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Category Archives: children
Mom, You are a Hero (well, technically, a Heroine)
When your child really doesn’t want his fingernails … or toenails … trimmed, and you patiently work with him to get it done.
When your child does his best to declare he is all better so he doesn’t have to see the doctor, and you take him anyway.
When you help hold him down for Dr. Shott to look inside his ears with the microscope, although you’d rather be the one being held down.
When you try to console him afterward, telling him it’s all over now.
When he cheerfully says, “Sure!” after you’ve heard “No” a hundred times.
When he is so proud of himself for brushing his own teeth, and you go ahead and get the spots he missed.
When your child has you close your eyes so he can surprise you with his clean hands by letting you smell them.
When he is sleeping, and when he is awake.
When your child is in pain and doesn’t understand it, and you do your utmost to comfort him.
When he asks loudly for the window lock to be turned on, instead of just leaving the window up himself, and you cooperate.
When he is so delighted about giving or receiving an “appise” (surprise) and you recognize that he has caught your generosity.
When he notices that the picture on the book page matches the cover and shows you, and you marvel at his ability to notice such things.
When you manage the logistics for multiple children and one of them gets sick, and you have to quickly shuffle things around.
When you observe each and every single step he makes toward being more independent.
When your husband travels for work, and believes in your ability to manage your home, even when you feel like you’re too tired to move.
During the times you marvel at the blessing that your child is, and you recognize the gifts that come to us through no action on our own part.
During the times you wonder how things can be so hard, but you wouldn’t trade it.
During the exhausted times when he has been getting sick, or needy, and asking for Something Different than he just asked for, and you stay patient (or sometimes, not).
When his little body snuggles up against yours and you feel his gentle breathing, and you are reminded what a gift he is.
When he gets out the pictures of his big sisters and brothers and talks about them, clearly adoring them, and you are grateful for the gift of family.
When he mispronounces words and it’s too cute to try to correct, and you even pronounce some of his words the same way.
When he pretends to be Santa Claus by making a finger mustache over his mouth, and you act surprised.
I’ve read some blogs where mothers don’t want to be considered heroes. But when I consider the definition that a hero is someone who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self-sacrifice for some greater good of all humanity, (definition from DuckDuckGo), it seems to me that it fits.
Life move fast for me. Taking time to write slows me down and reminds me of all that I do, imperfect though it is.
Mom, You are a Hero!
Why I’m not going to the National Down Syndrome Conference
(Note: a truncated version of this message was distributed owing to Blogger behavior on certain iDevices. This is the complete post.)
I’ve been seeing Facebook posts from excited people talking about the upcoming convention in July. The early bird deadline is today. But I’ve decided not to go.
(This post would probably be a lot more popular if my reason was owing to disagreeing with the official position of someone who is speaking, or with the vision statement of the NDSC. However, I’m just not much about controversy. I tend to think that both sides are worth listening to in *most* cases. My reasons for writing have to do with my own experience, and my hope here is that my experience will resonate with someone else.)
My file cabinet, inbox, reading list, desktop and a box are full of materials on so many aspects of Down syndrome. How to teach reading, kindergarten readiness, inclusion best practices, oral motor tools, lists of apps, apps, physical considerations, speech and language development. I could probably throw my own convention!
I think the ongoing challenges (opportunities, in the positive thinking parlance) take up a tremendous amount of energy for me. I can see how extroverted moms and dads might really thrive in the convention atmosphere, but I think my brain might just pop if I try to put too much more info in there.
Maybe the biggest challenge (opportunity) for me is to actually use my resources with any consistency. I often say that if Kepler had been our first child, he’d be being raised differently. More lessons, more teams, more play dates, more therapy, more deliberate educational activities at home. But, well, with him being our fifth, and coming along when I was losing energy rather than gaining it, I can occasionally accept my more lackadaisical, laidback parenting and recognize that Kepler is a happy, well-loved, smart kid.
More often than not, though, especially in environments such as a convention, I become aware of how very lackadaisical and laidback I am and always wonder if his speech would be more intelligible if I were doing more; if he might be reading already if I’d followed through on all the reading resources I know of. So events like conventions just seem to drain my energy.
It finally occurred to me recently that it might be a great idea for me to hire a babysitter sometimes. I have had several built-in babysitters, but Kepler adores being the center of someone’s attention, which is what he gets from a hired babysitter. What a relief to discover that I don’t have to do every. last. thing. myself, that babysitters can even put Kepler to bed! That’s a step in the right direction to being able to be a little more free for events such as a convention. (Of COURSE Greg puts him to bed sometimes; he just travels a lot.)
The thing I would enjoy about something like the convention is the possibility of finding a new heart-to-heart friend who understands life with Ds from the inside. Between all the moving we’ve done, Greg’s traveling for work, and homeschooling, many friendships have faded away over time, and have been replaced with e-friends. These days, making new friends IRL seems like a challenge indeed.
But if parenting has taught me anything, it’s that I am resourceful and creative and persistent. Simple next step is to invite a mostly online friend to get together! It’s not like I have to plan a 200-person catered affair to get to know someone!
I’ve already got two people in mind.
Tl;dr: Writer is on information-overload, but social-underload.
How Gary Keller’s The ONE Thing got Kepler to Stay with me in the Parking Lot
Look at that little angel face. Would you ever suspect he’d run away from his mommy in a store, parking lot, park, anywhere-he-needs-to-stay-close? For Kepler, it seems that “Stay with me” is apparently secret code for “Run, Forrest, Run!! Talk about danger!
Taking him places was becoming a huge problem. I dreaded every trip.
Enter Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. Or at least their book, The ONE Thing, The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.
- Buy and use a child leash.
- Take a 3 ft rope along to show him maximum distance he should be from me.
- Create a simple rhyme like “Obey means Stay.”
- Appeal to his desire to be helpful.
- Find books on the topic to read to him.
- Create a social story.
- Leave him home at all times.
- Carry him everywhere.
- Allow him to lead and explore occasionally on errands.
- Make a leader badge for him to wear where it’s his turn to lead.
If I Knew Then What I Know Now — Ten Things I’d Do Differently as a Homeschool Mom
|This is not what homeschooling looked like here.|
Saw a link on Facebook from a homeschool mom who shared what she would do differently now as a homeschool mom. I could relate to some of it. It was posted by a homeschool mom I rarely see, but care about very much. I often read the comments on blog posts, but decided this time to write about my own list first.
First of all, I didn’t know then what I know now. Part of the journey of homeschooling is the learning that the parent does. So, maybe this is all just a moot point. But, let’s see …
1. I would de-emphasize intelligence and strongly emphasize character. Thing is, I actually thought I was doing this. Truth is, my “students” were all above average. I was constantly amazed by their grasp of concepts, their precociousness, and the joy I felt at just watching them learn. I didn’t realize I was reinforcing intelligence as much as I did. There were multiple times when something they did or said just BLEW ME AWAY. Like Valerie just up and reading the back cover of the Billy Graham autobiography I was reading. What was she, three? Four, at the most. I hadn’t even tried to teach her to read. I didn’t know that kids could learn to read just be being read to.
2. I would understand that no one else was going to be as thrilled about my children as I, and instead of rueing that, I would be affirming and encouraging to every other mother I came into contact with, realizing that she was as excited about her kids as I was about mine. At the time, my hands (and mind!) were full. The kids were born in 93, 94, and 95, and then 98. Kepler came along years after the first four, but I wasn’t just homeschooling one — I had a class!
3. I would be so much kinder to myself. Nothing ever felt like it was enough, and I know MANY homeschool mothers who experience this. Probably just about everyone who homeschools feels this at some point.
4. I would recognize a kid “come-apart” as an opportunity, not a sign that I was failing at my job. This might be the biggest one for me. I had a misunderstanding about my own role and responsibility in the feelings of my children. I needed them to be happy, and that was probably the biggest disservice I did them in my zeal.
5. I would remember that every type of school situation is good for someone, and every type of situation is also less-than-ideal for someone. Now that I’m on this side of things, where the educational methods of our kids include(d) some homeschooling, a bit of public school, years of a two-day-a-week homeschool set-up, an exhausting early grades online school, a poorly-administered online high school online, and the learn-while-you-sleep method we practiced for a few
weeks months, I’ve discovered that there are PROS and CONS to every method.
(As an aside, big-time homeschooler mother, Mary Hood, wrote a book (June 1995) called “Onto the Yellow School Bus and Through the Gates of Hell.” Back when I started homeschooling, there were only a few voices writing about it. Although I never bought into Mary’s philosophy, the title comes to me often when I put my little Kepler on the school bus and send him to school where he is absolutely loved and cherished by his team. From the bus driver, to the school secretary, to the librarian, to the other students, I hear all the time how much joy he brings them. And they, as a group, give him things I simply cannot provide at home. )
6. I would find a balance between the heavy peer pressure of the school setting, and the freedom we had as homeschoolers. Without adequate preparation, going into public school can be (and was) traumatic. Happy-go-lucky kids who were unself-conscious became very self-conscious when they entered the public school system, not because they were deficient, not because the school system was evil, but because there are developmental phases that happen.
7. I would never, ever, ever compare my insides to anyone else’s outsides. Because, you know what? My insides ALWAYS came up lacking, when I looked at someone else and thought I knew ANYTHING about them based on what I saw.
8. I would find a balance between my very laid-back teaching style, and a more directive style. Both styles work in different situations, but some work better than others with young learners.
9. I would get up earlier and get us going and have a routine that we stuck to for more that a few days or weeks. Yes, back then, I was exhausted, dealt with depression, and had several “owies” on my heart. But that would have been a great example to my children, and one less thing to chastise myself about.
10. I would get professional photos taken every year. Well, I think I would. No, this one is that I would take a similarly posed photo in a similar place every year. I still have extra copies of the professional school photos I got of every child from every year. They’re so hard to let go of, even if we have enough for every person in our family! My photos would be all about the heart of the learning, the heart of the family, the heart of the giving, the heart of the love.
Things I am extremely glad I (we) did?
1. Read out loud, nearly every day and evening.
2. Do as much experiential learning as we could.
3. Practiced as best I could, a lifestyle of learning.
4. Enjoyed our children.
5. Made it through.
My Organizophobe’s New Organizational Tool
I’m happy to report that Joel’s new planner is being USED and it is helping him GET THINGS DONE. I can see how helpful it is for him to have one place to write down things that he needs to do. I work with him every day to create and prioritize the list and then he works to complete the list.
I think it probably helps that he chose the planner himself and he really likes it. It’s just a thrill to see this boy completing things that need to be done. Thank you Franklin Covey.
One Week of Homeschooling Down – 35 to Go
So, we just finished up week one yesterday and I would have to say it gets a big thumbs up. I had two extra long days with my two at-home-full-time kiddos and both days were fun, enjoyable for all of us, and stress-free. Even having Kepler toddling around was pretty easy to handle.
Seems like the difficulties last year helped me figure out what might work better this year, in terms of curriculum and scheduling. And the fact that I don’t have to drive to football, soccer, and/or basketball practice at all is making things pretty nice at home.
I was reminded of Stephen Covey’s concept of putting the “big rocks” into the schedule first and then fitting other things in as they fit. Defining what the “big rocks” are this year has gone a long way this first week to making sure they actually get covered.
Now that I have gotten a taste of being able to focus on the big stuff, I will jealously guard my schedule from fluff and important things that want to crowd out the most important stuff. Stay tuned!
iPods and Water don’t mix
In this picture, someone has cleverly created a tiny aquarium in an ipod looking thing. Yesterday at my house, someone cleverly tried to do the same thing, but that someone decided to just put my U2 ipod INTO the fish bowl on the table.
This raises many questions.
How did he get onto the table?
Was there ever as expensive a beta fish as we have now?
Did he KNOW about this iPod aquarium thing and was he trying to replicate it?
Was he just being two or was there something more to this?
Did you know that you can get water into an iPod far easier than you can get it out?
Even if you shake it?
Even if you suck the water through the headphone jack?
My advice to all of you beta-owning,fishbowl-on-the-table-positioning, two-year-old-badly-supervised-parents out there is this:
Throw away your chairs, so your child can never get on your table.
Long Conversations with ?????
I got up this morning and needed to use the phone. (Ha! I bet you thought I was going to say bathroom!). So, I padded around quietly trying to locate a phone. We have four extensions, and usually at least two are MIA. Those people who came up with phones with cords had a really brilliant idea.
I found the phone under the train table. And noticed it was off the hook. So to speak. And I noted that the current “conversation” had been going on for 532 minutes. That could be a record here.
Thankfully, we aren’t charged by the minute, so I just calmly hung up and made my call.
Partly Sunny with a Chance of School Starting
I’m trying to figure out how school is going to work this year. I have four kids I’m homeschooling. Two go to the homeschool program two days a week. The other two will be home full time. I have also chosen to have my older two kids do their math at home, and the science outside of the homeschool program. The only catch is this makes ME responsible for the whole kit and caboodle. I know, I know, I AM responsible for the whole kit and caboodle. The kit and caboodle are just a little intimidating right now. My brilliant 14-year-old son, who truly is not one iota less than brilliant, has a mind that works very differently from mine. Therefore, some of the questions I ask him are taken by him as evidence that I do not trust him. Questions like, can I see that website where the list is? He is able to make decisions on a dime and seems to have almost computer-like abilities to process information quickly. I, on the other hand, can make different types of decisions quickly, and I have my own computer abilities. The types of things we process quickly are pretty much opposite from each other. I am not frustrated or angry or disappointed with him — I see the process of working with him as a very good challenge, one that I enjoy because he DOES think so differently than I do. I’m still trying to figure out how best to frame my questions, encourage him, etc.
The current struggle is over the chemistry assignment he has to complete before the first day of class. I want him to do it well, to have the finished product show clearly his writing ability, his grasp of the material and evidence that he spent some good time researching, thinking and processing the info. I came upon him this afternoon, switching from window to window — first the info site, reading a few sentences, distilling the points, then back to the essay page, where he would insert his thoughts. To me, that seems like a lazy way to do the work. Lazy is a pejorative word — maybe efficient is a better word. Ultimately, though, I don’t see that method as requiring much of him. And with the capabilities he has, I want him to use his brain and heart and mind to do hard things well.
He has the ability to see the bigger picture, and the connections he makes are often pretty cool. But those connections come when he really cares about what he is talking about. I don’t think he really cares about this essay.
So, after he made his case for doing his way, I said ok. Go ahead. Do it the way you think you should. Two minutes later, he tells me he thinks the way I was suggesting is better and he’s planning to work on it as soon as he has some toast. Go figure.