being treated by friends and how much she just didn't want to deal with the pain anymore.   She cried harder than I have ever seen her cry and as I reach out to her and pulled her close to me and held her for a long time I realized she wasn't just totally heart broken but she was fiery hot with a fever.    She had a horrible cough to add to her horrible fever.   She was fragile emotionally and physically.   After talking on the phone with a doctor I learned how physical illness can make depression worse.   This  made complete sense and I wondered why I hadn't thought of it myself.   That night and many many nights following I slept downstairs on the couch so I could be by Haley.   Within a couple days I running a fever and coughing. By the 4th day the whole family was sick.   It was not a fun time in our home.   Haley and I had the worst of it.  We went to the doctor only to be told it was a virus and go home, rest and drink fluids.   It was the first time I think in my whole life  I called someone in my ward and asked for help with a meal.   And being the wonderful friends they are we were taken care of that night and a few nights following.

It was during this illness and intense concern for my daughter's health and well being that I had a breaking moment.   I cried harder than I had cried in a while.   I'm sure from the outsider's perspective I looked like I was crying only because I was so sick (which illness was a huge part of it) but there was so much more.  All the pain of all the trials from the past 12 months came down on me in a way I can't describe.   I think those feelings had been sitting there festering for a long time.   Feelings about all of my children's challenges, to my weight challenges, to the criticism I endured from others while serving in Young Women's, and difficult feelings coming from  the hurtful silence from those who should have come to our aid on our darkest days.    I was also letting out my feelings of sadness for all the things I couldn't give my children because we live too far away from everything.   And it wasn't just the distance... it was the financial struggle as we paid more and more towards doctors visits, ER visits and all things medical.  I felt locked into a life I didn't like anymore.   I wanted to give my children more experiences, more of my time and much sweeter memories.  I wanted them to have more time with Brad...be a little closer to help cut a little time off his commute.  I knew on that very day I was done, but I had no idea how to share all of these tender feelings with Brad.  I wasn't sure how to tell him how I knew if we continued to live here I would heading to a mental breakdown.

Somehow in the Lord's own way He was able to help me communicate to Brad my needs.   And Brad heard me but more importantly Brad heard Him.   And here we are about a week away from moving.  A week away from a fresh start in a smaller house which doesn't have everything we dreamed we would have but has everything we need.   I have seen the Lord's hand guide us and help us! I have felt His tender mercies upon my family!

Haley has greatly improved!!!   I can see the happy girl who fills my life with sunshine!   I also see a a girl who is a little wiser and is open with her feelings more often.    Our whole family has been making changes for the better and we are working together to overcome the stumbling blocks.   I am feeling joy again and I have hope again and feel excited about our future!  I am ready for this incredible chance to make a fresh start!   Fresh sounds beautiful to me!!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Social life at school through the eyes of a teenage girl.

People always told us "Just wait until you have teenagers".  Well here we are, in the trenches of  our daughters adolescence and lets just say I have a love/pain relationship.    My girls are amazing!!!  They are so much fun and make me laugh so hard I cry.   But there is a side to their teenage experience that is full of pain....their pain... which in turn brings pain to my heart.   With one daughter full of so much anxiety about grades, scholarships, "what will I be when I grow up" and what college will she go to, she has missed out on the fun of being a high school student.  While she is confident in her talent as a writer she is less confident of the way she looks.   As beautiful as she is, she looks around and see's what she isn't.....stick thin.    She compares her body type to other girls her age and feels less than who she really is.    I cringe as I realize many of the things she says about her body I have said about mine.   I also relate to her idea of feeling "less than" the other girls her age.  My whole adolescence was full of this type of mindset.  Jr. High was the worst for me.  High school it got better but in my junior year my home life took a turn downhill for a while and all I could do was sleep, eat, self-loath and repeat.   So as my daughter feels discouraged I hurt for her because I understand the her pain.

Our younger daughter is only 13 and loves to make friends.   This is great except once she becomes friends with someone,, she cares so deeply she starts to take and internalize any struggles or pain they may be going through.  Brad and I had no idea how deep her stress was until Christmas day when I felt prompted to check on her and found her with many many cuts on her upper legs.   She had held her stress and worries and pain in so much she wasn't sure how to overcome the struggle.   Cutting became her answer and to our surprise we have come to learn cutting seems to be the coping mechanism of choice for her generation.    This is a straight A, talented, beautiful, compassionate and obedient young woman.   She has parents who are happily married  and has great support.   And yet it still happened.   If you are reading this and you think all is well with your teen...take time to dig deeper, ask more pointed questions, read your teen's texts messages, emails and keep track of them on social media.   You will quickly learn what type of friends are influencing your teen.   There may be nothing to worry about, but what if there is?    Then you start talking and talking and talking some more.   You watch differently and pray harder.  You gather as a family and support your teen (or as in our family....teens).

There have been many tears from all of us and many sleepless nights.   But we are also gaining a stronger relationship, a greater understanding of what our teen and others face at school every single day.

 Here is what we have found out about life of a middle school student. Not all of this has happened to our daughter but all of it is happening to someone's daughter or son.

  • Boys are asking girls out, asking them for nude photos or even sex and when the girl keeps saying No No No....the boy says "If you don't go out/ send me the photo/have sex with me I am going to kill myself."   Pure manipulation!!!
  •  Then we have boys who use their sad life (and I am sure their lives are sad at home...too many reports of abuse and neglect etc) to manipulate a girl they like by getting their attention through their "poor me" verbiage.   The boys cut their arms or stomachs to deal with their pain but then they tell the girl they like all the details and they tell her they just want to die.   


So if the girl is like my girls they worry and stress over what to do, how to fix him, how to help him.  But  truthfully their young minds don't realize....they don't have the power to "fix" or "help".   The only power they have is to tell.  Telling an adult who can then call upon the people who have the power to help.   My girls are learning not to allow boys to manipulate them emotionally in this way and they are talking and telling and then Brad and I talk and tell the people who have the power to do something
.
The words said to students by their peers at the middle school is horrible.  
For example:
  • One teen is talking in class and another teen decides to say "Shut up!   Go die in a hole!".   
  • Phrases like "oh, look at it!" will seep through a mean boy's lips as he and his friends laugh at the girls expense.   
  • Girls are gossiping about other girls, spreading rumors and lies.
The examples could go on to make a very long list. The social behavior is a mess and not the best environment for learning.

I have watched my girls grow stronger the past 3 weeks.   Brenley is getting out of her shell and being much more social and worrying a little less about everything.    Haley is starting to see she is worth more than what her friends have given her and she is making new friends.   Both my girls are getting help  and moving forward.    Our whole family is in the process of learning and healing.   We are pulling back from things that are not as important and choosing our family.   We only have one shot at this and we hope to do it right!    With the Lord's help we know we will get through this stronger and more unified!!

As our family has talked through the issues we are facing we have developed a new phrase.
Friends Tell!  

So as a friend to most of my readers I am telling and sharing with you the few things I have quickly learned the past few weeks.   As I learn more I will share more.  I write this post with permission from my daughters and husband.  These are hard trials and writing is my coping skill.    It is our family's hope that this post and others to come will help your family.

*Note to family:  We would rather not go over this again on the phone or through a message.  Please send your prayers and positive support but please don't call to call to talk about this.   We are coping..and writing is my way of doing that. (Grandparents excluded in this).

Monday, August 10, 2015

Spencer turns 6!


Happy 6th Birthday to my tiny little boy!!!
If I could describe you in one word it would be Miracle!

Love makes little things grow!
I Love You!!!



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Alyssa Diaz Has Our Vote for Miss Utah 2015!



I had the privilege of doing a write up for one of my favorite young adults.   Alyssa Diaz.  She is talented and full of heart.   Another thing I adore about her is her love for Adoption.  
Our Family along with is rooting for her to take the crown!  


Alyssa Diaz, Miss Eagle Mountain 2014, is the sweetheart of the Utah Adoption community.  She believes in promoting the positive benefits of adoption.   She has witnessed first-hand the love between adoptive and birth families.   Alyssa’s Mother is a Birth Mother who placed her baby in an open adoption years before it was a popular to have openness.   Alyssa and her family enjoy an extraordinary relationship with this special sibling and have seen how adoption blesses all the lives involved.
This past year Alyssa has worked closely with various adoption organizations including United For Adoption, Forever Bound Adoption and Utah Adoption Association to help promote adoption awareness.    She has been involved with online support groups and local events such as the Adoption Walk with Me 5K.  Alyssa just held her own benefit run in Eagle Mountain to help a local family with their adoption expenses. 

Alyssa believes adoption is a positive option and enjoys sharing her love for all involved in adoption by sharing her family’s story.   Alyssa’s Platform “A Choice of Love” is centered on creating support and awareness surrounding the blessings of adoption. 


Alyssa will be competing in the Miss Utah Pageant June 17th – 20th.   
We love the energy Alyssa brings to this heartfelt cause and we are rooting for her to take the crown!
Good Luck Alyssa!!!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday Funny ~ How we roll.

Photo by: Brenley Horrocks
Yep!   My kids are a little crazy.   
This is how we roll at our house....in carpet.
I am crazy about this silly girl!