Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Playdough!



Bunny, "Mom, because it's Veteran's Day, we don't have to do homeschool right?"
Me, "Well, we will probably do a little homeschool.  I have a project planned."
Bunny, "OH MAN, do we really have to Mom?  My other friends get the day off."
Me, "But it will be so much fun!  You see, we are going to make Homemade Pumpkin Spice Playdough!"

Bunny, "That's not a homeschool project."

Me, "Sure it is.  You could make homemade playdough at school for a project."
Bunny, "Not at the regular school.  We just do projects with paper."

Me, "Not anymore you don't."  :-)




The house smelled like a Pumpkin Spice Latte!  My hands did too.  :-)



I found the recipe at Small + Friendly


  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Oil  (She used coconut, I used canola...)
  • 2 Teaspoons Cream of Tartar
  • 2 Teaspoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice (Or cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg)

Basically you just put it all in a saucepan on medium heat and stir until it turns into a ball and is not longer sticky (kinda smooth).  Then pull from the pan and let cool.

Divide up and add food coloring if you wish.


We talked about gluten and how it makes the dough stick together.  Bunny copied the recipe from the computer and Hannes read it off.  We made a triple batch and I thought I was giving Hannes a challenge when I asked him to figure the fractions times 3.  It was no sweat for his super math brain.


My arms were getting tired so the Bunny stepped in.




It was really nice to work with.  I definitely recommend making a triple batch if you want a decent amount to play with.


We added a few colors to the mix once it was cooled.  It's a good idea to wear gloves until it is all mixed in.



While I was mixing colors, Bunny stepped in and made lunch.  (He's such a big help!)


They loved it!  The texture is fantastic, probably one of the best I've used.  It keeps for a few weeks in an airtight bag or container too.





Tuesday, November 4, 2014

And the Answer Is...

We are Homeschooling!

Pinch me.  I had been going back and forth wondering if this was the right thing to do, praying God would give me a solid nudge in the right direction.  He did and we have jumped in with both feet!

We were definitely not fully prepared to do this, but something happened at the school last week that sealed the deal.  In very short order I was calling the Hubs saying that I wanted this to be their last week.  He fully agreed and we put in our formal intent to homeschool paperwork that very day.


There are some heavy initial costs (and some ongoing ones as well) we will incur and so I was encouraged by a friend to open one of those Go Fund Me accounts in hopes we could fundraise a little to soften the blow.  I felt kinda weird about it but I went forward with it anyway.  You can see it here if you feel led to give us a boost.  We are very, very thankful for every single penny.  


Our initial plan is to work with the older two first and then pull the latter two as they get further along (and I get myself grounded a bit).  Much of their base curriculum is done online with heavy supplementation by your's truly.  We are hoping to start the online curriculum by the end of this week!




Yesterday we started getting used to the whole homeschool routine.  It's going to be a bit tricky as I spend a good portion of 3 days out of the house, playing schoolbus for the Monkey, and watching the Little Mister.  The director of our church preschool is SO awesome.   She set up a table yesterday for the boys to sit and work while I was taking care of baby business.  

They were so very well behaved and focused!  No whining, no tears... I saw a side of Hannes I hadn't seen before.  He was very intently working and yet so calm.  I can't even begin to tell you how fascinating it was to see that.  They both stayed calm and focused for much of the day, through our bible study, the book we read, and pretty much everything else we did.

Incredible.  God is SO good.

This without at doubt is going to be good for them.  I just hope I do this right and don't screw it up!





Thursday, October 30, 2014

To Homeschool or Not To Homeschool




Such a difficult question for any parent that feels led to do so, and even more challenging for parents with multiple children on the spectrum.

We've talked for many years about how nice it would be to provide a homeschooling environment for the boys, but for so many years, with them being so little and often hard to keep collected, we kept pushing the thought aside for another day.

Recent events in our elementary school and in observations of our oldest two have led us into the conversation again and we may very well be moving forward with it now.

Depending on who you talk to, there are many pros and cons to homeschooling kids on the spectrum.  Lack of social interractions are an issue as well as learning to work in group settings, waiting, independence, learning how to work in and outside a schedule... the list goes on.

However, the pros to homeschooling are excellent in that the child gets an opportunity to learn in a more flexible setting.  Chances for bullying is reduced as are opportunities for embarassment.  A child can excel in a subject they are strong at without waiting for the rest of the class to catch up.  They can also get extra attention in those areas they struggle with.

And the best part?  They no longer spend 6 hours at a desk.

So why is this so hard?  The commitment of a parent who choses this route is a long, serious one.  The expectation is now on the parent to ensure the child is meeting the state's academic requirements.  And unlike public school, it will require a financial investment.

I so badly want to do this as I feel I can provide the boys with experiences that most of their peers won't come close to getting, but the fear of failing them is riding on me.  With developmental disabilities in play, there will be some extra challenges.

If we are successful with the first two, it is most likely we will bring on the second two when they reach the same grade level.  (Yikes!)

Please be in prayer for us about this whole situation.  I'm excited about the idea but want to make sure we are fully equipped and that it is indeed God's will for our family.

-The Mamma






Long Day of Pumpkins and a Trip to the Mall



The Hubs was home last weekend so we decided to take the kids on an outing to the pumpkin farm!







We don't often get an opportunity to do things "out" as a family, but now that the kids are getting a bit older and a little easier to manage, we are trying to do more.  





This place was amazing.  Multiple fields of pumpkins on a real working farm!



They had fire roasted corn, squash, and apples.  Lam wasn't too sure about the corn but he wanted to have one anyway.



The Hubs eventually had to eat it.





Monkey wasn't too sure about it either, but then he saw these ginormous honeycrisp apples and worked on one for about a half hour.






It was so much fun.  :-)












After all of that, we took a trip to the mall.  Hubs had something he had to do for a short bit, so I took the boys window shopping.  








It could have been easier.  They were pretty good through one store and then totally lost it in another.  Boys 4 different directions, handling everything.  I'm sure those people at the smelly bath and lotion stores purposely put items 2 feet off the ground in order to stop you long enough and convince you that the key to finding happiness in their store requires purchasing little kid sized hand sanitizers for each of your enthusiastic, "Yes Mommy can we PLEASE have one???" kiddos.

We pass by the food court and Lam decides he's starving to death.  Doesn't matter that he had been eating constantly up until we got there.  He's not quiet about it either.

Lam has recently traded washing machines for toilets so obviously everytime we pass a bathroom or enter a new building he has to go potty.  He freaks out if you won't let him go, even if it's been just 5 minutes.  The looks I get from passing adults when he starts screaming at the top of his lungs, "Mom!  I'm going to pee my pants!  You need to let me go potty!  Mom!!!!!!!!!  Why won't you let me go potty!" make me feel like Mom of the Year.  

The trip to the bathroom was a joy.  


I was yelled at (at great length) by Lam because I made him come in the women's bathroom with me.  "Do you think I'm a girl?!"  "Mom!  I'm NOT supposed to use the girl's bathroom!  You need to take good care of me and let me use the MEN'S BATHROOM!"  


That went on for a while.

Because I actually had to use the facilities, I relied on the Bunny to keep order.  Not shortly after I sat down I hear, "Monkey, you need to wait until you are in the stall before you pull your pants down."  Then, "Monkey, you need to close the stall door!"


(Still being yelled at by Lam...)


I finish and try to fish my youngest out of his stall.  He can't figure out how to make the electronic toilet flush.  That in of itself is no big deal, but while he's inspecting it, he has his left hand running all over the seat, with fingers wrapping into the nasty public toilet.


Plus the door was locked.  Monkey is one to put his hands in his mouth frequently so I was just a tad bit concerned.  He screamed and fought me as I tried to slather his hands and arms with hand sanitizer.  Lam was still grilling me and then it hit me... Hannes is gone.


We frantically left with Lam still practicing his role as a drill sergeant and found Hannes dancing around way down the hall, in amongst a pile of strangers.


I only took one picture of the whole mall trip because it was enough to just keep all 4 kids in tow.


A smiling Hubs met me by the door.  Like a night in shining armor, he took over and we walked to the car... stilled being yelled at about bathroom choices.





Happily home, the kids quickly got into carving.  Their first time and it was a big, messy success!




Oh, and guess who wanted the entire alphabet on his pumpkin?

My husband is long-suffering.  :-)




We even toasted some seeds!



Not too bad for a bunch of amateurs!  I think next year we will skip the mall.



Weight loss ad shows up on tv (with bathing suit model).  "Mom!  You should buy some of that stuff!"



Monday, October 20, 2014

Wow! That Went By Fast!



I can't believe it's been almost 2 months since my last post!  So much has happened in that time so I suppose it's time I get you all up to speed.  I'll probably need to space these out a bit.  :-)

The kids have started school, the Hubs and I both celebrated birthdays, and we are almost getting our back to school routine down.  

We started off the new school year running. I'm starting to feel like after a few months off, we really should have had a more gradual start to our Fall season, but I'm keeping my head in it and pressing forward. 


Everyone but Hannes was excited to go. I kind of expected that really. The nice thing is he has the same teacher this year as he did the last, in the same classroom, with basically the same curriculum structure. His teacher is awesome and she absolutely ADORES him. Hannes' math skills are pretty amazing for an 8 year old and she's excited about challenging him. She also sees past his hang-ups in the classroom and somehow plays para educator and teacher at the same time. Pretty incredible really. 



The Lamb was thrilled. Threw his arms around his new teacher and told her that he loved her. :-) 



The Bunny is in the 4th grade now! An "Intermediate" student. He's pleased with his new teacher and class format, I think moreso than last year. It's a little more grown up. They get to use binders with dividers and are learning to self direct and be responsible for their own homework etc. Oh, and they're learning to play the violin! (Better start saving my money now...) 



 Monkey is attending two different preschools and is SO excited to be a part of it all.  It's a little different this year because it's really Pre-K, but he's in the same classroom with the same teachers and all but one of the kiddos in his class are the same from last year.  I absolutely LOVE both schools and the teachers that work there.  These kids learn so much academically and get to know God a little better too.  


One of his teachers has a little baby boy that I'm watching for her part time.  I pick up the Little Mister and hang out while we wait for Monkey to be finished with school.  We're trying to visit friends in the area that are at home watching their own kiddos and perhaps a few elderly ladies from our church as well.  I'm really looking forward to growing my relationship with some of the ladies at our church this year.  I think our culture has become so busy, and so focused on media, that we're losing the initiative to seek interractions with eachother in person.  Perhaps the Little Mister and I can start the ball rolling to change that.    

It's good for me too, because I tend to be a hermit.

After the morning is over, we stuff some quick lunch into the Monkey and whisk him off to his other preschool.  Little Mister and I will go home where he can hopefully nap before the masses show up on the bus at the end of the school day.

Then we're into homework and whatever else 4 little boys do until dinner.

Somewhere in all of this I'll get some grocery shopping and laundry done...





Friday, August 29, 2014

The Dentist!


This week the boys had their 6 month dental exam.

We have the most fantastic, kid and parent friendly dentist anyone could ever ask for.  It's like Disneyland, only at the dentist.  Each exam chair or table has a television screen on the ceiling where the child can either choose from a handful of movies to watch or play Super Mario Brothers.




For routine cleaning and exams they have a large, open room with roughly 6-7 of these chairs and no barriers between them.  Works fantastically well when you have 4 boys being seen at once!  Git r done!  And they pretty much don't book anyone else when we come in, so we kind of have our own private appointment with lots of staff available.




The Bunny is a pro.  He actually looks forward to going to the dentist.  I'm thankful as he's already had to have some work done and has more to do.  He's got it all figured out.




Hannes, poor Hannes.  He really has issues orally and this is why we struggle with meals.

He kept batting the hygenist's hand away when she tried to clean his teeth.  One tooth at a time, he would freak out, she would stop and rinse, and then try another.  I ended up having to hold his hands down through the process.

He at one point scolded her and said, "Don't you ever do that to me again!"  

Lol!

Poor buddy ended up having to have some tartar scraped off his lower teeth.  They're all coming in jagged, which makes it harder for effective brushing.  There were 5 of us (yep, I had the legs) holding him down while the dentist did her thing.  I can't blame him for being upset.  If you've ever had tartar scraped off your lower teeth, you should be able to sympathize.





Lammy did super great through the cleaning and the flossing, but he's 7 and still hasn't been able to cooperate for x-rays.  After another failed attempt, they talked about sedating him at a seperate appointment.  I asked if we could just try the "nose" and see if he'd cooperate with a little nitrous.  With 3 women working on him in a dark room, smelly nose on, Lam made it through enough to get 3 out of 4 images they were looking for.  It took 20+ minutes for those 3, but we're calling it a success!




Monkey was way more amazing that I thought he would be.  That blue-raspberry toothpaste was good enough to eat and so once we got through the initial "ew, what's that weird thing you're putting in my mouth" freakout, he all but fully cooperated.  The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse was playing on the tv above which aided in the success of all of this.  Plus it kept him occupied while I was dealing with the middle boys' ordeals.


All in all, it was exhausting, but we did it!  I'm not sure what we'd do about a dentist if we didn't have these people.  Seriously, they are so accomodating and understanding.  We are very thankful.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Birthdays, The Monkey's Diagnosis and Lam's New Glasses


I wanted to start this by saying "It's been a full week" but truthfully I could start most of these blog posts that very way.

Here is this last week in review:



Lammy's 7th birthday was this last weekend.  We had lots of friends, yummy cake and ice cream, and great presents.  He was thrilled to get a whole bunch of glow sticks and chocolate/peanutbutter candy.



Birthday Boy Breakfast




After church, we took a birthday trip to the park for some fun. 


\









.......................................


Oh and I did some couponing!  I haven't done any of that for a while (coupons aren't what they used to be) so I was thrilled to find such a great deal.  What you don't see is the 20+ boxes of cereal I paid only $1.27 each for.  Lammy will be so happy!


BooYa!


......................................


Our little Monkey was evaluated this week for an Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I never thought in my wildest dreams we would have 3 with autism.  We were told he more than met the requirements for an ASD and that they would write up the formal diagnosis paperwork and have it to us next week.

Although they don't use this term any more, he fits into the category of what used to be called "Aspergers".  Hannes falls on the same part of the spectrum.

Truthfully, I saw signs of it quite a while ago, but with him constantly interacting with Lammy, I just assumed he was picking up on Lam's behaviors and pushed the idea aside.  He is better than most on eye contact, super affectionate, and so I guess I assumed he was "normal". 

But like this blog title "Normal is a Setting on The Dryer", normal is what you make it to be.  Our "normal" is full of adorable, extremely intelligent, super quirky little boys.  God has great plans for these 4 and I'm blessed to be part of the ride.  :-)


.....................................



Lammy has new glasses!


He looks so grown up!  I'm hoping this will help him to focus more once school is back in session.  His eyes are about 20/40, so not too bad, but enough that he can use the help.  They say that when a child with autism has behavior problems, often something as simple as aiding eyesight or hearing can make a huge difference.  I'm hoping so!

He was so cute at the Costco just after he put them on.  We were walking down the main aisle and he kept stopping and informing all the strangers that he had new glasses.  Big grins and everything.  The Vitamix demo guy was pretty great about it.  :-)  So cute!


Hannes says to the gal at the checkout, "This is my bully, and he's also my brother.  His name is Lammy."

Licking the Feet




Every kid has his or her quirks.  Usually something that is a mere annoyance until it's shown in public and then the parent panics, thinking the world is going to think their parenting skills are lacking.  Nose picking comes to mind.

But then there are our children.  :-)

We are a family where quirkiness is the absolute norm.  Where behavior has no bounds and common sense doesn't exist. A group of people that if you didn't know better, you'd think scheemed to see which of the 4 could come up with the most random, stressful, embarrassing, or unpredictable act of "whatever".  As if they were in a contest to see how quickly they could make The Mamma gray.


The Bunny:

Actually there isn't too much to say about the Bunny in this department.  He's a pretty normal kid in this area, however...


He's always too full to finish his meal, but I'm constantly finding food remnants in various places of his room, the car, and his pants pockets.  Petrified cheese, crumbled crackers, half eaten hamburger buns, rotting apples... milk.


He can't handle throwing anything away.  We had tears once about a chicken nugget box.  "We could use that for something!"  This boy is not lacking for toys, he pretty much has all a kid could want and more.  I don't get it.


Regularly blurts out awful, random, superloud noises.  Just because.  Usually while in some confined space like the car.  Or in the hallway at church during services.

Sleeps in day clothes, under 4 blankets, in July.


Hannes:

Complains about 90% of all meals given to him.  Not always just a whine, but often a full on loud, teary, flopping on the floor freakout.


Oh and the whiny freakouts.  He will do them anywhere in front of everyone.  Anything that rubs him the wrong way, is not what he expected, or causes him to be discontent will result in a response not unlike that of a child having his fingernails pulled out with pliers.  He's our smallest boy on the growth scale but definitely the loudest.


But just because he's the loudest, doesn't mean he likes noise.  He cannot handle being in a classroom full of loud music and children.  Go figure.


Within a sentence or two of confronting a stranger, Hannes makes sure they know that Lammy is autistic and that "I'm only a little autistic".  He then proceeds to speak to said person about all sorts of random things, and won't allow anyone a word in edgewise.  (It's kinda cute really.)  Things like, "We don't have a sister" or "I know two swear words" or "I'm in the second grade, in a high functioning class, at 'fill in the blank' school, and my address is blah blah blah and my mom's social security number is..."  You get the idea.


(It will be interesting to see the first time he answers a telemarketing call... Hee Hee!)


Everytime something gets bumped, scratched or hurt, he either licks the wound, or if it's not easily located by the tongue, his finger and then wipes the wound with the wet finger.  It's so gross.  :-P


Can't seem to remember what in the public bathroom is clean or dirty.  Hubs hates to take him into the men's bathroom because, well, use your imagination.  It's not much better in the women's either.


He's also quick to tell us his bowel issues in detail.  I remember not long ago a loud Hannes yelling at us from the bathroom saying, "Mom.  Mom!  I have diarrhea REALLY BAD and am DEFINITLEY going to use A LOT of toilet paper."


Hannes has a thing for handling his "parts" in public and anywhere else.  He's the kid in the front row (because he's short) that has his hands down his pants, dancing like crazy, during the Christmas Program.


He will find a favorite food and beg you to purchase it again.  When you find it on sale, and buy enough to fill your fridge, he takes two bites and decides the flavor is too strong.



Lammy:


Can't handle you being in the car without the heater vents pointed a certain way.


Can't handle having arm rests in the "up" position in the car either.


Hates having his hand held.  When you are in a situation when you absolutely have to (because he's misbehaving in public or whatever) he screams at the top of his lungs, "OUCH!  YOU'RE HURTING ME!!!!!"  Over and over and over.  We usually get great looks from other adults when this happens.  :-/


Changes his underwear 2-6 times per day.  Just because.  Then borrows Hannes' when he runs out of his own.


Doesn't like to wear clothing, except underwear.  He often leaves a trail of clothes the minute he walks into the house.


Has to sleep with the overhead light on, in a pile of stuffed cats.


He also can't stand having someone else's items in his room.  If it's in there and you're saying "Goodnight", he will insist you remove the item(s).


Lamb is "allergic" to anything he doesn't like to eat.  Which is a lot.


When he gets upset he often says something like, "I'm going to stick you on the power lines, barbeque you and eat you for lunch."  He has no idea the severity of what he just said, but it's still creepy.


Smells his hands ALL THE TIME.


Recites snippets from washing machine videos on Youtube.  This is his favorite one.  He can tell you the manufacturer names of most of these.




If allowed, he would spend hours watching other peoples' dirty clothes agitate.  I'm not sure why people even record this, but there are sure a lot of videos to choose from.

He also walks up to random strangers and asks them what kind of washing machine they have.  Then tell them they "should really get a Whirlpool."


Will say things like, "What did you just say?"  After you answer his question.  Even though he's standing right next to you.  His hearing is fine.  He just does it because.


Must use the bathroom everywhere we go (this is a new one).  He's interested in knowing the brand names on the porcelain.  If you tell him no and that he just went 2 times at the other store just 5 minutes ago, he makes sure everyone in the store knows that he has to go to the bathroom and that you aren't letting him.  Oh, and that because you aren't letting him go that he's going to die.

He often doesn't have a lot of common sense when it comes to rough housing and otherwise.  It's like he thinks he's 4 years old and no bigger than anyone else.  If you've seen him, he's our biggest kid.  Big, blond, took after the German/Norwegian side boy.  We have to keep a close eye on the Monkey when they play together.



The Monkey:


The alphabet is what he lives, eats, and breathes.  Everything is associated with the ABC's.  EVERYTHING.  Meals, play, television, books, conversations, potty time, you name it, he brings the ABC's into it.  Sometimes numbers make an appearance too.

Has to go down or acknowledge all the numbers on the aisles in the grocery store.  If you don't do it in order, you hear about it in a big way and there's no getting over it until you go through the paces for him.


This can also be seen in his alphabet singing or play.  It's a big deal when someone moves his alphabet blocks or write something wrong on paper.  If it's not his way or in his plan, he freaks out.


He also insists on having the same pair of shoes every time we buy them.  We're successfully trying to break him of this as they no longer make that particular pair.  :-(


Licks his fingers and draws the alphabet on just about everything.  Windows, walls, car bumpers.

Has a thing for rubbing his face and putting his mouth on the linoleum of the doctor's exam room floor.  Not sure why just that floor, but that's his thing.

Has been known to vomit at bathtime over fear of being wet.  :-/

The hands are in the mouth often, and typically just after he's handled the toilet.



As you can see, we don't do family dinners out, or go to the mall, or really go out much of anywhere public these days unless we absolutely have to.  Just the grocery store is often a 2 parent task.  Of coarse with all the quirks (and this really is just a snippet) they do have some pretty amazing attributes as well.  That post will be published soon.   :-)

"Mom?  Can I flood the toilet?"  "No, you cannot flood the toilet."  "But why mom?  I've never flooded the toilet before."




Monday, August 4, 2014

Weekend Update 8/2/14

Bunny's Show at the Fairgrounds




This lucky boy was given the opportunity to participate in a 4 day horse show event at our local fairgrounds.  Out of 4 classes, he took home 3-4th Place ribbons and a 5th!  (He also got to spend all 4 days with his very special "Gramma Chicks".)



He looks so little on this horse, but has absolutely no trouble handling him.

Gorgeous Morgan horse named "JJ"







Spectators

Lamb lit up when he saw the horses come in.  He then decided it would be good to finish the show with some loud wailing from the bleachers.  When you're only one of 3 groups of spectators in an entire arena, and the seats are all metal, you get noticed pretty quickly if you make any noise.  :-/

Hannes thought it was just ok.  He rides too, but REALLY wants to ride Western.  Hannes is kind of a thrill junky and will probably be super great at barrel racing or something that involves a fast horse.  





Snapped this pic just before the rains hit.  There was a hefty thunderstorm sitting RIGHT over us.  Spooked some of the horses a bit.  Overall he had a great weekend and is looking forward to his next show in a couple of weeks!



Sunday:  An "Off" Day For the Lamb





I'm not sure what's gotten under this kiddo's skin lately, but he's just been a handful.  Sunday morning started off bad right from the start.  He has this thing about calling people "stupid", or "stupid butt", or "poopy butt", or any variation of such related words and telling them to "shut up" over and over again.  He's also started saying, "Oh Shed".  :-/

The problem is, he struggles shut it off when he needs to, resulting in huge responses from his not so patient siblings.  I think he likes to get a rise out of them and so he continues on, thinking it's funny.

Not so funny though when he decides to share some of this behavior with the Nursery Director at our church.  After removing him from the classroom, he decided he didn't like that and took a swing at her head.  He then proceeded to launch a giant spit ball at her.  We got through 1st service (where he wasn't the best behaved either) and decided to head home after 2nd service music.

Sunday evening wasn't much better.

The Monkey is starting to use these words now too.  (Thanks Lamb).  I love summertime off with the boys but I'm really looking forward to this next school year to start.  They need the structure big time.


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