Friday, August 3, 2012

Homeschool Mother's Journal 8/3/12

It's Funny How During the Summer Friday is just like any other day!
But I'm glad it's Friday, anyway!  TGIF!
In My Life This Week...
I am finally checking "Clean the Windows" off of my mental to do list!  I don't usually write lists; they are all in my head!  This one stayed in my head for about 2 years!  It actually doesn't look foggy out my windows anymore!  Yeah! for willing helpers!
 It was so cool Tuesday morning that we enjoyed all the washing while still in our PJ's.  Gotta love living in the country!

The boys shared in washing the screens!  

In Our Homeschool This Week...
We are enjoying watching the Olympics together.  The boys were not thrilled when I told them they had to do this Olympic project together but came around when I reminded them that it counts as a day of school when they get it done.  Once they got started, all 3 kids enjoyed working on this giant lapbook poster together. 
Helpful Advice or Tips to Share...
I shouldn't be the one offering tips or advice!  I have missed one child's dentist appointment and another child's doctor appointment all in the last 2 weeks!

I am Inspired By...
Our 13 year old son and 11 other kids fron our church spent a whole week in Pittsburgh assisting elderly and disabled folks with repairs and yardwork!  When my son returned he said, "Mom, we should have stayed longer; there is still so much to do!"

 Caleb still has tan paint in his hair!

Places We've Been And People We Hung Out With...
I thoroughly enjoyed my week at church camp last week!  I was worried that my 40 year old, out of shape body wouldn't be able to keep up with the kids for the week, but I lived and got to see two of my sweet little campers come to Christ!  I am having a hard time narrowing down which of the over 200 pics I want to share...hope I don't bore you with pics!  BTW, our kids go to camp at Michindoh, in Hillsdale, MI.  It is the GREATEST facility for our denomination to hold camp!
I had the 10 BEST, Sweetest, Campers in my cabin!
Have you ever watched someone on "The Blob" before?  This is Ked. He was one of the tallest guys at camp so he was a favorite to blob others smaller than him.  His brother Kurt blobbed me and yes, there are pics but not on my camera!  They may surface some day!  I went flying off the blob with my arms flailing and landed right on my back!  I can still hear the smack!
The Blob and water slide sure do make free time extra FUN! On the last full day of camp I drank a cherry Pepsi, ate Pop Rocks Candy and hung out at the water slide!  Who wants to return to reality of cooking and laundry after that?!  This is not what church camp was like when I went as a kid!  They also put air conditioning in all of the cabins earlier this summer!  Yeah for AC and showers right in our cabins!

Some of my sweeties going off to dinner.
Josh was racing his counselor in this pic and WON!
Carolyn Jumping onto the Blob!
Besides all the fun we had, our speakers were fabulous and lots of kids heard the Gospel and many responded to it! 
We had so much fun playing the evening games that more than one adult went home bruised and sore!  One even went home on crutches!  Yes, that would be one adult!  :O)
My Favorite Thing This Week was...
Spending time with my daughter painting her bedroom.  She announced last summer that she was too old for princesses and Dora.  This summer she needed a new look as well, so we are painting it for her birthday.  It went from pastel pink and purple to shocking neon, lime green and a very bold turquoise!  I'll post pics when it's done!I can't believe my baby will be nine in less than 2 weeks!

What's Working For Us...(Or at least I hope it's helpful in the weeks and months to come...)
I'm so glad I took the time this week to go through my kids new texts for the new school year.  I penned in red ink each page where it's time for a test, worksheet or quiz.  It's hard to keep pace during the year and not miss them, especially the quizzes.  We may not (probably won't) do all of the activities and quizzes but the heads up knowing its time to do them will be helpful.

Questions and Thoughts...
I'm so sad this week over all the name calling and decisiveness over the whole Chick Fil A thing.  Seriously, some people are just being nasty!  I can really see this as a foreshadowing of attitudes during the end times.  Its kind of scary.

I'm Reading... 
Philippians again.  I am so sleepy when I read in the morning, so I am reading it again.  There is just too much good stuff to apply to my life to gloss over in a sleepy stupor.

"Say to This Mountain" by, Bodie Thoene

I'm Cooking...
Well, I've picked about 50 tomatoes so far so I'll be cooking lots of tomato sauce this weekend.  Anyone know if it freezes as well as it cans?  I'm not in the mood to can it.  I'm also looking for a good spaghetti sauce recipe too.

I'm Grateful for...
so many things...
  • My van hasn't died yet! It has over 220,000 miles and she hasn't completely given up yet.
  • A God who provides.  Going from 2 professional incomes to one and me getting some part time work is frustrating, but God is good!
  • My husband!  He did ALL of our camp laundry so I could nap and rest last weekend after we returned.
 I'm Praying For...
The upcoming school year.
Ways to teach my kids what's really important in life.

A Picture (or two or three...) :O) To Share...
We had fun making this multiplication shuffle board game with the blue painter's tape from my daughter's room.  We used juice and Gatorade and milk jug lids for the "pucks" or whatever they're called.  We put a number, 2 - 9, on each of them.  In the shuffle board triangle we put X2, X5, X10, or X100 in each space.  The kids have to slide all the pucks across the kitchen floor and then add all their points by multiplying the score on the puck X the number in the space.  So far Carolyn is beating me by over 1,000 points!

 Just two more!  Thanks to my friends at Hodgepodge, I was inspired to hang this old map in our dining school room.  I saw the pics of their classroom and remembered that we have had this old map in our garage for a few years!  I have always wanted a blind of some sort for this window but just never got one.  

Our school room is no way near as cool as theirs, but I do LOVE the way the map "glows" when the sun is shining in from the west!

Notice the two parakeets on the top left?  I took this pic on Tuesday and that's the day we let them out to fly!  They love hanging out on the top of the window watching over us.  
They just better not poo on my map!

Blessings to you as you move forward into the 2012 - 13 school year!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Overcoming Disappointments

While trying to think of a title for this post, many options ran through my mind, but after a talk with a dear friend this morning, I was convinced that we are not the only family to face the daily disappointments associated with having a kiddo on the autism spectrum. And the title stuck. Overcoming disappointments. It's something I have to do every day.

These disappointments range anywhere from Caleb not meeting developmental milestones to more personal disappointments such as his not wanting to belong to a family at times.  Every day brings a new disappointment.  Every day I am given a new chance to shed grace on a person who just doesn't know how to get along with the human race. 

Why am I disappointed today?  Well today's disappointments were predicted months ago when we realized that his mission trip and my going to church camp with the other two kids were back to back weeks! There is always a fallout for him upon making major routine changes and going to Pittsburgh for a week followed by a week with no mom or siblings home are MAJOR changes. 

Caleb spent the week before last serving elderly and handicapped people in Pittsburgh while we enjoyed a week of ridiculously easy parenting. While he was serving, sweating and painting in the rain, we went to a minor league baseball game, went on walks and played board games with NO emotional outbursts or tantrums.  I seriously think it was my calmest week of the past 13 years!  

Back to today, I am still recovering from being a 40 year old who thoroughly enjoyed all the child centered fun at camp!  I am still exhausted, bruised and sore!  But, even though I am tired, none of the 10 campers in my cabin had emotional breakdowns to the degree that we deal with at home.  Loving two homesick little girls was a piece of cake compared to the homecoming at my house the past few days.

Today, I came home to a son who didn't want to eat a single meal with his family.  Meals are family time at our house and even if the kids aren't hungry, they come to the table for family time and conversation.  But not today!  Caleb is not assimilated back into family life yet.  Did any of the other teens on the mission trip take days to assimilate back into their family?  Did any of the other kids need days to want to be part of a family again?  Did any of the rest of the kids scream and refuse to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics because they were not ready to join the family yet?  

Did any of the moms come home to such extreme parenting that the past two weeks seemed like a dream?  I know how much all of the camp staff love Camp Blast and we are a little bummed to have to return to reality that awaits at home, But how many dreaded what they knew re-entry into family life would be like?  I feel guilty for enjoying the past two weeks so much.  I feel guilty for wanting parenting to be easier.  I feel guilty for seeing other kids I would like to have.  

And, those were just this weekend's emotions.  Those were just today's disappointments.  Disappointments are a daily part of mothering a special needs child and can be consuming if we let them. The daily grief can eat at me like a cancer if I let it fester.  That's when I have a choice to make.  

Will I let grief and disappointment eat away at me or learn to see my child as God sees him? 

The latter is much more difficult.

I have to daily force myself to look past how the world sees my son.  I have to look past my own expectations of him. I can't let what I want for him to get in the way of what God wants for him.  I wanted an oldest son who was a leader in his family and school.  My son needs leaders to follow.  My son had to leave his school to survive.  

One of the disappointments we have had to work through is grieving the fact that school didn't work for Caleb.  He will never make honor roll and have his name in the paper. (Then again I bet our small town paper would print our homeschool honor roll if we asked them too!) He will never letter in a sport and wear a letter jacket.  He will never be the lead in a school play or march in the state finals for band. Those were dreams we didn't expect him to achieve because we don't place all of our success as parents in having popular school successful kids, but at the same time, we still grieve the fact that he will never have even the chance to do the things that we did. 

Then again we know that God has led us to a school option that is giving him the BEST chance for his life.  AND we are totally OK with that choice.

That's when our change in perspective comes in.  Can we reconcile what we want for our kids with what God wants?  Can we be content with the fact that success in God's eyes for our family may not be success in the traditional sense.  Can we trust that the path God has led on on is for our best?  Can we trust that homeschooling and all of the other non-traditional parenting we have to do is part of a bigger plan than we imagined?

We have to force ourselves to look to the future.  To trust that God is doing a mighty work in our kids that no school or even we could accomplish?  Can we trust Him?  That trust is what now fuels our daily lives?  That trust is something we didn't have in our lives before Caleb.  Before Asperger's became part of our lives.  Before we turned our son and other children over to Him.  

Do we still grieve?  Of course!  God made us so full of emotional experiences that we feel both the grief as well as the successes.  Success for us just looks different that it used to.  

Success now is completely measured in terms of achieving God's goals. We threw ours away with the labels our kids don't have to be daily reminded of anymore. (Hence, the title of this blog.) We are following his plans and not looking back. (Well, at least we're trying not to look back!)  Not comparing ourselves to other families and other kids.  Again, trying not to!

Success for us has developed a completely eternal perspective.  Here is a quote from Caleb upon returning from his week of serving in Pittsburgh, "Mom, we shouldn't have left.  There's so much more to do!"  What more could a mom ask for?!  The kid has an amazing heart to serve others!  God is surely developing this in him for an eternal purpose.

Am I grieved that Caleb may not even meet some of his own lifelong dreams? Of course! He may never be a meteorologist in the professional since.  His grades may prevent him from doing that on a career level. But, could God have another plan? Of that I am certain!  

Am I confused that he has a compulsive urge to "drain" the driveway and channel the water to certain places in the yard EVERY time it rains? Sure! How weird is that? He even landscapes his lakes and reservoirs in his sandbox! For Caleb the sandbox and the hose with water running full speed are inseparable. They are his haven.

But, could God want to use him in Africa to dig wells and irrigate crops?  Absolutely!  Caleb talks about wanting to live in another country. "Anywhere where Americans don't try to make me fit in."  Do I grieve his not fitting in?  Sure, what mom wants their kid to be an outcast.  But do I grieve him serving in a way God is preparing him? No Way!  

So, today, I grieve.  Today I am disappointed. BUT today, I can overcome grief and disappointment because I can trust that God is good.  All the time.  God is in control, not me.  

I can rest in the fact that I have a teenager who does not want to be like everyone else.  I have a teenager who does not want to fit in with the latest fads and trends. I have a teenager whom God is preparing to do a mighty work if only I keep out of the way and let God have his way with him.  

Will I still grieve in the moments of disappointments?  Yep, I'm only human. But I am excited to sit back and watch what God is up to in the years to come.  Why has he made my son so different from all the other boys his age?  I'm not sure yet, but I'm trusting that He knows what he is doing and I can't wait to see what the future holds for Caleb.