Apr 222017
 

Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe For The Earth giveaway ends tonight!  Have you entered yet?

From their Facebook page:

“THREE weekly winners will be drawn (April 8/16/22), each to receive a hardcover copy of the groundbreaking picture book, COMPOST STEW: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth….Open to US/Canada only. Ends April 22, 2017 at 9 pm (PDT).”

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Apr 182017
 

This is a post from a few years back.  As I reread this post, I was reminded to keep using what works, and adjust what does not.  We still move while learning, especially math facts and spelling words, but I need to find other methods to use for abstract concepts and general remembering. 

Last summer I went to a 3-day Parent Practicum held by a local Classical Conversations group.  My reasons for going were two fold:

  1. I was curious about CC.
  2. The kids got 3 days of a summer activity that was educational and fun.

I am so glad I attended.  Here was a group of parents who were pushing their kids beyond the standard I saw most of those around me doing.  What they were doing is what I had been trying to do at home with our kids without any guide to follow.  They were taking an active role in what their kids were learning and asking them to do things I would never have considered possible.  I left that practicum with a renewed sense of what I wanted our kids to do.

Then George started Kindergarten at the local public school.

George had been in preschool at this same school from Day 3 of living with us, and did well in preschool.  We did have some concerns about how he would do in Kindergarten, so set up extra help before he even started.  He was able to spend time each day in a much smaller class with a teacher who knew him.   He was able to get extra review of what he just learned.  Due to his learning disability, review is a must.  Though George might learn something one day, there is no guarantee that he will remember it in an hour, or tomorrow, or on Friday.  He might know something three times, then forget it the next five.  Eventually he gets it, it just takes a bit longer and a lot more review.  

The biggest difference between preschool and Kindergarten was the focus.  Instead of a small class setting where everyone had individual goals, they were setting the challenges for a class of over 25 kids.

school supplies 2013

I really struggled for the first few months.  The homework they sent home was too much for him to do every night.  Every night ended in tears and frustration on both our parts. Aren’t parents and kids were supposed to finish Kindergarten still liking each other? Life became better.  We learned through what we happened to be doing at that moment, something we as a family do naturally.  At one point I gave up. We did not do any homework.  None at all.

After a few months, I began to think of alternative ways to do the homework and help George learn at home. After all, what example was I setting to say that he did not have to do his homework?  What would happen when he got older and actually had to complete assignments?

I began to think back to the CC Parent Practicum and how the kids there seemed able to do so much.  In my searching online for ideas, I also kept coming across blogs of families who homeschooled their kids using Classical Conversations.  How were they able to learn so many things every year?  Not only that, how were they able to retain it and recite it back?

Reward chart for learning New Testament Bible books 2

Hand motions, songs, and movement is what I noticed accompanied all of the recitation given by the kids.  These things also showed up in the suggestions for how to teach the lessons.  It was also something I remember them demonstrating to the parents last summer.  And come to think of it, this was the exact method I used to teach George and Jack the names of the 12 Disciples and the books of the New Testament.

Okay, I may be a bit slow, after all it took me over 6 months to get to this point, but I got there.  Not sure why I didn’t make the connection sooner.  Perhaps because I didn’t think about the method I used when I taught them the Disciples and NT books – I just did it.

George needed something beyond verbal reviewing and me drawing demonstrations of concepts. (i.e. the things that caused him to shut down, me become extremely frustrated because I knew he could do it, and we both ended up in tears.)

So where do I find what is needed for George and what he is learning in school?  The audio CDs and DVDs that go with the CC material had some of what he was learning, but there was a lot that was not related.

I began the search for CDs and songs that would match the topics the school was teaching him – I searched online, asked people, checked out teacher resources … nothing fit what I needed.  Back to the drawing board.

(I’m not sure if we just do more with our kids in this area, or maybe we just do not know the right people.  Either way, there was no one around me who does something similar with their kids so it took me a while to figure out exactly what it was I was looking for.  I actually got a lot of confused looks from parents when I asked which CDs of songs to help their kids learn some of the things from school.)

One week, George came home with a new thing he was supposed to learn.  In a moment where I was short on time and patience, I turned to the web.  That is when I found a YouTube video that explained everything.  In fewer words than I would have used.  AND it had pictures.

He got it!

The next day I began in earnest to search for videos to review what he had learned, videos to cover things he might learn, and videos to review things he already knew.  It took a while to put together a list of videos that weren’t too flashy, too loud, too long or too boring,  I was looking for catchy songs, quality videos, to the point lessons without a lot of fluff, and ones that he would also enjoy watching.

With these in hand, I was able to make a play list for George (and Jack) to listen to during breakfast … or lunch … or after school.  We can even listen to these in the car while running errands.  What took him months of saying over and over, yet not learning, he learned in two weeks.  TWO WEEKS!  Now he may still not be able to count by 2’s and still forgets what coin is what value, but he can count by 10’s to 100 down, tell you the days of the week, months of the year, and many other things.  Add this to the Starfall, Reading Eggs, and an online math programs we are doing and I think we are set at home to help him review and learn in a fun stress free way.

Now I count it as doing his homework if he can sing me the song or pick up where I leave off while singing it.  At random times through the day I may break into song (didn’t I say they were catchy?).  There are even times I catch him singing while playing or explaining something to someone.  YES!!

Some of these, like the one above, have been helpful when we are working on things like reading.  I can remind George of the rule by singing the first line of the corresponding song.  A much better method than nagging him.

Once I got the basic songs down I began to look for others that he may enjoy or that Jack would like.  Speaking of Jack, he too has learned a lot of the songs and can sing them.  He is prepped for Kindergarten when it is time for him to start.  Actally, a few of the videos are for him, as his brain works differently and has been able to grasps concepts that George still struggles with.  To help avoid bad behaviors due to being bored, I began to give him things that he would actually be doing if he were in Kindergarten already or about topics he finds interesting.

Here is my current list of songs.  As time goes on there will be more added to this.  What are some songs/videos not on this list that you have found helpful?

Jack loves saying, and I love hearing, “fundamental process”.  He even tries to give it an accent.

GARDENING (Science)

The Garden Song – not a fan of the “Mother Earth” sentence, but the rest is cute

Spring Songs for Children – Spring is Here with Lyrics – Kids Songs by The Learning Station

THE PHOTOSYNTHESIS SONG

Butterfly, Butterfly! (a song for kids about the butterfly life cycle) – Harry Kindergarten Music

 The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle – reading of the book and showing of illistrations

I Like the Flowers – by Beat Boppers Children’s Music

Let’s Plant a Garden – Nursery Rhyme

plant parts – the parts of a flower, sung to the “Head and shoulders, knees and toes” song

 

SCIENCE

Solar system

Solar System Lesson for Kids | Learn about Planets , Stars, Galaxy – a decsripition of the solar system, no songs

Animal (Classification) Song

4 Seasons In A year  – Harry Kindergarten Music – Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter – asks you to name the seasons as he describe them

Seasons Song: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter – video asks you to name the seasons they show


LANGUAGE

ABC’s

Phonics song

YouTube.com, really like

Between the Lions: “When two vowels go walking” by BTLfanatic – fun to watch youtube.com and also catchy just to listen to.

Super “e”!!!!!!! (hip children’s song by Mark D. Pencil) by harry kindergarten music

The Sentence Song With Miss Jenny / www.edutunes.com – a quick video and song, but a favorite of our preschooler

Punctuation Explained (by Punctuation!) – not flashy, but very clear and to the point

Kindergarten Sight Words

Classic Schoolhouse Rock : A Noun is a Person, Place, or Thing (1973)

 The Five W’s Song ♫♪♫

 

MATH

Shapes Song 2 – circle, square, triangle, rectangle, star, diamond, oval, heart, then some more advanced shapes.  May work for a review of shapes rather than a teaching of the shapes themselves.

3D Shapes I know (solid shapes song- including sphere, cylinder, cube, cone, and pyramid) – Harry Kindergarten Music

Good video to go with it – The Big Numbers Song (counting 0-100) 

Learning Numbers from 1 to 100 – Counting Song for Kids 

Counting by 5’s

Favorite – Counting by Tens – Barbara Milne

Count by tens song – also mentions money though a bit busy

Counting By Twos Song

count by 2- a sing-along for early elementary – Mr. R’s Songs for Teaching – a song that probably works best with the visual

Number Line Addition

Basic Addition

When You Add With A Pirate (addition song for kids)

Counting Song 1+1

Addition Songs for Children: Addition 1, Addition 2, Addition 3, Addition 4, Addition 5

Addition +1

Addition +2

VIDEO showing chart and explaining – 1st Flipped: Skip Counting

The Big Numbers Song for Children – Ep 6 

“Penny Your The One” Penny Counting Song (Money Math)

Coin Value Song- Pennies, Nickels, Dimes, Quarters! – Mr. R’s Songs for Teaching

The Coin Song

Money Song – fun video for once the kids know their coins and values

 

CALENDAR – DAYS, MONTHS

Days of the Week Song – 7 Days of the Week – Children’s Songs

Days of the Week Song

Months Of The Year Song

Kindergarten Time (Sun travel with words) – a visual display of the different times of day – tracks the sun across the sky from morning till night.  Has words telling the time of day but no audio.

 

GEOGRAPHY

The continent song – this has become a favorite bedtime song, as we can do it with me singing the first part and the kids doing the response.

 HISTORY

No More King! (Schoolhouse Rock!) – Pilgrims sailing across the ocean to leave the King of England behind

 

This post is linked up at:

Prudent Living on the Homefront

 

 

 

 

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Apr 102017
 

Schoola.com

To raise Tax Day spirits, Schoola is offering an early “return” at Schoola! April 10th through April 15th, buy 4 items and receive $15 in Schoola credit or buy 8 items and receive $25 in Schoola credit. It doesn’t end there! They are also offering See You In The Garden readers 40% off their order with code GET40.

Pair this up with the Free shipping on all orders over $25 at Schoola.com offer for an even better deals. (Keep reading for some other codes that may save you even more on top of these deals.)

Perfect timing! George has decided to edge up into the next size of pants, yet we are not quite into shorts weather.  I had hoped we would solidly be in warm weather clothes when he decided to do this.  Add to that, he has used his skills, yet again, to put holes in several of his pants.

We have had great results with Schoola in the past, and I was hoping to catch a good deal before reaching the point of buying new pants.  Seems my patience may have paid off.

Schoola

Knowing these clothes are preloved, the selection varies.  There is no guarantee that what you are looking for will be there today.  Thankfully, the search features are easy to use and you will know in a matter of a few minutes if they have what you are wanting.  If your kids are anything like mine, that is faster than they would be able to get their shoes on to drive to a store and shop for new clothes.

I’ll take checking the computer instead, thank you very much.

I also appreciate the description of the clothes, which I have found to be very honest in their assessment.  A few times they even noted flaws, though I could not see them on the computer nor when the item actually arrived at my house.

Additionally, if you are wondering where all the money goes for the clothes you paid for, well, 40% goes right back to the schools who donated the clothes.  How awesome is that?!  Personally, I like this fundraiser better than buying pizzas or candles or any of the other overprices items which I do not need.  Clothes? Clothes, especially for the boys, I always need!

Here are some other offers from Schoola which may still be available. You might be able to combine some of these deals for even greater savings:

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click a link and purchase something, a small portion will be returned to me. I hope you find what you need and are able to save a few dollars doing so.

Mar 162017
 

life is a series of experiences henry ford quote

This week finds us out of the house quite a bit.  So, I thought I would take the opportunity to look back at some posts from the past.

One thing that stuck out to me was the difference in weather between years, even though all these posts are from March.

Another theme I noticed is that I often posted about food.  That may have to do with the first things that stood out to me – the weather.

Soon it had been over three weeks and I had not even begun looking for a new stove or coming to a decision as to repair it.

Living Without An Oven – This phase was actually easier than I thought, though it did take some thinking.  We were also blessed, several months in, with a $1 toaster oven find at a local garage sale.  That toaster oven even moved with us, as I came to find it useful for different situations.

Once the warm weather comes, I would rather be focusing on outside rather than stuck inside doing these things.

30 Days, 21 Projects – It is amazing how all the little things around the house can be put off numerous times.  Suddenly, no matter where you turn there is something glaring at you that needs to be done.  Having a plan of attack, and a deadline, helps you realized the list is not never-ending.  It also gives you a sense of being in control rather than being controlled by your stuff.

I didn’t plant all the tomato seeds I had, but I got 75 of them started.

Weekly Goals – March 18, 2012 – Not only is it interesting to look back and see what was happening at this time in years past, but you may also be reminded of things you used to do and can do again.  While I will not be starting seeds indoors this spring, I hope to do it again in the future.  I also learned that I did not need 75 tomato seedlings.  Live and learn.

At first $4.30 didn’t seem like a lot to Mr. Arends, but by the end of the 6-weeks time frame, he had learned several lessons.

Comparing The Numbers – Before making statements about what can or can not be done, it is a good idea to take a look at the reality of your situation.

Last week he spent over 6 hours across several days working with cardboard and duct tape.

This Week in School, practical life skills – the above quote would be called a STEM activity in public school.  At home, it was called free time.  This post highlighted a season where Jack really did not respond well to sitting to learn.  While we were following Charlotte Mason’s methods, I had not fully implemented them, nor researched them.  So some items, like short lessons, were in play, there were other things I was learning on my own.  I am still not fully doing what she recommends, but we are getting closer.

Mar 082017
 

Schoola.com

Schoola has been a blessing to our family several times over the past few years. More than once I have been faced with the realization that a kid suddenly grew, and needed certain clothing items yesterday.  Sound familiar?

At these times I have been able to add to my kids’ wardrobes using without having to leave the house but utilizing Schoola’s site.  Not only did I save on gas and time, but the quality of clothing was good and the prices were not too high.

Once you reach Schoola’s site, they make it easy for you to find what you need.  You can sort through clothing by gender and size.  They also allow you to search according to price, clothing type, brands, color, condition, style, season, material, and more.

Once you have found what you are looking for, you may want to create a “collection”, if you know you are going to be needing the same thing often.  Perhaps you are looking for “girls short sleeve shirts in size 6”.  By creating a collection you will not have to input all the search criteria each visit, thereby saving you time on your search to save money.

Whether you are a new customer, or a returning one, you can save money on top of the already low prices!
Buy a like-new item at Schoola and get $20 in credit! Offer is valid 3/6 – 3/10/17. Exclusions apply.
Free shipping on all orders over $25 at Schoola.com.
50% off your first order with code FIRST50OFF at Schoola.com.

Are you so excited you can not keep the new to yourself?  Share it with a friend and you will both save even more.
Send a friend $10 off to shop the amazing deals on children’s clothes at Schoola.com and you’ll get $10 off too. Shop now!

This post contains affiliate links.

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 122017
 

This post contains affiliate links.
christmas-tree-baden-springs

Well, I finally did it.  I sent Christmas off to my niece and nephew … I mean Santa* will be delivering it in his shiny, new ride.

What? You did not know that Santa updated his ride to truck with a variety of letters written on the side (U P S, U S P S, F e d E x)?  Hmm. I must have not sent out the memo.

Well, he has updated AND he delivers at non-Christmas time if you are good enough … or have an aunt who happens to have moved over the holidays and is still living with only half her stuff out of boxes while also shopping for a house, conducting IEP meetings every few weeks, finding new doctors, buying a new-to-her car, figuring out new groceries stores, updating insurance, and other equally fun things.  Her kids were lucky to have a Christmas at Christmas as it was.

And why, do you ask, has Santa updated his ride?

Well, that is fairly easy to explain.  Because he has partnered with a site called Swagbucks to help his aunt save money while showing her love for her niece and nephews.  Everyone gets to have a nice warm fuzzy feeling that way.

And how does this aunt use Swagbucks to save?  Well, with activities like the one below. It is calorie free, I promise, so no worries about blowing your fitness resolutions.

Here’s another fun team challenge to help you earn SB from Swagbucks! For those of you who don’t know what Swagbucks is, it’s a website where you can earn cash back on everyday tasks you do online like shopping, answering surveys, discovering deals, and watching videos. You can even earn for searching the web!

If you’ve never tried Swagbucks before because you didn’t know where to begin, their Team Challenges are a great way to learn the ropes!  Last month I was able to learn new tips from others who had gone before me, earning 935 points for myself and over 3,000 for my team. (That may seem like a lot, but our high scorer for the team had way over 10x my team points.  That leave a lot of room for improvement.) I am not sure how next week’s will go, as there are some other things on my calendar to take care of as well.  

They have one themed around Valentine’s day – the Chocolate Dipped Team Challenge begins Monday, February 13th.

Here’s how you can join the challenge and the site:

1. Click here to join the challenge and be assigned to a team. Pre-registration is going on right now! If you don’t already have an account, you can sign up on this page as well.

2. Starting February 13th at 8am PT, in addition to earning SB you’ll contribute points to your teams total as you complete different activities on Swagbucks.

3. Check back on the page often to see the scores and what you’ve contribute so far. 

All members who participate and contribute at least 400 points to their team’s total will receive a SB bonus in the form of a SB Swag Up Rebate on their next gift card!

Not only that, but if you earn 300 SB before March 1st, you’ll get a 300 SB bonus (as long as you’ve signed up under me)!

Members of the 1st place team will receive a 50 SB Swag Up Rebate, members of the 2nd place team will receive a 25 SB Swag Up Rebate, members of the 3rd place team will receive a 10 SB Swag Up Rebate. Your SB Swag Up Rebate will be made available on Friday, February 17th and will expire on Tuesday, February 28th 11:59pm PT

*While we do not believe or celebrate Santa at our house, that is not true for all of our family members.  In this context, I am assuming you all know that he is not real and I am really talking about the mailman, but keeping things light and fun.

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!

Feb 062017
 


Adventures In Gardening yellow flower

This post contains an affiliate links and my honest experience with this particular product.

Taking chances is something gardening is all about.  It is what makes it an adventure.  Even if you never try a new technique or plant, you are taking a chance.  Gardening is not for the faint of heart.  Whenever you plant a flower, spread seeds, add a tree to your yard … you take a chance on the weather cooperating, the soil providing nutrients, deer not eating your plants … well, you get the idea.

During the 2014 spring season, I decided to take a chance on a new gardening product, Roll Out Flowers.  This particular product may not have been new to everyone else, but it was something I had not tried before.  I had heard of making plantable paper with seeds, of using damp paper towels to help spread small seeds evenly in areas, but never had I purchased such a product.  However, the kids were excited to try this and see the results.
front flower bed sunflower packet

The concept was simple, roll out the product and water.  In a given amount of times, flowers were supposed to appear.

As we lived in a place with almost constant breezes or gusts of wind, I added a bit of mulch to the top, helping hold it in place.  Later, more was added as the sun would quickly dry out the material otherwise.

I was tempted to bury it under a thin layer of mulch, but wanted to follow the directions as stated.

front flower bed may 6 2014

front flower bed 2 may 6 2014

The kids were so excited to see what would happen, checking every day to see if there were any new seeds.  Unfortunately, this method did not work for use.  Whether it was due to old seeds (I bought it during the off season) or the sun drying it out too much,  nothing sprouted from this material.  Eventually it was removed from the flower bed and replaced with other traditional seeds.

I have tried the same method with other products, and other flower types, with some success.

Have you tried this product or similar?  What results did you end up getting?

Jan 232017
 

This post contains affiliate links.
5-love-languages-of-children-clean-edgeThere are few books I read during my college years that still stick with me even to this day.  Most were academic in nature, things that I learned but did not affect me personally.  However, during that time I learned about the 5 Love Languages.

How I responded to actions and comments from friends and acquaintances, as well as how I acted towards them, began to change as I began to see them in a new light.  Up till then, I had not even realized my helping set up for a meeting or my willingness to go with them somewhere was how I expressed love.  I had assumed it was the thoughtful thing to do and that everyone did it.

I was wrong.

I learned it was how I showed and received love.  It was the form that spoke strongest to me personally.

Once my  husband and I met, it helped both of us to know our preferred love language.  While our languages are different, we are able to express our feeling in the way the other is most likely to receive it best.  We are also able to give grace when we realize they are not giving us what we need at the moment, because they do not always think the way we do.

While my husband may not always bring me flowers, he does do the dishes at times, or helps clean the kitchen.  Those are the times I feel like he is spoiling me.  He is speaking my language.

When we walk or go somewhere, we hold hands or sit close, and my husband greatly appreciates this. I am speaking his language.

Without knowing these things about ourselves and our spouse, we could have been spinning our wheels sitting in the same room together watching our favorite movies and sending heart felt cards to each other, yet never feeling truly loved.

When we added to our family, we both knew we needed to find our children’s love languages.  The problem was, how?

How do you figure out the love languages of your children when they can not even talk?  Are they the same as the languages of adults?  Are they expressed in the same way?  Do they have a primary language and a secondary language, and do they stay the same as they grow older?

Enter The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell. The first parts of the book talk about why the showing love is so important in your relationship with your children.  Then a chapter is devoted to each of the various love languages.  If you have never read these books, practice a form of parenting or working with children that has not taken into account what is going on inside them, or are beginning your journey with kids, you will want to spend time in the beginning of this book, considering why this is important.

child shredding zucchini with border

It was interesting to see how these languages are felt and expressed differently in the lives of our children.  Touch, for example, may not mean holding your child’s hand like it would your spouse.  Instead, it might mean touching their back as you walk past them at the dinner table or picking them up to hold them in your lap.  Time might be shown in helping with homework or playing a game.

These love language explanations are followed by the chapter I had been waiting for – Discovering Your Child’s Love Language. Now I could figure out if I needed to keep rubbing George’s back or if Time was his main one and we should bake more together.  Did Jack appreciate me playing games with him or should I continue to do the soft touches on his arms when he sat on my lap? The conclusion?  I should keep doing all of them.

As it turns out, children’s language may change over time.  They do not have a primary one, though they might respond to various languages at different developmental stages.  So, while I will keep rubbing George’s back and playing with his hair (one way we found to almost instantly calm him down), I will keep baking with him and sitting near him for homework.

To be effective in discipline, parents must keep the child’s emotional love tank filled with love.

The next chapters of the 5 Love Languages of Children cover topics related to learning to love your children effectively which I had not thought so much about – Discipline, Learning, and Anger.

I have been told over and over, through our many (foster) parenting classes and books read, discipline is not always a negative thing.  It does not always mean punishment, but instead means guidance and teaching.  It comes from a place of love, not a place of anger and annoyance.  Sometimes easier said than done.  However, I personally have noticed a change in my kids when I make sure to love on them more, or take a deep breath before addressing the situation.  Sometimes a hug or verbal reminder is all they need – “I am right here. Please lower your voice.”  Other times, they do need firm reminders of expected behaviors.  The balance is a tough one to keep at times.

At night time, Jack is still in need of close physical presence, he prefers at least line of sight to an adult; even after 5 years, he does not feel safe.  It had improved to the point of me being able to sit in the living room “drinking coffee”, out of his sight, while he went to sleep; then we moved and progress went backwards at least a year.  I got really annoyed at him last night for disobeying and not staying in bed, responding harsher than I should have.  Once I realized his need and got past my “this is how it should be” thinking, things got better and we all slept (albeit two hours after he his bed time).

One point they make, and where I think some parents go wrong, even I at times, is to make requests instead of commands.  I understand saying “please” always is better then “go do ____”.  Where I used to go wrong, and where I hear other go wrong is saying, “Do you want to go brush your teeth?”  instead of “Please, go brush your teeth.”  The first is truly asking them if they want to or not, so do not get mad if they say “no” and keep playing.  One of my kids would take that question at face value then wonder why you are getting mad at him when he says he does not want to go.  The other child would understand that you really are telling him to go brush his teeth.  When wording something as a request, make sure you are willing to accept a true answer and not just the result you are wishing to obtain.

The same literal child above was reminded last week, that it was time to go and he needed to put on shoes.  The second time I said the same sentence with out any acknowledgment of hearing me I reworded the request into a statement: “We are leaving whether you  have on your shoes or not.  If you do not want your socks to get wet, you need to put on your shoes.” He was over putting on his shoes almost immediately.  No threats, but straight forward fact about the consequences of not doing what was asked.  

Parents who do not take time to speak the five love languages, but simply seed to meet a child’s physical needs, are neglecting her intellectual and social development.

We have seen the results of this in our children.  When they first came to us, their emotional ages were several years behind where they should be.  It was hard to teach them anything as they did not trust us, were hyper-vigilant, etc.  They were focused on surviving and had no mental energy left for learning.

Over time, they have learned to calm down some.  However, they are still anxious.  Anything taught to them during these times may as well be taught to a brick wall.  Their emotional ages,while improving, are still about a year behind, depending external factors and what exactly you are asking them to do (change in schedule vs. deal with a difficult person vs. doing something they would prefer not to be doing, etc.).

The last of these three – love and anger, was a chapter that unfortunately I really needed to read.  With all the changes going on in our home, emotions have been running high.  Anxiousness, sadness, happiness, excitement, nervousness, shyness, uncertainty … all these emotions mixed in with having to schedule appointments, set up services, start new school/church, continue home schooling, leaving an old job, learning a new job, finding your way around a new town, leaving friends, meet new friends, gather paperwork, organize chaos, decide what to keep and what to get rid of, finishing up activities around the house … well, honestly it leads to many days where sadly not everyone responds in the most appropriate of ways.  I see myself referencing back to this chapter in the upcoming months and days, as I am the one to set the example for my kids, helping them walk a path of appropriate handling of anger.

The last two chapters were aimed at the parents reading this book, either single or married.  They covered various aspects of parenting, of being parents, and how it relates to our children and their love/growth.  These chapters held encouragement and tips for creating a solid foundation in us and those around us.

Finally, at the end of the book were several resources: an epilogue, notes from chapters, and The Mystery Game for parents to play with their kids in order to help them determine the child’s love language.

begin to build bat house collage

One of the things I have liked best about this book are the practical examples and solutions presented. These examples helped me visualize what was being talked about, seeing ways to apply it in our home.

Another aspect I appreciated is actually something that is missing – a new parenting style.  The point of the book seemed to focus more on the relational side of parenting your children, rather than telling you how to raise them.

If you have previously read another version of The 5 Love Languages, then you will see some repeat, especially in the first few chapters.  The parts I found to be different or specific were the application area, or how it is expressed.

In the end I was glad I read this book.  It is a great addition to some of the other parenting books we have read and our (imperfect) method of parenting.  The 5 Love Languages of Children was also a great encouragement to keep moving forward even if we are not perfect in our parenting, especially because we are not.