Monday, March 24, 2014

And Again...It's All About Relationship

Nicaragua has an interesting mix of centuries going on here.  There is certainly evidence of the 21st century...iPhones, tablets, etc.; however, there are many things that seem "old fashioned."  While there are big corporate stores owned by Wal-Mart, there are many 'mom & pop' stores like you see in the movies or read about in books.  The owners of such stores, if you visit them regularly, get to know you.  You develop a relationship with them. 

There are a few such stores that we frequent regularly.  One of which is the bakery where we buy our 'daily bread', literally.  Oh, and sometimes donuts.  In fact, we are there so frequently that I just send a child in to buy the bread while I wait in the air-conditioned car.  Juana, the lady at the counter, knows my children (they are the pale white ones that are hard to miss) and she'll wave to me through the glass store door.  If I do go in, she asks how I've been and mentions my kids.   We've developed a relationship.

Another store we frequent is the veterinary supply store a few kilometers from our house.  Rachel, the owner, knows us well.  There was one day when I went in to pick up some supplies for Jeff and I didn't have enough cash to pay the bill.  She just gave me an I.O.U. and said I could pay next time.  We definitely have established a relationship.

Yesterday, I ran into another pharmacy that we use often.  (We mostly go in there to make photocopies for Jeff's class.  She also sells some of the medical supplies Jeff needs for his veterinary work.  The owner knows us as well.)  When I went in yesterday, I needed band-aids and rubber bands.  She had the band-aids for sale but no rubber bands.  However, she handed me a bag of rubber bands that she had been collecting over time on her desk.  She said she'd give them to me for free. For some reason, this little event really struck me.  She could have made up a price and gotten some cash for the rubber bands; however, she knows us and was willing to just "help us out."   We have a relationship. 

In the 21st century there seems to be a thick wall between the business owner and the customer--a wall where a simple wooden counter used to be.  I'm thankful that the simple counters still exist here--although, who knows for how much longer!

Monday, March 10, 2014

It Isn't As Easy As ABC-123!

From the time Noah was two, I noticed that he processed and examined his world through a different lens than the average toddler.  I did what I was trained to do in college...I sought early intervention.  I made him undergo several evaluations, including one with an audiologist.  However, Noah flew under the the radar, charmed his evaluator (in my opinion, LOL!) and toddled on his merry way.

In his 'preschool aged' years, Noah showed ZERO interest in letters, numbers, listening to books, colors, shapes, etc.  I thought that a little concerning, but chalked it up to him being a very active little boy who had older siblings to chase after.  We were in the process of preparing for our move to Nicaragua and we figured we'd give Noah 'more time'.  Well, as you know, we moved to Nicaragua when Noah was 4 1/2 and he started preschool at the Spanish-speaking school.  He spent two years doing 'school' in, we chalked up his lack of interest in letters, numbers, etc. to the fact that he was trying to navigate two languages.

Finally, at the end of his kindergarten year, we had him evaluated again.  While the results were fuzzy due to his quasi-bilingual situation and the fact that he had huge gaps in his knowledge, it was proposed that Noah was dyslexic.

I started doing some research and reading.  Interestingly, Noah exhibited nearly every single preschool red flag for dyslexia.  Things started to make more sense, to me, at least.  The resource teacher at the International Christian school lent me a book called The Gift of Dyslexia.  Wow!!! There are some amazingly brilliant Thomas Edison.  There are different types of dyslexia.  We have no idea if Noah is "officially" dyslexic, and if he his, I can't say for sure what type of dyslexia he has since I am not an expert.  However, the signs seem to point toward the direction of some sort of learning disability like dyslexia.

What I do know is that Noah is HIGHLY creative.  He sees the positive and negative space around him and "creates" things out of that. He has incredible fine motor control (at the age of 3, he could make very involved and symmetric lego creations).  He can make just about anything from tape, scissors, and paper.  He loves symmetry.  He loves to draw and sketch and build.  I look forward to seeing how God plans on using the gifts He has given to Noah.

Here is what I also know....teaching Noah is a challenge and joy.  It is a TRUE struggle for him to grasp concepts like letter sounds, numbers (especially 11-19), rhyming and rhythms.  However, after more than a full year of going through the alphabet letter by letter/sound by sound, Noah has grasped the majority of the letters and their sounds.  He counted by 10s today with me and was able to show me with little math blocks what numbers like 56 or 73 look like.  (His reward was getting to use those math blocks to build with after the lesson). This accomplishment in counting feels like nothing short of a miracle.

I'll admit, sometimes, I feel like I am in that movie Groundhog Day.  I think....'didn't we do this yesterday, WHY do you not remember??' Yet, I need to remember that this is a journey.  Noah may always struggle in certain areas.  I believe that as he becomes aware of his dyslexia, he will find creative ways to work within and around that. For now, we will continue to review the sounds that the letters make (oh, how I wish English phonetics were as consistent as Spanish phonetics!). We will continue to practice counting, rhyming, reading, writing and 'rithmatic!  It has been amazing to witness when he finally grasps a concept and is then able to apply that concept in his world.

Overall, my hope and desire is that I can enjoy the journey of being Noah's teacher (I already LOVE being his mommy!). His ability to see his world from 'outside the box' is a true blessing that can be shared with those around him!

Noah's Math Block Building

Letter Soup

Gotta love that smile!

This is very unique example of one of Noah's sketches...he did this one during the church service.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My Musings (as a mom at home in a foreign country) On This Tuesday

As I sit here writing, I am both typing and answering my son who wants to know what time his friend is coming today (but he can not yet tell time), so my answer is meaningless...but not answering is mean. I also have a parakeet sitting on my shoulder because she is noisy when she is in her cage and I don't feel like listening to the way, the parakeet insists on preening my hair.  Sometimes life with kids (and it seems more so when you are home, all day, all-together, all the time) is best defined by the word "entropy."

  1. 1.
    a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system's thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system.
  2. 2.
    lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.

The parakeet just flew off my shoulder and landed on Noah's head.  Yes, 'gradual decline into disorder' about sums it up.

Here are a couple of other musings...

  • Sometimes I feel like I live in a cave. I felt that way this week because it seemed EVERYONE was posting about the Oscars on Facebook.  Okay, I have NEVER heard of the movie Dallas Buyers Club.  I had to look up what song Pink sang...and that fact that I knew Pink existed and is a singer is unusual.
  • Homeschooling is hard. I feel clueless. I fear I will raise clue-less children.  However, more so is that the truth is...I'm a bit lazy.  I could teach my self to teach them.  There are great resources out there, like Khan Academy. I could easily watch a video of how to teach long-division and then teach long-division, right?  Yeah, well, when I have "free time", I'd rather be doing something mindless like being marginally social by skimming through Facebook's Newsfeed.    Yet, as I posted on FB the other day...I do LOVE my kids and I do PRAY for them.  I am not so clueless that I can't see that the benefits outweigh the costs (and insecurities) of homeschooling.  God has been gracious in allowing me to see the beautiful beginnings of fruit produced from the time in which we have spent homeschooling thus far.
  • Laundry and dishes reproduce when we turn our backs.  (Thankful that our kids are old enough to do dishes and laundry.)
**Today's blog has been brought to you by PMS.**