Thursday, October 11, 2007

Monsters and Dinosaurs

Wow have we had a busy couple of days. Went to a children's museum a little ways from here. The museum itself is a totally fun place of course. But, for Pooh the cool thing was seeing the IMAX film on Sea Monsters (of the prehistoric variety). I even yelped a couple times when the huge things looked like they were going to gobble us up by coming out of the movie screen. I thought Tigger would be the one to get nervous, but it turned out that Pooh was a little scared. Interesting. I've also noticed that Pooh has started putting his hands over his ears for loud noises again lately. Public bathrooms, loud movies, etc. I'll have to mention that to his Naturopath next time I talk to her. He hadn't been doing it that much for a year or two. Hmmmm. Next we went to a Nature Museum and had a nice time in the butterfly pavilion and learning about above ground and underground animals.

Then, today, we had the privilege of seeing the AWESOME show "Walking With Dinosaurs". Man, they really did a good job. They were so life-like. The T-Rex came out at the end and was of course the loudest. LOL We were with a homeschool group and everyone enjoyed the show, from the teenagers to the little kids. I definately recommend it. We were able to get in on a special rate because they had one show made for school kids with a super reduced rate. (Disclaimer--the show is set up heavy on evolution, so those of you don't go that route in teaching will have to use your own discretion. We just discussed afterwards that scientists make lots of "guesses" and only God knows the truth about what they looked like and what happened to them.)

Tigger says he's going to be a "pagoloshist" he he. Both boys will definately be on a dinosaur kick for a little while. That I know. Guess I need to go get out their box of toy animals so they can reenact some fighting scenes. Carnivour vs. Herbavour next on Boys Gone Wild.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I'm Back!!

Well, I'm back, I hope. That was a longer break than I was expecting. There was a lot going on around here. We had great days at the pool. Pooh decided one day that he was ready to swim without his water wings. He just took off!! It made me a little nervous at first because he was even swimming in the deep end and jumping off the diving board---the first day!!!! But he did great and we were sooo proud of him. He was very proud of himself too. We used that opportunity to express how practicing helps to learn something new and sometimes it takes a lot of practice.

We also had the kids party. It was an Outerspace theme. The King and I made space packs out of soda bottles, cereal boxes and aluminum foil. They were a hit. We planted "moon rocks" around the yard (pieces of candy covered with foil) and the kids went on a moon rock hunt. We also found a rocket sprinkler at Walmart on sale. That thing was a big hit. It shoots 16 feet into the air. The kids had fun spraying each other. I'll be getting that water bill soon. :O I also made an earth cake and little alien ship cupcakes with icing aliens. It was my first time making my own icing and coloring it for decorating. It turned out pretty good. Even though it all took about 4 hours to do. Thankfully, my mom kept the boys for the two nights before the party so I could finish all the preparation. Boy, was I tired by the end of it all.

We have been on an RDI hold for the past couple of months due to finances. The King will find out this week whether or not he still has a job. Ugh. We went thru this last year and it's no fun. I haven't been doing much videoing lately and I need to get back to that. It makes me concentrate on the RDI and plan what I'm going to do next. It seems like I've been concentrating so much on implementing some of Charlotte Mason's homeschooling method, that the RDI is getting pushed aside. I need to find more of a balance with that.

That's a quick update for where we're at. My goal will be to update here a couple times a week and to fill in some of the holes as regards our homeschooling adventure over the last couple months.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Summer Days

I have a feeling that this month may be more hit and miss with blogging. We have been having some really nice days with friends to keep us busy in this summer weather. The boys have been invited to a few summer pool parties, several pool days, a nature hike and will be having their own annual summer party at the end of August. This year their party theme is Outer space. So I've got to get my booty in gear for the 24 boys this will involve. (I know. Call me insane. ) Tomorrow we are going to the zoo. Pooh has been asking to go for months, but it has been put off for one reason or another. With the relatively cooler weather we are having this week I thought it would be a good day to go.

RDI wise, I have gone ahead and sent a tape to our consultant to see how we're coming along with framing for roles. I think Pooh was responding well. I just found myself having to walk that fine line between not being the director and also not over compensating for him. I'll wait for the consultant's feedback before blogging anymore on that area.

In getting that new washer and dryer I've talked about, I neglected to mention that this involved tearing everything out of our laundry closet. It is now all sitting in the middle of what was my newly reorganized basement. I'm not happy about this AT ALL! The reason for the chaos is that we decided to have our machines stacked instead of side by side. This meant taking out the generic shelves we had put up when we moved in 4 years ago. We are going to get some type of wire shelving system from Lowe's, but need to measure and go there together (together is the key with men and hardware stores) to decide which system will work. The laundry closet walls are a mixture of the cement block used in basements and drywall. It's never easy. I'm probably looking at another whole week before I get things back together. Meanwhile, I have to keep the boys from destroying any of the boxes sitting on the floor.

I love my new machines though!!!! They are the coolest. LOL I do notice how much cleaner the clothes look coming out of the front loader. They take longer in the washer but are spun so well, even a full load of towels only takes about 40 minutes to dry. Maybe my utility bills will go down. Wouldn't that be nice! I have been making my own laundry soap for a few months now. But I decided to change what I was doing. I had been making a liquid laundry soap and now I'm switching to a powder one. I like it better. I think I'm going to try selling it locally. It is great for anyone wanting to Go Green and/or chemically sensitive. Making an extra little bit of money here or there would really help. We'll see how it goes. Oh and this soap works perfectly with the new HE machines. Very low sudsing.

Well, I better start heading for bed. The zoo is a lot of walking, so I need to hit the hay!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Laundry and TV

Media and the Mind I read this post from a blogger I just happened to visit-not one I was normally reading (but I will now). I really appreciate how she put into a brief synopsis so much of what I've been reading lately. I've been hearing of this book "Endangered Minds" but haven't read it yet. I HAVE read Waldorf's recommendations on getting rid of "media" ie TV, video games, computer games. RDI recommends cutting way back on screen time (their way of referring to the same things). It's really funny (not ha ha funny) how people can be so horrified at living life without TV. I know to a certain extent I used to be the same way. Live without shows?? You've got to be kidding me. I have actually lived without a TV on two separate occasions in my life. Once, when I moved out and out-of-state from my parents I lived for about 8 months with no TV. I was suffering from depression then, so really once I got the TV it didn't make much difference. I was still sucked into my void. The other time was when I moved into an apartment, right before the King and I got married. We lived without a TV for over a year I think. I got a lot more of my important reading done and the King got a lot more sleep. Now I've just got too much to do to be that interested in TV. Plus, programming has gone to pot. There are a lot of shows that I wouldn't want to be watching if I were watching TV. I seem to have a weakness each year for American Idol. (I just hate when they show commercials for junky shows during this time period. Please, my kids watch it with me!) And in the winter, the King and I do enjoy some of the Masterpiece Theater programs. (of course LOL) But that's been the extent of my TV habits the last few years. Sometimes, hubby will want me to watch a movie with him and I have to make myself sit down and watch something. I'd much rather be reading "Endangered Minds"!

Now with the kids, I'm trying to cut back on "screen time". I've told them that if they watch too much TV their little brains "wont' grow" ;D. We went a week with no TV last year. Pooh did a lot better than I thought he would. I had the days marked on the calendar and he did fine, except he just quoted the movies all day. We recently had to give the kids a No TV day because they had snuck an extra movie while we were doing yard work. I knew they had done it, but decided that instead of going in and confronting them about it, I would just call a No TV day instead. It worked. They promised to "never ever do it again". ;D At least, they got the point for now. No sneaking. We do have the rule that they have to ask first and I have to approve what they are going to watch.

Another thing I've been doing so far is having them pick the PBS shows they are going to watch in advance. We sort of have a little pow wow in the morning and they each tell me which show they want to watch for that day. That way I don't get asked 5 million times if they can watch this or that. They know what time the shows come on and Pooh definitely keeps track of the clock for that. If he misses the show he's picked while we are at home doing something, he will get upset. But, if we're out and about, he's much more mellow that "he'll see it another day." So, there's some flexibility there.

I think I mentioned before about how I've gone through their videos and donated a bunch to the library. That is one way of cutting down on clutter and the importance of hoarding all these movies. I like borrowing the movies from the library because I have a much larger variety there to have them choose from. They have to be turned in within a week too, so that means that there's an end to when they are available. We do still have some movies at home for family movie night, sick time, really bad weather, etc.

This is getting kind of long and I haven't even gotten to the laundry part yet. I'm going to have to do another Media post about what my future plans are too. So, the laundry portion of this is that yesterday we went shopping for our new washer and dryer. Yep, had to get a new set. There weren't any on Freecycle. (Sears had a nice sale, 12 months no interest, plus we had another 10% coupon. So I got a set of front loaders. Whoaaaa! They are cool! The dryer works faster than the washer. The complete opposite of what I had before. Go figure!)

Anyway, I know you're waiting to see what Laundry has to do with TV. Well, when we were talking to the appliance guy at Sears, I mentioned that all the new TV's were cool. You know, big flat screens and the colours are just amazing on them. Not that we were looking to buy, but just saying. He talks about how there was one on a really good sale. Then I made the comment that we only had one TV and we were trying to keep it that way. You should have seen his face. You would have thought I said we used an outhouse instead of a bathroom! It's funny and yet sad. When we did become a society that needed to have one TV per person in the house? It separates Mom and Dad watcing from the kids watching. I think the TV watching should be something planned. That way it helps control the amount of time one watches it and teaches compromise. Mom wants to watch Oprah-Kids want to watch Arthur? Compromise. Or better yet, go for a walk together.

There's so much out there besides TV. It's time to get out there and experience it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Laundromat RDI

My washing machine has really bit the dust this time. It needs a part, that IF it were available, would cost over $150. But, of course, our machine is too old and the part is "unavailable". sob sob That means that until we get another machine, I'm using a laundromat. ugh I forgot how expensive it is to wash clothes in those places. The three of us could've had a nice lunch at Panera for how much it cost to wash clothes on Monday. sigh

Anyway, I thought that since I had to drag the 3 of us and the clothes (and the baskets and the washing liquid, etc etc) over there and spend 3 hours doing it, I was going to make it worth the time. We did RDI stuff all over the place. Pooh helped carry the baskets-each of us taking one end and Regulating our way to the van, from van to the machine, from place back to the van, and from van back to the house. We also threw clothes in washers together, took them out together, put in dryer together. This involved him having to make sure the cart was where I needed it for the clothes. Helping open and shut doors. This I did with the current objective in mind. Thinking of all the steps and making sure it was a 50/50 project. We probably could have done more of that kind of stuff, but the kids were distracted by the VIDEO GAMES (big sigh) in there.

I also brought books so that we did some reading together too. I didn't want boredom to set in so I made sure we had the books and plenty of snacks and drinks. It wasn't so bad, but by the time I got home I needed a little "mommy-time" so I got my drink and sat at the computer to read other blogs. :D

Which brings to mind that HarvestMom is ending her blog on Jacob's Journey. Boo Hoo I got seriously teary eyed when I read this. For me, it was wonderful and yet I feel a little let down too. They have been doing RDI for three years now and just look at how far they've gotten!! She feels that they are on a normal developmental path. So in that way I'm cheering for them and for RDI. On the other hand, our journey is just beginning and I so hope that in a few years I can get to that same point. Starting RDI at age 9 with Pooh is so different from Jacob's starting at age 3. I try to remember that I can only look to what I need to do now. Not what I wish I knew and had done several years ago. I'm certainly conflicted inside about the whole thing. Not to say that I'm not absolutely thrilled for them at the same time. I'll still be reading at their regular family/home school blog Along the Crooked Path though so I'll be able to keep up with how things are going. I will miss all HarvestMom's good RDI insight. That's for sure. So, Good Wishes to them and all the other RDI families out there trying for remediation with their children. May we all have a great measure of success.

Shopping With Pooh

Sunday afternoon, Pooh and I went on our shopping expedition. I had to go to the Dollar Tree and Walmart. Not my favorite of stores, but we're on a tight budget. I tried to be aware of doing RDI-ish things while we were together. I would pass him things to put in the cart. We tossed a squishy ball back and forth in the Dollar Tree. He helped me put groceries on the conveyor belt. Sometimes, I would hand him the item, sometimes he would hand me the item, sometimes we took turns. I had to pause and wait for him to clue in many times, so it took a little longer than normal, but not much.

In Walmart, I gave him the grocery list and he checked off the items after I put them in the cart. He's not really reading yet, so I helped point to the words if he didn't get it. He practiced his math skills by counting up how many items were on the list and then gave me the countdown as we were going along. LOL

He, of course, helps haul in groceries once we get home. That's the heavy carrying proprioceptive work he needs.

Other RDI things you can do while shopping are: Referencing during produce picking=pick up apples and reference which ones are worthy of going in your bag. Co-Regulation=it's watermelon time so you might need "help carrying this huge watermelon". You can also regulate with pushing the cart at the store. Sometimes, we push it together. It's great to do this in the parking lot with a full load. It's heavier so you'll definitely notice if he's not doing his part. The cart will veer off course very quickly. Just make sure you do this away from other vehicles. ;D

We had a nice mother-son shopping excursion with much RDI friendly work. Definitely a productive afternoon.

Pool Day

Well, I as the mother didn't get in any official RDI pool time on Friday. BUT, I think Pooh did great RDI work with his cousins. They are older 17 and 12. There was also an 11 year old there. So, he was pretty much hanging out with that age group instead of Tigger, age 4 and his friend, age 5. This is the first year that Pooh has been willing to jump off the diving board into the deep end. Before that, it just made him too nervous. He still wears his wings, but other than that he's good to go. Even his wings are only about half inflated.

The cool thing I caught him doing was jumping off the diving board as a threesome. He and his cousins would all stand at the end of the board together, bouncing and counting to 3 and they would all jump holding on to one another. Talk about Regulation!!!! He was also playing some sort of game where they would toss each other into the pool. I saw him tossed on two separate occasions (gently, because his cousins know him well enough lol) and he handled it beautifully. There were no upsets at all.

Mom sat by the pool in the "too cool to swim" weather chatting it up with the other two moms there. We all had a great day!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Today's Co-Reg Activities

Today I hauled my poor tripod inside and outside. We cut flowers from the garden. We made a flower arrangement in a vase. We made a drawing that turned out to be a pirate. We bundled groups of lavender together to hang for drying. We dug up the garlic from the garden. That one was the best one of all of them. The reason being that sometimes in pulling up the garlic, the top came off without pulling up the bulb. So we had to get the shovel and get it out. I could tell Pooh felt very competent helping with that. The only thing that didn't work out so well was that he was hot. Therefore, he complained and fought doing the activities more than he would have normally.

Tomorrow we are heading to a friend's pool, so hopefully I can do some good co-reg activities there. I'm just not able to think of anything right now that involves many roles. But we'll see, maybe something will come to me tomorrow. I'll also have to gauge whether it's worth it with other kids there. He may be distracted by all the other with jumping, etc.

So now, I'm sitting in a house that smells of garlic and lavender. All for RDI. ;D

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pink Doughnuts

Pooh has been talking about doughnuts lately. He really wants to go back to a Krispy Kreme store near here that actually makes the doughnuts where you can see the whole process. In talking about it, he says he wants to get "pink doughnuts, because you like pink mommy." What?!? Blow me over, did he just express an interest in something I might want? I still have a hard time believing it. The thought processes it took to get him there is what amazes me. I had made a comment earlier about liking doughnuts, it's true. But then, on his own, he remembers that 1. I like pink (because I'm a girl. lol) 2. That doughnuts come in pink. (the icing at least) and 3. That he would decide to pick something I like instead of just saying what he wants???? I'm just amazed and proud that he's starting to think this way. Could it be all those joint regulation activities we've been doing? Goodness, if it is an effect of any of the RDI principles we've been implementing, all I can say is, Bring It On! I'm ready for more.

Before he said this we had a very cute interchange. Pooh brought up the last doughnuts I had bought at Wally World and was wondering who ate the last one. I wasn't saying anything, so he started questioning the family. Tigger didn't eat it, Daddy didn't eat it, it wasn't in the trash. "Mommy, did you eat the last doughnut?" I immediately shoved a forkful of dinner in my mouth and started mumbling. "What, mommy?" More mumbling. "What?" More mumbling. Each time with different inflections. "Mommy, I think you should finish your food and answer me. Did you eat the last doughnut?" Sigh, yes it was me.

Sometimes I really like doughnuts, with or without pink icing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Great Clean-Out

So this past weekend I went to work on filling up that 10x12 shed storage building the King and I put up the first weekend of July. It's now about 1/3 full. My basement (otherwise known as family room, laundry area, school room, etc) is now about 1/2 less full than before. It's also completely rearranged. I kept telling hubby that it was good to do all this decluttering just in the amount of dust we were able to clean up. It was a late spring cleaning for sure! I also got rid of 6 walmart bags full of paper from my office and completely cleaned and rearranged our living room. The basement looks great but still needs some organizing. I need some different clear containers to label for pens, markers, different activities for the kids, etc. I made a crash area near the kids bookshelves. This consists of large pillows then can lay on, wrestle on and sleep on. The tv got moved and I've gone thru most of their videos. There were two boxes full that I've gotten rid of. Some were returned to my sister, who gave many to me in the first place. Others will be donated to the public library. That way, if they really want to see them again, they know they can find the movies to watch. We like to get our movies from the library anyway. They're free (as long as you turn them in on time--super big plus for us) and there is usually something there for everyone. I also don't have to store the movies myself any longer.

Their homemade train table is going to be their main art area. So it's near the shelves of art supplies. I want them to be able to get out and create whenever they feel like it. There are special materials I'm keeping for "you ask first" only, but most things they should be OK with now that Tigger is a little older. I have plenty of copy paper that my hubby got for free. It's amazing what people are willing to throw out. Two huge boxes, one of which is going into the shed, of good size copy paper perfect for pre-k art.

The basement is so clean (compared to before--there are a couple of areas I still need to tackle) that I actually got out my beads last night and made a few pieces of jewelry. That's something I started about a year and a half ago. I've sold a few things, nothing big time. I've just rarely had the time to take my stuff out and get going on it. There's usually so much picking up I need to do. Hopefully, the reorganizing, decluttering and retraining of my children will help with all of that.

I'm so very happy and thankful that the King and I have been able to accomplish so much these last two weeks. It makes up for the months I've been waiting for this to happen.


We've made it to the end of our RDA and the end of our RCR blitzing. Yeah!! As it turns out, we are almost into new Stage 2. The last objective we have to work on with Stage 1 has to do with co-regulation. Pooh will have to identify his roles in an activity. What this involves is this. We, the parents, will be thinking of an activity, say baking cookies. Then, before we try to do the activity, we brainstorm all the different roles that go into that. This brainstorming is otherwise known as Framing. It's just basically pre-planning so that you don't start an activity and have it fall apart. You've thought of all that goes into the activity, what your objective is, how to target said objective, where it may breakdown, how you will repair the breakdown, etc. Even with all this Framing you may see breakdowns, but it should help prevent a lot of it.

So in Framing the activity baking cookies, I've thought of: Pan getter, ingredients getter, mixer, measurer, pourer, oven turner on-er, door opener, Pam sprayer, etc etc. Basically, all the roles that would be needed to complete the task. The goal is to then do the activity with Pooh, non-verbally as possible, and allow him to share 50/50 in taking the roles necessary in the activity. As the parent, I need to ensure I'm not having him do all the work with only me directing and also, that I'm not overcompensating by taking most of the roles for myself. It's supposed to be an Even-Steven kind of thing. So how does that work in a mostly non-verbal way?

In comes Scaffolding. I'll be using eye gaze to try to convey what he needs to do next. Say he needs to get the sugar from the pantry. If the eye gazing doesn't work, I can point in the general direction of the pantry. Say something along the lines of , "I like when cookies are sweet". I could go over and point to the pantry door where the sugar is. I could open the door. I want to do the least possible in my scaffolding to allow Pooh to understand what he's supposed to do next. This allows him to think for himself. We're leading him through the thought processes that he hasn't gotten to yet, but that are just the next step. He may need just mild hinting with some things and major hinting with others. (Hinting is my term, not an RDI term. :D)

So do you think that this sounds like an awful lot of work? It is and it isn't to me. It is because, yes, you have to sit and think about what you're going to do, when you're going to do it, for how long and make sure you're relaxed and declarative during the whole process. The "whole process" of baking cookies is going to take a lot longer because of the way we must target the roles in our co-regulation. But then, RDI is all about slowing down your whole life in order to allow for the development necessary for autism remediation. I also need to figure out what I can do about Tigger right now. His brain works faster, of course, than Pooh's does and I'm going to have to do different activities with the two of them. On the other hand, when you see things clicking in their brains and you know it's leading to development of the core deficits of autism, the work is sooooo worth it. And I also can see that what we're doing is really setting up for future learning. All these basic steps that others with typical kids take for granted, are necessary for us to go through. I can't wait to get really going with all of this.

Oh and the other thing that ought to be interesting, is figuring out how to video tape all of this. Hopefully, the good stuff will be in the camera's range. I've already had a couple of things be out of camera range that were soooo good, I wanted our consultant to see them. But, asi es la vida. or C'est la vie. Whichever floats your boat. ;D Besides, she's called me tripod woman. Which I am, I drag that tripod everywhere I can. The only way we've been able to video anything is with that tripod. Necessary RDI ingredient!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Nature Hike

Today we went to a local state park for a hike around the top. It is a .8 mile hike. It was a beautiful day. A little warm but was saved by a good breeze. The boys seemed to have a good time. We packed a picnic lunch that they helped prepare and plenty of water. We also packed their sketchbooks and color pencils. They were already familiar with these sketchbooks because earlier in the year we had called them "memory books". They would pick one thing each day to draw as a memory of that day. Sometimes it would be something from one of their books, like Blueberry Hill from Blueberries for Sal. Other days, it would be something they had seen at a museum we had gone to, like the python.

Today they drew something from their hike. We saw lots of ants, so that was one thing Pooh drew besides the mountain. Tigger actually drew Pooh climbing the mountain. The thing that Pooh drew which amazed me was the tree we had seen that had grown like a bench. It curved enough for about 3 people to sit on it before it aimed itself up again. Evidently, he thought that was cool. And I agree with him.

We talked about how i would like to visit different hiking trails. We could maybe find some with streams and waterfalls. The boys love water so that went over well.

RDI wise, I tried to keep the day as declarative as possible. Just sort of stating things i saw or giving a big exclamation "OH" and then looking at Pooh. Sometimes he would respond and other times he would just say "yeah, come on, let's go." He stopped and observed with me some type of lizard and a blue-tailed salamander. (I'm going to have to get some books so we can learn the names of these creatures) He was extremely fascinated with the ants. There were black ones, red ones, big ones and little ones. He spotted one that was carrying a big dead bug of some kind.

All in all, it was a positive experience. Several times, Pooh told me unprompted, "This was a good hike, mommy." I'm thinking about having this be a weekly activity. Travel to different trails, state parks, regular parks, etc. We'll definitely have to visit this same place in the fall. That's when the different raptors come and soar all around the top near the lookout areas. I love watching them ride the wind currents. The park had a poster up about the different raptors that visit. Pooh seemed interested so this will be an autumn activity for us.

The other nice thing about hiking is that it actually wears Tigger out. His bounciness was incredibly diminished and he's currently sleeping like a log. Now I'm off to do the same.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

He's Flirting With Me!

Pooh and I were doing turn taking by loading mulch into the wheelbarrow with a pitchfork. The first wheelbarrowful went without much incident. The next time he started by saying that he was only going to do it one time. He then left after he only scooped once. He stays within sight though and I had him break down the pile with me hand over hand creating an avalanche. He did another pitch forkful. So I kept doing more myself. Then realized that he was on the other side of the pile saying something along the lines of "mommy, can't see me and I'm not doing it anymore" I looked over at him, gestured with the pitchfork and smiled. He came right over and did another scoop!! He started flirting in the sense of he knew I was going to have him help me and just waited until I smiled and played with him before he came over.

And yes, this is great improvement. Before it would have been. "Nope, I'm not helping." "I'm getting out of here." "That's it!" All yelling and attitude.

Today, he flirted with me. happy sigh

My Nature Boys

You know, I've been very perplexed in reading about Charlotte Mason education, how I was going to get my boys interested in nature study. With Pooh, it has been very difficult to interest him in much of anything nature-wise. Oh, once in a while he has gotten hold of a subject and verbally beat it to death. For instance, bees. He watched a magic school bus video on bees and honey-making and has repeated it the facts he learned from it over and over and over and over and over and, well, you get the idea. I must preface this story with the fact that he does like spiders and has known about Black Widows for a while, but I think he really enjoyed a "nature study" event today.

Often, in our yard work, the King and I discover black widows. And yes, although I allow most things to live, I do kill these. (Not to get too far off the subject here, but a science center nearby informed us that they are not native and they have invaded our state too well to even think of eradication. So i feel slightly justified in killing them. They're not supposed to be here anyway. And if it's them or my kids, I choose the kids. At least most days. LOL) Anyway, we discovered several today and most were guarding their egg sacs. The kids loved seeing them and watching daddy "take care of things" (I'll try not to use the word "kill" anymore, for those of you inclined to save all living creatures). We discussed why we had to "take care of" the egg sacs as well as the spider. The next thing I knew, Pooh was coming out with a colored pencil drawing of a black widow, complete with hourglass spot. Then a few minutes later, here comes Tigger, not to be outdone with his own 4-legged black widow and accompanying egg sac. They were so cute. I thought, maybe we can do this nature study stuff after all.

Tigger was also completely fascinated with worms today. Even touched and held them. Something he wouldn't do before. He, unfortunately killed (oops, i mean "took care of") a couple of them by trying to push them into tunnels he had dug for them. We discussed how they had to do their own wiggling and tunneling for themselves. I took a couple of pictures of him with his worms. He even touched a big fat slug! He's braver than I am, that's for sure.

Both boys decided today that they were going to be scientists. Pooh will be a black widow scientist and Tigger is planning on a general insect science.

Of course, Tigger has changed his future jobs a lot lately. He went from wanted to be a builder and working at Lowe's Home Improvement to being a fire fighter just this week. Now he's going to be a scientist. Wouldn't it be cool if we got to do all the jobs we dream up as kids??

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A Must Read (or Listen-You Choose)

The Tale of Despereaux is just fabulous. I think I enjoyed it more than the kids. We listened to an unabridged version on cd in the van. The only thing that kept me from making excuses to take off for a long trip to hear the story, was the gas prices. Otherwise, we would have been heading for the beach for a nice long story. LOL I am not, by nature, patient when it comes to a good book. Even a bad book for that matter. I usually end up reading the end first, then come back and read the whole thing over. Most times I'll read a book two times in a row just to make sure I caught all the good parts and to savor them once more. So when i actually get my hands on a real paper and binding copy of this book, I'll probably read it at least three times within the first week. Did I mention that I read fast too?

Pooh was really trying to pay attention to the story. We would discuss little pieces of it here and there. Sort of a narration. I wanted to see how much he understood. He got a little confused over who was human vs who was an animal. He thought Miggerly Sow was a mouse for instance. Tigger was fascinated by Roscuro. In fact, he saw a book about Ratatouille the other day and said "Mommy, he looks like, ummm, hmmm," I said "Roscuro?" "Yeah, mommy, he looks like Roscuro, that bad rat."

So, if you can, read or listen to this book. I found it at our local library. Your children will thank you for a great story with adventure, near death experiences, kindness, hate, deceit, good morals and most of all beautiful language. It's well written. No twaddle for any of you Charlotte Mason fans. And if you do get the audio version, a wonderful voice to listen to. His name was Graeme something or other.

I just melted in a puddle of literary bliss.

What Day Is It??

Tigger: Mommy, what day is it?
Me: Tuesday
Tigger: Then what?
Me: Wednesday
Tigger: Then what?
Me: Thursday
Tigger: Then what?
Me: Friday

That's right. Friday is a special night and we get reminded of it at least 5 times a week. Friday is the night that the King sleeps with the boys. Sometimes they all camp out in the basement (otherwise known as the family room) and watch a movie. Other times, it's the living room or their bedroom or even in the tent outside. But that's their special night with dad. It's my special night all alone in a king size bed, with the AC blasting and all the covers. Aaahhhh, sweet dreams!

Folding Towels

Pooh and I had done folding towels as a Simultaneous RCR activity last week. Basically, we get the big towels and we each have one end and he has to follow my lead with the folding pattern. We did it and it went OK. But today, we did it again just because I wanted to include both kids on some of the household chores. We had fun with it! I wish I had gotten that on video!! I played around with him by jumping my side around when we were supposed to meet in the middle. He was laughing. Then he did it right back at me! He jumped the towel to the side, then up, down and we finally met in the middle. Too Cool. That's the kind of emotion sharing activity I hope to see more of.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Simultaneous RCR

The last several days I was concentrating on this latest RCR pattern. Simultaneous = at the same time. Having Pooh try to follow my pattern at the same time I was doing it. We did the soap bubble blowing incident, never to be repeated. We also did a stamping activity, putting little stickers onto paper, jumping on the mini-trampoline, drumming, scooter riding, throwing balls that Dad had to catch and a couple different activities with toy cars. Another thing we did that I personally liked, was to paint one of those hanging wooden butterflies from the Wal-mart craft section. I had one wing and he had the other one and he had to paint his side the same as mind. He seemed to follow my lead really well. The one thing I noticed about myself as I was transferring to a VHS tape for our consultant, is that I was talking too much. I also wasn't waiting long enough for Pooh to reference before I started clearing my throat or acting impatient, etc. So I think this pattern was the hardest for ME. I need to work on my patience and enjoy the moment more than worrying about finishing the activity.

Sometimes, I think the way I as a parent handle our RDI program depends upon how much I've got on my mind. How much I'm thinking of all the things I have to do. I think I had a bad week in that regard. My goal for next time will be to reset my brain to only focus on the kids and enjoy what we're doing together.

I've sent the current tape off to the consultant and will be eagerly awaiting what she has to say. Hopefully, we'll be able to move on to some of the objectives for Stage 1.

On another note, The King and I actually finished raising our storage shed this weekend. We worked for two days. There sure are a lot of screws that come with those things. I had no idea. I now have much more respect for anyone who says they will be erecting one. The thing must also be perfectly level and perfectly squared. Sometimes, a little brute force doesn't hurt either.
The whole purpose of this thing is to get most of their toys and clothes I'm storing out of the house. I HAVE to declutter. There's just no way I can continue like this. It's too distracting for me and I'm sure too distracting for the kids. I'm going to rotate their toys and movies. I'll also pack away any academicky stuff I've acquired that they're just not ready for yet.

This momma is ready for change.

Friday, June 29, 2007


Most of the talk so far has introduced you to Pooh, so I thought I would take this time to mention my smallest offspring, Tigger. He's a beautiful 4 year old boy who never stops moving. He's so different from his brother, as siblings often are. He wants to be part of everything at every minute of the day. His favorite things are tools. He loves to help "fix" things. At the slightest hint that it may be needed, he is off running for his toolbox. And he has real tools. The King and I have provided him with small child-sized tools so that he can participate in family projects. Of course, he still sometimes takes off with our tools. Especially the King's. Especially when he needs it. And then Tigger may or may not remember where he put it. My poor hubby spends quite a bit of time searching for his tools. LOL

Tigger is a bit on the shy side. It's sort of funny, after having a child with autism, to see Tigger get embarrassed over things and then react to that embarrassment. He can be loud, crazy-funny and sensitive all within 5 minutes. He's picked up some of his older brother's quirky sayings. "You're just jealous" when they're upset at me. "You just don't like me" when they're getting disciplined. and my personal favorite "You're not my mommy anymore". Tigger has added his own "I'm just getting out of here" to the repertoire.

He's crazy-funny in that he loves to laugh and make people laugh and he'll do silly stuff to make that happen. He makes up his own words-nonsense words that he thinks are funny. He's constantly talking, CONSTANTLY. I'm just not used to that. I'm a pretty quiet person. I like to read, garden, etc. Pooh likes to look at books, draw and TV. Tigger likes to bounce and talk. He talks about anything and everything. "Mommy, mommy, watch this" "Mommy, mommy let's do_______" Lately he's been wanting to play tennis. It's Tigger Tennis because he makes up his own rules and was calling me a cheater if he didn't hit the ball. I can deal with the different rules, but i had to nip the "cheater" calling in the bud. He didn't even really know what it meant.

He's a cute little ball of fire. And i love him to death. He can really get me laughing and I love having his little arms come around me saying "I love you, Mommy". Actually, THAT'S my personal favorite.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Reciprocal RCR

Turn taking went fairly well. We did have an adjustment in the beginning because Pooh was still trying to do assembly line patterns. He also just doesn't want to do the activity sometimes. When that happens, i make sure that he is close to me, i ignore his rants and griping and usually what finally brings him around is when i say "all right, I'll just wait until you're ready." His response is usually "oh, all right, I'll do it. But I'm NOT doing it again" He's already got the nice teenager attitude. So yes, even though we do the activities and are successful with most of them, it's not smooth sailing. As a general rule, once he's into the activity he enjoys it and forgets that he didn't want to do it at first. I try to end with a nice little "we had so much fun TOGETHER" or "we did it TOGETHER". I'm supposed to be emphasizing the togetherishness of our activities so that he can see how much fun it is to have another person around. LOL So that Emotion Sharing becomes important to him.

I think the resistance to activity is still from a basic lack of competence. I know he has many memories of not being able to (or his perception is that he hasn't been able to) participate well in many things in the past. He doesn't want to try and not get it right the first time. He's much happier looking at books about ships and subs, drawing pictures of said ships and subs and giving a commentary on ships and subs. He actually made up his own Reading Rainbow show today as he was talking about subs. Complete with the part where it shows the kids recommending what books to read. So, of course, the books he recommended were the library books he had checked out on WWII subs. It's funny and yet at the same time, sad. It's also incredibly annoying.

The one relief i have in sight is that once he's done with one obsession, he's onto a new one. Before the ships and subs, it was planes--supersonic jets, WWII planes etc. Occasionally, even i learn a thing or too. Although, i try to stay out of it. I don't like being sucked into the vortex.

His capacity for learning this stuff is pretty amazing for a kid that isn't reading yet. But that's a blog for another time.

Do Not Try This At Home

Okay, to explain the whole Poison Control phone call. So i'm talking with our consultant on monday and she suggests an activity that sounds just great for simultaneous rcr pattern. Soapy water and straws. Need I say more?? The whole thing was caught on tape too, since i was videoing for this weeks mailing. (We mail our vhs's to the consultant). It was Tigger of course, that ended up with a very clean stomach. Especially after the vomiting. Do you think it was better because it was castile soap?? I don't know. Tigger has a very negative episodic memory of the whole thing. "Mommy, i don't want to play that game anymore. That's not a very good game." I agree whole heartedly. At least for this house.

And just in case you were wondering. The whole point was for Pooh to be following my lead and blowing bubbles with the straw at the same time i was. Of course, my little Tigger couldn't be left out of all the fun. And yes, i did explain about not sucking it up. Note: If you let go of the straw with your hands, and your mouth is still holding the straw, you might suck up liquid whether you're trying to or not. Maybe it's following the whole yoga theory of arms extended=in breath.

Ok, now i'm just being silly. It's late though so "suck it up".

Where We're At

The last month has been just crazy. We had our end of the year homeschool bash which entailed a bible drama (directed by yours truly) and a talent show. So with props, practice, costumes and more practicing it's been too busy to keep up here. The kids did great though. The show went off without a hitch (for the most ;D). The main part that Pooh played was Moses. Everyone was amazed by how well he did. I have to admit that I, as the director and chooser of the parts (yikes!), had my moments of doubt as to whether he'd pull it off, but he came thru. Even with all the bible language he had to memorize. "But against any of the sons of Israel will no dog move eagerly it's tongue" was a bit of a mouthfull for him. LOL Tigger nicely played the part of an Israelite and the sheep on Noah's Arc. Tigger also participated in the talent show with an idea all his own--he sang Old MacDonald. He had Pooh help him though as he's a bit shy. They were very cute in their cowboy costumes with the stuffed horse, pig and cow.

We also had what i like to refer to as my niece's Graduation Gala. I got her a tiara to wear for it as she's now graduated to princess status. My sister had to graduate to be the Queen now. hehehehe Big time family joke!

So that, amongst other things has put us behind on our RCR blitzing. I'm even a week past what i would be because i sent a vhs to our consultant, then received an email that the only thing on there was Sesame Street and Wishbone. How that happened i don't know. I'm assuming someone sat on the controller because they haven't figured out how to tape shows. Yet.

This week we're doing the last of the RCR patterns. Simultaneous. Which basically is doing things at the same time. Pooh has to wait for me to do things and follow my lead if i do something weird. Which is a common occurance for me. Yes, in the last month i have done the second RCR pattern, Reciprocal (ie turn taking). I'll have to blog more about these patterns soon. And maybe if i ever get around to it again, make a list of activities we've used in doing these patters. My deleted list was just soooo good! I still can't believe i didn't save it.

In between everything else, i'm still reading about child development and homeschooling philosophies which i'll also try to blog about soon.

Oh, and my dishwasher is on the fritz. sigh
I think poison control will be on a first-name basis with me soon. (one RDI activity we will not be repeating--i'll blog the warning soon)
Homeopathy is a wonderful thing.
Tigger is bouncy, bouncy and still in diapers!
RDIos will be unavailable for those of us who still are running on Windows 98se!!!


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Bike Rider

As of two weeks ago, Pooh is officially a full-fledged bike rider. It was probably almost 3 summers ago that we took Pooh in the neighborhood behind us on his own bike with training wheels. It was going great. The wind was in our, um, ears (have to wear the helmets, you know), we were going at a pretty good speed. Everyone was having fun. And then it happened. Pooh suddenly forgot how to brake. He went into a yard, crashed into a bush and then flipped over the handle bars. He had a cushioned landing, so was unhurt. Not that The King and I really knew that. We were too busy laughing hysterically at how funny it looked to see him flip over those handle bars. Like something from America's Funniest Home Videos. The thing was that the majority of the time he was riding his bike, the training wheels were up in the air, so he was really riding! Thus the flipping. So for the next two years, Pooh wouldn't even consider riding without the extra wheels. If they even looked like they were airborne, out came the tools for repair.

So two weekends ago, I'm noticing that as he's riding in the driveway, the training wheels are once again up in the air--almost. So i casually say, "you know, Pooh, when you're riding your bike, you're training wheels are in the air. I bet you could ride without training wheels." He at least looked at me in acknowledgement. And no screaming "I can't do it" ensued. So the next day i again said something about it casually. Then after a long pause, "Are you ready for us to take your training wheels off?" Pooh said "Sure" so we hopped to it and took those wheels off.

It still amazes me that there was no nervousness on his part, no hesitation, nothing. He just took off and rode all over the driveway and yard. He even fell at one point and i heard him yell "I'm fine!" The next day he was riding with his backside off the seat to gain more power pedaling. Then i noticed that he was gliding around with his feet up on the handle bars. We were so proud of him and really hammed it all up. Called all the family and told them.

What a difference confidence can make!

R-C-R Assembly Line

The first type of RCR pattern we've done with Pooh is the assembly line pattern. That is basically a Me-You-Place pattern. For example, i can set up an activity like putting crayons in a box and i would pick up a crayon, hand it to Pooh, and he would put it in the box. That's the pattern. Now, once I see that Pooh recognizes that pattern and sees his competent role, i start making JND's or Just Noticeable Differences. That means i would start changing the way that i hand Pooh the crayon to see if he can still notice the pattern and make the adjustments. I may put the crayon on my head, in a pocket, under my foot, etc. During this time, we try to remain as non-verbal as possible and use our faces to communicate. If he's drifted off mentally, i may clear my throat to catch his attention, open my eyes real big, look at him and then look at the crayon he's supposed to take, then look back at him. I'm letting him know with facial gazing what he needs to do. All of this is so that he can see that he can remain a competent part of the activity despite differences in the way we do things. He's looking to me to guide him in the activity. It's teaching him to trust me to only give him an activity or role that he can handle. Autistic children have a lot of anxiety about the world around then. That's why they want everything the same. They lack the awareness to judge what people are going to do, how they going to do it and the appropriate reactions. If you were constantly put in situations where you had no idea what to expect from one minute to the next, you'd be a little anxious too. You may have trouble trusting people. You may avoid people and activities that you expect would be too much for you, even if you don't KNOW that they are too much for you. Establishing Guided Participation is the answer to this lack of trust.

Pooh did great with the assembly line pattern. He took to his role and we had a lot of fun with it. Our consultant was impressed with all the activities i came up with for a first timer, so i thought i would put a compilation here. These are by no means all the ones we did, but this is part of a list I'm compiling for my consultant and myself so that i can refer to them later for ideas as necessary. Here goes.......

OOOOOOkkkkkkkkaaaaayyyyyyyy! I guess my kids deleted the document off my computer. So, tune in another time, when I've RETYPED them.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Ode to a Dishwasher

Swish, swish, gurgle, gurgle
Oh, what delight
He cleans my dishes with all his might.

Sauces, scum, spots, spills
He removes
Oh, how much more can this improve?

Plates, cups, saucers, bowls
So white
He brings me such joy and delight

Gurgle, gurgle, hiss, hiss
That is that
With dishes so clean, I think I'll pat my back.

Ok, i have no idea if that is truly an "Ode" or not. But, i got a DISHWASHER. Finally!! And it's like magic and i just had to share.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Pooh's First RDA

In the RDI program the assessments are referred to as RDA-Relationship Development Assessment. In the RDA 1 the parents are interacting with their child as directed by the consultant. The King and I (no pun intended lol) were instructed to behave in certain ways with Pooh. At some point each of us tried to communicate non-verbally. Then at another point we shut down completely by not reacting to Pooh or doing anything really. This was all done in a room with beanbags and a few toys. There's a camera set up so that the consultant can tape the sessions for later review and also to see what's going on with a tv in another room. The RDA 2 is when the consultant is the one interacting with Pooh. She did different things with Pooh to try to determine where he's at developmentally in Emotion Sharing, Referencing, Flexible Thinking, etc. The RDA 3 is for the parents and the consultant to discuss where the child is at and what things are going to be worked on first. The parents are given objectives to work on and advice on activities to help the how-to part.

Pooh's first assessment went as i pretty much thought it would. No big surprises. And at the end, it was decided that our first goal was to work on Guided Participation, formally known as the Master/Apprentice Relationship. Basically, Pooh needs to learn that he can have a competant role in any interaction whether or not he's done the activity before or not. He lacks Resiliance in that he wants to do something and do it perfectly the first time or he gives up. "I can't do it!" is screamed often in this house. He also has a severe aversion to even simple redirection if he's not doing something quite right. Try homeschooling a boy like that and you'll understand that, for us, priority is getting him to a point where he can participate in a simple activity without giving up rather than on multiplication tables.

So that's what we're doing. Working on Guided Participation involves doing R-C-R'S. Lots of them. Regulation-Challenge-Reregulation You find a pattern, then make slight but noticible differences, then give the child the opportunity to find the pattern again. We've, or mainly myself but with the full support of The King, been doing R-C-R'S out the wazoo. Soon i'll post a list of the ones we've been doing. It sounds easier than it is at first. I've found that it requires a lot of mental effort to think of doing different patterns with different things, moving from one to the next and somehow managing to video tape for my consultant as well. I think it's gone pretty well so far, but i'll wait for the consultant's final judgement on that. :D

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

RDI-What is it?

The new therapy we've started with Pooh. RDI stands for Relationship Development Intervention and was developed by Dr. Gutstein as a therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorders. It's a developmental therapy meaning that it's based on what normal development is and where in that process the child has taken a different path. People with autism have "core deficits" in their development. They all have these deficits but may manifest them in different ways. The main breakdown of the autistic brain is the deficit in their Inter-Subjective Relationships. They don't learn from others in the same way that neurotypical (NT) people do. Normally people pass their thoughts, desires, motivations etc through others and then learn from that. Sort of a reciprocal learning. Autistics don't do that. They don't pay attention to what others are thinking or doing. A lot of times they just don't care. As long as everything is ok in the world they've created, then they are fine. It's when they are required to adjust to someone else's thoughts, intentions or actions that they breakdown, or even meltdown. The purpose of RDI is to repair, or go in and fill in the missing gaps of these deficits. RDI is parent-based meaning that the parents do the work. RDI consultants pinpoint the areas that need help and then give support and advice to the parents along their journey. The reason that the parents are the ones that do the work is due to the fact that you're working on repairing the faulty relationship. Who better than the child's parents, as guides and helpers, to work on these early developmental stages? Once a good, solid and healthy relationship is there with the parents, then we can move on to relationships with others.

For more info on RDI you can go to the website at

So that's our new and main therapy right now. Soon, i'll blog on Pooh's first assessment with a RDI consultant.


This is my first blog ever, so you'll have to forgive me as I learn my way thru this process. As an introduction, i'm MasterpieceMom, hubby is The King and our boys are Pooh (my 9yr old with autism) and Tigger (my 4 year old). This blog is my plan for bringing a bit of mental order to the chaos of our life. We are starting a new therapy with Pooh called RDI that i would like to chronicle. We garden and homeschool and just generally have all sorts of things going on at different times. So i would like to have a spot just to sort of let it all out. Perhaps some of you friends and family will enjoy reading a little along the way. Cheerio!