Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Word Explosion

Luke has had a bit of a word explosion the last few days.  Some of his new words/sayings...


More juice

Juice please

Nana and Papa (or Papa and Nana)

No dada

All but nana and papa are said when prompted, but even as prompted sayings, this is amazing.  In the past he had very few multi word sayings.  "I did it" and "what's that" were basically his only multi word phrases, and he started saying them quite awhile ago.  So to have several new multi word sayings in such a short time has been very exciting.  

On another note, I am very frustrated with the resource teacher he is assigned to by the school district.  We've only met with her twice, one of which was an official session.  I have had the hardest time getting her to tell me when she will be here the following week.  Last Tuesday I asked her as she was leaving, and her response was that she'd have to check her schedule and let me know.  I figured I'd hear from her before the weekend, but I didn't.  Finally this past Monday at 4pm I emailed her about it, and she responded that she would be here at noon the next day.  I'm glad I emailed her, because I had no clue otherwise.  I ended up having to cancel that session because we all have colds and they have a strict cancellation policy for any illness in the home.  She wanted to fit him in on Friday, but he has private speech therapy that day.  So she said maybe Thursday, and that she'd let me know.  Well, it's almost 11:30pm on Wednesday night, and I haven't heard from her.  I find it very unprofessional, and there's no way I'll continue to go on not knowing until the last minute when she'll be coming out. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Homeschool Update

Things have been so-so, but I think I've figured out what was causing problems.

The first was the timing.  We were originally doing all school work in the afternoons while Luke napped.  This meant that it was about 2 or so before we sat down, after a long morning and early afternoon.  I was tired.  Cody was tired.  Neither of us was really enthusiastic about doing anything.  Our solution?  Today my goal was to do an hour or two in the morning before Luke woke up.  Well, Cody slept in so that didn't happen.  Instead we spread school out over the course of the day.  He sat at the kitchen table and did Explode the Code (ETC) for awhile.  Then he moved on to some copywork, and finally a few addition worksheets.  By the time Luke's nap rolled around, we just had math and reading left.  I would have preferred to be done by then, but it was better than doing everything in the afternoon.  My new goal is to do the core, more difficult, stuff like math while Luke is asleep or otherwise occupied.  The easier stuff I want to do when he's around so he'll be involved, even if indirectly.

Which brings me to the second issue.  I had wonderful ideas of including Luke, using the Tot School packs with him.  Yeah right.  He has zero interest.  Even just having him in the school room with us, playing, was extremely distracting.  So we're going to drop that and try again in a few months.

The third was the curriculum.  As excited as I was about Five in a Row, Cody hasn't been thrilled with it.  The activities that go along with the books have held his attention, but reading the same book every day for a week did not float his boat at all.  And to be honest, when we sat down the second day of school to read Mike Mulligan for a second time, I wasn't excited about it either.  We read the book once, and revisit it if the activity requires it.  Cody can narrate every book that we've read, so I think they're sinking in very well even being read just once. 

Cody LOVES books.  His backpack is so heavy by the time we leave the library that he can't carry it.  He looks like a turtle that's about ready to fall over.  But reading the same story repeatedly isn't his thing.  He's never been one to latch onto a book and beg me to read it to him over and over.  I think he realizes there are lots of good books out there, so why spend so much time on just one?

I'm also backing off on just doing only Five in a Row unit studies.  Homeschool Share has lots to choose from, and I've selected a few fun ones to supplement FIAR.  One issue that I have with FIAR is that many of their books are a bit heavy for kindergartners, in my opinion anyway.  So I've selected the ones that I think Cody will enjoy, and will save the heavier ones for down the road.

I've also made other changes - I switched from Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons to The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading.  100 EZ Lessons just didn't appeal to me.  I added All About Spelling (AAS), which we started today.  I went from not using Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) to adding it in.  I also purchased an early American history curriculum, but I'm undecided on if we'll use it this year, or next.  We don't do every subject every day.  ETC, AAS and HWT are twice a week, and not on the same days.  The only daily subjects are Math and Reading.  Science and Art are 1-2 times a week.  Geography is at least once a week, sometimes more depending on the story.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Let me start off by saying that I was nearly in tears when we left Luke's PROMPT therapy session the other day.

But not for a bad reason.

I spent 35 minutes of his session in the waiting room.  The therapist had requested that I come back to the therapy room at the 35 minute mark, so I did.  What I walked in on was amazing.

She had Luke standing on a small table, facing a tall shelf that held one of his favorite characters, a Woody doll from Toy Story.  She was telling Luke, if you want Woody you need to tell me "up".  Luke did his usual, "da" sound.  She worked with him on it for a few seconds, and he said "UP!".  My baby boy said up, using the /p/ sound!  Then she worked with him some more, and he said "ON" very clearly.

Luke spent six months with early intervention through our county receiving speech therapy, and they were never able to get him to say either word.  One session with PROMPT, and he said it.  I was just so proud of him, and so excited.

We've continued to work on both words since then.  He still really struggles with it.  The therapist explained to me that he doesn't have the typical awareness of his lips like you and I do.  And lips are important when saying a sound like /p/.

One cute story - I was trying to get Luke to say "up" yesterday, and as he strugled to say it right, he grabbed my hand and put it to his mouth to do the PROMPT technique.

Here is a video example of what PROMPT therapy looks like.

Luke also received his first hour session with the resource teacher from Child Find.  I have to say that I had low expectations.  And while I don't think her type of therapy will be a cure all for Luke, I do think that it will help.  We spent the session sitting at the kitchen table with small toys that she brought, and at one point he was playing with a small stuffed turtle, a ball and his own Mater truck.  He piled the ball on the turtle, and then balanced the truck on the ball.  She was working with him on some wording, and asked him where Mater was.  He answered, "On the ball".  It wasn't super clear, but both she and I were able to understand it, and I think most people would be able to also.  HUGE accomplishment!

Apple Picking - How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

This past Sunday we all went to Stribling Orchard in Markham, VA.  It was an easy drive, about an hour each way.  I chose Stribling for a couple of reasons.  No admission fee and you can park right in the orchard.  Perfect!  No need for a stroller, and the walk is short enough that Luke's little legs didn't tire out too fast.

 There were several varieties of apples available the day we went, though Cody was a little disappointed that they didn't have Granny Smith.  He loves sour stuff.  It took us about 30 minutes to fill two small bags (provided by the orchard) with apples.  Luke had a blast finding apples on the ground and eating them, much to my dismay.  It didn't seem to bother him though, he walked around with an apple in each hand, alternating bites, declaring "tasty!" after each one.

Once we were done, we drove back down to the store to pay for our treasures.  Two small bags equal 2 pecks, 2 pecks equal half a bushel.  It came up to $25.  $25 for apples sounds like a lot, but those 2 pecks weighed in at around 20lbs. 

We wandered around their store briefly, but there wasn't much to it other than some baked goods and various canned preserves.  Normally I would have bought some, but since we're still unsure of Luke's allergies, I had to pass on them. 

Tomorrow or Friday Cody and I will finally make the apple pie that we were supposed to make last week. 

This week's theme of apples tied in with our Five in a Row book of the week - How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.  We studied apples, the cycle of apple trees and apples themselves.  Labeled the parts of an apple.  We also studied Johnny Appleseed, which Cody really enjoyed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

PROMPT Therapy - The Beginning

Luke had his first session with the PROMPT therapist yesterday.  He's doing 45 minutes once a week right now, through September.  In October we'll have to make decisions on whether we'll stay with the office he's going to now, or move on.  A lot of this will be determined by what our insurance company decides to do as far as coverage goes.

The therapy itself was pretty uneventful.  Parents don't go in for the therapy, so I can't comment on what went on.  The therapist told me that he did really well seperating from me, but she learned that she needs to limit the number of toys in the room because he was very excited about them, and didn't want to focus on one thing.  I really think that right there was a big reason why home based therapy didn't work for us.  Too many distractions here.

We're to work on aproximations for "on" and "up" this week, and he'll go back for his next session on Monday.

I spoke with a mom in the waiting room while I was there, and her daughter has apraxia too.  She told me that pretty much everyone there does, so I guess it's true that this one office is known for treating apraxia.

Related to this, it turns out that a family friend of ours does accounting work for a speech therapy group down the street from where we live.  They are a sliding scale service, based on the patient's income, and one of the therapists is known for being very helpful with apraxia.  I'm looking into them as an alternative.  As much as I like the therapist he's seeing now, it's a drive to get there.  And I'm pretty sure that once we get going they'll recommend he come in 2-3 times a week.  If we can find someone just as good, but local, it will save us a lot in gas and travel time.  But, if I feel like the office that's further away will do a better job, we will stick with them.  I just want to do what will help him, everything else (money, travel, etc) is secondary. 

Home based therapy with the school system didn't happen today because of Cody being sick, so Luke will start next week instead.

Fall 2011 Bucket List

Inspired by a printable that I found on Pinterest

Visit an orchard to pick apples
Make leaf art
Go on a hay ride
Pictures of the boys jumping in a leaf pile
Make caramel apples
Get lost in a corn maze
Visit a pumpkin patch
Trick or Treat!
Bake an apple pie
Decorate pumpkins
Picnic outside
Visit the zoo
Feed the ducks

Homeschool - Mama Learned Something

What did I learn today?

Just say no to forcing school.

Yesterday we got about halfway through the school work that I had planned because Cody wasn't feeling well.  Last night he started feeling even worse, and today he slept until about 12:15, which if you know him, you know it means he was feeling pretty crappy.

Him sleeping so late completely threw our day off, but I was determined to get school in as long as he was feeling ok by this afternoon.

Luke decided to not nap, and at 4:00 I gave up and got him out of his crib.  I gave him a couple "fun" things to do, and Cody and I sat down to get started.

Except Cody still wasn't feeling 100%.

Luke wasn't digging the "fun" stuff and preferred  shoving toys in mine and Cody's faces while laughing hysterically.

Mama was irritated because the afternoon wasn't going as I thought it should.

Cody was having trouble concentrating.  I was having trouble with patience.  Not a good combination.

Once I finally gave up, and put everything away I realized one of the advantages of homeschooling is that we don't HAVE to follow a set schedule.

Who cares if we only get a couple things accomplished on a certain day?

It doesn't mean we can't make up for it the next day, or even later in the week.  Everything will get covered.  He will learn what he needs to.  

Tomorrow is a new day, and hopefully I will remember these things and will be a more relaxed homeschooling mama from this point on.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good - Romans 12:21 (KJV)

Ten years ago today I was in Oceanside, California, thousands of miles away from my home in Northern Virginia.

On September 10, 2001 I flew from Reagan National Airport to San Diego for what was supposed to be a wonderful trip.
My then fiance (now husband) was returning from a six month deployment to the Middle East.  He spent six months with the 11th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) out of Camp Pendleton, CA.  We were nearing the end of a 4 year long distance relationship, so I was used to being away from him for a few months at a time.  But never as long as six months, and never where I had to worry about him so much.

His travels took him from San Diego, to Hawaii, to Australia, and then on to places like East Timor, United Arab Emirates and Jordan.  While in Jordan, he was part of the group of  Marines that bin Laden threatened to attack if they did not leave the country (which, strangely enough, I can't find any news information about).  

As the summer of 2001 came to an end I started planning my trip to California.

 I was so excited, but nervous.

I had never traveled somewhere so far away, by myself, without someone waiting for me.  I had been to Southern California many times, Ryan was always there waiting.

The other obstacle was the timing.  The military is famous for giving one date, then changing it.  I settled on September 10th, a Monday, even though his ship wasn't scheduled to return to port until that Wednesday or Thursday.  I was afraid if I flew during the middle of the week, they would change the return date and I would miss his return.  And after waiting six months for him to get back, there was no way I was going to miss it!  I was a veteran Marine Corps girlfriend at that point, and I felt I had earned my exciting military "Welcome Home" pomp and circumstance excitement.

Then word came that they pushed the return day back to Friday, possibly Saturday.  I had already planned to do some sight seeing on my own until he returned, but I wasn't sure I wanted to do that much.  So I briefly considered changing my flight to the Tuesday, September 11, instead.  But the amount of money to change the ticket wasn't worth it, so I stuck with my original plans.

On September 10, 2001 my mom drove me to Reagan National Airport very early for my 6:30am flight.  We took the HOV lanes on 395, and got stuck in some nasty traffic just as we were coming up on the exit for the airport, which happens to be right before the Pentagon.

I finally got to the airport, and said goodbye to my mom at the gate (remember the days when you could do that?).  The flight was uneventful, though I was nervous as always, because flying scares the living daylights out of me.

Once I landed in San Diego, I managed to locate my bag, find a shuttle to the rental car lot, and secure my rental.  It's funny how clear those memories are.  I can still see everything that happened during that time, like it was just a few days ago.

I got on interstate 5 and made my way to Oceanside.  I just remember thinking, holy cow I'm driving on the highway in California!  And being so thankful that there wasn't hardly any traffic.

I found my hotel, and got lunch at a taco place next door.  I got checked in, called my parents and then Ryan to let them know I made it, and set out to find food.  That mission didn't go well, and I ended up with snacks from 7-11 before returning to my room.  

The next morning, I woke up around 6:30 local time.  I'm the type that turns the t.v. on as soon as I get up.  I can't stand having complete silence, I need the background noise.  For some reason though, I didn't that morning.  I was getting ready to get in the shower about five minutes after I woke up when my cell phone rang.  I almost didn't answer it, but I did.

It was my dad.  He asked me if I was watching tv - I said no.  He told me that planes had hit the World Trade Center, and one had just hit the Pentagon.  I laughed.  I said you're kidding, right?  He said no.  I said, what channel do you think it's on?  I'm pretty sure that's what shock sounds like.

I turned the t.v. on and there of course was plenty of coverage of the events.  Then not long after, the first tower collapsed as I watched.  I dropped to my knees and started crying.

My dad calmed me down, and the rest of our conversation is a blur.  Once I got off the phone with him, I tried calling my mom.

Both of my parents were working within just a couple miles of the Pentagon.  Flight 77 flew directly over my dad as it took it's route that was parallel with Columbia Pike to the Pentagon, my dad saw it fly over.  My mom was working for the federal government in a building just a couple blocks over from the Pentagon in Crystal City.  An area full of government offices.
When my dad saw the plane go over and heard the crash, he called my mom and told her to get out.  Then he called me.  My mom was lucky that she left the area when she did, she was able to get a head start from everyone else.  The area was so gridlocked with people trying to leave that some people abandoned their cars on the side of the road and walked.

When I was finally able to get through to my mom, she was at home.  We just sat on the phone watching the news coverage, crying.  I eventually got off the phone, and went in search of a computer so I could email Ryan.

That's when my next panic set in - what if he didn't get to get off the ship?  What if they were turned around and sent back out to fight?  What if California was next?

In the lobby of the hotel, they had the tv on watching the news coverage.  I broke down again, and the desk clerk just hugged me.  I will forever be grateful for that. 

I found the public computer lab, and emailed Ryan asking him to call me ASAP.  I tried to go to the mall, but it was closed with a sign saying something about it being a large target and closing for safety reasons.  I found a Target and wandered around.  I remember telling the cashier that I was from Northern Virginia and my home was just attacked.

Ryan finally called me, and we talked a lot.  He didn't know what to expect either, no one was saying.  I sat in my room watching the tv pretty much nonstop.  The next day I discovered that I could see the group of three ships with the 11th MEU from a marina near my hotel, so I sat there for a couple hours just watching them. 

I watched the line of cars of people trying to get onto Camp Pendleton - I was across the street from the base.  I decided that if any kind of attack happened there, I was getting my butt over the fence and onto the base somehow, someway.

The rest of the week is more of a blur.  I did a lot of sitting at the marina, a lot of talking to my parents on the phone.  I called my former employer, which happened to be with the Marine Corps.  I wanted to check on the Marines that I worked with, and make sure no one was in the Pentagon.  Turned out one man was, it was his second day working there.  He wasn't hurt though, thankfully.  I called the Red Cross and donated money.  I found a Trader Joe's and was finally able to stop eating junk from 7-11.  I didn't do any sight seeing, I rarely left my hotel.

Finally the day came that Ryan was going to be able to get off the ship.  I made my way onto the base, and got through security (one Marine was very friendly, the other I'm pretty sure growled at me a couple times).  There was no big welcome home celebration.  Everything that I had waited six months for went out the window.  Our welcome home was me sitting in my rental car at the barracks, waiting for someone to drop Ryan off.

Once he was back, the next obstacle was how I was going to get home.  At that point the planes were still grounded.  I was terrified of flying anyway.  We looked into taking a train back home, but it was $800 for a one way ticket without a sleeper, just a seat.  No thanks.  I considered staying in California until Ryan got out of the Marine Corps later that fall.  I decided that the terrorists wouldn't force me to do something like that, and scheduled a return flight.

I can't remember when I flew home.  I know it was a few days later than I had originally planned on, because we had to wait for flights to resume.  But I know I was scared to death.  I left Ryan at the security check point, and went to my gate.  I cried and cried.  I managed to lose my address book, but some kind person found it and tracked me down.  I was a mess.

Once on the plane, things got worse.  My row mate was an arabic man.  I didn't even notice that until I realized he was reading an arabic newspaper.  I just remember staring at him, then looking up and making eye contact with the flight attendant that was coming down the aisle.  She stared at me with a panicked look on her face.  I'm sure I looked the same.

My flight home was uneventful other than that.  I flew into Dulles Airport this time, because National was still closed.  I'll never forget walking through the doors and seeing my parents waiting for me.  I can still remember how it felt, almost like I was sinking into the ground.  Just such a "thank God I'm home" kind of feeling.  I was so scared that they would get hurt because they were so close to the Pentagon attack, it was such a relief to be able to hug them.

So here we are ten years later.  My husband is no longer a Marine.  He got out of the Marine Corps that December, but was then called back to active duty in March 2003 right before the start of the war.

I'm now the mom of two wonderful little boys.  It scares me to think that they may one day follow their dad's foosteps into the Marine Corps.  Ryan and I have agreed that if they decide to do this, we will support them.  But we will not encourage it, nor do we talk a lot about his years in the Marine Corps.  This is hard for me because I'm so proud of my Marine, and of my time as a Marine Corps girlfriend and wife.  Ryan likes to say that I'm more OOH-RAH than he ever was, and he might be right.  But as things stand now, things aren't the same as they were when he was in the Corps.  They're much scarier.  

As the mom of two boys, I know that it is my responsibility to teach them about that horrible day.  Luke is obviously way too young.  But I read FIREBOAT: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey to Cody this week.  It is a nice story about a fireboat in New York and includes some historical information.  The section about 9/11 is fairly short, and I think it introduces the subject well.  Cody is still too young to understand, but I wanted to open the subject to him since he would be hearing about it on the tv, and from us, today.  He understands that bad people did a bad thing, and that people lost their lives.  But we mostly focused on the good - that many people survived, and that many people were heroes that day, and we have lots of brave people protecing us to make sure that something like that never happens again.

I pray that my children never experience anything like 9/11.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First Day of {Home}School

Today was Cody's first day of Kindergarten!  We got started a little later than I had planned, but otherwise the morning went pretty as expected.  We read Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel for Five in a Row, and talked about the old fashioned things in the book, such as a horse and carriage delivering milk.  We also did lesson 1 in the Right Start Math book, and "f" in Get Ready for the Code - Book a.  The only obstacle that we came across was writing in the ETC book.  Cody is not a big fan of writing and gets frustrated, so I'm going to have to rework how much of that he'll be doing.  We'll work on easing into it instead of frustrating him with it.

We worked for about two hours and then were done with the day's lesson.  Cody announced that he wanted to do more, so I spent a good part of the afternoon preparing more to do tomorrow.  

Friday, September 2, 2011

Combining Tot School with Five in a Row

I've been brain storming ideas for how to include Luke in with some of our studies.   The bulk of Cody's studies will be done while Luke is asleep, either in the morning or during nap time. I want to include him too though.  I'm a huge fan of 1+1+1=1 - Carisa's blog is what got me really thinking about homeschooling.  She has some amazing Tot School ideas, including lots of theme printables.  Each letter of the alphabet has a theme, and I thought it would be fun to match up themes with the different Five in a Row (FIAR) books.  This is the list that I have come up with so far, I will be updating it as I go through the Volume I and Volume II FIAR books.

Bb - Outdoor Fun (Ball) -

Cc - Pets (Cat) Papa Piccolo

Ee - Food (Egg) -

Ff - Body Parts (Foot) - Madeline

Gg - Farm (Goat) - The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Jj - Ocean (Jellyfish) - Night of the Moonjellies

Kk - Household (Keys) -

Ll - Nature (Leaves) -

Mm - Small Mammals (Mouse) -

Nn - Bugs (Net) -

Oo - African Animals (Ostridge) - The Giraffe That Walked to Paris or the alternative/go along Zarafa: The Giraffe Who Walked to the King

Pp - School Tools (Pencils) -

Qq - Royalty (Queen) -

Rr - Rainforest -

Ss - Outer Space (Star) -

Tt - Transportation (Train) - Mr Gumpy's Motor Car or The Glorious Flight

Uu - Weather (Umbrella) - Storm in the Night

Vv - Landforms (Volcano) -

Ww - In My House (Window) -

Xx - Instruments (Xylophone) - Lentil

Yy - Toys (Yo-Yo) -

There are also several Tot Packs and Preschool Packs that have themes to match the books as well.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

No Cheese!

Luke has TWO new words!

The other day Cody was taking his picture, and said "say cheese Luke!". Luke responded with "CHEESE!". He doesn't say it spontaneously, but will say it when prompted.

Monday Luke's speech therapist told me to work on getting him to say No instead of Nah. We haven't really worked on it much since then, but today I asked Luke a question, and he very clearly said "NO!". He spent the rest of the morning and afternoon yelling NO at us whenever he didn't like something.

Very proud of my little man!