Feb 222017
 

This post contains affiliate links.

yoga ball get paid

Swagbucks has been a great source of extra money over the past few years.  If you have read my blog for any length of time, I am sure you have picked up on how much I like them.

The flexibility in ways to earn has been the biggest draw for me.  There have been times when I am frankly short on time, and others when I have a lot of time to spend looking around and trying out new things.

Watching video clips is one of the easiest ways for me to earn gift cards by redeeming points, called SB.  Not only can I find clips on subjects that interest me, but I can also learn about new things.  The videos can run while I type up a blog post, fold laundry, do the dishes, or help a child with homework/school work.

Watching videos on my phone makes it even easier and portable. When I find a video I like, it can be saved to my favorites for me to watch again. (This is the easiest and fastest way to find certain videos at some point in the future.)

Modification of several yoga and  Pilates moves are also used in our home for sensory activities and exercise with the kids.  Each kid reacts differently to the movements, which takes trial and error to find the ones that might work best for you.

There are several ways for you to watch video clips to earn SB – via the Swagbucks website and via several apps on your phone. (Even if you are an international user!)  The apps are free to download. 

Below is a list of video I have come across on one app – Sportly.tv. (They were current as of the writing of this post)  You can earn 18 SB per day using this Swagbucks app.

Jack had a blast going through these with me.  Several were stopped so we could both try them.  Again. And Again. And Again.

Sportly.tv

  • Common Meditation Mistakes 2:20
  • How To Do Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 0:51
  • Fitness Through Sensual Dance – Spiderman Move 0:52
  • Weights on Trampoline 1:14
  • Kundalini Yoga – Dyamic Cobra Pose 1:25
  • Olympic Buses Transporting Athletes Gets Lost For Hours 1:04
  • How To Do Crab Walks 0:30
  • Man With Cerebral Palsy Competes in Races With Brother’s Help 1:09
  • How To Do Pilates Neck Pull Exercise 1:50
  • How To Do Standing Shoulder Press 0:50
  • Belly Dancing: Snake Arms 3:22
  • How To Do Lunges 0:54
  • How To Do Yoga Knees to Chest Pose 1:09
  • Circus Exercise: V Ups Exercise 0:45
  • How To Perform Wellness Bridge  0:42
  • How To Perform Egyptian Stretch 0:30
  • Riot Erupts at Wheelchair Basketball Game 1:03
  • How To Do Yoga Standing Forward Fold Pose 0:54
  • Plank To Downward Dog 0:44
  • 70-Year-Old Qualifies for Olympics 1:23
  • Sumo Wrestlers – 10 Amazing Facts 1:24
  • Pilates Swan On The Roller 2:05
  • What is Doga? 1:34
  • Goal of Meditation 1:06
  • Pilates: Thera Band Arms 4:28
  • Pilates Footwork on the Roller 2:20
  • Squats on a Smith Machine with Medicine Ball 0:51
  • How To Do Kettlebell Swing 0:45
  • Pilates: Lower Lift with Magic Circle 4:40
  • Yoga – Revolved Side Angle Pose 1:07
  • Circus Exercises: Tuck on the Trapeze 1:13
  • Overhead Exercise with Dumbbells 0:43
  • Airport Security Confiscates Kids’ Tennis Rackets 1:13
  • Eating Tips Before Running 0:39
  • Belly Dancing: Chest Isolations 2:56
  • How To Do Pilates Open Leg Rocker Exercise 2:12
  • Food Art: Sports Themed Strawberries 2:00
  • Early Swimming For Kids Leads to Better Academic Performance 1:02
  • Strict Diet Guidelines for Chinese 1:04
  • Side to Side Obliques with Medicine Ball 1:05
  • Wheelchair Bodybuilders Inspire Others 1:11
  • How To Do Yoga Fish Pose 1:19
  • How To Do Pilates Teaser Exercise 1:14
  • How To Do Knee Plank Curls 0:42
  • 30 Minute Beach Workout 6:21
  • Yoga – Dancer Pose Easy Variation 0:57
  • Fitness Through Sensual Dance – Thigh High Move 0:51
  • Beach Workout Tips 1:59
  • Russian Olympic Volleyball Coach Commits Suicide 1:03
  • Yoga – Side Plank Intermediate 0:56
  • Advanced Contortion Moves: Lever 0:59
  • Self-Defense Workout: Push Kick 1:30
  • Kundalini Yoga – Dynamic Bow Pose 1:35
  • Pilates Scissors on the Roller 1:48
  • Hula Hoop Upper Body Workout 1:05
  • French Open – 10 Uncommon Facts 1:19
  • Designer Proposes Trampoline Walkway 1:05
  • Pilates Single Leg Stretch on the Roller 1:57
  • How To Do Yoga Triange Pose 0:53
  • Kundalini Yoga – Spinal Rotation 1:34
  • 15 Minute Beach Workout 4:39
  • Fitness Through Sensual Dance – Lotion Motion 1:05
  • How To Perform Bicep Stretch 0:33
  • How To Do Explosive Jump Squat 0:30
  • Circus Exercises: Frog Sequence On The Rope 1:33
  • How To Do Yoga Eagle Pose 1:07
  • How To Perform Neck Rotation Exercise 0:37
  • Yoga – Cow Face Pose Easy Variation 1:40
  • Tai Chi: Strike Ears with Fist 0:59
  • Seated Dumbbell Knee Raise 0:45
  • How To Perform Front Leg Kicks 0:30
  • Pilates Open Leg Rocker on the Roller 2:00
  • How To Do Pilates Spine Twist Exercise 1:40
  • Yoga Side Plank 0:52
  • How To Do Pilates Swimming Exercise 2:15
  • Plank on Bosu 1:16
  • A New Hot Sport Due To Booming Skyscrapers 1:14
  • Tricep Dips with Yoga Ball 0:53
  • How To Do Standing Shoulder Press 0:50
  • 5 Types of Sports in German 0:47
  • How Can Mediation Reduce Stress? 2:27
  • Self-Defense Workout: Bump Escape From A Bear Hug 1:51
  • Yoga – Shoulder Stand 1:11
  • Belly Dancing: Figure 8 2:55
  • Pole Dancing For Fitness 1:27

 

Feb 102017
 

This post contains affiliate links.

date night nice

One of my anxieties with moving, a fear of mine actually, was knowing friends and support systems are not a given and often take a long time to form.

We had lived in 3 different communities before landing in Small Town.  In none of those first 3 communities did we form what felt were solid friendships; we were in the community but not a part of the community.  Perhaps if we had stayed longer, those budding friendships would have solidified into something more.

Once we moved to Small Town, it took over a year to solidify a friendship with my neighbor, even longer to get to the point of canning together or starting the roadside stand.  This friendship ended up growing so much, we now refer to them as “aunt” and “uncle”.  It took my kids several more years before they asked, “how exactly are we related to Aunt and Uncle?”  🙂  Blood does not always make a family.

It took 4 years, after joining the rural community, before I joined the local MOPS group and began to make a few close friends, which also resulted in participating in my first Farm Market Swap.

Farm Market Swap collage

During the years of having small kids, my husband and I were not always blessed with the ability to take time for ourselves, to get away as a couple for a few hours a week, or even once a month. At times it was possible, but at others it seemed like we came back to a situation that was harder than if we had just stayed home. (The idea of a weekend away was out of our realm of reality at that point.)

Often, we had to settle for coffee and a movie at home, hoping to not wake up the kids and not to fall asleep before the end of the movie.  Those first months were filled with kids scared to go to sleep, scared that you would not be there when they woke up, scared of … night time was not a good time, which was a shame as the days were filled with hyper-vigilant, hyperactive, inquisitive, take-life-by-the-horns, I-know-best kids.

As they grew a bit older, things calmed down some, but the anxiety is always there in the background.  Now we were dealing with official  diagnoses of ADHD, and unofficial sensory and trauma related issues, as well as lesser known issues that come with ADHD beyond the attention and hyperactivity issues. (here,too, but there is a bit of language.) (This was a great read for me recently, helping to connect some of the dots to other issues I otherwise could not find the cause of.)

The mere idea of moving brought me anxiety.  Not only was I going to have to meet a lot of new people, but my kids were going to be reminded (subconsciously) of times in their early lives, when things were not consistent, when there was a lot of loss, when they had no control.  I was anxious about how they would react. However, a move was happening and we would have to deal with the outcome.

My husband was excited to find out the local YMCA had a monthly Kid’s Night Out, where parents could drop their kids off for a few hours of games, fun, and pizza.  I was less than excited. Way less. The mere idea made my stomach start to knot up. My husband could not understand why, though he found out after the first night we tried.

See, the time to drop them off, it began about an hour before the kid’s bedtime and lasted for up to 3 hours.  Night time is the worst time of day for our kids.  Their ADHD behaviors, their sensory/trauma issues, and developmental issues have been a struggle all day, making their brains tired.  Their bodies, however, act as if they are full of energy.

Jack gets so overloaded with things (noise, activity, expected social behaviors) that his brain goes too fast for his body.  He then runs and hides in a quiet place, or turns in circles (vestibular sensory seeking), or hits, or … he does not handle it well, especially when tired … an hour before bedtime. (Yes, our kids go to bed early, but they also sleep 11-12 hours still.)

We tried it once, was well as a three day Holiday Day Camp where I had to clarify a few things with the director on the second day or risk one of my kids being kicked out, before agreeing this was not working for us.  We mentally set ourselves up for a year+ of home date nights and switching off if one of us needed to be gone in the evenings.

Been there, done that, we have the cappuccino mix at home.

(The picture below shows a ‘date lunch’ where we took the kids with us.  They sat at the corner side of the table watching a movie, while we were on the other side having cake and coffee; they got some goodies too.  They were not allowed to talk with us until the movie was over. Sometimes, you do what you need to do.)

cake children coffee shop date afternoon line

Then … then, we continued to visit a particular new church.  George loved the kids’ activities and new people.  Jack, well, it was hit or miss at first.

Being a new place, we did not share the unique aspects of our family.  For starters, we did not know these people well.  Secondly, not everyone reacts the same way when I share things.  Sometimes they judge our kids (or us) before taking the opportunity to get to know us.  Thirdly, I was hoping our kids would handle the change calmly at first.

In the past, unfortunately, it has often been the case that in these situations, that the adults in charge say, “Sorry.  If your child is not willing to act in these socially acceptable, calm ways, s/he can not be here.  You will need to come with them or keep them with you.  It is too distracting and hard for us.” I have missed quite a bit of church these past few years due to kids not being able to handle/exhibit the expected behaviors.

Much to my surprise that is not what happened at this church.  After one obviously trying Sunday morning for the kids’ teacher, I determined to go early the next week and talk to the preacher’s wife.  She was one of the few I had met whom I felt would hear me out and could then direct me with whom I should talk.

Keeping things to ourselves was obviously not working.

This talk turned out so much better than I could ever have imagined.  As we were talking, she stopped me and said, “I think you should tell all of this ____.”  The person she said?  The only other lady in the church I knew, the one who had told me the week before that their household is never quiet because she and her husband were such extroverted people.  That comment alone made me want to become her friend immediately.

These ladies and I missed all the beginning of church that week as I shared everything – how we became a family, struggles of ADHD, some other learning/developmental struggles they may face.  I also stated the fact that if my kids were not adjusting well to the kids’ classes, they were welcome to sit with us.

What I got was – “Well we were just discussing this in our morning meeting and how to handle it … do you think having an older teen with them would help?  … I will let the teacher know not to call on them to read out loud the harder passages … we could move them to a younger class, but that might cause more issues (and explained why) … how about we try these out and see how it goes?”  They offered a few other options as well.  I came away feeling more encouraged than defeated.  It was an unexpected change for one.

A few weeks later, I got an email from the teacher asking, “How can I help him/them while in class?  What can I do to not make things worse?”  WHAT?!?!  Not only was this person still willing to have them/him in class, but also asking what to do to make things easier for my child!

I cried.

Then I put together a response, explaining a few struggles that were probably appearing, how they might manifest themselves, and list of basic things that seem to help me in that situation.

valentines cupcake decorating children collage

Last week, my husband had mentioned the youth of this church were hosting a Kid’s Night Out this coming weekend, so the parents could have a night to themselves (for Valentines Day).  If you had said this a month ago, I would have dismissed it.  By now, however, I told him I thought the kids would do well and we should take advantage of it.

Why?

  • The kids knew the adults.
  • One of the teens has watched the kids during mid-week gatherings and did fabulous (actually will try her as a babysitter this month).
  • The setting was familiar.
  • The group was small.

Though there might be a bounce house (shhh) and other activities, I doubt it will be as loud or chaotic as the ‘Y’ was. (Please do not think we do not like the local ‘Y’; we are actually going there weekly for a kids exercise class and it is going fabulously.  Of course, it is a small group and does not last for 3 hours.)

This year, for one of the few times in our marriage, my husband and I will get a chance to “celebrate Valentine’s Day”.  Though it is more like – “having a date near Valentine’s Day” as we don’t really celebrate this day any different than other date nights.  The first year of our marriage we did our taxes and didn’t even realize the date until we had to sign and date our forms. Yup, we are such romantics.

If your significant other or someone important in your life is as oblivious to the day as my husband and I are, you are in luck.  Bring them some coffee (bought with a gift card?) and a cookie and they will thank you for your spontaneous gift.

If they are not so oblivious, you need to get a move on with something beyond a card signed with your name.  How about a gift card to their favorite store?  Or one to use to take them out for a special evening, while earning points back?

Do your Valentine’s Day shopping through Swagbucks and get cash back for all your purchases!

The best part? Through Valentine’s Day, select retailers are offering double cash back or more! Just click here to sign up for Swagbucks and learn more.

If you don’t know about Swagbucks, it’s a site where you earn points (called SB) for doing things like shopping, watching videos, discovering deals, searching the web, and taking surveys! You redeem your SB for gift cards or PayPal cash.

As a special bonus, if you sign up through me and spend at least $25 in shop, you’ll get a 200 SB bonus!

Nov 142016
 

This post contains affiliate links.

reading book dress-up costume

Whenever I need some encouragement, reminders to keep moving forward, I seek out those who have been or still are dealing with the same struggles.  It helps keep my perspective, gives me ideas of things to try, and shows me that I am not alone.

Here are a couple of articles and thoughts about parenting kids from hard places.  I have talked about this before, so it is nothing new for this blog.  However, I keep finding people who know more than I do, reading what they are open to sharing, and growing in my understanding.  I could not keep it to myself if I tried.

If you read nothing else, I suggest reading the first article from Stevie Wilson, a licensed professional counselor.  I could have benefited from such knowledge during younger years, helping out in children’s programs.  Not all of this information is for parents alone.  It is good information for everyone to have and understand.

-Teaching a room full of kids can be a challenge on any given day.  Some days it is a fun challenge.  Other days … not so much.  Having that one kid in the class who does not act like the others, can test anyone’s patience, especially if viewed as defiance or being oppositional..  However, knowledge is power and a few small changes can help the day go much smoother.

Last week I had to literally stop where we were and wait for one of my kids to gain control of themselves before we moved on.  At the time, we were headed out to eat supper after the kids received a surprise visit from my parents and one of their cousins.  It was exciting and different.  While both of my kids responded with heightened activity, this particular kid seemed to be having trouble slowing himself back down.  The biggest hint – lack of eye contact.  While everyone else continued on into the restaurant for supper, I stood on the sidewalk and …..

  • watched birds fly overhead
  • watched trucks pull in and out of a gas station
  • took deep relaxing breaths (amazingly enough, I was not really fazed by all this. I was just enjoying the autumn air.)
  • watched more birds fly overhead

… basically I did anything I could do to look as relaxed and bored as possible, to slow down my energy (almost to a stop) and thereby slow down my kid’s anxiety levels.  It worked.  Once this kid could both face my direction with his body and look at me, I gave praises and very clear expectations – “we were going to walk into the restaurant and walk to our table while keeping our hands to ourselves; walking does not mean skipping, jumping, or running, it means walking.” We had a brief pause inside the restaurant as it was difficult to walk while keeping hands to oneself, but a redo resulted in appropriate behaviors.  That was the goal.

In the end, this kid behaved very well and this whole situation was a forgotten thing of the past.  Having other adults with me made it possible at that moment to react with these behaviors in this fashion.  If it had been me parenting solo with both kids, trying to keep one kid calm while brother was having trouble handling the changes, I would have had to reverse everyone back to the car for some music time or headed home for pb&j.

our school week collage 2

-What about if you are not in a public/private school setting?  What about home schooling?  Changing the location from a larger classroom to your dinning room table does not suddenly erase the potential for challenging behaviors.  What it does do is give you more options on how to address these issues.

Peek-a-boo is not just a game.

The emotional side of life is one aspect I appreciate much more now, after home schooling Jack, than I did before.  It took a short intense time during his early public school stint for us to accept that something more was going on than the normal adjustments to a full day of Kindergarten.  So far, we have not regretted this decision.  I will admit, there are times where I have the “oh, how life would be different if he were able to tolerate being in public school and I was working outside of the home” thoughts.  Thankfully, we do not need me to work outside the home and I enjoy staying home, but the grass is always greener…

Then I realized how well he has been handling the past hour of being bored, how well regulated he is acting.  For him, being bored often is what gets him into trouble, a feeling he begins to sense about 5 minutes or less into an activity which he deems unnecessary.  Learning to find ways to entertain himself without causing trouble has been one of the biggest lessons he has had to learn, and is still working on.  I attribute this learning to why we can actually sit through a church service now and why he was able to take a 3 hour car ride sans movies with me last week.

When we began schooling at home, I had visions of how things would turn out.  It did not happen that way.  As I had already been reading a fair amount of home schooling blogs when the kids were preschool age, to gain ideas of activities to do with them and help them catch up, I was not completely overwhelmed at the idea.  However, I know how it was ‘supposed’ to go.  Yet, instead of needing a few weeks to adjust, it ended up taking us almost 6 months before Jack could handle some sort of structure to his day.

2 years later I feel like we are finally at the point I wanted to be at 1.5 years ago.  Learning to step back and not take things personally, usually, has helped.  Reaching out to others has also helped.  Also finding ways that work for him, rather than keeping doing it the way everyone else seems to be, has helped.

I have come to find that, apparently, I was a bit too agressive about learning to read and it was backfiring.  So I took a break, trying again at various times till we landed upon something that worked.  Using a program like Reading Eggs, has helped take a majority of the arguments out of the struggle to read. Apparently, learning to read is boring, so why try?  Sort of like going to sleep. However, ‘playing’ online is fun and so is earning new characters.

The “But, mom, I can’t read” excuse no longer flies.  He at least can try to sound it out, with a bit of prompting, of course.  Why prompting? Because it is also easier and faster to have mom tell you the word you do not know, rather than try to figure it out yourself.  The same goes for opening doors. And putting up your clothes.  And …. it has become apparent one of the habits we will need to be working on in the near future.

sidewalk-hockey-boys-running-collage

-I need to do more of these sort of activities throughout our day. Vestibular stimulation is something we often see in Jack.  Whether it is due to a history of ear infections or hyperactivity, his need to move is often an indicator of what is going in in his head and greatly affects his ability to focus.

-Letting the little things build up till I explode is an area I need to work on.  This was a great, quick reminder and encouraging read.

Sep 202016
 

red bicycle

… continue from Part 2

After a good night’s sleep, I was still dreading the morning bike ride to school.  Yeah, I needed more than 8-ish hours of sleep to forget my feelings of the day before.

Knowing the kids were tired from an emotional evening the night before (family therapy does that every time, even though it is held at our house and does not feel all that intense to me), I let them sleep a bit later, giving us 20-30 minutes to get ready for school and leave.  What was I thinking?!?!  ADHD remember?

George decided he needed lots of hugs before even getting started for the day.  And then he only wanted to get dressed half way before coming to breakfast.  After begin sent back several times, he finally was dressed and downstairs.  Breakfast of the day – cereal.  Quick and easy, right?  WRONG!

George is a talker.  The more you rush him, the more topics he finds to talk about.  Even his verbal apraxia does not slow him down.  Add to this the need for movement, and you now have a very chatty child exploring how drops of milk affect his cereal, over and over again.  The absolute latest time for leaving has come and gone … and he still has not brushed his teeth, gotten his shoes on, packed his lunch, etc.  Meanwhile, this introverted mom is standing there nagging and beginning to fume as all her attempts at getting him to school so he is not late are completely ignored.

Jack, still asleep but not needing to actually be at the location George has to be at, yet unable to be left sleeping alone at home, is woken up and given the simple task of putting on his shoes.  “Leave me alone.  I am sleeping.”  Further prodding to get up only results in a very familiar strain, but with a new twist, “Why do we have to go. Can’t he walk by himself? I am sleeping.”

So much for my consideration for his sleeping and allowing him to stay asleep till 1o minutes before we needed to leave.  Hey, I did not even care if he was still in his pajamas while we rode.  My standards of dress for Jack’s mornings are pretty much, “As long as it is not indecent, it is acceptable.”

Once everyone was on board with the concept of actually leaving to get George to school, it was already past the time he was supposed to be inside the school building.  In one final attempt to get us there before lunch time I told the kids I would be leading and they just needed to keep up.  HA!

Along the way, I would glance back to see where the kids were in relation to myself.  Usually the answer was, “nowhere near me”.

At times it looked as if they were taking a leisurely Sunday ride to enjoy the leaves.  Other times they would stop to say “hi” to a random neighbor whom they had never seen before, but which it was now vitally important for that particular neighbor to not only hear them, but also acknowledge their salutations.  Other times one would decide to not cross a main road because there was a car going 35 mph 6. blocks. down. the. road!

Did I mention we had left home when the morning assembly had already started? And I was in a hurry to get him there before lunch time?  Yeah, that meant nothing to the kids apparently.

By the time we got to school, Jack decided George needed supervision on the other side of the parking lot in order to park his bike at the bike rack.  What neither of them seemed to realize is that this ‘helping’ only makes them both slower.  Of course, then came the inevitable argument out of Jack as to why he could not park his bike in the very middle of the entrance walkway.

We entered the building and I made George go to the office to sign in late.  When the Principal mentioned that we were not really late, I corrected him.  I was cross enough at that point I was not going to let George get any slack.  We were supposed to have been at school 45 minutes ago, in time for him to be early and enjoying the library before the school day began. We WERE late; I did not care what the clock or Principal said.  It all went over George’s head, though; time is something that does not exist in his world.

… to be continued. Yes, there is even more fun to come.

This post contains affiliate links.

Sep 162016
 

red bicycle

continued from Part 1

Well, it should not have been a problem as the kids and I have bikes.

The first morning, we all rode our bikes to drop George off at school. No problem.  We got there. He parked his bike appropriately.  Jack and I headed back home, our legs a bit sorer but otherwise no worse for the wear.

In the afternoon, however, when it was time to go, Jack refused. He threw a tantrum – i.e. threw a remote control, argued with me, screamed at me, refused to get shoes on, ran to hide in a different part of the house…you know, all the fun things a kid who does not like change does when transitions happen. Yes, this happens even when given”we are leaving in 10/5/3/2 minutes” warnings.

In the end I did what I should not have done, but what in my irritated and schedule focused mind I decided to do, I led a shoe-less Jack out of the house (no worries, he rides barefoot all the time, against my clearly expressed wishes), locked the door, got our bikes out, and got on my bike. The whole time Jack is still screaming at me, though at least he is standing in one place … with his arms firmly crossed and body pressed against the garage door.

Now I realize the pickle I got myself into. He was now VERY disregulated and may or may not follow me on his bike. I didn’t care if he screamed at me the whole way, I just needed him to follow.

He did. Sort of, but not really.

He started to, I saw that part. However, he stopped. This part I did not realize till I was almost half way to George’s school (it was a straight shot down the road).

Now I was the one frozen in place.  Do I continue or go back? If I go back, there was no guarantee Jack would come and I for sure would be late for the appointment our house at right after school. If I go on, I can ride faster, get George and get back home faster than Jack and I would have even gotten to the school.

I kept going.

Before you judge me too harshly, it is a small town, remember? I also was 90% sure Jack would ride back to the house and wait for us. For all of his loud exclamations of dissatisfaction when made to stay with us, he does not like being left behind. When scared, he usually goes back.

On the way back home I found Jack. Seems that when he got to the end of our block he remembered that he is not supposed to cross the street by himself. This is what he chose to remember and obey. He also knew he was not supposed to be at home by himself. So, there, at the corner is where he waited, torn between two rules. His young, trauma affected brain not allowing him to realize that going home, a block away, would have been better than standing at a street corner. (Our family therapist saw it a slightly different way and praised him for making a safe choice, i.e. not crossing the road alone when he knew he was not supposed to.)

The next morning, I was determined to make it to school on time and without stress. Ha! As if. Why do I even tell myself that is an option?

To be continued….

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Sep 132016
 

red bicycle

When I was younger, I always had the thought in my head that I would adopt a kid. It was never a clear desire, no clear details, more of a picture of what my future held.  As time went on, I was even pretty sure these kids had been adopted from foster care.

In this picture, there was a field with a creek and kids playing happily until being called in for supper. Why, yes, the sun was shining as well. How did you know?

Then I grew up.

My husband and I, after we were married, moved to crowded east coast, to BIG town in a different state, to smaller big town in a different state, and finally to small, rural town in yet a different state. No field. No creek. And as it turns out, kids who have their own very clear and very not-what-mom-said-we-could-but-it-looks-so-FUN ideas.

Yup. Life has been and continues to be an adventure. At least it has not been boring.

Right now, my husband’s car is getting some routine work done, so he is driving my car to work. No problem, right? After all we live in town. A town that is basically a 1 square mile. It is not like we could not ride or walk to wherever we need to be.

Wrong!!!

To be continued

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Sep 022016
 

I am so excited for this sale.  At lunch today I was putting together a list of items I will be needing to purchase in the very near future.  Most of them are either easier to find and shop for online.

In the end, this is a win-win-win situation.  I will win by taking advantage of the Double Cash Back, my kids will win by not having to go shopping, and my husband will win as I will be making his life easier in the upcoming weeks. (It will save him the trouble of having to shop for some of these items.)

boy feet on bench

Happy Labor Day! This weekend Swagbucks, an online rewards program that gives you cash back for completing online activities such a shopping online, is running a great Labor Day Sale on their site. You work hard all year, its time to treat yourself and put some cash back in your wallet while you’re at it.

Earn Double Cash Back or more when you shop this Labor Day Weekend at your favorite stores including:

Walmart

eBay

Target

Old Navy

Macy’s

Gap

JCPenney

The Home Depot

Lowe’s

Bed Bath & Beyond

Groupon

Living Social

And many, many more!

 

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Jul 242016
 

grocery shopping cart produce milk

Instead of braving the high temperatures to do needed yard work one day this past week, we went grocery shopping, also a needed activity.  I wanted to include an incentive for the kids to behave during the trips into the store, something to help them work towards controlling their own behaviors.  As an adult we might stop and pick up a coffee, or listen to a certain radio station, etc. to reward ourselves for doing a job.  Why not give the kids something similar?

The night before I had printed off a shopping list and planned to stick to it.  It was not excessively long – one store had 4 school supply items, while the second store had under 10 grocery related items, though these were on spread out across the whole store. Having a list would help by keeping the trips quick-ish and on track.  But what to use for an incentive?

Then I remembered the local cinema’s children’s summer movies.  Each week has a different choice of movie for $1 each morning.  Perfect! I even liked this week’s movie; there are several I refused to take the kids to see.

To make the incentive even greater, I added in the option of (1/2 price) cheeseburgers from Sonic to augment our picnic lunch and time at a local park or indoor playground.  Yes, I was putting together quite an incentive package here.  Jack is on a cheeseburger kick and both love going to parks.  They have also been asking to visit the indoor playground all summer. (A local church opens their playground to the public for certain hours during the week. It even includes an area with tables, family and gender specific bathrooms, and a walking track if I choose to take advantage of it.)

While at the second (and last) store, I had to remind the kids of what was at stake several times.  We had two items left to pick up and things were quickly going down hill.  Jack had already been delegated to ride in the cart, but was doing his best to try and open things.  George could not seem to get more than 3 feet away from his brother, but instead felt the need to do little things to pester Jack into deregulation. My attention was on the shopping, in hopes of getting it finished quickly, yet I was being stopped every few feet to correct behaviors.  With my attention being not focused on the kids, I could feel control being lost and it was not going to end well if things did not change.

By the time we got up to check-out, I finally stopped making excuses to myself about how impatient I was being and said, “That’s it.  You both knew what was expected of you, yet you have chosen not to do those things.  Since you could not control yourselves here, in an easy setting, I can not take you to somewhere where more control is needed.  We have to go home.  No movie.”  Oh, the horror.  The pleading and whining began.  Never a good idea.  My motto is “If you whine, it is an automatic NO.”

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I remembered an important piece of what was happening … due to our change in breakfast routine, I had forgotten to give them their medicine.  Instead I had put them into a car and taken them to two stores with bright lights and lots of colors and ‘stuff’ around them.  Um, yeah, no wonder George was feeling uncomfortable and looking for ways to control the situation, while Jack was feeling overwhelmed and wanted to let me know that he wanted out of this place.  So, I compromised.

Taking a few breaths I said, “Look, stop the whining, right now.  You know what that leads to.” pause to hear the quiet, “I will give you one last chance.  You will need to convince me however, with good arguments and proper voices, as to why exactly I should still take you to see a movie.”

Have you ever heard logical arguments from 7 and 8 year olds?  Yeah, me neither.  But it was interesting to hear what they thought were good ones.  I even had them clarify a few.

child on playground

20 minutes later, sitting in the movie theater, I realized I had made the right call.  The kids had calmed down and were thoroughly enjoying themselves.  There was laughter and giggles, bright eyes and squeals.  I, too, had calmed down and was having fun.

After the movie and a picnic lunch at an indoor playground, we made a trip to Goodwill. While Jack really did not want to shop, George was up for it.  I told them what I was looking for – swim shirts and movies.  In the end we found a shirt for George, ‘new’ swim shirts for both kids, and the movies were 12 for $0.99 (we picked up 24).  We also found THIS for only $7! I was so surprised and excited.  While I took a look at it in store, I did not stop to completely examine all the contents.  While it was missing some of the readers, there were enough of the components there for me to decide to buy it.

Once I got home and looked at everything more thoroughly, I realized it had parts of the Kindergarten kit with it and it the flashcards for 1st are missing as well.  As we are not fans of flashcards, especially for reading, this last bit did not worry me. I will add this to this year’s curriculum as review and extra practice.  It may be labeled for first grade, but that does not mean we can not use it for second and third graders.  Even more so when this is an area of difficulty for both kids.

So, what are my plans for this upcoming week?  Shopping at Aldi, which I did not get to last week, and some more school supply shopping. We may even make a stop in to GFS for a few treats. As an incentive, since I do not like the movie option this week, we will be going roller skating.  George has been asking to go for a while to practice his roller blades more (they were a Christmas gift).  My hesitancy stems from the fact that roller skating actually makes the kids more hyped up, rather than calming them down as one might assume would be the result of physical exercise. I think I will have to add in a time limit followed by outside time. (If skating is not your thing, how about bowling.)

This post contains affiliate links.

Jul 152016
 

Kid Garden Helper

As the mother of two kids with ADHD, one hyperactive and the other inattentive, I can attest to many of the 28 Things Nobody Tells You About Having A Kid With ADHD.  It is more than having an active kid, and it takes parenting to a whole new level, especially when you add in early childhood trauma and other equally fun things.  Each of these hit me at the core, they really are true, deeply personally so many times.

These are not just “yes, my little Jimmy/Jenny also annoys me sometimes … I can not even look at Facebook for an hour without him/her whining to me about something” or “I always have crayons and scrap paper with me for those times we have to wait.  Otherwise we would never get through that 30 minute wait time at the doctor’s office.”  If you are one of those people, please, do not even try to commiserate with me.  I know you mean well, but it only makes me practice biting my tongue more.  That really hurts after a while.  Besides, it only makes me feel like more a failure in this parenting arena.  I already feel that way really, really, often and do not want to feel that way more.  Please do not be surprised if I stop talking about my kids to you, or even if I stop talking to you altogether.

Here are some thoughts I had as I went through the list, you may want to open the article in another window as you read through below:

Signs and visuals have helped, but only go so far, which is why we have “underwear check” most days … to make sure it is on AND not backwards. (Point #2)

FYI – Yes, I know my kid’s shoes are on the wrong feet, but I am tired of telling him yet again to put them on right. So, please do not ask me if I knew they were on wrong. We got to where we were going on time (ish) and that was higher on my goals list for the day.  If they bother you, feel free to tell my child who put them on, not me. I learned a long time ago which is the right foot and do not need the extra practice, thank you very much.

#3 –  I used to think I was super patient and calm.  Then I was given my two kids to raise and learned what it meant to be prideful.  That was a tough lesson.  Now I am learning to say, “I was wrong for loosing my temper.” and “I’m sorry.”

#4 – If you do not think this is true, wait till you realize your kid has NO friends to invite him to birthday parties (while brother seems to go to them all the time) and you have to try and explain why. This is also why we invite whole families, when we do invite people for parties.

#5 – After talking with a friend who had two very well behaved kids and one very active kid, whom we love, I found out she was this way until they began parenting their active kid and had an “ah, ha” moment.  Yes, you may be a great parent, but it could also be that you just have easy kids.  Don’t judge.

#6 – Sensory issues surprised me, it is something like the chicken and the egg. In our case we tried addressing all the other items first to help reduce the ADHD behaviors.  When it became obvious there was ADHD involved, we then addressed the ADHD to help reduce all the other items. Neither will ever go away, so we are learning to live with both and “tolerate” some things that normal life brings, like having to do things you do not like to do.

#7 – “Oh, they are just boys.” That is true only up to a certain point. Even I tried to tell myself this for too long.  After a while you have to admit something else is happening.  Staying in denial can actual cause longer term harm to their brains; imagine hearing “no”, “stop that”, “why can’t you do xyz”, “sit still”, “focus”, etc all day long.  After a while it really starts to affect you physically and emotionally.

#8 – They might, but we did go a year giving them almost no (and I really do mean ‘almost none’) candy, sweets, etc.  We were those mean parents who told grandparents and friends that our kids could not eat those things at Valentine’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween (which we didn’t celebrate, so this was fairly easy), Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

#9 & #10 – very much YES! Yet I still relearn this point over and over.  I could give you example after example of success and failures here, but will not waste your time doing so.  Let’s just say that I am not kidding when I say I have to prepare for a trip to the (grocery store, church, post office, museum, restaurant, special event, etc.)  This included going over what are expected behaviors, what is planned, what might happen, who might be there, etc.  Though I have to make sure not to set expectations too high, as if they are not met we have a melt down.  Not pretty.

#12-#14 – Ah, medication. Everyone has an opinion. 🙂 Even I have changed my views on this, somewhat, after living life as a parent of two ADHD kids. (P.S. we really have a goal for at least one kid that goes like this – “Not Get Arrested”. Yup, setting the bar high over here.)

#15 – Yup, I already know people (even family) have already labeled at least one of my kids. Because of that I choose not to share about our daily life with them.

#18 – And even those within the school. Thankfully we are in position to find an alternative to those issues I less than love. Well, usually.

#20 – There are movies/video games I am ready to mark as “Banned!”in our home. I really do not feel like hearing about them for hours. Every day.

#21 – I used to wonder how our bathroom got so dirty so quickly, “Mom’s never did.” Then I started paying closer attention and realized it was not due mainly to my homemaking skills, but to the aiming skills of others. “Look where you point!” Is a common refrain in our house.

#22 – I really thought this was in our future. Instead we got help, home schooled, worked with public schoolteachers/adjusted IEPs, took more parenting classes, added in therapies, and sought resources. 1.5 years later I think be might avoid it.

#26 – Yes, this is something I deal with often.  I have to remember that we all have issues, some are just easier to hide than others.  It is easy to let the jealousy turn into anger toward the child.  This is something I have to keep my finger on, especially during the harder than normal times.

#27 – Surprisingly, even in church there are few who do this. I have made sure to tell them how much I appreciate their efforts.

All of this is to say … I love my children.  They are great people.  They have fun personalities, individual likes and dislikes, they love to help, and they are maturing.  If I were to dwell on all the points above and never on the other things, I think it would be hard to get out of bed each day.

Yes, all the above are a reality in my life at one point or another, but they do not define who we are inside.

 

Jul 082016
 

fire pit

Way back when, I needed a blog name for Jack.  Nursery rhymes were the source I was using for inspiration, but which one?  Then the day happened and I knew very clearly what it was.  Jack!

The nursery rhyme of Jack Be Nimble always confused me. Why would one jump over a candle, burn themselves, then say they wanted to do it again?  Then I became the mom of one such little boy and it made perfect sense – because it was there and he could. (Okay, that is not the historical reason, but it now seems like a valid explanation to the boy of this mom.)

Here are some adventures to give you insight:

My husband and I were looking to go out one evening for a few hours.  We have tried several babysitters, but yet to alight upon one we really thought would work well at this time of day/night.  I called a friend I knew who had a daughter with several younger brothers.  “Perfect.  Maybe she will be able to handle the boys even though they will be really tired.”  Three hours later we get back, 1.5 hours past their bedtime, and they are all watching a movie.  No problem as I told her she did not need to even try doing bedtimes.  Here is her quote, “They ate supper, played inside for a bit, then we went outside to play.  We ran around for quite a while playing X game and Y game.  We came back in to watch a movie. …. They weren’t even tired. They have a lot of energy!”  Glad to know that it isn’t because I am getting ‘old’, even the teenager was worn out by them.

They have a LOT of energy

While carpet shopping for the house, I spaced out the trips so it would not be a long day.  Instead, my goal was to make it a few shorter mornings in Big Town, thereby hopefully avoid the following scenario:

I had gathered up prices and determined where I wanted to go.  Jack and I went to the store first thing after dropping George off at school.  Mornings are Jack’s best time, so I was trying to utilize this knowledge to my benefit.  My phone is charged and his favorite app game is loaded.  We get to the store and he sees a table, with some kids toys, sitting in the middle of the carpet selection area.  With some hesitation I agree to let him  play there instead of on my phone right by me.

All was going well till toward the end.  As I was narrowing down the choices with the salesman, who had left to get another sample board, I realized Jack was not at the table.  A quick search revealed that he was hiding on the other side of the show room, among some other samples.  I brought him back, reminding him of “expected and unexpected behaviors in a store.” The sales man came back, we went to his desk to get finish some paperwork.  Jack was playing nicely at the table full of toys.

Someone walked up beside me and politely said, “Ma’am, your son is in the back room behind rolls of carpet and won’t come out.  He is not supposed to be back there, it is dangerous. He needs to come out.”  I had to bite my tongue on that last part to keep from being too sarcastic. I would have thought it was pretty obvious after the first sentence.  But, I know this was definitely unexpected behavior and something none of the adults in the room would have even considered another kid doing.

Sure enough, I found him (finally) hiding under rolls of padding, in a space about 1.5 feet high.

bike meets deck steps child

Do not ride bikes down steps…

Amazingly, we have only been to the ER once with our Lover of Life.  I was so proud of myself, keeping the kids entertained in the sand box on the deck while I cleaned out the shed.  It was a sunny afternoon and we were all in the backyard together.

Obviously my eyes did not catch everything.  I heard a thump and a cry.  Turning I found Jack face down on the ground, his bike (with training wheels) at his feet, at the bottom of the stairs to the deck.  My first concern was that his nose was broken or pushed up into his head.  Once I felt everything and found nothing broken, I carried him inside to address the gushing of blood.

We have had bloody noses before, the kids would get them by crying too hard as smaller kids, so this was not exactly a new thing for us.  George was a great help in getting door opened and toilet paper to wipe off the blood in between splashes of water.

My husband? Well, not such a big help.  At least at first.  I yelled for him to come help, as I was not sure if teeth had been knocked out, or if I needed to leave George at the house and leave with Jack.  When he walked in and saw Jack’s face covered with blood and George and I standing around the sink, his first reaction was to get mad. “What were you thinking?!”  Granted, it was out of being scared and concerned for Jack, but it was not helpful.  I told him to leave the bathroom, then closed the door.  Once the shock was gone he was much better and held and cuddled Jack on the way to the ER.

The result of this stunt was a very swollen upper lip for almost a week and a detailed report to our foster care agency.  No teeth knocked out.  No broken nose.  No black eye.  He had missed the wood border of the landing by about 2 feet.  If he had hit that, the outcome would have been very different.

But I wanted Daddy

In the time before learning how to swim well, which was any time before this summer season, the kids were required to wear life vests in the pool when swimming.  The only times they were allowed to be without them was if they were in our arms.

Even after being shown over and over how they would sink if we let go of them, how they could not walk on water (sorry, you are not Jesus), and how they had yet to learn to swim, they still did not fully believe us.

George had a healthy fear of the water.  Well, maybe a bit too much fear, but it served him well enough.

Jack, though, thought we were being mean and restrictive.  “By Golly, I want to be in the water and they are keeping me from what I want! How dare they!”  Yup, pool day was fun, full of holding Mom’s hand until she properly suited you up.

It was the end of swimming time, we were all getting out of the community pool to head home.  As it was late afternoon, my husband was also there.  I had gotten out and was ready to help the kids dry off.  Jack had been put out of the pool, I removed his vest and dried him off.  We were walking around to the other end, to get George out, when I realized Jack had turned back.  He wanted Daddy. Who was still in the pool.  Looking the other way.

In one swift move, he walked up to the edge and stepped right off into the water.  Then promptly sunk to the bottom.

I could not get there fast enough, though I tried, and yelled at my husband.  Thankfully, he turned around, scooped Jack up and sat him back on the edge.  We had one scared child. Well, at least for about 5 minutes.  He was not any worse for the wear, though it could have been a whole lot worse.

And this is why I did not take them at the busiest times of the day, even now.