Our Adventures Over the Last Year

I’ve been absent for the last year. We’ve been busy and had a lot of changes.

We bought a house:

outside before

Renovated, painted and fixed it up

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Curious Monkey was quite the handyman with his Dad. He worked hard to help take this wall down to open up our kitchen.

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Caught some waves:

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Dad taught all the kids to skateboard:

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The Gymnast Competed:

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Chess tournaments and Soccer games were played.

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We had a baby:

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And everyone got one year older.

Moments to Remember ~ Snow Day

For two weeks we’ve been hearing it might snow. And it finally did. The house was a buzz yesterday and nothing was getting done besides waiting for the snow to arrive. As soon as it started falling the kids bundled themselves up and headed out to play in it.

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They were all giggles as the “skated” on the trampoline and pushed each other down.

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After all the fun they were freezing and came in for our ceremonial post-snow hot chocolate.

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We all get so tickled when it snows here. It’s exciting that we get a little snow every winter. But this Momma raised in the Deep South is happy it only sticks for a day or two.

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Final Concussion Update

We made what I hope is our final visit to the concussion doctor this morning. Over the last two weeks my Gymnast has been much better. She is able to do her schoolwork, her memory is better and she is happy.

The doctor has declared that she has made a full recovery and she is released to get back to gymnastics. She is so excited and can’t wait to flip again. She’s missed two meets and there is another next weekend that she will likely miss. There’s only one left, she would like to be able to compete at the State Meet at the end of May.

I asked him what this concussion meant for the long term. He said that he feels that she has completely recovered. He doesn’t think we should see long term effects but there is no way to know for sure. If she should suffer another concussion he would evaluate that one and we would go from there. But the goal is to not have another concussion. He says for her to be a little less of a risk taker.

I am so thankful to everyone that prayed for her healing and her safety. I praise the Lord that she recovered and that he kept her safe from a second impact while she was healing.

 

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Repost: Learning Not to Compare Myself

I originally wrote this almost 6 years ago. It was a great lesson that the Lord taught me. It is one that I remind myself of often._______________________________________
It is so easy to fall into Satan’s trap sometimes. It is so easy to look at your friends and think that they have everything figured out, that they always have a clean house, always fix fresh healthy food for dinner, have well-behaved, well-mannered children everyday.We all have strengths and weaknesses. Where one Mom struggles another succeeds. However, Satan pulls at us in those weak areas. He makes us think that we aren’t doing a good job as a Mom. He makes us feel guilty becuase we don’t do it like Mom over there. He makes us feel like Mom over there does everything better than us and has everything figured out.This summer I have spent a lot of time with two wonderful Moms in the same season of life as me. We all have children born within months of eachother. What I have realized is that we all have different strengths and weaknesses. What has been incredible is that God has placed us together to teach each of us how to overcome the guilt of our weaknesses. We can help each other recognize Satan’s powers. We can offer advice on how we are able to do the things we are good at. God does not intend for us to go through life with daily guilt.I have also realized that the things that are important for the day get done. Each Mom’s focus on what is important for the day is different. Each Mom has different circumstances with their children. For instance, I have been going through a terrible battle with Karate Kid and his allergies which provoke behavioral problems. It is very hard to get much done when you have a child that is needy. I haven’t been able to journal like I wanted to, take pictures of Little Bit like I wanted to. What was important for many months was taking care of Karate Kid and trying to figure out what was making him sick. Now that things are getting better I can focus on other things. I need to stop allowing Satan to make me feel guilty about not accomplishing everything.

Concussion Update #2

We saw the Concussion Doctor about 10 days ago. She was asked a series of questions about her physical symptoms. She had to rate them on a 1 to 6 scale, 6 being the worst ever. The nurse asked her about headaches, dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to noise, irritability, easily frustrated, ability to fall asleep at night and a few others. The first time we saw the doctor she answered 4 to 6 on nearly all of those questions. This time she was able to answer 1 to 3 on all of them. She hadn’t had a headache for 2 weeks but noises were still bothering her and she was still having a little more trouble than usual to do schoolwork, however she wasn’t really irritable or easily frustrated. She was also back to her regular sleeping habits, instead of falling asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow she was back to taking an hour or more to fall asleep.

After the nurse’s questions, the doctor came in and gave her a neurological exam. He made her follow his finger with her eyes, gave her things to remember, and asked her to say the days of the week starting with Tuesday, and what day of the week today was. She did much better this time. She really couldn’t answer any of his questions the first time we went other than it was Friday. He was happy with her improvement and released her to start increasing her activity level.

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She has spent a lot of time with her rabbit lately.

 

We were given an exercise progression that started with brisk walking and ended with a 100% cardiac workout. It was a 3 step process and if she got a headache after any of the workouts she was to rest for 24 hours and return to the previous step. We were to call 7 days later with her results. She started by just walking a few laps around the backyard and then jogging and then running 10 laps around the park. She was able to progress through without any physical symptoms. When I called in they asked how she had progressed through the regiment. I said she did great, no symptoms. Then she asked how her memory was. Hmm. I had forgotten about that little symptom. In fact, a few hours before I talked to the nurse she couldn’t remember something. Her brother wanted to play Connect 4. She had no recollection of what it was even after we tried to explain it to her. She is also still having a bit of trouble with her math assignments. She isn’t understanding them as easily as she was a few months ago. So the nurse would relay this to the doctor and call me back.

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She made a desert diorama today to go along with our study of the desert.

Based on her troubled memory the doctor wants her to sit out for another 2 weeks and see us back in the office then. She is allowed to have full physical activity but she still can’t go back to the gym. We’ve been trying to get back to a full school schedule since last week and we still can’t get there. She seems more frustrated with her work than she used to be. It’s a little reminiscent of the pre-LearningRx Gymnast. She’s isn’t as interested in learning as she was past LearningRx and pre-concussion. So we will give it more time to heal and continue to pray that the Lord restores all and that there is no permanent cognitive function loss. It’s quite bizarre seeing this child on her feet as much as she has been. Ordinarily I find her on her hands and flipping upside down constantly.

Homeschool The Distracted Child

A friend from a local homeschool group recently asked this question on our group’s facebook page:

Those of you who have an easily distracted child, what do you do to help him/her? Looking for more ideas.

I happen to have two diagnosed inattentive children. But even my children that haven’t been diagnosed can be easily distracted in our large family. Here are some things that I have found to help.

1. Clear daily expectations and routine

Imagine going through your day wanting to do ___, you fill in the blank but Mom has a different idea. But, Mom never clued you in on her plan. You spend all day wanting to get to ____ and Mom keeps asking telling you to do one more thing. And each time you think that after you complete it you will get to do ____. A schedule and clear expectations can help with this matter. I have a child that just wants to play computer or watch tv all day. I have had to set clear times of when he can do that and how long it can last. When he asks at other times of the day to do those things I am able to say, “no, right now it is free play time or ____.” It has alleviated a lot of fighting.You can read more about our schedule here.

We use the workbox system for our schoolwork. The children can clearly see how much work I expect them to accomlish each day. I have some that are flexible and I can add new stuff to their boxes and they roll with it. I have another that freaks out and needs several days warning that I will be adding something to his box. You can read about how we use workboxes here. If my way doesn’t work for you google workboxes and you’ll keep yourself busy for days till you find just the right method for you.

2. Use short lessons and break work up throughout the day

I have found that it is more productive to use short lessons. I try to only keep each child at their workspace for about 20 minutes for independent work and no longer than 45 minutes for work with Mom. I have found that after 45 minutes with Mom most of them are in need of a change of pace. In 45 minutes I fit in their reading lesson, math lesson and language lesson. I split up math lessons into two parts, a review session to be done alone and a teaching session for new work with Mom. I am able to get in a 30-40 minute math lesson this way. None of my children retain anything after 30 minutes of math so I had to break it up.

I don’t try to accomplish two hours worth of work in two hours. It takes us all day for each child to get in their two hours. Part of that is due to the size of our family and part is due to attention spans. My most distracted workers day looks like this:

Breakfast – Mom reads Bible while children eat

Morning Chores

Computer Time – only way he will do chores if the reward is right away

School With Mom – Reading, math and language

Snack Time – Mom reads history lesson

Independent Work

Free play/outside play

Lunch – Mom reads science

Play a Board Game with sisters

Spelling

Quiet Time

Afterschool Chores and check out of school

All of the school age children’s  schedule looks like this just in a different order. I work with each of the children in our school room one on one. During that time they are generally the only one in the school room. It happens that I work from youngest to oldest in our house.

Between work sessions allow a child a sensory break. Depending on the child and the time of day the sensory break could be various things. Sensory breaks can include climbing, jumping, running, walking, playing outdoors, time alone or interactive play with someone.

3. Create a “quiet” place.

Create a visually and audibly quiet place.

Remove visual distraction and clutter. A distractable child will easily find anything but their paper to look at. A visually stale area helps keep them focused on their work in front of them. I have found that clutter causes anxiety in my distracted children. This is the area that I have created for the Karate Kid to work. He sits in the small chair facing the back of the preschool cabinet. When I am working with him I sit on the side of the table facing the wall. The basket under the table is his sensory bucket. It is usually overflowing but is at the moment scattered around the house. We have also schooled in a “cave”. I used a room divider and sectioned off a corner of our room. We would both get in and school on the floor. If I need to create the “cave” I can easily do this around his new work space.

On the other side of the cabinet is our preschool area.

I’m still finishing up our redo of our room so it’s not perfect yet and this is at the end of our school day. I hung the boys alphabet paper the other day to dry and they asked me to hang all of them up. The alphabet crafts are from All About Reading Level Pre-1. Which we are having so much fun with, I’ll tell you soon all about it.

I have also found that a noisy school room is extremely hard to work in. The school room is in the middle of our house so it’s really hard to keep it quiet. I’ve worked really hard to create a quiet space for each child as they come to work with me. As I said before the kids come to work with me separately in the school room. They are normally the only ones in the room at the time, except the preschoolers. They come to the room together and usually my girls want to join in all the Ziggy fun. When the older kids are working with me the preschoolers are playing separately in different parts of the house. The smallest is assigned to play with an older kid to keep him out of trouble. Things that take a lot of focus are done during the little boys rest time. Even though the Curious Monkey doesn’t nap anymore he is required to play quietly in his room during the Sidekicks nap.

4. Allow fidgets and movement

As much as I would like all five of my under age 10 children to sit quietly while I read to them it doesn’t happen. I gave up that notion many years ago. One day while I was reading aloud the Gymnast was running laps on all fours around my living room. When I asked her questions about what I had just read she actually knew the answers. When I had previously made her sit still she had no clue of what I had just read. So after that day I let them keep their hands busy with quiet activities. Some of the popular activities here are include puzzles, coloring, building legos, zoobs, and bionicles, trains and eating.

Allow non-conventional ways of being still to complete work. We lay on the floor, sit on the back porch, sit on the sofa, crawl into a cave, sit on an inflatable snow tube (the Gymnasts friend’s favorite place to do her work). Allow them to sit where their body needs to be in order to focus and get the work done.

5. Invest in some sensory tools

There are several tools that help calm a child’s body. Children with sensory integration disorder need additional or less neuro-feedback to help keep them still and calm their overactive nerves.

When the kids have to do work that is done better when you are still like handwriting I allow them to sit on an exercise ball, rocking chair or “wiggle” seat. Our wiggle seat is an exercise balancing disc and looks like this:

A little guy at our co-op has a vibrating therapy pillow. Little Bit is in his class and has been begging for one.

Both of these are designed to give neuro-feedback while you are sitting. It helps calm the body and keep them still. A body sock is also a great tool for helping keep a child still. We call ours a huggy because it just gives a gentle hug. The Karate Kid uses it often to help calm himself or keep himself focused. He is much more capable of doing written work if he is in the huggy.

It is important to have several sensory tools. At times one works and then another works for a different time. There isn’t one that  works 100% of the time.

6. Consider rewarding focused work

It takes great concerted effort for these children to stay focused on their work and complete it. When you work hard at something you want someone to notice. A sticker for each subject completed on time and without complaining is a good way to recognize that hard work. It also keeps Mom accountable to remember to notice the hard work put forth. I found small sticker reward sheets from the dollar store that have a grid for 25 stickers. Once the child fills up one grid they get a small reward. The reward is different for each child. I have used free apps for their iPods, used books or small toys I got for pennies from ebay or the thrift store. You can reward with a certain number of minutes of screen time, game time or Mommy/Daddy time.

7. Diet and Supplements

Food can cause behavior problems and physical symptoms; I have seen it many times in my house. Consider keeping a food journal for your child. Record what time and what they eat, then record any less than desirable behaviors, night terrors, great moments or physical symptoms. Physical symptoms could include bowel problems loose or constipation, red cheeks, noses, ears, chins, patches of excema, or vomitting. After 2-4 weeks look back and try to find a pattern. Some known offenders for distractable kids are sugar, food dyes, preservatives, wheat, gluten, and casein (found in diary products). We have found that eggs and wheat cause anger issues in our house. I cook and bake with spelt, rice and quinoa.

A friend on facebook suggested Muscle Milk protein shake made with milk…and as much of a high protein/low carb diet as we can manage…with as much fresh/raw food…and as little processed food/sugar as possible.

Supplements that can be helpful include Fish Oil, magnesium (Natural Calm is a good effective product)

Bach’s flower Rescue Remedy helps calm anxiety and tension . This comes in many different forms we use the alcohol-free drops. This has helped Little Bit with her emotional state. Before taking this she would break out into rages which we called Llama Drama (after the book Llama Llama Red Pajama). After a couple of days of taking this she takes everything in stride. If we forget to give it to her for a couple of days she’s back to her Llama Drama, and oy it’s aweful. My sister’s ADHD son finds Bach’s Daydream Remedy
helps him focus. He requests Rescue Remedy and Daydream Remedy all the time. He is quite an insightful little guy and has asked his mom not to feed him fast food the day before a test. He said it makes him feel yucky and he has trouble focusing.

When it comes to supplements it’s a try and see approach. Not all supplements work for all. I’ve noticed that it takes awhile to see the effects of them. And I often notice how much they helped after I stop them thinking they didn’t help. I find that things generally get better a little at a time and sometimes we don’t notice till we stop the supplement and things come back that weren’t there for a week or two. So unless something causes your child to rage give it a good try before you think it’s not working. It’s all in finding the right diet and supplements for your child and they are all different.

To find encouragement and laughter and see that you aren’t alone I recommend joining Sizzle Bop.

 

 

Update on the Gymnast and her Concussion

 

It’s been as hard as I expected to keep the Gymnast’s brain at rest. The first couple of days I would tell her to rest. Then five minutes later I would find her doing something that wasn’t restful. I’d find her walking around the back yard, chasing the bunny around her pin, texting on her iPod, or cleaning her room. After 3 days of telling her, “that’s not restful” and her telling me, “but I thought it would be okay,” I realized I had to be very specific. She got remanded to her bedroom. She was given orders to lay in her bed for 20 minutes and then she was allowed to play something quietly for 20 minutes. She did great for a couple of days of this. She stopped complaining of headaches, wasn’t dizzy and wasn’t irritable at the end of the day. But then the weather got warm and pretty outside and this little one lives for the outdoors. Everyone was spending all day outside.

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I left at the end of last week to attend my brother’s wedding. We were going to make the trip as a family but the Gymast wasn’t up to traveling so I went alone. And that meant leaving Daddy in charge of her rest. I was told that only one day she looked pale, a precursor to a headache. So I came home determined to make her rest this week. Only to find her outside playing with everyone.

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She’s had some headaches this week due to the activity that she keeps doing. She considers it restful because she isn’t running or jumping or climbing. But it’s not restful enough.

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She is so very frustrated and having a hard time just being still. She doesn’t like being alone or missing out on all the fun everyone is having. She’s ready to get back to everyday activity and isn’t enjoying the break from school work. She will be missing another meet this weekend and is hoping to be able to compete at state in May.

Thank you so much to all who have prayed for her. Please continue to pray for her the Lord to help her rest and to heal her quickly.