Aug 092017
 

Summer break.  A time away from public school.  A time to visit the public pool, the library, various parks in the area … yeah, I had great and wonderful plans.

How many of them turned out? Well, let’s not go there right now.

Something George’s teacher sent home at the end of last school year as a pack of papers.  His OT even send home ideas he could work on.  These were great, and would fit in easily to my plans for a simplified home school/summer school.

I was organized.  Truly.  Each kid had a bind of work to do, a sheet at the beginning saying what needed done that day, etc.  In all, it should have taken us less than an hour a day.  Should have.

Even if things did not turn out like I had them planned, they could have gone worse.  Not exactly optimistic thinking is it?

I have learned over the years to not beat my head against a brick wall if I do not have to.  Though it might take several hits for me to be reminded, I do get there.  Here is one great example:

This is a simple enough worksheet. Or so I thought.  George was to work on this page one day.  I should have taken, oh, 10 minutes.  2 or 3 days later I decided that God gave George his own way of looking at things and I was not going to let a worksheet squelch that trait.

Here is how things were going…during Week 1:

Me – George, for each line there is one item that does not go with the others.  When you find that word, write it on the line to the right.

Already, we are at Problem #1 – George’s reading skills are a bit behind.  While I thought this could be independent work while I read aloud to Jack, it turned into him needing clarification on almost every word.

Problem #2 – even if he figured out the word, he would have to write it out.  Writing takes a lot of effort for him, sometimes he uses creative spelling even if the work is right there, and he gets upset about it and wants to give up immediately.

Solution #1a – “Try your best and I’ll go over the ones you don’t know when I am done with Jack.” Yeah, like that is going to work. Silly me.  He lasted 10 seconds before declaring he didn’t know any of the words and chose to play with his toys. Right. In. Front. Of. Us. While I am trying to get Jack to follow what I am reading. While I am trying to get Jack to sit still.

Solution #1b – “Go play in your room and we will work on this when I am done.” 20 seconds later he is back out again, walking in circles around us.

Solution #1c – “If you do not leave this room right now, your brother is going to get to pick all the movies for the rest of the day.  Now get a book and go. to. another. room. (For further clarification) As in, not where we can see you.”

Once I finally was able to give George my full attention I tackled the second problem.

Solution #2 – “Don’t worry about writing it out.  Just circle it.”

Okay, so now we were off and running.  I sat trying to do paperwork while George asked about 90% of the words.  I leaned over to check his work at one point and asked for clarification.

Me – For #4, why did you write that rain did not belong?

George – Wind can blow around sleet and snow. Sleet and snow are both cold. Wind can be cold too.

Me – Um, okay. What are sleet and snow exactly.  Is rain or wind similar to them in that way?

 

Me – For #9, why did you say coral did not belong?

George – The rest are animals.

Me – Well, that is true. Is there any other way the to make some of the words relate to each other?

 

Me – For #10, why did you write that a ‘kite’ did not belong in the group?

George – Because a cactus grows in sand and you can carry sand in a bucket.

 

At this point, I gave him a hug, told him he could be done with the worksheet, and to go play.

See, none of his answers were necessarily wrong, they were only not the ones the authors were going for.  Most people would see that “sleet, snow, and rain” belong together because they are precipitation, “anenemone, coral, and octopus” belong together due to them being in the ocean, and “sand, bucket, and kite” belong together because you play with them at the beach.

George’s brain doesn’t work that way.  I tried to lead him there.  I was painful.  So painful.  He was frustrated because he just could not see where I was trying to go.

Our relationship is more important than a worksheet aimed at getting him to think like the author wants him to.

No worries, I am not just letting him get by without learning, but there are other ways than worksheets to teach this concept.

May 192017
 

Kid in Library

With summer looming very close in front of us, one of the items on my non-gardening to-do list involves signing up for various summer reading programs.  This is also a great reminder to keep participating in other reading programs that are not season oriented.

One of my highest goals for our kids, to love reading.

Participation in summer reading challenges is one of the ways we use to hopefully create kids who turn into young adults who love to read. My thinking is that if they can read, they can learn anything.  They can also travel to places otherwise unavailable to them.

In addition to your local library’s reading program, here are a few more you can check out.  (Pun intended.)

Meatheads Burgers currently offers the Voracious Readers reading program during all seasons.  There is no guarantee that this program will continue, so make use of it while it is here.  The kids love being able to order their own burgers and ‘pay’ for them with the certificate they earned by reading books.

 

book cover 2

From the website:

The Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program is here to help you on your way, encouraging you to read books of your own choosing and earn a FREE book, simply by following these three easy steps:

1. Read any eight books this summer and record them in your Summer Reading Journal (English or Español).

2. Tell us which part of the book is your favorite, and why.Bring your completed journal to a Barnes & Noble store between May 16th and September 5th, 2017. Find a Store

3. Choose your FREE reading adventure from the book list featured on the back of the journal.

My kids are excited about being able to choose from the books and have already selected the ones they want to work towards.  I love the fact that they are excited to be reading.

 

Download Now!

Books-a-million’s 2017 Summer Reading Program runs now through August 16th.  As the image above shows, read 4 books from their Reading Challenge secelction, fill out the form and return to receive a free Maze Runner series water bottle.  Click here to find a store near you.

There are book selection for both kids and teens.  The Kids’ selections online are not easy readers, so you may have to help your young reader choose something appropriate (or maybe read aloud to them).


Half Price Books’ summer reading program for kids 14 (or 8th grade) and under is for June and July.

Once you’ve read 300 minutes, turn in your completed log to earn HPB Bookworm Bucks.   By August 31, cash in your HPB Bookworm Bucks in store for books, music, movies & games.- Half Price Books bookmark

While 300 minutes may seem like a large amount, it works out to just 10 minutes a day for 30 days.

If you need ideas for young ones, they have put together a list of Alphabet books as well as books for even younger ones. You are encouraged to read aloud to your kids if needed.

LifeWay R.E.A.D. - Summer Reading Program 2017

Join us on our 2017 Summer Reading Quest with Bibleman, June 1 to Aug. 31. We want to help you and your family promote the love of reading in your home as well as encouraging the love of God’s Word through reading His Scripture. This program is geared toward grades 1 through 6, but all are welcome to join in the adventure.

Read six books over the course of the summer and memorize six Scripture verses. Then, turn in a completed summer reading journal at your local LifeWay store to earn a free book and a new free Bible.

Join them in-store for a Kickoff Party May 26-27 to receive your FREE Summer Reading Program Journal, Bookmark and Pencil. At that time you will also be able to purchase books from the recommended reading list at 40% off!

Turn in your reading journals by August 31, 2017

Read 10

For every 10 books you read, we’ll give you one free*. What’s the catch? You just have to write a short report telling us: 1. Your name and age 2. The title and author of the book 3. Why you liked or disliked the book You can even include drawings. When you’ve finished your 10 book reports, bring them to your favorite Bookmans and we’ll reward you with a free book for all that hard work.  – Bookman’s Programs Page

Bookman’s Entertainment Exchange has locations in Arizona.  While many of you may not live or visit these areas, it is a great example of finding a reading program at a location you may not have thought to look.  We visited a Bookman’s a few years ago, while in the Tuscon area on vacation, and loved it.  The initial reason for going was to attend their story time, as we were looking for things to do with 4 little boys  under 4 (we had nephews along with us).  While the kids were listening to the story, I got to indulge myself (my husband was with the kids) and look through a large selection of used books.  We came away with several classics for a very reasonable price.  I probably would have bought more, but we were flying home, so space was limited.

There is also a Kid’s Club, which offers enrolled kids a discount on books, as well as sending them a gift certificate on their birthday.

*The free book come in the form of a $10 certificate to be used in the store. I could not find the information online, but a call to one of their stores confirmed they are still doing this program

mcalendars

Chuck E. Cheese is a restaurant I did not grow up living near.  However, there was a time or two that we went for a party and I always had fun going.  With George and Jack being on the young side, and easily overwhelmed, we have not gone before.

I was surprised to find that they offer a very diverse reward program.  Fill out one of the calendars, bring it in, and earn 10 free tokens.  Their calendars are one that will help you form good habits in your kids and include the following calendars: reading, picking up your room, doing homework first, no picking your nose, daily chores, and more.  In all, they have 15 different calendars to choose from.  Additionally they have other awards you can earn and redeem for 10 free tokens.

A food purchase may be required to receive your tokens.

“Book Adventure is a fun, free way to motivate your child to read! Kids in grades K-8 can search for books, read them offline, come back to quiz on what they’ve read, and earn prizes for their reading success.” – Book Adventure website

We have yet to participate in Book Adventure, as our kids have been too young previously.  Their prizes page does include some unique items that the kids can earn points toward.  Teachers can also set prizes for their classes.

summer-reading-challenge

“The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge is a free online program designed to motivate and excite your kids around reading books this summer. Kids can log the minutes they spend reading, play games, earn virtual rewards, and enter sweepstakes, all in an effort to set a new reading world record for summer 2015!” – Scholastic Reading Challenge

Scholastic’s 2017 Summer Reading Challenge begins May 8 and ends September 8.

“During the summer months, DoD-MWR Libraries around the world will host a range of free activities for children, teens, and adults that encourage and support a love of reading. Participants also can earn incentives by reaching their reading goals.”

If you do not live near a base or libray on base, there is also a Virtual Summer Reading Program available.

 

Keep an eye out for the following programs this summer:

Kids can earn $10 with our Summer Reading Program.

TD Bank had a summer reading program in 2016, which rewarded readers with money in their bank accounts for reading so many books.  They have not said yet whether they will do it again in 2017.

 

 

May 032017
 

god made rainy days quote

I should be mowing the yard ahead of the rain.

I should be planting beans ahead of the rain.

I should be making sure everything is in order outside, ahead of the rain.

I should be grocery shopping ahead of the … no wait.  I need to shop because we are almost out of milk.

What I am doing is paying bills … not ahead of the rain, but because they are due. A much better reason than the rain.

While doing so I emailed a question to our insurance person, which then led to me “clearing out a few emails”.  You know how the rest goes.

What I came across was something I thought might interest a few of you – it is not gardening related, but a free offer that might help you in your parenting or working on school with your kids.  No looonnnnngggg drive required.

From May 8 – 23, the GHC is offering a free online home school convention for parents of 5-12 year olds. (They are not going to card you, so if your kids are out of that age range, you are still welcome to “attend”.)

“But I am not  a home schooling parent. I have absolutely no interest in home schooling.”

That may be true, but there are several talks which may interest you anyway.  I find that these are not only useful in the schooling we do at home, but also in helping with homework and parenting in general.

There are two options for this online convention:

  1. The FREE option which allows you to see a session for up to 2 days.  If that does not seem like enough time, the second option may appeal to you.
  2. Get Lifetime-All Access for $99.  The talk will be available to you at your convenience, as well as having access to pdf summaries of all convention sessions.

The GHC online convention website outlines which talks are happening on each day, with Sundays having a break, which will help you plan your time wisely.  They also offer more information on each talk and the attendance options available.

I have not attended this online version before, but look forward to seeing how it compares to the in person one we attended a few weeks back.  While the session offerings are not a diverse, the convenience and price can not be beat.

 

May 022017
 

broken concrete in driveway

Has it really been 3 years since I put these thoughts out there?  Wow! 
It is interesting to reread the insecurity we felt in taking this step, even though we felt it was the right one to take.  I am so glad we did and have no regrets.  He is responding so well to this learning environment.  While it was not a solution to all his struggles, and there are new ones as there are with any journey one travels to become a more mature person, it had defiantly helped.

Every time something new goes on here with the construction, I feel bad that Jack is not here to see it.  George too, but Jack is more into construction stuff than George.

That is no longer going to be an issue, as come Monday, Jack will not be going to the public school for Kindergarten.  We have decided to try homeschooling him for various reasons, part of it being the hope that with one-on-one attention and more time with Mommy and Daddy we can address some issues related to his past.

After talking with someone who has more experience in the area of early childhood trauma, and asking if homeschooling was a completely unadvised option or if it could be a possibility, I was advised to be careful of homeschooling as “the emotional attachment right now between you and him is more important than his education.”  They meant that we should not let being his ‘teacher’ come before being his ‘Mom’, that the stress of teaching should not get in the way of strengthening our attachment.

That evening I repeated to my husband what I was told, reminded him of how much better Jack was last Spring when it was me and him, and that we still had the stuff we used when we supplemented George and Jack’s schooling over the summer.  We were pretty sure what we were going to do, but he said he really would like to ask someone else’s opinion or get some been-there-done-that advice.

book I am

All the homeschoolers I know near us have ‘typical’ kids, none with beginnings like our kids.  So I turned to a group of foster parents I know and asked their advice.  Everything I heard back was encouraging, especially on the part of getting the attachment and security down before focusing too much on academics.

One mom even said what were were thinking, “If that is what is needed during this season, then do it.  Life may change and the next season may not need him to be home for school.”

That night we decided to take him out of school, where he was just not ready to be, and keep him home.  At some point we may change our minds again, but we feel this is the place we need to be at right now.

This is the main thought my husband finally came to, and one I have been feeling for a while but was unable to put into words – if kids are not emotionally in the right place (or if they are continuing to experience triggers), learning will not happen to the best of their abilities; you will be fighting the current to get ahead.

book I am a

This interview, done during the Attachment & Trauma Network’s Educating Traumatized Children Summit 2014 between Anna Paravano, MS, ATN Education Director and Christine Moers, Therapeutic Parenting Coach,  says very much how we are feeling right now:

“… one of the things that I tried to help parents grasp that it took me a while to get and really absorb it was that children with a history of traumatic events, abuse, neglect, neurological struggles, mental health issues – there are some gaps, in particularly kids who have experienced early childhood trauma. There are gaps in their development. They either miss stages because of what was going on, or the things that did happen. They’ve got skills that are underdeveloped that a lot of other kids got. Those first couple of years of life and they need that first, period. And being therapeutic with them and creating a safe space for them to heal, we are re‐parenting them through those gaps…. And if I can help my kids get through and start to parent through those gaps and create this space over and over and over again, the academics are going to come.”

Also:

“In addition, many of these children have difficult times allowing themselves to trust and attach with their parent or care‐giver and end up needing more time, not less, with these key individuals to help them grow and heal. For these reasons and more, home schooling can provide the answer parents and care‐givers need for the educational piece for of the child’s life puzzle.”

But what about learning, it has to happen right?

“My goal as a teacher is to teach my children how to find information and I keep that as… And if they can grasp that, and we can connect and attach and practice love, they can always find their way through life and they always know who to call, “Mom, I think I would like to do this and I’m not sure where to start,” “Well hold on, let’s look up some resources.””
“And again because we should always be learning – adults can always learn, it’s always there and it has helped me to breathe and remember what is most important for my children now. And I encourage all parents regardless of their schooling situations to remember that too.”

IMG_20140907_164139230

So what about George?  He seems to be doing fine in public school.  It provides the structure and social setting he needs.  A large part of this is due to how we have his day set up there.  Advocating for your child’s educational needs happens no matter the setting of said education.

Talking about different needs in different season, George’s education from year to year has never looked the same.  We started with him in Early Childhood (preschool) in the morning, followed by Head Start (preschool) in the afternoons.  It was a long day, but he was immersed in structure and enrichment.  There was also consistency and encouragement.  All things he needed during a time of emotional upheaval.

As the year came to an end, we realized the following year would not need as much out-of-home support, so we pared down to just Early Childhood (preschool) and I got to spend more one-on-one time with him.  (Jack was in preschool at this point.)

Then Kindergarten was getting ready to happen.  We worked with his EC teachers to set up a routine that we hoped would enable him to succeed, or at least not get left behind.  This involved having him attend Kindergarten for half the day, then return to the EC classroom for the other half.  He would get the extra support in Kindergarten, but in a smaller setting with fewer distractions and at a slower pace.  Thankfully several other friends of his did the same thing, so he never realized it may not have been the ‘normal’ way.

At the end of the Kindergarten year, there were still weak places in his learning.  He had struggled and pretty much given up on the reading front.  Over the summer we continued working on reading, but in a different fashion and not sitting and reading.  He played games and had fun with words and letters.  I am not sure if it clicked finally, or if it was the relaxed atmosphere, but he ended the summer about where he should have been at the beginning of it.  Math, however, took a bit more time and desperation on my part before we figured it out for him.

If you remember, George also deals with apraxia, which affects his speech, and is now almost unnoticeable to those outside the family.  It also seems to affect his learning style and the ability to retain information.  After 2 years of Early Childhood and 1 year of Kindergarten/EC, we think we are starting to figure out the pattern and his style.  This has helped a lot in 1st grade, though he still has to work harder and some things are just downright struggles.

We can also pretty much predict the causes of the few minor behavioral issues he may present.  This helps in avoiding those issues and making his day easier.  Thankfully, George has two things going for him that aide a lot in his success.  1. God made him a talker.  Even when he could not get his words out or think of the right one, he was determined to make you understand.  And before he even ‘found’ his words, he would jabber and jabber as if you could completely understand him.  2. He is a friendly kid, ready with a smile and to be your friend.

Again, do what works for the season you are in.

Okay, so back to homeschooling.  I told George that he could also join in on some of the extras, like learning about the stars (nature study/science) and learning new songs, but that all the other stuff he was already learning at school so he did not need me to reteach him.  He was thrilled with this arrangement and excited for the change.  In reality, with his homework and how we do it, he already gets a lot of extra support from here at home and I did not want to make it more official than it already is.

Sandbox

Here are a few more things I found while looking online:

RESPONDING TO CHILDHOOD TRAUMA: THE PROMISE AND PRACTICE OF TRAUMA INFORMED CARE

“Children are not “little adults,” and it becomes clear, once the process of development is understood, that they are more vulnerable than adults to trauma – whether such trauma occurs in the community or, unfortunately, even in the name of “treatment.”
“Trauma informed care also involves seeking to understand the connection between presenting symptoms and behaviors and the individual’s past trauma history. “

How To Thrive As An Adult After Childhood Trauma – K Expert on Kirsty TV

Helping Foster and Adoptive Families Cope With Trauma – “The purpose of this guide is to support adoptive and foster families by strengthening the abilities of pediatricians to: 1) identify traumatized children, 2) educate families about toxic stress and the possible biological, behavioral, and social manifestations of early childhood trauma, and 3) empower families to respond to their child’s behavior in a manner that acknowledges past trauma but promotes the learning of new, more adaptive reactions to stress.”

This PDF was relatively short but did have a few good, basic tables showing how certain stresses may manifest themselves in behavior and academic related ways.  There were a few behaviors that I saw which I had never associated with stress, I thought they were just bad habits.  So, while this pamphlet may not have been a thorough study on trauma and children, it was a quick look and a good first place to start for someone who is beginning their process or for pediatricians to begin talking with their patient.

Linked up at:

   

Prudent Living on the Homefront
Apr 252017
 

Alexander Hamilton book

It is Tuesday.  Not Monday.  Yes, I am aware of that and gave myself enough guilt about it yesterday.  However, it is Tuesday and not Wednesday, so that is saying something.  Right?

This past weekend included a llloooooooooooooonnnngggggggggg gggg  ggggg drive (do I need more g’s to make the point?) to a homeschool conference.  The original plan was to leave Thursday morning, with my husband taking two days off work, drop the kids off at my parents, and allowing my husband and I to have a restful weekend away together.

What happened was, and I promise there is a point to this beyond whining:

  • my husband’s job moved a meeting to a week and a day which it was not originally planned for
  • resulting in us not leaving Thursday morning, but Thursday evening instead.
  • I drove, which is not our norm on long trips, because I knew my husband had worked a full day and was tired. (He did drive the last few hours.)
  • We met up with my parents several hours past the kids’ bedtime, with the last point making the trip a very hard one along the way.
  • By the time we got to our hotel, it was past midnight.

I was able to get about 4 hours of sleep that night, resulting in the realization that my body was not past the point of being stressed.*  Yet.  I felt icky Friday (tired and nauseous), but had a day of talks ahead of me.  Knowing the reason for feelings helped me address them.  What it did not do was take away the feelings themselves.

Friday night I slept horribly, being awake from about 3 am – 5 am, then sleeping fitfully for 2 hours.  So much for getting a good night’s sleep.

Saturday came, I kept going, knowing that moving, eat small snack throughout the day, and not dwelling would help getting past the physical reactions.  This allowed me to figure out if I was actually feeling tired or hungry; I am amazed at how they can feel the same if you are both very tired and very hungry.  Taking the edge off really helped.

Saturday night, I had another plan:

  • I passed visiting with my  husband’s former college roommate (and new baby) in order to rest
  • reduced the nauseous feelings
  • and ate something high in protein, thereby setting myself up for a solid night sleep.

It worked!

By Sunday morning I was feeling … better.  I could not wait to get home though.

We still had a 7+ hour drive home, including picking up the kids and visiting a bit with my parents.

The drive home was actually one of the best ever with the kids.

We had no electronics – partly planned (no personal devices were packed), partly not (both of the dvd players, our “half-way there” treat, decided not to work).  What we did have were books on tape, audio dramas, snacks, and activity bags.  We also had kids who were tired from 3 fun filled days at the grandparents.

It was while listening to one of our books on tape, Parables From Nature by Margaret Gatty, that I realized I too have room to learn. Chapter 7, called “Waiting”, is specifically what I am speaking about.

In this chapter, Mole tells the House Crickets that sitting around bemoaning their issues do no good.

Every animal has a purpose. Yours is to wait for the sun to rise.  That is what you should be doing.  Anticipating the sun rise.  Once it goes down, then you find a snug place to stay till it is time to do your job again.

(quote not word for word)

Add that to something my husband shared from learning at the conference, that worry is feeling tomorrow’s emotions today.

I had been bemoaning and worrying, even if I thought perhaps I had not been.  This also goes to show why I feel better when I would get up and actually do something, taking my mind of how I was feeling and focusing on something else (walking, birds, gardening, solar lights, garden layouts, starting a garden … you get the idea).

Once we were home, a new board game was set up (Risk: Star Wars edition) and the boys, big and little, played while I tried to create some kind of order out of the chaos which comes from cleaning out the car from a long weekend away.

Monday morning came, I enjoyed a cup of tea on the back deck while listening to the morning birds.  My bemoaning and worry began to wash away, reminding me of the purpose and job I have to do right now … not the potential feelings of tomorrow or wonderings of why things for us are not like they are for others.

bird scared away from feeders waiting to return

The giveaway for Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life has closed.  Anita Yancy’s name was selected by Random.org as the winner.  

*After a while of contemplating, part of me began to wonder if the stress my body was feeling was not only due to being tired and the change of traveling, but also remembering our trip to this conference last year.  On that particular trip, we had a foster child with us, one who had not gone on trips with us before and was only a year younger then Jack.  It was a lesson for everyone involved.  We learned that a larger age gap is needed, due to the emotional needs of our kids, if we ever choose to foster again.

 

This post contains some affiliate links.  If you click on them and purchase something, I will receive a small percent back.

Aug 202016
 

school lessons learned again

A new school year brings new lessons, even if it is something you have done several times before.  Situations change. People change.  The phase of the mood moon changes. There is always a lesson or two waiting in to be learned.  Here are a few from our first day of school(s) yesterday.

In preparation:

1. Do not ladle hot pudding into plastic containers. They will melt.

2. Donut holes covered in honey is a yummy breakfast.

3. The habit of a morning routine is great.  No, they had not gotten it down, without reminders, all summer long even though you did it Every. Single. Morning.  No, they will not miraculously suddenly start doing it just because you now have a 5-times weekly appointment to get to at 8 a.m. (any opinions on this book?)

melted plastic containers

Actual school day:

1. You do reach a point where you do not cry when leaving your child at school, for better or worse. Maybe on a day where you feel less stressed (cast iron tub issues, home remodel, kids’ trauma issues and ADHD clashing, and more anyone?) you will remember exactly what it is you have done, making up for the lack of tears. For now, though, it’s all good. Your social bug is excited/nervous to be back in the throng of so many people to talk to. Constantly. Even with a speech issue, though most do not notice it now.  Boy oh boy, God sure did make this one a talker. He must have some sort of plan for him, or else this is one big double-edged thorn in his side. Love him to pieces.

2. On the way home you realize that you did yourself a favor by starting your home school year 1.5 weeks early (the first few days will be light days) and including a walk to the library on the first day of school.

3. Timers are wonderful things. You work till it goes off, then switch to the next thing.

4. Putting off the start of the school day till after the floors are swept and vacuumed makes you feel less of a failure as a homemaker when you look up between lessons.

5. Tests are not evil things. It is okay to see where your child is in order to know what you need to focus on. That does NOT have to mean bubble sheets and hour long sitting sessions. FYI: part if our tests involved markers and oral descriptions. I had to sigh at the addition of Light Sabers to the map.

6. Remember your clip boards?  Yeah, remember your clip boards and get them out to use. 😉

Afterwards:

1. (leftover) Donut holes are a great after school snack for the ever hungry kid.

2. At bedtime, kids will still be nervous for the second day of school, even if the first day went well.

3. It is okay to only mow 1/4 of the yard at a time.  You do what you can when you can.  However, next time, remember to put the downspouts back on so you do not have to get out of bed and run out in a downpour at 10 p.m. to put them back on.  It may be said that washing you hair with rainwater is a good thing, but I really could have done without the soaking wet clothes that went along with the experience.

4. Remember the “timers are wonderful things” mentioned above?  Well, that goes for setting your alarm to pick up your kid from public school as well.  Especially on the first day of school when they had early release.

In all, this was a great first day of school.  Even with a light school day at home I was reminded of the need for sensory input, mainly along the deep muscle and vestibular kind.

We made it on time for George in the morning.  Earlier this week we had gone to the school and found his homeroom, as well as another class he will frequent, and his locker.  This simple step make a world of difference to him, taking away one unneeded worry.  At bedtime, he told me, in his Grown-Up-3rd-Grader voice, that I would not need to walk him in for the second day; he knew where everything was and could find it.  (I think he has a fear of being lost and not knowing how to get where he is going.)

So, I will let go on this one and allow him to do it himself.  Of course, on day 3/4/5/115 he might change his mind and I will be there to offer the support he needs.  After all, is that not why we are here?  To help them grow into confident, independent, knowledgeable adults?  Well, that is our hope at least.

This post contains affiliate links.

Aug 192016
 

fly

Just to clarify, we did not take advantage of the offer advertised above, but it seems my husband was considering it.

As part of our new school year, I am making it a point to celebrate various holidays (official or not) throughout the year.  As it so happens, the second day of school finds us celebrating the first one on the list – National Aviation Day.  It also happens to be the 145th birthday of a famous aviator.  Even if your knowledge of aviation history is left wanting, the name Orville Wright may ring a few bells.

Born on August 19, 1871, Orville and his brother Wilbur created the first flying machine.  While hot air balloons were already in use, these flying machines were “heavier than air, self-propelled, and controllable.

As one who has used the very handy machines to travel to the other parts of the world several times, I am thankful for their dedication and persistence in finding solutions to the challenges of flight for us wingless creatures.

If you are finding yourself at a loss for ideas to help Orville celebrate his birthday, NASA put together a list last year of 10 ways they like to celebrate National Aviation Day.  Perhaps one of them will give you an idea.

As today is our second day of school, a field trip to a local aviation museum was planned. What better way to start the new school year?  Jack suggested we wait a day so the whole family could go together.  I guess we will be sending belated birthday wishes.

In the mean time, I think an introduction to model building is in order.  These kits look like they could be good places to start. We have done brick building before, with Legos and other brands, so I am thinking we will try a wooden model this time.  However, the Lego kit looks awfully tempting.

                    

Another idea are paper airplanes.  These are easy to make, can be made anywhere with limited supplies, yet require a sense of flight and aerodynamics that comes with practice.  When the kids were younger I found a copy of The World Record Paper Airplane Book at a garage sale. It served us well during a few trips which found us waiting for periods of time in open spaces.  Some of the folds were complicated, even for us adults.  This is not a book for you to hand you little ones and walk off.  However, flying the various planes was fun and enlightening.

What are some ways you will be celebrating today?  If you do take a picture of yourself, either with arms spread catching the breeze or in a glider high above the ground, please share it with us over on our Facebook page.  We would love to see how you have chosen to share in this day of wonder.

This post contains affiliate links.

 

Jun 302016
 

calendar coffee computer

Recently I read a blog, one that was new to me even though it had not been updated in about two years.  So, why did I take time to look at that particular shared post and through the others on the blog? Because information does not always have an expiration date.

In this instant world of ours, people looked at me like I had two heads when I said, “I do not have texting” or “I do not check Facebook very often”. They could not believe that it was even possible to live such a life.  Many people I talk to seem to think that it is important to keep on top of everything, to the minute.  If anything is older than a few days it is no longer relevant or useful.

What did I learn from this ‘out-of-date’ blog? Among other things, sometimes it is the simple things that make life easier.  Specifically, try to put appointments on the same day.

This was not a new concept to me, though I have always had the excuses for reasons why it would not work for me.  The difference this time was that it was coming from a mom of 10 who also took a day every week for family ministry activities.  “Surely if she can try it I can, too.” And so I did.

The worst they can say is, “No”.

Between regular appointments (pediatrician, dentist, eye exams, etc.), we also have our fair share of others (IEPs, orthodontist, developmental pediatrician, etc.) Thankfully we no longer have – monthly home visits, weekly parental visits, specialist for eye exams, in-home therapies for delays, out of home OT, etc.

Many of these are appointments made weeks or months in advance. I knew how hard it was to schedule them in the first place, why would I call in to change them? Surely they had no openings on such short notice …

A few weeks ago, our calendar showed us having two different doctors appointments for that particular week. One you have to schedule months in advance, the other can be hard to get into but not impossible.  With the loss of a friend, I was looking to add a funeral to the mix of weekly activities.

When I found out the times of visitation and the funeral I had a choice to make, either drive 5 extra hours to go to the visitation or try to rearrange the doctor appointments to fall on the same day.  A few phone calls later it had all worked out to have the appointments scheduled on the same day AND save me gas.

By admitting that someone else might actually know more than me, that my assumptions could be wrong, I learned that various aspects of life are often made out to be harder than how they are in reality.

So, on this particular day, we left in the morning and drove 30 minutes to our first appointment. A library stopped filled the extra minutes until picking up lunch.  Because we had left so early and ate lunch during the hour drive to our second appointment, we stopped at a park and played for another 30 minutes till the doctor’s office opened back up.

After our last appointment we headed out for the 1 drive to the funeral home, stopping along the way to have a snack and change into appropriate clothing.  There were about 1,001 question ranging in topic from “why can’t I wear my shorts?” to “Can I touch the dead body?”  So glad we covered most of those before others could hear us.

It was a long day.  Thankfully we had an audio book version of Peter Pan to finish listening to on the way home.

Would I have done it the same way again?  I think so.  I was thoroughly exhausted the next day due to emotions and managing of behaviors, but I think it was better than two days away from the house.

Jun 172016
 

child sitting in corner

Charlotte Mason encourages math using everyday situations. Our home school math curriculum encourages mental math. I sometimes struggle to find examples the kids actually care about.

Today, the kids found their own examples while having a consequence.

Here is how it all went down:

I am tired of them telling me their rooms were picked up and ready for inspection when they really were not ready for me to do so.

Expectations were set before hand, reminders were even given for areas I knew they often forget to address. (George even has a list posted on his wall for things to check. It is not hard.)

I explained to them that it was a waste of my time to check out a room they knew was not ready for me to check. I would then have to call them back, listen to their whining, and delay me moving on to my next job while they did what they were supposed to have done the first time. Therefore, if they called me for inspection before it was actually completed they would owe me wasted time of their own – 1 minute for each item you did not do. (make bed, pick up clothes, turn off radio, etc.)

Surprise!

They both had to sit for several minutes while I picked up my room. AND it was for the things I had specifically reminded them to address.

Here is where the math appeared.

Jack: George, I have to sit for 7 minutes, while you have 6 minutes. That means I have 1 minute more than you.

…a few minutes later…

Jack: If it has been 4 minutes that means … George you have two more minutes and I have 3 more.

And here I was worried about him knowing his math facts. He seems to have it down when it involves something personally relevant. 🙂

Mar 282016
 

2 snowy seats and table

Recently I shared 3 projects I would love to make for my garden from wood pallets.  While searching for idea, I came across a few more that would work great for the yard.  These are also projects in which I can involve the kids. 

How about this great porch swing, but turned into a tree swing? I know the perfect limb ….

A shelf to tuck in along a porch corner? Sold. Finding furniture I can leave out rain or shine, or snow, is hard to find. The screened in section of our porch is usually protected, but still is prone to moisture and lots of wind.  There is a section of wall perfect for a shelving unit. It would be a great place to store outside toys, games, and items for entertaining. A much better idea than the low table we currently have which has become a dumping ground.  This is also a project that could be worked on at any point in the year.

I am really liking the idea of this Ottoman for the porch. It would fulfil various needs as time arose – storage for toys or cushions, an extra seat, IR an ottoman. There is the slight detail that this is made from a crate instead if a pallet, but it is a great idea to go from.