Archive for the ‘Staying Sane’ Category

Accepting We’ll Forget

August 22, 2014

PHOTO-Aztec I Will Forget CroppedIt took me years to own the truth that I absolutely, without a doubt, can be completely counted upon to forget most of the things I wish to remember. I tried. Really I did. I wanted SO badly to be one of those women who could hear something and then casually remark, “Oh sure. I’ll do that.” and then. . . you know. . . actually do that. After all, that’s what grownups do, right?. But the day finally arrived when I accepted that, yes–even as a grownup, I. Will. Forget.

And on that day, I began my search for things that would remember for me. I found loads of strategies that worked (more on this later). And life has improved dramatically. The things I previously saw as a crutch for a weakness, I now saw as tools to success.

That’s really the point. They’re just TOOLS. Do we get mad at the plumber for reaching for a wrench instead of trying to twist off the pipe with his own hands? Do we look down on the cashier who uses a machine to add up our bill instead of doing the math herself? Do we think less of the doctor for listening to our heart with a stethoscope instead of using his own ear? (kinda creepy now that I think of it.) No we do not. They are simply using tools that make the desired task easier to accomplish.

How this applies to our Sizzlers
So here’s today’s dilemma. My now 14 year old Sizzler is in the same place I once was. She absolutely will forget, but doesn’t yet want to admit this to herself. My task this year is give her tools, and to teach her the value and empowerment that comes from using them.

As a result, we’ve adopted a new phrase in our house.

QUOTE-Assume Remember Plan Forget III Carol Barnier

And how do we plan to remember?
Pick a tool. Any tool.
For example:

If I know I have to retrieve a folder at church tomorrow morning, I put a reminder note on the one thing I know I’ll take with me–my car. Right on the steering wheel, I’ll stick a note that will glare at me when I pop in to drive.

If I know I’m supposed to call my attorney at 2:15, I enlist the help of a timer. I often even put a little note on the timer reminding me of what I’m supposed to DO when that little buzzer calls to me.

My kids know that if there’s something they want me to remember in morning, they should put a note on my coffee maker. It’s the one place I’m absolutely going to visit first thing in the AM.

PHOTO-Sign Language FI use one of my favorite tools whenever I’m waiting to speak to someone who is presently otherwise engaged. I know that I must politely wait my turn. But I now also know that when my turn actually rolls around, I shall have completely forgotten what it was I wanted to say. So what’s my plan here? I hold a letter of the sign language alphabet in my hand that will remind me of my purpose. What if I need to tell this woman it’s her turn to bring muffins to the next event? I’m holding an “M”. What if I need to ask her the date of the upcoming science fair? I’m holding an “S”.

You get the idea.

Find strategies that will remember things for you.
In fact, there’s a theme to my tools:

QUOTE-Store Information Brain Carol Barnier

Once you own this, life gets better.

Now, when I ask my daughter to box and refrigerate the now cooled pan of macaroni and cheese, and she answers, “Okay, let me finish this computer item first,” my follow-up response is, “Great! What’s your plan?” There’s no malice or condemnation in my tone. I simply want her to start creating a tool box of memory devices that work for her. I won’t be there when she goes off to college or gets married. They need a set of tools that they are skilled at using. Get started today. . . while there’s still time.


What Moms of Sizzlers REALLY Want

May 1, 2014

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I used to see those homeschool conference classes on “How to Avoid Burn Out” and I just passed right on by. I was NOT experiencing burnout. On the contrary, I was heartily energized by our homeschooling and the delight of discovering the gifts in my Sizzler and his siblings. How could so many moms be signing up for these clearly popular classes? I was oh-so-self righteously thankful that whatever I was doing was not resulting in the clear distress being experienced by so many others.

Well…that was many few years ago, when I was still new to the game.
And while I may once have looked upon those burned out moms with a bit of smug and arrogant judgement in my glance, I would now willingly stand shoulder-to-shoulder in line for just such words of wisdom which might be dispensed at just such a meeting.

I am tired!
This Sizzling child IS a lot of work.
To deny it is like denying the blueness of the sky.
And yes, sometimes his antics will fill me with mirth, delight and even, yes…dare I say it….energy.
But just as often, I sigh. I’m want sleep. My head hurts. My bones ache. I need to go to bed. I have yet another cold.
And tomorrow’s lessons and errands and activities loom LARGE in my head.

So to any of you who may have been judged unfairly by smug ol’ me in years gone by, I offer the HUGEST of apologies.  (please note the clear groveling in her tone.) And now, let’s consider one solution. (more…)

Great Use for Old Cell Phones

March 4, 2013

PHOTO-Cell phone borderI have long admired those wrist-watch looking devices that are actually reminder alarms. They buzz at any preset time, and even tell you what it is you’re supposed to remember.

Bzzzzz! — Start dinner

Bzzzzz! — Pick children up from soccer (on time for a change.)

Bzzzzz! — Do physical therapy exercises (It might be a good idea for these reminders to include a tazer if response is delayed.)

While I love the concept of these wrist-wonders, the price (often around $70) holds me back. (more…)

ABCs of a Sizzler Christmas

December 25, 2012

hA is for always….no, make that never assume you’ve got your Sizzler all figured out. If you do, God will smile wide and send you tomorrow.

B is for Blast off, words to be feared in any season, and usually followed by a frightening thud, clunk or shattering sound.  For more details, see letter I.

C is for change which should be embraced. Nothing will ever be consistent with your Sizzler, even more so during the hectic holiday season.  Constant change will be your steadfast companion for years to come. Hug it now. Make friends. Buy it candy.

D is for don’t.  Don’t call any friend who has yet to bear children if you. . .  (more…)

Dysfunctional Family BINGO

December 11, 2012

hI was reading a great article about how to survive the craziest of your family members at the next family gathering. It involves creating a game, which I’ll explain in detail in a moment. But as I read it, it almost instantly occured to me that, with a minor alteration, this could be an AMAZING game for helping the easily overwhelmed child to not only cope, but have fun at the frenzied family event to come. Here’s the initial version of the game.

You create a couple of BINGO cards with items that are likely to occur at your event–things like Aunt Tilly will complain that the stuffing is too dry, Crystal will show off her naval piercing, and (more…)

MATH-in-MOTION Mondays-Changing it Up

November 26, 2012

Sometimes it’s not about the math. Often, our kids are perfectly capable of handling the math concepts in front of them. They’ve done it before. It’s very familiar. In fact, that can almost be part of the problem.
How’s that–you ask?

Well, if they are learning a new concept, they have to focus really hard to learn it. The newness of it may be enough to keep them paying attention. But when the math skill being reviewed is one they fully understand and have seen many times before. . . they may be more likely to lose their focus.

That’s when you need some ideas in your arsenal that add an element, making the old new again.
That usually involves motion, or fun, or both!

Here are some ways to take a traditional math lesson and change it up a bit. (more…)

THIS Mom Exhausted by Sizzlers

September 8, 2012

Letter Week is almost over here at Sizzle Bop. We have one more letter we want to share, this time from a Mom who is NOT a Sizzler herself, but runs a house full of them. She’s so busy meeting their oh-so-labor-intensive needs, that she finds she runs dry by the end of the day. Anybody feeling her pain? Take a look.



Do you or your readers have any wisdom for a mom who ISN’T a sizzler?  That mom who has an actual, real need to finish what she starts, to get from point A to point B without visiting point Z, 37-1/2, Mars and all points in between?

I have two boys.  I have your books, and your ideas have literally saved our family and our homeschool.  I love your wonderful messages and your blog. I’m totally on board.

BUT.  (You knew there was a “but…”)

At the end of each day, after I’ve done my Vaudeville show, my spinning and running, and ridden the roller coaster ride that is teaching in our house, I am literally exhausted and completely unhappy.  I have not had many of my OWN needs met. 

My needs are simple: to finish what I start, at least some of the time, to get to the place I started to go, to have some small amount of order and peace.  You can guess how many of those needs get met in a houseful of sizzlers.

It feels that I am catering to their quirks all day long, and because of their… “sizzliness,” they are not ABLE to do the same for me. It’s not that they don’t care, it’s simply that it’s just not possible for me to expect it in return.  So the cycle continues.  I do all it takes to meet their needs, and my own very real needs go unmet.  

As a result it becomes very, VERY hard to keep looking for the positive, to keep making it fun, to keep chasing rabbits with them, to keep them motivated, to stay enthusiastic about all of this.  I don’t always rejoice in intensity of emotion, in dawdling, daydreaming, ignoring my first 15 requests to do something, or in the constant neglect of my own very real needs.  And boy, do I get cranky.  I’m not naturally a cranky person but WOW can I become one.  

What’s a mother to do?  It’s all on me.  And I’m tired of being a Vaudeville act all day long.  I like classical music. 


Dear Classical Mom in a Vaudeville House–

I am honored by your letter. I have heard that women such as you exist who long to finish what they start, who find a rabbit trail excursion distressing, who seek this odd sounding thing they call “order”?

Remember, you’re talking to a woman. . .


The I-Forgot Chores Strategies

February 29, 2012

There are some wonderful organization/chores systems out there and I suspect that almost any one of them, if followed through on with consistency by mom, would produce pretty decent results. But, did you catch the suspect phrase here?

Right–followed through on with consistency by mom.

Yeah, that’s the problem, isn’t it? There’s a good chance that your Sizzler got that distractibility somewhere, meaning, there’s a 1 out of 2 chance he got it from you.

My kids were doubly doomed; both parents are highly distractible. So what’s amazing for us isn’t that we had a Sizzler, it’s that we were ever able to produce even ONE child that was not a Sizzler. (She does exist, but asks that you hold her up in daily prayer. :-))

Here’s the problem with those organizational systems. . . (more…)

My Christmas Dream

December 19, 2011

Holiday Hoosle Pictures, Images and PhotosI have a wonderful dream about how Christmas Day is going to happen.
Come along and enjoy.

I’ll wake early, before anyone else, and be amazed at the immensely satisfying night’s sleep from which I just emerged.
Feel the rest.

My feet won’t even become cold because. . . (more…)

What Weird Holiday Story Do YOU have?

November 9, 2010

apples Pictures, Images and Photos Life with Sizzlers is just plain different. There’s no use denying it. They stand out, sometimes in ways we wish they didn’t. But more often in ways we love, even if others don’t always understand. When my kids were younger, it got to the point that I stopped sharing stories with people on the playground. I really felt bad for these other parents. They were trying so hard. They would tell their funniest children’s tale. Others around them would softly chuckle. And I would just nod and smile, knowing full and well that my Sizzler stories would top theirs in a heartbeat–either making them gasp or snort soda out their noses. Their kids did something mildly shocking about twice a year. I could usually pull something out of that day’s events.  Their children often said bemusing and sweet, even poignant things. My children’s activities often involving large machinery, ordinary dental floss and a wonderful exhibition of the laws of physics at work.

Many of you have been writing in saying, “Please-oh-please, create a place for us to share our fun holiday stories.” Not only do you. . .  (more…)