Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Day in the Mind of an Extrovert

7am- wake up thinking "wow, I am sure glad I have no where to go today after being so busy the last few days"

7:03am- I AM SO BORED AND LONELY! I wonder what we can do today to get out of the house?
7:04am- update Facebook status
7:06am- Check status to see if anyone has replied. Decide that I should give it a few more minutes
7:08am- Still no replies. Did I make everyone angry? Maybe it just wasn't funny enough. Change status to something funny.
7:10am- Check status for replies. 1 like but no replies. What is wrong with me today?! Message friend 1 with my entire plan for the day.
7:15- friend still hasn't replied so message friend 2 with the same information and head off to get ready.
7:15-9:00am- Homeschooling requires me to spend some time not waiting on FB replies, but I spend the entire time wondering how many likes and responses I will find when I get back on.
9:30am and friend 1 still hasn't replied. Why is she mad at me? Think, think, think, what have I done or said? Ohh my goodness. The other night when we were out I said I didn't like onions. Maybe she thinks that because I don't like onions and she does that I don't like her. STUPID. How could I not have thought of that before I said it?!
9:31am Text friend 1 a veiled joke about onions to see if she is mad at me. Friend replies with LOL and tells me she is at the doctors office. Pretty sure she is lying and is really just hiding from me.
10:00am-as long as friend 2 will tolerate it, I "drive by Facebook" with her. At least I still have 1 friend in this lonely cruel world.
10:30am- See pictures of friend at doctors office with her sick child and realize she may have been telling the truth. Text soon after inviting us to a play date confirms she is not angry. Feeling stupid that I thought my friend was actually angry with me over onions.
11:00am- I have got to get out of this house! I am going to go crazy with this isolation. I would give a pound of flesh just to be near someone, anyone. I would even consider a trip to Walmart! Unfortunately, homeschooling is still calling so I spend the next 3 hours "drive by Facebooking". At least a few people have finally responded on my status. I reply within seconds. They make fun of me for Facebook stalking.
1:00pm- I am literally drained from being alone. I love my kids, but they don't fill my socialization cup. I am mentally and physically exhausted.
3:00pm- Finally, it is time to leave the house. All I am about to do for the next 5 hours is sit, but as long as I am near someone I don't care.
5:00pm- We are at my daughter's gymnastics practice. I sit and where it isn't too impolite, I interject or strike up conversations with strangers around me.
9:30pm- Come home and regret having talked a perfect strangers ear off. Pretty sure she didn't need to know the details of how my first child entered the world. Assume that they will purposely avoid me from now on.

I am pretty sure anyone not an extrovert is reading this as if I was speaking a foreign language. I cannot explain what happens in my brain during the day. I cannot explain why when I do not get an instant response I assume that someone is angry with me. That is almost never the case and the reasons I come up with for the pretend anger are almost always ridiculous to the point of being stupid. I cannot explain how being alone tires me so much, and even depresses me. All I know is that I am not trying to be annoying. I am not trying to be nosy or rude. I am not trying to not give you a chance to talk. When I sit at home by myself it is boiling inside of me and when I finally get somewhere I can speak it explodes. We extroverts have to work hard to be sure we are practicing some self-control, but we definitely appreciate the grace our introverted friends give us when we go a bit over the top!

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Homeschooling Confession

I am probably getting kicked out of the homeschool club for this one.

Confession: I hate reading out loud. I hate the way my voice grows weak and feels tired. I hate the work behind it only to have to work to keep the kids' attention.
I am an excellent read to myselfer.

But I am a homeschool mom. I am pretty sure I am supposed to love to read out loud. I have skated by with audio books (Story of the World on audio - For The Win!) and audio books from the library.  If Apologia put their science books on audio, I would probably be farther than lesson four after working on it for two years. And no,  I am not kidding.  We just wrapped up chapter four.  I even got the audio for First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind.

Unfortunately,  my 6 year will not cooperate in my read aloud avoidance. She is an excellent reader but she wants to sit on my lap and give me things to read to her. Because she is the baby and really cute, she can normally talk me in to it.

She has done it enough that recently the children got done listening before I got done reading. I found myself liking it.

Now, I am not promising to like it again, and I am not promising to actually finish "The Wind in the Willows" but it does at least seem possible!

It just goes to back up what I tell the kids,  with enough practice, you can do pretty much anything.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

When Adoption isn't Wonderful

Growing up, I wanted to be a mother. I did not desire to do anything else but be a wife and mom. I got married at age 21 and one year later my husband and I were told children would not be a part of our future unless we tried some expensive things, and even then it was not a guarantee. I grieved that. I grieved the loss of my fertility, the loss of my childhood dream, the loss of all the children I wanted and would not have. People asked us, "Why don't you just adopt?" Don't say that, by the way, to someone who is infertile. It is rude, unkind, and only demonstrates a lack of knowledge and empathy for their heartache.

Why did we not "just adopt". It sounded so simple, find a kid who needs a home, fill out a few forms, and voila! Instant family. There are so many children available and waiting for a family. Sure they may have some issues, but all kids have issues. With enough love and stability and consistency, everything will work out and be fine. You will all be grateful for one another.

After my husband and I were married 7 years, we decided to pursue foster parenting. We were placed with over 23 children in the 4 years we were foster parents. It was an amazing time that really taught me a lot. Two of those children we would eventually adopt. They were 5 and 10 months when we got them. You would think, well I thought, that if you got a child young like they were, then everything would be okay and eventually adjustments would be made and everything would be awesome.

You know that lady in the news that sent her kid back to Russia with a note pinned to him? I am not saying that was the right thing to do, but I know how she got to that point.

I know how it is to raise a child that refuses to do a thing that she is told, unless she can clearly see how it will benefit her, and even then it is questionable.

I know how it is to have a child yell at you because you expect them to do something as silly as their homework or clean up after themselves.

I know how it is to be slightly afraid to go to sleep at night because you really don't know what is going to happen when you are sleeping.

I know how it is to wake up mad before the day even starts. It is an anger that pervades your entire being and you can't talk yourself out of it and it doesn't wear off and fade away with time.

I know how it is to be tired. I am not talking about physical tiredness, although that is a part of it, I am talking about a mental and emotional tiredness that rivals the tiredness of someone who hasn't slept in three days. There is an exhaustion that can not be contained and it bleeds into every part of your life.

I know how it is to live with someone who makes you question your sanity.

I know how it is to live with a child that doesn't just lie, but is incapable of telling the truth.

I know how it is question and wonder at motives behind every good deed because you know you are being manipulated in some way or are being set up to be manipulated.

I know how it is to have more therapy appointments than you know how to juggle and then be told that those therapy appointments are going to happen *daily*.

I know how it is to question how you can give another dollar, another second of your time, another ounce of energy and more of your heart towards a cause that seems to be lost.

I know how it is to know that no matter how desperately you want to fix someone, that there is nothing you can do, because that child doesn't see the problem in themselves, only their circumstances, and therefore they only choose to try to control their circumstances rather than themselves.

I know how it is to have guilt nearly eat you up because, somehow or another, this has got to be your fault. I am the mom, the fixer of dinner, boo boos and life in general. I should be able to fix this. Why can I not fix this?

I wish I knew what to say to those parents that are engaged in this same struggle. I only know to say that I am praying for myself, my family and my fellow adoptive parents. I am regularly crying out to God on our behalfs for mercy and for peace.

I am praying for healing for my child, who has been hurt with severe hurts by the birth family that was supposed to love her and protect her.

When adoption is good, it is very good. When it is hard, it is very hard. For some people, it is always hard and everyday is a trial. It is hard to be reminded *everyday* that you are not enough. For some people it is a reminder that no matter how much you want to love and help and show God's mercy and grace, that you are not God.

Thankfully, I know who God is. I know that He is capable of healing my broken, hurting child. I know that He is the restorer of relationships and righteousness and the healer of all hurts. I know that He authors forgiveness and He alone digs up roots of bitterness. Even though I want Him to do all this now, I know He will do this in His time for willing souls. I pray for that willingness for me and my child.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Homeschool Myth - Homeschooled Kids are Weird and Can't Relate to Others

I recently had a discussion about homeschooling and the children it produces. It seems that everyone knows someone who was homeschooled and they are the weirdest person they ever met and having a terrible time communicating with others.

No one ever talks about the people they meet that have the same issues yet were public schooled. I dare say there are more of these people out there than the entire population of homeschoolers.

There are weird people everywhere. There are terrible communicators everywhere - who are not weird by the way, they just have a hard time communicating. Perhaps if they are sitting in the neighbor's yard wearing a swim cap and pretending to grill out in the middle of January that would be weird, but I recently threatened to do this and I am a product of the public school system. Ahem.

The great thing about homeschooling is that kids are not forced to be around kids their age, all day, everyday, with limited interaction with those other than their peers.  I have a daughter in public school and she is *obsessed* with fitting in. My homeschoolers, not so much. They are free from the bondage that a large group of their peers will place them in. They don't have to please a bunch of other 9 and 10 year olds to not get made fun of and to fit in. They don't have to change the way the dress, eat, or talk. They are not compelled to fit into a man made mold and instead are free to fit into the mold God gave them. They are free to be them.

They can also relate to kids older and younger than they are. They can have conversations with adults. My 6 year old was at swim class waiting for her older siblings to be done with their practices. I watched her approach an adult woman and carry on quite the conversation. She came to me about 10 minutes later and happily exclaimed, "Mommy! I met a grown up and she is nice." She was thrilled to have made a new friend. I spoke very briefly with the woman afterwards and she complimented Rebekah's manner and cuteness. (She is stinking adorable, if I do say so myself.)
Rebekah was not intimidated or frightened by this adult. She approached her. She learned about life and people in this short conversation. She was not constrained by needing to look "cool" or by the need to please the kids that were there at swim with her.

My kids don't know a ton about pop culture, and maybe that's weird to some, but I am glad. I am glad I don't have to explain certain song lyrics, for a while I did not have to explain twerking - until my public schooler forced me to.  I don't have to explain BDSM to them like I had to with my public schooler (Thank you for nothing 50 Shades of Grey). I am glad I don't have to explain a lot of things and my kids can stay kids for just a while longer.

If any of that is weird and makes them unable to relate to others, then frankly, I will take it.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Free Water Cycle Unit - Short and Simple!

We are getting ready to start a week long event on the water cycle! Each lesson will be super short and use things that I have at home. The kids don't do super well with worksheets and my printer is broken so I made this up to do with them next week. It will be free and easy to teach and yet still get across to them the water cycle and what it is.

Water Cycle Unit
Appropriate for K - 5

Monday -  This is an excellent resource to explain the water cycle.
Hands on activity: Fill 3 cups with 1 cup of water. Put one in a sunny window, one in a room away from a window, and another one in the window with a piece of plastic wrap covering it. Have the child(ren) discuss what may happen to the water in the cups.  Ignore the cups until Friday.

Tuesday - Make it rain!

Wednesday - Solids, Liquids, Gases - Get several ice cubes, let the kids handle them. Ask "What is happening to the ice cube?" (it is melting) Why? (their hands are warming the water up) Explain the ice cube is a solid and the water that is dripping off of it is a liquid. Ask them "How can water be a gas or a vapor?" Have them put all their ice cubes in a pan or a skillet on the stove. Turn the burner on. Observe the heat melt the ice. When the water begins to sizzle off the skillet, point out that the water is now a vapor.

Thursday - Get some books on the water cycle, aquifers, different bodies of water and/or drought from the library and read them. Have the kids write and illustrate their own story on something related to the water cycle. This should be fun, so don't stress over spelling and the like.

Friday - Create a project that demonstrates the water cycle. Pinterest has a lot of great ideas. We are going to do one similar to this one here -
There are a lot of cute ones on paper plates if you have them!
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Monday, February 2, 2015

The Freedom to Learn - A Homeschool Benefit

When I was in elementary school, I was always ahead of my peers. I was always the first one finished with all my work - to the point that one time I got in trouble and the teacher accused me of lying in front of the whole class. I learned to slow down, to make mistakes on purpose, and to try not to be noticed. I always scored very high on standardized tests and my mother and teachers had a hard time reconciling my A/B average classwork with my high test scores. I got a lot of talks about not applying myself, but the problem was I was bored and I did not want to be humiliated ever again.

 Somewhere along the line, I learned to play the game. I did just well enough to not get lectured, and just poorly enough that I did not get singled out. I could have learned so much more than I did had teachers believed in me just a bit more.

 Quin, and Micah are all slower learners. Finally, the reading light clicked on in Quin's brain last year (she was 8 and in the 3rd grade). But, she is still struggling somewhat.  However, she is really smart! When she reads, however, this is lost. If I do everything orally with her, it is AMAZING what she can learn and apply but that will not translate into a test right now (another big issue I have with standardized testing). Quin knows what a hypothesis is, can form and test one, and can analyze her results. If I asked her to write it all down, she would not be able to do it.

 With homeschooling, I can be really flexible about this. Even though I sometimes get stressed over her lack of fluency in reading, I know that she will get there if given enough space and time. But in the interim, I can do everything else with her orally. We can listen to books on tape and watch documentaries and talk about all her questions that she tends to ask (mostly in the van!).

 Micah needs everything just so. He needs to be challenged but not to much at once or else he gets frustrated. I am able to give him things in small bites because we have the time to do it that way.

Then there is my youngest child, Rebekah. She learns easily and has fun doing it! My biggest issue with her is that when I am not challenging her enough and she gets really bored. So, we skip through lessons that bore her and don't stop skipping until we reach the lessons she doesn't know yet. Homeschooling gives us this option.

Hopefully, my kids will never experience the issues I did in school. I hope they learn to maximize their potential and then feel the freedom to really own what they are capable of by putting their knowledge to good use. I hope they are never made to feel less than worthy because of what they know or don't know.

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Finding a Hobby for the Kids

Sometimes, finding ways to wind down and relax can be difficult. After all, we tend to be slaves to our duties and our schedules and looking at things that are not furthering our progress in those states can seem foolish to us. But, we know that downtime is necessary.  Our kids are no different than us; their needs are the same. Kids will show their frustration and their level of how overwhelmed they are by acting out. They act out as a cry for help to organize their feelings and to get out some of their pent up energy and stress. Sometimes we can just send them outside to run around and play. But what do you do when the weather is bad or when going outside is just not an option for whatever reason? They need a hobby!

Hobbies help us to relax in ways that are productive to an extent. They also can help our kids organize their emotions and feelings.  Some kids will naturally develop hobbies - mostly as an extension from something they learned in their school work or what they see their parents engaged in. My goal as a mom in helping my kids find a hobby is to help them find something that is relatively inexpensive and quiet (HA!) No selfish motive there....  **whistles innocently**

My youngest has picked up reading. She loves reading more and more each day. I make an effort to buy her books she likes and desires to read, not just books that I want her to love or read.  See the difference?

My 14 year old loves art and drawing. She can really calm herself if she has access to a sketchpad and some pencils.  She also likes making jewelry and can stay occupied for hours with that.

My 9 year old boy can chill with some legos and coloring books. He also has discovered a love of cooking. I signed him up for some Craftsy classes and he can watch those and follow along very well. Other than a mishap with putting some flour into the bag of sugar, it has been relatively unstressful for me.

That leaves my 10 year old daughter. She would play on a computer 24 hours a day if I let her. This is not okay with me. I want her to develop an interest outside of National Geographic's Animal Jam game. She is a little screen addict.  I want to find her a hobby that she can engage in outside of this game she loves so much. How does one help a child find a hobby? The same way an adult finds a hobby. You look for one!

This means you expose your child to lots of different activities.  I have introduced to her all sorts of needlecrafts, embroidery, crochet, sewing - etc. This means she had free access to everything she needed, including a sewing machine. She was mildly interested in sewing, she made a quilt and then decided she "beat sewing" and her interest waned. So we tried embroidery. She was bored with it. Crochet proved too difficult for her fine motor skills that she possessed at that time. She loved the fish tank for a while and I thought we may be guppy breeders. Thankfully, her interest in that has declined as well. She also has an avid interest in bird watching, but not many birds are landing in our yard right now. She is currently all about everything horses as well but I don't have horses in my back yard.  Cooking is difficult for her as her ADHD and dyslexia really make it hard for her to follow a list of instructions.

It was becoming an arduous task trying to find her something she can use to settle herself. I introduced to her many things that were home based and she was having none of it.

Then, finally a breakthrough. She likes creating stories. She would bring me comics she created about our dog. In her schoolwork she started begging me to give her free writing assignments online where she could type her stories.  She uses all kinds of different fonts and text colors in her writing. Even though it is on a screen, she is able to really express herself in a way that helps her feel successful. She is currently writing a fan fiction story about the My Little Pony, Rainbow Dash. I am going to help her clean it up a bit (i.e. add punctuation like periods) and publish it for her on a fan fiction site. She is thrilled with the idea and is adding to her story pretty much daily. It still involves her looking at a screen but she loves it and it is a good compromise. I am also going to get her a coding game since she is so interested in the computer itself.

The kids having hobbies they can fall back on when mom needs a moment of peace has really helped me and them feel more settled when times are crazy or stressful.

If your kids need a hobby and you don't know where to start, here is a link to a list that can give you some ideas!

Hobbies List

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