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WHOOPS!!

I just realized that some of your comments went to spam. Several of you are longtime followers, so I have no idea why it happened.

Sorry about that! I promise, I was NOT ignoring you.

XO Casey

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Blogging Joke

Know why Jesus would be great at blogging?

If you correctly guess the answer, I’ll write a post involving your blog. ūüôā

And….go!

Hint: he’s got lots of what every blogger wants!

Meet & Greet…Hypervigilant Style

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“Ooooooh, you were right. I DO like her!” ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†“Dude. I said you could MEET her. Hands off.”

Photo by Peter Nijenhuis

**We’re up to $35; see below!

We’ve all seen (and occasionally participated in) a Meet & Greet post. You know, “drop your link in the comments and maybe someone will click.”

Instead of posting a hit-or-miss link, let’s change it up. Your mission, should you choose to accept it:¬†

1. Describe your blog in nine words or less.

2. Paste a link to a post you’re proud of writing.¬†Bonus points for¬†adoption, mental health or parenting themes*, but it can be anything.

*With¬†your link, please note the post theme, e.g., “Adoption,” “Mental Health,” “Parenting,” “My Happy Place,” “Honey Badgers are Misunderstood,” etc.

3. Reblog this to increase the¬†number of participants. For every comment below, I’ll donate a dollar* to Compassion International, a fabulous organization committed to child development and rescuing kids from poverty.

*If the comment number rises beyond my ability to personally donate, I commit to raising the money. 

4. Click at least two links and read the posts.

Have fun!  And ignore the lemur. Feel free to hug.

Can I Get a Tardis?

 

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Photo: Casey Alexander

This week I started a new job, had hour-long meetings with each of their teachers and the IEP case manager, still managed to get them to all activities and appointments on time, studied like mad for 5th grade science, social studies and spelling tests (first week of school, let’s dive right in, shall we? ) and agreed to restore a house-worth of old shutters.

Starting to think I need my head examined.

Or I need a Tardis, so I can keep going back to week’s beginning until I’m caught up. ¬†Preferably with a Dr. Who to drive for me…reading the Tardis Operating Manual might send me over the edge.

Share your crazy week and make me feel normal. ūüôā

Trauma Mama

I can’t figure out how to reblog this page, so here’s the link. Her blog is fabulous and this link sends you straight to a bunch of great books and resources.

Click below for the

Super Resource List by one of my favorite trauma mamas.

Your Turn. Don’t be shy!

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Photo Credit: Michael Brace

 

At dinner with an elderly friend, I asked, “What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?”¬†

“Well,” she said, “my mother used to tell my brother,¬†

Want a good life? Keep your mouth shut and your pants zipped. 

and that’s probably the best advice I’ve ever heard from anyone.”¬†

***

I’m working hard on a writing project along with Lynn Love (check out her blog; it’s super) and some other fabulous writers through NaNoWriMo’s April “Camp.” I’d like to open this blog space to YOU today.

We have a bunch of new readers here, and all of you (long-time readers and new) have such great experience.

Please share below one of the following:

  • The best advice you’ve ever received.
  • The biggest thing you’ve learned on your own.
  • If you could have a do-over, what would happen?

And hey, if you want to share a link to your blog, please do.

BIG HUGS!
Casey

P.S. Here’s the best advice I’ve heard in a while (look twice if you don’t see it right away):

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A sign in the Insect Village at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center. Photo Credit: sea turtle

 

Introduce Yourself! (Network Here)

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Photo Credit: Joel Jefferies

Today I write the 200th post on Hypervigilant.org…sort of ¬†a milestone.

I wouldn’t be here without YOU. This post is dedicated to you, my¬†amazing friends around the world.¬†

Taking a page from¬†my opinionated buddy Jason at HarsH ReaLiTy, I’m opening the first Hypervigilant Networking Post. It’s your turn to write!

Introduce yourself to everyone. Put a link to your blog in the comments. Add a quick summary about yourself and/or your blog.

No butt-sniffing, though.

Unless you’re this guy.¬†

Here, I’ll get you started. Like this:

 

Hi, I’m Casey. I write most about adoption, but sometimes write fiction or about random things I’ve learned.¬†Here’s my blog: hypervigilant.org

Let’s network, people.

How to Stay Married for 15 Years…Part Last

Continued from Part 2

  • Find a Mentor, be a Mentor

As I mentioned in Part 2, a more experienced couple came alongside us during a difficult time in our marriage. They recognized our struggle, having experienced dark times of their own. Without them, we might not be together now. (And insanely happy, I might add.)

In the last few years, we’ve been able to “pay it forward” by helping several other young¬†couples through difficulties. We don’t spout wisdom or platitudes. We don’t give advice unless it’s welcomed. You might be surprised, though, how often people just want to know they’re not alone.

Reach out. You’re not alone.¬†

  • Do¬†EVERYTHING Together

I’m totally kidding. Mutual hobbies are fun, as is time snuggling up for a movie, but everyone needs a little time to themselves.

When we were first married, I used to hang out with Hubby’s car-restoration buddies. I migrated from sitting on a greasy office chair in a big garage, to reading¬†in the friend’s house and finally to waving goodbye as he headed off for some guy time.

Don’t get me wrong; we love to be together, but he needs time with the guys and I need time with the girls. We each need time alone without kids.

This weekend, Hubby took the kids to an event¬†by himself because I was invited to a friend’s house. Another weekend, I took the kids to my aunt’s house.

Plan time for what YOU love. You’ll enjoy “together” time even more.¬†

  • Do the¬†Taxes

Do you remember Full House?

In my favorite episode, toddler Michelle is upset because her best buddy, Uncle Jesse, wants to spend more time with his new wife. When Michelle asks her Uncle Joey why Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky are unavailable, Joey says the newlyweds are doing their taxes.

Michelle asks, “Will they be doing taxes every night?”

Joey answers, “For the first couple of months…”

Several of the cards we received at our wedding¬†referenced “doing taxes.” I love our friends.

Intimacy—in all its forms—is crucial for marriage survival. This¬†article on ForeverFamilies¬†should be required reading. (Read it.) Physical intimacy—SEX—(oh my gosh she said that)¬†within marriage is important.

And yes, I said within marriage. Sure, the “fun” doesn’t disappear if you don’t have a ring on your finger, but the absolute trust and bonding that¬†should¬†happen is missing. Can you really give yourself completely to someone if they might walk away tomorrow? Great sex makes a healthy, happy marriage healthier, happier and more fulfilling. And it’s fun.

If you’re not regularly “doing taxes”…try it. Trust me.¬†

  • Guard Your Health

Taking care of ourselves while we have some ability to sway the balance in our favor is paramount.¬†Of course, we don’t have real control over what happens in the end.

My uncle, in his 80’s, told me,

If I’d had any idea I’d live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.

In early marriage, we were in pretty good shape. In 2005, a doctor informed me I have Lupus. I freaked out for a while, took medication as prescribed, wore SPFLatexPaint and stayed out of the sun.

Our jobs required more time. Eating habits suffered. Gym time became obsolete. We both gained weight, a little at a time. The kids came to live with us and suddenly we ate more fast food in a month than we’d eaten in previous whole years. Pounds of candy and chocolate appeared for the children at every holiday, and we helped them eat it.

Then we¬†had a bit of a scare as Hubby was diagnosed with Diabetes. In the last two weeks we’ve done everything we have been “planning to do” for the last several years…eat right, join (and go to) a gym, get better sleep.

We feel better, smile more and feel less stressed.

Don’t wait until you have a reason. Take care of yourself NOW.

  • Don’t Die

Sort of a no-brainer, I know.

We’ve had a couple near-death scares this year. First, our unintentional stunt-driving incident.

The last two years, we’ve remodeled most of the house; taking out walls, repairing bathrooms and completely restoring the kitchen. Most of these tasks were precipitated by leaks. The previous owner—let’s just say he made some…mistakes…while building the house. Like using less-than-stellar pipe connectors. And wiring the house in unexpected ways.

The second near-death scare happened last week. Hubby turned off the appropriate breakers to install new receptacles in the kitchen, bringing us to project completion. I turned away for a moment.

*FLASH* *POW*

The kitchen exploded in light and noise. I turned back to see Hubby, fingers blackened, holding the receptacle piece and panting.

Also, he was grinning. What a weirdo.

“Did you see that? I almost DIED!” he laughed.

I was not amused. If I ever see the previous owner again, I will kick him where it hurts. The receptacle was wired into another breaker marked for upstairs.

We start getting the diabetes under control, and he gets electrocuted. Super.

So yes, this may seem elementary, but here’s my final piece of advice: if you want to stay married for 15 years, try not to die.¬†

If you missed the earlier advice, you can find it here: Part 1 and Part 2.

Ok, your turn! Give us the best advice you’ve got.

 

How to Stay Married for 15 Years…Part 1

Our anniversary is February 24.

Wow…45¬†looooooong years.

Ha, just kidding. 15 years.

Hubby and I are the happiest married couple I know. We have fun together and LIKE each other (there’s an idea) and I can’t imagine being with anyone else.

Okay, I lied. Occasionally I daydream about Wolverine. (Not Hugh Jackman, mind you. Wolverine.) But geez, who wouldn’t? Watch. He’s not wearing a shirt. Tell me I’m crazy.

Disclaimer:¬†if you don’t want to see comeuppance for trying to kill one’s daughter, stop the video at 1:45.¬†

You watched the whole thing, didn’t you. Twice? Shameless hussy.

Since he self-heals, I have a feeling some of that muscled beauty is computer generated. I feel so cheated. 

Anyway.

This is about real people.

In addition to being the happiest, we’re also in the running for “Longest Time Hitched to the First Person You Married”¬†award among friends in our age bracket. People sometimes ask us our secret, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Whether you’re

  • married
  • thinking of getting married
  • filling out a FarmersOnly.com profile
  • recovering from being caught mousing around AshleyMadison (I still can’t believe that’s real)
  • a confirmed bachelor(ette)
  • a confirmed bachelor(ette) with a Tinder account

this advice will change your life.

Or it will give you yet another reason to say, “Thank God I’m not THAT screwed up.”

Either way, I’m happy to help.

Ways to Stay Married for 40 15 years

  • Begin¬†with a memorable encounter

Rain forced P.E. classes into the gym;¬†the teachers called, “Run ten laps and then you can sit with your friends!” I still remember the sound of¬†sneakers slapping and squeaking on the gym floor. Thankfully, this memory has no smell. “Sweaty teen” is one of my least favorite odors.

Not “like yesterday” but still very clear: I jogged around the corner closest to the padded grey wall under the basketball hoops. Home stretch; one more side, then I could relax.

I hit the wall. Hard. Not of my own volition. I heard a chuckle as he trotted away.

“That jerk pushed me into the wall. He’s gonna pay.” I sped after him, tomboy that I was, fully intending to pound him. Or at least give him a good punch in the shoulder. He turned, grinning. I reconsidered.

I was thirteen (he thought I was fifteen). He was sixteen. I was in ninth grade; he was in tenth. He was the sweetest, most respectful guy I’d ever met. And he had great biceps (still my favorite). No doubt in my mind: we were going to grow up and get married.

He asked me out. I said yes. We held hands.

Then I told him to go to hell.

  • Tell him to go to hell

I didn’t just grow up in the buckle of the Bible Belt; I lived on the prong. Everything in my life revolved around Christianity. We¬†attended a very conservative, legalistic church. When the doors were open, we attended. I never felt a connection with anyone my age and often felt “not good enough.”

Sometime during my elementary years, a young lady visited the church wearing jeans and leather—typical 80’s style. An older lady approached her and said, “honey, you need to dress properly for church.” The girl never returned.

I knew this was wrong. By the time I met Hubby, I knew I could never invite him to our church. His family didn’t attend church (strike one) he rocked a mullet (strike two) AND he listened to ROCK MUSIC (you’re out).

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Photo Credit: John Philip Green

None of those are Hubby, but this page could have been from our yearbook.

So then, I went to Bible camp. At camp, we learned that we should only date other Christians because then we’d have similar goals. If I wanted to go to South America as a missionary (and I did) but married a guy who didn’t see the point, things could get sticky. The speaker noted that generally you¬†only marry people you date, so it makes sense to date people you could marry.

I was heartsick, knowing we didn’t see eye to eye. I decided to write him a letter to try to explain. Perhaps, I thought, he might decide to also be a Christian.

Being a socially inept fourteen-year-old did not help my communication. I didn’t realize how my letter came across: “hey, I just found out you’re going to hell.”

I do not recommend this as a relationship tactic.

 

Continued…

Psycho Shower Tales

Hitchcock’s shower scene in Psycho is classic terror.

And because this is a family blog, I give you….the LEGO version.

Maybe this scene rings so true because we all have a bit of shower insecurity.

A shower once traumatized me…and it wasn’t even my shower.


 

Did you ever¬†notice the words “adoption” and “insanity” have the same number of letters?

This is no coincidence.

It’s been four and a half¬†years since the Wednesday¬†our kids¬†arrived.

Social Services¬†lost our fingerprint results, delaying our approval to foster¬†children. The family who’d¬†housed our kiddos for eighteen months had enough chaos from the¬†two darlings to last a lifetime. They declined to allow the children to stay longer, so the social worker found¬†a foster family willing to provide care for a month, to give time for new prints.

The social worker ignored my suggestion to¬†ask the FBI¬†whether another copy of the results might be available. ¬†After we were re-printed, results appeared very quickly. A miracle, some might say. Or the social worker found them, misfiled…

The interim foster parent, a friend of mine, delivered the children on a mild¬†Wednesday afternoon. At the time, we didn’t know¬†that a social worker was supposed to be present to “facilitate” the situation. The kids had no idea what was happening. Neither did we.

My friend hugged me tight, tears in her eyes. (I was a little blurry, myself.) “So happy for you. Congratulations, Mama!” She smiled and drove away. Upon examining the memory, I think she might have been laughing.¬†

Married ten years, Hubby and I¬†had¬†approximately 20 years of “kid experience” between us. Surely, we could handle this instant-family situation.

We’d spent the equivalent of two days with the¬†kiddos, then 5 and newly-turned-7. They seemed to like us. This would be a breeze. They were so teeny and adorable.

Like baby jackals. Or, perhaps, hyenas.

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.” ¬†That Wednesday¬†evening¬†foreshadowed the next two years of our lives with fair accuracy.

We took them to a church spaghetti dinner—I was thrilled at the idea¬†of not cooking. They were thrilled at the prospect of¬†a table full of desserts.

During the course of the meal, they ate bread, salad, pasta and meat sauce with their hands. Utensils seemed utterly foreign to them.

The urchins spilled six (count ’em, six) cups of pink lemonade—including a huge trip-fall-splash that involved about a third of the floor space—and the five year old ate a napkin.

Ate a napkin.

Well, ate¬†might be slight exaggeration. He stuffed the napkin in his mouth, and¬†despite (or because of)¬†our exhortations of¬†“Oh, honey, don’t…don’t do that.” “No, that’s not food. Take it out.” “Spit that out right now.” “SPIT. IT. OUT.” he continued to chew the paper with a “make me” glint in his sweet blue eyes.

Finally, Hubby said, in a display of fearless parenting,

“Fine. Swallow it. It’ll probably stop you up and you won’t poop for a week.”

It worked. The game was no longer fun. He deposited the mass of wet fibers onto the floor with swift efficiency.

We arrived home past bedtime, exhausted, but¬†couldn’t skip bathing. The kids were literally covered head-to-toe in sauce.

Imagine all the cute photos of your friends’ infants eating pasta for the first time. Super cute, that tomato-basted babe. Fast forward five or seven years. No longer super cute.

I started the shower, made sure it was warm, then helped the 7 year old remove her saucy outfit and step into the tub. She gave me a little smile. Then…she collapsed, screaming, on the floor of the tub.

It felt a little like Psycho. (Sans the crazy guy.)

In my panic to find the problem, I left the shower running. “Are you hurt? Did you slip? Are you okay? What’s¬†wrong?”

She continued to scream. Hubby stopped entertaining the five year old and cracked the¬†door. “What in the world is happening in there? What did you do?”

More screaming. What did he mean by, “what did you¬†do?” Clearly, what I did was lose¬†my mind and bring an insane, scary, evil-spirit-possessed¬†child¬†into the house.

Finally, as the decibels reached somewhere between ear-piercing and drum-bleeding, I regained conscious control of my hands and turned off the shower. Screaming stopped. No explanation.

“Are you okay?” Nod. “Are you hurt?” Shake. “Did the shower scare you?” Another negative shake. “You have to get clean; will you take a bath?” Nod.¬†

I filled the tub.

The child then washed the remnants of dinner from her hair, calm and apparently in her right mind.

***

We didn’t attempt another shower for the next¬†year. The younger one spontaneously decided he’d rather shower. Not to be outdone by her little brother, our girl braved the shower the next night, with no complications.¬†Oh, how I love¬†sibling rivalry.

Approximately six hundred showers later, she sidled up to me, posture casual. “Hey, remember that time I was screaming like a crazy person in the shower, on our first night here?”

“Oh…um, I think I remember.” Yes, I remember. My eardrums experience a spontaneous tremor at the¬†thought.

“Yeah, Mama…I was just freaked out about being in a new house. Sorry about that.” Freaked out, indeed…

“Oh, sweetie, don’t even worry about it. That was a long time ago. I barely even remember it.”¬†¬†Liar, liar, pants on fire…

***

I think there’s a reason God doesn’t let us see the future. If, that first night, I’d known what was coming in the next 24 months—that the shower scene was only a precursor—I might have bailed.

My mom says¬†she doesn’t remember the¬†hours¬†of childbirth because the joy of seeing the baby’s face “erased the memory of the pain.” If you’re lucky, birth happens in hours (or if you’re unlucky, days).

Adoption, especially with behaviorally challenged kiddos, is a little different. Labor pains happen every day.

For years.

And believe me, I remember every single minute.

Good thing we like a little insanity around here.

If you’ve adopted, here’s the good news: you’re not alone.

More good news: you’ll survive. I promise.

 

*This piece is updated from a post written in September 2014.

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