8 Things Special Needs Parents Are Tired of Hearing

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We were at a doctor’s appointment today for one of Junior’s specialists. While waiting, a little girl about 10 years old, unable to move or speak came in for an appointment being pushed in a wheelchair by her obviously frazzled mother and her care nurse. The other families who were waiting just ignored her, probably because they didn’t know what to say or do, but Junior ran up to this little girl, grabbed her arm, touched her face and started babbling to her. The girl smiled and started shaking with delight because someone wanted to play with her. The mom thanked me profusely for letting Junior be around her, because it’s obvious that most other people either stare or just ignore her.

I realize that one of the unique challenges of being a special needs parent is that most people don’t know what to say or do when presented with a child that’s not “typical”. It’s interesting to hear many of the same things over and over. In speaking with other special needs parents, here are 8 of the hardest things for special needs parents to hear.

1. “I’m Sorry.”
Often, when I share that Junior is deaf or that he has sensory processing disorder, people apologize for no reason. Don’t apologize. First of all, Junior wouldn’t be Junior if he were born any different so I’m not sorry for it, and second, having a disability isn’t something to be ashamed of. Being different shouldn’t invoke pity. It’s like saying “Your daughter has blue eyes. I’m sorry.” Or, “Your nose is bigger than mine. I’m sorry.” Instead, ask kindly, get informed, and know that his differences don’t define him.

2. “God Knew You Were Such a Good Mom That He Gave You a Special Needs Child.”
Wait, what? So if I were a worse parent God would have given me a typical child?
I trust God with my life, and that means accepting that His ways are above my ways, and that He chose this path for me because it was the best path for me. Not because I was “too good” or not good enough.

3. “How Do You Handle It? I Couldn’t.”
Yes, you could. You would rise to the occasion and realize that you’re stronger than you know. You do what you have to do, plain and simple.

4. “I Don’t Care, As Long As My Future Children Are Healthy.”
I’ve been there. I’ve said that more than once while pregnant with both of my children. But guess what? Even if you do have a child born with a disability, you’ll still love him or her more than anything, and you’ll realize that there are many incredible gifts that a special needs child can give. Eternal gifts like hope, joy, patience, and peace that you wouldn’t trade for anything.

5. “My Cousin’s Friend’s Sister’s Son Has ________”
I know you’re trying to relate and make conversation, but unless you actually know the person you’re referring to, there’s nothing to relate to.

6. “What’s Wrong With Him?”
Nothing’s wrong with him. See #1.

7. “Thanks for the Perspective”
I had someone come up to me and say “I’m so lucky I’m not in your shoes. Thank you for making me feel better about my life.” Wow. I’m glad to give you perspective, but please don’t pity my life or think I’m somehow missing out on something better.

8. (Staring in Silence)
Okay, this one isn’t something that’s actually said, but staring or pointing is more hurtful than just coming up and asking. You’re not going to offend me by asking about Junior, but you probably will offend me by silently staring, pointing, and talking amongst yourselves.

Contrary to popular belief, “special parents” do not get “special kids”. Special kids make special parents. 

Read Junior’s Story HERE

Book Review: My Perfect Pantry

Sometimes I feel like a contestant on Chopped when I’m going through my refrigerator trying to make something fantastic out of leftovers. So, I was excited to see what kind of recipes Chopped judge, Iron Chef, and renowned chef Geoffrey Zakarian would bring in his new cookbook, My Perfect Pantry.

The cookbook is a great idea–taking 50 common pantry items and transforming them for use in 150 different recipes. Some of the pantry items include: steel cut oats, cocoa powder, canned beans, BBQ sauce, and popcorn. Some of the reimagined dishes include Pecan Herb Pesto, Fresh Ricotta with Honey and Lemon, Cast-Iron Burgers with Secret Sauce, and Chocolate Muffins.

I decided to make the Secret Sauce for the burgers and the Chocolate Muffins. (Of course I had to make something with chocolate!)

The Secret Sauce, a concoction consisting of BBQ sauce, ketchup, and horseradish among several other common ingredients was amazing. I could eat it with a spoon, and I plan to make it every time I make burgers from now on. The Chocolate Muffins were good, although not as moist as I was hoping. They had a good flavor, though, and were easy to put together.

Here are some of the Pros and Cons of My Perfect Pantry:

-photos of every recipe
-combination of easy and more challenging recipes for every home cook’s skill level
-wonderful tips for each pantry ingredient
-good result from the recipes I tried

-some of the recipes required specialty ingredients that I wouldn’t just be able throw together
-in thinking “pantry meals” I assumed it would be a little more budget minded

On the whole, I really liked this cookbook, and it is a good addition to my cookbook collection. Next, I plan to try the Brown Sugar and Black Pepper Bacon. Yum!

Thank you to Blogging for Books for providing me a free copy of this cookbook in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

13 *Easy* Recipes for Leftover Chicken

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Ever since my life changed when I found my new favorite simple way to cook chicken, I’ve been thinking of all the ways I can use the chicken to streamline meal prep and spend more time on Pinterest with my kids.

There are so many chicken recipes out there. Like so, so many. But here are our 13 family tested favorites that use leftover chicken.

Browse all my Family Favorite Recipes Here

Book Review: I Can Learn the Bible

I’m always looking for good devotionals to add to our homeschool Bible time. I had been looking for a good book for Tater that encourages memorizing Bible verses, when I saw Holly Hawkins Shiver’s children’s devotional I Can Learn the Bible: 52 Scriptures Every Kid Should Know, and thought it would be a great addition to our Bible time.

This hard cover devotional is geared towards children age 4-8, and is based on O.S. Hawkins’ adult devotional The Joshua Code. I Can Learn the Bible has 52 devotions and memory verses, with each chapter meant to last one week. Monday, you’re supposed to read the devotional out loud and have your child repeat the memory verse. Tuesday your child should memorize the first part of the verse, Wednesday he or she should memorize the middle part of the verse, and Thursday he or she should memorize the last section. Re-read the devotion and verse on Friday, and review over the weekend.

I like how this system reinforces both the concept and the verse, instead of just memorizing a verse without any context. Several devotion themes include: the Bible being true for all time, God is our shepherd, God works all things for our good, and we all have a unique talent to bring to the body of Christ. I think the devotions are well laid out, and engaging.

My only complaint was the translation they used for the verses, from the International Children’s Bible. For example, Tater knows pretty well “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”. In this book, however, it’s “In the beginning, God created the sky and the earth.” To me, “the heavens” refer to the universe, and the “sky” refers to just this world. It may seem petty, but this version doesn’t fit my personal preference, and I will probably have Tater try to memorize the verses in a different translation.

On the whole, however, I think we will really enjoy this devotional as an asset to our homeschooling Bible time.

Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own, and have not been influenced in any way.

First Grade Curriculum Choices: MIDYEAR UPDATE

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One of my most popular posts this year was the curriculum we chose for Tater’s first grade year. But now our curriculum looks vastly different than it did at the beginning of the year! We’ve made so many changes that I figured another post was in order to let you know what we’ve liked and haven’t liked from the original list. (Make sure you check out my original First Grade Curriculum Choices here.)

Mystery of History Volume I-I’m still enjoying this, although there is a lot of reading that can be dry at times, so I’m not sure how much Tater is actually retaining. She likes the activities, and I love that it’s biblically based and interactive. I’ve supplemented with library books to bring more depth into some of the topics, but we’re continuing with this curriculum for the remainder of the year and will reassess for next year.

Horizons Math 1-This was one of the only math curricula I could find that wasn’t common core, which was a major reason I chose it. Tater has breezed through it…she can do the worksheets independently and hasn’t really needed any help. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. There is definitely a lot of review built in, which is good, but I don’t find it challenging enough. I’m not sure if we will continue with this math for second grade, but we will finish the first grade book then decide from there.

Horizons Phonics K-Tater seemed to be a little behind in reading to start the year so I put her in kindergarten phonics, but we made it halfway through this workbook only to realize that it was becoming way too easy. An official reading assessment from my aunt (who is a first grade teacher) showed that she was above 2nd grade reading level, so we dropped Horizons Phonics K and have moved into First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind as well as a reading comprehension workbook I picked up at Lakeshore. So far we are loving First Language Lessons.

A Reason for Handwriting-We are still using these worksheets, but Tater’s handwriting is still terrible. I’m considering dropping the Handwriting curriculum to just focus on copywork and letter practice.

A Reason for Science-We are only using this about one week out of five. I haven’t thought the lessons were that clear, so I had to explain quite a bit that wasn’t mentioned in the text. Most of the time we are just doing experiments from Magic School Bus Science Club (Tater’s birthday present last year), and some science kits she got for Christmas. I also picked up a Natural Science visual encyclopedia and she does daily journal entries about different plants and animal species.

God’s Great Covenant-Since Mystery of History has a lot of lessons on Biblical history, we have dropped God’s Great Covenant for now and are just using a combination of MOH and a Bible Storybook. Perhaps when she gets older I will revisit God’s Great Covenant, but I would prefer to focus on the stories and God’s character more than the dogma at this age.

All About Spelling-We are now in book 2, and I can’t say enough about this curriculum. Tater is turning into a really proficient speller because she is learning the rules of spelling instead of random words. I plan to continue All About Spelling for the foreseeable future. Although, I will admit I’ve been using the tiles less and less, and have been using a whiteboard instead. 

Classical Conversations-We still meet with our CC group once a week, but review time is basically just during class day and sometimes the CD in the car. I don’t think we are going to continue with CC next year, just because our current curriculum is already more than enough.

Road Trip USA-I enjoy this curriculum put out by Confessions of a Homeschooler, and we will be continuing it. I like all the activities included, although printing everything out was a huge task.

World’s Greatest Artists-Tater likes the art projects in this curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler, but I’m not sure we needed a whole curriculum, plus the companion books have been difficult to find. Just printing out examples from each artist along with a painting project will be good enough moving forward.

Read Alouds-We have finished these read aloud books since September…Little House on the Prairie, Davy Crockett: Young Rifleman, two Boxcar Children books, and Prince Caspian.

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