The Loneliness of Mothering a Gifted Child (Learning when to Advocate)



Something I havn't talked a lot about around here is about Laura Kate being gifted. For those of you who aren't familiar, I'm not referring to us thinking about how special she is or that she is really smart. Giftedness is a different way the brain works and processes information. Most of the time it means high intelligence and creativity and when their performance is high above the norm for their age.

I hesitate to write about this topic, because I'm not identified gifted, I don't always know the right terms, and I'm not always great at articulating this. There is so much of my intuition involved with this and you can't always verbalize intuition.


I actually hate the term and title of "gifted". I wish there was a different word to use. Because it implies that those of us not gifted don't have gifts or talents. I also think the term can be isolating for parents of gifted children because if you talk about your gifted child, it automatically sounds like you are bragging.... Even though gifted children come with their own set of special needs and challenges.

What has made this feel so lonely for me is having to figure out who I can and should talk to about it. Kyle and I are pretty big believers that the world doesn't (and shouldn't) revolve around our kids. And I never wanted our friends to think that I was comparing kids, because that has never been my intention, ever. In fact, each of my own children are so different that there isn't even a way to compare them. But I didn't know how to talk to people about this gifted child of mine without making it seem like I thought she was special or deserved something different than another child.

It's also been difficult figuring out how to communicate about the challenges we've faced with her. One of the biggest decisions we had to make for her was whether or not to skip first grade. Her teacher wanted us to consider it. I think this was a case where we talked to too many people instead of just keeping the decision to ourselves. Friends and family had good intentions but they gave overly-generalized comments or what was more hurtful was that I felt like they used the opportunity to tell us things that they had been thinking for a long time about concerns they had about LK's behavior. If they were so concerned why didn't they tell us before? Otherwise it felt like some people I really trusted were just judging my kid by her behavior and not talking to us about it. By the time we made our decision, we had to just narrow it down to what we, her parents, felt like was best. And to be 100% honest, I still don't know for sure whether we made the right decision or not. But we walk forward in faith, trusting the Lord to guide us

Navigating school with Laura Kate has been as much of a learning experience for me as it has been for her. We have been so blessed by teachers who knew exactly what LK needed to learn and fought hard to make sure she was challenged and was cognitively growing and not just floating along. We have also experienced teachers who have given us great opportunities to learn how to get along and respect people we don't always like or click well with.

The beginning of every school year I refer to myself as ridiculous. Because it is always the same routine of greeting, wondering what to say ahead of time and what to just wait out and let people experience on their own. The fire burning inside me is pretty bright at the beginning of the school year and I get really anxious about it all.

One of the biggest things I have struggled with is knowing when to advocate and when not to. I cannot describe to you this mothering intuition I have other than to say that it is like I feel a fire burning inside me and the only way to tamper it is to fight for her. When it comes to advocating, here's what I've learned:
You can do so in a way that is kind, loving, and gracious. And you should. But there is no one who will step up to do it if you don't. There may be people, even teachers and educators who are experts in their field, but I am the expert on Laura Kate Wiley. This conclusion comes after many meetings, a lot of which (maybe even the majority of which) that I felt like I didn't articulate my thoughts well or times when I left still feeling completely misunderstood. But I absolutely believe that it was still right to have the meeting. It was still right to ask more questions to grow my own understanding of what might be happening in her school day that I wasn't already aware of. It was right to explain that my Mama heart didn't feel right.

I believe every kid deserves a parent who will advocate like that for them. What I'm saying about my own kid(s) I think should apply to every kid and every parent. I really do not think that my child deserves special treatment above another. And that's not an easy task for teachers. I wholeheartedly think that teachers are rockstars and should be paid way more than they are. Sometimes they are asked to do impossible things like teach 20 different minds in a way that they can all understand and grow in knowledge. Sounds crazy right? Add dealing with ridiculous advocating moms and it's a wonder they keep doing it year after year. I think when everyone can realize we are all real people working towards the same goals, then really really great things can happen for our kids.

I've learned that nothing about this is going to be neat and tidy. It involves the hard conversations, a lot of prayer, and ALL the feelings. Ultimately, whenever I get worked up about Laura Kate, there are two main things I remember that puts things back into perspective:

1. God made Laura Kate. He made her brain and her body to work and function like it does. He loves her more than I can even fathom.
2. God made ME to be her mom. It is one of the things I know to be the truest in my life, that I was created to mother Laura Kate Wiley.  What an unbelievable gift and honor that truly is.

The point of this post is not to point fingers or to have some grand point to persuade you with. The point was simply to provide my perspective and for me to have a place to share what's been in my heart for a long time. So in an effort to draw this post to a conclusion, I just want to say this.... praise the Lord for the grace He gives all of us as we travel this parenting road! It's my favorite companion.


Read more »

Back to School 2017

 This was another big year for the Wiley Scouts as our little Fisch started Kindergarten. He was so ready and excited. I think he was just a tad nervous, but mostly just excited. I've been so proud of how well he handled this transition!

We stuck to tradition and read our "The Night Before Kindergarten" book! We love this sweet little book so much and it really makes that night before special! (Get your own here (aff link)>>>>The Night Before Kindergarten<<<<)



Let's just start by saying.... what in the world!!! Where did my baby girl go and who is the grown up, mature looking kid???? She was so so excited about 4th grade, and after a month in, she is NOT disappointed. She's probably the only kid I know who was MORE excited about the second day than the first day because the first was that great. There is a spark in her creativity and passion for learning that hasn't quite been there the past couple of years and I can't tell you how thankful I am to see it again. Love this sweet fourth grade girl of mine!!


Shepherd was the most nervous of all three of them. He didn't sleep well the night before, and for days before kept saying he was nervous. We asked him what he was so nervous about and he would say different things. Thankfully, his teacher is a rockstar and gave them something called "jitter juice" that took all their jitters away and helped them not be so nervous! He has loved it ever since! 


And this guy. Just loving Kindergarten. At first we were a little disappointed not to get the same teacher Shep had last year because we loved her so much, but after the past month, it is so obvious to all of us that Fischer has the exact right teacher for him. I love how the Lord orchestrates that sometimes. Fischer adores her and so do we. Every day at pick-up, Fischer runs out the door and exclaims... "I got another green face today!!!!!" As if his good conduct is a surprise to him. Cracks me up every time. 


Little brother refused to be left out. Every morning when we take the kids to school, even though we drop them off in carpool, he gets his backpack too. It has been an adjustment for him to be the only kid at home and that combined with the two- year sleep regression is leaving us a little tired. But extra snuggles seem to be doing the trick and NO ONE is complaining about this! (This guest post from Emily is such a good resource for what to do with a toddler when the big kids are back at school.So timely for us!!)


Before we left, we prayed for each of them.... over their teachers, their classes, their friends. That the Lord would help them see and be kind to the kids who need friends, that he would help them work hard at their work and that they would have a blast!






My sister sent us a care package that I got while the kids were in school that first day! How sweet is she?!



Other than a few typical Kindergarten melt-downs, it has been a really great start to school in the Wiley house! We are so excited to see what the Lord is going to do in our family this year!

Back To School Posts:





Read more »

Thailand 2017, Part 2

(Psst... if you missed part 1, you can read that here: Thailand 2017, Part 1)

I've thought about how best to tell this part of our story and I'm going to tell you in the least sensational way that I can, with the facts of the story. I want to tell it because it happened and was part of our trip, but it does not hold any level of importance to what the Lord did during our trip. I think if anything, the enemy wanted to use this to distract us and scare us from the good work that HE was doing. (Also, I want to note, that on all of the mission trips both Kyle and I, as well as my mom and sister have each been on, NOTHING like this has ever happened before).

So I was awoken abruptly from my sleep around midnight. I heard loud yelling from men coming in the front of our resort and I heard someone banging on our back patio door screaming my name over and over.......

What happened is that there was a married woman, having an affair and meeting a man in the hotel room next to Dixie and Lauren's room. Her husband (who we suspect was drunk) followed her there and mistakingly started beating on Dixie and Lauren's door. They held the door shut and pulled the curtains closed tight and he eventually figured out he had the wrong room and went next door to where his wife was. Apparently, he dragged the woman out to the back patio of that room (each back balcony was partitioned off for each room) and started beating her. Dixie and Lauren, scared and not sure what was going on, saw him beating her and feared for her life so they started screaming at him to stop! At some point they (I think the other man got involved too?) dragged her out to the front of the resort and Lauren and Dixie hopped over the partitions on the balcony next door, first to my mom and sister's room, but they were dead asleep and didn't hear them (how, I don't know!), and then to my room where Julie and I woke up suddenly. While they were still in the front, beating up this woman, and we had no idea why, I finally got my mom on the phone and she called Gift and Dui. In the meantime we hopped over the partition to their room (two stories up!!!) and waited on Gift and Dui to get there. They made it there in like 4 minutes, as well as had called the police who were also there very quickly. They arrested the two men, but the woman had escaped on foot. (They eventually found her and as part of her punishment made her return to the resort and apologize to my mom).

Once we found out the story and that we weren't being targeted nor was it a random burglary or attack on our resort, I was able to relax. It was unsettling, yes, but it helped me to know the facts and how unlikely something like this was to ever happen again. Also, the police stayed at the resort that night and we found out that there was a Thai soldier also staying right there who said he would look out for us too.

___________________________________________________________________

So, after that happened, we were able to get back to sleep and woke up Sunday morning ready for a new day.

Before church we had breakfast at our hotel downstairs in kind of an eating picnic table area. Gift had gone and picked up fresh food from the market (She did this every morning). I'm going to tell you right now that I'm going to show you and tell you about all the food we ate because of two reasons. 1. It was amazing and 2. As it turns out, I think I might be a closet foodie. I just really like food.


Of all the Thai food, this one is probably my favorite. It's called "Moo sa steak", it's basically a grilled pork skewer with a special peanut sauce on it. I could eat it every day of my life and not be tired of it.





After breakfast we headed for Sunday worship at the church at Nong Nae.





It's so hard to describe what the experience of worshiping outside the western bubble is like until you get to experience it first-hand. I say that, not as a slight against the west. I love living in America and I love American churches, pretty passionately. But I say it as more of a nudge for my own heart. It is so easy for me to get so comfortable. And sometimes I'm prone to forget to keep the Church about the most important thing. And every single time I've had the opportunity to worship in a different culture than my own, there is an instantaneous crashing of those walls. My heart softens and every.single.time. I have teared up remembering. Remembering the truth that the Gospel is for THE WHOLE WORLD. Remembering the truth of how big our God is that he would create and love and die for all of us. All cultures. Puts so many things into perspective. Instantaneously. 



A guy name Brother Wut preached. He is the son of a pretty well-known pastor in the area and one my Grandaddy knew really well. It was hard to follow along since I didn't speak Thai, but our Thai friends told us afterward how amazing and passionate his sermon was. He has a pretty powerful testimony. He is no joke, a Thai rockstar. But he loves the Lord so much and he shared (I found out afterward) that as soon as he started publicly being open about his passion for the Lord and the Church, his success took off like crazy. The Lord blessed his work in music. 

He is on The Voice Thailand. I'm not exactly sure what his role is, if he's a coach or if his band is the house band? It was hard to understand that part, and I googled but it's in Thai and google translate didn't help me out, so I'm not quite sure what he does, but he's on there... see! he's the one right in the middle.....


Also, of course we took our picture with him afterwards. You can guess whose idea that was, too!


After the service was over, we went downstairs to eat lunch with everyone. I'm guessing I probably don't have to tell you how good it was, but I'll tell you anyway. Our friends cooked a feast and it was amazing (and beautiful!). 



After lunch we went back to rest since we were all so tired from the night before. We napped, and showered, and facetimed our babies who were just starting their days stateside. 

For dinner, we went to the nearby town of Bangkla, which is where my mom grew up and my Grandparents were missionaries. I'm going to tell you about that in a future post. The restaurant was right on the river which was so fun!! (And also reminded me how sea-sick I can get, I had to look away from the water because I was getting a little queasy even though we were on steady ground). And of course the food was delicious. 




After dinner, we settled back in at the resort and had a great night sleep (with no crazy interruptions).  Stay tuned for Part 3!

This trip to Thailand was with Lifevesting International. LVI is a missions organization committed to helping National pastors move the Gospel forward all over the world by resourcing them with discipleship training, boots on the ground ministry and short term trips, and relationship building. We would love for you to be a part of it with us! To join our monthly email list, email me at wileyadventures@gmail.com. To find out more information about how you can partner with us and support this ministry, you can email me or visit the website at http://lifevesting.org/
Read more »

Friday Favorites: Back To School Week



It's been a really great week around here getting back in the swing of things with back to school! It has really been different only have Archer home all week. I both love it and get kind of sad missing the other three. I know we will adjust quickly though, and we've got a good three years of this before he starts Kinder so I imagine we'll find a good groove! 

My friend Emily guest-posted for me yesterday about this very thing! 


One of the things I spent some time thinking through and planning out it what our after school time would look like. We are cutting waaaaay back on screen time now that school has started and I didn't want the kids in the habit of turning the TV on right when they walked in the door. And there's also the issue of when to do homework. So I made a plan of whenever we get home, we all sit down at the table and have a snack and share about our days. Then, we can work on homework or if they don't have homework they can color or draw. So I made a little "homework station" using a sugar mold. I found the mold at a Vintage Market here and have just been using it has decoration (I had red berry stems in it before). This plan has worked really well this week! The kids love the homework station and it has actually been a really sweet time to have my little people around the table sharing about their days! 

This cute sugar mold is my favorite and you can get your own here:



For my birthday, Kyle got me what I have been wanting since before they even released this past Spring, and that's the She Reads Truth Study Bible. It. Is. Gorgeous. I love everything about it. The handlettered art, the study portions, the format, the smell (of course I smell it....nothing smells better than a new Bible smell...nothing) all of it. It's my favorite for sure and you should get one too. 



 One of LK's birthday presents this year was the Mix and Match Mama's newest cookbook, Kids In The Kitchen. I finally got around to checking it out and Laura Kate and I made a recipe this week and it was so fun! We made Pizza Boats. They were so easy, set up perfectly for LK to help me and they tasted delicious! Looking forward to trying even more yummy recipes soon because it's for sure a new favorite


Ok, so if you know me, you know when it comes to natural products, I'm pretty mainstream. It has to make sense for our family financially, or it has to be sure cute or pretty or delicious, and to be plain honest, I'm just not super convicted about chemicals and whatnot. (I'm one of those people that reminds you that water is a chemical too.... you're welcome). That being said, I fell in love with a natural deodorant. I love the smell of lavender and Kyle had actually bought this for himself and didn't end up liking it. So naturally, I tried it. And it actually has worked great and I smell amazing! AND we're talking about Southern Alabama humidity. There are several scents, but the lavender + sage is by far my favorite!! 


I made Curry tonight for our date night in, because of course it's our favorite. Kyle had almost inhaled his entire bowl before he even made it to his chair to sit down it. It was so delicious! You can make it too with this recipe >>>>>> Thai Masaman Curry


You can actually order the Masamn Curry Paste online so you don't have to worry about finding it in the store! This little tub will last you through probably 4 of the above recipes!

And, in case you missed it, Part 1 of my Thailand Trip was posted on Tuesday. You can read all about the creepy biker dude who called me "babe" during my 14 hour flight! >>>> Thailand 2017 Part 1
Today, I'm linking up with MomfessionalsGrace and Love Blog, and Little Bit of Everything Blog, for Friday Favorites! 

Read more »

Filling The Day With Your Toddler (When Your Oldest Are Back In School)

Hey friends! Happy Thursday! It's the BFBN swap day! You can find me at Team Cartwright talking about being present in your current season. My friend Emily is here talking about filling the day with your toddler when your big kids are back at school, so basically my life right now with Archer :)



Ahh back to school. I have so many friends rejoicing in the break they now get. No kids at home for 8 hours a day? Such freedom! Then there is me. Me and my 3 year old. She attends a half day preschool program a couple mornings a week but that hasn't started yet so we have all day every day "just us."

Don't get me wrong...I fully enjoy this quality time with my 3 year old. Quality one on one time with any of my children is rare but especially with the third one! However, it's often tricky to plan our days when we are down to "just one" at home. When you have multiple kids under your roof all day during the summer you get into a set routine of how to juggle all those balls at once. Now that school is back in? How can you productively spend your day with a little one still under foot?


Structure

Having a set routine is so beneficial at every stage in life. From sleep training an infant, to surviving home life with a toddler. There are endless benefits to having a consistent schedule to your day. Figure out what items you want to accomplish. Sit down and write out the "unchangeables" in your day (dropping older kids off at school, what time they get off the bus, any after school activities, etc). Also write out the schedule your "at home" child is used to (meal times, nap times, etc). Fill in all the areas and adjust where needed in order to have your set routine for each day.

Consistency

When you have a routine, it's important to stick with it. I aim for at least 3 days of the work-week sticking to that set routine. Some kids need more structure (a high sleep needs child may not be as flexible with nap times as a low sleep needs one), some are more naturally flexible. Know your child, know yourself. If you have a work-from-home job (like blogging) then know when you have to have time to get things done for that too! You need consistency and structure just as much as your child.

Nap Time

Naps are crucial for that much needed "mommy break." They are also still very beneficial for toddlers (and even preschoolers!). When mapping out your daily routine, be sure to have that beloved nap time on your agenda. Even if your child doesn't always sleep the whole time, they can still rest in their beds and allow both of you a break!

Outside Time

Mornings are a perfect chance to get outside and PLAY. It helps toddlers burn off energy and helps you both get some sunshine! We live in South Georgia so the earlier the better in order to avoid the heat. My child still does great in a stroller so we often take a morning walk after dropping off the big kids at school.

Independent Playtime

I like to chunk my time so I can maximize my ability to get the most done. I found that by putting independent playtime with movie time I'm able to have a solid 90 min of "me time" each morning. If you haven't already been doing independent playtime with your child, it's not too late! Here's a post about getting started :)  I like to do my child's independent playtime around 10:00 in the morning. We drop the big kids off and are back home around 8:30 so it gives us that hour and a half to do some outside time or other time together. Then she will go into her pack and play and play for 45 min of independent playtime.

Movie Time

I find that movie time works wonderfully for a reward after independent playtime is over. Usually before she starts independent time she'll pick the movie she's going to watch afterwards. Movie time is usually around 30 min to an hour depending on the day and what we have going on.

Errands

Going and doing with ONE child is SO much easier than with several! It's so fun to take my 3 year old places as all the "aw she's so cute" comments are pretty addicting ;) It's also a chance to teach and train on public behavior. I read somewhere to limit the amount of errands you run to the age of your child. So if you have a one year old...only go to one store. Two years old visit two stores...three years old three stores etc. Typically keeping the errand short results in a better experience for both mama and child!

Age Specific Activities

Having children who are a variety of ages makes planning activities where everyone can be engaged and have fun difficult. I have an 8 year old, 5 year old and 3 year old. Stuff the 8 year old would enjoy is often way over the 3 year old's head and stuff the 3 year old would enjoy is often "boring" for the 8 year old. While the older kids are in school it's a great chance to do activities geared towards that younger age. Visit a zoo, a pet store, a playground, or we even enjoy our local YMCA playtime!

Learning Time

One on one time is also a wonderful opportunity to work on learning. Again, with lots of kids at home it's hard to take the time to point out colors and shapes. To sit and count or sort items. Having that chunk of solo time with your younger child is an opportunity to help prepare them for when school comes. It's great to have them sit at the table with a puzzle or some other learning activity (even just coloring pages!). I like to do this during lunch meal prep time so I am right there in the kitchen with the child and am able to offer help, ask guiding questions, and it's a great transition into lunch time!

Working on Skills

Other life skills are also hard to teach when you're torn into a million directions all day long. Use the solo time with your child to teach and train them. I already mentioned taking outings outside the home and using that time to train in how to behave in public, manners towards others, etc. But many life skills can be taught at home too! Dressing and undressing themselves, cleaning up, small age appropriate chores, etc. It's also a fabulous time to work on potty training ;) 

Quality Together Time

Most importantly, having time with your child is a great chance to bond with them. It's easy for younger siblings to get "left out" when it comes to solo time with Mom and Dad. We know the older kids need that time because they vocalize it but our littles benefit from it as well! Go on a breakfast date after you drop the older kids off at school, sit and play together with your toddler's favorite toy, snuggle up and watch a movie. The options are endless but you'll both love that time together! But be warned: it will make their first day of school even tougher on those Mama Emotions :)


Emily is married to Zach and has 3 kids: Kye, Britt, and Tess. She loves Jesus, loves to travel, is super savvy, a Babywise guru, and loves Disney maybe even more than I do. She blogs at www.journeyofparenthood.com.

Read more »