Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My Advice......for what it is worth!

I don't give out a lot of advice.....because I am not much of an expert.  I am so in the trenches.  So a mess.  So trying to do my best and figure stuff out.

However.....Buckle up.  Here comes some advice!

If you have a different learner.  Whether they are slower or messier or more distracted or dyslexic....things you do at home and in class CAN make a difference.  It has been a long and tearful and confusing journey for me.  I want to encourage you.  Keep going!  It does get better.  Even if THEYdon't, but I bet they will improve along the way too!

1.  I say test them and label them

I know, I know. Don't throw tomatos at me!  I know I've thought about it.....I've struggled with it.  I've second guessed it.  Kids might live up to their label.  They might use it as an excuse.  They might use it as a crutch.  They might be embarrassed.  I, however, am throughly convinced that information is power.  How can you fix something when you don't know what needs to be fixed?  If I think my child is lazy and unmotivated and really they are struggling because their brains are wired to read differently then their peers and therefore the way and the speed at which they need to learn needs to be different then everyone else.  I for one think Dyslexic is a better label then Lazy.....The solutions to the two issues are not at all the same either.  You need to know what you are dealing with!  I think the key to labels is what you do with them.  I think they can be powerful and they can help.  I think the parents can explain the label to their kids and I think that is what matters most. What the parents do with it.  My daughter knows that dyslexia just means your brain is wired to learn to read differently then most kids.  She also knows that it has nothing to do with intellegence level the different wiring just makes the process of learning to read a lot less natural and lot harder.  She also knows that dyslexia brings with it some amazing gifts and abilities that people without dyslexia will never have.  My girl feels good about herself.  Sure she has shed some tears over the years over the path she has to blaze, but she is blazing it!

2. I say less is more.

They really don't need to do every single math problem.  Life with learning differences is exhausting.  The effort these kids put out to function is enormous.  If they know how do the problem and they have been doing it for weeks....maybe 5 is okay instead of 20.  If writing is a struggle...they can type or talk, they just need to know the information.  Sure they have to learn to write.  There is a class for that it is called penmanship.  It can last about 10 minutes a day....then can they please just learn.  Can they express ideas without picking up a pencil and shutting off their brain.  Right after penmanship....I say time for keyboarding!  That is a much more useful skill in this day and age.

3.  Except for reading.

I think you can not read too much.  They need to read a little each day and work on their lessons with regularity.  However, you need to read a lot.  Sorry.  No way around it.  If you want them to learn read them their science.  They will learn it.  Read them their history.  They may become interested.  Read them good books.  Their brains will grow, their vocabulary will grow, and they may begin to dream up some good stories of their own.  Read them God's word and about how people struggle and fail and mess up and how God can still use broken imperfect people.  When you lose your voice checkout tumblebooks.com.  Let them read for you.  Then they can get lost in their own stories and tell you about them....If you choose to make them read everything they will work so hard on reading they will miss the content.  They will not learn and they will get behind in everything.  If you can't read their textbooks due to time or other issues check out Learning Ally a great resource.  If you want them to learn you must compensate for their weak areas.  However, do dedicate a portion of each day just working on the reading....but not all of every day.

4. And sleeping.....

These kids work HARD.  They often need more sleep.  My son and daughter that struggle with dyslexia both need between 11-12 hours of sleep on school nights to be well rested.  When they don't get it they are much more likely to end up in tears when working hard.  Even after a full night sleep they still can get tired after extended work and may need a mid day break to just re-energize.  Mine need food and movement to help them wake up!

4.  Encourage them.

All the time.  The world is ready to tell these kids how messed up they are.  To laugh when they mess up a simple word.  To tear them down because they are not a carbon copy of everyone else.  Encourage them that God has a special plan for their lives.  He made them the way he did on purpose.  I would not fill them with false accolades of their greatness but I would point them to the Creator who knows what he is doing and chose this for them for a reason.  Then I would get excited over their success.  Everyone needs a cheerleader.  Give them hope. 

5.  Pray.

For them.  That they would learn.  That their brain pathways will be built.  That they would not be defined by their differences.  That they would grow in grace.  Pray for yourself.  It is hard.  It is frustrating.  An errant word can do damage.  Pray for wisdom in how to teach.  Pray for their teachers.  That they would have clarity, insight, wisdom, and success in their efforts.

6.  Get Help.

Seriously.  Read posts from families and teachers and experts.  Read books.  Knowledge is so helpful.  Hire a tutor or a babysitter so you can tutor.  Buy resources specifically designed to help your child's differences.  Not everything helps.  But some stuff does.

7.  Be their advocate.

Tell their teachers not to call on them to read in front of a group, unless they volunteer.  Tell their teachers they need to get up and walk around the room every 15 minutes to help them focus.  Tell their teacher they need earplugs to block out classroom noise.  You have to be their voice.  You know them best and you can speak up and help them. 

My journey with my daughter has taught me so much!  As I begin the journey with my son I am wiser and more encouraged then I was so many years ago when I first started this journey.  My daughter volunteers to read in public now, on occasion.  She reads stuff in her environment.  She loves words.  She reads books to little ones.  Her tutor said recently that her language skills were one of her biggest strengths.  Her phonographic reading level is at a 12th grade level, her vocabulary and comprehension level are off the chart.  She is still working hard to build her orthographic memory which is the last piece in the puzzle of her reading struggle.......my girl is getting there!  Praise the Lord!  Our tutor, Elizabeth, fully expects my girl not only to read well but to actually LOVE reading.  She said she wouldn't be surprised at all if one day my daughter taught other children how to read.  At that moment I dissolved in a puddle of tears.  There is hope friend.  Hang in there.  I think most failure comes from quitting too soon.  The road is LLLLOOOOONGGGG and hard but it is SOOOOO worth it!  Hang in their Mama's!  I'd love to hear your advice too....Always trying to learn more!


Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Great Weight Update

So I haven't been updating on my weight lately....because there is nothing to update.  I am STUCK.  Counting calories.  Weighing once a week.  Running and Ellipical-ing and going to Weight Watchers.  Nothing was happening.  I've lost 90 pounds....and can't seem to loose any more. 

So I decided at Thanksgiving I was taking off the rest of the year.  I needed a break.  So I have been much more relaxed on my eating and exercise.  I have still weighed once a week and my weight hasn't really changed.  Maybe a pound or two in either direction but still hovering at the 90 pound mark. 

The year is over and a new one has started and I like the rest of America am ready to get serious about my health and getting in shape.  Summertime is coming.  However....my real goal is to be healthier.  So.....this is what I am doing, and this is still in process so there may be changes:

1.  Eliminating artificial sweeteners.  I've committed to a month.  I hope that after a month without I will be willing to go longer.  This is HARD for me.  I have 2 in my tea each morning.  I have 2 in my oatmeal each morning.  I average 2 diet sodas a day.  I have it in my crystal light regularly.  No artificial sweeteners is scary.  I really am addicted.  So that is not good.

2.  Reading a book my sister, who has lost about 100 pounds through diet and exercise, recommended to me.  It is called It Starts with Food.  I read the first two chapters last night.  It is very interesting.  Its about eating healthy foods.

3.  Do more strength training exercises.  I am a bit of a cardio junkie and I am trying to be not so one dimensional.  My new hairstylist, Kary, who I LOVE (thank you Julia and Kelly!!!) was so encouraging in the area. 

My sissy, Stacy, says she pretty much guarantees if I eat clean for a month I can lose those last 20 pounds.  Please be right Stacy!  She does guarantee I will feel better.

So today has been like this:
3 eggs with sweet potatoes and onion sauteed in olive oil with salt, pepper, onion powder.  Great recipe Stacy.  I'm going to need some more ideas so keep them coming!  I also had one apple.  1 cup of black coffee.  Water.  2 ibuprofen (I'm sick), thyroid pill, and a multi vitamin.

I worked out with dumbbells, using some stuff I found on Pinterest: did biceps, triceps, shoulders, and back.  My arms are already tired and I only did 5 pound weights with one set of 12 reps for each of the exercises.  There were probably 6-8 different exercises for each body group.

For lunch I had:
Spaghetti squash with butter salt and pepper, roasted vegetables with olive oil, salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese and beef brisket both of which were left over from dad's birthday celebration last night. 

I am having a hard time not weighing or measuring my food.  I have a big appetite. I can't believe I can eat this much a lose weight. So.....I'm hoping Stacy is right!

I also had a bowl of ice cream.  It was the all natural 5 ingredient kind that you can recognize the ingredients name.  It may be illegal....I haven't finished the book yet....but it was good!

So far I am okay.  I have defintely wanted to grab a soda, but no headaches yet.  I'm going to put up my feet and do a little more reading and try to figure out what exactly I can eat. 

So I am mixing things up a bit and hoping to finish what I have started.  I am tired of being stuck and I am anxious to learn more about healthy choices and not simply count calories.  I am going to keep running and I am going to keep weighing once a week. I will keep blogging. I will keep drinking hot tea.  However, I think I may quit weight watchers.  I am nervous though!

I am also still AMAZED at how far the Lord has brought me on the issues of discipline and self-control and idols.....still a long way to go....thankful for the journey!

I hope 2014 will bring as many wonderful changes as 2013 did! 

Still swimming slowly,