Students At Home

For Everyone who Learns at Home

My Favorite Book of the Summer

How often does the front page of a book grab your attention and suck you in?

That’s what happened when I saw “Making Rounds With Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat” on the Lebanon County Library shelf. I’m a cat lover, so naturally the cat on the cover caught my eye. But I also appreciate the topic: can a cat predict when a person is going to die?

I won’t spoil the ending, but I did give this book 5 stars on Goodreads. It was a quick read and very personable. I also appreciated the inside look into an end-of-life Alzheimer’s home.

If you have a chance, check it out for yourself! And please share your favorite book of the summer. I’m always looking for new suggestions!

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Hugs: Because You are Not Alone

Erica Firment (Flickr)

Erica Firment (Flickr)

 

 

 

 

 

When was the last time you were hugged?

Ben+Sam (Flickr)

Ben+Sam (Flickr)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think about it.

Petras Gagilas (Flickr)

Petras Gagilas (Flickr)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not talking about a casual hug where your bodies barely touch and you can’t wait to escape. I also don’t mean a sexual hug. Instead, think about the last big, heartfelt hug you received. They’re the type when you cling to, connect with and share your energy with someone.

Tania Cataldo (Flickr)

Tania Cataldo (Flickr)

 

 

 

 

 

For most of us, those types of hugs are few and far between.

Kevin Dooley (Flickr)

Kevin Dooley (Flickr)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My son’s camp counselor is a hugger. I see her almost every day and sometimes twice a day. She hugs me every time she sees me.

I’m not a hugger by nature, but I sure have come to appreciate her touch. In fact, I look forward to it. It’s a gentle reminder that someone cares, that I’m important and that I’m loved.

Are you a hugger? If so, thank you. The world needs more people who value and share human touch.

If you’re not a hugger, how do you feel when others approach you and expect a hug? It’s a wonderful way to connect to others.

Whether you are a hugger or not, will you join me in giving someone an affirmative, loving and accepting hug today?

 

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Comfort in the Crock Pot: Mac and Cheese

One of my favorite foods just got better. How is that even possible? Well, I tossed a few ingredients into my trusty crock pot, and in three hours, I was dining on delicious mac and cheese.

0802141209aIf you like what you see and want to try it for yourself, here’s the recipe.

 

2 cups uncooked pasta

3 cups milk (less if you like a firmer mac and cheese)

3 Tablespoons butter

3 cups cheese (I used sharp and American, but modify the mix to meet your needs!)

salt/pepper to taste

(Add cooked ham, sausage or hamburger if you want a one-pot meal.)

 

Spray the crock pot with cooking spray to prevent sticking.

Pour all the ingredients into the crock pot and stir.

Cook on low for three hours, stirring at least once during the cooking process. (I cooked mine for 3.5 hours, and it turned out just fine.)

 

If you decide to try this recipe for yourself, post a pic here and let us know how it turned out! I’m always looking for ways to make my favorite comfort food even better! :)

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One Little Compliment Can Change a Life

Have you ever received a compliment that changed your life? I did.

My Jerusalem University College classmates and I were waiting in line during a field trip to see a significant historical site. One of my friends happened to glance down and saw my toes peeking out from my sandals. “Oh,” she exclaimed. “Your toes look so cute!”

0808141347

I have to admit I was shocked. I had never received a compliment on my toes before.

So, what did I do? I tried to show off my toes as often as possible! And to this day, I wear revealing shoes that show off my painted toes and fun toe rings. (In case you were wondering: the ring on my left foot is from Israel and features feet that remind me to walk in love. On my right foot, I wear poppies, my birth month flower.)

I doubt my friend remembers saying that to me, but she changed my life. Every time I look at my toes, I think of that compliment, feel better about myself and look for someone to compliment in return. After all, I can’t keep all that love I felt from that one compliment so many years ago to myself!

As I painted my toes Tangerine this week, I remembered that day. It made me wonder what would happen if we all chose to look for the good in others more often. Instead of focusing on the bad, annoying or frustrating aspects of the people in our lives, we could compliment them and spread cheer as we help others feel better about themselves.

What do you think?

Whether you have cute toes or not, will you join me in changing lives one compliment at a time?

If so, let me know in the comments, and please share a compliment you received yesterday or decades ago that still affects you today.

Together, we can spread kindness and encourage our friends, loved ones and even strangers simply by pointing out something we like or appreciate about them.

 

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Corn on the Cob Fan, Fanatic or Frump?

I have a confession to make.

I’m not a big corn on the cob fan.

Delicious Corn on the Cob

My parents, who have grown rows of sweet corn on their farm for at least three decades, don’t understand my lack of enthusiasm for their favorite summer meal. They wonder if all the years of corn harvests affected my current taste buds.

Every summer, we picked row after row of corn and husked all those dozens of ears. I occupied myself outdoors or with a good book when my mom and grandma shooed me out of the kitchen. Here, gallons of water boiled on the stove, and every available surface was covered with cut off corn kernels and sprayed with corn juice.

I might never know why I don’t enjoy corn on the cob, but my kids sure did jump on the bandwagon. As soon as the season starts, they’re itching to sink their teeth into a juicy, sweet cob that’s loaded with melted butter. (I think rolling the freshly boiled cobs in a stick of butter make eating this vegetable even more appealing for my kids).

0802141209Despite my lack of love for corn on the cob, I bought some at my local farmers market, husked it while our four kittens watched and cooked it up for my family.

They dug right in.

I on the other hand, ate one cob so that I could say I ate fresh corn this year, and then I eagerly grabbed the dental floss. Once everyone had their fill, I cut the corn kernels off the cobs we didn’t eat and now have a nice side dish for dinner this week. Now that I’ll enjoy!

Do you have any corn picking, prepping or eating memories? If so, let me know. I’d also love to hear if you’re a corn on the cob fan, fanatic or frump.  :)

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For All the Wounded Mamas

While driving my son to his therapeutic camp the other day, I spotted a mama duck and her five duckling. Stranded alongside the road, they battled speeding traffic to find a way across the road.

This mama duck wasn’t any ordinary duck, though.

Mama Duck and Ducklings

Mama Duck and Ducklings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She walked with a limp.

As I briefly debated stopping the car in the middle of the road, stopping traffic and helping the duck family cross the road safely, my heart broke.

Would this mama duck survive against much heavier cars and trucks? Would she be able to guide her babies to whatever they wanted on the other side? I’ll never know the answers to these questions, but I do know that duck taught me a lesson.

All mamas are wounded.

We don’t sign up to be:

  • Ignored
  • Yelled at
  • Neglected
  • Sleep deprived
  • Prematurely gray
  • Forgotten on our birthdays

But many mamas experience these challenges at least once during their mothering careers.

There is Hope

We all have choices. I admit: I wallow in the woundedness too often. However, there’s always a silver lining and hope.

1. Self-care: An escape into a good book, a warm cup of coffee, a quick chat with a good friend and even a moment of cloud watching can refresh our souls before we reenter the real world. Whether you have one minute or an hour, prioritize self-care as you heal from woundedness.

2. Gratitude: Your child’s smile, an early bedtime, an empty washing machine and a brief hug are all blessings. Can you find other things to be grateful for in the midst of your parenting challenges?

3. Prayer and God’s Word: I’m amazed by how God knows exactly what I need. And as I pour out my heart while I scrub the toilets, wash endless sinks of dishes and fold laundry, He always shows up. He heals broken hearts (Psalm 147:3), provides comfort (Psalm 119:50) and offers hope (Psalm 31:23-24) at all times, including when our parenting job is overwhelming.

We can’t get through this parenting gig without feeling wounded at least once in a while. However, we don’t have to stay there. What’s your favorite way to heal from the wounds you experience?

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A Ten-Month-Olds Letter to Santa

GE DIGITAL CAMERAThis wish list is too cute not to share.

Merry Christmas to all you dads and moms, and your kiddos young and old, out there!

 

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When Your Kid’s Not Normal and You Just Want To Quit

Some days, I just want to run away.

My youngest takes a toll on my emotions, strength, patience and self worth. It’s draining hearing him scream because of a shirt that doesn’t feel right (he was wearing it cheerfully a second ago) or moaning as he looks for the paper he misplaced (he had it in his hand when I saw him last). I feel helpless as I hear him complain about his hair as he tries to play with Legos or fight with the blanket at bed time.

I wonder why he can’t just deal with it.

But he can’t. He’s got wiring that prevents him from coping with certain things.

And I have to accept and love him. I get to accept and love him.

That’s where I have a lot to learn. I’m way too selfish and unkind. I don’t want to be inconvenienced or patient.

Instead of demanding my own way, I can learn to stop and exercise compassion.

We have a long road ahead. Our first psych eval is Monday. No matter what happens next, I have to put on my big girl panties, grow up and remember—

There is no such thing as normal. We are all different, unique and special.

And we are made in God’s image. He can’t make junk. And he knows what’s going on in my little guy’s mind and body. And he knows me. He has a plan, and I can trust him.

So for today, I’ll take an extra breath, thank God for my son and smile as I keep plugging away.

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Your Child’s Disability Isn’t Your Fault

As I cope with the possibility that my son has a learning disability, ADHD, etc, I can’t help feeling a little bit responsible.

  • I should’ve had his ear tubes inserted sooner. Then he would have heard sounds clearer, which would have helped his language/reading ability.
  • I should’ve pursued testing sooner. I wonder if we’ve waited too long and if permanent emotional damage is done to my son.
  • I should’ve fought more when the insurance company denied the initial eval. It took an educational battery from a school psychologist for us to get permission to do the testing we need.

I could go on and on, but I have to come to terms that my child’s disability isn’t my fault. I’m grateful for my friend D who reminded me of this truth today. I needed to hear her wisdom, and maybe you do too.

We can’t change the past. And just like we can’t control our kids’ actions, we can’t cause or take away their disability. But we can do something about the disability.

I’ll be calling first thing tomorrow morning for the next eval we need. And I’ll be pushing until my son and our family gets the help we need.

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Mom and CA: Child Advocate

My son participated in an IEP evaluation today. A freelance school psychologist (we’re in a cyber charter school so they outsource therapy and evaluations) gave him a grueling educational battery–and plenty of breaks–that lasted four hours. He saw the good and the bad sides of my child, the sides I see every day.

After the evaluation, it was my turn to provide a family history and answer questions. The first thing the psychologist said when I sat down to talk with him was, “Your son is very smart, but you need help.”

Finally, we’re moving forward!

I’ve been trying to get help for over a year.

We started three years ago with an early intervention evaluation for speech therapy. Our school gave us speech therapy services that have helped my son speak clearly. Our speech therapist this year is amazing with so many good ideas and a supportive and listening ear (we love her!).

Last year, I pursued behavioral help, and our school sent us to the Occupational Therapist. That evaluation indicated my son’s need for emotional assistance.

The school said emotional issues don’t interfere with schoolwork (they obviously haven’t seen him throw a fit when he doesn’t immediately succeed at reading, drawing or sports). They did give us 30 minutes of occupational therapy, though, with instructions to work on handwriting.

Our OT said she can’t help him write if he throws a fit whenever he picks up a pencil, so she’s working on emotional issues and resilience with him (we love her!).

This spring, we’re due for a full evaluation of his IEP. The educational battery eval is checked off. Now, we need a psychiatric eval.

I’m tired. I’m frustrated. I’m stressed.

But I’m my child’s advocate.

He needs me to persevere, fight, de-stress, calm down, rest.

He needs me to be his mom and his CA, and I’m ready for the challenge.

 

 

 

 

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