The Players:

Darling: The brave hero, love of my life
Crunchy: The crazy drama queen, hippie crunchy, fiber-freak
Formerly-known-as-Teenaged-Cave-Dweller: The now happily married wayward teen daughter, currently without a part but for an occasional guest appearance-again.
Australian beast-in-law: the transplant from Australia who swept the Cave Dweller off her feet
SNG(AKA Science Nerd Girl): the 19 year old sanity creator, Mom's all helper, now part time college geek
Pickle: The 17 old sensory seeking/avoiding mother hen
Tink: The 15 year old auto-immune compromised fairy nut
Cactus Jack: The 13 year old drama king
Don Juan: The 12 year old ladies man
Duck: The 9 year old cutie patootie
Doodlebop: The 7 old independent sass box
Sugar Man: The 5 year old sweetie flirt monster
Frodo: the 5 old chunky grandson
Sassbox: the 4 year old firecracker baby
Biscuit Smidge: the 4 month old shrieky dragon granddaughter

Friday, July 17, 2015

Grand and scary adventures

I'm horrible at determining I am going to keep the blog current and then life takes me away. This happens when you have ten munchkins.

Lots of work with Don Juan and his dyslexia. He's determined to beat this. We've started Go Phonics, he does as much Nessy.com as he can, and now we have added the Barton System of Reading and Spelling. It's working. Slowly, he is becoming phonemically aware. That alone is huge. He is writing words phonetically and without having backwards letters. There IS hope for dyslexic kids. the biggest thing I see going well for him is self-confidence. He isn't in the least ashamed of his issue. And he refuses to see it as a disability. That's one thing we discovered at the Susan Barton conference we attended-dyslexics have so many amazing ABILITIES that "normal" people don't. More brain mass, an ability to see solutions in different wants, better memories, literal 3d thinking....he can go far, if we give him the tools. I've always been determined to give my kids the chance to be who they are called by God to be, so he will get those tools, if it kills me.

His biggest delight was in the discovery that he can still be a paleontologist. Dyslexia doesn't have to hold him back from that dream. We were quick to point out famous people that have dyslexia, to build him up. It reached a point of frustrating for him, but we didn't realize that. One day, he blew up at me, which surprised me.He's usually such a mellow kid. He yelled "Mom! STOP! Look, I'm super glad for that Keanu guy, that he got famous and acts in crazy movies.(Keanu Reeves is dyslexic) What I wanna know is DID HE GO TO COLLEGE??" We researched and discovered that he did not go to college. This depressed my son for a time. he wanted to know if anyone with dyslexia had gone to college and become a "dino doctor". I had no answers.

When we went to the Susan Barton conference, it struck me that I should actually search for dyslexic paleontologists. And lo and behold, we found one! Dr. Jack Horner, of the University of Montana! AND...he is the paleontologist who advises on the Jurassic Park movies. Ethan was super excited. We sent Dr. Horner an email that night. The very next morning, we received a reply of encouragement for Ethan from Dr. Horner! New hero, instantly.

Dyslexia is not a death sentence. Find a qualified tutor in the Orton-Gillingham technique. There are several systems out there, from Go Phonics, to the Susan Barton method. Get testing, encourage your child. Support their dreams, and watch them beat it ! It IS possible!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Paging Dr. Duck!

When Pickle had her trip to the emergency room last month for anxiety, it really worried her siblings. Honestly, it terrified all of us.  But it's really emphasized the very heart of two things we as a family are striving for: passion for learning and family unity.

When Pickle was released from the ER and made it home, Duck approached me and asked me if I could teach her how to be a doctor. I was puzzled. She explained she wanted to be a doctor to help her sister get better. My heart melted. She wasn't kidding either. She went to the bookshelf and found the only book she could reach about anatomy-a book about the skeletal system. She made me write down every single bone in the human body and spent days writing them out, asking what it spelled.

A friend loaned us her copy of Apologia's Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology and several other books on human anatomy. Child is SERIOUS. Some form of anatomy book goes with her everywhere. We bought the junior notebook ing journal for her and we are working through it slowly.

Yesterday, we made an apple mummy:
 
Two identical apples, peeled
 
Mixed 2/3 cup salt with 1 1/2 cup baking soda
 
Covered ONE apple completely(ended up changing containers because this one was too wide and didn't cover the apple)
 
And now we wait a week.
 
This was an experiment after we read of some of the odd notions ancient societies had about medicine and human anatomy. She really is loving this. And I'm in awe at the love of Christ shining from my kids.
 
Now to go break up the battle between siblings over who gets to play on the xbox next...(because they are, after all, totally normal children) 


 
 



Sunday, March 15, 2015

Then why have children?

I'm meeting all kinds of people these days. Don Juan is taking me on a new journey. He was just diagnosed with dyslexia. None of us were really surprised. At nearly 10, he still isn't reading and his ability to decipher phonics shifts as quickly as the sands in the Sahara, from poor to adequate, to poor again and then to excellent. We knew about his apraxia of speech-5 years of therapy has given him a voice. we discovered his brain integration disorder this fall and have taken steps to address it. But he was still struggling with phonics, spelling, and even numbers. His speech clinic tested him and he is over the top dyslexic. Telling him the diagnosis was like watching a thousand pound weight lift off of him. It made me feel wretched for him. Then, spending the money to get him a kindle and several whisper-sync immersion reading audio books, I really felt like a heel. He devoured "The Lightening Thief in 3 days, begged for a Bible, then finished "The Wizard of Oz" in 2 days. he's currently working on "Tom Sawyer" and listening to several Minecraft adventures.

Despite his inability to decode print, he IS a reader. That makes my heart soar.

I had an interesting encounter with a parent though, after discussing homeschooling and dyslexia. MANY parents feel dyslexia is a very solid reason to homeschool-your child isn't put in a box that restricts their strengths. They can utilize their positives to enhance the negative in a homeschool setting. Public schools may hold a math genius back because they aren't a strong reader. I feel that the public schools fail kids with disabilities like this.

I digress. A parent admitted they didn't know too much about homeschooling. Several of us expounded on the positives of it. She came back with "Eh. It doesn't sound like my kind of thing. It seems too inclusive." I assumed she was referring to the socialization argument that many lay out in regard to homeschoolers(like the emergent\cy room assuming with Pickle that she was an isolated homeschooler). I immediately jumped on the bandwagon, listing all the things my kids are involved in. She came back with the notion that she didn't mean isolated, but basically that she didn't agree with the fact that we get to choose what our children learn.

I'm still profoundly befuddled by her words, by her notion that we as parents shouldn't get to choose what our children learn. To me, this thinking is profoundly dangerous. To abdicate our rights and responsibilities as parents? To believe that the public school system-or any institution for that matter-is infallible is the worst mistake one can ever make as a parent.  Yes, teachers are educated. But the current Common Core standards of education and standardized testing controls what any district will teach. Teachers-the good, the bad, the indifferent-have no say in what is taught or excluded. They have no say in the curriculum if their state adopts Common Core. And an educational system that turns rote memorization of basic facts, such as addition or multiplication into a process that takes a child hours to complete is asinine.

We've taken away parental rights in so many arenas, and for some reason, people think it's ok if the government increases their power over our families. We as a nation have accepted the notion that a title or a degree makes them an authority and we should bow to them.

Having the right to educate my children is an amazing privilege and responsibility. Having them around me all day leaves me humbled and full of awe. Yes, I confess, there are days when I am overwhelmed, when they fight all day over the color of the sky. But I know my children and their personalities, emotions, health intimately. It doesn't take much to see when something is off. Who wouldn't want that amazing blessing?

I know to you, it may sound arrogant or snotty, but if you aren't intending to raise your children, why have any? And I don't say that as just a homeschooling mom. I know kids who attend public school that have incredible parents that are involved in every aspect of their lives. They ask questions. They are there to help with science experiments If a portion of the curriculum is unacceptable, they make noise. I have no doubt my public school parent friends are amazing parents. But they also don't expect someone else to raise their child or make all the choices.

Be a parent. Don't let the powers that be do it for you. One day, you may have no voice at all.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Refining

I've blogged about "God never gives you more than you can handle."
The phrase still drives me insane.
I saw one recently that made me shout for joy. It says "God doesn't give us what we can handle. God helps us handle what we are given"
 A thousand times yes! So many times I've just broken down, certain it couldn't take another step, my heart broken in a thousand shattered pieces. And He picked me up, healed my heart and took me to the next grand adventure.

We're there again. Two weeks ago, it looked like another "I just absolutely cannot do this, God!" situation. But He brought us through it rather quickly, thankfully. We have a long road ahead still, but it's not as devastating as it originally appeared.

Initially, it looked like another of my precious babies was going to struggle with mental illness. Anxiety attack led to the emergency room, which led to a medication, which produced hallucinations of a terrifying magnitude, which led to a second emergency room trip, wherein the admitting physicians somehow missed the fact that she'd been given a medication that was known for the hallucinatory side effect in young people, which led to a 12 hour stay in the psychiatric side of the ER. They were talking schizophrenic break.

I sat in the hallway outside the locked ward and cried, huge, racking sobs. It kills me to watch my oldest child wander in this fog called schizoeffective bipolar, to see her son abandoned frequently by the most important person in his life, knowing that his bond to her grows weaker every time she wanders away again. I'm so thankful for the bond he has with his auntie, but shredded that a 17 year old child is a single parent, without even having delivered a child. Three people directly affected by one illness.....not to mention the rest who love and support the former teenaged cave dweller. It impacts us in ways I can't begin to fathom.

So to hear that my Pickle appeared to be suffering the beginning of a journey that seems nightmarish to me was like receiving a death notice, in my mind. Thinking that this already fragile, open, big hearted beautiful girl might be lost in a different fog was more than I could handle. I couldn't even rely on my faith in that moment, because all I wanted to do was scream at God and beat on His chest, and tell Him how much I HATED HIM for allowing these two beautiful, talented, amazing creatures to suffer through this.

It took a bit, but they eventually released her that night to us with an appointment to a pediatric psychiatrist the next morning. An hour of chatting with the psychiatrist was an eye opener. The ER docs decided it was a schizophrenic break because the first set had labeled her as "hyper religious", and "isolated homeschooler". She had been reading her Bible when the panic attack had started. She repeated the story for every person who asked. They had noted that "all she talked about was her Bible". I laughed at the "isolated homeschooler". My gas budget wishes we were more isolated! The psychiatrist figured our we weren't hyper religious by what we watch on tv.....Dr. Who, X-Files, Criminal Minds, CSI, Friends......

It's at this moment, generalized anxiety/ADD affects but not ADD/attention affects, but not ADHD. Ok then. Beating on God's chest gets His attention sometimes.

Or does it?

Her blood work was off too.

Seems that my Pickle's thyroid is in failure. And we had no clue, no need or reason to ever think it should be tested.

With her symptoms, we chose to test her and Tinkerbell. Tinkerbell's thyroid is ok, but she issuper low in Vitamin D(common for celiac patients).

Pickle starts with a pediatric endocrinologist next week.

Turns out.......thyroid issues can manifest as psychosis. Anxiety. Depression. Not JUST weight loss or weight gain.

Already, from sharing this, we've had FIVE, count them, FIVE people with depression issues tell us they are going to have their thyroid tested.

I've begged my oldest to get tested. We shall see.

So, beating on God's chest actually got my attention. And I'd like to share with you. I generally don't take my kids for a lot of doctor appointments- they tend to be super ok healthy. But from now on, this family will be doing an annual bloodworm up, checking all kinds of levels. Because when you already have one autoimmune issue, health troubles can lurk just below the surface.

Oh. And this grand adventure? Duck now wants to be a pediatric psychiatrist to help her sister. And let me tell you what.......
 Child is determined to unschool her way to bring a doctor. She has a stack of books on human anatomy, and is learning to READ while copying anatomy terms.

There is a plan. I just need to trust His process.

It's still terribly difficult watching my oldest wander in her fog, but I'm learning to trust. I used to think my trust was complete, my faith was whole. Seeing now that it can always grow.