Thursday, December 15, 2011

Petersen Family News Update

So here is an update of our family for the last several weeks...
Paul has been gone for the last 3 weeks to Jump Master School in GA. A Jump Master is someone who tells the parachutists when to jump from an airplane or a helicopter. This is something he has been wanting to do for a very long time and it is a very difficult course. But tomorrow morning he will graduate and become one of the Army's newest Jump Masters. We are very proud of the hard work he has done and that he has been able to accomplish this and are grateful for a caring Heavenly Father who helped him through the rough parts. We are very excited to have him home for 3 weeks before he leaves for his next class in January.
Calleen has been working since the beginning of the school year on getting Daniel and IEP. It came to a head this week when we had his eligibility meeting to determine if he was eligible for one. Despite tons of documentation otherwise they tried to tell me that his issues do not impact his education negatively.They determined that he does not qualify for an IEP. I and those who were with me disagreed with them so now we get to start the process of an independent evaluation. I now understand far better one of the reasons why my mother choose to homeschool. She said it was easier than fighting the school everyday all day for what her kids needed. Luckily I do homeschool him, otherwise all his therapists believe he would be lost in a school classroom.
Daniel got to visit the allergy and asthma doctor yesterday. He did so well for over a year with no asthma medications, but in October it hit with a vengeance again. They did a breathing test and for his age he should be blowing a 6. He blew a 1.5 no matter how many times they tried. So back he goes on heavy duty meds again. I'm starting to feel like a pharmacist with all the meds I'm giving out lately. He also tested highly positive for cat allergies. I guess there will be no cat ownership in our future. Since there used to be cats in the house before we moved here, I now get to spend some time cleaning all surfaces particularly in his room. Hopefully that will help make a difference with his asthma.
Miss Reagan got tubes put in her ears a couple of weeks ago, due to chronic fluid in her ears and moderate hearing loss. She was doing well with them until this morning when she said her ear hurt and we found yellow goo coming out of her ear... But her hearing is back to normal without the ear infection so that is a huge plus. We take her to the allergist next month.
That's our quick update. Hope all is well with you and yours!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Daniel's 1st Violin Recital

Daniel had his first violin recital on Saturday. Since Dad, Grandparents, and Aunts and Uncles couldn't be in attendance. Here it is in all it's viewing splendor...(The first clip honestly is my favorite.)

video video video video
video 
Daniel will be taking a break from his violin for a year or two and working on building his core strength and gross and fine motor skills. It is my hope that one day he will be able to go back to the violin and be able to enjoy playing it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Fun

Last weekend we had a bit of Christmas fun. It was our turn for Reagan's preschool to be at our house so before the kids got here; Daniel, Reagan and  I made sugar cookies for Daniel's math that day. Lots of counting and talking about half and whole cups. And of course lots of eating. When the kids got here they got to decorate the cookies for their snack. We also made salt dough ornaments pictured here. They helped from start to finish. Most of these I painted but you get the idea. Guess what will be coming your way in a package for your tree soon....We also made Christmas chains to help the kids count down until Christmas. Reagan surprised me by being the first one done. Daniel freaked out over having sticky hands with the glue. It's been awhile since we've done anything with glue. Guess we have to work on building his tolerance again.
 The next night we drove up to Palmer in the most awful weather. The wind was blowing so hard. That night in some places around here it was 110 miles an hour. It was raining which is extremely unusual for December in Alaska and it was 45 degrees in Palmer. (Anchorage was a little colder.) All that combined made for very treacherous roads. We passed many a car in the ditch. But we made it up there and back safely and had a grand time at the Christmas Festival at the Pyrah Pioneer Peak Farm. The kids saw the guy in red which they were excited to do. There was an ice luge to go down which was awesome, a snow maze, toboggan rides being pulled by a 4 wheeler, sweet shop, gift shop etc. The place that had just as long a line to see the man in red was the Hair shop. You could get your hair done like the "Who's" from "Whoville" from the Grinch Stole Christmas. Reagan was a little uncertain at first but quickly got into the Christmas spirit. I also sat for the hair. Unfortunately when you are taking two kids to a place like this by yourself, there aren't many pictures as you have to always be holding someone's hand. So you'll have to do with this one of Reagan and her hair. Daniel had just gotten a hair cut the weekend before or we would have had his hair done too. As it was his was too short.

 
Since we had just had our hair done, we couldn't just go home and go to bed. Someone had to see our cute hairstyles. So we drove back to Anchorage and went to the Church Christmas party "a la Whoville". As you might imagine we were the talk of the party... Yes Mom, our hair was back to normal for church the next day. Reagan insisted I keep the cones they put in our hair so we could do it again sometime. The kids got to see Santa again that night. So he'd better have their list down as they saw him twice in one day...


 Since we got to the party about half way through I felt like it was  a good fit for Daniel. We got the dregs of the food but it was about as much as he could handle and I didn't feel like he was too out of control for the night. So note to self. Come to all parties an hour late. :-)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tooth Number 2 Bites the Dust!

 
Saturday morning as we were driving to Daniel's group violin lessons, Daniel pulled out tooth number 2. Now the song, "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" is perfect for him.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Reagan!

 November 26th was our precious girl's birthday. It was a very busy day for her and had her saying "no more pictures" by the end of the day. We started off the day with having professional pictures taken by my friend Holly (those will be coming soon).  Then we came home and changed clothes and I took this picture of her. I was making this dress for her when she all of the sudden decided it was her birthday dress so I had to hurry up and finish it. She loves it. I think she looks a little like Little Bo Peep. I'll have to take some pictures of the detail up close but she loves it.
After that we opened presents as she couldn't wait any longer and we had one very happy girl. Next stop was the Police Navidad. It was a Christmas celebration that was put on by the police dept. and the Mexican Consulate. This was about the only picture that sort of turned out. The lighting in there was really funny. But they got to explore the police cars, and fire trucks (the police truck even had a slide for them to slide down the back of). They went fishing, did ring and bean bag tosses, made crafts, got all kinds of free stuff and really enjoyed themselves.
 
Right before we left a Mexican dancing group started dancing. Here is a few seconds of one of their routines. A little girl's toes were tapping away and she would have loved to join them.
video
To finish out the day we went to see the movie Puss and Boots and had dinner at a friends home. It was also Paul's last day home before leaving for 3 weeks for a military school so there was lots of packing and studying going on. A busy day but a good one. Happy 4th Birthday my precious girl!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's Definately Winter in Alaska

It's definitely winter time here in Alaska.  This post has been a bit delayed. But here is one of my snow angels. 
This was taken after just the first week or so of snow. We have received MUCH more since then. Even as I write this it is coming down in great big flakes. We have to have received at least 4 feet by now. I think we've had as much snow in this month of November than we've had all year last year. One of the things that really surprised me coming to Anchorage is how coastal the weather is. Think Seattle with all the rain. Our summers are filled with rain and our winters are filled with snow. Lots of precipitation around here.One of the differences of winter up here that is different from most of the lower 48 states, is that once it snows, it stays. You don't see the ground until "breakup". Breakup is a special season that we have up here in the north. It's from March til May when all the ice breaks up and the snow melts. Occasionally in the winter we get weather warm enough to melt a little bit of snow  but by that time there's so much snow it doesn't make much of a difference.
 
My other snow angel.

This next one was taken from my living room. It was a cloudy day so you can't see the mountains behind the trees but I really have the most beautiful view. You would never know that I live in the middle of a city. You can't see houses from my windows. Only trees and mountains. It's absolutely gorgeous!
 This year we have been able to get outside a bit more this winter as Reagan is bigger and can handle the cold a little better but for about the last week we've stayed inside much to Daniel's dismay. When the temperature is in the single digits during the day, Mom's not so keen on playing outside. Paul just left a few days ago for Georgia and the people there think he's crazy for not wearing a coat. But hey when you left 1 degree weather and went to 60 degree weather (that's about what summer's are for us) you don't need a coat.


 Our backyard in small in length but long in width and has a nice steep hill at one end. After we groomed the slope for sledding Reagan and Daniel found this spot and just sat down. It made great seats for sledding.

I should have taken video of Reagan and Daniel coming down the hill. Reagan's giggles were SO cute to hear. One of Alaska's claims to fame (Utah you better watch out), is the powdery snow. It's almost impossible to make a snowman unless you poor water on it. So that is something we have yet to do. But there is a world class ski resort down the road. Anyone want to come visit and go ski? It's not always 1degree. Today it was supposed to be in the low 30's.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Paul's Military Awards

Last Saturday night we went to Paul's Military Unit's Christmas party. I'm not sure why they had it in the the first week of November but the food was good. We were kept up all night by drunk phone calls from soldiers but I guess that was to be expected. That night Paul was awarded the Alaska Commendation Medal pictured here. This was awarded to him for his service as the Non-Commisioned Officer in charge of the Joint Operation Center for the Alaska Air and Army Guard for the past year. They really appreciated the things he was able to put into place while he was there and the work that he did. He ended that job and went back to his regular job at Customs and Border Protection October 1st.

Another recent addtion to his uniform which he is very proud of it the German Marksmanship award and German Jump Wings pictured here. The wings are the ones  above the red bar and the Marksmanship award is the gold medalion with the braid. In order to get the Jump Wings Paul had to jump out of an airplane with a German jumpmaster telling them when to jump. For the Marksmanship, Paul had to shoot at a certain level of proficency with the Germans to be awarded it. There was a unit from Germany up here several months ago doing joint training, so he was able to do this then. Paul served a 2 year mission for our church in Germany and loves all things German so these mean a lot to him.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Latest Creation

For the last week I've been a little obsessed with finishing this dress and hat for a friend who is getting ready to have a baby. It took me about a week and I really think it turned out beautifully. I got the pattern off the Crochet Garden website. I've been wanting to try something from there for a very long time as her patterns are gorgeous!    This one is called the Juliet dress. It didn't have sleeves so those I made up on my own. The hat turned out slightly different as I didn't put as much wire into it, but I love it as is as it looks like more of a bonnet. This is the back of the hat.
 And this is the front of the hat. I'm now working on a dress (same pattern) for Reagan. She is desperately waiting for it. Hm... I wonder if my neices would like one for Christmas?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ghosts for V's

Last week one of the letters that Daniel was working on was the letter V. As he was writing them he said there were ghosts in the V's and proceeded to draw them. Here is what he drew.
 I really didn't see it until I looked at it upside down. Take another look at this ghosts. He drew them upside down and they actually look like ghosts! For him to draw anything spontaneously is huge for him. And for them to actually look like what he was drawing was an added bonus.
The fact that it was drawn upside down, well I'm not sure what to make of that. The week before last he wrote his name on the chalkboard backwards and upside down with no effort at all. I couldn't even begin to do that. Maybe it has something to do with him wanting to do the opposite of everything in his school work. He wants to read all his long vowels as short vowels, not because he doesn't know how to read them but just because he wants to do everything opposite right now.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Raising a Child with Special Needs

I've been looking over the fence lately at the seemingly greener pastures. I know. I shouldn't do it. But let me give you a picture of what last Saturday night was like for me.
There was a brownie and chili cook off at the church. Paul was getting ready to start working a 2 week stint of the Midnight shift so I let him stay home. The kids and I went by ourselves. This frequently happens as Paul is usually working or gone for work/training etc. I love to cook and even if I do say so myself, I'm a pretty good cook. So I was excited to compete. We arrived there and entered our food and walked around.
It was decorated in a western theme and what did my son spy immediately? A stick horse. He was in heaven. But wait a minute here, go back two sentences before this. "A stick horse." One solitary horse for many children... Yeah, you can imagine. All the other kids were sharing pretty well. They also had 3 cowboy hats and a lot of the kids were content with those. Daniel however couldn't handle that horse being out of his hands or out of sight for very long. He fell apart screaming multiple times. The family that was going to sit with us got up and left. At one point I took him out to the foyer and was holding him as he was kicking and screaming and he peed on me. Yep, you read that right my 5 year old peed on me.
I should have left at that point. I really should have. But those brownies and the chili were dinner and I really wanted to compete. I went in and got the kids some chili and some kool-aid. They refused the chili but were excited about the kool-aid as they don't get that at our house. It of course was red and was spilled everywhere. I finally gave in and let them have brownies. Couldn't get much worse. We were eating alone, no one would come talk to us.
My Sweet Cowboy
Later in the evening someone did come up and talk to me for a couple of minutes and when I tried to tell her about my lovely night I was having, her response was- "Enjoy it. This is the best time of your life, it just gets worse when they are teenagers." Definitely NOT what I needed or wanted to hear at that point in my night.
To top the night off I didn't place anywhere in the top contenders of the chili or the brownies. I was so glad to leave and just go home by the end.
I am seriously thinking of swearing off all public functions forever because Daniel just can't handle them. He loves them but they are too stimulating for him and without me being right by his side the entire time it's chaos. Now someone should have known better than to have only one stick horse. That was a recipe for disaster without having a child with special needs there. And when I saw how he was going to act I should have just left. But sometimes being a parent of a child with special needs you just need some time to feel like an adult and feel social. It's very isolating as people don't understand when your child all of a sudden has a major meltdown, they don't want to get involved nor do they want to be around it if they don't have to.  Hence the family that got up and left for another table. I can't blame them. But it doesn't stop me from feeling friendless, silently crying for help, depressed, and generally unhappy with the people around me. Do I want to stay that way? No. Do I keep picking up and trying again. Yes. Feeling isolated is a VERY common problem for parents and siblings of children with special needs.
I recently read a blog post from one of my favorite blogs, Dandelion Wishes. In it she quotes people from a foster parenting message board she is on and how isolated they feel as foster parents. It was a real eye opener for me to find that here was a whole other set of parents who were experiencing a whole lot of the same feelings and frustrations. Maybe I just need to hang out with some Foster parents instead...  But check out Jane's blog Dandelion Wishes anyway. She is a Homeschooling, Catholic, Adoptive and Foster Mother and I promise some of her posts will make you cry and others will cause you to have hope for humanity like this one about a modern every day hero .
One of my hero's is my sister in law Tiffany. Her boys both have Fragile X Syndrome and Autism. You should check out her blog as well which is located in the column on the right Making Life Work with Disabilities . Her patience with her boys and the way she talks about them is inspiring to me.
Some days life with the doctors visits, therapies, school, and well just life get overwhelming. But I am trying to find moments for me and to enjoy the journey. Gordon B. Hinckley, (former president of our church) said, "Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured." 
This should be my new life motto. I should make a sign to hang in my house to remind me like the one I made last year that says "Grant me patience to deal with my Blessings".
I'm not really writing this to complain. Please know that. I'm writing this more to get it out of my system and document what this experience is like and maybe help someone else out there know that they aren't alone. And so that the next time you see a child falling apart in a tantrum your first thought isn't; it's the parent's bad parenting, and you might offer to help. (Personally when I see another child falling apart, my first thought is, "Thank you Heavenly Father that it isn't mine this time!" I'm bad I know.)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Learning Farm

One of the requirements with the particular Homeschool Charter school that Daniel is enrolled in is that they spend 9 hours of face time with a certified teacher in a class or tutoring of some sort during the year. This year for our 9 hours we have been going to the Learning Farm here in Anchorage and learning about animals and plants.

It has really made me miss Frying Pan Park back in Virginia. They are free. Luckily the school is paying for Daniel as it's about $20 a trip. Mom and Dad you should do something like this. Look at all the money you'd make!



 
 Last week Reagan got to come with us. She is usally at preschool during this time but it had been canceled and she was really excited.

 This isn't a great picture but there is a bird on Daniel's head. We got there a couple minutes late so I didn't hear what kind of bird it was but Daniel did really well letting it fly on his head. It also flew on my head several times as I was the tallest person in the room. It's a bit disconcerting to say the least...
This is a root cellar they had just finished digging. They had kids stand on top and one of the Mom's at the bottom to show just how tall it is.



Daniel's favorite part by far was getting to ride the pony. I've been seriously considering Hippotherapy (horseback riding) for him. He would LOVE it. If only there were more hours in the day!


See these worms? They are actually catipillars. They played with them for awhile until they fed them to this guy...

 Daniel certainly has no fear of animals. He didn't mind the Iguana at all.
 Puppies!


 Reagan was a bit nervous of the horses at first but eventually she got used to them and would pet them. This Shetland Pony was her favorite, probably because he was a lot smaller.
 They got to milk the goats which they were pretty psyched about. Later that particular day they also made butter and carded wool and spun it with a drop spindle.
We have to watch Daniel with the animals carefully but he loves every minute of it and he's gotten to see and play with a lot of animals you wouldn't normally find at a farm. He can't wait until our next trip.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hair Bows

Recently I had an oppurtunity to learn how to make hair bows. I don't wear them much but I have a daughter who does and after learning I'll never buy another one again. They are SO easy. All you need is a needle and thread and a hot glue gun, and of course the flower, ribbon beads etc you want to make them out of. This isn't the best picture but it's the ones I made that night. Don't be suprised if one finds it's way into a Christmas package coming to you.  

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New clothes

Recently we got a box of new clothes from Grandma Lois. As you can see they were a big hit.
 Reagan had to immediately put some of them on. My kids think new clothes must mean it's Christmas. They get SO excited.
 And here is a picture that should have been posted long ago... Sorry Mom. Reagan in her Princess dress that Grandma Lyman made for her. It actually sparkles!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Primary Program and Articles of Faith

Sunday was the Primary Program at church, and Reagan learned the 3rd Article of Faith to say with her Primary class. She also had a small part by herself which she did in Sacrament Meeting and she did a fabulous job. Here she is saying the 3rd Articles of Faith. Enjoy her pronunciation of the words! videoDaniel had a small part as well in the program and also did a great job. Of course his demonstration of throwing up while he was sitting up there was priceless as well... He also has been learning his Articles of Faith. Although really that has been for school to work on his memorization skills. Not that he needs much work on them. He hears it once and he has it almost completely, which drives me crazy as I can't remember anything. Here is Article of Faith #1. video video

Monday, October 24, 2011

School Fun

This was our art project and beginning of our science project a while back. I was hoping to find a kit for Daniel to make with Paul and then paint but we settled on this premade house from Michael's which the kids painted. It took me a couple of weeks to remember the bird seed... But it's finally in and on our balcony. We have so far only seen Stellar Blue Jays visiting it but we're hopeful that as time goes on we'll get to see some more and figure out what kinds of birds they are. This is our Nature Study as the weather gets colder and the days get shorter.

Daniel was very proud of his Liberty Bell. It's a dot to dot which we sometimes do to work on number recognition and sequencing. He remembered that it was the same as a Christmas ornament I had picked up in Philadelphia years ago, so it works for history too. I have recently started making him color things. Fine motor skills are hard for him and it is an extremely rare occasion that he will color on his own. We started just with writing letters, then moved to writing numbers, have now added coloring, and eventually will move to coloring in the lines and not just scribbling through as fast as he can. He loves dot to dots though and picks them out whenever the opportunity arises.

Swimming Lessons... They both love them. The school pays for Daniel's so that is a nice bonus. After tomorrow night we're taking a break for a month or two because I need the break but I still hope to get them to the pool a couple times a week. Daniel has graduated to the Advanced Pike class at the YMCA and Reagan is getting ready to go there as well. Having had a brother who drowned and a child with Autism swimming lessons are very important to me. (The number one killer of Autistic kids and adults is drowning.)

An important day in a young boy's life...

Today is an important day for young Daniel. He lost his first tooth! We had a visit to the dentist about a week or so ago and she informed me that several of his teeth were getting loose and ready to come out. Little did I know just how loose they were!
He's not even 5 1/2 but he already has 2 of his 6 year old molars as well as loosing his teeth so he is well on his way to having an adult mouth. Luckily so far he has not had his mother's teeth. We are praying that his mouth starts to grow soon and a lot as he doesn't have room for adult size teeth in his little mouth. The dentist said that in 6 months when he comes in again we may have to start pulling ones that haven't come out yet just to make room for the adult teeth.
Now that I finally have my phone's camera up and working I should be posting more often and with pictures. I haven't been posting because I had pictures I wanted to add and couldn't get them on here. So here's a picture of Reagan to brighten your day as well.



Friday, September 9, 2011

Where have we been?

We have been SO busy that I haven't been blogging or hardly even looking at my email. (There's about 200 of them sitting in my inbox...)
Our school routine has become manageable with all of Daniel's therapies, some days it doesn't get all the way done but when the poor boy has 5 therapies a week, some of them more than once a week you do what you can. Luckily for us, since he was ready to start learning how to read in January we are ahead. Last week the school (he's enrolled in a homeschool charter school through the school district), did a reading assessment on all the kids to find out where they are at and make sure they are making the progress they need to. Starting Kindergarten all they want to know if they know them is the Alphabet. He of course aced that. I was talking to the teacher and he said they would test later in the year to find out how they are doing on phonetic sounds. I said, he'll ace that too. He then said that starting first grade they test to see if they can read each letter of a short vowel, 3 letter word and then put them together as well as 3 letter short vowel nonsense words. That is what he is doing now. So he is on a 1st grade reading level. An example of what he is reading right now is this-
Tip is a pup.
Tip sat up.
Tip has a tag.
Tip dug in the mud.
Bad Tip.
With Math he may not be quite so advanced, I don't know, but he is steadily working at it. We had some trouble with him switching 16 and 19 and then when we worked on correcting it, 16-20 all fell apart. So we've been several weeks working on that but I think we've finally got it. The next part of counting we will work on 30, he currently calls it 20-10. Today we added 11+12, 11+15, and 10+20 with manipulatives. We  have been using the manipulatives to work on the place value of 10 as we add. He knows the +,-,= signs and how to use them. A couple of weeks we played store as we have been working on identifying money. The kids started out with some money but as they bought things they quickly ran out of money. I could have just given them more money but I didn't want to re enforce the idea that so many kids have that money grows on trees, so when they ran out they had to earn it by picking up a certain number of things in their room. We are also learning how to write the numbers which is a slow process for him.
We have been reading lots of good books. We just finished Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden Book of Verses, and started on Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes. At "tea time" (snack time) I try to alternate poetry/nursery rhymes and tale tales/classic tales like Peter Pan  of which we just finished a version of.
They are working hard at the Explode the Code Series which is what Daniel is doing for handwriting right now. It also incorporates phonics. Daniel is set to finish book B early next week and move on to Book C. Reagan plugs away at Book A. I don't make her do it, she's only 3 but she want's to be doing it at the same time as Daniel. It has a picture of something frequently and asks you to write, or circle etc. the letter that picture starts with and she has a terrible time with that. But writing seems to be the only way she is learning her letters, so she is slogging through learning her ABC's.
We just started a new book called Building Thinking Skills and it's just what Daniel needs right now. I'm not keen on workbooks for him as he has a very low tolerance for them and we really don't do much of them but I'm excited for this one because it focuses on all of his weak points, following directions (he can't do more than a one step direction and has difficulty following through on a direction in the first place), coloring, positional words and a few other areas.
This week we got the German going. We got a couple of kids German books and Paul has been reading them to them. I taught them the phrase Ich liebe du (I love you), and they have been making up songs all week to about those words and what they mean. I do have talented kids!
Daniel is working hard at his Violin. He is getting closer and closer to actually putting his bow to the violin, but there have been a lot of things for him to learn before we get to that point. He's learning the Suzuki method where they learn to play before learning the notes. It's not a method I like for the piano but for violin it seems to work and I think he really needed it with his problems with gross and fine motor skills, and low muscle tone, it's hard enough for him just to be able to what he needs to without having to worry about the actual notes.
For science we are trying to get outside as much as possible (as much as therapy will allow) before it gets too cold out. We've learned about a couple of plants and leaves falling in the fall. Mostly though we are just going out and observing as we have time.
We have included his therapies as his school work. They would if he was going to school and his therapies work on some of the same things so I'm counting it as his school. Already with Occupational  and Physical Therapies we are seeing a difference. He can finally ride a bike with training wheels (before he didn't have enough strength to get his legs to push his wheels all the way around when they got to the top) and he is asking to go out riding all the time. Occupational Therapy has also helped so that he doesn't throw tantrums as much. My new favorite is Behavioral Therapy or ABA Therapy. The therapist comes to our home and works with him 2-3 hours a day on behaviors that we as parents feel are a problem. She has been WONDERFUL! Every parent should have one of these. It just really helps to have someone come in with a fresh outlook and a positive outlook and say I can help you and these bad behaviors don't have to stay forever! With kids that don't have some of Daniel's problem normal every day disciplines work just fine, if you have a difficult one you might pick up a parenting book. Kids like Daniel and kids with similar sorts of problems need a little something more. So this is what it looks like for therapies for Daniel-
Sunday- Behavioral Therapy, 3 hours (She comes to church with us!)
Monday-Behavioral Therapy, 2-3 hours
Tuesday- Occupational Therapy 1.5 hours, Physical Therapy 1 hour
Wednesday- Occupational Therapy 1.5 hours, Speech Therapy 1 hour, Behavioral Therapy 2-3 hours
Thursday-Play Therapy 1 hour
Friday- Behavioral Therapy 2-3 hours
Saturday- Behavioral Therapy 2-3 hours
And don't forget various doctor's apts., and his violin lessons, violin group lessons and swimming  lessons (twice a week.). I wouldn't choose to have my 5 year old this busy. But from every thing I have read and as his Occupational Therapist put it to us this week, "You do this now and work with him as hard as you can and maybe you can retire when you get older. If you don't you won't be able to because you will be taking care of him for the rest of your life." The key with Autism Spectrum disorders is early intervention. The earlier the better. Since we didn't catch this until 5 we are a little behind but not to late, so this is going to be our life for awhile. We are trying to embrace that fact and love the journey that God has seen fit to place us on. Thanks for sharing it with us.
More about our summer and pictures to come soon.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Week 2 of School

I'm a bit late but better late than never right?
Last week we finished off a session at the local YMCA of swimming for P.E. They are both in the Pike class which is the very first one they offer. Daniel finished the last class with being able to float on his back. He doesn't do it for very long as he can't hold still. But he can do it. He can also dog paddle however it is underwater and he stops as he come up for air. Luckily he can touch the bottom of the pool. He is close to being able to float on his stomach as well. Probably one more session of Pike and he will be able to move up. Reagan finished out the session putting her eyes in the water. She's not so keen as Daniel about her head going in the water. She will be a bit longer in the Pike class.
Daniel finished one of his reading books and is now in the last 2 books of the beginning set of 10 in the Abeka reader series. His books review the sounds of the constants, work on blends and words and the last page of each book there is a sentence in short vowel words. He does really well. Reagan is still working on learning her letters.... One day maybe it will click. We have been reading more of the book Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling. Daniel begs for more each day. I really want to get the other books by this author as they really are great. We are also reading A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. It's funny how you go from screaming because they don't want to read your book to, "Mom can we hear some more tomorrow?"
In math Daniel worked on a couple of new things this week. In his addition he learned about grouping things into 10 when adding and then adding the remaining numbers. Then he also got introduced to counting by 2's. This is going to take awhile to sink in.
Daniel is working very hard on his violin. His teacher is having him do a lot of pre playing exercises, some of which he isn't very keen on but they are really good for him both for learning to play the violin and for his fine motor development. His teacher had him start practicing bowing some rhythm's holding onto a marker this week. He is getting impatient to actually start playing.
We also went to the park and identified the plant plantain, did a rubbing of the leaf and drew it. We are starting a nature notebook to record our findings. We also finally made it to the local bookstore and picked up a field guide for birds and one for flowers. Daniel really enjoyed looking through the bird field guide and finding out what all the names of the birds are.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What Have We Done This Week?

I was reading another blog I follow and the Mom posts each week what the kids did for school that week. I thought that that was a great idea as it helps you realize that yes, you really did accomplish a lot. So... we'll see if I can follow through with it.
This week was a difficult week for school for two reasons. Paul had Monday and Tuesday off for vacation and Daniel had ear infections. Monday (because we spent several hours in the E.R. as well as on Thursday) I don't think anything got done other than my reading books to them. We started reading a marvelous book called Paddle to the Sea by ? C. Holling. I can't remember his first name at the moment. But it's about a canoe that this little boy carves and puts in the snow in Canada as the snow melts the canoe is swept into the stream and the book tells all of the adventures of this boat as it makes its way from snow to stream to sea. We will use this book again next  year to work on some geography as well as some science but for now we are just enjoying reading it.
We also read Ping - a story about a duck who doesn't want to be the last one on the boat as the last one always gets a swat so he hides out instead and the boat sails away without him. He almost gets put in duck soup but a kind boy rescues him. He realizes that sometimes getting a swat is better than what might happen otherwise and returns to his boat with his family.
Yet another one was called Blueberries for Sal. Sal goes picking blueberries with his Mom and Mother bear and baby bear do to. The children end up with the wrong mothers and figure out how to get back. It's an old story but a cute one!
This week I also introduced Poetry to my kids. Daniel was screaming because he didn't want me to read from my books. I read to them Robert Louis Stevenson's  A Child's Book of Verses. I read to them several poems from it and when I went to stop they were begging for more. I  had to laugh. 
Daniel has been working in a Math book right now. I have a different curriculum coming for him as workbook work is really hard for him to sit still and do but it hasn't come yet. We did manage somehow to get through 5 pages anyway this week. He is doing 1st grade work and doing really well. He is currently working on finishing learning to count to 20, (16 and 17 are the problem for him.) and adding and subtracting. He just started working with groups of ten and it was interesting to see how quickly he caught on to the idea that this is a group of ten and you don't have to count them all just know that these are ten and you can start counting at 10. It also helped cement numbers 11-20 for writing as you have this group of 10 and then you have 5 more. You write the 1 from the 10 and then the 5 which also teaches place value. Reagan is working on numbers above 10 slowly...
We try to have Daniel read from his books twice a day but it doesn't always work that way. I think only once this week did we get it in twice but it's the goal and as long as we get it in at least once that's okay. He is currently finishing book number 8 and starting on learning number 9 in a series of 10. He can read short sentences of short vowel words. He's having problems with book 9 right now as it has the Y in it and because the J and Y sound similar he thought that the Y said J like the C and K make the same sounds. So we are working on correcting that. He was excited to get to a letter in his Explode the code book (handwriting) that he already knew- n. That made the writing, which he struggles with, a little easier for the week. Reagan has a hard time learning the sounds or names of letters. She has to write them so we are very slowly learning to write letters and learning what they are and what they say. So far we have done B and F and she knows O. The alphabet for some reason does not come naturally to my kids.
We also went to swimming lessons this week, picked raspberries twice (Yum!), went to therapies for Daniel, and made cookies (which also works on math skills). We went to Daniel's violin lesson and I'm loving his teacher. I chose a Suzuki teacher for him as I felt like he was going to have a hard enough time learning to play right now not having the fine motor skills without having to learn the music too. She is fabulous with him. She comes up with little games to teach him the things he needs to know and varies it frequently so that his muscles which get tired quick have a chance to rest. We are also listening to and learning a little about Mozart. Daniel says he doesn't like his music but oh well.

That's some of what has been keeping us busy at our house!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Small Victories

When you have a child who has learning and developmental disabilities, small victories become VERY important. We worked with Daniel consciously for about a year trying to get him to dress himself and yes it took a year. It wasn't that he couldn't do it (He had problems with buttons, snaps etc. but I was willing to help him with those.) He just didn't want to do it because it was hard. Little did we know at the time that it was actually hard for him. But now he almost always does it without complaining and this morning he buttoned all the buttons without asking for help! Yay!
My small victory today was something else though. Since we started to take him to Occupational Therapy we learned that he needs to hit and kick things. His body needs and craves that contact. That would be why he is always hitting, or kicking, not always because he's mad, but his body just needs that hard contact. Frequently he will just sit there and hit you gently (or not so gently) over and over again. Well that's a problem and it isn't an appropriate behavior. Previously he would have gotten into trouble for it. But knowing that his body needs that (It makes a world of a difference for me as now I understand what's going on!) ,means that we redirect the hitting or kicking to something that won't break and won't hurt him, and isn't a person. I've been trying very unsuccessfully to get him to hit the floor, the chair, or the bed instead. Whatever happens to be around. He just wouldn't do it. Today while we were at the doctor's office waiting to be seen and he started in hitting me; I thought okay, we haven't been home all day as we've been trying to get things taken care of for Daniel and we haven't had any time to do any school work today so how can I get him to stop hitting me and hit something else and incorporate math as well? Well, we counted how many times he could hit the chair. It worked! He finally hit something other than me! The first time we tried it he hit the chair 30 times and then he was tired. That took care of the need for about 30 mins. and then we did it again and it was 40 times. But you cannot understand how I just wanted to sing and to dance because of this one small victory.
Tomorrow this may not work. Tomorrow I may have to come up with something totally new, but it's a start to something that I can build on and that makes me happy.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Free books anyone?

I believe the correct term for someone who loves to read and loves books is a Bibliophile. When I was a little girl my Grandmother would come visit and bring boxes of books. She introduced me to my first mystery books- Nancy Drew. She would frequently bring old books and I learned to LOVE the smell of an old book. The is the biggest complaint I have about digital books. They don't smell! (Though the fact that they are available at the click of a button makes up for it on some levels.)
Check out Paperbackswap.com Recently I joined and it is a wonderful thing! You take any books that you no longer want, be it paperback, hardback, or audio, and you list them as available to swap. Once you list 10 books you get 2 credits. With each credit you get 1 book (audio books take 2 credits). You also get credits as you people request your books. Once they are requested you send and pay for it to be shipped media mail. Once a book you have requested is available they pay to send you your book. I think it's an awesome idea. I've already had 2 books requested and gotten 3, just in the week or two that I've been a member. So join and get free books with me! Oh, and mention my name when you join so I get extra credits for books! Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Famous People who were Homeschooled

Famous People Who Were Homeschooled
Artists
Claude Monet
Grandma Moses
Leonardo da Vinci
Rembrandt Peale
Athletes
Michelle Kwan
Jason Taylor
Tim Tebow
Serena Williams
Venus Williams
Authors
Agatha Christie
Alex Haley
Beatrix Potter
C.S. Lewis
Charles Dickens
George Bernard Shaw
Hans Christian Anderson
Louisa May Alcott
Margaret Atwood
Mark Twain
Phillis Wheatley
Pearl S. Buck
Robert Frost
Virginia Woolf
Businessmen
Andrew Carnegie
Colonel Harland Sanders
Dave Thomas
Joseph Pulitzer
Ray Kroc
Composers
Felix Mendelssohn
Irving Berlin
John Philip Sousa
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Entertainers
Alan Alda
Charlie Chaplin
Christina Aguilera
Dakota Fanning
Hanson
Hillary Duff
Jennifer Love Hewitt
Justin Timberlake
LeAnne Rimes
Louis Armstrong
Whoopi Goldberg
Explorers
Davy Crockett
George Rogers Clark
Inventors
Alexander Graham Bell
Benjamin Franklin
Cyrus McCormick
Eli Whitney
Thomas Edison
Orville Wright
Wilbur Wright
Military Leaders
Douglas MacArthur
George Patton
John Paul Jones
Robert E. Lee
Stonewall Jackson
Matthew Perry

Photographers
Ansel Adams
Presidents
Abraham Lincoln
Andrew Jackson
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
George Washington
Grover Cleveland
James Garfield
James Madison
John Adams
John Quincy Adams
John Tyler
Theodore Roosevelt
Thomas Jefferson
William Henry Harrison
Woodrow Wilson
Religious Leaders
Brigham Young
Dwight L. Moody
Joan of Arc
John & Charles Wesley
William Carey
Scientists
Albert Einstein
Blaise Pascal
Booker T. Washington
George Washington Carver
Pierre Curie
Statesman
Alexander Hamilton
Daniel Webster
Patrick Henry
William Jennings Bryan
William Penn
Winston Churchill

United States Supreme Court Judges
John Jay
John Marshall
John Rutledge
Sandra Day O'Connor
Women
Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams
Clara Barton, started the red cross
Florence Nightingale, nurse
Martha Washington, wife of George Washington
Susan B. Anthony, women's rights leader

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

School Schedule

Daniel does much better knowing what to expect and having things come in order. It helps him keep things on an even keel emotionally. So as we have decided to home school him I have spent some time working out a schedule or routine for him to follow. There will be disruptions from time to time and that's something that he has to learn to adapt to but to help him here is a sample of his (proposed!) schedule for one day of the week. It has far more scheduling than I would like. I hate routines so this is going to be something I really have to work on. I have spent a lot of time with it as Daniel has a hard time sitting still, (His Occupational Therapist says that his attention span is literally 2 mins. We are working on stretching that.) So I am trying to mix things up so that there is not a lot of sitting at one time and so that the sitting is (for now) 5-10 mins. max. One of his therapy goals is that by the end of the year he will be able to sit for 10 mins without any problems.

 Tuesday
Breakfast: Practice Folk Song (Alternating between folk songs and listening to music by specific composers)
Scriptures, Primary Song & Prayer
Chores
Pledge/Calendar/Time/Weather
Reading lesson
Fairy Tales/ Tea Party Time/ Manners (Great way to teach manners at the table and elsewhere!)
Math - Frequently much of this will be hands on learning so he doesn't have to sit still. We will also be trying to work it into our daily lives more.
Violin Practice
Outdoors or Active Activity- A lot of time outside observing nature (another hard one for me!) and learning. They are also both in Swimming lessons twice a week.
Lunch: Article of Faith Memorization and Art Study-We will study a different artist each term.
Occupational Therapy 12-1:30- He has currently 3 different therapies during the week.
Literature Reading- He needs down time after therapy as it wears him out.
Explode the Code- Excellent work book for handwriting and phonics. He loves it as it plays games.
Handicraft/ life skills- Pounding nails into wood. Working on riding a bike/scooter. Learning how to fish etc.
Building Thinking Skills- This is another workbook that teaches critical thinking- very important I think & fun!
Free Outside Time
Dinner-
Practice Reading- With newly emerging skills at reading its important to practice!
A walk after dinner- Other nights its a game night or German movie night
Dad Read A Loud @ Bed Time with German books- We are learning German. Why not with a built in tutor with Daddy! We will also watch on other days familiar movies in German and work on learning various body parts, colors etc.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mr. Daniel

Mr. Daniel. How I love you! I have had a horrible headache that has lasted a couple of days. You know the kind that make you sick to your stomach and you have an after the headache, headache? My sweet boy who is VERY excited about his violin decided to take it out and play me a song to make my head feel better. He has yet to have a lesson so you can imagine what that sounded like! I had hoped to take him to Music in the Park as we have been SO busy that we haven't had a chance to go all summer and they so enjoy it. He was all excited to go and wanted to take his violin so that he could play for the people to sing and dance to! It is so fun to watch the shear joy he has for the violin. He has loved it ever since he was about a year old and we moved in with my parents while Paul was in Iraq. My sister Hannah was learning to play the violin then and he would beg her to play for him. (Eliza was learning the Viola at the time as well and Reagan would scream when she was a baby anytime she hear Eliza play!) He is so excited to start his lessons this Friday with his little 1/8th size violin. I really think it will be good for him as he learns so well with music.

As I have mentioned in other posts we have been very busy getting Daniel in to see therapists and doctors. We decided that even though the school district had decided that he no longer needed speech services that we needed to have him evaluated by a private speech pathologist as we still had concerns. She finished evaluating him last week and while she hadn't scored the results yet felt that there was still definately a need to continue speech with him. As soon as he doesn't have speech therapy he starts loosing all he has gained and we really don't want that and there are a few other issues there as well that she saw. So once a week he gets to go play with toys and work on his speech with her.

We also had him evaluated by an Occupational Therapist. This was a bit of an eye opener when I read the report. There were all the things that we had known about the ADHD and mood disorder and plans on how to work with him on increasing his abilites in these areas but they had also noticed some other things. Like low muscle tone, the muscles on his left side are significantly weaker than his right side. He doesn't have a lot of strength and tires easily. When going up stairs instead of changing feet he puts the right foot on the stairs and then brings the left foot up to it. He has never been able to catch a ball, he doesn't have the strength to push the pedal of a bike down when it gets stuck at the top. For him to sit and write something (which he hates to do.) It literally takes all of his body to do it. Not just his arm muscles. I have been telling the doctors for a few years that he shouldn't fall as often as he does or run into things, (He can't plan quick enough where to put or stop his body.) and they would never listen to me. So we are now in the process of getting a Physical Therapist evaluation to see how far behind his gross and fine motor skills really are. Because we are at the end of medications that we could currently try for his ADHD and none of them work or he has really bad reactions to them, with this new information about his muscles and etc. we may have to look at seeing if it is just a symptom of something else that is going on. The good news is that he LOVES OT and cries to go there. They are really making a difference for me too in helping me find other ways of working with him.

He will be doing a sleep study the first part of next month as he has had these sleeping days where he would sleep for 20 hours in a day about once every 2 weeks to week and a half. Then between that he would sleep during the day for several days about 6 hours or so and still go to bed on time. Part of this was medication but he still continued to do it off and on. So we are exploring what is going on with that. The sleep doctor supected sleep apnea which runs prolifically through Paul's Dad's family. I've never seen him quit breathing  but the doctor said that ADHD misdiagnosed frequently and it is sleep apnea, as kids will be so tired that they will just keep going and not stop. We'll see what the results are, but it was interesting to hear.

And today we recieved the results from the Neuro Psychiatric evaluation that we had done. It confirmed basically everything that we had said but helped us understand that there are reasons for his behavior and now we have the tests done to back up what we are saying and what we need the therapists and doctors to do. She said she would diagnose him with Aspberger's but he has language problems and you can't have language problems with asperbgers. He would be on the autism spectrum due to his developmental delays but he has none of the odd behavior that autistic children have. He doesn't get social cues by reading faces at all. He is just starting to figure out that what he is thinking isn't necessarily what you think. Ex. Lying is usually learned around 3 years of age. They figure out that you don't kmow what they are thinking. Daniel at 5 is just now starting to figure this out and probably at least partly because of Reagan figuring it out. He scores average on his fine motor skills but only because he works SO VERY hard to make things work. The doctor felt that as we worked with OT and Speech that a lot of his emotional outbursts will end because he won't have to work SO hard at everything, and he will begin to understand things a little better. He definitely has ADHD but hopefully as some of these other things get taken care of he will be able to control it a little better.

Daniel continues to see a Play therapist which he loves. She has been working with him the longest. She is a treasure that we never want to give up! He does much better about moderating his emotions during that day after seeing her. He also sees his Pyschiatrist now about once a month. Which is so much better than once a week or every 2 weeks!

Recently at his 5 year old check up Daniel was not able to pass the eye test with his glasses on... We just got them in February. So we are waiting to go see the eye doctor again to see what's going on. Unfortunately since we have government health insurance the soonest they can get us in is September 8th. But don't get me started on that! I could go on forever!!!

So Daniel's life very busy with all of this but you know every single teacher, therapist and doctor has said of him that he is really a sweet boy and that he really works very hard to do what he can. For that I am grateful that he has the spirit to work so hard and keep trying to do his best even though for him some of the stuff is like moving mountains.

Miss Reagan

I know, I know I have been sadly neglecting our blog. We had such gorgeous weather for a couple weeks, we were busy playing outside, and then we were overwhelmed by all Daniel's therapies, evaluations and doctors appointments, and I left for a week for girls camp that I am just now getting back to "normal"...
 Because Daniel had SO much going on and to Reagan it looked like a lot of fun in his Play and Occupational Therapies (more about him in a later post), so I felt that it was really important that she have something for her. She received a scholarship to a music and dance class called Music Machine. She was in the mini Music Machine and she LOVED it! They do a lot of movement and dancing. Last month the whole session was on Alaska Animals. At the end of each class they got a little gift and they received 2 CD's with the music they were singing to play over and over again. (And we did....) At the end of an intense 2 weeks (class was Monday - Thursday) they had an "informance". Where they "informed" us of what they had been learning. For the life of me I can't figure out why the picture won't turn the right way. I have it saved the right way but when I upload it it does this... Oh well. She's right there on the end. 
She had a little bit of stage fright. She hardly moved on the stage. She was a bit overwhelmed with all the people watching. Daddy made it the performance (YAY!), Reagan invited her favorite friend Cyrus and she also had one of her babysitters there to watch her. We are continuing on with this session and her next "informance" is this Friday. Hopefully she will be a little more prepared this time for the audience. This session has been all about bugs and its gotten Daniel singing the songs too.

Miss Reagan is also as precocious as ever! She has been really bad about picking up her room as has Daniel. We were doing really well but then we got so busy that we got out of the habit. So last week after trying to get them to do it all day, at the end of the day I went in there with a trash bag. I told them we were going to throw the toys away. It made a HUGE impression on Daniel and afterwards we talked about how its his responsibility to pick up the toys etc. Just like I have a responsibility to make sure he has meals and clean clothes. We agreed that he could earn back the toys if he kept his room clean. Problem solved for him. Reagan however... Her response to the toys being thrown in the trash bag was, "Let's give them to kids who don't have any toys." While that was a great and generous idea, it wasn't quite what I was going for. Today again she wouldn't pick up her toys. So again I went in with the trash bag. Her response this time? "Let me help you!"

We have been having a lot of problems with Reagan coloring all over herself with markers. Usually it is in place of nail polish or makeup. Last week she got hold of a brown furniture marker. She colored all over her forehead. I was scolding her and wiping it off when she said, "Don't Mommy, that's my birthmark!" She wanted to be just like Daniel.

I was trying to erase a message on the phone the other night. Reagan heard it and asked who it was, I explained that he was a boy (10?) who sings in the choir with me and his Mom  leads it. Her reply- "he's really good, and he's REALLY handsome!" What am I going to do with this boy crazy girl!

Reagan in yet another effort to not go to bed comes upstairs one night and says, "Mommy, my head fell off and it hurt!" What do you say to that?


Oh, and another favorite story to tell on my darling daughter. I had told her babysitter (I was out at Physical Therapy) that there was no T.V. until the kids rooms were clean. The babysitter said that Reagan came and told her that the room was clean. She went to look and she had stuffed everything under the bed and in the closet. How a 3 year old figures that out so early surprises me. Elyse pulled everything back out and told her she had to put it away. Reagan replies, "My Mom doesn't know I do that! How did you know?" I had to laugh as of course it was obvious, I asked Elyse if she had checked under the trampoline which is also another favorite place of hers.

We are in so much trouble. Reagan when we were reading scripture stories one night said, "Mom, don't turn the page! I want to see the bad guys!"


"Don't you mean the good guys?"

"No I want to see the bad guys!

And a final story to tell on myself that should have been posted clear back in May...Someone called me on Mother's Day and said "Happy Mother's Day to one of the best Mother's I know." I had to laugh because at that minute I had myself barricaded in my room with screaming children on the other side just so I could get ready for church and not completely loose it on them.

Ah... Being a mother is such fun!