Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘concentration’

Fair’s Fair?

Work hard and be kind - that is allWarning: if you believe in completely fair, just and unbiased parenting, this post probably isn’t for you!

“School” this year has gotten off to a great start. (It’s in inverted commas, because I am convinced that learning is life, and life is learning – especially for children. “School” is a weird place we send kids to teach them to hate learning.) We have structured times of input, and unstructured times of exploration and discovery. The girls don’t always focus on the things I wish they would, but we’re getting a relatively balanced overview of the various facets of the world we inhabit. And we’re not bashing heads at all. (So far ;)).

What has made the difference?

The biggest lesson I learnt last year as far as education goes, was to dispose of limits. The way my mind works, this is not going to be a lesson that I “get” all at once. In fact, based on anecdotal evidence, this will probably continue to be the lesson of my life. But I am learning to let go of artificially imposed structures that limit and stunt our growth.

I’ve been placing expectations on Goldilocks that exceed what she can (or will) deliver, and imposing limits on Red Riding Hood that stunt he growth more than she needs or wants. No more.

Perhaps it would have been easier if they’d been born the other way around, with the academically inclined child first. That way, no one would think it strange when she mastered Grade 7 Math before her sister. Especially since she is only 8. But that is not our lot, and my task is to embrace and enjoy and enhance it, rather than trying to squash into the tiny, poky, poorly constructed box of my own preconceived notions.

So I don’t follow a strict curriculum of topics to have covered (and mastered) by certain times. I trust that a continual exposure to the joy of learning and personal growth, with strategic “formal” intervention points every day (such as Khan Academy, Crash Course and living books), will broaden their minds, feed their souls, ignite their imaginations and pretty much cover the bases. I hope I’m right!

That’s all, folks. A little reflection on my lessons and the impact they’re having on our lives. How have limits and expectations impacted your life, your love of learning? And how do they affect the way you teach your kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.


Why I will do whatever I can NOT to drug my kids into “normalcy”

Pills. Dubious.

Pills. Dubious.

SCD updates

We have officially been on the Specific Carohydrate Diet (SCD) for two weeks today. We haven’t been as strict as we should have been , but I’m working towards that as I get to know and understand the diet better.


We all have more energy. Goldilocks can concentrate better. Red Riding Hood has made peace with the eating plan and is startign to like some of the food. Her tummy is far less bloated and she has only complained of a sore tummy once in two weeks. Goldilocks’ bowel movements are far more regular, as are mine. Papa Bear has noticeably more energy, and has only had a couple of naps in two weeks (as opposed to at least one a day). He also has had much better moods , which is saying something since this has been a particularly tough week in other ways. My skin improved dramatically, until we introduced the yoghurt they recommend. I will admit to buying it, not making it, but it is thick, organic stuff straight from a farm, which I think counts. I sure hope so.


It is so much work. I feel like all I do is cook and wash dishes, and my business is taking strain. It’s worth it, of course, but not sustainable and this week I will try to prepare all the food in advance. My skin (and Goldilocks’) started to break out a little bit two or three days ago. I am waiting to see if it clears up, in which case we can put it down to die off. If not, the milk allergy is a problem and we’ll have to find different yoghurt.

Over all, it’s not as difficult as I thought it would be to implement now that I’m getting the hang of it. I expected that not having starch would make us hungry but it hasn’t – except for Goldilocks, who is eating more than her dad! Everyone has lost a little bit of weight. The girls have (thankfully) picked some of it back up, but Papa Bear and I are losing gradually, which is all good. We are also saving a little bit of money, rather than spending more, which is a blessing and a surprise.

SCD Updates (intro diet)

We’ve only been on the intro diet for two days. The guidelines all over the web say 2-5 days, but I think for the sake of all of our sanity we’ll transition into phase 1 tomorrow. I can’t tell you how appealing butternut looks right now!

Today I found this post, which helped motivate me a lot.

We’ve been very strict, although I did let the girls each have bananas today. Red Riding Hood has terrible nausea and vomiting, but there’s a bug doing the rounds, so I don’t think it’s related to the diet. As a result of the bug, she has only eaten the one banana and a little diluted pure fruit juice today, and most of that has come straight out again. Even so, her tummy is a lot less distended and hard than it has been up to now. Her eyes look clearer, too. I can’t say how she’s sleeping since last night was one of those hellish nights moms fear and dread.

Goldilocks has lost 2kg! This is a bit of a shock since she really doesn’t have any room to lose any weight. She has a headache and she’s been tearful most of today and part of yesterday. She didn’t seem to sleep too well, either. She’s hungry, which is a good sign since she often goes for ages not being hungry. She still hasn’t had a bowel movement, but it has only been two days, after all. Her concentration in school today was much better. (An awesome advantage of home education is that I can keep track of this myself).

Papa Bear is a bit tired and has a vague headache, but he actually seems really well – more motivated and “present” than usual. This might be a result of having more sleep since we’re pretty drained by the detox and we’ve been getting our eight hours.

I have a raging headache, sore joints and all over lethargy. Frankly, I want a chocolate bar, a pillow, and my privacy! But I know this is the natural result of yeast die-off. It’s well documented and frankly, I’m getting off lightly from what I’ve read. My skin is clearer and my tummy is a different shape – much less distended than it was on Sunday night. I am amazed at how fast it’s working!

The hardest thing to give up has been coffee. We can reintroduce that tomorrow though, so long as it’s weak. Apparently cocoa is a no-no, but I seriously need to investigate that! In three weeks it’s Goldilocks’ birthday. She learnt to ride her bicycle yesterday (YAY!!) and wants to go on a bicycle picnic for her birthday. I’m working on a menu for the picnic that is SCD-legal and party friendly.

I’ll update again at the end of phase 1, which should be in about a week or so. I’d love to hear from anyone trying the diet or considering it.

Update on costs

I was right when I said R165 seemed a little light for our family for a week. We had to top up yesterday, so week 1 is currently sitting at R210. Still not bad for our family.

SCD, here we come!

Alright, we’re ready. On Saturday we went shopping and bought everything we need for the SCD Intro Diet. This is supposed to last for three days (give or take a day), and it cost us R164. That’s really, really good for three days for our family, so I think perhaps it won’t last as long as I’m hoping. But some of that stuff will last longer than three days, like the eggs, so we’ll see.

I spent most of Sunday (the bits where we weren’t at Church), preparing for the diet. I have given my family their “last meals.” (Pies and crisps. I know. Don’t judge me). I have cooked up a gigantic pot of chicken-and-carrot soup, 36 meatballs, 8 bowls of grape jelly and a dish of purèed carrots. I also have 40-odd eggs in the fridge, just waiting to be breakfast!

Now, I don’t know how long this lot is supposed to last, but it feels like about two days’ worth. Except the jelly – that’ll get us through today only. Again, we’ll see. The intro diet is supposed to take between two and five days, so we’ll re-evaluate on Tuesday night and decide what to do next. I foresee another full day of cooking in my future, though.

Here’s what I hope to achieve from all of this preparation:

  • Fewer headaches (especially for Goldilocks and me);
  • Fewer stomach cramps (especially for Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood);
  • Better concentration (esp. Papa Bear and Goldilocks);
  • Fewer mood swings (all of us);
  • Better skin (mainly me);
  • Fewer allergic reactions (all of us but especially Papa Bear);
  • Fewer nightmares (Red Riding Hood);
  • Better sleep (all of us, but esp. Papa Bear and me);
  • More energy (the Big Bears again); and
  • Better focus.

When I list these like this they really don’t seem that serious. One might even wonder why we’re bothering with such a strict diet and lifestyle change. But the thing is that the headaches are really debilitating at times, leaving the girls in tears and me wishing I could get away with tears! The girls spend a lot of time doubled over in agony at their stomach cramps (and their relief is our demise as they expel the offending bubbles. Sorry to share but this journey is important to me and I need to remember as much of where we started as possible so that when I look back I can see real change).

My skin breaks out all the time. It’s painful and decidedly embarrassing, given that I really am too old for this kind of thing. I’ve even had to cancel client meetings because of my skin (or headaches, or tummy troubles). Papa Bear and Goldilocks battle to concentrate and often Papa Bear’s not even here, despite being physically present. He also battles terribly with hay fever, and his hay fever, tiredness and tummy troubles have kept him out of meetings and appointments, too. Not being able to concentrate affects us all and I imagine things can only improve if we have better moods and better focus.

My vision for the outcome of this new eating plan is that we will have energy, joy, focus, time (because of better sleep and better planning), success (because of more confidence and fewer canceled appointments), and all-round awesomeness. I know the beginning is very tough indeed, and I don’t expect it to be easy, but I am looking forward to the long term results. I’ll keep you posted.

Blood, sweat and tears?

Hard work. We’re none of us strangers to it. It comes with the territory, part of our heritage from Eden. The old adage says it never hurt anyone, but there are more and more evidences of that being something of a misleading theory. The fact is that people die from stress, anxiety, lack of sleep and depression all the time – and a lot of those things are caused by working too hard for too long.

Why do we work so hard? Well, we don’t want to be seen to be lazy. That is certainly my issue. If I work hard, no one will ever call me lazy, and I will always have the moral high ground. Right? Well …

Another reason is that we want to keep up with society’s (and out own) expectations of us. We need to earn X or buy Y. We need to live in this sized house in that neighbourhood. Our kids need to go to a particular school. And so forth.

Or perhaps we have no choice. Our circumstances, partners, employers or life choices might have resulted in a situation where the only possible solution is to work hard. (This is also covered in the Lesson I’m learning about promises).

Proverbs 24:33Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

34So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.

Whatever the case may be, I know that working hard has been the persistent theme of my life. I don’t mind and I’m not complaining. In fact, I like it. I feel righteous and energised when I’m busy, and stressed and confused when I’m not. I like to be doing. I don’t entirely believe this outlook is healthy and I’m working on not passing it on to my daughters. I’d prefer them to have a balanced outlook on life: work is good, but so is rest. In fact, rest is commanded in the Word. I guess God knew I was coming, and knew I’d need a shove in the right direction. (Because it’s all about me, ya know.)

DD#2 has inherited some of my approach. She is no workaholic, but she likes neatness and order, and will jump just as high at a chance to wash dishes or laundry as she will at an opportunity to play or watch TV. We relate. On the other hand, DD#1 is much more about being than doing. She enjoys thinking and dreaming and staring off into space and creating fascinating things. More like her dad in that way. In many ways we are very alike, particularly in how we see the world. In this way, we are not.

The result is that while DD#2 is racing through her work and is nearly halfway through Grade 1, DD#1, three years her sister’s senior, is about halfway through Grade 2. At this rate, by the end of the year, they will be doing the same work.

I don’t know if this is a good thing or not. I do know that if DD#1 was still at a conventional school, she would have a serious problem keeping up. And the thing is not that she is in any way mentally challenged. Quite the contrary, in fact. The thing is that concentrating on the task at hand has never been important to her.

How can I complete a table of numbers from 1 -100 when there are jungle gyms to design and pirate treasures to bury?

How indeed?

Today, when it had taken her 30 minutes to write the numbers from 1-70 into a grid (and she should have gone to 100), we had a Serious Chat. I stopped “education” for the day, and laid out the whole scenario. I admit that I was frustrated, but I took a deep breath, got some coffee and reminded myself that it’s NOT about finishing a worksheet every day. We sat down together and I explained that by not realising the importance of concentrating and finishing the task at hand, and by taking three times longer to finish anything, it would eventually reach the stage where both girls were working together on the same work. And the logical extrapolation is that she’ll finish “school” at age 27! Perhaps I should have kept that tidbit to myself, but I proceeded to explain that I would by no means keep home educating all that time.

The thing is that I know her potential and I want the best for her. The best for her does not include spending eight hours a day trying to keep up with her peers because she refuses to focus. It does not include a sub-standard education because she won’t keep pace. It does not include me not getting any billable work done (and us starving and living on the street) because I spend all day acting as her conscience and External Concentration Device.

Despite my calm tones and good intentions, we ended the morning’s education in tears, and called it a day. Fail. I don’t think it’s right to allow her to miss out on her potential, and I know that I was honest but gentle too. How could I have handled this better?

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