Sunday, September 30, 2007
I'll update tomorrow! :)
Maybe one of these days I'll be able to write eloquently about my family and autism. There are so many questions that I'm still trying to reconcile:
Am I supposed to be mad at autism and ready to fight it like crazy, or am I supposed to accept the autism that is a part of my children and love them for who they are?
Will I ever stop worrying that I'm not doing enough?
Will I ever stop hearing about another therapy, come home and spend the next 6 hours googling, and then feel like I'm a terrible mom for not doing 'everything I can' to help my children?
Are we better off having a diagnosis for these children?
Was it better when we just thought we were terrible parents, because we haven't stopped thinking we're terrible parents, now we're just terrible parents with baggage.
Will September 30th ever feel the same again?
Reece stood at the window today when I left to take Riley to choir. She hollered out, "Good-bye, Mama! I love you!" She definitely has come a very long way. I pray that she continues to make progress like that. I just want her to be happy!
Saturday, September 29, 2007
But we're going to start anyway, with what we have, and with as much as I can figure out before Monday. It will be a work in progress. It will be messy. It will possibly be a little chaotic. Dare I say it: it will be dynamic.
It's going to be a change for all of us. A big change. It's going to be different. It's not going to be traditional. There won't be any workbook pages and worksheets to file neatly into the folders to 'prove' that I homeschooled (except for math lol). Narration is going to be a challenge. I'm not saying it will be easy for any of us! :)
But this is a real-life example of what I'm trying to accomplish through RDI. Austin is a perfectionist, and I see Reece heading there quite quickly. Whether it is an offshoot of their autism, or whether it is an example of "Like Mother, Like Son/Daughter", or whether it is a little of both, I do not know. But this coming week I am going to model to my children that you can try something you are nervous about, that isn't perfectly ready to do, and it will work out OK and you can fix anything that doesn't go right the first time. That's about as good of an example of RDI Lifestyle that I can think of for myself personally! :)
Hmmm, maybe I need to print this out and carry it with me all week? LOL
Friday, September 28, 2007
It feels good to have made the decision! I have a few of the books on hand, a few are at the library, and the rest are available online for free.
Unfortunately, her tubes are still firmly in her ears. I was so hoping they would have fallen out on their own. Argh. She will have to have surgery to have them removed, and that will take place on October 12th. I am so sad that it has to happen, but there is really no choice. Your prayers for peace of mind for her (and me) and an easy surgery and recovery are appreciated!
We won the ball game last night in exciting fashion! Austin had one hit (a triple) and one strikeout. He didn't pitch. We won the game in the bottom of the 4th inning. Their pitcher had given up a walk to our 10th place batter, and the top of the lineup came back up. Our #1 hitter had a great hit which scored a run to tie the game and left him on 3rd base. They intentionally walked the #2 and #3 batters (Austin is #3) which had the bases loaded. Russ tells me they did this to cause a force-out on every base. All of a sudden, my husband (the coach) sends the runner from 3rd to steal home --- and he DOES! That's how we won the game! :) It was incredibly exciting!
We have nothing planned for today and I am glad. :) We're all being lazy and I'll do some house cleaning in a little while! Back to school on Monday!
Austin and Riley pose more of a challenge. I am currently looking at Year 3 and Year 3.5 (a transition year for kids not ready for the advanced pace of Year 4). I am also trying to consider whether or not to keep them on the same year. I have joined the yahoogroup for AO, as well as a yahoogroup for using AO with children with learning challenges. I also have a number of friends online and IRL who use a CM philosophy, and AO in particular. They are being very gracious with their time and advice in helping me choose.
One of the neatest things about AO is that many of the resources are available online for free in the public domain. So I will be able to try a week by printing out the resources before I confirm that I want to use that year and purchase the materials from Yesterday's Classics.
There are still a few concerns I have about following a strictly CM perspective... but overall, I think that this will be a good way to go for us. The pacing will be better than Sonlight, and the choices will be fewer than with WTM. It will also mesh with our RDI goals in an easier way!
I'll be sure to post when I have made the final decision about which year we will use!
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Sorry about the fuzzy quality... it was so dark!
He not only plays guitar and keyboard, shown below.... he also plays Mandolin! :) Oh, and this is the shirt that Riley sewed the button onto!
Some buddies from the ball team came to see their coach play some music! They were so excited, and they had a great time! Austin really impressed me with his ability to stay focused with the boys and being a part of the group.
Monday, September 24, 2007
There is one important problem with me and handicrafts: I do not KNOW any handicrafts. Last winter I taught Riley how to cross-stitch and latch hook. Thus ends my handicrafts experience.
But we had a few practical things to attack today - Daddy's favorite shirt was missing a button, and Reece's bean bag chair had a hole in it. I got the sewing box off the top of my closet, dusted it off, dug deep and found a needle and thread. I showed Riley how to fix the button, and Reece and I tackled the hole in the bean bag chair! When we were finished, Riley asked if she could take a scrap of fabric from the box and sew buttons on it. I said sure and she sewed a few on by herself.
Austin's activity was not so much practical. I bought a little Lego Car kit and we built a racecar together. We actually did it! I gave alot of the guidance, but that's OK for this time! I want to buy more of these kits, and hopefully he will one day be able to do them by himself! Oh could I dream that he would actually like Legos one day??? :)
So, we actually did it! I even went into a fit of Martha Stewart and fixed the zipper in Austin's extra baseball pants! ;)
No idea what we'll do tomorrow though! LOL I'm a slow learner!
Sunday, September 23, 2007
I want to be able to knit warm fuzzy socks!!!! I want to do it NOW! I want to knit warm fuzzy socks for me, my girls, my son, my mom, my MIL, my SIL, my friends! I want to know how to do it now! I want someone to come SHOW me, physically (not on a website!) teach me how to knit warm fuzzy socks!!!
In the words of the most wonderful headmaster of Hogwarts: "One can never have enough socks." (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)
He is SO right!
And I want to learn how to knit them. :)
Thursday, September 20, 2007
This is our 8th season playing in this church league, so we really know alot of people. And tonight we faced arguably one of the best pitchers in the majors. He was on our team a few seasons back, but he is a year older so he moved up before us. He's in his 2nd year of Majors. He creamed us! Austin got up to bat twice --- was hit by a pitch the first time (in the helmet again... can people PLEASE stop aiming at my kid's head??), and the 2nd time he struck out.
As for the pitching, it was a struggle. He pitched 3 innings and gave up 3 runs. It's not too terribly bad, but walks and errors from other members of the team added up to an additional 4 runs. He struck out the last batter he faced, with bases loaded and 2 outs, so at least he ended his game on a positive note. We lost 3-7, but he felt positive about his contribution to the team, and that's all that matters to me in the end.
I'm glad this first game is behind us now! We play this season until the end of October! I think I'll be ready for my winter break from ball by the time that last game is played! :)
Here's the scoop: our RDI consultant sent me some contact information over the summer for a research study in how children with disabilities play. They were looking for children ages 5-8, with disabilities and without. I signed both girls up. I spoke to the director of the study and they would like Reece to participate next week. They don't need Riley yet, but I told her I have to bring all of the kids anyway so they might go ahead and tape Riley for future reference. And they also want Reece to participate in a study on play and drawing! She loves to draw, so that should be fun for her.
Of course, had I known this was coming, I wouldn't have started the Stranger Safety stuff that we did this week! When I told her what she was going to do next week she said, "But mom, that will be a stranger and I should not go with a stranger!" I told her it was OK, because she would be with her "Safe Side Adult"! (This DVD from the library is really fantastic... I highly recommend it. John Walsh helped to produce it. It's called Stranger Safety).
I'll post more after she's done in the study! What could be more fun that getting a chance to play in the name of research!?
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Anyway, I've said this often since I've begun to homeschool: I never took teaching as seriously as I do homeschooling. Teaching was fun, and the kids were mostly fun and some challenging and others absolutely adorable. But at the end of the year, they moved on and so did I. I know I did not obsess over it like I do homeschooling my own children? Why is that? And it was like this before the 2 were diagnosed on the spectrum, now it just seems to have stepped up a notch. Every decision seems to have these life and death ramifications, or so it seems.
And in the midst of all of this worry, I've stopped enjoying the very people that I'm so worried about. I'm so worried about messing up school or therapy or whatever, that I'm making myself and probably them (and all of you who call me friend and are concerned about me) miserable. That makes no sense! If the young and fresh in college me, who fell in LOVE with a picture book and made an entire curriculum based on that one little book with no words, could see the me now she would be shocked and dismayed.
Wow, lately I'm the poster child for stream of consciousness posting ---back to the inspirational reading. I'm going to revisit some of my old favorites, one from the college days (if I can find it...it's out of print! I borrowed it from a friend several years ago) and a few from when I was investigating homeschooling. The one I'm starting with is For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macauley.
I'm not going to pretend this is going to just POOF make everything all better right away, but maybe it is a step in the right direction.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Today we did math and reading with the big kids. I'm not comfortable letting those things go for the rest of the month. We're also doing a read-aloud from the Percy Jackson and the Olympian series. I am really enjoying these books, and they are sort of a cool preview for next year's trip through Ancient History and mythology! We're reading the 2nd book in the series, and the kids said today that it is getting very interesting!
I just watched to see what Austin would do with no TV or school work. For one thing, he was up before everyone searching his school desk for his assignment sheet. I told him there wasn't one, but handed him his math paper and said he could get working on that if he wanted to. He did, and he completed it. His new book to read is Shiloh, and I was afraid that the dialect would get in the way of his comprehension, so I got the book on CD from the library for him to listen and follow along in his copy. He understood about half of the chapter. The things that were inferred like the location of the town and the name of the narrator he totally missed.
Riley started her new book The Bears on Hemlock Mountain and finished it today. It's a short ready-for-chapters book so I knew she would finish it early. She was insulted by it's length, or lack thereof! However, she said, "Well, it IS an award winner, so I will at least give it a shot... but I prefer books like Harry Potter that have action and adventure!" She had a short, easy math lesson that took her 90 minutes, not because it was too hard or too much, but because she is the world's laziest child. OK, maybe not the world's laziest... there is a chance I am over-reacting. She is such a smart child! Why on earth must it be such a struggle?
That's what's so frustrating... my 'slow learner' is such a diligent worker and a relatively fast worker considering his underlying struggles. And my "bright learner" is so darn lazy and such a slowpoke.
Oops, I got distracted --- what did Austin do with his free time? He was jumping around the house while Riley was trying to concentrate so I suggested he take advantage of the cool morning weather we are having. He stayed outside about 30 minutes. Then he came back in and lay on the floor in the living room. I was busy with Reece at that time, so I couldn't really keep him engaged. That's another thing that is so frustrating: I cannot be 3 different people. I feel like there needs to be 3 of me to keep everyone getting exactly what they need.
Reece and I did a lesson from her Calvert K curriculum... a fun poem that she acted out while I read it several times. She then drew a picture of herself acting out her own part of the poem that she made up, and I wrote it across the top of the paper. She seemed to enjoy it good enough. Her free time was spent cutting paper and making the pieces she cut into houses. She glued them together and drew doors and windows. Riley had no free time because she took so long to do her math. :(
This afternoon will be a crazy busy one. Tuesdays usually are, but this one is especially nuts. Tomorrow will be a fun day because it's Talk Like a Pirate Day. We take it a step further and call it Pirate Day and devote ourselves to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. This year we're going to watch the first 2 on DVD at home, and catch the last one at the dollar theater! Fun!! :)
There's a bunch more on my mind, but I'm just going to stop there for now. I don't want to sink back into the doldrums that I was in before our vacation, and my current line of thinking takes me straight down that path. I've got to move on! :)
Monday, September 17, 2007
I'm not sure if I should just write today's attempt off as having a hard time coming home from vacation, or if I should send it as yet another example that we are not set into a Master/Apprentice relationship STILL. ::sigh:: I emailed our RDI consultant to ask her if she wants to see it or if I should just try again another day.
I do have to chuckle about one part.... this was near the end of the tantrum where she was sitting on a pillow that I set out for her as her 'spot' and she was begrugingly choosing frogs (not in rainbow order) to string. She had the 3 remaining frogs 'talking' to each other about how mean this grown up is. I had to look away so I didn't laugh! ::shaking head::
What fun we're having! ;)
About 5 minutes later, Riley comes running to my doorway. She exclaimed, "When are D, B, and K coming???" I said, "Huh??" and she repeated, "Are D, B, and K coming today??" I was perplexed!
By this time, Reece was standing next to Riley giggling. She looked at me and said, "I just told her that to get her to wake up!" Riley stomped back off to bed, leaving me and Reece laughing our heads off!!
Now, don't think I'm a mean, terrible mom! Riley has been known to work some magical manipulations on Reece to get things in her favor (like which movie they want to watch for movie day or what to play or what dress up clothes to wear), so it was nice to see Reece working a little magic of her own! :)
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
Riley and Reece waiting for everyone to be ready to go to the beach, getting a little time in with a good book! :)
Riley took a little time away from the sun and the books to play her Gameboy:
Daddy instructing Austin in the finer points of pool:
Riley built a hopscotch on the beach and played until the waves came and got the board! :)
We had our dinner out last night! We got all dressed up and went for pizza at the local pizza place! Don't the kids look beautiful?
Austin took a picture of Daddy and me! Notice how nicely Daddy has tanned up? :)
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Austin was digging in the ocean and came across this intact clam shell! Totally cool!
Reece stood like this to watch the surf come in and out... it made me dizzy just watching her! LOL!
Austin caught 2 catfish in the surf! It was very exciting! He and Daddy are going back out this morning to try to fish some more!
Reece and I built this lovely creation. It is a castle with a moat, and a river that leads to a mountain and finally to the beach. There was a bridge that stood between 2 statues, but we took the bridge with us when we went in for the evening and I didn't think to take the picture until we were getting ready to go to the pool.
Riley did alot of wading and boogie board riding! She looks so grown up in this picture!
Today we're going to the beach and pool again, as the weather allows! Then tonight we're going to eat dinner out at a restaurant on the island! It's hard to believe that our time here is almost up!
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Instead of staying inside, we got our ponchos on and went for a walk in the light rain. It was cool and peaceful, and we really ennjoyed ourselves.
See what I mean? Have you ever seen a sky so pretty during a storm or immediately after? :)
The weather was better this morning, and we have spent the better part of the morning outside swimming and playing in the beach. We're in for some much-needed rest (on the part of the adults lol) and then we'll try to get back out again if the storms hold off. I'm going to go sit outside and read while the kids are resting!
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Lest anyone think we're only here at the beach for fun and games, rest assured that we are learning all the time! Here is a video segment from this morning's adventures in Nature Study! We went out to the tent where our stuff was stored during the storm this morning to find a crab had taken refuge in our tent:
No harm came to the crab during the filming of this video! ;) He landed on his feet, and ran off sideways to a nice hole in the sand!
Charlotte Mason probably didn't have this scenario in mind when she wrote about nature study, huh?
Oh my goodness, my husband needs a tan desperately!
Monday, September 10, 2007
Yesterday was a lovely windy day so we took the opportunity to "Hoist the Colors" of the Black Pearl Academy:
We had a great day yesterday, but I think we over-did it, because we're all moving pretty slowly this morning! The boys are returning the rented fishing poles, then we're heading for the beach again.
Yesterday the kids caught some fish, dh got a speeding ticket on the island, and I got some time alone to walk along the beach! Reece spent much of the afternoon inside, after having been at the pool and the beach in the morning. I think we overwhelmed her! Ooops! Russ and I were talking that it does seem progress that she is a bit nervous and overwhelmed. Last time we came (2 years ago, and 2 weeks before her diagnosis of autism), she was fine. She never acted like anything was different and she just hung out. This time she has been very vocal about things looking and smelling different and she asks when we're going home. But she doesn't seem miserable, just aware. And I guess that, in our case, awareness is progress.
Austin is doing well... even when he was with daddy getting the speeding ticket. DH said he could tell Austin was extremely upset and worried, and DH told him it was OK to cry if he felt like it. Austin said he didn't want the police officer to see him crying! Austin's a little on edge, but not so much that it is interfering with his fun!
Riley seems to be having a blast! She's been on the go with anyone who will take her anywhere with them! She and daddy went looking for crabs last night in the dark with a lantern! And she and I went to the pool alone for awhile yesterday afternoon.
The boys are back now, so it's time for the beach! I'll try to check in tomorrow morning!
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Yes, we're here... made it safe and sound! Everyone is so excited! We got here early enough to spend some time in the water this evening, and had a great time! I'm sure it will be a lovely week! As you can tell, I figured out how to make the wireless connection work! LOL
A small prayer request... Reece is having a little bit of a hard time adjusting and settling in tonight. She is running up and down the stairs, and wants everything she brought to be in the bed with her. Russ is trying to help her through it now. Please pray she settles in soon.
OK, Austin tells me the stars are beautiful and I need to come look at them! Will check in in a few days!
Friday, September 07, 2007
We're leaving in 11 hours!! Not a moment too soon!
I will be bringing the laptop with me. According to the website, we will have free wifi. Now, will I be able to figure out how to use the free wifi? That is debatable! LOL So hopefully I'll be able to update this blog with pictures daily, but if not, don't worry! I'll upload plenty when we return home!
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Or as my children call them: Old-Fashioned Rice Krispie Treats. Like mommy used to have to make at home with Nana in the olden times --- before they sold them in the store all pre-packaged, loaded with preservatives, and sitting on a shelf for 14 months.
And mommy's are sticky because she tosses in an extra handful of marshmallows! ;)
Dear Complete Stranger,
This letter is to inform you that your comments to me at the library today were ill-timed at best, and completely rude at worst. Yes, I know it is strange to see an 11 year old boy screaming at the top of his lungs at the library, and sobbing hysterically. I am, however, used to this and had it under complete control. I do appreciate your concern and your attempt to assist us.
However, when I whispered to you that this child has autism, and I have it under control thank you... it would have been nice for you to take that as your clue to leave us alone so I could continue to use the techniques that are effective for this child. Instead, you decided to lecture me about autism and give me suggestions on the things that will 'make it all go away'. I'm sure a Calcium-Magnesium supplement from Shaklee products can be very effective for some people with autism spectrum disorders. However, you do not know me from the man in the moon. You don't know what we have tried and what we haven't. I did my best to thank you for your information, all the while still trying to determine what was going on with this nearly 5 foot tall child who is jumping up and down and sobbing. Yet, you continued to give me your .02 about what I should be doing differently. I am trying to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you were trying to be helpful. Years of experience with nosy strangers tells me otherwise.
So, in closing, Complete Stranger --- thanks for just making it worse. Could you not tell this child was trying to hide behind me when you were trying to force the ice into his hand? Maybe you don't understand that cold ice on the hand of an already freaked out child with sensory issues is not the best idea? And when this child is trying to duck and hide from you behind his mother, maybe next time you ought to just go away.
P. S. It's 90 minutes later and he is fine, now that we are home and he has a bandage on the nearly non-existent 'boo boo'. I still don't know what happened to cause the ordeal.
Reece also asked me today why Jesus died on the cross. Big thoughts from such a little girl!
2. Austin had a pretty good day today. We packed up clothes, books, and DVDs for our vacation. He was very anxious about not doing school. When we went to get his haircut this evening, he did the whole thing himself (except paying for it!). He carried on quite a nice conversation with the stylist and she complimented me on the good job I'm doing with my children.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
With much trepidation, I've decided that we will take the month of September off from formal academics. Notice I'm not saying that we'll take the month off from learning, because I suspect much learning will be taking place --- just not the kind that can be neatly filed into their school binders! ;) I am planning to keep somewhat detailed notes on my blog, so I can better process what happens this month.
The rest of this week will not be very tricky to manage. We'll be packing for our trip to the beach, and getting the house ready. Then we'll be gone for a week. When we get back we'll be tired and in beach withdrawl for a few days, and then? Well, that's the part that makes me so nervous.
In order for this to be successful, I'm going to have to be very disciplined. The hardest part for me will be the temptation of the computer. Yeah, I realize I'm on the computer now... but the kids are all still zonked out from yesterday's busy-ness. I'm going to have to give myself some very strict rules about the computer.
I'm really nervous about how this will play out. I know it sounds silly to be nervous about having no book work! But I'm as much a creature of habit as the children are. And I know that Austin does not handle 'down time' very well.
So The Experiment begins. Stay tuned for updates! :)
** Ok, here is the first update. I think this is a mistake. I'm going to see how it works out when we get back from vacation. I'm not sure if I can handle this lack of structure!! ::sigh::
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
So Monday, Daddy put the young lady to work! We have a side of our house that never gets sunshine. As a result, it gets mildewed and icky-looking. We have defective siding, so you cannot pressure wash it. If you do, it will fall apart. So if you want a clean house, you have to do it the old-fashioned way... and that is exactly what Riley and Daddy did! Daddy got the top part, and Riley did the rest! Yes, she did the entire bottom side of the house! It looks fantastic!
Monday, September 03, 2007
If you were going to be staying HERE for a week, enjoying a peaceful island, gorgeous soft white sand, the sound of waves crashing into the shore, and the pleasure of your family all together for a whole week with nothing else to do but be together, would YOU really care about laundry, housework, school work, dance classes, ball practices, or anything else?
Nah, me neither! ;)
Sunday, September 02, 2007
We looked up this beautiful specimen in our Field Guide. I can't remember what it is called, but we're giving it refuge in front of the girls' bedroom window! :)
Now, it may just look like elaborate 'lining up' and maybe it is. But she has put each of the Dora Horse farm folks into shoes to make it look like they are in carriages. And she has tied each horse to the shoe to look like the horse is pulling! I think that is terribly creative! I think she got the idea from the twin baby's carriage! :) How cool!
Today was good for Reece. She did very well at church with me again! We rode in the truck with daddy, which was hard on Austin because it was different. But he managed to get control back after a few minutes. It was one of those unexpected things that was out of our control... I'm having van troubles, and I didn't want to get stuck on to road with DH at church. So we got ready early and rode with him!
Right now, it's late but Austin is watching the Nascar race. We don't have school tomorrow b/c daddy will be off work. He's making some noises, talking to himself in the other room. DH asked, "What is he doing in there?"
I know what he is doing: he is enjoying himself. He is watching one of his favorite things, and he is enjoying himself! He's not stressed out about trying to be what everyone expects him to be. And he's not having to hold everything in to meet those expectations. Therefore, he isn't having to experience the failure of missing those expectations. He is just enjoying himself! If that involves talking to himself, reciting the stats for the drivers, having his own race in his head that he is acting out, or replaying things that have happened in tonight's races --- I'm OK with that. At least for tonight. Because it's nice to know that he is happy. :)