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…

family pic

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

featured

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?

The Auditory Learner

I thought I was so smart when I made my daughter flash cards to memorize her multiplication tables.  Then my feelings were completely hurt when she wasn’t learning anything from holding them in her hands for 30 minutes at a time.

multiplication

Duh!

My daughter is an Auditory learner.  In part due to vision problems she had from Kindergarten through 2nd grade, which required vision therapy and kept her from successfully being able to read and write.  Vision therapy helped strengthen the nerves around her eyes and now she reads and writes just fine.

That doesn’t mean that she’s a visual learner though.  It just means she can read and write.

Her memory is directly linked to what she hears – specially what she hears in her own voice.  And this can be such a tough type of kid to teach because most public school curriculum is visual, and a lot of the homeschooling curriculum is kinesthetic (which works too, but only in some things).  So what do I use?

I get audio books for the books she’s supposed to read that are a bit too thick.  Our Library has the Overdrive app which allows us to borrow audio books directly to our phone!  Audible is a good source too.  And a good old fashioned trip to the Library for some CDs to play in the van work great too.  When we had long days in the van, driving everywhere, we listened to stories narrated by Jim Weiss.  Celtic Tales.  A Tale of Two Cities.  The Three Musketeers.  My kids know a lot of the classics from listening to this on the go.

It also means that we do better having conversations about history and science than making her write it or fill out worksheets.  Specially if I want her to remember key points.

Auditory math feels like watching paint dry.  I’m glad I use manipulatives for this, and she’s actually able to keep up visually for the most part.  But when it came to memorizing her time tables, which is just plain boring memorization, she couldn’t do it on her own.

For this, I sat down and talked her through the time tables.  I started with 2s and 3s, and then I would give her an answer and ask her what time table gave her that number (example: 18 = 2×9 and 3×6).  We sit together for thirty minutes and go back and forth on them, and if she’s confused, I ask her to say the correct fact four times back to back.  Now she’s learned up to her 5s.

Key issue for memorization: You have to sound confident.  Your brain has to hear you say it like you know it.  You can’t memorize questions or doubts.  If you sound like you don’t really know, what your brain will remember is that feeling of “I don’t really know”.

Bible verses? Read them out loud often.  Lines to recite for a play? Record yourself saying them and play it back!

brielle-headphones

At this point someone would ask me: How do I know I have an auditory learner?

  • Does your child make songs out of everything?
  • Do you hear your child talk to herself during play?
  • Can she pick up a rhythm or hum a melody she just heard?
  • Does your child have a prosecuting attorney-like ability to quote you on something you said?  Maybe even weeks ago? When you weren’t even talking to her?
  • Does your child pick up on words or phrases she hears others say?
  • Does your child like it when you read out loud?

Then these are hints that she might be an auditory learner.  They’re very musical.

I just learned to use her strength in her favor instead of beating the dead horse over concepts that she just wouldn’t memorize fresh off the text book.

I also have a kinesthetic learner (movement/wiggly butt) and a visual learner.  It spreads me out in my homeschooling day!  Between learning styles AND difference in grade levels, every child is almost always working individually on all subjects.

What would you say is your learning style?  Can you remember things you read?  Do you learn songs very quickly?  Or do you prefer to be hands-on to understand how things work? Share below!

What This Blog is Not…

I am a homeschooling mom of three kids, one of which is ADHD and another was visually impaired up until third grade.  In my past life, I had lost 30 lbs, ran 240 miles in a year, and became a Zumba Instructor.  Then Rheumatoid Arthritis humbly knocked me off that high horse, and life has me rebuilding pretty much from scratch at this point.  I may potentially be ADHD as well, I suspect.  I’m Hispanic.  I’ve been happily married to my high school sweet heart for 12+ years. I live in Alaska though I was born in Venezuela and raised in South Florida.  And I’ve been a born-again Christian since I was 15 years old.  With my family 4 time zones and 6000 miles away, my church IS my family.  And I’m a reader.

Some of my readers know me from way back in my blogger.com days, others joined me when I was at confessions1st.com, and some of you may just now have started following me.  But in case you didn’t know, here are 10 things this blog is DEFINATELY not:

  1. Advertisement. Ugh I hate clicking stuff away from the article I want to read.  I’m willing to pay to keep you from that.  While maybe some day I may do a sponsored post, it’s not really my style.  I don’t want to sell you anything. Really.

    Disclaimer: I do book reviews.  I normally don’t get paid to share my opinion on the books, I just get the books for free – and more frequently I give a copy of the book away!

  • Gospel or Professional Advice. Nope. I’m an average mom.
  • Pinterest Worthy: If you’re waiting for me to share, “7 crafts you can do for St. Patrick’s Day” or “5 ways to grow closer to God”, I can point you in the direction of some GREAT bloggers.  That’s just not my style.
  • Photogenic: I write, visual arts are NOT my forte, so most of the pics featured here are either from pixabay.com or they are from my phone.
  • Word vomit venting: While I’m transparent about struggling through some tough times, I don’t want to share with you anything without a ray of light somehow.
  • Exclusively, Entirely Christian: I’ve prayed about this a lot.  And while I am exclusively, entirely Bible-believing Christian myself, that’s not the only audience I want to reach.  It’s not the only thing I want to write about. It’s not even the only thing I talk about! I mean in all sincerity, I meet up with friends and talk about television shows, funny youtube cat videos, parenting, and sports.  If I only blogged in “Christianese”, it would be very fake of me.
  • Political: Bleeeegh
  • Bashing of Anyone Else: I don’t beat anyone down with changes that need to be made, except me.
  • Without Error.
  • Anyone Else’s Opinion But My Own.
I love my husband! So I bug him for #selfies. He obliges. #selfie #nofilter #marriage

confessions1rst I love my husband! So I bug him for #selfies. He obliges. #selfie #nofilter #marriage

Like it so far? Subscribe/Follow! I’d appreciate keeping in touch.  I want to know who my audience is. It’s the greatest compliment you can give a blogger!

Got any suggestions you’d like to see here? Share below!

All Things Are Possible… With ADHD

This is blog 3 of 3 on the subject.  If you’ve just joined me, you can check out post 1 and post 2 first at these links!

Confession: I am realizing now that my apprehension against Ritalin is kind of like judging a diabetic for using insulin instead of dieting and exercising regularly.

But after a lot of research I’ve realized where my negative stereotype came from:

  • Seeing so many kids diagnosed early: What kind of four year old ISN’T a wiggle butt?
  • Reports of “zombie like” side effects on the medication.
  • The stereotypical “welfare mom” who takes advantage of the diagnosis to dump the kid from dawn to dusk at day care.
  • The ease of the diagnosis in the first place: even teachers and social workers can diagnose a child and refer him to get medications!

There’s always a little bit of truth to these stereotypes after all, or they wouldn’t stick.  Really difficult kids drive referrals, which is why boys are diagnosed in day care and most girls fall through the cracks.  That “zombie” kid may have been over-medicated because there isn’t an exact science to the amount of medication each individual kid needs – and as I’ve learned full well through  my RA journey, sometimes it takes months (in my case, a year and 2 months) to get the balance of medication right!  Lower income parents have a more difficult time with ADHD children and less support, having to work more and not necessarily having the child’s needs be any cheaper…

I’m no expert, but I have read enough on the subject to understand that the medications prescribed for ADHD are stimulants to help an underactive part of the brain – the part that helps with slowing down and thinking things through.  It’s not easy to dial it down!  But it makes sense to me because after Anakin would stand in the bathroom, toothbrush in hand, for 15 minutes, I would have him drink a cup of coffee with me in the mornings.

Cafe con leche, also known as cafe au lait.  Half brewed coffee, half milk, and some sugar.  It saved my life on more than one school morning myself… But I digress.  I did this every so often, specially on challenging school days.

I tackled all these concerns with his pediatrician too.  I came to understand that for most public school kids, they get put on longer-lasting medication.  Many schools are not exactly tolerant of a daily trip to the nurse’s office for another dose.  So when the aim is to help a child get through an 8-12 hour day, it’s not inconceivable that the dosage can be largely over-shot.

We decided to try a small dose that a) works immediately (side effects and all) and b) lasts only 3-4 hours.  If it was going to be too much, and negatively affect him, I wanted to know pretty immediately and call it good.  I also homeschool, and have been doing so the past 2 school years successfully without any medication.  In this time:

  • He learned to swim.
  • He published a book on Amazon.
  • He is a Cub Scout
  • He reads high school level fiction and even Kathy Reichs (we’re all a fan of the television show Bones)
  • He designs video games and learned coding
  • He’s an excellent chef – with the best mac and cheese in Alaska, I’m sure!
  • He’s made and kept a few good friends
  • Shot a .22 with outstanding accuracy
  • Premiered in a Christmas production with a local theater company
  • Performed in a choir, singing middle school level pieces of music with at least two part harmonies.

Needless to say, all things ARE possible.  Even with ADHD.

anakin-naan

The particular issue in this season of our lives is that the distractions and noise are constant and at times chaotic.  Not only was he having a difficult time focusing but the stress of trying to concentrate with the odds against him were also giving him headaches, depression, and an upset stomach.

So far, I’ve tried a dose of Ritalin twice – and always with his consent.  I’ve asked him, “Do you want to take your medication for XYZ this morning? Or do you think you can handle without?”  He’s asked me to do cub scouts and church without meds.  But on meds, he tackled a lot of chores and a lot of school work – might I add in an impressive amount of time.  DRASTICALLY less fussing with the sibling over every. single. chore.

Rabbit trail: How do I know this kid is a math genious? Because he’ll tell me, “Caleb only vacuumed 1/3 of the surface area upstairs.  Mean while, I have swept and mopped the entire floor down stairs, which is about twice the surface area Caleb has to vacuum upstairs in the first place! Therefore, it stands to reason that I should get on the computer first and not do any more chores – not even his chores!”  For the record, Caleb is 7.

He has complained it bugs his stomach but not enough to slow him down.  No change in personality either, just more task efficient; seeing the problem as “what needs to get done?” and then doing just that without complaining, fussing, or bullying his siblings into taking his place.

I don’t doubt that with or without medication Anakin, along many other kids, will accomplish things that will surpass anything his father and I could’ve hoped for!  While we read through the literature and learn better skills, we can certainly use treatment as our ally.

anakin-and-me

And we will probably BOTH need treatment.  All my research shows me that ADHD is hereditary, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Anakin probably inherited it from me.  If I braved this process for him, I owe it to him to brave it for myself too because I can only parent as far as I know.  If you want to know how this saga progresses, you’ll have to follow my blog.  Only time will tell!

Do you face medication concerns when it comes to your loved ones? How do you handle that conversation? Share below!