Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Andrew

Eight years ago today I was lying in intensive was Andrew even though he was a perfect 9 on the apgar. Just precautionary and I'm sure the decision was also made because there was no place for him to go!! So my dear husband toggled between two hospital rooms and going a bit nutty I am sure. Since then so much has happened....he had a newborn hearing screen and failed. But "it was probably just water in the ears." So since then, we've had a cochlear implant, realized there was 'other stuff,' done hours of hearing rehab, physical rehab, occupational rehab and each year has been a bit of a drain. But.... i feel this is the first year I have really enjoyed my little buddy. And this is all because I have worked where he is at versus where I want him to be. I've worked in God's timing...not mine. Read below for some accomplishments in language, development and relationships!

Just today, we walked down to the gas station to get a paper. We do that often as I have mentioned and I told Andrew he could get a Wonka candy. He can't eat them mind you....he just loves the wrappers. And since we frequent this place the attendant gave him an additional free candy when we said it was Andrew's birthday. Andrew says.."Thanks! That's Out of Control!!!!!" You would have thought he'd won the lottery. I also taught him 'off the hook' on the way home;) Gotta keep a homeschool kid up on the lingo!

My last post was on our trip to a local park. The pictures show Andrew with another little boy Josh. We do not know this boy....Andrew and him just 'hooked up' amongst a hundred kids at the playground. Andrew would run off and Josh would follow him....Josh would run off and Andrew would chase him down. We took a brief 5 minute bathroom break because I felt Andrew needed a mini-chill.... but Josh was actually following us on the way back LOL. They played for an hour! The sad part, in this day and age, is that I felt uncomfortable asking mom for a phone number exchange because it was clear that she was not interested. Andrew was very very broken hearted yelling...get her phone number mom!!!!!!!!! We soothed the open wounds by stopping at MDs for a Star Wars happy meal toy on the way home. Shopping and solves everything;) Well- it doesn't HURT as long as you don't count on it. But he did handle it well. I think we all use distractions when we feel hurt. Andrew was very hurt about a potential lost relationship. That's wonderful.

And since I've taken a bit more relaxed homeschooling approach...meaning shorter focused lesson times aka Charlotte Mason, Andrew has really taken off. Here is a picture an artistic work he did just this morning...100% his work: the cutting, the writing the folding. When he was two years old in early intervention they were trying to get him to cut with scissors. He wasn't ready and he did his mommy. Given time, patience and working in the 'zone' he makes tremendous progress because it is not disheartening! He can actually DO new things!!!

And yesterday we went to The Henry Ford Museum. It is a favorite place even though the open expanse can make it difficult for Andrew to hear. What a great time. The best part was the language exchange between us and between Andrew and a 'guide' in the museum. There was a very specific place Andrew wanted to see in the museum; the mock up of the inside of a plane. He didn't know how to communicate it and I had no idea what he wanted. I told him he could describe it to a guide and she understood Andrew's words but not what he was describing but she suggested we go to the upper level to see all of the exhibits. While walking around upstairs I finally realized what it was he wanted to see! So his language and speech were great and he did not melt down! We just kept figuring out new solutions! It was great. Here is a picture of the cockpit.

Our big party is tomorrow but today the teenage cousins are coming for a sleepover!!! I made cupcakes this morning...with the wrong flour....still gluten free but I used tapioca flour instead of my blend...oops. Tastes great but the texture of a tire. Andrew didn't seem to mind. Will buy King Dons for the cousins this evening. The cake however, made with the correct flour is lovely. Thanks Tammy and Penny. I took a combo of all the recipes LOL! I'll post it later.

thought I'd include a few other pictures from our visit to The Henry Ford Museum. It is a fun place to visit. If you come, I'll be sure to take you there. We saw all the usual stuff and also he sat and listened to a brief presentation by a live person while sitting on Rosa Park's bus. I don't know how much of it he actually understood but he sat and listened. (mostly.) I'm including a picture Andrew took of me. I think he was telling me to 'be a gorilla...." and he was doing the same in some of the other pictures. Fun times!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Explanation will be posted in the next day or two;)

Hearing Impaired Diver at Olympics

Diving is my favorite Olympic sport...and here is an article on Chris Colwill who is one of the US divers. They are awesome to watch.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Not in Vain by Amy Carmichael

I think many a mom of a special needs child could be lifted by this poem.

Not in Vain by Amy Carmichael- missionary to India.

Not in vain, the tedious toil, On an unresponsive soil,
Travail, tears in secret shed, Over hopes that lay as dead.
All in vain, thy faint heart cries. Not in vain, thy Lord replies:
Nothing is to good to be; Then believe, believe to see.

Did thy labor turn to dust? Suff’ring – did it eat like rust
Till the blade that once was keen, As a blunted tool is seen?
Dust and rust thy life’s reward? Slay the thought; believe thy Lord!
When thy soul is in distress, Think upon His faithfulness.

Though there be not fig nor vine, In thy stall there be no kine,
Flock be cut off from the fold, Not a single lamb be told,
And thy olive berry fall Yielding no sweet oil at all,
Pulse-seed wither in the pod – Still do thou rejoice in God.

But consider, was it vain, All the travail on the plain?
For the bud is on the bough; It is green where thou didst plow.
Listen, tramp of little feet, Call of little lambs that bleat;
Hearken to it. Verily, Nothing is too good to be.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Navigating Bathrooms- autism and cochlear implants

A friend recently wrote me an email recently and said that when she took her autistic son into the woman's bathroom with her, she was approached and told that he was much to old to be in there. There is no way my Andrew (8 years old this week) could navigate the bathroom by himself. First, he often pulls down his pants even before getting to the stall, he wants to talk to everyone and touch everything. And add to that a cochlear implant that might get flushed...well...I'm just not taking that chance. And of course there is the safety factor. Even with me standing right outside anything can happen. He just isn't able to do it himself. But what DO you do?? We try to use 'family' or single use restrooms but those are not available everywhere. Let's face it. Mom is often the one out with the kiddos and there are many more boys with autism than girls. Health clubs almost always have 'family changing rooms' but fast food restaurants do not. If the disability is more visible, perhaps it is more 'accepted' because it appears more obviously that the person may need assistance. I am curious what others have seen and found.....

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Living Math Books

I think this topic really crosses every area I blog. It is obviously homeschool and Charlotte Mason but living math books are wonderful for building language and understanding for those that are hearing impaired as well; including those that use ASL or spoken English as their first language. Too many times we focus on 'skills' versus general understanding and both are important. Books are probably the single best way to increase your knowledge across a variety of subjects and increase your vocabulary. Living books make it interesting.

First, there are lots of living book definitions out in cyber land. For me, a living book is a story that brings a topic to life. Here is a detailed definition. It could be social studies, history or math just to name a few. There are also oodles of lists on living math books. This past few weeks we have done an impromptu unit on money. I have found lots of great resources that I already own!! Here are just a couple of great 'living books' on the subject of math.

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If You Made a Million
teachers the the 'power of the dollar' through a brief introduction of the concept of 'interest.' It starts out with what you might purchase for a penny and works it's way up to a million dollars. It discusses how many pennies, nickels etc.. it might take to make various amounts of money and why 'checks' are important as well as how checks are processed.

Another fun book we have read is Money Troubles by Bill Cosby. In this book, Bill desires to save up for a telescope which costs $100. He learns the value of hard work and then in the end a social lesson is learned as he determines that other people have greater needs than he does.

We are reading two books which are not living books but are wonderful resources and written in a very 'learning friendly' style. Larry Burkett's All About Money discusses how banks work and a bit of history behind money. Kids' Money Book by Neale S. Godfrey is chock full of history, the workings of economy and much much more. I love it so much that when I couldn't find it on my bookshelf I repurchased the book!

If you are interested in more living math here is a website for you and another here.

We also added a bit of practical workings to our study of money. A few weeks ago Andrew ran a lemonade stand and was able, with a donation from mom and dad to buy Babo. We decided to institute an allowance; a nickel here, a quarter there and three weeks later Uglydog was able to join the family.

If you are interested in Uglydolls you can peek at the archives of Andrew's blog.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

AVT in action

I've been wanting to blog this for quite some time and I only have one part of it i will go ahead and just show just the one clip that I have finished and save the other for a later date. Andrew and I did one of the weekly activities from hearing journey. To be honest, he is well past this and we normally do most of our listening practice during every day activities...but I thought I'd show how you can mix things up a bit. First, the idea behind this activity was for Andrew to listen to where I was asking him to put the treats and I would do the same to my hidden snack mat. We then compare to see if he is right. But you do not need to print out anything- any doll, plastic McDonalds toy, plastic or real food, or even blocks will do. The idea is to provide language just at and above where your child is at developmentally. If a child is just beginning, you might GIVE a child a toy french fry and say..."moooo." Then they would give it to the cow. You may have to START by showing them what to do a time or two. When they are advanced, still practice listening but add several treats and several 'people' or things to give the treats to as we did in this video. Also use voice inflection changes (such as I did with 'really') to indicate an idea. You can use words like 'each' or 'many' as well. I read somewhere that a person's auditory memory is their age- up to a certain age LOL..I know I can't remember over 40 things in a row!!! But don't worry so much about that...give some success at what there level is then bump it up a notch. A wonderful AVT told me to not let them get it wrong more than 2 or 3 times max. I'm famous for drill and skill which is not a way to make a happy auditory camper!

Andrew also has adhd and 'other.' I make our sit down lessons SHORT...very short. Five minutes tops! And I have learned ways to re-direct over the years. In this case, I just ignored his errant comments.

Friday, August 8, 2008

I Will Survive

I Will Survive (the first year of homeschooling)

Originally written and produced by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris
Originally performed by Gloria Gaynor
Mercilessly altered with apologies by Natalie Criss

First I was afraid
I was petrified.
Kept thinking I could never teach
’Cause I’m not certified.
But we spent so many nights
Reteaching homework that was wrong.
I grew strong,
so now I teach my kids at home!
We study math
and outer space.
I just kept on despite the fear
with a big smile across my face.
I bought a set of Base Ten blocks.
I bought books with answer keys.
My parents think we’re nuts,
but they don’t even bother me

Come on, let’s go walk out the door.
We’re on the road now,
'cause we’re not home much anymore
My friends would laugh and say we’d be unsocialized.
I heard one mumble
that I’d give up by July.
Oh no, not I!
I will survive!
As long as I know how to read
I know we’ll be alright.
I've got all my life to learn.
I've got energy to burn.
and I'll survive.
I will survive.

It took all the strength I had
not to fall apart.
Decided to attend
a play date at the local park,
and I met oh so many moms
who offered eagerly to help.
They used to cry.
Now they hold their heads up high,
and so do we!
My kids are cool!
They’re not those chained up little people
stuck inside at school.
So if you feel like dropping by
and just expect us to be free
you’d better call ahead first
’cause we’re probably busy!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What's in a zoo?? Big is not better.

Today the 'tri county' area voted to have a tax of approximately $10 per household per year to keep the Detroit Zoo in operation. I voted no...why?
  • There is no long term plan to make the zoo self sufficient. (ie: see ya in 5 or 10 for some more cash.)
  • $10/year is not a lot is a whole lot pooled together and we are going to spend it on monkeys?
  • The Michigan economy stinks- again why are we spending our money on monkeys?
  • The monkeys will be moved elsewhere...there will be no animals harmed if the zoo closes.
  • The people who CAN afford the $10 CAN afford a membership or a single trip. Those that can't afford the membership or trip can't afford the $10.
  • People talk about the 'memories.' I'm such a curmudgeon I know.... but REALLY MOST kids will NEVER go to a zoo...MANY kids have no food tonight. SEND your $10 to someone who could use it. I have lots of ideas.... but find your own place to send the $10 and make it work for some good. Kids will be fine if they never go to the Detroit Zoo- other memories will be made.
  • The Detroit zoo STINKS. The animals are 'in the wild.' If I want to see the animals in the wild, I will go to the wild. Wait..i can't SEE them at the zoo because they are so far off!!!
  • The Detroit zoo is HUGE. It is too big to manage with small kids and older kids don't REALLY like the zoo. (They really don't...)
  • A membership does NOT get you free train rides at the Detroit Zoo. And if you don't want to walk 5 miles then you really need to take the train to get back to the front of the zoo. Oh- the train isn't round trip!! That can add up to some serious cash if you have a few kids.
Today we went to the Saginaw Children's Zoo. Love it...Animals all caged up;) but they looked like they were having a BLAST of a time!!!! I don't think they were 'sad' to be in captivity. Here are some pictures from our trip. (The polls have only been closed an hour as of now so I do not know the results.)

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