Posted in Family, Homeschooling

If Y’all Could Make Mental Health Not So Scary… That Would Be Great.

I last shared about the pivoting point that made a potential Ritalin believer for my son, Anakin.  But first, I had to go to his pediatrician and get a diagnosis.

Confession: I wish this process wasn’t so … scary.  There’s so much stigma attached to not having a perfectly wired brain!

… So many of these boys do poorly in High School.  They are also more likely to struggle with depression and as a result, turn to drug addiction.  Or they can be psychopaths, quite literally, with severe defiant disorders… Yikes! This is my ten year old Larry boy we’re talking about! The one who memorized and quizzed on the whole book of Acts, who got baptized at church camp!

Trust me when I say: Don’t google anything.  But take notes of everything about your kid – everything he feels physically, emotionally, and every behavior issue and bring that to a professional.  In my case, my Pediatrician has treated Anakin since he was 3 years old!  He has a history of all of Anakin’s developmental assessments through out the years as well as his vaccines.  He knows how smart Anakin is.

We talked about some physical symptoms that were concerning me; insomnia (I wonder who he gets THAT from?!), upset stomach, and a clumsy impulsivity that is above and beyond a preteen.  We also talked about how Anakin has always been forgetful but it feels that this school year he can’t find the pocket on his own pants.  Anakin himself shared that he’s frustrated because he stutters more often, isn’t getting along well with his friends like he used to, and that he feels worried or anxious all the time.

We didn’t need to talk about how Anakin has a difficult time with negative feelings.  And there’s no mild discomfort; everything on his pain scale is a 12 over 10 or a 0.  He’s been this way since he was two years old…

He sent us home with some questionaires – one for him to complete about himself, and one for parents to complete.  We came in another day with questionnaires filled and Anakin sat through about 45 minutes of testing to assess various neurological responses.

It was after all this that the doctor sat us down and said my suspicions were correct; although Anakin is very smart and has undoubtedly developed some good coping mechanisms thus far, he has ADHD.

He proceeds to explain to Anakin, eye to eye, what Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder means, with a drawing of brain neurons, and leaves me with a prescription of Ritalin which is completely optional and the list of a few authors.  He gives Anakin two books on how to slow down his mind to think.

We head over to the library and I leave Anakin happily playing a computer game on army tanks to brave section 616 in the adult floor.

anakin_tank

Dementia… PTSD… Anorexia… Depression… Psychopathy… Autism… 

Lord Jesus, what have I done to my son?!

scary-books

Attention Deficit Disorder… Here it is… A quarter of the shelf.  I’m hoping it’s more because so many books have been checked out and not necessarily because not enough books are written.

adhd-books

This is what makes asking for help so scary!  To venture down a path of needing mental health walks you through all these terrifiying and very real potential problems, much like how I felt walking down aisle 616 at my local library (even the number sounds ominous!).

But none of these things are beyond Jesus’ ability to heal or work through.  Autism, like ADHD, is an inherited different wiring of the brain – nothing more, nothing less.  Nothing God can’t use.  It’s not the nails on the coffin; it’s the nails on the Cross!  They are souls Jesus died for who have a role to play in God’s Kingdom.  While I would ask God to help someone heal from PTSD or Anorexia, I wouldn’t ask God to “heal” someone with autism or ADHD; they are some of the most wonderful geniuses I have ever met.  

PS About the video of Anakin three years ago… we all laugh about it now.  I’m sharing now confident that he isn’t as mortified about the incident as he was then.  He is a good sport and has a good sense of humor.

Do you know and love someone who is “differently abled”?  How has that changed your perspective on people with these different diagnosis? Share below!

Posted in Family, Homeschooling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Fitness

The Math Behind The Exercise

Confession: I’d love to say I’m always that motivated or active but I love sitting around and being lazy more.

As far as calories go, in order to not gain weight or keep a healthy balance you are supposed to burn as many calories as you eat on a day to day basis.  There is an amount of calories you burn just by existing – your Basal Metabolic Rate.  This is the burning of calories in your sleep.

On an average for me I have a BMR of about 1500 calories, and there are calculators to help you figure yours out (rough estimate). Then there’s the amount of calories you eat a day (and the sources of those calories).

If you have the need to lose weight you need to have a deficit of calories burned versus calories consumed by about 400 calories.  In this light, you can just take fitness and health and make it a concept of watching what you eat and call it good, right?

I’m not very good at yoga, but man do I love stretching! Specially the muscles I use to run!

Not entirely.  Your body needs exercise more than just to balance the amount of calories in and out so that you can justify that 800 calorie slice of cheese cake.

Muscles atrophy.  Joints lose cartilage.  Bones lose density.  You lose range of motion, strength and flexibility.  The truth is, your body will get rid of that which you do not use regularly.

(Think for a minute of chicken.  How easy is it to snap a chicken wing versus a thigh?  The chicken wing is very easy to snap because it is a non-weight-bearing bone, and chickens don’t fly.)

So for these reasons we need to MOVE.  Exercise also releases endorphins, helps balance our moods and hormones, regulates hunger, and helps provide a useful outage for the adrenaline released by stress.  This  useful outage of adrenaline is a big deal because if you don’t put your body to use the adrenaline appropriately (through cardiovascular exercise), it will damage your body’s ability to burn fat and metabolize energy!

Before I was a homeschooling mom, my favorite job was at Veterinary clinics. I was a receptionist. I also poured out 2 years of over-time, and Saturdays, 0 vacation, no camping trips that I can never get back and give to my husband and kids now. My kids were raised by day care centers and I will never have three to four year olds again. I worked hard, not smart, and I missed out on a lot.

All this to say: You may be a person who barely eats 1000 calories a day because you are vegan and don’t have a large appetite.  In the same manner, you may have a desk job that requires you to sit 8 hours a day.  If you are a relatively carefree person, a little morning yoga may be all you need to be healthy!  But if that desk job causes you stress or anxiety – and you have moments where you want to pull your hairs out… you are not doing for your body what you need!

If you’re like me before I became a full-time homeschooling mom, I was sitting at a desk 9 hours a day 5-6 days a week, very stressed, eating well over my BMR, not sleeping well, and not having the mental or physical wherewithal to exercise… Habits of the “average American”, and my body paid full price for it when I was taking 8 pills a day just to get me out of bed.

On the flip side, if you are an active person who burns about 2500 calories a day because your job requires you to move all the time, doing about five miles a day just in your job alone… and you don’t eat the amount of nutritious calories you NEED, you are hurting your body.

So for the next two days, take an honest assessment of how active you are through out the day and what kind of exercise do you need.  It doesn’t always have to be a P90X + Insanity exercise day.  It may be more reasonable for you to adjust your diet and handle light, low impact exercise in order to be at your healthiest (please don’t put yourself in a position to need knee replacement surgery and then say I gave you health advice!).  The reason why all fitness programs say to CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR is because a Doctor can give you an accurate picture of the exercise you need. But while you wait, do something fun! Move a little, or a lot! Try to get more movement in your day!

Posted in Faith, Fitness

Healthy Moms Pray

“An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy” Spanish Proverb

Confession: I am fasting my personal Facebook Newsfeed in exchange for more prayer time and less politics.

And I have learned that, in order to maintain myself at my healthiest, I have to pray – regularly and often.  It’s not that there’s anything magical about prayer (although there is a supernatural element), it’s just that momhood is by far the most difficult thing we’ll ever do.

For all the mom-bashing and blogs on both sides of any fence, there is no manual or instruction book.  Really.  Every child is a unique combination of DNA and experiences that even within ONE household, how you parent one child may not necessarily work for the next one!

Fortunately we DO have guidance! And it’s found in God’s Word.  I cannot think of a verse to answer whether you should eat glutten free or vaccinate.  Free range versus helicopter mom? Who knows?! But the Bible gives us foundational wisdom that helps us to check our attitudes at the very depths of our being, in order to make every decision for each and every child with our hearts and minds in the very best place.

For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12 HCSB

I’ve often shared that balance is the key to health and fitness.  And a healthy body cannot even be reached if your soul and your relationships are off kilter.

This is why I love Doorposts.  I’m not an affiliate with them but I have used some of their material.  I received a piece for free in exchange for a review on my blog.

I came to know about Doorposts through my Faith Homeschool Co-Op.  We have catalogs and a Mommy library, from which I borrowed some of their materials and used it for my own personal Bible Study and Devotion.

The first resource I used from them was “30 Days in Colossians 3“.  I have never devoted so much time to one chapter.  I have never done so much high lighting and notes.  But it was mind-transforming!  What I learned from this chapter planted a seed in my heart that transformed my attitude and my disposition towards my kids.  As you may already know, I homeschool, so we get on each other’s nerves during the day.  Maintaining a God-honoring attitude that allowed me to have a pleasant day with three kids AND not dive into a tub of ice cream AND set aside some time to exercise is not always easy, but it is doable if the foundation of your day – your attitude – is in the right place!

Next, they sent me a free sample of their “Love Is…” Chart and Bible Study for the family.  It goes over 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 in detail.  It was DEEP!  Like, we’re still working through it and revisiting deep.

Every fragment of that verse is broken up into key points to learn about God’s character, how Jesus showed us this character trait, and what the Bible expects of us as His believers.  So if you wonder how we are still working through those three verses, it’s because every day we read about 50 verses from all over Scripture!

I also love their action points – I used them as journal entries – that got the kids thinking about how to apply it to their lives.

And when we had incidents where the kids were less than loving, there is a chart above our fish tank (crooked, I know) that we went back to in order to discuss the disciplinary issue at hand.

Many moms know that it’s difficult to carve out the time for our personal discipleship without neglecting the kids, and much like when I exercise, I try to have the kids join me in my Bible studies so that we proverbially kill two birds with one stone.  I need to study God’s Word, and they do too, might as well do it together.  Doorpost’s resources are designed to make THIS work!  They are for the homeschooling Mom who may read a small devotional in the kitchen over coffee or may have to do it while rocking a sick baby over one shoulder, or with the kiddos around you during “circle time”.  I have yet to meet a Christian publishing company that “gets it” quite like Doorpost.

Next I’m looking at the Busy Mom’s 30 Day Guide through 1 Corinthians 13.  I personally love their mom devotionals more than anything.  You can really soak it in!

The key point is, to be at our healthiest as Moms, we need to be moms who pray.  Prayer is a two-way communication with God where we talk to Him and (let’s not forget this crucial part) God talks to us through His Word.

My fitness journey began with prayer.  I had to get my heart and mind centered on the right things.  I needed to clear myself of a lot of lies.  I also needed supernatural intervention in a lot of outside areas so that I could make it.  If you want to wait for your kids, your body, your schedule, your finances, your home, your marriage and your work to just “fall into place” harmoniously before you start taking ownership of your health… Well… You will probably be sitting there a LONG time.

#Prayer gives us the courage to live with a #noexcuses attitude in regards to our #health

How do I incorporate prayer in to my diet and exercise all the while juggling all my other responsibilities as a mother? Here’s what I pray for:

  • I ask God to give me the strength to do what is important even when I’m tired.
  • I memorize Scripture to recite while I’m at a difficult point in the exercise and I want to quit.
  • I turn to worship music to fill my soul when I’m tempted to open the fridge door for comfort.
  • I drink water while I read my Bible.
  • I give to the Lord the priorities of the day, and ask Him to help the children and I cooperate so that we get the important things done.
  • I make exercise a God-honoring, important thing – right up there after reading my Bible and praying every day.

So go check Doorposts out, and take a peek at their resources.  And pray!  The beautiful thing is, the Bible says we serve a God whom we can approach confidently or boldly.  He invites us to the throne of grace for us to present our needs to Him.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time,[a] casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you. – 1 Peter 5:6-8 HCSB