Posted in Family, Homeschooling

This “What Were You Thinking?!” Moment Is Brought To You By…

Confession: I was that mom to whom teachers could not say the word “Ritalin” to.  And when I heard it for the third time, I pulled him out and began to homeschool.

I think there’s a stigma to mental health among Hispanic communities.  We were raised with “Chanclaterapia” = “Flip-flop therapy”, ie: There isn’t any behavior that can’t be fixed by smacking him upside the head with your sandals.  I don’t think it’s cruelty as much as it may be ignorance, but I also know that for many families in third world countries, failure is not an option.  To do poorly in school is to do poorly in life, and unlike the U.S., to do poorly in these countries is to be destined for poverty in it’s most unforgiving forms.  Graduating high school and going to college thus becomes the Holy Grail of the Hispanic community.

But about my son… He’s 10 and a half and in 5th grade.  And I’ve homeschooled him since.  He writes very well – but only one paragraph at a time.  His current major research project has taken him 4 weeks.  Because if I have him sit down and write 5 paragraphs all at once, it’s a disaster of syntax and grammar that I’m sure, if he read it out loud just once, he’d realize how an automated call center machine from India has better English than him…

This “What were you thinking?!” moment is brought to you by…

In Math, we’re doing remedial elementary school coursework.  Because I want to make sure he doesn’t advance to 6th grade still having trouble lining up his place values when he multiplies and divides – although he’s done these operations since 3rd grade, he … still… can’t put his numbers in the right place consistently and … still… makes these mistakes.  But he can do it right in his head!  He just can’t consistently perform well on paper!

This “What were you thinking?!” moment is brought to you by…

He burned his hand twice in one week.  The first time he was making Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwhiches so for the life of me I don’t even know why.  The second time I saw it happen and no one would believe me unless they were there…

… We were at church early one Sunday morning, and I’m in the process of making myself some tea.  He sees me put the tea bag into the disposable cup and says, “There’s hot water right here!” and proceeds to touch it.  Touch the metal hot water dispenser that is plugged in to the wall to keep the water boiling hot.  With the sign that says: “Careful.  Hot Water.”  I’m standing there stunned, he’s shaking his hand and in tears.  He wasn’t even close to it! He had to take two steps toward it to touch it.  He looks at me like he can’t even understand the pain he’s in, and I ask him the question of the day: “Anakin, what were you thinking?”  to which he replies, “I don’t know!” and breaks down into sobs.

So when my 125 IQ’d, published author, high school level reader, amazing artist, self-taught musician son who can do SAT level word analogies like a boss at age 10 can’t explain to me his thought process behind the impulsivity of putting a hand on a known hot object, I knew it was time to seek help.  It’s not a bad behavior modification issue.  It’s not even a discipline issue…

… But if it was a discipline issue, and I addressed it with “chanclaterapia”, how long would I beat him with a flip flop before I realized it just wasn’t working?  Seriously if I used a flip flop every time he forgot something, lost something, spaced out, lied to me on auto pilot, left his shoes in the middle of the dining room floor, or flailed his arms into harm’s way, I’d smack him 9-10 times a day.  That would be the definition of insanity on my part!

So I challenge my readers with difficult children today to stop and think for a moment: If you have been disciplining more than once over the same issue, and the child’s behavior is not improving, maybe it’s because discipline is not the problem!  At one point, we should all as parents be willing to brave the thought that our kids (and us) need professional help.  It was a tough pill for me to swallow, but I’m willing to hold your hand and walk you through it as your friend.

What is your biggest fear in asking your pediatrician or other medical professional for help when it comes to your child?  How have you overcome it? Share below!

And don’t forget to like/subscribe to my blog!  Thank you for your time.

Posted in Family

Getting What I Asked For

I am a starter of all trades, a master of none.  I had originally started a blog called “Confessions of a First Timer”.  Thinking I would publish books and write amazing pieces that would lead me to sponsorships and money over the past two years, I started off with the best intentions and then decided I didn’t really want to do the work.  Now that Website is gone.  I find myself writing recreationally from scratch.

I was also a Zumba instructor up until November of last year.  So Zumba looks awesome on TV or that one class live, but when you are doing all the prep work to be ready to TEACH a class, it’s a whole ‘nother level of sweat and stank. Seriously. I would average about 8.5 miles per practice before I taught on Monday nights.  When my RA kicked in furiously I couldn’t work anymore, so I dropped the ZIN membership as well.

I also once tried to become a Veterinary Technician… I probably still owe money for that long distance course…

And a dog groomer…

And a social worker…

And today? I’m a wife and stay at home, homeschooling mom.  Half finished degrees left and right.  A resume that at best makes me look bi-polar.  But I’m still young, right? Got my whole life ahead of me.

I’ll be turning 31 this year!

I think 30s are perfect because you finally know yourself enough to be comfortable in your own skin.  And you’re old enough to not really care about what anyone else says.

I am more confused for what I want to do with the rest of my life, my physical and educational goals, my dreams, and my five-year-plans NOW than I ever did before.  In fact, I remember being 20 years old and completely frozen with indecisiveness and paralyzed with fear.  I had no idea what I wanted! I also had no idea what I was capable of enduring and what kind of mettle I have.

I thought I figured it out for a while, and I have lost it again…

As a Christian in my 20s, I was whatever the rest of the church needed me to be.  I was so preoccupied with acceptance that I never showed my honest, more transparent side.  Now?  My pastors know I’m a kind of heathen-ish Christian who loves Hip Hop, uses birth control, and smacks kids and ignorant folk with her flip-flop in true Latina style.  The beautiful thing is that they just love me anyways – in the good, the bad, and the ugly.  In my 20s I would never let anyone in church see anything other than the good.  But now that I’m 30, I’m a more transparent and honest believer in the body of Christ.  I believe God can use that.

I am finding now, going into 30, that I’m getting more of what I ask for in prayer.  But then again, it’s a thing of beauty to know what I want and have a much more clear direction of what I want God to do in my life and how I want to honor Him.  And it’s not that I’m not flexible or I’m self-centered, but the truth is:

If you aim at nothing, that’s precisely what you’ll get.

You can’t shoot arrows haphazardly and hope you get a bulls eye.  You have to aim for the bulls eye if you’re ever to hit it.  And I’m learning that prayer, faith, and life seem to work that way too.

Posted in Faith, Uncategorized

Blast From The Past

This was a blog post published July 28th, 2015.  Sometimes going back and seeing God’s faithfulness in the past helps to jolt me to the reality that He really is a present help in time of need.

The past three weeks I have not been scheduled to work at my part-time job. This has been a bit of a financial blow that we are trying to overcome.

And as usual, this is the season when things go wrong, need repairs, or somehow we are reminded how much more money don’t have.

As y’all know I’m already a bit of an insomniac. Last week was different: I would stay awake with my heart racing, fighting a supernatural struggle against anxiety. Praying, listening to the Bible as I laid in bed so I wouldn’t hear all the other thoughts that assaulted me.

In my prayer time, I asked God what I was supposed to do with my Zumba certification. Because I can’t really seem to get a job as a Zumba instructor unless I’m also an accredited Group Fitness Certified Instructor… a certification that costs $300-500 I also don’t have. I just felt stuck.

May I add that finances were the LEAST of our trials? Talk about a spiritual assault! I had arrows thrown at me from every side! From family, to our kids, to work, and my husband’s job. I was weary from it! I can’t even begin to share all the details here, though my journal knows, but I was beat down on every side.

When I couldn’t take the stress anymore, I got a little lost with my kids to re-center.

Well the Lord has graciously provided an opportunity for me to substitute three Zumba classes this week. It means I make some extra cash (yay!). But for every one hour of Zumba I would teach, I do four hours at home perfecting the class and making sure my routine works. And then another hour fighting anxiety in prayer because I’m nervous that no one will show up or no one will like me or I’ll screw up. So this is taking a lot of my time.

And I already have to give time to the kids. Anakin’s hand completely healed and he’s ready to ride his bike (two weeks ahead of schedule! Praise God!). And I have to give time first and foremost to the Lord; I’m not that stupid as to be facing so many battles and not spending time working out strategies with my Commander. So the first thing our family has been doing (more consistently now than in the past, I confess) is reading our Bibles and studying it. And praying.

So here is where my fellow introverts ask me: Maria, if you are so anxious, and teaching a Zumba class makes you so nervous, why do you do it? Why don’t you just get a job?

Or my biggest pet peeve ever: Maybe you should just send your kids to public school so you can go work at an office? (Gotta love people who solve your problems without any God-given direction…)

It’s a risk I’m willing to take because I am motivated by the possibility that I could find that John Piper sweet spot where God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. If I can make the extra income we need helping other women have a good time (teaching Zumba) and not sacrificing our family life, I am in that sweet spot.

For the record, I’ve also applied for and interviewed other very basic, entry level jobs at local gyms.

My extra motivation this week came after I took the kids to their annual eye checkup.

My silly, beautiful little girl!

I always thought Brielle was dyslexic because I knew that she struggles with doing her letters backwards or spelling words all scrambled. I knew (and I’ve shared this before) that she works twice as hard as any other kid her age to read or write and that she focuses twice as much. Public school told me in Kindergarten that she’d probably outgrow it naturally. The charter school I homeschool through told me that she seems to be an auditory learner, and she has not fallen behind, but enjoys learning more through conversation, music, and movement than through print.

The doctor examines her eyes and notices that her eyes naturally rest looking outward a little instead of straight ahead. Which means to focus, and to see a line of print (like from her Bible, which she reads about a chapter a day or so) she has to hold a strain for a prolonged period of time… where other kids can just stare straight ahead and be just fine.

And now everything I’ve known in my heart makes sense, although it wasn’t dyslexia. But she does need to see a specialist for eye therapy to correct the issue, especially since she’s still young and there’s a good chance that as she grows she can be “cured”. In the meantime I’m just in awe of how dedicated she is to reading and writing, because she’ll write in her journal regularly and she loves the youversion app on the kindle.

And I’m thankful I homeschool because while she’s getting therapy, I can focus a curriculum JUST FOR HER that uses other styles of learning more than book work, so that she doesn’t fall behind on content and she can keep learning without straining her eyes. It’s one of those moments I know God was moving in Brielle’s favor when He told me I needed to homeschool before I even knew what was necessary.

I want the resiliency my kids have. They laugh through everything!

Then my youngest, Caleb, turns out to be quite the conman. We’ve always done his eye exams briefly at the pediatrician, with a chart. He’s always said he appears to have 20/20 vision in both eyes.

It turns out, he has ok vision in one eye and a WHOLE LOT OF PHOTOGRAPHIC memory. He memorized the chart and aced it.

Because at the eye doctor, he was discovered to have been soooooo farsighted in one eye he was in danger of losing the optical nerves in that eye. So he needs to wear prescription glasses as soon as possible. Talk about total surprise!

I was humiliated that I couldn’t afford to pay the $29 I needed to at check out for my son’s glasses, and had to ask them to bill me that when I pick them up.

But it motivated me to take on the Zumba classes with a fury because I now know I’ll need more money than I thought. I don’t know how much Brielle’s eye therapy will cost, or how often it will be, or how much our insurance will cover.

In all this, the verse that kept coming to mind over and over was in Philippians 4: Our God shall supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory. I had this verse given to me in every Bible app, every Facebook post or comment sent my way. I listened to it at night and read it during the day.

It has given me peace to know God somehow knew the entirety of my situation before I was aware of all of it. I know I’ve been attacked a lot (and so has my church, so it’s nothing unusual honestly), but I also see the Hand of God moving in my favor and having my 6. I can’t explain otherwise how getting the news that two of your children have pretty gnarly vision problems can result in a praise report.

Update: Present day (2017) Caleb’s eyesight has improved, though he wears glasses faithfully.  Brielle “graduated” from vision therapy and is now reading at grade level, hasn’t had any more issues since.  Praise God! Shortly after this post I got a regular Zumba teaching job which I stayed in until the room I used to teach went down for maintenance and I was, in essence, laid off. God has been faithful through out with different opportunities to make ends meet.