Tuesday, December 16, 2014

One More Catch-Up Post...

I can't believe that the last time I posted a blog update was July (before my recent one a couple weeks ago)! I missed so many fun things that happened this summer and fall.

So one last catch-up post in pictures:

First of all - our big family trip this summer was to Silverwood (a semi-local version of a smaller scale Disneyland). We spent the whole day there, only going home at closing time. It was exhausting but the kids had a blast.



The older boys kept trying to win toys at the game booths with no luck. Gabe (age 5) kept begging to go to a certain game and win this giant stuffed lemur. We told him that it's very hard to win toys, so not to be disappointed. However, his first attempt up there he won a small toy AND a large toy (he got three balls for one attempt). He was VERY happy and proud of himself. He named his giant lemur Mr. Cuddles.




Billy Jr and Gabe LOVED the little kids' rides. There were a lot more of them this year (little kids' rides)!



Abby got tired of walking (even though we had a stroller with us) so her big brother offered to carry her for a (short)while!



To beat the boredom, one summer day I took the kids to a local "island" walking trail.



Look at Billy Jr's socks!! That was after they played in the water some.



When we stopped to read some signs along the nature trail (talking about the type of native plants there) -  Brayden saw something brightly colored in the weeds. It was a geocache!!



Gabe got a pair of sunglasses from the geocache.



First day of school!!!!!! Everyone was pretty tired in this picture from trying to adjust to the new early morning schedule. We have a 10th grader, 7th grader, 5th grader, 2nd grader, and kindergartner!



Gabe's in kindergarten now!



Billy (dad) made us an awesome homework station!  This was just after it was completed, but now it has books on the shelves below and some lamps. :)


That brings us to....Halloween! 

Carving pumpkins:


Billy jr didn't want to touch the pumpkin guts so he tried wearing plastic bags on his hands:


Abby even helped!


Four of the finished pumpkins....




The kids' costumes: Owen was a scary clown, Gabe a ghost pirate, Brayden a werewolf, Billy Jr a ninja, Abby a princess/Elsa, and Eden was a pink poodle. Also two extra friends pictured here... :)


Crazy Owen!


The candy haul! The boys were trying to play a game where they traded/bet candy. Surprisingly it didn't end up in a fight. ;)


Then mommy and the girls went on a road trip to visit their Auntie and cousins (including a new baby cousin!) This was actually my first time taking a long trip alone with the baby, but also my first time driving over the mountain passes and on a freeway. Yikes! My Garmin GPS did a very good job helping me though. :)


We went with the cousins to an aquarium. :) 


Abby and her cousin hugging...awww. What the picture doesn't show is Abby trying to claim EVERY animal there as HERS. "Mine!" she'd say, and try to edge out her cousin from even getting close to the glass/fence. 


Cute Abby :) 


Pretty fishies!





And a petting zoo too!



 The end for now! We had a lot more adventures that I didn't get pictures of. However, I'm going to try to do much better at that in the new year! :)

Until next time....







Friday, December 12, 2014

A Catch-Up Post: First and Last Pageant

While looking through my pictures, I realized I haven't updated much over the last few months! So here is one quick catch-up post.

I decided to try putting Abby in a little mini-pageant to just try it out and learn how it all worked.
While it was fun, I am pretty sure it was her first and last pageant. Mostly I was doing it to get Abby her very own crown. 

I realized that I just didn't have the patience for it! Abby just wanted a princess crown and that was all she cared about. Getting her to walk a certain way and smile was almost too much. She usually is full of smiles and personality, but not in front of judges!
I also realized that I don't take criticism of my daughter's  beauty very well. While I understand the judging of her personality and whether she was outgoing, engaging and so on - I don't understand how beauty can be judged and why she was marked down points on the photogenic portion.  See? The whole points thing - it can obsess a person.

However, I did get some VERY cute pictures out of it. I also had a lot of fun dressing Abby up and having a girly day. I never thought I'd have that!

Now...onto the pictures:

Her head shot that we got mysteriously marked down a ton of points for:



See? She didn't really want to cooperate. ha!



She did take a brief moment to give the judges a cheesy smile though!



After she got her crown...she kept insisting on wearing it backwards.


Cute girl!





Back of her crown - but also showing her cute bows someone made for me, and the back of her hair :)


Sisters!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

You can't force something that just doesn't fit...




Education is not one-size-fits-all.Everyone learns in different ways, and that is a scientifically proven fact. So why is our public schools - in general - rigid in how they teach children? Some children may excel and flourish in that type of setting. I have a couple children who do very well with the teaching and learning methods at public school.

Then I have those who don't...

I have a child who's learning style is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole...it just doesn't fit.

I'm tired of trying to pound him into fitting the public school mold. It doesn't work for him. The only thing it's doing is destroying his confidence and self-esteem. How fun is learning if everyday is just more stress and pressure to sit completely quiet and still or else risk constant discipline and being labeled a difficult student/child?  What does that do to someone's self-worth?

I knew it was finally time to readdress things when my son continually called home from school at least once a week with various complaints of  headaches and stomach aches. He admitted later that he was never sick, but that he can just concentrate better at home. Not to mention that the stress of having to always focus on sitting still gives him anxiety (thus the stomachaches and headaches..)

Why keep pushing things? Who or what is it helping?

Thankfully we live in a time when there are so many other educational options. There is traditional homeschooling, unschooling, online/cyber schooling, eclectic homeschooling, classical homeschooling, and so on and so on.   My current plan is to enroll him in an online school for the remainder of this school year. His academic progress and goals will be supervised by a certified teacher as well as his curriculum and testing. We can then evaluate where we are at the end of the school year and what works best for him beyond that.

The bottom line is that I'm responsible for my child's education - every parent is.  I can't worry about what others might say or think, but only what is best for my child. And right now...he's drowning. I can't sit back and watch him struggle anymore...

Check back next week for more updates and holiday fun! I'm in my last week of school myself for this year, so I hope to pick back up with the blog again over break. :)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hot hot hot! Fires, Feingold, and Fun


Well, fire season 2014 has begun! Several fires have begun within just the last couple weeks. The  morning after the Fourth of July, my husband woke me up at some early AM hour to show me that the hillside across the river from us was on fire. It was quite breathtaking of a view. I attempted a picture, but my camera skills aren't so great that early in the morning.



That fire didn't last very long thankfully, since it did get awfully close to some houses (like in t he back yard of a couple houses up there!).  Currently, the biggest one is just about 15 miles from here and over 20,000 acres, but the good news is that no homes or lives have been lost. Its been pretty close to town though! (See pic below...NOT my pic)


It doesn't help that the weather here has been HOT HOT HOT! We've had a couple triple digit days already, and next week is forecast to be ALL triple digits: 103, 105, and even as high as 110.  Yikes.

We tried to cool off the kids by taking them to the river. You can see how smokey it was in the background. I think the boys had fun though, although they complained the water was too cold. Amazingly, my wild energetic 5 year old was the first to get wet. That child has no fear. Good or bad thing, I don't know yet!





Love how the boys always help watch out for their sister(s).



And lastly, I forgot Feingold Friday, I know. I had planned on getting that post done last night while baby was sleeping, however I got suddenly busy. We are currently ripping out our front overgrown flower bed and putting in an awesome patio...stay tuned for before and after pictures (and by WE I mean my husband...). Last night we bought the stone for the patio. Then my husband worked into early morning preparing the ground and digging up roots (because its much cooler at night then during the day!).
Back to Feingold though...its going! I did my first shopping trip, and it was stressful. Things were going well until I left the healthy/organic foods section. It seems every brand we usually eat is full of the bad stuff (aka not real food). So...it's going to be a long learning process.
I'd say we are 80% Feingold this week...and 20% junk still. I bought the wrong hot dogs, it was free slurpy day at 7-Eleven yesterday, and I wanted to eat up some non-Feingold foods this week because I hate to waste. Next week will be better though! I have my meal plan done through the month. However we are going camping next weekend, and I have no idea how to go camping with a large family on Feingold. The organic hot dogs were $8 for a six-pack. Yeah. Not happening. It will be our last camping trip for the year though, so we might just have to forget about Feingold that weekend. Uggh I hate how easy and cheap junk "food" is. We'll get there though! I do have some recipes for homemade marshmallows...but I'm still working on how to make hot dogs healthy. Maybe that's an impossible feat though...

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Trying this again...The ADHD Diet


I've researched and read about this so-called ADHD diet before, named the Feingold program. However it seemed overwhelming and I never had time to really seriously try it. Lately, though, with medication issues and more reading I've done, I've taken another look into the Feingold program.
And then I bought it! Then I put it aside for a few months....

Reading the testimonials of how much Feingold has helped others and symptoms it helped really inspires me to give it a good, honest try!
Some symptoms in my boys that I am hoping to alleviate include:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Mood swings
  • Impulsive actions
  • Compulsive actions which include chewing of clothes, licking, facial tics, etc.
  • Other emotional issues such as depression, anxiety, irritability, etc
  • Learning problems
  • Health problems such as frequent headaches, upset stomachs, allergies, skin rashes
All of my boys could benefit from this diet change as I see these issues at different levels in all of them.
Summer is the perfect time to test it out!

I will be journaling our progress here under the labels Feingold and ADHD for easier future reference.

Step 1:
Going through the cupboards and cleaning out anything non-Feingold approved.
Make my first week's grocery shopping list/meal plan
Organize my cupboards (Right now they are a hodge podge mess and we often don't even know what we have available to eat or snack on!)

Stay tuned! I will be posting how week one's meals went next Friday. I think I shall call it "Feingold Friday" for Feingold related posts and updates. ;) (witty I am!)

For  more info on what the Feingold program is all about, visit the website http://www.feingold.org/what.php

Sunday, June 29, 2014

ADHD or Typical Boy Behavior?

I've read many a books, visited many websites, frequented many message boards and Facebook groups and yet I feel that I'm not any closer to an answer. When is behavior attributed to ADHD and when is it typical boy behavior?

Some books I've read have even gone as far as saying that ADHD doesn't even exist. These authors suggest that ADHD is an invented disorder to label hyperactive or busy children. There is a startling statistic that boys are diagnosed with ADHD at a much more frequent rate then girls are.  Also, many of these children are diagnosed based on behavior or academic issues at school. However, how much of that is ADHD verses different learning styles and personalities?

I'm going to share something - maybe a little shocking, or maybe not. So far all three of my oldest boys have been suggested to possibly have ADHD by their teachers. Only one has been diagnosed. My oldest son's teachers began to mention ADHD in as early as kindergarten. Every conference seemed to revolve around his behavior issues and ADHD. Finally we had him evaluated when he was in second grade. The pediatrician also ordered an IQ test. Our trusted pediatrician diagnosed my son not with ADHD but with being highly intelligent and bored, and his IQ test proved that "diagnosis". However,  still the school wouldn't accept that and even suggested we get a second opinion.  Thankfully my oldest son grew out of those behavior issues, thrived in school, and has succeeded on his own just fine. Imagine though if we had gotten a second opinion and that doctor had suggested medication. We would have been medicating him for no reason.

Then there is my second son. He's quite active and hyper. Teachers also began discussing his behavior very early on and throwing around the ADHD suspicions. I tried a new experimental program in which a pediatric psychiatrist from Children's Hospital met with my son and I via teleconferencing. He interviewed me and Brayden for an hour - asking a variety of mostly yes/no questions about his behavior. Afterwards he faxed a diagnoses of ADHD to our primary doctor along with a prescription for medication. I was really unhappy. I felt that it was way too easy to throw a prescription at us, and that he never got to actually get to know my son. The whole diagnosis process seemed to be far from an exact science. It would have been easy for me to over-exaggerate on my answers and receive the diagnosis and prescription even if my son hadn't had ADHD.
A couple years later we decided to try two different therapists. I think that the suggestions and information that they gave him helped a lot. They confirmed his diagnosis of ADHD. One of them suggested medication, and we decided to revisit that idea. The new psychiatrist evaluated Brayden on a couple different occasions as well as worked with his therapist. He prescribed medication and we decided to give it a go. Brayden's academics were also struggling now, and this was one of our biggest concerns. The medication had to be adjusted and changed a few times, but eventually it seemed to really work! He started middle school with A's and B's and got on the honor roll for the first time. Amazing! People were actually complimenting us on his behavior.
But then he started having adverse side effects from the medication. He developed a tic. Upon reading more about this medication, I really didn't like the idea of giving him a powerful stimulant for his growing and developing brain. So we switched medication again - this time a non-stimulant type. The tic seems to be going away finally. Yet, watching him and talking to others I really begin to doubt the ADHD diagnosis again. Yes, he's my most difficult child. Yes, he struggles with reading (although he got an A in writing!). Yes, he has impulse control issues. But he can also loves to spend  hours learning about something he loves - such as metal detecting, or rock hunting, or medical procedures. He says that he wants to be a surgeon when he grows up. He has behavior issues - but how much of that is his personality and how much of it is a disorder? And what about diet? Diet has become a big possible cause of ADHD and other disorders. Studies have shown that processed foods and artificial dyes can cause ADHD-like behavior. So then, is it his diet that is out of whack?


Lastly, there is my third son. My third son had a pretty successful kindergarten through third grade. However, fourth grade hit and he was becoming Mr. Social. He has always been silly and goofy, but he really started to get out of control in fourth grade. He gets into trouble at school WAY far less then my oldest two did, yet his teacher suggested that I have him evaluated for ADHD because he has a hard time concentrating on work in class.  I was surprised, yet not extremely surprised that the teacher brought that up at our last conference. It seems anytime a child has difficulties sitting still in their desk and focusing on work for long periods of time then they are suggested to have ADHD. However...now natural is that? How natural is it for busy, active children to be expected to sit still in a desk and focus quietly for hours? Studies show how important it is for boys to get up and move around. Some classrooms have actually experimented with this by allowing children to stand at their desk or play with a ball, etc while listening to lessons. Results showed that the students were still listening and learning while doing that, if not better!



Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I believe that ADHD is a completely made up disorder. I know that some children really do have things they struggle with. I am merely speaking from my own experiences and asking my own questions.  Is ADHD over-diagnosed? I'm betting it is - based on my experience. So then, what exactly defines ADHD? Is it an exact science or is there room for error?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun...



We made a dirt pile recently because there are not many things more fun then a pile of dirt for boys to play in....well for that matter, girls too.

Unfortunately Abby doesn't yet know the rules about taking off the Sunday best clothes before play. So, while the rest of us obediently changed clothes , Abby sneaked out to the dirt pile. She was head first in it, laying on her belly and having a grand time when we found her. Oops. I have a feeling this won't be the last time, however. While Abby loves her pretties, she also loves dirt and playing with the boys!