featured, illness, parenthood

I’m a Real Mom: Coming to Grips with Disabled Motherhood

I got up before my children this morning and made breakfast for them.  

This happens about 3 or 4 times a year.  

I usually don’t have the energy to do this.  

Mornings are not my best time of day.

Today –for just a little while– I felt like a real mom.

The mom I wish I could be.

The mom I want to be.

The mom I would be if the illness hadn’t taken over my body.

It has been difficult coming to grips with my disability.

As a mom, I have spent a fair amount of time watching cartoons.

Whenever I feel like saying, “I am a real mom!” I am reminded of a line in the cartoon Shrek when Pinocchio is getting turned back and forth between a wooden puppet and a human boy.

The first time he gets changed into a boy, Pinocchio says “I am a real boy!”

And then he gets turned back into a wooden boy again for comedic effect.

I feel like that is my life.

I have a second or two of normal functioning, and I cry, “Hey, I am a real mom!”

But it only lasts a short while, and I am back to being a sick mom again.

Now, of course, I am a real mom even if I can’t do mom stuff.

But it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.

Sometimes it feels like my children are parenting me because of how much care I require.

In an ideal world, children wouldn’t have to care for their sick mother.

But we do not live in an ideal world.

So, when I get overwhelmed feeling like I am failing as a mom because of my illness, I jokingly declare, “I am a real mom!”

It makes me giggle.

I do regret, sometimes, not being able to do what “normal” moms do.

Even yesterday, I tried to go help a local non-profit organization.

I just sat a table sorting and bagging food.

And today I am in pain.

I just wish –sometimes– that I could decide to do something and go do it.

That I could do what is necessary without being in pain or without ending up with health complications.

I wish my children didn’t have to forgo things because I cannot help or support them.

I wish they didn’t have to help me.

But this is my reality.

This is where God has put me.

I can’t exactly claim to have come to grips with it entirely.

Accepting it means that I might stop striving to improve.

But what I have done is stop resenting that this is where God put me right now.

Even in immobility and poor health, I can still do something.

What I can do, I do.

And I pray that it will be enough.

I am determined to shine here where I am, even if it’s not far and wide.

Once upon a time, I thought I would change the world.

Now I am trying to be content to just change me for the better and influence the souls around me for Jesus.

I think coming to grips with my disability has come down to these (in no particular order):

–being thankful for what I have

–finding humor in life

–bring okay if things aren’t perfect

–trusting that God knows what He is going

–being humble and honest about what is really going on

–ministering as I can to those around me even if it is just my own family or friends on Facebook

“My fire is not large, yet it is real, and there may be those who can light their candle in its flame.” –A.W. Tozer

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Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

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featured, one-pot meals

Cowboy Casserole –One Pot Meal

I stumbled upon a version of this recipe almost two decades ago.

When I found out I was allergic to tomatoes,  I had to completely redo our meal rotation.

Nearly everything I served had tomatoes in it.

This was a meal that I altered to remove the foods I couldn’t have. I’ll include some notes about my pre-allergy version in case those reading this can have more foods than I can which given my limited diet is highly likely.


COWBOY.jpg

COWBOY CASSEROLE

–2 lbs ground beef or less for lower protein; I have big boys with appetites. I use 5% or less fat ground beef from a local meat market.

–chili or taco seasoning. I use this gluten free one. Half of the seasoning pack is enough for us.

–precooked rice 

–1 can kidney beans, drained, like this one

–1 can whole corn, drained

–1 cups of water, divided

Optional:

–1 can diced tomatoes, like this

–1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, like this one which is gluten free

— 1 chopped onion

— 1 chopped green pepper


Brown ground beef in a large soup pan.

Add 1/2 cup water to avoid burning if necessary. (I find that this is necessary when using very lean beef.)

Once the beef is browned, add the second 1/2 cup of water and seasoning.

Mix thoroughly.

Add corn and beans.

Optional: add tomatoes, onions,  and green peppers.

The original recipe called for putting the mix in a 9×13 casserole pan, covering in cheese and baking at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted.

Since I am aiming for a single pan meal, I just hear it in the pan in which I cooked the ground beef.

Optional:

Serve with corn chips and topped with salsa and sour cream.

It also makes a good filling for tortillas.DSCF2185


I found going tomato-free very challenging: I’m hoping some of these tomato-free recipes will help other people.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

faith, featured

Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen to Good People?

This question came to mind today when I thought of a family friend who was diagnosed with cancer and was given weeks to live.

This is the question posed by Christians and unChristians alike.

For Christians it is a pursuit of understanding how our good God could permit to happen the things we see around us daily.

For the unbelievers,  it is used as a dismissal of the idea of God, as if somehow a truly good God would never let bad things happen.

For those who are in the former category, read on.  For those in the latter category,  I’m not sure they really want the answer, but they’re welcome to read my explanation.

Since even many Christians are not ready for this difficult concept, I feel the need to warn you that I struggled with this concept, wrestled with it until I finally realized that I have no one in heaven but Him and that I choose to throw myself at His mercy regardless of what He does.

It was 1995, and we were traveling all over the USA: a 1970s twelve passenger van, a 24-foot camping trailer, my mom and dad, us three kids, and our border collie lab mix.

We camped outside Washington DC in a quaint little camp ground and made day trips into the city.

One day on our way back –bear with me, this story is going somewhere– we stopped along side the country road to rescue a turtle (tortoise?) from the middle of the road.

No matter how many times we moved it to the side, it would repeatedly, sloooowly plod its way back toward the middle of the double lane country road.

We even tried carrying it to the other side of the road hoping that maybe this was the turtles goal and he’d be out of danger.

I can only guess that he liked the summer heat  on the asphalt and did not understand that danger.

How could he?

His brain is quite small.

He was not created with the ability to understand complex ideas like roads and cars.

Much like a child who does not understand adult concepts, the turtle was unable to see the danger.

I’m sure it struck him as mean (if indeed such a concept was available to his small brain) that I kept removing him from his destination.

I was so unkind and unhelpful.

That’s how I imagine our interaction with God to be.

“But God, I want to be in the middle of the road!”

We cannot see the danger, but He in His loving care protects us from what we cannot even fathom is there.

There are two basic flaws in the argument that God let’s bad things happen to good people.

Flaw number one: the idea that there are good people.

This is the foundation of the argument: that people are good and deserving of good things, that by not giving them only good things God is depriving them of what’s owed to them.

Is that true?

Are people basically good?

Is God depriving people of the good owed them?

What does scripture say?

That there’s no one who is good, not even a single one.

That it is only by God’s grace that any of us see any good things.

It is certainly not because we are owed them.

The only thing we deserve is hell.

Flaw number 2: the idea that what we define as bad things are actually bad things.

Remember the story of the turtle above?

We are like an ant in our understanding of God and what is good.

We only know what is truly good because He is good and He has told is what is good in scripture.

If He is good, if His very essence is good, how could what He does not be good also?

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it’s more likely that our understanding of good is skewed.

I remember as a child struggling with the concepts of justice and fairness.

Sometimes justice meant that someone was punished which seemed unfair to my childish understanding of the idea.

What if our understanding of good is just as skewed if not more so than my understanding of justice?

What if our ability to grasp the concept of good is just as low as the turtles ability to understand he was in danger?

The problems with this argument are thus: there are no good people — only people with imputed righteousness if they’re believers– and God never does bad things — we just lack the ability to understand what good is.

This is a hard concept, I think.

It is not readily accepted.

People want God to cater to their whims instead of saying “Thy will be done.”

They want a Jesus who makes them happy, not one who makes them holy.

That’s a false Jesus.

Those who truly follow Christ will embrace whatever comes their way.

Remember what Job said, “Shall we receive the good from God’s hand and not the bad?”

Sometimes God does things that seem bad to us and don’t make sense.

That’s because they don’t make sense yet.

They will one day.

We see like in a dark window, but one day we will see Him face to face.

Then we will know that it was worth it.

Even illness.

Even cancer.

Even death.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

ADHD, featured, homeschooling

17 Things Your ADHD Child Would Tell You if He Could

 If you disagree with the phrase “ADHD Child”, please read this post: ADHD and Self-identity. If you disagree with the use of “He” in the title of this blog post, see this post: How I Use Pronouns on My Blog.


17 Things Your ADHD Child Would Tell You if He Could (based on my and my husband’s lives living with ADHD and raising ADHD children):

 

1) I’m trying way harder than you’ll ever know even though it doesn’t seem like it to you. I really, truly am.

2) Criticizing me or getting angry at me that my brain doesn’t work better doesn’t help me. It makes me hate myself even more.

3) I’m painfully aware of all the areas that I’m not measuring up. Instead of making a big deal about my shortcomings, try to find ways to help me.

4) An accommodation isn’t the same as enabling. If you help me where I’m genuinely struggling, I’m going to be grateful. Don’t assume that I’m manipulating you.

5) I’m not doing this to you; it’s not something I am doing on purpose.

6) If you think it’s hard to live with me, imagine trying to live inside a body that won’t do what you want it to do.

7) My brain doesn’t work right but I don’t know how to tell you that. It makes me angry and unkind, but I’m not trying to be that way.

8) When I’m being horrible, what I really need is for you to tell me you’ll love me no matter what. And maybe hug me, too. I probably believe that I’m unlovable, so prove me wrong.

9) I know that my lack of motivation is frustrating, but pushing harder doesn’t help me do better.

10) My anger and frustration is a result of my brain not processing properly. When I’m overwhelmed and freaking out, don’t escalate by freaking out or getting angry too. I need you to be calm and show me that everything’s going to be fine even when I feel like it’s not.

11) If I get overwhelmed, don’t expect me to sort out the problem all by myself. The part of my brain the controls regulation doesn’t work properly. That’s why I need your help to regulate.

12) Don’t try to break me of things that you see as weaknesses. My sensitivity as a child means I’ll be compassionate as an adult. My stubbornness as a child means I’ll be independent and assertive as an adult. Instead of squashing these characteristics, channel them toward something good that can benefit me when I’m older. Don’t view me as something that needs fixed or toughened-up.

13) Don’t be afraid of labeling me. A label gives me answers and help. If my condition is serious enough to need to be diagnosed, you can guarantee that I’ve noticed something’s wrong and I’m wondering why I’m different too. Unless you tell me what’s going on, I’m likely to grow up angry and confused about why everyone has it all together and I don’t. A label means I can get help; it gives me answers and vindication.

14) I have a real, actual medical condition in my brain. It’s just as real as if I had Type 1 Diabetes. Just like Diabetes, I need help to deal with the condition. No one tells someone with Type 1 Diabetes that they are lazy if they’re tired because their blood sugar is low. They understand that it’s part of the condition. Please, please, please learn about my condition, and don’t blame me for things that are out of my control. Just like leaving Type 1 Diabetes untreated results in serious complications and even death, untreated ADHD can lead to serious complications –potentially including death. Thankfully, there are many ways to treat ADHD (and medication isn’t the only way).

15) My frontal lobe is developing 30% behind normal. Please understand this and don’t put me in situations I’m not ready to handle. If you give me responsibility that’s beyond my developmental age, don’t be angry with me that I do poorly. That’s setting me up for failure, and that’s just cruel.

16) Stop expecting me to be normal. I can’t be. Not for all my trying. Until you accept that, I’ll always be a failure in your eyes, and I’ll always view myself as not good enough.

17) You have the power to make me miserable by how you treat me. Remember to treat me with love and grace. Treat me how you would want to be treated if you were struggling with a problem in your brain. I may make myself miserable sometimes, but don’t add to that by treating me poorly. When in doubt, be kind. Believe me, I need your kindness.

***This list has been reviewed and approved by adults with ADHD***


You can find more of my posts about ADHD here.

This a reminder that I am not a doctor or a scientist. I am just a writer and artist with ADHD making graphics and posts based on information I have read from leading authorities on ADHD. I encourage you to research these issues yourself and watch the Dr. Barkley videos at the bottom of this post called What You Need to Know About Your ADHD Child for more information about the science behind ADHD.

I hope this information is helpful. If you enjoyed this post, I would be honored if you would subscribe to my blog and follow me on Facebook.

Blessings,
Sarah Forbes

 

ADHD, featured, homeschooling

What You Need to Know About Your ADHD Child

I’ve had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to write a post to help the members of my Facebook group, Homeschooling the ADHD Child, better understanding their children.  Basically, a “what you need to know” post.

It was a daunting task because I’m not sure there’s enough paper to write all that would need to be said, but I believe it’s very important for parents to be informed –and not just parents with ADHD children. Thankfully I found a video that says it better than I can.

The first thing you need to know if your child has ADHD is that your child has a significant, life-affecting, long-term mental disability. I cannot emphasize enough that this is a problem that will affect your child’s entire life in monumental ways.

I’m not exaggerating when I call it a mental disability. I live with this disorder. I know how hard it is. I know the daily battle. (Although it is not technically a mental disability which you can read more about here.)

Just as if you have a child with Downs Syndrome or diabetes, you need to UNDERSTAND AND MAKE ACCOMMODATIONS.

This is a serious medical condition that you need to understand and take seriously.  Just like any disability,  your child will need a crutch –like a wheelchair or leg braces or in this case your help with regulation (see more info about regulation in the video below).

If you think ADHD is a willful problem in your child, that it’s because they’re not trying hard enough or are choosing to be difficult, the bigger issue than your child is your lack of understanding.  Your lack of understanding and support has the ability to negatively affect your child in huge and lasting ways. I counsel adults who have lived a lifetime with the damage of hurtful and critical parents.  

Having ADHD means that your child is developing 30% behind other children of the same age. This means that your child can be 2 to 6 years more immature than their non ADHD peers even if they have a high IQ. This lasts into adulthood.

Your child needs unconditional love. I say this over and over on the Facebook group. They need to know they’re loved regardless of how their brains have developed, regardless of their ability to perform, regardless of how disappointed you are that they cannot live up to your expectations, regardless of their anger or emotional outbursts. They need to know that you will love them no matter what.

ADHD is a problem with self-regulation due to underdeveloped parts of the brain. This can be measured and proven scientifically. For this reason a child with ADHD needs help self-regulating. It is a brain disability in which the part of the brain the regulates inhibitions isn’t working properly.

This video series is long, but if you never watch anything else about ADHD ever, watch this. It is about 3 hours total but is broken into smaller videos in a series that could be watched in shorter chunks. Watch it over a period of time if you need to.

Be informed. Don’t believe the lies about ADHD.

You NEED to understand what’s going on in your child’s brain. You need to understand why he’s doing what he’s doing.  You need the tools to help him.

This video provides that.

While there are a few points I disagree with,  the majority of this information is on par with what my doctor (a leading ADHD clinician in our area) told me.

This video is from 2009.

Some of the treatments discussed have been further studied, and new treatments have been made available since that time. One such issue is supplements and omegas.

Since this video was made new studies have shown that some supplements, particularly fish oil, can help ADHD. He is right that it doesn’t make it go away.

Additionally, I think that more ADHDers than he suggested find improvement from diet changes. I would guess 25% or more from my experience working with adults and kids with ADHD.

Take the time to watch this even if you don’t have a child with ADHD.

A significant part of the population does have ADHD children and the more actual, factual scientific knowledge people have about this topic, the more we can dispel the myth that it doesn’t exist, that it’s just bad parenting, or that it’s caused by too much media,TV, and video games.

ADHD is documented all the way back to the 1700s –way before any of those so-called “causes” existed.

This disorder is one of the most misunderstood disorders out there. The public and media has continuously perpetuated lies about ADHD. Consequently, people believe it is made up.

Science gives us the explainable facts that show it is not a created disorder but a legitimate and significant issue.

In the video, Dr Barkley discusses the need to be careful about social interaction. What he says supports my view that the homeschooling atmosphere is best for ADHD children (although he doesn’t mention homeschooling specifically). The mentorship/apprenticeship style homeschooling education would be a safe environment for a child who has delayed development such as ADHD.

As a caveat, this video is from an evolutionary perspective and does not take into consideration the soul or the effect that the Holy Spirit has on our lives as Christians. I have ADHD, and the Holy Spirit in my life has empowered me to live beyond my diagnoses.

I hope this will be encouraging and educational for you.



http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzBixSjmbc8eFl6UX5_wWGP8i0mAs-cvY

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

PS Sometimes, the imbeded video isn’t working. If that’s the case, follow this link to view Dr. Barkley’s video on YouTube

faith, featured, illness

Why I Am Not Ashamed of Being Overweight: My Weight is Part of My Story

One of my articles was being published in a magazine, and I needed an updated photo –which I didn’t have.  Due to my weight I’d become a little camera shy. So, I messaged a friend who’s a professional photographer and asked if she’d take some pictures for me.

I voiced my concerns about my weight and my honest trepidation about being photographed at 300 pounds.  

She responded with the probably the most beautiful and humbling thing anyone has ever said about me: “You, my friend, are one of the few people I know who literally shine bright with the Holy Spirit from the inside out. You are gorgeous –don’t ever doubt that.”

With those two sentence she stopped me in my tracks and caused me to completely rethink my approach to my weight.

This is what good friends do: they edify like iron sharpening iron.

We had a lovely photoshoot, and as I drove away one thought played over and over in my head: “My weight is part of my story.”

My weight is part of what God is doing in my life. Continue reading “Why I Am Not Ashamed of Being Overweight: My Weight is Part of My Story”

ADHD, featured, getting started homeschooling, homeschooling

There Is No Behind in Homeschool


Don’t miss the follow-up post Objections to “There’s No Behind in Homeschool” Answered!


I regularly hear homeschool moms lament that their child is behind.

This is public school mentality.  

For most of us it is all we have known, and it’s takes some amount of convincing to consider that it might not be the way we have always been told.

But let’s take a step back.

Someone, somewhere, sometime decided that children should learn certain things at certain times.

Who was it?

No idea.

When was it?

No idea –but it was a long time ago.

Did they know our children?

No.

Does someone you’ve never met, who has never met your children, and probably lived decades ago really truly have a right to decide what’s best for your child?

No! Absolutely not!

Children are all different.  They don’t mature and grow physically, emotionally, or psychologically at the same rate.

Why should we assume they’d be able to learn at the same rate?

This is, quite simply, the foundation of homeschooling. It is the reason homeschooling was revived in the late 1900s: parents wanted to be able to make individualized choices for their own children based on what they believed was best. 

Parents have fought for that right and gained that right in all 50 states.

While the laws in each state vary,  the basic goal of homeschool remains the same: to educate your child as you believe is best for your child.

Some state laws will dictate what must be done when. I am not suggesting that you disobey your state laws, but rather that, as much as it is possible you allow your child to learn at their own pace in as natural and unforced way as you possibly can.  

Do not let the pressure to perform or for your kids to perform to persuade you to push your children beyond what is best.

You will be tempted to push them.

The pressure on homeschool moms to prove that they’re doing a good job is immense.

Remind yourself that it’s not about who finishes first. It’s not even about the acquisition of knowledge.

It’s about preparing this child for adulthood.

Damaging a child by pushing beyond what’s best is not preparing the child for adulthood.

The child’s emotional and psychological well being are so vastly more important than if your child can regurgitate names and dates and facts on cue.

Don’t sacrifice your child’s well being for a schedule, a goal, or a test. And especially not for your pride.

Your child is so much more important!

Let go of what you were told was supposed to happen. Don’t force learning on your child.

Make the child’s well being the highest priority, and make learning fit in with that.

If your child is having a bad day, don’t force learning.  He will learn better when he’s having a good day and no good can come from forcing it on a bad day.

Learning should be enjoyed and not forced –if we can make it that.

School doesn’t have to be fighting and tears and frustration.


”We have a mistaken correlation between grades and years.  We tend to think if our child is 3 grades behind in the acquisition of a subject it will take intensive effort and tons of time to overcome. But time and time again I have seen children go from years behind in a subject to on point or ahead in 6 months to 1 year. Sometimes a change in curricula was involved, but more often the child just matured to the point that they were ready and an understanding of the subject just started clicking into place. Be faithful to love, support, and joyfully teach, and it will come.”  -Joy Bishton


It does not matter how fast they are learning as long as they are learning.

It will all even out in the end.

There is no behind in homeschool; there’s just where we are right now.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

For more of my posts on homeschooling, see this blog series. 

This post is my reply to common objections to this post. It delves more indepth into the idea of children learning at their own pace. 

children, Christmas, featured

The Great Cookie Incident of 2013

It was 2013, and I was sick.

Really sick.

Not the kind of sick where you get better, but the kind of sick where you wonder how long you have left on this earth, and you go to bed wondering if you’ll wake up in the morning.  

Sometimes, the pain and depression is so bad you just pray that God will take you Home.

Now, I’ve come a long way from that dark place in the last few years, but this story is about me, right there in the thick of it.

Continue reading “The Great Cookie Incident of 2013”

featured, getting started homeschooling, homeschooling

To the Non-type-A Mom Who Wants to Homeschool

One question I get often is Can I homeschool if I am not a type A mom?

Absolutely!

Although, I have repeatedly been told that children need schedules, plans, and order, the truth is that some children do and some don’t.

11807396_969099883110349_6165725243796846883_o

image from here.

My mom was a great teacher. But, she would get restless. We would wake up one morning, and she would decide that today we were going to the beach. 

I loved beach days!  Continue reading “To the Non-type-A Mom Who Wants to Homeschool”

ADHD, featured, getting started homeschooling, homeschooling

In Defence of a 3-hour Homeschool Day

A question I get a lot is this: how long should a school day last when you’re teaching at home?

First of all, it’s important to note that children have a learning limit. At some point, their brains will shut off, and, after that, time no new information is retained.

So, what’s the point of teaching beyond that point? It’s completely counterproductive.

Continue reading “In Defence of a 3-hour Homeschool Day”