Parent and Youth (Ages 9 to 15) Workshops

I’m going to put these thoughts on paper and maybe come back to them and maybe not.  I’m thinking that an outreach to parents and their children between the ages of 9 to 15 could be very beneficial.  Especially for younger parents and parents that find it difficult to talk to their children about sensitive issues such as sex education, self esteem, drugs and alcohol, etc.  Workshops geared to parents and the children of this age group together could possibly strengthen the parent/child relationship and prevent un-wise decisions.  The workshops would have to be fun and interactive for the kids and parents.  There could be breakout sessions.  The workshops can be geared to mothers/daughters.  Also to fathers/sons.  The workshop can help initiate the conversations about difficult subject.  There could be professionals who can come in and talk about respsecting self/others and how to navigate through the craziness of society and being a pre-teen/teen.  This can open up discussions between the parent and child, through games, worksheets, icebreakers, etc.  The workshops should be ongoing and can possiblty involve work at home.  There can be breakout sessions for the parents to discuss topics and for the children to also discuss topics.  The professionals/volunteers can send agendas to the parents before the start of the classes.  This would be beneficial to parents who maybe made the wrong choices when they were younger.  It can give them new ways to think and talk to their childern. With both parent and child present at the workshops they can learn how to work together and put ideas on the table.  There should be emphasis on self respect, prevention, etc.  It should be open and offer both Christian and secular views.  This is just an idea.  I am not a psychologist.  Just a parent of a 10 year old.



Since I’m about 80% negative and 20% positive I’m going to try a different approach now. If I just shut up for a second I can find that there are many things I am grateful for.

I’m grateful for…

1) The opportunities to learn about Jesus

Up until I was about 24, I knew nothing or even cared about being a Christian. I thought that all of those people would just judge me and harp on me about all of the sins I’ve committed. I believed that if I walked in to a church after having my daughter that it would end up burning to the ground. My viewpoint changed when we did a lunch book club at work with “The Purpose Driven Life”. I learned that God didn’t want to bash us for all the wrong we’ve done while being on this planet and that He created us for His purposes and loves all of us unconditionally.

I started attending a church in my area that was surprisingly very accepting of my daughter and me. It’s been about 5 years since I’ve started learning about Jesus. Perfect, I am not. It’s good to know that Jesus came to save the hurting broken people because I am definitely one of those people. There wasn’t some big event where I was magically saved and healed of all my imperfections but there are little changes. I’ve learned (and am still learning) to trust Him in the things I can not control. That can be difficult but as I’m becoming stronger in my faith it’s starting to get easier. Understanding the bible is an adventure. Most of it confuses the heck out of me but sometimes little passages will stick with me. It’s awesome to know that God loves us for being us and that even though we may have screwed up in the past, He forgives us and has removed those transgressions from us.

Forgiveness gets us back on the right path. Sometimes people are so caught up in all that they did wrong that they can’t move forward in life and end up falling deeper in to sin because they have given up. I’m glad that I understand that I’m forgiven because that has freed my heart to try to do better. It gives me that push to try harder without being afraid of making a mistake and knowing that if I do that I will be forgiven.

There is still so much more to learn about Jesus and as I’m learning I’m trying to teach my daughter too. Maybe she’ll have a better understanding of God’s love and turn away from the sin that I walked right in to.

2) My Husband and Daughter

Although my daughter came to me unplanned, I can’t say that she completely ruined my life. What would I have been like if I never got pregnant? Who knows, can’t worry about that now. My daughter pushed me to strive harder. I could have been a mom who sat back collected welfare and shot out more babies. The thought of the state raising my child was unacceptable to me. Luckily I graduated high school before having her, so I went to business school when she was a year. Got a great job and was able to get affordable daycare close to home (by God’s grace and I didn’t know it) .

My husband loves both of us and also gets along with my daughter’s dad and step mom (as much as we can). He does so much for us and even if he was unable to I would still love him dearly. He’s taught me a lot about myself and has opened my eyes to things I never noticed about myself, family, and daughter. He’s a hard worker and is helping me to have more faith in myself and abilities. Marriage sometimes has challenges but those experiences help to strengthen our relationship.

3) My Job

Sometimes I complain about my job and I know that is wrong. With the economy, I’m lucky to even have one. There were some rocky moments and challenges in the past 3 years. I almost thought I was not cut out for my position and that all I’m really good at is simple data entry jobs. I wanted to drop myself to a lower level job so I didn’t have to be challenged as much but it seems like my opinion about my job is changing and that I’m starting to become more confident. This is the only job I’ve ever had that has grown me and challenged me. Got me out of my shell and has given me purpose in life. My coworkers depend on me and that makes me feel good. I like when I can help people and show them how a process works or how to run a report. For some reason during those rocky 3 years I developed a fear of being depended on. I was afraid to contribute anything but now I know with a little confidence, patience, and one step at a time things can be accomplished and I can help others.

Rubber Duckies are Awesome!

You may be an adult and from seeing this title believe that I’m a big baby. Okay so maybe I am and I tend to get over excited when I see rubber duckies in a store. So much that my daughter is the one telling me “no!”. My collection is small right now. Simply because of my self control and not buying all of the duckies that I see in the Oriental Trading catalog.

Bargain ducky shopping is the greatest though. I found a large ducky at Bath and Body Works that was on sale for $3. My daughter just rolled her eyes at me, mainly because she was jealous. We saw a similar ducky at a toy store at Grove City Outlets that was $24.50 so this was a bargain. I added my discount ducky to my collection and I’ve recently added two “groovy” duckies also from Bath and Body Works. One with flowers and the other with peace signs. My other duckies are smaller and came from my husband who helps to feed my ducky addiction. This causes my daughter to roll her eyes so much that they almost roll out of her ears.

My newest idea is to create a “Ducky Goes” blog (my daughter will probably put herself up for adoption at that point). I would take the larger ducky to various places and take photos of the ducky at these places and then write a little info about the place that ducky visited. I’ll need some inspiration to do that though. For it will be more than just my daughter rolling their eyes at me. I’m one to say “who cares”. Being silly is more fun than being serious all of the time.

This would be especially interesting as my daughter gets older. Most teenagers are embarrassed by their parents but they probably don’t have a mother who takes a rubber ducky everywhere like an insecure 5 year old with a “blanky”. He, he!

Holiday duckies are so darn adorable. There are Halloween duckies, Valentine duckies, and Easter duckies in my collection. There is a machine at our local Kmart that vends little duckies (and stickers) for 50 cents. Woo, hoo! Of course, we also have the quacking key chain ducky with a blue light and one with blinking lights.

Yes this is a silly little hobby that won’t amount to much in the end but maybe a smile on my face.

I’m Back

This is my first post in many many months. Sorry about that. Most days my mind is blank and I can’t think of anything to write but I finally broke down after my husband asked me when I was going to write something after the 50th time. (wink, wink)

So life’s just creeping by. I haven’t saved the world or anything. Things at work have been getting better. I’m FINALLY more confident. That was not an easy task as I’m better at telling myself I can’t rather than I can.

My daughter seems to be doing good in school. Improving on reading but still her weakest subject. She loves math and barely complains about having to do homework. The spelling curriculum this year is very different. Instead of giving them a list to practice and test on each week she gets one list to sporadically practice for two weeks and then she’s tested. I’ve found that I have to make her practice more at home because her scores have dropped in spelling due to this change.

We’ve been suffering through “snowmageddeon”. It’s getting old… not sure what mother nature has against us. So yes, I do take advantage of our “fossil fuel” energies just like all other American’s but I didn’t discover any of this stuff for the rest of the world to use and kill our environment. Maybe a weekend with the Amish will help us to figure out how to live without power for another weekend. Although, I’m not sure how we’ll get through another “powerless” weekend without strangling each other. Well, we really shouldn’t complain because there are so many people in worse situations than ourselves. Look at Haiti, I’m sure they don’t complain as much as us spoiled Americans despite all that they have to go through on a daily basis.

So our family project is trying to make a Lego town for our train set. Putting together the kits are fun and relaxing. It is a good stress reliever. I’m so proud of myself that I can build a model designed for 7 to 12 year olds. I wasn’t a Lego kid when I was young but there’s something about building that’s just calming. Especially after looking at numbers all day. Sometimes it’s nice to do something with your hands that has color and you can be creative. Speaking of creative, my husband’s going to have to find fun creative ways to sort out the massive plastic bin of old Legos that we bought off of my 12 year old brother. It’s become a daunting task and I’m sure he’s having nightmares of little Lego men chasing him. Well at least I think he’s having nightmares because he’ll suddenly scream “No, No! Go away Lego man! I’m gonna build something to blast you away! I’ll be back in an hour!” Just kidding!! Although after playing with those little blocks of color for several hours you can visualize them when you close your eyes. I’m not sure how far we’ll get with this project but I think it would be awesome to have a whole train village made of Legos.

Another little activity that’s a great way for my daughter and I to bond is painting pottery. We found a cute little clay painting shop in our town and we’ve become addicted. Again, it’s one of those things that’s just relaxes you. You can paint the stress away. I have absolutely no artistic talent but I love doing that.

Hmmm… thinking of what else I can write about it. Right now, I’m watching my daughter spread papers all over the living room floors while the dogs look bored out of their minds.

Well it has certainly been a long time since I wrote. Our Christmas was nice. My lovely husband bought me an Easy Bake Oven and A Claymation Christmas.  Two wonderful childhood memories.  Thank you husband! You are the greatest.  New Years Eve was okay.  We went to First Night Pittsburgh walked around and watched some shows.

My daughter has a love for animals so we have been trying to visit Hog Heaven Rescue Farm in Cochranton PA.  They are an awesome little farm that cares for abused and neglected horses, pigs, alpacas, and donkeys.  It’s a place where she is actually old enough to volunteer and feel like she is being helpful.

So I’m out of things to write about for now but I hope to be back soon.

God Answers Prayers in His Own Way and Time

So I’ve learned this recently today… I was reading our church newsletter and was made aware of a new ministry that provides assistance to single mothers with material items, mentoring, and general help for things like maintenance, etc.  The ministry is called Side by Side and it is expected to launch in early fall. 

I recall back before our newest pastor became our pastor I was invited to a focus group and I had mentioned doing some sort of ministry/small group/interest for single moms.  I didn’t think anyone was listening but possibly God had held that thought in someone’s mind to move on in the future.  It may have not even been me that put that thought in someone’s head but maybe God was listening to me somehow.

I laugh because I’m no longer a single mom but maybe I could possibly be able to help out with the ministry.  I’ve been there, done that.  I know the stresses that single moms face and possibly the guilt they hold inside of them.  The challenges of dating, finding sitters, needing “me” time, wishing the father would just take the kids for a week, the glares you get from strangers, etc.

The ministry would also help families with special needs.  Can you believe it?  Another area I am passionate about.  I don’t consider my daughter to be “special needs” as much now but I do understand the challenges of finding the right daycare, preschool, speech therapist, IEP meetings, behavior management, theraputic support specialists, healthcare, autism, learning disabilities, project DART, early intervention, Allegheny Intermediate Unit, all of that! 

However, I do not have training in counseling, I have an associates degree in business administration… Hmmm!  I have a little experience in social work from an internship in highschool with the Union Aid Society (our hometown assistance). Who knows if I can even get involved but I can’t believe this is finally happening.  For some reason, I did not think our area had a need for this kind of help… maybe they truly do and possibly God could use me somehow someway… maybe.

Results of Parent Teacher Conference

We finally had our parent teacher conference today and I was surprisingly shocked to see the improvement that my child has made this quarter. For about 60% of the day she is in a learning support class and has an IEP. She is in the mainstream class for handwriting and specials. She receives speech therapy twice a week and occupational therapy once every two weeks. The OT is mainly to help her improve on her handwriting. She tends to rush through assignments and can be sloppy. She has to work hard to write neatly but does a great job when she gives the extra effort.

The school district has given her a diagnosis of autism which helps her get the services she needs. I’m fine with it as long as the label does not follow her around for life. The Watson Institute was unable to give her this diagnosis when I took her for an evaluation when she was about four. They said that socially she did not fall anywhere on the spectrum because she was able to go up to people and attempt to have a conversation. Plus she is very “hands on” with people, always wanting to give hugs. It’s possible that she might be slightly autistic but the symptoms have decreased greatly as she”s gotten older.

During the conference I was amazed to find out that she’s doing well in math. That was one of my weaknesses at her age. She was able to go beyond her goal on one of the skills even though it was just recently introduced to her.

Her reading is still a challenge but she is at about 92% on the first grade sight word list and 95% on the second grade list. Last quarter she was around 82% on both. Her teacher is a little stumped on how my daughter puts sounds together. When you break it down to her and ask her to repeat it back to you she will totally hack it up and put sounds where they don’t belong, etc. There is no actual medical reason for her speech problems besides the chronic ear infections since birth to around three. We are still fighting the ear infection battle though. We’re on the third set of tubes. She is being phased out of private speech at the end of May. This means that the major issues have been resolved.

At home and at school we are having problems with her attitude. She is doing a lot of eye rolling. So much to the point that one of her classmates is really offended by it.  So he’ll bring it to her attention teacher’s every time she does it now.  I had to laugh when I heard that because it’s usually an adult who would be offended not a peer. She can be rude at times because she’ll yell at you when you ask her to do something and be overly sarcastic. I’m thinking it’s just another one of those behavioral phases that she’s going through. We tend to run in to behavior difficulties with her in the middle of the school year.

I was happy to hear that her rocking in her seat during class has decreased. She gets to use this neat little “bumpy seat” that I guess gives her the sensory stimulation she needs. I think it was a nifty little invention for jittery kids. She gets frequent breaks to help allow her to play with putty or another fidget toy to give her the deep pressure sensations she needs.

Sensory issues with children interest me. I read portions of the book “The Out of Sync Child” and found many of the situations mentioned in this book pertain to my daughter. She craves deep pressure which is why she’ll squeeze me till my eyes pop out and will bump in to people for fun. I’m not like that.  I can’t stand to have people too close to me and get uncomfortable during hugs from people other than my husband.

I am glad she is progressing well. We’re still tossing up the idea of summer school. They are only doing it for three weeks this year at the end of summer. Personally, I don’t know if she’ll gain much.  I think she’ll get the same experiences during the summer day camps.

Because I have a little bit of experience being a parent of a “special needs” child I may do more postings on this subject. For a long time, I didn’t believe we would ever get as far as we have. I used to hate the fact that there was something wrong with my child but no exact diagnosis. I couldn’t make any excuses for her odd behaviors such as biting, hitting, hugging too much, and speech delays, etc. I am happy to know that these things are not permanent and she can make improvements.

Taking It Personally

“Taking it personally” this seems to be my life motto however it is a dangerous motto to live by. When you take everything personally it severely limits your ability to try new things or “go that extra mile ‘. You always fear making a mistake or having someone become angry at you. I’m the type of person who we’ll give up at the first sign of disappointment. I’ll put up a stop sign when the traffic light is green because in my mind I see no real reason to try.

It’s a bad thought pattern because I am completely unaware of my own potential and it causes me to prevent myself from setting goals. I’m beginning to learn that this is a horrible way to think. It is probably a good thing that I realize this because that’s when I’ll decide to change. Being totally unaware of your negative behaviors will continue to keep you” stuck in a funk”. At least realizing them will put you on the road to improvement. You may end up in the slow lane but proceeding with caution is probably a good thing until you can muster up enough confidence in yourself to merge in to the faster lane.

One thing that I noticed with change in my own life is that if I move too fast or put way too much effort in to the change I’ll burn out and the thought of proceeding with the change makes me sick to my stomach. I struggle slightly with depression so on good days I’m all for making a change but on my lower days I lose total confidence in myself.

I’m glad that I’m realizing that negative thinking is getting annoying. How long can someone live in a low negative mood without jumping off a bridge? I don’t like the days where I feel doomed and hopeless. Those days actually make me sick. I do wish that the days where I’m in a better mood would come more often. Then I could really consider making some significant changes within myself.

Because I do believe in God, I will be patient. It would be great if I had a steady mood and could do everything without getting tired or crabby but I realize I’ve been like this for a long time. Possibly since grade school. So I’m depending on God to help me through these challenges and I realize it won’t happen instantly. I see small improvements here and there so I’m hopeful although there are those days where I wish I could change instantly but I know it would just feel fake.

Since today I was in one of my good moods I will end this post by saying “this day went well and I thank God for every minute of it.” If tomorrow does not go so well… I’ll thank God for giving me another day to live, love, and learn.

Small Brains Big Hearts

Brandy and Tippy are supposed to be dogs but  I am convinced that they are a mixture of dog, cat, and human.  Both of them sort of behave like dogs, but there are also those behaviors that make me think otherwise.  Brandy perches herself on the windowsill just like a cat and stares outside at the birds and rabbits.  Tippy is very jumpy and she’s afraid of anything that moves.  She doesn’t seem to like humans. Who doesn’t know a cat that despises humans?

These furry creatures also possess some human traits. Brandy is very easygoing and carefree. She’s overly forgiving (which is more of a dog trait) and wants everybody to like her. Tippy is very expressive. She’ll let you know when she doesn’t understand you and thinks you are an idiot simply by the look she gives you.  She’ll often try to communicate by staring at you and making short whining sounds until you do something for her like give up your seat.

Both of them are great additions to our family. We got Brandy at Pet Smart when we were simply getting dog food for Tippy. Oh well, looks like Tippy got more than she asked for. Now, every time we try to go to the pet store Tippy rushes to the door growling and showing her teeth and then proceeds to bite Brandy on her ear. Well not really, she doesn’t come rushing to the door. In most cases, they get along with each other.  Sometimes we’ll catch them snuggling with each other or sharing a toy.

I often wonder what they think of us. I’m sure that Brandy has nothing but positive comments for us, “I love these people, they are always leaving the toilet seat up and the treat box partially open! I am always willing to help myself!” Tippy’s comments would be a little more heartbreaking “If only I knew how to drive, I’d take myself to the Heights where the smart people are. I am way better than this and hanging out with a boxer mix is killing my reputation.”

These pups are the rulers of this house. They take up 90% of the bed. Leaving space just enough for me and my husband to lay our heads on the mattress while the rest of us are hanging on the floor. This is the price we have to pay for our decision to have TWO dogs!

It’s not so bad because those bed hogging pups are also there to listen to you when you’re complaining about your daughter’s messy room or something that your husband does that drives you nuts.  Free therapy, is the way I think of it. I simply think of my dogs as little people with small brains and big hearts.

Published in: on March 21, 2009 at 8:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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First Childhood Crush

I am not an expert in parenting and this is my first time being a parent but I recently found out that my 8 year old daughter has a crush on a boy in her class.  I honestly think I’m in denial somewhat because I still see her as a baby.  Obviously, it’s okay for her to like someone in an innocent way.  If she smiles at him excessively and gives him a valentine, okay.  As long as she is not hiding uder a table kissing him then I am fine.

Looking briefly online, I see mixed responses on this subject.  Some people say as early as 7 while others said age 11 for the first crush.  I’m assuming that it depends on the child and their emotional development.  Boys will naturally have a first crush at a later age simply because they are less emotional than girls.  It was funny how a child shows that they are interested in another.  Girls will do the goofy notes and phone calls while boys may play rough or tickle someone.

Since my daughter is more of a tomboy she will tickle and play rough instead of the “princess” I love you mushy stuff. 

This is a new adventure in my parenting life and I will try my best to talk to her about the appropriate and safe ways to have a crush.  My biggest fear is that she will not have the self confidence to say no to a boy when she gets older.  She may depend on a boy to make her feel good about herself and that’s where a good child could make a major mistake that will leave a deep scar on their life.

Personally, if I could do it all over again, I would have waited until marriage. I was 19 and unwed when I had my daughter.  If I had waited, this would mean that my first child would have been born out of love and I probably would have been able to bond with her so much better.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter so much and I just wish I would have picked a better time in my life.  I may not have my own insecurity issues and would have been more confident if I would have waited to have that “first time” and many more.

This society frustrates me because you are considered the “odd ball” if you are still a virgin at age 18.  Is anyone aware of the damage that we are doing to ourselves deep down? It may be fun and “feel good” while we’re doing it but at what cost?  Honestly, abstinence should be encouraged more and not just by adults telling teens.  Teens need to really consider this themselves too.  I believe that it would have been worth the wait.

8 Year Olds and Attitudes

Sometimes I feel like my daughter is already a 16 year old or at any of those teen age years where parents don’t know anything. She is only 8 though so I’m not sure where she learned how to talk back to me. She doesn’t do it all of the time and is mostly compliant but there are times when we’ll ask her to do something and she’ll sigh like we’ve just asked her to clean out the garage or something. Then there are the times when we’ll tell her to stop doing something like annoy the dogs and she’ll shrug her shoulders and in a shreaky voice scream “what did I do????”. Let’s see, almost get your cheek ripped off by our psychotic boxer mix!

Then there are the times where you would think she was alaready menstrating because she’ll break down crying over something little like having to re-do a math problem. Gee, maybe the teenage years we’ll be a godsend.

Well, I know it could be worse. I remember one day when I picked her up from daycare and there was another girl around the same age as my daughter that was screaming at the top of her lungs “I hate you daddy!!” I’m relieved that she has not screamed at me in public. I could see myself shrinking down to the size of a pebble if that ever happened. I would then take her home, stuff her in a large cardboard box, and ship her to her dad’s house with a note saying “do not return until 21 years of age”.

All in all, I can’t complain too much because I think 8 year olds are pretty cool. You are able to have conversations that don’t involve the words “put that down!” or “no, no don’t squeeze the kitty”. Well, possibly I could have those types of conversations with my daughter since she adores pets.