Thursday, January 20, 2011

I envy you

After a gut-wrenching mental tug-of-war, we've decided to take a step back from homeschooling. We're not quiting, we are "suspending until further notice". When we decided to homeschool Caleb, he had no diagnosis. We weren't even aware of a lot of his problems. I still feel that I know my child best, and can teach him with understanding and love that no one else can't. But currently, I don't feel equip to deal with his Autism in the school setting. I will learn, but right now, we are just trying to implement strategies into our daily lives to ease the stress for both boys. We feel like we need to focus on generalizing the picture scheduling and the sensory diets before implementing that into curriculum. It has always been our strategy to evaluate each child individually, every year, to make sure we are giving them, academically, what is best. Whether that be homeschool, public school or private school. And right now, for Caleb and Andrew, they have the best resources, and the most intensive help at this pre-school. The school has "structured" classrooms, where they structure their day to suit children on the spectrum. Down the line, after studying and practice, I may be ready to take on homeschooling again, with one or both of the boys. But for now, we feel like this is what is best for them. This choice doesn't mean we'll be any less involved in their educations, and I understand my role as their advocates. They will get what they need to flourish, and we'll make sure of that.

Another major reason we have chosen pre-school for Caleb is his current anxieties about leaving the house have worsened. With picture scheduling, I think we can relieve a lot of the stress, but he needs more consistent exposure in the community. I AM NOT saying that he isn't getting proper socialization, the stereotypical argument against homeschooling. This is a problem rooted in the Autism, transition anxiety. I don't have the means to be out of the house all day with all three of my kids. There's no way I can do that alone with 3 kids 5yrs old and under, 2 on the spectrum and the other is still under 1 yr old. Planning day-trips, every day, or multiple times a week could send me straight to the looney bin (sorry that's not PC).

I would be doing Caleb a true disservice if I played to my pride and ignored my shortcomings in special education... A realization I've had to come to, is that being a good mom, means doing what is best for your child, even if it isn't you, and even if it wasn't part of "the plan."

For more obvious reasons we are sending Andrew to the preschool, he needs more intensive therapy. He is so young. He just turned 3 and I'm not ready to give up both my babies all at once, but that's what will happen Monday. Most Mom's go through the tear-jerking process of sending their kids off to school for the first time, I'm doing it with both boys, all at once. I'm going to be a mess.

Learning your child has Autism triggers a grieving process. And with any grieving process, you are forced to reevaluate your life and your future. It's very hard to accept that our lives will look drastically different now than our "plan" just months ago.

Like I said, this has been a gut-wrenching process and decision for me (and Dave). Many Americans probably won't understand my struggle, as their kids attend day-care or their plan has always been group schooling. But that wasn't our plan. Right now my life consists of hanging out with three of my best friends, all day long. I get to share their lives with them, all the little moments, all the victories, all the teachable moments, all the little joys that I'll miss while they're at school. 

To Caleb and Andrew's new teachers, I hope you see what makes them special and appreciate the beauty and sweetness of their quarks, I envy you.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The "A" word

Yesterday was one of the roughest days of my life. Our suspicions were verified and then some. Many people in our lives aren't in on our "secret." Not that we've made it a secret, we just haven't been openly advertising. Yesterday, both Caleb and Andrew were given labels that will forever change their lives and mine. Our sweet little boy, Andrew was diagnosed with Autism, yep, the "A" word. The one thing no one wanted to believe because he's such a smiley, affectionate little guy. It's not just that he's not talking, it's much greater than that. Older brother Caleb has been diagnosed with an "Autism Spectrum Disorder." Yep, our little boy who can out-read most 1st graders I know. It's not about reading, it's much greater than that. Four months ago, the "A" word wasn't even on our radar for either of the boys, mostly because Autism is so misunderstood, I thought I knew what to look for, but I didn't truly understand it. Statistics dictate that someone you know has Autism, whether diagnosed or not. I encourage everyone to learn more about it, and know that Autism looks different in each child.

So it looks like the direction of this blog might be changing. We still plan to homeschool Caleb, but it's going to look a lot different. Everything in our lives is going to look a lot different.

Andrew (almost 3 yrs old)

Caleb, 5 years old

Sort of an anthem I've adopted (Thanks Becca for sharing):

Friday, October 15, 2010

A little something I whipped UP

Caleb wanted a Disney Pixar "UP" cake for his 5th birthday. He's been talking about it for months. No pressure of course! Here's what I whipped UP...
The cake board is wrapped in blue wrapping paper with cloud images I printed off the computer. Last, I wrapped it with cellophane wrap. 
A little 3D Up action with confetti cake in a 9x13 cake pan.
Crumb coat with whipped icing.
The final product. Not too shabby for my 3rd ever attempt at cake decorating.
I used a mini cupcake pan for the balloons with mini cupcake foils.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


In the pumpkiny spirit of Fall, I thought I'd post some jack-o-lantern patterns that I've created and used in the past two years.

Click to download the patterns:
Woody pattern
Buzz pattern
Toy Story Aliens pattern
Lightning McQueen pattern

Also, find some great pumpkin stencils here: Better Homes & Gardens
The "Welcome" pumpkin pattern seen above can be found here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

One by one, hurrah, hurrah!

You are cordially invited to our ant picnic, we're having mac and cheese with a few ants sprinkled on top. Click here to download picnic pieces and directions to create a picnic of your own.

"Caleb's Ant Picnic"

Raisin ants

Click here to download full size printout

Monday, September 27, 2010

What do ladybugs taste like?

To accompany our science lesson on ladybugs, we incorporated something tasty. I'm sure there are a variety of buggy cookies you could make, but here are our red spotted friends.

Ladybug Cookies
- Sugar cookies-make your own (math lesson!) or we used precut Pillsbury Sugar Cookies, to save on prep time.
- Chocolate Chips
Red icing (I suggested buying premixed red, using food coloring to get red is very difficult)
- Optional: black licorice for legs and antennae, black gel icing for center line detail

"I think I just ate a bug!"

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Marker my words

Mommy's creation
My 2 1/2 year old and I probably had more fun with this than Caleb did, but at least it got him drawing. Washable Window Markers are the new thing in our house. Caleb wrote his name a few times and enjoyed scribbling with his brother. We have a 5ft by 11ft window in the dining room, which worked as a great canvas for a neighborhood art show. Plus, clean-up was a breeze, and actually Caleb's favorite part- silly boy. I'm hoping that these markers will be yet another vehicle in inspiring Caleb to use his hands more, even if it's scribbling. I plan to take them in the car for long trips. Window crayons are also available.

Caleb writing his name with Washable Window Markers
By the way, we found out today that the markers wash off of skin pretty well too. Oops!
What does green taste like Sophia?

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