Monday is for Catching up

So, another weekend has passed rather too quickly.  Ours was filled with going door-to-door to campaign (Kevin & the boy), a wedding and church (me and the girl), and campaign “strategizing”.  The Primary is in two weeks, the ballots have been mailed out (Oregon voted for “vote-by-mail” several years ago, though I do miss going to the local school and voting in a booth).    I wouldn’t be surprised if all of the candidates go out of town for a break after the election.    Running for office leaves very little room for family time.

So, As I posted above, Monday is our “catch-up” day.  We haven’t been having school on Mondays this year as it seems that Monday is the day that we clean up and catch up after the weekend.   So we catch up on laundry, dishes, any kind of clean up of anything left out over the weekend, correspondence, blogging, etc.

I thought that I would share some of the things we’ve been doing in the past few months that I hadn’t really had the time to chat about.

These are my friends, Brenda & Carrie.  We first met in our church youth group (I actually met Carrie earlier at a church camp)  years, and years ago, and have kept connected with each other over the years.  Now that we’re all busy wives and mothers, time to get together and chat is more of an effort.  So we had lunch on a recent Saturday at an Asian restaurant with a view of the water and the ducks and other waterfowl that congregate there.   Brenda is a photographer (She’s on my list of photographers, BGE Photography), and she and I both brought our cameras along to take pictures after lunch.

 

 

 

Then, we went to a classic car show at the Fairgrounds.  “Mater” from “CARS” was going to be there and my son is a big fan of that movie.  There were several other “souped” up cars, trucks and motorcycles as well.  I post the picture of the Impala as that was my first car (though mine was a ’76).   A car show is also a good way to pass a rainy afternoon.

 

 

 

 

Then, Kevin had an interview regarding his run for office.  His interviewer has his own show on Youtube, so he tapes in a room that also serves as a model train room and display area.  So while the interview was being taped, I took pictures of the displays which included this colorful display of insulators .

 

 

 

 

 

Nearly a month ago, Kevin took part in a candidate’s forum with the incumbent and the other opponent.  This was recorded and rebroadcast on tv and radio.  He bought some dressier clothes (he had been wearing polos, shorts and a wool cap until now.  However, something a bit dressier was called for this time).

Let’s just say this.   HE TOTALLY ROCKED THE FORUM!

 

 

 

 

…….and he was on tv………….again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As election day approaches, one needs to keep their name fresh in the mind of the public.  So, we had a banner made, and stood on walkways over busy street, highways and street corners and waved to the rush hour traffic (more folks honked than, ahem, “saluted”)

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, we had a fairly nice morning, so the kids and I took a walk to the park.   I brought the camera along.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kids felt that I was slowing them down because “Mom’s taking another picture”.

 

 

But, hey, I like to take pictures

 

 

 

………..especially when flowers are in bloom and colorful

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never too old for the playground

 

 

 

 

 

 

~Elizabeth

 

 

 

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What Curriculum Do You Use?

Since my recent post about Autism awareness, I’ve been asked about some of my curriculum choices  for my son, as I homeschool him.

So, I’ll share the journey of how we started with him, and the curriculum that didn’t work and what seems to be working now.

Fortunately, I have a VERY verbal son.  I have encountered parents with children on the spectrum, who have told me that their autistic teenager still doesn’t speak or has a vocabulary of very few words.  A cashier at Walmart once told me that she had yet to hear her 15 year old call her “Mom”.  I still tear up when I think about that.  I love hearing my kids call me “Mom”!    A lot of kids on the spectrum don’t connect with other people (unless those people are invading their space, then you have a connection that you don’t want, meaning possible meltdown).

When I started homeschooling my daughter (she’s fine and not on the spectrum at all), she was ready to read at age 4.   I figured that out after weeks of answering the question “What does that sign say?” while in the car running errands.   So I used “Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons”.   This program was actually the one used in my class when I was in the 1st grade.   It’s completely phonics-based.   So in a short time, our daughter was reading her books to herself (which gave us a little break from reading “Go Dog Go” repeatedly.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved to read to her, but I was hoping for some variety.   To this day, I can recite some of her books almost verbatim).    My son, was never interested in sitting down and having books read to him.  He was still in “examination” mode.   If you gave him a book to look at, he would examine it from every angle and then eventually toss it and move on to something else.  If I read a story, he wanted to be doing something.   Also, he didn’t start talking until he was nearly 3, so his vocabulary was limited and it only expanded about every 6 months.    So when it was time for him to learn to read, he wasn’t really ready until he was about 9.  I used the same program that I did with my daughter, and he caught on a lot quicker than he would have if I tried to force it at age 6 or 7.

For Math, I started with Saxon.   From level K through Grade 3, we did really well.  It was easy to teach and learn.  After that, the curriculum switches  to a text book and the teachers manual didn’t help me explain certain principals.  It just gave the answers.  Since then, I’ve checked out other math products and finally, found MATH-U-SEE, and now my daughter no longer dreads Math, and neither do I.   With our son, he grasped the concepts of adding and subtracting single digits, but multiple digits throw him off.   As far as multiplication and division go, he is totally thrown off.  He knows the answers to a few multiplication problems (anything multiplied by 0,1,2, 10, and some of the 5’s).

For History and Science, consumable workbooks and textbooks  don’t seem to work for my son.  So what I have been doing is checking out books and DVD’s from the library.   I’ve read to him (yes, NOW he’ll sit still and listen while I read) about various historical figures (when I told him that I was going to read about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, he asked, “They took the subway?”).  “Bill Nye The Science Guy” DVDs cover all sorts of scientific topics.   We’ve checked out DVD’s covering presidents, families in other countries, the United States, etc.  He grasps that information better in that medium.

Now as far as helping him overcome his learning obstacles, a friend had told me about a learning service in the next town who had helped her son.  So, I went there and had my son tested for what is called SOI (Structure of Intellect).  This basically told us where his strengths and weaknesses were as far as how his brain functions.   From that information, the company put together a workbook specifically for my son, full of worksheets to help his thinking and problem solving skills.  Some pages are easier than others for him, and I always need to make sure that he read the directions and didn’t just look at the page and “figure” out what was being asked of him (and he doesn’t like to go back and correct things, but then again, who really does?).    The SOI Systems website is here at http://www.soisystems.com/

Another great resource is  Dr. Daniel G. Amen MD (yes, that is really his last name) who heads up the Amen Clinics.   He has spent years studying the brain and how nutrition and whatever else we put into our bodies affect brain function.   Occasionally, his seminars are featured on PBS and are really fascinating.   His website is WWW.AMENCLINICS.COM

My son is also taking part in a health study for a supplement called Juice Plus.  These are capsules that he takes every day and each capsule consists of whole fruits and vegetables.  Feeding the brain basically.   Their website is https://www.juiceplus.com

I have also been advised to take my son to see an optometric doctor who specializes in therapies for developmentally delayed children.   A few years ago, I did have my son wearing Irlen lenses (www.irlen.com) .   However, we’re holding off in putting him back into those until he’s seen the new eye doctor.

There are also daily exercises that he needs to do in order to help some things connect in his brain that will help him grasp what he learns.

Some other websites that have been recommended to me:

Future Horizons       http://www.FHautism.com and http://www.FHsensory.com

http://www.nordicnaturals.com

http://www.balametrics.com

http://www.callirobics.com    (for writing)

http://www.interactivemetronome.com            (helps with motor planning and sequencing related to poor rhythm and timing)

http://www.acereader.com

http://www.literacyunlimited.com

http://www.linguisystems.com

http://www.sensoryedge.com

http://www.MINDWAREonline.com  (Brainy toys for kids of all ages).

And, at least to me, one of the best programs in character building (and I’m not biased because my friend owns the company.  This is an excellent program)  http://www.wechoosevirtues.com

Also the book, “Reflexes, Learning, and Behavior” by Sally Goddard has been recommended.

So that’s where we’re at now.    This year, progress with the SOI program and schooling has been slow as the last two years have been a bit chaotic for our family (a move last year followed by a political campaign this year.)

Elizabeth

Do I work?

This week, news was made when Hilary Rosen made a statement indicating that Ann Romney, who was a stay-at-home mom, had never worked a day in her life.  The fuss over that comment was heard all over Facebook (and other sites as well).  I imagine that there were hundreds of SAHM bloggers sitting down at their computers and typing out how much work they supposedly are not doing.

So I thought I’d join in.

The comment was made in reference to Mrs. Romney’s knowledge of the economic issues that women face.  So, I guess I’ll start there.  Well, one can argue that she lacks this knowledge due to having a larger income.  Maybe so, however, did she balance a monthly budget, pay bills, dole out allowances to her children with that paycheck?  Probably so.

What else does a stay at home mother do?

Well, I’ll just share what I do.  I plan and prepare meals (dietician/chef), do the grocery shopping (hunter/gatherer) listen to disagreements between the kids (moderator or referee), oversee their education because I homeschool (teacher), take care of and cleaning up after my family when they are sick (nurse), cleaning the house and training the kids to do the same (housekeeper that teaches home maintenance), guiding the youth of the house when they need correction (juvenile guidance counselor) and take care of discipline (some might say warden or parole officer).  I listen to their ideas, their stories, problems.   And most of all, I’m the secretary in that I keep track of schedules, and when my family needs new socks. I’m also a chauffeur, in that I drive my kids to the mall or to a homeschool co-op class or in my daughter’s case, a church event.   Throw in a political campaign, and suddenly almost every night has an event to be at, or I’m out shopping for what article of clothing might be needed for an upcoming event.

Then after all that going on in the day, we finally settle into bed, with that new magazine that came in the mail 3 days ago or that book you checked out from the library last week, and it’s 11PM, and your husband, who is ready to snooze looks over at you and asks, “You’re going to read now?”

Elizabeth

(Just for the record, my husband no longer has an issue with me having my light on to read at night.  It wasn’t always that way, but he’s fine with it now)

Phasing Out The Egg Hunt.

  Easter came quickly this year.  It arrived on the tail end of a very busy two weeks.   When one’s spouse is running for office, invitations to candidate forums, political groups, and neighborhood associations tend to increase as election day approaches.

This isn’t a political blog to be sure, but I’m just saying that I didn’t have as much time for Easter basket shopping.  I try to get my holiday shopping finished before the weekend of that holiday, when the majority are doing their Easter shopping.  I’m not a fan or crowds or chaotic shopping.

For many years, we dyed eggs with the kids on the day before Easter.  On Easter morning (or sometimes afternoon) my husband would hide those eggs in the most clever places (my daughter could always find them, however for our son, if he couldn’t see it outright, he didn’t want to hunt for it).   The kids are nearly 14 and 16 now, so this year I asked them if they still wanted to hunt eggs.   They pretty much informed us that they weren’t really interested anymore and for the past two years or so, they were hunting eggs to appease us, so they wouldn’t have to see us being sad that they’re growing up.   I think that my husband was sadder than I was, because he enjoyed finding odd, hard to find places for those eggs.

I asked the kids if the were too old for Easter baskets.  They both exclaimed “NO!”  Apparently, gifts and chocolate, one never outgrows.  So, I went out to find the container with their Easter baskets.  Unfortunately, moisture had made its way into the container, so their baskets and the Easter grass was useless.  So we figured that since we’re in a new phase with the kids and they wouldn’t be hunting eggs, I bought gift bags.  The kids still had their candy, and gifts and they were happy.

While they were enjoying their sugar high, their father and I went to see “Titanic” in 3D in the IMAX theater.

Not exactly like the Easter Sunday’s I remember from childhood, but, we are in a new phase in life, slightly changing some traditions and making new ones.

Ep.

I’m Very Aware!

April is Autism Awareness month.  As one mother of an autistic daughter wrote in our local paper, “Every month” is that month

Those of us who have been blessed with these unique children are aware every day, every hour, every minute and every second that Autism is a reality.

The mother mentioned above also wrote of instances where she would be out in public with her child and others around them would think that her child was undisciplined.   Those folks have no idea, that it could be worse.  Instead of a child who may not be patiently waiting in line and running around at a store or restaurant, they could be witnessing a child having a meltdown which could be viewed by others at a tantrum.   One day, I was in a grocery store and saw a mother with two preteen daughters walking with her while her preteen son was sitting in the shopping cart, wailing loudly.  I’m sure that this mother was getting some critical looks from others for how her son was acting.  When I passed her, I tried to give an understanding smile, because I was pretty sure I knew what she was dealing with.

Having a child on the spectrum has been an interesting journey.  We’ve had to change some of our thinking in how we parent him.

For example: There was a 3 year period where our son would not eat anything except peanut butter sandwiches.  Anytime we went to a restaurant, I had a baggie with a PB sandwich in my purse (sometimes a little squished, and he didn’t like squished) for him.  I always felt that I was being viewed as playing favorites with my kids because we would order from the menu for our daughter and then pull out this squished sandwich for out son.

Another example is when we would go to a store or restaurant that, for some reason, he didn’t like.   When our son was little, there was a particular grocery store that he didn’t like (but I needed to shop there, in order to save money).  Every time, I would turn onto the freeway to go to that store, he’d let out a loud scream in the car.   It happened every time, for months.   Then one day, he stopped doing that.

 

When he was a toddler, he was suddenly freaked out about taking a bath.   For 6 months, I bathed a screaming kid, and then as suddenly as it started, he was back to being fine and happy with bathes.

He was also prone to suddenly scream.  Just a shriek.   He did that in front of a friend once and she immediately said, “Um, I wouldn’t let him do that”.   I really wanted to say, “Well gee, I’m sorry, he didn’t give me an itinerary as to when the screams were scheduled!”.  All I could really say was that I don’t “let” it happen, but I do handle them when they do happen.  For as much as he loves a predictable life, he himself can be unpredictable.  Finally one day, I decided that I was no longer going to accept embarrassment or criticism for his behaviour or how we handled him because those critics were not dealing with what we were dealing with and in some cases, refused to educate themselves about autism.

He’s a teenager now.  He can handle his meltdowns much better and we can tell when one is coming.  Usually, if we can catch it early enough, a long hug from one of us, and talking him through it helps to keep it from escalating to something more difficult to handle.

He may be taller than me now, but he still loves Disney cartoons and seeing “Mater” from “Cars” is like seeing a real celebrity.

 

When you ask him to smile, and it’s not in his nature to smile for a camera so the one he gives is more intense

When he draws detailed maps, hand-copied from our local phone book.

He has a different view on how things should be, such as “It should be illegal to drive when you’re a zombie” (or when you’re asleep).

He reminds us of “Sheldon Cooper” from “The Big Bang Theory” tv show in that he feels a need to have things a certain way (such as a particular spot on the couch when where are plenty of other places to sit).

 

We can remind him to do the dishes or sort his laundry and we receive the same line of questioning: “Will I have to do this for the rest of my life?”, “Is this a daily chore or a once a week chore?”, “Are you mad or just sounding firm?”

The kid entertains us and fascinates us daily, even when he looks at his older sister and randomly asks, “Are you glad that I’m not a boat?”.

 

Elizabeth

Busy Days

I’m sorry that I don’t have a picture or two to accompany this post (I’m a picture gal).   I just haven’t had much time to take many (other than the ones that I took of my husband speaking to a group).

I mentioned a few months ago that my husband is running for a local political office.   When he first decided to do this, we knew that life would get busy as election day was approaching.   Now for me, someone who likes to have a plan ahead of time, and some sort of essence of a schedule (considering that I keep track of the schedules of everyone else in the house—we only have one car, so we do need some organization in that department), this has been a stretch, taking me out of my comfort zone, having to be willing to give up some evenings to join Kevin when he goes to speaking engagements or neighbourhood association meetings that he’s been invited to.   This has definitely pushed the kids and I into learning to be more flexible.

I’m also trying to maintain some sort of normalcy for the kids while the hectic schedule tries to dominate our lives.

-Normal meals (as opposed to fast food type meals .  I’m thankful for my The Pioneer Woman’s cookbook and having an extra refrigerator and freezer for make-ahead meals)

-Social gatherings like church, and product parties (about 3 weeks ago, I took Heather with me to the first Pampered Chef party that I’ve been to in about 4 years! I forgot how much fun those were………and the food is always so tasty!).

-Keeping up with regular holidays (campaigning for an office can take up a lot of time and really, the kids don’t want to hear that their mother forgot to make them Easter Baskets because she was so absorbed in the campaign meetings…………..that just wouldn’t fly at this house).

-Date nights (can’t forget those!  Even if it’s just having 30 minutes of having a cup of coffee on your front porch (though I strongly recommend a coffeehouse).

In just over a month from now, we’ll find out if his/our (because a campaign affects EVERYONE in the family) efforts paid off.

However, for today, since it is my day to have the car, I’m driving various family members to doctor’s appointments, and running a couple of errands myself, and because Spring Break is over, we’re having school as well.

This is the kind of schedule that keeps life from getting boring 🙂

 

Elizabeth