Sunday, July 31, 2011

Great Resource for Food Storage Buckets

If, like me, you have been searching high and low for used plastic
buckets to store your grains, flour, sugar, and other dry goods in I
have found an excellent resource. I talked to the bakery department at
the Walmart in Shawnee and found that they sell the buckets with lids
for $1 each. The buckets held products like icing. Since they
contained food items, the buckets can safely be used for storing your
dry goods. The size of the buckets looks to be about 3 gallon
capacity. Lids fit snug, so you do not have to be concerned about bugs
getting into the buckets.

I ended up buying 6 buckets to start with. I am preparing to buy a bulk
amount of rice, flour, sugar, pasta, and oatmeal. Next stock up
shopping trip will include a variety of dried beans in bulk packages. I
am so thrilled to be able to do this. I have been wanting to store a
lot more of the basics and this is a way to do it. If the buckets have
a tight enough seal, you can go the extra step of buying oxygen
absorption packets to place in the buckets that will be stored. This
will increase the shelf life of the dry goods.

One tip that I want to share is my way of labeling the buckets. I am
going to a teacher supply store and buying the clear vinyl adhesive
sleeves that you can slip an index card into. It is basically a clear
pocket that can be adhered onto a school desk. I am going to place on
on each bucket to allow me the ability to change out the index card
labeling the contents and the date sealed. You can likely find a
similar product at an office supply store.

Check your local bakeries. You never know. You may find more
containers that you can use!


Monday, July 25, 2011

What About Me? Siblings of Special Needs Children

Something that has been on my heart for some time now was to post about
siblings of special needs children. If your family is anything like
mine, you are always busy. There are all the typical day to day tasks
to be done. Maintaining the home, preparing meals, tending to the
children, laundry, homeschooling, and more. With Micah, there is also
therapy to be done. Micah is like a 10-12 month old in a 3 yr old
body. His understanding level is 2 years behind his age. This means
that I am having to, in some ways, treat him as you would a 12 month old
infant. He has to be hand-fed, watched like a hawk, diapered, and at
every opportunity be given some form of therapy. While I am doing
structured therapy with him daily, I also believe that you take each
opportunity that is offered. If he is wanting more water in his bottle,
I encourage him to sign "more" in hopes of getting him to use sign
language to communicate instead of fussing. It makes an exhausting
day. In all of this activity, there is one other very precious child
involved - Abigail.

Abbie is 5 yrs old and a quiet child by nature. She is sometimes a bit
older than her age. In being with her brother, she is wonderful. Often
Abbie can get Micah to respond when no one else can. If Micah is
wanting to be in "Micah Land" for too long, Abbie will get in his face
and nag him into playing with her. She simply plays next to him,
following & imitating him, until he begins to smile and interact with
her. She just won't let him ignore her! It is a joy to watch. Abbie
is such a big help to me. If I am busy washing dishes, she can be found
playing along side of Micah. If Micah does anything that could hurt
him, she is quick to let me know. If he is having a meltdown, Abbie
will attempt to comfort him. Most often by quietly reassuring him with
gentle words and stroking his back or head.

While it is a blessing to see her grow with a sense of compassion for
her brother, I also want Abbie to be a kid. I also want to be sure that
she doesn't feel lost in the shuffle. I make a point to spend time
alone with Abbie each day. Micah still takes his naps in the afternoon
and often Abbie and I will have that time or in the evening after Micah
has gone to bed. We do different activities, depending on what she is
in the mood for. Sometimes, it is coloring together in a coloring book
or watercolor painting. Other times it is me massaging pretty scented
lotion on her legs, arms, and feet while she chats about whatever is on
her mind. One favorite activity is to have me read stories to her. It
doesn't matter what the activity. The point is that we have our time
together where she is the center of my attention and made to feel special.

The Lord blessed Joe and I with 2 very precious children. While Micah's
needs may be more out in the open, Abbie's needs are just as important.
We do not want her to ever feel that her brother is more important than
she is. Even in families where there are no special needs children, you
can have so much focus on one child that the other feels left out or
less important to their parents. By circumstance, Micah will need more
attention than Abbie at least for a time. Does Abbie need to understand
that Micah needs the extra help and attention? Yes, certainly she needs
to understand that. Does this mean that she should feel good about it?
No. She is a child herself being asked to understand something that
even grown-ups sometimes struggle with. But I can do much to help ease
the way for her. To not do so could lead to her resenting her brother
and the time I take helping him with his therapy. It is not showing
love to Abbie for me to leave her out continually and expect her to

In doing therapy with Micah, I involve Abbie whenever possible. She
loves playing games with him and trying to show him how to play with a
new toy or game. I have caught her many times playing with Micah and
showing him how to work a puzzle. When she notices that I am watching,
she tells me that she is helping Micah with his therapy. It is sweet.
She adores him and it shows. I see the way that he responds to her and
you know that he feels the same towards her. She can get a laugh out of
Micah without much effort. He walks in circles and she follows him and
sings. Before long, Micah is smiling and giggly as they do laps in the
middle of the floor. Through letting her "do therapy" with Micah in
her fun way, she truly feels like she is helping him. She does help
him! When she can get him to do something, she gets even more excited
than Micah does. I make sure that she knows that her helping Micah was
what helped him learn that new thing so fast and that I am proud of her.

Through it all, we have our tea parties and our "Momma/Daughter time" as
she calls it. We cook together, bake together, she is even helping me
with making meal mixes that we bag up for Joe to take on the truck. It
is a joy to have these times with her. We take mundane tasks and are
turning even them into "our time."

I am so blessed to have Abbie. She is a precious little girl with a
heart bigger than any I have ever know. She is learning at a young age
how to love unconditionally and to have compassion for others. I am
humbled to have this little girl as my daughter.

Who Would Have Thought?

When I started this blog several years ago, it was at my dear husband's
encouragement. I thought to myself, "who would want to read what I
write about?" Little did I know back then that I would find new
Internet friends in the process. It still humbles me to see how many
follow my blog. Nearly each time I post, I receive encouragements and
sweet comments from you. It is a blessing and please know that your
comments are indeed an encouragement to me.

I want to that you all especially for your gentle heartfelt replies to
my blog about Micah & the rude encounter we had after church a couple
weeks ago. I was venting and still processing in my own mind what would
have been the proper way to have handled it. I am realizing that I do
need to be ready for such things. People are ignorant in regards to
what autism is. Rarely do I mention autism to someone asking about
Micah and I do not end up having to explain what it is. I am no longer
surprised to have someone ask, "What exactly is autism? I have heard of
it but have no idea what people are talking about." I find that for
every ill mannered person, there are many who are honestly wanting to
learn & understand. So many have been exposed to autism, whether a
relative has it or they know someone who knows someone. It seems that
autism is a very poorly understood disorder. I thank God for the gift
of being able to help educate others. Experiences like what I had at
that restaurant are simply reminders that there is much educating to be
done. It didn't feel that way at the moment, but I understand it to be
so now.

I thank you all for your prayers and support.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Nearly Ready for Homeschool

I have been working on preparing for the next school term over the past few weeks.  I already had the curriculum chosen, but have a bit of extra work to do to get ready for the next term.   Abbie has been doing preschool for 2 years and in that time had completed Kindergarten level work also.  Joe and I are wanting her to have a curriculum that is Bible based.  We believe that if we give the children a strong foundation in the Bible, then when faced with worldly ideals, the children will be prepared to make better choices.

I am ordering Abbie's curriculum from Rod & Staff publishers.  It is a Mennonite run company so we are secure in the fact that the lessons will be based on the Bible.  Not being Mennonite ourselves, we are pleased that though the curriculum has a definite conservative view, it does not preach Mennonite theology.  One of the weak areas in the curriculum however is the lack of Science and History/Social Studies at the 1st grade level.  For this, I am having to come up with my own curriculum.

I am using the workbox method of organizing the schooling this year.  This is based on "Sue Patrick's Workbox System: A Parent's Guide" by Sue Patrick.  Ms. Patrick is a homeschooling parent of an autistic son.  She based it on the TEACCH system which uses task boxes to teach children.  Each box contains a single assignment or activity along with all needed items to complete that task.  The method work beautifully in that the child has a definite beginning and end to the task or assignment.

In homeschooling, families find that having the workboxes makes a more organized and orderly way to educate their children.  The child feels more in control of their learning.  As they complete each box and set it aside, they can see their "to do" boxes gradually disappear and are motivated to continue.  Intermixed among the school assignments are fun activities or diversions that make the day more enjoyable.  A little snack, an educational game, a 20 minute break to go outside and play, and more can be included in the boxes.

For Micah, this is also a learning approach that will benefit him.  I already have workboxes planned to use in Micah's education.  At this point, much of it is therapy based but even that can be a learning tool.  Learning to sort by color, developing fine motor skills so that he can learn to write, pointing to pictures of items being named can all become a valuable lesson for him.  I love the TEACCH approach in that it helps to promote independence in a child.  This is critical especially with a special needs child like Micah.

I am setting up our living room as a homeschool room.  I drew out a map of the room with shelving, desks, etc.  Having a small room, it was necessary to me to be able to see how much shelving I can fit in there.  We will have space for my desk, a child's desk for Abbie, a Little Tykes table for Micah to work at, and bookcases on all available walls.  Under the windows I am placing the shorter 4-shelf bookcases which are slightly taller than the bottom of the windows.

Abbie will have one small bookcase for her 12 workboxes.  On the top of her bookcase will be containers for storing her pencils, crayons and other school supplies.  She has an old school desk that was given to us by a neighbor.  Above her desk, on the wall, I am going to place a whiteboard.  Her workboxes will contain her daily assignments in the Rod & Staff subjects of Math, Reading, Writing, and Art.  She also will have hands-on activities for History & Science.  Lastly, she will have her "Keepers of the Faith" activity.  One extra project that she is wanting to do is notebook/lapbook activities for chapter books we read.  I found through Homeschool Share a series of activities to correspond with the Little House series of books.   

Micah has a Little Tykes table and chairs set that I am putting in the room for him.  He still needs work at learning to sit still while working on a task, but this will help him.  His workboxes will be on their own bookcase. He also has 12 workboxes.  Seems like a lot for a 3 yr old, huh?  Well, for him it is easy.  The tasks are all very short in duration.  I give him 4 boxes at a time.  Each task takes only a few minutes to complete.  After finishing the 4th box, he has a break for an hour or so to play.  Then I get out 4 more boxes.  We repeat this 3 times a day.  Each session takes about 20 minutes at the most.  This means that Micah does only 1 hour of work per day.  As Micah gets older and able to do more, his activities will take more time to complete.  The point with him right now is to develop the routine of using workboxes.

It is taking me some time to get this all together.  I am getting there though.  It is fun seeing Abbie get excited about the upcoming term.  As I am making preparations in the room and getting supplies, she is getting more ready to start.  It is so exciting as a Mum to have a little one so eager to learn!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Little House Literature Activities

At Homeschool Share I found a great resource for Miss Abbie.  They have a free printable lapbook activity for the "Little House on the Prairie" books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.   I started using the "Little House in the Big Woods" book last autumn and she loved it so much she wants to repeat it this year.  Being it is our first actual year of homeschooling, I am more than willing to do that.  Once done, we will go on and do the other books in the series.  One difference to how I am doing it though is that I am binding all the activity pages into a comb binding.  I am including extra pages for scrapbooking things like Abbie making butter or other activities.  One activity that we didn't get to do last autumn, but has her excited, is making homemade cheese.  Who would have thought that a 5 yr old would be making cheese as a part of her schooling?  This little girl is very excited about it though.  Luckily, I know right where to go to get the supplies and they are easily within our budget.  If interested, Lehman's  has the cheese making starting kit which includes the rennet (not the kind for puddings), a cheese mold, cheese cloth, and full instructions.  Likely, we will make cheddar cheese since that is the only kind Micah can eat also.

It is so fun to plan out the homeschooling for Abbie.  She is so excited about it all.  She is talking about wanting to learn to do a little sewing.  Her enthusiasm for learning new things is what makes this such a joy.  I feel so blessed to have a little girl who is so interested in learning these things.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

He's Not Retarded!

Having a special needs child, I am learning first hand just how
judgmental people can be. In their defense, I can only say that it is
based on their own lack of knowledge or understanding. It doesn't
happen often, but we are faced with it from time to time. My wonderful
husband is a truck driver and away from home for over a month at a
time. Even out on the truck, he has been faced with those lacking

One day when going into a truck stop restaurant to get something to eat,
my husband overheard a small group of truckers talking about autism. It
was during the Autism Awareness month of April. Joe didn't pay much
attention to the conversation until one trucker said that "autism is a
label that professionals have put onto kids whose parents practice bad
parenting skills." Bless my husband! He is a very quiet and thoughtful
man, thinking through his thoughts before speaking. He asked the
trucker what punishment a parent should use to correct a child who makes
no eye contact? What punishment should a parent use to correct a child
who doesn't speak or cannot feed themself? What punishment does a
parent use to stop a child from screaming in terror or pain caused by
the stimuli around them? As my husband continued asking the questions,
going down a list of things we face daily with our son, the truckers got
very quiet. Without saying it directly, they began to understand that
our child is autistic and we face these things as a reality of autism
and not a symptom of bad parenting. By the time my husband was done
eating and leaving the restaurant, the outspoken trucker had filled out
an Autism Speaks donation card that was available at the cash register.

Many times though, it seems that I am a magnet for the outspoken and the
rude. Likely it is due to my nearly always having our son with me.
Unfortunately, I am not as "thoughtful" and quick thinking as my dear
husband. Most of the time, I am silenced by the sheer nerve of people.
I cannot imagine what goes through a person's mind that gives them the
idea that their hurtful comments are both wanted and appropriate. Last
week, I was faced with likely one of the worst I have had thus far.

I took our children to church in Oklahoma City, to the congregation that
has become our family. On the way home, I stopped at a Denny's
restaurant to get lunch before the 80+ mile trip home. The waiter
looked to be in his 40's. Micah was in a "chatty" mood and was very
vocal. When in this mood, he will mimic phrases that he has overheard
or single syllables. On this day, he kept saying "Da-Da" and giggling.
The waiter looked at Micah and said to me, "He talks really good for a
retarded kid his age." I was stunned. What do you say to that? It was
a very uncomfortable moment. I let him know that Micah was autistic.
This waiter then said that I was being snowballed by the doctors. That
the term "autism" was just a nicer way for doctors to say that your kid
is retarded.

Our 5 yr old daughter was with us and after the waiter left the table,
asked me what retarded meant and if Micah is retarded. This was not a
conversation that I was prepared for. Our daughter adores her brother
and is fully accepting of him as he is. I gave her a very simplistic
definition of mental retardation to her and explained the difference
between it and autism. I then reassured her that her little brother had
autism and is not retarded. She and I have talked before about Micah
being different from other kids. She is more than okay with that. In
her words, it is okay - he is just being Micah.

When the waiter returned to the table, Abbie let him know that her
brother has autism. She also informed him that God allowed him to have
it because it makes him special so he can help teach us how to have
unconditional love for others. (Nice to know that she really does
absorb our talks!)

I write of these experiences because there are many who go through this
and don't speak up. As a parent to a special little one, I can say in
all honesty that it is hurtful to have others judge and condemn without
knowledge. Autistic children do not have mental retardation. They are
not dumb. They are not useless and without a purpose in life. They are
not spoiled brats having a temper tantrum. They are not someone to be
hidden away from society.

When Micah is in certain types of lighting, such as when a fluorescent
light is blinking, it causes a pain reflex reaction. Someone once
described it to me as being stung by a wasp inside your head. When you
hear the cries, you can literally hear the pain in his voice. Imagine
being lost in thought to the point of being unaware of others in the
room. Suddenly, you have that pain reflex kick in. Or maybe you think
you are alone and suddenly you find yourself in a place where you are in
sheer terror. Not simply uneasy, but stark intense terror of your
surroundings. Your only means of communication is to cry or scream.
Does this make you a spoiled, undisciplined brat?

Imagine you are in a foreign country where you cannot speak or read the
language. You literally can only make gestures to try and communicate
your needs. Does this make you dumb? Even someone like Einstein would
appear to be dumb in that situation! Just because an autistic child or
adult cannot communicate in the same way that you do doesn't make them
less intelligent.

My heart breaks daily for my son. I am past the stage of blaming myself
for his autism due to being 45 yrs old when I had him. I am past the
point of second-guessing everything that I did during the pregnancy, the
preterm labor issues, and everything. I know in my heart that God would
never have allowed Micah to be autistic if it was not something that He
could use to show His grace and love. Micah has a purpose in life. If
it is God's Will to heal him, it will happen. But, I firmly believe
that one day Micah will be able to stand before others and give his
testimony of what he has been able to do in his life through God's grace
in spite of being autistic.

What I am not past yet is the pain and hurt that I feel when some
unthinking person rips into me in the store because Micah is crying. I
have literally been told to "shut the f-ing brat up" when he was crying
at a store. I have had the snotty comments and judgments made from
people who feel it is their duty to tell me how my parenting fails. I
have had people, like that waiter, make judgments about my son that are
ignorant at best. I thank the Lord that Micah doesn't yet understand
the harsh words of others.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Great Stroller Hunt

The great stroller hunt has commenced. Micah is getting too tall for a
standard stroller. They have that little bar across the front to keep
the child from falling out. If Micah is wearing shoes, it is hard to
get him in and out of the stroller. We had an umbrella type of stroller
but he always looked squished across the shoulders in it. He never
liked it and gave a fuss when put in one.

Now, I am in a bit of a quandary. He is getting too long legged to
easily be put into the seat area of a shopping cart. Like with the
strollers, his feet are hard to thread through the opening when he is
wearing shoes especially. I can't have him walk with me all the time.
He wanders off easily if he is distracted by something that interests
him. We have a wearable ID on him whenever we are out just in case he
wanders, but I am buying a backpack-type harness that he can wear to
help keep him close. That will work in short spurts, but not all of the
time. We are wanting to take the kids to the zoo and other places this
autumn when temps are cooler. Micah just can't walk that far. He needs
a stroller for the all-day outings and even shopping trips. So, begins
the search.

I started by looking at the strollers in the local stores. They are not
sized for older toddlers/preschoolers. I am thinking of getting one
similar to those used by joggers, but am not sure how large of a child
they can handle. It is frustrating. He hates feeling too closed in,
which the umbrella strollers have a habit of doing. If it were only a
matter of making him obey when I tell him to stay near me, it would be
one thing. For Micah though, it is a safety issue since he is so
delayed cognitively and doesn't even begin to understand what I am
saying when I ask him to stay with me. He is also very quick at getting
out of those velcro-type straps used on the baby tethers that you see
Mums use to keep their little ones close.

Life was so much easier in this arena when he was still small enough
that I could use the baby sling. Now that he is 3 yrs old, he is harder
for me to carry for very long. I know that there is a solution out
there, but where? Considering the way he wanders at every opportunity
and that he doesn't have the stamina to walk for long periods, I am
expecting to have to use a stroller at least part time until he is
nearly 6 yrs old. Much of it will depend on his ability to understand
the concept of staying near and not wandering away when we are out
running errands. I really need something that will work for that length
of time.

The other issue that the stroller will help is the stimuli overloads in
crowds or very energetic public places. I have noticed that often Micah
will be able to cope much easier with things around him if he is seated
in a "safe" spot where he can't be jostled or startled by someone
walking too closely to him. Many times I have watched him jump from
being startled by someone walking past him. Micah will bring both hands
up to his face and his expression is one of absolute fear. For him,
being startled like that is not the mild thing it is to most people. It
resonates much deeper in him. There are often times when he will become
startled to the point of having to hold strongly onto me as I carry him
in my arms. His little body trembling as he screams in fright. It
always brings home to me just how much courage he has to be able to go
out each time I take him on an outing. We are away from home 1-2 days a
week. Each time, Micah is exposed to the very things that can by turns,
either bring enjoyment or bring terror to him. This is typical for
Micah and autism. He can be having a load of fun, then suddenly as if
someone had flipped a switch, something can turn that joy into a deeply
felt fear.

Having a stroller will help to ease that fear as well as keep him much
safer while doing activities that he may otherwise be unable to do. We
want to open up the world to Micah and see this as a way to help him
feel secure enough to enjoy it. This will also give us the security of
knowing that he is strapped into the stroller and less likely to simply
vanish when he sees something that draws his attention. We know that
the Lord will provide what Micah needs. It is simply a matter of
praying for the answers and waiting on Him to reply in His timing.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Illegal to Grow Veggies???

In Oak Park, Michigan, the Bass family are being treated like criminals.  The crime is a farce.  You can read about it yourself at their blog, Oak Park Hates Veggies.  Please take time to read this family's story.  Prayers for them would be appreciated.  In a nutshell, here is what they are facing.

The Bass family had some work done in their front yard and took the opportunity to plant a small raised bed vegetable garden in their yard to help feed their family.  Julie Bass, a mother of 6 children, checked with city ordinances and found that the ordinance states that you can have plants, shrubs, grass, or other "suitable" plants in the front yard.  {I have put the word suitable in quotations here for a reason.}  In the Bass family's interpretation, a clean, well-maintained vegetable garden is and should be considered as suitable.  City planner disagrees.  The family was cited and told to move the garden to the back yard.  They didn't and are now facing a jury trial.  If the court sides with the city, Mrs. Bass faces 93 days in jail. 

Okay, here is my take on this.  Mrs. Bass was correct in checking with the city ordinances before planting.  She was able to see that the ordinance did NOT specifically say that vegetable gardens are prohibited from the front yards.  She talked also to neighbors before planting.  In the city ordinance, it states that the front yard is to be reserved for "suitable, living plants."  Okay, the word suitable is a very vague term to use.  In many communities across the nation, a front yard garden is perfectly fine.  On her blog, there are pictures of her garden.  It is extremely well kept and neat in appearance.  Far from being an eye-sore.

Obviously, I believe that the city is making a fuss where none needs to be made.  When a city uses terms that are so vague that they are left to interpretation, you will have people placing varied meanings on those terms.  But let's also look at the bigger picture.  The neighbors were okay with the garden.  She was simply trying to use an opportunity to grow food for her family.  The garden is not over run with weeds or a hazard.  Honestly, from the pictures on her blog, the garden is better maintained than many yards that I have seen in cities where home owners don't take care properly of their yards.

Around the world, Mrs. Bass' story is being reported through news organizations and blogs.  The public outcry in support of the Bass family is amazing.  If there was a clear ignoring of the city ordinances, I would be obligated as a Christian to not support her.  The Bible teaches us that we are to obey the laws of those in leadership over us as long as we are not going against God's law in the process.  In this case though, I have seen nothing in news articles or her own account that suggests that she violated the ordinance.

Please pray for this family that the Lord's will be done.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hanging on to "Stuff"

My adult daughter's family moved into their own home in town, about 10 miles away last month.  It is a change to not have them here, but it was time.  She is due to have another baby in August and they needed to be settled in their own place before then.  Now, I am going through the house and stripping the possessions down even further than ever.  Some of what we don't need has been given to them, the rest is going to be donated to a local church for their rummage sale or if not in usable condition will be trashed.  Having lived with the tight quarters of 2 families in a 2-bedroom home for about 7 months has renewed my drive to get rid of unnecessary things.  To those who have been reading my blog for a time, you know that this has been an on-going project for a couple of years or more.  There is a reason for that.

When I first started the purging of the home of unnecessary stuff, I got rid of a lot.  I was content with the results and felt good about it.  A few months later, I realized that the stuff that I found to be important enough to keep really wasn't worth having.  My priorities were starting to change.  I found that many things were being kept out of sentiment or habit, not because they had a true value to us.  I kept them because it was comfortable.  With this realization, I began to become dissatisfied with the results of my initial purge of the clutter.  I began sorting through again and got rid of even more.

Here we are a few years later and I am doing a massive purge again.  This time, I am focusing on keeping as little as possible.  Scary huh?  I keep thinking back to a home Joe and I toured at a museum in Ohio.  It was a period home and like all museum reproductions of homes, it was very sparsely furnished.  How often I have been told that today, that sparse of a home would be unrealistic!  Why?  Are we so caught up in keeping up with our neighbors that we can't see a blessing in the sparsely furnished home?  I know that few people will see it as a blessing, but that is okay.  To each their own.  For me and Joe, there is a blessing in it.

I look around me tonight at the house and I see way to much.  If you were to follow the idea of having a place for everything and everything in it's place, our house would definitely have too much!  I have dealt with the lack of storage space in this house for years.  Like many old homes, there are no built-in cabinets or storage of any kind.  We literally have to build or buy each and every bookcase, cabinet, etc. for this house.  With that in mind, I look at things and ask if it is really worth going to all the expense of buying shelving or a cabinet to store these things.  I find that 75% of the time I can without guilt or hesitation say "No" that is is not worth it. 

Joe sacrifices time with family to go out on that truck for 6 weeks at a time and make an income to support us.  Is it being loving to him for me to spend the income on buying storage items for things that are simply clutter?  Is it teaching the children good stewardship if I squander the income and resources on things that do not have a use in our home?  If I hang on to stuff or buy stuff just because I want it, am I showing my children an example of the "I want it there for I am entitled to it" attitude that is so prevalent today?  Joe does not spend 6 weeks away from the family to support whims and fancies that may come to our minds.  To expect that of him is foolish and hateful.  It is telling him that I do not value his sacrifices. 

In parallel, how often do we take the sacrifices and blessings from the Lord and squander them?  Do we hang on to stuff (aka old habits or attitudes) thinking that we need them, when all they are really doing is showing dishonor to the Father?  We all have sin to overcome in our lives.  Think about a bad habit you have.  It could be an activity you participate in, an attitude, or even a pattern of thought.  Is that bad habit really so important in your life that you value it more than you value your Father and the sacrifices of His Son?  When you look at them together, how does your habit measure up?

I pray that the Lord continues to guide me in seeing where I place my human nature above the worth of His Love and sacrifices.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Missing our Home Congregation

It has been a while since we were able to attend church with our home
congregation in Oklahoma City. The church is about 85 miles or so from
home. Long way to travel, but when you have a wonderful church family
the drive doesn't seem such a problem. Fuel prices seem to be the main
challenge, but we are getting that handled by simply making that a
budget priority.

In the time we have been missing church, they have moved to a new
location. Alas, it was not closer to us, but they were placed where the
Lord needed them to be. I remember hearing Pastor Mike talk about it
long before they found a new location, that we needed to not look for
where "we" wanted the church to move to but be open to where the Lord
had work for us to do.

On Thursday, Miss Abbie kept telling me that she missed seeing Pastor
Mike and Miss Juli. She adores them. She then started to fuss
wondering if we would find them. Seems that she was worried that they
had moved and not told us how to find them. I made her a happy little
girl when I let her know that I called someone to get directions to the
new location and that we would be going there on Sunday. You would have
thought she had just woke up to find it was Christmas morning! After
getting all giddy and excited, she then asked if Pastor Mike and Miss
Juli would be there. Her next concern being did they know how to get
there. I assured her that they did. It is so funny what a kid will
worry about!

This Sunday will certainly be interesting. New church building, a
directionally challenged woman driving there with 2 kids, and seeing how
Micah handles the change. I am praying that he does well. Lately, it
has been hard to tell since we have had so many changes going on here at

Making a TEACCH Task Idea Notebook

I am using the TEACCH method in working with Little Man. We are in the
beginning phase so am still feeling our way through it to see what he
responds to. I have been reading through as many websites on the topic
as I can find. Surprisingly, there are not as many as I would have
hoped. With this in mind, I am going to start sharing more about how I
am implementing it with Little Man. Maybe the ideas that I post will
give others a glimpse into how we use it and give them another
perspective to consider.

One of the first things that I have noticed is that it is difficult to
find activity ideas specific to TEACCH unless you are looking to buy
task boxes that are already assembled for you. These, like most therapy
aids, can become expensive. Here is what I am doing to address this
issue. I am putting together a TEACCH Idea Notebook. The notebook is a
plain composition style notebook like what students use in school. I
found pictures of homemade task box activities online and printed out
the pictures. I adhered the pictures, 2 per page, in the composition
notebook. Beside these pictures, I am writing notes as to what is
needed to complete the task and simple instructions for doing the task.
Admittedly, many of the activities are well beyond Little Man's
capability right now. That is fine. He will grow into them. The
purpose right now is to get as many ideas as possible to give me a wide
base of activities to choose from.

In choosing which activities to do, I am looking at his current ability
level. What type of motor development is he currently struggling with
or lacking? Do I have a couple of simple activities that will address
those areas? I never choose only one activity for a particular
developmental area. I choose 2-3 so that he gets to use that
developmental skill in more than one way.

Fine motor skills are one of Little Man's weak areas. To address this,
I may choose to have him pull stacking pegs out of a rubber mat, sort by
color some 1" tall plastic counting bears, stack thistle blocks, or sort
colored wooden beads into the little cups of a muffin tin. The idea is
to mix it up a bit and teach the same basic skills using more than one
activity. Some are easier for him than others, but each has a specific

Pulling pegs from the rubber mat is a challenge for him due to the pegs
being tight fitting in the rubber mat. The strength required for him to
keep hold of the peg as he pulls it out is strengthening his fingers,
hands, and arms. Yes, both arms get a workout when he has to use one
hand to pull the peg as he holds down the mat with the other hand.

Sorting the counting bears and the wooden beads both require that he
pick up smaller items (about 1/2" to 1" tall) and transfer them to
another container. It also uses his cognitive skills in having to sort
them by color. At this point, I am using a lot of hand over hand to get
him going and he is having difficulty with the sorting. I am slowly
seeing improvement as we go along.

Stacking thistle blocks is another challenge for him due to the texture
of the blocks. The blocks are designed to easily stick together. The
hard part for Little Man is getting him to actually pick them up since
the texture is a stimuli he is not to sure he enjoys. It is
desensitizing him however which will benefit him later on.

When I am considering activities, I really look at the frustration level
it may cause in Little Man. One example being stringing the wooden
beads on a cord. With his current fine motor skill level, that task is
too challenging for him to attempt. I modified the activity by gluing a
small wooden wheel to the end of a short, 8"long, wooden dowel. This
bead is a "stopper" to prevent the strung beads from falling off. For
now, I give him the dowel with the beads already strung onto it. He
slides the beads off and places them into a cup. Using the wheel as a
stopper, he is also able to stand the dowel up and hold it upright while
sliding beads off as an option. Later when he dexterity has improved, I
will have him string the beads onto the dowel. This will allow him to
do a stringing activity without the frustrations of trying to hold a
cord when his fingers are not able to do so yet.

In using this idea for our neuro-typical daughter, I am making several
of the dowels with a wheel attached to one end. Next, making pattern
cards by stringing beads on in various patterns and take a picture of
each pattern separately. Place the pictures, beads needed, and the
dowels into a box or container. You have a complete task box ready to
go! Great thing with this is that you can use this with other children
as a quiet hands-on activity to give practice in sequencing. You can
even carry the idea over to teaching place value in math by standing the
dowels in a row. This idea will work for Little Man later also when he
is cognitively ready for this activity. Just a note: you can include
extra wheels to place on the open end of the dowel to hold the beads in
place if the child is going to be placing the finished patterns back
into the container for grading later.

The flexibility of the activities is one of the things that I am finding
to be a bonus. Yes, these are being put together with Little Man in
mind, but the ones that are beyond his current ability level make great
activities for his older sister to do. In homeschooling, we are always
on the lookout for ideas that will benefit more than one child. I see a
hidden gold mine here. Having the ideas all together in a notebook just
makes it easier for me to keep the ideas available without having to
brainstorm for ideas on my own. The ones I find online are great
launching points, but can be modified to become an activity for just
about any skill level or topic you can image. The limits in their use
is only that of your own creativity. One of the websites that I am
using currently for ideas is You will find a wide
array of ideas to get started. Most of their ideas are simply in
picture form without explanation, but you can figure out what they are.

I am looking forward to using these not only for Little Man, but as
activities to use in centers or as a hands-on activity to reinforce a
concept being taught in the school books. Our Little Princess is
already seeing them as take-along activities to work on in the car.