Tag Archive | "parenting advice"

Zoie Is A Babaholic

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Zoie Is A Babaholic

Posted on 27 September 2011 by Kari Gibson

You ask … what is a babaholic? Well, it’s a child who is addicted to her bottle after the weaning years are long gone. Don’t judge me, but yes, we still give Zoie a bottle of milk for a good-night nip and snuggling in the morning. It’s hard to explain, but when Zoie was in the orphanage, her bottle was a sense of comfort and our bonding time with her as new parents. I have started telling her lately she has to give up the bottle when she turns 4. Her response was so sweet “Ok, Mama!”

We are in no rush to see our baby grow up, but she keeps moving forward at rapid speed. We are thankful to have three amazing kids and can testify that the teens are NOT babaholics!

Do you have anything in mommyhood that’s been hard to let go of?

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Mom VS. Princess TNT

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Mom VS. Princess TNT

Posted on 23 September 2010 by Kari Gibson

Zoie turns 29 months old today!  She is almost officially a 2.5 year old.  It’s hard to imagine how tiny she was when we first met her in Ethiopia.  Her spirit radiates spunk and life and joy!  We are so honored to be her family and fall in love with her more each day.  She loves to sing, dance, swim, skip, color, take baths, and cuddle.  She hates naps, vegetables, meat, the word no, and sticky hands.  Hubby and I feel like we’re seasoned parents with 2 teenagers who managed to stay alive during the terrible terrific twos.  At times, we rack our brain trying to remember the tips we received from family and friends as they helped us maneuver through the toddler years.  A few blasts from the past surface, but nothing seems to compare with Princess TNT!!

Princess TNT (aka Zoie) can throw a temper tantrum like a keg of dynomite with a pink bow.  It can be startling, when the fuse blows and we missed the vital warning signs.  The other day, daddy told her she needed to eat her grapes before she could have her crackers.  The shrilling screams made him duck for cover, but I dragged him out and convinced him he was safe.  The thing that works well with Zoie right now are “Time In’s.”  We learned this technique in one of my adoption books, but it really works.  When the explosion of emotion is at a max, we put her on her chair and stand quietly next to her.  I put my hand on her head or back and just remind her how much I love her even when she is throwing a fit.  I time her 2.5 minutes and then say outloud- “OK, time-in is over.  If she has quieted down and things are back in control… I let her get up and back to playing.

Parenting is a journey and each child is unique, amazing, and miraculous.  I want to hear your stories and advice-  If you have any tips you want to share or a crazy post about taming a toddler TNT please add in comments for all of us to read.

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Bring Your Drama To Your Momma

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Bring Your Drama To Your Momma

Posted on 06 April 2010 by Kari Gibson

I’m dedicating this week of blogging to crazy mommyhood.  As I prepare to leave for Haiti on the 11th, I can’t stop thinking about my kids.  Are they going to survive without me for a week?  These are the questions zipping around in my head:  Who will remember to turn the baby monitor on at night? Who will remember to buy milk before it runs out? Will Zoie be OK at the babysitters house (1st time?) Will anyone remember to cook dinner at a reasonable hour?  Yes, that’s right, I’m leaving my kids for a week with their awesome, amazingly fun, easy going daddy and I don’t need to worry about them for a second.  They are in the best hands and hubby will do a great job, even if he does forget to buy the milk.

One of the things I love saying to my 3 kids is, “Bring your drama to your momma.”  I always want them to feel safe to come to me when they have had a crazy day (there’s no such thing as a bad day.)  Teenagers have a lot of drama.  I’m blessed to have 2 teens, so we have double the drama at times.  When my kids bring me their drama, I have 2 choices on how I’m going to respond. 1) I can freeek out pouring fuel on the drama or 2) just play it cool.  Believe me, I have tried both sides of the game.  Not to long ago, my son and I were eating lunch at a yummy Mexican restaurant a few hours before dropping him off at golf camp.  Michael had just earned his driver’s permit and wanted to make sure he got in a few practice runs.  We had a great lunch, lots of laughs and plenty of time to make it home before drop off.  My son was in the drivers seat, backing up my van when all of a sudden he made a crazy sharp turn and crashed into something behind us.  My first reaction was to scream yell “SLOW DOWN!!” but it was too late.  We both looked back and knew this was more than a fender bender.  He backed straight into a parked car parallel behind us.  My van has a back up camera, but somehow this large, black car was missed out of sight.  The worst part was the frenzy that happened when 10 people circled us yelling different views of the accident.  This was A+ drama.  I couldn’t believe he forgot to look behind him before jamming the car in reverse, but I made a quick choice.  I reacted calmly to the mob and sweet talked our way out of the driver calling the police.  There were a few new dings and bangs on his very dinged up, banged up car, but overall everything went pretty smooth.

Michael apologized 100 times to me how bad he felt backing out too fast and it was easy for me to say to him, “Live and learn.”  He spent the summer paying us back for the mini collision and he learned to look carefully before backing up the family car.

I instinctively wanted to yell, but I didn’t. (this time)

This is why I love the lessons we can learn from drama.  I make mistakes everyday and I’m grateful I love a God who loves me and forgives me when I back up too fast in life.

Do you let your kids bring their drama to you?  I want to hear…

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Crazy Stripper

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Crazy Stripper

Posted on 02 March 2010 by Kari Gibson

I’m writing this post in desperation!!  Bloggy mommas unite- I have a 911.

Last week, this adorable princess…

Who takes a 3-4 hour nap (I told you she was a princess) in one of these…


Started taking this very important piece of equipment off in her crib…


Now, we are messing up nap time, playing with our diaper and peeling off, taking off and causing lots of mischief.  I have tried everything to nip this craziness, but I’m not having any luck.

I have put one of these on, but she can still pick and peel off the velcro over clothing (she smart)


I need your creative ideas to help my Crazy Stripper stop taking off her diaper and sleep again.

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Adoption 101: Welcome Home to Crazy!

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Adoption 101: Welcome Home to Crazy!

Posted on 20 February 2010 by Kari Gibson

Coming home with a new adopted child is challenging, joyful, scary as heck, exhausting and miraculous all wrapped up in love.  You want to be prepared and realistic about feelings that might come out of the craziness and turn life upside down for a period of time.  I’m so excited to have my first guest blogger, Kari Potthoff share some great adoption tips to help soothe the homecoming jitters.  She shares honestly and with a big dose of reality with helpful advice to support adoption homecomings…

Welcome Home Adoption:
There are nine families on their way home this weekend from Kenya with their beautiful new children from Rwanda. It has been interesting watching their travels as they had a rather different experience then us. Something I have been meaning to blog about is the often not discussed issue of homecoming. Regardless of how easy or difficult a family’s time in country obtaining their child is they will experience bumps when they get home. Yes, it is easier for some then others depending on so many factors; the age of the child, the number of children adopted, gender, health, personality, prior quality of care, the children already home and the family’s level of preparation prior to travel. There is something called post-adoption depression and I think it is more common then adoptive parents (mainly mothers because they usually are the primary caretakers upon arrival home), want to admit. But the reality is that after 12 months of completing paperwork and background checks and saving and fundraising that homecoming is often not the wonderful, peaceful experience that one might have hoped it to be. A good social worker will educate adoptive parents about this but often no matter how prepared they are it is still dang hard.

At minimum after arriving home the family will be exhausted and jet lagged. Often the adopted kidos may sleep unusually well and not show any problematic behaviors for the first few weeks. But after they recover their energy and get settled the most challenging period of adjustment begins. Again this varies greatly, some families may not have any issues. For sure though if they have welcomed a child over the age of 2 years into their home they are going to have to work through some behaviors and difficult adjustment at times. There are also specific medical issues that need to be dealt with when a child is adopted from Africa such as parasites, GI issues, and malnutrition. If a child has lived in a orphanage for a extended time (more then 6 months) then they probably are going to have developmental delays as well.

So basically what I am saying is that the first few months home are a critical period for the new family and they will need the support and understanding of their family, friends, coworkers and community. At this same time parents will need time to focus on what is called “attachment parenting”. If extended family and friends do not understand what that means their can be tension during visits and the relationship between the adoptive family and child can be compromised. Here are some basic recommendations that I am providing to family, friends, coworkers, church members, neighbors, anyone who wants to help a family who has just arrived home with a internationally adopted child (I think it is a bit different for domestic or foster/adopt but you may be able to relate). Some of these we have received and others I wish we would have. I will say though, that it was interesting to me the differences in how people responded to the birth of our son, versus the adoption of our daughter, and then the adoption of our second son. I will let you decide what I might mean by that.

  • First and foremost treat everything about the adoption as you would have if the family had given birth. Hold a baby shower, make welcome signs, send them balloons (avoid latex as they are serious choking hazards) or flowers. If you send a gift, wrap it in baby paper or appropriate paper for a older child. This is a time to celebrate the same that you would if the child was a newborn birth child. This may vary by age of the adopted child, but I think that ALL children deserve to be celebrated and I know that the parents would really appreciate the thought. It is a once in a lifetime experience.
  • Also really important is to ask them what they need help with, you might be surprised.
  • Offer to drop off or pick them up at the airport (airport parking is very expensive)
  • Stock their fridge and cupboards just before they get home, you have no idea how good a diet coke (no diet pop their) and fresh vegetables (can’t eat fresh vegetables) taste after being in Africa.
  • Bring them a hot meal the first night home, even better deliver a hot meal every night for the first week home.
  • Clean their house for them or hire someone to do it just before they come home, have it done again a few weeks later (when things really start to get tough).
  • Offer to babysit any other children in the home so that they can get some much needed attention and parents can have some one on one with the new one/s.
  • Offer to give rides to older children who may need to get to activities.
  • If it is winter go shovel their driveway and sidewalks.
  • Offer to run errands for the family or to go to the store (Having to take my screaming toddler to the store, and having everyone stare at me has been one of my worst post adoption experiences)
  • Simply lend a open ear, encourage the new mom to be open and honest about her feelings and needs. Take her out for a break, a cup of coffee or a nice lunch.
  • This one is REALLY important so I am leaving it for last: During any visits that happen in the first few months be respectful of the adoptive parents wishes regarding feeding, holding, and comforting the child. A child who has lived in a orphanage has passed through the hands of MANY caregivers and it is crucial that they learn to go to their new parents as the sole primary caregivers in the beginning. It would not have been normal for our oldest son to jump on the lap of a complete stranger at the age of 2 years and as hard as it is to understand you are a stranger to this child. So just ask the parents what the “rules” are. It may vary by household and how involved you are with the family. My personal preference for this issue is fairly conservative, I did not want anyone else holding, comforting or feeding my adopted kids for the first two months home. Especially for my son since we went through a period of him rejecting having a mommy. For a toddler in particular, if the parent has taken something away from the kido and they start screaming it would not be o.k. for a different person to then confuse the child by comforting him or her. You see what I mean, this can be complicated so if you are not sure just ask.

That certainly is not a extensive list of how to help but I think this got long enough. Any questions? Feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to answer.

Kari Neubauer Potthoff, PhD
Licensed School Psychologist
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

MY CRAZY TALK: Please share your crazy homecoming stories.  Did you feel support or lost when you came home?  What is one helpful thing your family or friends did to make your adoption homecoming special or feel supported?  If you have not had your homecoming yet, share with us what you think you might need from your community of adoption cheerleaders.

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My Crazy Blog – What’s Up Next?

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My Crazy Blog – What’s Up Next?

Posted on 31 January 2010 by Kari Gibson

Due to my HopeChest Project and the HIGH number of T shirts I have to roll & pack & mail out this next week… please hold off on contacting me about “Pick My Country.” I promise I will be available when all the T shirt craziness is over.  I appreciate your understanding & excitement about the new fundraising project- Adoption in a Box!!  I can’t wait to help you!!!

My crazy readers, here’s an update on what’s coming up next …

  • Adoption Life LIVE & Adoption 101.- I really want to know what you are interested in learning more about in the adoption process. Please leave me a comment if you have any suggestions for live talk video and adoption talk.  I want to be a source of encouragement to you from A to Z.
  • Wednesday WOW Recipes- we’ll start back up with tasty yummy non-beefy recipes to please our crazy families.
  • Fun, Family Photos, Flips, Games & Giveaways- we will continue to have lots of fun here at My Crazy Adoption!!  I LOVE Giveaways and appreciate the special donations I receive to give to you.  Adoption Tuesday Trivia series will start back up again and I need your interaction to make it a helpful tool for families.
  • Mommyhood stories, Mommy DIY crafts and activities to do with your kids.
  • My Personal Crazy Picks-  things that I love.
  • Please keep adding your personal photos up on Your Photos and your blog links at Inspired Links.
  • We’ll end our week with scripture and meditations on Simply Sunday.

When do you bring back your Simply Love T shirts?

  • My adoption Simply Love shirts are Coming back Soon – First, I need to get all the HopeChest T shirts out in the mail.  I don’t want to confuse anyone, but our 2 Simply Love T’s- Women & Men’s Man Up styles will be available again in Feb.  100% of proceeds goes directly into our adoption account.  We are also adding Youth to the batch- copy cat of the grown up T’s, but in black.

  • Big Surprise- I will officially launch in 2 weeks…“Pick My Country” Package for fundraising families or groups that want to spread some love.  I like to call it- Adoption in a Box.  We are introducing 9 new Simply Love Countries for you to pick and use for your own personal fundraisers, projects, mission trips, travel groups and more.  I have prayed for an opportunity to help others raise the necessary funds for their own adoptions.  We’re all in this together!!  You will receive a detailed virtual packet with photos to download, fundraising ideas and details on ordering your own T shirts.  The most exciting news- if you are the first to order a “Pick My Country” you get to name the T shirt.  Africa- Zoie, Russia- Lanie, and China- Annie, but the rest are up for grabs!! Also, if there is a country you want, but it is not listed-  We can custom design your Simply Love Country in 1-3 days.  I will officially launch the new project in 2 weeks (after I mail out almost 700 HopeChest T shirts! whooohooo)
  • Countries Available for “Pick Your Country”:  USA, China, Africa, Napal, Haiti, Russia, India, South Korea, ?

Sneek Peek- Simply Love China

Please follow Crazy Me- join Blog Frog and let’s stay in touch!!  You can add your own blog link- just click.

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Camping + Motorcycle Gang = Priceless Bonding!

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Camping + Motorcycle Gang = Priceless Bonding!

Posted on 19 December 2009 by Kari Gibson

In my dad’s book, Keys to Your Child’s Heart, he shares how to make family memories. An inspiring how-to for parents to create amazing moments and strong bonds as a family unit. He can take no credit for our family’s closeness. It was a gift. It was years of messing up, I think that did it. My favorite stories of “messing up” are now the hilarious topics of our family get-togethers. My brothers and I tease, embellish, and make fun (in love) of ALL the attempts dad made to bond us closer. The camping stories are my very favorite. In fact, the parenting book was written on a two month camping trip. It was weeks of torture for my brothers and I jammed in a camper zipping from state park to state park. I honestly don’t know how they did it…how did my mom keep her sanity? There were bumps and crisis and bruises and adventures and laughs at every turn. My dad insists that camping will make any family close.  The #1 bonding activity.  He would bet his camper on it.

Roger and I were so excited the first time we took our son, Michael camping. He was one years old and full of life. We wanted to start him out young and start the bonding right off the bat. I remember like it was yesterday packing the car with all the camping goods and our brand new Coleman tent. We thought of everything. We interviewed several avid campers and decided on the perfect spot for our 1st trip. The drive was long and winding. I remember feeling car sick, but my joy of camping held me over through the 4 hour drive to camping paradise.

It was beautiful. The best spot. We set up our camp site in a flash. We had a few tumbles trying to figure out how to balance out the tent, despite the slight lean…we did it!! I headed to the outdoor facilities but stopped short. The not-so-clean, super nasty toilet was crawling with bugs. Dear Lord, it was disgusting! Refusing to “go” there…I insisted Rog drive us to the nearest clean restroom. There was noooo near clean spot. Where was the gas station? Where was the park restrooms with showers? I realized quickly I would really have to rough it up! 100% nature calling in the wild outdoors.

The night was long and everything went wrong. It started raining. A motorcycle gang rolled in and set up camp right next to our tent. A college group catty corner partied all night. It was cold and wet and loud and miserable. I begged Rog to go out there and tell the college kids and motorcycle gang to BE QUIET!! We have a baby trying to sleep in here! Long story short, we packed up our brand new tent and all our camping goods in the dark and headed for home. We were mad and really sleepy. I felt like a total failure. What happened? I was a camping pro. Our family bonding depended on this camping trip to be a success.

We learned a lesson. Our
un-camping trip WAS a success. We bonded. We had our memories. We could laugh at the messes. Maybe we weren’t cut out to be campers, but we were cut out to be a family. A family that loves being together. We never popped that tent up again, but we did invest years later in a pop up camper. We are now the Gibson Five and I cherish our memory-making-messes deeper than ever. I guess the moral of this story…you can bond pretty much doing anything as a family. Trouble will find you where ever you go.
Make every memory count!!

Ok- I’d really love to hear your favorite memory-making-messes.

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