Wednesday, October 31, 2007
We had a lovely time! I was in such a foul mood this afternoon, and really wanted to just skip the whole thing and stay home. But I'm so glad we didn't. We enjoyed ourselves so much. Austin decided at 5 PM that he would, in fact, get dressed up and trick or treat with his buddy (from our baseball team). He handled all of these changes with such grace. Our friends asked us over last night during the ball game so he had less than 24 hours' notice about the change in plans, not to mention deciding to trick or treat (which has hasn't done in 2 years), we were in a new neighborhood with TONS of kids running all over the place, our group of kids had a cell phone so we let them walk a little ahead of us and he was nervous about that, 2 extra kids went with us at the last minute that he didn't know, people in this neighborhood sit outside in their driveways rather than having you knock on the door, etc. All of this, and he didn't have a meltdown, didn't have a fit, just handled everything so nicely!
Reece was much the same... in fact, she led the group of much bigger kids up to the door 90% of the time, facing folks in masks, dogs, and other terrifying things! She also talked a big game about going to the haunted house someone had set up in their basement --- until she heard the noises coming from inside! LOL Riley went in with the other kids and she was absolutely terrified! (And it goes without saying that she enjoyed being around all the kids! She was very well-behaved and helped guide Reece around the first couple of houses when she was so confused!)
We got home around 9:30 and everyone is going to sleep as quickly as the sugar and caffeine will allow. I am so glad we went, despite my feeling of dread all day long! It ended up being a great time, and a wonderful chance for the kids to 'socialize'. And it was nice for mom to get to socialize with another mom as well! :)
I hope everyone has had a nice, safe evening wherever you are!
Halloween: I'll put some pictures up tonight after we get back from trick or treating! I have to take them because dh has to work. This is not usually my job, so I'm a bit nervous! We've been invited to go with friends, which will be fun! I'll post details and pics tonight. Riley designed and made her own costume, and she's very proud of it!
New Moon: As in the book, not the actual moon. Borders sent me a 30% off coupon for Halloween, so we went this afternoon to buy it. Amazon has it for 40% off, but I couldn't get instant gratification that way! Maybe I'll buy the 3rd book, Eclipse, from them. Yeah, I'm completely obsessed, I'll admit it. :) I haven't had an obsession hit this hard and this fast since Pirates of the Caribbean. Don't worry, I won't be changing the name of our school to Twilight Academy, though that does have a nice ring to it! Hmmm, wonder why I don't get obsessed over things like fluffy bunnies? A pysch would have a field day with me, I'm sure! :)
Hope you're having a lovely week! Ambleside has a nice easy schedule this week, and we're enjoying it! Will update on that (you know, home schooling LOL) on Friday evening!
Monday, October 29, 2007
A book for each of the girls, because we're in a bookstore and they are asking and who can say no to a child who wants nothing more than a book: $13
Fast food out for the kids because I had to drag them to 2 bookstores to find my book: $8.16
Krispy Kreme donuts for all of us, because the Hot sign was on when we drove past: $6.00
Gas, because I drove to 2 bookstores, McDonalds, and Krispy Kreme: $10.00
Not having to wait for 70 people ahead of me through the library system to re-read the beginning of Edward and Bella's love story:
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Part of the reason I delayed starting it was the fear that it would disappoint me. I loved the first book, and just didn't want to be let down. No fear of that... New Moon sucked me in (no pun intended LOL) immediately. Saturday morning, I went to get my haircut, and I swung by the library to get any books I had on hold. Can you believe what was waiting for me there:
It's Eclipse! Book 3 was just waiting for me! Can you believe my luck?? I rushed home, and spent the rest of the evening finishing, er, devouring New Moon. It was every bit as good as the first book! I do need to admit that I skipped to the end because the first part had me so sad... I couldn't bear to read it it was going to be a sad ending. I started Eclipse last night, just as soon as I finished New Moon.
This time, I wasn't nervous. Stephenie Meyer has proven herself to me. She can write one heck of a love story! I, again, devoured the book. I stopped long enough to pick Riley up from her sleepover, do some laundry, clean the kitchen to a livable standard, and take Riley to choir/plan lessons for this week. Aside from that, I was reading. Nope, I wasn't reading, that's not even the depth of it. I was IN Forks, Washington! LOL My husband took to having the kids come ask me things and see how long it would take for me to realize they were there. @@
I finished the book around 8 PM, tears flowing. These are going to have to be additions to my personal library! I cannot recall a love story that tugged on my heartstrings so deeply. It's beautifully written, has some minor thrilling and scary times, but most of all it's about love. Yes, it's also about vampires... but that's only a minor technicality. ;) Ok, so maybe not minor. But it's a love story. And it's wonderful!
So there are he reasons why my house is a mess. These books should come with a free housecleaning service! ;)
- Yankee Candles: in Harvest (October), Pumpkin Spice (November), and Home Sweet Home (December). There is nothing I love more than a nice smelly house in the fall. It isn't the same after Christmas is over.
- Hay rides: I love going on a hay ride. We've missed out on this the last 2 years. Next year, we won't miss it!
- Fall clothes: I love long sleeve shirts, sweaters, fuzzy warm socks, and corduroy pants that make noise when you walk.
- Cooler weather: We can be outside all the time, wearing the aforementioned warm, cozy clothes!
- Fires in the fireplace: Ok, so this is mostly a winter activity in the south, but in the fall, I know it's just around the corner!
- A holiday a month: Halloween (ok, borderline holiday), Thanksgiving, and Christmas! Yeah, technically Christmas is probably a winter holiday, but the seasons seem a bit different to me down here. I break it down like this: Winter is January and February; Spring is March, April, May; Summer is June-September; and Fall is October-December! It's hard to call it fall in September when it's still 90+ degrees!
I really think fall is my favorite time of the year!
Friday, October 26, 2007
I continue to be impressed by the readings in Ambleside's Year 3, and also by my children's ability to comprehend the complex language. Also, I personally enjoy how the readings seem to line up. Last week we read about Martin Luther, and twice this week in Our Island Story, Luther was mentioned. I'm not sure if the kids were as excited as I was by that little bit of coincidence!
This week we also read a story by Shakespeare from Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare. I know very little about Shakespeare, so reading The Merchant of Venice was new for me as well. I chose to read this outloud, because I was as interested in it as they were! The first day, I stopped about halfway through, and both of the kids protested. Come on, what home educating mom doesn't secretly long for their children to get excited about Shakespeare?! I was so excited! We finished it the next day, and we all enjoyed it very much!
I am finding the amount of reading to be manageable, so I take that to mean that I chose a good Year for us to start with. Nobody seems to be overwhelmed by their daily reading, and I am able to pick and choose what I want to read aloud (typically history and science). We are finishing in plenty of time to allow for free play outside, and the learning of new handicrafts like knitting! :)
I am also starting to see some changes in narrations from Austin. They are still not very detailed or very long, but I am careful to praise all of his narration efforts. I know it is a difficult skill for him. But I am really anxious for his narrations to move from a basic summary of the events of the story (which is what I think I 'trained' him to think was required) into what the story means to him. Once he starts that, then I know that the comprehension and the self-checking for meaning is there. And that's what I've been concerned about most when it comes to his reading comprehension. Today, I got a little hint that this may be starting to happen:
"Irene found her grandmother again. And mom, I bet I know what the grandmother is making. I bet she's making something for Irene!"
I do realize that may not seem like much from an 11 year old 5th grader. But to me, it's just amazing! He is connecting to this story, and is making a prediction based upon what he is reading. That has never happened before. I have tried to prompt that sort of thinking. We've tried to fill in workbook pages that discuss making predictions. It just never worked. In the 4 weeks that we've been using Ambleside and following a more CM method, I have instead been modeling out loud these sorts of predictions from other books. It's so cool to see that it's working! And the Princess and the Goblin is not an 'easy' book. This is a book that inspired Tolkien! It's full of complex language. So he's 'getting' that as well!
Riley seems to be making strides as well, with her attention. Some days are better than others, for sure. She is currently reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, having finished A Little Princess. I never have to worry about what she is reading! :)
Reece had a bit of a struggle with this week. I have backed off her academics completely, but didn't really plan other things to occupy her time. And with being busy with Austin and Riley, plus her generally onry personality recently, she made messes and got into trouble. So I need to make sure that I'm keeping her engaged as best I can while the others are working, so I'll try to compile a list of great books to read to her. I'll probably pull them from the Sonlight Core B list (what used to be called PreK... I own it from back when we used it to do a trial run of homeschooling all those years ago). I really don't want to start Ambleside Year 0 with her until next fall. She loves to be read to, and there are so many books that are great for this age. I think I should be able to keep her happy until the fall!
The only thing that still gives me pause about CM/Ambleside is the lack of writing. The lack of 'stuff' to put into their school binders. We have our copywork and dictation, but we're not really making notebook pages, and the kids don't seem to be jumping up and down begging to do that! ;) I'm not going to panic. But it does make me nervous!
So there you have it - week 4 of Ambleside at the Black Pearl Academy!
Today we had an appointment with our RDI consultant. It was a regularly scheduled appointment, and we were discussing Reece's latest DVD. I have mentioned on here previously that we are concerned with her recent behavior, including tantruming and withdrawing. The video prior to this one, Reece spent the entire time screaming. This video, she spent in what our RDI consultant affectionately refers to as "Butterfly Reece World." This is a happy place for Reece, and she's quite content to be there! LOL We feel otherwise, as you can imagine. Also, a fairly recent addition to Reece's repertoire has been "I can't" or "I'm the worst girl ever", usually when faced with a task. It doesn't matter if she can do it, has already done it, or is in the process of doing it --- she says she can't, or she's terrible at it. Nothing we say seems to change that.
Our RDI consultant has been working hard with us to try to figure out what might be going on, and she feels that what we are seeing is actually progression, rather than the regression that Russ and I feel it is. L (our consultant) says that, before we really got into RDI, Reece was in RW (Reece world) and we were allowed into RW as long as we followed her lead and did what she expected us to do. Now, we're wanting her to come into the world and share it with the rest of us, and follow our lead and learn from us. And as she has come out of this, what we are noticing when she seems to withdraw is the indication that she's spending more time with us than in RW. So when she does go into RW, it's much more noticeable.
Also, she now seems to understand that she is her own person. And that out here in this big world things can be scary and difficult. And her brain thinks in black and white, good and bad... so if she perceives (incorrectly) that she is not doing well because of the neurology of autism and the nature of that perfectionism, she will say she is bad and she can't do something.
This is transferring to our RDI videos and into other areas of life because as soon as I sit down with her to 'do an activity' I always seem to pick something where she has to respond in a particular way. Even if that way is just to wipe something the way I am, or building something the same way I am building it, or wiping and rinsing a dish the way I do. When faced with that expectation of performance, she will shut down. She feels such incompetence that she will shut down or go off into RW rather than face that incompentence.
So today we talked about doing activities with her that require only interaction, without demand (her perception) that she react with a particular response. It is called a complementary role, in which her role is required and necessary for the interaction, but she is in charge if her particular response, as long as it's within the framework of the activity. For example, I could draw a line, hand her the crayon and she could draw a circle, a rainbow, another line. She could NOT get up and walk away, eat the crayon, etc. That would not be within the framework.
I feel somewhat of a breakthrough in understanding. I hope that this will take us another step futher along the road of remediation!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
After a few aggravating false starts, I finally managed to labor to create this lovely piece of rectangular yarn:
Not too bad, if I do say so myself! That took me around an hour to get that much done! LOL And I had to stop because my fingers got sore! But it was fun!
Here is Riley working on hers:
She actually had a couple of rows done, but decided she didn't like how it was looking, so she started over again. She's still working now, and will probably work on it through the remainder of rest time!
I put the DVD on hold again, so hopefully we'll have it back in a few weeks so we can figure out what to do next! :)
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
She said "Actually, it's my fish oil working!"
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Reece is going through a phase. A thing. A funk. It started around the time of her surgery, so I hope it's related to that. Which means that it will go away soon. She is being destructive. So far, in the last 2 days, she has destroyed 2 rolls of toilet paper (by unraveling them in her bedroom); Riley's doll bed (by taking it apart piece by piece); our globe (by sticking it with velcro tape and then trying to pull the tape off); the countertop (writing on it with pen). There is more, but I think that gives a good sampling. She's 5 and a half, folks. I should be able to school her siblings, or have a rest time, and expect that she won't destroy something in the process. She's also telling everyone that she "can't do ______" whether it be dance class, or drawing, or really anything. She says she's the worst girl ever. I can't begin to describe how this makes me feel. Austin has done this since he was about this age. I really thought we would miss this because of the therapy that we started so much earlier with her.
School stuff has gone well, it's just been hard because of all this other stuff with Reece. We are still really enjoying our Ambleside readings! I gave the kids more responsiblity for the readings on their own this week, and they seem to be doing quite well with it. They did complain that they miss me reading everything aloud, but I told them that they need to start reading more of their own school books! :) Charlotte says so. Ok, I didn't say that part, but I did tell them that it was time for them to do more of their own reading. It also helps with the competition that comes at narration time. Austin's thinking right now is still so black-and-white that if Riley narrates something different, he thinks his is wrong, no matter how I try to tell him differently. It's sort of the "I'm the worst kid ever", 11 year old version. So if they are reading silently, they can do narrations with me alone. I have been assigning 15 minutes at a time, but I think next week I think I'm going to assign chapters, because they are reading at different rates and it's hard to keep up with where everyone is in each book.
I'm going to go ahead and publish this... I'm trying to type this and participate in the RDI Webinar and it's not working! I hope this makes some sense! :)
Monday, October 22, 2007
And then she proceeds to show me everything she has written and drawn so far! :)
I guess I have permission?? Or else the meaning of secret isn't what I think it is!
She really cracks me up sometimes! Such a creative, clever girl!
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
The 5 year old's party was at a horse farm. Have I mentioned here about my utter fear of horses? Well, if not, I am not. I'm scared to death of horses! I can't even be near them! I do a very good job of hiding that fact from the kids, so as not to scare them. But it's hard being around a group of horses for 3+ hours. The girls each rode, and so did Russ. He put Riley on the back with him, and decided to make the horse go a little faster than I was expecting. I had to run away from the little circle thing where they were riding because I was so frightened! I started to cry, and I didn't want anyone to see me. But she had a great time, and that's all that matters in the end.
We went back to their house, along with the 30 or so 'close friends and family' who remained. There were 4 dogs, a cat, and a rabbit in a house not much bigger than mine. Have I mentioned that Reece is terrified of dogs? ;) Needless to say, it was interesting. We ate pizza, and stayed long enough for cake (again) and present opening (again)!
It really was a nice day. The kids were all very well-behaved. Reece took herself in and out of the action, which we just let her do. There were 4 other 'big boys' and Austin played with all of them very well. He, too, would break away here and there for some quiet time, and then go right back to running with the crowd. Russ was really pleased to see how well he did. He was more worried about Reece, especially with her perseveration over the dog who remained in the house. But he has never had a great fear, and speaking as one who had to run off because their child and husband were riding a horse, I think she did quite well!
Speaking of that, the 2 year old birthday girl chose Reece to 'help' her open a present, and Reece did what quite well reminded me of an RDI interaction! She opened the present a little bit, then showed it to the little girl and said, "Now you try it! There you go! Good job!" and everyone said, "Awwwww!"
Riley was also extremely well-behaved, especially considering that she was sort of between ages. She was too young and the wrong gender to hang with the boys. But she was 3 years older than the nearest girl (who was her sister). She did a really nice job with not trying to steal the show, which I was so proud of. She loves to have the attention turned towards her, and she really allowed everyone to focus on the birthday girls. I was, and am, very proud of her for showing such maturity, and we're going make sure and spotlight this with her!
So now, it's time for some sleep! I'm wiped out!
Friday, October 19, 2007
Today we read for the first time from This Country of Ours. Again, the kids were captivated by the story and enjoyed looking up the locations on the globe and map after we got done reading. This wasn't because I said, "And now children, let us go to the globe and do geography by looking at these locations." It was because, when I finished reading, Riley ran over to the globe, grabbed it up and said, "Show us where he [John Cabot] landed and placed the flag of England?" Austin was interested that Cabot sailed from Bristol, because there is a Nascar race track in Bristol, TN. Whatever works, huh?
I was able to order some of the Year 3 Ambleside books today. I cannot stand to read from the computer, and I wasn't fond of printing out the chapters I needed. But I didn't want to jump in and spend alot of money on the books if AO didn't work out for us. With my points from My Points emails and online shopping, and the money from my Discover Card Cashback Bonus, I was able to order all of the books that are used for the whole year, and the rest of the first trimester books that our library doesn't have! I'll save up for the second and third trimester books. Though my husband never complains when I order books or curriculum in general, it made me feel good to know that I didn't spend any 'money' on these books! :)
Next week should be a slower week, one where we can spend more time at home. We need to spend some time working on the girls' Halloween costumes (Riley will be an angel, Reece will be a black kitty cat), and also Riley and I would like to get our supplies to go with our "Learn to Knit" video. Can anyone recommend a good starter size for knitting needles? I went to get some, and there were about 100 different kinds and sizes at Walmart! We may stop by the local knitting store and ask for help there as well!
I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!
Thursday, October 18, 2007
When I arrived at the appointment, there was a mom coming out. I recognized her as one of the moms that had done the RDI parent training with us back in April! She actually remembered my name, and my dh's, which was embarrassing because I only remembered her daughter's name! It stuck with me because of all of the parents there, this family is the only other one to have a daughter on the spectrum. It's pretty rare, and I find myself drawn to other moms who have precious girls on the spectrum! Anyway, it was nice to see her... they live over by us, and I suggested that perhaps we could ride together to the monthly parent meetings offered by our consultant. It will have to be after baseball season though, because Austin has games on those days.
The appointment was good. This appointment was to discuss Austin's video that we turned in last week. This is one of the struggles I have with having 2 children in RDI. For instance, today we took in a video of Reece that we've been working on all week. So my mind is really in "Reece" mode, even though we're talking about Austin today. Starting with the next video, however, we're back to our old way of having 2 weeks in between videos. It's just too hard to do a video each week. We are supposed to try our next video with Austin non-verbally.
After we got back from the appointment, we rested up a little bit and left for Austin's ball game. The weather was threatening, but we got the game in! We lost badly, again. Austin made an excellent catch out in center field tonight!! He decided to bat left-handed tonight, which he hasn't done in about 8 months! He struck out both times, but he really does have a beautiful swing from that side!
Tomorrow I'm excited to have a nice day at home! We have no plans during the daytime, but dh will be gone tonight. We're going to see a friend do her cheerleading in the evening, provided Reece is up for it. She's really having a rough time since her surgery. :(
I'll have an Ambleside update tomorrow afternoon!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Today, we went on another field trip! This time it was back to downtown Atlanta, but it was a bit less educational than last week's trip to the history center. Jan and I loaded up her minivan with 6 children, ages 5 to 11, yet again! This time we were bound for the brand new World of Coca-Cola museum. We had a great time! It was a bit more of an entertainment show than I was expecting, but the kids loved every minute of it! They especially enjoyed the room where you could taste different varieties of coke products from all over the world! Both Riley and Austin tried all sorts of unusual concoctions. Reece decided to stick with Sprite. I did try two new flavors --- I know! Can you believe it? Me? Try something new? But I did! Ultimately, though, I stuck with my very favorite: Mr. Pibb! :)
We ate lunch out on the way home, then stayed at Jan's house to play for a little while. By the time we got home, I was exhausted! ;) Unfortunately, the kids didn't share my fatigue. It was probably all of the caffiene and sugar they got at the World of Coca-Cola! LOL
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
My hymn-loving friends will enjoy what happened with the Martin Luther story. At the end of the story, the author shared that Martin Luther wrote hymns in his life, including ______ (the name of the hymn which I forget now). We looked on that CD that Riley had checked out from the library, and sure enough, it was on it! We listened to it, and it was pretty cool! Then I read the lyrics aloud --- which went right over my head --- and it was neat to know those were Martin Luther's own words!
Well, it's time for the RDI webinar, so I'd better close for now!
Sunday, October 14, 2007
We were in the van on the way home and he said, "I don't think I'm going to talk to you tonight." I assured him that was a decision he could make, though it hurt my feelings. He was quiet for about 10 minutes, then said, "Oh look! A police car ahead!" I replied "Yep, it looks like he's pulled someone over... his lights sure are bright." Austin then said, "I actually wasn't talking to you... I was talking to myself."
I couldn't stand it any longer! I just gushed about how proud I was of him! He said, "Mom, stop being proud.... can't you tell I am ANGRY with you? You treated me like a baby. I just wanted a soda." I told him that's the REASON I am so proud! 6 months or a year ago, he would have been jumping up and down in front of the Pepsi machine flipping out because I told him no and he was expecting a soda and I didn't let him have one! Then he would have cried the whole way home and been totally flipped out.
Instead, he was giving me the silent treatment! And then he told me he was angry with me!!
It's just so exciting! :) He's angry with me!
BTW, he is talking to me again! It didn't last too long, especially once I spotlighted what he was doing and how awesome it is! Then he got proud of himself! ;)
Friday, October 12, 2007
I cannot describe how glad I am to have this week behind us! I'm ready for a more normal week next week! :)
Thursday, October 11, 2007
We went with Jan and her kids to the Atlanta History Center to see the Ben Franklin Exhibit! It was wonderful, and we had a great time! We ended up getting a membership, so we will be able to back anytime we want. There was so much that we didn't get to see, and Ben is only going to be in Atlanta until the end of the week!
Here are the kids posing with Ben! Jan got a great pic of the 5 big kids at the counter of Johnny Rockets, where we went for lunch! I linked to her blog above... just click on her name and you can see the pic!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I may have mentioned, but in case I haven't, Reece hasn't been sleeping well the last few weeks. We'll put her to bed, and she will still be awake 2-3 hours later. This wouldn't be a rotten problem, but she and Riley have to share a bedroom. And she won't leave Riley alone, which means that Riley isn't getting all the sleep she needs. Riley is my good sleeper and has been since the day she was born. She was getting frustrated by disturbance, so we've been letting her rest in the living room until Reece falls asleep. Usually, though, Riley falls asleep out there before Reece falls asleep in their room. Tonight, Riley fell asleep on the loveseat/ottoman:
I was in my room working on editing and burning our DVD for RDI, and dh came home, and showed me this:
Reece apparently didn't want to be alone in her room, so she joined Riley in the living room and fell asleep on the couch! Reece has been so upset each morning to wake up and not find her sister in the room. It's been a very difficult situation!
So here is what it looked like in the living room tonight:
And now, it's my turn to go to bed. If you have sent me an email in the last 24 hours, I have read it but haven't had time to reply. Today was the first day to burn DVDs with dh's new laptop, and it was a comedy of errors. It took about 5 hours to get it all figured out, then we still had to watch the DVD and fill out the paperwork to give to the consultant tomorrow.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
We had an appointment with the kids' developmental pediatrician this morning, the one who oversees all the autism stuff. I specifically went to talk to him about RDI and Austin's anxiety. He seems very interested in RDI, especially my description of how RDI doesn't demand performance from the child in the way of set answers, scripted behaviors, etc. He suggested to continue RDI for as long as we felt it was a good use of our resources.
I brought up the subject of Austin's anxiety, and again he recommended a blood pressure med called Clonidine. It is used off-label for children on the spectrum. It is given at night to help with sleeping and it has a residual affect on anxiety. I asked him about Omega 3s, and he said "Try it! I've heard great things for some children!" So I ordered from Omegabrite this afternoon the orange cream flavored liquid for the children, and the adult pill version for this mom whose PMS seems to be taking on a life of its own. If we don't see the results we are looking for with Austin with just the Omega 3s, then I think we are going to have to seriously consider something like the medication. It is affecting his daily life. Things he used to be able to handle before, he can no longer handle. I will be praying over this decision in the next few months, so that we know what is the best thing for Austin. The doctor says that Austin would have to have an EKG before starting him on Clonidine because it does affect the heart. YIKES. See? That scares me! Is the anxiety worth potentially causing other harmful side effects? I'm going to talk to our consultant about Clonidine as well. Her recommendations were Prozac or Zoloft. ::sigh:: Not easy decisions.
The kids did some work this morning before we left for our appointment, and then we came home and did a little more. I read the first story from Heroes, which happens to be about Perseus. I figured the kids would really enjoy this, because our hero Percy Jackson (from our current book series we're reading) was named after Perseus from mythology. I was right --- the kids loved it! Have I mentioned how much we're enjoying the stories from Ambleside?? Good stuff!
Well, the timer for rest time has gone off, and the kids need a snack before dance classes. Austin has a ball game this evening after supper. Then I'll come home and collapse into a pile of exhausted pirate mama! :)
Monday, October 08, 2007
Reece had her "Pre-Op" appointment this morning at 9:30. Thanks to the lovely metro area traffic, that means that we left the house at 8 AM. In my "pre-homeschooling" days, that would have been a typical, or even late, day. Austin got on the bus around 7 AM when he was in Kindergarten! I decided to have us listen to The Titan's Curse, book 3 in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. That made the time pass quite nicely!
We finished up there, and headed to Trader Joe's, since it's on that side of town! I had forgotten the cooler, though, so we had to stick with non-perishables like cereal, pancake mix, parmesan cheese, and dishwasher soap --- all of which are All-Natural! :)
We arrived home 5 chapters into our story, and too many hours later. I let the kids have some time to run around or ride bikes, since they had spent the better part of the mornin in the car. And then it was time to start school! Austin was very much on edge because of the drastic change in schedule. :( I hate it that he struggles so much with that. Riley did very well, getting her math done and correct (except for the section where she neglected to read the directions that said "Estimate") in a rather short time. We'll work a little more after rest time, before Riley has to go to dance classes.
During dance, I've got to work on some videotaping for Austin that is due on Thursday. I am going to be very focused on something I learned in watching the first assigned webinar: making sure that I am transferring as much responsibility for cognitivie processing as is appropriate. Also, another important thing I learned/remembered in watching the webinar is that the purpose of taping is for me and Russ, not for our consultant. We are supposed to be taping, watching, critiquing, narrating even, and then sending it off to the consultant who will give her professionally trained RDI spin to it. We're not supposed to be proving what we're doing, but rather giving examples of struggles or mastery of objectives. **
** As always, if I am misinterpreting any of this RDI stuff, I kindly ask my wonderful RDI mentors who read my blog to correct me in the comments! :)
As for our Ambleside readings... we did our scripture memory, a chapter from a world history book (will get the link up here later -- very enjoyable reading!), and a chapter of The Princess and the Goblin. We still have some of Pilgrim's Progress (I am using a version called Dangerous Journey), which I will try to get to before bed.
Alas, me hearties.... rest time be over! In the words of that famous Captain Barbossa, "Back to Work!"
Friday, October 05, 2007
One major difference that I noticed this week was that the children had alot more time to get outside and play. That is a wonderful thing!
I am concerned about the lack of writing. One of my goals for this school year had been for Austin to learn how to write a paragraph comfortably. He will not get that unless I supplement CM/AO with something else. For now, I'm going to continue on this course, and work on oral narration for a solid year (maybe more) before I start requiring a written narration. Oral narration has always been extremely difficult for Austin, so we'll focus on that foundational skill. In the meantime, I am going make sure his copywork really counts! :)
For Riley, the academics are not at all a concern, but her lack of ability to hold attention is a concern. So that's what I will work on. Thanks, Tammy, for the link in the comments to Thursday's post that address this issue!
With Reece, I am still comfortable in my decision not to focus on academics with her this year. I am going to make sure that I'm reading really good literature to her in the meantime --- goodness knows I have enough lists to choose from! :)
Next week I won't blog daily about our AO experience, only because next week is extremely busy: 2 baseball games, 2 doctor appointments, a field trip, an RDI appt., Nana and Papa coming, and Reece's surgery. But, assuming we survive next week (LOL), I'll be back to sharing our AO happenings the following week! :)
As far as our appointment today... I'm very glad we took Reece. It was bad and good. It was 'good' in that she did the same things with dh and our consultant that she does at home. It was 'bad' because it's heartbreaking in so many ways. We were going to do a simple stacking activity with plates and cups. She worked with the consultant first, then we started to do it. She was more distracted and disinterested with me. When it came time to do it with dh, she lost interest and the beanbag chairs in the room got her attention. She wanted to 'make a rainbow' with them. We're having alot of trouble with rainbows these days. Crayons have to be lined up in rainbow order, so she can draw rainbows on her paper. Our last taping session was disrupted because we were stringing the frogs and she was upset that I wouldn't do them in rainbow order.
Anyway, we decided to put the beanbag chairs in the hallway. That's when she had a meltdown. And we never did get her back. Unfortunately, our consultant's next client was there so we had to just leave. It literally hurt my heart to watch it happen. Also, because she is now more verbal than she was 6 months ago, the meltdowns are accompanied by horrible things she says like, "Don't look at me like that!" or "I wish I was gone forever!" or "I don't ever like you!" She also will start bargaining, "If you let me make a rainbow, I will do ______!" I asked why we can't say "We will play this game, then one more game, then you can play with the beanbag chairs." It has to do with there being a behavioral goal/reward instead of the reward coming from the interaction between Reece and her parent. She can be compliant when she knows she will get what she want. But we're looking for more than compliant. We are looking for a child who wants to interact because interacting with mom or dad is wonderful fun... not because we'll get a reward afterward. And it makes me sad that I am not "enough" to her that she wants to interact with me because it's time with me. But like I said, at least seeing what she did today shows me that it isn't just me --- it's any time she doesn't have control.
I'm waiting to talk with our consultant about the appointment. Like I said, we had to hurry up and leave because her next appointment was coming in. She's going to call me later so we can talk about it. But she made sure to tell me that I'm not doing anything wrong and it's not just me. It's been so many months that we have been doing RDI, and it's so frustrating that we're not making more progress. It is so hard to read about people who start RDI and see immediate, wonderful progress. I can't help but wonder if having 2 children I'm trying to do this with makes it harder. I have to divide my time at least in thirds all day long, and that isn't including school or housework. I can't just include one of the children with autism in everything I do because there are 3 children in this house who love to be included. If I include all 3 at the same time, then nobody gets what they need. And if I include one at a time, the others feel neglected. It makes me want to give up, rather than do such a poor job.
I have cried so much today, my chest literally hurts. Our consultant reminded me today that sometimes this journey is Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back. She wants me to watch the webinars with Dr. Gutstein from the last few weeks on the new RDIos website. She said she thought of Reece while she read them herself. I'm going to do that tonight and see what I can get from them. And just pray that we'll get through this and figure out what we're doing.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
I'm not exactly sure what I was thinking! Tomorrow we have an RDI appointment, and our consultant wants us to bring Reece so we can try to figure out what's causing her to be completely dysregulated most of the time lately. We'll try to get up early, not likely since the ball game didn't end until 9:30 tonight, and get some of our school work done! But "not nearly as busy" doesn't even begin to equal tomorrow!
Maybe I left me brain aboard the Flying Dutchman?? ;)
OK, move into the morning, when the alarm rang too early! I decided to prioritize because I knew we had so much going on today. I made pancakes while the kids started their reading. Then we did math, grammar, and copywork in quick succession. I sent the kids outside to play while I exersized and showered. Then it was lunchtime already! We left directly after lunch to go to the bank, drop off tuition at the dance studio, and hit the library and grocery store. And now we're home. Needless to say, we didn't get much done in the way of our Ambleside readings. I'll just bump them to tomorrow, which is not nearly as busy! We had to get home for the baseball playoffs, and Austin's pitching tonight.
While I'm mentioning Austin, I should really add that the boy is "ON" today. It's been a chaotic, busy day with a number of changes to our schedule. We've got a 40% chance of rain at gametime, and he's just way OK with everything. He missed one in math ... not a biggie. He wrote 10 cards instead of 13 cards, and he just erased the 0 and put a 3. Usually he would have erased the entire "10 cards" to replace it with "13 cards". And it would have been accompanied by wailing and gnashing of teeth. He was a bit stressed during typing because he can't type as fast as me, but I assured him that would come with time, and that's why we're practicing. While I was in the shower he came in to tell me he was going to be riding his bike. I told him that I wasn't comfortable with him riding his bike while I was in the shower. He said, "OK, could I go in the backyard instead?" I said that was fine (we have a privacy fence). Then in the van on the errands, Riley was singing which usually causes him to freak out, but not today. He asked me if I noticed he wasn't freaking out --- of course, I did! And the biggest thing is that he's not pacing and freaking out about the possibility of a rainout tonight for his game! It's all very neat, and I didn't want to forget to blog about it. I always seem to run for my blog when things are going rough, and forget to blog when they are going well.
Riley has had an exciting day today, too! I got an email informing me that she got a part in the Christmas musical! She's going to be a "Sugar Plum Fairie" in "Candy Cane Lane". She was SO excited! And to add to the excitement, 2 of her good friends are also going to be Sugar Plum Fairies! :) She called Daddy right away to tell him all about it because, "He's going to be so proud of me!"
Another cute note about Riley, and Lisa will get a kick out of this! First of all, I am NOT into hymns. I wasn't raised in church, and all of the churches I have been to in my life are of the contemporary variety. I like guitars, drums, and rock and roll in my worship! I have found so many praise and worship songs that touch me, and I do believe God speaks to me through the music... probably since it's so hard to get through to me in other ways! Anyway, Riley comes running to me at the library all excited that she's found this music CD and can we get it - Classic Hymns for Children. ::snore:: I tell her sure, no problem. She insisted on putting it in as soon as we got home, to play the one they are working on for choir. They are singing in the 'big church' in a few weeks. She's so excited and exclaimed, "I just LOVE hymns!" Any ideas where that comes from? She surely hasn't heard them from being around me! LOL I'm just glad she wants to listen to that instead of some of the other more questionable music that's out there! But, sorry, we're not listening to it in the van! ;)
Nothing as exciting for Reece, poor thing! She did do very good at the library today! Instead of pulling random books off the shelves (sometimes 3-4 copies of the same book), she was bringing me books that I could tell she chose from the cover. I saw an Eloise Early Reader book, and she was so thrilled! She sat right down and looked it over from cover to cover!
I'm going to rest before the game tonight, and watch the baseball playoffs with my boy! :) If you're inclined to pray for such things, Austin's pitching this evening around 7:30!
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
We started again with Austin doing his 'mom-assisted work', and that is going well. However, I may switch and start with Riley instead of Austin. We had issue with her math lesson again today. I timed how long it took her to do a few sample problems with me, and she completed each in less than 30 seconds. So I assigned the even problems in her workbook, for a total of 18. After 20 minutes, she had only completed 9 and was working on the 10th. I caught her daydreaming a few times. How do I address this in a CM way? Am I to sit with her for the 20 minutes until she has developed the habit of attention? Today I handled it by requiring her to finish the page after lunch. I do understand that it's not very "CM" but she has to complete her math daily. I am not concerned about it being too much or too hard by any means. If there is another way to handle this that will allow us to develop her habit of attention while also ensuring the lesson is completed each day, I am all ears! :)
Austin was able to complete his math lesson within the time frame, and he got all of them correct again. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for when we get to harder lessons! :) He also completed the copywork he started yesterday, and it was much neater than it usually is. I think knowing he isn't in a rush to finish a certain piece helps him to focus on neatness. Riley's copywork was neat, as usual, but she also completed it in a timely manner. I told her I was proud of her for working hard and keeping her attention to her work. This was after we talked about the problem with non-attention and math, so maybe it got through to her a little bit.
While the big kids did independent work, I did some more Visual Perceptual Skill Building with Reece, and also read her a few stories. One I read was Who Owns the Sun? This is another book where I'm not sure how I found out about it, but it was a powerful book! Austin and Riley, at some point, came into the living room where I was reading it to Reece, so they could listen better. I didn't shoo them off, because this story was wonderful. I was in tears by the end! We talked a little bit about the theme afterwards because the big kids were asking questions. If you read this one, have some tissues nearby!
Our Ambleside readings today were science (we finally finished lesson 1 of Botany! It's a miracle!), geography, and we had to finish Paul Bunyan's tale from American Tall Tales. There was no geography scheduled for this week, but I wanted to add in the Holling C. Holling books from the earlier Ambleside years. Year 3 asks you to study Marco Polo, and I have a Sonlight book about him that both kids have read in years past. So I figured we would go through the Holling books that we haven't read before, and then wrap up with Marco Polo before the end of the school year. The kids actually reminded me to finsh Paul Bunyan over lunch because I hadn't made myself a note of it, and had completely forgotten!
Narration was still a bit of a struggle today, but I'm Ok with it. We will keep working on it, bit by bit. I am trying to remember that this is the precursor to written narration/composition, but then I get all worked up and start to interrupt. I did that today with Austin and I could see the look in his eyes change as soon as I started to correct him. Maybe I need a roll of duct tape for my mouth?
Personally, as mom/teacher, I am thoroughly enjoying the Ambleside readings and the variety they are bringing to our days. I didn't think I would enjoy the disconnected feeling of reading from one book here and another book there. But I'm not getting that feeling so far. It just seems like another little adventure here and there, and it's really keeping the kids interest. By the way, we read the first two chapters of Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling. We all really enjoyed it, and spent some time looking at the map to see which river flows from the Great Lakes into the sea. :)
We're halfway through our first week of Ambleside! So far, so good!
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
I decided today to try having Riley go do any of her independent stuff first, while I get Austin going alone. That seemed to work well. He did his math lesson, this time getting them all correct, and I read to Reece (a board book about Ben Franklin from the library). Then Austin and I worked on his first lesson of Junior Analytical Grammar. During that time, Riley worked on her French CD-rom, read, read, and read some more. She does NOT appreciate limits on her reading... the Ben Franklin book I wanted her to read over the next week, she finished today. Austin did his copywork (10 minute time limit this time), then he went to do his Spanish CD-rom (it's all the same CD-rom, 6 languages in 1. Best $20-$30 I ever spent!). Riley finished her math lesson from yesterday, then did grammar (First Language Lessons, level 3). It so happened her copywork was a quote from Ben Franklin, which she found ultra-exciting! Austin started reading Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia, which is a Landmark book - love those!
Today our Ambleside readings included Paul Bunyan from American Tall Tales (we had this book as a part of the Calvert 5th grade curriculum), and a biography of Michaelangelo. We read about half of the Paul Bunyan story, and will have to finish the rest tomorrow. The kids didn't narrate from this very well, and I'm not sure why. Riley, too, struggled narrating from Michaelangelo, even though we only read 2 pages.
I also worked with Reece on a few pages from Can You Find Me? from the Critical Thinking Company/Bright Minds (whatever they are called now). In this series, you read some clues and the child has to locate the picture for the clue. Great for auditory processing! She struggled a bit on some of them.
All in all, I can't complain --- today has left me more encouraged than yesterday, that's for sure.
Monday, October 01, 2007
OK, I'm new to the whole 'short lessons' philosophy. How on earth do you do it without setting a timer or glancing at the clock every few minutes? Do you just sort of 'wing it'? If so, can I go on record by saying that I'm tired of people who want me to 'wing it', or 'go with the flow'? I am so not a 'go with the flow' sort of person, to the point where it's making me insane!
I set the timers for the kids for math --- no shortage of timers at the Black Pearl Academy, but I bet you're not surprised to read that! ;) For the other readings, I just watched the clock. We were able to get the amount of reading on the AO list for today done within the time frame (except for Austin's Free Reading, which I guess is, after all, free so it doesn't count?), so if this is a typical amount of reading, then I'll feel comfortable looking away from the clock! ;)
We started with our scripture memory box over breakfast, which we have neglected lately. The kids were still eating, so I decided to start with some world history. I read aloud a chapter from Our Island Story about Henry VIII, which was very enjoyable. I stopped halfway to check that everyone was understanding, and they were. When we finished, I started asking questions, which is so typical of me --- cannot keep my mouth shut. I have to work on that in RDI, too, so it's not just a homeschooling thing.
We moved on to math after this. In keeping with the 'short lessons' theme, I told them to work on their math lesson for 20 minutes (starting after the instruction part). Riley only finished 7 problems of the 15 assigned. At this rate, she will NEVER finish her book. How do I handle this? The work was not too hard at all. Austin finished his with 10 minutes to spare, but his was very simple today. (Aside: I started him in Saxon 54 today, hoping to find something with enough built-in review so he won't keep forgetting everything. So this was the first lesson, involving solving for an unknown in addition, something he's been doing forever with MUS. But, because we've spent so much time with multiple digit mulitplication and now long division, he had totally forgotten anything else...hence the switch to Saxon. If this doesn't help, I don't know what I'm going to do.)
This is when it started to get a little crazy, and didn't feel very Charlotte Mason-y to me. Reece cried that she wanted school work too, so I took her to the living room to read her a story (The Bee House by Patricia Pollacco... not sure where I heard about this book, but it was a delightful story!). Riley was working on her copywork, which was only one scripture verse but ended up taking much longer than 15 minutes. Austin went to read one of his assigned readings. Then I sent Riley to work on her French (computer CD-rom), and Austin started on his copywork, which also took longer than 15 minutes, even though it was only 3-4 sentences. Then Reece and I did some mazes from Visual Perceptual Skill Building, Vol. 1 while Austin did Spanish (computer CD-rom) and Riley did some reading. Austin did the corrections on his math, then we went into the living room so I could read Science.
Now I come to another question: my kids like to interrupt and ask questions about stuff as I'm reading, or they like to talk about things, usually related to the reading. Reece will often ask questions not related to the reading, but she's little and I'm working on getting her out of that. When it was time to narrate, and I tried to keep quiet, but ended up not going a good job... nobody could really tell me about what I'd read. I'm not sure if it was because the concept was hard (Angiosperms in Apologia's elementary Botany), or if it was because they weren't listening because they were busy talking.
Riley was done with everything after science, but I still needed to read with Austin. His book is At the Back of the North Wind, and it is complicated language. I had planned to tandem read a chapter with him, but we only got through 4 pages before he was completely wiped out. He was able to read the words quite well, but the sentence structure is complex and the print is quite small. He used an index card to hold his place. I stopped several times to see if he was getting it and he wasn't --- I had to explain alot of what was going on. I think I'm going to have him read Ben Franklin of Philadelphia instead, because we're going to see the Ben Franklin exhibit at the Atlanta History Center next week. Then maybe we'll try again in a couple of weeks. Riley's first book is A Little Princess and she 'accidentally' read 3 chapters instead of 1, so obviously she's having no trouble!
It was time to make lunch and everyone went outside to play. While they were eating I read aloud from "The Princess and the Goblin" which is by the same author as Austin's book. The language and sentence structure are so different from what I'm used to! They seemed to enjoy it... Riley had already read the first 3 chapters yesterday afternoon when I picked it up from the library. Argh. She didn't give away any of the details, under threat of exile! :)
Now everyone is having rest time, and I'm completely wiped out. It seems like an awful lot of work with not much to show for it! LOL I'm going to remain patient and reserve judgement, because we've been out of the school routine for awhile. It wasn't like I had expected it to be: Reece was crying and complaining that she was lonely with nobody to play with; Riley dawdled as much as she usually does; and Austin still freaked out when he missed some in math, and complained that his hand hurt while writing 4 measely sentenes. It didn't seem like the relaxing, harmony-filled, quiet school morning that I have envisioned while reading on the Ambleside website or reading books about CM! ;) I know, I know... gotta give it time.
I'm sure we'll get into a groove soon.