Our new adventure from homeschooling to public school

6 years ago we made the decision to homeschool Emily.  We homeschooled her for Pre-K through 4th grade.  It didn’t come naturally to us at first.  In fact, when we first became parents, we never even considered homeschooling.  Through a series of events, and a whole lot of prayer, we felt that homeschooling was the path the Lord wanted us to take.  At that time, we committed to praying about Emily’s schooling each and every year to determine whether or not to continue homeschooling or choose another option.  We didn’t know if it was for a year, a few years, or forever.

This past year as 4th grade came to a close, my husband and I committed again to praying about her 5th grade year.  Let me be clear – I absolutely love homeschooling! LOVE it! I love the flexibility in our schedule, I love the time with my daughter, I love seeing her learn and being a part of it.  But, for a few months, I had been feeling something stirring inside of me that had me thinking it might not be the right choice anymore.  I prayed about it.  My husband prayed about it.  We didn’t want to homeschool just because we always had or because we loved it, but rather we wanted to make the decision that was best for our daughter at time in her life.

We had some big things to consider.

One of the challenges with homeschooling for us is that Emily is an only child.  As homeschoolers, we all laugh about the myth of “socialization”.  It really is a myth because as homeschoolers, we are out in the community and interacting with people all the time.  We also know that a room full of 20+ kids in a classroom setting are not allowed to socialize much anyway.  However, there are some benefits to learning in a group.  Many homeschool families have a built in group with their multiple kids.  That is not an option for us.  Groups of people can bring new ideas, new ways to do things, and a chance to build relationships.

Relationships.  That’s what Emily was missing.  Several of our close friends with kids her age had recently moved away.  The Bible study I was attending with a “homeschool room”, only had a couple kids Emily’s age.  Even then, we only saw them once a week and one of those two would not be returning the next year.   The church we attend on post also does not have a large number of kids her age.  This was becoming a problem for her.  She was spending all her time with me, and while she thankfully enjoys her time with me, she was craving those relationships like we all do.  People her own age that she can get to know and that can get to know her.  She said once that she wanted friendships with people who “really know what things I like and I can know what they like”.  Isn’t that what we all desire?  People to really know us?

Ok, definitely something to consider.  How can we best meet this need?  We considered for a while joining a homeschool co-op, but the one that would have worked with our schedule just didn’t offer great class options.  I didn’t want to have her just go take a class for the sake of taking a class.  I wanted her to learn something if we were going to invest an entire day of our schedule to this co-op.  We could still be part of the co-op just for field trips, but that didn’t really solve the relationship problem either, as it takes more face to face time to build those.

The more we prayed, the more we heard from Emily too.  We made a point to really listen to what she was saying and found a lot of thought and wisdom in her words.

She expressed to us her desire to learn with other kids.  She said she wished she could go to public school to see what it was like.  She was concerned that she would hurt my feelings by saying that, but I assured her she did not.  We wanted to hear her heart.   She said that she wanted to be able to learn with a group of kids her age and be able to see where she stood in relation to them.  I totally understood that.  We know we aren’t to compare ourselves to others, but only to Christ.  True, but there is something about knowing where you stand.  She just wanted to know that she was on track.  It’s not that she doubted my teaching ability, but she had nothing to compare her knowledge to.  Are other kids learning the same thing?  Do they struggle with similar things?  Am I ahead?  Behind?  She just wanted to know.

She wanted the chance to make friends.  To be around kids her own age several days a week and see the same kids.  To build relationships.  Even knowing that school would not be one giant field trip or playdate, this was important to her.

More and more, we felt the Lord was leading us to put her in school for 5th grade.  Why? I don’t know.  Maybe so we can serve someone at the school.  A family? A teacher?  Of course so Emily can be a friend to others and make friends herself.  It would definitely give us as a family a way to reach out to others in the community and love on them.  People we would have never met otherwise.  We can serve the school and the people that work there.  Be salt & light in the community by stepping out of our comfort bubble a bit.

I was starting to feel excited about her chance to go to school.  When we first started homeschooling, I had a list of reasons why we shouldn’t.  I wanted “me time” and a break.  I had things I wanted to do.  I wasn’t good enough to teach.  In the end, I realized all of my reasons were either selfish or fear based.  Fear is not from the Lord, so the more we looked at it, the more we realized we should homeschool.  At the time, Emily had some special needs that we also felt we could better address at home.  That turned out to be true for a few years, but as she grew, those needs diminished.

This year was different.  All of my reasons for keeping her at home were selfish or fear based.   I don’t want to throw her to the wolves.  Is she strong enough? What if she gets picked on?  What will she be exposed to?  What was I really afraid of?  I have MANY friends who have kids in public school and they THRIVE.  I have many Christian friends whose kids are shining their light in public schools and thriving.  But, I will miss her!  We lose our flexibility over what we study and our schedule.  Oh, our schedule! No more impromptu field trips just because we can.

In the end, I had to choose to trust GOD.  Again, fear is not from the Lord!! Emily belongs to HIM and He is in control, always.  If this is where He was leading us, he has a reason.  I can trust Him to watch over her when I can’t be there.  I trust that her faith in the Lord is STRONG and that she takes Jesus with her to school each and every day.  I can trust that any situation that comes up, we can deal with it if we take it to the Lord in prayer.

So, we enrolled her in school and she was practically bouncing off the walls with excitement before it started.  It was fun to see the excitement in her eyes.  We as a family definitely felt this was the right thing for us to do, right now, in this season.

It’s been a month already and things are going great.  I’ll share the details of how the first month went in my next post.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge HIM and He will make your path straight.”  ~Proverbs 3:5-6

Tween Life Lessons: Work Ethic & Earning Money

A couple weeks ago, my 9 (and 3/4!) year old daughter accidently broke one of my favorite coffee cups that was given to me by a dear friend.  This isn’t the first time this has happened.  In fact, I think that was #3 or maybe 4 over the course of a year.

As you know, I have many favorite coffee cups and tend to attach sentimental value to each of them.  However, I also realize they are just cups.  Emily was so upset over breaking “the really special cup that one of your good friends gave you”, but I reminded her that the cup being broken does not affect my friendship with that person. 

She was so upset and through her tears she wondered, “Why am I always the one to break them?” and “Why are they always your favorite ones?”.  I joked that God was using her to purge my coffee cup collection!  I also reminded her of 3 important things:

1) SHE is the one responsible for emptying the dishwasher and putting away clean dishes.  She handles them more than I or Rob do, so she has more opportunities to drop them than we do.  

2) She’s growing and learning.  She’s learning how to handle the dishes, how she needs to hold them, how to slow down and be careful.  She’s at an age where clumsiness can sneak in as our bodies are changing. 

3) Of course they are my favorite ones! Those are the ones I use and the ones that end up in the dishwasher.  She’s never broken one that was tucked back in the corner of the cabinet, right?  My mom and I always joke about this – why do we always break our favorite things?  Because we USE them!

 

I was fully prepared to extend grace to her (again) in this situation, because I’ve sure broken my share of dishes.  In fact, both Rob and I broke dishes at my mom’s house this past Christmas.   However, Emily insisted that she wanted to replace the cup for me.  She wanted to save up her money to buy a new one.  She earns money each week for certain jobs around the house and she was committed to not making any other purchases until she had bought me a new cup.

What integrity at such a young age!

 

A few days ago, she came to me and asked if she could do any extra jobs around the house to earn money faster in order to get me the cup sooner. 

Extra jobs? Around the house? ABSOLUTELY! I have plenty of those.

 

Saturday came and I presented her a list of available jobs along with the price I would pay her to do them.  She’s a smart cookie and chose the higher paying or faster jobs first! 

The choices I gave her were:

* Clean the flower bed in the backyard (remove all weeds and dead leaves that had accumulated) – $3.00

* Remove the branches in the yard that were a result of the ice days when part of the neighbor’s tree fell in our yard, and set out by the road for trash pick-up.  — $1.00

* Vacuum & clean out my truck (includes throwing away trash, bringing things inside that belong inside, wiping the dashboard, and cleaning the inside of the windows) – $3.00

* Clean my bathroom (she already does her own) – $1.00

* Clean the flower bed in the front yard (just leaves mostly, there weren’t any weeds), and a pile of leaves – $2.00

* Clean up a pile of dead leaves in the backyard – $2.00

 

She chose the 1st 3 and she worked HARD!  She spent about 2 hours working on the flower bed, another hour cleaning up sticks/branches, and at least an hour on the truck.  It was a warm, sunny day so she worked up a sweat for sure.  We made sure she took water breaks and a lunch break with a fruit smoothie – we aren’t mean, you know!

We paid her for each job as it was completed, and seeing that money come in helped motivate her to keep going.  It was hard at first as she had unrealistic expectations about how long the flower bed would take but a little encouragement and ideas on how to make it fun got her going again.  We encouraged her to put on her headphones and some fun music like we do when we mow to help the time pass.  She also gave herself little goals like “I’m going to clear all the way to that stone in 10 minutes”, and that helped to push her through.

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At the end of the day, we rewarded our “employee” with a $2.00 bonus for her hard work and great attitude!  She never quit or complained, but instead showed an incredible work ethic we are proud of.

 

Yesterday, she took me shopping to pick out a new cup!!  I ended up not getting a hot coffee cup though because I found something else that will be perfect for my warm-weather iced coffee drinks!  In fact, I came right home and made one.   I love mason jars, and I love the color teal so this was perfect!  I didn’t even use all her money.  I assured her I would not make her spend more than I would spend myself – and I’m pretty cheap! We found it at Hobby Lobby for half price, so she spent $8.55 on it.

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We are so proud of her for all her hard work, and I know that I will enjoy thinking of her every time I use my new mug!

Secret Keeper Girl Mother-Daughter Time

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A couple of nights ago, I had the privilege of attending an incredible event called Secret Keeper Girl Pajama Party with my daughter, Emily.  We even wore PJ’s that I made myself!  I made matching ones for Emily and her sabertooth tiger, and a different set for myself. 

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The 3-hour event was an evening for moms & daughters (ages 8-12) to have fun together while learning about modesty and inner beauty.  The focus was on teaching the girls (and moms!) that they are children of the King of Kings and are absolutely precious and loved – just the way they are.  They were taught that they are PRINCESSES with a Heavenly Father who is madly in love with them – whether they prefer being a “girly-girl” or a “tomboy”. 

“The King is enthralled with your beauty; all glorious is the princess within her chamber.” (Psalm 45:11a, 13a)

There was a lesson on labels and how we often label ourselves with things like “ugly”, “stupid” (the “S” word!) or “unloveable”, but those labels are LIES and God’s word tells us otherwise.  God made each of us to be different on purpose, so we need to stop comparing ourselves to others and feeling inferior.  Instead, we should take those labels OFF and replace them with God’s Word!

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We had time to talk with our daughters about any labels that they are carrying and then to pray with them.  We also had a giant “popcorn” fight with huge inflatable balls, and even did the chicken dance!

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We got to watch a fashion show – modesty style – with some cute, fun style ideas for the girls.  They even gave some great modesty tips like wearing a men’s or boy’s ribbed tank top under too-short shirts (the boy’s tanks are longer!), or putting leggings/pants under those cute (but too short) miniskirts or dresses (that look more like shirts).   They also taught some tests you can do to see if your clothes are modest enough before wearing them out.  Those tests can be found on the SKG website.  It’s all about keeping our "secret parts” – still a secret!  Let’s let our little girls stay little as long as possible, please.

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SO MUCH FUN!  Check and see if there is a tour coming to your area and if so, take your daughter!  I think next year, I’ll make a full date of it and take her to a hotel for the night for some extended mommy-daughter time.

Parenting should come with do-overs

Tonight my heart is tired.  You ever have one of those times as a parent where you wish you could rewind and have a do-over?  I wish I could back up about 2 hours and just do things differently.  My sweet Lovebug got in trouble for something tonight that she really shouldn’t have.  The worst part is, she got in trouble for one of the worst and highly punishable offenses in our home – lying.  The problem is, it turns out she wasn’t lying on purpose at all and instead was just a victim of being an extremely literal perfectionist.

She had a friend over to play today and they were going back and forth between her room and our school room playing, doing crafts, being super imaginative and creative and having a great time.  As the play date was approaching the end, the kids cleaned up (on their own, mind you) so that they could spend the rest of the time outside.

They came downstairs and told me they were all done cleaning up and were going outside.   I took them at their word (because I’ve never had a reason not to), and let them go. 

Tonight, when I went upstairs to help Lovebug get ready for bed I saw the school room.  Paper, yarn and craft supplies all over the floor.  This is not a problem in itself as we often make a big mess in there when we are being crafty. 

The problem was that she had told me she had cleaned everything up before they went outside.

Instead of assuming the best of my daughter and remembering that she usually doesn’t seem to have a defiant bone in her body, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that she must have lied in order to go outside sooner.  Sometimes it’s all in the wording.  Especially when dealing with an oh-so-literal Aspie child!

I went back over it with her and asked her “Did you tell me that you had cleaned everything up?”, and she said yes. 

I then said “Was that true?”, and she said “no”.

I said “What is that called when you tell me something that’s not true?” and she said “lying”.  Then she started crying, which I assumed was a further display of guilt.

BUT, does saying something that isn’t true ALWAYS equal lying?  More on that in a minute.

I admit, I was angry.  Instead of stopping to think about it from her perspective, I just let myself get so frustrated at something that was so out of character for her.  I was short with her, issued some consequences (no bedtime story because she spent the time cleaning up the room), and let her know I was unhappy with her and that other consequences would be coming.  My being upset with her just led to her being upset, which make the clean up job go slower, which also led to me being more upset.

It was a mess.

She was so worked up that she couldn’t talk without practically hyperventilating, and at one point when I threw away a paper craft that had been just sitting around for days, she reacted as though I had thrown away her most prized stuffed animal.

Needless to say, I could tell she was EXHAUSTED from our busy day.

As we walked back into her room to get into bed, she said something about getting distracted and forgetting they had stuff to clean up in the school room. 

WAIT a minute!  Distracted?  Forgot?

That sounds a lot more like a child-like behavior than an intentional, sinful lie to me.  This is a MAJOR deal because lying is not acceptable in this house and is extremely punishable.   However, distraction and forgetfulness are things she comes by naturally not only because she’s a kid, but because she’s MY kid!

So, I clarified things with her using different words this time.

I asked, “When you told me that you had cleaned everything up, did you know there was a mess in the school room?”, and she responded “No, we got distracted cleaning up in my room and weren’t thinking about it because we were focused on going outside”

Ahhhhh!  The light bulb went off in my head!  Then I said, “So, then did you lie to me on purpose?”, and she said “No, I just forgot about it”.

Now, to some of you that might sound like a cop out, but I assure you that with my child it isn’t.  She was so upset because she thought she had lied to me.  Her tears earlier were because she was broken-hearted and completely torn up.  She was devastated at the thought of lying to me, but she knew that she had said something that wasn’t true.  She knew that literally a lie was something that wasn’t true, and she felt trapped because she couldn’t say “I wasn’t lying” when she knew she had said something that turned out to be untrue.

So then we talked about the differences because forgetting something, or making a mistake versus deliberate lying.  The example I gave was if I told Daddy that his favorite coffee cup was on the second shelf, and when he went to get it he found it on the first shelf – was that a lie? 

Her answer was yes. 

My answer is no – it was a mistake and I remembered something incorrectly.  Just like she made a mistake and forgot they had another room to clean up.

To me, a lie is more about just being not truthful, it is about intent.  She didn’t tell me something untrue on purpose, but instead she told me what she thought was true at the moment. 

Sometimes I am right on top of seeing things through her eyes, and other times I really wish I could have a do-over.   I could have said something as simple as, “Did you forget about this room when you were cleaning up?”, instead of getting upset.  Hindsight is always 20-20, isn’t it?

Thankfully, we cleared it all up and ended the night with lots of hugs and kisses before bed!  This is something that is very important to me and Hubby!  Hubby and I never go to bed without saying “I love you”.  Even the couple of times we were upset about something, we talk it out as much as possible and when we go to bed, we always – ALWAYS – touch feet to let the other know that everything is ok, we love each other, and we are in this together forever.

We’ve carried that through with Lovebug too.  I never, ever, want her to go to bed thinking I’m still upset with her or disappointed in her.  I never want her to have that feeling.  We want her to know that even if we don’t like her choice or behavior that we always – ALWAYS – love her and are proud of her.  We make sure to end the night on a happy note with hugs and kisses, a song, a tickle – or whatever she needs. 

My love for her can’t be as perfect as God’s love, but hopefully though us as parents, she will get a taste of what it’s like to have someone love you no matter what.  I want her to grow up knowing that there is nothing she can ever do to make her Mommy and Daddy stop loving her.  I want her to know that we are proud of her and the person God made her to be – just the way she is. 

I want her to know:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14)

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. (Psalm 127:3)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” (Jer 1:5)

Teaching a child to fish

No, I’m not teaching her to fish for fish – that will be Daddy’s job!

I’m sure you’ve heard the following quote.

“Give a man a fish and he eats for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.”

This concept is a huge part of parenting.  One of my jobs as a mom is to raise my daughter to be a responsible adult.  My primary goal of course is to teach her how to be a disciple for Christ.  In addition, I also want her to be able to take care of herself and her family one day.  When I went to college, I can’t tell you how many people I met who didn’t know how to do a load of laundry, or cook anything that wasn’t a TV dinner.  It was just sad.  As a parent, I would not be doing my job if I sent my child off to live on their own for the first time or to enter into marriage without these basic skills (among many others).  I’m all for letting kids be kids. I actually feel very strongly about not making them grow up too fast.  I think kids should still be able to play more in Kindergarten instead of feeling the pressure to read and write.

However, way before the time they graduate high school, they should know how to do their own laundry and cook!  So, we are starting while she’s young.

Hubby and I have spent some time talking about what goals we have for Lovebug.  What do we want to make sure we teach her before she leaves our home?  One of those things is financial responsibility.  She will go through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University as part of her high school education!  She is already practicing these concepts even at the age of 7.  Anytime she receives money – as a gift, or as her salary for doing her household jobs – she tithes on it.  Then she puts some in her savings bank to save for long term, bigger things that she’s wanting, and she puts some in her spending bank to have money to spend right away if she wants.

As part of our homeschooling, I am also teaching her Home Economics.  We work on cleaning the house, laundry, doing the dishes, and cooking.

Some of the things she does:

She can mop the floor and do a great job.  A spray bottle filled with half vinegar-half water makes the perfect non-toxic cleaner.  A wet washcloth under each bare foot makes the perfect mop.  I’ve take to mopping this way myself because it’s easier to rinse out than a regular mop, and I can scrub harder on those tough spots.

She puts away her own clean laundry.

She can empty the dishwasher and put the dishes away.

She sweeps the front porch and sidewalk.

She puts in a clean trash bag after I take out the trash (she stands in the bag to get it open – so cute!).

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She’s learning to cook.  She’s already been doing things like cutting up fruit and vegetables for some time now.  She can help make a smoothie, loves to make fruit salad, makes several of our cookie recipes herself and can make sandwiches by herself.

Now, she can make scrambled eggs too!  Not on the stove…that will come later.  These are made in the microwave!  I taught her how to do this yesterday and she was so excited to make her own breakfast this morning!

Since I know you just can’t wait to learn how to do this, I’ll tell you!

 

Instructions:

First you get a coffee mug

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Then you get an egg and crack it into the cup

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Don’t forget to put the eggs back in the fridge.  Lovebug wanted me to take a picture of her putting the eggs back WHILE holding the egg in her hand – she wanted Daddy to see!

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Beat the egg with a fork or whisk

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Place in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Our microwave even has a 30-second button!

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Stir the egg, and place back in the microwave for 30 more seconds, and wait.

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It’s done and ready to eat! Eat from the cup, or dump into your own bowl. Add a little salt and pepper if you wish to taste, and enjoy!

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Regret & Disappointment are hard lessons for kids

Tonight I had a very emotional discussion with Lovebug.  Just as she should have been falling asleep she came downstairs crying.  For some reason, her mind was wandering before going to sleep and she started missing one of her toys that she made the choice (on her own!) to sell a few months ago.  She didn’t play with it much anymore and wanted the money for other things. Tonight, she was acting like it was her favorite toy and there was no convincing her otherwise. 

Sometimes she gets fixated on things like this, and although in reality it’s not nearly that big of a deal, in her mind it’s absolutely huge.  Her fears, her worries, and her anxieties can just take over sometimes and it’s so hard to bring her back to reality.  I can’t tell her she didn’t play with the toy that much – she’ll argue that it was her favorite.  Because in that moment, right then, it IS.  She was in full blown panic like she couldn’t find her favorite stuffed animal she needed to sleep with.

So, I comforted her.  I held her.  I told her I loved her.  I also told her the decision couldn’t be reversed.  The toy she sold isn’t even made anymore, and she has something similar but much, much better anyway.  Sure, I could find it on Ebay, but like I said, it wasn’t one she played with much anymore.  She asked if we could get it back from the lady that I sold it to.  I had to tell her no.  I asked her how she would feel if she bought something at a garage sale that she was excited about and the owner came back a couple months later to take it back.  She agreed that wasn’t right.

It broke my heart to see her so upset, yet I also knew she was so emotional because she was exhausted!  She’d already taken her Melatonin to help her fall asleep, and we’d had a busy day.  We all know that everything seems worse when we are tired.

I also think that she’s extra upset because she’s seriously disappointed right now.  She’s worked so hard for the past 6 months to buy a remote control helicopter that she saw in a Think Geek catalog.  She saved up $80 of her own money.  We ordered it a week ago, and just 2 days ago it arrived.  She was so excited to open the package and try it out – then it broke within the first 10 minutes.  It just didn’t do what it was supposed to do and it was way too hard to control.   It would take off full speed ahead and then just stop and crash to the ground from 10 feet in the air.  There was no in between speed – it was all or nothing.  Thankfully, the company is letting us return it and will refund our money.  So she isn’t out the money, and can choose something else to buy, but the disappointment is there.  She had been looking forward to this purchase for months! Once we placed the order, she was on pins and needles until it arrived.  Then, she didn’t even get to really play with it.  All that work, all that saving up her money, all that anticipation….just down the drain. 

There are very few toys that she plays with anyway.  She loves to read, to play outside with her adventure tools, or recycle old boxes into new creations.  So for her to set her mind on this one thing for so long was pretty amazing.   

I wish I could make it all better.  I wish I could make the toy work the way it was supposed to.  I wish she never had to know the pain of disappointment or regret.  I want so much to take the pain away and just make it better.

But I can’t.

So we cuddled on the sofa for a while and I held her while she cried.  Then, I finally told her she needed to get some sleep and that we would talk about it more in the morning.  I told her we’d work together to figure out what she wanted to spend her money on next.  She still wants to try the remote control idea, but we’re thinking we’ll go with a car or something that stays on the ground for now.

I will not interrupt I will not interrupt I will not interrupt

Today was a wonderful day in so many ways, but frustrating at the same time.  Lovebug is going through another “interrupting phase”.  Not just interrupting either, but keeping on and on and on after I tell her no, or ask her to wait. 

Honestly, it’s something that as a kid I struggled with as well.  My mother would tell you that I always have.  I like to talk.  I like to relate to people and communicate with them.  Sometimes my mouth moves before my mind does. 

Actually, it’s something I am always working on.  Hubby and I tend to finish each other’s thoughts and sentences just because we know each other so well.

“Hey Babe, would you get…”

“You want some water? Sure!”

Problem is, to anyone else, it just sounds like interrupting.

Even talking to friends.  Sometimes I get so excited about what they are saying that I want to comment, but I have to wait.  I’ve literally had to bite my tongue before to make myself slow down and JUST listen.  I know, I’m a work in progress.

So, today was a struggle with Lovebug interrupting me over and over.  At a friend’s house.  When someone came to the door.  Seriously, she hadn’t talked to me for 10 minutes because she was busy, but the second I’m talking to someone at the door she comes running up – not to see who it was, but to ask me if she could have a banana.

Nope.  The answer when you interrupt me is always the opposite of what you want.

Often, she’s often just trying to be part of the conversation, which I love, but much of the time she’s also just trying to get her way about something.

It continued during dinner, and after dinner when we were working together in the kitchen.

I was at a loss for a consequence for this.  Nothing seemed to fit.  Then I thought about writing sentences.  However, I know that handwriting is a real (painful, tearful) struggle for her – it’s something we work on constantly during school.  So, I was trying to think of another way to pound this into her head.

We were making almond butter in the blender at the time, so I grabbed a measuring cup full of almonds and an empty bowl.  I told her she had to move one almond at a time to the bowl and with each one, say, “I will not interrupt.  It is rude and selfish.”

She did this probably 30 times, and then I stopped her.  With about 15 almonds left in the cup, I decided I wanted her to end her consequence on a different note. 

So I had her say, “I am a child of God.  I will love others because He loves me!”

Over and over and over.

I could see her spirit lifting, and the gleam in her eye as SHE GOT IT.  It’s not just about following a “no interrupting” rule.  It’s about loving others, and this is just one way we can do that.

It was a lesson for me as well.  Sometimes I think that’s why God gave me a child – not only does He bless me through her, He teaches me through her.

I cried over her misspelled words

Lovebug and I had a great day! We started the day with breakfast, and then some game time.  I wanted some one-on-one time with her because I knew I would be spending a lot of time unpacking today and she wouldn’t get as much of my focused attention.

First we played “I Can Do That!”. It’s a Dr. Seuss game and one of our family favorites. 

Then, we got out a new game that we had been given, but never opened – Cranium’s Big Book of Outrageous Fun!  We played the board game inside, and then I left her to play by herself with the rest.  It’s not really a single person game, but she just wanted to “play with” the game, not actually play the game.

Inside the box is a book.  On each page of the book is a question and a mostly blank page.  The idea is for each person playing to write their answer to the question along with a symbol that person has chosen for themselves so that once there are several answers on the page you can tell which answer belongs to which person.

While I went upstairs to rid our home of some more cardboard boxes, she went to work on the book.  I honestly figured that would last about 2 minutes before she moved on to something else since I wasn’t there to help her.

I WAS WRONG.

Much later she came up to me and handed me the book, asking me to read what she had done.  As I read through the book, I was fighting back my tears.  Many of the pages were short answers with correctly written words, but there were also several pages with longer answers and many, many misspelled words.

As I handed the book back to her, and she walked out of the room, I was in tears!

Not because she didn’t spell the words right.  Quite the opposite.  I was SO SO PROUD of her!!

You see, Lovebug is quite the perfectionist.  She often won’t even attempt something if she doesn’t know with all certainty that she can do it right.  Handwriting is one of those areas.  She struggles in this area as it is, but when it comes to writing words, notes, birthday cards or anything of the sort, I have to tell her how to spell EVERY.  SINGLE.  WORD.  Telling her to “just try” or to “guess” gets us nowhere.  She gets so frustrated, and her self esteem just plummets because she feels bad about making mistakes – no matter how much we try to build her up.  She’s afraid to try.  I’ve told her countless times that she has to make mistakes to learn, that everyone gets things wrong sometimes, and that you only really fail if you don’t try.  It never seems to sink in.

I’ve been working with her for a long time on her writing & spelling.  When she wants to write a letter to a friend, or a card to a grandparent, then instead of telling her how to spell the words, I make her sound it out a sound or syllable at a time and we work through it.  It’s a compromise.  She gets my affirmation before she puts the pencil to paper so she knows she’s spelling it right, but I am satisfied because she’s learning how to do it. 

This time, she did it all by herself!!  She tried.  She didn’t ask me even once how to spell a word.  She just guessed, did her best, and went for it!  This is so huge for her. I wish I could make you understand just how big this is. 

Some of the words are close, but others are really really wrong.  So wrong that if I didn’t know better I’d think she didn’t know what sounds the letters make.  But I DO know that she knows.  I also know that she has auditory issues that make it hard for her to HEAR the sounds in her head as she’s trying to spell words.  Thankfully as I read the questions aloud to her, she said the answers so I didn’t have to ask her what she wrote.  Whew!  I was able to just praise her over and over for the great job and hard work that she did. 

Hubby and I used to talk about how we’ll never have those cute notes from our child with words spelled wrong like most parents.   Well, now we do and I could not be more excited about it!

IMAG1465

Translation: “Headphones”

IMAG1466

Translation: “Woods in the Middle Ages”

 

IMAG1467

Translation: “Jesus Loves Me”

 

IMAG1468

Translation: “What city does Sammy live in?”

What NOT to say!

We’re on the hunt to find a new church home, and this morning we visited another new one.  As I was sitting next to hubby, this lady came up to introduce herself to us.  As she was doing so, Lovebug came walking back to us from getting a drink of water. 

I introduced the lady to my daughter, and the lady said to her, “So, is Mommy going to give you a little brother or sister sometime soon?”. 

At first I thought she thought I was pregnant…you know, with the shirt styles the way they are now-a-days.  And maybe she did…I know I need to work out more. 

But when I said “Nope!”, she kept going.  She then asked me “Well, are you going to try for one soon?”

I just said, “Ummm, nope.” as my heart sank a little.  If only she knew.

Then she turned to Lovebug and said “Are you going to try to talk her into having a brother or sister for you?”

Lovebug just looked at me curiously and said “Mommy is thinking about getting us a puppy”.

She finally walked away.  Thank goodness because I was one question away from dropping the phony-answer-with-a-smile and blowing this lady away with my REAL answer.

What do you think she would have done if I had said this:

“We would love to have another baby.  Unfortunately, we tried for 3 years after this precious miracle was born to get pregnant, but then I had to have a complete hysterectomy due to medical complications.  We then became foster-to-adopt parents, but an adoptable child hasn’t come our way yet.  In fact, just last year we raised a baby boy from 7 days to 9 months thinking we’d get to adopt him, but then found out otherwise.  So, no, I won’t be giving my child a sibling any time soon, but thanks for asking.”

 

Seriously people, THINK before you speak!  It’s ok to ask if someone has children, but if they say “no” – drop it.  Don’t ask them why not, or when they are going to try.  My sex life with my husband is none of your business.  Maybe the person you are talking to has been trying for years, or just has a miscarriage, or a failed adoption.  You don’t know, and if they want you to know they will tell you.

Just the same, I don’t mind if someone asks me if I have more kids, or if Lovebug is an only.  But once I say that she’s my only one, please leave it alone.  Don’t ask me when I’m going to give her a sibling or tell me that she *needs* one like I’m holding out on her.  Don’t tell me that I better get busy soon because she’s getting older.  Don’t assume that I don’t like kids or want more kids just because I don’t have them.

When we had foster kids, I would get looks, stares, comments and questions because I had “so many kids” (4).  Now that we just have one child, I still get questioned.

Please.  Just accept the kid(s) I have and move on.  If I have 1 or 10 – each one is a blessing!

 

By the way, I do realize this lady meant no harm and it won’t keep us from visiting the church again or anything, but I needed to vent.  Like I told hubby this morning, it’s happened to me so many times that it doesn’t make me cry as often, but it still stings a lot. 

To the moms who have been THAT mom

Thank you all for the response to the Walmart post!  I really appreciate you reading, commenting, and sharing that post – keep it coming! I love hearing from each of you.  I’m overwhelmed actually.  I’ve been working on a response for the last couple days and I just can’t get my mind around the big picture here because even though I knew this lack of understand was a problem, I don’t think I realized it was an EPIDEMIC!  My heart just broke into so many pieces as I read story after story of moms being judged, ridiculed, and spoken to so rudely!  I don’t know if you all have read through all the comments, but I encourage you to do so.

I also want you to know that I am reading each and every one of them! If you leave your blog in your comment, I will visit each and every one of you and comment (just be patient with me)!  I appreciate the support and we all have to support each other.

It just fuels my fire!! Reading your comments makes me even more determined to love and accept my child unconditionally without trying to change her to fit society’s standards and to hold my head up high when I’m out in public with her instead of trying to hurry my way through.  It also makes me more determined to watch for those moms having a hard day and to do something to help.

I wrote that post because it was something that happened to me that day that I just wanted to share.  The bigger picture is that I also wanted to get awareness out there that disabilities are not always visible!

I remember when I was a teenager, and I had an aunt who used a wheelchair, that we would park in the handicapped parking spaces for her.  I used to get so irritated when I would see people parking in a handicapped spot (with a tag) and just walking into the store like it was nothing.  I didn’t realize until later that there are so many handicaps that we can’t see on the outside.  Not every disabled person uses crutches or a wheelchair, nor do they wear a sign on their back.

Although, I’ve thought about making Lovebug a t-shirt that says “I’m not misbehaving, I have SPD. Learn about it. Don’t judge”

Or how about, “I have Autism. My mom is tired. Stop staring and ask her how you can help.”

Just in case you haven’t read through the comments yourself, let me give you some of the examples.

These moms have been told:

* Her child needed a muzzle. Really? He’s not going to bite you! (But I might if you say that to me)

* She needed to watch SuperNanny.

* She could control her kids better if she used birth control.

* Her kid needed a whoopin’

* That her kids should know manners

* One had her child made fun of by 2 elderly women!

I’m sure that only breaks the surface of words that have been spoken to so many of you by perfect strangers.  Can I just tell you I’m sorry?  Accept this virtual HUG from me. I’m so sorry that anyone would have to hear those words about their child, but it hurts even worse when you know they are doing their best…when YOU are doing your best.

So many of you are dealing with very difficult challenges each and every day with your children, but you choose to love them unconditionally.  You choose to do all that you can to help them.  In case no one has told you lately, you are doing a great job! If you’ve told your child today that you love them, you’ve done a great job.  If you’ve helped your child get dressed once or even ten times today, you’ve done a great job.  If you made sure your child had food to eat and a safe place to sleep tonight, then you’ve done a great job.

This experience will stick with me for the rest of my life.  I pray that my heart never hardens to the needs of those moms in the store.  That I am never in too much of a hurry to stop and help.  That I will slow down and enjoy my time in the store with my child instead of rushing so that we don’t have to deal with the looks, or so other people aren’t “bothered”.  That I will do what I can to make it a pleasant experience for my child – even if that means my 6 year old has a baby’s teething toy in her mouth, or is wearing the same sweats for the 4th day in a row.

LOVE – for our children, and for others is what matters.