Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Most Horrible, Terrible, Awfullest Thing I Ever Did - A True Confession

I am supposing that the statute of limitations has passed, so I want to tell you the worst thing I ever did.  I still feel badly about to this day and frankly, it makes me sick to my stomach.

When I was 23 or so, my husband worked 3rd shift.  Because I was a young, relatively new wife, I would stay up at night so I could sleep during the day with him. I cleaned house at night, put up jelly, did laundry,  crocheted, read books, and played on the computer.  We had AOL and dial up back then and I thought that was the most amazing thing ever.  I made friend in places like Australia. :)

A couple I used to babysit for called and asked if I would get their 5 year old son off the bus and watch him for a couple hours while they worked.  I told them that it would not be a problem.  Fast forward to that day.

I overslept.  I slept until 4:00 until I heard someone knocking at the door.  I answered it only to find the child's father on my front porch.  "Where is Charles?" He asked.

The first words that came to my mind are not fit to type here and were probably not fit to even think.

I wanted to die.  I wanted to rewind my morning and not do *that* - that horrible thing of failing a tremendous responsibility.

Looking back at it now, I am very glad it wasn't his mom that came for him.  I am glad she never felt that panic of trusting someone with your child, have them fail miserably to the point that he is out there, somewhere, not where he was supposed to be.  His dad was quite calm.  I hurriedly dressed, determined that I was going to search every inch of our city for this child, who I had lost.  His dad asked me to stay where I was just in case the child happened to come back there.

He probably did not want me to cause anymore damage.  So I stayed.  And cried.  A lot.

A couple minutes later, the father returned with Charles and said, "Well, I found him! He was over at another friend of ours who lives down the road from you."

Needless to say, I apologized profusely and was never asked to babysit again.

Which brings me around to my point.  I said I was sorry.  But, sorry really did not fix it.  My remorse did not change what had been done.  I was very fortunate that things turned out as well as they did.  Things could have been so, so much worse - and no matter how sorry I was - that could not have been undone.

Saying sorry is an important part of the relationship between two people.  We need to be sorry, to feel regret and remorse over our wrong doings.  But, a simple apology doesn't fix anything.  Sorry needs to go beyond a simple word.  It needs to start with words.

I wish I could say to them now, "I am so very very sorry that I was so irresponsible.  There is no excuse, no reason that I ever allowed that to happen.  I know that I put your child in danger and he is a precious, amazing little boy who could never be replaced.  I know that I caused you to fear and feel a panic that you should have never had to experience.  I am sorry.  I did the wrong thing.  If there is anything I can do to help you feel better, no matter what that is, even if it means to never speak to you again, I will do it."

It doesn't change what happened. I can not think of a single thing that I could have done or could do now to make up for the situation.  That is where grace and forgiveness come in.  I needed that father's grace and he handed it to me in a giant overflowing bucket full.

When we have wronged someone, it is our responsibility to apologize, take what is dished out, and seek how we can give restitution even if that is something as simple as seeking reconciliation on their terms, no matter how uncomfortable and even if it doesn't make *us* feel better.

Have you said you were sorry today?  Have you forgiven and handed out grace?  I pray that those of you who are going through a hard part in life can truly set yourself aside and just love.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Awesome eMeals Deal!

Awesome, awesome deal on eMeals meal planning service!  Only $29 for an entire year of meal planning  that comes with a weekly menu and a grocery list.  It has several menus to choose from.  The latest menu they have added is a clean eating menu which should have limited or no processed foods.  They also have an organic food menu, gluten free, low carb and your more "typical" menus!

GO HERE! to get this great buy!

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

ADHD - It Is Real, Folks!

I have four children. They all have their own personalities, their own way of looking at things, their own level of activity and their own way of learning.  My six year old son is, by far, the calmest child I have.  He will sit for however long I need him to, in order to be taught whatever I want to teach him.  If he is not sick with a headache, then he pays good attention and, for the most part, puts effort into whatever his assignment is.  My four year old is, well, four.  She does and acts exactly like you would expect a four year old to act.   She can do school for about a half hour before she *needs* to get down and go play.  My seven year old daughter is a little more active in her learning.  She likes to wiggle and jiggle and talk and talk.  She benefits from sitting on an exercise ball and tends to be more excitable.  Her work trends toward messy and she is distracted quite easily.

Then there is my 12 year old.  She has ADHD.  For all of you who doubt that ADHD is real and pass judgment on those parents who have children with ADHD, I implore you to open your minds to the possibility that it is real.

ADHD can be more than inattentiveness and hyperactivity.  Here are some of the symptoms:

  • impulsiveness
  • inattentiveness
  • constantly in motion
  • messy
  • disorganized
  • not responsive to detail
  • inability to be organized
  • inability to control behavior
  • inability to focus
  • seemingly unable to hear your, even when spoken to directly
A child who is a normal, active learner, can be frustrating for a person who is more of a verbal learner/teacher.  Those parents may wonder if their child has ADHD, because they don't understand the thought process and learning style of the active learner.  My seven year old is an active learner.  She doesn't have ADHD.

My 12 year old struggles to learn, no matter the method of teaching.  She is impulsive beyond belief.  She struggles to control herself.  This means she lies - even when the truth may be better, she leaves things halfway done, she makes decisions that leaves me scratching my head, she can not seem to keep her room clean, she frequently disobeys, she can not seem to "get it together", she is overly emotional, she has a short fuse, she has frequent outbursts of frustration, she loses everything, she can not remember anything, she literally is in motion at the most inappropriate times, she talks and talks and talks and doesn't seem to be able to stop.

She is on medication.

Some think it is an evil toxin, I think it is a miracle.
And the medicine?  It works.  She is better. She can learn. She gets things accomplished. She is easier to live with. She doesn't lie excessively.  She can concentrate on her schoolwork. She can follow directions. She can find things. She is sweet, helpful, and obedient.

So many people have the answer to her ADHD and judge me, harshly for having her on medication.  To them I say, "Walk a mile in my shoes.  Take my child for a week.  Tell me what worked for you with her.  I don't care what worked for you with your kid, your neighbor's brother's uncle's kid. They are not my kid.  I have heard it all.  Change their diet. Take out the sugar, red dye, processed foods, switch to organics, never eat out again, take the wheat out of your diet, take the carbs out of her diet, and so on and so forth. I love how people suggest this, as if it were simple.  If I took everything people told me to take out of her diet, I think she may be able to eat grass, as long as a dog didn't pee on it and it did not get rained on.

Caprese Salad?  I don't know... is the cheese made from pastured, grass fed, organic, raw cow's milk?  
Another one of my favorites is when people blame it on the vaccines she received as a child.  That is especially unhelpful.  Number one, I had no choice but to vaccinate her, as she was a foster child. Number two, even if I did have the option at the time, what am I supposed to do? Unvaccinate her?  It is not helpful to tell me or any other parent what we *should* have done if it is nothing we can change. (For the record, I do vaccinate, willingly.)

ADHD is real.  Is it over diagnosed? Maybe, probably.  But, not at my house.

I think my point in all of this is to just ask all of you who doubt to quit Googling ADHD cures and talk to a mom of a child with the disorder, with an open mind, and without your "helpful" suggestions - unless she asks of course - and then tread cautiously and don't throw a lot of information her way.  

Secondly, I want to encourage you moms out there with kids that have ADHD.  You can do it.  You have not failed. Keep on fighting the good fight. :)  If one of the tools in your shed is medication, do not feel badly about giving it.  If the tool is counseling, do not feel badly about taking them.  If you suspect that your kid has ADHD, then it is ok to seek medical help.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Ready 2 Read - Review

I was searching for a reading curriculum that would help my older cousins learn to read.  Someone in a group I am part of recommended Ready 2 Read by the Moffatt Girls.  The lady who wrote the curriculum, Annie Moffatt, is a former elementary teacher - now stay at home mom.  The curriculum utilizes word families and sight words simultaneously in teaching a child to read.  Your child must know the letters of the alphabet and the sounds each letter makes.  She recommends the Leap Frog Letter Factory and that is a sound idea.  My kids loved it ;)  Go here, to the Moffatt Girls blog, to find out more about the program and view all the pertinent information!

I intended on trying to use this for a couple of older children who had learning disabilities.  Once I got it and printed it out, I recognized this was not going to work for them.  Not because the information is not valid, but because it is definitely geared toward younger children.  The 13 and 14 year old would not have appreciated the singing, cutting, and gluing like the younger set does!

So, I decided on something different for them and gathered my little ones.  They are 7, 6, and 4.  I have to say that they really loved it.

Little ones, gathered, sitting in the dining room classroom.

They had fun tracing.

They had fun cutting.

They had fun gluing. 

We sang the sight words, made a book, studied two word families, and generally had a good time with this program.

All of them, including my four year old, learned the five sight words that went with unit one by the end of the week.  Since we have the sight word caterpillar hanging up on our wall, we frequently refer to it and the kids will randomly go to it, point to a word and say it.  Go here to see more pictures of the program.

Annie has done a great job laying out this curriculum and showing you how to use it.  There is a lesson plan that tells you what to do on what day, which is very, very helpful.

I liked this program well enough that I bought Level One in its entirety.   The purchase options are very simple and the price is very good too. It is *only* $5 a unit.  There are 8 units total and if you buy the bundle, you save money because the price is discounted to $32.

Keep in mind, this program is delivered digitally and you are in charge of printing it out or having it printed out.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Toddler Busy Bags

Homeschooling with a toddler or preschooler can be interesting to say the least. It can be like trying to wrestle a cat into a bathtub full of water - near impossible and someone is coming away damaged.

You get all kinds of good advice.  Train the toddler to sit still - because that sounds so nice. That would get me good mommy marks for sure and how cool would it be, at any time, to be able to say, "Sit still", and actually have your 2 year old sit still.  Seeing as how I have yet to train my 12 year old how to sit still, I did not think I would be able to accomplish that.

The next piece of advice I enjoyed was to let your child look at books, quietly, while you taught the other children.  Ok.  That resulted in several books with crayons decorating all the pages that were not ripped out.  I may be the only homeschooling mom who has kids that destroy books and don't actually handle them with fear and reverence, like they are the source of life.

So, the next idea was to create little bags of thing, projects, toys, ect, that were to be brought out ONLY when homeschooling the older ones and the system that told you how to do it only cost.... Yep, it cost.  I do believe the laborer is worthy of their hirer, but I am BROKE. I could swing the money for the supplies for the bags but not the book that told me how to make them.  So, I had to do something different.

There was only one problem.  I am not creative.  I am not a fun mom.  I am not filled with original ideas that will one day make me independently wealthy.

So, take these ideas from a non fun, non creative, poor mom and see if you have the success I did.

You need:
Box of gallon freezer bags with the zipper closure (TRUST ME.  Get the zippered ones!)
Bag of rocks or great northern beans
Bag of sea shells
Pack of small paper cups
Pack of spoons
Plastic grid sheet
Small box of crayons
Coloring book

Put the rocks, a spoon, and 2 or 3 paper cups in a bag.  Zip up.
Put the seashells, a spoon, and 2 or 3 paper cups in a bag. Zip up.
Put the plastic grids sheets, and several lengths of yarn in a bag. Zip up.
Put the box of crayons and coloring book in another bag. Zip up.

There you go. Toddler busy bags on the cheap.  Never ever get them out unless you are doing school.  The rocks and shells were the kids favorite things. I eventually had to make them play with them on the kitchen floor because my vacuum hated them.  But, they would ask for me to do school so they could play with them.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Beginning of Summer... Setting up the Pool

I decided to set up the pool for the kids.  We don't have anything fancy, just a large ring set pool.  It is 16 foot in diameter and 42 inches deep.  Last year I noticed the pool was leaning, a lot, on the right side.  It resulted in the pool not being as deep as it could be and one side looked like it had been squashed.  Not cute.  Not as much fun.  Not to mention it looked like an idiot set it up.

Not our pool or our backyard, but very similar to last year's disaster
This year I was going to do it differently.  (This seems to be the theme of my life.) I went to Lowe's and bought several 50 pound bags of sand.  Let me just insert here that 50 pounds is a lot heavier than you think it is going to be.  The salesperson assured me that someone would help me load it into my van and he trotted off to help a skinny, young thing, leaving me and my four children to fend for ourselves.  My 6 year old son, who thinks he is He-Man, pushed the flat bed cart to the checkout. He was really proud of himself because he "only ran into Mommy two times!"  Yeah.....


After checking out, I realized, all the extra workers, who were previously loitering around the area, had mysteriously disappeared. Not wanting to appear weak, or have my ankles crushed again, I pushed the cart out to the van and opened the back hatch.  I instructed my 12 year old to get everyone in the van, buckle the youngest into her carseat and start the van, while I - otherwise known as Wonder Woman She-Ra, loaded the bags of sand.  I casually leaned over and put my hands under the first bag.

UMPHHH! I heaved the heavy bag into the back.  Go. Me.  I am actually She-Ra.  I am *the* Princess of Power. I am ah-maze-ing.  Who needs help?  Not me.  I slap my hands together and suddenly wished for chewing tobacco gum, so I could spit as I hitched up my pants.  I go back for the second bag.  It was a bit heavier than the first... but, reminded that I was, in that moment, the epitomy of awesomeness, I put my back into and heaved it into the van, right next to the first one.

My Secret Superhero Identity
I quickly realized my error.  I put my back into it. I sorta figured the popping noises probably were not a sign that this was going to end well for me.  The voice of my husband was resounding inside my head and he sounded a lot like a nagging personal trainer, "Lift with your legs! Lift with your legs!"  This time, I squatted down.  Somehow or another, I got a 100 pound bag of sand, stuffed into a 50 pound bag.  I am sure of it.  I told myself that I could do it, out loud, and people in the parking lot surely thought I was NUTS.  I wrestled the bag into the van.

Somehow or another, I managed to repeat the process 4 more times.  Woot!  The effort it took to haul *myself* into the van after all the sand was loaded was monumental.  My back hurt, my leg hurt, my knee hurt and my kids had started arguing, so my head hurt.  I threatened them, "So help me, if you all don't stop your fighting I will take all the sand back into the store and not set up the pool."  They all stopped the fighting, but my 12 year old looked at me like, "Right, Mom.... I am sure you are going to unload all this sand..."  She wisely said nothing.

I drove home and realized that somehow, I was going to have to unload the sand from the van and dump it out into the spot where we wanted the pool, and somehow see that the pool was going to sit level.  The "can do attitude" I had when I first thought about doing this had somewhat dissipated. But, the kids were all excited now and I could not disappoint them.  I turned the van off and hauled myself out.

Somehow or another, I managed to unload 3 bags of sand and emptied them onto the area of the yard that needed to be level.  That brought me to my next dilemma, how was I to know if it was level?  I smoothed out the sand and stood back to eyeball my work.  Looked fine to me!  Time to put down the tarp.

The tarp is a square.  I have 4 kids.  One kid for each corner.  We stretched it out, each kid stood on their corner to hold it down and I went to wrestle the pool out of the storage bin and dragged it over to the middle of the tarp.  Then I unfolded it.  I would be embarrassed to admit how many times I spoke with annoyance and irritation through gritted teeth at my kids, who where having trouble standing still on their respective corner... So, I won't admit to anything.... I certainly don't admit that I threatened, no less than 50 times, to sell the pool on craigslist, scoop up all the sand and take it back to the store, and not have a pool this year. *whistles*

After a half hour, I had the pool unfolded and stretched out.  The children all but disappeared. We (me, myself, and I) poured bleach into the pool and scrubbed it really well.  Every now and then a child would come and half-heartedly swipe at the dirty spots with a scrub brush.  Then I started the water and began to fill the pool.

My actual pool in my actual back yard with my actual water hose and raised beds.
Suddenly, out of no where , four children appeared, in swimsuits and goggles.....

They spend HOURS out there... HOURS... in a lopsided pool... eyeballing to see if it is level?  It doesn't work...

Oh and one more thing.

Always, ALWAYS check to make sure the pool is close enough to the house to plug the pump in.  Or, at the very least, make sure it is far enough away that you don't have to have an extension cord because you missed it by 6 inches.

What do you do to signify the start of summer?

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Is Higher Math Necessary?

This was shared with an email group I am part of.  I watched it and was flabbergasted.  The number of things that I found wrong with this was overwhelming and hard to find words for.  Beckie, a math teacher on the group, did find the words I was searching for.  I asked her if she would mind if I shared her response, because I found it so fitting.
From Beckie: 
"Why is it that no one thinks twice about recommending math illiteracy but shudders at the thought of children who can't appreciate and comprehend good literature? Because that's what this recommendation is equivalent to...if we taught our kids just enough reading to get by in everyday life, we'd only teach them enough to read and understand street signs, basic contracts and news articles. Would you cut off your child's future by limiting his exposure to great literature? No? Then why would you even consider cutting off his exposure to great math? Why would you cut his choices of occupation in half simply by shutting down his math instruction once he's mastered the BASIC skills? Basic doesn't mean sufficient. It means it is the bare minimum you need to survive. And I'm pretty sure I want my children to do more than just survive.

We make choices for our children all the time. Even as they grow older, we still make choices for them that their not-fully-developed brains (yes, even in the teenage years) would never make on their own. That's why we impose curfews and junk-food limits. That's why we make them study literature and art and history. And that's why we make them study math and science. Even if they're not fond of it, and even if they struggle, we make them keep trying. Because we want them to learn that some things are worth struggling for. And because you never do know what your children will finally decide to do with their lives. You can't expect a 13 or 14 year old to know whether their future career will require more math than just the basic skills. You never know if, after 10 years of working at a job they come to dislike, they will decide on a new path that requires knowledge of more math than just the basics.

I'm a math teacher and I understand where this teacher is coming from. I used to dread the "When will I ever need this" question myself until I realized that students ask it because they know teacher's won't answer it honestly. I have always answered, "You may never need it, but what you're learning is a different way to look at the world. You're learning a method of reasoning and logical thinking. You're learning to look at the world quantitatively, in numbers, and use those numbers to help you make decisions. You might never need to graph another quadratic equation in your life, but maybe when you throw a ball in the air, you'll think about how gravity pulls it to the ground and how it's height changes over time, and what the maximum height might be depending on how hard you've thrown the ball. When you hear about large companies making decisions about how much of a product to make, maybe you'll think about linear programming concepts and the graphs of inequalities we used to represent that decision making process. And when you think about how temperatures vary throughout the year, maybe you'll think about those sine and cosine curves you graphed in trig class."

"Let no one ignorant of geometry enter here." Attributed to Plato, the great philosopher."

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