10 Things You Never Dared to Ask Me

10 things you never dared to ask me about myself and our homeschool.

Photo credit: Kristin Andrews

10 Things You Never Dared to Ask Me

Despite the title, I’m not going to tell you my deepest darkest secrets or anything embarrassing. Instead, I’m sharing more about who I am, our homeschool, and why I have made some of the decisions I have. If you’ve been around for a while, you will have heard some of these topics discussed before and will already know the answers. If you’re new, it will probably answer some questions you have. Either way, there’s enough here that everyone will learn something.

Here they are, in no particular order – 10 Things You Never Dared to Ask Me:

  1. How do you choose curriculum for your special needs child? I wish I had a magic formula to share with you. Unfortunately, finding curriculum for my younger daughter has required a lot of trial and error. I have guessed, wrongly, what will work and what won’t. I’ve quit using curriculum after curriculum and tried again. I finally learned to be a diligent student myself, studying my daughter to see what learning situations caused more frustration and which she thrived in. I began buying products based on this information, and we have finally found resources that work well for us. (See Planning Homeschool for the Struggling Learner for more tips.)
  2. How do you schedule time for yourself? I am an introvert, meaning that I need a lot of quiet/alone time to recharge and relax. You know that’s hard to come by as a homeschooling mom! (Have you seen our crazy schedule?!) I try to carve out time in the afternoons after lessons are done and before I dive into work, but too often, I only get the time I need after everyone else in my household has gone to bed. This means I often stay up too late because I get caught up in a book or project I’ve been looking forward to tackling. I’m working on getting more rest because. . . . Well, my life. No one likes a grumpy mommy, including me!
  3. Recent pictures you’ve posted show your hair looking a lot. . . different from your profile pictures. What’s up with that? I confess. The picture that’s plastered all over the internet is a few years old. I had it made shortly after I made the switch to the pixie style I still wear. Yes, I desperately need to get a new headshot. And yes, my hair reveals a lot more “wisdom” than it did a few years ago. No, I don’t plan to color it. (If you missed my post about why I don’t color my hair, check it out. It’s a fun one!)
  4. Why do you homeschool? If you’ve been around for while, you know that I am a former classroom teacher. I never intended to homeschool, and I really didn’t want to at first. I answered this question in detail in Our Homeschool, the Beginning.
  5. How long have you been blogging? Technically, I’ve been blogging since 2005. Please do us both a favor and don’t go back that far in the archives. The posts are only a couple of sentences long, with no graphics. They basically share funny happenings when the girls were little with the 2.1 readers I had back then. (My husband, a dear friend, and my mom, when she had access to a computer and the internet.) Blogging as I do now began in earnest in April 2010. You can read more about that process in Why I’m a Special Needs Blogger.
  6. Why did you start blogging? That’s an interesting story. I also explain that in Why I’m a Special Needs Blogger. The short version is: I blog because God told me to. It’s an obedience thing.
  7. When did you develop such a heart for people with special needs? Despite what many people think, it didn’t start with having a child who struggles. I actually developed a heart for people with special needs when I was in junior high. My family was going through an incredibly difficult time that was also very public (think newspaper and TV news exposure, etc.), and some of my classmates entertained themselves every day by harassing me. I got special permission to escape when I needed to, and my refuge was the self-contained special education classroom. I helped the teacher with various tasks, but I also got to know some classmates that I never saw except during P.E. They became friends, and I discovered that they’re just people, with hopes, dreams, joys, and sorrows, like the rest of us. I made it a personal mission to share that understanding with others and have been an advocate for people with special needs ever since. This has slowly turned into a special needs ministry that includes writing, speaking, and serving.
  8. What’s your favorite book? After the Bible, the book I return to again and again is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I first read it in high school, and I have read it many times since. I wrote about one of the lessons I learned from Rebecca last week in Be a Lifeline.
  9. What are your favorite blogs? The blogs I read regularly include: HEDUA Blog, Comfort in the Midst of Chaos, Different Dream, Not Alone, Make a Living Writing, The Renegade Writer, and Be a Freelance Blogger. (I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but these come to mind quickly.)
  10. What keeps you going? That’s an easy one. My faith sustains me during the hard times. I wrote extensively about answered prayers a while back, and I have also shared tips about how to keep your homeschool going when life gets tough in 5 Tips to Help You Homeschool When Your World Falls Apart and 8 Tips to Help Your Homeschool Thrive in Hard Times.

Want to know more? I’m planning future posts similar to this one on homeschooling, special needs, and blogging. Leave your questions in the comments!

If you’re interested to see what other bloggers are sharing about their families and homeschools, check out Things You Should Know about My Family and Our Homeschool. (Goes live October 26, 2015, at 6 am ET.)

Things to Know - iHomeschool Network

Posted in Family, Homeschool, Special Needs | 6 Comments

Homeschool Field Trip: DixieMaze Farms

Our field trip to DixieMaze Farms was both fun and educational. It's much more than a corn maze!

Homeschool Field Trip: DixieMaze Farms

Earlier this week we joined our homeschool group at DixieMaze Farms. It’s an annual field trip for our local homeschool support group, but this is the first year the girls and I have been able to go. It was worth the trip!

The main attraction at DixieMaze is the corn maze. It covers about eight acres and contains four to five miles of paths, according to their website. It took us just short of 30 minutes to complete the maze, which is a little less than the average time they recorded. We rocked it!


DixieMaze Farms Corn Maze - jenniferajanes.com

Left – Working our way through the maze. Top right – Before entering the maze. Bottom right – With the sign congratulating us on a job well done.

The owners of DixieMaze Farms gave us more to do than a corn maze, though. My kids also enjoyed the corn chute, barn swing, cow train, and the “jumpy thing.”

DixieMaze other attractions - jenniferajanes.com

Top row: BookGirl coming off the corn chute, Princess on the barn swing. Middle row: Princess getting ready to ride the barn swing, Princess and friend on the jumpy thing, BookGirl about to ride the barn swing. Bottom row: BookGirl on the barn swing, Princess riding the cow train.

We also went on a hayride where we made butter and learned the difference between male and female pumpkin flowers, the importance of bees, and how to respond appropriately around bees and other stinging insects.

DixieMaze hayride - jenniferajanes.com

Top left – the difference between the male and female pumpkin flowers. Bottom left – shadow play. Right – Why am I making butter I can’t eat?

Our field trip to DixieMaze Farms was fun and educational. I hope we can make it an annual tradition for fall!

I’m linking up with Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners. Come on over and join the fun!

Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners

Posted in Homeschool | 4 Comments

Writing Warm-ups: Conversations

Conversation has become one of the most important writing warm-ups in our homeschool.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary subscription to Here to Help Learning. I was not required to review or write about this product, and I certainly wasn’t expected to write positively about it. All opinions are my own.

Writing Warm-Ups: Conversations

Last month I shared how independent reading works in our homeschool and how I struggle to teach my children writing. After I wrote those, I realized how much conversations permeate our homeschooling life, especially in language arts.

In Here to Help Learning (HTHL) lessons, there’s a “pause the film” feature that brought this tendency—and its value—to my attention. When you come to a “pause the film” break in a Here to Help Learning lesson, there’s a suggested topic of conversation. These conversations, and the many others we have throughout the week, serve as writing warm-ups for my older daughter.

How does conversation act as a writing warm-up? It’s simpler than you might think. Other than the prompts in HTHL lessons, I don’t plan topics. I don’t even schedule these discussions. They happen naturally, in the course of our days. My older daughter and I are voracious readers, and we constantly discuss books together. At first we just talked about the plot, character, and setting. As she got older we started talking about how we feel when we read. As she began working on more complex pieces of writing, we talked about literary devices that authors use to evoke feelings. Now that she’s in junior high, I’m placing a high priority on her figuring out how to use literary devices on her own. A lot of our conversations now revolve around how to create suspense or drama or a particular mood.

Not long ago, we were talking about how her chapter book (part of Here to Help Learning’s Flight 3, Essay plan) started a little slowly. We had just begun reading a book together that jumped right into the action, with backstory woven in during the first couple of chapters. After talking about how the author did this, why, and how it affected the story, she went to her manuscript with insight and understanding that went beyond what simply explaining those ideas to her would have accomplished. As she looked at her manuscript from both a reader’s and a writer’s perspective, she made changes that improved her book.

The more we talk about books and do oral literary analysis, the more my reader thinks like a writer, and she’s beginning to see how to write for readers. In some ways, she’s ahead of where I was as a writer when I was twelve years old, despite the fact that she doesn’t like to write!

Conversations are great writing warm-ups, and I will continue them for my daughter’s benefit and use them to improve my writing too.

How do you help your child warm-up for writing?

Want to read more about the connection between talking and writing? See what Beth Mora of Here to Help Learning has to say: Talk Before You Write

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Posted in Homeschool, Homeschool Curriculum Reviews, Review | 1 Comment

Be a Lifeline

You never know what someone else is going through, but your words and actions can be a lifeline for hurting people. Will you make the effort?

Photo Credit, David Niblack, Imagebase.net.

Be a Lifeline

When I was in high school and college, my favorite book was a novel about a young woman who married, somewhat impulsively, the man of her dreams. She soon found out that his deceased wife had a loyal servant at the estate who missed no chance to tell the new wife exactly how perfect her mistress had been, how much her husband had adored her, and how she herself would never measure up. At the end of the book, you discover that this servant’s portrayal of her mistress was nowhere close to reality, but that young woman had spent her marriage up to this point miserable – and it was all a lie!

Too often lately I have felt myself getting sucked into this deep pit. I compare myself to other homeschooling moms, to other writers, to other volunteers, to everyone else, sure that they’re doing it better and their lives are more wonderful than mine. This may be true, but it’s probably not. We all struggle. We all hurt. We all have faults and wounds. Some are visible and can’t be disguised, ignored, or hidden. But many of them are secrets from all but those who are closest to us and know us best, and the rest of the world rarely finds out.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the decades since I read that book over and over again, it’s that everyone is struggling with something. Every person you meet is broken in ways you would never guess and can’t imagine. No one has a perfect life, no matter what they show you on social media.

I’m trying to teach this to my daughters now. We talk about living authentic lives, about being the same person online and off. We discuss being kind to others and offering help in small ways whenever and wherever you can. You never know when the person you offer some small kindness to grabs onto that as a lifeline and a source of hope that there is goodness left in the world. It gives them something to cling to as they travel dark paths and try to find a way back to peace and joy.

We never know what someone else is going through. Offering a smile in passing to a stranger or holding the door open for a young mom who is struggling with toddlers and a buggy full of groceries seem like small actions, but they can make all the difference to hurting souls.

October is breast cancer and domestic violence awareness month. Women (and men) who struggle with these issues often feel alone, and their struggle may be invisible. Kindness, compassion, and understanding can ease their daily burdens and may offer them hope that they desperately need in a particularly challenging season.

Posted in Blogging for Good, Life, Parenting | 3 Comments

Using Video to Homeschool Struggling Learners

Have a child who doesn't respond well to traditional teaching methods? Trying using video to homeschool struggling learners!

Disclosure: I received a free subscription to Curiosity Stream. I was compensated for my time. All opinions are honest and my own. I was not required to post a positive review.

Using Video to Homeschool Struggling Learners

One of my children is a struggling learner, and I quickly learned that presenting abstract concepts to her in traditional ways, with textbooks, worksheets, and workbooks, does not work. Through observation and testing, I have learned that she relies heavily on visual input and learns best when I make ideas as concrete as possible. One way I have found to address this need is to use videos in our homeschool.

How We Use Videos in Our Homeschool

Video works particularly well for us in science and social studies. We supplement our curriculum and more traditional resources with:

Historical fiction. Watching movies set in a time period we’ve been studying brings the past to life. It’s also a good exercise in critical thinking as we identify things in the movie that are both historically accurate and inaccurate and discuss how they could have made the film more true to the era.

Documentaries. We enjoy watching nonfiction videos or documentaries about both science and social studies topics. Seeing the images and hearing the accompanying narrative helps my daughter to understand concepts better than simply reading about them. Documentaries also help her understand the thought processes behind the topics being discussed. They do a great job of narrating the activities surrounding archaeological finds, the scientific method, and how historians put together facts to discover what happened.

Movies. Even movies that aren’t overtly educational have a place in our homeschool. They give us opportunities to discuss social skills, character traits, and how filmmakers are storytellers who create moods, action, and entire worlds much like writers do.

Video Resources in Our Homeschool

Our favorite resources for video are online services:

YouTube. Not long ago we watched a full-length documentary about the world’s largest cave on YouTube. It’s a rarity for us to watch something that long on YouTube, but it’s proof that YouTube is good for more than cat videos. We find shorter videos there to illustrate concepts as well and have used YouTube to learn to crochet and knit too (both great for fine motor skills).

Netflix. We have had a streaming Netflix subscription for years. I look through the “Recently Added” list often and add videos of interest to our queue so I can easily find them later. That gives me a good source of time periods, topics, and concepts to choose from when we need to add some video learning to our day.

CuriosityStream at Starbucks - jenniferajanes.com

CuriosityStream is mobile – and not just for struggling learners!

CuriosityStream. Our newest streaming subscription service (and yes, I plan to buy a subscription when our free one is over) is CuriosityStream. It is the world’s first ad­-free, on­-demand streaming service for quality programs that educate, inspire and entertain. CuriosityStream delivers over 1,000 titles of high­-quality documentaries and series created by the most accomplished producers from around the world, whenever and wherever you want to watch.

CuriosityStream has given us a world of new science videos to choose from. It has shows I’ve never seen anywhere else, and there are series that are specifically for kids! My children have especially enjoyed Quarx and Mind Blowing Breakthroughs, and I have been impressed by them too. CuriosityStream has done an amazing job of finding shows that explain science concepts in ways that are easy to understand and engaging. There’s something there for everyone – from elementary students through adults. Curiosity Stream has been a tremendous asset to our homeschool video library, and I’m looking forward to using it for a long time to come!

Watch Nature on CuriosityStream

If you’re interested in CuriosityStream, I have good news! They are offering my readers a discount for a limited time. To get the discount:


First month free plus 15% off next two months with code homeschool. Expires 11­-1­-2015.

Discount valid on either plan:

  1. Standard Definition (regularly $2.99) will be reduced to $2.50 each month for two months after the free trial month (total charge $5).
  2. High Definition (regularly $5.99) will be reduced to $5.09 each month for two months after the free trial month (total charge $10.18).

To sign up:

New users need to head to curiositystream.com and click on the “Start your free month” button.

On the next page, select preferred plan (SD or HD), input email information, and create a username and password.

Once that is complete they will be prompted to input the payment information and will get the option to fill in a promo code box. With code homeschool, the 15% discount will be automatically applied.

Connect with CuriosityStream:


Quarx on CuriosityStream - jenniferajanes.com

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TEMPLE TALKS. . . about Autism and Sensory Issues {Review}

Want to read a book by Temple Grandin? TEMPLE TALKS is a great one to start with. It's short but full of information about autism and sensory issues.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Temple Talks from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

TEMPLE TALKS. . . about Autism and Sensory Issues by Temple Grandin

If you’ve always wanted to read a book by Temple Grandin but just haven’t had time to sit down and read one, Temple Talks is a great book to start with! This book is short, only a little over 120 pages, and is full of information about autism and sensory issues. In the first part of the book, Temple shares about her life, including how her brain is visibly different from a normal brain, some of the struggles she had growing up and how she overcame them, and various therapies and her thoughts on them. The second part is full of questions Temple gets from parents and teachers and her responses to them.

This book, while small, is packed with information that is both fascinating and insightful. Temple’s answers to the questions gave me new ideas and validated some of the things I’m already doing. Her explanations of how a person with autism thinks helped me to understand more about the people in my life who have autism. I already know they don’t process and think about things the same way I do, but they’re not always able to express what they’re experiencing. Reading Temple Grandin’s helps a lot.

If you’re on the fence about reading Temple Grandin’s work, I highly recommend starting with Temple Talks. It’s packed with great information and will probably inspire you to read some of her other books so that you can learn even more from this amazing woman.

Posted in Autism, Book Reviews, Review, Sensory Processing Disorder, Special Needs | Leave a comment

5 Must-Read Articles for the Special Needs Homeschooling Mom

Nervous about special needs homeschooling? These five articles from around the web will give you hope and encouragement for the journey.

Photo Credit, David Niblack, Imagebase.net

5 Must-Read Articles for the Special Needs Homeschooling Mom

If you’re homeschooling a child with special needs, or thinking about starting this journey, you’re probably riding a roller coaster of emotion, with thoughts that don’t stop even after you fall into bed exhausted each night. Sometimes you just need some encouragement that you’re on the right track, that you can do this, that this is a good decision for your family and your child. If that’s you, reading these articles may give you the boost you need to keep going. Enjoy!

Home-schooling Does Not Hamper Socialization – This article by Dr. Laura makes my list because it addresses the socialization question, which I hate and which still comes up far more often than you would think. (The funny thing is that no one ever asks me about socialization until they find out my children are homeschooled. Until that point, they seem to think that my children are well-socialized. Go figure.) In the last paragraph, she also addresses homeschooling’s success with children who don’t learn well in traditional classroom situations.

Hip Homeschool Moms’ 100 Awesome Things About Homeschooling is a list for homeschooling families in general, but everything on it goes double for families homeschooling a child with special needs. It will definitely remind you of some of the whys behind your decision to homeschool.

Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs at Lemon Lime Adventures is not exactly an article, but it’s worth your time. It contains a link to the recording of iHomeschool Network’s panel discussion Homeschooling Special Needs Students. Real homeschool moms discuss what it’s really like to homeschool children with special needs.

Lara Molettiere’s Taking It Slow: The Power of Yet contains powerful encouragement for the days when you’re lamenting your child’s lack of (or extremely slow) progress and wondering if a public or private school could do this education thing better.

Whether you’re trying to decide whether to homeschool your child with special needs or have already started and are having a bad day, Can I Homeschool My Child? Discerning Homeschool Mom, You Can Do This! is a good reminder that you already have all the tools you need to homeschool your child, even if you don’t have all the answers yet.

If you’re looking for more inspiration and encouragement for homeschooling moms, check out the “must-read” lists other iHomeschool Network bloggers have compiled for you. (Goes live on Monday, September 28, 2015 at 6:00 am ET.)

5 Articles Every Homeschool Should Read with iHomeschool Network


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Teaching Writing in Our Homeschool: A Writer’s Struggle

I looked forward to teaching writing to my kids. I want them to love it too! Despite some setbacks, I'm finding my way with Here to Help Learning.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary subscription to Here to Help Learning. I was not required to review or write about this product, and I certainly wasn’t expected to write positively about it. All opinions are my own.

Teaching Writing in Our Homeschool: A Writer’s Struggle

I began to see myself as a writer in the first grade. Writing is a lifelong passion, and as someone who loves words and spends hours crafting them for fun, I want my children to have the same passion and desire for word play, both for fun and for academic pursuits.

Unfortunately, they don’t. It’s not that I haven’t tried. Believe me, I have! They just don’t have the same passion for putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard that I do. If I go for too long without writing, I feel like a part of me is missing. They act like I’m torturing them when I assign a piece of writing as part of their lessons.

What’s a homeschool mom to do? I tried different curriculums. I tried assigning some of the more popular assignments that I used when I taught in the public school classroom. I tried allowing them to dictate their assignments to me. I tried breaking the assignments down into very small pieces, showing them how to do each one. Nothing worked well, or any positive effects didn’t last long.

Then, last year, I found the Here to Help Learning booth in a homeschool convention vendor hall. What impressed me about this booth was the friendliness of the owner, Beth Mora, and the fun that kids were having there! (They had a green screen, and kids were stopping by to play and were having a ball.) I stopped long enough to get a full-color brochure detailing the program, and I listened to Beth’s claims that parents of kids with special needs were telling her it was a great program for those kids as well as for those without additional struggles.

A month or so later, Beth and I really connected via an email introduction from a mutual friend of ours. We began discussing the features of Here to Help Learning in more detail, and I agreed to give it a try and let her know what I thought about it—and its benefits for struggling learners. In the time since, both of my kids have used (and enjoy) the program, and I was inspired to write an ongoing series of posts about teaching homeschool writing using Here to Help Learning.

For now, I’ll share the features I like best, those that seem to help my children engage in the lessons and begin to develop an appreciation (if not passion) for writing:

  • The video lessons are fun, and they do a great job of explaining each part of the assignment so the girls can understand.
  • There are different “flights” or assignment paths you can take, which means you can use this curriculum for multiple years and across multiple grade levels.
  • Beth (Mrs. Mora) explains the writing process in a way that is both understandable and memorable, using multisensory methods of helping the kids remember each step.
  • As they work through the assignments, kids are exposed to paragraph and essay writing as well as different types of writing (how-to essays, descriptive writing, etc.).
  • The writing warm-ups, games, and assignment explanations include skits with both Mrs. Mora and Captain Knucklehead that make my kids laugh while they’re learning.
  • The lessons are well-paced, breaking assignments down into manageable pieces that keep my kids from feeling overwhelmed.
  • The program is set up so that you complete a lesson in two days a week to finish an entire flight in a school year. This is perfect for us because we add this to our regular language arts curriculum and couldn’t commit to something that required a daily lesson.

Here to Help Learning is a great addition to our homeschool curriculum, and it is definitely helping my children to develop an excitement about writing. I’m looking forward to sharing more from time to time about how we’re using it in our homeschool!

For more on how a writer taught her children writing, hear from Beth Mora herself as she shares Unlocking the Mystery of Teaching Writing!

What are the must-have features in a writing curriculum for your family?

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Posted in Homeschool, Homeschool Curriculum Reviews, Special Needs | Leave a comment

What a Half-Gallon of Apple Juice Taught Me About Parenting

When a half-gallon of apple juice spilled all over the kitchen floor, here's what I learned about parenting.

Photo Credit, David Niblack, Imagebase.net.

The Day I Thought I Had It All Together and Was Proved Wrong

We were early in our homeschooling journey when it happened. The morning was progressing smoothly in preparation for starting our homeschool lessons. I was feeling pretty good about everything—being a stay-at-home mom, figuring out this homeschooling thing (it had been harder than I thought despite being a certified teacher), keeping my toddler daughter occupied while I helped my older daughter with her pre-K/K lessons, and staying on top of meal preparations, dishes, and laundry. I could do this.

Then I looked up to see my very independent older daughter lugging a half-gallon of apple juice across the kitchen. I offered to help, but she assured me she could do it herself. Rather than putting the apple juice on the table to take the lid off and pour it, she hugged the bottle to herself. She finally worked the lid off, and then, while she was trying to get the bottle into place to pour the juice, it slipped through her arms.

I saw it happening, but my brain wouldn’t communicate to my body fast enough for me to do anything about it. The bottle hit the linoleum floor, bounced once (thank goodness for plastic!), and a half-gallon of apple juice spilled out into the kitchen.

By the time I was able to move, there was nothing left to do but figure out a way to clean up the mess. After an unfortunate childhood incident involving a full bag of sugar, I already knew that there was going to be a lot of stickiness involved and that I had to be careful how I approached my current situation. What I didn’t consider as carefully was my approach to dealing with my daughter. Fortunately, that worked itself out. I learned a lot about parenting in the process, and I’m glad I learned it fairly early in our journey.

What a Half-Gallon of Apple Juice Taught Me About Parenting

  • Staying calm really works. You always hear that it’s important to stay calm in tense situations. The look on my daughter’s face when she realized what her independent streak had created this time revealed that she knew this was a pivotal moment in our relationship. I wanted to raise my voice, ask her why she wouldn’t let me help, and cry (and I have done all of those things at one time or another both before and since this incident), but I didn’t. I don’t know if it’s because she looked as horrified as I felt, but I stayed calm. I talked her away from the huge puddle spreading across our kitchen and began laying out a plan of action for cleaning it up. She followed my calm lead, listened to my directions carefully, and responded quickly.
  • Crisis moments are “teachable” too. I am always on the lookout for teachable moments with my daughter, and this one proved to be one of the biggest I had encountered so far. I modeled (this time, at least) how to respond to a stressful situation gracefully. She learned how to take big projects one step at a time, how using teamwork allows you to finish those projects more quickly, how to take responsibility for your actions and clean up your messes, and that making mistakes doesn’t cost you the love and affection of those who are important to you.
  • It’s good to laugh in stressful situations. I don’t know why I thought that laughing would keep my kids from seeing the gravity of a situation, but having a half-gallon of apple juice on the kitchen floor showed me that’s not true. Somewhere in the middle of cleaning up that big mess, we both ended up laughing. It didn’t change the enormity of the task in front of us, and my daughter still realized that she had made a big mistake. But laughter did lighten the mood considerably and helped us get through the rest of the clean-up without falling apart.
  • Your plans for the day are not what’s most important. I know we were already homeschooling then, so there were lessons on that day’s agenda, but I don’t remember one thing I taught her after we left the kitchen that morning. What I do remember is the apple juice incident. It was a good reminder that my agenda needs to be secondary to my relationship with my children. The relationship will be there long after they have become adults and moved on with their lives. I want us to have relationships with one another based on mutual love, respect, and real affection for one another, and that only happens when I take the time to handle each situation in a way that fosters that. Which means….
  • I have to parent intentionally. I have to live my days deliberately, being proactive instead of reactive as life happens. My kids are watching. They are not only looking to see how I interact with them and respond to life’s frustrations, but they’re also looking to see how I interact with other people. Am I also kind to strangers, practicing both planned and random acts of kindness regularly? Do I serve in our community in ways that make a difference, whether small or large?
  • Parenting is a lot more complicated than I thought. This situation turned out fairly well, but I was reminded that parenting is complex and hard and beautiful and wonderful—but I do NOT have it all figured out. I learned lessons that day that I still need, almost eight years later.

What lessons have difficult situations taught you about parenting?

Are you interested in reading more confessions by moms like you? Check out The Day I Realized I Really Didn’t Have It All Together by the bloggers of iHomeschool Network. All posts go live on Monday, September 21, 2015 at 6:00 am ET.

The Day I Realized I Really Didn't Have It All Together with iHomeschool Network

Posted in Homeschool, Life, Parenting | Leave a comment

Sensitive Sam Visits the Dentist by Marla Roth-Fisch {Review}

A review of Sensitive Sam Visits the Dentist, which gives both kids and parents tips for dealing with sensory issues at the dentist office.

Note: I received a free copy of Sensitive Sam Visits the Dentist from the publisher for review purposes. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

Sensitive Sam Visits the Dentist by Marla Roth-Fisch

Sensitive Sam Visits the Dentist, like Sensitive Samaddresses the challenges that children with sensory issues face. While the story is directed at children, explaining to them what will happen at the dentist office during both a regular exam and having a cavity filled, it provides a lot of tips for parents from the author and recognized experts in Sensory Processing Disorder, as well as some parents (including me – so exciting!).

All of this information makes it a great book for children, parents, dentists and orthodontists, and anyone else who wants to understand what concerns and struggles a child with Sensory Processing Disorder may have when visiting the dentist.

If you’re looking for a book that will give your child (sensory issues or not) a step-by-step understanding of what is involved in a trip to the dentist in a way that is kid-friendly and not intimidating or scary, you’ll want to get a copy of Sensitive Sam Visits the Dentist to keep handy! I received this book just before my daughter had a dentist appointment, and she enjoyed the story and pictures that helped to explain each step. She went to that appointment with very little anxiety about the process, and I recommended the book to our dentist.

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