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

Posts tagged ‘Teaching Tuesdays’

Ironing out the kinks: growing a small business, dealing with health challenges, and making home school work.

juggling life's priorities is a full time job

Juggling life’s priorities is a full time job.

Wow, two and a half months since I posted anything on here. I’d planned to post something every single day this year – or, at the very least, a few things a week. Ah well, the best laid plans of mice and men and moms, I suppose …

Life has been busy.

My time has been split along three clear lines this year. Number one has been establishing my business. Now, I know that as a home schooling mom, that perhaps reflects poor priorities on my part. However, as the breadwinner in our family, I really don’t have a choice. It’s pretty simple: I don’t work, we don’t eat. And if I don’t have an effective, successful and efficient business, with a team of busy staff, then we’ve got nothing. So, some days the girls just get along with their education as best they can while I work out the kinks of a growing agency.

Number two has been figuring out our various health issues. Goldilocks’ Tourette’s Syndrome has been wreaking havoc with her ability to speak recently, and the effect on her confidence has been marked. She’s a deeply empathetic child, and has been battling more and more with bouts of what she refers to as being “down in the dumps”. Little Red Riding Hood has her fair share of challenges, which will form the subject of other posts. Suffice it to say that she’s needed a lot of attention recently. And of course, my dear old body just isn’t playing along. I really need a strong body, able to lift heavy weights and meet challenging deadlines. I need to be able to go for days at a stretch without paying too much attention to the every last gram of poison on my plate. Unfortunately, I have no such thing. Aside from digestive concerns, which sound petty but can be debilitating some days, my back decided to fight back against the chronic abuse inflicted on it by years of poor posture. The result was two days of excruciating agony in which I could hardly walk. Thank God for physiotherapists (and the means to afford one!). On top of it all, my skin has only once looked worse than it has these past few months. This makes client visits a real challenge, despite the fact that these form the basis of my business. (I may have a solution at last, though. More on that to follow).

Finally, I’m working out the kinks in home education. Really, the main problem is that Ambleside just seems too easy. We read stories, draw pictures, watch opera, dance to medieval music, and race through easy maths (involving multiplying Roman numerals!). We sew fluffy pink horses, draw butterflies and newborn hamsters, and circumnavigate the globe using Google Earth. And we fastidiously and meticulously neglect to complete a single timeline of any kind. It seems to go too fast, yet too slow. Each day’s school work takes around 3-5 hours, which is a tricky amount of time to budget accurately. For now, I’m focusing on giving the system a chance to take effect. Next week is exam week, which promises to be very revealing.

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Operation: GET SORTED!

Operation: GET SORTED is well under way - and delivering results!

Operation: GET SORTED is well under way – and delivering results!

I am a creature of habit. I crave order, discipline, checklists. I LOVE to be organised.

However, I don’t often achieve this. When I am extremely busy or feeling terribly indulgent, I let things slide. Perhaps the girls have been extra cute and very good, so I “go easy” on them tidying up. Or I have a million deadlines screaming at me all at once, and I’m just happy to be left alone to get on with it. On those days, I don’t care about how neat the house is as long as no one’s breaking their neck tripping over toys! (We’ve had some close shaves).

The problem with “going easy” is that I can’t operate in chaos. As my environment gets progressively less organised, I get progressively less productive – and so does everyone else. Eventually, I snap. and nothing gets done at all. I stare at the walls in panic, exuding the faint, glowingly peaceful hum of one who has passed through hysteria and is travelling the calm, terrifying waters on the far side.

If I have a PLAN, though, then I can cope. And until now, I had no plan. I didn’t know what to do next, nor had I any idea how to do it. I couldn’t picture how to fix my mess. Where should stuff go? Where should I start? How should everything be organised?

Some time ago I shared a link with a friend of mine who is just embarking on her very own home education journey. I liked the ideas and principles on this site, but there’s a lot to read there, so I’d never taken it further. Besides, I rationalised, I have a system – one that I paid for. That must, surely, make it better. Right?

Now don’t get me wrong. I like what we have and it has worked so far. But not well enough. As long as I feel adrift in panic, the system isn’t working for us. It was time for a change.

And that’s why, as of next week, we’re switching to pure Charlotte Mason teaching, using Ambleside Online as our reference point.

Clearly, making this decision was the catalyst I needed. Since then, we have become more neat and organised than ever! I have completely sorted all but the office and garage (aka well of lost plots and disaster centre of the known universe). I’ll do those two on the weekend (if I can restrain myself!). I have also vowed that we will all stay this tidy FOREVER. I realise how optimistic and unrealistic that sounds, but I think everyone can see a benefit this time, because we have so much more structure, because they all helped get us to this wonderful, uncluttered place, and because I have promised to throw away anything that I find out of place!

It feels so good to have an ordered space, and a way forward.

I’ll keep you posted.

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

Pills. Dubious.

Pills. Dubious.

Curiouser and curiouser: interesting theories on ADD, migraines and digestive issues.

Goldilocks and Papa Bear both have ADD, apparently. It not much of a surprise – there are long lines of it on both sides of both families, after all. When Papa Bear was in school, there was no such thing as ADD, of course. In those days he was simply told to “apply himself”, and that was that. Nowadays, between research, technology, advanced medication, overcrowded classrooms and curricula that seem to expect way too much from teachers and pupils alike, we have a different solution: medication.

I must admit that before we had the option of home education, we did go the route of medicating the problem. The results were marked and mixed, and not the subject of this post. However, the final result of all of that was to find a different solution. As you know, a large part of the drive behind creating this blog was to document the pathway to that solution, so that I wouldn’t forget it.

First of all, I can say unequivocally that home education is the best possible solution for my little family. It is ideal for our temperaments and thought patterns, as well as (surprisingly) our hectic lifestyles.

But there’s more to education and a lifestyle of learning than simply how you get your basic facts into your head. What with innumerable allergies and intolerances, and a family history of epilepsy, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, cancer and chronic migraines, I’ve always been interested in what we eat and how that affects us. I may have mentioned the wonderful supplements we take, which have done wonders for our health and energy. But even with a completely gluten-free/dairy-free lifestyle, and the world’s best nutritional supplements, we still have ailments. The girls and I all battle with gastric cramps and the attendant pleasures that go with that. We get headaches and blurry vision. Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate, and Papa Bear has the added distraction of being very, very tired all the time.

Furthermore, Goldilocks and I both twitch. In both of us, it started out as chronic, though barely noticeable, blinking. It progressed from there to forehead and cheek twitching and has gained an added dimension: vocal tics. I won’t bore you with the details but, simple put, we make sounds. I’ve been doing it for years so when Goldilocks started I knew what it was. I was disappointed for her as I’d hoped it was a stress-acquired thing in me and in no way genetic, but I could fully understand what she was going through. The sounds she makes resemble throat-clearing, and have become more and more obvious. Eventually one evening Papa Bear lost his temper with her and insisted she stop. Not understanding how she could control it for brief periods, only to be driven to do it even more prominently later, he assumed she was doing it on purpose, albeit subconsciously.

Shocked at his dramatic reaction, I realised it was time to act. I spent most of that night researching “chronic compulsive throat clearing in children“. The results were astounding. I discovered that tics of all sorts, from minor to major motor tics and a wide range of vocal tics which essentially comprise passing air through the nose or mouth in different ways, were all related. These are more prevalent in people with OCD or ADD of even degree. If two or more motor tics and a vocal tic are present, and if these present before 18 years of age, the correct term for the condition, no matter how mild, is Tourettes.

Huh.

I had actually been told this before, but since I didn’t think much of that particular doctor, I’d dismissed it out of hand. Now, however, I was faced with rather more concrete evidence.

Having already booked a doctor’s appointment to investigate my permanent thirst and frequent visits to the bathroom, I decided to bring this issue up there and settle it once and for all. And whaddya know. Tourettes. Both of us. So that was interesting. (The other symptoms appear to be linked to an overdose of coffee rather than anything more sinister, since I am in perfect health in every other way (besides gastric issues) – apparently two to three pots of filter coffee each day is not an acceptable average. Go figure.)

Since then I have been researching the various treatment options for Tourettes. (In short: none). It’s not serious or life threatening. Mild cases don’t even impact your quality of life in any significant way, bar teasing at school – enter Home Education! And of course it has no impact on intellect since the majority of Tourette’s sufferers have above average IQs. Well, I could have told you that :).

I have also been researching ways to perfect the gluten free lifestyle since I do still have a lot of complications with this. For instance, my weight has plateaued and nothing shifts the slightest gram. I have chronically bad skin, which is frustrating given my advanced years. I cramp and bloat and all those other lovely dinner-table topics we don’t like to discuss in huge anonymous fora like these. I stumbled across something called the SCD diet – have you heard of it? Now, that is the topic of a whole post on its own, and this one is already rather long winded, so no more on that here. What fascinated me about it, however, was the link between SCD and autism, with a huge number of parents of autistic children recording amazing results in their children’s health on this diet.

Hmm.

The lady who works for us is a genius and bona fide genetic scientist. She is also dyslexic and mildly OCD, so when she was studying genetics at university, she did a lot of research into the link between OCD, dyslexia, ADD (which her brother has) and genetics. Turns out: there’s a big link. Apparently any damage to chromosome 21 cause these neurological (not psychological) problems. Mild damage causes mild problems (very minor OCD, manageable migraines, etc), while the more damaged the chromosome is, the worse the results, until you get severe autism. This can be caused by birth complications, genetics or vaccines. (I am not a scientist, I’m simply repeating the results of a LOT of reading. Obviously, I may well be wrong here. I’m just saying it’s interesting). But with a family history of ADD, ADHD, OCD, epilepsy, dyslexia, migraines and now Tourettes, it certainly gives one pause for thought. Surely there must be a link?

Even more curious: how can a diet developed specifically for managing digestive issues have such a significant impact on both autism and ADD? I can’t wait to dig deeper and find more because it really is fascinating stuff. I’ll share what I find as I go along (this might be a good time to suspend your membership if this is too dull!).

 

 

Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity

This week is HOLIDAY week for our family, and I doubt I’ll post before the weekend. So I thought I’d share this brilliant video to keep your thoughts churning this week. It really embodies my views on so-called “traditional” schooling.

Tell me what you think.

Above Rubies

Diamonds need polishing to shine.

Diamonds need polishing to shine.

Recently we had a conversation around the home ed table that got me thinking, and inspired this post. My DDs (who finally have names, BTW). There’s a lot of back-story here, so please forgive me if I ramble just a little.

What it boils down to is that, when I correct the girls’ work, they don’t enjoy it. It’s not how I say what I say. It’s what I say, and the fact that I say it at all. The fault is mine: until we started home education I really never saw the role of trainer as mine. I thought I did, but the truth is that I was far more focused on making them feel good about themselves, and helping them see themselves as the awesome beings I see when I look at them.

Of course, now my job is different. I still need to make them feel good about themselves, but it is also my job to ensure that they become the best versions of themselves that they can possibly be. However, no matter how gentle I try to be, they don’t like to be corrected at all. Whatever they deliver, having been delivered by them, is obviously perfect in and of itself. (I confess to sharing this attitude a little bit, and it has been a large part of my life’s work to change that).

This week I explained to them about diamonds. When you take a diamond out of the ground, it’s ugly. In fact, often it resembles little more than a muddy bit of rock. You need to wash it. When it’s clean, it still doesn’t look like much. You now need to get rid of all the bits of it that don’t look like the diamond you have in mind. You have to cut and shape it. This is called “editing” when it relates to written work. Finally, you have to rub it, polish it, shine it up to get that beautiful, crystalline, reflective gem that is so valuable and priceless – not to mention super strong.

Along the way you will, no doubt, have lost a lot of diamond. But none of that has worth; it’s only when we’ve refined it that it has worth and meaning. This is the same as any work we do. I explained to the girls that their work, to me, is like priceless diamonds, but if I don’t help them by editing, polishing, shaping the work, it will never shine like the precious gem it is.

So now we no longer ask: “what do you think?”. We say, “how can this be better?”

I know this is probably pretty obvious, but it really had an impact, and seemed to help them a lot.

Double-minded Homeschooling

This post from AlphaOmega really spoke to me this week, so I thought I’d share it here. I’m sure some of you out there relate to this. I sure do.

“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8).

How many times have you doubted your decision to homeschool — one, two, ten, more? I lost count on the number of times I failed to trust in God’s provision and care. As a Christian parent, I knew we would never succeed if I continually allowed my emotions to be tossed around each time something went wrong. Doubt may be a natural human response, but either God had shown me to homeschool or He hadn’t. Instead of looking at the waves of adversity, God asked me, “Will you walk by faith and trust in My leading?”

Like the man looking for help to heal his son in Mark 9:24b, I cried out to Jesus, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

Meeting me in my limited faith, the Lord gently showed Himself faithful as I sought His wisdom to homeschool each day. God first encouraged and empowered me with the truth of Deuteronomy 6:7 and other verses where God commands parents to “teach them (Scripture) diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Next, He provided constant encouragement through several loving homeschooling families. Facing doubts of their own, we found strength together in prayer to fight unbelief (Matthew 18:20). Most of all, the supernatural answers to prayer and the Holy Spirit’s guidance confirmed that our family was indeed walking where God desired.

If your doubts are outweighing your faith in homeschooling today, the Lord is waiting to show Himself mighty to you. Like Thomas, He doesn’t want you to doubt any longer. Simply cry out, and He’ll show Himself to be Lord of your homeschooling. “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed” (James 1:6).

Father God, thank You for Your grace in leading our family on this homeschooling adventure. Please, increase my faith and help me to see Your perfect plan for our family. In the name of Jesus, Amen

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