Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Times Tales Part 1

I am super excited to tell you about our latest discovery! This program is helping my daughter, who has Down syndrome, memorize her multiplication facts. This is really incredible when you consider that she has yet to master her addition and subtraction facts! It's all thanks to this handy resource we found called Times Tales.

Times Tales introduces the times tables as stories. Each number is a "character" and in the stories those numbers interact. When they do you unlock the answer to what happens when you multiply those two characters together. The trick is that they don't mention that at all until the child has memorized the stories exactly as written!

Gess is an excellent reader and great at memorizing when it comes to bible verses, rhymes, and songs so this was right up her alley. Stories make sense to her - numbers no so much. Now that these numbers have a story she has her facts all figured out!

Along with the video you get downloadable resources to help the child along. There are a couple of worksheets as well as flash cards and dice with the problems presented as the characters in the story. The dice have both numbers as well as characters and are a fun way to practice the facts randomly.

We have just completed part 1. I am waiting awhile longer before moving on. With her special needs I am taking it slow. We have been at it over a month and as of today she only struggled with two facts but ultimately got them all right. She can even get the division problems, but they take more time. In a few more weeks she should be ready to move on! Do note that typical kids can learn this in a matter of hours, but we are OK with moving slow. Just having her NOT panic at a math problem is so amazing to me!

I will update and let you know how part 2 goes. For now, I am happy with what we have! Way to go Gess! And thank you Times Tales! Now if only they had this for addition and subtraction...hint, hint!

Friday, January 15, 2016

A Mom's New Years Resolution

I had quite the year last year. I had a hysterectomy in June and just as I got my OK to become active again I had a terrible pain in my shoulder which turned out to be from a herniated disc in my neck. That put me down another 3 months. After that my mother's heart failure progressed and my responsibilities for her doubled. So now that things are calm again and a new year is upon us, I have a lot of goals that I want to accomplish.

I sat down one day and listed all my goals. I want to read through the bible in a year, memorize more verses, have daily quiet time, exercise, lose 25 pounds, and my list kept growing and growing. Looking down at it all on paper completely overwhelmed me. Then, the Lord started to show me something.

My pastor preached a New Year's sermon and ended it by stating that no matter what you were able to accomplish that year, were you faithful to God? If you were faithful that was enough! God had already been revealing this to me in his Word. I was seeing that even though I had an "off" year and accomplished little in the eyes of the world, in the eyes of God I was faithful to Him and that was all that mattered! How encouraging that was, to know that my God is not disappointed in me! He extended grace in the midst of my circumstances, not judgment. So now I want to share a little bit of what I learned so that maybe it can encourage you too.

The Bible is full of many miracles and great men and women who acted courageously for God. But if we look at the scope of all of time, we have to realize that those incredible moments were actually few and far between. Even in the life of people like Abraham or Daniel there are many years of silence before the next big step, miracle, or vision came. The point is that life isn't all about doing big things for God, it is about being faithful to Him in our day to day lives. As mothers, as grandmothers, as teachers, as wives, as daughters, our number one priority is to be faithful to God.

Gen 18:18 Abraham is to become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him so that he will command his children and his house after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. This is how the Lord will fulfill to Abraham what He promised him." 

Abraham was commanded to do what was right and just. Sometimes that required great steps of great faith like when he left his family in Ur or was ready to sacrifice Isaac, but it wasn't just those acts that made him faithful. It was doing what was right and just all the time.The times you don't read about. The dull day when his family just did their tasks without angels stopping by, or talking directly with the Lord. Even among his mistakes, which were sometimes great as when he lied about his wife and allowed Kings to have her, in his heart he was faithful to God. He wasn't perfect, but he was faithful.

Mic 6:8 Mankind, He has told you what is good
and what it is the Lord requires of you:
to act justly,
to love faithfulness,
and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah gives us three things that are required of us. None of them say how we are to do it. Others around us may seem more spiritual because they have done something “bigger” for God than you but in reality there is no "big" thing. All that God requires is that we do these three things. Maybe you are not on a mission field, not leading a class, or not having a particularly powerful season of prayer but that does not mean there is something wrong with your spiritual walk. Staying faithful in the dull moments life can be even harder than staying faithful in the tough situations. Believe me, when Gess was undergoing heart surgery I was faithful to God because I knew it was impossible without Him, but now that she is well, it's easier to forget to have that time of prayer or read my Scripture. Be faithful with what you are given every day, be humble, and be just. That's it.

The passage that stood out to me the most over the last year was this one in 1 Thessalonians. Paul was telling the people to love their brothers but there was more they were to do.

1Th 4:10 In fact, you are doing this toward all the brothers in the entire region of Macedonia. But we encourage you, brothers, to do so even more, 11 to seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you,
 Love your brothers and sisters in Christ, lead a quiet life, mind your own business, and work with your hands. That is what Abraham did in between the chapters of the Bible. When Daniel wasn't before the king interpreting dreams or getting visions, this is what he did. When Paul was staying in one place for awhile writing his letters he was doing this too. Working with their hands, leading a quite life, and showing love by not striving to tear others down. They kept the Lord's way by doing what was right and just.

Note that this was not perfection. David who was a man after God's own heart did many awful things including murder. It is not expected that we become perfect, but that we stay faithful and allow the Spirit to lead us. Part of staying faithful is realizing that you will mess up but keep striving forward anyway. Perfection will not come until heaven, so walk in the Spirit and continue to grow even after you fail.

I am not in anyway suggesting that we should not strive to sacrifice or do great things for the Lord. There are seasons and times for that to be sure. I just want to remind us that sometimes the big things will not come until we can be faithful in the many little things day after day after day. Among the messy house, the dirty diapers, the piles of laundry, the cranky child, the sleepless night, if you stay faithful to God that is enough! You are a success in the eyes of the loving God. Besides, raising our kids is no small thing! I know it does not always get the praise that it rightfully deserves, especially in our culture. Those children you are raising are a reward, not a distraction from doing something greater. They are the gift you are given from a God who loves you and knows that you are enough!

Psa 127:3 Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord,
children, a reward.

So, make your lists, set your goals, and strive to do better in every area of your life, but put this one at the top of your list. Be faithful to God. Then give yourself some grace as you look back and if at the end of year you can say, "I was faithful to God" you have done well.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

I want to apologize for my unannounced absence. My mother's health has been poor and I have just been overwhelmed taking care of her and trying to keep up with school, church, house, and life in general.

It has also been difficult for me to find things to write about. Now that Gess is older I don't have as many "ah ha" moments to share. Our school is pretty structured and she is doing amazingly well.

I also feel bad that many of the tips on here are now outdated. Information that was once so hard to find is now available in so many places. Tricks that we had to use are now nicely packaged into new curriculum or even software. You know, Gess learned to read without an Ipad or any app for that matter. While I think those tools are nice I actually think that our hands on approach was probably somewhat better anyway. I do think touching objects is better than clicking on them.

My plan for this year is to try to blog at least once a week. I realize that barely makes mine an "active" blog but its the best I think can do for now. Feel free to follow me on Facebook and/or join my Homeschooling and Down Syndrome Mom's group to talk with me and other moms facing the same challenges that you do.

Because of our stressful year we spent a nice quiet evening at home New Year's Eve and even went to bed before midnight. That was not, however, before being spanked at Monopoly by Gess. She just loves that game and we don't play it enough because it takes so long. She sure does love counting the money and buying things and having property of her own so the time is always worth it.

I hope you and your families have enjoyed the New Year. My prayer for this year is summed up best in this very old one. May you discover the riches of God's goodness in this new year.

"Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
In working or in waiting, another year with Thee.
Another year of progress, another year of praise,
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.
Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace,
Another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face;
Another year of leaning upon Thy loving breast;
Another year of trusting, of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of service, of witness for Thy love,
Another year of training for holier work above.
Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
On earth, or else in Heaven, another year for Thee."

-- Frances Havergal (1874)


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