Friday, February 20, 2015

Free Friday: Free Christian Book - Revolution

Gospel for Asia is offering another FREE book! I ordered it this week. It is titled Revolution in World Missions. My friend who is currently in Haiti on a mission trip was telling me about it before she left. I can't wait to get started! To learn more and order your FREE copy click on the book below. Even the shipping is FREE! Once you order you will also gain access to instantly download the book in both ebook and audio format.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Valentine Party That Never Was

Gess was going to attend her first Valentine exchange party this year since it is our first year in a Co-op. However, it was not to be. Gess had a cold and had to stay home and now she has shared it with me.

Gess had actually made all of her Valentine's but didn't get a box. I bought one to wing it since it was a crazy week but while she was getting better I think all the drainage bothered her tummy and she was too ill to go. However, we are still very blessed that Gess has only had two colds all winter and neither of them turned into anything worse. She hasn't had to take antibiotics all winter, so that is certainly worth missing one party!

A friend texted me a couple of weeks ago to show me that Gess' health was on her prayer list exactly 4 years ago. That was when she was hospitalized with pnemonia. I will never forget that year and do my best to keep Gess healthy, but a human can only do so much. That was a great reminder to me that God hears and answers prayers! Four years and no more hospital stays! Praise God!

Regardless to say, with all the sickness we didn't get much for school done last week, so we will be hitting the books hard come Monday. In fact, we are supposed to get 3 to 6 inches of snow tonight which will certainly motivate us to stay in doors and stay busy.

Remember, at Special Connection Homeschool we don't take snow days. Instead we wait for randomly warm days to skip school and have fun. Of course this week was a reminder that we sometimes have sick days too.

I pray you are weathering this storm, especially those who have already been hit really hard already. Here in Kansas, snow has been rare this year, but I am not complaining. I really dislike the cold!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Fostering Independence: Waking Up to an Alarm Clock

I have found that timers have been a great way for Gess to transition from one activity to another without any complaint or stress. When we have a break from school (sometimes called recess) I set an alarm. When that time is up, she has to return to her work. Gess has been great about actually doing it. When the timer goes off, she stops and gets right back to work!

We also use it to keep track of the amount of time she uses media. If she is on the computer or playing a video game we set it for about 30 minutes and when the timer goes off, she immediately turns the game off. There are exceptions like when she is about to finish a race, lap, or other significant event in the game. I do let her finish that off, but usually she is just done.

Well, the last few years I have found that Gess has been more difficult to wake up. I am sure this is pretty typical of teens, but Gess has started ignoring me and hiding under the covers and doing whatever she can to stay in bed. She used to wake up early and super happy so I have not been a fan of the change. Then I had this brilliant idea. I would use an alarm clock to get her up. Maybe that timer would help it to click with her that she must get up, just like it works for everything else.

So far it isn't working, but I am not giving up. Gess' first problem was the light. We chose this alarm clock because it was cheap and allows her to hook up her MP3 player to it. What I didn't consider was that the large numbers and the brightness of the light would freak her out. The first night she kept just staring at it and eventually got up and turned it away from her. She repeated that a couple of times so we finally moved it to a place where she can't see it from her bed!

Her other problem is that that the thought of a "timer" waking her up seems to really freak her out right now. She kept refusing to go sleep and getting out of the bed talking about the "timer." We have explained that is an alarm and all adults use them. This has improved a little since she has actually had it wake her up and she realized that it wasn't horrible. Still, she gets back in bed after shutting it off so it isn't getting the point across like I hoped it would.

The other problem is she plays with buttons and changes the time. I think that will get better once she has learned how to control the MP3 player. It hasn't happened for a couple of days so we may be past that obstacle.

Over the weekend we didn't use it and this morning she woke up before the alarm went off so I don't know if where we stand right now. We shall see. I just found it amusing that introducing something as simple as an alarm clock would freak her out so much. Then again, my husband mentioned that he also dislikes the thing, he is just grown up enough not to show it!  Yes, I guess giving up the freedom to control your own time is a bigger step than I realized! I will keep you posted on whether or not we finally get it to work for her.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Down Syndrome and Growth

I was told from the beginning that people who have Down syndrome are shorter than the average person. In fact, at well child visits we always had a different growth chart to compare their growth to. Gess was usually on the upper end of the DS growth chart and sometimes on the lower end of the average growth chart so I figured she would be pretty tall. However, what they failed to tell me was that not only are people who have DS shorter, they stop growing before everyone else too.

It wasn't until the last few years that I noticed a difference in Gess' height. Her peers have really taken off in growth and she has remained stagnant. This week we visited a specialist to find that this is absolutely normal for a person with DS.

Gess is 13 and has been through puberty. A female generally stops growing within 2 years of starting their cycle and for Gess it was probably more like one. They took x-rays of her growth plates and they showed an age of 15 although she had just turned 13 at the time. They were also completely closed which means she is done growing. She is now 4' 8" tall.

It really doesn't bother me that she will have short stature. I could care less how tall she is as long as she is healthy. It just took me by surprise is all. I knew she would be shorter, but I wish someone would have told me she might stop growing sooner too. It would have given me one less thing to worry about.

Now my only concern is her wardrobe. The poor girl is stuck between x large kids clothes and the smallest items in the junior miss departments. Now I can see why people are coming out with special Down syndrome clothing lines. While she is 13 these fashions are fine, but when she is 33 she will want something more grown up looking!  To find something modest is already an issue and to find something modest and mature will be quite the challenge.

In the meantime I am really enjoying watching my little grow up! Oh, her growth plates may be closed but she will still develop maturity, insight, reason, and love. There is so much to teach her and she is like a sponge soaking it all up! 

While we were out of town for our appointment we went out to lunch. Here is my girl who is 13 going on 30 no matter how tall she is!! I wouldn't have wanted to have lunch with any one else in the world! She is not only my little girl, she is becoming my very best friend.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Easy Challah Bread

I think I have found my staple Challah Bread for our Sabbath meals.  It is called Easy Challah Bread and it is "a six-ingredient, simple recipe for Challah bread." They were certainly right. This is easy to make and tastes so much better than the other version I made. Our family can't seem to get enough of it!  I found it at I find most of my recipes there.

The only difference I made was I let it rise a second time after shaping it and placing it on the pan.

Now I am working on a freezing technique for the dough. Since I have Co-op twice a month I make one batch of bread on the week that I don't have co-op and use the frozen portion on the week I do. It didn't rise as well the second time but it was still delicious! 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Challah Cloth Craft

In following our guide to studying the Biblical Holidays, we have started celebrating Shabbat, or the Sabbath, every week. The basic items needed to celebrate are a table cloth, two candles, bread, and wine (which we substitute grape juice). The bread they make is called Challah bread and they have a specific cloth to cover it on the table. The reason for this is that it is Jewish custom to bless certain foods in a specific order and bread comes before wine in the blessings. However, on the Sabbath the blessing of the cup comes before the blessing of the bread therefore they cover the bread so that it is not shamed in not having gone first.

I wanted our table to look traditional so I wanted a cloth myself. The book we are using, A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays, had a pattern for making one. I also searched for a few craft ideas online and settled for my own easy version. I bought a pre-made cloth napkin and used special fabric markers to make it easier for Gess to do it by herself.

I then made an outline of the words  Shabbat Shalom in both English and Hebrew on the cloth. In the middle I used the pattern provided in the book.

Then I let Gess color it in.

Now our table has all the components we need!

Friday, January 23, 2015

STOP YELLING! - No one is listening

When I first met my husband one of the hardest things to get used to was how quiet he was. His speech was always clear and audible, but it was never loud. Even when upset his voice remained in an even tone. When he listened to music it was never cranked and he rarely watched TV.

I, however, came from a very loud home. My parents always had something turned on. If it wasn't the television, it would be the radio. In fact it was the radio the TV was usually still on, just turned down. Their voices were much louder because they were always talking over something and if you were upset you yelled. These were two very different environments.

Having been raised in a loud environment, I was pretty much the same. I screamed when I was angry to make my point, I always had the TV or radio on, and I even loved to fall asleep while watching a show. As you can imagine, this change was quite an adjustment. It was easy enough to get over watching so much TV when I decided it was too expensive, but the hardest part was realizing that yelling was not the way to settle an argument or make your point.

I remember the first time I had even really noticed a difference. My husband and I were driving down the road having a discussion. I don't remember the topic, all I remember is that my husband raised his voice to me and that shocked me so much it made me cry. Until that moment I never really thought about the fact that my husband never yelled before, but now it hit me like a ton of bricks. The thing is, he didn't even yell at me then. He just spoke with more force and that was ALL that was needed to get my attention!

Ever since that day I have been observing this phenomenon and have changed my ways as well. I am now more quiet like my husband, so much so that my mother often thinks that something is wrong with me. Now that I have a daughter with special needs this is a good thing because she literally hates it when things are too loud. Too many conversations in a cafeteria can upset this child, let alone a full fledged argument with yelling.

That led me to my next observation. I hardly have to yell at my child to get her to behave. Most of the time calm reasoning works best. In fact, the only time I yell is when she is in such a state that I can not get her attention any other way. Having special needs, there are times when she will have what I call a melt down. These are pretty rare, but they happen. Since yelling is pretty rare in our house when we do have a reason to yell it works! She quiets down and looks at us with utter shock. Then she listens to what we have to say and we say it in our calm steady voice again. This only works because we don't yell at her any other time, except maybe when her safety is in danger such as running into the road, etc.

Now I know that some people will be thinking that the only way they can get through to their child is to yell, so therefore they have to do it a lot. However, what I see, from both my own experience with my boys when they were young, and in observing other families, is that you don't get through by yelling, which is why you have to keep doing it. It is ineffective, therefore it has lost it's significance.

There are ways to get through to a child without yelling. In fact we find being calm and cool while dishing out consequences works best. They can stomp, yell, throw a fit, or whatever, all that does is lead to longer and harsher consequences. Be consistent with that a few times and you will be amazed at how effective this can be!

Here is what we do when Gess misbehaves. We tell her she has lost certain privileges for the rest of the day and then have her go to her room until she calms down. If she refuses and shouts "NO!!" we then look calmly at her and say, "You either go to your room now, OR you lose privileges for 2 days. If you keep yelling we will keep taking privileges, the choice is yours."  Now you have to be ready to follow through. Gess has gone weeks without privileges and at times we have had to carry her to her room. The key is to make the punishment something they love. If she was able to leave the house on her own I would probably ground her. No matter what the punishment be sure to follow through.

If you are not going to yell at your child you have to be both consistent and determined. You have to do this every single time and you must follow through. If you give in the next day and say, "oh you can have your privileges back early," you are teaching them that their yelling worked and eventually you will start yelling again too. However, if you are determined not to give in, they will eventually learn that yelling isn't working for them.

Once that happens all of you will yell less frequently and when you do it will be a better indication to those around you about what really matters to you. If I saw my daughter slap another child (which never happens) I would immediately yell at her. She would then know that was not something I took lightly. Causing harm to another is something to get upset about. But we need to reserve that for the most critical things.

Not only is our discipline more consistent but our lives are much more peaceful. Yelling and too much noise in general is just not good for a happy, healthy home. Yelling too much simply makes yelling irrelevant and you end up doing it out of habit rather than because it gets results and you teach your children to grow up and do the same.

Just watching the news I can see we live in a generation of loud, obnoxious, screamers. All the talking heads do is yell at each other, or bring on people who yell at each other. Everyone is trying to make their point by being loud about it and all it is doing is making a bunch of noise because no one listens anymore.

I say this only because I have noticed the change it has brought in me. Remember, I was a screamer once too but I learned and changed and my life is better for it. So, if you have something to say - say it, don't scream it. Observe yourself and your surroundings for the next few months. Do you notice more noise than is necessary? Do you seem to yell at your spouse or your children too much? Do you catch yourself yelling at the TV, computer, or no one at all? Maybe it's time for a change. Believe me, the more you yell the less effective it is. So stop yelling because no one is listening anyway.


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