Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pass the tissues!

We are all sick pirates here! Austin's the worst, and I thought Reece was doing a bit better, but they called me from preschool after an hour and said they thought she needed to come home. My poor girl! I felt terrible... I usually err on the side of keeping my kids home if they are the least bit sick, but Reece told me she felt fine this morning. Apparently she told her teachers that her throat and tummy hurt.

I kept Riley home from ballet, and when I called to tell them, I found out the other girl in her class was also out sick today!

I guess there is something going around. In the meantime, pass the tissues please! AAAAACCCHOOOO!

Monday, January 29, 2007

"Something the Hun"

I was reading today's history chapter to the kids over lunch, and there came a part where the Huns attacked the Romans. Riley said, "Wait a minute... I've heard that before. Huns. Huns. Something the Hun. Where have I heard that?" Austin replied, "Night at the Museum... Astila the Hun, I think."

So the next sentence in the chapter introduced Atilla the Hun, and the kids both nodded at each other and said, "Ah, yes, Atilla the Hun!"

I love it when connections are made!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Riley tells it like it is! :)

She had a tooth hanging by a thread, so daddy took it out tonight! She decided she needed to let the tooth fairy know that there was a little extra effort that was expended for this tooth! LOL
And look at the nice use of the comma!! :)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Our crazy week... a long post!

What a crazy week we've had! The van has a new (well, rebuilt) tranmission, and we will be picking it up tonight when dh gets off work! I am very happy to get my van back! I drove the truck 2 days this week, and as much as I love the satellite radio and the nice easy ride that the truck offers, I just want my van back! It's comfy and fits me like an old glove. An old glove with a very expensive set of replacement fingers. ;)

The 2 days we had to take daddy to work were rough. We had to be pulling out of the driveway at 5:45. I would get up and throw on some clothes and pull my hair back into a ponytail, and then we would carry the girls to the truck. As soon as the cold air hit them, they were up. Austin was waking up around 5:15 on his own, full of excitement! We would make it back home around 7:15, and then I'd exersize and shower, and we'd take Reece to preschool. Then each of the girls had their ballet classes, and we'd head out to get daddy from work! All of it was way too much time in the car for my tastes!

The week was sort of wacky. Monday I woke up feeling terrible so we skipped school and just played games. Playing games without having a meltdown is one of my goals for Austin. I set up monopoly for us to play alone (it seems to go easier if he's not having to compete against Riley) and we played a good long time. However, in the end I won, and that did not go over well. Then Riley and Reece were jealous so we played Life (Reece lasted about 10 minutes into it before she got bored and left).

Tuesday we took Reece to preschool and I took the big kids to IHOP for All You Can Eat pancakes. We were supposed to have done that last Thursday, before the van broke down. We walked Reece into preschool to alert the teachers that she had been up since 5:45, and I spoke with her facilitator Miss Amie about next year. Amie asked me if we were going to homeschool Reece next year and I said yes. We discussed a bit how well Reece has done this year and how much she has changed and progressed. I really am grateful for how well the teachers have handled her this year and how much they have loved on her and encouraged her. Amie mentioned that they have discussed where they would put Reece if we changed our minds, and they all agreed that there really is no place for her next year. Her main problems continue to be with pace and transitions. She is sharing toys now, interacting with the other children to a greater extent, allowing people to touch her without freaking out. But she just cannot handle more than one transition in a morning. The days they have music are so hard for her because it's 3 transitions (from outside to inside to music class). She does so much better in chapel, but that's one transitions. She is in a 3s class this year for that slow pace, but she is rather bored now with the toys and activities. I think that has been a good thing though, as it's forced her to focus on the other children for her enjoyment. So she can't handle the pace of a 4s class or the Transitional Kindergarten they offer (that's for young or immature 5 years olds, so they go there for the year and then onto public school K when they are 6). And Amie said she would be bored academically in even the TK class. So really, there is just no appropriate place at the preschool for her next year. It does help me to feel not as guilty or sad or whatever about her not going to preschool next year.

Wednesday we stayed home and did a full day of learning. We didn't go to AWANA because we had no way to get there. Dh is working part-time on Wednesday at our church as the music and worship assistant, in addition to his Sunday morning duties during the contemporary service. This started at the beginning of the year! He is so very excited, as this is what he's been wanting to do for a long time now!

Thursday we took daddy to work again and took Reece to preschool. After preschool, she had her ballet class. They got to try on their costumes and she was just SO excited about that! There was a new little girl in their class who started yesterday, and she just turned 3 on Sunday. Reece asked who she was (which was great because it indicated she recognized that this girl had not always been there), and then asked how old she is (because the little girl is tiny!), and then the girl smiled at her. Reece said "I want to stand with her. She's nice. She smiled at me!" (she noticed a facial expression and interpreted it correctly and acted on it.). I nearly fell over! And then having this little just-turned-3-year-old next to my nearly-5-year-old was very upsetting! LOL Reece all of a sudden looked so grown up and mature and big. She's my baby! She can't be big?! It doesn't seem possible that she's going to be 5 soon... she's only been talking really well for 18 months or so, and she's not even been potty trained a year! LOL

Today we are home and did a regular day of school, since Tuesday was more like "Fun Tuesday". I had prepared the kids for this fact, but it still took Austin by surprise. He was agitated and declared everything to be too hard. I mentioned in a very declarative fashion that sometimes things seem harder than they are when we are upset and flustered. Sometimes if we calm down and relax we find that things aren't as hard as they first seem. (Gracious that's a little convicting personally! LOL). He did calm down somewhat and got to work. He kept checking to see how much Riley had left to do. The competition between them seems to be flaring up again. Not sure how I should handle that. I really don't want to have to separate them in all subjects, but I don't know if it's worthwhile to keep them together with these sort of competitions going on.

Now, today while I was reading our current read-aloud from Sonlight (Detectives in Togas), Reece drew a picture on the dry-erase part of our easel. I turned around to see she had drawn this:

This is a picture of her dancing. I asked her, "Who are you dancing with?" Referring to the other image in the picture that isn't colored in. (Ugh, just realized that was not very declarative... very un RDI-like of me! It's so hard!). She said, "That's not another person, that is myself in the mirror! And I have a bun in my hair, see?" And sure enough, look at it?! It is her and her reflection!! I was just amazed!! What a little artist she is! I could never draw something like that! What a sense of perspective!

So that was our crazy week! Not sure what else I'm forgetting to say... I'm sure there is something that I left out! Oh well!! It's long enough so I'm sending it! :)

Coming Soon...

A new post! I promise! This afternoon!! :)

What a busy week we've had!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday 1/19

We're homebound while the van is in the shop so our fun Friday was alot more Friday and alot less fun. We've been hanging around, did some light work this morning, and everyone is just playing now... including me on my new laptop! I suppose we're officially a family of the 21st century, because I IMed my husband from the living room last night to as him a question! :)

Van will be out of service until late next week, so it should be interesting to say the least! I'm not sure we've all been in the house this much in a very long time!

Austin lost another tooth last night, and today woke up in quite the same mood that he was in last Friday after he lost 2 teeth on Thursday. I'm wondering if there is a some sort of coorelation between losing teeth and strange behavior in kids on the spectrum!?!?!

Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The good news and the bad news

Good news:
  1. Today went a little bit better. Austin was still very aggitated, but I handled it better.
  2. My MIL bought me a laptop and it will be here tomorrow.

Bad news:

  1. The transmission on my van gave out tonight during AWANA. I'm so grateful H was able to come get me, Reece, and her daughter who I had brought home for a playdate. And H's husband brought my kids home from AWANA for me, even though they live in completely the opposite direction! It's nice to have friends you can count on... thanks, guys! :)
  2. Did I mention the tranmission went out, and it's expensive, and a time-consuming job, so I'll be without a car for awhile?

I really want a Mr. Pibb right now. WAAAAHHH!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Monday's Musings (and a little bit of ranting to get it out)

Even though today is a National Holiday, dh doesn't have off work, so we don't traditionally take the day off. And since next week, I'm wanting to do a little field trip on Monday, I really feel like we need to be working today.

I had forgotten until last Thursday that Reece had a checkup with her ENT this morning. The office has moved near to where our dentist is, and so we readied ourselves for a 45 minute drive. I brought work with us to do in the car there and back.

Reece's ears checked out great! Her tubes are still in place, though they could fall out anytime. The doctor told us when she got them that they were a certain kind, designed to stay in for 2 years or so. It will be 2 years this coming June. I would really like it if they would come out before pool season hits! I am terrible with getting her ear plugs in correctly! Everything checked out well... no ear infections since December 2005, and no concerns with her speech that are hearing related. We go back in another 6 months for a recheck, and a yearly hearing test.

Austin's having a really hard time right now, and when he has a hard time, it's pretty much hard on the entire family. I'm going to be a bit selfish here for a moment and say it's especially hard on his teacher, namely me. Last week, Monday through Thursday, were fantastic! He was mellow, easy-going, able to handle his mistakes with grace, and was really teachable. He woke up Friday morning the complete opposite and has been that way since. He is rigid, irritable, easily frustrated, impatient, and argumentative. I've racked my brain trying to figure out what could have changed between Thursday and Friday. He lost 2 teeth on Thursday night... does that cause crazy changes of behavior for children on the spectrum? You wouldn't think it would, but I am just at a loss.

When these times come with him, it's like I might as well forget making any sort of academic progress with him. If he gets one thing wrong, he loses it. He can't see the 11 things he got correct, only the one thing wrong. I've been making a huge effort lately to point out my mistakes (like today when I took a different way home from the ENT and ended up in a completely different direction than I had planned! LOL). I want him to see that mistakes are completely to be expected in life, every day!

And changes. Ugh. He had wanted to eat out for lunch but I told him this morning that we were going to eat at home. Well, thanks to my wrong turn, the 45 minute drive home turned into 90 minutes and we were all quite hungry. So I announced my intentions to defect (oops sorry... that's a movie line!). I announced my intentions to get lunch! ;) Austin immediately piped up with, "No, you said we couldn't get lunch out. And when you say we can't get lunch out you mean
it so we can't get lunch out." ::insert a primal scream here::

What happened to the kid who was here this time last week? How do I get him back? Is there a switch to throw? A button to push? What is the cause of such a dramatic change overnight? Can I run away until he comes back? LOL Or maybe I can send this one to school, and when the other one comes back, he can come back home? ;)

My mom said this morning, hearing the aforementioned lunch freak-out, "This too shall pass." But you know what? It doesn't. It just keeps coming back again and again and again. And if it's not him, then it's Reece. I'm not asking for perfection or even complete obedience. But this irrational behavior is just wearing me out. There is no arguing with it. There is no talking through it. There is no disciplining it out of them. There is Just Hold On and Hope You Survive It.

I. Am. Empty.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Fun Saturday 1/13

Our FUN for today was going as a family down to Titanic: An Artifact Exhibition. I have been crazy about all things Titanic since I was a little girl, but I've never been able to see any sort of display or anything in real life about the Titanic! We were all able to go as a family because they offer a homeschool discount so the tickets were $10 per person (as opposed to $26 and $18).

I will take this chance to tell you the funny story about how we chose to get down to the Atlanta Civic Center. I told dh this morning that traffic was likely to be bad, and parking expensive, so it might be best to take Marta and walk the 4 blocks to the Civic Center. 2 things about my dh you should know: he doesn't like Marta, and he doesn't like to walk! But, he loves me, so he agreed. We drive to the nearest Marta station (which is more than halfway there lol), pay $14 for 4 round-trip tickets since Reece is free, and we ride the train and walk to the Civic Center --- where we find parking for $5 and the lot next to the Civic Center is empty. Ooops! :) Oh well, it's an adventure! Now on to the pictures!

Here is dh showing the kids his office, which backs up to the Marta rails:

Here is my beautiful family on the Marta adventure:

Here we are getting our 'boarding passes' for the exhibition. They tell a bit about a real person, and at the end you see on the wall if your person lived or died. I will try to scan one in later. The kids and I all 'lived', but sorry to say that dh died! We'll miss him terribly! lol

They didn't allow you to take pictures inside the exhibition. I was so disappointed. It was incredible! They had the warning bell, a first class room, a third class room, a clarinet, rows of dishes that had landed intact on the floor of the ocean, a piece of the hull of the ship, an 'iceburg' set up so you could feel how cold it was, perfume samples that survived the sinking and still smell, champagne bottles with champagne still in them. I could go on and on! It was really incredible! I had to be satisfied, however, with taking a picture of the pictures in the lobby.

Here are the kids near the sign. Riley is holding her new doll she got for Christmas, Evangeline. The doll is wearing the "Nan Harper" dress that is about a girl (forgot to check and see if she was real or not) from the Titanic! It came with a book to read about Nan!
Closer up of the kids near the sign:

Everyone chose something from the gift shop. Here is Reece with her model of the Titanic:

Riley and I each chose a necklace that is filled with authentic coal from the wreck site! Riley's is shaped as a dolphin and mine is shaped as an anchor:

Here is a closeup so you can see the coal:

Austin and Daddy chose not to get their pictures taken. Austin chose a piece of coal, too, but his is bigger and isn't on a necklace. Daddy chose a travel coffee mug that says Titanic White Star Line!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Fun Friday 1/12

I'm going to have to use the term "Fun" loosely here, because I sort of blew it today, but since my goal is to focus more on the positive, let me get to it:

We had an incredibly productive week! You may have suspected as much because I didn't get around to blogging at all this week! ;) But we did accomplish everything that I had planned out for this week! The kids worked really hard, and I think they learned quite a bit.

Austin has mastered 2-digit by 2 digit multiplication, so we'll move on to 3 digit by 2 digit and see how he takes to that! I allowed him to check his own work with the calculator, and he truly enjoyed that! Today for his math game we played Snap It Up and he actually asked if we could change the rules up! I was shocked! :)

Riley continued learning cursive and she is loving it! She is inserting the cursive she knows into her other writing whenever she can! She and I played backgammon for the first time and had a great time! It's been 20 years since I played that game, at least! I forgot how much fun it is! She beat me! ;)

Reece has been playing alot this week with magnetic letters and making 3 letter words. She spent most of her time at home playing with shaving cream on a cookie sheet or building with the wooden blocks! At preschool, her facilitator told me on Tuesday that she played with C on the playground (C is a boy!) and that they sat together at circle time! It's so exciting, and it's very nice when he facilitator is excited to tell me about it! I can't believe there are only 4 months of preschool left!

Our big "Fun" time will come tomorrow... will post about it when we get home! And I should have alot of pictures! :)

Friday, January 05, 2007

My girls!

Sometimes these girls just do such sweet things that I don't even know how to describe it adequately! Today was one of those times! Reece came in to show me her "badges". Apparently, they were playing together, and Riley would make her a badge for everything she passed. They called it the "Girl's Fun Club" or something like that!

Here is a closeup of the badges. From left to right: The dress-up badge, the ballet badge, the art badge, the singing badge, and the jumping badge. Riley drew each of these badges, and taped them to Reece's shirt! They did this for about 90 minutes this afternoon! Reece was so proud of her badges, and Riley was so proud of how she made Reece happy!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Tonight's meeting

I may have to come back tomorrow when I'm more coherent and update this, but I'll go ahead and talk about the support group meeting tonight! Austin and Reece had their classes for kids with HFA/AS, and Riley had her sibling group. DH went with me for the first time, and the topic of the meeting was how to get the most of the IEP process.

First of all, any of you who have to deal with this IEP process, I cannot imagine how you get through it! I kept whispering to my husband that I was so glad we didn't have to deal with it! What a beaurocracy!

Riley did great in her class... lots of girls so she was very happy! She hasn't given many details about what they talked about, only that they talked about autism.

Austin did great as well! He was very nervous before we left, but we kept reassuring him. When I went to pick him up, the teachers went on and on about how polite and well-mannered he is! He told everyone he would see them next month, so I guess that's a thumbs up! He commented about 3 children: one who was nice and quiet like him, one who was wild, and one who said bad words! LOL

Reece didn't do as well, but I was sort of prepared for it. She started back to preschool and ballet today, and this meeting started at 7 and she is usually in bed at 7:30. She went right in with no troubles. When it was time to pick her up, though, the director of the program stopped us and said that Reece had had some trouble when it was time to put the shaving cream away, and they didn't know if she was overstimulated or what, but the director took her for a walk around and she was fine. When we picked her up, she was out in the breezeway with a teacher just hanging out. DH went to get her, and I got Austin. By the time I got back out, Reece was crying, and dh said she wanted me. I picked her up and she said, "Why did you leave me for such a long time?" Later on the way home she said that she had had to sit in the "crying chair". You know, honestly, I wasn't expecting to deal with this sort of thing considering this is a class for HFA/AS kids. A crying chair? This was her first time there! Maybe see if you can comfort her before you plop her into timeout? Did they give advance warning about the shaving cream being put away? And she said she missed the snack while she was out walking with that lady. Argh. Oh well, I guess that just proves to me that it wouldn't necessarily be so much better for her if she were at school. Sometimes I think she needs to go school to the autism class because they are specially trained... but these specially trained folks put her in the crying chair tonight. ::sigh::

I am totally wiped out from this busy day! We did get our work mostly done today, which is surprising because it was such a busy one! Tomorrow is Fun Friday, but I don't know yet what we will do... except sleep in, because we're definitely doing that! :)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Back to School!

We started back to school today, and it went very much as expected! Well, in one way it didn't go as expected, so I'll start with that story!

We are planning to go see the Titanic Exhibition in downtown Atlanta next Saturday (Daddy is going to go with us!), so I figured this would be a good time for a Titanic refresher course! I had chosen two Magic Tree House books for assigned reading, knowing that they would be "easy reads." This would be a nice, easy way to slide back into the school routine! After our picture study time, I handed the kids their new books (the MTH book itself for Riley and the MTH Research Guide for Austin) and they decided to start reading immediately. I walked away to get Reece set up with playdoh, and to put some laundry in, start a roast in the crock pot, put the dishes away, etc. They each ended up completely finishing those books in one short sitting! I didn't keep track of the exact time, but it couldn't have been more than 30 minutes! I remember when it would take Austin 2 weeks to read a MTH book! :)

Math went like I expected it would for Austin. I planned for this by taking him back to 2-digit by 2-digit multiplication. He had 'forgotten' how to do it, but it came back quite quickly. We will continue with 2x2 digits until he has a sense of competence about it, and then I'll add 3x2 digits! There is just no sense in moving on until he feels comfortable with it. Once he starts to get his confidence up, I will start slowly moving into division. I had also assigned a page from Singapore Math's Challenging Word Problems, so he can practice on math application while we concentrate on this skill. Grammar went fairly smoothly with Easy Grammar 3/4, and I did start adding in the capitalization chapters. He did a page of review in his cursive workbook, only because I haven't added back spelling yet for him to practice his cursive.

Riley's day went more smoothly than I expected! She started her cursive workbook, without the workbook since they were out of stock at the homeschool bookstore yesterday. She did a couple of pages of math review, which were easy for her. She learned some more about adverbs with First Language Lessons (we'll be finishing this up in a couple of months I believe!).

Together, we did Picture Study (Come Look with Me, Exploring Landscape Art), Music (Began listening to portions of Swan Lake), and Latin (reviewing the lesson we did prior to Christmas). We also did a chapter in History, and they each narrated while I typed. Austin begged for this rather than doing a worksheet that accompanies the book (Hillyer's Child's History of the World from Calvert School). I was actually surprised he would prefer to narrate, because this was such a struggle for so many years for him. I literally cannot believe how much more he 'gets' history now than he did a few years ago. I can ask questions and he knows the answers! Riley just sits and looks at me like she's totally lost. But in her case, I have the experience of knowing it's probably just age. We discuss the chapter a bit, and I guide her through her narration process. Austin's narration was actually quite interesting today! ;) Maybe I'll post it later!

Reece played with Playdoh and the Moon Sand. It's been awhile since the playdoh was out, so it kept her busy for a long time! She goes back to preschool tomorrow! She keeps telling me she doesn't want to go back, but I suspect she will change her mind when she gets there. She does say the same thing about ballet though! But I'm just not convinced that keeping her home from all of her structured social time is good for her at this stage.

Rest time is about over, so I will go! Mom2007 is still struggling, but it's better to get it over with now than to try to go more slowly. I have tried that for the last few months, only to slip back into bad habits when I have a bad or hard day (which is more often than not). That's why I just have to make the things that are causing me the most trouble (namely the no soda or candy) a 'no option' thing. It's hard at first, but it will get better. :)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

:::::heeeeellllllpppp meeeee:::::::

Hello! This is Mom2006, and there has been a terrible mistake! This upgrade was a ridiculous idea!

I'm starving!

Is it time for the kids to go to bed yet??

My head is killing me!

I want some chocolate and a Mr. Pibb!!!

Somebody save me..........

Monday, January 01, 2007

Upgrade for the New Year

Last night a very important upgrade took place in our household. Mom2006 became Mom2007! This is a very important upgrade that should benefit everyone at the Black Pearl Academy. Here are the new features and benefits of Mom2007:

  1. Mom2007 only eats healthy food, and only when she is physically hungry. This was a flaw that actually started with Mom2005, and wasn't corrected in Mom2006. Mom2007 also exersizes daily, whether or not the "Gym" option is implemented. Mom2007 doesn't drink Pibb every day, and doesn't keep a stash of candy hidden behind the measuring cups. Mom2007 has an "early to bed, early to rise" function that will help with the overall maintenance of Mom2007.
  2. Mom2007 spends daily time reading the Bible and praying. Mom2006 was often angry at God and felt like He was trying to punish her. Mom2006 rarely prayed because she felt it didn't really matter anymore.
  3. Mom2007 is a much more patient model, especially when the Son model seems to have forgotten everything he ever learned, when the Daughter1 model implements the "argue" function, or when the Daughter2 model loses the "speech" function. The previous "run and hide from the kids" flaw has also been fixed.
  4. Mom2007 is a much more efficient model. She has been enabled with a built-in Flylady system, and is adept at meal planning. She is also able to get all of the planned homeschool programs completed (this will be aided by the removal of the "run and hide from the kids" flaw).
  5. Mom2007 is a much more positive and optimistic model. Mom2006 tended to dwell on things that were not under her control, and also had an overactive "worry" mode. This has been fixed with the Mom2007 upgrade! Mom2007 will acknowledge the struggles she faces, but will not dwell on the impossibility of the future.

This upgrade took place last night, and has been moderately active today. There are a few 'bugs' that have to be worked out, as is typical for any brand new upgrade! But I have faith that Mom2007 will be much more enjoyable for all to be around! :)