• Attendance

    November 2011
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  • The “Class”

    Avery, Naim, Aaron

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Head Start, More Head Start, and Zoo Lights

Nik took Avery to his second Head Start on-site day on the bus. Nik observed the same thing as I did. It is exactly where Avery needs to be, it is a good level for him and he seems to get the hang of it. They did rice and beans, the dental hygienist came and did fluoride treatments and said Avery’s teeth look really good. Avery supposedly signed “more crackers” according to Danielle. I’ve never seen him put those two words together (put have seen them separately) so that might have been a bit of a reach considering he does them both similarly, but we shall see. He came over and sat in Nik’s lap for circle time. He wanted “more” outside. He likes that whole teeth brushing bit. He signed “more” for peaches to Danielle. (I find it amusing he does way more for her than he does for Jean from EI. Its all about building relationships instead of looking at him as a specimen.) He fell asleep on the way home.

Today, he had head start home visit. Nik said he was less willing to sit and do anything, but her notes say he played with some pop beads, manipulated a book, and played “where’s avery?” Said he said “Here go!” and “uh-oh.”

Danielle’s Notes from Head Start

Took all three kids to McDonalds and Zoo Lights, and have absolutely no pictures to show for it as I forgot my camera. Avery drank a juice box for the first time at McDonalds, finally getting how a straw works.

Zoo Lights went so much better than last time (three years ago when I got scarily lost and disoriented and had to dramatically find help.) This year we did it differently, though. First, I went 2 hours early since it was a nice day and I have a zoo membership now from when the kids went to camp last summer. So, we just went around and looked at animals in the almost empty zoo. The animals were actually quite active and a few came down to visit us. It was almost as if they missed their public. I was closer to a polar bear than I have ever been in my life. It was no more than 6 or 8 inches away on the other side of a floor to ceiling glass window, asleep right up next to the wall. Really cute, I wanted to reach down and scratch its ears. They seem so much happier in the winter time, as did the penguins and several other cold climate animals. I never have been to the zoo in the winter, cold but interesting.

The zoo was so empty that I pretty much let Avery out to have relatively free reign. There was some herding involved, but he loved running free. He did not really get too into the animals that were still (such as the polar bear) but he would get excited to see animals when they moved around. It was cold, but we were able to occasionally take breaks in relatively warm places like the Aviary and gift shop.

There were a lot of lights on anyway even though it wasn’t dark yet, so that helped orient me. Another HUGE, MASSIVE help was Aaron, my navigator, who KNOWS that zoo. Since his two weeks at zoo camp, he walks around like he owns the place. He really acted as our guide. Naim was my micro-guide and helper and stayed close with me, and Aaron was our macro guide who helped us orient to where we wanted to go.  They also helped by taking the stroller and pushing Avery and by holding my hand and being sighted guides. I don’t want them to stress too much about having to take care of their blind parents, and in most situations I think they don’t have to, but when they do, they seem to get a kick out of it and feel grown up.

Three years ago we went on the train and waited in a HUGE line about over an hour to get on. (I was with someone else or I wouldn’t have done it.) This time, we were there before the first train took off, so we just lined up about ten minutes before, and got on the first train. VERY SMART. Because when we returned, the line was huge and the park was getting crowded. The train is the way to see zoo lights when you are blind. Avery fell asleep on my lap, but Naim got in a discussion with the person behind us and Aaron also enjoyed. Afterwards, we got hot chocolate and then headed home. Zoo Lights in the first hour is so much better than later in the evening.

Holiday Wrap-Up

We all kind of went kaplooey last week. But, lets see, we must have gotten a few things done:

Wednesday, the kids went to D’s house.

Thursday, we went to Turkey Trot in the am. We walked around the zoo a bit afterwards, but it was cold and we came home. Avery was extremely happy to get out of his stroller. He wants to be done with the stroller, but I’m not quite ready, yet.

Terry took this after Turkey Trot. (Avery's VH teacher who ran with Nik.)

At Stellar Cove with sea lions, sea otters and other fish and birds. Kids know all kinds of stuff about the zoo since zoo camp. They showed us a fish with no eyes and explained that they scuba dived to do surgery and remove them.

Avery was extremely excited by the stuff in the aquarium. There was a sea otter who was playing with a jug with ice in it, shaking it to try to get the ice pieces out. Kids found this hilariously funny.

When we came home, we made a relatively simple Thanksgiving meal. Dwight came, late of course… Aaron and Naim mostly ate bread and cranberries. Sigh. Naim was thankful for the earth, and Aaron was thankful for Bionicles.

Getting ready to eat, deciding to go ahead without D was a hard decision for A and N, but he did show up a few minutes later (Only 2 hours late!)

Aaron's picture of the "Feast"

Aaron's picture of Nik

Aaron's picture of me, he told me to take a big scoop!

Playing with D after dinner. Avery very much likes to be included, and sat on D's lap for a while.

More kids, and lots and lots of Apple products.

Somehow, the rest of the weekend devolved into Nik and I getting lots and lots of sleep and the kids playing lots and lots on the computer. I guess that’s good, that we slept and took it easy, but it felt very unproductive.

Well, it isn’t totally true. I have been working and working with Avery every chance I get over the weekend and we have had some minor breakthroughs. He is showing a few signs; most notably, “cracker” and “more” and “yes” (or a nod or a Yeah Yeah Yeah! Never just one yeah.) Last week he was awful, and we couldn’t figure out why. He lost all communication and just ended up whining on the floor a lot. Finally, I was talking to D and trying to think of what it could be and I thought it might be coconut milk, which we tried instead of almond. That was the only thing that changed. And he acted badly last time when we tried soy milk. (Rice milk and formula seem to be ok, but almond milk is by far the best.) The common ingredient seems to be some type of calcium tricarbonate additive. He had the loose, seedy poops again. Anyway, took him off coconut milk and within about 24 hours, he went back to being in a good mood and hugging and communicating again. Frustrating! First, you aren’t 100% sure that you aren’t crazy with all this, and second, almond milk is the most expensive milk substitute, of course!

I don’t know whether to celebrate or hold my breath in regards to the signing. I don’t know if they will remain to be built on, or if like everything else (except HereGO!) they will die in a few days. What we might possibly be building on, though, is that he might be seeing how communicating makes his life easier and how it has a positive function in his life. Hopefully, that will allow him to keep the signs/words he has and keep moving forward with an increased vocabulary. I will say that his receptive communication IS improving and it does not seem to go away during his bad days. But since he has decided to sign, and I am the best signer in the house, he feels the need to always come to me when he wants something. It’s ok, but I have an intense little shadow that wants a lot of crackers.

His main communication is to drag me over to the kitchen pantry door. Then I make him sign for what he wants.

Also had the kids play with play-doh today, but the play doh I had was all dried out, so I found some modeling clay. It was a bit too thick for Avery, but he did enjoy playing with it for a little bit. Need to get or make more play doh. Aaron made a bionicle of some sort. I think this is Rahkshi.

Aaron had structural integrity issues with his sculpture, so I think he turned this into a dog later.

Video of kids playing with clay.

Mon. School

Avery:

Buttercups, tracing with crayon, reading book about Shapes. We brought the little trike in and he has been going crazy on that. He can zip that thing around way better than A and N did at this age, although still can’t quite reach the pedals. Worked on communicating around food and drink, up and down. I know he understands the question, I don’t always get a solid symbolic communication. But he is starting to get that he doesn’t get what he wants unless he does something. The least he will do is an affirmative squeak and smile or excited hand shake. Sometimes a sign that looks like “more” and sometimes a Yeah or a nod.

Avery on Little Wheel

A and N:

  • Word Time (RIDE DRIVE) which led into a discussion of drinking and drunk drivers. Aaron did an imitation of what he thought drunk people were like. It was scary how well he nailed “Drunk Frat Boy Who Headbangs” so well.
  • Math Lesson 142-to part of 144. We did quarters and pretend buying items. We did not get the last 2 pp. of 144 done in the practice book, but that will be good review for next time. 1 to 2 days left in this chapter.
  • Naim did Ee in Sylvan and we matched pictures with their beginning letter sounds using magnetic letters/pictures on the white board.
  • Aaron did 1/2 of lesson 7 on animal names in Sylvan and did the DVD and workbook portion of lesson 16 in HOP. He also read the book “Pig’s Backpack.” Lesson was on compound words. 2 more days of HOP K and we will be moving on up to the next level!
  • HWT Letter B
  • Read “Where is Bear?” and “The Monster at the End of this Book” in which Aaron read almost all of it along with me.

Weekend Update

Yesterday:

Avery and I did some of the Buttercups curriculum, including a “red sculpture” that was putting red things (festoon, candy wrapper, red crayon, red stamp) in a small red and white box. He got into the stamping a bit and colored a bit. Any time I have his attention for more than 2 seconds and he is manipulating things while I name them I feel is a success. It gets pretty hard to keep his attention sometimes. We also did a “more tickles” game on the bed, where he would have to indicate (through sign) that he wants more tickles. He is getting fairly good with the sign “more” around food, but he did not do it this time. However, any time I would  ask him, he would start to giggle and shrink up in anticipation of tickles, so he is obviously comprehending there. I am satisfied that his receptive is improving and I know that will have to come before expressive. Around food, though. We seem to have a fairly reliable “more” and “all done.” Also “yeah” is becoming fairly consistent. He was taken coke cans and building towers with them. I said, “Are you building towers?” and he gave me a clear “yeah.” This morning, he gave me his cup from breakfast and I asked him if he wanted more, he gave me a head nod. It is the first time I have seen that.

We also went to a circle supper at church which was supposed to be kid friendly. The idea was to make pizzas, which is a good idea, but it was a bit of a disorganized mad house. I don’t blame the planners, they tried their best, but it was just like going to a out of control birthday party where the kids had no party stuff to do. There were 36 people there, including kids. Three babies, including Avery, about 15 kids total. There were a group of older people that came (50+ with no kids) who pissed me off. They completely ignored everyone else and did nothing to help. As usual, I had to help 5 people get pizza stuff. I tried to make two pizzas at once and this woman came and bumped one of mine and it plopped on the floor. That was just an accident, but then afterwards, not only did they not help clean up, they would not move out of the way, they ignored me when I was on the floor trying to wipe up sauce, and then they all crowded in front of me in line when my other pizza was just sitting there on the table, abandoned. I could not believe how rude they were. Then they went and sat over in a corner by themselves and when Nik tried to talk to them, they blew him off. Why did they even bother to come? Anyway, lots of kids everywhere with little organization. I was about to shoot my brains out. After everyone got fed and settled, it got a lot better and the kids were playing happily with each other and parents had some time to talk. But then it was time for it to be over. Anyway, despite the craziness, it is good for the kids to work on their social skills and manners as far as going through a buffet line, cleaning up after themselves, waiting for everyone to start eating, etc. It is also good for Avery to move away from us and play with other kids. He didn’t at first, but got better near the end.

Today we did homeschool and then the kids went to D’s house.

  • Word Time (CAKE DESSERT)
  • Calvert Math Lesson 139-141. Dimes and penny, nickel, dime review. They do really good with this. They have little problem understanding money ad exchanging nickels for dimes, etc.
  • Aaron reading-Sylvan Review lessons 1-6. We took a stack of about 30 words and sorted them by rhyming. He did well with that. Also did worksheet pages for HOP Lesson 15.
  • Naim did Dd in Sylvan, did -an workbook pages in HOP supplemental.
  • Handwriting- did P on magnet board and P page in HWT.

Perfect Attendance!

Naim the Cat, making a Cat Face

Last Day of Fall Quarter officially today and collectively, we have had perfect attendance at VH, NWCT, and Avery’s HD and EI. For us, running everyone all over town (and with no illnesses) that is a big accomplishment.

So today was Naim’s play at NWCT. It was Little Bear and the Mermaid, which was an adaptation of the Little Bear books. (Maurice Sendak) Naim was the cat, and although I think he suffered some burnout and did have some trouble with his lines, it went as well as could be expected and he was very happy with himself after the play.

Avery was being awful during it, so I was not able to video it. I barely got pictures. I do think that Avery had an affect on Naim forgetting some lines at the beginning of his scene. Avery had just squirmed his way off of me and Nik grabbed him and Avery started to cry right when Naim entered the play. Nik took Avery out as only Nik can do, which causes a disruption with the dog and everything. (I kept the dog, and Nik was closer to the door.) Aaron sat right up front with some other kids, so that was good. After Naim kind of settled down a bit and he did well after that. They did a really good job on make-up and costuming this time, so Naim thought that was really great. We went to Tropical Smoothie afterwords for lunch.

He says he wants to do another play, but we are going to sit winter classes out and see what he feels like in Spring or Summer.

Program

Aaron at Starbuck's, telling me that if I just took a picture of him and this dog next to the Christmas tree, it would be SOOO Cuuuute!

The best I could get of the whole cast.

The Little Devil Incarnate Himself, perfectly pesky at Tropicana

What's left of the cat make-up.

Aaron and Avery at the kid booth, coloring dolphins.

Last Day of VH for Fall

Aaron and Naim had Discoverers and as usual I get no info on that. Naim had drama and they did not do a play this term, which I think is good, because two plays two days in a row would have been a lot and he likes that they mostly do drama games in there anyway. Aaron made fruit salad for measure for treasure. He brought bananas.

And it was the BEST FRUIT SALAD EVAH! he said, but then had another major drama where he could not find the thing he made on Tuesday in Math Playground (it is in the same room as MFT). So he had a crying fit and hid under the table. I got all this through Nik. But this is exactly the problem we had last year when I took him out of almost everything except Discoverers. We were doing so good this year so far! Perhaps the break will be good for him, but I’ve kind of had it. Going to Village Home is a huge time commitment, costs money, and is a lot of work. It is a privilege and I’m not going to put up with this. He can stay home all day if he is going to continue to pull this and he will have to just do more homeschool at home. (Either that, or there is always the threat of public school, which I’ve really tried not to give the tone that that is a punishment or something awful in case we ever have to go that route, but there are enough kids at VH who have spent some time in PS and tell him how awful it is that if we say anything about it, he acts like we are sentencing him to prison.)

Avery did OK at Little Villagers again. Seemed to just put up with snack, didn’t do art, and went to the library with Nik instead of going outside to the park with the others. So maybe he needs a break, too. He has one more “off-site” Head Start after Thanksgiving and then he will have a month long break from all off-site school. Though his teacher will still come. (And I think there is a Head Start Xmas Party as well.)

Avery Movie (let see how this works!)

 

VH, Last Week, Head Start

VH:

Math Playground-They made geometric designs out of long strips of paper. All I saw of that one.

Bookworms-no clue! (Looks like something about sea life, based on stuff brought home.)

Science (N)-They made some kind of substance that Naim had in a plastic bag that looked a bit like milk (a little less white than store milk) and was very cold. Naim said it was milk that didn’t come from cows. He also brought his whole notebook home, his “lab book” so I will look through that and see if there is anything good to scan.

Legos (A)-He had some sort of shit-fit because he couldn’t find two rocket pieces or something. I was actually sitting right outside reading a book and they came and got me, which kind of pissed me off. Then I go in to see what the problem is and he tells me, and I’m like, “Aaron (sigh), you can’t have a cry-y, whiney fit over every little stupid thing. There are four hundred bajillion legos here, be imaginative.” But what always happens with him is that every gives him the poor baby treatment and so if I tell him to suck it the fuck up or go sit on a bench and don’t participate, they look at me like I’m awful. (I don’t say it that badly.) But the kid needs to grow up about some of this stuff. I don’t want to be called into a classroom unless you broke your leg, kid.

I came home and Danielle was here with Nik and Avery, but just finishing up. They did bean and rice table. He did pretty well with her and played with her himself for a bit.

Evernote Samples: (Decided the easiest way to do them is links. Still figuring this out.)