About Me

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After being told I would never be able to have children, I am now a stay-at-home Mommy to Maddie who happens to have Down Syndrome. I've been married 16 years to my best friend, having the time of my life. Thanks for stopping by and sharing in our little journey through life.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Halloween Treats!

We had a great Halloween this year!  

I was a bit ambitious with Maddie's costume and stretched my sewing prowess into an entirely new level.  
Thank goodness for good tutorials from Make It- Love It blog!!
I would have NEVER pulled this off without her.  

My sisters and mom and I were going to make a day of freezer meals Saturday and since Halloween fell on a Friday this year, Maddie and I went to Grams and Papa's early.
The only trick this trick-or-treat season was not having Daddy with us.  :(

Maddie genuinely LOVED being Mary Poppins.  
This year was so fun because it was like this was the first year she was really connected and present.  
I'll update later with a post on her progress with Sensory Processing Disorder, but I could definitely tell she was more "available" this year.  

The great thing about being in Woodward for Halloween was being with family.
She loves her cousins so much!
And they are so good to look after her.

We also got to visit my Great Aunt and Uncle.  
It's always good to catch up!!  

Maddie and Uncle Merritt switched hats for a good laugh!

And she gave big hugs bye-bye...

And came out with an amazing haul of candy and goodies this year!  
Good memories of another Halloween.   

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Homeschooling: A is for Aptitude

Lately, I've ran into some other parents of special needs kiddos who have a peaked interest in homeschooling.  
I'm writing this post with you in mind to show you if I can do it, you can too!!

The last couple of weeks we have been focusing on apples.  
I found these lesson plans from Motherhood on a Dime and I use them as a template to have a jumping off point. 
She has free versions and a downloadable PDF file for $17 which is extremely reasonable, but I have found I get by just fine with the free version.  

These lesson plans are written for one week at a time, but we can easily stretch a favorite topic into multiple weeks.  I anticipate continuing on with apples until Maddie gets bored, so this actually helps with prep time.  

If you are considering homeschooling a couple of things I would emphasize while reading this are:
1) Each of these activities were worked into our day to day lives.  Most of them only take 5-10 minutes with a few (like painting) lasting more like 30 minutes and most of that is unstructured play time.
2)  A lot of times, we may only do one or two activities a day.  
3) I keep my goals very broad. For example, one day I'll decide to focus on one-to-one correspondence, the next I'll focus on writing letters, the next day the focus will be fine motor skills.  I tell myself as long as I get in one large goal, the rest is icing on the cake.  That helps me keep from getting through a day without any homeschooling.
4) I am still trying to find a good rhythm for us.  It's a bit more of a challenge since she does go to preschool two days/week.  The other challenge working against us is myself. 
 I cannot STAND doing the same thing twice.  
(In 15 years of marriage, I can count on one hand the number of recipes I have repeated. Once I've conquered a recipe it's just boring to do it all over again!)
This is something I have GOT to work on.  
Maddie needs repetition to learn.  
So, keep these things in mind if you are reading this and envisioning yourself homeschooling. 

So, here's a look into our last couple of weeks:

We painted imprints with apples.

After the "work" was done, I let Maddie have some open-ended play with the paint.  

With her propensity for sensory play, she just couldn't help herself...
If it feels good to squish paint between fingers, it must feel even better to wipe it all over one's arm!

We also used these apples from Amazon.

Maddie sorted them by size
She knows "big" and "small" and we are working on "medium"

We also did one-to-one correspondence and quantifying

I found another great free resource from Pre-Kinders.com
These are same/different cards.
This was a challenge for Maddie, so this is something I need to repeat more often.

I also utilized our library and checked out a few books about apples.
We try and read every day, even on days she goes to preschool.

Our book list for apples is:
An Apple's Life by Nancy Dickman
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman (one of my favorites!)
The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall
Apples by Jacqueline Farmer
Ten Apples Up on Top by Theo LeSieg

I also used the apple imprints we painted for number recognition.
I cut them out, wrote the numbers on the apples with a sharpie, and laminated them.
I went to 20, but for now, we are still working on 1-5.

I usually work in other things that have nothing to do with the "theme" of the week.
For example, one day my focus was less T.V. time, more open-ended play time.
I read a fantastic blog featuring 30 Days to Transform Your Play.

Maddie and I went out and collected "interesting things" from nature.
Then, we made play dough together.

Then, I set all of our nature finds out on her table to explore.

I found she needed a little more "encouragement" to really get involved so I added her
  Tinkerbell fairies.

I have to admit, this was more my creation than Maddie's! I couldn't help it.  They needed shade trees!

One of the most important aspects for us with homeschooling is preparing Maddie for independent living.  We are always working on practical life skills.

Since she has been progressing so well with her Sensory Processing Disorder therapy, I wanted Maddie to try to drink from a cup again.
We've been working on this skill for a LOOOOONG time.  She just couldn't quite get the hang of it, but now that she was showing signs of regulation, I knew it was time to try again.

I wanted smaller, heavier, glass cups.
The heavier the cup, the more "information" there is to help her brain process the act of drinking from a cup.
I went to Goodwill and found the most adorable ceramic Japanese cups that were absolutely perfect.
I filled it with water first, and her first try, she finished the entire cup with a very small amount of spillage!
She was sooo proud of herself!!

So, next I wanted to teach her to pour from her own pitcher.
We have been "practicing" using beans.
I bought this set from Montessori-N-Such.

This week, she successfully began pouring her own water in her own cups.

It took some practice to learn not only how to pour, but when to stop!

After lots of practicing, over and over, she did it!!

I know this is  super long post,  and if you're still reading chances are you are either really interested in homeschooling or Maddie's Grandma or Grammie!

Ideally, we would probably have more of a structured schedule,
we would work on the basics every day,
we would repeat a lot of the same activities over and over,
and we would work in more open ended play and less T.V. time.

We are still a work in progress with a large learning curve, but I can tell you that homeschooling is worth every minute of the investment of time and materials you are willing to make.

I have learned SO much about her learning style and I can't tell you how good it feels to know exactly where she's at, assessing her aptitude firsthand, and just generally having a handle on her education.

Homeschooling for us is has been a great decision.
Granted, it's one I will re-assess next year, but at least for the time being, we are having fun and are happy

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Maddie Begins Ballet!

Today will be Maddie's first day of ballet classes! 
I'm so excited!

This morning I showed her the leotard and ballet shoes for class and she couldn't wait to put them on and try them out!

We are keeping things low-key.  
We chose to sign her up at the YMCA rather than a dance studio.  

I think she's going to love it. 

First position, second position, here we come!!