Raising Accountable Kids

I shared on my Instagram that I was super happy to have set up the Accountable Kids system in our home, and my friend Mrs. Lo Tanner challenged me to explain more on my blog, so here it goes.

Disclaimer: I’m not an Accountable Kid representative or affiliate.  Please follow the link to their site for more info!  I will not receive a dime if you click on the link.  I was also not paid to give my opinion.  I purchased this program out of my own pocket and this is just my honest review.  My blog post is not to be considered as a statement from the company.

But if you are like me, you can easily find yourself in this circle of repetition that wears us moms down to the bone.  How much time have you physically spent reminding kids to do what doesn’t come naturally?

If you have a child with ADHD you understand me.  It’s not laziness or unwillingness.  They just sincerely can’t remember a series of instructions over the course of the day.

CalebI read a couple of books on ADHD and, as far as discipline goes, the suggestion was not to “engage in battle” or “lecture” the child (as it just builds frustration and can be ineffective) but instead to develop habits through positive reinforcement and natural consequences.

That is why this program works well for my family! We brought it home and watched the video.  As a family.  My kids were excited to do this!  My youngest (who has ADHD) said, “Mom this is a perfect way for me to remember all the things I have to do in a day!”

In the most basic description I can give, the program sets up chores on tickets they flip once completed.  They get rewards in “tickets” for the chores they do – in my house, they can earn a ticket for completing all their morning chores, day time chores, and evening chores.  I basically go through their flipped tickets and see if they did everything they were supposed to in the time frame alloted.  Tickets are then used in exchange for rewards or privileges.

AnakinOur family decided to use tickets on everything electronic (Family TV time, computers, xbox, pads, etc) and  activities outside the house.  So each ticket is 15 minutes and they need to have 3 tickets before they’re allowed to turn something on.  If they want more time, they can choose not to spend tickets one day (not turn on an electronic device) to use another day.

The chores are very simple.  They have cards that say, “Brush your teeth”, “Take vitamins”, “make your bed”.  They also have chores like, “Dishes”, “Mop”, and “pet care”.  My kinesthetic learners don’t have to rely on memory for EVERYTHING.  They go to their board, read the task, do the task, then flip to the “Finished” peg.  In doing so I have eliminated HOURS of asking them to do things.

BrielleIt’s also effective because it doesn’t take away their volition; they can choose to not make their bed… then they don’t earn the ticket… then they have to go sit in their room while the rest of the family watches “The Flash”.  The natural consequence of the system has lifted discipline off my shoulders too.

Why would you spend money on this instead of setting up a chore chart?

  • Chore charts are visual. My kids are kinesthetic learners.
  • Chore charts show you the day or the week.  That is visually overwhelming and distracting for children with ADHD.  They only need to worry about one task at hand.
  • Chore charts leaves me entirely responsible for providing the consequences of success or failure.  With Accountable Kids, that responsibility falls entirely on THEIR hands!
  • Chore charts don’t provide a tangible and immediate reward for success.  These tickets provide that satisfaction even if they can’t “spend” that reward immediately.
  • Chore charts have to be consistently followed through to be effective.  Accountable Kids makes that easier on the parent.
  •  A Chore Chart is a list of things to do (how much do we like those as adults?), Accountable Kids helps my kids feel successful and in control.

I would say its a great program for any family and any child.  It is definitely worth reading their book on it!  If your parenting heart is like mine, we want to raise children  who are responsible for their actions.  We want them to take ownership of their contributions to our family so that as they mature, they’ll contribute to society! To that end, every family can strive to raise accountable kids.

 

 

Boys, Girls, and Scouting


I’m going to weigh in on a very controversial subject, with the disclaimer that the views I’m expressing are entirely my own.

A few weeks ago Facebook was blowing up with commentary from Stacy Dash, Matt Walsh, and all these other conservative pages, about Boy Scout’s decision to include girls.

Most of the feedback ranged from, “Why can’t boys be boys and girls be girls?” to “America is going to hell, the transgender have indoctrinated even something as sacred as scouting.”

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Pumpkin Carving and “Running With The Pack” belt loop work for our Wolf Den.

This bothered me.

Nobody, in those articles about an article, cited the reason behind Boy Scout’s decision or their statement.  But I received their statement first because I am a scout mom.  It actually says, and I quote:

“Families today are busier and more diverse than ever. Most are dual-earners and there are more single-parent households than ever before [1], making convenient programs that serve the whole family more appealing. Additionally, many groups currently underserved by Scouting, including the Hispanic and Asian communities, prefer to participate in activities as a family. Recent surveys [2] of parents not involved with Scouting showed high interest in getting their daughters signed up for programs like Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, with 90 percent expressing interest in a program like Cub Scouts and 87 percent expressing interest in a program like Boy Scouts. Education experts also evaluated the curriculum and content and confirmed relevancy of the program for young women.”

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Our Boy Scout troop retired a tattered American Flag ceremoniously.

Regardless of how I feel about the position that they took (and I will share that in a minute), this was never – EVER – a push by the LGBT community.  Because it was never designed to incorporate girls into boy scouting through some vague, androgynous definition of boy or girl.

So food for thought towards those who put their opinions of social media, as entitled to them as you are: you just slandered a massive organization composed of loving, invested parents such as my husband and myself.

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My favorite Pop Corn seller Scout!

The truth is many parents within the BSA had problems with this decision.  Many parents in the very troops I’m involved with threw a fit because they don’t believe scouting should be co-ed.  Likewise, I was also privately messaged by MANY moms not involved in scouting who told me, “My daughter has always wanted to join boy scouts.  She is more into the stuff that they get to do.”

My feelings on the matter?

Thank you!

Thank you, Boy Scouts of America, for realizing how difficult it is on middle-class, working families, to drive one boy to cub scouts, one boy to boy scouts, and one girl to girl scouts.  Thank you for being considerate of our time and not dividing our family up one more evening a week.  Thank you for putting such high value on the family as a unit.  Thank you for not being chauvinistic.  Thank you for being more accessible to everyone else other than white families with a well-paid Dad.  Thank you for turning the hearts of the fathers towards their daughters.  Thank you for not being so sexist that you don’t feel the skills you teach your boys are equally important to girls as well.  Thank you for creating a way for my husband and me to serve with all our children.  Thanks for teaching boys to value and respect girls – because in doing so you are raising better brothers, boyfriends, husbands and dads… and less Brock Turners and Harvey Weinsteins.And mainly, THANK YOU that my daughter doesn’t have to “identify as a boy” or experience a transgender crisis because she’d rather hike and camp with the boys than play dolls with the girls.  Thank you that she can be totally feminine, totally secure in her God-given gender and still reach the rank of Eagle Scout if she so chooses.

Rant over.

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My daughter and her friend working on the Wolf Den Cub Scout activities.

Logistically I don’t know how it will play out.  I know per the Scouting Laws and Regulations that it doesn’t mean boys and girls will go camping together.  For the most part, it seems the plan here in our local troops is to have different dens or patrols for girls and for boys.  It will require a lot more manpower.  It may totally flop! I don’t know.

I’m sticking with our Troop’s Director, who said: What are we telling our girls if we expend more family resources supporting a boy in BSA? All that said, boys do not do well with the distraction of girls, especially before 16. On the flip side, having a wholesome venue for boys and girls of similar values to interact around a common purpose is not bad, and in fact may be a real benefit. As I see it, it all boils down to two questions. 1. To what degree will integration be required. 2. Will traditional views regarding God given gender differences and roles be supported or at least tolerated.”  The rest is really to be continued…


 

A 5,000 Mile Miracle

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God is amazing! I don’t know that I have enough time to write all the ways He has been faithful to my family since my last blog post. I’m settled in Alaska, having flown to Florida and then to West Virginia before heading back; the provision of God to be able to see both my parents on the same trip is still beyond me. I was also able to see all my in-laws and have my husband join us for two weeks. I could not have asked for more, but He provided.
Miami BeachI would not have made it to Florida on my own at all.  We were scraping money for tickets and I just felt like we would never get there on time! Until members of my church stepped up to help.  One, an extraordinary man and veteran, helped me with a very generous check to get the tickets we needed to Florida.  Then I was handed an anonymous donation with the cash to purchase the tickets BACK to Alaska before I had even left.  I can’t even thank anyone other than God – who must’ve known I had to go.
When I arrived in Florida my mom was very, VERY sick. She has such an aggressive form of cancer that she opted to do 6 rounds of two different chemo medications + antibodies + steroids before surgery and radiation. She spends all day in the hospital getting these medications via a port she had installed in her chest.
good byeShe had just completed her first round of chemo. Aside from the expected side effects, she had an allergic reaction that had some extreme symptoms; inflammation in her bone marrow, nose bleeds that lasted for 20 minutes, and ridiculously low blood pressure.
She did not feel well enough to stand, let alone go back to work. But the situation was dire; my mom pays all the bills. She had treatment and MRIs delayed because she couldn’t afford them out of pocket and rent was due in two weeks! Well if the chemo didn’t kill her, the financial stress alone would finish her off.
All of July I was cleaning and cooking. Any out of pocket cash I spent this whole trip was in over the counter medicine, groceries and gas. Keeping my kids from getting sick so my mom wouldn’t get sicker. My sister was able to pick up enough part time shifts to earn a full time paycheck. By God’s provision rent was paid August 1st.
FROSTIt wasn’t until the weekend before round 2 that my mom was eating and “alive” by any counts. Around that time she had already lost all her hair, and my husband joined me.
This round of chemo went smoother considering she took antihistamines before treatment and we got her pretty hydrated. She had 5 really sick days but only vomited once! (This is a miracle!!).  After these five days Mom was completely fine without any side effects. Paul and I really enjoyed spending time with her those two weeks, it was such a blessing.
I feel like an infomercial for Jesus is coming along: BUT WAIT! There’s more!
In between all this, my husband and I were gifted with professional salsa dance classes, 10 free tickets to the FROST museum (best in Miami), 3 tickets to Universal Studios Orlando, a Mission’s trip for my oldest kid, beaches, pools, church and good food. And my mom’s health was good enough for us to enjoy these things as we could!
When she wasn’t feeling good, we had friends come over and keep my sister and me company with card games or dominos for long nights.
VAGod also provided tremendously for my mom. Because her cancer has not spread anywhere else, it was downgraded from the original diagnosis of 4C to a 3B! She had a secondary insurance company send her a check for every hospital day and every day at home, plus some of her co-pays. That check equaled what she currently owed in medical bills and then some. And she was able to work full time for about a week just before we left to the Virginias to do a little American History touring and spend some time with my Dad.
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MiamiAs I write this blog update, my mom and family in Miami have no power or cell service.  They were hit with some serious winds and flooding with Hurricane Irma, and I could not get a hold of them for 48 hours straight!  My mom had a rougher time recovering from round 3 of chemo and had been hospitalized just the week before.  But praise be to God, they are alive and well! Not only them, but all my in-laws and friends in Florida.  And what I learned from all this is what my kids and I have been reading about during our Bible Time in Matthew 14:22-33:
The power of Jesus is not evident in the absence of storms, but in such a fierce love that He would walk on water and meet us in the midst of it to calm our fears.
From Miami

The Cha-Cha of Life

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If it ever felt like we take one step forward and two steps back, it’s now!

We did not get pre-approved for a home loan.  We ended up moving into a small apartment just to be on our own again.

I’m not even trying to get into a home loan. I’m trying to get to Florida to see my mom and my sister.  And then get back.

whynottri1My mom was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  That blind-sided me.

A chiropractor is out to get me and levied my entire bank account.  The only medical place I have not been able to pay decided to help themselves to my husband’s entire paycheck and all we had in savings.

We did a triathlon as a family!  Then I injured my foot and haven’t been able to walk pain-free since June 9th.

I joined itWorks!  I can’t wait to get my starter kit.  Looking forward to making money for using products I would buy at GNC and start losing the weight I gained.

My dog Momo had a major seizure…

life groupOne step forward, two step backs.  It’s a cha-cha. The Salsa lover in me should find this beautiful… Except I feel violently shaken and disoriented right now!  Part of the reason I haven’t been able to blog, other than depression (and I’m seeing a therapist and a doctor for that) is I’m kinda’ stunned speechless! Yet I’ve been very well taken care of by my tribe of believing homeschooling moms and that has made all the difference.

I guess I forget I’m dancing with the Lord as my partner and He takes the lead! Not an original idea, but I heard Amena Brown, a spoken word poet and she NAILED IT, it’s so good I’m sharing with you the lyrics. Not quite as good as hearing her recite it, but it’s the best I got today:

Dance with Him
He puts His hand on the small of my back
Two fingers pressed into the center of my palm
He pulls me close
Steps with His left, my right
I focus on His eyes and try to ignore my feet as they clumsily count one – two – three
I’m trying to trust Him
He knows this dance better than me
I’m still a novice and it’s obvious
I have yet to lean in and let Him control the turns
He takes His time and even when I miss a step
It’s fine
He knows I’m learning
He wants me to put my hand in His
Close my eyes and trust Him
With my life
My heart
With worry
And “I’m so scared”
With hurt
lifeWorth and unworthy
Loving and unlovable
And my heart has been hurt before
I have been burned before
Loved
And endured loss before
I am in no mood for a dance
No mood to be romanced
I have become a grace cynic
And love’s worst critic
He sends me invitations every day
And even though I have yet to RSVP
He doesn’t mind me
He keeps pursuing
Taking steps in spite of me
He is a songwriter
Composing the notes that hold together eternity
And He wants to teach my limbs to sing
He’s been waiting to watch me let go of woe
And worry…until my soul
Sings in that beautiful voice He gave me
That I have someone come to think
Is not so beautiful
To dance with Him
I must give in
And give up
Plus
The trust it takes to really love
And I want to love Him unbridled
Believe in Him with a faith that is unshakeable
Like tree roots centuries deep
Until I learn to follow His time
Take deep breaths
Rest my head on His chest
And my cares at His feet
But I never fare well
As long as I depend on mewhynottri2
Take His hand
Take a chance
Fingertips in the palm of the One who holds galaxies
In His hand
Hand on His shoulder
Heart in His hand
We dance
To a down beat
That keeps time with His heartbeat
Sometimes
It feels like He’s letting me go
When He’s only letting me turn
And sometimes
It feels like He’s letting me fall
When He’s only letting me learn
His is the song that never ends
His love
Sinners become friends
He wants to dance with you
Until the only Song you hear
Is Him

When I have nothing to encourage you with personally, it’s ok.  That will get better.  But I’m never without encouragement from the Lord, without His peace, or His provision.  As a Christian blogger, the best I can do is share the encouragement I’ve received with you.  I pray it lifts you up today.

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Lifelines While On The Go

Confession: I don’t have a lot of time to blog this week. It’s been super busy!

Between doctors appointments and school activities, American Heritage Girls and homeschool cooperatives, I’m mentally and physically maxed out. But the climax of this week that has my undivided attention is Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday!


Easter for our family has never had anything to do with bunnies or eggs. We don’t even give kids baskets or gifts to celebrate the day. But oh do we celebrate!  My children understand that through Jesus’ death and victory over the grave, we are now invited to the greatest party in the universe!

“When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I tell you, from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:14-18‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

I think some people see believers who turn to the Lord as lemmings who have signed up to a list of dos and donts. Certainly Jesus described those who would make excuses not to come. But entering a relationship with the most Holy God is not a bore! It’s a feast!

The Parable of the Great Banquet

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Luke 14:15-24

It’s an access with the King of Kings we did not have before that veil in the Temple was torn, one where we can delight in the presence of God and His fullness of joy. It’s being satisfied unlike anything in this world can do in us. 

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:5‬ ‭HCSB‬‬


So there is a lot of singing, a lot of worshipping, a lot of fellowship, some good food, and definitely some family time in the sunshine in store for us. 

But even with all these things going on, I still need to train for a triathlon (and my family too)! And spend time in prayer and personal Bible study. And time with the kids. And time with the husband. The blogs with the book reviews, lessons learned, and fitness encouragement will have to wait until next week. 

I’d like to leave you with some lifelines I use to help me stay centered on the go:

  1. Perspective: journal on my phone. It helps me keep track of my priorities and rate the day based on how I centered I was to things that are important to me. This ADHD brain needs tools like this so I don’t get lost between vet appointments and frog dissections.
  2. Bible In One Year Audio Bible: I honestly don’t have time to read my Bible and I hate being so hectic. But I value this resource so much! I listen to the Bible and the commentary and it’s very edifying. It turns something mundane like making breakfast or folding laundry into a holy moment; while my hands are busy, my heart and my mind are engaged in God’s Word. 
  3. Nike Fitness Club: I’ve been able to enter what weights I could use and what supplies I have, and how often I can exercise this week. It builds customized workouts no more than thirty minutes and within my abilities. 
  4. Audio CDs: our van is old school and comes with a CD player. When we spend so much time in the van, we listen to stories as a family. It gives us something to look forward to and something to discuss as a family. It definitely beats everyone to their own electronic devices and the disconnect that can happen when you’re just running from one thing to the next. But if you have Bluetooth capabilities in your car, Audible is a great resource! Or check out Overdrive and see if your local library is on the app to borrow audio books directly to your phone, from your house!


These are all resources I use for free. If you choose to upgrade to a paid version I will not be compensated in any way. The only apps I found worth paying for are:

  • Fitstar Yoga: I desperately need to stretch my achy joints. I paid the fee to have workouts built for me as I improve. And I can play any music I want in the background, which usually is my worship play list so I can relax and release tension. 
  • Abide: This is a Christian meditation guide. It’s prayers based on scripture that you can hear in the mornings or at night. With background music and based on topics. It’s an active prayer and scripture meditation app in that you are prompted to think and pray about specific things in your life, and meditate on the significance of the Bible verses in your own life. 

Both these apps have free versions too, and if you choose to pay for their subscriptions I won’t be compensated in any way. This isn’t an affiliate post, it’s an honest mom blog post. 

It will be a wonderful week! Be blessed!

What are you doing this weekend?

The Creative In The ADHD Brain

Anakin typing

Confession: I have been guilty (along with a list of teachers and coaches) of accusing my child of either being lazy or sabotaging his opportunities.  A lot more before I understood what it means that my oldest has ADHD, and thankfully a lot less now that I understand the balance between his attention and his distractibility.

I don’t think we give these children (and adults) enough credit.  Yes it’s hard for them to engage in some things at the same level as other “normal” children – either gazing out the window absent-mindedly or cutting off their peers every five minutes – but their brains don’t just stop there!  There is something amazing on the other side of this disability and it’s their God-given, creative genious!  When they reach that sweet spot, man can they take off!

DifferentI strongly recommend you pick up the book “Different” by Sally Clarkson and Nathan Clarkson. [Disclaimer: This is not an affiliate link, it’s my honest mom’s recommendation.] Nathan was diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, and OCD – making him a very different child growing up.  Now he’s used his talents to create movies like “Confessions of a Prodigal Son” and he acted in “The Purge”.  His adult life now is the result of Sally Clarkson’s labor of love, and raising an ADHD child to reach his “sweet spot”.

I’ll share about my younger son in another post, but I wanted to highlight something amazing about my oldest, Anakin.  We’ve always struggled with writing assignments, although he’s advanced for his age, because of the work it took to get him to sit still and focus long enough to write a book report/essay/story that made sense.  And then something was unlocked in him that has him taking off, publishing e-books [Anakin does receive a percentage of the purchases from this link, so it’s as close to an affiliate link as I have], illustrating his own cartoons and writing like crazy; he found a passion for history.

Anakin and Caleb reading

He says history is his favorite subject and he wants to become a writer.  He says things like, “Now that I’ve read the book ‘Unbroken’ I’d like to see how Angelina Jolie directed the movie based on his life.”  His passion – at the young age of 10.5 – is to write fiction stories in historical context so you learn about history without the rote work of memorization.

Confession: History was MY WORST SUBJECT EVER.  And then came math.

Now I can’t make him just write a “paragraph” on anything, as you can see in his assignment on The Silk Road of the Middle East.  The instructions were to write a paragraph or short story on what it would be like to trade along The Silk Road. And here comes Anakin, 809 words later, he has created quite the plot – with developed charaters, dialogue, and within the historical context of the times.  One I’m happy to share with you (for free) because my son wants to know if it’s readable enough for younger children to stay captivated – in the hopes of developing it into a children’s book, complete with illustrations.  Y’all let me know!

The Life of a Silk Road Trader

 

Old Goku

Original Artwork by Anakin Hass, “What would Goku look like when he’s finally old?” based off the Dragonball Anime universe.

The point is, successful adults with disabilities are those that are able to major on their strengths.  The key to raising successful adults, then, is to be parents who let children major on their strengths! If you would’ve asked me last year if Anakin was a good writer I would’ve answered with a, “Eh…” and a half smile.  And I would’ve been wrong.  I missed his gift because he just had not found anything he was passionate enough to write.

 

I want to encourage you, from one mom to another – whether you homeschool or not – to give your children the space and time they need to pursue their passions.  Even if it doesn’t look like the things you are passionate about! We are raising world changers.  I believe, prophetically, that the battles to be won will be fought by those who stand their ground at the intersection of a Kingdom Need and a Heart-Filled Talent.  This intersection will be their posts as adults, and we need to shepherd them in that direction.

Have you ever been surprised by something you didn’t think you could do, but you did very well?  How did that experience impact your perspective on life?

The ADHD Friendly Church

winter church

Confession: I was THAT kid at church. Restless. Slightly disruptive no matter how interested. I had to keep busy. 

15 years later I come to church and I see my boys, among other kids, and I get it. We can have the most dynamic worship team and the funniest Pastor, it is very hard for us ADHDers to do nothing during the service.

What are you saying Maria?! You don’t sit at church and do nothing! You pray! You listen! You worship!

Fair enough, let me expand. Yes, we actively worship, and provided we can sing along at the top of our lungs you still have our attention. But sitting still and listening during a sermon is NOT our forte! Even with our best intentions, our minds wander. And we get restless. As in, grab another cup of coffee, go pee, and remember to send that email kind of restless.

True story: I either pray out loud or pray in writing. Bowing our heads and closing our eyes is how I take a power nap while out in public

My daughter asked if she could sing with Mommy and Daddy.

Which is why we seem to do better as a family in churches that are more ADHD friendly; a much more casual atmosphere, where we can laugh along with the distractions that inevitably happen without offense being taken. And where the sermons get to the point (sorry I had to be honest and say it).

What denomination is that?

I don’t know! I don’t think you’ll find it reading the church bylaws or ministry website. It’s an exclusively organic feel the congregation as a whole creates when they love your family and accept you- quirks and all. It’s a kid-friendly environment where they are not a distraction but the mission. It’s a place where you’re invited to plug in so you’re NOT asked to sit still for two hours week after week.

Our small group doesn’t just do church, we do some camping and hiking too 🙂

Before you find this blog post disappointing (seeing as I didn’t solve your problems or gave you solid answers) I’d like to share that there are things YOU can do to make church work better for your family regardless of how differently-abled your family is:

  1. Be honest and open about the disability. You’ll find most ministers are compassionate. The majority of church folk want to believe that your boy isn’t acting like hell on wheels because he’s rebellious. A lot of times, they’ve just never met anyone quite like y’all. So speak up (the Bible tells Christians we can’t be psychic)!
  2. Try to make church enjoyable for the kids: they deserve something to look forward to! Reward incentives work great. Allow them to wiggle a bit and make friends. Mainly, lighten up your attitude! Do you ever wonder why some adults only come to church for funerals and weddings? If you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself, and your kid can be himself, you’ll find everyone has a better time.
  3. Minimize the uncomfortableness: is it hard to sit still? Bring crayons and paper to draw during service. Or take a Rubik’s cube. Or a fidget cube. And don’t fear the electronics: an iPad with the youversion app open to write notes is ok! A bag of gold fishes has saved many moms with toddlers. Flags to wave during worship and tambourines for kids are great too (except at my church, my pastor friends kindly asked me to pass on tambourines).
  4. Have an “end goal” in mind: our family normally doesn’t eat out during the week so Sunday lunch is often looked forward to. Also, MY boys bring Pokémon cards to church (Sacrilege!). Provided the actively participate during service, they can trade with friends afterwards.
  5. Most importantly, make church about the people and the Lord, not the building. Our God is very relationship-minded and we should be too. Church for our family is the people we love! The quiet prayers, the worship music, and the listening is a daily part of our lives at home, so when it happens at church it’s no biggie! Instead, church is where we get to pray with our friends – and that’s what makes it even more special.

Have any tips to share with that Mom that doesn’t feel like she can relax at Church? What encouragement would you offer her?

The Special Needs, Battle-Worn Parent

Confession: This post may seem like a rant.  But it’s my heart’s goal that through THIS momma’s rant, you can be just slightly more aware (if you aren’t already) of what it’s like to walk a mile in these shoes.

Being the mom of a special needs child is hard.  I know MANY moms in different battles and my heart just goes out for them, because though I have it much easier than some… It’s still exhausting.

boys reading

I’m sure we all have moments where we yell at others but only inside our heads, because we’re still trying to keep what little appearance of sanity we have.  But it may sound something like this:

“Well your child is constantly interrupting others and can’t wait his turn to talk, but I don’t think that’s an ADHD symptom at all…”

So you’re assuming he’s just rude and sabotaging his friends on purpose?  This is TEXTBOOK impulsivity in a social setting, classic symptom of ADHD – and I know, because I read the books.  Would you like one?

“Your child’s behavior is not the greatest, so although the rest of his peers are advancing, I don’t think he is taking this as seriously as his classmates and we won’t be advancing him.”

He fractured his hand at the growth plate of his middle trying to impress you with the skill he was trying to accomplish because it mattered to him THAT much to earn your approval though… Just sayin’.

chess

“I would never try medication with MY kids! We’ve been able to manage little Tommy’s behavior just fine by cutting out his sugar and red dye number 40.  I’ve also read that more protein helps little boys with the same issues you struggle with.”

Would you tell a diabetic that he just needs to get his fat self to exercise and eat healthy and he wouldn’t need his insulin any more?!?  And would you not think that I have tried everything before this point?

“I just don’t see the big deal with behavioral issues.  After all, boys will be boys.”

I don’t think boys are supposed to struggle with insomnia, bed wetting, and poor appetites either.  And him talking out of turn in a class is not nearly as concerning to me as the migraines he gets two to four times a week from constantly trying to focus around non-stop distractions.  But I’m glad you feel he’s manageable.

swimming

“My mom just whooped me when I didn’t focus.”

Yeah, my mom whooped me too.  We now have lived 6000 miles apart for the past 8 years.  You were sayin’?

“Have you considered that maybe you just shouldn’t homeschool him?  At some point you need to see you may be doing things wrong and you should leave him to an expert.”

I don’t even want to dignify this with an answer.

Anakin and friends

I could keep going. But I can also go in the other direction; I have friends who have just loved on us and never said a word – which is helpful.  But if there’s one thing I’d like for all these people to know is that they are the icing on the chocolate cake of my problems and my battle as a parent of this child.  Which is why many, many moms in my situation just walk away and don’t bother saying a word.

We don’t want to begin to tell you how much we have to wrestle with our spouses over this.  Many spouses are in a sort of tug-o-war over their hopes for their special needs children and how to address it, and while we’re walking that tight rope we’re still fussing with the child (usually over the SAME thing, over, and over again… It’s like beating a dead horse until you get it to the edge of the water and then making it take a drink!).  And we still have to research for outside sources of help for our child.  While managing the rest of the family and other “normal” kids and not so “normal” kids.  And let’s not forget any semblance of self care…

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So from all moms like me, I kindly ask moms like you: When you see us in the struggle at the school line or the grocery store, don’t be THAT mom – the judgy mom, the mom with all the answers (the one I used to be, when everything seemed in control).  Instead, be the mom that brings an extra cup of coffee or sends a funny meme.  Be the mom that teaches their kids about differently-abled brains and how to be friends with kids who process life differently than yours.  Be the mom that “moves towards the mess.” If you don’t know what to do, just lift three fingers and whistle the “Hunger Games” tune.  We get it.

put your love glasses on

For Richer or for Poor

Confession: My husband and I attended a wedding where the bride refused to say, “or for poor” at the end of her wedding vows.  The preacher tried to get her to repeat the whole phrase, “For richer or for poor” twice… she would drop the last half of the phrase every time!

for richer or poor

I’m thankful I’ve stuck with my husband on the “or for poor” parts of our lives, just as he has stuck with me on the “in sickness” part of our lives.  It would’ve been a lonely stretch if we skipped out on each other when times got tough.

For the record, we’ve been homeless more than once, tried to make ends meet in Oklahoma, Florida, and now Alaska. We’ve changed careers and jobs at least four times; from military, to Subway (making sandwiches), to the FAA, to selling cell phones, to now working in the medical field where he’s finally growing and doing great.


Can I share a deep revelation I received through this journey?

A godly man doesn’t need to be reminded about his responsibility to provide. It’s a constant, heavy burden over his shoulders. It’s his primary ministry and his God-given curse. 

“And He said to Adam, “Because you listened to your wife’s voice and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘Do not eat from it’: The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust.””

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭3:17-19‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

I didn’t learn this only from my husband, but also by having open conversations with other husbands when they shared how deeply work transitions and unemployment affected them.

It is excruciatingly painful for a godly man to be unable to provide for his family. I qualify this statement by emphasizing that this is how a godly man feels because any man who intentionally neglects his family is not in a relationship with his God and is spiritually blind.  Whether or not your husband loves God is really up to you to know!


So what do we do in these seasons? When we can’t make all the ends meet, and the husband is applying for jobs unsuccessfully, and the notices are piling up on the kitchen counter…

  • Pray for your husband AND don’t nag at him. There are some needs that are meant for GOD to provide. And since you don’t really need to remind your husband of what needs to be provided for anyways, seek God for these burdens instead.
  • Do NOT with-hold sex from your husband during difficult times. Contrary to pop culture bolony, sex is not just a physical need for your man; it heals his soul, and validates him deeply in a season where everything else is telling him “you’re not good enough.” And sex is not a reward tool, your husband is not a dog.
  • Encourage your husband and appreciate all he does for you. It’s quite foolish to get angry at a man who’s spending a lot of time at work… because he’s working! And deep in his heart it brings him peace to know he’s providing- even if this comes with overtime, travel, or deployment. So thank him for the hard work, or the part time jobs, or the traveling, or the applications he has put in. He needs to know that it matters to you in a dog-eat-dog world.
  • Live within your means! Don’t make the burden more difficult by desiring a lifestyle that is outside of his (or yours, if you both work) income. Learn the biblical key to contentment so he can truly find solace and rest at home.

I have learned to say, “I love going camping with you!” Instead of “I would love a Hawaiian vacation.”  And, as any godly man would, Paul actually took me to Hawaii kid-free for a four day honeymoon (debt free too!). I have learned to not mind used furniture if it means we’re not adding an extra bill. And I have specially learned to serve him in our budget by asking him, “What bills should we focus on with this paycheck? How much do you want me to spend on groceries?” I have the better memory for when bills are due, but he’s a better mathematician.


More than anything, my husband is my favorite person. I’m happy to eat ramen noodles or steak and lobster with him. And you should feel the same way about your husband!

These trials come to teach both husband and wife to rely on God and not only on themselves. Don’t despise the humble beginnings. Don’t fear the seasons of lack, because you both serve a God who knows all your needs. 
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:6-7‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

 

How can you encourage a struggling wife (or yourself) when finances are tight?

 

One Week of Idita-Reading

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Confession: My oldest son loves to read.  In fact, when he gets into a book we’re all normally annoyed by how he binge reads – and neglects everything and everyone else.  My daughter likes to read too…

… But when it comes to my youngest, asking him to sit down and read a book is like asking him to volunteer for wisdom tooth extraction.

Caleb at Iditarod Start

Here’s Caleb, freezing cold but happy to see the Iditarod Ceremonial Start in Anchorage!

Sit the youngest in front of the pediatrician and  he can read 4th grade level texts at age 7.  He knows a lot of “encyclopedic information” from books about animals and human anatomy.  But there’s something about sitting down with a book for a few minutes, specially a fiction book or a chapter book, that he was just not having it.

Enter IDEA, stage right! (Interior Distance Education of Alaska)

Anakin's Artwork

Original Artwork by Anakin Hass, done entirely by freehand 3/4/17

They are our homeschooling charter school.  I’m always very thankful of their educational support.  They have always stood behind me as a homeschooling parent – an experience I’ve heard is unique to charter schools in Alaska.

Our schools every year participate in the Iditaread, a race against mushers actively competing in IditarodThis race to Nome is a big deal for us Alaskans, as these Mushers access towns that are off the road system completely – only reachable by dog mushing or plane.

http://iditarod.com/photo/

Mats Pettersson lead dog jumps and is ready to continue to run after Mats checked in at the Kaltag checkpoint during the 2017 Iditarod on Sunday afternoon March 12, 2017.Photo by Jeff Schultz/SchultzPhoto.com (C) 2017 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

In the Iditaread, kids read on average a page per musher’s miles.  They log their miles and try to make it from Fairbanks (only this year) to Nome (979 miles) before their selected musher does.  Many homeschooling families do this challenge outside of the official Iditaread because it’s very fun for readers. (That’s the key… It’s a marathon of reading, usually all pages are done in two to three weeks!). 

http://iditarod.com/photo/

Jason Mackey runs on the Yukon River with many snowmachine tracks running alongside on the trail nearng the Kaltag checkpoint during the 2017 Iditarod on Sunday afternoon March 12, 2017.Photo by Jeff Schultz/SchultzPhoto.com (C) 2017 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Obviously, this was daunting for my 7 year old.  But I have a couple of liberties recommended to me by the teachers and staff at IDEA:

  • Pick rookie mushers for emergent readers!  Caleb is racing against Roger Lee in his first Iditarod, all the way from England! It gives them a chance to learn about new mushers.  If your kid is a good speedster reader, he can tackle the more challenging mushers.  My son always races against Dallas Seavey – and that’s hard to beat! He’s won multiple times and finished last year in record time.
  • I get to “vet check” the books the way veterinarians check the dogs to make sure they’re healthy.  In that sense, I can offer Caleb 2 miles per page if the book is more 2nd-3rd grade level, as well as make sure with my oldest who has read the entire I Am Number Four series that the content isn’t entirely inappropriate for a 10 year old.
  • Keep track with maps and colors and progress book marks – provided entirely by IDEA, Caleb now has a visual so he doesn’t feel discouraged.  He can trace his finger along his map and see how far he’s come!

iditaread1

We started with a kick off party at the school where each kid did a cut out of their lead dog.  Then the staff can move their dogs along as the kids reach the check points along the way.  This captivated all three of my kids!

Then we added a twist: Mom and Dad are doing the Iditaread too!  We’re racing mushers as well (and falling tragically behind, but it’s the effort and attitude that counts!).  We’re leading by example.  The rules for us are a little different though:

  • I can’t count pages I read during Paul’s work hours, because that’s not fair!  So the pages I read have to be between 12-1pm (his lunch break) or after 5pm in the evening.
  • Pages of books we read aloud to the kids in the evening or during lunch count for the parent who reads and the children who sit still and actively listen.  Woo-hoo for the Read Aloud Revival led by Sarah McKenzie!

iditaread2

We’ve spent a lot of evenings just reading after dinner until bed time. The TV is collecting dust, and I kind of like it that way! However, we decided to take the weekend off, and our mushers didn’t, so now we’re pretty far behind them.  But there has to be a balance to everything – a big learning point when you have 1 confirmed and one awaiting diagnosis for ADHD.  So there is still school work, math, writing, chores, family board games, outings and church.

And for the record, Caleb read 300 pages this week.  Motivated himself to make it 400 pages starting tomorrow.  He’ll make it to Nome with his “lead dog Max” in no time!

caleb and max

How do you motivate children to love reading when they seem to prefer doing ANYTHING else?