It was not a failure, though I thought it was at the time.

It was not a failure.

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I’ve been dealing with my own feelings of failure for a while now. Have you ever felt that way? I read this story this week, and I poured tears as I contemplated my own “failure.”

There was this man. He was from out-of-town. He wanted to teach people about Jesus. That landed him in prison, and not just prison. First, he was stripped and beaten, and then they put him in prison.
He got out though.
And then you know what he said about that trip? He said, “It was not a failure.”

Public humiliation. Beaten! Imprisoned!

That was not a failure?? He was basically chased out of town. He can’t go back there.

But that man was Paul, and that town was Philippi. You can read more about that story in Acts 16:16-25 and 1 Thessalonians 2, all of chapter 2.

“You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.”    1 Thessalonians 2:1-2

It was not a failure because they STILL did share the gospel, as they set out to do. When we tell people the good news, that Jesus loves ALL of us and wants to save and be a friend to ALL of us, we aren’t responsible for how people respond to that. That doesn’t mean be a jerk and don’t care. That means don’t be obnoxious. Share it, and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

Public disgrace does not equal failure.

Things not ending as planned does not mean we failed.

Being physically destroyed is not failure. It’s not.

You are not a failure either. Think of your most recent failure, and then consider. What did you learn? What good came out of that?


I was reading about all of these things in Children of the Day, by Beth Moore. It takes books like these to help me understand things like Acts 16 being tied to 1 Thessalonians. Believe me, I’d never figure that out on my own. Every single Beth Moore Bible study workbook I have ever read has been a massive blessing to me.

This one is no exception. She just HAD to go and ask us what our most recent failure is. She left a little blank space for us to write about it. Ha! I got out my spiral notebook and filled up a whole PAGE.

I wrote, and I thought, and I cried, and I prayed, and in the end I was reminded.

“Though a righteous man falls 7 times, he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruin.”  Proverbs 24:16

Failure stings when it’s something that means the world to you. It stings like getting stung by a HIVE OF BEES  or 50 fire ants.

I set out to home school those two years with two objectives:

  1. I wanted to give them that one-on-one boost with their academics.
  2. I wanted to improve their character. No, I can’t improve it myself, but I wanted to promote it. I wanted to provide the right environment and the right tools for the boys and God to work that out.

I was not able to accomplish what I wanted, academically, and to make it worse trying to be a teacher, homemaker, blogger, and mom all at once made me MISERABLE. It was heart-breaking. Even as I write about it again, it’s like my heart is all ripped up and bleeding. I want to pound my fists to the wall and then lay my head against it and cry until there’s no water left because no matter how hard I tried, everything felt like failure.

I love these children with such intensity, I want to fix every single problem that they have, but that’s not possible, is it? The ability to fix everything was so far beyond my control.

So I failed. Or so I thought. But you know what? I did not fail. They didn’t fail either. Nothing failed. There was nothing wasted here.

In those two years, I saw their character bloom. I saw love, humility, honesty, justice, kindness, and goodness in my boys.

Caleb was saved and baptized, of his free choosing during that time at home with me. I even heard him teaching his friends about Jesus.

There was spiritual warfare waged over the souls of my children those two years, and God won.

I grew to understand the boys’ strengths and weaknesses. I came to terms with my own limitations. We emerged a different family than when we went into this.

I failed in some ways in order to learn. Sometimes we have to fall to learn, to grow, to become.

We saw it happen with my children too. We watched them overcome the kind of adversity that would have CRUSHED me at their age. I would not have handled it with the strength, dignity, and courage that I watched my son display.

That’s not actually failure is it? But it sure feels like it when you’re laying in a wad on the ground.

So no, we have not failed. We have only fallen and gotten back up again, and we too shared the gospel in the process.

All of these thoughts led me to this song, and I can’t get it out of my head. Its “fall down and get back up” message resonated with me. Yes, we are trying EVERYTHING. It’s a fun song, and my favorite line is this one:

“Birds don’t just fly. They fall down and get up.”

You’ll have to click the link below to go to YouTube to see the lyrics and hear this song. It’s worth it.

 

Ok. Your turn to answer Beth Moore’s heart-wrenching question. Failure. When did you last feel it?

“Ask yourself: Did we do the will of God as best we perceived it? Were we authentic before God and man?”    —Children of the Day, page 41, Beth Moore

And I would add, what did you learn? Then maybe it’s not such a failure after all, and even if it is, get back up again.

 

I never felt like I had a “special needs” kid, until today.

 

familycloseup

We look normal, and we are. Did you know that 3 of our 4 kids have some sort of “special need”? Geesh. I wonder how many kids out there don’t.

 

There have been times where I had to mentally decide if my child fit into the ‘special needs’ category. There have been other times when people have said something about one or more of my children having special needs.

I’ve always thought, “Eh, not really.”

Between the four of them we have one diagnosed peanut allergy, one probable peanut allergy, one diagnosed ADD, one possible ADD, and one diagnosed with epilepsy.

But special needs? No way. Those aren’t special needs. Those are merely hurdles, road bumps, qualities, if you will. Don’t call us special. To modify the show tune, “Anything you can do, we can do better. We can do anything better than you. Yes, we can!”

Lol. Kidding. I don’t think we can do it better, but I certainly don’t think a few allergies and seizures should get in the way of any good fun.

Never mind that their ‘special needs’ make up the main reasons, among many, that we are home schooling..

So this was supposed to be the week that Caleb got his teeth fixed from the big scooter accident. We have spent 3 mornings in a row at the dentist office. If all had gone as planned, he could have been 2 teeth down and 1 to go today. Instead, we are a big, fat 0 down, 3 to go. And just writing that brings back that whole sick feeling in my stomach, and that burn in my eyes, that is making this day really hard.

Caleb and his school work.

Caleb, posing with the Christmas Olaf scene that he drew, back when his teeth were still intact.

 

On Monday, we had our consultation with “The Tooth Hero.” This was the dentist that met us two Sunday nights ago, at 7pm, when Caleb knocked his mouth so hard, in a scooter meets sidewalk incident, that he broke three permanent teeth. He’s seven. Why must my children collect permanent teeth so early???

All went super well on Monday, so on Tuesday we headed in for the great rebuilding of tooth #1. Caleb wasn’t worried at all. He trusted his tooth hero completely. He laid down in the dental chair, donned the sunglasses, and the dentist numbed up his mouth. All was well. Unfortunately, some part of this “tasted sour”, and Caleb started to PANIC. They tried to suck his mouth out with that tiny sucker that dentists use, and Caleb wouldn’t let them do it. He was suddenly scared of everything and uncooperative. He just sat there with his numb mouth, shaking his head, and saying, “Aaaaa! No, no!”  He didn’t shout, but you could definitely hear panic in his voice.

Show stopper. The dentist called me in and let me know that he’d have to refer Caleb to a pediatric dentist, who could sedate Caleb, to calm him down so they could work on his mouth.

Okay. I was disappointed, but I understood. I felt fully confident that a pediatric dentist could easily work with him, and we’d be fine.

We made the appointment right away. Today, for the third morning in a row, we headed out, all four boys and me. (On Tuesday, I got smart and hired a babysitter. Phew!)

By the way, I’ve also been running a fever all week. I seem to have an extremely mild chest cold. Don’t worry. Everyone else is fine, but this just adds to my stress level.. As we all know, parents don’t get sick days.

We managed to find the new dentist and were pretty much on time. Caleb, riding in the backseat, asked, “Do you know how to get there, Mom, because I’ve never been to this place?”  Ha! None of my children trust my navigation. Caleb was a big help on Monday, in finding the first dentist office!

So there we were, ready for our pediatric dental appointment. I was very thorough in Caleb’s dental/medical history. This guy can handle it, surely, right?

Eh….

He tried. He had Caleb go to the back, he put ear muffs on Caleb, to keep the noise down, and then he pulled out his tools, to see if he could get Caleb more comfortable with the loud tools.

Caleb didn’t want them anywhere near him. He was uncooperative again. I was crushed. Why was I crushed? Because they had informed me that if the earmuffs didn’t help, this procedure will have to be done in the hospital. That means I have to take Caleb to his PCM, “Primary Care Manager”, and it’s kind of tough to get an appointment. The PCM has to put in a request for the teeth to be fixed in the hospital and deem it “medically necessary”. Then she also has to provide the hospital with a detailed list of Caleb’s medical history. Right. Because after living in 5 different cities in 7 years, and seeing 4 different neurologists, that’s super easy to come by….

I’ve been living in fear of all ‘appointments’ since I started home schooling. We don’t have any grandparents or babysitters. Thankfully, I did find a great babysitter this week. She can even drive!

Why do we have to jump through all of these medical hoops? Because Caleb has epilepsy, and he’s not handling this new experience well. If he could just be a little braver, we’d be fine. If he weren’t an epilepsy patient, they could sedate him in the office. As a seizure patient, they are hesitant to work on him.

Sigh. So today is the very first day that I am seeing Caleb as ‘special needs,’ and I want to cry. Just the idea of all of this paper work and medical offices and appointments, all when I’m supposed to be at home from 9 to 2 everyday, educating 4 children, makes me want to throw up my hands. But I can’t throw up my hands! Poor Caleb has a crooked fang for a front tooth right now.

Back to today’s dental appointment: I was good on the outside. I didn’t put up a fuss or whine or anything. Instead, I took Caleb aside, and told him that if he didn’t cooperate with the doctor and just deal with the loud noises, he was going to find himself in the hospital, making this a lot more hassle. I was just giving it to him straight. I told him that if he could go back in there and get it together, I would buy him a new video game.

Yes, I resorted to *rewards*.  Please, Caleb, oh, pleaseeeeeeeee.

He made an effort. He went back in and got so comfortable with the sucker thing, he stuck the whole instrument in his mouth, but when the doc whipped out the other-whatever-it-is, more panic.

🙁

Caleb was sedated at our old dental office for a couple of fillings last year. If only we were still in Virginia! They were so accommodating!! As if I didn’t have enough reasons to miss Virginia…

We miss you NoVA!!!!

We miss you NoVA!!!!

Why don’t I normally consider any of my children ‘special needs kids’? The thing is that I grew up with a sister who was truly special needs. I know that drill well, and it is HARD. My sister cannot talk, walk, play, or think past the level of John David. She is profoundly retarded. She is a sweet, sweet, loving, smiling soul. She mostly just sits and rocks. I shared a room with her from the time I was born until the day I got married, minus the time I spent in a college dorm room. We love our Amanda. She is truly ‘special needs’. She could never do the things we did. I saw what my parents went through to provide a good life for her. There was no freedom for anyone. Someone always had to be home with Amanda. It was truly difficult to take her places because she yelled out at random, and she had a wheelchair. There was always a shocking number of places with no wheelchair ramps. Also, people stared a lot.  It was a challenge, ya’ll!!

Amanda and me

Amanda and me, ~1986 She’s adorable, isn’t she?

 

And the truth is I’ve lived in fear of it happening to me. I know that I’m not the sweet soul that my mother is. How could anyone ever handle all that she handled? I breathed huge sighs of relief at each prenatal ultrasound, as my babies were pronounced healthy.

My kids are nothing like my beautiful sister, so I just have a hard time with anyone calling them ‘special needs,’ or thinking they can’t fix their teeth because of a well controlled seizure disorder.  I think, “Nah, he’s fine. My kids are fine.”

They ARE fine. I guess it’s time I realize that special needs is not a big, scary word. So what if they have special needs? That is how God made them.

I will just have to broaden my definition of that phrase. I know it scares people. I always roll my eyes and think they are overreacting, but the truth is that very few people have had the experiences that my family has had. I should be more understanding of that.

My biggest concern is that I could jump through all of these (what I consider unnecessary) hoops to have Caleb’s teeth fixed at this hospital, and once it’s done, the cap could fall off in two months, and we’ll be right back where we started from.

It’s just one of those situations that does not have an easy answer. I think I could train Caleb to chill about the dental experience. I just don’t know if they will be willing to give it another go. You know? There’s this whole stigma attached to him now, and that just bothers me.

Feel free to chime in with any good suggestions. I do realize I had promised a happy post today, about Caleb’s new sport and such. Tomorrow! Check back tomorrow! This was a rough day, but good things have been happening too. Thank Heavens!

Teaching my “ADD” Son

strategies for teaching ADD

 

I love how homeschooling has allowed me to cater to the boys’ individual gifts. I want to share with you what we’re doing to meet each boys’ gifts and challenges, so today we will focus on Caleb.

I realize home schooling isn’t for everyone, it isn’t even possible for many, so maybe you can apply some of these tricks to your regular-school-kid too! 🙂

It never ceases to amaze me how completely different all four of our boys are! I’m still waiting to see how JD will turn out. For now, we just know that he is go-go-go and clingy-clingy-clingy. We also know that he has some sort of sleep disorder that is destroying my outlook on life, but we are not here to talk about that today…

Let’s just focus on school.

Caleb is your classic Billy from Family Circus ‘boy’. He does the stereotypical stuff. He begs us for a pet, he finds snails and brings them to me, he pretends to dislike girls, and he’s always wiggly. Oh, and he loves to take things apart. He can also fix things that I cannot. If I want a chore done quickly and effectively, I call upon Caleb.

Spelling, memorizing facts, and sitting still are his nemesis. His Sunday School teacher recently referred to Caleb as “quiet and shy.”

???

That’s right. My children have one personality at home and a totally different one at school or Sunday School. I was quiet at school when I was a child too, only I actually am shy, whereas Caleb is definitely NOT shy.

The hard thing about teaching Caleb in the school setting, is that it feels like he isn’t participating. He NEVER answers questions, in a large group, and he talks and sings so quietly that you can’t tell if he is doing so or not. It looks as though he is completely disengaged–not at all like any of the other kids in the class.

As a parent, this is frustrating to watch.

I would love to design a school that caters to little “ADD” kids like Caleb–and guess what! I am doing exactly that this year–here at our own little home school!!  I have TWO ADDish boys, though even the way that ADD is displayed is different in each of them!!

Here is what is helping with Caleb so far:

1. Fidgeting is 100% REQUIRED!!!

If I am going to be teaching something new, or going over memory work, Caleb absolutely HAS to have something in his hands to work on. For example, if Alan is teaching a Bible lesson to the boys, we say, “Caleb, go get your puzzle!!!” Caleb fetches his U.S. puzzle and works on it while Alan teaches. Suddenly he becomes interactive Caleb with questions.

How did I figure this out? Classical Conversations. After the agony of watching my smart little boy act as though he doesn’t know anything all morning, we went outside to paint. Thankfully, it was a laid back painting day. The kids were allowed to use whatever colors they wanted–kind of a big deal for Caleb.

Meanwhile, Caleb’s tutor opened up her science book and started teaching from it. Suddenly, Caleb became interactive Caleb, asking questions, and looking happy.

The key seems to be that Caleb has to be working on something with his hands to pay attention. I totally get this!!  When I was in school, my notebook was always FULL of doodles. I do the same thing in church. Normally, I dislike drawing, but I just have to have something to do with my hands when I am in the school setting.

And what do we typically tell small school children, during instructional time? Everyone clear off your desk, and no fidgeting. HA!!! Perhaps that is best for most kids, I don’t know. I don’t have ‘most kids,’ I just have these kids, and I want to do whatever works to make school easier and more fun for them.

2. Frequent breaks.

Caleb completes a subject, then he has a break–sometimes a drawing break, sometimes a full-jump-on the trampoline recess. With all the rain we are suddenly having, he plays in the garage a lot. I would much rather knock all that school work out at one time, but that leaves Caleb looking like a whiny lump in the floor, so I get about an hour of work out of him at a time.

Caleb’s Basic Day:

Math Worksheet (A Beka 2nd grade)  He is excellent at this–straight As, and he thinks it’s easy.

Spelling

Notebooking: writing, copy work, etc.

BREAK–Full 20 minutes

Grammar/Phonics/Guided reading  We are really enjoying the A Beka readers now. They are full of sweet stories that almost all have wonderful life lessons. Love. Love. Love. Caleb also grasps grammar rules with swiftness. Phonics has been a struggle, and he’s still improving in reading. Thankfully, he loves Treasure Chest. He recently finished reading Pinnochio in that reader.

Review Memory Work (Science/History/math/grammar)

BREAK  a long one, while I work individually with Joshua

Math Speed Drills

LUNCH

Teacher Reading (where I read one nonfiction science or history story, followed by one fiction story or chapter or two)

Handwriting–Caleb’s favorite subject with Drawing (Most of the lessons in PreScripts include a drawing lesson.

Geography–We have now graduated to actually drawing the maps, rather than just tracing. I can’t tell you how challenging, but fun this is!

Go over whatever else we missed during the day, and then I NEVER let school run past 3pm. Usually we are done by 2:15.

Why does it take me so long, when I only have three students??  Well, let’s not forget this guy:

 

Our school comes with a TON of built in distractions, but that also makes it more fun.

I am fortunate. Even though we are always at home, the boys still have three friends to play with all the time:

 

 

 

That’s right. Sweet Dan can also do a mean scowl.

Joshua picked out his and J.D.’s clothes, and then they all decided to dress alike. They were a little disappointed that J.D. would not cooperate for group pictures.

When you have big brothers, you learn the back arch fit extra early.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Experience Learning: I think with anybody, ADD or no, actually going out and experiencing things is much better for learning than just reading about it.

What did I set out to teach the boys in these photos?

You might guess table manners or ocean life, but that wasn’t really what I was thinking. I set out to teach them about Black Friday. 🙂 Joshua, Caleb, Daniel, and I hit the mall and a restaurant in honor of America’s favorite day to shop. We scored an awesome deal on Daddy’s present.

We also got the bonus of getting to watch the ocean waves while we ate our lunch. Science. 🙂

experiencing the beauty of California at a local ranch

More science. These are harvester ants. They are all female. They only produce a male when they wish to reproduce. I guess they don’t realize how funny boys are to have around.

Proverbs 6:6-8 (KJV)

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,

Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

Did you catch that?? Don’t miss it! Solomon is known for the wisdom God gave him. The Bible is the inspired Word of God. They called EVERYTHING “he” or “him” back then.

What did they call the ant??  HER

Don’t miss that. The Bible is CHOCK-FULL of wisdom that is way before its time.

Isaiah also wrote a verse that showed inspired wisdom about “the circle of the earth”, back when we’re told they thought the earth was flat.

21Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.   Isaiah 40:21-22

4. Let’s talk about memorizing. 

Unfortunately, I have not unlocked that padlock for Caleb yet. He does well with the truly catchy songs, the Bible passage, and the things that I have managed to go over a gazillion times, but I want to find a way to make it easier. I have learned ALL of this stuff fairly quickly, without going over it a gazillion times, and I am old. Some of it was completely new to me too: like the Latin….and the specific Appalachian mountain ranges. I would love more memorization tips for my little guy who hates memorizing!!!

I think part of the problem is that he thinks it’s boring, so perhaps what I SHOULD be asking tips for is how to make it more interesting to a 7 year old.

5. Focusing on the GIFTS

In order to keep Caleb happy about school, I have to praise, praise, praise every thing he does well. He leaps up the stairs to come to Handwriting, Art, or Math Speed Drill time because those are things that he has received lots of praise for.  Caleb is so creative. It’s so easy to praise him for his arts and crafts achievements.

Obviously, I need to praise him more on memory work!! I was really impressed today with his excellent Latin translation skills. That was all thanks to how well he learned John 1:1. The boys are currently memorizing John 1:1-7 in Latin. Caleb has already done a pretty good job of memorizing it in English. Caleb was actually able to teach this week’s Latin to Joshua. Now THAT was exciting!

What helped him learn John 1:1-7 so well? I made him copy it during notebooking time. That lets me know that Caleb learns through writing things down, which makes a TON of sense, since he learns through fidgeting!!!

Hmmm…I need to employ more of that!

6. Trampoline Memory Work

This is my next idea!!! Maybe trampoline spelling and trampoline math drills too!!

7. It’s really all about the one-on-one.

ADD kids need one on one attention more than their wired-perfectly-regularly counterparts. That’s where home-schooling is paying off BIG TIME.

You may be tempted to think ADD is not a “real” thing. As a psychology grad-school drop-out, let me assure you that IT IS INDEED A REAL THING. In the old days, they may have just said, “That boy ain’t quite right.” Haaaa!  The thing is now we know why. Our brains don’t all work the same.

Aren’t you glad they don’t?  😉  I bet some of the greatest creatives of all time were ADD.

8. Teach to the level of the child. 

This is another benefit that I have. Even some public schools do this. Where my children went to school last year, they divided the whole 2nd grade up into spelling classes. Some kids in the second grade were spelling hop, shop, pop. Others were spelling shook, shake, shriek, or whatever. You get the idea.

At the beginning of the year, both boys almost cried while working on material that they were not ready for, and school felt like a battle. As soon as I switched the curriculum to their actual level, they began to learn without tears. This is the best thing I’ve done for them. In the long run, they will actually be better at these subjects, since they took their time, and learned it step by step, rather than feeling lost all year.

Teaching to their level made my life so much easier too. I don’t have to battle them on any of our subjects–other than just “Can we be done now?” Gone are those first few weeks of, “I can’t do this!! It’s just too hard!!!” Okay, occasionally they still say that, but only when they are lazy or in need of a quick break.

I always wondered why home schoolers got that deer in the headlights look when you asked them what grade their kid is in!! It’s because at any given time Child A may be in 4th grade spelling and reading, 5th grade history, geography, and science, mid-2nd grade math, and 3rd grade grammar and handwriting…..but yeah…he’s in 3rd grade.  LOL!!! That’s the awesomeness of the one-on-one.

Anyone else have any good ADD tips?? I know there are plenty of teachers out there that could help us!!!

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