Friday, September 19, 2008

Focus and Attention

Last week I reported that Thomas's focus and attention was spot on.

Sadly, this week it was not. And it was so far from being what a typical seventh grader should be, that it scared me. (Typical=me, I guess. And my assumptions of other children.)

Thomas and I have discussed at length his attention issues. He's had these issues forever. He can focus on something he loves, or if he's in the right mood he can do better than normal, but normal just isn't good.

I believe it's at the point we need to take action. We have a neurologist appointment coming up. When we got the epilepsy diagnosis, actually right before the diagnosis, the doctor was asking if Thomas had problems with focus and attention. I think I said yes, but I did not elaborate because I felt that I should have the discussion with Thomas before I started bringing things up with the doc.

We've had the discussion. We've also had a lot of tears this week because of the problem. He's ready for some help.

I am at a loss on where to turn. Should we get another eval from an educational psychologist? Or not? I know all his issues are neurological in nature. I am at a loss on where to search anymore. We've tried all the techniques that I've found. We actually didn't get any recommendations when we had him tested before except to send him to a special school that cost $17,000 a year. That, plus the fact we would have to move, find a job, etc., made that not an option. We were told not to ever give him any work that was timed. Well, we don't typically, but for some reason he's really able to turn it on and do well on the timed standardized tests. It takes a lot out of him, though.

I'm just not educated in this area. I'm hoping that the neurologist will help. Do I take our IQ tests, our results from the educational psychologist from five years ago? Do I take our standardized test results? Should I write up a little spiel about the issues he's having? I get befuddled in the office and I think I would be able to express my concerns better that way. What all do I include other than if I don't sit by the table while Thomas is doing his work, he stares into space. Do I tell him that math brings out the worst in him?

This is all new to me. I think Thomas has matured and made great gains since we've homeschooled. Even given the age difference, he has coped, learned skills to help, but it could be better. And I want what's best for my son.

Someone want to hold my hand through this and tell me what to do?

We see the doctor at the end of the month. I'm trying to get prepared ahead of time.


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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Church. Gulp.

While I keep this blog mostly secular in nature, I am not a secular person. I call myself a Christian, but I also have some new-age beliefs.

Thomas has always had some version of a bible, from the children's bible and now he has one geared toward teens. He reads it on his own when he feels the need. He has read the child bible a few times.

Many, many times he has asked to start going to church.

I don't like organized religion. I guess I have nothing against it, but I've personally never had good experiences with it. Now knowing that I have an anxiety disorder, I look back and see that anxiety has always been on high when I was at church.

My mother taught me that my religions beliefs were just that, mine. She allowed me to go to church. I went to the Church of Christ as a younger child, which was my favorite. In elementary school years I attended The First Congregational Church. That was okay. In junior high, I went to a Baptist church with my friend. Until, that is, the preacher told me I would burn in hell unless I joined their church. Mom had to do some damage control after that. And I did not go to church again until I was an adult.

As an adult, after Bob and I married, we attended a WELS church. Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. As the judge I used to work for, who was the son of an Assembly of God minister, told me: the WELS is the strictest of all churches. He was right.

Bob and I attended for about a year. It wasn't very welcoming, well, the congregation wasn't. The pastor used to ring our doorbell at odd times, always unannounced. He came frequently. I found it highly annoying. I took classes to join the church.

In the midst of those classes, my Mom died. The pastor was an ass, and said some things to me that I have never been able to get over and forget. Bob and I agreed to quit going. And we did.

Thomas has been asking to go to church for several years. My mom had it right: she let ME choose. I'm not letting Thomas choose, though. I'm not being open minded.

He asked me again today if I would take him to church.

Last summer, after he'd been begging, I met the pastor of the local WELS church at the county fair, talked with him at length, told him my husband grew up in that church, attended that church's private high school 400 miles from his home. I neglected to tell him that Bob had some issues with his church. I wrote my name and number down. We talked at length, and I felt uneasy, but at least I knew Bob would go with us (to help me through my fear, because I'm really uncomfortable in churches.)

The pastor never contacted us. He said he would. I felt slighted. Now, I'm a big girl, I knew where the church was, and I darned well could have gone to a service. In fact, one morning Thomas and I staked out the church, 15 minutes before services started, and watched to see who went in. It's a very small congregation.

In my heart, though, I knew it wasn't the right church. They're anti-woman. (Okay, let me rephrase that: their interpretation of the bible is anti-woman.) No women pastors and the women in the congregation can't vote on church decisions.

Obviously, that wasn't the right choice.

So that leads me to today. I guess I wouldn't mind going to church, if I found the right one. They have to be true Christians, and not anti-this, anti-that and I don't want to be preached hate.

I have no idea where to look. I think the Methodist church might work or me, BUT...this is a small town and frankly, there are people there I DO NOT LIKE. Isn't that awful? Thomas and I went to a mom's group when he was 4 at the local Methodist church. The kids were awful. And because it's a small town, I have kept up with these kids, and I really don't want to be around them or have Thomas around them.

So, that's out.

Anything having to do with the Baptists is out.

There's no UU in our town.

The other Lutheran synods -- there's only one I would consider. I'm not a Lutheran, though, my husband is.

Big church? Small church? What kind? I don't know what half the churches believe. What is an Evangelical Covenant church? Episcopal? Apostolic Fellowship?

Which church would I have to do the least damage control with Thomas? I'd like him to be involved with youth groups. I'd like him to learn about the bible. That way, he can make an informed decision on his religious path. Just like Mom did for me.

I just don't want him coming home hating gays, liberals, rock 'n roll, women, etc.

Another thing that a church would provide is an opportunity for service. I was always very service orientated as a child. I volunteered a lot, and enjoyed it. Our town is so small, that there would be more opportunities for service projects through a church than individually volunteering.

So if any of my readers can make some suggestions, I'd appreciate it.

I hold my religion close. I don't like talking about it. You'll never find me quoting bible passages, except the one about worrying about someone else's splinter when you have a log in your own eye. lol I still want secular curriculum. I'll still gravitate toward the secular or heathen boards. I am and will still be the same as I've been here.

But I can do this for Thomas. I just don't know where to go, which would be less prejudiced and judgmental. Where I would feel comfortable, with my anxiety issues.


Monday, September 15, 2008

19 Years is a Long Time -- Happy Anniversary to Us

Frankie and Bob. September 16, 1989. A beautiful day, a short ceremony at Stav Kirk, also known as The Chapel in the Hills, in Rapid City, South Dakota. It was perfect except for one thing.

Mom made my dress. I hated it. There, I said it. Great to get that off my chest, because I don't know that I have said that before. I had picked a lovely gown that fit me, fit my body, and fit my personality. Mom wanted to make a dress, picked the pattern, and I hated it. She made the bridesmaid's dresses, too. From the same pattern. And my flower girl's dress. Same pattern. Then she complained that it was the hardest pattern she had ever sewn and that she shouldn't have agreed to the pattern I chose. Oy.

I was thankful, though. It was just a dress, the event was what was of importance. She made the veil, too. I -- oh, never mind.

It is hard to imagine that we have been married for 19 years, but it's true. I have the gray hair to prove it. How come Bob has no gray hair?

Happy anniversary, honey, in case you happen to actually read my blog. Here's to many more.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Last week we had three really good one-liners in this house.

On Monday night, Bob was watching Monday Night Football. The Vikings (our team) were playing their rivals, Green Bay.

Thomas was outside playing.

It's never a good thing to be in the house when Bob is watching football. He swears. And he doesn't think before he swears.

So while he was watching, I was on a three-way phone call with my sister and our realtor for Dad's house.

As we were talking, Bob let out a shout, and it was loud.

F***. (G-rated blog, otherwise I'd write the word.)

There was a pause on the phone. My sister didn't hear it, but the realtor did. I paused for a second, said ummmmmmmm, and then said, "Sorry, Monday Night Football." Lots of laughter and understanding. Whew.

Bob sheepishly came in the room and apologized, which I conveyed to the realtor.

The second one-liner was by Thomas. We were discussing getting along with friends. The little girl across the street is kind of spoiled and not always nice. I said words my mother used to say to me: "Two wrongs don't make a right." Thomas said:

Yes, but three lefts do.

I was so shocked he said that, but I found it funny.

The third one was a wake-up call from Thomas to me. It needs no explanation.

Mom, you really need to get your mustache under control.

And he was right. Dang aging.


It seems that someone flipped a switch and summer ended just like that. It's been a cool week with a lot of rain. This morning I stayed in bed completely relaxed, listening to the sound of the rain. It's one of those thing I love to do, snuggling up and just existing in a comfortable, dreamy state. The rain was just icing on the cake.

Thursday and Friday were rough school days for Thomas. He just could not focus on math. He cried. It's always math that brings out this ability to shut his brain down. As he's maturing, I notice he's much more aware of his shortcoming, and it really bothers him.

He uttered the evil words: I'm stupid.

I hit the roof. You are NOT stupid. I actually got mad at him for saying such a thing. After I calmed down, we talked and talked. He cried. I cried. Then he got to work. It took him over two hours both Thursday and Friday to complete his work.

My heart ached for him. I made him persevere and get it done, while trying to boost his confidence at the same time. A difficult task.

Later I Googled focusing topics. I came up with something we are going to try. The Gifted Development Center in Denver has a great website with lots of helps and tidbits for kids. We found a technique called Hocus, Pocus, Hyperfocus. We're going to try it. The only thing was that Thomas didn't like the name of it, he thought it was babyish. So we're just going to call it Hyperfocus.

We are going to discuss this issue with the neurologist when we next visit.

Otherwise, it was a good week. Busy, but good.