Friday, February 21, 2014

From the Mother of One

Short back story: I talk about my son. How wonderful he is. Our little moments of awesome. How crazy he is. How crazy he drives me. The ways I torture, I mean discipline him from time to time.
Sometimes a response sends me over the cliff. Like responding with "try having ten". I see this on a lot of posts. A mom of two complains and you over zealot uterus's respond with "try having a dozen in diapers". I hear it fairly often being a mother of one. Usually I ignore it. I roll my eyes. I say nothing back to your uterus.

Blame it on all the adorable babies filling my feed, blame it on all the pregnant mom's to be talking, blame it on another friend talking about her ticking uterus, or just simply blame it on that's not the kind of thing you say. Who raised you? An Olympic child bearer?
How do you expect someone to respond to blithe comments like "try having four". So tonight I'm going to explore some ways I chose not to respond to you.

"Try having (insert your magic number of fertilized eggs)" 

Some of the responses I've wanted to give you:

"I'm sorry your uterus is so exhausted, you should try birth control."
"So I can't afford date night either?"

 "The morning after pill is over the counter now."

 "I'm sorry was this a contest?"

 "On purpose?"

 "Did you sit in a lot of Miracle Grow growing up because your uterus is certainly well fertilized!"

 "Because your frustrations are worse than my frustrations? Because your amount of exhaustion outweighs whatever exhaustion I feel?"

"Because then I wouldn't have time to worry about the one I have? Or the time to actually have a meaningful conversation with him?" 

But most of all I want to say, "Why? Because ONE doesn't make me a MOM?"

Maybe I should take the truthful approach:
"I'm sorry my infertility bothers you, perhaps you could share?"

 "I would love to have (insert magical number). My body couldn't."

 "It breaks my heart how long I've wanted more children."

 "My arms ache to hold another baby. I would love to read to another toddler, finger paint, and spend days engaging a young mind. To even have a reason to watch one more episode of Dora The Explorer. I would love to watch another child grow. Snuggle next to me on the couch. Most of all, I'd love my son to have siblings."

See the truth is ladies - sometimes that mother of one did want more children! Dreamed of having more children. So your constant little digs about "try having" are just that. Digs. Way to make another woman feel crappy. Feel better about yourself now? Want your trophy now? Congratulations! God blessed you. Now stop making other moms feel like less of a woman. It's hurtful. The approach I did choose to take?

A new status that said: How many kids you blow out your crotch rocket doesn't make you more or less of a mom than another mom. They aren't decorated war medals or boy scout badges.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ear Infections, Tubes or Something Else?

I stay away from heated debates about clipping your newborn son's body, breast feeding, and immunizations.  These are all a parent's decision and they make the best one they can for their child with the information they have available to them.  That being said, I won't debate my stance on ear tubes but I will share my story.  If my story helps one family, then it was worth the effort to tell it.

Many Dr's push tubes when a child has had a recurrent ear infection or fluid build up on their ears.  My son had this from birth to 18 months - they did antibiotic shots, he did overnight stays in the hospital with the flu because with his ears already causing him stomach upset it was so easy for him to dehydrate, you name it he'd been put through it.  Finally around a year old the Dr said maybe it was time for tubes.

I felt uneasy.  Most of the kids I had known to get tubes wound up having to redo them at least once.  It was a pita when the kid went swimming and stuck their head under when no one was looking, etc.   It's also a band aid procedure.  There.  That's how I feel about it without getting technical.  It means the child is having ear infections, don't know what the root cause is so let's put a band aid on it and stop it.

They also don't tell you the risks and complications.  Like the little boy who has constant puss drainage and his ear actually smells and the Drs say that's normal the tubes are doing their job until he's screaming in pain and you take him to the ER and it's the tube not fitting properly about to burst his ear drum.  Infected.  Painful.  Could potentially cause the hearing loss so many parents are trying to avoid.

So - my first step at a year old was to get online.  I discovered a common cause for the actual ear infection is allergies.  Allergies? No. My kid doesn't have those.  Have they been tested? Do you really know that for a fact?  Believe me when I say his list of allergies shocked everyone including his Dr.  He was allergic to dust, dogs, rice, peanut butter, and soy.  Almost half of what he was eating was probably causing part of his problems.  (On another note we went in for his retest when he started school and he'd outgrown all but the dust allergy! The only thing we always have to be aware of is the fact the peanut butter one could come back with a vengance.)

So we removed the allergens from his diet and environment as best as possible, who doesn't have a little dust exposure? Especially at the time living on a rural dust road.  I mean gravel road.  You get the idea.  After we got the allergies under control the fluid on his ears was lessened but still there.  Except now my Dr noticed something else, his adenoids were huge.  His tonsils were inflamed and swollen.

Sure enough, the ENT said he needed those removed before we did any more tube talk.  At 18 months he had those removed, it was a rough week trying to get him to drink after surgery and hydrate but if you asked me would I do it again?  My answer would be YES YES YES.

When you consider tubes consider the risks and ask yourself if you have ruled out the common culprit of allergies.  It's a simple stick test and the child can eat a sucker while the Dr checks their back/stomach for all of the common allergens.  In addition to the risks with tubes that get stuck, don't fall out naturally, get infected - are you prepared to do another tube surgery when that set falls out and the ears are still acting up? Then research how many kids with tubes wind up later getting tonsils/adenoids removed because now the chances have gone from putting them through surgery once for tubes, twice if they need a second set, and a third time for the tonsils/adenoids.

Tubes are a temporary solution and when they do their job as they are supposed to, everything's great.  I'm not telling you what to do.  It's your kid.  There are tonsil/adenoid removal risks too - everything has a risk.  I'd still point out there's a high % of people after tubes that wind up still having to have the other surgery though and I'd also point out in our case the tonsils/adenoids were a 100% success rate.  He never had another ear infection.  The child who's ears almost had the drum rupture from the tube and later did tonsils/adenoids - never had another infection after the tonsils.  Tonsils have risks too but in a lot of these cases your going to wind up doing it later anyway.

So just ask your Dr the questions now.  Ask them if it could be allergies.  Ask them if the tonsils are enlarged or adenoids.  Be comfortable with your decision to go the tube route and don't just think "everyone has tubes, it's 100% safe, and it's going to be a fix all" because a lot of parents feel let down when it didn't fix all.
Do the research, ask the questions, and feel comfortable.  Only you - not me, not the Internet, not any other mom has to live with the choices you make which is why I don't debate the above issues.  I didn't post this to debate tubes.  I posted this to tell OUR story and maybe give you a different perspective especially if like I was, your already uncomfortable going the tube route.

Friday, April 5, 2013


I've gotten behind with blogging this year because our school year has been strange.
It was our first full year of homeschool and it presented some unique challenges.
The first few months he didn't want to get in routine with school at all which was difficult, then he spent the next few months fighting school.

Right around the holidays his mood changed again and he's embraced homeschool.  I have let bits and pieces slip on my Facebook page throughout the year.  What changed around the halfway mark?  Well, I think a lot of it has to do with expecting himself to fail.  I know his capability so yes, he fought me earlier in the year.  I was pushing him in new ways.  Challenging him and he was used to being bored more often than not.  He wasn't bored and it was scary, new.

I don't think he realized the expectations either.  So he kept expecting a pass/fail system.  That if he did poorly he'd flunk a class.  Instead he found out if he didn't get it the first time, that was okay.  We would spend all week or two weeks on a math concept if we had to.  The important thing wasn't getting 100% on every assignment but rather making sure he knew the concept and could apply it.

Finding out the pressure was off, he began to embrace the challenges.  He has also grown so much this year. Like learning he might even like history!  He thought he hated it.  It has always been presented in a boring manner and he wasn't interested.  Instead I have started really using a variety of tools to teach the subject matter.  He knows his Civil War after this year and he can discuss it.  We incorporated it into our reading class by reading Uncle Tom's Cabin, we watched short video clips, a history channel movie, and even some modern films on slavery (I won't debate it so no, I won't tell you what movie we saw that went a long way opening his interest in the subject.  It doesn't matter if other moms agree or disagree with my choice, it served a purpose and worked for us!)  I used power points & worksheets.  My point is I didn't present the material in only one medium, one format.  By using the variety, I gave him more tools to learn with.

I'm hoping to blog more shorts from our past year when we start taking more breaks with the warmer weather - until then, if you take nothing else from today's post - take this:  Mix it up, mom!  We are not a class room of 30 so if your kid needs extra help in fractions, give them a week, two weeks, a month to learn fractions.   The time gets made up in other material that they fully grasp & understand in one day.  On the other hand, if we treat them like the classroom does and don't let them grasp the first concept, we set them up for failure on the rest of the unit.  There's some great math video's on Youtube.  There's some great downloadable curriculum materials online.  Google them.  Find them.  Your child will thank you for it.

Also mix up how you teach.  It doesn't have to be nothing but power points.  You can use whatever tools you think will work.  Find video's, power points, worksheets, books, short stories.  Whatever it takes to get them interested.  If they are younger, crafts work well.  Science experiments appeal to all ages and are great learning tools.  The more fun they have, the less learning feels like work.  So the more they want to do it.  It's not such a chore to get them motivated anymore.  These are lessons I have learned this year.

The last lesson I learned was to introduce something new that you know your child will be good at.  For instance, mine has always had a great grasp on vocabulary and speaking.  So I introduced French.  Inside I felt defeated before I tried because it's so hard to get him interested in change.  I shouldn't have worried.  He was naturally good at it because he picks up on speech very well.  He's excelled.  He has confidence with it. And he loves his French class!!! So give them one thing you know they are good at and let them run with it.  You may be surprised.  He's already hoping to master all of the online high school level French course so in high school he can consider learning a third language!  I was amazed to hear that.  He wants to pick up a couple of languages and learn them well for future job advantages as well as job opportunities.  He's thinking ahead.  We've accomplished a lot this year! What about you?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Lost Son (Review)

I recently found a galley site that allows bloggers, reviewers, book sellers, and librarians to request advanced reader copies digitally.   I thought this might be a fun project since we did a review unit at the end of last year and learned how to write product, book, and food reviews.   It would give my son a chance to sharpen his skills in this area and allow us to find some fun books to read together for reading class.   Our first approved choice was The Lost Son by Tamra Torero and Preston Norton.   This was published by Cedar Fort Books and seemed like a good, clean family publisher for our first choice.

I'm going to type my son's review in and then I'm going to make notes in a different font color so you know it's my thoughts not his.   I thought for his first review for a publisher he did a very nice job.

The Lost Son is about a boy named Jacob who gets drunk at a party and kills Cody.   Jacob then has to live with Sam, Cody's father for a month and help him at his Christmas tree farm.    

The book begins at a party where Jacob is drunk and acting like a very obnoxious boy.   He drives home and has an accident killing another teenager his age, Cody.   Due to the problems he has caused Sam which could potentially put him out of business this Christmas, Sam asks the judge to give Jacob a chance.   The judge realizes the predicament Sam is in and allows this unconventional punishment to stand.   This will open the door to several opportunities for the characters in the novel to grow and change.

The things I liked

The plot and most of the characters were well thought out.   The book was descriptive.   The relationships didn't seem forced.

I enjoyed watching the characters each take their own personal journey that sort of came together in places and overlapped with one another's.   Most of the relationships don't seem forced and there is conflict where appropriate.    

The Things I didn't Like

Some of the book seemed rushed.   Some of the scenes seemed sloppy by over filling the page with unimportant words then rushing more important aspects.   The ending was not very well thought out and was one of the most rushed parts of the story.   When you spend time investing yourself in a novel and then the ending is rushed you feel cheated at the end and that is what the reader will remember.

My son can be a pretty harsh critic when he feels wronged by his literature but he is also very accurate about the rushed ending.  The last few pages feel thrown together and the reader is left to wonder what was the rush?  We went on and on in parts, being over descriptive, then acted like the keyboard wouldn't allow a well thought out, well delivered conclusion that had to be rushed in fifty words or less.   Especially when it begins willy nilly throwing characters together that may or may not work out but given what the reader has been led to believe about the main character's brother one can only wonder.   

I'm also going to interject an adult observation, this novel seemed unable to devote itself to one perspective and do it well.   I don't mean it head hopped, the writing technique in this was done well except for some heavy prose moments.   I mean the writer would try to climb into the mind of a growing teenage boy and do an excellent job and then they would back out - no scramble out of it with both feet and have him thinking thoughts like a fifty year old man.   The beginning party scene is probably what hooked me the most and yet, they lost that voice as the pages progressed and it wasn't from some great maturity on the character's part.   It was as if they forgot they were describing things from a young man's perspective and told the story to an adult audience.   This is going to be the biggest hurdle this book is going to face.  It is marketed at a young adult audience and it reads as slowly in parts as the begats in the Bible would to a young person.   

I watched it happen as we read this.   My son would get interested, he would be hooked and they would lose him every time by hopping out of his maturity and interest level.

Overall, I would give this book three stars.

In conclusion, mom fell in love with the premise of the novel more than the way it played out.   I loved the idea of a boy being held accountable for his wrong doing and being forced to see the effect his choices had made in other lives.   I loved the way the book was clean and able to be shared with my thirteen year old as even our younger teens need to be aware the consequences of bad choices like drinking and driving.    

I didn't love the way the prose hopped.  I didn't love when the characters at times seemed to fall into a "mold" not be unique and true to themselves.   I didn't like when the conversations became stilted, forced, or contrived.   I really didn't like the rushing to a happy ever after ending without any development and leaving even that up to individual interpretation somewhat.

I did love sharing a mother/son book review experience, however.   We look forward to doing this again at the end of next month with a different book!   This was a lot of fun and it was fun to put both our thoughts on the blog and share.   Be gentle, my son is still learning the fine art of reviewing but please share your thoughts with us.   Do you want to see us do more of these?  Does it inspire you to try this with your child?  Let us know! And share a link if you try it as well! 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Test Week

We finished our unit in History and Science at the same time and I think my little student had a wake up call. He expected mom to be easier than his teachers and he found out differently.  Unlike his teachers, I know his potential and I know how smart he is so I expect excellent quality work.  I gave him a chance to retest if he didn't do well but warned him if he failed a second time then we would simply redo those units.  I don't have to move on and keep teaching a classroom, I can stay on rocks and minerals for six months if we need to get that material learned.

Later my husband and I sat down and talked about his test scores and what we noticed.  In school a student is often allowed to get away with rote memorization.  They don't have to learn the fact they have to memorize certain things about the fact.  If you change or manipulate the wording, it will inadvertently confuse them in some cases.  What I had designed was a review and then separate test that didn't allow for that style of learning.  He had to actually know and have learned the material to score well because while I had given him the information he needed to test, I hadn't spelled it out for him.  He was asked on review to know the steps of the rock cycle for example.  On the test he was asked to draw a photo of the rock cycle.  If one knows the steps in the cycle, drawing the chart (even using words instead of pictures) isn't difficult.  If you just memorized a photograph and expected to fill in the blanks it and then there is no photograph or blanks to be filled in it presents a different challenge.

I also feel more confident that now his protests of "I learned this already" or "I already know this" are just that.  Protests.  I know I went more in-depth with the material than a typical grade school classroom covers.  I did this to make sure we weren't just going over things he already knew.  As a result, the tests were extremely challenging, but only if he hadn't paid attention to the material we covered.  If he'd just filled in his worksheets and blew off his review then he was going to struggle.  He has bragged since we started home school last year that in school he never did a single review and he passed every test.  As most of us can recall, that sets up a bad study habit when you do get into Jr High and High School.   So he filled in the questions on his review but he didn't study the review sheets.  He was above reviewing.  Hopefully these two tests taught him something about using the materials you are given wisely in the future and thinking you don't have to do something important.

After going over both of his low test scores with him in class and giving him back his review sheets, I allowed him to retest today.  I'm happy to say he passed with flying colors and didn't take nearly as long to do them.  I think what had frustrated me the most was on the first tests he would simply skip a 10 point question like drawing the rock cycle.  I explained it would be much better to have given me a partial drawing than nothing at all because then he could have gotten at least some of the points for it.  

I'm glad tomorrow is Friday!  I feel like we have both earned our weekend this week - especially since he's testing in Math tomorrow.  (Refer to my post last year about cookies, though instead of those he and I will be making zucchini bread.  He wasn't thrilled about learning how to do this project but he did the garden with us this summer for his scouting badge and I thought this would be a great chance for him to get some life skills/home ec in by helping me prep the zucchini and baking the breads to freeze.  We will be using Grandma's recipe and I will have to do a follow up post to let you know it turns out!)

Oh and for the curious have a peek at our test, modify it, and feel free to use with your students: Test is Here

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Rocks are Fun!

For science we have been studying rocks and minerals.  This is one of those areas where we have gone more in depth than he covered in 3rd grade.  He hasn't been exactly enthusiastic.  "It's just rocks, mom."

So we made a visit to the Planetarium last week.  He thought it was a cool way to get some Science credit for school and play with some demonstrations.  He never knew my secret ninja plan.  I even happily agreed to let him browse the gift shop and purchase a little bag of pretty, polished rocks.  All along I was searching for my secret weapon.  I found it.  Purchased it with his rocks.  Brought it home and put it away quietly for this week.

Yesterday, I pulled it out.

Yes, it is a simple little test kit with some mineral samples.  To a boy it is fun in a box.  For about 10.00 your son's eyes will light up for an hour.  He will run all of the tests on the rocks but the most fun is when you let him break it for the cleavage/fracture test.  We saved a couple of minerals in tact for test day but for the most part I just let him have fun as he filled in his chart.
A copy of the chart we used can be found here: Mineral Chart
We also used this guide

It also had me look up our local minerals and rocks.  I am hoping to take a Saturday trip and collect a few of our state's rocks/minerals to bring home and sample.  This should be a fun way to entertain the family for a day without breaking the bank.

Oh and if you are wondering the outcome of the story, did mom win? Yes, yes she did.  After breaking a few rocks, I asked him if science was fun.  His answer? "Yes!"

Monday, September 3, 2012

Our First Month Back in School

Things have gone very well so far this school year.  I do really love teaching my son.  Every day is a new journey or adventure for us.

For reading we've started reading Anne of Green Gables.  He trusts my judgement in choosing our novel to read and discuss for class.  I encouraged him to help me select and when he didn't I went with an old classic.  I have also been working on developing a guide for how to use this novel in your home school classroom.  It has several questions, a writing journal question, ways to use an art journal, tie in's with history/geography classes, and vocabulary word lists.

Math we are still doing prep work for pre Alegbra and learning our % conversions, etc.

History we started from the beginning of America and have talked about the first people to come into the United States which has led us to a unit of studies on various Indian groups.  I loved these studies as a child and the most ironic thing has happened while we were studying the Indians.  I was also working on a family tree in my spare time at a popular genealogy website.  
Through my subscription I am able to link with other members who also have genetic links on my family tree.  I began studying something and discovered that one of my great grandmother's relatives had also done some research on her family line.  Her mother was full blooded Cherokee.
This sort of tied in the unit of studies we have been doing and really lit my fire for not only teaching, but learning about this.  We are also planning to tie this in with his scout troop and the Indian Lore badge.
I really want to share a few of my favorite websites with you for this:
Indian Sign Language

In science last year we studied a lot about biology and I wasn't really clear on what he knew about the other sciences.  So I took us back to the basics here as well hoping to build from the ground up in the educational process.   He groaned a little and informed he knew all about minerals and rocks, rock cycles, etc.  I told him to humor me.  By lesson three he discovered he may have learned something about them in school but he was not as all knowing as he had led mom to believe.  He was not aware of the minerals having a formula name, what the formula name meant, or the charts and table graphs.  The moral here?  An old dog can always learn new tricks or ways to do those tricks!
One of my favorite science resources

I'm also in the planning stages to teach a local class on baby sitting for my son and the older children in the local home school group.  We will cover early childhood development, basics of caring for a baby and small children, and so much more.  I'm excited about this project and look forward to getting everything planned out in the next week or two.  I just have to cross my fingers there are enough children that want to learn this type of thing.

Now that I've told you all about our first month of school, what are you studying with your children this year?  Is there anything you are excited to learn more about with them?