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Let's catch up!

Life has been...something lately. I have neglected this platform in favor of other adventures. Quick update on my personally includes completing my Master of Psychology program. I will also soon begin a Doctoral program specializing in education. My hope is to teach college psychology and pre-service teachers. Leigh is also completing his associate's right now, so school life is insane.

The kids are all doing wonderfully. We continue to homeschool, though it is just our family now. Kae is plowing through 3rd grade and turned 6 in April. Mack is flourishing with programming classes, math, and reading too. He turned 11 in October. Will is involved in two high school science courses which he is really enjoying and seems to have found several teens whom he meshes with well. He is also a teenager now at 13. Rory turned 15, got a job at a local grocery store, and is working hard at completing high school needs so he may pursue whatever is next. He is also participating in a local community orchestra program and earned a small, paid job there as a librarian for his specific group. We also have a new exchange student this year who quickly worked her way into our hearts. She is here for the year from Japan.

While the kids are doing wonderfully academically and growing socially, there are certainly bumps.

Will, though we were concerned about how puberty would affect him, is actually doing very well. Our hard work when he was very young seems to have paid off (at least right now) and he is gaining confidence in himself, learning to navigate the world, and isn't SO terrified of driving...right now! His percussion playing is going very well and he wants to start participating in the local high school band next year. He generally shies away from group activities but his love for timpani is driving his desire.

Mack, however, is struggling big time. I am not sure what is going on, but he has been argumentative and abrasive for several weeks now. He is struggling in a big way to control his body and mouth which results in hurt siblings and frustrated parents. This last weekend, Leigh, Mack, and I sat down to talk about how to help him improve his control. We noticed that though there are several options for him to engage in large, challenging movements, he has not been taking them. Leigh and I want to help our kids learn how to help themselves, so we decided to force Mack to engage in a choice of 3 activities out of an agreed on 5 choices every day for 30 minutes each. We implemented this on Sunday. Today is Wednesday marking the 3rd day of such engagement. While this is certainly too early to say definitively, I see improvement these last few days. I have reprimanded less and there has been less snapping at siblings. There has been more positive engagement with siblings, too. We will continue enforcing this rotation even when our temperatures fall over the next few weeks. Outside play is perfectly safe provided the correct clothes are worn!

Kae is budding as a reader, mathematician, and artist now that I have time to focus on her needs and growth. In the last month since we've just been our family, she has moved from struggling to read one chapter of a book to easily decoding 3+ syllable words with ease. Her writing both in penmanship and word construction are improving as well and she is tackling long division and multiplication with ease. Socially, she does very well with kids a few years older than herself. She is not shy about telling people what she needs or wants and she loves taking charge and getting to do big things. At the farm, she is able to lead several horses alone and can ride independently on a few different horses. She is working toward trotting off lead and without a spotter too. She needs a little more control and ability to bring the horses back down to a walk from the trot to fully graduate to that level. She knows exactly how to feed the horses too to make sure the horse with allergies gets safe food and she knows which horses get which medications (don't worry, she is still supervised and helped by an adult when giving meds and supplements especially)! She loves having things she is in charge of and can do independently, though.

Rory's goal is to move to his own place in 3 years when he is 18. He eagerly got a job as soon as he was able and is serious about saving money. While the local grocery store isn't his dream, he is doing his time and doing it well. His bosses and coworkers applaud his hard work. He is a mentor for younger kids who are navigating their identities as they grow up (as much as he doesn't want to be)! He is pursuing more music and purchased a bass guitar for himself earlier this year and started learning viola. We need to work on getting him driving more so next year, he can take himself to work and orchestra.

As we work through this crazy parenting journey, it is good to look at how far we have come. Years ago, Will threw hours long meltdowns at the slightest routine change. Now, he needs all (I mean every detail) the information but he processes it, asks for hugs, and moves on. Similarly, a few years ago, he wouldn't have interacted with or wanted to join the sciences he is now in. He is contributing, though, ideas and thoughts. He even invited them to a virtual birthday party. He has FRIENDS who aren't there because I am friends with the parents! Mack used to have to be supervised 100% of the time and now, I can trust him (mostly) to tramp around our land with the dog AND little sister. I can trust him at the farm to do waters or care for specific animals while I do something else. We drop Rory off at a job for hours at a time without worrying he will get lost or hurt. He went after another job without our help. Kae still needs more help at 6, but she can get several of her own meals, feed our animals at home, help with the farm animals, and more without help.

Looking back and seeing the progress can help us continue to move forward. What progress do you see in your challenging kids? How can I support you in continuing to push forward?

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