Category Archives: Parenting

Feeling stupid not generalizing

So this week, I had 2 typical experiences in new settings in close enough time, that they shined light on each other….

  1. Darin went to day camp and got in lots of trouble the 1st day. Then I figured out he didn’t have 1-on-1 support, that was added, and he was able to continue with daycamp.
  2. We tried putting Darin in a class at church, so we could listen to the sermon, and he lasted 10 mins… and Joel missed the rest of the service sitting in the hall with him.

And it clicked for me:
Church is the only setting where we try to put him in a class without 1-on-1 support, pretending in that setting he is typical.
We don’t do it at school, or day camp, or VBS.
But week after week, we are shocked it goes terrible at church.

Unfortunately, this realization was not accompanied by a solution.

Interestingly, the sermon at the church we visited today was about Act 6:1-13, where the 1st church had to address unmet needs within the church.

I wish this didn’t feel like a unique need that not everyone shares. I don’t want to be the one with the need.

What are other special needs kids doing within small churches?


Relief in a realization

The special needs community’s perspective toward education is pretty unique. There is an ENORMOUS amount of pressure to be a legal guru in order to convince the local public school system to educate your child as well as possible. Many time, the same families who send all their typical children to private school invest tons of energy into mastering the public school.

Yesterday, I attended a conference where many of the breakout sessions focused on convincing your school to allow your child with a disability to be “included” in general public education.

I felt the familiar self-doubt creeping in:

Why am I not trying harder to win this fight to have Arabella & Darin get a free, appropriate public education? Why do I feel so much more comfortable with my children in private (even though non-inclusive) schools?

And then I felt relief, as I have so often recently, as I remembered something from Carole Joy Seid‘s seminar. I’m not sure how to repeat her whole thought, but basically it was that historically, public school was not the preferred choice – it was for those who had no other choice. Those with choices had governesses or mom’s as their one-on-one teacher.

I realize why I don’t wanna train & join this fight: I don’t believe MY children should be educated by the government.

And it’s a relief for me to realized this & quit feeling like a wimp.

I hope this doesn’t come off as judgement on anyone. This relates to my parenting of my children.

I am in the process of bringing all my actions into alignment with my values. I’m sure you are in the same process.

Walking in another person’s shoes

As part of homeschooling, Holden and I just enjoyed Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I really enjoyed one topic it helped us to contemplate: beauty & comparison.

Several times in the narrative, discussions of the preference for blonde hair (Laura’s sisters hair color) vs brown hair (Laura’s hair color) came up, and Laura was clearly made to feel inferior. Each time, it was intriguing to see Holden get angry at the feelings of rejection this made Laura feel. He immediately focused these feelings on Mary. Then we talked through this – did Mary chose to be blonde? Was she actually doing anything hurtful to Laura?

Later in the week, Holden came out of the library and mention the librarian helping him had been a lady who he though originally was a man. We talked about how it would feel to have people perceive you differently from how you wish they saw you. I could see that relating to Laura had prepared him to relate to this librarian.

I love learning this stuff with him!

Book: My Sister’s Keeper

This week, I’ve been ready My Sister’s Keeper.
I picked it up with no info on it, just looking for a mindless read.

Target: MISSED!

This book has knocked me on my butt, & put into narrative some really personal struggles.

Namely, how do we parent each child individually & as part of the family?
Especially, how “right” is it to assume that they each prioritize one another as you do?

As a parent of 3, with one child sandwiched between siblings with Down syndrome, I’ve formed opinions on this that were challenged and examined in this novel.

Quick summary of the family in My Sister’s Keeper:
Jesse – 18 yr old brother
Kate – 16 yr old sister with leukemia
Anna – 13 yr old sister, born by IVF to be a genetic match to Kate, so her umbilical cord blood can be used to treat Kate’s leukemia

Broad issue of book:
Is it in the best interest of Anna to be a donor to Kate?
Who gets to decide?

I’m not in this specific situation, but I am reflecting on both how decision about Holden’s life are effected by the sibling’s developmental differences…
How my attitude prioritizes each child.

Interesting, emotional read.

Confession & attempts to do better

Here’s the confession:
Structured/disciplined spiritual training (discipleship) has been really hard for our family. Failed attempts outweigh our successes. It is hard for Joel and I to pursue together… it is even harder to do with our kids.

Lots of factors contribute to this:

  • Not prioritizing this task
  • Unstructured homelife
  • Inexperience training children
  • Difficult training kids on different levels

But one of my deepest desires is for my children to walk with God, having the foundation in Christ to resist the cultural stumbling blocks of adolescence & young adulthood.

I will entrust them to God in prayer during those times, but I also want them to be armed for the battle. I don’t want to be surprised and naive about what is coming.

So, with the closure of Basilica, we have turned our focus to training our family.
In the absence of experience or a guide, I tried to come up with a system to cover the areas that I could think of.
Here are the 5 areas we cover each evening, immediately after dinner:

  1. READ: Read bible story from children’s bible. I copy the corresponding page from “He Has Spoken By His Son” for them to color while we read.
  2. THINK: Discuss story (We are fortunate to have “He Has Spoken By His Son”, a Children Desiring God curriculum purchased for Basilica… it helps us with questions to ask following the story.) We try to write a 3 word summary on the back of the coloring sheet, such as “God is faithful” or “Jesus is God”.
    • SHARE: One of the big things we are emphasizing is being able to TEACH what we learn to someone else.
      For Holden, we talk about teaching it to Darin later.
      So, we are building Journals of Bible Stories simply by putting the coloring pages from each story in order in a 3-ring binder for each kid.
      It makes reviewing the stories we have covered very easy, too.
  3. MEMORIZE: Practice verse of week, as well as 2 previously learned verses. Sometimes, we do the Children’s Catechism instead.
  4. BUILD FAITH: Look over family prayer journal, writing down prayer requests and reviewing for answers to prayer.
  5. COMMUNICATE: Recite the Lord’s prayer. Pray.

We have been doing this with about 3-4 nights per week success for 3 weeks. And that’s better than any of our other 1 time attempts!
The good thing is that everyone knows what we will do and when we are done.

Arabella and Holden had friends over on Saturday, and it was easy to do with extra kids since we just needed 2 extra copies of the coloring sheet.
The coolest part was seeing growth already:
Holden has always been REALLY private about praying. He would only pray with me, and always sang his prayers. Great for me, a bummer for Joel. But since we have been praying as a family, he is getting more comfortable praying.
When we had Nicolas and Vanessa over on Saturday, Holden actually VOLUNTEERED to pray before dinner. Amazing!

Another cool prayer story:
In the Build Faith section, we are listing prayer requests, then reviewing them to look for God’s work in the world. Holden’s main concern is always his friend, Noah, a missionary kid.
Prayers for Noah usually focus on safety. But the other night, Holden prayed for God to work on the king’s heart so he will let people learn about You.
This was not something we had given the idea of, so I definitely see the Holy Spirit giving him the words!

Back to the system.
I had one thing I wanted to tweak, and the solution came to mind as I was trying to fall asleep last night.

BUILD FAITH: In the family prayer journal, it was hard to review the prayer requests for answers to prayer, but also realize there are some things we will always need to pray for – like Noah.
So here’s my visual solution:

This board helps us see what God is doing in our world

It’s pretty simple:

  • The purple paper: “Things God took care of before we knew to ask:”
  • The pink paper: “Things we are asking God to sustain:”
  • The white paper represents “answered prayers”
    • The blue post-it notes are “prayer requests”
    • “Prayer requests” are moved onto the white paper after they are answered

Hopefully, the white paper will be overflowing with testimonies of what we have seen God do in our small part of the world.

Please let me know if you have ideas I can incorporate. Hopefully, this will grow to encompass more areas of our life.

Vacation & parenting

Last summer, Holden & I tagged along on Jessica’s family’s yearly trip to Camp Riverview on the Frio River. It was a blast. Holden is a little river rat and a flexible, laidback camper. I promised him we would be back!

After a busy June & July, our summer winded down in August. And my birthday was the 3rd & Holden’s is the 23rd…
So off we go to celebrate with our freshly-labeled ‘2nd annual Mother-Son Frio trip’. We are going back to Camp Riverview, just down the road from Garner State Park. We are tent camping with just the basics. We are gonna shop together on the way to pick out our meal. We brought our bikes so when we aren’t floating we can explore. We are staying 3 days-2 nights. Can you tell I’m excited?

The bonus: on the way, we are going to the original Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels with Jessica, Jimmy and Marian, Jimmy’s mom!

The only drawback: Arabella heard the planning chatter, and started asking to come. I really felt sad, and made plans for a mini-trip to Galveston for her birthday.
I know I have done lots of one-on-one with her… And I really want to set apart special time with each kid… But it’s hard to not feel like you’re excluding the others.

Well, off to Schlitterbahn!

A new tradition…. Being St. Nick

So, this Christmas, Joel and I have tried hard to re-program the kids
from 'I want' to 'Christ gave, so I give'

The hard part is that we have never bought them Christmas presents –
but they get a TON from all our loving family.
We did tell our families we have all we need, but of course they still
showered us with blessings.

Also, we have never directly addressed Santa Claus. We see him in
Christmas movies, but we haven't said, 'this gift is from him.'
Then we went to a play @ the Interactive Theater that gave a history
of St Nicholas with the message of it is all about giving… But
ending with the normal Santa still alive @ the north pole.

So about 2 weeks ago, Holden tells Bella, 'Jesus is fake.'
I said, 'Holden, why did you say that?'
Holden: 'Cuz Santa's pretend, and Johnny (our 'Elf on the Shelf') is
fake, so Jesus is too.'
This was Joel's greatest fear realized. I did not hesitate to kill
Santa and the Elf. Salvation was at stake.
Me: 'Johnny is fake. And St Nick was a nice old man 100's of years
ago, and he is dead. But Jesus is alive, your creator and your

This pretty much shaped the rest of our Christmas. No more silliness.
Fortunately, my mom was thinking along the same lines.
We started a new tradition. While the rest of the children waited for
Santa Christmas Eve, we took blankets, socks filled with goodies, and
hot soup to homeless men on the streets of Houston. And this time,
Holden said, 'I'm being just like Jesus, feeding people.'
And I said, 'just like St Nick copied Jesus, too.'