Meghan Tells It

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Product Review – Spelling Dictionary October 17, 2016

Filed under: Homeschooling,Product Reviews — Meghan Hamilton @ 9:43 pm
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Last spring (or maybe early summer?) I saw that a fellow homeschool mom was selling some used books that were about Alex’s level. I forked over my money and hoped we’d get some use out of the materials.

One of the books was “A Spelling Dictionary for Beginning Writers” by Gregory Hurray (ISBN-0-8388-2056-5). We have used it extensively. Alex very much wants to spell words correctly. But being a beginning writer, his spelling skills are still rudimentary. This book saves me from the arduous task of spelling all of the words for him as he painstakingly writes them down.

It has about 1,400 words in list format. There are no definitions, just words in alphabetical order. At the end there are a few themed lists, such as numbers and colors. I have an older version with room to write more words at the bottoms of the pages. I don’t know if the current edition keeps this feature.

If you have an early elementary student who constantly asks how to spell words, get this book and empower them to figure it out for themselves.


Alex Versus Tick October 15, 2016

Filed under: Family,Natural Products — Meghan Hamilton @ 2:10 am
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My dear son loves to roll around on the ground. I let him because kids need the sensory input. And, let’s face it, I don’t have the energy to fight with him about it. Today we met up with some other local homeschoolers at a playground. Predictably, he rolled around on the ground and ran through an adjacent wooded area.


I can’t imagine how he got a bug bite…

This evening he came over to me to ask if there was a red spot just below his right armpit because it was itchy. No, it wasn’t a red spot. It was a deer tick enjoying a meal. When I said it was a tick, he panicked.

I’ve never seen him this panicked in his short life. He tried to claw at the tick. I held his hand to stop him because I needed enough of the bug intact to get a good hold to remove it. It took several tries because of the stretchiness of his skin in that area. I felt really bad. It must have hurt. He cried in pain and anxiety.

He begged for some nonexistent potion to put on it to stop a potential Lyme infection. I swabbed the bite with witch hazel to try and soothe him. It helped. Then I got online to see if the essential oil enthusiasts have made any claims about Lyme disease.

I found this article. I knew I had many of the oils recommended. I’d already suspected that oregano oil would be on the top of the list. So I quickly made the following concoction that we rubbed liberally on the soles of his feet and covered with socks.

  • 1 ounce olive oil
  • 1 ounce coconut oil (melted)
  • 10 drops tea tree oil
  • 20 drops oregano oil
  • 20 drops lemongrass oil
  • 20 drops clove oil

I don’t know if it will have any effect as I don’t know if the tick was actually carrying any diseases. I didn’t bother saving it as just yesterday a friend told me she checked into having one tested and the cost was about $300.00. It did have the effect of calming his nerves. And the extra YouTube videos I let him watch seemed to distract him from his terror.

I’m sure he’ll be fine. If he needs stronger medicine we’ll take him to a doctor. In the mean time, I’m glad he calmed down and fell asleep after a very busy day.


Healing a Young Heart October 6, 2016

Filed under: Family,Homeschooling — Meghan Hamilton @ 4:32 am
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When Alex was a toddler he had no reason to think about other people’s opinions of him and what he liked or didn’t like. Then he went to preschool. Did you know that peer pressure starts in preschool? It does.

Until he went to preschool, he had no feelings or associations with colors. He simply colored with whatever color suited his fancy in that moment. At preschool he learned that pink and purple were for girls. No amount of reassuring him that colors are for everyone would convince him to use those colors for the next four years.

When he was in kindergarten, my husband and I grew out our hair to donate. Alex tried, but the other kids teased him for having girl hair. So he insisted that we take him to get it cut.

By first grade he was a basket case. He was so worried about what his classmates would have to say about his clothes, his hair, the way he played a game, anything really, that he cried when it was time to go to the bus. Somewhere along the line he had lost his sense of self, and with it, his self-worth.

By October 2014 I decided enough was enough. I convinced him to hang in there until Christmas. Then we began our homeschooling journey. He continued to worry. He was mean to a lot of kids for a while. He had a lot of healing to do.

In the homeschooling world people talk about “deschooling.” It’s the process of letting go of the public school mindset and model in order to make the education fit the child rather than making the child fit the education. For Alex, this went deeper than adjusting to a new curriculum and schedule. This process went to his very sense of self. Educationally speaking, the rule of thumb is for every year in public school, it takes a month to switch gears and adjust. For Alex, changing the education plan went reasonably well. But it took a year and a half to undo the psychological damage.

He first showed signs of his true self being rebuilt when he voluntarily started choosing to use pink and purple in his art projects. Then at the start of the summer he chose sparkly gold flip-flops to wear for the season. I warned him some people might have a problem with that. He didn’t care, “Because who doesn’t love gold sparkly shoes?” I held my breath. If anyone gave him a hard time, I didn’t hear about it and he loved those shoes.


Here he is, not blending with the crowd.

A few weeks ago his Halloween costume arrived in the mail. I asked him to try it on. Not only did it fit, but he loved it so much that he wanted to wear it everywhere. It’s a bright yellow Pikachu body suit. There is no blending into the crowd when wearing it. He wore it to the playground. Some former classmates were there and started their teasing. I watched to see how it would play out.

Alex stood up for himself. He told them they were being bullies and that he didn’t like them. They left him alone, then soon left the area. He continued to wear the outfit after they left. No one would rain on his Pikachu parade. Most people love seeing him wear the outfit and smile and say so. If you see a kid wearing something outrageous, say something nice. It helps them more than you know.


Making his project without worrying about the other kids.

Today we went to a homeschool program where he was acquainted with a few of the other kids, but most he hadn’t met before. (We were in Providence, about an hour away from home and away from our usual group.) He knows one of the kids well and they don’t get along at all. He wasn’t distressed about it. He didn’t try to prove himself worthy of her attention. He just went about the business of doing his project.

I used to scratch my head in wonder about why it was so important for him to impress people who really didn’t like him. It takes so much energy and is generally fruitless. To see him put his energy into enjoying himself was wondrous!

As a parent, I want my child to have confidence. I want him to do the things that make him happy without worrying about everyone else’s opinion. I’m happy to see him becoming himself.


Alex Needs Shoes – Again… September 25, 2016

Filed under: Family — Meghan Hamilton @ 1:47 am

His new shoes that happen to match his Halloween costume that he refuses to take off.


I finally feel like I’m getting back on my feet after a long illness. Today I took Alex Pokémon hunting around town. I was able to get out of the car and walk around Main Street for a ways. I felt tired and sore when we were done, so I came home to put my leg up for the rest of the evening.

Then Alex announced that he had worn through the soles of his sneakers. His other shoe choice was a pair of too small flip flops.

Off we went to the mall after dinner. Feeling tired from before, I parked near the store I wanted to try first. No luck. So we walked all the way to the other end. We entered the sports store. Expensive yes, but we were stuck and Alex has foot issues, so we pay for good sneakers.

Craig kept trying to direct Alex to the plain black models. Alex loves colorful things. I kept reminding Craig of this. The store was sold out of his size in his first choice, yellow and green. So we ended up with yellow, green, blue, and pink (orange if you ask me) sneakers that made him very happy.

I was exhausted by this point. I considered asking Craig to bring the car around. But then toughed it out and walked back. I’m more tired. I’m more sore. However I’m happy Alex has new sneakers. Hopefully this will address the foot pain he’s been experiencing lately.


A bit blurry, but Alex aka Pikachu asked to ride the carousel.


Learning to Relax September 16, 2016

Filed under: Homeschooling — Meghan Hamilton @ 3:17 am
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We’ve started Alex’s 3rd Grade school year. Each month, and now year, that passes, I learn to relax a little more when it comes to his education.

Like many new homeschooling parents, back when I started, I was very worried about fitting in all of the elements of a good education. While that is still my priority, I’m realizing that we have years to do this, not days.

The concerned and organized parts of me want Alex to sit and do his lessons with good focus on a daily basis. I want him to enjoy reading and writing as much as I enjoy them. Then the part of me that loves and respects him as a fellow human point out that he’s still a young kid who needs to play. He may never enjoy reading or writing to the same extent that I do because he’s not me.

So, I remind myself that he’s made steady academic progress. I remind myself that even with lots of days spent away from our school books to go on field trips or to playgrounds or just using Google to pursue interesting topics, (or hibernating for the entire month of February), we finished the books ahead of schedule in 2nd Grade.

Today, the familiar voice that says, “Do the book work!” clanged about inside my head. We went to a library program with other local homeschoolers. Then most of us headed to the playground to enjoy some gorgeous September weather. Then I took Alex to play Pokémon with another group of homeschoolers. I reminded the worried voice that these activities are also instructional and a very important part of childhood.

“You need to hit the books!” that voice insisted once more as I accepted an invitation to play tomorrow morning and another to visit family in the early evening. Alex wants to be a nice person. He expressed gratitude when I bought a book to help him with that. But experience with other people is the best way to learn that. So we’ll go to the playground. So many kids don’t get to know their grandparents or extended family. So we’ll take advantage of the opportunity to eat with my in-laws and other family members while we’re all together in the same town. There are lessons there that can not be learned in any text book.

I reminded that voice in my head that New England offers a very long winter that is perfect for sitting with school books. Here in my corner of New England, winter offers many icy days where driving is difficult and playing outside is just no fun for us summer loving folks. We will hit the books more often in those months. Alex will continue to progress in his education, sometimes in spite of me.


In Sickness and in Health September 13, 2016

Filed under: Family — Meghan Hamilton @ 2:49 am
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I wrote a really long post about my August. Then I deleted it. It was too long. I’ll just summarize. I was really sick. A bug bite turned into a raging skin infection in my left leg. I spent some quality time with the fine folks at my local hospital. Then I got to see a bunch of visiting nurses who came to take care of me at home.

Through all of this, I went from not walking to barely walking. Craig, my dear husband who seems unable to care for himself, cared for me and Alex. Our friends brought us groceries. He cooked and hand delivered meals. He stood by as I was washed my hair in the sink in case I tipped over or needed anything. He helped me change my clothes. There are too many things to list here.

I still require a lot of rest and can’t walk far. Apparently the infection took a bunch of my energy with it. He continues to do many of these things.

I am profoundly grateful to have a spouse who doesn’t complain about helping me out.

(Alex has helped a lot too. He is an excellent delivery person. I lost count of the drinks he brought me and how many dirty dishes he took to the kitchen for me.)

When we got married we went with fairly traditional vows. There are times when a phrase like, “… in sickness and in health…” really stands out in your mind. This was one of them. He was up for the task. I’m ready to get back to health though.


No Rest For The Sane September 9, 2016

Filed under: Family,Thoughts — Meghan Hamilton @ 3:14 am

I’ve recently seen a primary care doctor for the first time in about a decade. He was clearly unhappy that I hadn’t seen anyone for any kind of checkup since my son was born over eight years ago. Here is my explanation.

Caregiver Syndrome or Caregiver Burnout.  My husband has a serious mental illness and I’m trying to raise our child, homeschool him no less. I have many of the symptoms. One of them is spending more time coordinating the other person’s appointments than your own. Guilty.  Really highly totally guilty.

Something that this country (maybe others, but I haven’t looked) has started to do well is to offer respite care for elderly folks in need of care. Nursing homes will take on a temporary resident so that the family can go away on vacation. Adult day cares are popping up so that adult children can work and live with their parents. Or they can have a day off to take care of their own appointments.

What we lack in America is such programming for adults with mental illnesses. Single adults may qualify for a permanent group home type situation. But what of us spouses who remain married to mentally ill men and women who need regular care? What of parents of mentally ill adults who have chosen to allow their children to remain at home? I’m sure there are others too.

My husband is currently willing to take his meds and take care of himself. But he is completely scatter brained and often forgets. Daily pill reminders. Daily reminders to do his part of the housekeeping. Daily checks of the schedule to make sure he doesn’t miss an appointment with one of four doctors. Daily scrutiny of behavior for symptoms flaring up. It never ends.

So I neglect myself. I overeat junk food to sooth my stress. I only get a break when he is in bad enough shape to warrant a hospital stay. I don’t wish that upon him. Even that though isn’t total freedom for me. There are calls and visits to the hospital. Childcare arrangements need to be made because young children aren’t welcomed in such facilities and visiting hours are strict and never at a convenient time.

Is there a point other than to say this life is hard? I don’t know. I often simply wish that there were respite care for people in my situation. I want someone else to take the load once in a while so that I can rest. I’m absolutely sure it would make a positive difference in my life, thus in our relationship.