Monday, May 23, 2016

My other son: Have I told you how wonderful he is?

I'm talking about my youngest, Aaron Preston.  He'll be 8 in a little over a month and he is so excited.

He talks everyday about his birthday, about how he wants a Lorax theme, about the legos he wants, the friends he wants to invite.
He's my happy go lucky kid.  My boy with a sense of humor.  He's the one that will go outside early in the morning and come dragging in at dusk, covered with dirt, telling about his fun day out playing.

He's my sensitive soul, my very giving child, perceptive, loving, feisty, spirited, and full of hugs.

He's always slipping me cards and notes, little gifts he makes out of random beads he finds.  He's almost always so understanding of David and my often preoccupation with him and all the issues.

With that, I confess that I'm pretty sure I've failed him as a parent. 
I feel like I don't spend as much time with him as I should.  I feel like at times I'm harder on him.  I tend to not realize what he may be feeling or going through in his own life, and with dealing with David's illness and Autism.

Not too long ago we were at Aaron's school having lunch with him.  It was a nice spring day, we were sitting on an outside table, when suddenly David let's out that all to familiar scream of fear and phobia.  He has always had one concerning bees and wasps.  And it seems to only be getting worse.  He also loses all sense around him and about him.  David flies out of the seat and across the small court yard screaming and crying. 
Other children are lining up for lunch and looking at him peculiarly.
I try to coax him back to his seat.  Aaron stands up and says "Look David, it's gone and has flown by the building.  Come sit down."

I could see Aaron glancing over at the other children a little nervously but he went on eating.  I had never thought about Aaron's reaction and also what he might be met with from other children when they encounter his brother with Autism.  Not until my husband told me later that night, it might be a little tough on him having to explain why his brother does what he does. 
I also found myself short tempered tonight with both them.  David of course, because of the ASD can often provoke people to irritation not realizing it.  Tensions mounted, Aaron hit him.  I lost my own temper.  Tears came.  The cool down came.
And then he and I sat and talked.  I apologized and told him my reaction wasn't right.  I also told him how I know it is so tough sometimes David struggles because of the Autism. 
Aaron was very sympathetic.  I told him though that when he feels overwhelmed trying to deal with David to come and talk to mom and take a break.

I know I need to make a much more conscious effort to be more understanding with Aaron [and I will!]  I also need to make more specific times now to spend with only Aaron.  Especially since David is now homeschooling and is with me all day.

I often wish a manual would have come with my children.  No guessing, no screwing up, no wondering how bad I might be scarring them, no hoping and praying that they will not hate me one day.

The one thing I try to take comfort in, is that my children picked my husband and I for a reason, to be their parents.  I want to honor that and be who they need me to be!

Here's to my other son Aaron Preston!  I will always love you, beyond the universe and back!

Monday, May 9, 2016

I am sorry for not being what you wanted.

Yes, you've read that right. 
I'm sorry.  I am giving you my apologies.  Even though it troubles me and leaves an impression on my heart, I still give them to you.
Who?  Who is 'you'? 
'You' are those people who, over the months and years have decided to distance themselves from me.  To no longer talk with me.  To be content to just hear or read [you have to love the age of social media], what's going on in my life, yet stay at arms length.
Yes, I've noticed.  I've noticed it as I've grown in my own life, in my own views, in my faith in the Christ I follow. 
Though there is a spiritual aspect to this, at the same time it is so much more.  It is the conflict of being who I am, even if it means losing friendships over it.

I used to be someone else.  Someone who thought differently, who perhaps acted different.  Who was certain the world was black and white and everything had an answer. 
There are times I wish I could go back to that, only because of assurance I had in myself that I was doing everything "right" and I had reason to justify it.

You liked me then.  You thought I was "saved".  You thought my heart was in the right place.  I am sorry that now you don't think those things.
Yes, I have noticed. 
I've 'heard'.  I've seen the looks, felt the divide widening.  Even in this age of social media, a deafening silence speaks volumes.  Please, don't think that I have not noticed.  While I may be many things, I like to think that I'm fairly smart.

Truly, I am sorry.
I am sorry that I'm not that role model you thought I was or once was. 
I am sorry that I can't honor your God the way you believe to be right.
I am sorry that you think I've strayed.
I am sorry you think I no longer have a spot in Heaven. 
I am sorry I've disappointed you. 
I am sorry I can not be who you need or want me to be.
I am sorry that I can't be who you 'believe' God needs or wants me to be.
I AM sorry.

I get it.  I do.  You are moving and acting based on your convictions.  For that I can not fault you.  I do the same thing.
I will however, never judge your heart, your salvation, or your place with God in heaven.   As a matter of fact, if you've distanced yourself from me because OF my faith, I still will never judge you on that.
That's the difference you see.

While I am sorry I am not who you thought or want me to be. 
I am NOT sorry for being me.  For being who, based on my convictions of the God I follow, wants me to be.

I am not sorry for growing as a person. 
I am not sorry that through the pain of life and loss, I learned that some things have no answers.
I am not sorry that through my becoming a parent, I saw the world was not black and white, but that my unconditional love for my earthly children is probably only a glimmer of the unconditional love that the Creator has for ALL of us.
I am not sorry that through loving my children and through friendships that I came to realize sometimes a family doesn't have to be or look like what ancient writings from humans said it should.
I am not sorry that despite who you love and marry, God STILL loves you and you are and will be a part of greater love after this life passes.
I am not sorry that I believe the Loving Father I read about in the scriptures I follow [even if I think they can be fallible, not the message but word for word] would not punish his children, his creation by a separation from Him FOREVER.  I could never do that to my own children.  From that, I have been taught a lesson over and over again, that His love is even greater then.
I am not sorry that I don't think the personal faith I follow is the only "truth".  Again, I am so under qualified to ever dole out that judgement.
I am not sorry that I chose to stand up for those who are often made fun of, mocked, cast aside, told they are going to hell.  I am not sorry for loving the 'least of these'. 
I am not sorry because I AM the least of these.
I often stink as a human being.  I am often ugly and hateful.
I am often unaware, apathetic, and harsh. 
I am always human!

Like the rock formation in the picture above, I feel worn down.
I feel like I don't really belong anywhere because of how I feel, what I believe, and who/what I stand up for.
I feel like that rock formation, both a deeper formation and a projection of that formation.
I am out of place because I am one thing [a believer in Christ], yet another [accepting of all]. 

Friends honestly are few and far between for me.  Often my thoughts are misunderstood or I have no words to truly convey what it is I think, or feel, or believe.

I am sorry.  I do wish you could still talk with me.  I wish you could still look up to me.  But I understand.
  I know you have your convictions and are firm in them.
While now in this season we may not be friends, I know in the grand scheme of this temporal life and the bigger picture in this infinite universe our paths will cross again, and in love.
So while I can not be what you want or need, do know that I still love you.  I still think you are a part of this greater plan, even if you do not think I am.
I wish you well, for that I won't apologize either ;)

Nor will I apologize for being me.  I am loved just the way I am. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mozart, Still Life, & the three Rs of schooling!

A week has come and gone for David in his new adventure.   It has been interesting testing the waters and finding the groove that works for him. 
One of the aspects often of Autism is the need for routine.  Without it, David seems to have more meltdowns, he becomes anxious.

So I decided to have a routine from the time he got up until we were finished with the focused learning for the day.
Our schooling day looks something like this:

*Wake-up & breakfast
*Dressed & teeth brushed [I find it works best if he "officially" still gets dressed to "go"]

*Free time until 7:30am, then school is in session!
*Daily free reading time [from a variety of science, social studies, or history books.]
*Math time [which includes 2 lessons from a workbook and chalkboard work.
*Science which is a mix of reading lessons, written work, and lab.
*Social Studies
*Language Arts [which includes writing & spelling.  Often this crosses over with science & social studies depending on stories read].
*Music & Art

After each subject he gets a 5-10 free time break.
We dove in this week with things he loves.  He adores anything related to maps.  So for social studies we did a Florida unit.  He was so excited to look up all the facts about Florida from its motto to statehood! 
Science consisted of landforms and how they were created.
Music focused on Mozart, his life, and works. 
Art was basic still life.  I was impressed with his panting of a fruit bowl and sketch of 2 vases and a flower.  He really looked, listened, and loved doing it!

In our homeschool area I added
A display area for his artwork and hands on work.  It brightened the area and he loved showing his brother and dad what he accomplished each day.
This is a keeper to display each week's displayable work.

Another thing that he loved this week was spontaneous and natural learning through outings.  We made a couple of trips to the grocer's.  For one trip I made a list of things we needed, a place for its cost, and the grand total.  As we shopped he wrote down prices and then added up what we spent.  A good lesson on how much things do cost, and budgeting. 
The next time we went he had the list to get the items and put them in the cart.  Another thing he liked was the hands on science lab.  We learned about erosion.  I had him make a land form out in the sand, add water, and observe what it looked like before erosion through water, then after.  As we studied how different landfroms [valleys, gorges, etc] were formed, he was fascinated by the Grand Canyon and how it took millions of years for the Colorado River to erode and shape it!  He would love to go there, and I would too.  I hope one day I can afford to give he and his brother that trip!


David also did some cooking this week as part of his math and science lessons.  Measurement, chemistry, bake times and temperatures also played a part.  We made crusty pioneer bread which he loves to eat anyway.  Cooking in the cast iron also gave us a chance to talk about pioneers and how they used cast iron and dutch ovens over open fires, in fire places, and wood burning stoves.

As we embark on this journey one thing I have to do is keep it on a budget.  As a former teacher [and any teacher], I know how quickly items can add up.  Plus when you are assembling your own curriculum it can be another added cost.
For a blackboard I have a very limited budget.  So I used some chalk paint that I had and painted both sides of a foam board, trimmed it in decorative tape, used yarn to affix it to the wall.  It makes it easy to switch sides and is just big enough to do small amounts of work. 

One last thing that I was so pleased with was David's handwriting.  He has always struggled with it, but over the last 6 months or so, he really regressed with it.  Because of difficulty in focusing, you have to be with him one on one much of the time.  Encouraging him to slow down, to form his thoughts, to follow the lines. 
I was so happy to be able to do that with him.
You'll see a before shot of his writing [after his regression] and then an after for his first week being homeschooled.

So there we are!  One week down!  He's looking forward to next week because we are diving into the skeletal system for science!  I can't believe there are only 5 more weeks of school.  Though we'll be continuing some work through the summer, I'm looking forward to a fresh year in the fall!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A dream realized! Finally our one room school house!

These last couple of months have been one of reflection, evaluation, research, and most of all a heart for my children.  I would have never dreamed how very precious, unique, and different 2 children could be.  How what works for one does not for the other.  One child will remain in public school, while the other child will be homeschooled!  Years ago I blogged about our one room schoolhouse.  Mainly it was done during the summer time time when regular school was out.  I was working then so that's the only time I had plus it kept the boys busy.  Now I am so thrilled that I'll be able to actually homeschool in "real school time".

So on the subject of two siblings being so different:  I have my feisty, fierce, stubborn, sensitive, loving, and extroverted 7 year old, Aaron.   He does not like being alone!  From birth, he knew, I mean he KNEW when I stepped out of the room.  Instant screaming.  The child had GREAT lungs!  I remember at just a few months old when they still haven't developed that cognitive ability to realize that out of sight doesn't mean gone forever, he had to be in the bouncer in the bathroom when I showered.  In the kitchen when I cooked, basically he was like Visa, everywhere that I wanted to be! 
He also needed some one to interact a lot more with him.  And even if not, he just wanted to know someone was in the same room. 
This is why public school has always worked so well for him.  Lots of other children.  Lots going on!  On Saturdays when no one else can play, the kid is lost!  He has a hard time playing alone. 
Even though he's excited about summer break, he's already talking about wanting to go to a camp.  I don't think we'll be able to afford it sadly.   He's already lonely thinking of no kids to play with! 

David on the other hand, is much more introverted.  He's sweet, thoughtful, academic minded, black and white in his thinking. Though he did like to have me there as a baby.  He was fine if I walked into the other room.  He found things to keep himself busy.  To this day, if company comes over, he often goes to his room first for awhile.  To adjust, to feel more in control, and then he comes out when he's comfortable.  He rarely wants to play outside if everyone is out there.   He'll play for a bit with his brother and then he's tapped out.  Much of this is because of the Autism.  Which also makes it hard to filter out any stimulation from noise to people.  He takes things to heart.  He doesn't understand joking and sarcasm from other children.  He's often overwhelmed and overstimulated by the time he would get home from his day.  It was a battle from the get go at night to do homework on top of that. 

There are quite a few factors that went into our decision to pull David and home school him.  Some are personal and those that need to know, do.  IN short, we saw a downward spiral in him for a long time and feel this is the best decision currently.  We are always open to the what the future holds, but for now, this is a great time for him to decompress, to have the one on one that he needs.  To regain control of some of the out of control behaviors.  To work on skills that he had and has lost. 

He is excited!  I am excited. 
As we go into our first official week, we are diving in with enthusiasm. 
Friday was the first official day.  We started it by doing the normal mathematics, language arts, science, and social studies.  We took a field trip to our local botanical gardens [Bok Tower] and I had a list of questions he needed to investigate to find out the answers.  It went along with a unit they had started in his class room on land forms, so I decided to stick with that for this coming week and piggy back on it. 

He learned that the tower itself was built on the 2nd highest point in Florida known as Iron Mountain because of it's abundance of hematite.  He learned of 3 flowers or flowering shrubs native to that area.  He learned that the gardens have a mixture of landforms from hills to prairies.  As a mater of fact, he wants to go back this week to learn more!  I love that! 
To continue learning about landforms, this week will cover erosion and river systems and the types of landforms they have and can create over the many millions and thousands of years.  Bill Nye has some great videos to supplement this as well.  Many of which you can watch on YouTube.

This week, our first full week, we are going to dive into Florida History for social studies and may make a trip to the Florida Grove House to learn about how orange juice is made.
He's also going to learn about the Seminole Indigenous people who lived here before it was a state. 
Some of these lessons will be a crossover into Language Arts since it of course involves reading, writing, and vocabulary.  Plus will be finishing up a story called Tara's Terrarium. 
His spelling list will focus on the Y to I change in words that become plural. 

Mathematics will be focusing on wrapping up time telling and elapsed time as we start a new unit on measuring through liquid volume.  I'm looking forward to this because I've incorporated a hands on unit to help him understand this.  We are going to be making "Pioneer" bread.  He'll have to follow a recipe and then answer mathematics based questions concerning it.  This is a link to the recipe and questions if you want to use it for your own schoolroom ;)

Pioneer Spelt Flour Dutch Oven Bread

For music and art education we are going to focus on Mozart this week.  He has been asking some questions about him and he loves classical music so that will be a perfect place to start.   I want to do a project combining the art and music this week, but I'm still working on that aspect!    However I think I am leaning toward letting him free paint while several pieces are playing to compare and contrast how music may affect our mood.  Do we paint faster when the the tempo is Allegro.  Do you paint slower, with different colors when it is Andante? 

Do you hear the bell ringing?  That's the sound of the Gouge one room school house that I wrote about so long ago, finally being in session for a real academic school year!  Wish us luck!  This should be an interesting journey!