Thursday, May 7, 2015

Listen to that still, small voice

A 504 Plan is not a document looking for favoritism or a hand-out. It's not a plan to bail on required assignments. It's not a green light to be irresponsible. What it is, is a service agreement to accommodate for some special needs. These services are to aid the student in helping them become successful. How do we define successful? I guess each home has a different definition. In our home, it is a 70% or better.

ELEVEN YEARS. Amanda was diagnosed with ADD eleven years ago. She has difficulty focusing and retaining information. She has difficulty maintaining organization as well.

I can relate. I have ADD also.

Of course when you are struggling through school in the 80's, there isn't an explanation. It's "you're not paying attention", "Daydreamer"  Or "you're lazy". I think that ADD kids hear that so much that they start believing they are lazy.

In the early 90's, I entered the corporate world. I struggled because I had no computer experience, no medical background and no insurance experience. The trainer told me the one time "You don't pay attention. You don't ask questions!" I was so mad. I had so much information going through my head that it was hard to focus on the current material. I couldn't even ask a question because how do you ask a question about something that you can't even understand!?

I worked hard. And several years later, I found my self accepting a position as a trainer.

I soon discovered that training and teaching is the same thing. I also recognized that not everyone learned the same way. I asked the new hires to tell me what HMO stood for. On the next page, I asked the new hires to tell me the acronym for Health Maintenance Organization. It seemed so obvious but people got these questions incorrect.

We don't all learn the same way.

I am teaching Daniel about The Pythagorean Theorem (a squared plus b squared equals c squared).

I read the text. I look at the problem. I look at the answer in the back of the book and then I work from there. I teach it to myself first working from the answer to get the problem, in a sense. It's hard. But what satisfaction I have when I don't check the back of the book and I figured it out!

I don't think math is hard. I think maybe it's how it is taught. Specifically who is teaching it to you.

I understand ADD. I know if you have it also after a few conversations. I recognize it because I live it. All four of us live it.

So when I work hard to get my kids on track and the home access system reflects all work is up to date, I am pleased. I didn't say the grades were good. But all work is completed. NO ZEROS is the rule!

However, if I am blind-sided and at the final hour new assignments and ZEROS are entered, I AM LIVID! I need to know the assignments are missing and then I can get on the kid's back until they are completed. The consequence for ZEROS or basically a class grade under 70% is NO PHONE!

That is what motivates both of them. So that's what I am rolling with.

Yesterday, I was angry for two hours and then crying for two hours. These darn hormones! I am on the verge of tears all the time. It's going to be a long ten plus years I believe.

After praying and knowing that if everything worked out perfectly every minute of the day, then we wouldn't have the need to call on Jesus, I decide that I need to read.

I need you. Lord, I need you. Every hour I need you. My one defense. My righteousness. Oh God how I need you!

How many times have you heard me cry out God please take this?! I love Plumb.

Singing hymns while in prison. What else can we do?!

Oh, read my Bible or a devo. I chose a devo from my "365 Moments of Peace for a Woman's Heart:

"The Good Life" Good people can look forward to a bright future. Proverbs 13:9 

What makes for a good life? Laughter and happy times come to mind. You might also be thinking of those times you did the right thing without worrying about what the future would bring. In those positive moments, God steps in with words of comfort and assurance. He praises us for following his commandments and gives us the strength to keep on going. Then  he adds a promise. He tells us to look forward to tomorrow with hope and expectation. He says we can get excited about the future. Rest in the peace of knowing you're doing the right thing. And smile, because the best is yet to come.

I know the thoughts that I think toward  you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

God in heaven: When things look hopeless to me, help me look to you for my hope. In you alone I put my trust. Amen.


Amanda's life verse. What are the odds that on May 6th, that would be the verse? Coincidence you are thinking? How many verses are in the Bible? I don't know BUT...

There are 929 chapters in the Old Testament and 260 chapters in the New Testament. This gives a total of 1,189 chapters (on average, 18 per book).

I would say that the odds are pretty slim. That verse is an answer to prayer from my personal Savior.

And again I am encouraged because God's got this. I don't have to worry for her. He has a future planned for her. One that is better than I could ever imagine. When God is for me who can be against me?

Today is a new day. I am still rocked by hormones but I am not alone. Listen, neither are you!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

What do you do all day?

I am sure that is a question that many of us Stay at Home Moms have heard for years. I know that it's a question for Daniel now that he is Home Schooled. Maybe it's even a question you are having.

Do you have a schedule? Do you let him sleep all day and stay up all night? Is he playing video games all day? How many hours is he sitting at the table doing work? Does he have to take Standardized tests? Do you have to test him? Do you have to prove something to someone? Do  you lesson plan? How do you do this with a two year old?

I don't know what your questions are. So leave a comment and I will address them.

  1. No, we don't have a written schedule. We have a routine. It is very loose.
  2. He does not have a bed time. I encourage him to go to bed by 10 pm. I think he is asleep by 10:30.
  3. I do not wake him in the morning. He is asleep at 8 am when I leave for Roberts. So I believe he is getting at least 9 to 10 hours of sleep each night. He is not waking up tired.
  4. He has not been playing Xbox at all. I guess that might have just been a winter thing. He does play Clash of Clans on his phone. He likes to watch YouTube on his phone also.
  5. He doesn't sit at the table at all. There is not a time constraint with Home School. I just have to complete the year (which was 48 days). I am following the same calendar he was on. He will finish on June 12th unless we decide to work during a weekend. It's completely flexible. He works until he is finished. If it takes him 20 minutes to get through the math lesson, then he is finished.
  6. He does not have to take a Standardized test until the 8th grade. In the state of PA the requirements are only for grades 3, 5 and 8. He will be tested in the fall since he is in 7th grade now.
  7. I don't have to test him. It's my decision. I use Quizlet as a study tool. I enter the material in to the system. Daniel uses the flashcards and takes the tests right on the laptop.
  8. I have to present a portfolio of his work to the Bucks County Advisor for evaluation, which is a sample of what we have been doing.
  9. I have a plan book and I am doing my own thing. I can cyber school or use materials provided by a company. Or I could do my own thing ,which is what I am basically doing.
  10. Robert is the best two year old you will ever meet. I have been blessed with a low maintenance child to watch.
What else are you wondering?

I start my day at 4 am and go to the gym. I have been having health issues since the beginning of March that has prevented me from being active. It's been a long March and April, with lots of stress. But I am feeling better and worked out three days this week.

I shower and make lunches then see Curtis off at 6 am. I see Amanda out the door at 6:30. Some days I drive her to school. It has been a special time for us. We listen to praise music and she reads her Duck Dynasty devo. At 7 am I have quiet time on the back patio. At 7:30 I walk the dog. I am out the door to Robert's house by 8:15.

I have one on one with Robert from 8:30 until 10 am. We talk, eat breakfast, watch Disney and play.

At 10 am Daniel joins us for his breakfast. This is when we do devotions.

Then sometimes I read out loud or sometimes we go to the playground and read and play now that the weather is nice. The English book I chose is:

Tuck Everlasting

This is a fifth grade book however Daniel had such a miserable fifth grade year that his class never read it. Amanda remembers reading it.

I don't know why I chose it but I did. I found an entire study packet on line that we are following. At the end of the packet it addresses the Bible verse Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

For Social Studies I am using the book The Mystery of History Volume 2. It starts with Pentecost:

Pentecost is celebrated fifty days (i.e. 49 days with the first day counted, seven weeks) after Easter Sunday, hence its name. Pentecost falls on the tenth day after Ascension Thursday (which falls 40 days after Easter).

May 24th 2015

I found that to be appropriate since we started the text the day after Easter (April 6th).

For science, well everything can be a science lesson. We are growing a garden. Daniel will be required to know the names of the vegetables and herbs as well as the scientific names. We celebrated Earth Day by creating a craft and picking up trash in our neighborhood. This is one of those areas that I am not very structured.

But Math, is another story. This is the most structured subject. I am following the text and the lessons that are on the school's website. His math teacher was wonderful. He misses her. She was very organized and made it easy for us to follow her when he wasn't organized.

You might not understand that or even think about that because your kid just writes down the assignments, brings home the material and completes the work. You might not even know the teacher's name. When a kid can't get it together during the day, it is necessary for the teacher to have an organized website so the parent can come along side them and assist.

Daniel is working on Geometry. It's difficult. I have the problems and the answers. Then I have to figure out how to complete the problem and teach it to Daniel. Khan Academy is such a great tool. Actually, the internet itself is awesome. There isn't any question that I can't find the answer to. We are muddling (bring into a disordered or confusing state) through the material together.

Daniel completes his P.E. requirement with soccer. He practices three nights a week and has one to two games on the weekends.

He can attend any music event to complete that requirement. Daniel had art the first two marking periods. We do  have a field trip planned to visit the Princeton Art Museum.

So when do we do all of this? The majority of the work is done during nap time. Robert is ready for nap by 12:30. He is exhausted and worn out from Daniel chasing him. He is asleep by 1 and awake by 3. That gives us two and a half hours to get the work done.

At 3 pm, Daniel goes to ride his bike or hang with his buddy and Robert and I have one-on-one time again.

So let's review:

8:30 to 10 am - Robert time
10 to 12:30 - Robert and Daniel
12:30 to 3 - Daniel time
3:00 to 4 pm - Robert time

Is there anything I missed? You let me know in the comment section, please.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Home School Decision

I haven't talked about this here. Some people may not even know. Our family has been going through a lot. A lot of changes. But God is good all the time.

Today is the end of Week Four of homeschooling Daniel. There are times when I think that this is HARD. Then there are times that I think, why didn't I do this before?

First, all things are possible with Christ who gives me strength.

Second, it's all God's timing.

This has been a topic of prayer in my life since 2008. However, most of the prayers were about AmandaGrace. Once she was in high school, the prayers changed. She was excelling in her music classes and we knew that she was where she was suppose to be.

There are some activities that students can still take part in if they are home schooled. Sports, Drama and the Musical are a few. But Select Choir is not one of them. It has been Amanda's favorite class since 9th grade. I am not questioning any decision that I made or didn't make regarding Amanda and home school.

Daniel was struggling a lot last year. By February, he was seeing an outside counselor to be evaluated for AD/HD. It was confirmed that he did indeed have AD/HD. However, when I requested that the school evaluate him for a learning disability, it was rejected stating he was on grade point. In other words, he wasn't failing.

I prayed about home school last February for September 2014. I felt that I was receiving a confirmation from God, however my husband had to be on board also.

He was not.

So Daniel began 7th grade and things seemed to be going alright. Until February. Again, February!

Daniel started sinking in to a deep depression. Waking up was a battle. Getting in the vehicle was a battle. Forget breakfast. Then after school, homework was a battle.

We would work together for hours only to have him leave the work in his folder the next day. ZERO.

I was always frustrated and angry. So much of our time was filled with busy work only to have it not counted.

I was in constant communication with his guidance counselor (who is awesome) and five of his teachers. Sometimes they would respond to my emails. Other times they would not.

Once again, I asked Curtis if I could home school Daniel for 8th grade and by the grace of God, he said yes. It was March 7th and my birthday! What an awesome birthday present it was. Now we just needed to get through one more marking period. (I was wiping the third marking period off the books. Cutting bait. Not looking back!)

But the breaking point was shortly after that. The week of March 16th to be exact. Daniel had missed two days the previous week and was absent on the 16th. He had late work due and I was desperately hoping to get the F's up to D's at least. I was working way harder than he was at home. That is a fact. However, when I send 48 (yes FORTY EIGHT) emails in a three week period, there is a problem. Everyone's problem.  And it's a big one.

Finally, on March 20th, at 9 pm, I was crying, Daniel was crying. Curtis was shouting. We raised our white flag and surrendered. And that's all she wrote.

I submitted my paper work to the District office the previous week and we officially started on Monday, April 6th.

I was not ready. I was not prepared. I had lots of doubts. Others had lots of doubts too I am sure. It was completely overwhelming and terrifying for me. BUT GOD...

It's always but God isn't it?

When you see someone drowning don't you throw them a life preserver? Or maybe you just jump in feet first. That's what I did. This is my kid. And this is my job. I am the mom. But don't get me wrong. He only has one Savior. And I am blessed to know that he knows Him. But sometimes we need to step in and do what's best for our family.

Disclaimer: I advise you to make sure that it aligns with what God wants you to do. Like I said, I prayed about this for over a year for Daniel. I prayed about home school in general for SEVEN years. This was not just one of those "jump in feet first" decisions by any means. 

Not once in the last four weeks have I doubted this decision. NOT ONCE. Daniel and I spoke yesterday about home school and he said "we will make this work". He isn't missing middle school at all. Not one thing. Not one person.

Kind of sad.

I have some bitterness about how it all went down in the end. But I know that God is sovereign. I pray Proverbs 3:5-6 EVERY DAY. And every day I have to ask God to work on my heart to remove the bitterness. Please pray for me in that area. I would appreciate it. Thank you!

So you might be asking what we do all day and how it works and many other questions. I will address the content of our day in my next post.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.