Relationship Rule # 1

“I like you for who you are.”

That’s it. That’s what makes healthy relationships, not

I like you for what you do for me…

I would like you if you would…

If you change this or improve that, then…

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Simply:

I like you for who you are.

Whole and complete acceptance, flaws and all.

This is one of the greatest gifts we can give to those around us — unconditional acceptance and a clear invitation to spend time together.


 

We live far away from family, and the last couple months have been full of joyful visits. My kids’ grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are amazing. They make my kids feel valued and appreciated, encourage them in their interests, and give them space to be themselves.

My kids thrive in these relationships. They are open, warm, friendly, and reciprocal. Outside observers, watching my kids interact with these family members, would not be quick to diagnose my kids.

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The same is true with a few select friendships that we have nurtured over the years, people like family who have been part of our lives, seeing the good and the ugly, and still choosing to spend time with us.

Yet.

In other settings, especially with large groups of same-aged peers, my kids struggle. (What am I kidding? I do too!)

Asynchronous (gifted) individuals are often highly perceptive, extra aware of others’ reactions to us. We may not be able to verbalize it, but we pick up on the subtle cues that others may miss. We agonize over awkward interactions and what should have been said/done differently.

I’ve personally been beating myself up for 12 years now over a careless sentence in a random interaction with a former high school student. And it wasn’t that I said anything wrong, just flippant.

For some of us, we become hyper-aware of how we don’t fit in, how our interactions with others don’t measure up to some kind of elusive standard. We continue trying, it zaps our energy, and we continue to feel isolated and “other”.

Others, like my son, tend to disengage. It’s too complicated, rejection or misunderstanding is too likely or overwhelming, so let’s not even try — plus, the likelihood of shared interests is so low that it’s not worth making the effort.


 

My advice? Start slow. Start small. Realize that it’s okay not to be the extroverted life of the party. Find your tribe, even if it takes work. Realize that same-age doesn’t necessarily pre-qualify you for friendship with someone, and try not to beat yourself up over the relationships that, despite effort, just didn’t take off.

When my son was 4, I referred to the children in his preschool as his “friends”. He corrected me and told me he only had one friend.

“Why?”, I asked.

“Because,” he said, “She says yes when I want to do something.”

Our “Yes”ers are out there, people who have shared interests, think in similar ways, are quirky and eccentric. They may be few and far between, but they are there. And they’re worth finding.

 

This blog post has been part of Hoagies’ Gifted Blog Hop for July, 2018 – Relationship Issues. Click here to read about others’ wisdom and experiences.

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Tie Dye Towels – Summer Fun and a Father’s Day Gift

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The kids & I just made their Papa a fun AND PRACTICAL Father’s Day gift. It turned out great and was pretty easy.

I also had each kid make their own summer towels with their names or decorations of choice on them. They love them!

Here’s what we did:

We ordered a Tulip Spray Dye kit and 100% cotton white towels from Amazon.

I washed the towels in hot water and a residue-free detergent and then dried them.

We used painter’s tape and masking tape (Washi tape would probably be my choice if we do this again) to make designs and write names on our towels. I also used cereal boxes and a circle cutter to make stencils, and the kids used plastic lids as well.

I added warm water to the spray dyes, and my 7yo shook them to mix and placed them in a bucket to prevent spills during transport.

Once everyone was wearing rain boots, clothes for the mess, and plastic gloves, we went to the garage where I had spread out a huge tarp and placed the towels on top.

The kids took turns with the different colors and loved watching how the colors worked together as they sprayed.

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We took off our protective gear and stomped on paper towels to make sure our boots didn’t track and waited.

An hour later, I flipped the color side face down and let it sit overnight (it needs to stay wet 6-8 hours).

By the next day, the towels were pretty dry, but we still put our boots and gloves back on to remove all the tape.

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I put the towels in the dryer on high for 20 minutes to heat set the color, and then they went into the washer (hot) and dryer again.

They will need to be washed separately the first few times, but all in all I’m really pleased with the outcome, and the kids were really proud of their creations too.

We had so much color left over that the next project is already drying in the garage. 🙂

Oh – and the science and motor skills (especially hand strengthening) involved in this project! Double win!

Enjoy! And share any ideas you have as well!

Happy creating!

3 Survival Tips when Parenting Gifted Preschoolers

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The early years of parenting gifted kids can be tough. You’re probably sleep-deprived, frazzled, questioning your parenting skills, asynchrony is in full force, and all around you, people are telling you to “enjoy every moment” and to “let them be little”.

Meanwhile, you’re wondering what in the world you’re going to do with a 4 year old who reads a math dictionary for fun while his friends are playing pirates and house.

My oldest is now 7 and has come a long way in the last couple years in his ability to regulate and connect with others. It’s still not easy, but the worry and doubt of ages 3-5 have mellowed a bit, so I thought it might be helpful to share what helped and grounded us along the way.

1 – Find Your Tribe

We all need people who understand us, can tell us we’re not imagining things, people who can validate our feelings and experiences and provide support along the way. Reaching out to other local moms and connecting through various groups is helpful, as are online forums like Hoagies’ Gifted Discussion Group and the Raising Poppies private Facebook group.

2 – Give Yourself Grace

You’re parenting your child (children). Not someone else’s. And your unique circumstances are not theirs.

Do not let anyone guilt you into feeling less than adequate when your kid isn’t doing all the things. No, my kids don’t play 3 sports, 4 musical instruments, and participate in 5 different clubs while doing enrichment this and STEM that, and our house sure wouldn’t show up on any Pinterest boards, but that’s ok. Are your kids loved, fed, and encouraged in their unique interests? Good job, Mom!

Oh, and another thing: you will mess up. I will mess up. We will all mess up. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. But we do our best. As Anne with an E said, “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.”

3 – Remember Who You Are

You will parent best when you recognize who you are as a person and what your needs are. If you’re an introvert, build in alone time. If you struggle with cleaning or organization and it just takes too much effort, budget or trade for help. Find ways to still connect with other adults outside of parentdom who can remind you that you are more than a nose wiper and sandwich maker. If you need to be creative, don’t feel guilty for maintaining that outlet. Go places that make you feel alive and energized.

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Pay attention to your partner’s and children’s needs and strengths as well. My amazing husband needs alone time and a place to retreat when things get too chaotic. My kids do great on cloudy days, but too much sun taxes their sensory overload, and we get meltdowns if we’re out too long.

Trust yourself as an expert on what works best for you and your family. Sure – it’s great to learn new ideas, get advice or try new things, but ultimately you have to be the judge about whether something is a good fit for your family or life stage. And if something isn’t a good fit, (like the ballet class I tried to put my daughters in last year), give yourself permission to stop, breathe, and try again later.

These amazing little people grow up, but when you’re in the trenches, it can be overwhelming.

We recently returned from a quick family getaway to Dutch Wonderland. Three years had passed since our last visit, and the difference was incredible. As we were happily walking back up the hill to our hotel, I thought back to the last visit, when I had been pushing a double stroller uphill and dealing with triple meltdowns because we had stayed past our kids’ limits, and sighed.

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The early years are amazing but oh so hard. Give yourself grace, find and nurture your tribe, and remember who you are.


This post has been part of Hoagies’ Blog Hop on Things I Wish I Knew Back Then.

Click on over to read about others’ experiences and what they’ve learned along the way.

Like Father, Like Son – Giftedness across the Generations

This week, I’ve been watching the Bright & Quirky Online Summit, a video conference of all things 2e, anxiety, gifted, ADHD, etc. It’s been great – encouraging & enlightening.

One thing that struck me as a common theme in so many of these talks is how often parents started to understand their own giftedness, their own struggles with sensitivity or executive function, as they watched their children struggle and wanted to help them.

I was describing one of the talks to my husband, talking about the gifted characteristic of Rage to Master, and he got a smile on his face. I had been describing how gifted individuals have a strong need to complete a challenge, to fully understand a problem, to not give up until it had been conquered — and this fits my husband to a T. He had just been building a swing set for the kids, and my multiple reminders about not overdoing it, taking a break, etc, had not phased him. Once he started a new challenge, he wanted to see it through.

The funny thing is – for parents who grew up without a “gifted” label, this behavior is normal. It’s normal because it was their experience. It’s normal to be ultra-sensitive to sound or smells, normal to feel bored and disconnected in school, normal to be clumsy or sensory seeking, normal for academics to come easy but the social stuff to be hard. And that causes us to doubt our own kids, to minimize their struggles, because we were the same and made it through.

Yet, as we watch this next generation and learn from all the amazing research and experiences of others in similar situations, we can start to have empathy for ourselves too, to understand why things may have been so hard or awkward for us.

If this is you – seeing yourself in your kid’s struggles, I would encourage you to start reading. SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) is a great place to start, as are some of the bloggers in this group who write about gifted adult populations, and many of the presenters in the Bright & Quirky Summit.

Giftedness can sometimes come out of nowhere, but it is often hereditary, so as we learn with our children what makes them tick, we can also understand ourselves, spouses, siblings, and parents better too.

This post has been part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Blog Hop for May, 2018. Click on over to read more about giftedness in adult populations!

Chemistry Resources for Curious Kids

For a year now, my seven-year-old has been in love with chemistry. He has other interests and will participate in other activities, but on an average day, he probably spends 2-3 hours in chemistry-related activities, just because he loves it.

He tells people he’s going to grow up to be a chemist. I don’t know if this is true, or if this interest will wane like astronomy did a couple years ago, by for right now, this is the world we’re living in. I thought I would share some of our favorite (and not-so-favorite) resources in an approximate order of complexity or academic level, in case anyone else shares a similar interest or wants to explore.

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We started out with this book. It’s wonderful, as are most of the Basher books. The reading level is upper elementary, and the periodic table is divided into groups based on properties, and then all of these groups and elements are given comic figure status, with short, dynamic descriptions of what they do.

Basher also has a Chemistry book which can be helpful in identifying terminology and how things work, but if you’re going to start with one, I would definitely go for Elements in Style.

At about the same level, ASAP Science has a great updated Periodic Table song.

Quick note: not all of ASAP Science’s videos are G-Rated, just as an FYI.

J was enamored by this point by the Periodic Table. We got him this shirt from Amazon. It’s his favorite, and he wears it as often as it is clean. It’s super soft, for those with sensory issues. We love it.

After he had the basics down, we borrowed and then bought Theodore Gray’s Elements trilogy. These are his favorites. His books are falling apart because he’d read them so much. The writing is at a high school level, but the thing that exudes from these books is someone who truly enjoys what he’s writing about. He includes silly puns and writes intelligently, but not patronizingly. And the photography is gorgeous. There’s also an app, which we don’t have, but I hear it’s pretty cool.

Around this time, we borrowed a bunch of other resources from the library. Our favorite of all the middle-high school general info books was The Elements by Dan Green, who incidentally also wrote Basher’s Chemistry book. His writing is good, and he manages to communicate the vibrant nature of chemistry rather than dry facts to memorize.

A neighbor who had seen J drawing the periodic table on our driveway recommended the NOVA documentary “Hunting the Elements” (Season 39, Epsisode 6). It’s great – very accessible and interesting for kids and adults, and there’s even a segment where Theodore Gray (above) shows off his Periodic Table table and demonstrates some reactions.
http://www.pbs.org/video/nova-hunting-the-elements/

Around the time that J started studying Gray’s 2nd book, Molecules, we also picked up The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry, which is intended as a study aid for AP or college level chemistry. He has been through it a few times, and each time he seems to pick up more about how reactions work, balancing chemical equations, and other phenomena.

My family also gave J a book for Christmas that’s not exclusively chemistry but does a great job putting everything into perspective. It’s probably geared for grades 5-8 but is accessible for other levels too.

PBS made a fascinating series called The Mystery of Matter, tracing the development of the periodic table. It’s currently available for free on Amazon Prime (April 2018). We skipped about 20 minutes of Episode 3 because atomic bombs and WWII are still too mature for my crew, but we loved how actors dressed as scientists and spoke and demonstrated the equipment used to make their discoveries as it traced the journey from alchemy to the present day.

I was looking for something more practical regarding how molecules form, etc., and that’s when we discovered the Valence card game. We played it for 60 days straight. No joke. It does a great job introducing oxidation numbers and modeling simple reactions. Then we discovered Valence Plus, which has even more elements and combinations, and that is now our game of choice.

Our most recent fascination is powered by Happy Atoms, a molecular building set combined with an iPad app that lets you photograph and “discover” and learn about hundreds and even thousands of common molecules, using the most common elements. I’ve been very impressed with this app and building set. It’s unique in how it models ionic and covalent bonds, and because of its magnets, it’s easy to see whether all of the electron bonds have been satisfied.

These have been our favorites thus far. I will update this post as we discover more great resources.

Some other interesting things we’ve found have been

BrainPop videos – geared to upper elementary, short explanations (subscription service)

Usborne’s “What’s Chemistry All About?” – J asked for this for his good night story tonight. It’s written at a middle school level and has nice, straightforward introductions to terminology and concepts.

Usborne also came out with a Periodic Table Lift the Flap book. We don’t have it, but it seems to be a good intro-level resource.

Kahn Academy has good video descriptions/lectures for various topics, so we have occasionally gone there if there’s a concept he wants to understand that I can’t help him with.

Other good resource lists:

https://www.steampoweredfamily.com/activities/chemistry-for-kids/

https://my-little-poppies.com/chemistry-resources-kids/

App suggestions:

https://unschoolrules.com/homeschool-chemistry-resource-guide/

What about you? Do you have any favorite resources?

Books with Quirky Characters – Day 5

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So… yesterday (actually, a few days ago!), on Day 4 of my 5 Day series on Asynchrony,

I promised a list of some of our favorite books with quirky main characters.

I’m always on the hunt for high quality books which feature characters who may seem not to fit in but are still loved and valued for who they are. If you know of some not on my list, please comment below!

Picture books :

Archibald Frisby

The Boy Who Loved Math

Ladybug Girl books

Sophie’s Squash

Allysaurus

Young Chapter Books:

Amelia Bedelia

Cam Jansen

Paddington

How to Train Your Dragon

Pippi Longstocking

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and most Roald Dahl works

Older Chapter Books:

A Wrinkle in Time

Anne of Green Gables

Harry Potter

The Hunger Games

The Wizard of Oz

Plus pretty much any YA fantasy novel, including those by Garth Nix, Philip Pullman, Cornelia Funke

 

Again, this list could go on & on, so I’m just sharing some of my favorites. If you have a favorite, please share it in the comments!

 

This post has been day 5 of 5 Days of Asynchrony, part of the iHomeschooling Network’s Blog Hopscotch.

Thanks for letting me share with you!