Thursday, March 31, 2011

Some things I'm learning...

My ADD has been un-medicated for nearly 8 years. I did well with meds when I was teaching full-time but during our infertility struggles, pregnancy losses, subsequent deliveries of Flicka and Pojke, and nursing both until nearly 24 months each, I spent from 2003 - 2008 either pregnant or nursing someone so I was unable to take any stimulants.

I'm a big advocate of metacognition and behavior mod - knowing *how* I learn and finding ways (and repeating them) to work around the difficulties my ADD contributes to my life. I've discovered many strategies that help me through any given day or any given challenge from potty training one of the Vikings to taking a college class.

So, I've been reading a new-to-me book called "Odd One Out: The Maverick's Guide to Adult ADD" by Jennifer Koretsky and she has some more ideas I might be trying soon...

ADD-ers often have trouble falling and staying asleep. So, they don't always sleep well and, as a result, often have difficulty getting up in the morning. Koretsky suggests using a multi-sensory idea that I really like.
"Instead of relying on your alarm clock alone, try engaging your senses. Leave the curtains open before bed so the sun comes in during the morning. Set a stereo in another room to go off when you need to get up. Set up an air freshener or aromatherapy diffuser to turn on around the same time. Don't just try to wake up your body, wake up your mind by activating your senses." (pg 67)
Another thing I struggle with is sitting still through meetings and classes. I went to a seminar recently where the speakers provided all sorts of pipe cleaners, stress balls, and the like to play with and manipulate during the day. I LOVED it! For some ADD-ers, if their bodies are engaged with something, it's easier for their minds to pay attention. The author had some other ideas as well.

Not only "get physical" for better focus, but also get visual. "Some ADDers find that visual stimulation allowed them to pay better attention. This may mean focusing on visual cues, like colors or written words." Koretsky went on to describe a client who was having trouble staying awake in a lecture class. By bringing colorful pictures and drawing with her to class, she found that simple being able to stae at the colors while listening tot he lecture activated her brain enough not to get bored and doze off.

And, don't forget the auditory. For me, I explain to people that ADD has "broken" the filters in my ears. It seems I can hear everything exactly the same volume from what's going in front of me to the person three rows back to the sounds coming from a distance hallway. And, it's hard to stay intent on just what's going on in front of me.

As a result, I'm often completely overwhelmed by crowd noise. This is my most frequent challenge on a regular basis - especially with small children. Repetitive, high pitched noise are *completely* my kryptonite! LOL After a long, busy day with the Vikings, silence is my best friend!
However, for other ADD-ers who are auditory learners, they find that adding music or other background noise helps them concentrate.

Finally, many ADD-ers deal with impulsiveness as a symptom and/or they are also hyperactive and have trouble sitting still. Koretsky suggests several ways for an ADD-er to express themselves.

1. Move it: for example, use a vigorous workout to relieve your stress or take a leisurely walk to clear your head.

2. Write it: Koretsky highly recommends journaling for ADD management. It's a great way to process your thoughts, feelings, and frustrations.

3. Speak it: This one is my favorite. You ask any of my friends (particularly DaHubby LOL) how I best process things and it's through talking it out. Verbal processing helps me "clear the air" between my ears, organize my thoughts, and often reach a decision or solution on my own.

Finally, I love what the author says about communicating your differences to others. Her suggestion? Frame it with "I work best when...."

I may get feedback or criticism from people who don't "get" how my ADD affects me but Kortesky says "...don't apologize, don't justify, and don't try to change simply because someone else doesn't understand you." ADD-ers just need to say things like "I pay attention best when I can fidget" or "I actually read better when I have some background noise."

This book has given me some really solid strategies that will help me deal as well as help me to help others better understand what it is like to live inside my brain for a day! LOL

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy Blogoversary to ME!

FIVE years? Seriously?

Five years ago today I sat down and opened up my first blog at Faithprints. The core group of ladies I met there are still bloggy buddies of mine. They watched and read as I recovered from Pojke's delivery, lost 2 more angels to heaven, lost DaHubby's brother to cancer, and witnessed the miracles of DaHubby's sister surviving leukemia and our church elder walk after break his back after falling while cleaning his gutters.

I've participated in countless challenges and even hosted a few.

And, right on the edge of deciding whether or not to step up and start earning money blogging, I basically walked away. Life was just too complicated. Twitter and Facebook took away my desire to contemplate and fill out a fleeting substantial thought while we buckled down under DaHubby's school, layoff, graduation, hiring, and moving away over the last three years.

I miss blogging regularly. I really do. I'm now more interested in my original idea as an online journal as opposed to all the "stuff" I was doing before. I miss chronicling the Vikings adventures because, while Facebook will capture moments and an occasionally picture, I really wanted to document and archive more than that for the long-term.

So, here's to another re-commitment to blogging. The upcoming move from Michigan to north-central Illinois has got me jumpy - partially from anxiety and worry and partially from excitement. And, I don't want to miss a moment!

Thanks to the original Faithprints ladies (Anita and Sara in particular) and those I've met since who continue to root for me and encourage me and my writing. The dormant English teacher in me appreciates the validation. LOL

Here's to another year of self-discovery and archiving!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Bottom Line

What's your bottom line for your children's education?

If I asked you "what are the top three things you want your child(ren) to take away from their initial education" (I'm talking K-12), what would they be? Independence? Free thinker? A good citizen? Excellent grades? A certain religious/ethical outlook? An athlete on scholarship?

I've thought a lot about it...particularly since we're struggled between our local public school district, school of choice options, and homeschooling to find the right fit for our family.

Fortunately, I've relied on my husband's input, prayer and trusted my "momma gut" and we are completely thrilled with Flicka's school where she completed kindergarten and will soon complete first grade.

However, as usual, I'm going against the flow and the decision of nearly all my fellow momma friends who chose our neighborhood schools. So, I get asked ALOT to explain over and over and over again the choice we made. Plus, I think my teacher training and experience makes me a little different type of "consumer" when it came to what I was looking for from an educational system.

Most of the time, I've felt defensive when questioned. Mostly because I couldn't really put my emotions, concerns, and "momma gut" into words that made it understandable to someone else.

But, finally, it dawned on me the other day when I was talking with a mom who was very concerned about the way her district went about doing their standardized testing at the lower elementary grades. That district, according to her, tests the kids immediately upon returning from summer vacation, re-tests second semester, and then touts their excellent improvements.

Doesn't seem like a particularly fair assessment to me - and it didn't seem that way to her either. And, I mentioned that (particularly with conferences last week) I really appreciated how Flicka's school seems to rely on smaller, more frequent assessments more for her teacher to see where they are and where to go next as opposed to focusing on standardized testing and its results.

And, the clouds parted and the angels sang! LOL

It occurred to me and my little rebel brain...I DON'T CARE HOW FLICKA DOES IN STANDARDIZED TESTING! *gasp*

While it's wonderful to see improvement through her teacher's assessments and Flicka's work from one quarter to the next, I DON'T CARE IF SHE'S AT GRADE LEVEL AT THIS POINT! *double gasp*

The overall reason I wanted a different situation for Flicka was that I was looking for someone who would work with me to create a LIFELONG LEARNER, not a good test taker.

While I was a good test taker, my comprehension and retention often weren't the best thanks to my ADD. Meanwhile, Mike never has found test-taking particularly easy or worthwhile but because he's crazy smart and eternally curious, he can blow the doors off just about any challenge he tackles.

I want Flicka to LOVE LEARNING because it feels AWESOME to learn something new and hit that A-HA moment! I want THAT type of magic and innocence to last as long as possible before the testing becomes necessary.

Thankfully, Flicka's teacher agrees with me wholeheartedly.

"Beth, we don't 'teach' kids to speak. They're immersed in it. They try, they fail, they adjust, they figure it out. Reading is much the same way. Keep her immersed in reading and writing and her reading skills will increase in leaps and bounds."

That's MY bottom line. So, what is YOURS?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Getting Enough

How much is "enough"? How much 'til one is happy? Or, how little does one need to be content?

As I mentioned yesterday, we've been slowly shedding things and attitudes the last year or so. While it has often lightened our hearts and shown us what's truly important, we are still swimming against the tide of popular beliefs.

I've sat in different combinations of moms this last year or so hearing about how crazy someone's schedule is, how unhappy they are that their family never has time together, how they wished they could stop but just couldn't. To which my mind quietly asks "why not?"

I've listened to other moms explaining about they couldn't POSSIBLY drop this or that activity or sport to do more of the things they *know* they should be doing like mentoring/discipling their kids, praying individually and as a family, serving others as an example and/or as a family because what would their friends, neighbors, kids, etc. think!? To which my mind whispered to me "so what?"

We've had many material things taken from our hands in the last year or so which has caused us to look at what we *really* have and what we *really* need. And, given an opportunity to "splurge" around my birthday earlier this month, I struggled to supply gift ideas for something I wanted. Even after everything that's happened, there was nothing I could think of that I needed.

Then I saw this quote in a Bible study I've been doing since the beginning of the year.

"There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less." - GK Chesterton.

Which would you choose?

And, as things begin to improve during 2011 and 2012, Lord, let us use these additional resources You've provided wisely. Keep us from reverting back to our former paths of comsumerism and needing this and that that counts nothing to eternity.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Still in a season of pruning

As one has probably noticed, my blogging has become sporadic the last year or so.

DaHubby was in school full time while still working full time for nearly two years. We didn't see him much. Then, as DaHubby's hours got cut in 2009, our financial problems became more worrisome. Then, in February 2010, our finances went into "panic mode" when DaHubby was laid off. DaHubby graduated in May of 2010. But, the layoff stretched into 3...then 6...then 9 months when we finally got word he'd been chosen for a new job...that started 3 months later in January of 2011.

So, the week after last Christmas, DaHubby moved two states away for this new job. Due to our mortgage, the housing market in Michigan, and our desire that Flicka remain in school as long as possible, we decided that the Vikings and I would remain here. We've been living apart with the occasional weekend visits for 3 months. And, it really stinks. LOL

And, yet, through it all, God has sustained us. From when DaHubby went back to school the summer of 2008 up through this month, we have been stunned silent and brought to tears by the generosity, caring, and service of people all around us. There are more stories than I have room for here but I have no doubt that it has been God's hand working in His perfect timing.

While much has been showered us, God has still seen fit for things to be stripped away. The easiest process to see was financially. We lived nearly an entire year on $350/month unemployment and whatever else we could scrape up or shake loose. There is no other explanation than God that we have incurred NO NEW DEBT and are still current on ALL our bills.

But, God's been stripping us of other things as well. Life is much simpler now. We haven't been able to afford eating out, vacations, traveling, new gadgets, big birthday parties, classes for the kids, sports, or a big Christmas. We do more with less and spend more time doing things around the house together. My house is never clean but it has definitely been well lived in these last few years.

Our confidence has been shaken and our faith stretched. We've learned what it REALLY means to "let go and let God." Nearly all of our control was taken out of our hands at one point or another. We've had to real focus on what do we really fear and why are we so worried and anxious about things. We've seen prayers answered in heart-stopping ways. We've had to learn that GOD is enough. He is all we need.

I wish I had been documenting all this along with way but I was just unable to. My mind has been swirling for way too long and I was just to focused on the short-term survival of my family.

And, yet, we're starting to see the end of our wilderness, the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometime in the next 3 months, the Vikings and I will join DaHubby in Illinois. We will leave our beloved Michigan for a new adventure. We know that this is where God is leading us but the way is still scary and there's still a long way to go before things begin to balance out.

But, we're still standing! And, more importantly, we're still believing!