Monday, December 28, 2009

A Diet of Scary!

Kittyboy acts like a Tigger, but we think of him as a Piglet. He's scared by many miscellaneous things, it kind of depends, and it's hard to predict what will scare him before he's in tears, and once something scares him, he's often DONE. That's it, no more, done for the day.
Likes music loud, but is scared of certain noises, and they don't have to be loud to be scary. Scrolling through an app on my phone - made a swooshing noise - sent him running in tears to his room. We spent a day at the Steam Show in Jacksonville, THAT was a total bust. At the beginning of a video about construction equipment, they show demolitions, which scares him every time. Fire scares him - we got one good shot in front of a background with a fireplace for his Christmas photo, and he was all done with that. We saw the background as the photographer was pulling it down, thought "Here goes nothing," and were impressed we got the one, AND that he only said "All done, all done" and hastily climbed down from the platform, instead of losing it completely. Food must be lukewarm - the sight of steam is distressing. Bugs are scary, anything small and quickly moving that's not in a cage.
This afternoon, I told my mom we were taking Kittyboy to Brookfield Zoo with the grandparents in the spring, but were taking him the our smaller local zoo first as a dry run - so we could know in advance what exhibits to avoid. Then then I listened to what I just said. And I decided this is ridiculous. Not the idea of a dry run at a smaller zoo, that's a good idea - just the whole, "What about this normal childhood activity is going to scare him?" thing. He cannot go through life being anxious about every new sound and anything sudden, especially when it's actually contrary to his personality. He's an extrovert who charges through life with glee and abandon - seeing him stop short and burst into tears because of a ladybug is just too sad.
We watched Pinocchio today. I was nervous that he would get scared, and then of course be done with the movie, but every time he did get scared (let's see now - the puppeteer, the coachman, Pleasure Island, the whale, the fire to make the whale sneeze, the whale again) he calmed back down. He ran crying from the construction video later, because of the demolitions, but it gave me an idea. I know reading the original Grimms' Fairy Tales is supposed to be really good for kids, because it introduces scary things and allows kids to then deal with being scared without anything scary actually happening. So on that theory, I am putting him on a diet of scary, because the earlier he learns how to BE scared in real life, and then deal with it and get past it, the happier his childhood will be. I don't care if he ever goes on rollar coasters, but I don't want the sight of one to ruin his day at a theme park, you know? (I don't even know what he will think of rollar coasters, that's just an example).
We'll read Grimms every day, and we'll start watching all the Disney movies that I haven't put in simply because of the long run-time (he's just turned three, 90 minutes seems like a long time to sit for one program, but if this would help...!). I've made progress on food temps, by fixing a LOT of fried potatoes during Advent - I doubt anyone can resist fresh fries, no matter the heat. That was the first thing he ever ate that was actually hot (who wants lukewarm fries?). And this evening he ate pasta that was steaming - we blew on each bite, together, until it was totally cooled, but the plate sat there steaming, and he actually didn't refuse to eat, which he usually does if it looks hot.
Any other ideas how to nicely but firmly expand his horizons? How to safely scare him, so to speak? Because that's the plan! It may sound mean, but something's got to change!

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

And it's Christmas...

All my gifts are wrapped. Okay, not ALL, but all that are being opened tomorrow. Kittyboy knows tomorrow is Christmas, and that we get to go to c-h-u-r-c-h tomorrow (I actually did spell that at breakfast this morning). I could pat myself on the back that I don't have to spell Christmas and Santa, yet DO spell church, but I can't really take credit - that's him. His devotion and enthusiasm are not really things for which we can take credit. Church has been his thing since he came home from the hospital the Friday before Palm Sunday - we went to a couple night services, planned to keep the newborn home from the crowds by midweek, but by Wednesday had come to realize church was where he was quietest, calmest and happiest. That was just his happy place. Sure, we take him every week, but that can't account for all of it. So yeah, spelling c-h-u-r-c-h made my day.
Tomorrow he will be performing his dual chanter/altarboy duties, singing with Mommy and walking in procession holding Daddy's hand. He gets to open one package (nice short-sleeved dress shirts!!! he tends to overheat in long sleeves) and Santa is giving him a little stuffed Grover who can go to church with him. Grover is so ridiculously cooler than Elmo, it's not even funny, and we finally found a stuffed Grover. I've never watched a full episode of Sesame Street, neither has Kittyboy, but somehow every toddler knows Elmo. I grew up with Grover, reading "The Everything In The Whole Wide World Museum". Kittyboy loves that book too. So now we may stealthily and covertly replace in his affections Elmo, who can't talk right, with Grover, who is cool. Or at least that is the hope.
And this year, the third anniversary of the rush to the hospital, pain, sickness, impending liver damage, "How determined are you to stay pregnant?" ordeal (started the 21st of Dec) passed without my noting it. Yahoo. At 10:30 tomorrow morning, it will have been three years ago that Kittyboy made his way-early entrance into the world, screaming and ticked off. That boy was many things, but even at 28 weeks, "weak" was not one of them. Strong-willed was. Then, he was on a ventilator. This morning he said his first full, complete, correct sentance. "Where dih da Winnie Pooh book go?" as he turned in place looking for one of his early Christmas presents from Puppygirl (yes, we all clutched at our chests and then praised him effusively). He also weighs a little over 20 times what he did at birth.
I have a duck thawing in the fridge. We have, oddly for the end of Advent, no vegetables in the house, and stores are closed, so we're just not eating veggies tomorrow. We've eaten enough, right? I need to brown sausage for my aunt's awesome breakfast casserole, to go in the oven when we get home.
We did early Christmas this morning with Kittyboy's Puppygirl and Aunt Carey, and he has spent the day playing with a wooden tractor bank and four pennies. He can count to four very well now. Daddy, in the guise of Santa, slipped a fifth penny in the bank. We're looking forward to tomorrow's counting. "One, two, fwee, four..." confused look. "One, two, fwee, four..."
A Merry Christmas to all tomorrow, as we celebrate the birth of Our Lord.
And to all a good night!

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Kittyboy can chant AND be an altarboy...

Those who were not in church this morning - which was EVERYONE - missed QUITE a show.
Kittyboy walking around the tree in front (decorated with little icons and crosses) finding Marys. Kittyboy walking around the tree finding crosses. Kittyboy examining the lights. Kittyboy holding Daddy's finger during the Gospel and standing nicely. Kittyboy singing and singing and singing with Mommy. Kittyboy FINISHING A HYMN for Mommy ("eonon Amin") when Mommy got the giggles (he is starting to match pitch well for being a week from turning three). Kittyboy running up to Father for his very OWN blessing whenever Father blessed the (invisible) congregation. Kittyboy walking backwards with Daddy processing at the Great Entrance. (That was impressive, and took some trial and error). The Kittyboy-Daddy tug-of-war after the Great Entrance when Kittyboy thought they should go back in the same door they came out of and was convinced Daddy was going the wrong way. Kittyboy running up to kiss the Gospel. The energetic and sometimes urgent gesturing of chanter and acolyte at each other, concerning where Kittyboy should be and what he should be doing. Mommy calling Kittyboy back while FATHER called him over (Kittyboy knows Father outranks Mommy, and behaved accordingly). Kittyboy running out to Mommy WEARING FATHER'S CROSS. (I was scandalized!! Husband says it was Father's idea...) Many hymns were puncuated by No and Sit and KittyboyJamesEmmanuel Get Back Here, vehemently and quietly.
Father's taken him back to the altar area to look around after services enough times that our son now thinks that's where he belongs (problem!) but I'm told he's good while back there. This morning, he just couldn't decide whether he wanted to serve or be a chanter, so he kept changing his mind. He would sing with me a while and then run over to the door in the iconostasis and knock to be let back in. He did a LOT of running back and forth - but for a toddler, he WAS very good.
It was a long, funny, adorable morning. And quite tiring on both parents. Father said he was wonderful, and wants him to come back (!!!) so tomorrow we're going for Orthros and we'll give that a try. Husband can put an acolyte on Kittyboy-duty if necessary. I WOULD love to chant on Sundays again!

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas for the birds

I don't know why I've never seen this on crafting sites, moms' blogs, etc, but I haven't - so here it is! Stringing CHEERIOS.

Kittyboy and Puppygirl had a NICE long playdate yesterday, and I wanted to do Christmasy stuff. I love stringing popcorn and whatnot for the birds, but Kittyboy's at that age where you don't want to hand him a needle AND he's going to WANT a needle, so he can do what you're doing.
Why have I never read about stringing cheerios? They have holes already made! Two soup bowls full gave Puppygirl and I several feet apiece, strung on yarn with tape around the end to stiffen it for a needle. They make VERY attractive garlands, there's no breaking of popcorn (and subsequent vacuuming required), no needling of fingers, easy and quick. Any generic oat-based cereal with a hole in the middle will work. I think a whole box would decorate several hedges. We decorated the saplings growing off the stump at the end of the drive.

Kittyboy is quite proficient at stringing, but more so at eating! So is his dragon pal, Ock.

Our house has a new, EASY tradition!

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Monday, December 14, 2009

"Para tou einoi"

Sometimes I think we could employ a military code expert in this house - or alternatively, that I am in fact qualified for such a job.
Kittyboy started out the morning requesting "Pana (Para?) too enny" music. We asked again and again, what on EARTH he was talking about, could get no clarification, and getting him to sing it didn't help. Then I thought I had an insight. I was sure I'd heard at least the last two words before, in church. Not "too enny" but "tou einoi" (pronounced eh-ni). Ah HA. At some point in church yesterday, there must have been some hymn in Greek that he really liked, and that was the only phrase he remembered of it - and gosh, now I was REALLY sunk, because he was asking me to sing something in Greek and I didn't know what. (I missed ALL of church yesterday getting ready for coffee hour, so I didn't know what the hymns were that might have caught his interest!). And he was most insistent - "pana tou einoi! para tou einoi!"
Before I could sit down with the toddler and the husband to try and figure out which hymn this was (something about praise, enoi is praise), which I was fully prepared to do, I saw the back of a Veggie Tales video tape box.
"We are the PIRATES who don't DO ANYthing..." Para tou einoi, "pirates - do - any".
You know how the brain reshuffles the unfamiliar so that it makes sense? Kittyboy's English actually made more sense to me as Greek.
I need a vacation.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Positives of Echolalia

First the amusing story.
There are FIERCE winds today, and it sounds like a downpour but without rain. It's really loud. Kittyboy has been quite a hoot! During breakfast he kept saying "yittle pig, yittle pig" and we weren't sure what he was talking about, then he said "A huff an a puff an BOOOOOO da house down!!" He was talking about the Three Little Pigs! One of his favorite stories. We told him there was no wolf, just the wind, and everything's fine. Besides, our house is made of bricks. Then shortly after, there was a GREAT blast of wind, whereupon Kittyboy jumped to his feet and yelled excitedly, "YITTLE PIG, YITTLE PIG, I COMMY IN!!!" (the end of the story when the wolf gets up on the third little pig's roof to climb down the chimney). He was more excited than scared, fortunately. But all I would have had to do anyway is explain that we don't have a chimney. Problem solved.
He's been quoting a LOT of videos and books of late, but also forming a lot more sentences independently - so really awesome. And sometimes what he quotes is actually relevent in some way, now that we're paying attention to what he quotes from and when. We were discussing at lunch a friend of a friend of my dad's, who is in the hospital with very serious complications from H1N1 (pray for Resa Ellison!). I told Kittyboy that there was a lady named Resa who is very sick and we needed to ask God to take care of her and make her better. After we prayed, he said "Dadey Guy pay outside!" (Davey and Goliath, as in the claymation cartoon, play outside). I said yes, Davey and Goliath play outside a lot. "Dadey Guy yooky!" "They were looking at something?" "Airpay CASH!!!" (airplane crash). In "The Big Rescue", I think it is, Davey is at summer camp and the campers hear an airplane in trouble, and the plane crashes nearby. "Davey (something) singy!" The campers sang hymns while they walked through the forest so the people who crashed could hear them coming. He kept going on about the airplane crashing, and then I had an idea. I said, "Yes, and when the airplane crashed, the people were hurt, weren't they. And the pilot asked God to send help." And like an affirmation, ("Houston, we have contact!") Kittyboy said again, "Dadey singy!" "Yes, God sent help. God sent Davey and Goliath and their friends to help. The pilot PRAYED for help and God sent it! And we PRAYED for Him to take care of Resa, didn't we?"
The echolalia was irritating when it was the reason he repeated things in question form and called himself "you", but now that we're educated about the different forms it takes, we can sometimes have conversations we wouldn't otherwise. He didn't ask to watch Davey and Goliath, he didn't want to watch it, and he dropped the subject when the conversation changed, but right after I told him we were praying for Resa because she was sick and needed help, that was what he brought up. And after I remembered the pilot praying and talked about how THAT was what we had just done too, it was like we were having a back and forth conversation about prayer. I'm just sure that's what we were doing.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Shocking Admission

I hate baklava.
Okay, I said it, let fly the rotten tomatoes.
I have deeply disliked honey as long as I can remember. I don't know if I'd ever had it straight before the day I had to take some nasty medicine and my mom thought I would take it in honey. It wasn't the flavor of the medicine I objected to, that I remember, it was more the texture that made me gag, and the texture was NOT improved by putting it in a big ol' spoonful of thick, cloying sweetness. I hate honey. Pouring it from the big jug into the little bear-shaped jug, the smell is revolting. Yes, honey has a smell. And baklava, in addition to one piece being about all the sweet I can take for months on end, is dripping and oozing with honey.
Greeks put honey on everything. If it's not honey, it's sugar-syrup that looks the same. Diples are drizzled with honey, kataifi is drenched with it. And I just spent from 10 until 3ish standing behind pans with pools of honey/syrup in the bottom, puddles of it on wax paper, handing treats that stuck to my gloves and nearly slid out of the goofy paper cups because of the sheer amount of ooey, gooey, sticky syrup.
I tried, heroically I think, not to make a face while boxing up stuff for people. I gagged not once. But it was nauseating. I had never seen so much sticky sweetness in one place. I never wish to again.
Next Holly Fair, I'm serving gyros.
Holly Fair WAS a blast, apart from desperately craving pretzels or wasabi peas to settle my stomach. I think we had a pretty good turnout, and one of the other venders there (they have some crafters set up sometimes) was a hostess for "emagineGreen" which I guess is a company that sells organic this and that, and one of her sample products was a carved, handpainted, rubberwood zoo. Yes, Kittyboy is getting a zoo for Christmas! And now I have GOT to stop buying him presents. But I just keep finding such cool stuff he "needs"...

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Our First IEP!

IEP means Individual Education Plan. It's the school equivalent of an IFSP, Individual Family Service Plan, which is what the big fancy meetings are called when you're still in Early Intervention or a similar 0-3 program.
The quick run-down, followed by long story:
Kittyboy qualifies for NINETY minutes a week speech therapy, and monthly OT to follow progress. He will be in an Early Start classroom, which is the small size, 2.5 hours a day, kinda-the-whole-thing-is-group-therapy "special ed" preschool. Which is soooo funny to me, considering the stuff he knows, because you think of special education as meaning mentally handicapped. Bree asked him Monday what color a shape was, he was being extremely difficult and answering shapes for colors and colors for shapes, and so when she asked what the color was, he said, "Quatrefoil!" (which he says catafoyo, kinda) because that was the shape. Friday morning at my parents' house, he pointed at the clock and said, "Minute hand on-a da TEN!" Yes, the minute hand was on the ten.
So that's the short story.
It was really cool to listen to all the "experts" giving their reports, and jumping into each other's presentations with, "Then that's why I saw such-and-such!" and, "Okay, maybe THAT explains the disparity between his score for this and his score for that..." I've seen a t-shirt that says, "I reject your reality and subsitute my own!" and I think our son needs one that says, "I reject your developmental timeline and substitute my own!" He will learn what he wishes in the order he wishes, and if he wants to tell you all the numbers on the clock before learning to count sequentially, well, that's exactly what His Imperial Highness will do.
Everyone saw marked improvement, during his assessments, when he got sensory breaks in between things. I laughed when one lady described him as "oozing" out of his chair. That's why he went from high chair to plain booster to booster with straps and tray, because it's the only way to keep him in place. I just loved the oozing description! They're really picky on eye contact, at least I think so, they seem to expect a LOT of that, and who goes around staring everyone in the face all day? I don't... I also laughed, and then had to explain why, when one lady said that he really didn't want to stack the blocks, because all Ginny has to do to induce a rolling-on-floor TANTRUM is pull out blocks. He HATES stacking blocks when someone tells him to. He'll do it on his own rarely, once stacking them on a rotating toy (we have the pictures to prove it), but no way if it's not his idea. And the "need for transition object" comes up again if he's in a new place, because there was one toy he took with him from the first area to the second, another he took from the second to the third, and so on, and then he would pick up and put down that toy between activities, like touching base. And I explained about how he used to need something to leave the house with, that hasn't been as important lately at home but it makes sense that it would be in a brand new environment with strangers. He has, according to them, low muscle tone, which is strange when we think of him as Baby Samson, but I guess muscle tone and strength aren't the same thing. There are muscles that are strong, but there are others that are underdeveloped. When I think of low muscle tone as being a problem, I think of a kid I knew in SCOPE whose muscle tone was nonexistent. The way Kittyboy runs is a little rough and an "immature stride" - this kid walked the way mine runs, and was two years older. Now THAT is low muscle tone that's a problem. Of course there are muscles Kittyboy needs to work, trunk comes to mind, but as far as being a concern, it's not overly one of mine.
Kittyboy has learned VERY well how to self-accomadate (meaning stuff like grabbing a transition object when he needs it). Ironically that was a stumbling block in writing up his plan. If it's a need he can meet on his own - which it is - then it doesn't go in his plan. But what you just KNOW will happen, though, is that he would grab something from his immediate vicinity before leaving the classroom to go to the gym (self-accomodating, meeting his need) and the teacher would say no, and unpleasantness would ensue. So it HAD to be in there. So everyone had their laptops out rewriting their reports so that everything was worded Just So. Husband had already been through the hairsplitting with IEPs at Hope School, but I thought it was funny. Evidently that's the norm, is that they write their reports, we have the meeting, we decide based on those reports what he needs, and then reports get rewritten to reflect what we decided he needed based on those reports... Love it. Director and miscellaneous therapist going back and forth - "If transition object is going in, I need a report stating the need for it." "It's right here where I said 'used toy to transition between activities'." "But that doesn't label it a need." "No, he needed it, we all saw this, he had to pick up and put down that toy between every activity." "But that's not how it's stated." Clickety-clickety-clickety.
And, very important - his eligibility is NOT "concerns of possible autism" (which was actually on the table as an option!!!!) but "developmental delays". Another example of wording being key. I am perfectly willing to go with district services as long as he "requires" them, but we're not involving labels, and NOT putting anything on paper that can't be changed as he changes. Developmental delays says it all, and will be invalid when he's caught up, at which point the plan is still to homeschool.
And where was Kittyboy this whole 1.5 hour long meeting? He had an ADVENTURE. We dropped him off about an hour beforehand with Aunt Carey and Puppygirl. He played there, he had fun, Puppygirl read him books, and despite some whimpering when Carey added wood to their woodburning stove (still afraid of fire), he calmed down after some snuggling and said, "Warm! Pretty..." Then, he took a bus ride downtown with them, transferred to a different bus, rode to Puppygirl's gymnastics class, and even crossed a four-lane in the process. And Carey said he was a very good boy!

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Advent Snack - Sauerkraut Sandwiches

This just isn't worth being called a "recipe", it's just a sandwich. My dad introduced me to these when I was in high school and trying to find any alternative I could to PBJ. You need a can of sauerkraut, bread, and mustard. Pumpernickel or rye would be awesome, I just have wheat at the moment. Yellow and brown mustard both are good, whatever mustard you like. You toast the bread, drain the sauerkraut, and you're good to go. Husband isn't big on these if I remember right (feel free to correct me, dear?) but Kittyboy and I both like them. Yummy!
You don't HAVE to toast the bread, but I can't stand sogginess to any degree, and toasting prevents that. Draining the sauerkraut as much as possible, though, is MANDATORY.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Advent Recipe 3 - Lentil Burgers

Okay, so last week was a bust for Advent recipes -car problems, Thanksgiving, traveling, whatnot. Today I thought my mom's lentil-potato cakes sounded good, but didn't have enough room or time to cook both lentils and potatoes, so I just did lentils. What we finally ended up with turned out yummy - and that's coming from a household of carnivores.

Refried Lentil Burgers

About two cups of lentils, boiled until done (little over an hour, if you keep it rolling), drained, mixed with finely diced onion and whatever spices you would put on a hamburger. I mashed them up and tried to fry the resulting paste - not good, too much moisture. Stirred in half a cup of potato flakes, still too much moisture. Dumped the whole bowl in the pan and stirred it around (like making refried beans), then pulled it out and dropped a scoopful back in at a time.
Kittyboy recognized his sandwich as burgery, and requested "ke'up!" I put hot sauce on mine. Husband deemed them "surprisingly good for lentils". So it was (eventually) a hit!

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Kicking Kittyboy

Our Kittyboy, as athletic as he is (he can climb the rock wall at Washington Park - it's intended for five-year-olds), has never been one for kicking. We got one kick out of him at some eval this year, he sorta kicked, wobbled, and sat. He wasn't that motivated to keep trying either, when throwing is easier, does the job admirably, and keeps both feet under control on terra firma.
His neighbor buddy, "Bobby", on the other hand, has been toddling about kicking a ball since March, at 21 months. Kittyboy's six months older, and was just starting to maybe run. They like chasing each other, but both spent most of summer in the Mine stage - if there was a toy, there had to be two, they had to be the SAME toy, etc - which makes playing difficult.
So today they saw each other, pointed, shrieked, and Kittyboy ran over to play. Bobby's mom quickly found THREE balls, and Bobby kicked one over to Kittyboy, who threw it back. After a couple throws, I told him to try kicking like his friend was, and he put the ball down and carefully tried. It went backwards! Haha, how very funny, he thought! Giggling and squealing, he had to try that again, and that time it went sideways! Oh, how funny! Every time he kicked, he squealed in excitement, waved his fists happily, and ran over to tell me about it. Sometimes it went forwards, sometimes sideways, sometimes backwards, sometimes up in the air, and no matter the result, Kittyboy was absolutely delighted!! Bobby looked confused that his friend wasn't kicking it to HIM, but between us two mommies, we kept it moving back and forth.
They've both started outgrowing the Mine stage, because one of the balls had ELMO, and there wasn't really a problem with it. Some whining maybe if one had it for too long, but not a problem.
Now we need to find some soccer on YouTube! (no, we don't have cable). Viva futbol!

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Advent Recipe 2 - Corned Cabbage

Nice way to have a St. Patrick's day flavor without the beef.
All you need is a cabbage, a pot, and the spices that come in those little flavoring packets when you buy corned beef - allspice, bay leaves, thyme, and if you're me, a LOT of peppercorns! Boil the spices for a bit before adding the cabbage, so your kitchen smells like corned beef, then just cook cabbage like normal.
Wouldn't fool anyone into thinking a brisket was actually involved at any point, but tastes good!
Next I am trying an Advent coleslaw. Yes, I have more cabbage to use up!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Christmas Rush - When Classics Sell Out

This is just way too funny. We were thinking of getting Kittyboy a Mr. Potato Head, and fortuitously, we got a Toys R Us flyer about some sale this weekend, with the Potato Head couple being part of it. Sweet!
There are toys that sell out FAST, and there are toys that don't. We live in an era of digital this and artificial intelligence that, and what sells out usually does something and makes noise. Mr. Potato Head - basic, classic, simple, even requires actual participation from the child (imagine!), and is not in short supply or "limited edition" - should be fine waiting a few hours for Husband to get off work to go get one. Right?
In six and a half hours, there is not a basic Potato Head of either gender left in the store. The other kinds that weren't on sale are still there, but the basic ones are sold out. WOW. Three shelves worth of empty space, Husband said.
Somehow, that gives you hope for the youngest generation. At least a couple hundred are still playing with Mr. Potato Head. That has to count for something.
We got Kittyboy one at Walmart instead, it's not like there's a shortage. I just thought it was funny. And cool.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Advent Recipe 1 - Fried Cabbage

Since cabbage is currently fifty cents a pound at County Market, I bought a head to try out fried cabbage, which I've never cooked before. Husband is not a huge fan of cabbage, but thanks to this experiment, it is now on the regular shopping list. I did NOT make enough!!

1 lb. cabbage (it was half of a two-pound head)
Veg oil, enough to cover the bottom of the pan
1/2 onion
1/4 cup sesame seeds (yes, I just happened to have sesame seeds, but they could be optional)
1/4 cup teriyaki (I used Sweet Baby Ray's)

Slice cabbage in thin strips, heat oil, stirfry with onions until cabbage is softening, mix in teriyaki and sesame seeds and cook on medium until cabbage is the desired consistency. For me, this took a little over half an hour, start to finish. Husband and I cleaned our plates - looked at them longingly - and pouted. I should have fried the whole head. I should have bought a bigger one, too.
So THAT recipe is a success!

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Advent Recipes

As maybe half a dozen people who read my blog know, yesterday started Advent. Advent is the forty-day period of fasting which precedes Christmas - fasting meaning, no meat or dairy. We in this house are not big fans of lentils or rice. In theory, the rest of the year we already don't eat meat or dairy on Wednesdays and Fridays, which was easy when I lived at home and someone else planned the menus. In practice, our family hasn't quite managed that. Now, I could blame our budget for restricting our options, the difficulty of fixing TWO menus (Kittyboy doesn't fast, he's about five years too young) and the fact that I often forget what day it is. But being honest, the main issue is LAZINESS. And the lentil/rice thing.
So this Advent, I have a project. I am posting at least three recipes a week which confirm to the Church's guidelines. Husband and I USED to fast, before I became pregnant and couldn't, then I was pumping milk and couldn't, and it just fell apart from then on. But now I'm going to be a godmother for the second time around! Time to buckle down!
Wish me luck!
Prayers would be great too!

Friday, November 13, 2009

An Eye Exam, and Other Oddness

Monday, we had Kittyboy's BIG long evaluation with the school district. Since then, I have been pooped. So I'm writing it down now.
I suspect that when he has his first IEP (individual education plan, or words to that effect) December third, they are going to say, "Oh BOY does he qualify!" I'm actually kind of laughing and shaking my head about it. I've said for at least a year that he is a distilled, purified collection of all the quirks in my family. When you put them all together, you get the social worker who talked to us saying, "I don't know, some of this is pretty well 'on the spectrum'," but if she met everyone whose genetics he shares who's said, "Hey, I did such-and-such", she would see it as more coincidental than alarming.
One of her concerns was my answer to whether he plays with a group, or by himself, when with peers. I'd already said he gets along GREAT with older kids. I pictured the preschool crowd after church, and said he'd be wherever the toy he wanted was - but playing with it solo, not partnering with anyone else. Unless it's a chasing and squealing game, of course (duh). Her forehead looked concerned at that, so I explained that it's not that he doesn't like the other kids, he interacts happily with anything chasey-squealy, it's that he knows how HE wants to play with that dollhouse (yes, dollhouse) and he'd rather just be the one playing with it than have to work it out with another kid. He arranges stuff, points to it and says stuff, then lays down on his tummy to survey his work. It got to be a long and clumsy explanation, because I kept avoiding phrases like, "He has all the 'play' laid out in his head" and other such terms that might REALLY imply something wrong. But that's what it is, and I know, because I did that. I DO that. She didn't see that explanation as comforting. Isn't she glad I didn't mention his phase of assaulting other toddlers that Misty theorized had something to do with eye contact and a first-strike approach to making sure the other kids kept their distance (but he smiled big and wide the whole time, because he wanted to be friendly, which was actually more disturbing from a horror movie standpoint than if he'd looked mad)? I mean, I could have told her some really weird stuff. She should thank me for not having done so.
She described him using our favorite adjective, "scattered", meaning that no one told him you're supposed to learn things in a certain order, and so he isn't, or perhaps someone did tell him and he just laughed, which is actually more likely. She also said his definition of sharing ("I give you this, you give me that thing you have that I want!") is not sharing. It's bribery. We laughed and said that's why we call it the Sharing GAME. He's two, seriously. Sharing is a game, and it's how you get what you want! She didn't have much of a sense of humor. We, on the other hand, kept finding things to laugh at. Like she asked about his temper - we said he will go along quite amiably and pleasantly so long as he wishes to, and when he no longer wishes to, he doesn't. And then I started giggling again. "So is he stubborn?" We said, "When he wants to be!" and of course I giggled at that too. Had she never met a Boss Child before? (the phenomenon of Boss Children will be its own post at some point)
When the three therapists who had been following Kittyboy came back, I described the odd clumsiness we see sometimes, that I thought they wouldn't see because it seems to be more of a problem in places he knows better (where he then pays less attention), and they said they had definitely been wondering about that. They also said they wanted us to have his vision tested. They couldn't get him properly "conditioned" for the test, so they can't really say if he failed or not, but he didn't do well, he blinked and squinted a lot and then did better when they brought the card up much closer to his face. Considering that when Grandma was in the hospital in Missouri, Kittyboy was playing "Where's Waldo?" with crosses - there would be a crucifix by a reception desk across a large lobby and he would see it - and his scalpel-sharp vision for anything church related or anything that interests him (anything Veggie Tales, anything Winnie the Pooh), I attribute it to processing, not mechanics. I'm sure his eyes are just fine, just like all his hearing tests that showed him hearing better than I do, back when he was playing deaf in therapy. But we've got an appointment for him New Year's Eve to rule out a very early need for glasses. The more we rule out, the clearer the real issues become.
Monday, we had five people besides ourselves - nurse, social worker, OT, ST, and psychologist. December third, we will have eight. It just gets curiouser and curiouser!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Happy Fall!

We are having gorgeous weather, and have been outside raking leaves, running through leaves, jumping in leaves, and of course, throwing leaves! Here is Kittyboy looking all handsome and outdoorsy.

His bestest pal Puppygirl was over Tuesday, and great loads of leafy fun were had by all. We even made progress on my project of raking all the leaves into the garden. My idea is that the little fence around it will hold them there until such time as we get around to burning the whole 12'x12' plot, thus eliminating both the need to rake and rake and rerake, AND the need to haul the ashes over to the garden after burning. Yeah, I'm pretty excited!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

When Toddlers Name Things

I still have my first teddybear. My mother is amazed he's still in one piece, since he's stuffed with rapidly degrading foam and covered with paper-thin fleecey stuff that has almost completely peeled off. Actually all that's left is the foam, turning to dust, in a netting that is the only reason Argle is still a bear. Yes, I named him Argle. How articulate were YOU on your first or second Christmas? Argle is what I called him, and so Argle was his name.
Kittyboy has a bear in a nurse outfit from his hospital stay, named Apple. As in the fruit, presumably. We don't know why. The yellow cichlid in a tank in the kitchen is Peekoo because that is how he says peekaboo, and she plays peekaboo with him, or so he believes. So Peekoo makes sense, but the world will never know why the nurse bear is Apple.
Better than Apple, though, is the fish we bought today. We went and bought a pleco to eat our algae in the big fish tank, and after we recovered from the unbearable excitement of BUYING A FISHIE, and poor fishie had gotten over the terror of being carried by a toddler and come out of hiding in the tank, I asked Kittyboy what he wanted to name his fishie. "Gank oo."
"So fishie's name is Gankoo?"
"Gank oo Gah."
"Your fish? What are you naming your fish?" I can't have heard that right...
"Gank oo Gah. Fishie gank oo Gah." He's used to having to repeat himself and clarify; obviously Mommy just wasn't understanding him.
"Your fish is named 'Thank you God'."
"Fishie GankooGah!" Proud happy smile, he has made Mommy understand now! Sometimes mommies just don't catch on the first or third time, you know.
As sweet as that is, I suspect there is indeed logic behind it, besides the precious thought that he is grateful to God for having created fishies to be our pets. One of his favorite meals is fish sticks, and he knows where food comes from and that God's creatures taste good. As we left Petsmart, he said, "Eat fishie?" and I had said no, this is a pet fishie, not for eating.
"Thank you God" is the prayer we taught him to say before meals..............

Monday, October 19, 2009

"The Song Remains The Same" - i.e. therapy is continuing

Therapy continues. Both speech and OT.
Kind of annoyed, but okay with it - should there appear a problem beyond just slow development, it is easier to show and seek treatment for if Kittyboy's already being followed. I can see the logic in keeping after him Just In Case. We could say, "Oh, I'm sure he'll have his pronouns straightened out and be speaking in complete sentences by the time he's, oh, four" but then what happens when he IS four, and still not using a, an, the, is, are, etc? Better that he be already receiving services and have the problem documented over time than have to start again. We know he's very intelligent, and he spends the whole day being spoken to, interacting with people, he loves being read to, but his speech scores are very inconsistent, and they shouldn't be. He should, at coming up on three, be giving a yes or no answer, saying a COMPLETE sentence (as in "The airplane went up in the sky" not "Airplane up sky"), and understandable three-fourths of the time by strangers - without context. He's understandable about fifty percent of the time with no context. If WE don't have context, we often have to play the guessing game. So speech continues - he qualifies because of articulation, but it's a good idea for word order and everything else as well.
And OT - Bree has been mentioning that he trips a lot in Speech, and Ginny's been noticing it too. We are continuing OT primarily to improve body awareness. When he's paying attention, he's a mountain goat, when not, he bounces off of walls (then again, I shouldn't talk, as I attempted to close a car door on my leg this morning - and I wasn't in the car). OT is continuing for sensory issues, basically.
So... huh. Kind of a let down. But not really, just a continuation. Nothing's CHANGED. He's just not all straightened out yet. And hey, he's my kid, he'll be forgetting to eat and closing car doors on his leg when he's 28.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The New "It" Music; or, The Byzantine Toddler

The Pascha right after Kittyboy came home, we got a CD of Paschal hymns from Greece. "From Greece" meaning that not only was the chanting entirely in Greek, there was no English on the packaging or the CD itself. This was GREEK.
And while it was majestic, transporting, awe-inspiring, and made me so crave to attend the church where that man chants, I could NOT sing along. Mr. Frank, at church, is on a whole different level from me in chanting, I mean, he Is A Chanter. But compared to me, the chanter on this CD is from another PLANET. It wasn't that I didn't know the hymns, it was that the style and ornamentation were so very Byzantine that I just couldn't follow. I was proud of myself just for being able to sing the harmony for the Glory To The Father.
Kittyboy wanted to take his Mary music ("Mayee! Faytokos! Mama God!) in the car with us to run errands. I grabbed that CD and what I thought was one of our recordings of chant in English, and gave him the choice. He chose the second - and boy was I mistaken, that wasn't a fancy font on the disc, that was Greek. It was the ultra-Byzantine CD.
Kittyboy's only heard the more ornate chanting three times, Pascha when he was four months, a year and four months, and two years and four months, and that's from Mr. Frank. He'd never heard anything quite like THIS. I figured I'd give it a couple tracks and see if he changed his mind. Change his mind he did not. We got to the first store in our three-store trip, and he didn't want the music to stop playing. I turned off the car - "Jesus music?" "No, we have to go inside now." "Jesus music inside? Okay." Thankfully he accepts me as a substitute for The Greek Guy. Every time I turned off the car, if the CD wasn't coming inside in his moist little hand, I had to start singing. Now it's the new sleeping music.

Monday, October 12, 2009

And the Speech news is....

Kittyboy's delay six months ago was 28-34%, 30% being what is considered in need of therapy (hence he "qualified by four percent"). Delay today - 21%! Woohoo, not only holding fast in his own curve but gaining. Sweet. I didn't think he was losing, but the gain is a happy surprise. Bree says articulation is just borderline 50%, he still qualifies on that, but he's way more understandable than he was six months ago. Among the questions she asked was, "How does he get your attention?" By continuing to repeat the same phrase over and over and over and over and over and over until it's like the droning of bees. He doesn't raise his voice, which is nice, but if he didn't GET my attention to begin with initially, say I'm washing dishes or in the laundry room, for me it only registers as background noise. Which is why he's added the tactic of grabbing my clothes and getting right in front of me, or if he can reach, putting his hand on my shoulder, leaning in so our noses are practically touching, and repeating said garble directly eye-to-eye. SMART BOY. He's noticed Mommy doesn't necessarily "hear" him unless he makes contact. It doesn't mean I understand him per se, but hey, then I know it's not random babble, he's communicating something, and can then resort to "Why don't you just show me?"
OOH. Starting tomorrow, I'm going to teach him, "Mommy I need you." He should be able to repeat that, and I will tell him that's what he says when he needs me. Followed by, when he's got me, the request.
And, "How does he ask for help?" By bringing you the thing and waiting patiently until you decipher what is wrong, or crying if he can't bring it to you. If you prompt him, "How do you ask for help?" he will make a noise and sign it. Help is not a word I've ever heard.
The majority of the evaluation was with a large flip book of pictures, each of which came with an instruction - "Which of these do you eat with?" "Which baby is sleeping?" and progressing to my favorite, pictures of a broken bike, crayons and paper, a book in a chair, and the scenario, "Katie hurt her knee. What do you think she was doing?" YEAH RIGHT! I giggled silently, Bree nodded with an understanding smile, and Kittyboy stared blankly, then tried to turn the page. Bree said, "Well, I have to keep going until he misses seven in a row." Which he never DID. We would have been there all morning. She finally said his scores were just all over the place, there were low-level things he was missing (doesn't answer yes or no really), though he has most of that section, there was a chunk of middle stuff totally absent (for example, wouldn't point to the nest that had no eggs, the basket that had no apples, etc, and got all colors wrong except yellow), but then there's a scattering of upper-level stuff he does get. Overall it came to a 21% delay, which is acceptable, but she wants him to continue therapy, so as to fill in the blanks and start speaking more clearly. And get some basics like yes, no (he says no, but not as an answer, as imitating what I just told him when he does something wrong, or when I say he can't have something), asking for HELP, etc.
So the verdict is... whatever speech therapy the school district throws our way should be fine! I told Bree that being all over the place is what he does best - like last summer when Fe (the OT at the time) thought he was just a genius, and Terri the SLP said that verbally he had an 85% delay. And both were true, Kittyboy was doing things involving reasoning that he shouldn't have known how to do, AND six-month-olds I saw at church were using more open consonants than he was.
Predictable is boring. He wouldn't want to be boring.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why I now wear a knee brace - A Cautionary Tale

I now have a knee brace, courtesy of my doctor. I am a size medium in knee braces, which will be useful to know in case someone decides to buy me medical accessories for Christmas. I don't know why they would, but anyhow.
When Kittyboy came home, he had to be held at a goofy angle for bottlefeeding, and so to keep him at the right angle, he got fed propped on my crossed legs, and I spent a lot of my day on the floor sitting crosslegged. Up and down and up and down. Not that great for knees. One day I bent down from the changing table, screamed, and thought I wasn't going to be able to get back up. My left knee was in agony. My first thought was "No, this is really bad, I just blew out my knee." I did get back up, and of course I kept going, because I had an infant and a husband at work and had no choice, and by the time Husband came home, I thought the worst was over. And my knee did slowly get better, though it was stiff while it healed. But when it still hurt a month later, I went to our public aid doctor, because we had only public aid for insurance, and explained that I'd damaged my knee a month before, and though it was moving well again, it still hurt along the sides like it wasn't healing up well. She said it was arthritis. I said no, it isn't, it felt as if I'd torn something, and Tylenol doesn't do jack squat. She said to try other over-the-counter stuff. I went to Walmart, bought one bottle of everything generic, tried them all one after the other, and went back later to say, "They don't work completely, and I still say it's not arthritis." She said again that it WAS arthritis, and prescribed me Tramadol. That is a very powerful don't-mess-with-it painkiller. It's an opiate. I took one - my knee didn't hurt, for the first time in over a month. I was happy, I was so happy. My gosh, I could sleep pain-free again. Then I started noticing some balance problems while taking it (at the minimum dose of one a day). Basically, I got more and more sensitive to it, until I bought a knee brace and decided I was only taking it if I really, really could not stand the pain. I told myself, I've got a high pain tolerance, this stuff is scary, I have to do this. Then one day I just had to, I couldn't even sit comfortably, and an hour after taking it, I had the feeling of bugs in my skin. I was shaking. I had the symptoms of a heroin addict. I couldn't sleep. It took 24 hours before the "bugs" went away, and that was scary enough to make me not take it ever again no matter what, because obviously it and I were not compatible. Mind you, my knee didn't just hurt when I was moving it, it hurt at night when it was still. Our friend Carel and his brother were over that night, so I asked THREE football players (Husband played in high school) what they thought of what had happened with my knee, and all three said yes, it's a sports injury, everything I described was consistent with that, the doctor was an idiot.
And then we got insurance (nine months after the injury), we changed doctors as fast as humanly possible, and Dr. B said I'd ruptured a bursa (yes! I was right!), and a week of anti-inflammatories made everything better. Problem solved.
Since then, every so often, I'll step wrong and put my knee out again - feels a little like the joint's going to bend in a way it shouldn't, hurts like the dickens, and then it continues to hurt for a couple days. After all that time that I kept using it until we got insurance, I figured there was no point in going back to the doctor, my knee is just as healed as it will ever get and I just have to put up with it.
So I put it out again Monday night, got up Tuesday morning, and thought it was better until I got out of bed and bent to pick up my jeans. THAT hurt. I went to our wonderful Dr. Hendricks at last, because I'm just tired of it and I can't keep up with a toddler this way. I was explaining the whole loooooong story to the nurse, said, "I went the first time, said I had a joint injury that didn't seem to be healing right, the doctor said it was arthritis and to try different OTC stuff, I went home and tried one of everything, went back and said nothing worked and 'by the way, I still say it's not arthritis,' and the doctor said, 'well I still think it is!' and gave me a prescription for Tramadol," and at that the nurse's eyebrows went up, and up, and up. I liked that expression. So writing a scrip for a powerful painkiller is indeed NOT typically the first thing you do when something hurts. I'm thinking you usually try to figure out WHY.
Dr. Hendricks' first question was whether ANYONE had thought to x-ray it, the answer to which is no. Dr. B diagnosed based on my description of what happened and the stiffness when it was healing, i.e. exactly what I told the first lady who swore it was arthritis, except the medicine he gave me worked, which is how we know he and I were right. But no, no one's x-rayed, so Dr. H ordered x-rays to see if there had been any skeletal damage. There hasn't been, which is really good to know - the knee's not growing any spurs or looking ground down, it really is JUST the bursa being re-aggravated.
And now we know that when this happens, I should wear a knee brace for a couple weeks, rest the joint as much as possible, elevate when possible, take anti-inflammatories, and let it heal again. With arthritis you do exactly the opposite, since there you want to keep the joint moving so it doesn't freeze up. This is why you should make very sure what the injury IS when a joint hurts, because if it's one and you treat for the other, you WILL make it worse, either way, guaranteed. Taking pain relievers to keep moving was the worst thing I could have done.
If I'd gone immediately and gotten treated for the right thing immediately, it could have healed completely and this wouldn't be an ongoing chronic thing. It also might not have - the initial damage felt pretty significant - but at least it would have had a chance. Yesterday I told Husband, who was REALLY upset with the first doctor, that it's truly both our faults, because I KNEW she was wrong, and I should have either kept harping until I got somewhere, OR said, "You know what, she may be clueless, but I do know what happened, I'll just ask around on my own and find out what to do for a sports-type injury." I didn't even do THAT, I just ignored it. I could also have tried to change doctors at the clinic. What I should NOT have done is sat down and shut up after the second appointment.
I now realize that telling myself "Well, as long as my knee doesn't hurt, whatever..." is the same thing as saying, "If I don't open the overdue bills, they'll just go away."
But my knee IS feeling better faster with the brace during the day and the Lodine, and a lesson has been learned!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Next, and Last, IFSP

So, the next and last IFSP for Kittyboy is going to be two weeks from today. I don't know why therapists don't get more than two weeks notice, considering the paperwork involved in evals and reports, but there you have it.
As I've mentioned, we anticipate Kittyboy TOTALLY clearing OT. There's nothing going on sensory-wise that we can't handle. And I would have expected him to leave Speech behind as well, except... the older he gets, the higher they raise the bar. He MAY still qualify, because although he's attained two-year-old level verbal language (a stranger could understand probably 50% of what he says), a three-year-old is expected to be understood 75% of the time (again, by a stranger who is unfamiliar with his particular "dialect"). The equation is 25% per year of age. Yes, that does mean that you should be able to understand one hundred percent of what your four-year-old tells you. When Bree told me that this morning, I STARED at her, and then I said I'd known many kindergartners in SCOPE who REALLY, REALLY, REALLY qualified for speech therapy.
I once had a conversation with an absolutely precious five-year-old girl, who was getting anxious because her mommy was running later than normal. I asked her what her mommy's car looked like, and she said it was a "gavudabu". A what? "It's a gavudabu!" And that was the only description I could get. Clearly, that was supposed to tell me something very significant about her mother's vehicle. After some time, the light came on - CONVERTIBLE. "Is her car a convertible?" "Thas wha I said, a gavudabu!" Yup. (Should I ever have a convertible, my license plate will be GAVDBU).
We've got Kittyboy saying "potty" when he needs to go, because "toilet" (though he does say it) sounds like a fourth of his vocabulary. It has to be something we can understand. I guess a lot of his speech we do translate from context - tractor and chocolate, for example, are not much distinguished from each other.
And he'll be three on Christmas, so that's the standard they'll be using. Since what he will say far outranks what even WE actually understand, he may well still need Speech, I don't know. It's not vocab, his vocabulary is GREAT - it's enunciation. (Man, they're picky!) But yeah, I can see where enunciation would be almost as important as vocabulary - can't communicate if you're not understood.
Dilemma - if he still qualifies, it will be the school district which picks up his therapy. Good news, they do have to provide services whether or not he goes, and what they provide will be free - bad news, they do not provide as MUCH to children who aren't attending. A kid in Early Start or Headstart or whatever they call it might get half an hour twice a week - one who's not attending might get half an hour every other week, or even just once a month, in which case, what's the point. We can go to Childrite where he's been going, privately, though insurance would NOT pay for it (we already know this).
Off the top of my head, if he does still qualify, my ideas are as follows -
Discuss by what percentage he still qualifies, and find out how important they think it is that he does continue to receive services. If it's the same small percentage by which he qualified six months ago, then he's just continuing to progress at the same delayed rate, no big deal. If, on the other hand, he qualified by 4% six months ago, and now qualifies by much more because of the higher expectations of being 3 (i.e., he's not maintaining the same learning curve, but instead falling further behind others in his age group), eeehhh, we'll see how much the district WILL do if he doesn't attend preschool, and whether Bree thinks it's enough to be worth it.
IF the delay, relatively speaking, is something that warrants continued therapy, and IF Bree thinks the "out-patient" district services aren't going to be enough, we would have things to think about. One thought being, eeehhh, find out how many hours a day Headstart, Early Start, whatever it is, is, and how flexible they are on attendance, and go from there.
It's all academic though, until the evals are done. I just like to keep in mind, "Okay, worst case scenario, what would we do next?" Something I learned from my dad, WHO, by the way, has a blog now, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Killed a Spider - Still Jumpy

I have so far managed to not raise a fellow arachnophobe, only because Kittyboy's not that observant. I took down a basket of stuff for him to play with, out crawled a white recluse. And since Young-And-Impressionable was at my side, I could NOT scream my head off and leave the room. Worse, my son sat down NEXT TO the basket, and started pulling things from it oblivious to the large white spider running around the rim of the basket. I managed somehow, I don't know how, to keep from actually making any sound whatsoever, I grabbed a book, knocked the spider off, and tried to smoosh it. Spiders are resilient. Since it was on carpet, the first THREE TIMES I picked up the book, it kept running around. I had to put ALL my weight on the book and move it around before I picked it up and spider was no more. Kittyboy sat happily playing the whole time completely ignoring me. So then I just sat there holding my knees and shaking for a few minutes. I. HATE. SPIDERS.
Half an hour later, I'm still twitching.
Give me a bull snake in the bathroom any day of the week.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Day at the Park; or, Kittyboy Not Allergic to Bees

The knitting group I've attended off and on (more off than on), and a homeschool group I need to start attending are merging experimentally at a great time and a great place - Tuesday afternoons, at Washington Park! Take the toddler, take a washcloth-in-progress - best of all worlds!
Turns out, there's a limit how much you can knit while chasing Kittyboy. But it was still a really fun afternoon. First I had to convince him that he COULD play without me looking over his shoulder - that he was perfectly fine playing with me sitting on a bench instead of following him. Then I had the opposite problem, trying to get him to play at the jungle gym near where I was sitting, instead of the one across the park! (So, that's a "Yes!" to independent play!)
He had lots of fun with the other random toddlers who happened to be playing where he was. They spent a lot of time pointing at each other and saying various things that weren't all that intelligible. WHEE, however, is understood by all! WHEE is universal!
He also got pointed out as a good example! His climbing skills are QUITE proficient, and another mom used him to try and teach her son who was maybe a few months younger how climbing works. "See where he puts his feet? And then he uses his legs, and then he pulls himself up!" Again and again, time after time, as both boys enjoyed the tornado slide - the one scampering up with ease, while the other used the "mommy elevator".
He did a somersault down the tornado slide once, apparently because he couldn't decide whether to go down sitting up or feet-first on his tummy, and so he decided to do both at once. Didn't phase him. I'm not sure he realized what happened.
He wanted very much to do the rock wall - if he were just an inch taller, he'd be doing it, easy. Boy loves to climb. And is good at it. 'Nuff said.
I learned a few things. 1) apparently any mom in a skirt can substitute for me if he wants one and she's closer. He chatted at length with one lady about a ball he had found. His end of the conversation was mainly, "Ball - yeah!" He grabbed his Aunt Carey by the hand, said, "Mommy!" (news to her!), pulled her over to the teeter-totter, and said, "Bounce! You bounce, up-down!" and she did the teeter-totter with him until I rescued her. Which I admit to not doing as fast as I could have.
2) Kittyboy is not allergic to bee stings. Useful knowledge, since a hive has taken up residence in a hole in our yard (we put shoes on him when he plays in the yard, and have pointed it out as a spot to stay away from). There were several flying around the playground, evidently he put his hand down on one and it stung him. He came running to me with that high-pitched squealing cry that means Something Actually Is Wrong, and the bee still stuck in his palm! Yeah, that was fun. I flicked the bee off, carried him squealing over to Carey and her friend Shannon and asked, "So have you ever removed a sting before?" Shannon got it out, by which time he'd calmed down considerably. He snuggled for a while, but went back to playing pretty quickly. All that swelled was his hand, and that not too much. So hey, now we know - not allergic. Or afraid of flying insects - after the bunsen burner/candle equation, I would have thought a bee sting would make him afraid of anything small and winged. Not so, to my great relief.
3) Somersaults down tornado slides - fun. Somersaults down stairs - not. More tears, a bleeding lip and skinned nose, more snuggling. While we snuggled and rocked, I asked him, "Do we want to go home now?" He sobbed, "Nooooo!" And soon went back to playing.
All in all, it was a very good day with moments of not-so-goodness. But a wonderful day overall!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tot School

I have found a lovely blog for homeschooling preschool - the creatively named 1plus1plus1equals1 (think about it... think about it...) written by Carisa. "Tot school" is a Montessori-style of preschool based on educational play (which is what preschool is, or should be, right?). And Carisa has all sorts of wonderful ideas, tips, tools, and just plain encouragement for anyone homeschooling under the age of five. I found Tot School by following another wonderful homeschooling blog, Making the most of being at home.
Montessori is SO the way to go. I keep reading again and again, "Just give the child what you want him to learn with and see what he does with it." So that's what I'm trying to do now. It makes things a lot less frustrating, actually, and come to find, the lesson gets learned anyway.
Example - I have been beating my head on a brick wall trying to help Kittyboy match things. He has these word cards that he loves looking at (they're Winnie the Pooh), and I figured we could use them for matching. Lay out two cards, hold up one, and ask which one matches the one you're holding. We both HATE this game, him because I'm interrupting his fun and he doesn't know what I want of him, and me because beating your head on a brick wall starts to hurt after a while. But therapists want him to match things, and I want him to match things, and I'm sure he wants to match things just so I'll quit bugging him.
Better idea - give him the cards and see what he does. I ended up with matching pairs carefully strewn (I love that phrase) all over the living room. He's getting there, just in his own time, under his own steam, and in his own way. And how he did it, he was actually picking matches from more than two at a time, because he dumped the whole box and THEN started sorting. He just didn't like how I was doing it.
Next I'm going to just give him his whole "colors drawer" and see what he does with all the fabric swatches! Will he sort them by patterns, or by colors? Or will he use them all as blankets for small toys? Whatever he does, it'll be a learning experience!

(Carisa, if you read this, I am going to try and do a weekly Tot School post, assuming of course that I can figure out how McLinky works!)

Oh my gosh, he's NAPPING

My son has not taken a nap since last Saturday. Which is bad enough on its own, but since evidently he does still need the sleep, his 7-7:30 bedtime has been creeping backwards. Wednesday night, I believe it was, I had to put him down at SIX. That's insane. No one goes to bed that early. I wouldn't mind except that A) I would prefer a break in the middle of the day, and B) I am then trapped in the house until Husband comes home at 9:30. No after-dinner, "Oh drat, I need such-and-such for breakfast tomorrow," really quick errands or anything. And, at his old bedtime, a 7 p.m. church service is only stretching his awake time by an hour or so, that's doable. When he's melting down at 6, nighttime services are impossible. If I thought it would ensure a nap, I'd keep him up until 8 - but when the toddler needs to sleep, the toddler NEEDS TO SLEEP. You can only mess with bedtime just so far.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Better than Reality TV

(okay, to be honest, ANYTHING'S better than reality television, but that was my friend Carey's response to this post in e-mail form)
Taking the Cat and Kid to the Vet:
I called the vet to ask advice on our cat Harriet's recent litterbox issues, and the receptionist said it could be a UTI. Fun. So since they had an opening at 4:30 that afternoon, I jumped on it. Keep in mind, the toddler chose yesterday to NOT NAP. And I had to take them both.
So I got the cat in the carrier, that was fun, and I explained to Kittyboy that kitty doesn't feel good, and so she needs to go See Doctor. See Doctor is a magical phrase with which he is VERY familiar, and he kept pointing at Harriet, crying in her carrier, and asking, "Kiy okay? Kiy [high pitched] 'wa wa wa'! Kiy okay?" I told him she was going to BE okay after seeing the doctor, just like he is okay after he sees the doctor, and that he should reassure her that he has experience with doctors and doctors make you Okay. So the whole way to the vet, he was saying, "Kiy, okay. Kiy, okay. Kiy be okay. Kiy see doctor. Kiy okay." And I told him she was just crying because she doesn't like her "car seat", and that he is a very big boy for riding so nicely in his. But she doesn't like hers, so she cries about it.
When I put Harriet down at the counter, Kittyboy sat next to her and kept up the monologue of reassurance, but was distressed when they took her back to weigh her. "Kiy? Kiy? Kiy? Kiy? Kiy?" I told him they would bring her back, but he wasn't convinced. They brought her back, then we all went back to the room, where the toddler was not so understanding about why kitty was on the table and he wasn't. He likes sitting on examining tables. He's very good at it. It's what he does at the doctor. And he kept up his talking the whole time I was talking to the vet, about kitty and kitty see doctor and kitty okay?
He was okay until they took her out for the urine test (how do you get urine from a cat who won't go? a needle!!!! through the abdomen!!!), and then he was very upset, and when I said we were NOT going back to the waiting room (where they had coloring books and a little table), he did the screaming-and-arching thing. I had to sort of pretzel him, like Alice in Wonderland with the baby pig, and sing Hail Holy Queen many times. Hey, at least they did all that out of his sight, if not out of his hearing, I can only imagine the din if they were stabbing his kitty with a needle and Harriet was yowling and fighting and him screaming because his kitty was being hurt, THAT would have been a disaster. So it was good that they did the urine testing in the back. We could hear her, though. She's LOUD. (Well heck, if it were me, I'd be plenty loud and there'd be injuries involved)
Then they brought her back, and the doctor said she didn't have any blockages or stones, but her urine did look "chunky" (umm... chunky???) and the test for infection would take about ten minutes. Kittyboy wanted to see her, so I set him on the table next to her, and he went on about kitty being okay, and said, "You kiy snuggle?" (I snuggle kitty?) I said kitty had to stay in her carrier, but he could snuggle her when we got home (thinking, "she won't be that snuggly..."), and so he put his arms around the carrier and rested his head on top and said, "You kiy snuggle." It was so precious!!!
And then I read him his Jonah book that he'd brought, easily a couple dozen times - it's a short book. And doctor came back and said poor Miss Harriet had TWO strains of bacteria, boy oh BOY did she have an infection, and she would have two medications, one to make her comfortable while the other kicks her infections' collective backsides. So we went to check out, Harriet was quietly growling in her carrier ("Kiy rrr rrr rrr!"), and in the waiting room, there was a PUPPY. A boxer puppy, so, you know, dog-size. And toddler saw puppy, and puppy saw toddler, and we had a contest going of whose "puppy" would stay under control for longer. Puppy was on a leash, hurling himself at the end of the leash in fact, trying to get to that little human who looked so friendly, and his owner was sitting on the floor with her heels dug in trying to keep him back, and Kittyboy was standing at the corner of the counter pointing and saying "Doggie! Doggie! Doggie!" and just when the puppy would be back under control, then he would run forward a yard or so, and I would have to yell STOP and call him back, and it sounded for all the world like we were both corralling dogs. "Stop! Sit! Stay! Come back here!" And of course my telling Kittyboy to "heel" as we went through the waiting room - we've been practicing "heel", which if you think about it, is an efficient, single-word command meaning, "Don't pull ahead, don't lag behind, stay right at my side and nowhere else." What better command to teach a toddler? But it does sound odd to people.
We stopped at the other side of the counter to sign more stuff, and the puppy scooted up to Kittyboy, in a "play bow" pose the whole way, just soooo wanting to play with him, toddler reached to pet him, and Harriet, in carrier next to him, GROWLED. Actually, her growl is more like a ROAR. Very loud, sudden ROAR from the small cat carrier, like I was transporting a miniature circus lion. That poor puppy jumped back three feet, in the air, and cowered next to his owner. Harriet HATES dogs. Harriet's ten pounds. The puppy had to be three times that. Apparently it's all about volume.
Kittyboy then had a tantrum for unknown reasons outside the office (perhaps because his kitty scared off the nice doggie?), he didn't get particularly happier when I told him I was NOT carrying him and Harriet, he had to walk, he had no choice. He did walk. "Kiy okay? Kiy [low growly voice] 'rrr rrrr rrr'. Kiy okay?" Then he started bawling when we got to the car, saying, "Kiy wy you? Kiy wy you? Kiy wy you? Kiy wy you?" which I interpreted to mean "Kitty ride with me?" and I kept telling him, KITTY WAS RIDING WITH HIM. KITTY WAS IN THE CAR, RIGHT NEXT TO HIM. HE WAS RIDING WITH KITTY. ALL WAS WELL. He kept it up the whole way home, loudly, while crying, non-stop, possibly without breathing, "KIY WY YOU?KIY WY YOU?KIY WY YOU?KIY WY YOU?KIY WY YOU?" if you can imagine that, for twenty minutes straight.
That he then addressed, "Kiy wy you?" to Harriet specifically as I was letting her out of her carrier, makes me think he was instead asking kitty if SHE was all right. "Kitty, all right you?" or something like that. I went down to the computer to e-mail Husband what the damages were, about the medications and all that, and Kittyboy came running down WITH her medication. "Kiy mecine? Kiy mecine? Okay!" Kittyboy likes to take medicine, so kitty should like taking medicine, right? I told him we would wait for Daddy to come home and Daddy would give her medicine. Well, Kittyboy thought he had a better idea. He proceeded to chase Harriet around the house, in his eager-to-help, well-meaning way, waving her bottle of pills, saying enthusiastically, "Kiy mecine! Kiy mecine! Kiy mecine! Kiy mecine!" "Kitty, come back here! I have your medicine! Don't you want your medicine? I like medicine! Medicine is yummy! You should take your medicine!"
It just doesn't get any better than that.
And yes, Harriet is feeling much better now.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Toddler Conversation

"See Mayee! You see Mayee!" (boy refers to himself as "you")
"Yes, you see Mary." (he was in the hallway looking at an icon)
"Mayee (garblegarble) Tokos! Fay Tokos!"
"Yes, good job! Yes, Mary is the Theotokos!" (we had been working on that word)
"Fay Tokos mean Mama God."
"YES, Theotokos means Mother of God! Wow, you have been paying attention!"
"Mayee Fay Tokos Mama God!" (with that little "What a good boy I am!" giggle)
I think my little theologian deserves chocolate!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Elevation of the Cross

After forgetting the Nativity of the Theotokos until The Day Of, now the SECOND of the two biggest holidays in September sneaks up on me with even less warning - didn't know until I sat down to read blogs during Kittyboy's nap. I knew the Elevation was the 14th - I also believed the 14th to be tomorrow.
Fortunately, Kittyboy DID take a nap today, and I attacked my craft drawers for popsicle sticks, glue, whatever I could find. Father usually celebrates the Elevation on the Sunday immediately preceding, which was yesterday, when we were out of town at a family reunion, so obviously we'd missed out on church. This is the feast day celebrating the finding of the Holy Cross by St. Helen, and there is a procession around the church with a cross carried on a tray decorated with flowers. Tray, cross, flowers, that much I could come up with.

The cross is popsicle sticks glued together, and the base of it (so that it stands up) is a hairspray cap. Yes, I was scraping the bottom of the barrel here, I need to start stocking up on craft supplies. But it was a cross that would stand up, and I traced a cross on construction paper that he could color. And when Kittyboy woke up, we went outside to pick flowers! As you can see, he was very happy with the popsicle-stick cross, and insisted it had to come along with us.
I hadn't come up with anything clever for a tray - I never entertain, I had no little trays about to press into service, so I decided he could decorate a "tray" himself. I did think to take his shirt off and lay down newspaper before handing him his very first paint brush!It doesn't show well in the picture, but it was green, yellow and gold paint. Within it, he painted a lot of crosses, or so he told me. And no paint got onto carpet, and only a little on his shorts, which were cut-off sweat shorts anyway.

I had cut pages from an icon calendar a couple years old, and the September one was naturally the Elevation of the Cross, and so we sat with the icon and I read the text that went along with it, and he helped me put mums around the cross on the tray.
As you can see from his coloring sheet, he is very proud of his new-found ability to draw straight lines and circles. He drew many of both.
Sadly, future family reunions are likely to always be the second Sunday in September (they switched it just this year from Labor Day weekend, we'd not even thought about a conflict with a feast day), three hours away in the Champaign area - BUT, we can still be in church for the Elevation if we leave here way early and attend at Three Hierarchs there in Champaign.
Next year, we'll make it!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fun with Shapes

I hadn't had any luck thus far with any shapes, but colors are starting to catch on, so I was going to keep going on colors today, but this morning he started pointing at random mostly-round things and saying, "Circle! Circle! Circle!" so plans changed! He is now into shapes!
And here is his shapes drawer:The shapes book, a puzzle, and propped up in the back of the drawer are his cards. I'm having good luck with the "drawer per subject" approach, he sees all his options and goes for whatever catches his fancy, and sees that he has MORE options if the first fails to hold his interest, so you don't have to keep bringing him back to show him what else he can do. And with it all being one theme, he sees the same shapes over and over. He calls squares rectangles, which technically they are, and the shapes book points that out - that a rectangle has four sides and four square corners, and that special ones where the sides are all equal are called squares. I switched out the Theotokos for St. Catherine of Alexandria, patroness of scholars. Makes sense for a school - and we can celebrate our "school's" feastday in November!
He's learning, too, that when we sit at our desk, we're going to do something fun - he likes to sit down and choose a drawer to play with.
He is going to blow them away when he gets re-evaluated next month.
And below is our updated space: I just love my drawers!!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Nativity of the Theotokos

This morning I realized out of the clear blue sky, listening to the daily readings, that it was the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, and I had nothing planned for Kittyboy in the way of a lesson or activity or anything, not even an icon of the feast to show him. I have got to start sitting down with the church calendar and start planning ahead.
So I told him, "Guess what! It's Mary's birthday!" We're working on the term Theotokos, he sometimes will call her Mary-toko, but she's still his Mary. (I like Mary-toko, personally, it's very cute). I told him that meant it was the day his Mary was born (obviously), but kinda left it at that, for lack of inspiration.
Then we took a walk and along the bike trail are scores of tall sunflowers, very tall plants but with small flowers coming off the main stem. I just love them, I'm going to go walking there in a few weeks and collect seeds. Kittyboy wanted one, so I picked him a couple, and then I said, "Oh, you know what, we should take these home for Mary for her birthday!" We went home, snipped some of my geranium and a bunch of my mums, and made a bouquet, brought one of our icons of the Theotokos over to his desk, and put it there with the bouquet.

The fact that there's a candle lit is a testament of his love for his Mary. Kittyboy was a little traumatized by having dinner at a hibachi grill, where the chef lit the grill on fire. Since then, he's been very, very afraid of fires - but until Sunday, he was still fine with candles. Well, this Sunday, he apparently made the connection, and became so hysterical when we lit a candle that we had to go home. Sunday evening, we tried lighting candles here to show him they're not dangerous, and he would barely touch an unlit one - and wouldn't go anywhere near one that was burning, cried and cried (we were trying to get him to blow one out). I lit a scented one when we were having lunch today, on the other side of the table, and he tried to escape from his booster chair. Well, so after he kissed his Mary and put her up on his desk and I put the glass with the flowers in front of her, I went and got a candle, and said, "How about we light a pretty candle for Mary? Candles are so pretty, and it's her birthday." He whimpered when the match sizzled, but he didn't cry, I put it in front of the icon, and kept talking about it being a pretty candle for her birthday, and when I sat down in a chair in front of it and called him to me, he came - carefully and never taking his eyes off the candle, lest it do something sudden, but he came (thank you Mother of God!). And he sat on my lap without complaint while I told him about how Theotokos mean Mother of God, and I sang Axion Esti, "It is truly meet to call thee blessed," and told him about what that hymn means and all, and why we call Mary blessed, and then he took his eyes off of Mary and the candle long enough to lean back and look at me - "Mommy sing?" So I kept singing, and kept singing, and he was okay. He wouldn't blow the candle out himself, but he let me bring it just close enough I could blow it out. Anything for Mary!
Tomorrow, I think I will replace the Theotokos with my St. Catherine, Patroness of Scholars, and we will light a candle when we pray before starting school!

Our Homeschooling Space

Firstly, THE COMPUTER WORKS AGAIN!!! Meaning I can post pictures and whatnot, and much as I love my Gig, the desktop makes it far easier to accomplish a lot at once.
Here is the promised picture of Kittyboy on his first day of school, flipping through icon cards at his little yellow activity desk, listening to the daily readings.

I like this little desk, and it can be found at most crafting stores for around $8. You can't see in the picture, but the shelves the desk is in front of hold all his school stuff, and so it was all in one place and it was School. We have this ongoing conflict in our house, however, over vertical versus horizontal storage. My theory, only a theory, is that if we had more open space in general, the place would feel more open in general and be easier to keep clean - fewer things filling open space would make it easier to notice as clutter builds. Problem with his desk where it is, is that it's yet another thing on the floor.
Yesterday, we took advantage of Husband's day off to move furniture in the living room, and by accident discovered an actual homeschool space. I have this antique washstand, used formerly as a changing table, then as a collect-everything-next-to-the-door table, and I moved it from next to the door to in a corner by the dinner table. I was envisioning storing silverware and whatnot in it as a sideboard sort of thing. Then I realized that where it was, I could just turn his chair around to it from the table, and presto! A school desk!

We did colors this morning - he has flashcards with blocks of colors, flashcards with the name of the color written IN the color (so he can match the word Red, written in red, with the card that's red), his Colors Book, and fabric swatches. Red, blue and green are still problematic, but now it's more blue and green than anything else. He gets red sometimes. Orange, purple, yellow, pink, and brown, he's pretty good with. He has until he's five, Ginny says, and if he's still shaky on red-blue-green or blue-green, that's when we ask the doctor about color blindness. Last week he was calling all three blue, this week blue and green are both green. Ginny left her beading activity bag at our house last week, and I had it set up to return when we see her next, and guess who found it! So we named the colors of the beads, too. The trick will be hiding it somewhere he can't get it, but where I will remember it!

I love that little "I did it!" grin!

And this is his colors drawer! "The Colors Book" is one of the Britannica Discovery Library series. I was freecycled a big bag of upholstery fabric samples months and months ago, and went through just this morning pulling out different colored swatches for his drawer.
I think I will move the drawers and stack them in the corner on the washstand, because if they're stored across the room instead of right there, it will increase the likelihood of stuff not being put away promptly. I wouldn't have that kind of freedom of reorganizing if I'd gone with my original idea of a basket for each subject - my mom got me the drawers. I'm now seeing that they'll be much more versatile and take up less space in the long run. You can't stack baskets, and it would have contributed to the general appearance of clutter that I'm trying to avoid. Thank you, Mommy!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Our First Day of School - my son tries to kill me!

Okay, he didn't mean to. And it wasn't related to school. But it was still funny.
School first!
Kittyboy loves sitting at his yellow plastic desk from Hobby Lobby, and I've got enough of a variety of STUFF that doing everything in five minute chunks keeps him happy. Read a book, do a puzzle, try to match cards for a bit, do the puzzle again, read another book. I like my set-up with six clear drawers, because he can just jump up when he's done and grab what he wants to do next, we don't have to guess, so that eliminates a potential frustration. We are trying what Misty advised to lengthen his tolerance of sitting - "Okay, one more, and then we can be all done," and it works okay.
I will post pictures, when the household computer is either working or replaced (I'm on my little XO laptop and can't get photos uploaded), of Kittyboy with his icon cards, listening to the daily readings from Husband's phone. That's going to be the start of the day - not readings during breakfast anymore, but at his desk. Great start to the day!
Thursday I will ask Ginny just out of curiosity, how do you test for colorblindness, and at what age? It just struck me today that some colors, he's starting to get right, and it's not so random - but blue, red and green were all consistently blue today. Huh, odd.
And now for the attempt on my life!
Yesterday, I had Kittyboy carry all the bricks, stones, and bits of broken concrete that ring our flower beds, over to the sidewalk so that Husband could mow the grass growing in between. Today, I figured he could carry it all back. And we had gotten so much done right today - reading, playing, tidying up, trampoline time, outside time, meals with multiple food groups - and he'd get in some heavy work carrying the bricks back where they came from. I was feeling sooooo good.
Then I looked up and saw my little Samson running at me with a big helpful grin, carrying a brick at shoulder height and realized that this was one of those horror movie moments when you realize that investigating the noise in the basement was a monumental error in judgment.
Boy is strong, enthusiastic, eager to help. Finer concepts such as "Gentle" and "Careful" are academic, and easily forgotten in the heat of the moment. He used to hurt us playing, and still does sometimes without knowing it. He doesn't think ahead. And he was carrying a brick at the level of my cranium.
And like the movie character who stands and screams instead of, oh, running away, or something else sensible, I wasted precious escape time sitting there in shock, thinking...
"I did NOT think this through."
The first brick, I deflected with my hands while screaming, "NONONO STOP, NO THROWING!!" He figured Mommy screaming meant we were having fun, and was on his way back with another rock before I could get up, missing my foot with it as I scrambled backwards screaming again. The third time, I grabbed HIM, and we had a hand-over-hand lesson in Giving Nicely. I showed him how to be exaggeratedly careful (the only way to make sure he IS careful is to pretend everything's made of eggshells), and thereafter if he so much as dropped the rock into my hands instead of placing it carefully as if it were porcelain, I made him do it again. Getting masonry thrown at my head was a little unnerving.
Obviously I'm still learning how much instruction is needed sometimes! As my mom said, after she stopped laughing, "You're learning together!"

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tomorrow's the day!

I found the shapes puzzle I wanted - Dollar General, two bucks. They have awesome preschool puzzles there, or at least they do at the Spfld ones. We're going back next payday to replace all the puzzles that are missing pieces. This particular shapes puzzle includes heart, crescent, and star.
Today's task is a schedule - not so much for him as for me. I love, love, love the idea of unschooling, but wouldn't trust myself to recognize every possible learning opportunity. From Kittyboy's perspective, this will be half-hour chunks of semi-structured play - I, the scheduling and time-tabling freak, will know that "hey, we hit *these* subjects today, we're good!" Therapy comes in hour-long chunks, so half an hour shouldn't be unpleasant, and if it is, we'll shorten it further. And of course drop the activity if it ceases to be fun for him. That's also where having a whole drawer per subject will be great, because if matching color flashcards gets frustrating, we have a book to read, and he loves being read to regardless. I'm going to add bead-stringing to that drawer - there's a bead stringing kit I'm going to order from Discovery Toys. So if one way of working on a topic gets to be more work than it's worth, we can drop it and do something else.
Speech therapy is sooo going by the wayside next IFSP - this morning he greeted me before I said anything, with "HI, Mommy!" Ooooo so cute!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Preparing to Homeschool

Despite the number of days that I wish I could send Kittyboy somewhere ELSE, I'm still stuck on this homeschool "thang". And it is possible that conflict would be more easily avoided if our days had more structure.
So. September 1st, next Tuesdsay, is the first day of the new church year. That's going to be our first day of "school", and the plan is to go year-round, with breaks of course. I haven't found all the puzzles I want, but I'm getting there, and I've got the weekend to hit up all the dollar stores. Last week, Ginny had some really neat, simple, basic puzzles for colors, shapes and numbers, that she said she'd gotten at one of the dollar stores here in town, so I have to go shopping.
And since joining an Orthodox Homeschool group on Yahoo, and reading more blogs about homeschooling, I keep running into more and more reasons to do so. I think it was Conservative Scalawag who posted a video from Leno's show where three high school graduates had no idea on what date the Declaration of Independence was signed, or who FDR was. Jasmine at Joyfully Home shares posts from her father's blog from time to time, one of which asked (my paraphrase), "If our children are gifts from God, why do we render them unto Caeser?" They're our responsibility, not the State's. And there was a wonderful thread on the Orthodox Homeschool group, discussing how we can answer the inevitable question, "But how do your children get socialized?" One mom pointed out there's a difference between socialized and sociable - one who is sociable is polite and courteous and able to carry on a conversation with people of varied ages and backgrounds. One who is socialized has learned social mimicry and to follow the strongest personality in the room. We would prefer our children be sociable than socialized. Another said her answer was, "Oh, we homeschool FOR social reasons." Another, "Oh, by socialized, you mean assimilated?" My own answer, from the end of my first post on why I'm doing this - "Gradeschool children learning social interaction from each other is like fifteen-year-olds teaching Driver's Ed."
Kittyboy gets regular social interaction with Puppygirl, age 8, and Squee, age 11, as well as children ages 1-14 at church during coffee hour. He is absolutely "color blind", and has never been anxious or frightened of anyone because of accent, skin color, or appearance - one of the distinct advantages of being the only Orthodox church in town, so he has seen every shade and hears many different accents each week (Greeks, Russians, Egyptians, Ethiopians, everyone comes to St. Anthony's). He will lift up his arms to any friendly looking stranger (which is worrisome for other reasons...) and interacts happily with everyone. He is even learning (shock shock) not to take things out of other toddlers' hands just because he wants them. And he's not learning that from the other toddlers, but from the older children who tell him no. (Meanwhile, he is helping his best buds, the alterboys, exercise their paternal instincts as they follow him around the church basement. But more on the Kittyboy Roadies in another post.) Social skills are best learned from interaction with a variety of age levels, not only from others the same age.
I've seen a t-shirt that says "Warning! Unsocialized Homeschooler!" He needs one.
So I've got six little plastic drawers in the living room with construction paper, homemade flash cards for colors and shapes, matching games, and the most wonderful books, the Britannica Discovery Library (thanks, Freecycle!). "The Me Book" and "The Me and You Book" are in the drawer with all his "church" stuff, because it seems to me that the next step from how we relate to ourselves and each other is how we relate to God. There's a book on colors, a book on shapes, a book on numbers, one for sounds, people and places, outdoors, animals, words, and time (both the telling of, and progression of, with calendars), and they're all full of beautiful, bright illustrations. His godfather is getting him the Guardian Angel Prayer Book, to be added to the church education drawer.
Four days to go...