Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Turned the Corner

My prediction came true. PTL!  Missy turned the corner. She couldn't get any worse off, she had to get better. She was reasonable all day yesterday!!
 YAY ! 

Unless you have lived this you have no idea.
BUT I thank you all for your words of encouragement and prayers.
Especially the prayers!

She was tired of isolating herself and missing all the fun. She wanted me to make her a costume for the homeschool History Night and I had plans to do so, but when she takes up all my time with nonsense there's not much time for such frivolities. James is dressing up like Daniel Boon and so I was going to make her a bonnet and an apron to go over a simple dress and she would be Rebecca Boon. Well, that isn't going to happen now, but after an awesome good day yesterday I went and dug in the church Christmas pageant costumes I have made and found her something. She might be a Bible character. I don't think it matters to her much who.

Today she motored through her chores - slowly, but she still beat James by a longshot. The chart is quite helpful. We are liking it a lot.James actually did not finish his chores this morning.  He skipped his therapy. I didn't have to say anything about it. The evidence speaks for itself. There is no fuss from me.He'll go for a little run this evening with his dad to "Strengthen his mind and his body". 
They are suppose to say that after a good run,"Thank you, Dad, for strengthening my mind and my body." Ah, yeah.... it doesn't come out so naturally . . . :-) But it is good to be reminded why they are exercising.

I went for a walk with Cindy this morning. She's reminding me to do the Nedley program and is giving me a kick in the pants to do so. I've been struggling. We're headed towards winter (which I do not like at all) and we are parenting some very challenging kiddos.... top that all off with this being the first year I'm home alone during school hours. I've been homeschooling for 15+ years.... and I'm missing having the girls home A LOT! I've been finding myself wandering around not accomplishing anything and totally not caring either. Not really a good sign. All the things I thought I was going to do with my time.... blah! Who cares. I've lost interest and can't seem to connect any sort of meaning to much.

The kids have a music recital tonight. Oh, and I've collected two more kid violins for Brianna to take to Africa with her. A friend in TX sent one yesterday and Paul gave us a 3/4 yesterday. That's 4 with a possibility of another 1 or 2. She has an idea to teach more than the nieces.  Some might think that she will only be there for some months, what's the point? But every music lesson is worth it. Every practice is worth the time it takes even if someone does not go on to become a musician. It is amazing what it does for the brain. You would actually be surprised at what Missy can do with her violin. So, anyway, we shall see how Brianna's idea pans out.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Can Anybody Tell Me Why We're Doing This?

It's a respite weekend for the 3 beauties we had a month ago... There are girl toys ALL over the house. Vanessa, Brianna and Christina's dolls and doll clothes have been resurrected and they all have new names and hair styles. They have James playing Polly-pockets... There hair bows and headbands and strollers and coloring things everywhere. It's kind of fun to watch kids who actually know how to play with dolls. Unfortunately, Missy's not into it. In fact she has been spiraling since the middle of the week and is not even able to participate in much.
Daniel Boon playing polly-pockets with the aid of the police....
We're riding the waves. We're about to crest with Missy, because I can hardly imagine getting worse than this. Nearly every word out of her mouth is "NO!!" and "I don't want to!!!".  She bulls along on her own agenda regardless what is said or done to change her course and when she can't get her way it is instantaneous down on the floor raging.  It doesn't matter who is watching, either. She has not even nice to the girls and I have to keep her occupied and away.

I'm the recipient of too many, "That can't be MY kid", kind of stories lately.  Someone took a lollipop from the prize box at her violin lesson and when she took another and another and another and ate them all lickity split the teacher decided after 4 to make her throw the 5th one in the trash. When Rebecca turned her back the stinker took a sixth one and was chomping it up quick. The teacher put her foot down and said, "Enough! You may not eat another one and you may not eat that one." That very child threw herself on the floor in a grand display.  She had a group practice on Friday and I warned everyone she was not to have ANY treats - and she came out covered in chocolate anyway.

Missy and I had to run the track in the rain this morning. She's a good runner. I could not keep up and she could not understand that. I reminded her that she practices running all the time.

Everyday, though, I am more and more amazed at what James is learning in school. He has been telling me about the different concepts they are learning. His teacher is quite ingenious. He sings little jingles for math concepts. He always tells me stuff as though I don't know a thing. It's quite funny. I am so thankful... Last year he had almost nothing to say about his day as school. This year he tells me everything all the way down to specific spelling rules. God bless that teacher!

The kids enjoyed a good game of kick-the-can in the dark last night with Steve and the girls. Unfortunately for Missy, she missed that, too. Hitting other children is not allowed. Pray for us. I'm not sure at the moment why I'm doing this anymore.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

An Update on the Morning Routine

Our new system has been working well.

All the responsibility is on them. It has been working well, not perfectly, but well enough. There has been a certain amount of peace. They do often end up going for a run in the evening with Dad for skipping certain chores, or checking off a chore when they haven't actually done the work. We call that cheating. Cheating is an automatic run.

EXCEPT this morning I blew it. I noticed that Missy had the timer on but was not actually doing her therapy exercise. I gave her a warning. I gave her two. Then I shut the timer off. She went straight into defiance mode AND WE were in battle. I admit to getting  hot under the collar when a kid looks me in the eye and basically says, "screw you!"

I should have let her do it her way.... Seems totally WRONG but everything about raising these kids seems wrong. I should have let her do her thing.... then let her go for a run for not doing her work well. She absolutely defies authority. I have no idea how to deal with that because if one tackles the problem head on she will FIGHT to the END. She will not give in. I did not win the battle. She is refusing to do anything this morning and there's not a thing I can do about it. I tried. Steve tried. She will not bend. In fact it's bad enough I will not be surprised if she ends up at school in pajamas, because in her mind getting dressed would be kowtowing to me. If she does get dressed it's because I told her not to.  Crazy, eh?!

SO anyway, I must stick with the plan. I must not deviate in any way. Just REMIND me of that, okay!!

I told her not to get dressed until her jobs were done. Suddenly it was the only thing she wanted to do. I went and packed a set of clothes and put them in her backpack as I knew she would never get her chores done and her pajamas were not warm enough for the day. She did eat when I told her to. She eventually made her bed... anyway, she has things to finish up when she gets home and then she will go running with dad tonight. Running works. It clears the mind and gets the blood moving and releases endorphins....

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sailing {Virtue Aquired Through Suffering}

Dale took us out sailing.

It was a peaceful adventure. Especially since there wasn't much wind.
Towards dusk we lost our wind completely and had to paddle in.
We were discussing and contemplating the verse in Hebrews chapter 5 where 
it talks about the obedience Christ learned through His suffering. (vs 8 & 9)
It's a meaty topic worthy of much discussion.

It seemed like everywhere we looked there was a link to this topic of learning obedience, refining character, and broadening education through the medium of suffering and hardship.

I was reading in the book called Education and I came across a section discussing
how the Children of Israel were sent out to wander in the wilderness
to a place "most favorable" for their refinement and education. 
A desert wasteland in the middle of nowhere hardly seems like the perfect place to live in comfort.
No, this was HARD living BUT these people degraded by slavery and influenced by idol worshipers needed the discipline of the school of hard knocks to be remade into a people of God.

I saw this link on fb to a video posted by an SDA 8th grade teacher who took his students out on
a replica wagon train experience. These students learned things on their trip that they would not have otherwise learned if it not for the very real experience on the trail... It might have been a very exciting and adventurous trip, but it was filled with hard decisions and exhausting work. 

"Life is a pretty tough teacher, isn't it?
She gives you the test first, then you get the lessons.
You'll probably notice though, that most of the learning is in the struggle."

"How are you going to practice endurance if you don't have something to endure?"
Mr. Vixie

Watching Christina and her dad run the half marathon inspired Missy to want to run, too.
Well, at least she likes the glamorous idea of running a race...
That's about it.
I tried to impress upon the fact that they had to prepare and practice and if she were to run she would have to build up endurance. She would have to get strong.
She doesn't' get it, of course. Without experience she won't get it.

I'm actually leading up to a story with these rambling thoughts. I just needed to give you the background of what we've been thinking. It helps to explain why we didn't chose the easier route on our little reality set....

We keep saying we need to take the twins to Africa for the same reason we took our other children.

Dale brought his nice little kayak to the river along with his sailboat...
those three 9 year olds were enthralled. Vanessa and Christian made it look like a piece of cake to paddle and so the children each wanted a turn.

Izzy got in first. Wow. It's not as easy as it looked. She went in circles a few times and headed the bow of the boat towards land. She didn't like that out-of-control feeling at all.

James quickly jumped in as soon as the seat was vacated...
He was in for the shock of his life.
Panic ensued~
Screams erupted~
He very nearly jumped ship~
 I believe the only thing that stopped him from jumping and swimming was his fear of water. 
~ It was COLD water at that. He was standing on the seat screaming his head off for someone to save him. His brain was completely offline. There was nothing anybody could do to calm him and walk him through... He finally wildly paddled around and jumped two feet from shore and let the boat float away.
That's my son, Brave Captain of the Sea.

The kayak was no sooner caught and dragged to the bank when Missy was aboard and paddling out to her fate. Apparently little humans do not learn by watching other people. 
We have to have our OWN panic attack.
The shrieking was insane.
She was actually only 3 feet from shore.
The blood curdling screams were completely irrational. 
We were in a perfectly safe man-made bay. She was sitting dry in a boat.
She was IN no danger whatsoever. The entire drama was a complete fabrication of the mind.
Cognitive distortion are the words we ping-pong around here.
Her fear was real, so we had to take that at face value.

Dale was up in the parking lot preparing his trailer for the sailboat when he heard the unmistakeable fear laced screams. He flew down the hill and straight into the water and he would have dove in and fetched the boat had not everyone on shore hollered, "NO!"
He stood still in total confusion. I said, "Dale, please don't save her. She isn't in any danger. This is actually good. I need her to follow my directions. I need her to listen to me. She can do this."

And so in a pause between blood-curdling, hair-raising shrieks I got her to hear me.
"Missy! I can't help you when you are screaming! Just stop screaming. I will help you!"
She protested in her usual manner but her screeching subsided. 
She argued long and hard, but goodness, there wasn't a thing she could do to change the situation. SHE HAD TO DEPEND ON ME. 
Vanessa suggested in a whisper that Steve needed to get Dale busy on his boat.... and so they left me to work with Missy. James was NOWHERE TO BE SEEN. He was too freaked out to stick around.
You can only imagine how long it took me to get her to cooperate with my directions.
Good thing she knows her right from her left.
"Paddle right, paddle left... paddle left...."
No sooner would she get within feet of the bank when she would completely ignore me and do her own thing... which led, of course, to her spinning circles in the middle of the bay once more, totally screaming and begging and arguing for me to swim out there and get her.

The couple under the lamppost took their kissing to a more romantic destination.
I was actually surprised at how long it took them to leave!

We probably repeated this whole scenario 5 times.
She was as determined to make me come and get her as I was that she would just follow my directions and trust me. We're both hard-headed.

At the last I warned her that she must follow my words explicitly all the way to the shore. She must NOT do anything else. It was the ONLY way she would get out. "One paddle left, two paddles right, right, right... left.!"
And she made it to shore with a broad smile.

She'd conquered that boat.
EVERYONE cheered.
She was totally proud of herself.

And under my breath I muttered something about investing in a kayak....

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Off to the Races

Sweet 16! For her birthday she determined to run a half marathon.. Today is the day... And we are here!

Caught sight of some runners...

13.1 miles in 2hours, 4minutes and 36 seconds.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Missy was the most cooperative this morning! She did everything in record time with a good attitude and she started her routine with the thing she normally tries to get out of most.

Steve and I have been putting everything on paper. We are still tweaking the daily routine chart for checking off. We decided this morning that the kids need a NEW chart every morning. So a half sheet with one check box for each item rather than 7 check boxes. Morning routine chores and such need to be on a separate sheet from the afternoon one. Otherwise the kids are easily overwhelmed. We have broken everything down into little doable pieces.

The treat incentives lost their appeal pretty quickly. She doesn't need them. It's not really what motivates her. We've worked very hard to take me out of the equation. I need to use the timer, not my words to motivate. I must rely on the check boxes and charts to show whether they are doing well NOT my observations in word. I need to say little. Whether praise or correction... I must say LITTLE to nothing. Let the work speak for itself.  This lends to a better relationship because I am not the enemy so much. The paper is. Or the evidence, if you will.

The bottom line is the run at the end of the day if the chart shows they were slacking off - or if they had any sort of tantrum. And to the kids that is a BIG DEAL. Missy went running with Steve and Christina every night for a week and then suddenly she got it. She has not run in 3 days. The track at the school is lighted and has ten rows. They run each row once and not much else is said. IF they throw a tantrum on the track or even fuss and whine, they get to start over again. Steve and Christina are preparing for a half-marathon for Christina's birthday Sunday, so this has worked out super well. The exercise is good too. They are STRONG kids.

James was doing super .... but it seems he has a little trouble with Missy doing well. He will be running with dad tonight. He has done everything well with a super good attitude and then slowly he has been cheating to skip steps. He sets the timer short, does half the job then calls it good, or makes excuse why something hasn't been done. BUT the most noticeable thing is that when Missy starts off the day ahead of him he can't get it together. every. time.

Missy has also accepted that I am NOT interested in taking her places when it's such a struggle to behave. She is not in my kids choir. She cannot go with me to do crafts with the ESL kids. She did not get to go to a birthday party.... It's school, church, lessons, and  HOME until further notice.  In-home caregivers are awesome for that.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


The twins have a field trip today. It was the easiest day to get ready for school ever!  A break from the nonsense is nice.

Talked to the special ed gal at the twins' school. James is doing very well. He is applying himself and cooperating very well. He likes his teacher. She is amazing. She is the one that has been a special ed teacher and knows how to work with kids like mine. In fact, she asked why she doesn't have Missy in her class as well. Hmmmm.... well, nobody even considered putting the competitive twins in the same class! I know for certain I am not going to homeschool James next year either because this teacher is going to teach 4th grade  and James will continue with her. I won't mess up a good thing. He is learning. I see new sparks of interests. He comes home talking about all the great things he is learning and doing. Last year he never told me anything about school.

Missy, on the other hand. UGH. She has managed to be so uncooperative they are letting her have her way. They can't get her to learn anything if she is mad about special ed so they have been leaving her in her home room. They sent a para to sit by her and work with her there. Missy walked all over her. Refused to do work and basically picked what she wanted to do. The special ed gal who is in charge found a tougher para that MIssy can't manipulate so easily.... That teacher took her right back to the beginning of the book and made her do ALL the work she had skipped. It took 2 weeks to catch back up to where she should have been. I'm glad for that. I shared my worries about this kid just floating along in school because she is hard to deal with, but I also let them know I understand . . .  I mean, what are you gonna do?

Anyway, James' teacher wants Missy in her class next year as well as James. That is something to look forward to? Maybe she hasn't figured out that Missy is a different ball of wax from James. I don't know. Maybe she knows how to handle this kid.

I asked for specific interventions to be put on Missy's  IEP coming up for review. Mainly ways to teach her to practice skills that she does not have... because, as hopeless as it might seem from my last post, there is good news in regards to teaching kids to compensate or LEARN executive brain function skills. "They"say these kids CAN be taught. I'm going with that. The Special ed gal must have been educated in this and I told her, though I know NOTHING, I trust that she does. She agreed that this is the direction we need to go. She also said she would be getting some input from a colleague more educated in such things.... She thought she might be able to get me more info on how we can get Missy evaluated  - neuro-psych evals, or whatever. '

I know I don't know what I'm talking about. It seems that unless I know exactly what I want from professionals in the medical field or from the Department of Developmental Disabilities, etc... it won't be offered. I HAVE TO ASK specifically. Problem is, I don't know to ask for.

On a sweeter note, Missy earned some Eagle tickets.... I don't know how... haha! but they are points for good behavior that all the kids work for. She went and bought a stack of bookmarks from the Eagle Ticket store just so that she could give them to her friends and teachers. She gave every one of them away. I let her know I was very proud of her for thinking of others. She never told us about it. The Special Ed gal is the one that told me.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Executive Function

I'm learning some things that help explain Missy a little.

I keep saying there is something not working right in her brain but I have had so little understanding of what it is exactly that's screwed and just how that is related to her behavior even though I have been trying to for quite some time. I've been asking where does won't end and can't start? Why are we experiencing 3 to 4 tantrums a day and 2 to 3 rages a week when we have worked so hard to make life as simple as possible for her and fine-tuned the routine to a T? Why does she FIGHT everything so hard all the time? Why is it she seems to make connections theoretically and knows so much and can keep track of everyone else's business and knows what she must do to get from point A to point B and knows the consequences of not making it to point B, but CAN'T get there even when she wants to?

It's played out in the morning routine daily. We have it down to a fine art on paper with little check boxes and an incentive for each and every minute thing. She wants the little treats - sort of, she wants the bigger prize - getting on the bus on time. She does want to get on the bus. She really wants to go to school.  She doesn't want to do all the stuff in between necessarily. In fact there are a few things that she WON'T do if she can help it and she will employ every avoidance technique in the book to make sure she doesn't have time to, but I can say that she does want to get to school with clothes on even if sometimes she refuses to get dressed.  WHY?

So, I've been searching for an answer. And searching and searching. . . The problem, judging from where I sit, seems to have a hereditary component to it knowing her bio- mother and having heard stories about grandma and others in the family. There's something in common being passed from one generation to the next. So, while I do know the twins have experienced trauma (obviously) and Missy has had actual brain damage from birth and multiple resuscitation, etc..., there is something bigger than that involved because it affects more than just Missy. From everything that I have been told there were no drugs or alcohol in the history. Do what you will with that. There's no way to know the truth, but EVERYONE denies its involvement. Yes, they were drugged up with prescription medication to make them quiet and sleep. This had its effect, but James would be worse off than Missy if that were the greater part of the picture and he is overcoming his obstacles where she is not and maybe that's where the brain damage shows its face in the comparison. 

Here's where it starts to get technical. If anybody is still reading, you are welcome to move on.... I write for my own clarification. If you have a kid with these issues maybe you will stick with me and help me sort the problem out. Once we get to the why we will need to know how to handle it in the best possible way.

We're dealing with an executive function deficit of some sort, Or maybe of ALL types. Executive Function development takes place in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain which is more sensitive to stress than any other part of the brain. Any kind of stress will flood the pre-frontal cortex with dopamine and shut down executive functioning...  I see this all the time. A stressor comes along (from within, or from without) and BOOM! Instantly the thinking brain is GONE on VACATION! You might as well talk to the wall and cradle the lamp for all that you might try to do with your child to bring them back to rational thinking will NOT WORK. In Missy's case the screaming begins and there's not a thing I can do about it. I cannot get her to deep breath, or calm down in any way. The game is lost and I CANNOT get it back no-how, no-way. My most successful response is to walk away. Anything I try to do makes it worse, so I give her space and time...

I'm pasting a quote here: "Executive functioning is essentially the conscious regulation of thought, emotion, and behavior (Zelazo, 2010). It is different from what we usually think of as intelligence, because it is independent of how much we know. It is an aspect of intelligence in that it involves expressing or translating what we know into action (Zelazo, 2010)."

This could explain why it seems Missy has the smarts to talk about how things should go logically and yet she can't translate that into action. She has the right answers. She can tell you how something should be done.... She often says, " I want to obey!!!" but often that is as far as it goes... It has been such a mystery why she says that and then plows along to the opposite of what she is declaring she wants to do. She says, "I'm going to do my jobs and be on the bus on time today!!" and then she proceeds to sit there and do nothing to get ready to go,  and woe be to anyone who suggests she's not doing something towards making her dream come true. The executive function of being able to PLAN towards her goal is completely missing. This could suggest her concept of the passing of time is warped... Telling her to look at the clock and pointing out what time it is now and what time the bus arrives and telling her to hurry only baths her brain in stress hormones because I think she doesn't know how to translate that into time management. She just goes off into a tantrum. A interesting side to that is, if I ask her drink a cup of water (which she doesn't do on her own without prompting) she will stand there with that cup for an hour or more if I say nothing. If I say "drink it up and hurry" she will become defiant. If I just go over to the stove and put the timer on for 2 minutes she will face the timer and drink the water in 20 seconds flat then continue to stand in front of the timer watching the seconds tick away until it dings.

A friend was watching Missy at church the other day and came to the conclusion that she was minus the ability to make any sort of  judgement. Spot on! I hadn't put it into those words before, but it is absolutely true. That would be an executive functioning deficit. Prioritizing, organizing goes along with making judgement.

 Shifting and thinking flexibly, being able to access a working memory, impulse control, managing her feelings, initiating tasks are all executive functions...... Life is overwhelming indeed. Some children struggle with one or two of these things. Missy struggles with ALL of it. Oh, and from what I've read, there seems to be a hereditary link to this problem.

"A common denominator and basis of all executive functioning is the ability to hold things in mind, step back and reflect. Without this capacity, it is difficult to have perspective, judgment, or control. Studies with children at different ages before and after executive development is in place demonstrate that without being able to inhibit impulses and distractions and hold multiple things in mind, even if we know what to do and want to do the right thing, that intention may not translate into behavior (Diamond, 2010; Zelazo, 2010)."

 SO OKAY! That was helpful to a certain extent. Now that we know that.... what do I do about it?   **sigh** For one, I'm thinking I'm shooting myself in the foot if I am trying to teach her to be responsible in any way at this point. She's missing the tools. I guess that changes the words in my search engine.

Part 2 will happen someday when I figure this out.

Diamond, A. (2010, May). What Do We Know About Child Development and the Brain That Can Help Promote Resilience and Help More Children Be Strong and Joyful? Paper Presented at the Annual International Trauma Conference, Boston, MA.

Zelazo, P.P. (2010, May) Executive Function and Emotion Regulation: A Developmental Perspective Ph.D. Paper Presented at the Annual International Trauma Conference, Boston, MA.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hindsight/ Ants and Slugs and Bunny Rabbit Food

My post on Homeschooling Hindsight was the most commented on post ever. I received a lot of emails on it and it even made its way to facebook somehow. I thought it surely must have been the most read blog post I had ever posted, but I just decided to check and no, it is the 2nd most read post. The most read post was on Ants and Slugs and Bunny Rabbit Food... of all things!

Sometimes I get tired of writing about our struggles with the twins, but for some reason I feel compelled to write it down and somehow I am able to see more clearly when I do so. Someday I might be able to move on to more encouraging topics. Or maybe I'll be sharing with you amazing victories and lovely new growth in the twins because I believe it has been promised. It's a rough road now. And it's a longer road than anyone ever dreamed... I have to look back and see how far they have come. It seems every time they make strides we raise the bar and sometimes we forget just how much God has done in their lives. We can't forget they are kids who have been hurt and damaged for years.... their healing won't happen over night.

Avoiding Competition

I felt like a competitive spirit was a major issue in causing the total breakdown yesterday. It put Missy between a rock and hard place because she couldn't not beat her brother when he was doing well and be at odds with us at the same time. Today we turned things around. I had her eat while James did therapy. Then James ate while she did therapy. They were on completely different timelines. It seems far from ideal.... but it worked. She could still play her little games, but the element of competition was absent and a crises was averted. Both kids were standing by the tree waiting for the bus early for the first time in weeks. YAY!

Missy actually chose her own clothes without a big ceremony this morning because I didn't get to it in time. I guess she would rather choose clothes and be dressed than go to school in pajamas again. I visited the teacher yesterday. She said the morning was hard because Missy was embarrassed about her state of attire. I guess that's good. I'm concerned about how things are going at school. They've given into her some.... she no longer goes to a special reading class during reading time because she won't cooperate. She still has a 30 minute reading time just outside her classroom door at the beginning of the school day.  She doesn't want to be singled out and led off to a different class so they came up with this? Integration in a regular classroom will not ever bring her up to grade level.... so says the teacher. She doesn't feel that her needs are being completely met. She is not being prepared for the challenges for what lays ahead. HOWEVER, I am not sure that it is possible for them to do anything differently. When she starts her avoidance techniques everybody is stumped. So am I.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Echoes of Heaven

Apple Days snuck up on us too quickly. The girls' group always sing and they still hadn't had time to practice and prepare, so we had the girls and their families over for Sabbath evening for supper and worship.... then the girls practiced together. They had so much fun! We loved having everyone over... wow, our house is small. Cozy, but small! I don't think people cared, though.

We surprised Vanessa by bringing out a cake and singing happy birthday a WHOLE week early! She is 20 years old this week. She received a much needed stethoscope as a present. Nursing school is going very well. She loves it.

The girls were put on the spot a few times at the museum being asked to sing songs they had not prepared.... they did fine, of course. You have to be prepared for everything and anything, I guess.

Afterwards I took the twins to spend the money in their monopoly jars. Missy had exactly 1 dollar. James had 8, well, he spent some at Apple Days buying rocks :-). His class is studying rocks in school. I was quite pleased. He didn't ask me first or anything, just went and bought this bag of rocks and then the guy gave him another one. He came to find me all excited. I was glad to see this small step of confidence. He passed by the candy and the junk, and bought rocks because it is something he is interested in.

At the store the first thing Missy saw was a cheap kids watch with a kitty on it. She wanted it so bad. I pointed out the price tag of $6.95 and asked her how much she had. She just came back with, "You give me seven dollars."  Uh uh.... kiddo. This is not how it works. We are on a mission to learn about money. Anyway, she could have had that much.... She totally got the picture and nearly melted into a puddle. She then found bubbles, and then a folder, then junk food and finally settled on a pack of gum. WHEW!

James deliberated over the cars and trucks and bought himself a LOUD police car.

It's going to take awhile for this project to work with Missy. It could get expensive with James. :-)

Friday, after another morning of prodding and pushing and begging to get the kids out on time and on the bus, and I decided that was enough. I'm not doing it that way anymore. I made each of the kids a check list complete with little boxes to check off. I told them last night they wouldn't need me to push them along. There would be a row of carob chips on the counter for them and they could take a chip each time they checked something off the list. We are going to stick with this for a whole month. It's going to be super hard not to fall into the habit of pushing them because they do not like change and they do not like to be responsible, but they have come to see me as the morning enemy and that isn't working well.

This morning James was gung ho. He did everything on his list, starting with the hardest and working his way out the door and to the bus with no problems at all. I let him know I was proud of his work.

Missy is another story altogether. She stood in the kitchen with a cup of water for 1 hour.... almost taunting us to say something. I don't know if that really goes through her head or not, but that is what it looks like. She started getting frustrated that James was going to beat her to the bus and she started hitting and blocking him. I had to intervene. Yup, there goes her watch money. . . Finally she decided to get ready, but as she saw James close to being done things went SOUTH real fast. I'll spare you the details. Suffice to say that by the time she was running down the driveway in her socks and pajamas screaming bloody murder as the bus was honking I was a shaking mess. There is something majorly wrong with her brain functions.... I did all I knew to help her and it was not good enough.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Homeschooling / Hindsight

I heard a man speaking yesterday about how schools kill creativity. Everything about the typical school system undermines creativity rather than nurturing it. Everything is turned upside down in importance.... the arts and creativity is usually relegated to the bottom of the stack right after science, etc... What they are actually finding is that little kids all have the capacity to be divergent thinkers.... but in studies it shows that as the children get older (more educated) that capacity deteriorates... It shouldn't be this way.

Okay, not a new concept to us old homeschoolers, probably. That's part of why we homeschool /ed our children.  However, I think the temptation to do "school at home" and follow the pattern we've known is pretty strong in a lot of cases. There's a picture in our head of what "educating" our children is suppose to look like. . . and it looks a lot like a kid sitting at a little desk studiously looking at the open book and a pencil in their right hand. Doesn't it?

And if you don't follow the "norms" for good solid reason because you've really studied the book Education, or because the Moore Formula just totally makes sense to you, it doesn't automatically exempt you from feeling like you just might mess up your kid. Insecurities abound. Especially when one of those kiddos of yours still isn't reading at age 11 and the other one at 12... 4th grade math is a DISMAL failure -so bad you throw the books out in November and skip math altogether the rest of the year  because it's crazy making. And well, you remember when you were 13 and homeschooled and STILL trying to learn the times tables.  The abstract concepts of grammar beyond nouns and verbs might as well be in Chinese. You send your little herd off to get started on their "school work" while you do the breakfast dishes and change the laundry, and get distracted by an email, (good thing they didn't have facebook in my day) and you come back to reality two hours later and find out they have been drawing and painting and sorting seeds. One child is found planning next year's flower garden and has smuggled the bunnies into the rec room, while another child is missing altogether. You know she probably has the camera and is taking 6 thousand more close-up photos of that blue English banty crowing his head off. There's not a book in sight. And you think, "If people ONLY KNEW!"

I was NOT a model homeschooling mom by most standards.  In my heart I believed I knew that I had the basic concepts of homeschooling right, but I was plagued with thoughts of needing to do better than I was.  Sometimes I felt guilty. Sometimes I really worried... like the year I threw out Brianna's 4th grade math. Unlike her sisters, she was a non-conformist in so many ways. She would study ONLY that which interested her - which was everything under the sun, except what is on the typical school menu. I would sometimes push her and I could sense I was crushing her spirit. I mean, there was a certain amount that was expected - like it or lump it, but for this child only the MINIMAL was ever accomplished. Since I did not use a canned curriculum or set program she got away with not doing very much seat work.... partly because she was too busy being creative, and because she knew I wouldn't stop her if she were actually learning something even if it wasn't on my agenda. She was forever painting, drawing, making, collecting. She horded things like feathers, seeds, and quail eggs. She played her violin, she had garden projects and half dozen varieties of game birds. She always had the camera with her...

Hind sight is awesome.

It so makes me want to tell parents to chill out.

Makes me wonder now. IF I HAD MADE HER conform, if I had been one of those people who could always follow a schedule and lived by the clock, etc... WOULD Brianna be who she is now? Or would she have lost some of that free-spirited, artistic, creative flair that so characterizes her whole person? 

As it turns out, somewhere in her teens math was suddenly intriguing.  Vanessa ran into some math person at the college today and the guy was still talking of Brianna's appreciation of calculus and trig. She learned to read at age 11 when we figured out she had a tracking issue and did something about it.  She has recently discovered she loves writing a LOT. She writes all the time. She is a pretty unflappable public speaker. She could be an engineer, or a business woman, or a farmer ( or a mom someday)... She is still working on figuring out what she wants to do, but her journey is leading her towards writing, videography/photography, agriculture, and a hundred other interests and talents that are competing for her time.

Would I have done anything different in my homeschooling  knowing what I know now? 

The answer is a resounding Yes! 

Yes! I WOULD have done something differently.

I would have quit worrying, stopped feeling guilty, and given up comparing myself with other homeschooling moms.  

I would have celebrated all the creativity more.

{There are a few more things on my list of what I would have done differently if I could have. I would have made that kid learn to spell even if she "couldn't see what the point of it was." Yes, those are Bri's  very words. I tried, actually. Really tried. That's her regret. 

And I would have persevered in finding out why reading was so hard for Vanessa. That is my  greatest regret. } ****

I still wish sometimes that I could homeschool the twins. Their creativity is broken and I would love to help them discover that dimension of life.... It's one of the saddest parts of what has happened to them. Instead, we must continue to sacrifice the journey to creativity on the alter of finding " normal" all for the sake of peace.