Blog, parenting, Pregnancy, Real Life

My Crazy, Blessed Birth Center Story|#tbt

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Having already given birth at a hospital to all my other babies, I got the crazy idea to try something new, something different. A birth center. My previous obstetrician usually deemed me “high-risk” in all my other pregnancies, so I didn’t think a birth center would take me.

But, it was worth a try. Read more here.

 

Special Needs

5 Ways to Build Bonding Experiences with Your Special Needs Child

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Not another temper tantrum! That’s the tenth one today. Amidst my own tears, I was at my wits end. Having a child with autism proved too much for me. I didn’t think I had the strength to do it.

The day-to-day care of a child with special needs requires much more of a parent than seems possible. The extra therapies, doctor appointments, and at-home treatments can sap all of our energy. And, behavior challenges can be the tipping point for us.

A pervasive sense of hopelessness can settle in. We think, “Is this ever going to get easier?”

Looking back, the day I had a change in my perspective was the day it did get easier.

Read more here.

Children's Picture Books

Our Bee-utiful Buzzy Friends|Bee Books for Kids #SavetheBees

A few years ago, summer pool lessons turned into a sad time for my Little Princess. As her bare feet padded around the pool, she cried out when accidentally stepping on the exact spot a bee had landed to take a drink.

The stinger that hung from the bottom her foot, which I promptly removed, was no longer attached to the little fuzzy buzzy bee. Sadly, the insect lost its life that day.

Thankfully, Little Princess had no allergic reaction to her first bee sting. But I wondered if this incident would make her forever afraid of bees.

This year, we planned a home school field trip to an apiary. Not only was Little Princess scared of getting stung, my tween kids voiced their concerns of being chased and attacked by a swarm of bees.

Never having been to an apiary, I didn’t know what to expect.

Our tour guide showed us inside the warehouse how the honey is taken from the honey comb frames with a spinning extractor. The honey comb remains and the golden honey pours from a spout via gravity.

Each part of the hive can be made into a bee product. There’s beeswax candles, bee propolis (my favorite new natural home remedy), royal jelly, and even the pollen is sold as a health supplement.

My children stood entranced when we came to an active hive protected by plexi-glass. The bees dancing on the other side felt like our visits to “Terrors of the Deep” at Sea World. Despite the Mako sharks circling overhead, the clear tunnel barrier gave us much needed security.

When we reached home, I had purchased a literal gallon of honey, some propolis, royal jelly, and the kids received a few honey hard candies for free. On top of that they seemed less afraid of bees.

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Being educated about what we are afraid of helps us have peace. Books are a good way to impart knowledge with a little bonding time thrown in. After reading, The Honey Makers together, my Little Princess sat pondering and concluded, “Thank God for the bees.”

The Honey Makers by Gail Gibbons

IMG_20180519_082415240_HDRHere’s another bee book to help kids learn the importance of our little honey-making pollinating friends.

The Beautiful Bee Book by Sue Unstead

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Without bees, flowers couldn’t pollinate, seeds couldn’t germinate, and crops would not bear fruit. Instead of fearing our fuzzy friends, let’s find ways to protect them for generations to come. Protecting bees can be made possible by bringing awareness, using less pesticides, and buying from sustainable farms.

Have a bee-utiful day with your family as you share books about the importance of bees!

Children's Picture Books, Life Skills, Special Needs, Teen

Having an Almost-Teen With Autism|13 Ways He’s Like Any Other Teen #WorldAutismAwarenessDay #AutismAcceptance

Parenthood flies by in a blink of an eye. A preemie, my firstborn daughter weighed in at only 4 lbs. 14 oz.

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After six days, she was released from the hospital. I brought her to my grandfather’s 90th birthday party to show her to the family.

Setting her down on an upstairs room carpet, I stepped away to grab a diaper from my bag.

My aunt stood in the doorway and gasped. “I thought there was a doll on the floor, but she moved.”

So small, so delicate, I didn’t know if she’d ever catch up to the regular developmental milestones of most children.

But then.

Blink. My baby girl could walk.

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Blink again. She’s studying for her driver’s permit.

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Blink away the tears. I only have 2 years left with my baby!

My oldest daughter is now sixteen. And my have the years flown by.

In only one month, my next-born, my only son, will be turning from tween to teen, the rite of passage year of thirteen. In some cultures, this would be the year he becomes a man.

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The thing is, he has autism. Picture 008

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Does that mean he can’t be a regular teen?

So, far he’s been like any other almost-teen in many ways.

1. The boy loves to eat.

Some of his favorite foods are not super healthy, but isn’t that like any other kid? If I let him, he’d eat yogurt and Life cereal for breakfast, pizza for lunch, and spaghetti for dinner everyday. Veggies are not at the top of the list, but he’ll eat a good salad and a bowl full of broccoli cheddar soup.

2. The boy loves tech.

Video gaming, time on the tablet, the phone, the TV. Anything with a flickering screen.

3. The boy loves books.

Being a book-loving mama, this is what makes me most proud of him. Reading a-loud to him and audio books started my boy on liking stories (those not on a screen). He learned how to make a movie of what he was hearing in his mind. Now he reads books on his own. Recently, I peeked over his shoulder and recognized the book he was reading. A classic we listened to on audio book this year—Farmer Boy.

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4. The boy loves LEGOs.

Grown men play with LEGOs. So, it’s okay that he asks for a new set every week (but, I tell him to use the blocks he already has!)

5. The boy loves classical education.

Latin, history, science, English grammar, geography and more, the classical style of learning fits my boy’s way of thinking. This year, we studied U.S. history and all we’ve been through as a nation. It’s opened his eyes to a world that is bigger than the four walls of our own home. And that he is a part of the great timeline of history that still goes on.

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6. The boy loves people.

He may have trouble meeting new people and making and keeping friends, but his heart is full of compassion for human beings made in the image of God. Every time we see a homeless person, he prays for him. When we studied September 11, 2001 and the destruction of the World Trade Center, he cried for all the lives lost. He has wept after realizing he’s the only boy out of our family of four children because his brother lived only a short life.

7.  The boy loves truth.

The Internet can be a scary thing. No telling what our kids can stumble onto. We have clear rules in our family about not getting on the computer when Mom and Dad have not given permission. Our boy couldn’t keep it a secret that he watched something without asking. I’m thankful it was only a kids’ show and that he told us the truth.

8. The boy loves God.

Throughout his childhood, we’ve read the Bible to him, prayed with him, have taken him to church, but I didn’t know if he could grasp spiritual things. Then one day, as I folded laundry, he sat next to me and blurted out, “Mom, I want to become a follower of Jesus Christ.” Stunned, I said, “Okay.” Then my heart overflowed with joy. By the grace of God, he got it! I prayed with him and have seen the fruit of his faith.

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9. The boy loves goodness.

Like any other almost-teen, my boy doesn’t get why anyone would want to harm another human being. He now knows there are people out there who completely lack empathy and do very evil things. He’s learning that we must overcome evil with good. To see change, we must be the gift, the miracle, and the one who changes first. To do right, to be merciful, and not think you’re better than anyone else will change the world. Having three sisters, and a tendency for brotherly teasing, he gets to practice at apologizing everyday.

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10. The boy loves beauty.

He tells me, “Mom, you look beautiful today,” which makes me smile.

Watching films with epic scenery and music are one of his favorite things to do. We listen to John Williams’ soundtracks on family trips.

On our visit to the Morse Museum to view the Louis Comfort Tiffany art collection, he stood in awe at the way stained glass could depict life with such beauty and light.

11. The boy loves creating.

Since he was old enough to answer the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” He’s always said the same thing, “Inventor.” I bought him The Way Things Work, The Way We Work, and The New Way Things Work to hopefully help him generate ideas on which to build.

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12. The boy loves to argue.

Arguing is not a bad thing as long as he’s respectful. It means he’s forming his own ideas about how the world works. It means he’s growing up.

13. The boy loves his friends.

He’s had friends when he was younger. Usually one really good friend for a few years, but then that friend would move away. But lately, it’s been getting harder and harder for him to find friends his own age. Thankfully, he’s made friends in his weekly Social Thinking group at 3 C’s Therapy who all have autism like him.

The point is, he’s growing from being a boy to a man. It may not look totally like other almost-teens, but I’m still proud of him. My heart overflows with motherly love for my boy. I know he’s growing into the man God created him to be. And that’s enough for me.

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Children's Picture Books

Winter Solstice|7 Books to Kick-Off the Season #KidsBooks #HolidayBooks #ChristmasBooks

Mouse (2)Winter solstice in sunny Florida is like most days of the year. Sunny. And maybe even a little warmer than usual! We like to pretend there’s a reason to don our winter hats.

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We decorate our house in winter ways with evergreen spruce and red-striped displays.

011For story time this week, I gathered up the winter-themed books from our shelves and opened the children’s eyes to what wintertime can really be like.

7 Books to Kick-Off the Season

 

1. A Book of Seasons by Alice and Martin Provensen

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Seasons2 (2)My six-year old reader adores this book. She reads, re-reads, and reads it again, gleaning all the nuances of the changing seasons.

2. The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant

Relatives (2)We can’t wait for our relatives to come and visit on Christmas day. And not just for the extra presents! Our lives are richer for gathering the generations together, sharing stories, hugs, and being thankful for each time we can see them again.

3. The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader

BigSnow (2)Reading this Caldecott Medal winner, I can almost smell the spruce and shiver from the icy cold. Many of the birds and animals found in this literary treasure are only found north of Florida, unless they are travelling here for the annual winter migration.

4. If You Take a Mouse to The Movies by Laura Numeroff

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My children love reading the “If You Give a _______” series by Laura Numeroff that always end up at back at the beginning.

5. Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story by Sally Lloyd-Jones

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A masterful retelling of the birth of Christ from the perspective of the animals. Sally Lloyd-Jones also wrote the Jesus Storybook Bible, a children’s picture Bible with each story focused on the foreshadowing of the coming King, who is Christ, the Lord.

6. The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats by Andrew Peterson

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Andrew Peterson (one of my favorite musicians) is the writer of the Wingfeather trilogy, singer, songwriter, and now children’s picture book author. I’ve found this book to be a wonderful way to memorize the entire genealogy of Christ with an original song and fun pictures.

7. One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham

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Beloved wife of Billy Graham, Ruth Bell Graham wrote the story of Jesus from creation to His birth in a stable and shares the reason He came from heaven to earth.

In all the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, think about adding these wonderful books to your home library. Take a much-needed break to stop and read them a-loud with your children, sharing what Christmas is truly about.

Blog, Life Skills, Special Needs, Uncategorized

How ‘Georgisms’ Can Help our Kids Succeed|The Importance of Executive Functioning #historyrocks #adulting

Have you ever witnessed a living miracle unfold before your very eyes?

To me, my middle school aged son on the autism spectrum, giving his very first speech in his Classical Conversations class a few weeks ago was miracle enough. His speech was short and he had trouble looking at the audience, but I didn’t care. He overcame his social anxiety, and I beamed at this huge step in his development.

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In class yesterday, he did something that made my jaw drop.

The opening to his speech went like this:

“Do you know how my mom is like our first president? (three second pause) Because she’s always washing a ton!”

His whole class—the kids, the teacher, the other mothers—all laughed.

He had his audience in the palm of his hand.

Then he turned serious and shared how as a boy, Washington accidentally killed his mother’s favorite colt.

All eyes were on my son as he projected his voice, stood confidently, and shared for a minute and a half about the trials and triumphs of our first president.

I sat mesmerized, in awe at my son’s transformation.

My only regret is that I forgot to get out my phone and take a video!

He’s learning. He’s growing. I think he’s going to do all right in life. He may not be president of the United States when he grows up, but I believe by the grace of God, he’ll do something to make a difference in our world.

Have you ever wondered how George Washington became our first president, trusted by the colonists who shed their blood, sweat and tears to create a whole new country set apart from the rule of the King of England?

From historical accounts of his life, we can know that George Washington was a man in control of his words, his body, and his actions.

When he was fourteen years old, Washington wrote out 110 rules to live by.

These rules laid a foundation or framework for him to advance to the highest position in the United States of America. They helped him to be dignifieddiplomatic and wise beyond his years.

Nowadays, we call this executive functioning.

Washington was singled out for a job that men much older than himself usually did. In 1749, at the age seventeen, he became a surveyor and mapped out land for his employers.

From there, in 1755, Washington had moved up the ranks in the military and was awarded the position of Colonel of the Virginia Regiment during the French and Indian War (also called the Seven Years War, 1754-1758).

From years serving in the military, Washington gained leadership skills. He understood British military strategies which would help him later when he became the General of the Continental Army.

America had had enough of England’s “taxation without representation” and the colonial patriots were gaining more support to rebel against English rule and become their own independent country, The United States of America.

After the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the Continental Army formed. George Washington was appointed General of the Continental Army and Commander-in-Chief.

As General of the Continental Army, Washington’s first great victory was against the Hessian army (German soldiers hired by the British). Washington chose to execute a sneak attack on the night of Christmas 1776. He crossed the Delaware River to Trenton, New Jersey and captured nearly 1,000 Hessians.

By 1777, The Continental Army had grown to 11,000 men. During the winter at Valley Forge, north of Philidelphia, Pennsylvania, about 2,000-3,000 men died from the harsh winter and lack of supplies. Washington stayed with his men, suffering along with them and used this time to train them with the help of Inspector General von Steuben.

With the help of French troops, supplies and naval forces, in 1781, British General Cornwallis was trapped and surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia, ending any further hostilities from England.

When choosing the first leader of the United States, our founding fathers knew that Washington was the best man for the job.


On April 30, 1789, George Washington was voted by 100% of the electoral college to be the first president of the United States of America. He did not desire to be called “your majesty,” like King George III of England. He wanted The United States of America to be a democracy through and through and to be simply called, Mr. President.

Throughout his life, Washington relied on the rules of leadership that he learned at a young age. As he gained knowledge from both victory and failure, he matured and became the kind of leader our country needed, one who was both strong and reasonable.

In order to be successful adults, children need to learn the same skills that our first President learned. Attaining life skills, including proper etiquette, improve their executive function, which is a crucial element in allowing a person to mature and become a productive member of society. Even George Washington did not possess these skills on his own. He studied them, copied them and lived them out.

What We Can Learn from George Washington:

Developing a well-trained mind is crucial for making the best life decisions.

Focusing on the things that are important and organizing them in a step-by-step, systematic way to be used again later is the foundation of having good executive function. Washington did this with learning his 110 rules so well, he knew them by memory and was able to use this knowledge at the proper time. Learning the general rules of manners can be useful in understanding how to act in any given situation. And, then we must make the choice to follow those rules.

Having control over one’s emotions, body, and words is another level of executive function.

It is hard to follow the rules, when we let strong emotions control us.

Washington was remembered as a man of reason. He did not allow strong emotions to take control. He used his words to encourage others and not to hurt or belittle them. He faced battles with bravery and did not allow fear to affect his decisions. Choosing to use coping strategies and keep our feelings under control is another way to develop good executive function.

Learning from our successes and failures is one of the final steps in developing good executive function.

Washington was considered mature at a young age. He used his knowledge of math and skill in drawing to his advantage when he became a surveyor. He learned in his years in the military the strategies that worked to win battles. He was flexible and willing to learn new things and try them in different ways. He chose to do things the best way rather than the easy way.

Children can start young by making choices to develop good executive function. Having a well-trained mind, good self-control and flexiblity is important in gaining the life skills needed to be successful in life.

Books about George Washington:

 

GEORGE-isms: Rules George Washington Lived  by George Washington

George Washington’s World by Genevieve Foster

George Washington by Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire

Who was George Washington? by Roberta Edwards

George Washington Games and Videos:

 

Apples for the Teacher has George Washington coloring pages, puzzles and games

Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery has a mystery game

The History Channel’s website has a short documentary about George Washington here.

*Images of George Washington, flag, and map courtesy of Wikipedia.

Blog, Seasons and Holidays, Uncategorized

The Most Important Thing in Your Child’s Education

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With all the options in educating children, it’s got me thinking…what is the most important thing in a child’s education?

What is the one thing that a child needs in any educational setting?

What will help them know they are loved no matter their performance?

What will encourage them when they are struggling academically, socially, and emotionally? Read more here.

Continue reading “The Most Important Thing in Your Child’s Education”