Yesterday, my lovely wife was serving in the children’s ministry at church;  as the administrative “rover” she was filling in for someone in the nursery area.  When she observed two toddlers in the plastic ball pit, who were not playing nice, she rushed over to separate them.  As she bent over and reached for one of the ruffians, she felt a twinge in her lower back, and the pain of a strained muscle immediately became apparent.

When we got home, she consulted her new authority on all things – Pinterest – and found that the proper treatment was to apply cold compress for the first 24 hours.  The suggestion was a slushy pack (1/4 part rubbing alcohol + 3/4 parts water frozen in a ziplock bag).  Until the slushy pack was properly frozen, a bag of frozen vegetables could be substituted.

As I presented her with the frozen veggies, she commented:  “This means that I’m in a vegetative state, right?”

Nothing can keep my girl down for long!


Can Dogs have ADHD?

I walked in the door after a busy day and was greeted enthusiastically by my two goldendoodles. They wiggled and wagged their tails frantically around me, my husband, my daughter, and son as if they hadn’t seen us in days. In reality, it had only been a few hours, but it’s always nice to be welcomed home by those who are always thrilled to see you. After greeting the dogs and saying hello to the cat who watched calmly from across the room, I noticed that there were bits of debris strewn on the dining room floor. Uh-oh. There were chewed up bits of paper along with other items that had been in the trash can when I left home. There was also a trail from the kitchen into the dining room, and it looked like the dogs (or at least one of them) had been pretty busy making a mess while we were gone. I put the dogs in the back yard so we could get things cleaned up without their helpful interference.

Slapshot, who is 2 years old, at least knows how to act like a dog in trouble. He avoids eye contact, tucks his tail a bit, and slinks a little. He takes himself to the back door and waits to be let out, darting down the steps as soon as he can squeeze his 95 pound doggy self through the opening door. He doesn’t bark to be let in until we come and call him or he feels he has paid his penance.

Daisy, on the other hand, is just over a year old and is totally clueless as to what it means to be in the doghouse. She gives the same toothy grin when she’s getting her leash on to go for a walk as when we discover she has chewed up a shoe and scold her. If she is put outside so we can clean up after her, she eagerly heads out and looks over her shoulder to see if we are coming along to play with her.

I’m not sure, but if there is a doggy ADHD I think she may have it. Some of the signs are there. Let’s see. She’s definitely hyper, and enjoys jumping on and off my furniture. Multiple times. She persists despite correction and redirection of this behavior. This is consistent with the hyperactivity my two ADHD children displayed when they were young.

Impulsivity? In spades. I have to be on the alert when I walk her because if she sees something interesting she will take off on a moment’s notice and try to drag me along behind her. I suspect that dragging sensation she feels is the only way she even remembers I am with her.

Distractible? Daisy excels in this category as well. I have been training her in basic obedience skills, starting with the command to sit. At first, she just gave me that toothy grin while lunging for whatever treats I had to give her incentive to learn to sit. Then she would sit just long enough for her tail to hit the floor and she’d be back to the lunging. It would have been great if I had been trying to teach her to bounce her hind end on the floor, but I actually wanted her to sit and stay put for a little bit. I should probably mention that I also had this experience with my ADHD children!

At this point, Daisy can sit with Slapshot by her side providing a strong role model. He’s in it for the treats, but that’s o.k. After I give the command to sit, I give the command to stay. I step back and maintain eye contact while giving the hand signal for “stay”. Slapshot is an old pro with this command, and he sits still as a statue while never taking his gaze from me. Daisy watches me intently for about two seconds, but if there is a noise or movement nearby she has to look in that direction. She just has to, she can’t resist the urge. Again, not unlike my distractible kids. Yes, she wants the treat. But sometimes it’s not worth missing out on something else.

ADHD children have difficulty completing tasks. Once again, this is true of Daisy. What tasks could a dog have to do? How about eating her dinner? Slapshot is a big dog, and gobbles his food down as fast as his specially-designed-to-slow-him-down dish allows. Daisy, while not as large as Slapshot, is also a large dog who forgets to finish the food in the bowl right in front of her. While Slapshot greedily inhales his food, Daisy has trouble initiating and dawdles around her bowl. (Another executive function skill my children struggled with growing up – but never when it came to food!) After a minute or so, Daisy begins to eat. She is genuinely hungry, but will abandon her food for almost any competing stimuli. If she hears another dog barking outside, someone at the door, or even if I take a few steps away from her, she lifts her head and goes to where the action is – even if it means that Slapshot will try and finish her food once his is gone.

I’ve always said a label can be useful if it helps you find information and get support for what you are experiencing. I already live with three individuals with the ADHD diagnosis, so I am recognizing Daisy’s symptoms early on. Daisy is a delight, even if she still has to learn that being cute doesn’t cut it. My family members can be pretty delightful, too.

In addition to the scattered trash in my dining room, Daisy had pulled a box of dryer sheets off the shelf in my laundry room and had chewed up the box and scattered the sheets around the room. She did not ingest any, just spread them around. As we cleaned up the mess my son suddenly commented, “Hey! It smells pretty nice in here!” Immediately the other two ADHD individuals stopped what they were doing to take a moment to enjoy the fresh aroma caused by Daisy’s chewing and all agreed that the room smelled wonderful. Way to live in the moment, guys!

Slapshot and Daisy came back in the house once we had the mess cleared away. Daisy trotted up to me with her usual enthusiasm and toothy doggy grin. I bent over to pet her, and as she gazed lovingly up at me I realized that her typical doggy breath had been replaced by the lovely fabric softener scent of Clean Rain.

Never underestimate him!

My apologies for not posting yet this month. I have been battling the flu since February 1st and the germs seemed to be winning for awhile. I’m making a strong comeback now, though!
Do you have a child who has difficulty following novel directions? My son, Josh, has ADHD and auditory processing difficulties. He has significant learning challenges and struggles to remember what he hears. He has a tendency to take things literally, with sometimes interesting results. Other times he draws the wrong conclusion and inadvertently changes the expected outcome. For example, once I found a recipe that sounded interesting. You put all the ingredients for an omelet into a sealed ziploc bag and cook it in boiling water. I thought this would be great, especially for those of us who have picky eaters, because everyone could choose which ingredients to include. My husband and I could include onions in ours, but our daughter has not yet learned to appreciate onions so she could omit them from her omelet. I compiled a few different omelet variations into separate ziploc bags and made sure they were sealed tightly. I put the water on to boil, and went into the next room to work with my daughter on a computer assignment. Josh went into the kitchen and shouted to me that the water was boiling. I asked him to carefully put the bags into the boiling water for me and to use the tongs that were sitting on the counter. Using one of his strategies, Josh requested clarification that I wanted all the bags put into the water. I confirmed that and a few minutes later went to check on my omelets. Surprise! What I found looked more like egg drop soup than omelets. At first I thought the bags must have split open while they were boiling. Then I saw the emptied bags off to the side and realized that Josh had meticulously opened each one and poured the contents into the boiling water, thus defeating the attempt to keep the ingredients separate for different omelets. Josh saw the flabbergasted expression on my face and asked if something was wrong. I explained that when I had asked him to “Put the bags into the water” I meant the entire bags. Josh said he thought about it, but that idea didn’t make sense to him and he had never seen me put any bags into boiling water so he decided he was supposed to just dump everything in. I thought I had been clear in my instructions, but I told Josh I would try to be more specific in the future. He grinned at me and said, “Never underestimate my incompetence, Mom!” I love that kid and his sense of humor.

Contacts in a Spoon

I consider myself to be a pretty good problem solver. I think things through, consider various angles, and make my decision based on the known facts at the time. I no longer wear contact lenses, but when I did I had a case to store them in. If I was on a trip and forgot my contact case, I would buy another case and probably pick up some contact solution since if I forgot one I’d likely have forgotten the other. When arriving at a hotel late at night when most stores are closed, upon realizing my omission, I would have been stumped as to how to store my contacts. Then I probably would have wasted a few minutes mentally berating myself for forgetting such an important item. Finally, I would conclude that I needed to head out again in search of a Wal-Mart that was open 24 hours in order to buy my needed supplies. Eventually I would come up with a solution, but not without feeling stressed and frustrated. This type of experience is very different for my outside-the-box thinking family members. In fact, they so often forget things that they take the forgetting in stride. They look for the simplest solution, and don’t sweat the fact that they don’t have exactly what is called for in the situation. With contacts, this has led to some interesting situations. Once my daughter and my husband both remembered their contact cases, but not exactly where they had set them down. In the morning, both complained that they couldn’t see very well once they put their contacts in, and suddenly realized they had inadvertently switched lenses with each other. Another time, after a late arrival at the hotel and a carry-out dinner consumed in the room, I was cleaning up and throwing out trash. Just as I was about to toss out a pair of plastic spoons, I noticed they were aligned in a way my family doesn’t typically take time to do. A closer look revealed that the spoon bowls had a liquid in them, and each contained a contact lens. My husband (who has ADHD) had forgotten his contact case, but when he discovered he had left it behind he just looked around for something handy and usable. Recruiting the two plastic spoons into a duty they were not designed for but suited his purpose, he popped his lenses and contact solution into the spoons and carefully set them aside. I guess his problem solving worked great, with the only real issue being the danger of his uninformed wife on a cleaning fit tossing them into the trash. In the end his creative thinking solved his dilemma, took little time, and caused him no stress. Makes it kind of hard to claim that my more traditional methods are better than the atypical ways of my family.

Pink Teeth / HOTM Conference Ticket winners

Trying to get a good family picture is challenging. Children aren’t big on sitting still and posing in one position. Getting everybody to look in the same direction at the same time seems to be hard enough, let alone have the clothes and hair looking the way you want to remember it. I took my kids to a store where I had a “portrait package” coupon and hoped to get some good shots to frame and share with the grandparents. Since two of my children have AD/HD and sensory processing issues, we went on a weekend so my husband and I could team up to make this memorable photo a reality. Although we usually let our children select their own attire, that day we picked out their clothes so all the items would match and coordinate. Already, we should have realized that the end result wouldn’t resemble what we saw on a daily basis, but we had a dream. The children were scrubbed and dressed and we were on our way. Unfortunately, the dressier clothes weren’t as comfortable so my children were a bit fidgety right out of the starting gate. We assured them that it was only for a little while, and when we got back home after the photo session they could change clothes. We arrived and headed straight back to the studio in the store. We had failed to factor in the likelihood that going on a weekend seemed like a good strategy to other families as well, and we learned that we were in for a wait. Having to wait 50 minutes might not be a problem for some families, but the dream was seeming more like an impossible dream when my husband and I tried to figure out how we could keep the kids relatively content and clean while we waited for our turn. We thought about buying each child a toy, but that would have pretty much defeated the purpose of going there for the great coupon value deal. We decided to walk through the store at as slow a pace as the kids could tolerate, dragging our feet and hoping to make our store tour last about 50 minutes until it ended back with the photographer. At that point, we hoped our kids would be calm and bored enough that even posing for a picture would sound inviting. At first, Plan B seemed like it just might work. Then we hit a snag. There, directly ahead of us, was a little in-store pizza shop that served flavored icy drinks. Suddenly the children realized they were extremely hungry and thirsty, and I had to admit that the delay in picture taking did push us close to their usual lunch time. I couldn’t see making it through pizza without getting some on the clothes, and I wasn’t willing to take the chance. Instead, we offered them small cherry icy drinks with napkins tucked into shirt and dress fronts along with close supervision. My husband and I felt relieved, because the drinks would curb the appetites until we could return home for lunch and it was helping to pass the time. As an added bonus, those drinks can’t be gulped or the kids knew they would get “freeze brain” so it helped pass the wait time. We were confident once again, that our portrait dream could come true. Having carefully monitored the time, I announced that it was time to make our way back to the photography studio. We should arrive just a couple minutes before our turn with the photographer. The children were happy and ready to go, having consumed their cherry icy drinks with great enjoyment. They turned to me, grinning with pleasure, and that’s when I saw not only cherry red lips, but pink teeth! Getting a professional portrait done had seemed like such a good idea, but it just goes to show that plans need to be flexible and you need to have or develop a sense of humor to get you past those “pink teeth” moments.


We had a random drawing from our subscribers for five tickets to the Heart of the Matter Online Conference.

The winners are:

  1. awakenyourspirit
  2. missmichelle6
  4. D
  5. Amy Mason

Please email me with your Name and email address so HOTM can get you the tickets.  If we do not hear from you in the next day or two, we will open it up to the first readers to respond.

Get Back Up and Don’t Give Up

Years ago I convinced my brother to go skiing with me.   I had been skiing once prior to this, and I never made it off the easiest slope known as the “bunny hill”.   The easier slopes provide a rope tow up the hill rather than the chair lifts used by more advanced skiers.   I shared all my skiing knowledge with my brother, which took at least two minutes, then set him free to practice his new skills.   As I was holding the rope tow on my way to the top of the slope again, I saw my brother about half way down the hill.   As I watched, he wiped out and just flopped onto the ground.   Then I noticed he wasn’t moving.   In my mind, I became his rescuer.   With my novice skiing skills, I pictured myself as a keg-toting Saint Bernard braving the winter cold to get to the victim of a mishap, but I was determined to reach my brother as quick as my wobbly legs and skis could carry me.   I zoomed (only in my mind) down the hill toward him, and just as he managed to push himself into a crouching stand I plowed him over and took us both several feet further down the hill.   Ta-dah!   Have you ever been “helped” like that?   Someone with good intentions directed your way but leaving you feeling bowled over?   I’ve felt like that during some of my homeschooling challenges.   I’ve met people who seem to find me normal enough until they find out I’m a homeschooler.   At this point they helpfully question my competency and qualifications while providing me with an extensive list of topics that I must cover or my children will be permanent outcasts from educated society.   This exchange concludes as I am trying to figure out which concern to respond to first and they slowly back away, shaking their heads and murmuring that they could NEVER homeschool their children.   “I can’t either!” the small voice in my head replies.   “What am I thinking?”   Plowed over again.   Other times the challenges come from my own homeschool students.   I may think I have a lesson plan so exciting that even my struggling learners will flow right along with the lesson and beg for more.   In my enthusiasm, I might be several minutes into an activity before I become fully aware of the blank stares of my children.   Why, they actually look…(gasp!) bored with my incredibly thought out and creative lesson designed specifically to promote their love of learning.   But they don’t love it! Plowed over again.   When something or someone knocks you flat, get back up and don’t give up.   Just as my brother cautiously got to his feet again and continued to conquer the “bunny hill” slope, and as I carefully avoided knocking him off the slope, you can’t let setbacks define you.   A face plant in the snow is rough.   Being re-planted by a circumstance or by someone “helping” you is also rough.   But staying down is not the place to be.   Rest a bit if you need to, before picking yourself up.   Just don’t stay down so long that you get frostbite.   No matter how many times it takes, get back up again.   It will be so much better than remaining in a plowed over position.   It will be worth it.   I promise.

Learning in Waiting Rooms

As long as I’ve been a homeschooler, I always seemed to have some very portable items I could grab as we headed out the door so we could work on something in waiting rooms. For one thing, my kids were NOT good at the waiting part whether it was a doctor’s office or a grocery store line. For another thing, I thought they might as well be learning or reviewing rather than complaining or getting into things. Now that I have an IPhone I have downloaded all kinds of educational aps so I always have something to do while I wait. Yesterday I had an appointment with my allergist, and while waiting for him in the examining room I pulled out my phone to work on my Spanish skills. I especially appreciate being able to push the speaker icon and hear the Spanish phrases spoken aloud. I was diligently concentrating on learning the phrases when my allergist walked in. He said, “Hi. How are you?” just as I pushed the speaker icon and my phone loudly pronounced, “Tengo hambre” which means “I am hungry”. I sheepishly looked up from my phone and told my doctor, “I guess I’m a little hungry?” He laughed and said a few Spanish words to me so that we could further our rapport before getting down to business – in English, so I’d actually understand what he was saying besides discussing our hunger. That was not the only part of the visit that amused me, however, as I had earlier been reviewing my information with the nurse. This office has transferred all of the patient information to computers and it was all typed in by hand. The resulting file on me indicated that I get vitamin B injections (I never have) and that apparently I use my asthma inhaler as a nasal spray. Interesting picture. I do have an asthma inhaler, but since it’s for my lungs I use it as, well, an asthma inhaler. I have two nasal sprays for my allergies, so it really never occurred to me to also sniff my asthma inhaler. I think I set the record straight, but now I really want to see what my primary care physician record says that I’m up to! Waiting rooms are a great place to learn all kinds of things.


Today I was driving home from church with my two AD/HD offspring, Josh and Beckie. Sometimes we think of them as twins who happen to be five years apart in age, because they are so similar in so many ways. There’s no missing the physical resemblance, but at times it seems like they have some sort of brain connection that only the two of them share. With Josh riding in the back seat and Beckie riding shotgun next to me, we were enjoying some mild spring weather and long-awaited sunshine. As I pulled to a stop for a red light, suddenly and in unison at the top of their voices Josh and Beckie yelled “Geese!” At first I thought this must be an inside joke from a movie or video game, to yell “Geese!” at a traffic light or something. Beckie was looking out her window, and I saw a pair of geese in the grass nearby. Josh was looking in the opposite direction, where another set of geese waddled through the grass. I asked them why they yelled “Geese!”, wanting to be in on the joke. But that, I guess, was another joke on me because there was no story behind this particular choral outburst. Although they weren’t looking in the same direction, they both saw geese at the same time and were calling out to inform the other. Since it’s not typical to see geese within our city limits it’s kind of the city kid version of a wildlife spotting. For some reason known only to their brains, it made more sense to yell out the single word than to make a comment in the form of a full sentence such as, “There are some geese in the grass over here.” When further conversation helped me realize that this was not related to any previously shared experience, but that both of their brains had them shout “Geese” at exactly the same time, Josh and Beckie just laughed and couldn’t really explain it. Fortunately, with each other, they don’t have to explain.

Show That Can Opener Who’s Boss!

I think it’s important to teach my kids life skills in addition to academics. I have taught them how to do laundry and iron their clothes. They have basic cleaning skills, although admittedly they don’t apply them nearly often enough. They know how to cook and have learned the basics of measuring, mixing, reading directions, and using the stove or oven. Each of my three children has a recipe box. The box contains recipes they know how to make or hope to learn how to prepare. Over time, the number of recipes increases. My plan is to have a recipe box with many of their favorite meal items written on recipe cards for them to take with them when they live on their own. I’m sure they will still call me with questions from time to time, but that’s fine. I just want them to have the basics mastered and they can expand their cooking skills from there. When I have my kids make a recipe for the first time, I coach them through it. I’ll do portions of the preparation to demonstrate certain aspects and have them do part of the preparation so we can work closely together. The next time we make that recipe, I have them do all the preparation while I stand nearby to provide clarification or reminders. The third time they prepare the recipe, I take a more passive role and may even go to an adjoining room. I’m still within earshot but they are learning to prepare the item independently. Once, while working with Beckie, we needed to open a can. Our can opener can be touchy, and sometimes I have to manually wiggle the sharp blade into place. It works, but the can has to be aligned just so. Since I gave the manual can opener to my daughter to use at college, the electric one is our only option. I made sure the can opener blade was in position and handed Beckie the can to open. She had trouble getting it to line up, and the can opener made a few whirring sounds without coming into contact with the lid. I encouraged Beckie to keep making adjustments until the position worked, but she quickly became frustrated and wanted me to do it for her. I knew she could do it with a bit of practicing to learn our can opener’s idiosyncrasies, so I told her she shouldn’t give up so easily. “You just have to show that can opener who the boss is, Beckie! Don’t let it win!” Beckie answered immediately with, “I tried that already, Mom. I told the can opener I was the boss and it had to do what I said. But it said, ‘Then I quit! So you’re not the boss of me anymore!’ so I can’t make it do what I want.” Well. What is one to do with such a recalcitrant can opener? I decided a compromise was appropriate under the circumstances, so I got the opening started and had Beckie hold the can and finish opening it. You have to show the can opener who’s boss, even if it takes two of you to do it! Also, I think they can smell fear, just like copy machines that are prone to paper jams, so try to stay calm and present a brave face.

Hey! That’s MY Underwear!

There are some things you just don’t want to hear your kids say, especially in the presence of relatives who are seen infrequently. As graduation parties are already being planned, it brought back a memory of my niece’s graduation from high school. My sister and sister-in-law are both teachers in public schools, so it would be nice if my home-schooled sweeties made a good impression when they see their Aunts and other kin. My niece’s graduation party included grandparents, cousins, relatives and friends, and we drove to their hometown to be a part of the festivities. My kids were thrilled to discover that in addition to massive quantities of food there was also a trampoline set up in the backyard. It wasn’t long before all three of my kids were headed for some jumping fun. They had a blast! I took pictures, and got some nice action shots. They thought of different jump moves to try and wanted me to capture every single moment with my camera. I should probably mention that I had the kids dressed up a bit for the occasion. Beckie was in a dress and Beth was in a skirt. They were jumping artfully while maintaining their modesty, and everything seemed fine until they both jumped at the same time and bonked their heads together. They both fell backwards while holding their heads, and Beckie’s dress got flipped up a bit when she flopped onto her back. Beth, recovering first from the head bump, suddenly forgot about her injury when she made her discovery and subsequent announcement of, “Hey! That’s MY underwear!” Beckie, quickly feigning underwear amnesia, weakly asked, “It is?” with such an air of innocence that most people would have found her believable. Big sister Beth is not most people, however, and she wasn’t buying it. After a few increasingly heated accusations and denials culminating in an apology from Beckie, I jumped in with “Don’t take it off! Beth, she’s just going to have to wear them until we get back home.” While Josh and I were recovering from laughing so hard at Beth’s first declaration of underwear ownership, I suddenly had the horrifying thought that Beth just might demand that Beckie return the underwear immediately, and the more horrifying thought that Beckie would actually do it to keep the peace with Beth. Wow! Now wouldn’t that impress all the relatives? I can almost hear the chatter in the background… Isn’t it quaint how the homeschooled children negotiate with each other? Do you think all homeschoolers share underwear with their siblings? I wonder if they’ll get a special pair if they go to a prom? Probably they make their own underwear anyway…