Friday, September 25, 2009

lessons


OK... so, I knew bringing 'K' home to school would be challenging. I knew it would be hard. I even knew, on some level, that I would get frustrated with her and home-schooling, all together.


I had no idea...


We have been at it (home-school) for a good, solid month. The only encouragement I've gotten lately probably occurred the other day, when, in the allergist's office we were watching "Are You as Smart as a Fifth -Grader?" My first- grader knew more of the answers than the 30-ish year old woman playing along on the TV show knew. I don't even know if this was encouraging, or just distressing, knowing that some people out there are just not knowledgeable. She was a college graduate! She thought the Appalachian Mountains were in South America!


This week, we have been studying creation. The Creation. Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel. I asked 'K' to tell me about Adam and Eve.


"Well, Adam and Eve lived in the garden and got in a fight and one killed the other."


"I think you are confusing stories, Honey... Adam and Eve did live in the Garden of Eden. Cain killed Abel. What did God give Adam and Eve?"


"Naked," she replies. I smile at her. She smiles back. OK.


"Yes, but how come they knew they were naked?" I ask. I'm trying to prompt her along, now. Surely, she remembers this story. It isn't a new story; she has heard it before.


"Naked... they hid in the flowers... they ate the grapes."


Hmmm.... guess we will be reviewing that one again.


Today, she was writing letters in order on a worksheet. One of the exercises had "_z_". She answered "y-z-", but didn't put the "a" next. I asked her, "well, what would come after z?"


"Now," she said. "You know, now I know my a-b-c's ..."


I am laughing. It is Friday. It's time to regroup for next week!

Friday, September 18, 2009

listen


(just a random, peaceful picture of Bermuda... wish we were there)

It has been an interesting week. 'T' has started attending the middle school for speech, and math lessons. He receives speech therapy because he still needs some articulation work (can't produce the /th/ sound), and he gets attention in pragmatics, which refers to his use of language, and how he stays "on task" in a conversation. The math is because, after five years of me telling the special education officials that he doesn't get it, he can't memorize it, and he has a hard time writing it, he finally, actually, tested positive (or in the definitive) for a math-learning disability.

I've been worried about him going to school, because he has been so nervous about things lately, but, of course, he rose to the occasion, and did fine. He will have to go every other day, and one of those days he stays extra for speech. He really likes the speech therapist (so do I). He worked with her last year. She is a vegetarian, and has a farm, loves animals, and really likes folklore and mythology, so she fits well with him. Thank God (literally) there are people who have a great affinity toward kids with special needs. Every time I get down about how hard it is to raise my son, to teach him, to reach him, I need to be thankful that God gave (loaned) 'T' to me the way he is, and that HE has put very specific people in my path to help me. Praise God!

'K' has continued to be a very challenging student. I've figured out a way to help her with lessons: keep her moving, and keep the lessons short. I've tried to feed her coffee this week to see if the stimulation would calm her a little, but wouldn't you know? --She isn't interested in coffee this week. She usually chugs mine behind my back, so I've purposely been trying to make it obviously available to her, but she has discovered sweet tea. Sweet tea does not calm down anyone... so that hasn't been helpful. The bouncy ball has been slightly helpful... it at least gives her exercise and an energy outlet in between lessons. It is a good thing she is just so cute. I have to focus on being consistent with this one, especially. She notices every little opening to get away with something.

'D' has even been a little distracted this week. She is my hardest worker, and loves things like workbooks and writing. This week, though, she has been distracted. By what, I don't know. The weather is changing... the moon is phasing... dance started... maybe she is tired. She is reading, like, five different books, and writing two different projects: a play (she is trying to win a prize to New York City), and "the best pet in the world" contest (I don't know what she wins for this, maybe another pet. Hope not).



I know God gives them to us for just a little while, but it has been a long week. So, today, we went to the zoo. We are studying Creation, so I figured the zoo would be a great science lesson. We went with my friend, 'S' and her just-turned-three-year-old daughter, 'B'. Fun, fun, fun! Really, for real, it was fun. The National Zoo is awesome. We got to hear the lioness roar. We got to see the elephants feed. The pandas were sleeping (of course). The red pandas actually got close to the fence, so we got to see them up close. We saw cheetahs, too. The only negative thing about the zoo isthe poor spacing of restrooms, and an up-hill walk to get out of the zoo at the end of the day. All-in-all it was a good day!


The verse on my heart tonight is one from James. It is James 1:19 : "Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger."

I am guilty of not being quick to hear at times, and too quick to get angry. So, this verse has been read twice by me today, in two different instances, and two different places. Random? Probably not... I was meant to read it. Hearing not only the words of another person, but the emotion behind them, can only be accomplished if you are listening. Listening is hearing the whole message of what someone is saying. Sometimes, the words don't mean exactly what the message is. Being slow to speak, of course, makes you listen more. Being slow to anger... well... that helps keep everyone happy. I need to work on this. Deep breathing helps, for sure. Meditating on scripture, though, benefits everyone around you. I'm glad I was led to this verse today. I'm glad it is on my mind -- even now, as children are still awake (sigh) and needing me to tuck them in...

(peace plant image from plant-care web site)

So, good night to all. Peace be with you!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Mania


Today started well. A bit early, but I'm trying to be better about getting up and dressed before the children. I began very peacefully, quietly. I made banana bread, mopped the kitchen floor and had make up on before 8 am. I. don't. like. morning. As you can see, this is a pretty astonishing feat to accomplish. I used to work 12 hour days (in the hospital, in the ICU), so I really do feel inadequate with my un-organization in the morning, at times! Nevertheless, I accomplished my goals. Then, the girls woke up at roughly the same time, around 8am. The eight year old doesn't know how to be un-happy in the morning, even on only 7 hours of sleep (I'll get to that in a second), but the six year old starts and ends crabby. No problem, moving right along... breakfast, here is your work for the morning, Moms In Touch 9my praying moms group) is this morning (at 9:00), so do your work and stay quiet. They know how to do this... It's 8:40. Where is 'T'? Didn't I get him up, like, 30 minutes ago? -- He is asleep, like, coma, asleep. He doesn't want to get up. That was probably a clue I should have heeded, but we are both head-strong these days, so after poking and prodding, and finally cold water on the backside (it doesn't hurt him, and it is an effective way of rousing your child when you are thinking of less humane methods), he got up, got dressed, and got downstairs prior to my peaceful prayer group arriving. I love praying with these women. I love the peace it brings.


The first meltdown occurred at 9:15. It isn't too unusual that there is conflict first thing in the morning with 'T': he takes a while to get going, his structure was changed this morning. So, he calmed down rather quickly, but the next one (meltdown) at 11:00 went on for about 40 minutes. Most of it consisted of him yelling and screaming from his bed room, I'm sure for my benefit... but if any neighbors happened to be home, they got an earful... actually, just a rendition of "GIVE ME ONE MORE CHANCE!!!" I'm glad my prayerful friends weren't around to witness this, but one of them (at least) might read this and pray for me the rest of the week (hint, hint).


So, I think this may have started last night, actually, when I caught the girls having an impromptu wrestling match (!) at 10:30 at night. I really thought they were asleep. Not only were the girls awake, but so was the boy! It explains why he didn't want to get up this morning, and why we will be observing a 7:00 bedtime tonight!


On top of all this, my yoga today was lacking energy because of a sore back, I haven't been the same since our road trip to and from Florida. I had a new student, today, though, and I really want to make good impressions!


I'm praying for more flexibility (not just in my back). Today, if I were more flexible, perhaps the major meltdown could have been avoided. I HATE it when my twelve year old acts (literally) like a 3 year old. I hate it that I get so frustrated by it, and that by the time it is over I feel like I've lost my temper as well. I don't flail about and shout (maybe that would actually stun him into silence), but I get angry and upset. And, the girls, of course, witness everything. I know family situations teach a lot of great lessons, but when situations get so frustrating, it is hard to keep learning the lessons.


It is so very hard, at this point, to discern what is adolescence rearing it's (annoying) head, or if these behaviors are symptoms of food allergies, or if these are all autism spectrum issues...or a combination of it all (probably, a combination). So, I pray for discernment and wisdom as I continue to set limits, and teach appropriate responses to situations. I also pray for more patience. Lately, mine seems to be lacking! I don't want to be so manic-feeling all the time!


Patience, wisdom, and discernment. And tomorrow will be a better day!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday


Yea! It is Friday! Or... Ugh! It is Friday...

Fridays are great! It is the end of the "work"week. We can sleep in the next day, stay up late tonight, watch movies. No schooling over the weekend (formal school, anyway. We're always learning, right?). Friday is the day of the week we look forward to. I like Fridays!

Friday, also, tends to be the hardest day! The desire to slack off from work is great. Why shouldn't we relax, take it easy, and skip math? The guinea pig will live one more day without clean litter. The turtles don't really need a filter change; and who cares if we finish the science lesson, or not? (I do care, by the way, but Friday is Friday)

Something else about Friday: The behavior is always worse this day, more than any other day of the week. I think it has to do with fatigue. I think it has to do with anticipation of the day off. I think, also, it is the end of the week, and sometimes we are just done by Friday. Morning. Finished, time to go back to bed!

Today went well, but not as planned. The husband left notes needed for a quiz on the computer at home, and he was at work, and the quiz was open, could I please deliver them, now, in the next hour or so, as the quiz couldn't be closed once opened, and the notes were needed. No problem, and it worked out great, because I needed to be somewhere close to where he was working and the kids could hang out with him. Today was a good lesson in being flexible (flexibility in mind and in action). The kids got to see a Blackhawk helicopter (the coolest, besides a Bell 412, by the way), and a military-type leer jet. Plus, visiting with pilots and flight medics is always cool! I got to go to my appointment worry-free because the kids weren't waiting on me in the waiting room and I wasn't worried about what they were or were not doing in the waiting room. It is good to be flexible -- even on a Friday! We didn't get the science lesson done, but observing planes and helicopters can be science, right?




History was more important, today, anyway. Remember 9-11? We do, and did this morning. I think that, unfortunately, people may be beginning to forget. I didn't see a lot of patriotic colors on people. Nobody talked about the day, that I heard of. I don't even think there were any big memorial events close by where we live. I don't want to forget the importance of remembering such a day as this. My middle child was just a baby, and my oldest had just had his tonsils out, so we were home watching the events unfold. I will never forget the eerie silence that night. When planes are part of your background noise, and they all stop flying at once, it is amazing how quiet it is. I think the most important thing to remember about 9-11 is the patriotism and hope of a country momentarily stunned.

My son asked me this morning, "well, who won?"




"We did, of course, because we keep carrying on. We keep living, and we keep praying."

Remember Patriot Day. May God bless all the heroes of the day!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor day weekend is always such a fun weekend to travel to the condo! We went to visit my parents and brother and nephew in Wintergreen at my parent's place in the mountains, named: "The Condo"!!!! (exclamation points added because the kids are usually screaming about going). The mountains are always relaxing no matter when we visit. It is fun to see the wildflowers in spring and summer, the leaves changing colors in the fall, and the beautiful snow in the winter (although the winter visit is usually really, really, very cold!). We enjoy hiking (and it's free!), and the pool is usually fun, plus there are several hot tubs to relax and warm up in, and our favorite restaurant is fairly tolerable (the menu choices are shrinking, while the prices are increasing). This weekend we did all of that: we hiked, we swam and we ate. We also got to ride the chair-lifts (way fun), and go to a (small) craft fair (Kettle-corn, YUM!). While visiting with family can be stressful at times (think different parenting skills, and when to eat/where to eat issues), this weekend was pretty enjoyable.


I have been feeling worried about my feelings in regard to family members lately. I've been taking on a lot of guilt over choices I'm compelled to make that don't please everyone. In fact, that is the problem: I want everyone to be happy all the time. Alas, this is an impossible notion, and not even something most people would consider admirable. I know (mentally, anyway) that making choices for myself and my family in accordance with my spiritual beliefs is not going to always please everyone. I shouldn't feel guilty for making these choices. I know that the way I discipline my children is not always going to be in line with how someone else would discipline their own children (or grandchildren). I shouldn't feel guilty about that, either. Parenting is part of having children... it isn't always fun, and it is both my and my husband's responsibility to make disciples of our children. I know that choosing to say no to an activity, or cancelling a play date is going to hurt someones feelings, usually my children's feelings. Again, I know I'm in charge, and sometimes saying no and/or changing plans is a necessity. So why all the worries? I wonder why I feel sad or worried so much, lately. I have been having anxiety over disappointing everyone, to the point that I'm exhausted trying to please everyone. I think, too, that the more I want to live my life closer to home, closer to God, the more pressure I feel to not offend anyone. Weird, right? Well, this writing is helping me to sort some feelings out... yet, the pressure to feel happy about everything is overwhelming the actual feeling of being happy, leaving me feel, well, un-happy.
But, I'm trying.

And, it is getting better. Really. Writing is a wonderful tool. Therapy is a wonderful tool!



That being said... Praying is a wonderful gift! Pray, pray, pray. Prayer really helps me feel more centered. It gives me a chance to praise our Father. It gives me a chance to thank Christ for His life. It helps me realize all I have to be thankful for. It helps me feel safe and loved. It can help you, too!

So many wonderful things have happened lately! There are new babies in the family, friends have figured out texting on their cell phones, other friends are visiting from California soon, school has started, dance is starting back up (tomorrow! Yikes, where did the time go?).... the list goes on. I really do have a lot to be thankful for!



Home school this week is still pretty full of review which is nice, because we aren't feeling any kind of hectic-ness or overwhelming negativity about anything. That, actually, is a great highlight of doing school at home: no worries about being in a hurry! I am still trying to figure out if I need to add an actual curriculum overview type of plan to my (lack of a) plan. I mean, we're doing the important stuff (language arts, grammar, reading, history, science, math), but I don't have something that ties it all together. I think I need that something. I'm still a relatively new home-schooler. I feel the need for structure, still... at least a little bit more structure!






Thursday, September 3, 2009


I'm glad I decided to start school this week, because we start dance next week. I think that would cause some major anxiety... We would be slammed with all these schedules, and classes all at once! This week has mostly been review, and just getting our "feet wet". I'm finding out some new things about myself and my children.

'K', the youngest (girl), does not like to write. I have chosen to try classical education this year, which is a lot of free writing. She doesn't like it. She love, love, loves math! I don't like math. It is going to be an interesting year.

'D', the middle (girl, too), loves to write. She loves workbooks (lucky, I know, I think I wrote that last time, too). She is even liking math... this is all very good!

'T', the oldest (boy), really is a trooper. He faithfully attends to his work, and as long as he knows what is expected he troops through it. So far, so good.

'T', as many of you know, has some special needs (autism spectrum), and has been diagnosed with many allergies. It has been a huge burden to try a gluten-free, nut-free, and meat-free (he is a self chosen vegetarian) diet. As I have read and researched about autism and the detoxing from gluten, I have been amazed by the success stories. Some children have better behavior, and for some, ticks, and self stimming is decreased. This has not really happened for us. For a while it seemed like 'T' was less tremulous, and sometimes his stimming seemed decreased, but over all, so far, his behavior is worse, and one doctor commented that she thought his tremor was worse. It is hard to know what to do! My son is angry, but he is also twelve. I think he is supposed to be angry... so, please pray for me. I'm not sure that being gluten free is necessary. That being said, he still can't have chocolate! He is all broken out right now because he was "too nice" to tell the baby-sitter that he couldn't have chocolate syrup on his vanilla ice-cream. Hmmmmmmm.....




My friend, Shanda, gave me a blog award. I didn't know we could do that! She has been led to take some time off of blogging for a while. I have found a most encouraging friend in her! She is my mentor mom, because I love the way she mothers, and I love her bold Christianity! I think blogs are still available, even if people aren't actually posting, or commenting, so check out her awesome messages and insights at ateachableheart.com.

We are going out of town (again) for Labor Day weekend! It will be nice to be in the mountains, again. I am hoping to have a good visit with my parents and my brother, and his son. Of course, I'm looking forward to hanging out with the kids and husband, also! This is rarely a stress-free escape, but is usually pretty fun. The hiking is awesome, and if it isn't too cool yet, the pool is nice.

Sooo... I need to get back in to the habit of leaving a scripture verse! It encourages me to look them up, and actually read my Bible. I've made the kids memorize Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom... But, I like for me, now, 1Peter 5:7: Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. (both from the NIV study bible).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Will try harder...


It is terrible that I only managed to blog three times in August. I have been so super busy that I have fallen into that trap where I have been making excuses about time for myself, my creativity, my, my, my! I'm trying to not sound whiny or anything...

There has been a lot going on, though, for real! We were out of town for two weeks and now we are home, but that hasn't made it easier to have my quiet time to write at the end of the day. This family has been saturated with appointments, and specialists, and annual eye checks... the list goes on and on!

While we have been living a week saturated with specialists, I have been working on accepting the fact that no matter how many doctors' tests we put any of our children through, we just may not get any expected results.

I expected a doctor to tell me my youngest needs medication for attention, but the results of her testing actually reveal a pretty average, slightly hyper-active child. I thought for sure that testing would reveal acute inattention! She is just six, she is supposed to be fidgety! Good news! I just need to try harder to be more consistent.

I expected that my son would need glasses, that some dire condition existed that we missed for the first twelve years of his life. Results? Normal. Good news! No glasses needed for my oldest (yet, anyway; 4 out of 5 of us wear them in some capacity)! I expected my son's MRI to show something, too, and so far there is no reason to suspect anything "off". Good news! No answers, though.

I have discovered this about me: I like answers. I like results. Even better, I like expected results. I don't think I'm big on surprises, either. I used to think I like surprises, maybe I once did, but not so much anymore. I think it is because I am constantly planning for the worst-case scenario. A tad fatalistic, I know, but if I'm prepared, maybe it won't be so bad if it happens. A happy camper, is a prepared camper. Adventure is great, and it is best to be prepared!

I started home-school today! I actually don't have a set plan on this, yet, but I think it is because I just need to start and figure out what is going to work. 'T' worked very enthusiastically, but didn't like the Greeks becoming civilized... he prefers the barbarians. 'D' worked with great enthusiasm, too, and thank the Lord she can work independently! She even enjoys work-books! I'm lucky, I know. 'K' does not like sitting still, she does not like lessons to last longer than 10 minutes, and she does not like work-books. I'm going to need to keep trying, there. She is the challenge I thought she would be! (Advice, please!)

One of my best friend's brother and his wife just became new parents! They adopted a sweet baby boy last week! Please pray for this family. Their house was flooded about two months ago (leaky toilet, I think) and they have no kitchen right now! They are so calm and brave, and excited! And they have no kitchen, and a new baby! Surprise!

So, I want to end with thanksgiving. I'm so thankful that I have so much good in my life, and that I keep getting good news. I need to focus on that. In the midst of many questions, and travels, and doctors, and losses, there is a lot of good to be thankful for.