Friday, February 25, 2011

And Yet More Progress (with a spoon)

My older kids have asked me why we celebrate every little accomplishment of Joseph's.  The first answer I give goes something like this:  Well, he's the littlest one in the house and it's just plain fun to celebrate his accomplishments.  True enough but not the whole truth and they know it.  So again they ask what's all the celebrating about.  Then I go into this long speech which goes something like this:  Since Joseph has Down syndrome we can't be completely sure of how far he will develop.  And what comes easily for typical kids his age requires a great deal of effort on his part and patience on our part.  So we celebrate with enthusiasm when he uses a new sign correctly, makes an animal sound when reading a farm book, tries to put on his own socks, rocks a baby doll, "hunts" with the big boys, kicks a rubber ball, puts his hands out to catch a ball.  All these things show us that he is more like us than different.  And each new accomplishment paves the way for further development.  It all comes down to us loving and encouraging Joseph and yes we did celebrate your accomplishments as a baby, too.  It just appears different because it is different.  With all of you I expected you to learn to walk, use a spoon, and say mama at the typical time and with the typical amount of effort, but with Joseph I know the milestones will be met later and some might not be met at all so I celebrate with gusto each and every one of them.  I'm sure I lose them somewhere in the middle of the first sentence.  That's ok because they don't want to see me get teary eyed and I don't want to see them roll their eyes.

When it's determined that your child has Down syndrome whether before or at birth, it's natural for the mind to start making a list of all the can'ts and won'ts.  I know I did before Joseph was born.  I wish I hadn't because he is more alike than different.  His milestones just come a little slower than "normal".  So far his list of cans and wills is much longer than his list of can'ts and won'ts.  Yeah Joseph! 

A while back I shared our attempt at teaching Joseph to use a spoon.  The progress was slow, painfully slow.  So slow that I began shying away from gloppy foods like pudding and yogurt because the mess made and time spent cleaning up was not worth it to me.  He still had utensils at every meal and we encouraged him to use them but I didn't work at getting him to use them.  Last week I noticed that his hold of the spoon was consistent and started hand over hand feeding.  I stood behind him and placed my hand over his hand while guiding the spoon to his mouth.  We tried this with yogurt and it went very well.  He got it.  He did it himself.  I took this video of him on the second day of correct spoon use.  Once I brought out the camera he got distracted a bit, but if you watch the whole thing you'll see that he finally did take a few bites on his own. 

And now, a week later, he's eating cereal in milk with a spoon.  It's messy and sometimes he's so hungry he sticks his hand in the bowl and goes back to his old ways, but for the most part he has figured out how to get food to his mouth using a spoon and we are so proud of him.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Presidents' Day Notes

Looking back over all our years of homeschooling, I do not believe we've ever actually celebrated Presidents' Day.  This year we did!  Celebrated may be a little over zealous.  What we actually did was recognize this as a day for more than clothing sales and no mail.  We gathered on and around the couch and began our study.

1.  Grammar lesson - Where does the apostrophe go in Presidents Day?  After the s because the day belongs to all presidents not just one.

2.  Quick quiz - Who is our current president?  Obama.  Vice President?  Biden  Name all the presidents you can.

3.  Play reading - Emily, Nick, Amber and I read aloud a play from Holidays on Stage titled "Miss Lacey and the President".  We've never read a play before.  I thought it'd be fun to pick a part and read in character.  We each picked two people to play and read the play which highlighted George Washington as a boy.  Upon reading the last line Emily declared, "that was so fun, let's do another."  Then Nick said, "Really?   Cuz I hated it."  I guess I can't please them all.

4.  Who can be President? - Sam and I looked up the criteria for becoming President at eHow.  He thought the amount of money spent on campaigning was "out of this world".  Then we made a Future President:  Samuel ribbon for him to wear on his shirt.

5.  Samuel decorated red and blue plastic cups with a variety of stickers including:  stars, flags and coins.  We used these for lunch, except Sam developed a fever and missed lunch.  But we all oohed and aahed for his benefit.

6.  I had planned on having Amber and Sam make this Mt. Rushmore craft, but he wasn't up to it and Amber was still dealing with her earache so we'll either do it later this week or save it for next year.

7.  Late in the afternoon Sam wanted to "do something" so he did a President Lincoln maze (way too easy) and wrote Grandma a letter on Flag paper.

And there you have it, our first ever attempt at recognizing Presidents' Day.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cold Weather Coping

Last week Thursday morning we woke to -22 F.  Did you catch the minus sign?  It was 22 below 0 and it dropped even lower to 28 below just before sunrise.  It was a cold week to say the least.  So here in Wisconsin we have lots of tricks up our sleeves to help us cope.  Last week every trick was played.  The craziest thing though is that by Sunday afternoon we had 54 F.  That calculates into an 80 degree warm up in three days.  We're having a spring tease until Friday when it's slated to turn colder due to winds from the North again.

Coping Technique #1 - Celebrate feast days by making gooey, sugary, marshmallowy treats.
Feb. 11 was the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.  We constructed a Fruity Pebbles grotto in her honor.

Coping Technique #2 - Bake bread....from scratch
Coping Technique #3 - Quilt - I finished this sunny quilt on one of the gloomiest days of the year.  I love seeing it on the dining table.  Its bright colors lift my spirit.

Coping Technique #4 - Cuddle up in a real fur blanket waiting for the cold snap to pass.Posted by Picasa
Coping Technique #5 - Head outside for a little Sunday afternoon snowshoeing, with a gun of course.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Just Loved My Family

I know that title is past tense which sounds as if I've loved them and am now done loving them, but it's quite the contrary.  Emily and Nick have boating safety tonight which means my Valentine, who sanded all day never even stopping for a lunch break or any break for that matter, drove the buckets of water over to the horses while the teenage daughter babysat for money, never got a shower, sucked down only one bowl of Hug and Kiss soup instead of his normal 2-3, didn't have time for crackers or Valentine cut-outs (another favorite), kept his promise to take all kids along for the ride to boating safety class and Fleet Farm.  I wanted to cut fabric and sew fabric and snip threads and iron seams, but instead I loved my family.  They scurried out the door leaving quite a mess behind at the supper table and in the porch and on the living room floor and anywhere messes can accrue.  It would've been so easy to mumble under my breath something about having to do everyone's jobs and not getting to do my thing, but it's Valentine's day so I did all the supper time jobs.  I'm not complaining!  I thought about the traditional wedding scripture reading  1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, which Amber read to us this morning before digging into the pancake breakfast Warren made for us. 
Love is patient, love is kind.  It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing, but rejoices with truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Clearing the table, loading the dishwasher, washing the leftover dishes, straightening the boots, putting away stray hats and mittens, placing the pillows on the couch just so and neatening the baby toddler toy area perfectly is an act of love for my family.  And I still have an hour and a half for sewing.  Life is good.

Happy Valentine's Day

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

ABC Flu Graph

This morning on ABC's Good Morning America they ran a news bit about Flu and showed a surprising graphic.  It showed a 30 year trend in flu occurrences and February comes out as the top month for flu outbreaks.  I did not know that.  I hadn't even thought about it.  I guess it makes sense; when February begins we are 6 or 7 weeks into winter.  And midwinter seems to be when illnesses peak.  Why is this bit of info important to me today?  Well, we were hit with something yesterday.  Joseph pushed his food away at each meal yesterday and then after pushing away his plate of Tuesday night pizza and cuddling up with me on the lounge chair it quickly dawned on me that maybe he wasn't feeling well.  As soon as that thought popped into my mind, I was screaming for a towel because Joseph was throwing up on me.  It scared him which made him bring his hand up to his mouth, which got his hand covered with vomit which made him want to cling to me which resulted in his vomit covered hand firmly placed on my forehead.  Yuk!

And that's not all, Amber and Nick both developed sore throats last night and Sam is sick with a sore hip (wink).  Emily and I got home from the Y to a pretty quiet house.  Just Warren and Joseph were up.  It was 8am before anyone even got rolling; we had a slow start.  School was pretty lax.  Sam read to me, Amber listened to audio books and did some math, Nick laid on the couch and read or looked at photo albums and Emily did a good portion of her work as well as help out where needed.  I hope you all are having a healthy week and remember to wash your hands thoroughly and often.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Homeschool History

Over the last couple of years we've used two main history texts:

the Story of the World.

I like From Sea to Shining Sea because of its Catholic content.  It fits the lives of the saints in nicely with history so they become real people living beside other historical figures.  It focuses on America which seems to intrigue kids more than world history.  At least that's what I've found.  However, the Story of the World is an excellent history program starting at 7000 B.C and continuing to the near present.  As the title suggests it's world history and progresses in chronological order.  It can feel as if you're skipping around the world quickly from chapter to chapter, which you are, but it solidifies the fact that life was occurring all around the world at the same time.  This concept can be hard for early elementary kids to grasp.  Just because we are studying about 17th century China doesn't mean that's the only thing happening in the world at that time.  Wars are taking place in Germany and France, dynasties are being conquered in India and travelers are making their way to America...ALL AT THE SAME TIME.  the Story of the World does an excellent job walking kids and me too, through all the world history events.  So at the present we are using the Story of the World Volume 3:  Early Modern Times (mid 1300's - mid 1800's).  I've mapped out the next few weeks of lessons and thought this the safest place to store them.

Chapter 11 - The Moghul Emperors of India
1.  Read "World Seizer, King of the World, and Conqueror of the World" & oral review questions
2.  Color Taj Mahal as I read
3.  Read "Aurangzeb's Three Decisions" & oral review questions
4.  Mapwork - India
5.  Read Aloud 

6.  Nick read

7.  Emily read - choose 10

8.  Draw Taj Mahal and decorate with gemstones - Amber and Samuel

Chapter 12 - Battle, Fire, and Plague in England
1.  Read "Charles Loses His Head" & oral review questions
2.  Color pic of King Charles as I read
3.  Read "Cromwell's Protectorate" & oral review questions
4.  color pic of Cromwell
5.  Mapwork - England
6.  Read "Plague and Fire" & oral review questions
7.  Color Fire picture and city scape, tape together and light on fire in bathtub to show how fast fire spreads in close buildings
8.  Make penny bread using this recipe
9.  I haven't settled on our literature selections.  I'll update when I pick up the books from the library.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl XLV


We're getting ready for the Superbowl.  Heading to a friend's.  He has a 84" bachelor TV.  There's bound to be 15-20 adults and another 20 kids.  Food is big, big, big today.  Our contribution:  Italian sausages simmering in beer, onions and peppers, m&m cookies, grapes and Doritos and drinks, lots and lots of drinks.

It's a big day across the country.  I hope all involved stay safe and that the after parties bring fun not disaster.


From the Backseat of the Van

Boy:  I wish I could burp fire.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Polar Plunge for Special Olympics

Two weeks ago Emily's friend asked her to take the plunge for Special Olympics.  She jumped at the idea and started raising funds.  Together these girls raised $547.  Isn't that incredible?  Here they're being interviewed as they prepare for the jump.

Just seconds before the big plunge they take a breath and prepare as best they can (which is not at all) for the cold that's about to engulf them.
Just as they jumped an event photographer stepped in front of me and I couldn't get a good pic of the actual jump.  Of course they planned that so I would buy two 4x6 photos for $8.  Below you see them as they grabbed their towel and headed on up the hill to the HOT TUBS.
Enjoying the warmth.  Although they both agreed that this is definitely an annual event and the water wasn't as cold as they expected.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Who's Been Here?

Who's Been Here?  Have you seen these books?  We have the winter book and enjoy reading it every year when I bring out our winter books.  The premise is that the author/illustrator shows an outdoor scene and the reader guesses what animal made the track, droppings, etc. Once you turn the page the animal is revealed.  Well this plays out many times a day in our household.  I come across a mystery scene and using the clues have to guess which kid did "it" so I can enlist them to help with the clean-up.

But when I see this....

Or this...

I know it can only be this little monster.
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Little J has turned into a real 2 year old if you know what I mean.  He knows what he wants and is determined to get it.  He's developed quite a stubborn streak which makes my friends happy.  He had such a gentle and quiet attitude for so long that some friends thought I was getting off easy.  Well easy no more.  He wants to walk when I want him to ride.  He wants to crawl up wet library steps when I want him to play at the train table.  He wants Emily to read him a book when she wants to cat nap on the couch.  He wants his milk cup on the floor when I want it set nicely on the table.  He wants to kick the newspaper when dad wants to read it.  He wants to sit under the table when Emily needs to vacuum under it.  He wants to ......well you get the idea.  He's 2 need I say more.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cookie Candles for St. Blaise

Father S. always has the traditional blessing of the throats on the Sunday closest to St. Blaise's feast day.  I thought it would be nice to prepare a bit for it by making cookie candles.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Geometric Heart Puzzle

I have this desire to decorate for Valentine's Day this year.  Every year I want to I just don't have any decorations other than a quilted wall banner I made last year.  So after yesterday's doily prints my mind started thinking of other Valentine projects we could make simply and with very few supplies.  This idea came from my liking to doodle geometric shapes and patterns.  First I cut a large heart from freezer paper.  Any paper will work; it just depends on what size you want yours.  Then I cut the heart apart into 6 random pieces.
Using permanent Bic markers we all grabbed a piece and started doodling geometric shapes, patterns, really anything.
Here are all the finished pieces.  Next we laid them on the floor and organized them back into a heart which was no easy task.  I didn't pay any attention when cutting it apart so I didn't remember how to put it back together.  I know, it sounds foolish considering there were only 6 pieces, but we fiddled for almost 5 minutes before getting it right.
I taped 4 sheets of pink typing paper together and we taped on the pieces.  That's it.  Now it hangs on our front door offering it bit of bright and cheery opposition to the cold and cloudy February days that are ahead.
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hunter Safety Graduate - Amber

Last night Amber passed her hunter safety test, both field and written.  She came home totally pumped and grinning from ear to ear.  This morning we presented her with a bow decked out with pink camo limbs and release hook.

I love this picture.  Dad's explaining draw length and pull weight to her.  She is in total awe looking up to her daddy.
Congratulations Amber - We are so proud of you!
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