Thursday, December 31, 2009

Out with the Old....

It is has been a rough year but a look back in pictures shows some of the really fun highlights:

  • Pancake Breakfast with Santa
  • Program for Exceptional Families events: camp, Disney opening, Friends and Family day
  • Learning to ride a bike and scooter
  • Random fun "meet-ups" with friends
  • Tawas with Aunt Leslie
  • Digging to the center of the Earth
  • The Zoo
  • Fourth of July fun
  • Cranbrook Adventures
  • Henry Ford and meeting Cyber friends
  • Tiger game
  • Mom and Andrew's adventure to the last Michigan State fair
  • Trips to Columbus and Cincinnati

Not all of these events ended 'on point' but many did and we ventured out more than I remember! I am looking forward to a banner year in 2010 as I can already see progress with RDI.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Flat Belly Diet..GFCF

I am going to be blogging on my 'fat belly diet' that I am doing over on my Settings of Silver. I plan to blog with food allergies and families in mind. Come join me..either there or you can follow on Network Blogs on Facebook. Could be fun!!

As I write this I am eating a wonderful salad with arugula, goat cheese, avocados, roasted beets, pine nuts and lemon/evoo dressing. It is wonderful and was made of leftovers from the Christmas festivites. Come on over to Settings.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pass the Bean Dip!

Several years ago I saw a post on an attachment parenting called Pass the Bean Dip. I have since seen it written for other choice in life such as homeschoolling. In a nut shell, we need to have boundaries when talking with others. It is fine when they ask questions, but I would hope we all make the best choices that we can for our children and they may not be the same choices that others make. In making different choices, many people feel that they need to defend THEIR position. We do not need to defend ours though. And we don't need to attack others choices. We just need to be comfortable that it is the right choice for our family.

This type of thinking and conversation can happen in any area of life where you are making choices with your kids: basic parenting, homeschooling, if you get your child a cochlear implant, if you do sign, how divorce is handled with the kids and even what type of food your kids eat. We have recently begun RDI and I have found it 'interesting' to think about telling folks to pass the bean dip here too. I almost don't have to re-write it as the conversation is almost identical regardless of the issue. Remember... you do not need to cite references, explain or support your position. You know you are making the right choice for your kid..or you wouldn't be doing it!

Uncle Fred: "Why RDI? I have heard that behavioral models are proven."
You: "We are doing something different for our child. Pass the bean dip please."

Aunt Bessie: "Where are your chore charts? I heard that is the best way to work with autistic kids. That and schedules."
You: "We have our schedules covered Aunt Bessie. Love ya. Can you pass the bean dip please?"

Cousin Crazy (who watches too much news): "Why doesn't he look at me? All the stuff on the news says I should tell him to look at me. And how come you aren't doing ABA that is on all the newscasts."
You: "We are going a different route and please don't tell him to look at you. Bean dip please."

Grumpy Gonzo : "Well I remember back in the day, if one one of our kids got out of line we'd just take 'em out to the wood shed. All that kid needs is a firm hand."
You: "Our discipline methods are working well for us. Thanks for caring. Could you pass the bean dip?"

Get the picture? There doesn't need to be confrontation. Some people ask questions out of genuine love. Some have deep insecurities about their own methodologies. In either case, there is no need to provide websites, books and papers on why you do what you do unless they are someone who is in your life every day. And in that case, they already know why you do what you do. If someone persists, firmer words might be necessary and you can just say that "our choices have been made. Please do not ask again. And I still want some bean dip."

Remember though that the shoe can be on the other foot. Just because someone makes a different choice does not make it wrong for their family (even if you sincerely think they are wrong.) It is not effective to badger someone who you see infrequently. Those types of discussions are for folks in sincere ongoing relationships or with someone who is truly interested.

So try and have fun with your kids. Do what you need to do to relax. And stuff yourself on bean dip if you have to!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Lapbook

We have been using lapbooks, among other things to work on our guide/apprentice relationship. Here is the Christmas one we just completed. There is also a page of copywork that is not included here. We did this one or two parts at a time and we did it together. Most of this work is well below Andrew's academic level but the reason for the activity was not the 'skill' but rather the relationship. At the beginning there was a lot of 'this is boring' and 'I don't want to' but after many high fives and quite a few 'We did it!" exlamations, we ended on a high note. I buy some lapbooks, and do some freebies. This one I purchased HERE from currclick.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Andrew has come out with some doozeys tonight. I just had to get them down on paper.

Playing Apples to Apples he came out with some real winners:

  • Wild: "My mom" because sometimes she is just really wild and crazy!
  • Stinky: "Getting Mail" because there can be all those bills and stuff.
  • Skinny: "Girls" when they have those abs muscles things. You know, those things that go pop pop pop. (As he demonstrates a 6 pack.)
  • Loud: "Taking a bath" from the swooshing sound of the water. (Um..he's hearing impaired so he does not hear in the bath although he has heard me draw water. I guess he thinks like a hearing kid.)

Andrew was also insisting tonight that I am not a REAL teacher! This was while I was printing out coupons for reduced teacher membership at Henry Ford. His detail while playing Apples to Apples was very cool though. He could think up reasons for just about any card to fit. Of course we just 'played for fun.' I am happy that he is just now enjoying some of these games- if not for competition- at least it is a good relationship building time now.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A First

When you have a child with special needs you are asked time and again to fill out forms that tell your child's firsts. First crawl, first word.... This bugs me because:

  • I can't remember all that.
  • I wasn't organized enough to write it all down. I was too busy doing.
  • The doctors rarely read that information anyway.
But another fact with a special needs child is that you often continue to have firsts. And as they get older, you tend to remember them more. We had a 'first' lasts night. We were listening to the radio (Christmas music station) and Andrew asks, "who was that group?" I told him and he said, "can we buy the album?" (Yes he said album. I found that funny too.) Andrew does like Toby Mac and funny video songs he finds on youtube but has never requested an instrumental group. He has also never really identified certain music as different and then requested it. It was a very cool first moment. Oh..what was it? I put it below.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pancakes with Santa!

Yummo! GFCF Pancakes!

Two of Santa's reindeer. Mark asked where they were from. Response: The North Pole of course! (Apparently they originated in Russia and now reside in Clare.)

HO HO HO!!!!

DH Mark and BF Sydney!

Judson Center Autism Connections put on a wonderful Pancake Breakfast with Santa this morning. They did so many things right. First, they had GFCF pancakes. It would have been horrid to go to a pancake breakfast and not be able to eat them! They also had Santa in a back room. All kids have trouble waiting for Santa but add on a diagnosis, and a large crowd and you are asking for disaster. They gave out numbers and called back the kids individually ! You could enjoy pancakes and a Holiday video while you waited. I so wish I had video taped Andrew. "I'd like a Pasee 2000 from the Captain Underpants book, some plushies...etc... " There was a great photographer there as well. This will be a repeat event next year.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Taking the Sizzler to Grandma's

I received permission from author Carol Barnier to reprint an email that she sent to her subscribers. First, you can sign up for her emails HERE and also visit her website Sizzlebop HERE.

She has written some wonderful books (I own two) including:

How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and On To Learning
If I'm Diapering A Watermelon, Then Where'd I Leave the Baby?
The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles

If you have a sizzler, you likely do your reading in chunks. Her books are full of easy to do ideas and oodles of humor. (You probably guessed that last part by her titles.)

The email she sent out was a 'help' in how to deal with the stress of a 'sizzler' during the Christmas season. She lists the definition of a sizzler on her webite as well. (ADHD etc.. fits the definition.) Please take the time to read this. Even if you don't have a sizzler, I think many kids become one during this highly stressful season and we'd all do well to take note of these ideas. Oh- if you will see us during the holidays, this is required reading.


As we head even deeper into the holiday season, many of you are planning trips to be with family. Some of you are excited about the shared moments you'll be having. But some of you are living in sheer dread of just what may happen with your beloved Sizzler's holiday-charged energy level when coupled with Grandpa Bill's belief that your child was dropped from a passing Klingon space ship. (Any Trekkers out there?)

Take heart. There is hope. There are things that can be done. And not a one of them on our list involves sedatives. Whooo hoo!

Today's Tip is how to prepare your Sizzler for the upcoming Family Gatherings. Part of this is from a note we sent out in March. It originally addressed some of the challenges of developing a social life when it includes Sizzlers. But it has been updated for the holidays. Hope you find something useful! -- From Your Friends at Sizzle Bop

HELP!! I Can't Take Him Anywhere!
The sound of shattering glass shot through the house. I sat down my mug of tea with a practiced sigh. I had planned on sipping that tea long and slow...taking it in along with large amounts of girlfriend chatter, fall-out-of-your-chair laughter, and the sharing of deep concerns. But, once again, it was not to be. My much loved son had yet again, spoiled the afternoon by breaking something in someone else's home. Well, I should be grateful. No one was hurt this time. No one followed him up on the roof. No one slipped into the fast moving waters because they had followed him across the slippery rocks.

It's not that he wants others to be hurt. In fact, it's the farthest thing from his mind. To be honest, there is little in his mind. It's more in his muscles. It's all about doing. Doing what pops into his head. Doing something that is fast and fun and sets things in motion. He never even considers that there might be a resulting danger.

Sometimes I just want him to be typical...calmer....more that once in awhile I could just enjoy that cup of tea.

But alas, this is not my life. And when I bring him into the homes of others, very often they look at this high energy child and see nothing but unchecked behavior. A visit with family members can become the most painful experiences. Comments and corrections flow like water. And his spirit can leave their home bent and wounded.

I recently received this letter and I ached for this mom. It brought back memories of my son's early years.

HELP!!! I am the mom of a six year old sizzler who is having a hard time with others who feel the need to discipline my child when they think I am too lenient. I have learned to choose my battles with my Sizzler and have also learned that his mind thinks differently than most. So he sees the world through different eyes. Even though I have explained my son's ADHD and sensory integration to my parents and other close members of my family, they seem to think that my Sizzler just needs more of a firm hand and constant reminding of "not to touch", or whatever else they feel he to be reprimanded for. My heart breaks every time we visit my parents home. The once safe place to be, where he was adored and accepted has now become a place of constant nagging!! Don't do that and don't do this. Stop touching that!!! Stop running!!! You're too loud. Lower your voice!!! Ahhhhh!!! Will it ever get better? Please, if you can, I would like some suggestions on how to make visiting Gramma and Grampa's house more pleasant. At this point, I feel it best not to visit any longer and to have them visit our house instead. What do you think? Is it fair to expect others to understand? Or is it an unrealistic goal?

Well, take heart. All is not lost. It may be restrained for a season. You may even decide that all social connections must occur in your own home. But since that isn't always possible, particularly when major holidays arrive, then do what you can.

Here are five possible ideas.

ONE: Take Them There Ahead of Time
Often times a Sizzler gets wound up just by the mere volume of new inputs to process. Going to Grandma's or Uncle Toby's or the Brockowitz's can be chock full of new sights, sounds, sensations and even smells. In addition, each new environment has it's own set of expectations and rules that are not a part of life at home. If you could take your Sizzler through a sort of practice run of the the upcoming event once or twice before the actual event itself, then much of the "newness" would be removed and you'd have a better chance of avoiding over-stimulation impulse control issues that often bless our holiday events. (making them even more eventful...big sigh). Of course you often CAN'T take your child on a dry run of events and places to come. Uncle Toby wouldn't appreciate it.

So do the next best thing.

Take your child on a virtual tour. Have them close their eyes and imagine the scene as you describe it to them in great detail. (This is a great activity for long drives in the car.) Describe the town you'll be entering. Describe the house you'll be parking in front of. Describe how each of them will stay with the car until they are given their assigned bundles, bags and gifts to carry in. Describe how they'll wait BEHIND you at the door, what they'll say when the door opens, who is likely to open it, what they will look like, what the greetings will sound like. What will be the first thing they smell when they walk in the house? Where will the tree be placed? Where will the excessively fragile floating magnetized skaters on the mirror pond be placed and operating? How closely can they look at it before Aunt Myrtle will shriek "Don't touch!" Explain who Dean Martin is and just why he is singing in the background all day long. (Personally, I think you should go to the library and borrow a Martin/Lewis movie to improve your child's popular culture education.) If you are of Norwegian descent, explain the whole concept of Ludefisk (for that matter, explain it to the rest of us!) If Scottish, explain Haggis. If Australia, explain Vegemite. If get the idea.

What are they going to see? Hear? Smell? Be tempted to touch? Be permitted to touch? Go through it all. Laugh along with them. Make the unfamiliar familiar. You'll be preparing your children for what is to come. In addition, you may also be creating in them an interest in seeing all these wild and wonderful things you've been describing. It can make for lots of fun.

TWO: Role Play Good Manners

Many children will pick up good manners almost by osmosis. They see how we act and what we say when meeting new people. They see that we eat and speak differently when we have company over for dinner. There is much you don't even have to tell them because they pick it up through day-to-day observation.
This is NOT THE CASE with the Sizzler. Many social cues are completely missed by this child. It's not that they are ignoring all the social signals. They simply aren't seeing them. It's like having color blindness. You can teach someone who is color blind that when the middle light of the traffic light is illuminated, you must slow down...for it is yellow. When the bottom light is must stop, for it is red. They will never innately "see" the difference but they can learn the correct behavior by being taught the rules and algorithms that accompany the lights. (If you want a real scare, be a passenger in the car of a color blind driver approaching a single blinking light! Yikes. Right on through the blinking red light he went...assuming it was yellow.)

Fortunately, Sizzlers can learn social behaviors, but they will have to be proactively taught and practiced.

We role play with them what to say in response to things. If Aunt Tilly sets a plate of something in front of my Sizzler, we practice saying, "That looks great. Thank you." We'll practice this in ways that are even silly. I'll say, "Aunt Tilly now offers you a plate of baked frog toes. What do you say?"

Answer? "That looks great. Thank you."

"Now Aunt Tilly offers you a plate of banana topped seaweed cookies. What do you say?"

"That looks great. Thank you."

...and so on.

We role play how to look an adult in the eye, shake their hand and say, "Nice to meet you."
We role play what to say when Grandpa says, "So whattcha you learning in that home school of yours?"
We role play how not to shriek and run when cousin Lucy gives you a hug.
We do them over and over and over again, until the reaction is at least practiced, if not natural.

You can't prepare them for everything, but some beautifully executed responses early on can put some forgiving margin into place when other behaviors show up later in the day.

THREE: Make Use of Rewind
This is a technique that requires a watchful eye and ear on your part. When you hear your Sizzler getting a bit bossy, or a bit loud or a bit...well, you know...he's heading for the line that you absolutely do NOT want him to cross, then stop him before he crosses over. When something was said that was too much, call your Sizzler over and suggeset that he do a rewind. A rewind means that instead of being punished, he has the opportunity to hit the rewind button on his tape player of life, start over and do it right this time. If he can do this on his own, all is forgiven and we just move on.

Here's how it might play out.

Sizzler and cousin Joey are playing.

Joey: I don't want to play Spiderman anymore.

Sizzler: If you don't play Spiderman, then you're just a stupid idiot snot-faced peg-leg head!

Joey: Am not!

Mom: Darling Son, come here a second. I just heard what you said to Joey. Would you like to try a rewind?

Sizzler knows from experience or from previous discussions about the rewind method that he either fixes this on his own, OR Mom will be taking action. There is strong motivation for him to make this right.

Sizzler: Okay. I'll rewind. (Some kids even close their eyes at this point and create a mental picture of pushing a button or time turning backwards). Joey, if we don't play Spiderman anymore, what else could we play? Can we play Spiderman again later?

Sizzler looks to Mom to see if rewind attempt has been accepted. If so, the tape of life just continues on uninterrupted. AND your Sizzler is learning alternatives to his usual impulses...a skill we can all get excited about.

FOUR: Forget what others think...Remember to SEE THE GIFT IN YOUR CHILD

You will undoubtedly come in contact with others who do not see your child as a "gift". I know that many other moms watch with horror as I calmly extract my child from the top of the refrigerator upon which he has climbed. They grow weary as he shares with me the 3 millionth thought which just flashed into his head. They even comment that they could never handle a child with the energy level of my son while I harbor the belief that they also think I should just make him "straighten up!"

Others have responded that I seem to hold the reigns of discipline too tightly. I do indeed keep "a shorter leash" with this child, for I know that there is a line of excitement where, once crossed, he will act on any impulse immediately, without concern for consequences or dangers. So to these parents of calm, compliant children, I do seem to respond too quickly to what appears to be a very minor infraction. But I know what comes later, if things aren't kept in check now.

Keep in mind that people are just doing the best they can with what they known and have experienced. I am perhaps a bit more sensitive in some areas regarding the highly-wired child, but only because of my set of experiences. And those experiences have come with a price. When you have a child who is different in ANY way, people can say some careless things. Ask the mother whose child is in a wheel chair. Ask the dad whose child has a facial disfigurement. But the truth is we are ALL ignorant about something. In the right set of circumstances, we will---each of us---say something that would be considered uninformed or even insensitive by someone who is a little more "in the know". In fact, if I didn't have an ADHD child, I'm sure I would be quite judgmental of others whose children where ADHD. I'm certain that I would see it as simply poor discipline. If my daughters were my only children, I would probably be unbearable arrogant about my parenting skills. I would be the one saying those stupid things to others.

So I no longer expect or "need" others to understand my child.

I have learned to smile politely when their well meaning comments are sometimes way off base. I have learned that my child is special. I really believe that my son is destined for something wonderful...something that would be impossible for those calmer, regular-energy level children. I can think of several occupations where boundless energy would be an incredible asset. I delight in the fast pace of his thought. I am even jealous of his tireless enthusiasm for life and wonder what more I could accomplish if I were so blessed. And I am most especially delighted that I have been chosen to help him rein in and shape this gift of boundless energy.

From all your friends at Sizzle Bop
and...Carol Barnier
Delightful Speaker, Entertaining Author, Adequate Wife, Pitiful Housekeeper

Author of...
How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and On To Learning
If I'm Diapering A Watermelon, Then Where'd I Leave the Baby?
The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles

Monday, November 30, 2009

God never gives us more than we can handle....

Myth: God never gives us more than we can handle.

I have been considering this more and more over the past few weeks in light of the new therapy that we are starting with Andrew. Nowhere in the Bible does it say God never gives us more than we can handle. In fact, I think the opposite is true. God routinely gives us more than we can handle! That requires us to go to Him for the necessary support.

In our new therapy, the guide (mom/dad) is suppose to present activities that are slightly above the competence of the apprentice (child.) In doing this it invites the child to go and seek help and assistance. These activities are not suppose to be extremely difficult; just outside the zone of proximal development. Or we are asked to do a task with our child that is somewhat unpleasant to get them out of their comfort zone. During this time, the goal is NOT to finish the task and we are not to MAKE him do it. The goal is to have the child to eventually want to apprentice the parent. The goal is relationship and this apprenticeship is a key deficit in autism. Much therapy in the autism world is spent on teaching skills. A child with a high IQ and high functioning autism can make it though Harvard being taught skills because life until the 'real world' is static. LIFE however, is dynamic outside the school environment. We need to learn to learn, to apprentice, to develop relationships and to trust!

God is the same way. He doesn't cause trials but he allows them. He has a plan and a purpose to prosper us however he is not concerned with the outcome as much as the relationship. I believe God allows trials for many reasons. He may want us to be able to help and understand others who will be in a similar situation in the future. Or perhaps he wants to put certain people in our path or to soften our hearts to someone. Maybe he is going to jump start you on a new path for life. Above all though, He wants to spend TIME with you. He wants to BE with you. And because we live in a fallen world, He knows there will be trials, so he designs to use them for His glory and His good and to call people to Himself. But he will not make you come to Him. The decision has to be your own. But God desires to spend time with His creation...and He loves you like crazy!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Legend of the Candy Cane and other December Studies

We are doing several lapbooks in December and one is on The Legend of the Candy Cane. You can find the materials here. (It's a free one!) It is a very sweet story tying in the candy cane to the real meaning of Christmas. The first tie in is that if you turn the candy cane upside down it makes the letter J...which stand for Jesus. Andrew says, "It aIso make a letter for Easter...r." I was thinking great... he is tying Easter to rabbits. But no, my little child says, r is for Resurrection. A little whisper from God that he is picking up the good stuff.

There are quite a few wonderful lapbooks on Currclick. Last year we did one on the birth of Jesus and this year we are doing a 'Christmas Traditions' lapbook as well as one on the Salvation Army. I did a quick search and found these current Christmas lapbooks on Currclick. I like the purchased ones because they are all put together. But there are plenty of freebies on the web. Just google the subject + lapbook. It just take a little more time that way.

Lapbooks are wonderful because they are interactive. You can even use them to take a break from the regular routine; 6 weeks of typical curriculum and then a week of lapbook. You don't even need to be a homeschooler to do them! There are tons of preschool lapbooks and a great way to build language. Also if you have a child with special needs whose speech is perhaps delayed you can do lots of language building without having to 'dumb down' to baby activities. I have blogged on several lapbooks we have done and you can find them on the sidebar.

Have a blessed and restful Christmas season.



Monday, November 23, 2009

Hair Washing

Hair washing is torture for many kids with sensory issues. Even Temple Grandin talks about it in Thinking inPictures. A few weeks ago, Lisa from Sensory Critters posed the question on do you deal with hair washing. There were quite a few great answers.

First, Sensory Critters sells a shampoo rinse cup that is curved on one side to help keep the water and soap out of your kiddo's eyes.

You can try organizing your child with sensory activities before taking a bath. These might include wrapping your kiddo in a big towel or some heavy hugs. Chewing on something before or during the bath may help as well. Here are some additional organizing sensory activities.

Some folks have mentioned calming music during a bath. This wouldn't work for us since Andrew doesn't hear during a bath but it is worth a try for some kids. Also aroma therapy might be helpful.

Last night we tried something new. I washed Andrew's hair in the sink! I took off his clothes..since wet clothes upset him, and then put a washcloth on his face. He stood in front of the kitchen sink where I have a nozzle attachment and we made quick work of it. It worked well. He can still do a bath in the tub but we don't have t do the hair washing there.

I also found a 'bath hat' online. It is like a visor so the soap doesn't get in your eyes. I think I used to wear one of these!

Friday, October 30, 2009

101 Things to do with your Halloween Candy

............Besides eating it that it. Andrew is on an allergen free diet. And even if you aren't, all that candy is BAD for you! OK this list isn't 101 ways. Feel free to add some ideas in the comments. I'll gladly add them to the list.

Estimate how many pieces of candy
Estimate how many types of candy
Estimate how many 'm&ms' or 'nerds' are in a box
Read the wrappers
Tell jokes from the Laffy Taffy wrappers
Build a Candy City
Pretend Jumba and Lilo (or whoever) are eating them.
Talk about what they 'look like': ie: a tootsie roll looks like an eraser, or it could be used as playdough....
Practice fine motor unwrapping the candy
Smush the tootsie rolls before you practice your handwriting (then throw them away.)
Play 'nerd' (or M&M) tic-tac-toe
skip count using candy

graph who got what and figure out percentages
graph candy type and figure out percentages
weigh all the candy (again - could do percentages)
weigh each type (and percentages)
compare the heaviest amount of candy to the actual 'amount' of candy
Empty out the skittle/MMs and use them as 10s and 1s to practice regrouping.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday... with a few captions

This could not be done at the beginning of the summer.

This either....

Want a french fry Mr. Bear....


Friday, October 16, 2009

Second Semester 2009-2010

note: I lost half this post but want to put it out there and just make my own handwritten notes as it has been a work in progress for a week. I hate it when that happens!


I decided this year to do our plan in quarter increments. This achieves several things for me the first being self esteem...mine. And Andrews. When I plan out the whole year, things change, Andrew does some things way ahead of schedule but some far behind. By doing it quarterly, I can tailor each term to his needs more specifically.

One big change is that we will be starting RDI or Relationship Development Intervention. I hesitate to even plan our academic term because that will be a large chunk of our time but I don't feel that our current plan is all that aggressive and I am a planner by nature.

Last term this was a loosely planed subject. Andrew took an interest in the planets so I dusted off Appologia's Exploring Creation with Astronomy. I learned quite a bit in the first few chapters myself. We are reading it at our own pace and I have yet to do any experiments- in this book or any others. I dislike experiments. I must break out of my mold.

I love librarything and my effort is paying off. I can go there and see what other books I have on the subject of Astronomy. By no means do I have all our books cataloged, but there are enough, and they are in various specific locations though the house, so within five minutes or so I can typically find a book I need. (Those of you that have seen my house do not believe this do you??) I plan to read When is a Planet Not a Planet? by Elaine Scott. I have several other books listed under Creation Science in my librarything and a few more in Earth Sciences. I think I will do some 'crossover' poetry activities with The Earth is Painted Green.

I am not an 'unschooler' but I love going with Andrew's interest in the area of science. It makes life so much more enjoyable.

We are working (aka stuck) on regrouping which, I have been told, is a difficult concept. I was toying around with moving toward multiplication but after finding some online help, including this youtube, I have decided to continue working on this but in new ways. I think the manipulatives will lend themselves to some guided participation.

I do also plan some living math books but have not found any specific this topic. A living math website has this list list for possible subtraction books. I found several on my librarything that I will try and read. In addition I want to do more math games. Oh..and Halloween is coming up which will lend itself to 101 Things To Do With Your Halloween Candy.

Social Studies and Handwriting

This is where I lost most of my post. For social studies we are continuing to do Hero Tales. I will blog all we have done on that at a later date. We continue to work our way through the alphabet lower case for handwriting using Smart Start paper.

We are reading from the Egermeier Story Bible. It is written as a story (go figure) and we are both thinking about Scripture in a new way. We are reading our way through the new testament to focus on Jesus love instead of the heavy hand of God that seems to jump out at Andrew in the old testament. I considered taking his Bibles to Kinkos and having them re-bound into New and Old Testaments and hiding the Old. For now we will just work on reading together.

On a recent trip to the library I picked up several audio books including two Hank Zipzer books. I want to get back to books on CD with the book in hand. I want to work on Andrew listening to new and varied voices. Andrew reads almost all day every day that he isn't drawing or doing other school.

Art etc...
I still want to do art, poetry, hymns and other 'electives' but I think these will wait for formal study. He draws every day and I do wish to find him a teacher to eventually take him to the next level. He is already beyond me in technique and perspectives (although that doesn't take much.) He enjoys doing his own thing here and so I am not sure I should mess with it too much.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fall 2009 Report Card

I asked Andrew if he would like a report card and he said yes. I thought I would relay it here with a few additional resources (and notes) listed. The blue italics show what Andrew saw on his 'report card.' I remain ONLY positive in his report card. He struggles with self esteem issues. Even the one 'A-' was met with resistance. I, of course, have more 'critical' reviews written elsewhere. But it is all about progress. Although this is academic primarily in nature, 80% of what we do in the house is character development. We will be formally starting RDI and I look forward to our consultant helping us roll everything into one big package.

You can see our for the first semester of 2009 plan here.

Subject: Math
Grade: A

Andrew has made great progress in this area. He has memorized his addition facts and is working toward the subtraction facts. He can add and regroup very well. He has a working knowledge of weight and length. He continues to work on the subject of time. Andrew needs to continue to build his confidence in the area of math knowing his mommy will guide him.

We spent the term doing most of what I intended. We used Miquon Math for facts, Primary Math for practical subjects and made up our own games as we went along. Andrew does not do well loosing and so the games we played were cooperative. We do work on 'losing' but the time to do so is not during a high stress subject like math. I did not do any living books which was my intention. There is always next term. Andrew does not like math at all but I still feel we need to press on. We do VERY short sessions several times a day.

Subject: Handwriting
Grade: A

Andrew continues to improve on his copywork of lower case letters; especially those that fall below the line such as g, y and j. His attention to the detail of what is presented in his copywork has improved tremendously.

This is another 'non choice' activity for Andrew and I am most proud that he just comes to the table and does it with my guidance. That is worth way more than the actual output of the letters.I did purchase Start Write to help me prepare but have not used it yet. I really figure out on the fly what we will do for copywork. We will be reading the Bible or another book and find a sentence or two to copy. He also likes to see me draw the letters and then do them one by one. Eventually I am sure I will find that software useful.

Subject: Reading
Grade: A

We continue to improve in the area of narration using both fiction (science and social studies) and non-fiction. Andrew has improved in attention, narration, and reading aloud. He has also picked up his books on his own accord to see what happens next.

My favorite book of the term was Teddy's Button. We read the abridged illustrated version. Currently we are reading The Box Car Children. We are working our way through Hero Tales and starting Apologia's Creation book. We also daily read the Egermeier's Story Bible I have actually had some new 'thoughts' about certain Bible passages since starting this version.

Subject: Social Studies and Geography
Grade: A

We are reading Hero Tales to learn about the world around us and those in need. Andrew has voiced some wonderful questions during our lessons.

Andrew has some problems processing these stories. Many of the missionaries will give up everything for Jesus. Since starting allowance for Andrew, he has been a bit too tied to money and he wonders how these people will make a living. We talk about God providing but he also knows that people have to WORK for money. I think it is a tough thought process for a kid!

Subject: Science
Grade: A
Andrew is narrating well the science books we are reading which include books about pants and creation. Next term we plan to do additional experiments.

Subject: Bible
Grade: A+
Andrew knows his Bible well and has an open heart to learn move about God's love. I love Andrew's evangelical spirit.

Subject: Physical Education
Grade: A+
Andrew has learned to ride a scooter and a bike with training wheels. He is improving on asking for help instead of getting frustrated.

We are working with a wonderful PT once a week on Andrew's 'wheel skills.' He is up and down in the 'frustration' department and we have come up against some sensory issues that were not there before. For example, just this week he didn't want to ride his scooter because the handle bars felt funny. In the past they have been just fine. These are real sensory needs and I just don't know what exactly is 'up' in this department. Considering additional biomed treatments last night I went and heard a new biomed doc speak and even he admitted it is like shooting darts at the dartboard. (How's that for comforting...)

Subject: Typing
Grade: A
Andrew is progressing well in Type to Learn. Mom is still three times as fast and this provides incentive to improve.

Subject: Living Skills
Grade: A
Andrew is a master laundry sorter. He hauls heavy loads through the house. He is learning how to organize and has made decisions on areas he wishes to not organize while understanding the consequences.

Andrew's desk is a MESS. We have tried cleaning it on a regular basis but I have to say that I UNDERSTAND. When I clean my desk I can't find anything! So I told him he could do what he wanted and I would help him when requested. We are trying to get into the habit of a clean room but that is a tough one too.

Subject: Social Skills
Grade: A-
Andrew spends two hours in class weekly at homeschool co-op in an extremely challenging listening environment. He is improving on his class participation skills.

(A on this part.) We also spent a week traveling to Ohio which falls into the category of social skills, social studies, science math, listening practice and others. Andrew had a wonderful time learning about Creation at the Creation Museum. We spent two nights in a hotel where we had to become flexible in a variety of situations.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Creation Museum. Highlight: CC throughout

We went to the Creation Museum today. First what I loved about it: Ninety five percent of the museum is captioned. Without that, with museum acoustics, it would have been fairly difficult with Andrew. (Read...REALLY difficult.) As we were coming out of a small theater presentation which was captioned, I mentioned my appreciation to one of the staff. She then proceeded to ask which planetarium showing we were planning to attend and that then was captioned as well! Score a BIG one for Creation Museum on that!

Andrew enjoyed the museum. Although a hands on kid, he also very much enjoys his visual sense. Most of the exhibits were a combination of fabulous 'real life' depictions, large visual pictures with information and a running video (closed captioned.) They could do some amazing things with the museum however if they added a hands on component. I could see pounding nails or measuring in Noah's ark, planting or identifying flowers in the Garden of Eden, a telescope and a myriad of other science experiments.

Below is Andrew in front of The Garden of Eden and then on an archeological dig. I apparently missed the signs though most of the museum that said, "Thou Shalt Not Touch." Andrew was touching everything!!! It was actually very well done and quite realistic looking. If we'd been told to stop touching everything it would have been a VERY long day. Thankfully, there were very few people there and no one stopped us.

Each room had running videos and large visual displays explaining the topic. Andrew actually found them quite interesting. He didn't read every word, but they were appealing to the eye and informative. They were written at a level that most could understand. I am not sure of Andrew's reading level but I would say any upper level elementary student would have a fair time reading and understanding, depending on what they had read about Creation in the past.

Here is just a sampling of what we were not allowed to touch. (Smile)

There was a large 'cultural' component to part the museum. There were some exhibits that I did not like the 'tone' of as we'd rather fill Andrew with good than discuss the opposing view. I think these were better suited for a high school (or late middle school) crowd. There is a 'bypass' doorway for littler ones but not sure where that started and began.

After my rant about the dinosaur movie that was shown to a captive audience at the Detroit Zoo while waiting for the train I must tell you that that there is a section where they talk about dinosaurs eating each other as well as a 3-D model. However; I was able to push Andrew past quickly and it wasn't a captive audience. I just say this as a warning because I would appreciate it. The above dino pic was taken at a different place. I could have done without that part and would have appreciated a warning.

The favorite part for Andrew was a gigantic screen with a mini-program on Creation (which was closed captioned.) He also enjoyed the planetarium. This is his biggest smile.

The museum drew it's basis from the Bible and from other factual information. If you don't believe in Genesis, you will either not enjoy the museum or will enjoy critiquing it! If you want additional resources their bookstore is chock full of purchasing opportunities. I come by my faith by faith. I believe there are facts the support my claim but I have seen too much personally in my life and others to not believe in God as our Creator as well as Jesus as my personal Savior. If you put two people in front of me, one arguing Creation or Intelligent Design and the other Evolution, the data would not matter for me. I am sure some folks think that is like going through life with blinders on. But for me, the peace that passes all understanding stands for more than any data anyone could put in front of me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I can hardly believe that on this vacation I was able to find some 'me' time. Even as I type this, Andrew is watching Veggie Tales (minus the sound with captions) and I have found some precious time to read the Word and reflect....mostly on joy.

I am reading a book called Laugh Again by Charles Swindoll. It is a good book and I have heard his sister Lucy speak in person. They are a happy family that grew up in a ton of joy. That is not to say that I did not have joy but there was an extra dose given to the Swindolls growing up. I have only read three chapters and it spreads out all sorts of verses, especially from the book of Philippians, on how or why to have joy no matter the circumstance. I haven't read to the end so perhaps the book will touch on this, but there is an important component missing so far where most books miss the mark. HOW do you access that joy. Can you just have that 'power of positive thinking?' Is it JUST a choice? For some individuals, I think it is a simple choice, and for others constant contact with the Father is needed in order access the smallest amount of this joy.

Although the book of Philippians is chock full of the word joy...the hows, whens and whys, I came across chapter 7 in 2 Corinthians. In it Paul says, "in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds." It seems that when he says something like this, there are always people involved; people who need saving, people who need comforting or are comforters, people who need an education in the Lord.

Many areas in the Bible talk about the
reciprocal effect of friendship. This too comes from the 7th chapter of Corinthians.

But God comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. v. 6-7

In addition to our own encouragement we we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit had been refreshed by all of you. v 13

There is a chain effect, and it comes back to bless you when you bless others. Even those that don't believe in Jesus, talk about 'pay it forward' but do we REALLY do this? I have a couple of Timothys in my life. One in particular that has recently been much encouragement and a gigantic hands on help. Romans 5:6 states that, "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." I think that our Timothys come along, 'at just the right time' as well.

When you have a special needs kiddo you often think you can't be a Timothy to anyone else. And that is partially true. Especially if that need is emotional/behavioral the toll can be enormous. Even then, you can pray with a joyful heart. Or even a not-so joyful heart. The key is conversing with the Lord..and as you do so, he will let you know who to bless. He will also bring to mind the blessings you have already received and give ideas for the future.

This song, Give me your eyes by Brandon Heath, is a prime example of how I want to think every day. I have embedded the video with captions and you can link to the original video below.

For original video click (no captions) HERE.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

OOPS..I forgot

I forgot several other wonderful things we are doing!

First we are starting horseback riding therapy! We have done this in the past but are really looking forward to doing it again. It will be an hour drive each way, but I believe it will be worth it.

I will have Andrew start typing instruction again. We have tried it before but it was outside his ZPD. He is IMing everyone; friend Tammy, Aunt Leslie and even Grandma! I want to cement good habits. He is already in some bad ones. But he sees mommy type and she can keep up with the best of them. I think we will have a contest. We use 'Type to Learn." I have heard wonderful things about Mavis Beacon as well but TOL works well for us and is 'game-ish."

Must not forget E-hub. You can see the offerings by clicking on the blog here. (On that note, I am improving the e-hub blog so if you have suggestions, please let me know.) We are taking Video Game Design, Science and Praise & Worship. Can't wait! I truly want to start up our 'play/learn' group again and perhaps even start a new 'mini-co-op' I have several ideas on that one

I can't possibly do all the field trips. Andrew still does not do great in large groups. We have an audiology appointment and may try and purchase an FM for classes and field trips but those things don't come cheap so I want to try it out first. I do want to do the nature scavenger hunt, apple picking and a few others that are on the docket.

I also have several personal goals for fall. I want to start the Captivating Bible study, read through an ADHD activity book and continue purging junk and organizing the house. I also want to reset the button on my 101 things in 1001 days. For many reasons it didn't fly last year. Thankfully I am not 'tied' to that sort of thing so I will just re-start it!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fall 2009 'Plan"

As an initial note, I am not going to put links in for the books. You can find most of them, especially the living books, on my librarything linked at the side of the blog. If you have a specific question about a book, speak up!


I have four goals for the fall / early winter:
  • Cement addition facts including regrouping
  • Cement subtraction facts not including regrouping
  • Complete 1 - 3 practical math units
  • Increase CONFIDENCE in math ability and attention span spent on math. (15 minute max.)
Resources for math include:
  • Primary Math: for practical math
  • Minquon Math for fact work
  • Living math books to show application

Reading / Bible/History / Social Studies / Geography / Handwriting / the habit of attention

Andrew loves hearing about missionaries. I am going to start the year out reading from Hero Tales. There are about four short stories for each missionary in the book. Each one should take us about 15 minutes to read. I plan to use oral narration instead of the questions presented and work on the habit of attention during these sessions. This goes along well a CM quote that a friend just presented recently
Volume 6, page 257-258
Give children the sort of knowledge that they are fitted to assimilate, served
in a literary medium, and they will pay great attention. What next? A clever
questionnaire? Questions, as Dr. Johnson told us, are an intrusion and a bore;
but here we have a word of ancient wisdom for our guidance; "The mind can know
nothing except what it can express in the form of an answer to a question put by
the mind to itself." Observe, not a question put by an outsider, but, put by the
mind to itself. We all know the trick of it. If we want to tell the substance of
a conversation, a sermon, a lecture, we 'go over it in our minds' first and the
mind puts its question to itself, the same question over and over again, no more
than,What next? and lo, we have it, the whole thing complete!

I do find 'questions' tiresome. Andrew always has better questions than I could possibly come up with anyway. When you don't ASK but just discuss (the grand conversation), you actually do get a grasp as to what a child really understands. You can also see them make some incredible connections. Of course this does require the time to sit there and discuss. Thankfully I do very much enjoy this part of homeschooling. I will say that I believe this can be done in school as well. Instead of tedious worksheets, a class of any grade can sit and discuss what was read. Large classrooms can be broken up into smaller groups. And this would be less for the teacher to grade!

For Bible I also plan to use Leading Little Ones to God. I am going to use the books of the Bible as spelling words. As various people and places come up I have a very interesting reference book that includes Biblical maps, timelines and charts. I will be using all of these for geography. We have a giant world map in the kitchen!

I will be using Leading Little Ones, Hero Tales and the Bible for copy work. I recently bought StartWrite software and will (ideally) type out Andrew's copy work for the week. This does seem like cheating..for the teacher. Shouldn't I be improving my horrific handwriting as well? We use Smart Start Writing Paper. This is a recent switch and is working well for us.

I am making a very cool summary project for all of the missionaries which will demonstrate Andrew's narration abilities, handwriting and grammar. That blog post will follow.


Science I am going to mix it up for science. Every year I have a plan and it never works. I have oodles of living books and experiments. I think I will start with the Christian Liberty Nature books and see where it leads. I WILL do one experiment per week. That is unless anyone wants to take this part over?? (hint hint.) Andrew did just mention that 'Daddy knows a lot about science."

I do plan to read for fall sciene: Why do Leaves Change color?, From Seed to Pumpkin, and Look What I did with a leaf! The last one will also include a fun art project. All these books are pretty basic but I am hoping they will lead to rabbit trails that include outdoor adventures, weather studies and more.

Basically, science planning is a work in progress.

I really want to do art. I am going to wing it for a few weeks and then get a plan in place. I do have some ideas in my head including the incredible resource I found for free last year in the area of art history. Perhaps I will start up the Art/Music blog again!

Extras: I have a book called What the World Eats which I find very interesting. Two books I picked up some time ago are Maps & Globes by Jack Knowlton and My World by Ira Wolfman. Andrew has read both of these books by himself but I want to read them together. In addition, I plan to read 'from Akebu to Zapotec...A Book of Bibleless Peoples" by June Hathersmith.

Literature reading includes Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo and Teddy's Button.

I also found an interesting Graphic Organizer at a used book store. I want to use it to talk about different perspectives characters have in a book. I think I will use that as my primary backdrop for fall teaching while reading....Character Perspective.

Now all of you that know me and what planning means..and what happens with Andrew and plans...can stop laughing. A girl has gotta start somewhere.

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