Friday, June 28, 2013

"Don't worry. The moon is as good as ours."
Summer Movie Giveaway:
Despicable Me + Bowl of Goodies

"Don't worry. The moon is as good as ours."
-"Vector," Despicable Me

One of the movies that we, as a family, have been looking forward to seeing this summer is Despicable Me 2, which comes out in theaters this week on Wednesday, July 3.  If you have not seen the original, Despicable Me, it is a fun story for both kids and adults about Gru, a villan, who is attempting to do something spectacular in his villainy.  However, a new up-and-coming villan named Vector is stealing the spotlight.  Gru gets the idea to adopt three little girl orphans, Edith, Agnes and Margo, so they can use their cookie-selling venture to gain entry to Vector's headquarters and help Gru attain super-villan stardom, and a hilarious adventure ensues.  

Since the second movie is coming out Wednesday, I thought it would be fun to host a movie-themed giveaway with the original.  So, you could win: 

(1)  Despicable Me (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy version)

(2) Organic (Non-GMO) Popcorn - 1 bag

(3) Honest Kids Berry Berry Good Lemonade - 6 pouches

(4) Annie's Bunny Fruit Snacks Summer Strawberry - 6 pouches

(5) 1 red plastic bowl to share your popcorn in

*A note about paleo eating and this giveaway: Most people who follow the paleo lifestyle are on average only paleo 85% of the time.  I see no reason why part of your 15% cannot be for a family cuddle and laughter while you watch this fun movie.  However, the popcorn, juice and the fruit snacks are organic, GMO-free and made with only the best ingredients, and the juice is sweetened only with juices (no added sugars at all).

Please complete at least the blog comment requirement below to be entered for the drawing and sign in to the Rafflecopter widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**This giveaway is only open to those residing in the contiguous USA (as I will have to ship it).  I am not being sponsored by any of the companies of which I am giving away product, nor did I receive any compensation (including said giveaway products) for holding this giveaway.  Please see my disclosure page if you are concerned about affiliations.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thankful Thursday:
"I have accidentally written a novel."

"Finally, I finished it, did a word count 
and sent an apologetic email to my publisher — 
‘I have accidentally written a novel.’"
-Neil Gaiman, 06/24/13, The Majestic Theatre, Dallas, TX

This week I am thankful that a good friend of mine had an extra ticket to go see Neil Gaiman speak at an Arts & Letters Live event, hosted by the Dallas Museum of Art.  We get a flyer for A&LL at the beginning of the season, but I almost always forget who the major players are since they are scheduled for months out.

I absolutely loved Gaiman reading from his latest novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which is semi-autobiographical.  To hear an author read his own work with the intended inflection is an incredible experience.  He also talked about how certain parts of the book are autobiographical, like the opening drama of the seven-year-old main character and his father discovering that the family's boarder had taken their white Mini and committed suicide in it.  Gaiman explained that while it actually happened to his family, he was not related the story by his own father until he was into his 40s, reminiscing about "whatever happened to that car."  

Gaiman is also the author of American Gods, Anansi Boys, Stardust, and a number of other novels, as well as The Sandman series of comics (DC Comics) and quite a few children's books, like The Graveyard Book, which won the Newbery Medal, and Coraline, which is probably a familiar title due to the movie of the same name.



Gaiman is also releasing a new children's book, Fortunately, the Milk, in September of this year, and due to the magnificence "of the [Majestic] theatre" decided to award us with a brief reading from its pages.  It was no less gripping and fantastic than his reading of Ocean, and I preordered it online while I waited to have my book signed.  During his talk he stressed how important it is to "do the voices" when reading books to children, and I could not agree more.  I wish I had that talent, and am so glad AC can do wonderful voices for SC when he reads to her; alas, I must stick with audiobooks when it is my turn.

Speaking of having a book signed, I am very thankful that I only had to wait two hours before getting the opportunity to meet Gaiman in person and have him sign the book of short stories (Fragile Things) I had brought with me.  According to twitter, the signing lasted until 2:30am.  It is no wonder he announced that this tour would be his last in which he stays to sign books.  I also was able to spend those two hours speaking with the people around me about books, which was awesome.

What unexpected thing are you thankful for this week?  Leave a comment, then check out some more Thankful Thursday posts here:

Thankful Thursdays Button

**This post contains affiliate links.  Please read my disclosure statement.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What 2 Read Wednesday:
"The sun kept on with its slipping away..."
Tell the Wolves I'm Home
by Carol Rifka Brunt

"The sun kept on with its slipping away, 
and I thought how many small good things in the world might be resting 
on the shoulders of something terrible."

-Carol Rifka Brunt, Tell the Wolves I'm Home, pg. 233

Tell the Wolves I'm Home is the first novel by author Carol Rifka Brunt.  It was listed on many "best of" lists in 2012, and came out in paperback this month.  I picked up a signed copy at Target last week because the cover jumped out at me and I have to say it was a worthy purchase.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home is the story of fourteen-year-old June as she attempts to cope with the death of her uncle and closest confidant, famous painter Finn Weiss, by AIDS in the spring of 1987.  Though touted as a "coming-of-age" story, I felt that this novel was so much more than that.  It is the struggle of a young girl to understand what love really is, and she gets a first-hand look at the many types and the sacrifices that those in love make for their lovers.  There are a few pairs of characters juxtaposed with each other, including Finn, whom the reader barely meets before his death, and his boyfriend Toby, June and her older sister Greta, as well as June's parents, who are both tax accountants dealing with their busiest time of year.  The story centers around June getting to know Toby, a stranger to June until she sees him for the first time at Finn's funeral and is told by her older sister that he is Finn's "murderer."  

June is also right at the age where she is not quite a child, but not yet an young adult.  Her perceptions of the world are changing, and she struggles to figure out what her relationship should be with each member of her family.  She has always felt like she does not fit in, and Finn was the one who made her feel special.  With him gone, she is bereft.  Just as Toby begins to fill the hole left by Finn, June begins to wonder if he spends time with her for herself, or because Finn asked him to.  She relates herself to a falconer whose birds fail to return.  She thinks
"I used to think maybe I wanted to become a falconer, and now I'm sure of it, because I need to figure out the secret. I need to work out how to keep things flying back to me instead of always flying away."
Her sister, Greta, is also going through a "coming-of-age," though it is a transition from young adult to adult, with real life goals and expectations.  She wavers between being the loving sister who is excited to share life with June to a mean, typical teenager who cannot control her emotions.  She excels at musical theatre, so much so that she has been invited to audition for a Broadway role, but the idea of being on her own and responsible for her life scares her.  She begins to drink in a way that is an obvious cry for help to June, who doesn't know how to respond as she deals with her own fairly grown-up issues with Toby.

Brunt also weaves a beautiful tale of a family coming to grips with the reality of AIDS in a time when no one in the world really understands the disease.  The fear of catching the disease, but no one really knowing how it was transmitted, is palpable.  As this twines through the story of love, it adds depth to the heartache and jealousy the characters are dealing with.  

I liked this book very much after finishing it, but liked it even more as I thought back at the way Brunt crafted the tale so expertly.  Be prepared to shed tears as you are drawn in to the world of June Elbus.  I would recommend this book to mature, older teens and adults.  However, I do think it would be helpful for the reader to have an understanding of what the environment surrounding the AIDS epidemic in the late 1980s was like, or much of the story will be lost. I also think this is a novel that both men and women can really get into, even though the main character is a young girl.

**This post contains affiliate links.  Please read my disclosure statement.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday:
"...we should ask him what books he read."

"If we encountered a man of rare intellect, 
we should ask him what books he read."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims (1876)

SC has really gotten off to a great start with her summer reading challenge, and for Top Ten Tuesday this week I am going to highlight some of the books she has read on her own to get through the first 15 points.  I have included how many points I awarded for each book, in case you want to do something similar.  Our reading challenge log is from Homeschool Creations.

1. Today I Will Fly by Mo Willems (1 point)

2. I Will Surprise My Friend by Mo Willems (1 point)

3. Penny and her Doll by Kevin Henkes (3 points)

4. Penny and her Song by Kevin Henkes (3 points)

5. That is Not a Good Idea by Mo Willems (1 point)

6. Sammy the Seal by Syd Hoff (3 points)

7. My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann (1 point)

8. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman (3 points)

9. Ten Apples Up on Top! by Theo. LeSieg (2 points)

10. Grandma, Grandpa and Me by Mercer Mayer (1 point)

What books have your kids read so far this summer?  What would you recommend for a beginning reader?  Leave a comment below, and then check out some other Top Ten Tuesday posts here:

Many Little Blessings

**This post contains affiliate links.  Please read my disclosure statement.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Menu Monday: "Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking..."

"Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity."

I have decided that I want to try to post our menus for the week in hopes that it will keep me honest about sticking to them. We always start the week with good intentions, but life happens and some evenings it is just easier to run through the drive-through on the way back home from activities than it is to cook something. However, I feel horrible when we do this, and so does SC, and if AC is home, he does too. He recently mentioned that he really wanted to get healthier by doing a Whole30 and starting the Couch to 5k program, so we are going to do it as a family.

If you are unfamiliar with the Whole30 program, it is a kind-of detox designed to get your body back to rights by eliminating anything that could be causing it to run improperly, including all grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol and sugars. It also includes eliminating things that are normally found in processed foods like MSG and sulfites, and the focus is on eating real, whole foods instead. If this sounds like something you might be interested in, I would suggest you check out/purchase the book It Starts with Food.  

If you read my page about eating paleo you will see that the Whole30 is more than what normally constitutes paleo because it is designed to be a reset for your body. Then, after 30 days (or longer if you don't feel optimal), those following the paleo lifestyle try to eat paleo about 85% of the time. However, I notice a huge difference in the way I feel when I make those non-paleo choices, so my ideal would be closer to 95%. At the moment, with the fast-food funk we have gotten into, we are maybe paleo only about 50% of the time and I feel run down and get extra irritable.

So, here is our menu for the first week, days 1 - 7 of the Whole30. Many of the recipes I am going to try I have linked to, but I recently got a new cookbook called Primal Cravings that I am giving a try, so some of the recipes can be found in there. Unless otherwise listed, lunch will probably be either leftovers from dinner the night before, or a salad for AC and deli meat (organic, no preservatives) plus veggies and fruit for SC and I. Breakfast is usually eggs, bacon, veggies and fruit in some combination.

Monday 6/24
Tikka Masala Chicken Wings
Primal Cravings, pg. 118

Tuesday 6/25

Wednesday 6/26
(see pic at the top of page)

Thursday 6/27

Friday 6/28

Saturday 6/29
Crispy Chicken Fingers
Primal Cravings, pg. 112

Steak & Veggies

Sunday 6/30


I would love for you to join up with our family doing the Whole30 for the next thirty days. Please comment below and let me know if you are giving it a try, plus any paleo recipes you want to share.

**This post contains affiliate links.  Please read my disclosure statement.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thankful Thursday:
"I've been wishing for this since I was 10 years old..."

This week I am thankful that I got to see the movie E.T. (1982) in the theatre yesterday.  They were doing a "4 weeks of Spielberg" thing, and E.T. was it for this week.  I remember seeing it as a child, but I didn't really remember much about it other than a very basic plot line and that they dressed E.T. up as a ghost on Halloween.  However, seeing it on the big screen, with the music of John Williams booming throughout the room, was an incredible experience.  The plot goes up and down, wrenching at your heartstrings, bringing you up, dragging you down.  Even though I knew how it ended, I couldn't help but get teary-eyed when Elliot, the young boy who had found E.T. and took him in, said after his presumed death
"Look at what they've done to you. I'm so sorry. You must be dead, 'cause I don't know how to feel. I can't feel anything anymore. You've gone someplace else now. I'll believe in you all my life, every day. E.T., I love you."
If you haven't seen the movie, I will stop my synopsis here and request you borrow a copy or just go buy it.  As an adult, looking back at these tough decisions of childhood, I deeply felt what Elliot was feeling.  I have never seen Ghandi, the best picture winner of the Oscars the year E.T. was nominated, but it must have been genius to have overtaken such an incredible work of art.

I also want to mention that I am thankful that I got to have this experience with SC.  She is so in tune to the emotions evoked by music, and even more so when there is a film that accompanies it.  Listening to her describe the beginning of the film ("like a nightmare"), and then moving on to gleefully clapping when E.T. first lifts himself and Elliot off the ground, flying through the air on the bike; the anxiety as the government agents enter Elliot's house while they are gone; to see her tears and hear her moans as she witnesses what she believes to be a sad ending to the film: I witnessed the magic that movies can create as I watched her watching the movie, and would recommend E.T. for that, even if for nothing else.

Have you seen any movies lately that you would recommend?  What are you thankful for this week?  Comment below, then check out some other Thankful Thursday posts here

Thankful Thursdays Button

**This post contains affiliate links.  Please read my disclosure statement.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday:
"I didn't want normal until I didn't have it anymore."

"I didn't want normal until I didn't have it anymore."
― Maggie StiefvaterLament: The Faerie Queen's Deception

I am not typically one for branding or advertising, but I read a good list last week of ten things one family uses all the time and realized I might have a few helpful hints that I have picked up as I have grown up in the past ten years.  So, for Top Ten Tuesday this week, here are ten things we cannot live without in our house:

1. Electric Tea Kettle:  My in-laws gave us this tea kettle for Christmas this year and I don't know how we lived at all without one.  We use this on a daily basis for coffee in the morning and tea later in the day.  This one is very simple and it works great.

2. Mrs. Meyer's Laundry Detergent: This is the only laundry detergent we have found that will really get out the smell of urine the first time through the wash (if you have potty trained, you will know this is a must).  I have only ever used the geranium smell, and while it seems overwhelming when the clothes first come out of the wash/dryer, it is barely lingering when I pull them from the closet to wear.  They just smell clean.  I have read that some of the other scents will stick around for a long time and smell horrible, but I can attest this is not the case with this one. 

3. Greenling:  This is the local farm-to-consumer delivery service, and if you live anywhere in Texas, please check them out to see if they are delivering to your area.  They deliver local produce, meats, eggs and other goodies weekly, and their prices are comparable to those you would find at Whole Foods or Central Market.  For me, the nearest Whole Foods is almost an hour away, so having my "green box" delivered to my doorstep has been a huge gas-saving blessing.  They also give information about each of the farms/ranches that provides them with products so you can make an informed choice. You can shop by a pre-selected "local box" that changes weekly, or you can create your own box by choosing items individually.  They even offer "meal kits" for those short on time, complete with recipes.
Check out Greenling here.

*If you are not in Texas and/or Greenling does not deliver to your area, I urge you to seek out local farm co-ops and meat producers and give them a try.

4. French Press: We make coffee most mornings, but neither AC nor I drink it all day long.  This means that the typical 10-cup or 12-cup coffee maker is just too much for us.  We tried a Keurig machine for a while, but it was so much mess because we never really liked the coffee (or teas) that came already in a pod, so we had to use the pods where you pack it in yourself.  Eventually we just gave up.  We discovered a French press and are immensely happy now.  It is very simple to use, makes the perfect amount for a cup or two of coffee in the morning, is easy to transport the grounds out to the composter, and cleans up in the dishwasher.

5. Netflix: Before SC was born, and before streaming movies over the internet was a "thing," AC and I have had a Netflix account.  However, we no longer have the DVD account, and what I really love most about it now is that it will open into a split adults/kids section.  I can choose the kids version, SC could navigate it by the time she was 3 because it has a scrollbar at the top that is just pictures of recognizable characters, and it includes many of the PBS shows we like to watch (at the most convenient time for us).  We can also stream it on a phone or iPad anywhere we have WiFi, which has been great for eating up time in airports or other non-productive places that SC needs to sit still.  It has also been nice to catch up on shows AC and I like to watch, but not be glued to a set TV schedule every week.
Check out Netflix here.

6. Apple TV: We have had an Apple TV since they were first introduced, and it is an item we could not live without in order to stream music from the computers to the stereo speakers.  It has also been great, since SC was born, to be able to stream photos onto our large-screen television for viewing by family instead of having to all huddle around a 13" laptop screen.
Find Apple TV at Amazon's Apple Store Here

7. Canus Orange & Clary Sage Goat's Milk Soap: I will admit, I have always been a fairly stinky person.  I am pretty sure I got my dad's sweat/stink genes and it has been a long time coming where I feel comfortable when the 100 degree temps arrive in Texas.  However, about two years ago, I was doing research into essential oils, soap making, and deodorant making as a last-ditch effort to find products that really worked at getting me clean and controlling my body odor without using a ton of chemicals that would just cause other problems, I came across this soap at Whole Foods.  It has changed my life.  It is the only soap I have ever used (since I was a teenager at least) that I get out of the shower not already smelling myself.  I may have an oversensitive sense of smell (especially when it comes to my own body odor), but for as long as I can remember, I have always bathed, washed certain areas three or four separate times while in the shower, and stepped out only to rush to the deodorant and slather it on because I still could smell myself.  This soup is superb, does not dry out my skin, and the essential oils get rid of the body odor in a major way.

8. iPad Mini: We gave in around Christmas and bought a "family" iPad Mini and it has been a great purchase for the whole family.  SC gets to play a ton of cheap, educational games, AC gets to use it for some grown-up games, tracking travel and sports scores, and I have my recipe app on it that I use while cooking.  We do not have 4G on it, so we can only use the internet when we have WiFi and that has not been a problem at all.  Also, the size of the iPad Mini is perfect of SC to hold.  I think the larger one would be ungainly and would end up being dropped quite often.

9. Charcoal Grill & Smoker:  A few years ago for Fathers' Day AC got to pick out a new grill/smoker.  We had a gas grill but he really wanted to try his hand at smoking, specifically brisket.  After a few uses of the smoker and its subsequent grill attachment, we gave the gas grill away to a family member.  Though it seems like it may take longer to get a charcoal grill going for dinner, it really doesn't, and the exquisite flavor of a charcoal grill (and the mesquite wood we throw in) makes any extra work (the steps to start the fire) worth it.

10. PlayStation 3:  Last, but definitely not the least on this list, is our PS3, which has grown and changed in usefulness as media forms have grown and changed.  It is a gaming device (which both SC and AC use equally, if not often), but it is also a BluRay player and our Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming player.  Though we initially only purchased it so AC could play video games (pre-SC) and watch movies once in a while (before everything came out in BluRay), it has changed and grown as our family has.  At this point we have no plans to buy the soon-to-be-released PS4 and will probably hold off until the PS3 no longer works.

Obviously we are technology bugs over here, which I suppose is appropriate considering AC's job in the technology field.  What are some of the items that your family cannot live without?  Leave a comment and then check out some other Top Ten Tuesday posts here

Many Little Blessings

**This post contains affiliate links.  Please read my disclosure statement.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thankful Thursday:
"We should consider every day lost
on which we have not danced at least once."

"We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once."
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

This week I am thankful that SC's dance recital went really well yesterday (and she did great!).  Last year she was very nervous during the recital and simply stood in place on the stage while the other girls danced.  However, this year, she not only danced well, but she did so in two separate dances.  It was so much fun to watch her and her friends do their performances.

We stayed up very late last night and SC got to watch all the older girls (and boys) perform, and she is psyched to start her new dance classes in the fall.  She will be in a combination tap, ballet and jazz class, and a separate hip hop class.

What are you thankful for this week?  Leave a comment, and then check out some other Thankful Thursday posts here

Thankful Thursdays Button

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"Most people would walk along
a path beside the river."

"Imagine you have to go along an Alpine river valley,” she said. “Most people would walk along a path beside the river. Not Leo. He’ll run up the first mountain and give you the view from there – and maybe across into the next valley, too. Then he’ll run down and up a mountain on the opposite side.  In no time, he’ll be exhausted – maybe he won’t reach the end.
But his journey will have been a damn sight more interesting than yours.
And he’ll know a lot more about that valley."
-Martin Buckley, 2013

A couple of days ago I read an article by a father named Martin Buckley called 
"My child is a genius – and it isn’t always easy."  I felt like I was reading an article I could have written about SC.  The resemblance to both Leo, and the parenting styles of Buckley, were uncanny to SC and I.  It has motivated me to write the post, which I have been holding back from, because maybe there is someone who will read it and feel comforted that they aren't alone, in the same way I was comforted by knowing Buckley and Leo exist.

First of all, I should point out that I personally don't like any of the terms that are used to describe gifted children because they are all alienating.  No matter which term you use, as a parent, as soon as you say "my child is gifted," you are also telling the world "my child is different," and no parent wants to have a child who might face challenges because of this.

Well, my child is gifted.  

For those who want the hard facts, we recently had SC tested (as we are starting kindergarten and wanted to know just where she was at so we can make the best educational decisions for her going forward) using the WPPSI-III and the WIAT-II.  The results came with a note from the examiner that SC's "inability to attend" made the results much lower than they should be, as did the fact that she refused to answer the "easy" questions (but did answer the more difficult ones).  This showed mostly on the WPPSI-III.  Without going into too much detail, on the WIAT-II, SC scored in the 99.8th percentile for Word Reading, and the 99.7th percentile for Math Reasoning.  Her age equivalents for these subtests are 6.8 years and 7 years, respectively.  She just turned 5.

In the article, Buckley wrote
"By the time Leo was four, it was sometimes hard to tell if he was wildly creative, or merely wild – unbounded, or lacking boundaries. "
Again, I felt like he was writing about us.  Having just lived through SC's fourth year, I would describe our frustration in this exact way.  Is she wildly creative, seeing the world through a different lens, or is she just wild?  Is she always questioning and asking why because her brain needs to understand, or is she just obstinate and defiant?  Buckley expounds that their experiences with Leo went similarly to our own daily experiences with SC. 
"Having it explained to him that he needed to sit in a given place, eat a given meal, follow a given routine, he would invariably ask, “Why?” And, often, he’d refuse. ...I learnt that a way to gain his cooperation was to weave a narrative around an action that made him want to become involved. And then his focus, his intensity of commitment, were remarkable and rewarding. But still exhausting."
AC laughs at my overly-detailed explanations of why SC should or should not do something, and how I give her very specific, truthful explanations to every question, but it is my only weapon against her mind deciding whether she should or should not.  She takes it all in, mulls it around, and then decides on her own.  One prominent example of this would be when SC was almost 4 years old, and we were struggling to get her to instinctively hold our hands when we crossed streets, the parking lot, etc.  She would just refuse, or pull away when we were walking.  She had decided she was big enough to walk on her own.  No matter how many times we explained how dangerous it could be, it wasn't until she saw on the local news a story about a young girl getting hit by a car in a parking lot that she decided to start holding hands, with no further pleading on my part needed.  She was able to see exactly what could happen if she went on her own, mulled it around in her head, and still actively grabs my hand now when we are walking near cars.  It isn't that she is afraid, either.  She has almost no fear of anything.  She just decided that being safe was a good choice for her in this situation.

Though AC goes along with my parenting style for SC, there have been times where outsiders (both extended family, as well as friends) have questioned us and the way we are doing things.  We have been told that we allow SC too much freedom, and it has been implied we are too lax in our discipline, regardless of the fact that every "suggestion" intended to guide her back toward compliance had been tried already and failed to bring about the result desired by these naysayers.  Buckley comments on the judgements of others, saying
"It was easy to feel isolated, because many parents and teachers judged that Leo had little parental formation, was allowed carte blanche.  The opposite was true. We worked daily, nightly, to impose routines. But Leo was reluctant to go along with anything just because he was asked to."
We do feel isolated most of the time; I, especially, since AC travels so much for work.  It is hard to find friends for me who understand I am doing the best I can with this bundle of energy and excitement God gave me, and it is hard to find friends for SC who are on her level intellectually.  She doesn't understand why her age-peers do many of the things they do, and when she tries to mimic them (to fit in), she overdoes it.  We have yet to find her intellectual peers, though she does well playing with the boys in the neighborhood who are a year or so older than she is.  However, we really don't get to see them that often.  Choosing to homeschool has isolated us even more, but at the moment that is the best choice for SC and where she is now.  She needs to be taught on the level she is at academically, and constantly stimulated intellectually, and in a public kindergarten, she probably won't get enough of that.  She is also in constant motion, and while at home she can do math in motion on the whiteboard, or lay on the floor to do reading, that is another thing that, if allowed in public kindergarten (and many or most students start acting this way), would cause utter chaos for the teacher in the classroom.

Many of the behaviors that SC exhibits that make her difficult to parent can be explained by a series of "overexcitabilities" that are common among gifted children.  A Polish psychiatrist named Kasimierz Dabrowski, who has specifically studied the intensity, excessive personalities and sensitivities of gifted children and adults, has grouped them together in his work, classifying them for the purpose of understanding.  If you want a good list of resources about Dabrowski's overexcitabilities, check out this page on the Hoagies' Gifted website.  However, I will list the classifications in brief, as summarized from the book Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults [MDDGCA], and how they relate to SC here.  
  • The first overexcitability is "intellectual," which encompasses the excessive curiosity, question asking, theoretical thinking and problem solving.  This is a desire to simply gain knowledge, and the search of truth and understanding.  In SC, this is most obvious in her constant "why."  She doesn't only question when she is given instructions, she questions everything.
  • The second overexcitability is "imaginational," which describes the complex imaginations, including pretend friends and their pretend worlds, but also the flair for the dramatic, daydreaming, and other visual creativities.  SC is less imaginative (though is very artistically creative), but she does have a fair amount of drama when she feels she needs to.
  • The third overexcitability is "emotional," which is where extreme emotions and feelings are grouped.  Children and adults with this overexcitability tend to over-sympathize with the problems of the world around them, and become very attached to people, places and things.  They are frequently accused of overreacting, and in children, they may continue to have tantrums past the age of three and get excessively angry over minor issues.  This is an overexcitability I understand, as it is one that I have as well, but that doesn't make it easier when SC starts stomping her feet or throwing her body around.  She even hit the wall the other day when sent to timeout.  However, she also is hugely compassionate, and even someone who seems upset will send her into a fit of sympathetic tears.
  • The fourth overexcitability is "psychomotor," which can be described as those who "love movement for its own sake, and they show a surplus of energy" (Webb, pg. 14).  This classification has SC written all over it, because one thing she doesn't do is stop moving.  Even in the car, strapped in, she is tapping her feet or doing something with her hands.  While some people who have this overexcitability may demonstrate it with a constant stream of chatter, SC simply is always in motion.  No matter how many physical activities we do in a day, she never tires out and is always ready for more.  Even when she was very small, she was on the go.
  • The fifth overexcitability is "sensual," which details the aspects of life that a body's senses handle (sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste) and these are children and adults are overly sensitive to many of them.  For example, things like tags in clothing or lines on socks, an aversion to food textures, a dislike of noise in the background, or even strong smells literally overwhelm them.  This is one area that SC does not seem to have the noticeable overexcitability, but I tend to think it might be the opposite.  She can become excessive in her touch with people.  With other children, hugging turns into tackling, playing tag into shoving, and someone usually ends up hurt or upset.  With AC and I, we quickly become the jungle gym to be climbed upon when seated, and even if we are just standing together in line she might smack my body or or bump me roughly. 

Eventually we may have further testing done with SC, as was recommended by the examiner, that may help us narrow down these overexcitabilities and help us figure out if there are any underlying learning differences.  However, we will probably wait a few years to see what she simply "matures" out of and what doesn't, as well as any learning problems we stumble upon while schooling.

The most important thing out of all this is that I don't want to change SC and the person God created her to be.  She is intensely inquisitive.  She likes to have fun, and loves really good music, animals and showing those she loves that she loves them.  She gets upset when others are upset, and tells jokes that make sense to no one else, and laughs hysterically.  She picks up on things she shouldn't understand, and makes the most adult comments about them, like the time she told me how to get rid of lice (which she heard about on NPR).  She likes to quote movies and books, and sometimes at the wrong times, but always with relevance.  I don't want to produce another sheep for the factory floor, conforming to the current demands of demands of our American society.  I know God means for her to be more than just a follower of men.  He gave her this mind and spirit for His reasons, and who am I to break that for the whims of social acceptance?  I do want her to understand that there are rules that she has to follow, and that there will be consequences in she breaks them.  However, many of the rules imposed in the early years of childhood are done so for the purpose of learning a "lesson" that can be applied later in life.  There are minimal natural consequences for leaving your toys on the floor, and if the consequence is those toys going in the trash/donation and the child is okay with that, who comes out ahead as the winner?  What lesson has then been imparted that can be applied to later?  So, I trust that in time, as things come up that must be adhered to, God will show SC the "why," either through me or another outlet.  For now, I am okay that SC asks "why" after every instruction, because for her, she needs to really know, to understand (just like in the example with holding hands).  And, even if it is difficult and exhausting raising a gifted child, I trust God that He will give me what I need to support SC in becoming the best version of her that she can be.  As James Webb puts it (pg. 81), "as parents, our task is to discover who our child is and to help the child find his own profession."  That should be the goal of every parent.

In the future, I am going to try to be a bit more vocal about SC's giftedness when I write, because I think it is important for others in the same situation to know they are not alone.  Also, if you have a gifted child and are struggling (or not), I would love to hear from you (either through the comments or privately contact me through email at because it is hard to be on an island.

Webb, James T., et. al. (2005). Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults. Scottsdale, AZ: Great Potential Press, Inc.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...