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Mar 27th

It’s hard to go for long without hearing someone talk about the state of the world.  There are those who predict doom because of the spiritual state of our world.  Others anticipate a government takeover which will include the abolition of personal rights regarding free speech, gun ownership, owning personal property, and more.  The disaster-fearing weigh in with predictions of natural disasters causing global disruption or electro-magnetic pulses (EMP) that would render all of our technical devices unusable and worthless, leaving us vulnerable in numerous ways since we have become dependent to some degree of technology.  Still others believe that our economy will collapse and the currency we use will have little or no value once the collapse occurs. Prepping in some form bears consideration.

Whether the extreme predictions come true, or just a facsimile of them, there seems to be a consensus that some degree of change will take place imminently.  There are differing opinions on how much “prepping” a family should do, but even if you are just planning on making small changes, homeschooling provides wonderful opportunities to incorporate planning and undertake projects in order to be better prepared for the future.

Personally, my faith remains rock-solid that God is in control of all things and I can trust him to lead and use my family as He sees fit.  We are told in Matthew 10:16 to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.  Given that many people much smarter and wiser than I am are exhorting people to prepare for some of the uncertainties of the future, I want to make the most of my time and resources.  I don’t want to become obsessed or anxious about possible future difficulties.  At the same time, I really don’t want to die stupidly.  So my husband and I have been reading up on ways to survive various doomsday predictions, without becoming overwhelmed by all the possible scenarios.  We just want to be responsible to take care of our family and we would like to be in a position to help care for others in need. One of the first things we considered was food supplies.

If the grocery stores ran out of food, we would be in trouble because we know very little about raising plants and gardening. I used to joke that I had a brown thumb since everything I planted died.  Those of you who raise crops on farms or who are avid gardeners have an advantage and hold much-needed knowledge about growing food. My family was eager to learn and we had to start somewhere, so we planted a vegetable garden with a variety of vegetables. Most of them grew well but a few did not.  We don’t know why some of what we planted thrived in the garden while others never produced anything.

How much space do you want to devote to growing your own food?  This would be a great homeschool project, to figure out what kind of soil to use, when to plant different vegetables, how deep to plant the seeds, and how far apart to space the plants.  Some plants need thinning, so it would be good to read up on which plants and when the thinning should take place.  Your homeschool students could research which plants bear fruit throughout a season, and which ones will only produce a harvest at one time.  What is the best time to plant?  Should everything you intend to grow be planted at once, or on a staggered schedule?

There are so many things to consider once you delve into gardening.  We have learned that some plants do better when placed next to specific other plants.  We didn’t worry about watering until days went by with no rain and we realized we needed to figure out when and how much water our plants needed.  I made the mistake of watering a plant in the middle of a sunny, scorching hot day and the poor plant just fried up.  It was sad but educational, and some of the learning process includes figuring out what not to do.

Being the big city dwellers we are, our mental image of broccoli is a nice clean bunch held together by a strong rubber band and freshly misted in the produce department of the grocery store.  With great anticipation, we planted broccoli and waited for the harvest.  We waited and waited, but it never really looked like the broccoli in the store and one day we realized it was past the point of harvesting and had gone to seed.  Clearly, we have much to learn.

As I was studying up on what plants would be best for the plot of land we could devote to a garden, I came across an article that suggested there are many edible foods growing wild.  I took a look at the pictures in the article and realized that I had an abundance of one of the edible plants in my own yard.  Think of the money I could save!  I read some of the ways people eat the weed, which was something in the nettle family, and decided to try and use some in a green smoothie.  I harvested, then used my smoothie maker and added vanilla yogurt and some fruit.  In my enthusiasm, I went way overboard with the amount of weeds added, and the result was not impressive.  My son said it tasted like grass clippings and my husband gamely stated that if we had to, we could drink it.  Another lesson learned.

Even a relatively small project like ours involved learning opportunities with math, science, history, and exploration.  Some of our garden was best used as compost, but we learned about the importance of compost and how to best procure it.  We measured and observed plant growth, sunlight and water, and even which insects were pests and which could be helpful in a garden.  We talked about planning for the future, and how we had the opportunity to hone our skills while still having local markets available if our garden didn’t succeed.

No matter how developed your family’s skill set is, it is a good idea to try gardening even if you only plant a few vegetables in pots.  Your students will learn new skills while enjoying the healthy foods they tended throughout the growing season.  If your garden really takes off, you might even have enough to share with neighbors.  There’s something about homegrown food that just tastes better than store bought.  Harvesting from your own garden is a satisfying accomplishment that just may be the beginning of a love of gardening for you and your children.

Feb 5th
Posted by melinda  as AD/HD, ADD, educational, encouragement

Link to Melinda and Josh’s article in ADDitude magazine.

Subtitled:

A student with attention deficit gives advice to his teacher to bring out their unified best in the classroom.

Check it out!

Jan 6th
Posted by melinda  as autism, news

IMAGINE BEING BORN into a world of bewildering, inescapable sensory overload, like a visitor from a much darker, calmer, quieter planet. Your mother’s eyes: a strobe light. Your father’s voice: a growling jackhammer. That cute little onesie everyone thinks is so soft? Sandpaper with diamond grit. And what about all that cooing and affection? A barrage of chaotic, indecipherable input, a cacophony of raw, unfilterable data.

Just to survive, you’d need to be excellent at detecting any pattern you could find in the frightful and oppressive noise. To stay sane, you’d have to control as much as possible, developing a rigid focus on detail, routine and repetition. Systems in which specific inputs produce predictable outputs would be far more attractive than human beings, with their mystifying and inconsistent demands and their haphazard behavior.

This, Markram and his wife, Kamila, argue, is what it’s like to be autistic.

They call it the “intense world” syndrome.

The behavior that results is not due to cognitive deficits—the prevailing view in autism research circles today—but the opposite, they say. Rather than being oblivious, autistic people take in too much and learn too fast. While they may appear bereft of emotion, the Markrams insist they are actually overwhelmed not only by their own emotions, but by the emotions of others.

Read the full article

Dec 23rd
Posted by melinda  as news

He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty

He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself

He was only thirty three

His friends ran away
One of them denied him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth

When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend

Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind’s progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life

Dr James Allan © 1926.

 

Merry Christmas to all

Dec 16th
Posted by melinda  as news

   My daughter Beth is a smart, beautiful, caring person.  She is a teacher and advocate for special needs children.

And she is talented.  I mean she is really talented.   She can knit and crochet.  She can look at a pattern once, and churn it out.  While watching a movie.  In the dark.  With all kinds of special twists, turns and doo-hickies in the scarf or sweater or afghan or blanket or…..  well you get the idea.

 

But she is also a terrific photographer.  She has a great eye for details, and a sense of the exact moment to snap that picture.   I could take thousands of pictures, every day of my life and not come up with even one of the gems that she does on a regular basis.

 

Exhibit A:   Merry Christmas from Mr. Darcy.

NOTE:  Beth called me to let me know that is not her picture.  It was taken by some of her friends.  To see more of David and Deborah’s work, please go to www.dsquaredphotovideo.com.  (Egg on my face!)

For comparison, here is Beth’s original picture, which I still think is terrific!

 

Dec 10th
Posted by melinda  as news

Have you ever worried because your child seems unmotivated?  Perhaps he does the bare minimum amount of work required for his school assignments.  Maybe your daughter waits to be told what to do and needs constant supervision to ensure that she completes assignments.  These children just don’t seem to care if they learn or not, and they are certainly not self-motivated when it comes time to do schoolwork.  Here’s an interesting thought.  Everyone is motivated to do something, and if you learn to be observant of your child he will show you what motivates him.

Ideally, you want your child to have intrinsic motivation, meaning they are internally motivated to succeed at tasks.  These are the children who push themselves to greater achievement.  Working hard to achieve good results is very satisfying.  They want to do well and don’t need to have a teacher standing over them to keep them on task because they feel rewarded by a job well done.   In extreme cases, and sometimes into adulthood, these students appear self-driven to accomplish their goals.  Children like these do not need much parental pushing to challenge them to work hard because they have learned how to motivate and push themselves toward greater knowledge and skills.

Then there are the children who are not intrinsically motivated and are dependent on externalized prompts and perceived rewards to entice them to work hard.  They will work for prizes or extra privileges.  They respond to reward systems that offer some sort of desirable treat or activity with great frequency, because they can’t work too hard or long for a distant reward.  They tend to live in the moment and not give a lot of thought to what may or may not occur in the future. They need lots of pats on the back and little rewards to keep them going because they are not intrinsically satisfied by working hard and getting things done.

Do these children need to be pushed along?  I think so.  Without any parental input they might never choose to do schoolwork.  For some of us, if we wait until our children indicate that they are ready and willing to learn we could be waiting a long, long time.  Usually our children have at least a few areas that are of interest to them, but often these are not the academic subjects that we must teach.  Our children may be motivated to play video games or draw pictures, but for activities that are not highly interesting to them they simply don’t have the internal drive to do those tasks anyway.

Yes, there are many children who need a gentle push to keep them moving in the right direction.  How much we push depends on the needs of the children.  For example, a student may appear unmotivated when in fact he is a struggling learner and the work actually is harder for him than for most children.  We push such a student to do his best by providing the support and strategies that will help him learn.  When there is truly a learning difference, we can’t just push the child to try harder.  We can, however, teach this child how to be persistent, how to advocate for what he needs and the importance of doing his best in everything he sets out to do.

Another factor in how much we should push our children is their developmental level.  Notice I did not say to go by how old they are, but by their developmental level.  That is because there are great variations in maturity, and using chronological age as the determining factor in your expectations for a child is often not the best criteria.  Some children are slower to mature, and all the well-intended pushing we can muster will not force their bodies and brains to mature more quickly.  A rule of thumb that I use is to push the children in order to challenge them, but don’t push so much that it just frustrates them.  In that case, pushing our children backfires and we have additional resistance to our attempts to move them along more quickly.

A final consideration is your child’s temperament.  Some children tend to be shy or introverted.  Should you push these children into social situations because they have to learn how to deal with a lot of different kinds of people?  While that may be true, I think it’s important to be sensitive to our children’s comfort level.  I have an introverted child who finds crowded social situations stressful and draining.  Should I push him into more group situations so he can get used to it?  I think not.  If I force my child to engage in a lot of social activities when he does not feel the need for them and does not enjoy them, I think it sends a message to the child that I am trying to change him.  In the child’s mind, our attempts to push them into uncomfortable situations often become translated as “There must be something wrong with me because I really don’t enjoy this at all.”

We all want our children to be successful.  Some will mature and become more motivated while others will always be more reliant on external motivators.  Here’s the rub.  We can do our children a disservice if we don’t push them because their childish ways could prevent them from learning what they need to know.  On the other hand, if we push too hard we can frustrate and discourage our children and that negatively impacts our relationship with them.  How do you decide how much to push your children?  As for me, I always felt like I was just the slightest bit out of balance no matter how much or how little I pushed my children.  Being a good teacher and parent is not an exact science, but we can continually make corrections as needed once we learn to observe our children and the ways they learn.

Oct 29th
Posted by melinda  as news

The holidays present families with many opportunities to share the love of Christ.  It’s a wonderful experience when a family can serve together, ministering to others in ways that are personal and meaningful.  Some families make arrangements to minister together and enjoy fellowship as they seek to bless others.  Having a child with special needs presents challenges for participation in some activities, but with a little advanced planning it can be done.

When a child has health issues, it may be difficult to commit to scheduled ministry opportunities.  It is not always advisable to go out in inclement weather, and a child with asthma may not do well in cold weather.  A child with a weak immune system may become ill too easily to risk exposure to many people.  Even the presence of a new baby can make the thought of packing everyone up to pursue a ministry opportunity a bit overwhelming.

If this has you nodding your head or mentally adding your own list of hurdles to the ones I have mentioned, let me get you thinking in another direction.  There are ways you can enjoy fellowship and bless others right from your own home.  During this holiday season, your family might be better suited to invite other families to your home to engage in a ministry activity.  One simple but much appreciated gift to others is to bless those in nursing homes, hospitals, or the military with notes and cards.  Provide a stack of cards and blank postcards along with crayons, markers, and colored pencils.  Adults and children can work on cards together, praying for the future recipients.  Children who are not able to write could draw pictures or use rubber stamps to decorate the cards and envelopes.  Some children could put the cards into envelopes and put postage stamps in place.  Sing a few carols together and you may have the start of a new holiday tradition for your family.

Children can bless their own families by writing the addresses on the Christmas card envelopes.  Besides helping to get the task done they will be practicing penmanship, learning how to address envelopes properly, and working on language arts as they apply rules for capital letters. Another child can apply the postage stamps, or sign the cards for the family.  And yes, I’d count that as “school”!

For those who are able to venture out, look for volunteer opportunities that will allow everyone in your family to actively participate.  My family has volunteered several times with the Salvation Army Operation Christmas Cheer.  Since this program has a variety of jobs we were able to match up our children with a task appropriate for their ages as well as their personalities and special needs.  My daughters each had a designated food item to hand to families as they passed by our line.  Both of them were busy but not so pressured that they couldn’t smile and say “Merry Christmas” to those they served.  They were right next to me so I could provide support as needed.

My son, Josh, loves to help others but has AD/HD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in addition to sensory processing challenges that made the noise level in the warehouse setting adverse for him after a few minutes.  He and his Dad took on the job of helping people by pushing carts or carrying boxes out and loading them into cars.  They could talk to and sometimes pray for the individuals they were assisting.  Josh’s hyperactivity and willingness to work were actually applauded and Josh felt affirmed as he served others.

If your child has a wheelchair or other equipment it can be tough to navigate in some settings. Visiting a hospital or nursing home to deliver cards or sing carols is a great way for a physically challenged child to minister along with his or her family.  Nursing home and hospital staff are used to medical equipment and these areas are disability accessible. When my family visited a nursing home, I saw tenderness revealed in Josh as he held an elderly man’s hand and helped him walk slowly back to his room.  My hyperactive son was patient and attentive in ways I hadn’t seen in other settings. The blessings flowed across generations in that situation.

It may take creative thinking and problem solving, but there are many that families with special needs children can bless others in special ways during the holidays.  Whether your family thrives on excitement or prefers to have a more low key atmosphere, you will be blessed as you allow the Lord to use you to bless others.

Oct 11th
Posted by melinda  as news

From now until the end of the year, time seems to speed up for me.  There are fewer hours of daylight and it gets dark earlier and earlier as the trick or treaters photo: trick or treaters trickortreaters.jpgholidays approach.  I am very affected by the lack of sunlight and if you, too, experience the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder then you know what I’m going through every fall and winter in Ohio. I know, logically, that there is exactly the same number of hours in every day regardless of the amount of daylight.  Apparently there is a part of my brain that does not respond to logic, though, because after dark my body thinks it is night and therefore time to sleep.  Once the sunlight is gone, I have a very hard time leaving the house even if it’s only early evening.  I might make mental plans during the light of day, but once it looks like night it might as well be 3:00 in the morning as far as my body is concerned.  I feel sluggish and move in slow motion.  So while my schedule fills up with all the festivities of the season, I feel less capable of actually meeting any commitments.  At the same time, the calendar dates keep pushing me forward like I’m on a moving sidewalk, and ready or not I’m propelled ahead.   Have you ever felt this way?  It can rob you of the joy of celebrations anthanksgiving crowd photo: Thanksgiving 2010 DSC01947.jpgd leave you feeling overwhelmed.  If you can’t imagine how you will fit everything in and get everything done then you may feel more relief after an activity is over than genuine enjoyment during the activity.  I’d like to anticipate activities in a pleasant way and not let my mindset be one of just surviving the busy schedule.  I want to feel joy, not just obligation.  I want to be fully in the moment, not counting down the hours until I can mark another task off my checklist.  So how can we move past the legitimate demands of a busy schedule during the holidays and set the tone for creating good memories with our families?  I’ve found it helpful to recognize patterns in my family members and myself so that I can take these into account before committing to activities.  I know that one of my children is an introvert.  He likes people, but a little goes a long way for him and if he surrounded by people for hours on end it drains him and he needs some time alone to recharge.  Two of my children are definite extroverts who never tire of the party and are energized by being around other people.  Given these differences, I try to make allowances such as allowing my son to sit and quietly read a book during part of the event.  He’s not being disruptive and he’s less likely to feel agitated and over-reactchristmas gathering photo: Christmas Gathering Bryan010.jpg when he can have mini-breaks as needed.  One of my children needs more sleep than the others.  Knowing this, I try not to schedule her for events that will last too late into the evening or that occur on consecutive days.  I can’t always avoid having activities that occur at less than ideal times for my daughter, but I can limit the amount of time spent away from home even if it means we leave a little earlier than everyone else.  I try to be preemptive and prepare healthy, portable snacks so that even when we are on the go my children won’t become so hungry that they either become cranky or devour too many cookies and other sugary treats.  I actually keep snack-sized Ziploc bags full of healthy snacks in the console of my van, in case I forget to grab them before we head out the door.  Instead of trying to do everything myself, I have the children work alongside me.  They can fill snack bags with pretzels or carrot sticks.  They can help with wrapping gifts and putting stamps on envelopes.  If I didn’t have the children working with me I wouldn’t have nearly as much time with them and they would doubtless pick uptimes square new years eve photo: times square new years eve NewYears.jpg on my increasing level of stress.  Whether it’s baking or gathering needed supplies, I want my children to recognize that they make important contributions to the family. Planning ahead for my family also means taking into consideration the possibility of illness and how that could impact our ability to participate in all of the seasonal happenings.  I’d much rather add things in if we are able than fill up our calendar only to have disappointed children when they can’t participate in every possible activity because they are sick with a virus.  So I schedule the activities that are “musts” for my family, but try to leave our options more flexibly open for the possible addition of other events.  As for me and my struggles to do anything once it’s dark outside, I have a couple of strategies that I implement.   Whenever possible I try to have someone, preferably another adult, accompany me when I am going out at night.  Knowing that someone else is counting on me to do something with them helps me to force myself to take action despite my body’s reluctance to move.  Having the company of another adult distracts me from my feelings of utter lethargy so I can actually accomplish tasks.  I also know my tendencies well enough to recognize that it’s far better for me if I can schedule as much as possible during daytime hours.  I’m better rested and more alert when it’s light outside, so that’s the time when I can be most productive and enjoy what’s going on around me.  If the holiday season kicks you into survival mode, maybe it’s time to think about how you could move beyond just surviving to thriving.  Being able to say an enthusiastic “yes” to your family’s most valued traditions will take some forethought.  By considering your individual differences and the needs of your family members, you can strategically plan to fully enjoy the memory-making moments.

Sep 30th
Posted by melinda  as news

Robin-hood-disneyscreencaps.com-5024            Do you remember learning about Robin Hood?  He stole from the rich to give to the poor.  In Robin Hood’s world the monarchy wanted more money and more treasure.   Prince John sent out the Sheriff of Nottingham and his lackeys to collect exorbitant taxes from the poor working folks.  Sometimes he asked the people for more than they had to give.  Robin Hood took to living in the forest with his band of merry men, and did what he could to help the poor people of Nottingham.  Whether you agree with his methods or not, the story can be a helpful learning tool for teaching math concepts.

Some children are naturally hands-on oriented in their learning.  For struggling learners, offering some tactile input can be a vital part of helping them understand the concepts being taught.  To promote generalization of newly acquired knowledge, children need to make connections between what they already know and the new material being presented.   Like links on a chain, their knowledge base grows as each new bit of information is connected to prior experience.

My children liked to watch the Disney cartoon version of Robin Hood.  So when they were having some difficulty with the math concept of “borrowing” along with place value, I had one of those inspired homeschool Mom moments.  I lined them up by age, so that my youngest child could represent the “ones”.  My middle child was assigned the “tens”, and my oldest child was to stand for the “hundreds”.  Then I got out the Cuisenaire blocks and gave some of the single blocks, 10 rods, and hundred blocks to each child according to their assigned place value.

My first two children were working on the math concepts, but even younger children could be included with a little extra support.  I didn’t expect my preschooler to understand the actual math concepts being taught to her older siblings, but she could work at her own level as she practiced counting the ones cubes.  She loved being a part of things and having a supportive role in her big brother and big sisters’ learning.  Because she was standing up, actively included, and moving around with manipulatives in her hands she remained engaged in the whole process.

I became the Sheriff of Nottingham complete with my assumed sheriff voice which made my kids laugh.  The children were the beleaguered citizens facing constant harassment from the greedy tax collectors.  I approached my youngest child and informed her I was there to collect her taxes and held out my hand to demand ten blocks.  She counted what I had given her and discovered that she had fewer than ten in her possession.  I told her that she would have to borrow from her “neighbor” in the tens column.

As she turned to her sister AKA the tens column, I explained that she would have to borrow ten at a time.  Now in addition to acting out the process of borrowing from her neighbor, I illustrated the math problem on a dry erase board.  I moved on in my role as the Nottingham sheriff and approached the child representing the tens.   When the “sheriff” demanded a hundred in taxes this child found that she, too, was short of the amount being required.  She had to borrow from her neighbor, the hundreds.

I used a different color of dry erase marker for each step, so the children could visualize each individual step while still seeing the whole picture.  After going through several examples with the Sheriff of Nottingham insisting on payment of taxes requiring them to borrow, the written problems seemed to make more sense to the kids.  At that point, I started to fade some of my cues and instead of talking them through each step I began to ask them what should happen next.  As they gained confidence, I had the children mix things up and change places so they could each have the experience of enacting the place value roles of the ones, tens, and hundreds.

Initially I was illustrating the math problems on the dry erase board, but as their understanding grew I had the children write down the section of the math problem that represented their roles with each child using a different color.  When they seemed to grasp the concept and were able to demonstrate it consistently, I ended the lesson by allowing each child to have a turn being the Sheriff of Nottingham.

My children loved the drama of acting out math problems in the roles of Robin Hood characters.  They had blocks in their hands, different colors in the written work, and the creativity of portraying characters from a movie they knew well.  It helped them to have that experience of acting out the math problem as characters from Robin Hood because they could think back to that activity to help them recall how to complete the math procedure.  Whoever would have guessed that learning math would be so memorable and fun simply by utilizing the merriness of Robin Hood?  I want to encourage all who read this to feel free to BORROW this idea to teach your own students the concept of borrowing in math!

Sep 19th
Posted by melinda  as news

It’s funny what our kids remember about their childhoods.  Their memories are distinct and individualized, and some of their most significant memorable moments didn’t even register with me at the time.  As my children have gotten older they have revealed some past experiences with lasting memories that I wish I had known about sooner.  Have you ever asked your children what they remember most about their homeschooling times or other childhood events?

I was talking to my son, Josh, recently and he was reminiscing about his favorite childhood toys.  He spoke fondly of his Creepy Jake makes Creepy Crawlers Crawler machine, and I do remember him spending hours creating various colors and combinations of wiggly creatures.  I knew that Josh loved doing experiments and mixing colors, although since he was colorblind I’m not sure what the colors looked like to him.  I understood the thrill of potential danger as the light bulb heated up to cook the slimy liquid into a wiggly solid.  What always surprised me, though, was that my sensory-avoidant son actually liked working with slippery, gluey goop that had a strong odor that Josh described as akin to the smell of a rubber sole on a sneaker.  Since Josh invested a great deal of time and effort smelling various objects to see which ones were aversive to him and which were “safe”, I asked him how he could tolerate that Creepy Crawler smell.  With a grin, he told me “Because the smell of Creepy Crawlers was the smell of victory!”  It represented another successful experiment and allowed Josh to experience the satisfaction of creating a rubber creepy crawler of his own design.  Victory made tolerating the smell worthwhile.

One of my daughter Beth’s significant memories is coming up with hiding places for herself and her siblings in case of emergencies.  Following the tragic murder of the young man who grew up next door to us and the events of the terrorist attacks on 9-11, Beth coped by trying to plan for contingencies.  Not only did Beth work with her siblings to discuss various spots to hide in our house, she made sure they enacted multiple practice runs just in case.  She coached her little sister on the importance of staying silent in her hiding place (a huge challenge for her) and even thought through where the pets could go to be safe.  We had emergency supply boxes in the basement in case of natural disasters, and Beth revealed even at her young age that she had a strong desire to care for and protect those around her and would respond with courage instead of fear when faced with a threat.

One memory that surprised me to learn was when my daughter Beckie shared an experience she had at a local art program.  Beckie has always been creative and enjoyed a variety of art mediums, so every Saturday morning we would trek to a local art college that offered classes for school-aged children.  Beckie seemed to love the activities, and attended classes on Saturday mornings for many years.  Recently she disclosed an experience that happened during an art class years ago.  Unbeknownst to me, a teacher had held up Beckie’s paper as an example of what NOT to do and displayed it to the entire class while lecturing them about following directions and paying attention to the assignment.  Poor happy-go-lucky Beckie was crushed and humiliated.  Since she has ADHD, attention to details and oral instructions have never been strengths, but until then she felt like she could be creative and express her free-spirited artistic nature.  This experience gave her a strong message to try harder to conform or risk being embarrassed publically.  And I didn’t find out about this until years later!

There are also memories we all share, like the time Beckie plopped drips of vanilla ice cream on our black dog and then proudly announced she had transformed him into a Dalmatian. We had obviously not studied genetics at that point in our homeschooling.  The dog, Shadow, is tied in to many childhood memories during our school days, since he and the kids grew up together.  Being the pet in a family with distractibility challenges Shadow had to work hard to get attention.  I can still picture him walking around with his big metal food bowl in his mouth, trotting nonchalantly around the house letting us all know he needed to be fed.  If that didn’t get the desired result quickly enough, he would drop the bowl and start banging it around in food dish hockey style until he was impossible to ignore.  School would come to a noisy halt until Shadow’s needs were adequately met.  It was a pretty effective method for the dog that refused to be forgotten at meal time.

I want to encourage you to take time to reflect on shared memories.  Allow each family member to share a particularly meaningful or memorable event from the past year.  In addition to the memories you have deliberately made, will there be incidental memories that have impacted your children?  We all want to know what are children are thinking about and how they are feeling.  Sometimes, just asking a few questions and sharing our own memories can open up conversations that otherwise might never happen.  Lead the way, Moms and Dads, and then enjoy listening to your children as they share funny, serious, or significant events that will give you a deeper insight into those children you love.

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