Taking the Scenic Route

Zora and the Twee Sew-cuws

30th November 2008

Zora and the Twee Sew-cuws

After the tree was up, Zora insisted that we come downstairs with her, and we couldn’t understand what she wanted for a bit because she just kept saying “twee sew-cuws” over and over. She drug Zach downstairs into the school room (where we keep all the craft supplies) and pointed out a specific pair of scissors, the crayons, the tape, and colored paper and directed his choice of colors. We finally figured out that she wanted to make a circle garland for the tree. I started cutting strips and handing them to Zach and Zora to decorate. She was enthusiastic.

This garland is serious business

Zach, entertaining himself, made a mobius strip garland

Zora demonstrated how much she loved it

Zach continues to deviate from the garland

In Zora’s world, everything is better with tape.

Over my shoulder, Zane is listening to Mario Videos, his current obsession.

Zora grabs the camera for a bit and takes a few blurry pictures of me (yeah…don’t need to see me close up right now, so we are skipping those photos) and attempts to take some of Zach, but keeps getting the table instead. Finally I help her lift the front of the camera a bit as she is yelling “cheese” over and over to Daddy and he ducks down into the frame, to get this hilarious shot

posted in Autistic Life, Crafts, Zane, Zora | 1 Comment

30th November 2008

The tree

Open the box, put on the hats

She was delighted when she saw the “Christmas Costumes”

Tree top

He wanted this up high, so Zora couldn’t reach it. I am just glad he decided this wasn’t a good idea instead of trying to lean over to put it on the tree from the top of the desk. lol.

Angel with the Angel

The season has officially begun!

posted in Christmas, The Kids | 4 Comments

30th November 2008

After-effects of being around people

The guys:

The girl:

posted in Autistic Life, The Kids | Comments Off

30th November 2008

Holiday Weekend was good

Nothing particularly dramatic, but just a nice holiday with the family. On Thursday we went out to my parent’s farm for a big turkey dinner. Mom & Dad, Maternal Grandma, Steve & the four of us. The food was great, the atmosphere was comfortable, and the conversation was good. The kids had fun playing on the piano and with the remote control car. I didn’t get a many pictures because my camera died while taking a picture of the pies, but the memories are nice.

Friday we mostly cleaned and hung around the house. Robert came over in the evening and we watched tv and the guys did some programming. Saturday we went to Exploration Place late morning for the Little Explorers workshop. This weeks theme was something about Christmas bells and the kids played a song on hand chimes and learned about the clapper in the bells. Zane rode the merry-go-round on his own again this week and was grinning ear to ear. Zora still needed Daddy to stand nearby (she is too little to get on by herself anyway) but was thrilled too.

Sunday was the big reunion for my Dad’s family (his siblings and all of their kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids). It was great to see everybody, naturally. Zora and her second cousin, born 2 weeks earlier, played together quite a bit. Zane and another of the second cousins who was just a bit older than him played a game of “Trouble” (the one where you press a dome to turn the dice and then move your pegs around the board). We don’t know how that started (we assume the other cousin initiated it and somehow showed Zane how to play) but it was pretty exciting for us to see him playing a game with somebody. He spent most of the time playing his Nintendo DS because he was starting to get overwhelmed and wanted to go home.

The siblings and their spouses. Howard & Joyce, Gordon & Annie, Larry & Teresa.

Wish this one were less blurry, but I love it anyway

Playing a game

The girls

Zane working on “Princess Peach”. He accidently erased his game history on the game the night before and was having to replay a bunch of levels.

We did find our thoughts turning to Zach’s Dad through the weekend. He is very missed. Our prayers went out to my sMIL and Zach’s siblings who are used to his actual presence (instead of just long phone calls) on the holidays. I am sure as much as we were feeling the loss, it had to be much more immediate for them.

posted in Autistic Life, Extended Family, Thanksgiving, The 2 Opas (J's Parents), The Kids | Comments Off

27th November 2008

19 years ago

-”Harlem Nights” was playing at Cinema’s East, which hasn’t existed for years and is now a bicycle shop.
-”Jimmy’s Diner” had burger baskets for about $2 each, and that still exists.
-Zach drove at night for the first time in a 1966 Mercedes Benz that blew a rod a few months later
-We had our first date

Love you honey. It’s been a blink. Really.

posted in Zach & Jennifer | 6 Comments

27th November 2008

What are you doing Mama?

Imagine my utter shock when Zane came up and asked me this today while I was starting some soup for supper, and again later when I was adding turnip greens to the soup. And again later when I was rolling out pie dough.

I think he asked me that a total of five times today. He has NEVER asked me that before, but went out of his way to see what I was doing and ASK ME. Woah. Very cool.

Even cooler…he waited and listened to my answer, and sometimes asked again (which I realized was his way of asking for more information, not just re-asking the same question).

He also tried to change his own pull-up today (a poopy one) and wipe himself. He did this once or twice when he did the enzymes, but never since. In fact, he usually denies a dirty pullup because it annoys him to stop what he is doing to be changed. He just doesn’t care if it needs to be changed. Today he cared enough to do it himself. I hope this is a trend. Until he has more solid stools, I can’t take him out of pull-ups, but I have been trying for YEARS to get him to treat pullups like underwear so that we can at least not go through as many of them and get him on the road to learning how to use the bathroom, but he has never really cared before. This is new, and it is good.

I think we will definitely keep up the Nystin and probably move to doing a systemic anti-yeast sometime in the coming weeks. Oh, and probiotics too. He isn’t eating yogurt with any reliability now days, so I will have to get a supplement for him, but I have two that look good right now and will be trying one of them as soon as he is off the antibiotics for the ear infection. Maybe we are finally on our way to solving the bowel issues. I hope.

posted in Autistic Life, Biomed, Language Development | 1 Comment

27th November 2008

The semester ends…sort of

We get speech at two different places: Heartsprings twice a week with a professional SLP (20 minutes…way too short in my opinion), and WSU twice a week with a student SLP under the direction of a Clinical Educator (a professional SLP). That one is an hour session, which is much more appropriate to me.

The student SLPs are, naturally, still learning and often pretty rough around the edges, especially at the beginning of the semester. Usually, by about halfway through the semester, they are pretty good, even if they started out making me want to bang my head against the observation window in the beginning. Every semester until this one, it was just a matter of trying to find that balance between having a good lesson plan and remembering that the session is about the kid, not the lesson plan. (something that I myself struggled with when I started homeschooling Zane, so I can really relate at how difficult it is to stay in the moment when you are trying to direct learning on a specific topic). The underlying personalities, although very different from each other, were all pretty engaging and were able to develop a good rapport with Zane. They learned to read him well enough to keep him engaged and learning.

I had high hopes at the beginning of the semester. The person assigned to Zane was not only a parent, but had been a social worker who worked in the Juvenile system for years. She had qualifications far above any other student I have had before. The first sessions were pretty rough, but I assumed it would get better, like in my previous experience, because the CE always gives good direction and helps them see where to tweak things to make it more effective.

Over the years, I have actually gone from just watching Zane, to watching the SLP students and learning how to improve my own teaching skills and ways to teach some of the concepts and scaffold learning for him. I knew how Zane was going to react usually, but learning from a professional the theories and techniques they use has been incredibly valuable. Teaching communication issues is a whole different ballgame than teaching math for me. Math is easy. It doesn’t really require verbal language, and can be taught, and learned, with just visual language. Teaching language and communication, both verbal and non-verbal, is much more challenging to me. It forces me to think in new and creative ways. I would love to take some of the classes they take, but you can’t aske for a better classroom than the real life lab I live in. lol. I would still have a lot to learn if I ever had to teach different kids, but I am becoming a serious expert on how to teach Zane, and a lot of that information would be applicable.

Unlike other semesters, this student didn’t take direction. At all. She does things that don’t have anything to do with the goals (which are not written willy-nilly), she made it ALL seem like work (not that it has to all be play based at this age, but it shouldn’t be such drudgery either), and she somehow managed to have a flatter affect than Zane. You know what, it takes some effort to have a flatter affect than an autistic kid who is really working on stuff he doesn’t enjoy. After I watched her a while, it also occurred to me that if this were a professional situation, where she is expected to be alone with children for the session (especially in school settings where there aren’t observation mirrors), I would not be comfortable with her being my child’s therapist. There was something about her that made me think she could just snap at any moment. It might not be fair to make that assessment, but my instincts had kept me at the observation window all through the semester, despite Zora’s protests, instead of walking around the building and goofing off with Zora when she didn’t want to be in the observation area any more.

On the plus side, she did teach me a lot this semester. It really helped me to tweak my own teaching to see, in living color, why you do certain things and how much less effective and less fun it is for him when those things aren’t in place. It really taught me the importance of proper scaffolding and keeping him engaged. I also learned how important it is to let Zane know what was expected of him. She would give no indication of how many more trials she was going to do and he (or those of us observing) would sit there wondering when certain sections were going to end.

I was also impressed with how much Zane has matured. In past semesters, some of the things she did would have had him screaming and, literally, under the table. If she had been his person in previous semesters, it would have been completely pointless because she barely had any control as it was, and she didn’t even have him leave the room the entire semester if I recall correctly.

The frustrating part was that I didn’t feel comfortable really telling her how I felt because I just had a feeling that Zane would be the one who paid for it. I tried to positively reinforce the few things that were going right, and gently comment on things that could be changed to make things go more smoothly, but she wasn’t really listening to me either. (or she was hearing what she wanted to hear, not what I was saying). I am usually pretty assertive too, which made me even a little surprised at my own reaction. I felt like I was back in “small town” mode where you maintain a ridiculous amount of civility because you know you have to work with the people later, even if you want to just blast them.

For whatever reason, she was pulled as Zane’s therapist this week. I don’t know the particulars, and I don’t need to know, but I am relieved. Although I feel bad for her, because I am sure she is a nice person, I really sort of hope that she is out of the program too. It is one thing to be inexperienced and rough around the edges, but if you are unwilling to take direction and learn, you really shouldn’t be working with kids in a professional setting. These kids need you to be constantly striving to improve and modify your methods, even if you have been doing it for 30 years. If you aren’t willing to take direction at 2 months into it, it is pretty certain you aren’t going to be seeking to improve yourself years down the road. Nobody knows everything there is to know about a subject, at any level. As soon as you think you do, you should get out.

So, now I get the Clinical Educator as the interim therapist, and a new student is basically going to start their Spring semester early and get in a few hours at the end of this semester. (they have to get a total number of clinical hours in several areas to graduate). It is sort of a mess, but I really love the CE and don’t mind this transition AT ALL. (in fact, I would love it if she were the therapist, but she became a CE to have a more broad effect than 1-1 with kids, so I know that it won’t last, but I will enjoy it while it does).

It is a great program, and I really love the academic environment, but great programs have to self-correct to keep up the quality. Not every person is going to make it in this field, and it is MUCH better to figure that out at this level than after they get into the school system. (where a large portion of STs find work) If it was going to happen, I am glad it happened with me because I have had enough good experiences there to have the patience to see it through. It also happened at a time that helped Zane in other ways…tolerating a less than ideal environment being one. He wouldn’t have had the maturity to handle it sooner, and this helped him learn to cope with it better. It is a sort of sucky way to have to learn it, but a valuable lesson none the less.

posted in Autistic Life, ST, Zane | 2 Comments

25th November 2008

I need to find out what Peter Schiff is saying now

Because here are several interviews that he did over 2006-2007 where the other financial advisors laughed at him. In particular, they recommended a series of stocks that are “sure things” of a bunch of companies that no longer exist. It is frightening how right this guy was.

Oh, and I will never believe another word Ben Stein says.

posted in In the News | 1 Comment

25th November 2008

Lunch, Soupy goodness

Every once in a while lunch just comes together and I make healthy food good enough to actually enjoy. Today was such a day, so I figured I should write it down so I can try for a repeat sometime.

I think I ended up making something that resembles Borscht, but I have never eaten Borscht (because it always has onions in it and I am allergic to onions), so I can’t really judge if it actually tastes like Borscht, but it was tasty.

1 can of diced tomatoes, including liquid
1 can of shoestring beets, including liquid
1 can of black-eyed peas (well rinsed to make me easier to be around later)
a large half of a turnip green bunch (I just stuck them in the sink to rinse, then took them directly out of the colinder and tore them up and threw them on top until no more would fit)
about half an apple grated onto the top (ok, this was an afterthought. Zora left a half eaten apple on the table and I thought it might add some sweetness)
Later on, when I realized it looked like Borscht, I threw in a few glugs of vinegar, maybe a quarter to half a cup. I would guess that apple cider vinegar would be good, but I just used the plain stuff from my laundry shelf.
About half way through cooking, I added a layer of dill (probably 1-2 tsps)
a generous dash of cayenne pepper
a dash of margorham
a dash of ground cloves.

I have very little idea of how long it cooked (long enough for me to be on hold with our health insurance, the pharmacy, me to build a sand castle and play a short game of soccer…maybe an hourish, maybe more. I basically waited until the turnip greens were soft enough to chew through.

Zane, naturally, wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole, but Zora sat on my lap and ate half of my first bowl, declaring it “YUMMY!” (of course, if she would have had her own bowl, she wouldn’t have eaten it *sigh*). I was pleasantly surprised. I managed to make a vegan, healthy dish that I actually wanted “seconds” of. Cool beans.

posted in Food | Comments Off

22nd November 2008

Pumpkin Saturday

This week there was no program at Exploration Place, so Robert came over with his kids so that we could help him turn his pumpkins into pies while the kids played together. They guys played on the computer, watched Wall-E, and ran around outside.

Watching a Movie

Here we are turning baked pumpkin into strained pumpkin the easy way. We let the fiberous part drop off into the blender so that we could run it through and make it easier to use in breads and cookies later, and use the good stuff for the pies.

Zora helped hold the blender pitcher.

The guys were laughing at the pumpkin in the cheesecloth because it kept sounding like it was peeing. lol

Hard at work

The littlest nerds playing a game together on the computer.

While the pies were baking, Zach worked on my computer for a while to replace the power supply (I think) so that my computer would quit crashing.

By the end of the day we had two meals together, baked 6 pies, and had enough extra pumpkin for many cookies and muffins when he took it home. The kids wore each other out and Zora was asleep before we got the call from them that they had made it home safely. It was a great day.

posted in Computers, Cooking, Food, Friends | 1 Comment

  • Zane's age

  • Zane is 15 years, 11 months, and 22 days old
  • Zora's age

  • Zora is 11 years, 11 months, and 26 days old
  • Random Quote

  • Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people. — Fred Rogers

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