22 January 2015

Throwing Things Into a Blender.

I know there are a zillion "smoothie" recipes online, but I find myself using whatever's on hand.  Sometimes it's carrot juice, as you see here.  On other days I might get some of the probiotic foo-foo whatever yogurt thing I have in the fridge.  Throw in some fruit, such as apples, bananas or kiwis.  Blend.  Yay.  I try to get my veggies in every day.  How are you doing with healthy eating so far this year?

20 January 2015

What to Do With a Stinky Kid.

She'll be seven soon and she is starting to smell like a man who forgot to use deodorant.  Peeyyew!   She's just been presented with her own deodorant, complete with gummy rubber band so we can tell the difference between hers and mine.  I asked her why she's so smelly and she theorizes that God is protecting her from random creatures getting up into her armpits.  Tell you what, no creature is gonna hang out there and that's for sure.

Can you tell that last week she was running about in socks and smacked her nose into a coffee table?  I don't know why days after the injury, it looks its worst.  It really didn't look that bad when she first bumped, but days later?  Black and green.    Poor kid.  Here's hoping it fades in time for birthday pictures! 

18 January 2015

Are You "Lovin' It"?

McDonald's must really be hurting for business because they spend a lot of time on facebook responding to comments like this:

"I heard that your mcgriddle meat is made from Indonesian children!!! If this is true I certainly will not be giving anymore of my business to McDonald's!"

They responded that the only humans involved were the ones preparing and serving the food... 

I would make a bad corporate talking head because I would have asked, why Indonesian children particularly?  Where did you get this crazy idea from, because if it's in print and the author has money, we're suing.  :)

And... why is the poster saying that if it's true, he will not be giving more business to McDonald's?  Does that mean that presently, he's happily chowing on what he presumes to be Indonesian children (they're so yummy, after all!) but if his suspicions are confirmed, then he'll stop munching on them?  

Really, people like this are just trolls, and I wouldn't respond to them at all or if I did, I'd be pretty rude. 

Homeschoolers Snatched in Arkansas Raid

Government agents show up suddenly with a warrant, upend the house, and take seven children of a homeschooling family. 

Normally, I'd be screaming foul and so should you, but this time I think more information is needed before doing so.  MMS was found in the house, and although the parents claim to use it for "water purification" and for the father's health, I'm skeptical.  The newscasters are careful to dance around autism and MMS and how some parents pretty much torture their children with it in the hopes of "curing" them.

I just wonder what really happened.  The judge has 72 hours to make a decision.

16 January 2015

Boogie Boards!

My friend Kerrie posted about these on facebook awhile back and I just had to get some to liven up our Spelling list time.  I don't know how much paper we'll save, but the littles have a lot of enthusiasm and are excited that they each have their own board.  Can you tell that I made Woodjie return to printing?  No matter how much we practiced, it seems cursive was never really going to be easy for him.  So.  He must sign his name in cursive, but otherwise he's off the hook.  Rose drew her little family on her board.

14 January 2015

Homeschool: Books and Creative Play

by Dawn Marcotte

My daughter tore the wrapping paper off the box in excitement, and because it is fun to tear things.
When she opened the box she pulled out the puppets, tossed them aside and climbed into the box.
After all that was the best part of the birthday present anyway right?

I quickly thanked my brother and his wife for the lovely gift of a puppet theatre and promised them photos later of her playing with them. But right now she was happy in the box and it was probably a good idea to just let her be there.

I could tell they were a little confused, but they didn't press the issue. After all, their kids had enjoyed many hours playing with the puppets at the young age of 6 and they fully expected A. would too.  I didn't have the heart to tell them that my daughter would not have the first idea of what to do with the puppets, never mind they were made of scratchy fabric and I doubted she would ever be comfortable putting them on her hands.

My daughter didn't really do imaginative play. She was more of an outside girl who loved to run and climb and build and destroy.

Dolls were not terribly interesting and she didn't seem to understand the concept of 'playing pretend' with them or with the kids in the neighborhood. We would occasionally play with cars and trucks in the sandbox, but each truck had a designated purpose and that is what we did with them, dig, dump and push.

Books and Stuffed Animals

She loves books though and would spend hours with us reading to her. Then one day I was feeling particularly silly and instead of reading her favorite story to her I got a couple of her stuffed animals and made them act it out for her. I don't even remember what the story was, just the look on her face as she giggled at her crazy mother.

Then I did it again the next night, because it was fun and I was getting tired of reading the same books over and over again. (In our house if you do any task the same way 3 times it becomes a pattern and you can't change it) On the third night I didn't play with the stuffed animals because I knew I wouldn't want to do it that way all the time and we went back to reading the normal way.

But my silly-self had planted a creative seed in her head. It was possible to act out the stories she loved in her books with her stuffed animals. Thus was born a true storyteller.

After that I would occasionally act out the stories with stuffed animals as a way to do something a little different and to try and get her to learn a new way to play. I would even pull out those neglected puppets if the characters were right for the story. Then I started to encourage her to do the same thing.

Small Steps

At first she would only act out the stories as I read them. But whenever I needed a few moments to myself to do something I would suggest she 'show' me a story with her stuffed animals, after all she knew them by heart. She would sometimes go along with it and use stuffed animals and recite her favorite story to me. Sometimes she wasn't interested at all.

Eventually she started to act out stories on her own, saying the words, since she memorized everything she heard anyway. I think it was comforting to her to hear familiar phrases repeated.  I also encouraged her to 'show' her little sister the stories with her stuffed animals. After all a baby can't sit and look at a book, but she will watch her sister walk big fuzzy animals around in front of her.

Finally A. started to make up her own stories to go with her favorite characters - though that didn't happen for several years and she was coached by her little sister a bit, who was now a toddler and loved to do anything with her adored big sister.

Our younger daughter is NT (neurotypical) and has always gotten along great with her big sister. In many ways she has been more of a help coaching A. than anyone else in the family, because she could explain to her sister in 'child speak' what it was these grown-ups were trying to get her to do. Learning to play creatively was no exception. She patiently showed her sister that they could make up stories and act them out with the stuffed animals.

Then it happened.

Finally after almost 3 years of sitting in the closet, the puppets came out to play.  Now almost every day I was the preferred audience for a new production. The girls quickly went from telling familiar fairy tales to making up their own stories. It didn’t always make sense, but it was fun anyway. Then they moved back to stuffed animals, because there was a much wider variety of animals to choose from and therefore a wider range of stories that could be told.

I still have video I took of stories they made up together and then acted out. My favorite part is the sound of their laughter as they try to get through the silly production.

I am proud to say that A. has such a good imagination now that she wants to be a professional writer for her career. I think she just might do it too.

We never would have gotten there without her love of reading and books. By connecting the stories in the books to physical objects in her world she began to understand creative play. She learned that the written word was only one way to represent a story.

This method can be used by any parent. Just pick out a few of your child's favorite stuffed animals and show them the story instead of just reading it to them.

Plant a seed of creativity and watch it grow over time.

--  Dawn Marcotte is the CEO of www.asd-dr.com, a website designed to help teens and young adults on the spectrum live to their highest potential.

13 January 2015

Does Your Child Work for his Supper?

Do you run a business with your children?  Lots of people do.  Sometimes families run restaurants, expect their teen children to help bus the tables, and homeschool between shifts.  The whole family helps out.

I know of a few families that raise chickens for fun and profit.  Kids have to feed the chickens, change their water, gather eggs, stuff like that.  Still others make foo-foo scented soaps, wrap 'em up with raffia, and help package orders for shipment.

Some say their parents are selfish people for making them work all day, and that we should regulate homeschooling more strictly.  Because really, how are we going to be sure children are learning properly if they are gainfully employed?  We all know they need to be in public school so that they can get gainful employment as adults.

*head thunk*

Ok.  I guess The Kansas City Star just prints what people want to buy ... 

While I recognize that there are some abusive situations out there, I think we need to put this whole "homeschooling children at the dining room table and making them work all day" into some sort of historical perspective:

Chimney sweep.  Source:  wikipedia.
About 200 years ago, childhood slavery was not uncommon, even amongst European children.  Kids as young as three were sent in to clean chimneys, often working 12 -18 hour days.  Sometimes these little people were kidnapped and employed as factory workers and street sellers, or even rat-catchers.  They had no rights.

They didn't go to school and rarely learnt to read, and certainly no one ensured that they were fed every day.  It was a travesty and an injustice, and it's part of the reason we have labour laws and compulsory education today.

But here's the thing:  there are places you can turn to if you suspect abuse in any family, homeschooling or otherwise.  There are child abuse hotlines in every state.  Additionally, in Missouri, the school will investigate when the abuse case only involves educational neglect.  So here?  There are two agencies protecting the interests of the children.

Things are not hopeless for these children and if you're worried, make the call!

I "get" why some people might be a little hesitant to endorse moms and dads raising their children a little differently than they remember as being the "right" way.  But personally?  I'm far more worried about the fate of the kids in the more awful school districts than I am about almost all homeschoolers.  Just trying to put it in perspective.