Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What I Wish I Knew When I Was a Newlywed (Link-up)

Katie@NFP and Me is hosting a link-up with tips for newlyweds, here is my contribution. My husband and I have been married 14 yrs. thus far. 5 kids.

1. If your wedding was not the exact picture you had dreamed up and planned for months and months, you will get over it. In fact, you won't care 15 yrs. from now. AND it is no indication of the type of marriage you will have. It will be much worse. Just kidding. :)

2. The greatest piece of advice given to me while I was engaged was from a female professor at Franciscan University in her 60's. She said "Beat each other to the cross. Be the first to humble yourself. The first to say your sorry." She then admitted her husband almost always beat her, dang it. That is me now, 14 yrs. later.

3. The longer you "know" each other, in the biblical sense, the better it gets, so if your first night is not the night of your dreams, it is no indication of the rest of your married love-life. at all.

4. Please, please, please, don't try to change your spouse. Change yourself. and pray like heck for them.   This will bring the greatest change.

5.Just because you are now "a grown up" doesn't mean you don't need help. Swallow your pride and take all the help that is offered. If you do, you MIGHT not end up in the looney bin by the end of it all.

6. It doesn't matter what other people think of you. Be the parent and/or spouse you feel God is calling you to be.

7. Just read #6 one more time.

8. When you have your first big fight, don't panic and think you made a big mistake, you will have many more :). You will also have many more make-up times, warm fuzzies (yes, I still look at my husband's eyes and melt) belly-laughs together, and moments of total gratefulness for this person before you.

9. Treat your spouse as the person you know they are capable of being, the person you want them to be, not as the person you see with a critical eye. One day you will wake up, and they will be that person. Believe in your spouse!

10. Submitting is not going to kill you, or your personality. It will give you peace and your marriage peace. "Daddy's in charge, ask daddy." Best. Sentence. Ever.

Well, I guess I could go on and on but 10 seems like a good round number. For more newlywed tips check out Katie's Link-up. 

What I Wish I Knew When I Was a Newlywed (Link-up)
On Our 10th anniversary, a cruise. The only time since my honeymoon that I painted my fingernails and toenails and blew-dried my hair every day. (Is blew-dried a word?)


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dyslexia, Another Curveball in Homeschooling

When you start homeschooling, you have pictures in your mind of how it's supposed to be. We all do it. With just about anything worth while. We imagine the perfect marriage when we're engaged, perfect parenting experience when we're pregnant, perfect houses when we are in an appartment, and perfect jobs when we are creating a resumé and going to interviews. Most of this speculating is due to lack of experience and knowledge, or the knowledge we have will not apply to our own situation.

So, pretty much every curveball I have been thrown as a parent thus far, took me by surprise. Can you imagine? I was not prepared for any of them. Not in the handbook. When my first child took to school and reading like a duck in a pond (except for his challenge with ADD) I was a little surprised when my next student, the Queen, struggled quite a bit. She could not memorize simple things like, numbers, and number facts. I would use the same flashcards I had used with my son, but she would be in tears after 20 minutes, as she could never remember the number names. She was learning to read, but struggled with it. It was not until I saw a card she made for her daddy on Father's Day, wherein the entire sentence she wrote "Happy Father's Day Daddy" word for word, was backwards, that I thought we might need to look into the possibility of Dyslexia.

I started asking around and found an awesome mom in our homeschool support group who had several children who were dyslexic. She pointed me to a curriculum called Barton Reading and Spelling which was created by a woman named Susan Barton. Susan had her own career but was distraught over her nephew's struggle to survive in school. He was failing everything and no one seemed to be able to help him. She dropped everything, started doing her own research, and tutored her nephew up to grade level reading, and had so much success she now helps students with Dyslexia full-time. I went to their website and watched all of her free videos, several hours worth, about Dyslexia. I was amazed at how much my daughter seemed to follow all of the precursors and signs. There was the most obvious one, which was that it runs in the family, her grandfather is dyslexic. She skipped crawling almost entirely and was a late walker (developemental delays, or "skipping" steps, was named as a possible precursor somewhere, but I can't find it on their site now). She had speech problems even from the beginning, little expressions which we just dismissed as her cute idiosyncrasies, and some stuttering. She never could get her"lefts" and her "rights", and never did get the "rhyming" thing.

The homeschooling mom I mentioned, Maria, offered to have us come over, and try her curriculum out, and eventually ended up tutoring my daughter in her home on a weekly basis. For a while, it seemed like she would never get it. The writing/spelling aspect of it was particularly difficult for her. But one day, Maria came out of the bedroom and said, "I don't know what happened, but something has clicked with her, we've made a breakthrough." She (Maria) and I both looked at each other, and there were tears in our eyes. She of all people, knew what it was to worry about and struggle with teaching a child who was dyslexic. I am so grateful for her help in jumpstarting us, and so grateful for the Barton program.

My daughter has grown leaps and bounds, educationally, since then. She still forgets to use her spelling rules and checks sometimes. She still hates to write, but can do it pretty well. Our Seton program has allowed us to adjust her work so that she can learn at her own pace and ability, and while school is still difficult for her at times, she is doing very well.

Dyslexics are known for their strengths as well, and my girl is no exception. She is very intuitive, beyond her age. She is disciplined. She is creative, artistic, and imaginative. But one of the greatest thing she has learned, I think, is compassion for her siblings when they struggle with school.

The biggest lesson I have learned through all of it (and will continue to) is that God really does care about our needs, and hears prayers. I spent much time in prayer, in tears, asking God to help me, help her. And in his time, he did.
Dyslexia, Another Curveball in Homeschooling

Catholic Bloggers Network

Saturday, July 14, 2012

You Are What You Eat

I've decided to do a series of blogs on the special needs of our children, in hopes it might help someone out. Here is our story about ADD and food sensitivities.
You Are What You Eat
About 7 years ago (Sheesh, has it been THAT long?!) I was homeschooling my precious number one son. And he was beginning to drive me absolutely bonkers. He very easily caught on to many things and was a cinch to teach to read, but could not focus, to save his life. I was used to scenarios like: asking him to go upstairs and get dressed, waiting 30 minutes, calling up after him, only to have him still not dressed coming down the stairs sincerely asking "What was it you wanted again Mom?" On things like Handwriting and Math, he would sit there for hours, sometimes tracing over the same letter or number, repeatedly. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!!" I would ask, exasperated. I had no way of knowing he was struggling with ADD symptoms.

I did know, something wasn't right, and I asked for advice from my homeschool support group, and got it. There were alot of "Oh he's just being a boy!" and "you are probably doing too much." (which was partially true) but I knew there was something more to it. Then one mom responded to me, and got my attention. She said she could totally relate, but that she had been using a nutritional program for her son, that had totally changed their life. It was called Feingold. I went to their website and began consuming all the information they had available. I ordered my books, joined the online support group (which is a MUST if you do it) and began purging our pantry of preservative packed goodies, and most prepackaged food. There's alot more to it than that, you have to consider everything that makes contact with the senses, food, cleaners, soaps, fragrances, even markers. It is definitely an overhaul. With their guidelines and support however, it was doable.

I was told it would take a while for it to take effect, sometimes even a couple of months. I remember vividly the morning I saw a difference. I sent him upstairs to brush his teeth. 5 minutes later he was running back down the stairs. I looked incredulously at him. "What are you doing?" "I brushed my teeth." He said very matter-of-factly. He left the room. I turned towards the counter to brace myself, stood there dumbfounded, and even teared up a little. I couldn't believe it. I continued to see improvement in his ability to concentrate, all day school days until 5:00 p.m. began to shrink back to half days (sounds more normal for Kindergarten right?).

The other side of this is my 5 yr. old son whom we now know, has SPD.  At first, we didn't put all the kids on this diet, just my oldest. But somehow I knew, it was necessary. I had read in Feingold materials that the sensitivity in one child was most likely to show up in others as it was genetic. My now 5 yr. old, "The Little Guy" is difficult to deal with sometimes. Because of his issues, he is very physical with things and people. This is nothing, however, compared to how he acted before we put him on Feingold. As much as I love him, he was just mean and unpleasant, most of the time. He would grunt at everyone, pout about everything, and didn't seem to be happy. One day, he was eating a cookie. It had red sprinkles all over it and they were getting on his face. (I now know, red sprinkles=red dye=red 40=big trouble) I noticed he had red splotches on his face where the red sprinkles were. I pointed this out to my husband and he replied, "You want everyone to go on it, don't you." So we decided to make it a family affair.

Another aspect of Feingold, besides the artificial dyes, flavors, and preservatives, is something called salicylates. There are actually naturally occuring salicylates in some fruits, vegetables, spices, and nuts. You have to determine which ones your child is sensitive to. I have discovered that some of my children can handle more salycilates than others. The 2 boys mentioned above are pretty sensitive. My two girls, not as much but sensitivity is still there.

It is not a complete answer to your problems. There were some on the Feingold Message Board that chose to follow the program AND use ADD meds. After reading about side effects of ADD medications though, I just felt it wasn't for us. This was another option for me.

My oldest can still be spacey, but not NEARLY as bad as it was before. My 5 year old can still be very difficult, but I think it is easy for us to forget how different he was before Feingold. One of the first things my mom noticed about him after we started the diet was "It's like he has a different personality, he smiles alot now."

We don't follow it as closely as we did in the beginning, you can start to take risks here and there after you see what your child can handle. But it has taught me as a mother, that it does indeed matter what your child puts in his mouth.   

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sometimes It's Impossible to Be Serious Around Here!

So my husband was working late tonight. When he is gone I have a tendency to try to make up for it in the authority department, but sometimes I feel a deep sense of insecurity as I see I am losing control, and I say things that sound pefectly sane in my head, but somehow as they come out of my mouth, it all goes awry.

I am tired, I am done for the day but the day is not done, it is time to start our routine family rosary after dinner. I am ready with my rosary but the picture surrounding me is far from a picture of solemn meditation. As the noise begins to grow, I shout in order to be heard, "ALRIGHT!! It's time for people to start thinking about prayer and stop throwing babies everywhere!!" A silent moment, followed by a burst of laughter from the crowd. First my son, the Encyclopedia, who doubles as a major ham, imitates me, which induces, much more laughter.
Then, it's hopeless. But I try to begin anyway. Problem is, none of us can stop chuckling, including myself, now that we have this hilarious image painted by me, in all of our heads. Finally after we are halfway into the second decade, I regain some composure and after calling upon the respect of Our Lady (who can laugh after this?!) press on.

I would imagine though, that Our Lord and Our Lady might have chuckled too, at the whole scene, shaking their heads looking at each other and saying, "Bless her heart, she tries, she really tries."  

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