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Ladies and gentlemen, we have a high school graduate!

Walking in line at the graduation ceremony

Walking in line at the graduation ceremony

It has been a long road, but it has been worth it.

Our oldest (my stepson), who is on the autism spectrum, graduated.   He got his actual high school diploma, and is looking toward a bright future!  Hopefully he will be attending school in January, as space becomes available at a special school here in PA called The Hiram G. Andrews Center.  Not only will he be able to get an associates degree, but he will also continue to learn independent living skills at this residential school.  Yes, residential! We are all excited for this!  🙂

But more about that later.  Right now we are basking in the excitement and the glory of his graduating from high school.  I have not told his story on this blog in order to protect his privacy, but it suffices to say that, when I married my husband, my then little 3-year-old stepson was not expected to ever be independent.  There are many reasons for this, but we are so thankful that he overcame all of those obstacles!  Here’s a little of his educational story:

 

Celebrating at the graduation party!

Celebrating at the graduation party! Not so little any more!

  • Entered school for the first time at age 9, as a third grader (when he came to live with us).  He didn’t know all of his alphabet or his numbers.
  • Caught up to 3rd grade math, after not knowing all of his numbers, by 5th grade.
  • Was in special education most of his school career.  However, as a senior, was in a regular senior English class!
  • Graduated on time, with an 81 GPA!

When my oldest crossed that stage at the graduation ceremony, my younger boy called out, “It’s been tough, but your made it.  Go, big Brother!”  And that sums up how we all feel. He has overcome much.  We, as a family, have overcome much.  And we are looking forward to what God has in store for him.

Congratulations, buddy.

Investigation: The Case of the Missing Tablet

I am just beside myself with joy!  Want to hear a true feel good story?

When we helped out at the church’s pantry on a Saturday, my son’s tablet was stolen. He had left it unattended to come find me.  I was sad, but not surprised. We tried to track the tablet electronically, but it had been purged and reset.  So sad.  We figured that the tablet was gone. My son, husband, and I had lots of conversations about what my son would do next time if he took an electronic to pantry day, or anywhere else.  We decided to work on street smarts with all the kids.

However, my church family was not content to just be sad and chalk it up to “lesson learned.” In fact, they were pretty upset.  My “sister” Wendy, who is going to partner with me for a new ministry at the food pantry, and “Peanut,” a man who comes to the pantry and has become active in church, “investigated.” Peanut then called his suspect and told him that if he didn’t return the tablet to Peanut within 1/2 hour of when Peanut got off work, then Peanut was going to come get it and bring the police. Peanut had the tablet within 25 minutes.

When Wendy messaged to tell me, I was shocked. I’ve never had someone watch out for my family like this… and sadly to to say, especially in the church! Wendy and I were so excited, and I could hardly wait to tell my son.

“Guess what!!!” I said to my boy.

“What?”

“You know Ms. Wendy and Peanut from church?”

“Yeah.”

“They did an investigation!”

“An investigation?”

“Yes, and guess what they found!”

Pause.  Look of wonder emerges on my boy’s face.

“My tablet?!?”

“Yes!  Do you want to go with Wendy and me to pick is up from Peanut?”

“Yes!”

So my boy and I picked up Wendy at her place and went to meet Peanut at a 7-11 and got his tablet!

 My boy was so happy.  He danced, ran around the parking lot, exclaimed, “You even got the charger!”, and hugged Wendy and Peanut.
I love it that we have have a community that watches out for one another, and that we can watch out for, too.  I was able to explain to all of my kids that they have a real church family that cares for them and really likes them, a lot, and that they can count on this.  We can do the same for them, too.  I explained how rare this is, and that this is God’s love in action.  We still need to have street smarts, but we also know that someone has our backs.
Community, love, and justice.  It was a great day!

Homework

I have to say that I’ve struggled to let myself off the hook for this one. I know that if I get too busy, something is bound to fall through the cracks.  Kids know that and they are sneaky!

Last fall, I vowed to be a better help to my younger son regarding school work.  I knew that I had  dropped that ball for sure when I received an email from a teacher saying that he was in danger of failing because of missed homework.

Imagine my surprise when I found that my  “honor-roll”  student was making D’s in some of his classes, and that my precious little boy had been lying to me (“I don’t have homework. I did it in resource period.”) like some crazy teenager.

Oh, wait, he is a teenager.  Wake up call!!!

The D that surprised me was in English, most notably his spelling assignments.  He has always been an excellent speller.  I noticed that, although he was making A+’s on his exams, he was making F-‘s on his homework.  Since there was more homework grades than exams grades, his average had plummeted to a D.

I also discovered that his grades in history were dropping, mainly because he wasn’t doing his weekly homework.  I was surprised to find out that he had been expected to find a current news event– tv, internet, newspaper, etc.– to share with the class every week since school began and he hadn’t done it all year!

I called him in to review his grades. First, I addressed the history grade.  I asked him where he was getting his news articles or stories, and he said that he made something up every week to share with the class.  (Boy, I bet those stories were interesting. Kudos for creativity and imagination.) He also said that he “forgot” his current events paper every week.  I told him that I had found his weekly current event paper on the teacher’s web page, and made him  encouraged him to save it to his computer so he could print it out if he “forgot” it at school.  No more excuses.

Next, I addressed English / spelling. I showed him his homework grades and his average grade.  In response, he pointed out his test scores.  He didn’t feel that he needed to do homework if he could ace the tests. Good argument.  However, my goal was and is to teach responsibility for himself and his own work, and part of this is homework.

After our “discussion,” I threw down the ultimatum.  I told him that he needed to get his homework average up to a 70% in all classes or he would lose his new tablet computer.  That did the trick– he brought home his spelling homework and completed the whole week’s worth in 15 minutes.  Stinker!  He also had a “real” news story to share with the class that week.

So, I dropped the ball, but I got it back.  And I learned once again that even sweet little boys with autism grow into snarky teenagers.  I wonder what he’ll have for me next!

Question: What are some ways that you keep your kids accountable for their homework?

UPDATE! 2014!!! (And a giveaway!)

OOPS! Please forgive me!  I had a poll asking you readers about your new year resolutions and promised a give away.  What I didn’t realize was that I wouldn’t be able to see who posted what, so if you would comment below if you participated, please let me know.  I want to give away a Wildtree gift basket!  Give away ends 1-31-14. 

In my last post, I said that I would share my goals for 2014.  Here they are.  Short and sweet and simple:

1.  Get a handle on my business finances.  Going from one to three (four?) businesses is tricky for my adhd self.

2. Make sure my middle guy does his homework.  He’s one of these kids that makes A’s on the tests, so what does homework have to do with anything?  (I think he’s college material, so grades do count.)

This might mean that I have to start an incentive for grades.  Sigh.

3.  Keep decluttering, refocusing, and “clearing.” I feel that big change is a-comin’, and I want to be ready.  More on that later.

So what are you goals?  Participate in my poll, and  be entered in to win a Wildtree package worth $20!

From 2013: Back to the old school

Recently I noticed that I had never published this.  So, here it is for your enjoyment!

Life is never boring, is it? We’ve had a rough start to 2013 in our family.

Previously I  blogged about my oldest son’s new school.  We were really excited about the opportunity he had to go to a Christian technical school.

Turns out that the school just wasn’t a good fit.

Don’t get me wrong– I think that they were doing a great job, and were doing everything they could to assist our oldest and to help him be successful.   Our son is not the easiest person in the world to get along with sometimes, especially if you are in authority over him.  It just wasn’t working out.

Today we had a meeting to get him enrolled in the public high school.  Yep, back to the Panthers!  I was encouraged, because the staff truly seemed happy to have him back.  We hammered out his schedule, came up with new strategies, and breathed a sigh of relief.

I hope he has a great rest of the year.  I hope he graduates on schedule– 2014!  And most of all, I hope that he knows that he is in a good place, even if it is not the one that we envisioned.

A friend passed along this quote:  Sometimes when it seems things are falling apart, things are really falling into place.  I am hopeful!

Bye bye 2013…Here’s to 2014

I am so ready for a new start. 2013 was craaaaaazzzzzzzzyyyyyy.  Here’s why, including the good, bad, and the ugly:

1.  Major family crisis, which included 8 months of multi-systemic therapy (MST) for whole family.

2. Oldest son went to private school, then back to public school. Talk about IEP mess.

3.  I began two more direct sales businesses– doTerra and All’asta.  I still do Wildtree.

4.  My scrabble tile jewelry and craft business has taken off.

5.  Another undisclose-able business venture is in the works.

6. Oldest son preparing for post-high school education.

7.  Daughter began going to a charter school, which is oriented toward gifted kids.  It’s been a challenge adjusting, for all of us.  We really miss our neighborhood school, but she is in the right place.

8. I had one of the most challenging classes of my “career” teaching part time at a local college.  So challenging, I was tempted to quit.

9.  I had the amazing experience of being the guest speaker at an event for special needs moms / caregivers / wives.

10.  My hubby and I went to Hawaii for our honeymoon!  Then we came back and celebrated 14 years of marriage!  Thanks be to God for my parents, who we flew up from OK to watch our kiddos, and to the three support people who came in to check and make sure everything was okay!  (We had made the arrangements, and then a week later the family crisis hit.)

So, good by 2013… to the good, bad, and the ugly.  And hello, 2014, and all your goodness, badness, and ugliness.  For my next post I will share with you my goals and hopes for 2014.

Happy New Year!

Have you ever eaten a flower?

818531_daylilyThis was the question my son asked me when my hubby and I finally went on a honeymoon in Hawaii.  We called him from eating lunch in Kailua.  (Aaaah.)

Serendipity:  As soon as he asked me this, my food came and an edible orchid was on my plate.  I told him about it, then I had my husband take a picture of me eating it and texted it to our boy.  The orchid tasted like red cabbage.  Not bad!

I was definitely the cool mom then!

For the next few weeks, every time we went to a garden shop, home store, or even a garden he asked the store workers, “Where are the flowers were that I can eat?”

I discovered that dandelion flowers were edible.  So, before we sprayed our yard (Yeah, I know… chemicals), we tasted one.  Tasted like… nothing.

Then I discovered that yellow daylily blooms were edible.  So we each tried a petal from one that was blooming in our yard.  Again… tasted like nothing.

Recently, I harvested a basil stem from my garden. I put it on my kitchen window sill in a glass votive candle holder filled with water to keep it fresh.   I was pleasantly surprised when it rooted and grew! Hooray!  The basil began to bloom, so I  let my boy taste a flower from my baby basil plant. It definitely had a taste.

“It’s poison!” he said.

“No, it’s basil,” I said. “We usually eat the leaves.  Here, try a leaf.”

So he did.  And he liked it.  My “Mikey” is trying new things!

Later, my son calls to me, “Mom, are the stems edible?”

“Yep!” I call back.

A few minutes later I walk into the kitchen to get my baby basil plant and transplant it into the garden.  The glass it was in is empty.  I look in the trash. I can’t find it anywhere.

“Hey, have you seen my basil plant?”

“Yep.  I ate it.”

“The whole plant???”

“Yep, you said it was edible, mom!”

“Did you like it?”

“Yep!”

Guess I have to start watching my garden more closely.  I may walk out and the basil “bush” that it out there may just be gone.