Saturday, August 31, 2013

Guest Post by Annalyn

About three months ago, my mom got us the first season of Little House On the Prairie. We did not think much of it at first and we were most certainly not interested in being stuck watching the whole season.  We kept watching our shows and playing our games on the Wii until one day my mom told us to turn them all off and do something more productive, or watch an episode of Little House. 
Not wanting to go outside or do something else inside, we watched the first episode.  We immediately asked to watch the second.  After watching more during the week, we really got into it and ended up finishing the whole first season in two weeks.  Since she saw how much we really enjoyed them my mom ended up getting all nine seasons.  Now we are on the fifth season.
As much as we enjoy watching the show, there is more to the show than just good stories and great actors.  There are so many things I have learned from watching the show that will stick.  First off, I noticed the way that Laura and Mary treated their parents. They did not argue or talk back when they were in the wrong of something. They confessed when they lied, and accepted the consequences with out complaining.  Compared to back then we talk back so much to our parents (not everyone, but a lot of people).
Another thing that I noticed was how much we take for granted today while they had to work so hard to make a living. We also have so many labor saving devices such as washing machines, dishwashers, and cars (back then they had to travel slowly on a bumpy road with hard wooden seats).  As their daily chores they had to milk cows, clean chicken coops, and chop wood. We might have a few chores once or twice a week that are hard, but doing all the things they did EVERY DAY just sounds impossible if we had to do it today.
While watching Little House, the interesting stories and lessons from it have taught me many things. I love the way most of the characters handled difficult situations.  Instead of immediately going and telling (or blackmailing them by saying something like "I'll go and tell unless you do something for me"),  like some little kids do and some older people, they go and talk to the person and give them a chance to make things right.   They show examples of what that looks like from Nellie Olson, who is a mean little girl who thinks she was the best and always put others down and tried to get them into trouble.
Those are a few lessons that we already know, but some of the episodes had deeper meanings in the plots, like racism, thievery, cheating, and fairness to name a few. They taught how they solved the problems in a rational way (instead of losing their heads and over reacting) and the most important lesson, about sticking together as a family and helping each other no matter what the situation is. I am really glad that we got into watching Little House on the Prairie because it is a great and wholesome show that teaches many meaningful lessons.  I definitely recommend Little House On the Prairie and give the show five stars.
(Julia dressed up in here Little House outfit) 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Caleb's Birthday

Happy birthday to our second oldest son Caleb!
He is seventeen years old.
When we asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday he said go out for dinner with Taylar, John, and I.  How sweet.
We went to BJ's Brewhouse.  It was delicious.

Someone suggested that we try the pizookie.  We did and it was heavenly! 
Afterwards, we went racing at the local raceway.  It was so much fun!  Caleb got the fasted lap with me coming in second.  It was a fun way to end the evening.
We are so proud of Caleb.  He is such a responsible, mature, honest, hardworking young man. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Nice Visit

Tonight we visited with Laurel and her crew.  This isn't the first time meeting Laurel, but it was the first time meeting some of her kids.  They came in and immediately meshed with our kids as if they had known each other from before.  It was great!

Maybe sometime we could head up north to Washington to visit them!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Homeschool has Started

The hummingbirds are lovely to watch.  They know exactly when I fill up the feeder with fresh nectar.  It is gone within three days.
Nolan is doing so well in school.  He can write his name.  To Julia's credit though, she taught him over the summer long before his first day of school.  I talked to the principal and she said that he was pushing on the playground at first, but he is getting better.  I assume it's because he is so much smaller, can't talk, and is a bit overwhelmed with how many kids are out at recess. 
Homeschool officially started today.  It went well.  I think it had everything to do with being so prepared this time around.  Many of the kids are taking online classes this year including Andrew who is taking a writing class.
For kicks I let them each pick out an all about me poster to fill out over the weekend to kick themselves into gear.  I guess it worked!
This year we are doing an art curriculum.  After looking at many, I settled on this and another book.
We celebrated Aunt Tanya's birthday this weekend.  It was very nice.
Here she is opening her cards and presents.  We love her so much!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Kids

Ha ha.  Now that Adam is in college he can finally use this paper.  Can't you tell how excited he is?
Oliver is so curious nowadays.  He loves to watch us cook.
Sveta keeps cool by drinking lemonade.
Since Annalyn and Galina do most of the watering I surprised them with these new watering cans.  They were good sports about my funny little joke.
I have been encouraging the older kids to do things like play games, read, and work with the younger kids.

Tonight for dinner we made homemade chicken potpies.  Well actually I didn't really do anything except give a few pointers.  Rachel made the pie crust, and Julia with some of the other girls made the filling.  We ran out of chicken gravy so we made up a packet of country gravy and added it to the filling. 
Dinner turned out so yummy that our family ate one whole pie plus a third of the other one.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

About to Kick Off Homeschool

I'm finally getting over my cold.  I think I know exactly where I got it from.  The lady behind the DMV counter was sniffling and rubbing her nose as she handed me papers to sign.  So far only two of the kids seem to have gotten it.   Hopefully they will be better soon too.

I am so proud of one of my older sons.  He went out and bought himself a pair of non name brand shoes.... and actually felt proud of the money he saved.

Caleb and Rachel both got call backs for a seasonal job.  They already work together at a local Italian restaurant so wouldn't it be even cooler if they got this other side job too?

Rachel and Julia are both driving with their permits.  This is the first time that we have two drivers at the same time needing to practice behind the wheel.  Both John and I are taking turns doing this.

Oh, the joys of parenthood. :)

I planted pumpkins a few months back.   One of the pumpkins is huge!  Sadly, the plants are covered in aphids.  The vines have taken over the garden that it seems impossible to do anything this season.  The vines are dying now.  Does anyone know if the pumpkins will last till October if I cut them from the vine?  Next year, I am so waiting till the beginning of July to plant them and from day one I am going to be on aphid lookout.

For those that asked, Little Guy is in a moderate special day class.  There are eight other students, one teacher, and two aides.  The student:teacher ratio seems good to me.  Yesterday Little Guy had an excellent day.  No outrageous behaviors and he was redirected to do something positive each time he needed it.  He came home with the highest color on his behavior sheet and a prize for great behavior!
He was so excited.  Today did not go as well.  He threw his chair again, dumped all the trash out, threw his chair, and pushed another student down.  On a good note, he picked the trash up, apologized immediately to the student, and responded well to being the teacher's helper.  He has kept his clothes on for two days straight too!

Our charter homeschool is constantly changing.  There are so many hoops to jump through that it is overwhelming.  Thankfully we have an awesome teacher who oversees everything.  She is a great encourager to me.  I'm actually ahead of my game as of right now.  I wrote out assignment sheets and lesson plans for the first two weeks.  I have an art curriculum for the year.  I've planned our first fieldtrip to the county fair.   The kids have started doing their schoolwork already which is a good sign.  I'm halfway excited for next week. 

I hope I can do this.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Happy Happy Birthday Paul

Today we celebrated Paul's 13th birthday.
We went to the pool and then ate some of the best pizza in town.
The water was very refreshing.  Everyone had lots of fun swimming.
Paul is such a good swimmer now.
I asked Paul if he felt older now that he is a teenager.  He said yes!
Nolan loves the water.  After going all summer not being able to swim I went ahead and let him.
Grandpa gave Dennis some tips on swimming.

William loves to do flips off John's shoulders.
Nolan likes to jump high into the air!

So does Little Guy!
Taylar joined us for the afternoon.

Andrew and Paul
Adam, Julia, and John
Jonny, Andrew, and Paul played two square after swimming.
Oliver loved the water.  He was all smiles all the time.

That's a lot of candles.
It was awesome hearing Paul read his birthday cards.  William wrote Paul a card saying that he would share the food that he buys from the store.  William gets Caleb or Adam to take him to the store to buy his favorite cereal.  He usually charges his younger brothers fifty cents a bowl.  Instead, he will give Paul a few bowls for free!

Happy birthday Paul!  You are such an awesome son.  I love to see how comfortable to have become in our family.  It is a blessing to be your parents.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Flippin and a Throwin

He should be called Nakey Boy.  That would about sum up his day at school yesterday.

Right when the kids began coming home I got a call from Little Guy's teacher.  She told me that he has been getting naked in class-- three times over the past two days.


After I picked my jaw off the ground I asked her how that could be. 

After all he has on a shirt, shorts, under wear.....

Couldn't he have been stopped at shirt or shorts?

Apparently, he has been doing this during carpet time.  He begins by taking off his shirt or his shoes and socks.  Then an aid escorts him to the bathroom and on the way he continues stripping down.

I find this unacceptable and I told her so.

Just like I find him flipping his desk repeatedly and throwing his chair.

Honestly, I have never experienced this with a child.

I have come close. 

One of the kids threw a shoe on the roof of the school for attention. 
One child screams in my face on a daily basis.
One would bring toys from home to play with in class.
One would eat their lunch at break and then say they didn't have anything to eat at lunch.
One of my bio kids tried to set off a school fire alarm once.
One of my kids got caught stealing another student's back pack.
Let's not forget the smearing of blood, boogers, and feces on the walls here at home.

You get the picture.

But taking off all their clothes?
Flipping a desk over?
Throwing a chair across the room?

I get that Little Guy has FAS.  I really do.  However, I seriously wonder if the school does.  When I try to talk them about it, they don't really comprehend the effects that FAS has on a child's brain.

They seem better to understand Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, and Autism, but not FAS.

I can't really fault them.  After all, it is the invisible disability

Little Guy's teacher told me that he is one of the lowest in the class academically.  He knew two of his letters of the alphabet.

Yes-- but he knows two of them!  That means that he can learn.  She is not sure he is in the right placement.  I don't think sending him to a severe special needs day class is the answer.

It is just going to take time and lots and lots and lots and lots of consistency.  Teeny tiny boundaries.  Lots of cooperation between school and home and way more communication. 

I tried to explain to her just a few of the things he has learned here in the past month.

He used to turn the water on using both the hot and cold water handles.  The water was getting hot and then he would let it run-- paralyzed to do anything because it is too hot.  I taught him to turn on only the cold side now-- and he remembers.

He would push his chair out from the kitchen table and scrape the floor really loud.  Now he remembers to push it out just a little bit and quietly too.

His eye contact is getting better.

He can answer yes or no questions.

He remembers almost everyone's name in the family-- on a good day.

He doesn't ask for yogurt twenty times a day anymore because he knows that I won't give him more than one a day.

He will color a whole page of a coloring book whereas in the beginning he would only color a little part of the picture.

He can sit through a whole family devotional making hardly a sound.  THIS IS HUGE.  This was impossible just two weeks ago.

Notice how all of these things have nothing to do with academics.  However, they are things that he is learning to do.  These are things that he needs to learn in order to be successful.  If he is to learn the parts of the calendar he has to first learn how to sit still and pay attention.  If he is to learn to write his name, he has to first be able to hold a pencil and apply pressure.  If he is to learn the whole alphabet and not just the song, he has to learn to remember easier things like family names first.

I was able to give her a few ideas and agreed that we would have lots to discuss at his next IEP in a couple of weeks.

I am so glad that we talked.  I was able to talk to Little Guy about it too. 

Now that he has been here over a month I see him settling in more and more.  It is a good thing.  He is still the energy bunny all the time, but he cannot help that.  The biggest challenge is learning how to channel that energy so he isn't bouncing off the walls.  

Despite the challenges today, I am excited to be a part of his future.  To see the tiniest bit of progress is a celebration.  Most of the other things I have to find humor in or else this couldn't work.

How Can This Work

I'm not sure what to do.  I have way too many requests for invites.  I thought I solved the problem by duplicating the same blog and having a 1 and a 2 so that I could invite 200 people.  However it looks like I have another 100 or so to invite.  I have to rethink this idea as I can't see myself managing three or four identical blogs. 

Any ideas? 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fresh is Best

Rachel packs the boys' lunches for me the night before.
Today Julia and Galina came home from camp.  They brought home lots of blackberries that they had picked.  Rachel made a homemade pie crust to top the fresh berries.  It was a delicious dessert!
Oliver slept in till almost 9 am this morning.  Just as I checked on him he woke up.  As I changed his diaper he began to have dry heaves.  This poor baby had two episodes of throwing up followed by diarrhea.   Thankfully whatever bug he had was short lived.  By dinner time he was almost back to his old himself.
Julia baked homemade bread for dinner to go with the lasagna.
Adam bought a new IPod with all his own money.  Sniff, sniff.... I wasn't even in the loop until he brought it home.  I guess I have to get used to letting go.
Aunt Tanya brought us tons of peaches.  No joke.  This is the last of them.  We had about 6 times this much to begin with.  Tomorrow I hope to make homemade peach pie ice-cream.
Oliver loves Veggie Tales.  He is one of their biggest fans.  This is his set up in the kitchen when we cook dinner.
Andrew and Jonny are way too physical lately.  Their play always turns to wrestling, or sword fighting, or something else that drives me bonkers.  It's just too loud and someone is always getting hurt.  So I had them sit down and write down fifty fun things they could do around the house.  You know... things like playing Chutes and Ladders with Dennis, or teaching Alex how to tell time, or reading a book to Nolan, or drawing a picture, or cleaning out the car for Mom, or building a huge lego ship.  I had them put their finished list up on the refrigerator to refer to when they try to justify their rough housing.   There are lots of different things they can do that doesn't require them being physical.