The Three-Year Theory

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Occasionally you hear something that sticks…and then kinda rolls around in your brain for a while so that you have a chance to play with it, examine it from every angle, and then eventually file it away under “ideas that make sense to me.”  This three-year theory is one of those.  I can’t claim the original thought (and don’t remember from whom I heard it), but I found myself sharing it again this week. The basic idea is this:

When you begin your homeschooling journey, there are three stages:

During your first year, you learn about YOU.

During your second year, you learn about your children.

During your third year, you learn how to teach, after which you begin to become more comfortable with your decision to homeschool.

While the time frame may wiggle a bit one way or the other, the basic idea holds true time and time again. So Mom, be patient with yourself, and your children.  All good things take time to grow and develop, so give it the time it needs.  There are beautiful things waiting for you!

I don’t do drama! (Rant warning)

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God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

When did our society decide that every annoyance was to be addressed?  Or every disagreement aired and discussed? I realize that I am a grandmother, and so older than many, but I remember my father looking at me and telling me, “Life isn’t fair. Get over it.” (And he was right. Life isn’t fair.) Or, “So? Your point?”  (Lest you think he was uncaring, please note that those comments often came as we discussed the problem over ice cream from the local ice cream parlor.) At the time, it annoyed me to no end.  Now I confess, “Daddy, I GET IT!”  We are able to grow more, learn more, have more joy, and teach more effectively when we are able to “get over it.”

So many times in the recent past someone has asked for my help…for themselves, for a friend or loved one. Don’t get me wrong. If I can help, I am more than willing. The problem? The “help” these folks are seeking comes tightly wrapped up in drama! Layers and layers of it!

Come to my home, and we can discuss religion, academics, child care, organization, running a household, or any other number of topics and have a great time. I will teach you make bread, save money, or write your own curriculum…happily. But please check the whining at the door! I can’t change how your mother-in-law, neighbor, congregation member, or other obnoxious person responds to you or what they say. And neither can you. “Get over it.”  Move on, and prove them wrong. It becomes much harder to argue with what someone is doing when everyone can see that the outcome was a good one!

Besides that, your children are learning to whine, complain, and become victims the more you model that behavior. If you desire them to be strong, motivated, and able to persevere, you must do the same. No one has a perfect life. Anywhere. Stop insisting that life is unfair because you have problems. (If you think there are people who don’t have them, you need to pay better attention to others around you!)  I don’t remember Christ being a complainer.  The Reformers and later Church leaders just got on with the job. We must do the same!

I’m not apathetic to the plight of others; I just have no power to change someone else’s life.  If things need to change, make a different choice.  Do something you haven’t tried.  Or just stop thinking about all the negative. It is amazing how much a positive outlook helps, but drama is exhausting. It can literally make you ill. You miss the joy and beauty of life. And the Lord can’t guide you if you are focused on wallowing in the mire.

So if you want to know how to cook a meal from scratch, plan your literature study, or get a garden planted, let me know. The rest is for you and the Lord to unravel!

(This post is in no way meant to point the finger at those who truly suffer from clinical depression.  But if you do, get professional help.  That is also out of my league!)

You’re the mom.

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As our family wades even more deeply into the therapy and intervention options as more of the grandchildren are diagnosed with challenges, I find myself truly grateful for good information, but am also reminded of one over-riding truth- “mother’s intuition” is not to be ignored.  Or discounted.  Or ridiculed.  After all, that’s what led us to investigate in the first place!
While many of the recommendations we have received are wonderful, and the resources we have found have added tremendously to our ability to help our children, Mom needs to listen to her heart, and prayerfully implement (or not) those recommendations.
As a society, we have handed over too much of our responsibility to the “experts” and as a result, question ourselves WAY TOO MUCH.

So, repeat after me- “I am the Mom.”  Now say it again- “I am the Mom” ’cause you are. God sent these children to you to raise. You are the grown-up in their life, and they are depending on you to do what is best for them. If the local “expert” and your heart are at odds, take it to the Lord and then move forward with His direction.

After all, you and He are the ultimate “experts” on your child!

Books for working with exceptional children

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My library is growing again!  As more of our grandchildren, and the children of those who ask for my help, are diagnosed with syndromes, disorders, and other challenges, the books I have acquired to give me the tools to be successful are increasing in number!  Some are specific to a given situation, but many are invaluable for anyone working with small children. I’m starting with my current fave.

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The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun, Revised Edition: Activities for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder

by Carol Kranowitz

This book is definitely at the top of my list, and my copy has been loaned to so many people, I find myself borrowing my daughter’s.  The explanatory section is clear and readable, and the exercises are grouped so that you can focus on specific areas that need growth.  The exercises are simple to do, use common household items, and require a minimum amount of preparation time.  We have giggled our way through a number of them!

The companion volume,

Growing an In-Sync Child: Simple, Fun Activities to Help Every Child Develop, Learn, and Grow

By Carol Kranowitz, and Joye Newman

is written for every child, challenged or not.  It goes through activities and exercises you can do with your child in just a few minutes a day to encourage physical, emotional, and overall success.
Today’s children don’t get the same level of activity children did a generation ago.  These books help all of us relearn how to use our whole body, and play using basic items.  Love these books!

Validation of sorts

G'ma Becca:

This post was written by my oldest daughter. Full of happy news and food-for-thought. Enjoy!

Originally posted on Welcome to my zoo!:

For the record, I’ll be referring to the professionals we’ve dealt with by their initials.

We’ve had a really busy few months with lots of appointments. Boo in particular has been to see a lot of different professionals.  Occupational therapy, audiology, speech pathology, auditory processing…loads.  He’s now been diagnosed with sensory processing disorder (like Bug, but other end of the spectrum.  He’s always on overload) and now auditory processing disorder.  Bug is dyslexic on top of the SPD.  Little Man (and Boo?) may have anxiety (no diagnosis yet but NM thinks it’s likely).  So many puzzle pieces and things to look at and ways to adjust life.  It can be a little overwhelming sometimes.

But there’s a theme that’s emerging that I’m excited about.

When we saw CG for Bug’s dyslexia, she was fascinated by his perspective of the world (as am I frequently).  After discussing it for a while…

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One evening of work is worth it!

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In the past week, there have been a number of reminders to me of why I do some of what I do-such as:

We had apple pie with our Sunday dinner that took me a matter of minutes to put together. How? Bottled apple pie filling. Our family spent one evening last autumn working and have enough pie filling for the entire year ready to go! We use it for pies, crisps, empanadas, etc. So yummy!

Last evening we took an hour and a half and bottled hamburger and beef chunks (I found a great sale and stocked up on each). I now have around three dozen bottles waiting for upcoming meals. Gravies, tacos, enchilladas, spaghetti sauce, soups and chilis, all kinds of things. Quick. Tasty. No sweat.

I realized I was out of carrots for the chicken stock I was making (from the carcasses from Sunday dinner), so I threw in a handful of dried carrots we have in our storage. Easy. No worries.

Our grandson needed a geography assignment for the day. Not all the planning for March was done, so we grabbed a reproducible book of maps and orienteering off the shelf and made a quick copy. Done.

As crazy as my life is, it would be so much more complicated if I didn’t have food storage, a library, and other tools to keep life moving and melt-downs to a minimum. Next…!

Plumbers use jackhammers. Who knew?

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Life is a constantly changing opportunity to play the game of “Associations.”  You know the one I mean- when I say a word, you say the first thing that comes to mind (Christmas/tree, spring/garden, birthday/cake, etc.).  I am learning a new group of associations.  Fascinating.

Plumber/jackhammer.  Not generally the first thought I would have had, but I am so grateful it is true.  How else would they get to the collapsed cast iron pipe under my foundation?  All drains are now working properly.  YEAH!

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Small children/medicine balls.  We found two of these at one of our favorite “odd lot” haunts (6 and 10 lbs. respectively), and brought them home.  What a wonderful thing!  Having the young ones roll them around, use them to get through a quick obstacle course or two, or push them in laundry baskets helps so much with large muscle use on a cold winters’ day, and gets them turned back “on” for academic time!

Penmanship/white clay.  For the eight-year-old, penmanship entails a piece of paper, a pencil, and the assigned items to write.  For the six-year-old?  Not so much.  Due to the differences in learning style and approach, he is creating clay letters and using those for word creation.  Since dyslexics see life in 3D, working with 3D letters helps him orient himself to the task at hand, and he is much more successful.  Love it!

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Cleaning/joy.  During the last week, we have had the opportunity to help clear the family home following the death of my father-in-law.  The eight, six, and four year-olds were troopers and carried things up the stairs from the basement so that they could be sorted and given away.  When my sister-in-law commented on their ability to focus and work as hard as the adults, the eldest beamed at her and said, “we love to work!  Especially with Grandpa in his garden!”  And then he got back to the task at hand.  What a payday for the parents and grandparents of that little boy (who is well on his way to manhood)!

Life is full of surprises, and the unexpected can be a learning experience all its own if we are watching for it!  All these, and so many more, are a great reminder that I am not as smart as I wish I were-and that’s okay.  Someone else has it covered, and He will send the unexpected and unanticipated to us when we need it!

No child is broken (rant warning)

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The past few weeks have been a flurry of doctor and therapy appointments for a number of my grandchildren.  There has been so much information disseminated, I will be processing it for weeks!  One lesson stands out above the rest though.  No child is broken!  There are adjustments we as adults need to make when working with children, but that is for us to do.  It isn’t their job make our lives easier.  It is our job to find what they need to help them.

Learning styles differ.  (Did you know that dyslexia is a learning style?  More on that in an up-coming post.)  Abilities and perceptions vary from person to person.  Approaches to learning need to be adjusted to meet the needs of different children.  All of that is do-able.  The problems come when we as parents or care-takers want to be “in charge” of things.  NEWS FLASH- we aren’t “in charge” at all! The Lord sent all His children here with a plan…His plan.  Our job is to find out what it is for each of them and follow it.

Children need to use all they were sent here to use.  Muscles need exercise-expect climbing, running, jumping, throwing, and a ton of other movement.  It is not only normal; it is necessary!

They need your time-as much as you are willing to give them.  They need time to talk, cry, share, learn.  Self-discipline is only developed as the adults around them help them with consistency and follow-through.  If they don’t learn it, it is on us.

Messes follow young ones like day follows night.  That’s okay.  It will give us a chance to experience all those things we wanted to do as children but were stopped because it was “too messy.”  Spend time creating and cleaning together.

Children ask questions-lots of questions.  They aren’t blank slates waiting for someone to write on them; they have opinions, preferences, and interests they came here to express and explore.  Let them pepper you with everything they can come up with through their life.  The joy of discovery is not to be missed!

When we ask them to sit still for long periods of time, be quiet for hours on end, spend hours with a screen (because it is easier than interacting with them ourselves), or do it our way-no questions asked-we are not helping them grow or learn or develop into who they were sent here to become.  Growing up is hard work, and helping it happen can be inconvenient and frustrating, but there is no greater reward than spending time with them and their children…and their children…

I can have a life or write.

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Life allows for many things, but not everything.  Lately the choices seem to require that I look more and more at the bottom line.  What is the cost?  What are the benefits?  Where should I spend my time?  It has taken weeks to get back to the keyboard.  Why?  Life.  Lots of life.

A few weeks ago, one of the two-year-old twins pulled a hot bowl of soup off the counter, and we spent three days making trips to the ER and burn unit in Salt Lake City.  He is on the mend, and we are so grateful that there shouldn’t be any lasting scars or other damage; but a week just got sucked away with doctor visits, medications, and grandma time for the other kids.  (I think medical black holes are some of the biggest out there!)

We have had the electrician in twice in the last couple of weeks, and have one more repair scheduled.

Our four-year-old grandson has been in and out of evaluations and other appointments.  We now know that we have an additional grandson with Sensory Perception Disorder and he also has auditory processing challenges.  Goody.  More therapy and evals coming in the near future.  It will be wonderful to be given the tools so that we can better help him as he grows.

Military trainings are not scheduled around families.  Just sayin’.

I got the flu. Ugh. Okay. Not the H1N1 crud that is going around right now, but I got pretty sick.  In some ways, it was nice to be forced to take a few days and rest.

Our plumbing sprung a leak.  And then another.  We are now in the process of having entire house replumbed.  In the end it will wonderful; right now it is a bit chaotic.

What have I learned?

  • Setting a New Year’s resolution about being calm and letting go is easier said than done.
  • School day disruptions are not the end of the world, but things will run more smoothly the more closely life can resemble whatever “normal” is.  Keep good habits going as you can.  Also, having an in-home library, and lots of hands-on activities is a real blessing!
  • Prayer is a wonderful thing!
  • Music is a gift.  I can listen as clean, think, or hide.  And I can watch the joy in my eldest grandson’s face as we work on his piano together.
  • I am blessed with an incredible network of people who are willing to jump in and help me keep my head above water.  I am so grateful!
  • All of the $$$ skills we learned as a young family are indispensable!  As we pay for plumbing, and other unexpected expenses, it so great to know that I can dust off my copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette and channel my inner tightwad.  We can do this!
  • Thank heaven for food storage, and the tools/skills to use it!
  • When you buy an older home with lots of “character”, repairs are in your future!
  • The Lord is faithful.  Our family is returning to health.  We found a plumber who will do the job, and is willing to work with us.  My home is still a refuge from the storm.  And I can be happy as life goes on around me.

Can I have a nap now?  And then I will work on more writing…life allowing.

Three cheers for indoor plumbing!

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It is cold outside. Not as cold as the mid-west and eastern parts of the United States right now, but cold enough. Days like today make me more grateful for  the simple things in life.  A working furnace.  A fully-stocked pantry.  Fuzzy socks.  And indoor plumbing.

I am currently enjoying a book about cooking and housekeeping in Britain during the 19th and early 20th centuries. While some of the procedures and methods sound almost reasonable, or even down-right quaint, much of what I am reading make me cringe!  And I feel more grateful for what I have-like indoor plumbing.  No need to choose between running out to the outhouse or using a chamber pot that I would get to clean out later.  Or worrying about having enough water inside that is fresh and potable.  Or needing to manually fill a large tub to climb into a hot bath to warm up, or soak my husband’s muscles-sore from a day’s labor.

I can run a bath, put in a load of laundry, turn on the dishwasher to clean up from a meal, fill the kettle from the tap for hot chocolate or mint tea, and even make a “pit stop” without the need to go outside or start with frigid water.

Yeah for the 21st century!

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