Monday, February 28, 2011

Phoenix Learning Resources

I have referenced my joy at having some learning resources to turn to for my son. These were given to us by The Wizard some years back, and when I dug them out several months ago, I was thrilled to see that I could still order things. This website is straightforward, just like their materials. There is not a lot of “fluff” or clutter to distract me the student from the main concepts.

Their reading comprehension series has questions to answer. I know someone who likes to do homework who may love these!

I also like that there are so many levels to choose from. We have ordered several paperback books that are high interest/low level. They offer many great classics, such as Robin Hood and The Trojan Horse. The science curriculum is fabulous, too, and we used that years ago. The stories are factual and interesting, without a lot of fanfare. I am thinking of getting a new one on my son’s level, just for fun, since he is very interested in science. I may just read them aloud.

I recently ordered a critical thinking workbook for N, and I will let you know how that goes. There is so much to be had here! Take a look and see what you think. I would love to work for a place like this. It combines all my loves – reading, gaining information, learning new things—all at one’s own comprehension level.

Check it out at Phoenix Learning Resources.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Radio" Torture

Oh, my husband! He signed us back up for Netflix and has had a great string of movies coming. He has single-handedly picked them all, and it is nice to be surprised by what he chooses. (I did not care for "Sherlock Holmes", which we didn't finish, but the rest have been winners.) Tonight's surprise was the movie "Radio." I have put off seeing it because the clip I had seen was nothing short of gut-wrenching.

So, we all 3 watched it together and I really cried. (Not the stray-tear-down-the-cheek kind of crying, either.) Whew. I am still processing and getting it back together. What a great story! What a hard one to watch, though, as parents of a child with special needs! Did you see "I am Sam"? Same thing, but I got through it, as well.

I wondered how my son was viewing it and if he saw himself in it at all. I am thinking he did not. A few minutes after it was over, he came to me and said, "You know what is on my heart? People who don't have enough to eat. I want to do something about it. I think that is what God wants me to do." Wow. The young man in the movie could not afford certain things and appeared hungry at one point, but I was surprised that that is what stirred him. I told him I would help him do something about this. (Which only started the tears again!)

He really is my inspiration.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Reading by Example (Except it rarely works)

Well, if it only works for snow days when there is low activity around the house, so be it! As I have said, it bothers me no small amount that this teen does not enjoy reading for pleasure. However, with our recent snow (and no school for 3 days!), my husband and I enjoyed quite a bit of reading. One day I walked into the family room to discover this scene and nearly fell out! I guess he started thinking, "If you can't beat 'em, then join 'em!" YES! (I am pumping my fist, even as I type!)

I haven't seen it since, though. We have had 69 degree weather the last few days, so it is outdoors and basketball for this young man. I wish it made him happy to read alone, like it does me. But, he is a mover and a shaker and much prefers to get physical. Guess I'll have to wait for more snow.

Stay Strong!

I am feeling so strongly that I should be offering resources regarding marriage and raising kids with special needs. It is REALLY on my heart, so here goes. (It is only two days post-Valentine's so I will take the liberty . . . .)

If you had any words of wisdom to offer another set of parents regarding marriage and raising a child with special needs, what would they be? I have thought about this a lot and have only been asked a few times, so you will see that I have been saving up for you, people! No, not really, but in our case, it has gotten better marriage-wise, the farther we go. (We had been married for 7 years when our little guy came along with Down syndrome. We have celebrated 23 years together now.)

In the beginning, it would have been good just to know that we would handle the news, the grief, and the adjustment differently. Just as moms and dads handle most things with their children differently from each other (no kidding, right?). Expecting your spouse to react and deal the same as you only creates a chasm between you. However, at the time, you have no idea this is happening and feel the big “disconnect”, which is a lonely feeling. Our guys are just different from us women. And they feel so responsible for us and for putting up a good front to be strong. Looking back, it is quite sweet, but at the time it was frustrating. Communication, communication, communication!

Some resources I have recently found: This is a woman who is a family therapist and who has a son with Fragile X. She really gets it, and this interview with her is great. She talks about the need for support and getting stuck in grief, which is what I think happened to me years ago. She has a yearly retreat called “Healing the Mother’s Heart.” This is a good article which highlights some good communication skills. This article even offers a 1-800 number if you need to speak with a counselor. They also have an online parenting community for parents of children with special needs. I know I have referenced this one twice already! I really am enjoying it, though. It has a section on “Heartfelt conflicts : opposing views on protection, expectations, and helping your child.” We need to keep looking for what will help us get strong and stay strong as couples!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mmmm, breakfast!

(Yummy Omelet, by "N")

I meant to post yesterday but I did not get around to it. I was too busy lounging in my pj's and reading. Turns out, the great storm that was predicted to dump a bunch of snow on us did just that! I can't remember ever seeing this much snow in our southern state. So, naturally (and luxuriously), two days worth of work and school have been canceled. We are in happy, lazy bliss over here. I really love to have only a few options for my day, and I do not feel imprisoned as some do (but check with me in a few days).

Last time this happened, I was in happy, productive mode. That hit at about 8:00 pm yesterday. I suddenly got this urge to have something to show for the day, other than a bunch of pages read, so I cleaned out some drawers and did a few other things I have been putting off. But today, it is back to lounging. (That antsy, productive urge will hit after dark sometime.)

While I was sleeping in this morning, my dear son was cooking himself breakfast. Seems I reminded him of his love for omelets yesterday when I made him one with bacon and swiss cheese. We had homemade biscuits on the side, which he adores. Anyway, after I got up, he showed me a picture he had taken of the omelet he made, since there was not one for me! (He knows I do not like them crispy, which is the only way he turns them out.) I was very amazed at both his photography and his use of chopped vegetables!

I never know what he'll do when I'm asleep. Maybe if I go back to bed, he'll cook some lunch.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Lookin' Good

What is it about the stigma of kids with disabilities that makes me try a little harder to make my son look his best? I do not want him treated poorly because of the way he looks, so the pressure is on to help him look the best he can. (I have always tried to keep his mouth and nose clean as he has fought against me!) Why is this more important with him than it was with his brother? It definitely is, though.

Now that he is older, we go ‘round and ‘round about the hair. The fact that he is a teenager and does not want me to style his hair, but wants to do it himself is a sticky situation (almost daily). He likes to comb it straight down into a line across his forehead. I can’t stand it and think it looks awful. I try to playfully get in one little brush swipe to the side, but he goes nuts! The way he styles it reminds me of those bowl cuts that people often give kids with Down syndrome. (Why does this happen???)

It is true that the way we are treated is often influenced by how we look. I think that many parents of children with special needs go above and beyond to help their kids look good because the cards are stacked against the initial perception of our children. Some would say that it is other people’s problem if they don’t like my son’s hair or the leftover lunch on his face. But the reality is, it is not. It becomes my son’s problem.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Marriage -- Guard it!

Well, I was on to something even if I did not know that I was. I posted a few days ago about the book I am reading, "Married With Special Needs Children, A Couples Guide to Keeping Connected . . .". The more I read in it, the more I am convinced that you should read it if the title applies to you. I am seeing that we are similar in our dilemmas and differences; it is really amazing to read and see something that you think is unique to your situation, and it isn't!

About what I was on to --- turns out this week is National Marriage Week. Now, isn't that a good reason to do something to better your union? Yes! How about beginning some small habit that strengthens your marriage? What could it be? Email your spouse during the day to say "hi" and something encouraging? Set up a time to go out -- just the two of you? Fix his favorite dinner just because? Do something that brings back old (and good) memories! Do something that will make him laugh. Whatever you come up with, just do it. I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Special Exposure Wednesday -- Feeling Nostalgic

He doesn't look like he is 10 years old here, but he was. I am wishing for some younger days right now. I think it is because he got his braces recently and his mouth is hurting like crazy!! He wants them off, he said, even though his initial reaction was, "Awesome! These look cool!". Today they don't feel too cool. Poor guy. If I can get him to smile, I will show his new metal soon.

For more great photos, see 5 minutes for Special Needs.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Guide to Keeping Connected

Marriage. Can you say it like the little priest in “The Princess Bride”? (Maaa-widge.) I guess Valentine’s Day has it on the forefront of my mind. Plus I have read a few blogs lately where marriages are stressed, due to parenting a child or children with special needs. It is tough to stay married in our culture; the stats do not look good. But throw in the challenge of parenting a child with special needs, and the stats are – well, not as good.

I take hope, though, in all the things that bring us closer in marriage. Often our joint effort with our child brings us closer. And the joy of the child's successes is much sweeter together. I am not Polly Anna, however. I know there are so many factors which can push us away from each other, which is why I keep my eyes open for information to help, not hurt my marriage.

I found this book recently at the library. I am barely into it, and I am so fascinated and encouraged by it! Anybody want to do book club with this one?? The authors really get it-- I can't wait to get further into it.

If you are married, with or without children with special needs, it is energizing to read something with the intention of giving your relationship a shot in the arm. Your spouse (and you) will be glad you did!

Now, for your listening pleasure, from "The Princess Bride". (I could not resist!)