Sunday, September 17, 2017

Receiving The Diagnosis (Or Finding the Answers You Need)



















In complete shock.

That's how I felt when I got the news...

______________



The last six months have been hard.
Many aspects of that "hard" are simply the 2 facts that:
I am parenting seven children, and I have three younger ones!

..and teenagers...let's not get started ;)

However, today, I will share an aspect of that hard journey
and a peek into my heart.

______________


Facing difficulties can also be seen as opportunities.
Opportunities for God to come through.

And to remind us that there is always hope for our future.

That is what I'm choosing to see this chapter of my life as.
A great big -freakin' hard-but rewarding opportunity.



"There is surely a future hope for you,
    and your hope will not be cut off."

Proverbs 23:18








_________________________


When yourself or your child face difficulties of any kind,
usually our first response is to "buck up" & keep on keepin' on.

While perseverance definitely has its merits,
what about the circumstances
that don't simply disappear?

What about the situations where something in your gut feels off,
but you can't quite put your finger one it.

Hindsight, of course, is 20/20
but I choose to give myself grace in that
I can only act on the information that I currently have.

____________________

None of my children had that eventful of a birth.
Really, very little out of the ordinary.

There weren't any diagnosises given at birth.

Over the years we did see a few minor learning issues crop up,
but again, there wasn't anything noteworthy at the time.

Some of my kids had high energy levels, but again, I didn't really think much of it.

Some of them had memory issues ("I just said that!") but again, not overly noticeable.

Some of them have stuggled with disorganization,
but I'm myself a "neat nik" so who am I to render a balanced judgment?

Many children  (and adults!) struggle with these traits,
so on their own they don't necessarily say anything.

However, put together they could be seen as part of a bigger picture.

The last noted marker we noted was experiencing intense emotions
& the unique ability to hyperfocus on something that grabs interest.

Some of you may already know where this is going...


________________


At the markers started to add up, we talked to other parents with similar children.
Some parents had shared how they had pursued answers,
 and once we acquired some leads, we decided to inquire about rates for 

That is the big "Bertha" of assessing for learning issues & related disorders.
It is also VERY expensive. 

Although we had partial coverage (thankfully!), we still had to pay out of 
pocket about $900. 

So, we had to put it off for awhile until we had the money saved,
but finally the testing could begin.

It included handing in past report cards, a self-assessment, a parental assessment,
teacher assessment (if applicable; we only used past report cards) & 
an approx. 3 hour test between the child & assessor.

That was last year, and we were very pleased with the depth of
the answers we received.

The results were very clear.


_________________________



Suddenly I'm holding the test results & walking in a Dollarama.
And all I can say is I felt like I was floating.

Not in some dreamy mystical way, but that I was in shock.

Disbelief.

I mean it all made sense now.

Kinda, sorta.

I felt like everything that was familiar to me was...
well, it wasn't.

I felt overwhelmed because I then realized some of my other children
also seemed to have a few of the traits.

Based on the current research that is out there

And I now began to see various traits "sticking out" to me in all
directions of our family tree.

Even some of the characteristics I saw in myself.

______________________


The assessor did say that much of the population displays various aspects
 of ADHD, and that's why so many have a hard time with the label being used
as an "excuse" (in their opinion) for children's (or adult's) negative behaviour.

However, she reminded me that the key to making a
definitive diagnosis is that these attributes are:

1) pervasive enough that they effect more than one area of their life &
Some people do "outgrow" it (or find ways to cope/compensate as we all do
with our given weaknesses), but not all.

My Doctor even told me that she has seen many doing well by the age of 40.
Well, I had to chuckle at that one.

That seems a LONG way off for any child.

_______________

Nonetheless, the journey into this 'foreign' new world of
special needs, whether invited or not, has come our way.

Our schedule has profoundly changed.

Our educational plan has changed.

Our goals have changed.

The way we allocate our finances has changed.

Some of our social circles have changed (very naturally; people tend to
gravitate to others in the 'same boat').

For the most part it has, thankfully, widened :)

___________________

Exploring these difficulties can be time consuming.
It's also often costly.

Many times we don't want to expend the energy, or even know where to start.

If you yourself are facing a difficult situation with your child and
are not sure what the next step is, I'd encourage you to speak with
the appropriate professional.

For us, it was the assessor mentioned above, and then
communication with our Dr.

Depending on the age of the child, there are (usually)
many resources available in any given community.

I was fortunate enough to even find other professionals
that have proved helpful.

Bonus, I stumbled upon a great parental support group.
The only group I've ever been in where I didn't
feel like I was the worst mother in the world
(due to my child's behaviour on a difficult day).

Yep, seriously.

We are now entering a season of further assessment for
another child for a different medical issue.

Often when it rains, it tends to pour.

Nonetheless, I am finding much hope in this season.

Answers have come, and are continuing to do so.

Compassion has grown, and I hope continues to do so.

Understanding.

More patience when child "x" acts out
(most days...I'm still growing).

Most importantly, we need to surround ourselves with 'safe' people.
People (and professionals) who we can talk to about anything
 pertaining to how this new diagnosis will affect us & our families.




_______________


My plan over the new few blog posts is to share
more of my journey.

While I will not share personal details, ages, or names
with you (& please, I won't discuss those in person either),
 I will describe how this very difficult journey
has FORCED helped me to learn & grow.

Sometimes "imposed" life circumstances are the best teachers in life.

Unfortunately...

& yet, they can also be rewarding opportunities when
we choose to learn what we need to, and pass
along that info & hope to others :)

___________


This post may have contained some affiliate links. 
Which means that if you purchase from an affiliate link, 
we receive a very small commission. This is at NO cost to you.

Thank you for supporting our family :)






Sunday, March 12, 2017

5 Reasons To Attend A Homeschool Convention








I still recall my first convention attended in the researching phase
of our homeschool journey.

It was grand and inspiring, and intimidating all in one nutshell!

There were people of all sorts, ages, and although it was mainly
women in attendance, a smattering of men joined the ranks,
as well as some teenagers.

I left realizing that although most days I may "feel" 
alone in our journey, while I'm schooling on the outskirts of town,
 I actually am part of a growing trend.

In order to combat any negative challenges, we homeschoolers may have of:
isolation, loneliness, increased stress, pressure on finances,
less relaxation time for the teaching parent, sibling conflicts, etc. etc.
I believe that being around other homeschooling families is of
of great benefit.

It's also a fantastic way for those researching this way of life,
to see if this, in fact, might be something their particular child is up
for, and how they feel about it as a parent who will have to
be responsible for their child's tailored education.





______________







Five Great Reasons to Consider Attending a
Homeschool Convention


1) Researching your curriculum

Curriculum choices for homeschooling are almost
as limitless as the children who use them!

There are so many diverse materials out there
(both online & in print) that range from 
offering full parental teaching support to 
students completing the work on their own,
even sometimes being marked by an outsourced teacher. 

With the myriad of options that are out there,
 I find it wholeheartedly worthwhile
to get my hands on the curriculum and peruse it,
being able to pick the owner's brains on how to get 
the full benefit of it, and who it might
be best suited for.

With access to the vendor hall being included 
in your registration fee, that alone can 
sometimes be worth the cost.

One fair warning: do not let yourself
be intimidated by the vendors. Some vendors
do use high-pressure sales tactic (however, most don't)
so just be polite and have a catch phrase ready to use.

I find, "I'm just looking around, thanks." usually suffices :)



2) Investing in your child's education

Any professional career that I'm aware of requires you to 
take advantage of opportunities to develop yourself.
Whether it's done through their training structure
or outsourced, this is seen as bringing beneficial
assets to your company.

For the homeschooling parent, it is often said that
we don't need a higher education to teach.
Which, in many ways, is true.

Fail proof educational options given either online
or in curriculum sets, offer an array of choices
for both educated and parents who have struggled 
academically alike.

However, I am a personal believer in developing
ourselves in any area that we strive to do our best in.

A convention offers us an opportunity to expose ourselves
to new ideas, new ways of teaching, new theories, concepts or goals
that are being explored in the homeschooling community.

I don't see it as simply a couple days to "get away from the kids" 
(although there's that bonus, no doubt), but I see it as personal 
investment in my chosen "career" at this time: homeschooling parent.




3) To connect with others

During the busy season of homeschooling,
it can be difficult to meet new families that
also, find themselves in the same boat as you.

Even in a typical month where we participate
in a local co-op, or take part in a fun field trip or two,
the quality discussions between adults
are usually minimal with the kids in tow.

Since a convention is limited to adult 
participants, maybe a nursing baby tagging along,
it is far far easier to make time for a tea or snack
with another parent to encourage and connect
with one another.

My first year I knew very few families 
with which to make that connection, but
there was a "newcomer's" corner I found
myself in, spilling my heart out to another
experienced homeschooling mother.

The subsequent years, I've found myself
between seminar sessions, meeting up with 
various friends in the cafe, sharing our dreams,
challenges and choosing to uplift one another.



4) To be inspired

Probably the number one reason I hear
cited on why parents attend a homeschooling convention is
this: the dynamic seminars and workshops they offer!

I know that I was ecstatic when I recently saw our local convention's
released schedule for this year's event.


It was peppered with some really good (and assorted) topics:

*special needs 

*dual income

*single parenting

*high school

*real mom sharing type panels

*legal issues in homeschooling

*inspiration for marriage, leadership and the like

I printed out the posted list and began
systematically circling my "must hear" category
of seminars. 

It really got me excited to glean from this year's speakers!!!

These are the 'meat and potatoes' of any convention, 
and offer great value for your registration fee.

Most of the speakers are experienced in their field,
and can offer a wealth of knowledge.

Others are speaking directly from their lives,
but I have always personally gleaned MUCH from
any class I've attended.



5) To remind yourself of why you began...

Like anything in life, there is the honeymoon stage,
which is at some point followed by reality setting in.

Our homeschooling journey has included many highs
and lows, as well as many in-betweens.

Life isn't always a party, and my kids (and I) have
quickly realized that although we can take a few
more field trips than a typical school,
at some point, the book work has to be cracked
open...daily discipline becomes part of the equation.

I know the reasons why we began to homeschool,
and here are a few of them:

*dissatisfied with the public school system

*wanting a tailored education for our children

*helping our children to pursue their interests

However, during some of the more challenging times, 
I've had to remind myself of the "why" more often than not.


Going to a homeschooling convention can help you rekindle
and help you stay focused along the way.





_____________


Homeschooling, as I've alluded to above,
can be a rewarding, but sometimes stressful lifestyle.

One book that I've read many positive reviews on
addresses this stress: "Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler's
Guide To Unshakeable Peace"

I haven't personally read it yet, but I ordered it 
yesterday with our quarterly book order.

I've heard enough feedback to know that
this book sounds very impactful.

 I look forward to reading it for myself :)

Get yours today by clicking on the image below!


Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to  Unshakable Peace

________________


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This post may have contained some affiliate links. 
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we receive a very small commission. This is at NO cost to you.


Thank you for supporting our family :)


















Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Parenting Through Stressful Situations










I feel like I could write a chapter book on parenting through stress.

I've parented through some pretty intense situations, 

When I had my firstborn, I was not a natural mom at all!
I was a young, inexperienced mother who wasn't too sure of anything...

I remember changing those first diapers and trying to get
the groove of showering again plus coordinate with a
fussy baby and his feeding schedule. It seemed an insurmountable
uphill battle, that finally eased up over time.

As baby number two came along, there were the sleepless nights again, 
and this time trying to put together a decent work schedule (albeit part-time), 
and then return to university to finish my degree
PLUS care for two demanding little ones...

Then after number three and four came...there were the stresses of a new life
in marriage and new neighborhood. Positive changes yes, but I still recall
all the getting to know you years all while dealing with pregnancy sickness
and babies, tots... and children in school.

We thought we'd have only ONE more...
however, we gained three more children of the "deal"!

So, number FIVE, SIXand SEVEN came fairly close together. 
Each one is 17 months apart from the one next to them. 
Three babies within three years!

and I'm battling to keep my eyes open ;
(but trust me, writing is cathartic so I continue)

All throughout these seasons we've also dealt with the "normal" stresses
 that often come with young families: unexpected financial burdens,
 pressures at work, difficult seasons of parenting
 (like the toddler stage or the transition to becoming a teen).

And for us, there's been a few unexpected additions in our journey: 
chronic sickness, fighting depression during most of my pregnancies 
(and post-partum after the last one), dealing with unique educational needs 
and testing, and loss of some of our support systems that we had had in preceding years.

I realize that our journeys are not necessarily going to be the same. 

Nonetheless, one thing I can tell you though is this, 
when you are parenting through stressful situations 
there are many steps we can take that will help keep us 
balanced and on track.


________________



For a long time, I have not liked that scripture!!!

My husband has used it in rough times to quote to me, and basically said, 
"Buckle down Rachael, whether you like it or not you can't give up now."

I know it's true, and I know it's a great scripture, 
but in that moment of such intense pressure, I often feel like I can barely take any more...

The babies are crying, the phone is ringing, the supper is still not made,
 I'm in my PJs, the teens are discontented and being disrespectful, 
the kids are bickering, and it always seems that it's in those 
moments that the worst bombshell will drop...

The bombshell has come in many forms, but regardless of how it comes, 
you know in that moment you have two choices:

1) have a big fit (whether on the outside or the inside)

...maybe even feel like running away from it all...anyone else ever been there??

OR

2) Breathe deeply and pray for wisdom. It's the stop and pause response. 

Talk to yourself and say, yes this does look hard 
(maybe even downright impossible depending on the situation), 
but step-by-step I/we can get through this crisis with Christ's help.

Sometimes, I admit, I do a combo of 1 & 2.

However, I'm learning more often than not, that stressful situations come, and
then they go...


No More Perfect Moms  -     By: Jill Savage
_________________________


Learning to Surrender:

This for me has been the most difficult life lesson that I still battle.

How do you surrender control under the pressure??
How do you go beyond saying "I can do all things through Christ.."
 or "Trust in Me with all your heart..." to really living like you mean it?

I'm not always sure of the answer, but a few things I have learned along the way...

a) you are never going to know all the answers no matter how much you try

b) it is never going to make total sense no matter how much you attempt to "figure" it out

c) free will is both a gift and a "curse"

By curse, I mean that others have the same free will 
to choose good or bad as you do.
And sometimes those choices will cause you
to experience great amounts of pain...

And sometimes, even our choices will cause others pain (even if unintentionally), 
so we better learn how to forgive and show grace...
cuz we're gonna need it too!


 Although He will not always give us all the answers,
 if we surrender our hearts to Him, 
He will give us the strength we need for the journey.

_________________



There is probably nothing greater than having wisdom in a stressful situation.

Whether it be:

Wisdom from His Word.

Wisdom from prayer time (He may drop a thought you hadn't previously thought of)

Wisdom from others who have gone before you.

(i.e. talk to those who will give sound advice, not just say what you want to hear).


No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids for Who They Are    -     By: Jill Savage, Kathy Koch

___________________


Let go of what YOU think others expect from you.

Let go of what you expect from yourself (when it is unreasonable).

Let go of trying to keep up a certain image.

Let go of unhealthy relationships.

That may include limiting the time you spend with people
who don't support you where you're at, and add to the pressure.

_______________________


Allow yourself permission, to be honest, and ask for help when prompted.

This has probably been the toughest change I've made.
Whenever someone used to offer help, 
I'd always say thanks, but no thanks, we've got this...

One day while lamenting in a marriage counseling session
about how difficult things were going for us with the new baby, 
the counselor challenged us to take help whenever it was offered. 

He asked us why we thought they were offering in the first place.
Of course, they were most likely wanting to help!

I admitted that I thought they were only being polite. 
Same thinking that my spouse had.

He challenged us to take people at their word, 
and if they back out after you give them a few examples
 of help you need, then that will be on their own conscience 
(well, of course, they may not actually be able to help OR 
they may have indeed just said that to be polite, 
but that's not on us to "pre-decide")

So, we both ventured out and started to do that...

It was humiliating at first.

A few people did flat out take back their offers when they saw
we were truly receptive to their good wishes...
but many said they really would be honored to help us in any small way they could. 
So, I learned to keep a few suggestions in mind 
(a meal, or take a child or two for a playdate, or 
if they could genuinely keep us in prayer for something specific).

Interestingly, I also started to change the way I offered help to others (it's a two-way street, right?!).

Instead of just saying a general, "How can I help?" when I see someone else 'drowning' in their present life circumstances, I have learned to offer specifics of what
I can do in this season to help them, and give 2 or 3 options for them to think on.

___________________________

So, let's do a quick recap:

The bottom line is that when you are parenting through a stressful situation
it is imperative that you don't get freaked out. 

That you take a moment in those intensely pressurized situations 
to relax, breathe, pray and tell yourself it will be okay.

 Then you need to seek out the right wisdom and
learn to let go of any unrealistic expectations. 
Be gentle with yourself, and with others.

Lastly, that you learn to take help when it's offered, 
and offer it genuinely when you see someone else in need.

Don't forget that difficult seasons don't last forever!
Better days are ahead.

___________________


If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you know how much I enjoy
& appreciate author, Jill Savage...

Well, she's released a new book!! 

"No More Perfect Marriages"  looks like an absolutely fantastic companion
to her two previous amazing reads: "No More Perfect Kids" & "More Perfect Moms"

Get yours today by clicking on the picture below!

No More Perfect Marriages: Experience the Freedom of Being Real Together  -     By: Jill Savage, Mark Savage


______________________



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This post may have contained some affiliate links. 
Which means that if you purchase from an affiliate link, 
we receive a very small commission. This is at NO cost to you.


Thank you for supporting our family :)

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