Saturday, August 30, 2008

August in review #3 - therapies, special needs

 We had a full schedule of therapies.  We met with our speech therapist and case worker to discuss options for Eliana.  I'm considering using a program called Boardmaker or Overboard to enhance her communication skills.  It's basically using picture cards to communicate words and ideas that can't yet be spoken.  This would be in addition to using signs as well as verbal communication.  If anyone has feedback, I would love to hear it!

Physical therapy continues to be a struggle.  Eliana needs to work on strengthening her muscles to be able to walk better.  She is walking more and more - which is exciting.  She walks though with a wide gait and somewhat stiff legs - cute, but not the best for her long-term. 

Although when we met with her ped this week, she was pleased with her walk as she thought she needed the stability of a wider gait.  Hmmm...  I am thinking she will figure it out eventually - and probably with a little work from her therapist.  She is doing well in terms of her health and growth.  She is still on the traditional growth curve (ped seems pleased and a little surprised by this).  She is about 10th percentile for weight (21 pounds 6 ounces) and 25th percentile for height (31 inches).  This is for the standard growth chart which is very surprising.  For those that don't know, children with Down syndrome are typically smaller and even have their own growth chart. 

One note on a success this week in terms of Daniel's sensory issues.  When we were at the park, he came up to me crying because someone had poured sand on his head and down his back.  The sand had gone down his shirt and a little into his pants.  I was not surprised that he was upset.  I talked with him calmly and just brushed it all off.  He stopped crying and then went off to play.  This was a wonderful step for him!!!  At times something like this would just make him melt and getting over it would take a looooong time.  So, another YIPPEE for Daniel!

Here's the funny part of that story.  I asked him later what had happened.  I was curious since I hadn't seen it.  He told me that some boys were following him and following him before the sand was dumped.  I asked him why they were following him (wondering if it was a game) and he said with a funny little smile, "Because they like me".  I'm love that he sees no malice - just someone that likes him.

As an added part of our work with Daniel, his therapist thinks that he may benefit from speech therapy as well.  Eliana's therapist evaluated him briefly and informally and agreed.  His ability to sustain breaths and his vocal quality were some of the issues.  She also thought he might need to be seen by an ENT to assess if he has problems with his tonsils and adenoids (he sounds a little nasally).  He has never been checked for his as he has never had an ear infection which would have led to an examination.  I'm thankful to have an ENT that I trust.   I'm also thankful to have a great speech therapist on our team as well.  I will admit that I'm not thrilled about adding more therapy to our week, but very thankful that it can be done in our home.  I'm obviously thankful that we can get Daniel the help that he needs and we hope this will be a short term need.

I attended a special needs conference locally and found help and encouragment in most of the information there.  Some of it was also overwhelming and felt like a firehose of information - things I "should do".  I know that it's easy for all moms to feel guilt about the things that they should be doing or wish that they were doing.  For me, having a special needs child has added even more to that plate.  I wonder if she will somehow fall behind or not get something because of my failures.  I know that this is a common feeling from talking with other moms.  It's something I work to hand over to God.  I know I can't do it all.  I can only try my best and leave the rest to Him.  Easier said than done at some times.  

Lastly, I was able to attend a Mom's night out with our local Down syndrome group.  It was fun and I'm grateful to my family for working it out so I could go.  It was nice to be with other moms and ask questions, talk, share and laugh.  It helps to learn from others and I'm thankful to have this support.

Wow, this is world in which I never thought I'd be a part.  We've done therapies in the past, but just short-term for speech.  I'm so thankful to live in a place where we have access to so many resources to help our special little people.  I'm also very thankful to have special little people in my life!  It is a blessing!  Truly it is!



Friday, August 29, 2008

August in review #2 (homeschool related)

Still trying to catch up so I'll just post some of the highlights of our month.  Sounds easy enough, huh? 

We are starting everything up with school again.  I hosted our first Mom's meeting for our Five in a Row homeschool group.  Our topic was on organizers and planners.  It was fun to hear what others are doing and have done.  I enjoy gleaning ideas and making them work for our family.  Last year, I had a massive planner - everything that I thought I might need for the year.  LOL

This year, I'm trying to keep a little more simple.  Of course, even with being simple, it still isn't finished.  I have started making the pages though and hope to have it done soon!  I'm ready for a bound book instead of loose pages everywhere!

I had a second meeting on that same Sunday for a swap.  I organized a Preschool Activity Bag Swap using the ideas from this book.  It was a wonderful way to run the swap.  We ended up with 28 bags to swap!!!  What a lot of bags.  I pondered the easiest way to get this done and thankfully with the help of many, it worked out beautifully.  Daniel is thrilled to have a huge lot of new "activities".  I know that one day they will be fun for Eliana too!

We continued our 3 week study of the Olympics.  We have been using lapbook resources that we purchased from Live and Learn Press  It's been a great resource.  We have supplemented a LOT of time watching the games which has been interesting and fun.  Eliana very much gets into the spirit of the games as she loves to clap (one of her favorite things to do). 

We ended our study with another round of "Family Olympics".  Christopher had missed out on the birthday party with games and was interested in doing it.  We invited friends over for round 2 and had a blast.  We began with a torch relay.  The games were a little more physical this time around.  We had hurdles, long jump and javelin as our "triatholon".  We also had gymnastics (balance beam) and discus.


And a new event - synchronized balance beam. 

We finished the evening with a really yummy meal!  I'll share it with you as you may want to try it at home.  You can find the recipes here

Shish Kebabs over Yellow Rice

Asian Salad

Fresh fruit

I love this site (menus4moms) as it has menu plans and recipes for each week.  There are years worth of archives and it is FREE!  Did I mention that I love this site?!  If you haven't been over there - go try it out!

One of our back to school traditions is getting new school supplies.  This is typically a part of our first day of school.  Well, this year, we came back from the beach late Sun night and started on Mon morning.  Not enough time for me to pull it together.  So it got postponed for weeks.  Rebecca very sweetly reminded me of it - and finally I gathered all the things I'd bought and surprised them with some goodies.

They received things like their new math books.  LOL  Isaiah was excited to be moving up to a new level.  They also got some new art supplies, handwriting books, a calculator and new books.  I put in a few silly little things that were a huge hit - wikki stix and a white board.  I received several sweet notes on that white board that night.  I should have bought one for each of them instead of one to share. 

(Excuse the shadow - still learning with my camera.  LOL)  Daniel was so excited about his new handwriting "dough" and letter cards that he wanted to start handwriting right away.  No problem! 



Wednesday, August 27, 2008

August - in review - part 1 (family and friends)

Too many things to catch up on, so I'm going to try to lump some together.  ;-)

I had a birthday this month - don't ask how old - I'm not telling.  ;-)  I really don't like getting older.  I know it's better than the alternative, I just don't want to get "old".  Being diagnosed with osteoarthritis a few years ago didn't help with that.  I thought I'd have a few more decades before getting something like that.  One doctor told me that he wasn't surprised at all - that it made sense given the difficulties of my pregnancies.  It was still worth it though - every single one of those precious children!!!

My birthday was made sweet by family and friends.  Rebecca made me breakfast in bed - accompanied by cards that she and the boys had made.  I love this sweet and thoughtful gesture from ALL of my children. 

Later in the morning, a precious friend also named Rebecca, gave both Catherine and I the gift of a pedicure.  We were surprised to find a beautiful gift basket of chocolates waiting for us when we arrived.  Did I also mention that she stayed at my house and watched all of our children?  (Minus the oldest who was in Drivers Ed)  It was relaxing and pampering to have this time out. 

I received a gift that was something I've been wanting - a new camera!  Mine died a few months ago.  Christopher's has gone missing.  So we've been down to one camera - Rebecca's - and it's been hard for me.  Roger and his parents gave me this wonderful gift and I'm loving it!!!  It has a huge screen on the back and lots of neat features.  Did I mention that I love it?!  :D  Hopefully I'll get better about posting more on here. 

I was treated to 2 desserts - chocolate cake and banana pudding.  Rebecca made them both and we all thought they were delicious. 

The following week, while Roger was out of town, we headed to Virginia to visit with friends.  We had a great time and one of the neat things we did was to tour a cave.  I love caves!  I've always been interested in them.  Our family visited Mammoth Caves about 5 years ago and since then I've been hooked.  These were beautiful and interesting.  Christopher took lots of photos for me so my hands were free to help little people.  Here are a few highlights.

We also had fun just playing and being with our friends.  We still wish they lived right next door though!  That's probably enough for now.  More later on schooling and a few other August happenings. 




Friday, August 22, 2008

What is Eliana up to?

Our little cutie pie is a busy, busy girl!  She continues to delight all of us!  I don't know that I can say often enough what an incredible delight she is to our family!  I'm so very thankful that God chose to bless us with Eliana!

Eliana is enjoying exploring.  She is able to find more to get into as she has learned to walk and climb.  There are many more things in her field of vision - and grasp!  She loves to copy, which is really quite fun!  She likes to try to open the door - standing on her little tippy toes.  Thankfully she isn't even close to being able to turn the knob.  I'm not looking forward to mastery of that skill!

She is walking more and more!  She is once again "on the scale" developmentally for her age in terms of physical development.  I know that this has little to do with me and am thankful for all that she has been able to learn.  I'm thankful for a great group of therapists working with her as well.

Part of her exploring has been making new messes. 

 She is also signing more and more!  She is adding more and more each week.  We have been watching Baby Signing Times - and she LOVES it.  She has learned to ask for it by signing baby.  She cries/whimpers when it is over too.  It is neat to see her trying to imitate the signs as she is watching them.

Here are some of the signs that she knows.

*More               *Milk                 *Eat                      *All Done

*Music            *Baby               *Shoes                 *Head

*Knees           *Toes               *Ball                     *Sleep

*Diaper          *Mommy           *Daddy                *Please

She also likes to sign to songs.  I think that music is going to be a great avenue for teaching Eliana.  She likes signing to "Twinkle Twinkle", "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes", "Itsy Bitsy Spider", "Pat-a-cake" , "If You're Happy and you Know it" and "B-I-N-G-O"

 One more cute picture.



Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Fun Day

Yesterday was a lovely day.  We had our first meeting of our Five in a Row homeschool group.  We met at a wonderful local park (Pullen) that has rides in addition to a great playspace.  We had thought it might rain and it looked very threatening on our drive over.  Instead, we enjoyed cooler than usual temps - and a gorgeous day!

It was fun to welcome 3 new families to our group and to see old friends as well.  I enjoy our field trips and outings so much and I'm glad to get back to them.  We typically go on field trips every other week with this group.  It's a really special group of friends for whom I've very thankful. 

The children had a great time running around and playing.  Christopher did a great job taking a wide variety of photos of all of the children.  He is going to help with photography for our group's yearbook.  I think he has a good eye. 

After the park, I wanted to run by the Farmer's Market since we were so close.  It was a quick trip due to some sleepers, but we did manage to buy some yummy things.

Hmm ... can you tell what this is - or how much of it?


I know this doesn't look like a lot - but it's 65 ears of corn.  I thought I'd try my hand at putting some in the freezer.  I did about 25 ears last night with Roger's help.  I finished the rest tonight with a friends help.  The corn tastes sweet and yummy!  I hope we'll enjoy it.

More later.  It's late now and I need to get some sleep.  We've had a busy week and I have more I'd like to share.



Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Little Funny

I'm sooo behind - but will try to catch up on some of the highlights of the last couple of weeks - sometime.  ;-)  Just thought I'd share a little funny.

Earlier today as I was coming down the stairs I heard someone in the refrigerator.  As I entered the kitchen and saw our 4yo, I asked him what he was trying to find.  Now, to those that may not remember, this is our child that we've been working on with sensory issues - lots of them manifesting themselves in feeding issues.  He eats mostly white/brown foods and not very many of them.

He poked his head around the door and asked if it was alright for him to get a carrot!!!  I was stunned and said that he was welcome to a carrot any time!  So, he helped himself to one small carrot and really did eat it!

He must be enjoying this freedom as I saw him do it again later in the day. 

I'm just thrilled he is eating a vegetable!  It's really his only one unless you count the pumpkin I put into his favorite muffins.

Yeah Daniel!!! 



Saturday, August 9, 2008

Surprise - Retropost

I think I'm going to need to post a slew of these - retroposts!  There are so many things I'd love to share and just not enough time to post.  This was a little something fun that I thought I'd share though.  I'm going to post this at an earlier date - just the day after it happened.  (Even though it's 4 days past in reality.)

We had our dear friends from VA come visit this week.  It happened to be the week of the girl's (my friends girls) birthdays.  I thought it would be fun to throw them a surprise birthday party.  We had planned it for Monday night.  It was a surprise even to my friend.  I was bummed to hear on Monday morning that one of her children had a rash and the visit was to be postponed another 24 hours.  Well, some quick phone calls to friends and we set up another time for the party - Wed at lunch time.

I had wanted this to be a surprise as I thought it would be really special.  I knew that they didn't expect anything.  They had an appointment out on Wed morning and while they were gone, our house was being readied.  There was cleaning to do, decorations to be put up and more.

We had chosen an Olympic theme.  One of our friends offered to make the cake.  I was thrilled as I knew her efforts would be much better than mine.  Look at what she did!!!!  It was an amazing cake.

The rings were done in 2 flavors - chocolate and white.  The birthday girls had their initials done in the number of candles for their birthday.  The signs said Happy Birthday in languages from all over the world.  It was a spectacular and beautiful (and yummy) cake!

When they arrived at our house, we had 13 children waiting quietly.  When the girls walked in everyone yelled "Surprise"!  And it was.  :-)  I am so glad that we were able to do this!  It meant a lot to the girls (and their mama) to have a party with their friends.  It was definitely a group effort in getting it all done too.  We had a potluck style lunch with hamburgers, hotdogs, fruit, chips/salsa, potato salad and pasta salad.  Yum! 

After eating, we played games - Olympic style!  We shared some Olympic facts (it helps to have been studying that this week!).  We started with a torch relay.  I had planned the games for outside, but since it was the middle of the day - and hot - we opted for inside instead.  This required some creative changes in what we did.

The children were split into 2 teams for the relay.  The first pair had to run across the room to a chair and crawl through it before passing the torch to the next team member.  The next pair had to hop around the kitchen island to the foot of the stairs.  The third pair raced up the stairs and then "bumped" down them.  The fourth pair carried younger childrnen on their feet to the hallway.  The fifth pair slid across the floor on their stomachs.  The last pair did a log roll across the room.  It was fast-paced and fun!

Some of the other games we played included:

*Discus - (throwing paper plates)

*Marshmellow race (like egg and spoon - only neater)

*Javelin (straws served for a javelin)

*Volleyball (we used baby blankets to toss and catch the ball)

We had a few awarding of a crown of leaves which Rebecca made.   The games were a hit and provided lots of laughs.  I had a few more planned, but not enough time for everything. 

We ended the party with cake, opening presents and a pinata!  

Happy Birthday Hannah and Lauren! From your friends in NC!

I have more pictures - but they aren't loaded (and I don't know how).  Maybe they'll get added later - we'll see.



Friday, August 8, 2008

Voice of the Martyrs

 Hi Friends,

I recently received an email from Voice of the Martyrs asking if I would pray for the people of China.  As the eyes of the world are turned to this nation, it is an excellent opportunity to remember to pray for the persecuted Christians of this country.  If you would like a free prayer band, you can follow the link below.

Prayer Band for China

As you wear this band, it will help you to remember to pray for those being persecuted for their faith.



Monday, August 4, 2008

First Week of School

Well, we have our first week under our belts.  It was a little crazy - and not as complete as I would have liked, but it is a start!  We have some traditions that our family has enjoyed for our first day.  We typically go out to breakfast and talk about our goals for the year and pray.  Roger joins us and it's a fun family time.

In our new style of just doing the best we can, we opted for a casual breakfast - much to the chagrin of my hungry 15yo.  We picked up homemade biscuits at a great little restaurant and went to a local park.  I thought it would be fun to play for a bit.  Roger met us there and we prayed over our school - short and sweet.  We didn't really talk about goals, but that can come later.

We had to hurry back for Eliana's therapy.  Typically I have a surprise for the children in the form of new school supplies and goodies.  Well, I didn't get to it this year.  I have things for them - just didn't get around to putting them out.  *sigh*  LOL  I will say that starting school the day after you return from the beach is probably a poor idea.  ;-) 

Here are some photos of my students.  One of them did not want HIS picture taken.  lol 

A silly boy who dressed himself. 


Here's some of what we did this week.  We worked on some All About Me pages.  I love doing this each year and recording information about them.  I think that they will enjoy looking back and having this.  We used some pages that I have made with basic information from height and weight to family members, interests and more.  I also have them draw a picture of themselves and trace their hands.  We also used some of the lapbook components from Live and Learn Press in our notebooks.  This unit is a free one so check it out if you'd like to do one too!  Just click on All About Me once you are on their site to download it.

This photo cracked me up.  I didn't think our day was long, but somebody was all tuckered out!  lol

We also completed our ice cream study.  This too is a free resource found at homeschool share (see the link in my sidebar).  We learned about the history of ice cream, how ice cream is made as well as making it ourselves.  (We had to practice this several times!) 

We ended the week with a tour of Coldstone Creamery.  Yum!  The tour was free and I encourage you to call if you want to tour one near you.  We visited with friends and were told they could take a group of up to 15.  I thought the 10 of us filled a lot of space in the small back rooms. 

Some of us waiting for the tour to begin.

We toured the back area seeing the large refrigerator, freezer and place where they make ice cream.  The ice cream comes in premeasured bags to which they add flavors to make the basic ice creams.

They also make cakes and let the children try their hand at icing the cake.  We saw how they make waffle cones and cups using a waffle griddle.

This is the frozen slab that the use to mix ingredients into the ice cream.

We had great hosts and it was a lot of fun.  Of course we ended the tour with eating ice cream.

Christopher is working on some high school level things - writing an essay, finishing algebra, beginning chemistry and more.  I'll post another time on all that we are using for his 10th grade year.  He helps take some of the photos - and doesn't really like being in them. 

There is always so much to write and never enough time to do it.  I feel that way about so many things though and I'm sure it isn't going to change.  More later on our upcoming week as we begin a study on the Olympics and Christopher begins Driver's Ed!



Saturday, August 2, 2008

Summer Days and Baseball

Joshua is our baseball player.  He likes reading books about baseball and watching games.  This is his first year playing other than t-ball a couple of years ago.  He is having a great time too.  He even dreams of being a major league ball player when he grows up.  The only problem is that his skills don't match his dreams.  (I'm not sure that will stop him though!)

You see, until a week ago, Joshua had never hit the ball.  In spite of this, he went cheerfully to each game and practice and had a great time.  Last week he was thrilled to make his first hit.  I was happy too - and also bummed because I missed it!

This week we had 3 games scheduled as make ups (rained out games).  The first game was Fri night and our whole family went.  What a thrill to see Joshua hit the ball again!  He made it safely to first base, and eventually with the help of a few more batters, to home!  You should have heard the yelling - and it wasn't just his family!  His whole team - and their parents - were cheering for Joshua.  I don't think it has escaped anyone's notice that he hasn't hit it much.  I also hope that they notice his incredible attitude and sportsmanship!  I wish I'd taken a picture of his face - what happiness.

The next game was Sat morning and due to other sports conflicts (Christopher and football), our family was split.  I was excited to go to Joshua's game.  It was even more exciting when he hit the ball - and made it to second base!  When the next batter came up, he made it home!!!  Yippee!!!  This was so exciting. 

After the game, the umpire came over to the dugout and waited while the coach talked to the team.  When he finished, the ump called Joshua to come over.  (And she called him by name!)  She asked if she could give him a hug and told him what a great job he had done.  She even commented on the fact that he had made hits in the last three games.  I was astonished that she had noticed.  (She is a great ump - very encouraging to the kids.)  This really touched my heart.

The last game was supposed to be today (Sunday), but the other team cancelled due to not enough players.  Since our team was already there, they had a game against the parents and siblings.  The baseball team won!  I think having to hit against the pitching machine gave some a new appreciation for the difficulty in doing that.

I've learned a lot from watching Joshua.  He has a great attitude.  My Dad would be proud.  (He was a coach and really focused on having a good attitude.)  I'm proud of him too.  He has had fun playing baseball and being a part of a team even when he doesn't do well.  I haven't seen him get mad or upset.  He just takes things as they are and moves on.  He cheers for his teamates and does his best.  He is a great example.  I'm thankful that God gave me this boy to love and also to learn from. 

We head into playoffs this week with the first (hopefully) game on Wed.  I'm hoping that Joshua can keep up his streak and get another hit!