A Super Easy St. Patrick’s Day Craft

Hello! St. Patrick’s day is just around the corner, so I thought I’d share this Holy Trinity Shamrock craft with you. I wanted a good visual that would help my kids understand why St. Patrick used the shamrock to teach about the Holy Trinity.

Here’s what I came up with:

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When Math = Misery

Math. For some children, this is the one subject that makes them balk. One look at a sheet of math problems is enough to make a child cringe and groan. Oh, the dreaded math, which takes forever to complete! The dreaded math, the bane of a student’s existence and the test of a parent’s mettle! When math = misery day after day, how can we motivate our children to complete their assignments with a good attitude and in a timely manner?

Start by finding the root cause.

Here are five reasons why kids complain about math and what we can do to help:

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How to Have a Happy and Lasting Marriage

This past year, both my parents and my in-laws reached a wonderful milestone in their lives: they celebrated their 50th Golden Wedding Anniversaries. As my siblings and I prepared to celebrate my parent’s anniversary, we began to reminisce about our childhood. We were reminded yet again of what an incredible marriage our parents had and still have. In fact, as far as we can remember, they only had one big argument. And it was over something so trivial that it has become a family joke. 

A loving  marriage is like the air we breathe: as long as we have it, we take it for granted. But, take oxygen out of the air and we’re in danger of suffocating. Likewise, if you take love out of a marriage, the relationship dies. 

At the same time, a loving marriage is like a game of golf: To the outsider, it looks so easy and natural. But the reality is that a loving, stable marriage takes a lot more effort than it looks. 

So for Valentine’s Day, I asked my parents and in-laws, golden experts on true love, for their advice on how to have a happy and lasting marriage. Here’s what they advised:

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Pre-writing Skills, Counting, and Winter-Themed Printables for Preschoolers with Down Syndrome

One of the things I’m working on with Junior is pre-writing skills. Since he is all about penguins and polar bears, I decided to make an arctic-themed bundle for him. And I made him some Valentine’s Day activities as well. Here’s what we’ve been doing to promote pre-writing skills and counting:

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The Unsung Heroines of the ProLife Movement

Most of you know that our youngest child has Down Syndrome. We found out the day after he was born, when the pediatrician noticed several markers for T21. That day the nurses tried to draw blood so they could run a test to confirm the diagnosis. But the particular vein they needed to draw blood from was too tiny, and after seeing my son’s wrist full of needle holes, I asked them not to try again until he was older and his veins were bigger. My husband and I didn’t need immediate test results — T21 or not, he was our son and we loved him dearly.

Unbeknownst to my husband and I, the nurses drew blood for the test a week later. I didn’t know this until they told me that the test came back positive. I could have been upset that they drew blood without our permission, but I wasn’t. I could have been upset that the test came back positive, but I wasn’t. I was, however, tired and stressed because Junior wasn’t gaining weight, I wasn’t producing enough milk, and progress with his oxygen levels was painstakingly slow.

Later that afternoon, Junior’s nurse noticed that I was visibly upset. She thought it was because the test results had come back positive. “I’m sorry about the test results,” she said, sympathetically. Then she said something that shocked me: “Do you want to put him up for adoption?”

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More Homeschool Activities for Preschoolers with Down Syndrome

Letters, numbers, colors, and shapes. As I wrote in my post about Teaching Preschoolers with Down Syndrome, we want to make sure our children are ready for concepts, especially abstract ones, before requiring our kids to work on them. Colors and shapes, which are attributes and not concrete objects, can be especially difficult for preschoolers with T21 to grasp.

A child’s readiness to learn a concept probably depends on combination of genes and environment, nature and nurture. Exposing a child to pre-academic concepts without requiring him/her to learn them may help a child’s readiness for them. Especially if you offer a variety of activities and toys. Young children love novelty — it’s part of their natural drive to investigate and learn. So the more variety you can offer, the more you will rouse their curiosity and internal motivation to learn.

That’s the challenge though — keeping a variety of interesting activities. Here are some activites I’ve found most helpful for teaching Junior letters, numbers, colors, and shapes.

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Strength and Courage for the Homeschooling Mom

I hope you all had a restful and blessed Christmas break. If only Christmas break could last much longer! But now we’re back to the grindstone with a long winter stretching ahead of us, marked with many uncertainties. Are you feeling the need for strength and courage?

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of conversing with a most interesting lady. Cathy (not her real name) was a police woman and mother of two teenage daughters. She worked the night shift in a sketchy Manhattan neighborhood. Consequently, she had stories galore to tell: how she and her partner would bust drug and prostitution rings; how she dragged famous singers, who had passed out intoxicated or over-dosed, out of bars; how she went after notorious gang leaders who then sent her death threats…

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Give Your Kids Books For Christmas!

Earlier this month, my sister, my friend Melissa, and I were brainstorming about what to give our boys for Christmas. What do you get kids who have so much already? “First world problem,” noted my sister, who has spent time volunteering in India and Malawi. So. true.

Kids don’t need all the latest high-tech toys. As I write this, I’m watching my kids play in the backyard with sticks. Where’s that drone we got them last year? It flew into a tree and broke. Where’s that R.C. car Sparky got two years ago… the one that drives up the wall? Broken, too. So there they are, chasing each other with sticks, having sword fights, and whacking the fence. As happy as can be. Which reminds me that kids don’t need expensive toys. They just need vivid imaginations, fresh air, and well… sticks!)

One thing kids can’t have enough of are quality books — wholesome, well-written novels that feed the imagination. It’s a worthy endeavor to slowly build a family library. So I always get my kids books for Christmas … among other things. Here are some of our favorites from this year:

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Free Advent and Christmas Art Cards for Little Ones

Preparing for Advent, I’ve been thinking about how to make this time meaningful for my little guy, Junior. Since he loves pictures, I made him a collection of art cards that depict the Christmas Story. And since he loves nursery rhymes, I added short little poems to go with each picture. The verses are very simple and repetitive, so he can understand and repeat the words. My hope is that by looking at the pictures and saying the verses, Junior will see the beauty of the Christmas story. Sacred art really has the power to draw us into contemplation.

Come take a peek:

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Raising a Child with Down Syndrome: Talking with Cale Clarke on Relevant Radio

I got a call from Cale Clark the other day. After reading a controversial article from The Atlantic Magazine, The Last Children of Down Syndrome, he wanted to know what it’s like to raise a child with Down Syndrome. What was it like to get that diagnosis? What’s our life like now? And how do we deal with the uncertainties about our son’s future?

Our family’s experience is only one data point, but it is an experience shared by many families blessed to have a child with T21…

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