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Archive for September, 2011

It has been an eventful yet blessed couple of weeks. My beloved was home for 10 days. The first 6 were his scheduled days off and the remainder were days waiting for the truck to get it’s maintenance completed. Today, we are on our way back to the City to take him to the truck. Such is the life of a trucking family. Weeks apart while Daddy is out earning a living, then our “home time” when he is with us again. Generally, Daddy’s home time is spent with us devoting the time to family. We do things together and simply enjoy our precious time together.

While home this past week, Daddy helped Little Miss with her homeschooling. She has been working on “cleaning up” her writing to make it neater. Daddy showed her a few tips that he learned as a kid, which did wonders in her efforts to write better. They read together. They chose books with words in them that she recognized. Daddy reading the unfamiliar words and Little Miss reading the ones she knew. He even taught her a few new ones! Overall, he was shocked at just how many words Little Miss has learned while he has been gone this last trip out. Of course, Little Miss was excited to show him what she knew.

Little Man enjoyed Daddy being home. The first few days, he would get upset if Daddy left his sight, but then calmed down. He was very interactive and initiated much of the play between himself and his Daddy. It is always a joy to see the kids and Daddy together. We know that the kids miss him when he is gone, but they are accepting of the trucking life. It is what they know and are growing up with. To them, this is normal. This is also why we are so set in our ways, that when Daddy is home it is family time. We do visit with others, but our main focus is being together as a family. It doesn’t fully make up for the time apart, but it is a blessing. We treasure every day we have together. Sometimes, I think that being a trucking family actually makes our family stronger. Because we have so much time with Daddy gone, we appreciate and hold dear the time we have together.

Trucking isn’t the same as it was when I was growing up a trucker’s kid. Today, truckers can stay in tough through email, text messages, cell phone calls, and even webcams. One thing that Daddy is planning to do for the kids is to record little videos with his computer webcam to email to me for the kids to watch. I know that these will be well loved by them. Knowing the kids, they will want to watch those videos often.

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Little Man loves books about Clifford the Dog. For anyone unfamiliar with these stories, they are about a giant sized red dog that gets himself into situations that are humorous and fun. Often he makes a mistake, but it always ends up with a lesson being learned. They remind me at times of the stories about the monkey, Curious George.

This week, we were at a small city library in a town near us. I found a book about Clifford and showed it to Little Man. He came running to me and very animated. As I showed him each page, he was chattering and excited. Rarely do we see him so excited as he was with that book. As he chattered, I was able to pick up on certain words and phrases that while not said with great clarity, you could understand what he was trying to say. He said, “I like doggie. I like Clifford. Doggie wet. Doggie lay down.” It was a precious time for us all. That window was brief in that he doesn’t always talk that way. It was such a blessing though to see just how many words he knows just from hearing us talk. I am truly convinced that reading to him so much each day is having an effect. Who would ever have thought that something as simple as a children’s story about a funny red dog would unlock some of the barriers in my non-verbal son? Next step is to find more Clifford books to inspire him. We have one at home, but a few more would be better and help hold his attention more.

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Home-time with Daddy

The past few days, Daddy has been home. He is an OTR (over the road) truck driver and gone 3-6 weeks at a time before having time off at home. For this reason, we relax a bit on the homeschooling and focus on family time when he is home. We all love the days that we are all together. It is a precious time for us that we savor.

While on the truck, Daddy has been saving his pennies in a container for Little Miss. When he gets home, the pennies are emptied out and he helps for to count the pennies. They are added to her penny container. When it is full, he will take her to a Coinstar machine in town. She is pretty excited about it. They are nearly halfway to filling her container. It is a lot of fun for her to count the coins. She often will empty them out and recount them just for fun. Little does she realize that he is teaching her Math.

This trip home, Little Man has been very responsive with Daddy and is initiating play much more. He is turning into such an ornery child! He loves to tease. One day taking the canning rings off of my canning jars that were set aside to be processed. Another day he is tickling Daddy just to get a tickling response back from him. Little Man giggles and is so playful in these moments. The interaction is wonderful in that he is truly connected to you at that time. He gets over stimulated at times from all the play, but he shows it only through flapping and walking in circles. It doesn’t last long, which is major improvement in itself!

Little Man is becoming so brave in dealing with the uncomfortable situations. Over the weekend, we were at a motel the night we got Daddy from the truck. It was late by the time everything got done, so we chose to stay in the city before making the 80 mile trip home. At the motel, we had to go up a flight of stairs to get to the room. Little Man is afraid of large stairways. Holding Daddy’s hand however, he mustered up the courage to slowly walk up the stairs beside Daddy. The following morning, he held my hand and walked down slowly down the stairs. Both times, Little Man was shaking with fear, but he still showed courage in trusting us to make it okay. He faced his fear and was able to walk up and down the stairs! We are so proud of him.

Little Miss gave Daddy quite a surprise when she read the lessons she has done thus far in her Reader. He was genuinely shocked at the number of words that she is reading now. Tonight, before bedtime, Daddy and Little Miss read a book together. She read the words that she knew and he helped her with the ones that she wasn’t familiar with. This is going to become a new routine for them when Daddy is home. Little Miss has been working so hard at reading. She loves books and is excited to be able to read her books on her own. We are thrilled with her excitement and proud of how hard she is working to learn.

I am going to be doing more canning before Daddy goes back on the truck in a couple of days. He takes home canned foods with him to help keep expenses lower and also to be eating healthier. I have already canned up some of his favorites. I just have a couple more recipes to make and can for him. That will give him enough meals to get through the time he is gone. He carries a small cooker on the truck that uses the 12-volt outlet to power it. It works great. The pint jars of meals are quickly cooked and ready to eat within 15-20 minutes.

After Daddy goes back out on the truck, we will likely take a couple of days to relax, then get back into our homeschool routine. I am working on putting together a unit study on the 13 Colonies. Little Miss will have plenty of books for us to read together and a few activities to do. I am considering putting together a little notebook curriculum for that topic. She can do the worksheets and activities, then I can bind the worksheets and scrapbook pages of her doing the activities together into a little book using my comb-binding machine. I am loving putting little books together for her. She is enjoying it too.

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Daddy’s Home!

Daddy is home for “hometime”, which inthe trucking industry is a fancy term for his days off from the road.   During his hometime, we will be taking a beak from the homeschooling so that we can have family time.

We will be resuming as soon as he is back on the truck.

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A while back, I saw an article in the March, 2011, edition of “Ready Made” magazine that really caught my eye. I have been looking for an excuse to make an altered book ever since. I loved the look of altered books for some time. The altered book in the magazine was made into a travel journal. As I write this, my mind is flooded with ideas for this simple project.

The first thing that comes to my mind is turning a book into a geography journal. Notebooking is very popular in homeschooling. Basically, you are making a mini scrapbook about a specific theme or topic of study. Instead of using notebook paper and binder, why not simply find an old hardcover book at a thrift store or yard sale and alter it? You can layer a piece of an old torn map, scrapbook paper or whatever else you have on hand to cover most of the print on the book page you are using. Using plain or note paper for the journaling portion, add a pocket to place pictures or other small items on the opposite page. You can glue 2 or 3 pages together to make them more sturdy or even remove a few pages here and there to prevent the book from becoming too thick for it’s binding.

These can be used as a personal journal, field trip journal, nature journal, or any number of possibilities. Once that I am excited about it turning one into a scrapbook of the Bible verses that our daughter is memorizing. For each verse, our daughter can write the passage with it’s reference info and the date she memorized it.

We are preparing to start a study of the 13 Colonies. I am going to be finding an old book for Little Miss to alter and use to show what she learns about each colony. The pages will have pictures that we find online and print out along with facts about each colony. It will make a fun art project using mixed media as well as a homeschool activity. It is an easy thing to add page tabs to show where each colony’s section begins. I think she will enjoy it.

Older students, especially the girls, will love making these to use as personal journals or friendship books. The possibilities for these altered books is really only limited by your children’s (and your own) imagination.

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Home Canning with Little Man

Little Man was so funny on Thursday this week.   Little Miss had gone to their grandparents for the day, so Little Man and I had the house to ourselves.  I used the day to do some home canning and it turned into a really fun time for us both.

As I was preparing the jars for putting into the pressure canner, Little Man kept a close watch on what I was doing.  I had one load of jars in the canner already being processed.  I started doing dishes and cleaning up the area in preparation for the next recipe to be canned.  While I had my back turned, Little Man demonstrated just how well he was observing my work.  I heard a jar ring being placed onto the table and turned around just in time to watch him remove another jar ring.  He continued removing rings and placing them in a neat pile next to the jars.  It ws a moment of discovery for him and humor for me.  From that point on through the canning process, I had to keep putting the rings back onto the jars before putting them into the canner.

The fun went on to the point of him removing one ring and running from the table giggling.  I would chase him and tickle him before giving him a big hug.  We had so much enjoyment!  I kept the hot jars well out of his reach, but the cooled jars were always where he could play.  He never removed the flat lid.  His interest was only in unscrewing the rings. 

Now, I have to keep a close watch on his sippy cups – they have twist on lids also!  LOL

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The question has come up concerning Little Dude as to whether we should teach him to sign or hold out and hope that the speech therapy works and he becomes verbal. This is a real issue with some people. There are those who feel that if a child is taught to sign, then they have no need to try to speak. Others believe that if a child is able to use sign language, then it will help take the pressure of not being able to communicate off of them, thus making them more relaxed to become verbal at their own pace.

Against the opinions of some people we know, we have chosen to teach Little Dude to use sign language. It makes sense to us to offer him an option. He has been receiving speech therapy for a year and has made no progress towards becoming verbal. He still on rare occasions will mimic a phrase or word, but mostly it is babbling like that done by an infant learning to vocalize. Each time he does say a phrase or word he mimics, it is done more as a stim than as an effort to communicate. A few times he has made the “E-E” sound when hungry, but that is a rare thing with no consistency.

To teach him signing, we are giving him a method of communication that is within his abilities right now. Simple words like “eat, drink, more” are ones we are starting out with. We want to give him the tools to be able to communicate basic needs to us. He already can sign “more” and is working on “eat” as his newest sign. Little Dude seems receptive to the signing much more than the verbal. In fact, he completely shuts out the efforts to get him to use verbal communication. Contrary to the opinions of others, by teaching him sign language, we are not giving up hope of him becoming verbal one day. Nothing could be further from the truth! We are simply giving him another way that he is receptive to now.

I sometimes wish that those who voice such opinions of our choices where Little Dude are concerned would take a step back and see it from our perspective. Not that I would wish the situation on anyone. Just wish they would try to understand. While we would love to hear Little Man talk and communicate through verbal means, it is more important to us that he has any effective manner of communication with others. I see daily the frustration he gets when he wants something or has a need and is unable to express it. The frustration is on both sides. I feel it when I can’t figure out what he is wanting, but he feels it worse when he can’t get the need expressed to others.

In love for him, we are making this choice. It seems cruel to withhold one form of communication that works from a child just because it isn’t the ideal one that you or someone else thinks is best. We love our son and want only the best for him. We pray that one day he will become verbal, but are also okay with the idea that it may not happen for him. Not that we are giving up that hope. We are simply being open to whatever Little Man is able to do. Whether he speaks with his voice or his hands, it will not lessen the love we have for him. He is our son. He is as much a precious gift to us as his sister is. Little Dude being different from the typical is just fine with us. We will love and support him no matter what his level of ability is in any area of his life. This is not to say that we won’t expect him to do his best at whatever he is able to do. No loving parent would allow their child to short change themselves that way! We expect excellence from our children. However, we expect excellence in whatever level they are able to perform.

As a mum, I don’t need to “hear” the words, “I love you” from my children to know that they love me. Yes, the words are precious to any mum. It isn’t the only way that they express it though. Little Dude shows me each and every day that he loves me. He leans against me and lays his head in my lap for me to stroke his hair, he reaches up for me to snuggle him, and he gives me his precious smile & giggle. Little Dude is great at expressing himself in non-verbal ways. I am not about to tell such a loving child that his way is not good enough and that he has to conform to others’ ideals to be good enough. Shame on me as a parent if I do that or allow others to make him feel less than he is by doing that to him!

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