Monthly Archives: January 2015

Books & Bonding

“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.”

— Kate DiCamillo

Today when the bus arrived Kaylee said she wanted to take the book with her to school.  No Way!  I am NOT letting her read on….  We are reading this book together and loving every minute of it.  It was tempting to not just finish the chapter while the bus pulled away, but I resisted.  It will be much more fun to finish the chapter when she returns.  As much as I love to read and as much as I want my kids to love reading, reading to them is still something that I have to be very intentional about. Sharing a book together and reading aloud doesn’t just happen, It takes two parties agreeing on the same activity at the same time.  However, it is definitely worth the effort.

A study once found that if you ask a kindergartener if they like to read books outside of school, 100% of the students will say they do.  But, if you ask a fourth grader that same question, only 54% agree.  What changes in that student?  By the time a child reaches fourth grade, they can read independently so instead of a parent grabbing a book and inviting the child to read with them, the parent hands a book to the child and tells them to go and enjoy it…..alone.  Reading stops being a shared activity and may become a chore.  Reading aloud to your children is the single most important contributing factor to their success in school in ALL subjects.

In addition to the academic benefits to reading aloud to your child, you will also find many other perks.  Any time spent with your child is an opportunity for bonding, but time spent reading is a guarantee for quality time.  While reading, you are focusing on your child and one book.  You can not multitask, you can not entertain other distractions.  This will show your child that reading is important and even better, time with them is important.

Reading together also gives you the opportunity for many discussions.  Characters in your book may or may not be like your child, you may or may not agree with their choices and you can discuss these things with your child in a non-threatening way.  What easier way to talk about a school bully than by reading a story about one?  You can then share your experiences and maybe how you would handle the situation differently than the character. Also, your child may open up to an experience they are currently going through.

I don’t like to fish so putting on my boots and heading to the pond with my son is not a way I want to spend my afternoon, but sitting on the couch under an afghan with a book about fishing is definitely something I’m willing to do.  Books allow us to experience activities, hobbies and interests with our children that would otherwise not occur.  I have no intentions of swimming with the sharks….but I can read about it!

Most parents know and recognize the importance of reading to children & do it naturally with their young ones, but I find that even the most attentive parents need a little nudge to keep reading aloud to their children as the children get older. Kids are never too old to be read to and they will begin to read to you too.  It happens often in my home…I read an article in the newspaper out loud, my son shares something he’s reading on his phone.  We DO read aloud to each other, we just need to be more intentional about it.

And, parents of adopted children have to make reading together even more of a priority in their homes.  Many adopted children come from less than stellar backgrounds.  The children may be behind academically and reading will help them improve their vocabulary and comprehension skills.  In addition to that, reading together is a non-threatening way to have a child sit on your lap or near to you and for a child to share stories & experiences and ask questions.  Sometimes it’s easier for a child to initiate conversation when their eyes are diverted to illustrations on a page.

I hope after you read this you will find a child and share a book with them.  I have to go now.  The bus will be here soon and I can’t wait to see how Mallory and Mary Ann will be able to keep their pinkie promise!

Mallory and Mary Ann Take New Yorkwww.LoveKidsLoveBooks.com

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Marshmallow Treats

They sincerely are THIS easy….who knew?  I think I used to make them, but then, probably burned them in the pan and had to scour the bottom, so I stopped.  However, technology is my friend and I have mastered Rice Krispie treats in the microwave.  I wanted colorful confetti looking ones so I made Marshmallow Fruity Dyno Bites (yes, store brand) Treats.  Butter and marshmallows in a microwave safe bowl, into the microwave…..now here is where the technology comes in…I hit a “melt” button, I choose “#4 – marshmallows” – I choose #2 – 10 oz and I push start.  They come out (i must admit, they needed about 20 seconds more on high) melted and ready for the cereal.  I stirred that in and placed in a 9 x 13 pan.  Seriously, less than 5 minutes.  Do you see the possibilities?  Cocoa Treats? Honey Nut O Treats? How about I clean out the cereal cabinet and use a cup of each box that’s in there?  Could be interesting and entertaining as long as I keep finding those marshmallows that I bought for some reason (can’t remember what) in the pantry.

For those of you who don’t already have this, I’ve included the recipe!

Microwave Rice Krispie Treats

3 Tablespoons Butter or Margarine
40 large marshmallows (or 4 C mini-marshmallows) – hint:  It’s a 10 oz bag

6 Cups Rice Krispies (or cereal from your pantry)

Directions:  In a large microwave safe bowl, heat butter & marshmallows at High for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes.  Stir until Smooth. Add Cereal, Stir until coated.  Press mixtures into a 13×9 inch pan coated with cooking spray.  Cut into squares when cool.

ENJOY!

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Do NOT suggest Time Out.

Today Paul and I had dental appointments scheduled.  As I walked from the car to the door of the office, I could hear the voices in my head.  “He doesn’t do well with brushing.  Have you taught him how to floss?  Does he have toothpaste of his own he could use?  We’d like for him to try and brush after every meal.”  I hear the voices.  I hear the condemnation.  Paul does brush (& I use the term very loosely) every day after an argument that lasts longer than the actual brushing.

“Did you brush your teeth?”
“I will.”
“When? The bus is going to be here in 3 minutes.”
“I said I will, ratzenfratzengobblegook.”
“what did you say?!”
“I’m talking to myself.”
“If I can hear you it’s not to yourself!”
“It was to myself stop listening.”
“Stop arguing and brush your teeth.”
He heads to the bathroom, the brush is out, the water runs…
“You need to go, the bus will be here!”
“I know, and see, I brushed my teeth.”

Really?  That wet toothbrush simply touching his teeth is called “brushing?”  This scenario plays itself out in about every daily activity that we try to teach Paul.  At 16 he has been taught and is capable of brushing his teeth, but his special needs brain refuses to allow him to comply.  It is so much more entertaining or controlling for him to refuse this daily task.

So, as a parent of a child with more letters in his diagnosis than are in his full name (which he truly can’t spell,) I often want to have a neon sign that I wear on my head that I can change to fit a plethora of situations. It would come in mighty handy when meeting with doctors, social workers, & school employees to name a few.  This idea came to me when we had a meeting with our fifth Behavioral Specialist.  At the intake meeting I noticed that Paul’s file had bold letters written on the first page.  It said, “Do NOT suggest time out.”  It made me laugh because it had been written by the previous Behavioral Specialist when he suggested Time Out.  At his suggestion, I educated him on all that we had tried.  Did he sincerely believe that by the time we had been assigned our 4th BSC (Behavior Specialist Consultant) that we had not tried time out?!  Did he think we were idiots?!  Paul is our fourth child and he wants to suggest Time Out?  Like we hadn’t already tried Time Out, Time In, Positive Reinforcement, Sticker Charts & every other thing that we read about in books, magazines and even in classes we attended?  I let him have it with both barrels.  I told him in painstaking detail all that we had tried and failed at.  By the time a BSC enters your home, it’s pretty evident that typical parenting techniques are not going to cut it.  SO, the “DNSTO” got as much attention as a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) would get on a medical file.  I was relieved.  No one was going to state the obvious to me again.  Yet, they do.

Pediatrician:  “He appears to be gaining weight.  Have you tried limiting screen time & having well balanced meals?” (Yes, as a matter of fact, I attempt to feed my whole family well, but he steals bacon and eats it raw and chases it with a bullion cube dissolved in water.)

School:  “Paul should wear a coat on cold days.” (He didn’t have time to grab it because he was busy arguing about brushing his teeth.)

Well Meaning Clueless People: “He shouldn’t be pushed so hard,  Have you considered medication? You take it too easy on him, Have you thought of getting him off his medication?  He seems to be tired all the time.  Have you ever set a bedtime for him? He seems to do fine at my house…….BLAH BLAH BLAH.

Maybe that’s what the neon sign should read. “Blah, blah, blah.”  Or maybe just “I tried, do you want to?”  I sincerely believe people do mean well and think they are telling me something new.  And, if there is anything new to try, I certainly would, but after 14 years on this journey to wellness, we have tried about everything (I better save that for another blog…Wilbarger Brushing & Auditory Therapy cannot be explained in a few sentences.)   What we need is someone to encourage us to keep trying, to keep fighting the good fight.  Someone who assumes we’ve tucked him in at night, taught him how to brush his teeth and provided him with the necessities of life.

SO, today they did.  Those voices in my head were ALL wrong!  Today Paul and I had dental appointments scheduled.  The voices I heard were real voices.  They said …..drumroll please…”Paul’s a great kid.  No cavities.  You’re doing a good job.  That kid always has a smile on his face, does anything ever get him down? He was worried that he wasn’t doing a good job, but his teeth look fine.”  He must have good genes (They’re not mine) where teeth are concerned. It certainly isn’t due to his diligent dental hygiene, that’s for sure!

Thank You Dr. Bonnett and Staff.

And, if you are parenting a non compliant, oppositional defiant, child, let me be your encourager today.  I want to let you know you are doing a good job.  I know you’ve tried to convince him to wear shoes that match.  I know you washed her face before you left the house.  I can tell for certain that his choice of dirty sweat pants was not yours.  Some of us fellow parents in the trenches can see your invisible neon sign that says, “You don’t get it.”  But, relax, I do.

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The Lord Spoke To Me

I wanted to share an “ah-ha” moment with Paul.  We were sitting at the dinner table sharing about our day and I said, “Today while I was doing laundry, the Lord spoke to me.  He said in a loud, deep, booming voice, ‘ Lii…inn……da….”  No. No He didn’t, but I did get Paul’s attention and I do believe I had a “moment.”  Maybe it was God speaking to me though I’m not one of those people who says the Lord speaks to them in an audible voice.  I have never had that experience, but yesterday, my “moment” felt like it was God sent.

My family has been battling illness for 17 days (but who’s counting?)  In an attempt to keep from sharing germs I have been diligent with changing hand towels, sanitizing door knobs, and doing mountains of laundry!  Piles of sheets, throw pillows, and afghans have been a laundry room floor covering. Laundry has been non-stop.  Yesterday, I had my head inside my front loading washing machine to get that last dingy white tube sock that was stuck to the top of the drum, when I recognized how blessed I was.  (The “moment.”) I was doing laundry.  I was well enough to complete this job.  I was doing a mundane task that I typically dread, but I was aware…very aware of what I wasn’t doing.  I wasn’t frustrated with my husband’s choices like a friend of mine was.  I wasn’t struggling with how to support an unemployed child.  I wasn’t choosing a casket for my parent or spouse.  I wasn’t rushing to the emergency room.  I wasn’t in crisis yet many people I know were.  I was not & I was grateful.  As aware as I was of the fact that I wasn’t doing any of those things, I also recognized that some day I will probably have to.  Today my prayers are with those who are not doing laundry.  I wish you strength during this time and I pray that someday, you, too, will be doing laundry again.

A Time for Everything

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 New International Version (NIV)

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

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Anne of Green Gables – A Foster/Adoption Story?

book tree

Well, I finally did it.  I read Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.  I really enjoyed it.  I must admit that a boxed set of Anne of Green Gables books has sat on my daughters’ book shelf for years.  I never touched them.  (I’m not sure they did either until recently!)  However, in June, after my son shot part of his thumb off & I was as traumatized as he was, my friend, Judy, mailed me a copy of this book and thought I should read it.  I loved the sentiment, but must admit that when I started it, I found it too wordy to read aloud to my 8 year old daughter and not quite “intriguing” enough to read it for myself.

This Christmas, I asked my adult children to simply gift me a with a book of their choice for me to read in the new year.  My daughter, Lori, chose to give me Anne of Green Gables.  OK, I get it.  I needed to read this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’m not sure if I would’ve if it hadn’t come so highly recommended, but I trust Lori and Judy and I read in earnest.

Amazing!  Anne of Green Gables is full of intrigue.  Why did Judy choose it for me when I was going through an extremely difficult time with my adoptive son?  Was it because Anne has the ability to look at every situation with rose colored glasses on?  She is extremely grateful and uses her imagination to dream away any sorrow.  Was that what I was supposed to do?  It certainly would’ve helped. Or did Judy think I should read about how Anne of Green Gables became part of a family because in addition to Anne’s sunny disposition, there is some real foster/adopt stuff going on that I could relate to.  This book was written in 1908 and much of it applies today. On page 7, Marilla gets to hear what many of us get to hear when we hint that we may be fostering or adopting.  Mrs. Rachel, the “well meaning” neighbor, speaks her mind:  “Well, Marilla, I’ll just tell you plain that I think you’re doing a mighty foolish thing – a risky thing, that’s what.  You don’t know what you’re getting.  You’re bringing a strange child into your house and home and you don’t know a single thing about him nor what his disposition is like nor what sort of parents he had nor how he’s likely to turn out.  Why, it was only last week I read in the paper how a man and his wife up west of the Island took a boy out of an orphan asylum and he set fire to the house at night–set it on purpose, Marilla –and nearly burnt them to a crisp in their beds.  And I know another case where an adopted boy used to suck the eggs — they couldn’t break him of it.  If you had asked my advise in the matter–which you didn’t do, Marilla –I’d have said for mercy’s sake not to think of such a thing, that’s what.”  Some of us have heard very similar versions of that story when we made our intentions known.  And, some of us live and struggle with those stated behaviors!

By page 12 most people would start to diagnose Anne with ADHD.  Oh the chattering about anything and nothing!  Words, words, words.  Was she trying to block out her reality as she drives to a new place with a strange man?  Can you imagine how she must’ve felt heading to an unknown place with only the clothes on her back?  There are about 400,000 Americans in foster care now who know.

Now I’m not going to tell you the rest of the story…this isn’t a book report, but I do want to challenge you to read this book. Anne is a child who is charming, annoying, quirky, and comes to her new family with a lot of baggage.  She is a survivor and so are her foster/adoptive parents.  She can teach us a lot.  Now, if you don’t have any interest in the foster/adoption part of the story, I think you will benefit to possibly trying to think like Anne a bit.  She is inspiring with her imaginings and there are timeless quotes that we should all take to heart.

“Tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it.”

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think.  It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

Thanks Judy!  Thanks Lori!  True kindred spirits!

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January 1, 2015 – Beck To Basics Blog Goes Live

OK, so in response to those who say, “You should write a book,” I’ve been saying that I would write a blog and plan on making it public in 2015.  Well, it’s officially 2015 and I feel as though there should be something of substance on my blog to share, yet, once again, I recognize that it is just my ramblings & stories.  BUT, when I share my ramblings and stories, that’s when people say, “You should write a book.”  So, I make it official.  I am ready.  I am ready to tell people to check out my blog.  I will post it on facebook & share with friends that they can read about my life in my blog.  See me throwing in some accountability there?  I have to say it or it won’t happen.

New Year, New Resolutions?  No, not really.  I said one thing…I will write a blog and work on my other writing more.  Cool.  I’m heading in the right direction.

For those of you with loftier New Year Resolutions, I wish you all the best.  I wish you success if you grow and grace if you don’t.  Don’t be too hard on yourself….it’s the new year.  Be kind to yourself, we are often our own biggest critics.  Like I tell my kids when they are down on themselves, “No one is allowed to treat my child like that….not even my child!”

Treat yourself well.  Happy New Year!

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