Friday, October 31, 2008

Countdown to Writing!

At 12:01 AM, November 1st, 2008, I will attempt something I've never done before in my life:

I'm going to write a novel!!

You may find me a little less talkative on here than usual... I'm not sure how much time it will take out of my day! I will be sure to check in at least on Fridays for our weekly reviews!

Wish me luck!!

P. S. Scroll down for two posts' worth of pictures of the kids!

Halloween pics

Here are some pics of Riley and Reece, and our neighbor Ashley, before they went Trick or Treating tonight!
Riley as a Chinese Empress, American Girl Nikki as a witch:
Reece as a ballerina, in the top pic you can see she took her Bitty Baby dressed as a pumpkin:

Miscellaneous BPA pics

Riley is drawing a picture of her Nikki doll in the witch costume Nana gave her for Halloween! It's an excellent picture... I'll try to scan it or take a picture of it!
This is what Reece wanted to wear for Trick or Treat, instead of the Giselle/Enchanted costume Nana got her for Christmas. I didn't purchase a new costume for her for Halloween because, for the last 2 of 3 years, she has refused to wear it on the actual day of Halloween. Sure enough, she didn't want to wear the Giselle costume, and I wouldn't let her wear this getup! LOL So she wore her ballet recital costume and was quite happy!
One day last week, while Riley was at dance, I took a few pics of Austin and Reece. They are so close and it's so sweet. Austin carries Reece on his shoulders like this quite a bit. He says it helps them both (he gets pressure on his shoulders, and she has to balance and use her proprioceptive system!). Instant OT for two!
I love this picture!
This is what started it all! Reece looked so grown-up, even Austin commented on it! So I decided to take a picture! My baby is growing up really fast!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where has the time gone??

I had to steal this picture from Jan's blog --- on the left are Michael and Austin, both 12.5 years old, yesterday at the history center. On the right, are Austin and Michael when they were babies (I am guessing 15 months because they were wearing shorts, but I'll bet my mom knows or can find out if Jan can't refresh my memory!). They are wearing their Tigger and Pooh outfits!

Edited: My mom says this was in March 1998, so the boys were 22/23 months old! They sure look younger than that though!

Can you believe how big they are both now?? Oh my gosh! I think I need some chocolate, FAST!

Monday, October 27, 2008

What a busy weekend!

My parents came into town on Saturday morning for a busy weekend!

I had my autism support prayer group on Saturday morning, and as usual, it was excellent. (Oh wait, before I left for that, I had to get the roast, carrots, and potatoes cooking in the crock pot!) I am the only home educating mom in attendance, and I usually find that separates me from other folks in autism support groups. But I don't feel that way in this group. In fact, I find that we all have basically the same prayer requests and concerns. The way we spend our days may be much different (some homekeeping, some working, and me teaching), but the bottom line is that it's not fundamentally different. Except that I can't really complain about the teacher or services my child is getting! ROFL Well, I guess I could, but... ;) I do find myself not sharing my struggles with home educating, partly because I'm new to this group and partly because it's hard for folks who haven't done it to really understand. But during our prayer time, one mom specifically prayed for my home educating, and that meant so very much to me! I hadn't even asked for prayer for it, so maybe it just came to her, or maybe God led her to pray for me. It touched me deeply!

I came home and found the kids and Russ had already left to meet my parents at the outlet malls. The guys were looking for camping gear at the Coleman outlet store, and mom was getting the girls lunch and bringing the girls home. So while I had some time to myself, I ran my 2nd day of Week 1 in the Couch Potato to 5K running program. I came back inside and got myself cleaned up, and started cleaning the house a bit more. I also started the dough for my home made bread to go with the roast.

Mom brought the girls home just in time to leave for Miranda's 8th birthday party. Reece was so excited because she had been invited, too! But she made me promise not to leave her. There wasn't a chance of that, considering she hasn't been at her best lately. But overall she did well. She was a little young for the rest of the girls, especially developmentally. And what interested them didn't really interest her. But she loved the cake and ice cream, and loved it when Miranda opened her present and thought it was great! And she loved being invited to a party! She cried and ran from me when it was time to go home, but I caught up to her and spoke to her about proper manners and how we should act if we would like to be allowed to go to another birthday party. The rest of the night she talked about HER birthday party, so I guess I will be having a little party for her at home in March, if she's still talking about it! :)

We got home from the party, ate the roast and the bread, and then mom and I left for the grocery store. It had been raining on Friday night and I didn't want to get out in that! I didn't take into consideration how tired I was going to be on Saturday!

Sunday was slower-paced for the morning. I made blueberry muffins for everyone. Russ and Riley went to church. My dad and Austin went to the race. Riley, my mom, and I just hung out. Riley and Russ came home and had leftovers for lunch. Then it was time to take Riley to her rehearsal for the Christmas musical! While she was rehearsing, mom and I went to Target and the new Toys R Us. I found some socks on clearance for myself (none of which are as warm and cozy as the pirate socks Jamberry knit for me!) and some inexpensive mittens for fall/winter jogging. Mom found some Christmas gifts for my kids. At TRU, we found a Wii Fit, which is what I had asked for for Christmas but mom couldn't find. She asked me if I wanted her to go ahead and get it... but I said no. We (mom and I) are trying to save money to take Riley on a girls' trip to Disney World for her 10th birthday in March, and I'd much rather mom apply money to that rather than get me a present! I REALLY want to go back to Disney World! :)

We picked Riley up from choir rehearsal (listening to the Nascar race on the way to find out that Austin's favorite driver was the winner and he got to see it!), and we headed straight to the movie theater to see High School Musical 3. Well, straight, but with a stop at the house because Riley wanted to wear one of her new dresses Nana had bought her! LOL We got the movie in plenty of time and the theater was nearly empty. The movie was GREAT! I really enjoyed it, and recommend if it you are a fan. Dh took Reece to the "duck park" (where you can feed ducks) and to McDonald's for dinner, so they could have some special time, too.

We returned home pretty late from the movie, and the guys were home already. Austin was so excited and couldn't wait to tell us all about the race! We finally got everyone into bed, and I still had to plan our lessons.

This morning I slept in a little bit, but I did want to accomplish some lessons today. My mom went to a local branch to work because she had a number of conference calls to take part in. Dad drove her over there, and then came back. I started lessons with the kids, and when we were done, I did my last day of Week 1 in Couch Potato to 5K. Dad stayed with the kids. Then he took Austin to spend his Halloween Publix gift card from Nana, and they picked us up Subway for lunch! YUM! Dad left a couple of hours ago to pick up my mom, and they are on their way home.

So that's our busy weekend! We have a nice, full week ahead of us, too. I have a good bit of cleaning I'd like to get done before NaNoWriMo begins on Saturday! Plus I'd like to get ahead of lesson planning, so I don't have to worry about that in November. We have 3 more baseball games, which is unbelievable! It seems to cold to be playing ball now! LOL

I will try to post this week as I am able... I hope everyone is doing well!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A chapter in our lives is ending

Today I ended our relationship with our RDI consultant. It's been a long time coming, but a few things happened recently which pushed us to the limits of our patience.

It's a hard thing to do, when you feel like you've found "the key" for your children's future, and you have to go out on your own and try to make it work without official guidance. But the guidance we were getting wasn't everything we needed or expected, and too many key promises were not kept (both at the local level and with the national organization as a whole). We were not getting our money's worth.

Please keep our family in your prayers, and me in particular, as I seek to implement the principles of RDI and try to continue to move the children forward on my own.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A house full of writers!

You'll never guess who has decided to write with us in November?? Everyone!! I was shocked yesterday during our "What makes a novel" lessons, when Austin announced that he was going to write. Well, first, he wanted to know what would happen if he didn't make his word count goal. I told him, "You have to go to public school!" He chuckled, then said, "No, really... what happens?" LOL

I told him that nothing happens... a goal is a goal and something to strive for, but it's personal. If you don't make it, then you just don't. You can keep working on it later if you want to, or you can choose to stop. It's not an assignment, it's just a fun thing to try. He asked what happens if he does make his goal. I told him I'd buy whoever made their goal a Young Writer's NaNaWriMo t-shirt! I probably should have checked the prices first... $17?!? Well, you know, if they make their goals, I'll be delighted to spend all that money on a shirt! It's a big deal!

Riley was thrilled to find out about the t-shirt thing! LOL She spent all of her rest time yesterday doing research for her novel, which she wants to have it set in ancient Egypt! Reece also wants to write a book, hers will be about Pink World! But it's not as surprising that she wants to write because she's always 'writing books'.

So he decided to write. Last night when I got home from running my errands, Austin was headed for bed. I asked him if he'd decided on a word count. He said he wasn't sure... I told him Riley had decided on 4,750. He immediately replied back with, "5500." Then we did some little knunckle-hand-shake-guy-thing, and he was off to bed!

To say I'm speechless is an understatement! I hope Austin has fun writing, and I hope it's a confidence-building exercise for him! I think it's going to be a creative and interesting month in November, for all of us! :)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Young Writers

I've mentioned before that I'm going to be writing a novel in November with NaNoWriMo. They offer a "Young Writers" program, and since Riley seems to be going through a writing phase, I decided to ask her if she would like to replace her regular Language Arts lessons in November with novel writing. She enthusiastically agreed!

Since Reece also likes writing/drawing stories, I am going to do this program with her as well, in a way she can feel successful. I'm going to have her draw a picture for her story every day, and then dictate the story to me while I write it.

What about Austin? Well, I think he would be great at writing a story, but he doesn't agree. He has told me he wants to think about it, which means "I don't think I can do it and I feel anxious and incompetent just thinking about it, but I don't want to tell you know because I know it would make you happy if I said I'd do it." I told him he doesn't have to let anyone read what he writes, and he could write about a boy with autism and epilepsy who grows up to be a baseball player who hits balls over the fence while racing cars in the off-season. ;)

In preparation, for the next two weeks, I'm going to give an overview of writing a novel for ALL the kids, using the Young Writers Workbook found on the website. We won't use it as a 'workbook', but more as a guide for discussion. If anyone wants to fill out any of the pages, I can print them off. This will also serve as preparation time for me, as I still don't know exactly what I want to write about!

I don't know if Austin will decide to write with us, or not, but there won't be any pressure from me (at least not intentionally). If nothing else, we'll all know more about what it means to write a novel before November starts up! :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fall Break Meme

We took Fall Break this week, so in lieu of a Weekly Review, I give you a Meme I saw on Jan's blog!

I am: killing time until Crusoe comes on TV at 8.
I think: too much.
I have: good friends and family.
I dislike: housework.
I miss: reading the Twilight Saga (only 3 more weeks until I read it again)!
I fear: long bridges.
I feel: nervous because it's Friday, and Austin's 2 big seizures have happened on Fridays.
I hear: the sounds of the Barrett-Jackson auto auction on TV.
I smell: the fresh rain outside.
I crave: junk food.
I cry: at just about anything!
I usually: remember everything I write down.
I search: for answers by using google!
I wonder: if I will be able to run a 5K before the end of 2008?
I regret: my wild teens and early 20s.
I wish: to go to Disney World next year.
I love: my family.
I care: about what people think of me.
I always: get nervous when Austin is pitching!
I worry: that Austin and Reece won't be able to live independent lives.
I am not: in pain anymore from my foot injury.
I remember: how much fun it was to be in Disney World with my mom for my birthday!
I believe: that one day I'll understand.
I sing: all the time!
I don't always: have the most patience.
I write: to help me remember things.
I win: at WordTwist, more often than not.
I lose: to Abbey, at Scramble, EVERY time.
I listen: to all kinds of music!
I don't understand: how to explain RDI to people in simple terms.
I can usually be found: at home.
I need: to get groceries.
I forget: more and more as I get older!
I am happy: that there will be another Pirates of the Caribbean movie!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It's going.... it's going.... it's GONE!

Picture this:

2 outs, 2 on, 0-2 is the count.

::CRACK::

It could... go...all...the...way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And it did! :)

Congratulations, Austin, on your first "out of the park" homerun!

(And no... I wasn't there to see it. Of course.)

Why on earth am I going to write a novel in a month's time?

This quote from the NaNoWriMo FAQs sums it up for me quite nicely:


"Art for art's sake does wonderful things to you. It makes you laugh. It makes you cry. It makes you want to take naps and go places wearing funny pants. Doing something just for the hell of it is a wonderful antidote to all the chores and "must-dos" of daily life. Writing a novel in a month is both exhilarating and stupid, and we would all do well to invite a little more spontaneous stupidity into our lives."


So now you know what's going on in my head! :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Paging the tooth fairy!!


Straight from Forks, Washington...

OK, I won't keep you in suspense any longer! Here are the things that came in my box from Forks:



There were also a few free goodies that were thrown in for good measure from a volunteer at the Forks Chamber of Commerce! There is a Twilight bookmark, a map of the important Twilight places in Forks, a sticker that reads "I was bitten by Breaking Dawn"...
... trivia sheets for the first 3 books, and an informational sheet listing 5 day trips in the Forks area!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Thursday fun, plus a sneak preview!

This afternoon, my mom, Riley, and I went to see Wicked the Musical at Fox Theater. Long-time readers might remember when I took Riley to see Wicked a few years ago! Here we are getting ready to go:
Here are Riley and I getting ready to go into the Fox:
Here is my mom and Riley at the Fox:
Afterward, Riley and I got a little goofy while waiting for Nana to take a picture of the outside of the Fox (she's a hard-core scrapbooker!!):

And here is the promised sneak preview! Nana brought a present for me this trip... and the postmark immediately captured my attention! More to come on this later....

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Impromptu playdate

While Riley was at tap class and Austin was at baseball practice, Reece and I had an hour to kill at the dance studio. Usually I take her up the hill to the playground, and I read my book. Yesterday, I suggested that Reece take her pink soccer ball.

As we were walking in to the studio, we passed a todder (I think he's close to 2), and he looked up with delight at Reece and exclaimed, "BALL!" She giggled! He followed her around, saying "Ball!" over and over again. I could tell Reece was not exactly sure what to do. That's one of the perils of being the baby in the family, you don't know what to expect with little ones!

I suggested she could roll the ball to him and have him roll it back. She did this a few times, and then she realized that if she rolled it across the room he would go get it and bring it back. She was delighted! "We're playing fetch!" Oh gracious, he's not a puppy! The other mom got a kick out of it though!

Then Reece tried to hide the ball from him, because she was done --- but like a good toddler, he found it and squealed, "BALL!!" I told her, "He thinks you're playing a new game: Find the ball!" She thought this was great, and she hid it in a few different places for him. A couple of times he would take the ball and start walking away. She looked at him curiously, but didn't get upset (to my delight)! His mom would ask him to take the ball back to Reece, and he would, and she would play again.

He got bored before Reece did, so they went into the other room and I took Reece to the playground. We came back in time to pick up Riley, and while we were waiting, I wanted to recall the playing that she did with this little guy (she kept calling him "The best toddler ever!"). She cracked me up by saying, "I had fun playing with him! He was only being a toddler, taking the ball. He wasn't TRYING to be a thief!" Everyone in the room laughed out loud!

I really enjoyed watching that little interaction! Reece wants to bring her soccer ball again next week, so they can play together again!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Getting back into co-regulation

One of the side effects of all of the stuff going on with Austin, is that Reece has retreated back into herself a little bit. We had an RDI appointment the week before last, and our consultant wanted us to work on co-regulation again. She came up with this idea of reading a book together using some silly voices.

Before the clip that I'm going to upload here, we had already read one book together, taking turns. The book that you see us with is one of Reece's favorites, and I figured it would be more difficult for her to be flexible with it (which is why I chose it!). She had already read through nearly once, ignoring me completely, and without using any funny voices. I pretended to be asleep and to look away like I wasn't paying attention, and all she did was get upset with me and tell me she had to start over because she hadn't used funny voices. That is where this clip begins. As she was reading again, I realized I had to do something to get her attention, and get us into at least a little bit of co-regulation.




It's definitely not perfect, but what is?! I should have paused more, and I should have traded off doing the "One pig does not" part. But it was pretty good for as much stress as we've all been through. Riley interrupted us, which you can see, but Reece was able to pull it back together and focus on us again.

We have some work ahead of us for sure, but that's OK. I can't blame her for her reactions... we've all been really scared and concerned about Austin. It will take some time, but she'll be OK and she'll be more back to herself again.

That's it??

The nurse from the neurologist just called me back. She listened to all the details, and told me to keep up with the increase in his evening dose of medicine. I wonder why it's the evening dose though, because he takes that dose AFTER the time when he had the seizure. I not a doctor, though, so I guess I'll have to trust that they know what they are doing.

The nurse told me she would call in the new prescription, and let our neurologist know what had happened, and she would call me back if she had any further instructions for me. She said that she doubted there would be anything additional though, and to keep doing what we're doing with monitoring and meds.

I wonder how they can be so darn calm? LOL I guess it doesn't help to freak out, but I want someone to be as shocked as I was! I'm sure they are used to dealing with this, and more, but I'm not used to it!

I'll post another update if they tell me anything more.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Heard back from the neurologist's office

I spoke with the on-call doctor this morning, and he wants us to increase the evening dose of Austin's meds and keep the morning dose the same. We are supposed to call his regular neuro on Monday to let her know what happened last night.

Austin woke up this morning and seems to be fine! Please continue to pray for him.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Another seizure

Tonight around 7:45 Riley came in to the bedroom to tell me that Austin was ignoring her. Thinking this was just a sibling issue, I told her to leave him alone. (I won't do THAT again! I'll believe her next time she comes to tell me he is ignoring her!!!!) A few minutes later I went into the living room to find Austin on the floor unresponsive but conscious. I helped him get up and he started walking around, still unresponsive. He walked into the wall, and tried to walk on top of the couch. But he came back around in just another few seconds, so I think he was out of it for only a couple of minutes. His memory was gone again --- couldn't tell me what day it is, what we did today, anything about the baseball game he played in last night. DH was gone at rehearsal tonight so I hadn't been able to reach him and I was scared to death.

I took some video to record Austin's responses and behavior when he was coming around. Then I went ahead and gave Austin his regular meds 45 minutes early, because he looked like he was going to fall asleep. He did fall asleep about an hour after the seizure, still not having all of his memory back. Dh got home and we decided we would let him sleep for 90 minutes, but Austin woke up shortly after that decision. He'd been asleep for an hour. When he woke, he was confused about how he'd ended up in bed, but he was himself again! He knew the day of the week, who had won the race, what happened in his ball game last night --- everything except that he'd had a seizure. He had no memory of that.

I'm going to call the neurologist in the morning. 2 weeks ago, Austin had a small episode at the Braves game where he lost awareness for a few seconds but nobody noticed, except for him. He remembered that one, and told his daddy the next day. Then 2 nights ago, on Wednesday, he told me he had a headache. Then about 8 minutes later he told me he had another headache. I asked him to tell me when it stopped, and it was about 20 seconds. Then it happened a 3rd time, also about 20 seconds. All of these events (including tonight) happened around 7:45-8 PM, about 90 minutes before his evening dose of meds are due. I was going to call on Monday to talk with her about the headaches, and to ask if these might be seizures, but I didn't want to seem like an over-reacting parent.

I can honestly say that I never thought he'd have another seizure, especially since it's been 7 weeks since the one at the pool. I was supposed to have ordered him a medic alert tag, but I didn't. I just thought we'd do the meds for a few years, nothing would happen again, and I just filed this whole experience away as in the past. Please pray for Austin and for us, that we get this all figured out. I will update my blog once I have news from the neurologist.

Weekly Review: 9/29 -10/3

I've decided to steal Lisa's format for Weekly Review, since it's so much easier on the eyes! Here is what we accomplished this week!

Everyone:

  • Began learning about Ancient Greece via Story of the World, Volume 1 (Austin and Riley each narrated one of the chapters)
  • Began learning Latin with Minimus Latin
  • Resumed Spanish with La Clase Divertida, Level 1
  • Listened to the Bible story of the birth of Moses through the Passover
  • Listened to the music of Vivaldi
  • Studied artwork of Jan Van Eyck
  • Reviewed the two hymns we've learned so far - Holy, Holy, Holy and Take My Life and Let It Be
  • Finished studying this month's character trait - Faith
  • Finished learning about glens, and began learning about earthquakes with Madame How and Lady Why
  • Watched DK Eyewitness: Insect DVD
  • Listened to The Mysterious Benedict Society during lunch
Austin:
  • Read 5 chapters of The Bronze Bow, narrated two
  • Finished Lesson 5 of MUS Epsilon, completed Test (98%), and began Lesson 6
  • Did two narrations using Writing With Ease, typed one
  • Read 5 sections of It Couldn't Just Happen, narrated one
  • Finished the Adverbs section of Junior Analytical Grammar, began Patterns 1&2 section
  • Daily free reading, began Tales of the Greek Heroes by Roger Lancelyn Green
  • One Baseball practice, one Baseball game (lost)
Riley:
  • Read 10 chapters of Detectives in Togas, narrated twice
  • Read 2 sections of Christian Liberty Nature Reader 4, narrated once
  • Did 4 lessons of Horizons Math 4, completed Test 3 (100%)
  • Math facts drill on the computer
  • Completed 2 lessons of First Language Lessons, Level 3
  • Did two narrations from Writing With Ease
  • Learning to type with Typing Instructor Deluxe
  • Daily free reading, began The Secret Garden
  • One tap class, one jazz class, one ballet class
Reece:
  • Listened to Five True Dog Tales
  • Did 4 lessons of Horizons Math K
  • Played Rainbow Rock computer game for math game day
  • Did 4 pages of Explode the Code 1
  • Listened to 2 chapters of Boy of the Pyramids
  • Listened to 4 sections of Christian Liberty Nature Reader 1
  • Read 2 Bob Books
  • Wrote 4 word sentences from copywork
  • Formal RDI work with mom
That was our week! We accomplished everything we planned to do, which is always nice!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

"I want to be an author when I grow up"

Riley has been writing a book for the last week or so. She isn't known for her follow-through, so I stayed out of it! Today, she brought her finished product to me! This is a story about Molly, and her desire to do a triple spin in a skating competition. It was very hard for her, but she didn't give up, and in the end she was able to do it!
It is a wonderful little story! About 8 pages long, but full of dialogue and description! The language she uses is amazing, and I would like to say, reflective of the quality literature she has been exposed to! She also included illustrations!
I just adore this book! It's messy, and desperately needs attention in the areas of spelling, punctuation, and I'm wondering if the child has ever heard of capital letters! But I am not touching a thing! I absolutely, positively ADORE it!
When I finished reading, Austin said, "Are you going to cry? You look like you're going to cry!" I really felt that way, too! I was so impressed with her story! I'm going to try to type up a few excerpts later on! :)

And Riley announced tonight that she wants to be an author when she grows up!

Trying to find the Zone

I have blogged here before about the Zone of Proximal Development - that area where the child is able to learn best, where he or she is not pushed so far beyond their current level that they fall into frustration and cannot learn, nor where something is too easy that no brain work is involved. I believe in it. I trust it. It's where I endeavor to keep my children in their lessons.

So why is it giving me so much trouble?! Why does the zone keep changing from day to day?! Why do Austin and Reece wake up some days not remembering things they knew yesterday?!?! Keeping in mind these are the same children who can recall obscure details, facts, and trivia related to sports (Austin), insects (Reece), and the weather (both).

The neurologist encouraged me that perhaps Austin wouldn't experience this anymore now that he's on medication. Perhaps the seizures he was having were causing this problem? Apparently not.

I had hoped with Reece that I could avoid making whatever mistakes I had made with Austin to "cause" his difficulties with learning, including his distaste for reading. But either I'm unwittingly making the same mistakes, or they weren't really my mistakes to begin with, and instead it's just "stuff" that comes along with the challenges these two children face.

::deep frustrated sigh::