Does it spark joy?

Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, as well as her acclaimed book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up as inspired many to take a look at their possessions and ask “Does it spark joy?”

Our kitchen stuff we got rid of, amazing to see how much we had that we didnb’t even know what it was!

My husband and I knew we wanted to do some spring cleaning, but after he starting watching the show on Netflix, he began first by going through his entire wardrobe. I was quite inspired, so over the course of the next few weeks, we went through our entire house and “Marie Kondo’d” it.

After over 8 trunk loads to Goodwill and other donations, we officially finished Tidying Up our house! It was amazing, and we feel so much more organized and at peace with how clean our house is. Not only did we get rid of a lot of stuff that we didn’t need or want, but we also reorganized how we did each drawer, closet, and space.

My side table is so much more organized now!

We used our old Apple device boxes as drawer organizers, as well as some organizers from the store. We also tried to optimize each space based on how much we use the item. For example, in our kitchen, we made sure to put the bowls and pans in an easy to grab cabinet especially since I am short and can’t reach all the cabinets in the house.

We also went through all my son’s toys and books, and made sure he had easy access to them. My son is very visual, so having a box of toys hidden way in a drawer meant he never opened that drawer. So we made sure each of his toys were in an open container he could see and know what was in the box. So now his play-doh and cars are in an open container that he can easily pull out and play with.

My son’s toys and games are on the bottom two shelves of this bookcase, easy access and space to play with his toys directly in front of the shelf.

Our biggest takeaway from Tidying Up is being able to clean our house so much easier. We have a spot for everything now, and instead of trying to stuff it in a drawer or cabinet, there is a distinct spot for it. Also, going shopping at a store, I’m amazed how much less I buy now. I really do ask “Does it spark joy?” every time I go to the store now and pick something out.

Does it mean we don’t keep anything that doesn’t “spark joy?” Sure, the toilet plunger doesn’t spark joy but it is useful and important. Asking the question is more for stuff that we don’t need, but want. For example, if I’m going to a board game shop or comic book shop, I will ask “will this spark joy?” I still bought comics and board games this week, but I really considered before buying.

Keeping the house clean is a much easier task with much less stuff to pick up.

The goal of Tidying Up is that it is supposed to be so extreme that you only do it once or twice in your life. And once you go through everything, it should change your lifestyle and perspective. You will be able to keep things organized and tidied up, hopefully for the rest of your life.

Our Journey with Speech Therapy

My son just turned 4 and he has been in speech therapy for almost a year. We realized at around 2 that he wasn’t up to speed in talking, but figured he would catch up soon enough. At 3, we realized he would need extra help. This year’s journey with speech therapy has been a lot of hard work, but seeing the progress my son has made recently has made it all worth it!

The first few months of speech therapy, we mostly just worked on basic sounds and strengthening his core. Part of the reason he needed speech therapy was low muscle tone in his face and core. So we did a lot of mini obstacle courses, rolling, crawling, and playing at parks. It’s amazing how a year ago my son could not stand on one foot and now he’s rock climbing like a boss!

We would see progress here and there, we worked with him at home so much. He goes to speech therapy once a week for a half hour, so most of the work is at home. We get activities and drills that we need to work on during the week. Slowly, surely, he started to break out of his “introverted” shell. For a long while, even until very recently, large group social situations were very difficult for him. He would go off in a corner and get away from all the noise and people. Now he’s the life of the party and runs around and plays with all the other kids. It’s so day and night what he used to be.

We started to understand more of his words, and he began expanding his vocabulary. There would be weeks of limited progress, but we knew he was making improvement. It was hard to see it in the day after day, but our speech therapist said he was doing well. There were only a few weeks where she was disappointed with his progress, but a majority of the last 40 weeks have been finished with positive reviews.

It wasn’t until the past month where his talking has improved so much that his speech therapist was rendered speechless. I don’t think she typically sees a kid improve that fast in just one week. He turned 4, and all of the sudden he was using expressive language and answering “yes” to questions. He still has a ways to go before he’s fully caught up to others his age, but seeing that big improvement has been amazing. He’s a very smart kid, possibly even gifted in visual spatial ability. As a mom, it’s wonderful to see what he’s finally thinking and expressing his needs and wants.

It’s been such a long road. My son used to get so frustrated every day. He couldn’t express what he needed and when we couldn’t guess, he would just burst into tears. He was very drawn in, except in very small groups. He was known as the quiet kid. He’s changed so much. I’m not even sure he’s actually introverted! Last event we went to, there was another kid there a few years older than him. They played together, running around being loud and having so much fun. My kid might actually be extroverted, but he hasn’t been comfortable enough socially to show it! Now he can interact with kids and adults, play games, ask for what he wants, listen and follow directions.

The best thing about his speech therapy is the fact that his speech therapist has never once labeled him. She saw him as a person, not any sort of syndrome he “might” have. Because of this, he wasn’t put into any boxes of what he could or couldn’t do. He has absolutely thrived because there are no limits to what he can do. Like everyone in the entire world, he has quirks. He might grow out of them (I grew out of many of my quirks, but I still have plenty), he might not. But I’m just so happy that he hasn’t been labeled and called something he wasn’t. Early on, for those that didn’t know his abilities, they would think he was impaired. But I knew better. He was reading at age 2.5, writing the alphabet at age 3, and now at age 4, able to do basic arithmetic, spell out loud, and read big words. I am so thankful his speech therapist believed me when I said he could do all these things, because she eventually saw what he could do.

Note: Getting your kid help if they do have a syndrome or mental impairment is very important. I just knew my son didn’t have any cognitive delays, and I’m thankful he’s never been labeled as such. But for those who do have those delays, getting that help and support is very important. I just personally believe kids are labeled too much and too often, which makes it hard for the kids who actually have something to get help.

Now that he’s talking and potty trained (another blog post on that journey, but his speech and potty training have been connected), he has no limits. In a year, maybe less, he may be fully caught up and nothing will hinder him. He’ll continue to advance in his abilities, and show the world that he is a gifted, fun loving, energetic, loud boy.

Twice Exceptional: Challenges and Joys

For those that don’t keep up with the lexicon of teachers, twice exceptional means that a student is both in the gifted program and in the special needs program for a delay. I was one of these students, being both in speech therapy and highly capable (Washington States Gifted Program).  It was challenging as times, especially since my speech therapist thought I had a mental disability and talked down to me. It was very tough, and I later got out of the speech therapy program and worked on my speech at home. Now, at 28, I have a kid in speech therapy.

When first seeking it out speech therapist, I was so worried. I didn’t want my son to deal with a speech therapist that believes all kids in speech therapy have a low IQ. Because my son is incredibly gifted. He’s 3.5 years old, has known his ABCs since before 2, can already read and write, and spell out loud. But he’s also very behind in speech, namely expressive language. Thus, he’s what teachers call twice exceptional.

I believe my son has what’s called Einstein Syndrome (or Late Talking Syndrome) as coined by Thomas Sowell. However, I’m not letting any labels define my kid. We thankfully found a wonderful speech therapist, who immediately recognized there was no cognitive delays in my son. It turns out that his facial muscles and core muscles didn’t develop as quickly causing him to not use his muscles enough to formulate good speech. Feeling relieved, we started speech therapy and have been doing it for 7 months. He’s made amazing progress and we’re so happy that we found a speech therapist that looks at our son as a whole, and not just his speech.

So what are the challenges of a twice exceptional kid? What’s some advice that can calm our fears and enjoy this time?

1. People expect your kid to be good or bad at everything

When people hear “gifted”, they often think that the child or person is gifted at everything. There are very few people that are good in all areas. Most specialize in an area, such as math or music. So when I tell people my son is gifted, and he cannot yet hold a conversation with someone, they give me this incredulous look. Until I show them a video of him spelling words that most kindergarteners don’t know how to spell.

Conversely, when I tell people my son is in speech therapy, many immediately think he has a cognitive delay. Many kids in speech therapy aren’t there because of any mental disability, sometimes they just need an extra boost for whatever reason. Just like my speech therapist from school, some think that if a kid is delayed in one way, they are delayed in many ways.

2. You’ll feel extremely proud and worried at the same time

Some days I wonder if my kid will ever catch up in his speech, especially when kids a year younger then him are having a very complex conversation with me. But then, I see my son doing a 100 piece puzzle on his own, and I just smile. Like any parent, you’ll have victories and defeats every single day.   I know once he’s caught up in speech, this year will feel like a faint memory. But in the throes of it, it’s hard. Especially when people ask my son questions, he doesn’t answer, they look at me and think “what a rude kid!” Of course, I have to calm answer their silent glare “he’s just shy.” I don’t want to go into the whole “he’s in speech therapy, but actually really smart, etc”. For the most part, my son is shy around new people, but it’s especially hard when kids his age try to engage him in conversation. I have to breathe and just tell myself “he’ll get there, one day he’ll be able to talk with other kids”

3. Don’t let labels define your kid.

There are a million labels for a million different syndromes, delays, everything. We can assign labels to our kid, in order that we can find support groups or the proper help, but sometimes we as parents can go too far. If you stick your kid in a label, then you define their limits by what the average kids with that label can or can’t do. I said I believe my kid has Einstein Syndrome. However, I’m not letting that define who he is. What I love about his speech therapist and she is very careful not putting any syndromes or labels on my kid. She may say things like “he’s very sophisticated in visual ability” or “hypnosensitive in taste” but never anything like “oh he has this syndrome or this” because we fully believe he’s going to grow out of this speech delay. Sure, because he’s so visual he has some sensitivities we are working on. But we aren’t assigning a label to it, just working on it and seeing his progress. I was a bit of a crazy kid when I was young, and back then there weren’t so many labels to throw out there. But, I grew out of them (with the help of my parents and prayer!). Sure, I still have some quirks, who doesn’t? But those weird oddities I had were just a thing of my childhood. My kid will be quirky, but I fully believe once he’s caught up on speech, he’ll not even remember he had such a delay.

My kid is only 3.5 years, so I know things will change as he grows older and gets more vocal. I know that not much will hold him back once he gets there. While there are challenges to a twice exceptional kid, there are also numerous joys. I think whether or not your kid is gifted or has any delays, parents have worry, fears, but also incredible victories whenever their kid reaches a milestone. Parenting is hard, and sometimes we need to just make some coffee, sit back, pray, and trust that our hard work will pay off.