Wednesday, August 21, 2013

School Countdown....

And so it is Wednesday, August 21 and just yesterday the last of the new flooring (from the April water leak) was installed. We bought a plush rug off the discount rug table at Home depot, rearranged the furniture and got the school bokks all ready. Then I made my final to-do list. AAAARRRGHHHHH!!! How could I forget so much!!!!
So in short, I have to go apply for the parent taught driver's ed pack at the DMV, time out all the history of the church books for my oldest (because I didn't want to use the Sonlight choices), time out the math, driver's ed and Spanish for him, make lesson plans for the other children--all 4 of them, solidify our schedule of extra activities--no easy task, and probably some other things I fogot.

This year we have lots of extras, in addition to driver's ed. Mondays we have 2 ballet classes and a once a month physical science lab group, Tuesdays we have a ballet class, Wednesdays we have weekly voice lessons, piano twice a month, and regroup once a month, and bible classes. Thursdays we have two tap classes and high school bible study, and Fridays we have 10 weeks of morning co-op plus extra radio drama practices, theater class, and an occasional English country dance. So we will have Nutcracker through the dance studio, a community live radio drama performance and a piano voice recital. In spring we can add LTC work, too. Haircolor will be as essential as coffee this year, especially with the oldest boy learning to drive and becoming our chauffeur.

But today I am going to hang my new clothesline, water the yard, make some laundry soap, yogurt and bread, do a little planning and laundry folding, and some minor sewing, and go have a friend visit before making supper and heading off to teach bible class.

I think I'll have just one more cup of coffee first, though.
Have a blessed day!
Pictures to come later...I've been storing them up!

Friday, August 9, 2013


I woke up last night with a troubled soul. I firmly believe that when I am awakened with spiritual matters on my mind, it is the work of the Holy Spirit, directing me. Last night was one of those convicting nights. It is time for a change for the good of the family. Now, if you know us, you might never see anything out of order, but I see the whole picture. We can all present well for a few hours a week in public. God was gently reminding me to get things right, to get back to our first love.

How did we get off track? I will be honest. I was deeply hurt last year by someone who  believed we were feeding evil into our kids, and wouldn't allow socializing for fear it might corrupt their kids.  Really harsh, but apparently "no judgment intended".....whatever. SO a weak part of me decided I would just live how I wanted. I am a Christian, and this woke me up to the harsh legalism and judgmental attitudes that divide Christians and makes us look unpalatable to the world. We bite and devour each other over such junk that was never laid out as rules in NT scripture--though men sure like to make the NT into a list of rules. It made me sick. I began to really see the seclusionary nature of some Christians, based on not wanting to pollute or corrupt their kids, as another form of evil and punishment to those they are supposed to be loving and shining with. Because being on the receiving end of the harsh judgement was an eye opener,  it made me realize how unrealistic it is, to be so seclusionary. And I was very angry, in addition to the hurt.
It manifested itself in my mind. Poisoned my thoughts and drove me to be more engrossed in the world than in the Word. It also made me see why God repeatedly tells us to love one another and bear with one another and not to bite and devour one another over trivials. It changed me. But now I am recovering from the sins of the mind and realizing I have lost ground with my kids.

So I began our morning with the daily devo. I apologized to my kids with all the specifics of my sins. I told them my plan for getting back to our first love. God, and those we love, come first. "Stuff" is in last place. This may sound surprising but we are going to get back on track with our media, and bible study and prayer lives and walking daily for God's glory. Not that we haven't been living that way, but it hasn't been as consistent as it should be. Bad examples have been set here and there, but like I told the kids, you guys didn't come with instructions, just some vague teachings in the bible, and you are being raised by a couple of sinners. Our sins are washed, but we still sin, and will never be perfect. As far as I am concerned, everyone who obeys the gospel, who has salvation right (acts 2:38-believers repentant baptism for forgiveness), they are covered by grace as long as they daily try to do as the bible teaches. If grace doesn't cover them, it covers none of us, because all of our life walks are vastly different. And they are daily struggling just like I am to make the best decisions for their family, and they are sinners in a fallen world just like me. They shouldn't be punished for trying to live right and falling short. Not punished by me anyway. My job is to keep myself in the Word and show love to all people so they can see Jesus and WANT to know Him. I want people to see our life and WANT to have a family like ours. I never want them to see us being so secluded or judgmental that they say, "No thanks! I do NOT want to be like that." I want my kids to be able to be completely social in any situation, showing love for others because of their love for Christ. How else will they make friends and find spouses and influence the world for good? For God? And it all starts here, at home. Not because home is a place where we live in our little bubble commune, keeping only with family members, but because home is where we learn God's Word, to love others, and are given many, varied opportunities to get out in the world and interact with people, with supervision available, so that we are not shocked at what is really out there and what people are really like when we grow up. It is a balancing act though. It is easy to go a bit too far each direction...and how far is too far? You have to decide that for yourself.  Just be careful not to judge others for drawing their lines in a different place... be really careful to recognize when people are trying to live right and be aware of how hurtful exclusion for being less than your personal brand of "holy", can be.
We started today with our turnaround. And Lord willing, we will be a blessing to all who we come in contact with. Our lives will hopefully shine so people will be curious how they can be like us. They will hopefully want to get to know all the kids, and their parents, because of the things they and goodness and friendliness and good choices.
Here's to new beginnings.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

More Challenges

So, in addition to figuring out new school strategies for the middle kid (yesterday's post), I am now confronted with figuring out Driver's Ed in a Box for the oldest kid. The kit is labeled horribly, and seems very unclear to me. Quite confusing. I am sure once I understand the sequence of events, where all the materials a re located,  and why things are labeled textbook when there isn't a textbook, we will be fine. But i hate u8nlcear directions. Maybe I am NLD too. Abstracts and inconsistencies are not my strong points. It took my son figuring out that I first had to print and mail a copy of form DL-92 to get started, something NEVER stated in the parent manual or in the online site. Seems that would have been useful information... I also think they may be referring to the textbook as some videos and mini chapters that can be accessed online? Not sure yet, but if they would just call them what they are and be consistent, it would help SO MUCH! This program is rough starting. It is not developmentally appropriate.
In addition to this, we are awaiting a vinyl install for the kitchen/dining area today, so the house is in disarray. I love order, not chaos. And to further complicate matters, we have to move all the couches, computers, bookshelves, piano, tables, chairs, and our large tv out of the main living/formal areas on Sunday so we can have all the wood laminate torn out on Monday so the subfloor can dry out for a few days before the new laminate install. Yes, this is from the water leak in April. Chaos for days on end. So......Yeah.
This year will have its challenges. 10th grade, 8th grade, 5th/6th heavily modified grade, 4th grade, 2nd grade. I might need meds before it is over. Plus I am teaching a machine sewing class for our co-op that I am heading up in a couple of weeks, and the oldest is tackling chemistry and advanced algebra--2 things I have never taken and probably couldn't have passed at my peak educational time. The joy! And I do believe there will be prep for Nutcracker ballet, piano/voice recital, live radio drama performances, youth group activity, and some actual driving instruction. And that is all before Christmas.
So as I sit here breathing deeply to calm myself, I am reminded that He is with me through it all, and life has a way of working itself out. Today it just seems so overwhelming. But this too shall pass. Schooling will begin in about 3 weeks and the structure of a daily schedule will be such a relief. I think. Maybe I am wrong. We shall see.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Preparing For the Challenges This Year Might Bring

The birthdays are over and the summer is coming to a close. It is almost time for the co-op registration day, which I always head up, as director. And after that, we begin our school year. I just met with our co-op chemistry teacher and I am intimidated by high school chemistry/physics/math. WOW> I just love her dedication to teaching with us, though. She is smart in her area. So glad to have her on board. otherwise we might have major issues this year. Well, that is likely anyway.
After talking to her, and finding she also has a smart kid with an LD (see earlier post on NLD), we shared ideas. It really reinforced my belief that we all have areas where we are strong and areas where we are weak, and none of us is better than the other because of these. I am a good cook, and excel at hands-on, visual projects. She is great at seeing and understanding mathematical things. We are polar opposites.Our kids are different, but have some of the same challenges. This discussion prompted me to do some more research on how best to meet the needs of the NLD learner, while teaching and working with my other the right brainer taking chem and algebra--OY!
Here is an excerpt from an article on helping NLD kids:
The typical school campus offers a complex, constantly changing and often unpredictable milieu. Students are required to cope with multiple stimuli, varying behavioral expectations, and complex social interactions, as well as the academic tasks presented to them on any given day. They are expected to know how to behave appropriately in a myriad of situations. Such exacting conditions can pose a challenge for any student, but for the child with nonverbal learning disorders (NLD) these demands can prove to be totally overwhelming and may appear insurmountable at times.
 The child's individualized educational program should not merely focus on academic growth, but should also stress compensatory strategies which will assist her future academic progress by enlarging her repertoire of coping mechanisms. 
 This child's behaviors are usually prompted by his desire to survive in a setting which is confusing, disorienting and frightening to him, given his neurological deficits. 
 The student with NLD has difficulty with internal and external organization, visual- spatial orientation, directional concepts and coordination. Rehearsing getting from place to place, with significant markers pointed out verbally.Prepare him ahead of time for all changes in routine and transitions, such as: field trips, assemblies, substitute teachers and modified days. Use a written and numbered schedule to help prepare him for changes. Panic sets in when this child feels "ambushed" or does not know what to expect. 
 Generalization is the transfer and application of previous learning to new situations and contexts. We are constantly making spontaneous connections, realizing that a particular concept applies to a wide range of topics and/or recognizing that a particular strategy might apply to a number of situations. The student with NLD is stymied when confronted with a situation which she has not previously encountered, even if the new situation is only slightly different from one for which she has previously developed a successful strategy. This child is often unable to understand what is expected of her because she is unable to apply rules and principles learned at other times and in other situations to a situation she currently faces. Present learning is not connected to other previous learning. Cause-and-effect relationships are lost. It becomes necessary to discuss individual situations in depth with this student, as they arise.
 Confusion over what needs to be done can be at the heart of a student's failure to complete class assignments or follow class directions. Most students remember a series of instructions by visualizing themselves performing each step in the series. They don't try to remember each word (verbatim) in a long string of directives. However, because the student with NLD is unable to pass this information to the right hemisphere and visualize the sequence, he attempts to memorize every word as it is said to him.
 The student with NLD tends to make very literal translations of speech and text. Her images are concrete and her ability to make sense of abstract connotations and inferences is poor. She will, in all instances, use and interpret speech literally. This child lacks the capacity to decipher colloquialisms or metaphorical expressions. She will not know when she is being teased or duped. Avoid making nebulous directives, such as "You need to mind!" or asking vague questions such as, "Are you ready?"
  • Starting with concrete concepts and images and slowly moving to abstract concepts and images, at a pace set by the student;
  • Understanding that metaphors, emotional nuances, multiple levels of meanings, and relationship issues as presented in novels will not be understood unless explained;
  • Teaching the student to say "I'm not sure what you mean" or "That doesn't make sense to me" to give her a specific vocabulary to help her decipher your intent. 
 Imagine having to "think" every time you do anything, even routine chores you perform everyday like eating, dressing, and sitting at a desk. You can then start to appreciate why this child is so easily overwhelmed by any variance of routine, by new and unfamiliar situations (or information), and by extraneous environmental stimuli. 
The student with NLD is missing at least 65% of the intent of others communications. Slow processing speed and severe organizational deficits make it necessary to lessen the homework/class work load for this child.  The whole ordeal of attending school full-time, on a daily basis, often proves to be too much for the student with NLD, especially as she enters the upper grades. The student with NLD must receive academic support as soon as difficulties in any particular area are noted. Because this child is quickly overwhelmed, she is likely to react much more severely to failure than her peers will.Even a highly intelligent student with NLD, who has an incredible memory for rote information, will experience trouble with comprehension and organizational skills. He may be capable of memorizing extensive statistical information, while at the same time he forgets the due-date for an assignment or to bring a pencil to class. Decision making and problem-solving skills are other areas of deficiency.

  • Never assuming this child understands something just because he can parrot back what you have just said;
  • Never assuming this child understands what he has read, just because he is a "proficient" reader
These are very interesting and I post them for my benefit and reference. Maybe they will help someone else out there. Now, i have to get back to the final preps for the school year. Have a
 great day!