Strike that :) A call to change things up

Okay, strike that last post.  Not completely, but….

Friday at 3pm, Ace, Champ, and The Baby went to fictive kin (a neighbor of the paternal aunt).

THEN, at 8:32, I get a phone call.  It was a number from out of the area, so I didn’t answer it.  So then at 8:33, I get a text from the number.  “This is K*******, I have a sibling group of 3 for you if you’re interested.”  I call her back.  3yo boy, 2yo girl, and 3month old girl.  The only information was that the baby had medication for reflux.  Because the children were from a little bit away AND would have longer visits because of the baby, I asked about transportation responsibilities.  That information wasn’t available.  K******* asked me what I could do in regards to that so that she could respond to Central Processing that I would accept the children under the condition that I could transport for visitation no more often that X times per month.  I hate to do that, but I do have five other children (though two are adults).  I have to do what I have to do.

About 10 minutes later, I got an email from our old program direction, J (now in some other supervisory position in relation to licensing us, but I’m not sure what all she does).  She sends me the short apps on each child.  Again, looks fine.  I said, “yes.”

A few minutes later, I get a call that Central Processing accepted us, just waiting on the caseworker.  She gets back shortly and they said they’d be here between 11 and 11:30 (it was almost midnight).

So we have:

Professor, the 3yo boy who is smart as a whip and really a neat kid.  He seems five in many ways.  He isn’t as fearless as his sister but he won’t be shown up by her either.

Doc (as in McStuffins) is the 2yo girl.  Again, super smart and cool kid, also seeming older than she is, actually, older than her brother.  She is fearless!

Lastly we have Turtle, the 3month old.  She’s such a good sweet baby.  She sleeps way too much, but when she is awake, she’s all smiles.

Would it surprise any foster parent out there that we didn’t get all of the known information?  For example, it was known that the baby had a cleft lip.  You can’t look at her and not notice that.  So why wasn’t it shared?  She also has another condition.  Now, CPS may not have known what that condition was, but they certainly knew how it presented, as well as that it would scare a caregiver something awful.  Add a feeding issue (not related to the lip), reflux, failure to thrive including hospitalizations.  Then certain aspects of why the children were removed to consider should have been disclosed also.  Because of their ages, I probably would have still taken them; but two of the issues are those I would have preferred to have had the choice about taking.

THEN, I take the baby to the doctor and find out something REALLY scary, like, “ummm, I’m not sure I can handle this, or WANT to” scary, like, “What if she dies on my watch?”  It really is a tempered fear and one with warning signs, but STILL!

So again, a situation where more information was not disclosed in order to get the placement.

The investigator was actually told they wouldn’t be able to place the children together.  So maybe that was part of the reason for down playing the issues a little.  However, the children were coming from two days in a kinship placement.  And what if I didn’t feel like I could deal with the issues (on top of normal foster kiddo and individual stuff)?  That would really stink if the kids had THREE placements in less than a week in care!

But we sure will be busy!  Really busy!

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CPS Hurts Children (Do They Care?)

Less than two hours ago, I got an email from the children’s caseworker.  It basically said that it was determined to be in the childen’s best interest to move to fictive kin.  Uh, duh.  You already made that decision despite the ongoing concerns.  Anyway, it goes on to say that the children will leave for their visit tomorrow and just never come back.  Uh, wait.  Say what?

I actually suggested such a thing and the therapist agreed.  However, to give me less than 24 hours notice?  I’ve loved these children as my own for the past five months!  You don’t have therapies set up.  You don’t have daycare solidified.  The kids didn’t get the chance to have time to process that that is what was going to happen and understand it. NOTHING.

I called the emergency number for the agency.  Otherwise, our worker and the intake worker, neither, would have known until tomorrow morning at earliest.  I vented.  Part of the email from the caseworker was talking about how wonderful I am and how much I had done to help the children (who have gained at least double the months developmentally than they’ve even been here).  Yeah, blow smoke up someone else’s booty!  If you respected my family or me or my children (bio, adopted or foster) at all, you would have given us a proper notice!

So what I would have done had I been given the chance:

  • Let Ace pick out supper
  • Buy cake and ice cream for a going away party
  • Talked to the boys about going over there and that this time they wouldn’t come back
  • Had the boys help me pack their things
  • Done something fun with them before they left
  • Done their paperwork correctly
  • I would have let my children say goodbyes in their own ways (drawing pictures, talking to the therapist, buying gifts, whatever they wanted or needed to do).

I absolutely hate CPS.  Not one single thing they do after removing the children from their birth families has ANYTHING to do with their best interests.  It has been THREE MONTHS that fictive kin has been in the picture and you couldn’t give us even 24 hours notice?  Seriously?  RIDICULOUS!

And this on top of another email from the fictive kin who took Monkey.  Another email about how well she’s doing while outlining how hurt she is attachment wise and emotionally.  Never taking responsibility for that.  Now, I know that Monkey’s biological parents are what CAUSED the wheels of motion in her situation.  I know that meth didn’t help.  But that little girl had what amounted to a sprain when she was here.  Now she’s an amputee, why?  Because CPS is ridiculous and will not even consider the best interests of the child.  And because a selfish, prideful, and naive couple who wanted another child didn’t care how much they hurt the child to get her.  And who pays the consequence?  Monkey.  Great job CPS.

And thanks CPS for treating us like dog poop too.  We are just people taking “placements” huh?  We are just “beds,” huh?  Tough on us if we or our children get attached to the people we care for day in and day out, huh?  Tough on us if your plans don’t fit in with our needs or schedule.  Too bad you chose to be the dirt of this operation, foster home.  As long as you keep the soap and medication locked up and the potatoes off the pantry floor, we don’t give a hoot about you.  You’re nothing and you’ll deal with that fact or else.

I really don’t care as much about that though, at least in how it pertains to me.  I have a lot harder time when I hear the pain in my daughter’s voice or all my boys go nuts within seconds of hearing the news.  But what really gets me is how much the children are hurt by some short-sighted people in a system that doesn’t care at all about what would be helpful, much less best, for the children.  Young children at the mercy of a system that causes just as much, often worse, harm as the families they came from.

And then, what about me?  Am I just part of the problem by being part of the system?

Is what I give them on a day to day basis REALLY so much better for them than the abandonment they feel when CPS rips them away?  Do the children feel we’ve lied to them as we tell them we love them, that they are safe, that we’ll help them?  Does what we give them help them trust and grow or does being ripped away from what we give them cause them to never trust even the nicest, most helpful people?

What good am I as a mom when I cannot protect my children?

I talked to Ace tonight.  I told him about going to his “other mom and dad” (as he’s been calling them).  We talked about their children M and J.  We talked about their dogs, D and D.  We talked about his room and scooter.  We talked about his Aunt who lives closeby.  We talked about how we love him and will miss him and will pray for him each and every night.

I’ll try to talk to the kids a little more tomorrow.  And hope it is enough to counter CPS’s stupid plan.

ETA:  I do not disagree that these children may do well to go with this other family.  There are some real concerns; but I think it could be a good placement.  I have spent the last few weeks fully supporting this new family that is forming.  I have a problem with them changing the plan on a dime in a way that isn’t best for the children.

OB: Reality Check

The following post was written in the fall of 2011, about six months after we were licensed.  Much of it is still true though I don’t think I’m nearly as irritated or dysregulated or overwhelmed by it these days.  It just is.  

Okay, there are some things you simply do not think of when you go into fostering.

  • It is not the baby that keeps you up all night.  It is the 4 yr old, the 19month old, the 3yr old, and the 5yr old…rarely the 7month old.  I put these in order of who keeps me up, wakes me up, challenges me most at 4am.  As you can see, the 7month old who has slept through the night since the 3rd week she was here is not why I’m so tired.  It’s the rest of them (primarily the toddler and the 4yr old though).
  • Poop happens.  Really.  Of course, you expect it with the baby and toddler.  You may be less thrilled with it, but you expect it while potty training.  But potty “accidents” (quoted because they are rarely, if ever, not done on purpose) are not exactly rare.
  • Paperwork galore.  If you thought the 153 pages of paperwork you did during training and the homestudy process was a lot, don’t think you’re going to be done with it anytime soon.  Some paperwork you’ll deal with:
    • medication logs
    • weekly/monthly reports on each child (mine run 4 to 8 pages single spaced)
    • documentation of every doctor, dental, vision, psychology appointment
    • fire drills
    • training – it was 40 hours to get licensed and 30 per year to stay licensed. BTW, you do it the first year also so will have about 70 hours within the first 12 months.
    • court papers
    • school binders – each child gets a separate binder with their school related things such as report cards, attendance reports, ARDs, as well as things like their birth certificate, social security card, and immunization records.
    • incident reports (accidents, behavioral situations, etc)
    • emails to teachers, caseworkers, agency workers, licensing worker, doctors, therapists, etc
    • updated records (background checks, etc)
  • Behavior.  Seriously, there is a LOT of behavior from some of these kids.  I think I’ll stop there for today.  Please be ready to deal with what may be a lot of behavior.  Some will be serious. Some will be dangerous (or worse). Some will be annoying.  Some will be constant.  There is a LOT of behavior with some of these kids!
  • Visits galore.  You’ll have:
    • Visits with parents
    • Doctor visits (includes dental, vision, medical, specialist, etc)
    • parent-teacher conferences, probably more than the average parent
    • caseworker visits (and in our case, a visiting caseworker because the official caseworker lives so far away)
    • Therapy visits (speech, occupational, physical therapy as well as play therapy, behavioral therapy, etc)
    • agency visits (licensing, agency worker if you have one, etc)
  • People’s rude comments:
    • Are they all yours?
    • Do you run a daycare?
    • You asked for it.
    • Is it worth it?
    • They have such significant issues (this is usually not said this way.  It is usually said in regards to a specific situation or because you were dumb enough to vent to a family member or friend)
    • derogatory comments about doing it for the money
    • hurtful comments about the children’s parents

This post isn’t to complain.  I am sitting here at 6:30 in the morning having been up since 4 with children.  There has not be a ten minute break in those 2½ hours.  I guess I can be thankful for enough two and five minute ones to write this post.  Yesterday, I got  court papers that surprised me.  I had to send in approximately 20 pages of documentation yesterday and I’ll do at least 5 more pages this morning.  I did 3½ hours of training yesterday and will try to do similarly again this weekend.  No doubt there will be behavior (probably extra since they refuse to sleep). And I really want to get through these books and videos I believe will make a huge difference for the kids long term if I can implement it well.  I gotta keep trying!

I think I glorified what the days and weeks would look like before I started fostering.  I pictured parenting during the day and having from 8pm to 6am free for my time and sleep except for an occasional illness.  I pictured some hard work, but mostly happy fun-filled days.  I never dreamed of so much stress, lack of sleep, mountains of paperwork, or rudeness from others.

Is it worth it?  ABSOLUTELY.  I have five little people whose eyes I will gladly look into when the sun comes up who definitely make it worth it.  And then I’m hoping for a nap 🙂

If he’s not, he can’t!

Okay, plain and simple truth:

A person does as well as he can do in the situation.  If he isn’t doing better, it is because he can’t do better.  When he can do better, he will do better.

The same is true of Mamas also.  The difference is that we have a world of resources at our fingertips.  We can see a psychologist.  We can find a specialist.  We can read another book.  We can read a couple more blogs.  We can ask on message boards.  We can join support groups.  We can go to another training.  We can practice alternative options we hear about.

It isn’t easy being the mom of a hurt child.

Today, on more than one occasion, I told myself, “it’s not about me.”  I can have my feelings, thoughts, fears.  But I have to rise above them (not deny them!) in order to find ways to do better and better every day with my children, all of them.

Oh the Lies!

I have a child who lies.  A LOT.  All three of them went through a time of doing so; but one does it to an extreme.  Pretty much, if he is speaking, there is a good chance, well over 50-50, he is lying.

Woman in office at school using a playful tone:  Oh, and where have you been?
My child: At home
I look at him incredulously as I hand the doctor note to the front desk woman.

WHY?

Mom:  Did you wet your pants?
Child: No.
Mom: Are you sure?  If you did, you need to go change.
Child, in a “doncha know” voice: I didn’t!
Mom: Let me see
Pants were wet.

WHY?

Mom: Wow, that was fast.  Did you eat it all?
Child: Yep
Mom: Are you sure?
Child, in an “of course” voice, speaking emphatically: Yes!
Mom: I’m going to have to go check.
Child: okay <shrug>
I start doubting.  Maybe he really did eat it.  Maybe I shouldn’t doubt him so much.  But it just doesn’t seem likely.  As I walk to the trash, I don’t even see the wrapper on top of the quite full can.  I start wondering what he did with it.  Then I see it, in a fast food cup. As I reach for it, I can tell the food is still there.  I open it, seeing over half of it. Dang!
Mom: We have a problem.  Do you know what it is?
Child: I didn’t eat my food.
Mom: No, that is not the problem.  That is little.  So you didn’t eat it.  We probably could have left the rest for snack or something.  But we have a REAL problem.  Do you know what it is?
Child: I lied.

WHY?

Now I know that I did THE worst thing a mom who knows her child lies or would be tempted to lie:  I asked him a question to which he could lie.

Most of the time, I don’t think of it as a “I’m gonna catch you moment.”  When I first asked about eating the item, I really was thinking, “wow, that was fast.”  I was impressed, not thinking, “oh, wait a minute.  My kids who NEVER eats a decent speed or amount happened to eat THAT big thing THAT quickly?  No way.  Now let’s see if he lies about it.”  Seriously, I didn’t go there.

And I wasn’t USUALLY thinking about the likeliness of him lying when I asked about wetting his pants (on purpose) either.  Mostly, I have a busy household and need the kid in clean clothes should someone come to the door or we have to leave in five minutes flat or or or or. But knowing that he’s going to pee the second he gets angry or scared or whatever does make me ask.   However, I do have to say that one of THE things that worked to get him to stop doing it was to say, “if you wet yourself, please go take care of it.”  Well, and doing similarly regarding the things that would have triggered peeing anyway.

Anyway, I don’t think he means to lie.  I think it just comes out.  When it is easier to tell the truth, he still lies.

Mom: Did you put up your towel?
Child: No.
Mom: Please go do so.
Child walks back towards room then comes back out.
Mom: Where’s your towel?
Child gives look saying, “I lied again.”

WHY?

Sometimes I probe after something like that.  I mean, really, WHY would you lie to possibly GET in trouble?  That makes no sense.  I can see lying to get out of trouble.  Lying because you threw away half a sandwich makes sense.  Lying that you didn’t do something you know you did?  Not so much.

One day, one of my boys was four years old and got in trouble RIGHT after waking up.  It was something that we had been working on so I decided to give a short time out for it.  The child sat on his bed for 2 or 3 minutes.  Upon getting up, he went in the livingroom and the rule was reiterated.  Because of the urination issue, Dad asked if he had wet his pants.  He said yes.  Dad told him to go change.  He spent a long time in his room.  I go check on him,  “What are you doing?”
Child: I don’t know.
Mom: What are you supposed to be doing?
Child: Changing
I look around, pull back the blanket, am confused.
Mom: When did you wet?  Sitting in time out?
Child: yes
Mom: The bed isn’t wet.
Child looks blankly at mom.
Mom: You didn’t wet your pants?
Child: No
Mom: Then why on earth would you tell your father you did?

Seriously, I simply don’t get it.

Why?

BTW, I prided myself, the first time around parenting, that my kids weren’t into lying.  It was, of course, that I had such a great relationship with them.  I also attributed it to using positive, non-punitive discipline.  They weren’t fearful of or trying to avoid punishment because we didn’t use those things.  My kids, my easy one and my challenging one, just didn’t lie.  I HATE lying with a passion.  I won’t tell you your dress is pretty if it is hideous.  Before caller ID, I didn’t tell people the person they were calling for wasn’t home if they were.  I just hate lying!  And so I was pretty proud of myself when my first set of kids didn’t do it.

But as with so many things with parenting, if you have enough children, you’ll be humbled.  In this case, it has been times three with one of them sticking with it and doing it to an extreme.  Peeing your pants or not finishing a snack or meal won’t get you punishment.  Lying most certainly will.

Today, I asked, “whatcha thinking?” after we handled the punishment and discussion about the lying.
Child: I don’t know (in a “how am I supposed to know” tone)
Mom: You know what I *wish* you were thinking?
Child: What?
Mom:  I wish you would say something like, “I’m sorry for lying, for disappointing you and Jehovah God.”
I looked at him, about to get up and let that settle.
Child:  I am thinking that now.
He makes a half of step closer to me.  A tear runs down his cheek.
I hug him and pray with him.
We both start crying. I think he really was sorry.  He just didn’t know to be before I suggested it.  I don’t know what to think about that.  I don’t know what to do about that.  But I am really glad we ended up on the same side, together, begging for guidance.

Family Trees

Do you have any good idea about your family tree?  Have you worked on it?  Have you been to familysearch.org or ancestry.com?  Do you have 40 birth certificates, 20 death certificates, a dozen draft cards, pictures in black and white?

We do.  We also have a MESS and a half!

The Tree of Me – a tree that recognizes biological roots and the adoptive family tree

See, we found out when doing our family tree that we’re not the only adoption-minded people.  In fact, we’re not the only ones who have taken in non-related family (sans adoption) either.  We’re not the only ones who know about abandonment.  We’re not the only ones who have done things a little differently.

Okay, so let’s try this. Here are a few stories.

First, you probably have read a few things about my children.  Tumbler is 7. Swimmer is 6.  T-lo is 5.  They came to us through fostercare.  We never had heard of them before.  We didn’t know their family.  I had never even heard of their town or county.  So they were complete strangers who have become our daughter and sons.

Second, my hubby was adopted.  Did you know that?  His stepfather adopted him and all of his siblings when he was little.  His biological father died when my husband was only six weeks old (there is a story there.  Well, possibly two.  Or three? The world may never know what REALLY happened).

#3 – OKay, here is an interesting story though.  My husband’s biological grandfather…He was born in 1901 to a young mom named Lena.  His father died that year (weird, coincidence).  Anyway, his mother couldn’t care for him at first so he was in a children’s home for a short time.  Later, she got him back and married another man.  This man took my hubby’s grandfather as his own.  What is weird is that I can’t find anything about his(the grandfather’s) biological father and family.  Anyway, but that isn’t where the story ends.  As you learn more about Lena, you find out that she took in other people also.  Sometimes she took in whole families.  Other times, she just had a couple extra children.  Interesting, huh?

Wait wait…so that is hubby’s side, right?

My father was adopted.  Now, we have limited information about it as there seems to have been some “interesting” legal stuff going on and the lawyer who handled it died between the time my father was 14 and wanted to know and 18 when the lawyer said he’d tell him.  At some point, my mother got the idea that it was a kinship adoption.  BTW, my aunt was also adopted.  Both had the same biological and adoptive parents.

So biologically, I have nothing further on my dad’s side.

Cabin Class Bedroom on RMS QM

Cabin Class Bedroom on RMS Queen Mary

I was able to get enough information to start following my father’s adoptive father’s family for a little while.  It wasn’t a lot, but something.  For his mother, I get cut short pretty quickly also.  I managed to get my grandmother’s birth certificate which helped with her parent’s names.  I got some neat pics of the ship she came over on also. But I have her mom’s name then NOTHING.  I found where her husband’s belongings were sent care of her mother’s last name and that is it.

Earl Johnson

E. Johnson

Now my mother’s father’s side of the family is fairly normal as families come.  I’m sure there are some stories, of course.  But it seems more straight forward.  But her mother’s side of the family is less so.  Her mother’s age is in question.  It seems she has multiple birth dates due to fudging it to join the military with her brother during WWII.

Anyway, I have never been able to find out anything about my grandmother’s father or his family.  Unfortunately, the children (my grandmother and her brother) were 3 and 5 by the time of the 1930 census and my great grandmother was living with her mother, father, and siblings. A family member doesn’t mention him at all though there is a paper family tree that names the father of the children.

So I have some lines that go very far though they may not be biological and some that don’t go very far at all, especially if we only use biological lines.

Okay, so I’ve mentioned I have an open adoption with my children’s biological family.  So I have slowly used what I could figure out from facebook and other things to put together a beginning of a family tree biologically for my children.  I actually have done pretty decently considering!  So I forgot to ask MeMe about it when she was here for the adoption party.  I texted her, asking some basic questions.  She tried to fill me in.  Well, last night, when we were talking, she said she was getting the information off the genealogical report for the tribe!  WHAT?!?!  I immediately thought about how I was glad that hadn’t come out before the adoption.  Honestly, had we been told during the placement call, that would have been a deal breaker.  Unfortunately, we have heard too many stories of native children not being able to get permanency or ripped from the only home they’ve ever known for no reason other than tribe affiliation.  Well, as I researched the information, it probably wouldn’t have mattered.  They are from a subsection of Cherokee that is not yet recognized by the BIA.  However, the children’s great grandfather and grandmother’s sister are “card carrying” members so it might be nice to look into it.

Anyway, just found some interesting things and I’m glad to be able to provide a biological family tree as well as our family tree for them.  They are welcome to fill it in more in time.  I’ll also do what I can with MeMe as we go along.

May I get on a small soapbox briefly?  I think people doing genealogical research need to be mindful that there are PEOPLE involved.  It is neat to find skeletons, noble stories, etc.  However, especially in our complicated world, it is wise to simply accept the information as it is known sometimes.  There is a young person in our family tree whose family members were bullied by a genealogy-studying extended family member because she thought she remembered some juicy fact about this young person’s biological ties or lack thereof.  She was very firmly told that the record available states XYZ.  She decided to list this child differently on her family tree.  What is odd is that she accepted the adopted child of the family.  So say there were three children.  She listed the one biological child and the one adopted child the same, but listed this third child differently.  How RUDE!

I really enjoy doing our family tree.  I can’t dedicate much time to it; but here and there, I try.

One Minute Reader iPad App – A Mosaic Review

So when I read the interest form for this iPad app, I was very excited.  My young six year old can decode when he takes the time; but he’s not a confident reader.  He also is very sensitive about me working with him, afraid of my disapproval or disappointment.  The app, however, keeps each part very short (a minute, hence the name!) and sweet.  He gets stars, points, and can see the progress he makes in various ways.  PERFECT.

Which app?  It is One Minute Reader, the iPad App.  Here is the screen shot I took of the app store from my iPad (mini).

photo (1)

One Minute Reader is an iPad app based on Read Naturally’s proven reading program.  There are six levels: emergent, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.   As you can see on the screen shot above, there is a free version also.  From it, you can have your child take the placement test so you know which levels of the program to use with each child.  Each book of the program has five stories.   You can get a full level, five books, for $19.99.

So what does One Minute Reader do?

First, it develops fluency by allowing the student to hear fluent reading at a pace reasonable for the child.  Second, it allows the student to practice repeated reading with the material.  Additionally, the app works on vocabulary and reading comprehension.  And finally, the app gives the student visual feedback throughout.

Let me walk you through some of what my children practiced.

First, you open to the main screen and choose a story.  There, the child does a “cold reading.”  They’ve never seen the materials before and read.  Below, you can see Swimmer clicking start to start his cold reading. At the end of one minute, the student is directed to click the last word he read. The first time Swimmer did it, he got 12 words which is, of course, very low.  Again, I believe that is more because of his confidence level rather than his reading ability.  This is even more reason, in my opinion, why Swimmer needs to be doing programs like this one!   Anyway, regardless of the child’s words per minute, they get points added to their score for having done the work.  Swimmer liked earning points!

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Okay, so after the cold reading, the child goes to the next screen.  There, he has two activities to do, both of which earns him more points.  He can get definitions of certain words and he can have the material read to him.  At first, Swimmer had a bit of trouble listening to the reading; but in time, he learned that doing so helped him progress.  It may take a story or two for the child to get the point!

After the child listens to the story a few times as well as goes through the vocabulary, it is time for him to try to read again.  Each time he reads, again, he earns more points.  Additionally, at the bottom of the page, there is a section where it shows him his words per minute. When he is happy with his score or ready to move on, he can push the arrow at the bottom of the screen to get to this page which shows where he started and where he finished this session:

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After this screen, the child goes to a screen that has comprehension questions.  Here he also gains both points and letters towards the “Joke Jumble.”  The next screen also has a crossword puzzle to work on (it includes questions from all of the stories).

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What I like most about this app is that each session can be as long or short as you want it to be.  If it isn’t a good practice time, you can do just a minute or two.  If it is a great time, then you could spend 10 minutes or so on it.

I also love how it gives the child lots of feedback in terms of points, stars, progress words per minute, and the like.  It is very motivating.

Of course, the part that makes the difference the most is the child’s confidence and reading ability.  As I listened to my son read some of the stories, I was just amazed!  Not only did he read the words correctly and at a nice pace, he also did so with inflection.  For example, with Big Ben, he read, “So what is Big Ben?” stressing the word “is” as well as making it clear it was a question.

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Sadly, I have to say there is one negative about the program.  As we all know, kids sometimes rush through things when allowed to just play with things.  Honestly, practicing reading as play would be a good thing in my book even if it is just a section or two done once or twice.  However, with the One Minute Reading iPad App, once children get to the comprehension questions, they cannot go back to have the material read to them or for them to do another timed reading.  And once you’re done with the section altogether (past the crossword puzzle, you can only get the score information unless you delete the previous data and do it over again).  Now, I think it is fine to restart the reading from scratch.  I just think it would be nice to be able to continue on the same reading regardless of whether you have completed it or partially did it through the comprehension questions in the past.

There is just one thing I’d like to add to this app if I could.  I would love if they would have a version that we could add our own readings in, ideally including the vocabulary and reading comprehension also.  If they had a version for us to do that, I’d buy it in a heartbeat as I really believe it could be awesome for our religion’s “school.” I would recommend it to all the other parents in our congregation!  But I think other people would like it also.  They could put segments of their reading assignments into it, do it based on interests, or even do it with readings for various subjects (history, music, science, etc).

I will definitely be rating this app well!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we have! To see more reviews, click here.

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Repeated Reading – my pre-review reading post

So one great thing about being a homeschooling parent a second time around is that I can do things with my kids that I was wrong about the first time around.  Repeated readings is one of those things.

When my daughter was young, she read and read and read.  From before she was three, she was reading.  A couple months after turning three, she was reading chapter books.  She was expressive and enjoyed reading from sun up to sun down.  If she wasn’t reading, she was creating her own little stories.  My son, however, could do reading activity after activity if I gave them to him without being able to read real books at all, much less fluently, with expression, etc.  I would not even consider repeated readings “like schools do” though.  I didn’t want him sight word reading.  I didn’t want him memorizing books.  I wanted him to learn phonics and only phonics!

Well, I was wrong!

We had been outside our religion for a few years then went back.  I wanted my children to “catch up” with basic Bible knowledge.  Each day, we read from The Bible, the Bible Stories book, the Great Teacher book, the monthly publications, and studied for meetings.  We memorized scripture.  I taught the children to look up scripture.  We practiced and practiced.   And my son’s reading ability multiplied significantly each week.  It was amazing.  See, when we studied for the meetings, for example, we read the materials together.  Then it was read at the meetings.  Then it was discussed.  Many of the study  materials had questions for each paragraph.  The kids would each write a couple answers for each study so they may be able to participate by answering at the meeting.  And of course, many ideas, phrases, words, etc were used in each of the materials we were using.  Like I said, his reading ability exploded.  His decoding was better.  His fluency was better.  His comprehension was better.  He read, he understood, he could use it in other ways.

And I became a believer in repeated reading!

So my younger set of children have a full phonics program and several supplements also.  They also do repeated readings.  They do it on individual words.  They do it on whole sentences.  They do it with whole books.  They do it similar to how my son did it.  They do it with computer programs.  The do it with various readers we have.  Their reading is coming along nicely and I’m glad that repeated reading *is* part of their early reading instruction.  I really believe they benefit from it in all ways (decoding, fluency, expression, comprehension) as well as that it gives them more confidence.

Mental Torment

This post is going to tell you what I do to myself as a foster-adoptive mother.  And then you’ll know why I’m crazy.  Please know that I tell myself to “chill” constantly, to stop worrying what other people think, to accept my best, that perfection is not attainable at this time, etc.  But in the end, I am constantly WORRIED despite Jesus’ admonition to stop it already!

Okay, so I was going to start this another way, but I saw this post and thought, “Oh, YES!!!!”

But, quite honestly, the worst part has been the mental torment of second-guessing every move I make, every standard, every moment of discipline, because for some reason I feel like I have forgotten how to be a parent. The plethora of attachment training sessions, adoption books and doctors who seem to know more about my child than I do all feel like dozens of fingers pointing at me in condemnation.

That was written by Sara over here —> http://saraescamilla.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/quick-esca-update/

Sometimes I have this “yes!” or “yee-haw!” moment that I’m doing just fine, thank you very much.  One of my children will  show they’ve internalized the discipline (teaching/guiding, includes correction, of course), for example.  Or there is some other progress made.  The other day, Ace knocked his sister, the 9 month old(!), down.  He ran and my son grabbed up the baby.  I went and fussed at Ace in a “what on earth, have you lost your mind?” then “you better not ever do that again” manner.  And then I threw a party. Why?  Because Ace made eye contact with me the entire time I fussed at him!  My other kids do that pretty naturally, only looking away if it is another behavior in their case.  They could look at you no matter what you were saying, doing, or how.  But Ace?  Ace TRUSTED me enough to look at me.  We’re bonded enough that he could do so.  So obviously my fussing at him pretty strongly a few times (well, and I left him in his room too!) hasn’t caused any issue with our attachment.  Or maybe it has even helped.  He knows I’m not going to kill him no matter how upset I am with him.  It is safe to make eye contact with me.  It hasn’t always been safe to look ANYONE in the eyes EVER, but…

Anyway, but seriously, I’m sitting here wondering if I should really post that story.  I mean, we all know that you’re not supposed to use a raised voice or even use “that” tone with foster children, especially those traumatized by abuse, lacking attachment, etc.  And then there is the leaving him in his room for a few minutes.  How dare I?  Even though I know that Ace and I are just fine (thank you very much), I know there could be a lot of judgment.

But on a day to day basis, probably the worst judge of myself, is myself.  I wish I could do everything perfectly.  Of course, what *is* perfectly?

And really, my kids are BEAUTIFULLY behaved.  Sometimes I think we’re just way too hyper about things.  And then I think, well, they are so beautifully behaved *because* we’re very firm with high standards.  If we relaxed (like I so often think we need to), would they be so far along?  That is another thing I worry about being judged about also.

(Note:  I’m aware that no one else is nearly as interested as they seem in my head.  They have their own lives, too busy to worry about jugdging me!  They probably aren’t *really* thinking any of the things I attribute to them.)

But any time I get onto my kids, whether a look or a quick phrase or sending them to the corner or whatever, I worry what someone else thinks.  They don’t “see” the Mommy-shopping, just a charming, cute kid.  They think “oh their just kids.”  They may think I seem too easily irritated or wanting perfection.

And then….it goes ALL the way the other way:

PLEASE please please quit praising me regarding how well my children behave and how well I do with them!  I’m a fraud!

Yes, the children are usually *very* well-behaved.  This past weekend, we had the District Convention.  Three full days sitting in very uncomfy seats at the convention center.  I had five kids with me (the baby was at respite) plus bigs.  We sat in two rows so I could be within arms length of all of them, helping them with songbooks, Bibles, “looks,” giving them crayons, whatever.  The kids were AWESOMELY FANTASTIC!  I took ONE kid out ONE time to fuss at him (and it was a pretty major situation that no one would have NOT addressed).  In Three days, one kid, one time!  *I* was amazed and so incredibly thankful.

But though some of it is that I work hard with them, some of it is just that they are pretty good kids and for my three, they’ve had almost 2½ years to learn.  And then they are so much better behaved in public.  It is part of being charming and cute for other people.

But mostly, I just mess up SO much of the time!  Sure, I do some things very well with them.  I could list some great things about my relationship with them and my parenting.  But I make SO many mistakes every day.  I really don’t see how these kids are doing so well with ME as a mother!  So when people praise me, not just them, I feel like a fraud.

See, I really am nuts.  I worry about this stuff ALL THE TIME.  I want to do well by my kids and make so many mistakes.  I worry about what my mistakes say about me.  I worry about being judged.  I judge myself something awful.  And I feel like a fraud.  And every day, I hope I do a little better than the day before.  I keep hoping I can be half the mom my kids really deserve!