Plan for Next Year’s Fair

Having spoken with another parent, I feel a bit better.  I wasn’t imagining things about the judging process.  This parent’s daughter has been up for best-in-show each of the last five years and not attained it, despite difficulty of project (I’ve seen some of the projects and they were well done!)  The son of our leader racked up seven rosettes this year.

So, moving forward:

I made sure that my daughter knew that I was disappointed with the judging, not her projects.  I made sure that she knew that the main thing is that she’s enjoying making the projects and that she’s getting to learn some new skills.

Then we talked about what we could do going forward to possibly increase her chances for that best-in-show rosette.  I brought up her shyness with the judges.  Turns out she’d been thinking that over, and is going to write up a paragraph about each project as she finishes them to either flat out read it to the judges, or just to help her remember the details about the project while she speaks with them.  She gets flustered, and I think this is an awesome solution.  I made sure to tell her that out loud, too.

We talked about things we could do to make her planned projects stand out a little more.  I told her that where appropriate, I think she should still do pairs or sets to show that she’s not just working to get the greatest number of ribbons possible, but is really putting time in.  I also pointed out that clearly I don’t know what the judges themselves want, but can guide her as to what I would look for if I was judging.

The judges can’t see the perseverance that goes into some of her projects, but she and I know, and I’m her biggest fan and cheerleader.  I’ll make sure she gets the feedback she needs.

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Fair Frustrations

Today was project judging for the fair.  DD2 is in a 4H group which focuses on crafts, and she’s worked quite hard through this past year.  Her projects often frustrated her to the point of tears, yet she would come back and work on them again until they were finished.  One of her projects took months, some took days or weeks, but almost all of them were involved and taught her new things.

She is shy in speaking to the judges, which no doubt hurts her chances of best-in-show ribbons, but she’s always taken blue ribbons.  Two of her projects were put in the best-in-show judging today and neither won.  Another project should have been in the running, in my opinion.  It was in the home arts grouping, which has low turn out, was something I’ve not seen in the fair in the five years we’ve been a part of this, was full of hard work, was an involved project, and was neatly done.  The judge was impressed with it, but it didn’t make the cut.  There were about five items in that grouping’s best-in-show judging, all ages on the same table.

Last year, a best-in-show ribbon was given to a Puzz 3D that someone had put together and entered.  ?????  was the sentiment of this clan.

I was so disappointed for my daughter and confused at the outcomes.  She had projects that were of intricate work, neatly done, she entered sets of items rather than dashing out one of this and one of that to get more prize money, and she had unique items.  Yes, I’m her mom, but I saw the projects that were getting the rosettes and I honestly don’t know why she has yet to win one.  The judges have a big task before them, but it does seem as if the same kids rack up stacks of rosettes each year, while other deserving projects don’t win any.

So, on the way home I pointed out that last year she had one project in the best-in-show judging and this year two.  That’s a good indicator for next year.  She has Christmas gifts made for her grandmothers, has learned new skills, and has several cool new items made by her own hands.

Speaking to the judges is good practice for overcoming her shyness.  It’s important to be a good sport when we lose, or simply don’t take the highest prize.  It’s important to learn to keep trying, even if you don’t rate your chances too high.  She’s learned perseverance in the construction of several of her projects.  She’s learned that sometimes it’s better to walk away from frustration for a while in order to have a task run smooth later.

She’s not a quitter, so I guess I should take the lead from her.

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Tax Credit for Childcare

On this morning’s news, I heard that Trump vows to give full tax credit for childcare expenses.  This is an issue that has always hacked me off.

I am a stay at home mom.  I chose to give up my career in order to raise my own children.  Our bank account would be fatter if I had remained in the workforce, yet there is no tax credit for the childcare which I provide to my own children, regardless of the fact that it DOES still cost something.  Childcare costs the loss of income to our household just as much as it does to the home of the working mom.  It doesn’t show up on a balance sheet, but the loss is there.  DH and I knew the financial cost when we made our decision.

Why should a working mom be able to claim childcare expenses on her taxes?  It is a choice to be a working mother, just as it is a choice to stay home with your children.  I’m not putting one choice higher than the other.  I don’t presume to decide what’s right for another person.  The point is that working or not working is a choice for all of us.

Some homes are struggling financially.  It’s still a choice to be a working mom.  Have you trimmed your budget as much as possible and worked the numbers to see if the difference could be made up without an extra job?  (Cable TV is not a need, nor is a smart phone for each member of the house.)  Have you considered working from home?

We made a choice to home school one of our children to meet her needs when the school couldn’t.  It’s a choice, and I don’t submit the bill to the government to have the other taxpayers share the expenses for her educational materials.

A friend of ours was widowed when expecting her third child.  She holds a physics degree and has had some astonishing jobs in which she’d be doing quite well financially with.  She chose to stay home with her children.  You don’t pay for it (that baby is now 15).

All three of our children have needed braces.  You didn’t pay for it.

Our son had three and a half years of speech therapy.  You didn’t pay for it.

Two of our children needed occupational therapy.  You didn’t pay for it.

All three of our children wear glasses.  You don’t pay for it.

I haven’t worked for a paycheck in 17 and a half years.

Don’t bill me for your child care.

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Good Things

This week DD1 passed her second level driving class (20 out of 20 correct!), and DD2 passed her written test for her first level class.  The driving portion comes Monday.  It was rescheduled due to anxiety.  Her cold (the root cause of the anxiety) bloomed out the night before the written test, which had me a touch worried.  She was looking pretty rough and I wasn’t sure if she’d be able to concentrate.

DD1 got her first college acceptance letter yesterday.  It’s not her first choice school, but she’s relieved to be in somewhere.  The one she really wants has her application, but isn’t currently processing applications.

I finally had a block of time to take DD1 for our annual downtown shopping.  It’s mostly window shopping, ending at our local candy shop.  The other kids asked for plain chocolate, which I couldn’t find, so I decided to buy a pack of Hershey bars.  They enjoyed it just as much as DD1 enjoyed her chocolate covered potato chips.

We’ve had a couple of chances to throw windows open wide and get fresh air back in the house – particularly upstairs.

We’ve gotten some much needed rain.


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Winding Down

Driver’s ed is going beautifully now.  One day left for the class and one more drive – which was rescheduled due to anxiety.  That was a small setback, but taking this class has had so many benefits.  DD2 has made new friends – a difficult venture for her as she is shy.  She has gained experience with a different teacher, which warms her up for her veterinary class this fall.  She’s been taking quizzes and will have a final test – she has test anxiety (depending on the day) and needs practice.  The teacher turned out to be a perfect fit for her, even with all of the anxieties.  She needs all of the positive school experiences she can get!

DD1 finished her second portion of driver ed and has just has one more hurdle until the full license.

The walking program we’ve been taking part in wraps up this week.  We’ll continue to walk, but are all looking forward to being able to go on our own schedule.  6pm is a bit early for us to get around for, factoring in the time DH gets home from work.

DD1 will finish her volunteering the first week of August.  It will be nice to have yet another activity off the schedule, especially as I am her transportation.

August has appointments and things going on, but the schedule isn’t as daunting as July’s.  We are not a family who likes to be constantly going.

I made myself sit down and work on lesson plans for DD2 today, and the first week is completely planned.  If all else fails, we can start school without scrambling.  Of course I want to get a lot more finished, but it’s good to know that first week is set.  Writing review sheets and tests (history) isn’t my favorite thing to do, so it’s slow going, but the first set is finished and the second review sheet is close to done.  Thankfully history is planned through the end of the first semester and literature is set for the year.

Thursdays for home school have been ‘different’ days since the co-op ended.  This year will have standardized test prep on Thursdays – much of which is simply test taking strategy and skills which will help with taking tests in general.  The public schools do plenty of test prep, and this child hasn’t taken a standardized test in nearly six years.  Especially given her test anxiety, this child needs some practice.

For math, Thursdays will have graphing calculator lessons.  I’ve never used them, but found a DVD series and some workbooks.  After that, I’ll have her read “Flatland”, which was my father’s favorite (geometry teacher).  I haven’t planned beyond that.

My son has been bummed that we haven’t been swimming this month, but the schedule is simply too crazy right now.  Three days of the week, the car engine barely gets to cool down between runs to drop someone off or pick someone up.  It makes it worse for him that all of the running is in regards to the girls, but I can’t help that.  He needs new shoes for church and pants for school, but I want to wait a couple more weeks before we get those as he’s at that point where we’re just waiting to have him wake up three or four inches taller than when he laid down the night before.

August will be movie month.  My oldest – the future English teacher – can’t believe there’s a better version of “Pride and Prejudice” out there than the one she saw (with Kiera Knightly).  Oh yeah.  Six hours of awesome.  I had the girls read “The Woman in White” by Wilkie Collins, so we’ll watch that movie.  “Thor” is thrown in for my son, then there’s “The Sound of Music”, which the kids haven’t seen but need to.  They also want to re-watch the PBS cartoon series “Liberty’s Kids”, which stays pretty true to the history of the American Revolution while also entertaining, so I don’t mind.  That’s a lot of screen time and it may not all fit with our other agenda items, but we can watch on weekends after school starts if we need.

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The Sensory Processing Roller Coaster

My daughter is nearly 16 and we’ve known she has sensory processing disorder (SPD) since she was nine.  There were numerous calls from the school due to incidents until home school began, occupational therapy, counseling, and tons of work and frustration (for everyone).  Today she is able to function well, most days being pretty normal.

Then came driver education.

She could have taken it last summer, but we decided to wait for a few reasons.  DH took her driving in a parking lot last weekend to break the ice.  The first class was Monday.  It’s a small class and two other girls are home schooled as well.  She was deep in conversation with a young lady when I left.  Great start!

When she came out at the end of class and I saw her face, my spirit fell.  I know that face.  Once in the car heading home the tears silently started to roll down her cheeks.  We chatted and the next day after that got a bit better.

Then yesterday she was to drive for the first time.  I came to pick her up and she hadn’t left the parking space.  Her driving partner is a wonderful, encouraging young lady.  There’s no question that God brought her to the same class for my daughter.  The teacher was wonderful: patient, not upset, going over things which could be covered in a parked car.  The other young lady had driven first, so she didn’t miss her turn.

Today was just driving, no class, so we left a bit early and went to a large church parking lot.  She drove up and down the empty rows for twenty or thirty minutes, then we went to class.  Thank Heaven she drove with her teacher today!  On the streets and everything!

Living with a child who has SPD is tough.  Don’t ever down play what parents of SPD go through.  We want our kids to be able to forget they’ve ever heard of SPD and be able to do what everyone else does, and some days they can.  My daughter will never be rid of SPD.  It is her companion for life and will flare up when she least wants it to.

SPD makes her feel as if she “can’t do anything right”, and strips away any shred of self confidence.  It can take her from the top of the world to the depths of a pit.

I told her today that SPD is like a beast and she needs to whip it (figuratively, of course) and make it understand that she is the master.  The beast is not in control, she is.  (I hope.)

I wish she didn’t have to fight this daily battle, but she does.  I need to be there to pick her up when the Beast has knocked her down.  I need to cheer her on and help to believe in herself when the Beast is roaring in her ear that she can’t do anything.  The Beast wears me out as much as it does my daughter.



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Trudging Along

There is a gigantic bag of clothes in the living room waiting to go to Salvation Army.  I got (forced) my son to go through his dresser with me and pull out outgrown/unwanted clothing.  He had a stack of things handed down from a family friend which he didn’t want, and I wasn’t going to argue.  We still need to go through the closet.  That’s happening today.  Being my youngest, he’s still growing, and based on his father’s height, could have another 8 or 9 inches yet to gain, even though he’s passed me by an inch already.  That big growth spurt is just lying in wait for the most inconvenient time.

The girls didn’t have as much to give up, but my oldest had several long sleeve shirts which were just too short in the sleeve.  Because you need better quality (and more expensive) clothing to solve the sleeve issue, I’ve waited for the girls to mostly stop growing before leaving the department stores for cold weather wear.  DD1 and I hopped onto Land’s End Clearance and found a few shirts to fill the void we created.  I made sure to point out the original prices along the way.  She needs to start paying attention to the cost of things as she’ll be doing more of her own shopping soon.  I’ve always had good luck with Land’s End as far as the sleeves not shrinking on me, and gave the girls some shirts from them (bought on clearance) last year for Christmas.  If you have “monkey” arms like we girls do, you understand how annoying the shrinking sleeve is.

Today I also need to go through the coat closet.  Ugh.  I can’t wait to finish this clean out.  It’s clearly needed, but I don’t enjoy it any more than the kids do.

This month is just so busy.  DD2 starts driver ed on Monday (4 days a week), DD1 is volunteering 3 days a week, eye appointments for two of the kiddos are coming up, session 2 driver ed for my eldest is coming up, and next week is Vacation Bible School.  My eldest helps with the two and three year olds (there because their parents are working), and my youngest still attends.  Our VBS has classes through 8th grade.  I’ll be glad when August rolls around.  Oh wait.  That’s when the fair comes, and all of the 4H business ( and busy ness!).  Isn’t summer supposed to be relaxing?

I’ve been told that the fair commitment for 4H really isn’t a big deal, but we are not a packed schedule kind of family, so yes it is.  The week before the fair is the club meeting where the kids clean the booth and get it ready.  Then on Saturday is judging.  Then we have to work two shifts at the fair, then there is 4H night when we get reduced price ride bands, then Sunday morning you need to pick up your projects at 8am and help tear the display down.   I won’t be sad when our 4H days are finished, but am glad that DD2 has had the experience.

DD1 sent off her first college application yesterday.  I told her that she ought to get one turned in each week until finished, going in order of importance.  DH was not happy that his alma mater did not receive their application yet, but reality is that it may not be where DD1 chooses to go.  We also need to wait and see what scholarship aid comes.  The first choice school has automatic scholarships based on SAT score and GPA.  We could end up with a quarter of the cost right there.  DH’s alma mater does not have automatic scholarships, and is a couple of thousand more per year.  DH would really like all three kiddos at the same school for ease of schedule, driving, visits, delivery/pick-up, etc., but that may not happen.  Why is that important to him?  One year after DD1 begins, DD2 enters the collegiate world.  DD2’s senior year will see our son enter the ranks.

Monday I also need to get DD2 and DS working on typing skills.  They’re really looking forward to that (eyes rolling).  It is so necessary, and I’ve tried explaining that all of the papers ahead of them will go that much quicker.  We’ll see how it goes.


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