Thanks for joining me along the journey! I'd love to hear what you want to know ... do you have questions about sensory processing disorder, gluten-free/dairy-free diets, homeschooling, faith, life in general? Send me a note or post a comment and I'll try to write something that addresses your interests and questions!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

QOTW #2: What is one food item you dislike but keep trying anyway?

Time for installment two of the Question of the Week:  What is one food item you dislike but keep trying anyway?

I've always been pretty adventurous about food, open to trying anything new at least once.  A lot of it boils down to my fear of missing out; my thought has always been, "What if it is my favorite thing and I never knew it because I never tried?"  This logic applied to numerous things: books, songs, activities, and, most certainly, food.  I tried sushi and fried shrimp heads and baby octopus, ate haggis in Scotland, enjoyed escargot in plenty of fancy restaurants, and while I haven't always liked the foods I've tried (haggis is horrible!) it's always been fun to try.

Because I'm adventurous to begin with, there are very few foods I dislike, especially as I've gotten older.  And given my relatively exotic taste in foods (I love obscure vegetables and foreign foods, as long as they aren't super spicy), the answer to this question might surprise you.  The one food I keep trying, hoping that THIS time I'll like it, but always finding I can only tolerate it, is oatmeal.  I've tried it with maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, apples, bananas, strawberries, butter (separately, and all together) and I just don't love oatmeal.

Much to my disappointment, none of the other members of my family are adventurous eaters.  It is like asking them to chomp cockroaches just to get them to try a new food.  For Josiah, he has always been a picky eater because of his sensory processing challenges.  And my money is on the idea that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and Josiah's sensory issues came from his daddy!  Malachi was my last hope for having an adventurous eater in the family, and maybe when he graduates from the toddler stages of just wanting to be in control (including by deciding to never try anything that wasn't his idea to try), maybe then he will join in my finding tasty new things to eat.  Until then, he spends a ton of time eating his favorite food: oatmeal!

Friday, February 28, 2014

QOTW #1: How would you like to start your morning?

To get myself blogging again, I'm going to start posting a Question of the Week.  I'll provide my own answer to the question and invite my readers to comment with their answers as well.  So here is the first installment:

How would you like to start your morning?

Interesting question!  As with many things in life, my fantasy and my reality don’t exactly match up where mornings are concerned.  In a dream world, my mornings would start like this:

I'd have gone to bed and woken up at the same times consistently enough that I'd wake up to the morning light at 7:30 am on my own (no alarms and no children pestering me yet).  I would have half an hour to check the headlines on my phone (local papers and Facebook) and write about any dreams in my journal.  Then I'd throw on some slippers and pad out to the kitchen where I would start some water heating for tea and pop a bagel in the toaster.  I would enjoy my tea and bagel in solitude while looking over the calendar and planning out the day.  A nice hot shower would follow, and I would emerge dressed and ready for the day to find my two boys also dressed, fed, and ready for the day.

Reality looks more like this:

My oldest son wakes up around 6:50 am and starts an audiobook on a volume that could wake the dead, which, unsurprisingly, succeeds at waking up his younger brother.  The toddler then starts kicking me (literally, kicking me) to get out of bed at 7:30.  He is generally not tired enough to coax back to sleep but too tired to not be grumpy, or even walk to the kitchen himself, or so he claims.  After dragging myself away from my kicking, grumbling, grabby-hands toddler to get out of bed, I shuffle down the hall to start some tea.  Both boys start in asking to have cookies for breakfast, or at least a fresh batch of pancakes.  Because pancakes (made with almond flour) have more nutritional value than cookies, I compromise on pancakes with a side of eggs.  The boys fight over toys while I destroy the kitchen, spilling pancake batter everywhere and burning myself on the griddle.  After the pancakes are devoured and the eggs are pushed around the plate for 15 minutes, I give up trying to give them a healthy start to the day, eat the leftovers, and head for the bedroom to get dressed.  My shower is interrupted by two new arguments over how to play racing games and whether the monsters they are hunting are zombies or mummies, as well as a phone call from a solicitor that my son picked up and thinks is important enough for me to electrocute myself in the shower over.  When the water runs cold, I quickly rinse my hair and climb out to find the dog has drug my towel across the bathroom to make it his bed. Dripping wet and cold, I dig a new towel out of the cabinet to dry off, and find that the clothes I've laid out on the bed are now a crumpled mess because the bed was actually a battlefield in my boys' imaginary apocalypse.   I shoo them out to dress in privacy, which gives me just enough time to get one leg in my jeans before the dog and toddler run back into the room to hide under my feet from the ferocious monster chasing them.  I trip and land on the dog, while the toddler yells at me for not being a strong enough fort to keep him safe and the oldest boasts with a victory dance on top of the bed.  I suggest they go put their own clothes on for the day while I finish getting myself dressed, and they run off, not to find clean clothes but to avoid having to put on clothes at all.  By the time I'm dressed and can wrestle the kids into clothing, I'm already exhausted and ready for a nap.  

Oh well.  Someday I’ll get to have those peaceful mornings I want right now.  And when I do, I’ll probably spend some of that time remembering, with a distinct and presently unimaginable fondness, these crazy mornings I spend with my growing little boys. So despite feel exhausted more often than not, and struggling more than I would care to, I’m going to aim for finding joy amidst the chaos.  I’ll seek to cherish the little feet on my back, the creativity of imaginative games, and the exultation in boyish voices when their pancakes are ready to eat and their battles are won.  And I’ll work to join the chorus with my own voice of excitement and appreciation for the little things in life.

So how about you?  How would you like to start your mornings?  And how closely do your dream mornings match your daily reality?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

"It's cool that you're homeschooling . . ."

When people hear we are homeschooling, there are a variety of responses we get, ranging from supportive to curious, doubtful to discouraging.  What follows the reaction is either an interesting conversation or a complete shutdown of conversation, generally.  Recently, though, I had a conversation about our choice to homeschool that went a bit differently than most others.

I think he was trying to be supportive, offering a sort of "Yeah, that's a great idea -- I kinda wish my parents had homeschooled me" response, but it didn't follow that path long.  What he actually did was recount frustrating school experiences (implying that we were good to help our child avoid them), particularly emphasizing all the down time in classrooms "while the teacher has to focus all their energy on the one ADHD kid who can't sit still or focus on anything."  He was clearly one of the "good kids" in the classroom who had been irked by the "trouble kids" who challenged his sensibilities daily. 

Despite my ADD, I was actually one of the teacher's pet types in school, too.  And given my profession as a college teacher, this guy probably assumed my kids were the bookish kind as well.  There's no way he could have known that I had one of "those kids" he was referring to, that his intention to be supportive could be heard as: "Good riddance! Keep that kid away from everybody else who's trying to learn quietly."  That's not at all what he said, yet it's exactly what he meant -- it's the flip side of the very same coin.

While I wanted to be hurt by the comment, the reality is this:  I'm glad I'm keeping my kid from having to be pegged daily as one of "those kids" that gets in everybody else's way.  I'm glad my kid can learn at his own pace, follow his own interests, absorb information rather than just be exposed to it.  I'm glad my kid gets to enjoy learning in a way he'd never be allowed to enjoy it in a traditional classroom, in a way that this guy, ironically, wasn't allowed to enjoy learning either.

For my kid, learning is loud.  (Truth be told, for my kid, EVERYthing is loud!)  Learning is active; it involves a lot of moving around.  Learning is interactive; it requires just as much explaining as it does listening to the explanations of others.  Learning is hands-on; it requires even more touching and experimenting with his own two hands then it does looking and listening.  Learning is fun!!!

While loud, active, hands-on learning is amazingly powerful, it's disruptive to those who prefer quite, calm, observant learning.  Moreover, it is difficult to handle when magnified by many children, rather than one or just a few.  Unfortunately, in our effort to maximize efficiency in education, we've prioritized only one kind of learning, and in so doing, have implied that that is the only acceptable way to learn anything at all.  But some things just can't be accomplished quietly; some things need to be loud.  Some things can't be done passively; active involvement is vital.  Some things can't be experienced with only one of our senses; diving in, all in, is key.

So, "supportive of homeschooling guy," you're welcome.  In a roundabout way, and for all the opposite reasons you mentioned, I'm as committed as ever to continuing to educate my loud, active, messy, hands-on kid at home, where he can enjoy a learning environment free of the kind of labeling and judgment your comment subtly included.

OneWord 2013: JOY!

A college-friend of mine who is now an incredible author and blogger inspired me recently with a post about a new way to make resolutions for the new year.  Instead of getting bogged down with a list of things you'll feel you've failed at, she's started choosing a single word to meditate on, cultivate, pursue for the year.  My ADD self gets sidetracked and bogged down easily with too many options, so this sounded like an incredible idea.  And it didn't take long for me to decide on the word I wanted as my mantra for the year:  JOY! 

Joy.  Not the fleeting-happiness or smiling-through-gritted teeth or "yay, things are going well today" kind of joy.  The "count it all joy" kind of joy that makes you look for the silver linings and blessings in even the difficult circumstances.  The kind of joy that lets you smile for real, because even though things aren't going well, you are alive and can choose how you respond to your circumstances.  The deeply satisfied kind of joy that only comes from God and from leaning on Him in everything.

I've had some legitimately rough times in the last few years.  Even beyond the daily grind or work and family life, and even beyond the "I have a special needs kid" kinds of difficulties.  The kind of international news-making "this only happens in the movies, right?" kinds of challenges.  And while I'd been holding together pretty well for a long time, I've really lost it the last six months or so.  As more and more was piled on, I slipped further and further into a place of negativity that normally cheerful and optimistic me hardly recognized.  And it's been killing me.

Pity parties.  Sobbing sessions.  Relational strife on every front.  Times of sincere anger at God and resentment over my "lot" in life.

And something has got to change.  And it has got to start with me. 

It won't be easy.  I've had more tests on my resolve in these first 48 hours of the year than I would have believed possible: a raging sinus infection, a puking toddler, a speeding ticket, getting locked out of my computer network at my office (rendering a 30-minute drive there useless), along with all the usual trials and tribulations of family life.  And I've already decided that there will be days I don't do so well at this pursuit of joy I'm embarking on.  I will fail.

The perfectionist in me normally wants to give up once the record is tarnished, but the beauty of this plan is that failing, and getting right back up is precisely the point.  It's not about achieving your OneWord, but about commiting to a daily journey of pursuing and cultivating that OneWord in your life and then looking back at the end of the year over the progess that's made in itty bitty daily steps in a purposeful direction.

A clip I saw recently from the Sacred Parenting DVD series talks about how important it is that your children see that your faith matters, that it affects your life, that you are different as a result of it.  Not that you are perfect -- they clearly know you are not.  Not that you have arrived -- you clearly have not.  But that you are walking the path, pursuing better, making progress.

Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.  Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.  Watch your life and doctrine close.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.    (1 Timothy 4:12, 15-16, emphasis mine) 

Persevere.  Progress.  To me, that's what the OneWord challenge is all about.  And the thing I most want to persevere to make some progress on is seeing more joy in my life.

So, joy it is! I'm deciding now to pursue joy, to actively seek it out, hunt for it, run after it, even when it seems elusive. I'm choosing to look for the bright spots and focus on them, to recognize and spend time relishing in the silver linings in the storm clouds. And I know I can't do it without looking to God's direction, so I'm calling a truce and stepping into pace with Him again.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.   (James 1:2-4, emphasis mine)

How about you?  What do you most need to persevere in this year?  What do you most want to make some progress in this year, in tiny daily steps?  What OneWord will you choose to guide your path in 2013?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Where have I been all this time?

I could argue that I've been away from the blog because life with two energetic boys is super hectic, becaue it is.  I could say I was caught up in living life instead of writing about it, because I was.  I could say I was taking a much-needed break from the reflecting that comes with writing, because that, too, would be true.  But the reality is that the reason all those factors really kept me away is that, on top of the regular stresses of life and managing my kids' idiosyncrasies, I'm also learning to manage some of my own. 

A few years ago I was diagnosed with ADD.  When the diagnosis was first suggested, I balked at the idea.  I mean, sure, I'm a little scatterbrained sometimes and a little (oh, okay, a LOT) cluttered in just about everything I do, but ADD?!  Really?!  Nah!  I've managed to be pretty successful thus far in life, and when I'm really interested in something, I can focus on it for hours and the rest of world disappears until I'm finished with the task.  I even have a master's degree!  I thought people with ADD bombed in school and ran around like chickens with no heads and started conversations absolutely nobody could follow?!  They're not driven, articulate, sensitive, many of the things I'd say describe me.

So at first, I brushed it off.  But for a month or so, the thought kept nagging at me, and curious cat that I am, I started doing a bit of internet research.  Turns out I knew NOTHING about what AD(H)D really was, and I think it is equally misunderstood by many others as well.  As truth would have it, adults with AD(H)D often ARE all the things I've already mentioned: curious, articulate, sensitive, driven, focused, scattered, cluttered.  And they are a whole lot more: highly intelligent, active, successful, clumsy, entertaining!

In a nutshell, a lot of the misunderstanding of AD(H)D comes from it's ineffective label.  See, it's not so much of matter of a deficit of attention; it's more a matter of disregulation of attention.  Basically, our brains often move so fast from one idea to the next, that we can have trouble keeping our focus on one small, seemingly simple task -- but find a challenge we are motivated by, and our focus locks in so strongly that we tend not to notice a single other thing in our environment (and if you try to force us to break our focus, we might get grumpy about it!)  We tend to be naturally curious, so interested in EVERYthing around us that we can hardly sit still, literally or metaphorically, for the excitement of learning the next thing on the horizon.  And this can often mean tasks are left undone as we jet off toward the next adventure (though we fully intend to return and finish it, if we even realize we've left something behind in our quest for something new).

Especially if you're NOT someone blessed with an AD(H)D brain, living with one can be a real challenge.  I'm sure it wouldn't surprise many folks to hear that my ADD was discovered while my husband and I were seeking marriage counseling.  He just couldn't fathom why I couldn't clean my cooking mess as I went (because my mind has already moved on to the next step of the process and doesn't register that I have even put something down nor that it is still sitting there), or why I leave things in piles instead of putting them away (because I can't find them when I put them away!), or how someone so smart can lose her keys on a daily basis or forget the coffee mug she just set on the counter or waste half an hour searching for the sunglasses she's wearing on top of her head, or how someone who spent the majority of her young life taking dance classes can be so clumsy as to close doors on her own head, bump her shins into anything nearby, or trip over her own feet so darn often!  It didn't take long for our counselor to put those pieces together and suggest that I might have undiagnosed ADD.

I've spent much of the last few years trying to make sense of what it means that I have ADD.  Identifying it has simultaneously liberating and discouraging.  At least now I know I'm not, as the popular book on adult ADHD says it, "lazy, stupid, or crazy," but it's also not something I will ever be free of.  I've learned a few new coping strategies, and tried to start re-using some of the tricks that I naturally used when I was younger (the things that probably kept my ADD enough under control that it went undiagnosed).  But as my responsibilities and stresses in life grow with my children, and my opportunity to get a full night's sleep continues to stay beyond my reach (do SPD kiddos EVER sleep through the night consistently?), all added to the never-ceasing flow of the proverbial sands of time that make me older and older every year, I find the symptoms seem to get worse all the time.

Besides the toll it takes on my marriage, I find it makes parenting all the more challenging, as if parenting two boys, one of whom has extensive SPD issues and likely some ADHD of his own, isn't challenging enough on it's own.  While consistency may be the cornerstone of effective parenting, it's the stumbling block of many with AD(H)D, myself included.  I have loads of great ideas, so many that I rarely remember which idea I'm working on just now, and following through on any of them seems all but impossible.  Frustrating for me, for sure -- equally, if not even more, frustrating for my kids, I'm certain.  And I'm nowhere near having things all figured out.

So, despite my distractability and lack of clarity (I'll likely be doing a lot of verbal processing about this in the posts to come around here), I'm back, at least for now.  And if you have any tips for how to make parenting work when you and your kids are both blessed with crazily wired brains, I'm all ears :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

SPD Related Giveaway from Soft Clothing

Hmmm, looks like that new post still hasn't made it -- it's coming, I promise :)  Now that Malachi is mobile (yep, crawling around like crazy) I've been a bit more busy!

In the meantime, here's another giveaway for SPD stuff from Soft Clothing:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Another Cloth Diapering Giveaway

Green Diaper Demos just hit 500 fans on Facebook and is doing a giveaway for a Thirsties Fab Fitted and a Wahmies Wet Bag.  To enter, check out her facebook page and visit her website for lots of great cloth diapering supplies -- she focuses most of her inventory on companies that are owned/operated by work-at-home-moms and are American made :) 

P.S.  I'll update the blog with something non-giveaway related very soon!