Could Tanner get anymore beautiful?  And he is beauty personified in and out (IMHO) ;).  Such a sweet tender boy and I think you can just really see it in the way he holds and looks at his sister (and she adores him too).  If you look close, you will see Tori’s excema on her arms in these pictures.  I have been using the topical steroids for two weeks and it has cleared up the rashes but the pigment has not returned yet.

She isn’t getting my rave review today however.  She. Is. In. Trouble.

Remember my complaints last week about her destroying my room and all the stuff she got into?  I spent her naptime cleaning everything up, getting all the trash out, swapping everything out of that bottom drawer she likes so much, rearranging ALL my office utensils out of her reach (which means all my pens are way on top of my armoir which is not real convenient).  She gets up from nap time and within the first three minutes (being literal) I find her walking around the house with a butterscotch candy in her mouth.  No idea where she found it.  Then she broke into a tube of Carmex with her finger and was scooping it out.  Then she broke into the LOCKED bathroom drawer and digged out the nail clipper kits (yes she found more than one after I took the first one from her).

She also has started growling at me.  Her little personality is so much like mine it is comical.  If you come on strong and aggressive with Tori and I, you aren’t likely to hurt our feelings our make us cower.  Instead we get very angry.  As a result, when she sees me approaching with the mama stink eye, she is beating me to the growl like two squared off linebackers looking for weakness in the eyes of our opponent.  And yes…I growl.  I didn’t realize this until she started growling back however.  A habit I must now break.   You know that frustrated GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR kind of growl when you find that she has just tattooed her body in permanent ink yet again??  My mother growls too I’ll have you know.  Still.  Even today.  I wouldn’t recommend you make her mad to experience it though hee hee.

Clearly I am dealing with a head strong little lady and I just admire the adorable socks off her.  When she learns to channel that energy, she will be a force to be reckoned with someday.  I pray that God softens mama in such a way that I can teach her to use that powerful personality in such a way that benefits her AND benefits everyone around her.  I realize that it all starts with me.  Parenting is a scary responsibility but my children make me want to be brave.  I want to make wise and loving choices in my life so that my children reap the benefit of a life well lived.  Love live out.

Must go now.  Tanner yelling that Tori is naked again.  Yes she was taped.  Jim and I are discussing taping her overall style hee hee.  Running out of options here folks.  🙂  Heidi said this is one time that we should regret that she doesn’t have a pear shape.  She couldn’t shimmy out of them.  Cutting out feet in her pajamas and putting them on backwards.  She is going to have to live with it.

THAT girl!

She looks so innocent doesn’t she?

She has colored on herself with markers no less than five times this week.  She has found every pack of gum in the house as well as assorted sticky candy.  She broke into Ty’s bag of peanut butter cookies twice (apparently she isn’t allergic to peanuts because this is her first exposure).  She emptied out an office drawer today and I found everything including my checkbook in my office trash can.  She carried all the bath soaps and shampoos out of the bathroom and aligned them on my desk.  My bedroom is a disaster because of all the drawers she has emptied today.  She has removed her diaper several times – and yes it was duct taped – she learned to shimmy.  One of these times including a very icky incident in the crib – AGAIN.

And yes I know – you are thinking “Doni you’re not watching that baby girl!”  Well I know that!  But here is the problem….I am so one track minded that it’s hard for me to split my attention somedays.  Because I have been trying to get a lot of stuff done this week before school starts back up, I have just lost track of the munchkin.  Funny thing is, most of the time her antics are performed within four feet of me.  I just get distracted and don’t notice what she is up to.  When I do catch her, she takes off running.  She is so much more trouble than my boys were at this age.  SO MUCH!

Meet Cream Kitten.  Her newest Wub A Nub.

I am hoping to get more pictures outdoors in her white dress and bonnet tomorrow.  I tried to tonight but got all set up at the park near my home and realized I forgot one semi important piece of equipment – my camera.  🙂  Grrrrrrrr….  See what she does to me?  Just distracts me all day long hee hee.

I bought this bonnet while up in Prescott with my mom.  Mom is my Laura Ingalls girl and I knew she would like this.  Also Kristi is my prairie girl so she may appreciate this look as well.  Would look quite wonderful on Beth I think too.  🙂

And now for some angry shots…

Did Laura Ingalls ever act like this?

And when she gets real mad she follows it up with this…

What a sad sad sad little girl….boo hoo.  Or…I have a better idea…let’s pretend she is a little Quaker girl prostrated in prayer!  Isn’t that a lovely picture?

And when the face plant doesn’t work – you just get the scowl.

Now I gotta ask ya…who wants fifty thousand smiling pictures when you can capture these gems?  🙂 🙂


Last week I had a really tough mom moment.  Ty was caught in a bad tic cycle and I was in my room listening as his tics continued to increase.  I walked out into the hall and he met me halfway holding his arm across his mouth.

“Mommy I don’t know why I am doing this!  Do you know why I am doing this?”  My heart broke.

I held him on my lap and told him again.  I have regretted my words though.  I wasn’t anticipating that question from Ty so I scrambled for an answer and told Ty that tics were kind of like a voice inside telling him to continue grunting and it was something that he couldn’t stop.  I assured him it was okay and that he could feel free to grunt as he needed and not worry a thing about it.

The only reason I spit out the “voice in the head” thing is because in all my reading, so many describe it that way (or say it’s an urge to break a social rule kind of thing).  I don’t have any appreciation for either of those definitions.  They make it sound like my child is hearing voices and more tempted to “sin” than others.

My perspective as a mom is completely different.  In the first place, we all struggle with temptation.  However, anyone with impulse control issues has a more difficult time because they don’t often think about the choice BEFORE they make it.  Their sequencing is different.  Also why I am convinced that Ty doesn’t often display much shame or guilt.   He often acts on impulse so he doesn’t carry the guilt over the choice – because in many ways he didn’t cognizantly make it.  (This is not true in ALL cases – sometimes he is just simply FIVE 🙂 ).

In the second place, Ty is not experiencing these motor and oral tics because of a “voice in his head”.  Now…if he were having tics stemming from OCD I think that could be a vague but somewhat accurate description.  As in the struggles he has to resist touching things.  I think he is cognizant of the DESIRE and then in impulse acts on it.  But the shaking of the head and the grunting/throat clearing?  Most of the time he is completely unaware of it.  It isn’t until it gets really bad that he takes notice.

I think the reason people describe it this way though is because eventually, when a child becomes socially aware of it, and then can feel the tics coming on, in their effort to physically stop them – it “feels” like an impulse they can’t resist – thus the “voice in the head” description.

At Ty’s age, I would describe it as a sneeze.  He may have the ability to hold off a sneeze but most children don’t realize it so they just do what comes natural – they sneeze.  Try telling a child they aren’t allowed to sneeze.  🙂

When he is older and his awareness grows, it will be more like an itch I think.  He will feel the itch, and at times have the power to refrain from scratching (maybe) for short periods of time, but eventually will have to scratch.

His awareness is growing a little bit already as illustrated by the following:

*  At family camp he asked my mom if she knew what a tic was.

*  Meeting me in the hall and asking me about it while covering his mouth as if to stop it.

*  Covering his mouth and hiding his face in the restaurant the other day.  That hurt my heart to.

We seem to have good days and bad days.  Yesterday was pretty quiet but I hear it creeping up right now as I right.  Morning time is usually very good but late afternoon and then into bedtime it escalates with the worst being shortly before bed.

I am asking why to.  Not “why did this happen” or “why did God allow one more thing”…but the scientific WHY.  What is the biological/biochemical trigger?  What is short circuiting to make this happen?  I want specifics.  I want a neurologist to draw me a map of the brain and explain to me exactly how this works – how Ty’s hemorrhages affected x,y,z areas that are responsible for x,y,z, and why the outcome is ADHD, OCD, SPD, and TS.  I want to know.  I can’t find that kind of information anywhere.  I am wondering if it even exists.  I suspect not right now.  Would it change anything?  Probably not but better understanding equips for better solutions doesn’t it?  I know I can’t “fix” this but I do want to help and heck if I know what form “help” will come in.  I have a call in to The Crossroads Institute.  They say on their home page:

We believe in an integrated approach to balancing the brain.
To do this we use a full neuro-bio-psycho-social model.

Our goal is to gain objective, evidence-based insight into brain function and then create measurable, proven solutions to help reach your full potential…without the use of medication. We would rather fix the problem at the root cause;not just mask the symptoms.

They work with kids with autism, asperbergers, OCD, ADHD, SPD, Mood Disorders, Learning Disabilities…a large scope of neuro biological issues.    They also say:

Our NeuroGeniSys Process and Procedure measure over 293 different dimensions of brain activity as it relates to ability to learn, concentrate, control emotions and regulate responses.

Depending upon what has been blocked and how the information has been filtered will result in our perceptions or distortions of life. These are experienced as learning difficulties, social inadequacies, under achievement and distorted realities which reflect in personality quirks.

The data collected from the assessments is evaluated by our team of professions (neurologist, electophysiologist, neuro-physiologist, neuro-developmentalist and licensed psychotherapist) and summarized into a customized Crossroads NeuroFunction Profile and Report of Findings.

The analysis and recommendations are used as a guide for programs, protocols, activities and therapists targeted to each client’s specific needs.

That is the kind of information I want.  Show me what the root is specifically and then tell me what I can do to help theraputically rewire/recircuit.  The brain is amazing and I believe so much can be done…if only we know WHAT.  Who knows how much this costs though…sinking feeling about that.  Still I gotta check it out.

On a funny note (sort of), Ty heard me talking about Asperger’s Syndrome to Sweetie last week.  He (unfortunately) loved the word and I have heard him saying “Ass-Burgers” all week.  Trying to ignore that for fear that attention to it will only cause him to repeat it more.  Have I mentioned how much he repeats repeats repeats repeats repeats repeats repeats repeats repeats repeats repeats repeats repeats repeats repeats repeats repeats repeats …..;)

There is a 3 hour TS seminar available online that I was watching (Dr. Walkup from John Hopkins) and he said that he often sees more Aspergers patients in the TS clinics than TS patients because their symptoms can be so difficult to differentiate. I have wondered in the past if Ty might have Aspergers – especially considering that he doesn’t seem to pick up on social clues well.  I was quite thoroughly convinced that Ty does NOT have aspergers though after hearing one of Dr. Walkup’s comments about it.  He equated children with Asperger’s to be much more like cats than puppies.  They are more emotionally distant, avoid eye contact and touch, exist alongside you but not necessarily engaged with you.  Ty is most DEFINITELY a puppy and NOT a cat.  He must not have Asperger’s.  🙂

Writer’s Block

Warning:  This post will only be mildly interesting to home school moms.

I start the kids back to school the day after Labor Day so I have been spending my time gathering my curriculum and writing my year goals.  My biggest struggle right now is figuring out how to catch Tanner up in writing.  He is WAY behind.  The reason for this is simple – he HATES it.  He is overwhelmed by writing.  I think this is in part due to his perfectionism (doesn’t want to write what he can’t spell) and in part personality.  He has a very difficult time expressing.  I mean VERY difficult time.  Even at 8 years of age, Tanner has trouble answering questions or making decisions.  I have no real explanation for it other than when he is put on the spot with a question, he panics.  We have been working on this with asking him lots of questions and game playing and he is doing better in a casual environment but if he senses any amount of import – he just shuts down (and looks at his younger brother knowing Ty will speak up).  So Tanner can barely put a sentence together on his own (in writing).  Not because he lacks the skill, he lacks quite frankly – the courage – strange as that may sound. He loves brainstorming with me though.  We have been brainstorming and writing little sentences about a place we have imagined together called Blue City and he just loves our time invested in that.  We haven’t written much though – just talked about it.

So this year I plan to do an oral grammar lesson daily, daily paragraph editing, daily dictation, AND some form of creative writing.  That may seem overkill but we are really behind on this subject and we are going to need to spend a lot of time together on it.  I have read through so many curriculums, and workbooks, been to the library, Barnes and Noble, surfed the web….I have been looking looking looking for a great writing program that will start him at the beginning and work him through and so far I haven’t liked anything.  In the first place, I am not a workbook mom.  I just hate them and I avoid them whenever possible.  In the second place, I really like learning by doing so dictation and paragraph editing are great ways to teach practical grammar (and AGE OLD tried and proven methods to boot).  Teaching independent writing though?????  Ahhhh…I am at a loss!  I don’t know how to motivate him.  I know he likes to Mind Map so we can start with that but then what?  My friend Kristi told me today that she thinks I should start his basic paragraphs with summaries.  Get him to answer Who, What, Where, When, Why (How), and then put it together in a short paragraph.  I think that is a great suggestion and will incorporate that daily as well.

What I am trying to do is make a skeleton outline for each writing assignment type.  It would be awesome if I could find different “forms” for guiding them through the different types of writings.  I found some book report forms online that I really like that ask what the title is, who the author and illustrator are, when and where story takes place, setting, characters, character description, the problem, the solution, the conclusion, what their opinion is, if they would recommend it…etc.  I love this.  I want something like that for every thing I have Tanner write.  I think if we can step it out this way, and then put it together, he might have an easier time transitioning.  I have bought several resources that I am trying to pull together such as Well Trained Mind Language Lessons, Bright Ideas Calendar, Story Starters, Daily Paragraph Editing, Writing Curriculum Week-By-Week Lessons…etc.   I have written down the steps to 5 paragraph essays, and the six traits of writing, and the form for friendly and business letters, and lists of creative writing ideas. I have exhausted myself on this topic and I still do not feel like I have a firm handle on this.  Grrrrrrrrrr….

I think it is because I know where I am, I know where I am going, I know what I want accomplished…I just am not sure how to get MY little guy to get on this train with me.  Waiting for a call back from Aunt Karen now.  She said that she has a friend who taught wonderful writing workshops that she used starting in the first grade and that it worked wonderfully with her students.  Praying this will be another good resource.

Homeschooling K-3rd is hard!  Will girls get easier?  AND…I am starting Ty to boot?  There went my year I think!


Why do I wait so long to pray specifically about these things???  I seriously have been wandering around my house, researching, thinking, scads of notebook papers with ideas, calling Kristi (several times), calling Aunt Karen, pulling my hair out, going over and over the same things and still unsatisfied with my end result that I posted above.  Finally this evening I prayed and told the Lord I really needed some help here.  As I said above, I knew what I wanted I just couldn’t find it.   At 11:00 PM tonight I finally found something that I think will work for Tanner and I so I am simplifying all I said above.

I have purchased:

First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Level 3 Teacher’s Edition and Student Workbook
Writing with Ease:  Strong Fundamentals (Text and Level 3 Student Workbook)


In the first place, call me old fashioned, but I am very attracted to Charlotte Mason and Classical Homeschooling approaches.  If it worked for generations of brilliant minds before now, why break what ain’t isn’t broken?  🙂  I like to approach things in a real world way with “living” books, with simplicity, and without all the fluff of added “stuff” just to say we did it.

Before I started teaching my kids I had done enough homework to be thoroughly convinced that I wanted to approach grammar and writing through copywork, narration, and dictation and grow from there.   Fortify the foundation FIRST.  I started with copy work in First Grade and some dictation and then did more dictation in Second Grade.  That was working well.  What wasn’t working was independent writing/creative writing.  I explained why above.  I have felt pressure over this because in the AZ public schools, kids are writing research papers, creative stories, and book reports in the third grade and we haven’t moved that direction yet.  (Nor is Tanner interested in that yet).  When I read through excerpts from Well Trained Mind’s Writing With Ease Text, I quickly was saying “Amen” to those lovely ladies who believe as I do.  Get the fundamentals down first in the 1st through 4rth grade and grow their creative expressions once they have mastered more skills (unless they REALLY want to write creatively).  To summarize, they defend that you CAN teach younger students creative writing but it lacks something (a whole lot of somethings).  If you ground them firmly in the skills first, they will be not only better equipped to write something worth reading but also much more willing to put their neck out there to do it.

I already have the grammar workbook (language lessons) because I bought that several months ago without realizing they had a writing program as well.  It looks very straight to the point without fluff or redundancy – just how I like it.  The writing program will emphasize reading comprehension, narration (summaries), and dictation daily all using strong classical literature references.  In fact, the first six weeks of grade 3 are FREE online because they are late in printing their materials.  Here is the link if you want to check it out (from the Well Trained Mind website):

Instructor Pages

Student Pages

Finally finally finally…I feel ready and excited to teach this!  Hope this works!

Sneak Peek Mylie

Meet Mylie Jo.  Is she adorable or what?  She was a good good girl for me and we had a great time.  Tori enjoyed being a PA (photographers assistant).  She went through all Mylie’s diaper wipes and kept getting on the set and wiping her face.  LOL.   Baby girls are ridiculous amounts of fun so I am sneak peeking a lot today (also to make up for my lack of a Monday post hee hee).

I loved the way she kept crossing her feet.  Her mama said she does this all the time.

Don’t you just want to squeeze those cheeks?