Taking the Scenic Route

Thesis, Reading tests and other updates

30th April 2008

Thesis, Reading tests and other updates

Zach and the thesis

Thesis is DONE.  He might have more revisions, although he has already completed the first round of revisions wanted by his thesis advisor.  (he wanted him to change something that would make it more usable for him (the advisor) in his project, which makes it more publishable).  Right now, it looks like he might not be able to defend it before the Spring graduation deadline.  It works for everybody on the committee except the head of the department.  We are now aiming for before graduation so that he can be technically done with all of his degree requirements before he walks, even if the degree won’t be conferred until the Summer semester.  At this point it is out of our hands.  If the defense date gets pushed beyond graduation, it won’t likely happen until the end of summer because his thesis advisor is leaving the area for the summer, so we really hope that won’t happen.

Zach and employment

No real news.  He has an “interview” for the same job he has had the last few years, for another 1 year contract.  woohoo.  No summer teaching jobs are available right now.  No summer jobs available anywhere that we have found yet.

No word from the job he wants in the south.  It is a federal job and it can take a long time to process everything, but we are still hopeful of getting it.  He is going to talk to the temp agencies tomorrow again to see if they have anything.  He is also expanding his job search to KC and OK City besides Wichita, but we hope that we don’t have to move unless it is the job down south.  Mostly, I hope we can just hear something good soon.

Church stuff

It is going well.  This week Zane went with his class to the big group (they have a group story time in a theatre/auditorium area with grades K-5 before breaking up into individual classrooms).  He sat better than most of his classmates (they put him in the 1st grade class instead of the kindergartners…the plan is to keep him in the 1st grade classroom next fall also, so he will be with his own age then but be used to the classroom already.  The Kinder kids have a slightly different schedule than everybody else, so getting him used to this when it will be changing soon seemed like a better idea).  He was participating in the activities in an appropriate way, and his “buddy/para” is a nurse and seems to really ”get” him.  I am very happy with how it is going.

There was a funny moment with Zora this week.  I dropped her off at the desk this week, and they took her to the classroom.  Because Zane and I are starting our day in the office instead of the classroom, right after I dropped her off and filled out the forms at the desk, we walked past Zora’s classroom.  (normally people can’t walk back there for security reasons).  As I walked down the hall, a teacher poked her head out of the classroom to say that “I don’t know her…are you sure she has been going here for several weeks already?”.  I turned to the person and asked if they were talking about Zora…they were…I looked up and realized they put her in the 1yo classroom.  I pointed out that she is 2, almost 2.5, not one, and the situation was resolved.  Later, when I passed by again, I took a close look into the two year old classroom and noted that she really was a lot smaller than her classmates.  lol. I am still not used to being the parent of a petite person. 

I still haven’t had the opportunity to talk to the pastor about the disgusting sermon he gave last week.  I was planning on talking to him a little after church, but when I took Zane out to the playground in between services, I failed to notice that the rain had settled on the bottom of the dirty slides, and Zane slide right through it.  His entire back of his pants were muddy and gross, and I didn’t have an extra set of clothes, so we just went home.  I think I will call this week and see if he has a time he can meet during the week.

Zane and his reading tests

He took the Woodcock and the RAN/RAS (and maybe something else too…I will have to wait until I get the written report to see if I missed it).  He did fairly well.

For word identification he is at 96% for his age, and considered to be working at the level of a kid in grade 2, 1st month.  For decoding/silly words/word attack he is at 91% for his age, working at 3rd grade, 0 month level.  For Passage comprehension he is at 64% for his age, and at 1st grade, 0 months.  His receptive language 1 word recognition is at 21% in his age level, and he is working at the age of a 5yo,2mo level (a bit more than a year behind).   With the Rapid naming (how fast you can “read” a line of letters, numbers, colors, symbols in various combinations he was average and above average for his age.  He is working in the range of 1st grade, 2nd month to 2nd grade, 7th month for those tests.

So, as expected, his reading level is high for a kindergartner, but his direct language skills are behind.  (but receptive language not as behind as I thought they might be…a year behind is really not terrible given that is expressive language is quite a bit farther behind…he probably isn’t much more than a 3yo for a lot of his expressive language, if I judge where he is compared to Zora.  She is actually ahead in nonverbal language I would guess, and just on his heels for a lot of the verbal.  I suspect she will overtake his expressive language within a short span here).  The biggest thing we have to really keep an eye on is his comprehension, but we knew that. 

One of the things I do that I need to continue, and probably expand, is pull out vocabulary words in the things he is learning and make a visual reference card for the vocabulary word.  (I take words and find pictures that match it and have him glue them to an index card with the word on it to help him learn the word better).   Google is my friend in this project…I love the ability to google images. 

It sounds like it is probably time to start trying to find chapter books for him.  They said the “captain underpants” books are probably too high a level at this point, but maybe the “boxcar children” books might be ok. (I remember loving those as a kid…it will be interesting to see if I like them as an adult) ”Junie B Jones” was also mentioned.  I wonder if the first Little House books would interest him…I know the first ones are at a much lower reading level than they are later in the series.  If anybody has other suggestions, I would welcome them.  I haven’t really had time to look through books at the higher reading levels yet.

A few pictures

 Watching Daddy outside

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During Speech Therapy..A Little Sailor Boy, pulling his boat behind him

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My view of him at ST (unless I am watching from behind a 2-way mirror)

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Putting Yarn on a Yak (guess what letter they are working with.)

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Discovering the joys of music in the headphones.

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posted in Autistic Life, Church, Crafts, Homeschool, Language Development, ST, School, Tests, Zane, Zora | 4 Comments

23rd April 2008

Yuck. Weird kids

Zane’s favorite snack, since he was a toddler, is bread with hot sauce.  It has evolved into a hot sauce sandwich.  This is really gross to me, but his little sister has been very impressed with his culinary choices and has been pushing to have the same thing.  She can’t handle hot sauce though…she eats it, and then cries and desperately claws at her mouth like most of us would do in that situation.  However, she is desperate to have one just like her brother.  So, today it occured to me that she loves ketchup (that gene came from grandpa because Zach & I both dislike ketchup) so I pull out the ketchup along with the hot sauce when Zane wanted his snack.  Zora starts clapping.  The ketchup sandwich was a hit, although now I have two snacks that make me wonder where my children came from.  eeewwww.

posted in Food, The Kids | 4 Comments

23rd April 2008

Joy update

My SIL has a pacemaker, due to a surgical mistake when she had to have a heart defect repaired in her late teens/early 20s.  The last year or so she has been having some problems and was told that the pacemaker battery was dying and was originally told that they would have to crack her chest open to change the battery (or replace the pacemaker to a more modern one).  Besides the obvious discomfort of that, she is so prone to infection and has been in surgery so many times that there was a genuine fear she would not make it out of the hospital if that came to pass.

She got a new Pediatric Cardiologist in KC who gave her the good news that he could accomplish the same surgery without cracking the ribcage, just a small incision.  Great News!  Earlier this week she went up to KC for her pre-op appointment and testing, expecting to have surgery soon.  However, the cardiologist discovered that her pacemaker was actually fine.  The problems she was having that everybody thought was the pacemaker is actually the pacemaker reacting to something her heart is doing. 

She has been sent home and is on some sort of monitor all the time so that it can record any cardiac events to try and pinpoint the problem.  She has to wear it until they get a reading that gives them a better idea of what is going on.  Nobody really knows right now if this is something that is manageable with a medication change, or whether it is another surgical fix, or if it is fixable at this point. 

It is pretty scary, she is having more than just fatigue, and is actually either passed out, or come close to it a few times (not sure if she totally lost conciousness, but I think it is close if not).  She is so young.  This is SO not fair.

Prayers are welcome. 

posted in Extended Family, Health | 2 Comments

22nd April 2008

on the net, discipline



posted in Clicky | Comments Off

22nd April 2008

Working title of Zach’s Thesis

Flexible Autonomous Robotic Task Scheduling using Advanced RISC Machines.



posted in School, Zach | 3 Comments

21st April 2008

Learnin’ the Language

First Zane. 

Not so much “cute” as sort of amazing.  Today when Zach was getting the kids out of the car at Dillons, he first unbuckled Zane, expecting him to climb out of the seat and the car.  He went around and undid Zora, and Zane had unthreaded his arms, but hadn’t gotten out of the seat.  Zach told him to get out of the car, and Zane said “I’m waiting for Zora”.  It sounds so normal, but it was the first time he had said anything like that.  Yeah Zane!

Now Zora. 

“toot” = cute
“d, d” (along with the ’sign’ of holding out her palm and drawing with her pointer finger) = draw
“why why” = water
“d, d” = donuts, if they are seen in the house
“eat” (with ’sign’ of pointing to her teeth, and getting right in your face) = of course, eat. “eye” is also said correctly
“moof” = mouth
“node” = nose (said like you have a really bad cold)
“die-ya, die-ya” = daddy, when he is in Zane’s room (not sure why she just says it those times though, the rest of the time it is daddy)
“butt” (along with the ’sign’ of holding her hands out like a steering wheel and opening and closing her fists) = buttons? wants to play a video game with daddy and Zane…actually, hold the controller so she thinks she is playing a game)

all animals, except dog, are called by their sound instead of name.  If you try and correct her, she gives you a look like you have grown two heads.  so…

“baa, baa” = sheep
“nay nay” = horse
“quack quack” = chicken/duck/bird in general I think
“unk unk” = pig

And the one I know we will look back at fondly, but by the end of the day I am soooooo tired of hearing is “stuck”, said as “tuck” about half the time.  It is used for the obvious situations, when something gets stuck on something, or her foot gets caught in something, ect.  However, it is also used for when she wants us to get up and do something…if we aren’t up *right now*, she pulls on our hands and declares us “stuck”.  Or when I am on the phone, and she wants the phone and tries to grab it from me and I don’t let go, it is “stuck”, or if the door won’t close completely, or won’t open, or she can’t move a chair, or get clothes off, or she wants the baby gate in Zane’s room moved so she can get in there, or she wants out of the car seat…she is “stuck”.  *sigh*

And finally, today Zora shocked the heck out of Zach (and me when he told me).  He was wearing his “Google” shirt and she came up to him, points to the letters and says:  “gee, oh, oh, gee, llll (the sound), eat”.  *jawdrop* (and a giggle at “eat” for “e”) I know where Zane figured out the letters at this age (actually younger) because he was obsessed with letters and was writing out the alphabet and said the letters by this age, but he had the luxury of being the first child and had parents who had time to sit with just him for hours on end.  Zora doesn’t get that as much, and isn’t obsessed with the alphabet, so it was a total shocker to hear that coming out of her mouth.  Maybe I will have two early readers.


posted in Autistic Life, Language Development, Zane, Zora | 2 Comments

21st April 2008


Zach finished his programming and was planning on running a test on the robots this afternoon after he taught his class.  If all went well, it would be an hour at the most.  Once he was done testing them, he can start with the actual writing part.  (he has copious notes, so it is more a matter of arranging everything in the correct format).  He went to the Robotics lab and the Robots were gone.  He couldn’t get in touch with the thesis advisor/professor, who is the person in charge of the Robotics lab, but after a search, found another one of the grad students.  He discovered that the advisor decided to take ALL of the robots to a conference to do a demonstration with them.  He won’t be back until Friday.  He didn’t tell Zach he was going (he got the impression it was a last minute thing, and it was just an oversight, not intentional). 

If he waits for the robots to return, he won’t have time to write the thesis and defend it before next Wed (9 days from now).  That means he has to write his thesis assuming that it works, then revise as necessary after the robots return on Friday.  Ugh. 

posted in School, Zach | 3 Comments

21st April 2008


If you look closely at the picture, on her right side of her bangs she has a little pink butterfly jaw clip.  It is the first time she has left in a hair do-dad for longer than 3 seconds.  She requested to have it put in, but every other time she has done it, she immediatly removes it.  This time it stayed, all the way through church and for a while after church.  Yeah!  I am happy.  Hopefully she will be more willing to wear cute hair stuff now.

Zora and her “bubberby” clip in the morning before church

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posted in Zora | 2 Comments

20th April 2008

Birthday party and Church

The Party on Saturday 

Robert’s middle child turned 8.  The gaggle of boys were really loud and rowdy, and Zane came to the backyard to be with the girls instead.  They shared wagon rides and then helped Dori plant tomatoes and cucumbers, then water the garden.  I think they enjoyed the garden more than the rest of the party.

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Church today.

Finally, everybody was well enough to resume the Sunday School project for Zane.  I felt really good about it when we were done with the hour.  Every time I go to the Kid’s Ministry stuff I am left more and more impressed, and both kids seem to love it.  I couldn’t be more pleased with the whole program and the people I have met there.

However, the worship service was sooo bad.  The songs were annoying at best, weird melodies that I didn’t recognize and couldn’t figure out the alto/tenor parts to be able to sing (and the soprano lead was beyond squeaky for me) and just seemed uninspired.  The sermon taught me a lesson in patience and the ability to resist temptation.  (the temptation to chuck the hymnal at the preacher, a first for me).  I just spent most of the sermon wondering if the guy ever actually studied biblical history and understood what the original documents say instead of the outdate, narrow interpretations of them.  I am used to educated, intelligent ministers who, even if I don’t agree with them, at least are reasonably logical.  This guy was out to lunch.  I am not sure if I even want to go to another worship service there at this point. 

As much as I want to, I will probably keep going for a bit to see if this is a fluke, or if it is the norm.  I need to exercise patience and see if it improves.  We will be able to go to a different service or Sunday School after Zane is mainstreamed into the Sunday School program, so I need to just hold my horses right now.  I was hoping to be able to take Zane into the main service and get him accustomed to it, and this is the only reasonable option for that right now. (there is a service before his Sunday School, but I don’t want to wear him out in the big service before SS,  so I need to give him time to adjust to SS first, then we can go to the earlier service without it causing as much difficulty for him).

*sigh*  I wish I could combine the University or Chapel Hill service with the program at the MB church.  Right now, it is more important that the kid’s needs get met than ours though, so I will have to just suck it up and deal.  At least it does accomplish one thing very well…stimulates lots of discussion in the car afterwards.  lol

posted in Autistic Life, Birthday, Church, Friends, Garden | Comments Off

18th April 2008

Blah, and more Blah

Still feeling a bit on the yucky side, so everything seemed harder than it had to be today.   Last night a cough kicked in and destroyed my night’s sleep.   I drug myself through Zane’s ST, then his Reading Explorers, then tried to take a nap (coughing still, so it wasn’t really successful), dragged myself to his ST for the evening, then came back home to a girl child who still hadn’t taken a nap and was acting like it.  I finally got into the shower this evening at 9, and while standing there I realized I was missing the Autism Parent’s meetup group and just about started crying.  Then, I put Zora to bed, fell asleep next to her for about an hour in an awkward position, only to wake up and have my shoulder and back throbbing.  As I was getting some ibuprofin for my shoulder/back, Zach informs me that we aren’t going to be moving out to the west coast because the place he was interviewing didn’t feel like they could “find the right fit” for him.  Now, I didn’t really want to move out to the west coast, but I did really want the job because he would have loved it.  So, there are mixed feelings about that.  I am just starting to get a little stressed out “what happens after May”.  *sigh*

posted in Autistic Life, Health, Me, Money, ST, The Kids | 2 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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  • Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. — John 14:27

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