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Archive for February, 2016

As a parent, often we are pulled in several directions at once.  It is just the nature of the role we play in our family.  I’m married to a great man, who happens to drive a truck for a living.  Even though he is as involved as possible in our daily life at home, the bulk of the task falls upon my shoulders.  Add to that the fact that I am a Mom, Grandma, homesteader, and homeschooling parent, along with my other roles and it is enough to exhaust me just thinking about it. As we tend to the needs of our family, it is easy to overlook our own needs. 

Picture in your mind your family standing near you, all thirsty and with their cups held out to you.   As you go to give them water, to satisfy their thirst, you find your pitcher running low.  You carefully ration out the water to give each one a portion.  While each has a small drink, their thirst is not completely satisfied.  You also find that you have nothing left for yourself.

Being a Momma, we easily can find ourself in this situation.  We give and give to our family and those around is, yet we neglect to refill our own pitcher.  Like the example that I shared, this can lead us to having to ration ourself out to meet the needs of our family.  In doing so, we risk not being able to fully meet those needs. 

We have to find ways to replenish our reserves.  This could be through connecting with our spouse, friends, or even simply carving out time for yourself each day.

One of my favorite times is the evening after the kids are in bed.  I sit with my cup of coffee and read, crochet, or write.  I recently bought a Bible verse coloring book that I am starting to color in.  Another relaxing activity that I enjoy is word search puzzles.  It doesn’t have to be anything that requires a lot of time or expense.  Sometimes, just having a cup of coffee on the porch and listening to the night sounds and feeling the breeze can feel wonderful.

The whole point is taking time out for myself.  By doing so, I am filling my pitcher.  I am adding to my reserves so that I can meet the needs of my family.

It is really easy to say that we don’t have the time to fill our own needs.  I know.  I did it for years.  I was so used to being “Mommy on the spot” to my family and those around me that I totally forgot myself in the process.  I got exhausted and often felt overwhelmed or depressed.  I had to learn how to take time for me.  I had to get over thinking that taking time for myself was being selfish.  I had to realise that I needed to have my “Momma time” so that I could be a more effective parent and wife.

One rule that I have for myself is that my Momma time is never spent preparing homeschool lessons or housework.  It is meant to be a time focused on my needs, not doing other tasks.  This to.a has become something important to me know.  I don’t see it as a luxury or waste of time.  I see the value of it and look forward to it each day.

In taking the Momma time, I am finding that my stress levels are lower, I am more productive, and I enjoy my days better than before.  I wish I had learned this decades ago, when I was in my 20’s instead of in my 50’s.  It is definitely something that I am trying to teach my daughter now as she grows up.

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Had a beautiful day today so the kids and I went outside to start garden seeds in the seed starting trays.  It is still too early yet to plant in the ground but this will give us a head start.

Little Miss planted some corn and pumpkin.  She hopes to get enough pumpkins to sell some next autumn as a fund raiser for a church camp she attends.  She also planted sugar pod peas, which we love to snack on.

Pookie helped me to plant various types of squash, cucumbers, tomatoes for canning, and some grape tomatoes for salads and snacking.

After we were done, Little Miss found a few flower pots to plant marigolds, morning glory, and lavender into. 

Having the kids helping to plant the seeds was a fun project.  I intend to transplant a sugar pod pea and grape tomato plant in their yard for them to enjoy.  As soon as the weather is warm enough, we will plant some climbing green bean plants as well in their yard and maybe a strawberry patch.  I remember as a kid, going over to the family garden and picking a handful of green beans, peas, or some other treat to snack on.  Having a mini garden in their yard will encourage the fun and healthy snacking.

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Today, we are taking a day to clean out the bedrooms and homeschool area.  I am blessed with kids who are easily overwhelmed by clutter, seems that it isn’t a trait that only affects our autistic son.  🙄

It is amazing now much it can influence the productivity each day.  The house isn’t too bad, we just realize that we have more than we need.  For the kids, it is harder to maintain their bedroom and play areas.  By cutting their toys and such down to what they actually play with, they will be able to enjoy their play time and not feel overwhelmed when it’s time to clean up.

I am clearing out the homeschool area.  I see no benefit to keeping so much.  Books and supplies that we are not going to be using this term or next term are being purged out of the house.  Some will be donated, depending on the condition.  Rest of it will be  trashed.  I know that some readers may be hyperventilating at the thought. Homeschool families are in general are a hoarding lot when it comes to educational materials.  I know many families who have rooms with walls of filled bookcases.  It works for them.  It doesn’t work for us.  We prefer the simplicity of only storing what is necessary.

Little Miss is completely embracing the clean out.  She has attacked her area with gusto.  She is so happy about it as well.  Her whole demeaned over the project is light. 

I can’t wait for the project to be done.  Once these areas are complete, I will be doing the same to every other room.  Loving it!!!

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When Mom Forgets

One of the hardest parts of being a homeschooling Momma is that sometimes you just forget who you are. Many of us have been there. We are so busy being wife, mother, and homeschool teacher, that we forget who we are apart from those roles. Add in a special needs child and it becomes even more so.

It happens gradually. Early on, you are so wrapped up in your relationship with your husband that your put your focus on building that foundation. This is great. It is necessary to have that foundation in place to have a successful marriage. Likewise, when kids start coming into the family, your focus is on them. They have a definite need for you to fulfill. These helpless little babies need so much of your time and care in the beginning. As they grow, the needs change, but are often just as demanding. If you choose to homeschool, you wear yet another role. Now, you are not only their Mom, but their teacher as well. You take on the responsibilities of teaching and training your children, placing much focus on their specific needs. If you have a child (or more then one) who has a disability or special needs, there is an entirely new dimension to your role as Mom. Depending on the individual needs of the child, you have even more that you need to give. Some special needs children are more “high maintenance” than others. They need more supervision or physical care than a typical child.

As a Momma, I don’t regret any choices that I have made. I love being a stay-at-home Mom. I love homeschooling my children. I feel blessed in that the Lord provides to me each day the strength and knowledge that I need to tend to all the needs of my children. I am especially grateful to have been an older Mom when I had our son. I have much more patience now at age 52, then I did in my 20’s when I had my oldest children. Being the parent of a young special needs child at this age is much easier for me than it would have been back then.

Through it all though, I often have to remind myself to not forget who I am. I am more than a wife, mother, and homeschool teacher. I am a woman who has interests that are separate from my role within our family. I love to be creative. Writing is something that I enjoy. Likewise, I love to do art and listen to music. I enjoy reading and can easily become lost in a book if the day allowed for it. In my lifetime, I have played several different instruments and look forward to a time when I can buy one of them to play again. I love to dance and even use belly dancing as a way to exercise and stay limber in spite of arthritis and fibromyalgia.

While my role as wife, mother, and homeschool Mom are in the forefront, I am learning to find balance. I am making time for me to feed my spirit & soul. You cannot quench your family’s thirst by dipping into a dry well. Nor can you truly give your best to your family if you are not taking care of your own needs. By taking time each day, even if only 30 minutes, to feed your own spirit, you will find yourself being able to meet your family’s needs better. You can become less stressed. I know that for me, if I don’t have some time to write or do something creative, my stress level increases.

It was never meant to be that a Mom set aside all of her needs in order to be a good Mom. There are so many who do believe that once you become a wife and mother, that you set aside your needs and focus only on the needs of your family. I disagree with that. Yes, you have to sometimes temper your wants and desires in order to do what is best for your family. That is a part of the compromising that all parents (and spouses) have to do in their relationships. However, you do have to have some way to “fill your cup” before you are able to dip into your own cup to fill those of your family.

One of the saddest things that I have ever witnessed was women, who upon their children growing up and leaving home, had no idea what to do with their time. They literally had focused so hard on the needs of the family that they had no clue how to get through their days once those children were on their own. It was heartbreaking. On the flip side, a child who sees their parents putting a priority on their relationship as a couple, as well as their own needs for personal growth and betterment, will become confident in their own pursuits. It is all about balance. Never taking away from meeting family needs to pursue your own, but notching out some time for yourself as well as taking care of family.

For me, that time is in the evenings once the kids are in bed. This is my time to write or to feed my creative needs. It is the time I can set aside the role of Mom and simply be me.

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Now that we have our curriculum chosen and ready to purchase for next term, I have been looking over our daily routine. What has worked? What areas need to be adjusted? Are there things that need to be omitted?

Our year started out with a very rigid schedule. After all, are we not told that kids who have autism thrive on structure? Well, one part of that equation is that I didn’t take into account our daughter, who is not on the spectrum. What works great for one child, didn’t always work well for the other. It really brought home to me just how different kids can be. I have homeschooled before. My two oldest sons, now in their 20’s, were homeschooled for about 6 years. I realized that they spoiled me. Both were on similar schedules and did well on it. I gave the younger one a daily assignment sheet to check off as he went through his assignments. The older son was given a weekly assignment sheet since he was old enough to not be intimidated by it.

With Little Miss and Pookie, the routines are very different. Pookie does best on a set routine. Little Miss is my free spirit. Some subjects need more structure than others. One thing that both have in common is that they love their outdoor breaks.

I have had to really relax the scheduling for Little Miss. The strict structuring just became a thorn in her side that wouldn’t let up. On some days, her focus on the harder subjects was best in the mornings. On other days, her focus was better in the afternoons. So, she needed a routine that would allow for that.

For Little Miss, I gave her a weekly assignments sheet. She could do the assignments in the order she wanted, yet knew what had to be done by week’s end. This worked out well. She loves to read and would get frustrated by the short daily readings. By letting her read the entire week’s assignments at one time, she was more content. She also likes to do her timeline and similar projects all at once. To her, it is tedious work that she doesn’t enjoy. So, I let her make all the entries at one time, if she chooses to do so. By giving her the week’s assignments, she is also learning a valuable skill. She is becoming better at time management. She knows, by experience, that once Wednesday rolls around, if her work isn’t being done, she has to work all the harder the rest of the week to get it completed on time. Yes, she has had a few times where her time management wasn’t up to par and when Saturday came around, she had to spend the day getting caught up. She learned from it though and has made major improvements since then.

Pookie is still on a set routine. We do a few activities, then he has a snack/lunch break and free time for about an hour. Giving him the time to play outdoors allows him to get the wiggles out of his system. He is able to come back to his work and focus better. Our school routine with Pookie goes like this. In the morning, he plays outside or gets an hour of video time if the weather is bad. Then we cuddle on the couch and do his lessons from the Memoria Press Simply Classical curriculum. Those lessons take us until lunch time. After his lunch break, we do Montessori style activities and arts & crafts. By 3pm, both kids are finished and have the rest of the afternoon to play or use their tablets.

By using this routine, both kids are getting their schooling done and the days go much smoother. Our son has all the structure he needs, while our daughter has the more relaxed routine that she thrives on. This is one of the things I love the most about homeschooling. We are able to tailor the school day to fit the needs of each child. By doing so, each is given the opportunity to progress at the pace that they need. Another benefit for Little Miss is that we have set into place time both in morning and afternoon for me to go over her work with her if she needs any help or explanations.

With this routine working well for the kids now, I will likely keep with it unless something comes up to change it. Little Miss will be using a different style curriculum next year, so adjustments may need to be made. Time will tell. Until then, we will keep on with what is working.

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Therapy Changes

Pookie is still going to the same therapy center he has attended now for 2.5 years.  He has 3 new therapists.  Two had changed jobs and the third had moved out of state.  It has definitely been a time of change for him.  He likes his new therapists.  They seem to be a good match.

This coming week, his new orthodic shoes will arrive.  Hopefully along with the new orthodic inserts, he will stop toe walking.  All this toe walking is causing his calves and tendons to tighten too much.  It also is leading to more pain when he is on his feet too much.

The OT also has ordered a couple of hand braces for him.  He is not using one hand, keeping it closed all the time.  The other hand, he is starting to keep his little finger tucked behind the others.  So, he will wear the braces part of the time to encourage him to extend the fingers.

I thank the Lord for therapists who take action on these things so effectively.  

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