Saturday, September 20, 2014

Back to School!

So we're about one month into the school year for JI, and things are going swimmingly. The teachers just came for the first home visit (we get about 3-4 every school year), and they are quite pleased with how things are happening with JI.

Last year, school for JI meant that he was just past his 2nd birthday, one of the oldest in the class, and one of the "least disabled" in the class. His classmates had disabilities and delays ranging from Autism to SPD to physical disabilities, and they were all different races and religions. The one thing that they all had in common was that they were all boys, except for one girl! Of course she became JI's little girlfriend; they sat next to each other (in assigned seats) on the bus and held hands. 

That girl is in JI's class this year too, where he is one of two non-disabled/delayed "peers". The ratio of boys to girls is a little closer, and he's one of the few 3 year olds in a class where there are some "young 5s" (which apparently is a thing now?). Poke takes JI to school every day (unless I have a morning appointment), and I pick him up from school. The teachers always give me a quick update on how things are going, what happened that day, etc. 

Yesterday we talked about JI's personality, and how they feel, as I do, that he is very smart and quite advanced for his age. Luckily both teachers are happy about this (I've heard of teachers feeling like the special kid is a burden) and they are actually going to get some tools/resources specifically for JI to use so he can learn and grow. The "problem" with JI is that he is three, but he's functioning at a five year old level, or possibly higher, and he gets very bored with regular three year old preschool stuff. They noticed that even the questions he asks and the ways he plays are advanced for his age. I'm so proud!

So here is the wonderful stuff so far:
  • JI has made a friend! This kid loves to involve JI in everything, from playing to going potty LOL JI helps him with his numbers and letters, and the kid keeps JI on track with bathroom breaks.
  • JI is improving immensely with his behaviour, both at school and at home. The teachers use the "1...2...3..." style of warning, which I have been working on for like a year, and it is finally kicking in.
  • JI is good with his warning, which means less time outs. He's never had one at school, and using the 123 has kept him from being in time out too much at home. The teachers use the phrase "calm your body", which JI has never needed, so I might be implementing that if we need it!
  • They have an ipad in the classroom, which JI earns the right to use very often. He is already doing Kindergarten math, letter tracing, and word/letter games and acing them! I downloaded "Monkey Math" on the Google Play store for $1.99, which is one he uses at school, and he has already passed about six levels.

There's more, but I'll spare you the mushy details. He's just a better version of himself overall, and he's even gone back to being completely daytime potty trained! That's my favorite!

Overall, I'm very pleased. The only thing that needs worked on is his speech, which is not a surprise to me at all. Hopefully the speech evaluation next week will give us some kind of path on which to go with that! The best part of JI being in school is that he gets to learn new things and be in new situations, and I get a three hour break!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Autism Screening

Today Poke and I took JI to meet with a psychologist from Nationwide Children's Hospital to screen him for Autism and/or any sensory disorders. Even though he's considered no longer disabled by the city school district, JI has been acting kinda weird, consistently weird, and I wanted to have him screened early so that we could get ahead of any issues he might have. 

I personally have a lot of sensory issues, and until we dealt with JI's speech/language delay, I thought I was a freak of nature. It was only when we went into the world of the Autism spectrum and took the Hanen class that I found out that there are ways to help myself, ways to try and alleviate the pain. Unfortunately, because I am so "old" and have had these problems for so long, I'm still struggling hard core with the overwhelming sensory experience that is the world around me. For this very reason, I wanted to get JI screened because he's showing a few signs of what I do/have.

I wondered if he acts the way he does because of our home life. I can't handle bright lights, we have to keep quiet because Poke sleeps during the day, and there aren't a ton of opportunities outside of school for him to socialize with other children. As it turns out, I was right. After about an hour meeting with the doctor, she concluded that JI is not on the spectrum at all, he likely has no sensory disorders (although we should work on desensitizing him to the reactions he has now), and, in her words, he is very smart, with a bit of a stubborn streak.

Guess the apple really doesn't fall far from the tree! ;-)

So, anyway, I'm very happy with the results. Next week we have him set up for an evaluation for his speech, to see where he falls - typical for his age, significantly delayed, or "gray area". After that, the psychologist we met with today said she'd be interested in doing an IQ evaluation on JI just to see how smart he really is. Cool!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cooking with M: Weekly Menu Planning

It's cooling down which means it's time for more hearty dinners. It's no longer a huge deal if the oven is on a while, yay!

American sausage pierogi with green beans

Slow cooker pulled BBQ chicken, corn bread and leftover green beans

Steak, baked potato and veggies


Pork stirfry

Mushroom and broccoli chicken over rice

Beef roast, parsley buttered potatoes and mixed veggies

Red, Orange, and Yellow Bring a Chill to the Air

Fall is my favorite season. The time from September to early January is simply the best time of year. The heat and mugginess start to dissipate as clean, cool, crisp air takes the stage. Windows can be left open to air out the house without fear of stifling heat.

Brilliant colors of fall.
Where we live in Virginia, we see the trees change from green to red, orange, yellow and brown. The colors slowly spread across the mountains getting more vibrant until they disappear, telling us it's almost time for Christmas. The view outside our windows is spectacular. On drives through the area, the fall leaves on the backdrop of clear, strinking blue sky is simply amazing. Almost nightly we smell bonfires. Our fire pit will be making its own debut soon.

Family photo while apple picking last fall.
When the leaves start to change, it also means apple season is back. It's a family tradition to go apple picking each year. Last year was M2's first time. She couldn't get enough of it. We went a bunch of times to stock up on eating and baking apples. I love making my apple crisp and bread (A loves eating them). Our favorite orchard is up in Winchester, Va. Along with the orchard, it has has pumpkins, a bake shop with amazing apple cider donuts, ice cream, fudge and other goodies, plus a playground for the kids. I can't wait to go in October.
Lovely red leaves in the yard.
I love Halloween. It's a magical time, connecting us to the past and the future. In some cultures and traditions, the October 31 marks the start of the new year, rather than January 1. M2 already has her costume and will have her second crack at trick-or-treating. Last year, she wasn't so sure about it. This year, she should be much more into it. After Thanksgiving, we have Thanksgiving to look forward too, then Christmas.

Decorating for all is just as fun. I pull out all the harvest, pumpkin, leaf and other decorations we have, including the fall-scented candles. Just as fun is knowing that once these decorations come down, all the Christmas decorations will be going up. Falls starts months of beautiful decorations, family time, traditions, our wedding anniversary, birthdays and holidays. It's the time of year to spend with family who are here and remember those who have passed on. It's also a time to make new memories to carry with us through the years.

Looking out over the mountains.
This year, Baby2's appearance will be added to the list of anticipated events. All the things we have to do to get ready for his arrival, including decorating and setting up the nursery, will add to the business of this time of year. Yet, while fall is always busy, it always has a calmness the rest of the year doesn't. It's a feeling I love and look forward to each year. How it can be so busy yet calm at the same time, I'll never know. Maybe it's secret magic hidden in the leaves of the trees, taking over the land as the colors spread.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Our Childhood Dreams

Have I fulfilled my childhood dreams?

In a word, yes. When I was little, I dreamed of being a mommy. All I wanted to do was be Amish (oh yes!) and live in the woods and have lots of kids. My husband would work the farm or hunt for food, and I would tend the homefire. You can clearly see that I read a lot of books about "the olden days", and by the time I was eight I had devoured the Little House on the Prairie series! I was all about that lifestyle, until I went to camp the summer before fourth grade and had a horrible time. That's when I decided I needed to live in the modern world. I am not the outdoorsy type!

I always wanted to be a wife and mother. I also wanted to be an archaeologist, a teacher, a school bus driver, a fire truck driver (not an actual firefighter!), a theologian, a bank teller, and a restaurant owner. So far I've achieved mortgage broker, waitress, chef, mother, and wife. I suppose if you count the hats I wear as wife/mother, I'd also be an accountant, taxi driver, personal assistant, teacher, nurse, laundry worker, dishwasher, waitress, chef, housekeeper, entertainer, landscaper, home improvement expert, and so forth. Maybe that's why I'm so happy in my current position! I get to do everything I always wanted to do!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Favorite Childhood Book

My favorite childhood books were the Topsy Turvy Bugg Books by Stephen Cosgrove. Each book had two stories, one on one side and one on the flip side. Each story focused on one Bugg and presented some kind of moral or advice on life. I am fairly certain I have all the books in the series, and they are all in pristine condition. I loved these books so much that I handled them with such care; I treated them better than my Cabbage Patch Kids!

You can find these excellent books on or for about $8.00 each. I would highly recommend investing in this series, because the stories are timeless, funny, and wholesome.

What is your favorite childhood book?