Know when to push through, and when to rest…

Hello friends, I miss writing and interacting with all of you. I wish I could be on here more, but between health struggles and working crazy hours, I don’t get on the computer too much, and I detest typing on my kindle. Here is some insight into my days…

Today is one of the bad days. I have been struggling all week, but just kept pushing through. Now, today my body says: “No More!”

Is it my thyroid? Is it my depression? Is it my insomnia?  Is it just my sinuses acting up, which is causing this horrible headache and exhaustion? Maybe it is a combination, or none of them at all. I never really know. I just use my natural remedies, paired with medicine, and hope for the best. Unfortunately, it has been over two hours since I took the last of my “please make me feel better” pills, and yet I feel no better.

My children are disappointed, because we will not make our co-op gathering today. I am angry and sad, because at 40 years old, I should be able to function on a daily basis, without all this pain and grogginess.

It feels like I have been sick forever, but in reality my symptoms only got to this level in the past year. They have been especially bad the past 6 months, since I started working overnights. Beth has declared that when I am better, she wants to use all her dollars to take us out to celebrate mom being healthy again. While, this is beyond sweet, it also tells me how much my illness affects my babies.

Tomorrow it is back to work. I will have 3 twelve hours shifts, walking 20 miles each night, only getting 4 – 6 hours of sleep in between shifts (if I am lucky). I will have to push through those days, because my job supplies our insurance and helps pay the bills. So, today I will rest as much as possible. The laundry I didn’t get done yesterday, because I used too much of my energy on cooking and cleaning, will have to be done at some point, but it will be done slowly. It will be a light school day, and we will play a lot of games, while I sit.

At some point, I pray that I will be more functional, but for now, we will make the best of a bad situation. We take it one day at a time in this family, and some days it is one hour at a time. Today may even be a one minute at a time day.

Thank you for listening, I hope to see you soon. Love and peace friends.

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Stronglove Family Garden

Have I mentioned just how AWESOME Beth’s Occupational Therapist (OT) is? Well, in case I have not, she is beyond awesome! Ms. S has been with us since Beth was 2.5years old, and has become part of the family. She has been such a blessing to our family, but this year she gave us a special gift, she gave us part of her gardening space to use.

For the first time ever, our family has a garden! Beth is VERY excited about having a garden, and getting to visit Ms. S (and her family) a LOT this summer. I am praying that Ms. S is not tired of us come August, because my girls never want to leave.

We planted our garden yesterday, and only had one rain delay during the process. Unfortunately, my back is acting up, so I did not get to plant, but I did get to take pictures of the girls working with Henry. I am so thankful to have a husband that doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. He knows a lot about gardens, even though he has never had one, because he talked to the horticulture teacher at his school quite a bit. During the weeding and planting, he tried to teach the girls things, but there was too much excitement and too little focus.

I am greatly looking forward to the coming weeks, as our garden becomes a large portion of our school day. This quote, by Helen Mirren, says it all: “Gardening is learning, learning, learning. That’s the fun of them. You’re always learning.While, I do have trouble “thinking outside box” when it comes to education, I know for sure the garden will be (at the very least) science and math; I am thinking I can also get some language arts in there too. For those of you more creative than myself, what else could I teach my girls (4 and 6) using our garden?

Here is a picture of the Stronglove Family Garden, which consists of 3 different Tomato plants (4th of July, Early Girls, and Super Steak Hybrid), 3 Sweet Pepper hybrid plants and lots of Cucumber plants (because I thought I was buying 2, but there were at least 4 in each tray).  I am praying that my “black thumb” does not ruin this wonderful experience for us, but even if it does cause trouble, we will have a wonderful summer filled with learning fun. ❤

Stronglove Family Garden

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Serenity Spectrum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Sad, Not Mad

The girls learned (or more accurately relearned) a tough lesson today. They learned that Mommy follows through on her promises.

I have been very disturbed by the recent lack of respect, and diminishing kindness, with which they treat each other. The root of almost all of their issues are toys, books, dress-up clothes, etc.. The fact that my children cannot treat each other with respect and kindness because of material things, is extremely upsetting to me.

They have also started to speak to me with words and tones that are unacceptable. To be honest, they are often using the words or tone I previously used with them, and that is a BIG problem.  Often times my reaction is based on my expectations, not their actions. As we say in program: “Expectations are predetermined resentments.” Regardless of the situation, it is NEVER okay for me to talk to them without respect, and I know I have been remiss in this area; hence their new-found level of disrespect.

I sat them down the other day, and explained that yelling makes me sad. That I do NOT want to be a Mommy who has to yell, in order for them to listen, and behave with respect. I reminded them that we homeschool, so they are not bullied, but treated with kindness. I told them that since they are always fighting over objects, that any object they cannot share, will go in the garbage. I further explained that any object that seemed to be the root of any disrespect, or lack of kindness, would also go in the garbage. I reminded them that we must always use RESPECT and KINDNESS with our words, hands and actions.

Today, while down in the laundry room, I heard the screams and crying up here. I came up to find Anne sobbing and Beth very upset. I ordered them both to the table, where they had to put their heads down until they calmed down. Once they calmed down, I asked what happened, and why they were fighting instead of cleaning the room. The answer was basically that they were fighting over toys; Anne was teasing Beth, and she put her hands on Anne. They remained at the table (crying and screaming), while I “cleaned” their room.

I threw out almost a full garbage bag of items from the bins in their room. I chose things they no longer played with, things that were not working right, etc… I did not throw away any of their favorite items, but the point was made. After I went outside and put the bag in the dumpster, I came upstairs and cried with them. I now FULLY understand all those times my father told me he was sad (or disappointed) and not mad.

Although the rest of the day went very well, we rehashed the incident MANY times. Anne wanted me to promise not to throw out anymore dresses. Beth wanted to talk about the kids who don’t have food or toys. I explained to Anne that I could not promise her anything in regards to the dresses, because whether they stayed or went, was up to her and her sister. I explained to Beth that there are many children that can only dream of having what they have. I told her that countless children go to bed hungry and have no toys to play with. I told her that she and her sister need to start being more grateful for what they have, and acting the way God knows they can.

I felt horrible most of the day, in all honesty I still feel bad. THIS is not the mom I want to be either. I want to be a mom who inspires her children to act with respect and kindness, because they are following my example. I find that I am repeating patterns, which I had thought I was breaking. As I work my Fourth Step, I see deeper inside myself, and KNOW that I can do better (MUCH better).

Tomorrow is a new day, and although today was FAR from perfection, there was a bit of progress, and that is how the girls and I will continue to grow into the women God knows we can be.

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Why We Started Homeschooling, Part Two

A few weeks ago, I shared the emotional reason why we began homeschooling. Now, I would like to share the logical reasons.

Once I worked through the emotions of our situation, I started doing my research to see what would be best for Beth. Should I fight for change at our public school, or should I homeschool?

Our district is all-inclusive, which means it does not have any self-contained classrooms past preschool. This was something I was thrilled about when Beth first started school in 2012, but now saw as a negative, given our situation. Beth thrived in the self-contained classroom; but appeared to have had more bad than good experiences in the blended one. From kindergarten and on, she would be in a “pod classroom,” which would have 8-11 students with IEPs blended with 10-15 neurotypical  students. The students with IEPs would be given 30 minutes a day with a Special Education teacher for “extra help,” but would spend the other 4.5 hours with one teacher and one aide in the pod.

Having taught 4yr pre-k, and substituted in kindergarten, I could not see this ratio working for any of the kids. Being neurotypical, and without an IEP, does not mean those children will not need additional help. How could two adults possibly fulfill the needs of 18-27 students, and still provide a positive educational environment?

With that question in mind, I started examining the benchmarks and kindergarten readiness skills on different sites. I realized that Beth barely had 50% of the skills suggested to start kindergarten. Although, her IEP was in place because she learned at a different rate, than her typical peers, I also realized that her achievement of IEP goals had been overstated. Perhaps they could get her to “perform” one-on-one, but overall she did not possess the skills to utilize in the classroom (or other non-school) setting.

I brought my findings to her therapists (who have been with us since Beth was 2.5yrs old), and asked them for an honest opinion on  her chances of success in a pod classroom. The answer was unanimous, she would fall further behind, and would not be able to reach her God given potential, given the structure of the pod classroom. They also felt that this would only add to her anxiety, self-esteem, and confidence issues.

Henry and I discussed our options at length. Although he had several reservations, he supported my desire to attempt homeschooling.  We also debated whether to allow Anne to remain in public school, or withdraw her too. In the end we decided that if the school was not a safe, positive environment for Beth, then it was not for Anne either. Our girls deserved more respect, and a better chance of success in reaching their God given potential, than our public school could provide.

I am beyond grateful for the ugliness that stemmed from our request for help, because it opened my eyes and heart to the reality of our girls’ situation. We had put too much trust in the public school staff, and given them more power than they deserved, but that is a post for another time.

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Serenity Spectrum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Al-Anon Family Visit

After almost three months of not being able to attend meetings, I was blessed to visit my Al-Anon family this evening. It was WONDERFUL to see them, and drink in their wisdom. Plus, nobody gives hugs like those lovely ladies. ❤

As usual the meeting was not only a great release for me, but I also walked away with much to ponder. One of the women talked about Kahlil Gibran’s words on children, so of course I had to look up the passage when I got home. It reads:

“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you, but not from you. And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may house their bodies, but not souls. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; for even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

She was right about it being a powerful, and humbling message.  I have read it several times since being home, and am filled with a new sense of purpose and hope. The one line that stands out the most is: “You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.” I find that almost everything I do, is to make Beth and Anne better than me. I want them to have a solid foundation, so they can make better choices than I did. I want them to know how special they are, so they do not suffer the low self-esteem, and lack of confidence, I have always (and sometimes still do) struggled with. I often wonder if in my efforts to make them better (or different), am I just repeating the well-meaning (but somewhat damaging) cycle?

Since we started homeschooling, the one message I receive repeatedly is to follow their lead. They are amazing little teachers, each with their own set of strengths. I think as we settle back into school, tonight’s meeting was just what I needed to start us off on the right foot. I realize now, that I must concentrate less on making them better than me; and more on simply helping them to be the best them they can be. Perhaps as I help them navigate their path, I may even become the person that God knows I can be. If at the end of my life, I can say that I was half the woman my girls are, than I will have lived a blessed life. ❤

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Serenity Spectrum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

 

Test Day

Today was our first test day at Serenity Spectrum School. We are 4 months into our school year, and I thought it was a good time to gauge where the girls are. Since we will be schooling year-round, three assessments per school year seems reasonable to me. What do you think?

I used the Pre-K Assessment forms, for Alphabet and Math, which are generously provided for free by Prekinders.com. I also used the Color Chart and Shapes Mini-Book printables; which are generously provided for free by PreschoolMom.com.

Beth was able to identify all her numbers from 0 to 10 correctly. She was also able to count objects (play rings) up to number 20, with only skipping number 13. Beth really liked counting the rings and putting them in her favorite red bowl, so we did that a few times. 🙂 She was able to identify all the colors on the chart correctly. She also knew all the shapes on the printout.

The assessment was going extremely well until I brought out the Alphabet sheet; at that point she started to shut down. It was almost as if she was having a panic attack, and just could not think straight. I tried several approaches, with no avail; I even had her taking trips to the trampoline, spinning and crazy shaking (Team UmiZoomies) between attempts. In the end, she identified 16 upper case and 12 lower case letters accurately. While, I do not believe this to be an accurate representation of her knowledge, I did learn something very important. I learned that whatever approach they were using in public school was stressful and possibly traumatic for her. I learned that this sheet was too similar to the public school’s version, and would never give me an accurate measure of her knowledge. I learned that I must find another way to assess her abilities, which will allow her to relax and truly show all that is in her beautiful brain.

Anne was able to identify half of her numbers from 0 to 10 correctly. She was also able to count the rings up to number 13.  She knew all her colors, but did have some trouble with yellow. She correctly identified all but 2 of the shapes on the printout. She did awesome with the Alphabet sheet! She accurately identified 17 upper case and 14 lower case letters. The only trouble we had were with “M” and “N” due to her speech issues, but we worked through it just fine.

I am extremely happy with our first assessment. I can see where the girls have grown in many areas. I was also able to identify areas that need extra attention. I was blessed with a little more insight, as  to how stressful public school was for Beth. Witnessing her extreme reaction to the ABC printout, taught me a valuable lesson, and provided an opportunity to help her work through some of that angst. Today, I feel as though I became a better teacher and mom. As usual, my girls make the BEST teachers, I just have to remember to always follow their lead. 🙂

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Serenity Spectrum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Reblogged: To Build (or Break) a Child’s Spirit

Thank you Hands Free Mama for sharing your To Build (or Break) a Child’s Spirit  post today.

I cried as I read the post. It brought me back to a day, not so along ago, one that was far from my finest. I scolded Beth for not trying at her schoolwork, and told her we needed a break. She went to the couch, started crying and said (repeatedly): “I a smart girl, I good.” My heart broke, I held her and cried with her. I apologized and told her why I was wrong, and that mommy should have done better. I assured her that I was always proud of her, and that she was one of the smartest girls I know. In the end it was better, but it was a painful lesson. I pray I never make her feel that way again.

If you do not follow Hands Free Mama, I highly recommend heading over and reading her blog, it is life changing. ❤ You can also follow her on Facebook.

I am not associated with the blog or author in anyway, I simply love seeing her posts in my newsfeed every day. Her sharings help me be a better mom to my girls, and I want everyone to know where to find such extraordinary inspiration.

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Serenity Spectrum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.