Taking the Scenic Route

Zora photos, Homeschool & Visual Schedules

30th January 2008

Zora photos, Homeschool & Visual Schedules

Yesterday was 60 degrees.  Today we had snow.  That’s Kansas for you


First, some shots of Zora

From yesterday.  She is finally getting how to go forward on a regular basis instead of backwards.

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We thought it sounded too quiet downstairs.  (wrapped in a Yoga mat in the middle of the playroom floor)

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Got started on more formal school.  These are taken at the end of the first day, after Dad came back  (he left with Zora to do some shopping so Zane and I could have quiet our first day to make it a bit easier).  Zach helped him work with his new threading blocks he got for Christmas.  It is the perfect toy for him because it combines visual perception, sequencing, fine motor, motor planning and has him accomplishing something instead of just the abstract “do this for the sake of doing it” that so many OT toys have.

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Visual Schedule

A new visual schedule for him.  I tried something different this time.  I made a list with checkboxes in front (so we can transition him to a regular sort of “to do” list later on), and have the unchecked boxes on velcro on top of each item.  When he started the morning the “to do” boxes were all showing, and as he pulled off the piece a “I did it” with a check mark appeared.  Works really well and saves me the hassle of trying to figure out what order to put all the PECs cards and have to deal with trying to figure out what to do when one inevitably goes missing.  All of the pull off pieces are identical, so I just made a few extra to start with.  The “all done” container is just a disposable cup velcroed to the side of the bookcase next to the schedule.

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Bulletin Board

The bulletin board with the day’s completed work.  We started the concept “Environment” in Moving Beyond the Page.  The first unit (of the 3 under the Environment concept) is “Habits and Homes”.  (then “Weather”, then “Community”)  I started today with doing some visual cards with some of the vocabulary words and concepts and will dig into the first real “lesson” tomorrow.  I really like the curriculum.  It really incorporates multiple learning styles.  For instance, part of the first lesson was a song, sung to a familiar tune, explaining the parts of a healthy environment, with simple actions.  Zora was still there while I was doing the song and tried to join in with the hand movements. 

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Social Story

 I also introduced a new social story today.  I am hoping it helps to start getting him to respond when we call his name.

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Tomorrow I am hoping to add some visuals prompts around the house to help him.  (like “I am in the bedroom” in the bedroom, or “I am next to the computer” near the computer.)

I decided to go with “next to” because, even though it is a little awkward in some situations, the meaning gets across, and it seems like it would be the most relevant when he is in a high stress situation, like he wandered into the next isle at the store and is suddenly lost…saying “I am in the store” isn’t nearly as useful as “I am next to the potatoes”.  Eventually we will work on expanding out the phrases, but getting *something* like that working his vocabulary will help a lot, and save the frustration of wondering if he actually hears us.  (and his frustration of “geez, I heard you, go away now” look that I sometimes get.  lol)

posted in Autistic Life, Homeschool, Zane, Zora | 7 Comments

25th January 2008

Food Aversion Victory, New Curriculm

One exciting thing first:  Zane ate a few bites of carrot.  Willingly.  He has not eaten a single vegetable since he was a toddler.  He used to be a human garbage disposal until the food adversions started around 2ish.  It was a carrot shaving made after taking off the peel that he put on top of the salad he made.  (he wanted to make a salad with spinach and wanted carrots on it).  He wouldn’t eat the salad under it, but the fact that he wanted to make one gives us hope that he might give it a try in the near future.

The rest of life is just playing with kids, getting the next semester’s therapy sessions in order, and figuring out the lesson plans for homeschool. 

We start a more structured homeschool on Monday.  I got a new curriculum this week and am going through it to get it laid out and ready.  It is called Moving Beyond the Page and is basically a series of unit studies that includes all the subjects together on the same themes.  It is exactly what I wanted…flexible, easy to expand on topics he is interested in, and covers all the basics in a comprehensive way.  It is a particular challenge for me to try and remember what needs to be included because he doesn’t just pick up on things in his environment the way most kids do.  He has to be specifically introduced to subjects, and having been on the earth a while longer, I overlook the obvious too easily.  I was having a heck of a time trying to figure out how to do it on my own, but I knew I wanted more than math, writing, and phonics/reading.  I love the unschooling philosophy and am very willing to be flexible, but in it’s purest form it was not really working for us.  Strewing interesting things around to spark interests doesn’t work as well when your child is somewhat oblivious to it and can’t actually ask questions. 

I am supplementing the material with the math we have been doing since he likes that, and continuing the Headsprout Phonics program, and some bible stories.  Add to that, the different exercises and things from his therapies and Reading Explorer’s group and I think it will be plenty.

Being Christian, I am sure people are wondering why didn’t I choose a curriculum that already has the bible stuff integrated, since that is actually the norm.  The main reason why is that, as far as I can tell, almost all the curriculum come from the most conservative end of the spectrum and I interpret Jesus’ message very differently than the conservative extremists.  I don’t want to see anything about literal creationism (I believe God created everything, evolution was the method…and the time line in the bible is metaphorical, not literal), abortion, no recognition of religious differences, or homosexuality.   I don’t think there is a place for teaching hatred to children.  When they are older, we can explore some of the stickier issues, but at this age, kids should only hear messages of love and acceptance, since that is the central message from Jesus.  I can’t trust the “Christian” curricula to stick to that since I can’t actually see any of the curriculums and just have to go off of descriptions.  My experience says that many are so blind to the fact that other Christians don’t have the same interpretations, that I doubt they would be able to recognize the propaganda anyway, so it is sort of pointless to even ask, unless you know the person well and know where they are coming from.

I have also been working out how to make some better visual schedules for some of the routines.  It is a lot more complicated than it looks like it should be on the surface.  You have to think about all the different variations life can throw at you and try and predict how the routine would work in different situations and adjust accordingly to avoid as many potential land mines as possible.  Once a routine is set, it is hard to move around without a lot of painful adjustments, so it is better to wait and get it as close to right as possible the first time out.

My beef stew is tempting me away from the computer, so I must go now.  Yummy.

posted in Autistic Life, Food, Homeschool | 3 Comments

22nd January 2008

Autistics can speak about Autism Speaks

I already had issues with this group, but this is just beyond the pale.  Autism Speaks Sues Autistic Person for, basically, speaking.  She had a parody site called “NTspeaks” and I guess they didn’t appreciate the message.

Here is more:  http://www.aspiesforfreedom.com/showthread.php?tid=11704



eta:  they did end up dropping the charges once they realized it was a 12yo girl.

posted in Autism, In the News | 1 Comment

21st January 2008

Political Musings

91% Dennis Kucinich
90% Mike Gravel
78% John Edwards
76% Barack Obama
73% Chris Dodd
72% Joe Biden
70% Hillary Clinton
69% Bill Richardson
37% Rudy Giuliani
32% Ron Paul
28% John McCain
25% Mitt Romney
24% Mike Huckabee
20% Tom Tancredo
13% Fred Thompson

2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz


No big surprises here for me.  I have always matched up with Kucinich and was rooting for him over Kerry last go around.  I won’t vote for him simply because I don’t think he has a chance in the big election.  I knew I liked Edwards a lot.  My ideal ticket would be an Obama/Edwards or Edwards/Obama.  Obama inspires me, which is the only reason I would vote for him over Edwards.  I really like both of them a lot and haven’t heard anything that puts a damper on my enthusiasm for either of them.  I just find Obama a bit more likeable.  

I am so disappointed in the Clintons.  She seems to be turning to “good ‘ole boys” politics, seems really mean spirited and divisive, and I can’t believe how whiny Bill has become.  What the heck is up with that?!?  I don’t think she would make a bad president because she is a woman, I think she would make a bad president because she is corrupted, has too many special interest groups, and doesn’t seem to want to play fair.  She is more interested in her own political career than the people she will be serving.  The crying just infuriated me.  Why would she fall into the stereotype so easily.  Plus, they really seemed to be crocodile tears.  Ugh.

Huckabee…hate him with a white hot passion.  John McCain, not bad.  Don’t agree with a lot of his stances, but I do respect him and he is one of the least partisan players out there.  Paul I agree with some of his stances, but he seems a bit nutty and a lot racist.  Guiliani I just can’t take seriously.  Romney, don’t really know much about him, but I haven’t really seen anything that just throws up major red flags, unless he is heterosexist or anti-choice, and both of those might be why he came out so low on my list.   I really like Fred Thompson on Law and Order, but obviously, his real person isn’t nearly as compelling as the characters he plays.  lol.

posted in Politics | 1 Comment

21st January 2008

Gleeson Addition!


They welcomed little Gloria today to the Gleeson clan.  One lucky baby, with lots of great brother’s and sisters.


posted in Birthday, Friends | 1 Comment

21st January 2008

The kids keep growing

Little Helpers

The kids are helping with laundry.  Zane seems to be the most enthusiastic about helping load the washer, and these days I need to remember to check if there is something in there when I start a load to avoid having a red shirt buried under all the whites and other potential problems.  Zora, on the other hand, is most enthusiastic about the dryer.  On a recent load, as I was unloading the dryer, I noticed as I pulled out the first shirt, two dryer sheets came out with it.  I didn’t think much of it, until I pulled out the second piece of clothes and another 3 or 4 dryer sheets came out with it.  Uh oh.  There had to be 30 or 40 dryer sheets in that load and the box of dryer sheets was empty.   The clothes had so much fabric softener on them they were probably waterproof.  lol.  Yesterday I bought another thing of dryer sheets and Zora couldn’t talk me into opening them, so she went to Grandma.  (they were here helping us pick up a mattress set for Zane in their bigger vehicle)  Grandma opened them, Zora grabbed a handful and ran to the dryer.  We put the rest up and I will need to store them up much higher now.

They are also helping with unloading the dishwasher, but since Zora isn’t tall enough to actually see into the drawers, it makes for some interesting sorting at times.  If Zane is in there he gets really upset when he sees her just chucking the silverware over the edge and not putting it into the proper slots and has designated himself as the “fixer” of the drawers.


New Bed

Zane has needed a new mattress set for some time.  When we bought his mattress we were dirt poor and couldn’t afford anything but the absolutely rock bottom cheapest set they had.  (and that was a stretch financially).  He keeps trying to go to sleep on Zora’s bed.  (the only reason Zora got the nicer mattress is because I still lay with her to put her to bed and Zane’s mattress is too cheap and noisy and I was honestly a little afraid I would break it and I couldn’t get out of that bed without a lot of noise).  Yesterday we got him a new mattress.  He was over the moon.  In the store when we went to get a few other items, he kept making sure we didn’t forget the bed.  That night, after the “God Bless….” he did the “Thank you for…” and included a big thank you for the bed.  lol.  He also had a thank you for showers.  Not sure where that came from, but it was sort of cute.



Zora is really excited about clothes and wants to change outfits several times a day (an hour sometimes).  Of course, she also likes running around stark naked too.  lol.  That is the most frustrating thing about doing laundry…if she sees me messing with clothes, she wants to try everything on and it is a real challenge to keep the clean clothes in the drawers.  It doesn’t help that the laundry pile is next to her dressers, which means I am probably washing a lot of “had it on for 30 seconds” clothes over and over again.  Oh, and when she brings you clothes, she holds them up saying they are “toot”  (cute).  Funny girl.


A conversation or two.

I was playing a nintendo game with Zane in his room one afternoon.  When one game ended, I wanted to leave to go do something else.  As I got up, explaining that I needed to go do something, Zane said “Where are you going Mama?”  It had such perfect intonation that I was halfway through my answer before I realized that Zane asked the question.  I told him I was going to do dishes….is that ok?  He said “No”.  I asked “What do you want me to do?”  He said:  “Play Mario Cart with me”.  So I did.  An actual conversation, with sentences you didn’t have to interpret.  Wow.

And about an hour ago he wanted to go outside, so I helped him get bundled up (although he put the boots on).  Zach went out with him since it is super slick outside.  As I stood in the door watching him, he looked up at me and said “It’s slippery Mama!” as he slid around on the patio and grass. 

He is really making some amazing gains.  It is clicking for him.

posted in Autistic Life, Language Development, Shopping, Zane, Zora | 1 Comment

15th January 2008

My Birthday Dinner

My parents came to town and took us out to eat for my birthday.  The pictures we took were phenomoninally bad, to the point Zach and I didn’t even erase them because, as a group, are so bad they are funny.   Here are a few that aren’t just horrifying.

The evening was really wonderful though.  Good food, happy family, what more can a person ask for?  What a great way to bring in another year.


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posted in Birthday, The 2 Opas (J's Parents), The Kids | 5 Comments

14th January 2008

Carbs R Us

Delano’s Raisin Raisin bread (local bakery, regular and golden raisins)

Frozen waffles

2 kinds of bagels

3 kinds of cream cheese

and for dessert (after the kids go to bed), toaster pastries.


Guess what we bought?  lol



edited to add:  Zora liked the raisins bread.  She took my bread and brought it back with all of the raisins picked out.  _rotfl

posted in Food, Shopping | 3 Comments

12th January 2008

The Cleaning Crew

You made it a lot easier for me to pick a picture.  I like the one in the tree too.  He is sort of wedged in there with his giant cloth diaper.  lol.

It was a pretty good day today.  We cleaned, then went shopping.  We tried to meander around World Market, but after a while decided that we would be doing that on “date night” sometime because Zora just is not capable of staying with us very well at this point.  We went to target afterwards and picked up a few groceries, then headed home.

I know I have cute kid stories to tell, but my brain is so wiped out right now I can’t think of them.  Hopefully it will come back to me.

My sweet cleaning crew

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posted in The Kids | 4 Comments

11th January 2008

Help Me Pick A Photo Please

We take lots and lots of photos of the kids, which is probably pretty obvious to anybody who follows this blog.  We take more now than we used to simply because we have a better camera now with a bigger memory stick.  However, last week we were asked to send photos to my FIL of the kids.  I was really excited because 1) they asked, 2) they have never asked before, 3) we have tons of photos, and a few of the recent ones of Zane are pretty good.  I knew that I could probably get a better one if I was on a mission to, just by sheer volume of shooting.

Then, the stressful news:  they want one from about 18 months old.  Ok.  There isn’t a single picture of Zane at 18mo that doesn’t have him naked or covered in goo or a runny nose.  So, then they said 18months – 24months.  That is better.  Not as stressful. 

They want it to put in his office at work.  He works as an accountant/financial planner in a very upscale area, so that means we should probably leave out any pictures where he looks dirty or has a crappy background (like most of the pictures in our apartment).  So, outdoor pictures for the most part. 

Then they say, offhand, they want one that is a little more posed; one with him looking at the camera, and a second picture where he is sort of “doing his own thing” or more casual.  Ugh.  Looking at the camera.  The only pictures where he is looking at the camera are indoors, where he is covered in some sort of marker/food/dirt and our camera was really bad at indoor photos so the flash does really goofy things.  The more presentable pictures do not have him looking in the camera. 

I know that they didn’t, in any way, mean to cause me stress, but do you have any idea how depressing it is to look through thousands of pictures covering a 6 month time period to realize that you don’t have any that is “clean face”, “just Zane” (no parents or other people) and “looking at the camera”.  It sucked.  It should have been fun, because usually when I look at the old pictures of Zane it brings me joy remembering him then.  I know that strangers aren’t likely to be able to see through the kid grime and huge cloth diaper butt (and it was monumentally huge) and see the beautiful soul in there. 

I can say with some certainty that all of his cousins have professional pictures of them because all of them are pretty well off compared to us, which just took me back to how much that time sucked financially. 


So, if you had to decide, which two pictures would you choose? 

a few indoor ones

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The outdoor ones

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I am leaning towards picking two of the overalls pictures, but not sure which two.


Zora, obviously, isn’t as hard.  Between the fact we had a nice backyard and not slum housing in the background, the camera was better and she is much easier to photograph.  Hers it will be more a matter of narrowing it down.

posted in Zane | 10 Comments

  • Zane's age

  • Zane is 22 years, 6 months, and 21 days old
  • Zora's age

  • Zora is 18 years, 6 months, and 25 days old
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  • I think of discipline as the continual process of helping a child learn self-discipline — Fred Rogers

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