Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

January 23rd, Friday: Jack said “Ax the blessin, mama” and “Sit with us!” to Tj while we were on the big brown chair. That’s the best sentences he’s done on his own ever!

That night Tj worked late. I was sound asleep when about 1:30am I heard what I thought was a kid running down the stairs. I jumped out of bed to go check and saw Tj in the upstairs bathroom. I asked if everything was alright and he said Jack was taking a bath. By himself! He’d just walked in from work and while walking through the laundry room (directly downstairs from the bathroom) he heard water dripping and there were puddles at the bottom of each side of the door frame! Apparently Jack got up in the night, he took off all of his clothes and put them in the dirty clothes basket, and then he had a fun, very splashy bath. The tub wasn’t overflowing, so he must’ve used the cup in the tub to pour water on the floor. Now that it’s been a few days and the water has evaporated we still have some ceiling paint that’s bulged out.

The next Sunday as he was waking up from his nap he sat straight up, kept his eyes closed and mumbled, “Down slide…….I want………flashlight.” and then he fell over again and slept a little bit more.

That night after church Tj took Max home and I had Jack. I walked to his side of the truck and closed the door after him and went around to my side and got in. He immediately said, “Fall down” while looking out of his window. He repeated it a couple of times, and when I went to look the DVD case had fallen out of the truck without me noticing! A few months ago he would have just grunted or whined until I (maybe) figured out what was wrong. And probably a year ago we would have just driven off without him making a sound at all. It always amazes me that with how smart he is in tons of ways, communication comes so so hard to him.

Monday Max said he was cartoonifying me. He said, “Sorry Mom, I have to make you a bit deranged…one of your legs is too big and your eyes are a little weird.”

I started keeping a potty chart again because it seemed like the accidents were accumulating. In the first 12 days of January he had 3 accidents. Then he had almost 2 full weeks of no accidents. Then last week he peed himself 5 times in 2 days! Ugh!! The last day, Wednesday, after that day’s accident he went to the bathroom by himself and said to himself “Potty on toilet, yes” in a very self-satisfied manner. He makes me laugh (when he’s not making me cry!) The crazy thing is pretty much every accident is at home. He did wet his pants at Amy’s once recently, but other than that it’s at home. We’ve even stopped bringing his bag into church.

Jack is in the 1st grade Sparks class and Mrs. Sue and I lead the class. One of the games we play is dodgeball. Any game with a ball (or a balloon for that matter) no matter what the rules are Jack gets the ball. I sometimes feel bad for his team because he’s in the circle with the other team throwing the balls in at them, and Jack grabs the first ball he can get and then throws it at his teammates…or whoever is near, honestly. It makes me laugh, but it wouldn’t be quite as funny if his teammates realized what he was doing.

Friday: I forget what I was talking about, but I said the word ‘sentimentality’. Max said “Yum!” I think he thought it had something to do with cinnamon.

Saturday Max made pancakes all by himself!

Sunday we had our 3rd annual Superbowl party. Everyone stayed late, and the boys went to bed around 10 pm. Jack woke up at 7am, and Max at 8. Max asked about the Oreo package in the kitchen and I told him to keep his paws off…there were 3 left and they were mine. Just about that time Jack sauntered in and there was a black ring around his mouth!! I was worried! I asked him what he’d eaten and he said, “Cookie”. An actual answer to my question! I had to ask him a few times and a few different ways but he finally said he got the cookie off the floor. Then I remembered that I’d seen a part of an Oreo under the edge of the island. At least it wasn’t my Oreos!


Friday, January 16th, 2015

The other day Max said, “When I really think about my younger self, I think I had a really low IQ!”

At some point in another conversation he said, “The only girl who my heart’s on a journey about is Rebekah”. He talked about how having a girlfriend who’s shy is better than having one who’s not because she won’t be bringing you to all her friends who are so loud and might laugh at you. We got into this conversation somehow after talking about how he wants to go visit Aunt Kelly again (but really because they all watch so much TV!). I asked if he had fun and he said they had a water bouncy thing one time, but he didn’t want to go on it because there were just a bunch of girls. He told me he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t want to go around a bunch of girls when he has a mohawk or sunglasses or something because then all the girls will be noisy about him and say stuff about how he’s cool. This is how we morphed into the Rebekah thing. When I asked him what he thought about Rebekah he said she was pretty, and shy, and had cool parents, “But really all my friends have cool parents because they all have their own iPod or iPad or something.” (If only that were the only thing keeping me from being a cool parent!) Some other place in this conversation (it was only a couple of days ago, but I was cooking at the time and didn’t have time to jot down too many notes) he said in an exasperated voice, “…and please don’t say I get all my info on romance from movies!” I asked him where did he get his romance ideas from and he grudgingly said it was movies. Humph.

Tonight at supper he asked me what age I thought having a girlfriend was a good idea. I asked him what age he thought. He said around 12 or so. I asked him what a girlfriend was for. He said to see about marrying or something. I agreed and said having a girlfriend is getting to know someone well enough to see if you want to marry her…and if you’re not ready for marrying then you don’t need a girlfriend. I hope he has friends who are girls, but I didn’t think he should be thinking about girlfriends until he was 16 or so. We’ll see where this goes.

In Jack news: I’m hoping we’ve finally gotten his allergy meds worked out. We had to go to the base to pick up a new prescription yesterday and as we were leaving we stopped to see a tiny service dog on a lady’s lap. Jack asked me and I asked if he could pet the dog, and then kiss the dog’s head, and then kiss his paw. The lady explained that the dog wasn’t around kids much and was nervous but Jack was being gentle and they got along together well. At one point I guess Jack saw the dog lick so Jack put out his extensive tongue and licked his own nose and the lady commented on how long his tongue was. We talked a bit about DS and his tongue. After a minute or two of chit chat I saw Jack lean close to her leg, and then he licked her!!! Oh that was sooooo funny! He’s licked plenty of things in his life, but the few times he’s licked people it’s just hilarious. Mom says he’s a service boy. Wonder if we can make any money lending him out? He would make other people so happy. :-) He barked loudly three times as we were leaving. That’s my boy!

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Tj and I have been so blessed since we’ve been married. We haven’t struggled so much like so many couples do. He’s always had a great paycheck, if his job hasn’t been the best, and really for many years he’s had some really great jobs, too. It was a real struggle when he retired, first for a while there he was submitting resumes like crazy and not getting any feedback at all. And then when he did get a job it was non-flying, which has never been what he wanted, but he tried to make it work. He struggled, too, with just leaving the AF; it’s the only job he’s had for so many years, and he loves the AF so much, it was hard to leave it though it seemed like the best thing for him to do. We finally came through that, though, and have been settled for the most part for a while now. Life has been rocking along.

Right at the end of September of last year is when I first remember hearing serious things about his job. A new firm got the contract so there would be a changeover. Tj said everyone said generally these turnovers went smoothly with basically the only change being where the check came from and what logo you had on your shirt.

Sometime in October there was a meeting where the new firm said they were cutting everyone back to part time, no paid vacations, not hiring any schedulers, etc, etc, crap, crap, crap. We began to get a little nervous. We’ve operated with no debt for practically our whole marriage, but we went on a big cruise in May, and then both of our cars needed serious repairs, and then…and then, by the end of the summer we weren’t paying off the credit card every month like we’ve always done. It was weighing on our minds. By this time I’d cut out frivolous spending, and was trying to cut down on necessary spending as I could as well.

After trying not to spend so much for a few weeks on groceries and failing, I started thinking about a no-spend November. I kept going to the store to pick up just a few things, but would see a staple on sale and would stock up as I normally do. And then there was that last trip to Sam’s…our membership was expiring so I made a last run. It’s hard to buy just a little! So I decided I wouldn’t buy any food for me or the boys for the whole month of November. Tj was still eating fresh fruits/veggies every day so I’d get his normal things, but I thought I had plenty of food in our pantry (and the garage food shelves, and the ref/freezer, and the garage freezer) that it wouldn’t be too hard.

We made it through the whole month…we ran out of milk 3 days before December, we were almost out of eggs, and the biggest tragedy: we were completely out of hot chocolate mix!!!! But we had veggies every day, and fruit probably every day. Heh. I’ve come to the realization that I’m a food hoarder (I won’t mention all the other things I hoard, it’s enough right now to only talk about the food hoarding.) But really, that hoarding really came in handy that month. :-) I really enjoyed the challenge. Two surprise helps: our church hosted a luncheon for G-lab workers and we got to bring home some leftover baked ziti and enough salad to last us a week. And then my girlfriend moved and I cleaned out her refrigerator. I mixed the creamer I brought home with some chocolate chips I had from my stash and made us hot chocolate. Heaven! :-)

In December I challenged myself to only spend $100/week for all 4 of us for food and whatever else I’d normally buy at Wal-Mart. I had already been price matching Kroger’s sales at WM for the last several months, but I’ve really stepped up my game. I’ve compiled a price list in Excel, and now when I go to the grocery store I pretty well know how much I’ll spend. I did go a little crazy with the sales last week: Kroger had milk for 40 cents less than usual per gallon so I bought 5, and eggs were 50 cents cheaper so Tj and I decided to make breakfast burritos to freeze for him to have on the go so I got 5 dozen eggs. Then when I was there I saw that WM was selling their pepperoni for $1 less than normal! I bought it all. :-) That combined with other sales I found I think I’ll only buy a few fresh veggies next week. I’m enjoying the thrill of the hunt with these sales, and I like being better informed when I shop about what actually constitutes a good price, but it’s hard not to stock up on a good thing if I’ve already spent the money for the week. If he ever has a job where we’ll actually have to live with this budget I’ll be a lot more prepared and confident now. Other areas we’ve cut way back on: eating out (we’ve eaten out once in November to celebrate an interview, and twice in December to celebrate him being hired and hearing from A), we haven’t opened the hot tub (we have to buy a new cover before we do), and we didn’t buy a Christmas tree.

We told Max that Christmas was going to be slim because of the job situation and he took it like a champ. Because he knows Santa isn’t real, and because Jack still doesn’t understand Santa (although he definitely knows what presents are), Christmas was almost kind of a let-down. We planned on staying home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas to save money, and really, the boys and I had a whole month off of school by then, so Christmas day was not too much different than the other days we’d had. I forgot to mention that Thanksgiving wasn’t as fun as it had been the last couple of years when I spent the day leisurely cooking after we delivered meals and then we all sat down and had a nice dinner. This year I cooked and Tj mostly filled out applications and worked on keeping himself employed. We were convinced the week before Christmas that Tj wasn’t going to be offered a job with the new firm. They had to hire in order of seniority, and he was 7th from the bottom! Finally, 8 days before Christmas he was sent an email around 9pm offering him a job! We were so relieved!

Even though we’re so happy for Tj to have a paycheck, the crap hasn’t stopped. The first thing his boss said to him in front of the other hundred or so employees was, “You don’t take a good photo so you can’t get a company badge today”!! When I asked him what he’d done that was such an affront he said that the guy taking the picture okayed the pic even though Tj had his eyes closed. Whatever. From them dangling unemployment in front of 90% of the staff for months before Christmas to them letting go of 20% of the staff to them not having good business etiquette (showing up to an 8am meeting at 8am and still not being ready for it by 9:20), they’ve really created a hostile work environment. I really wonder where this will take us.

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

I’ve put off blogging about this too long. This was from Max and Caleb’s boot camp 5 Sept 2014. For some reason Caleb and Max have never gotten along for any length of time. I think Max has been basically an only child for so long now, and Caleb is out to prove himself a big man to everyone he meets. So Max gets his feelings hurt by Caleb because Caleb knows how to push Max’s buttons, and Max hasn’t learned he’s not the only one who matters yet. Caleb is the little brother Max needs until Jack grows up enough to be that brother.

Amy and I concocted this plan that for boot camp they would each have the other over for a sleepover. They would have time to spend together without Adam and Dan to buffer them…they’d have more time to spend alone to try to get along. They had to serve each other, and be super great hosts, and they had to provide a gift for the other with money they’d earned.

Caleb came over and it was fairly benign, but there were some jewels:

Caleb told me I needed to vacuum my kitchen because they broke the water balls all over the floor…they made a huge mess! That really annoyed me so I fussed at him a little bit for that.

I was fixing ice cream and Caleb said ‘Am I right that I get first pick?’

Later on in the evening I sent Amy some text messages:

Just put J in the bed (only 1.5 hrs late) (not that it really matters…) and bit Caleb’s head off. Everything I do he’s sassy about. So I told him his sassy pants had to go, he had to be happy about something. He looked at me like he was thinking hard if there was anything he could be thankful for, and I finally said, like the ice cream??? He murmured thank you. Now he and Max are cutting out pocket knives out of cardboard

Heh, Caleb told me my phone alert was annoying…it went on too long. I said so things that go on forever are annoying? and gave him a look. He got it.

Ok, they’re eating a lot of sugar and start playing truth or dare. Caleb says I dare you to take off your pants, then it escalates since they’re both laughing, your underpants, your shirt. I said I didn’t think they wanted to see each other naked and one of them said something about seeing a mom naked…I put a stop to that right then!

Since the boot camp things have gotten marginally better, although after church last night Caleb came and told me that Max was calling him names. I asked what Max had called him (not really thinking it would be something I’d think was too bad) and Caleb said ‘big butt’. I told him to tell Max his mom said come right now, so he did. When I asked Max he said yes, he’d called Caleb that. I made him sit out the rest of the time while the other boys got to play. Tomorrow I’m making him make Caleb some cookies and I won’t let Max eat any of them (though the rest of us should try them out to make sure they taste good).


Thursday, January 15th, 2015

We’re at the end of our second week back to school, and things are going pretty well. Max is having trouble waking up this week, though he didn’t last week, so I’ve told him to go to sleep at 8pm. If he starts getting up by himself with his alarm (at 6:30) I’ll let him go back to 8:30pm. Jack is doing fine with the wake-up, and even stays upstairs till 7am.

Max will finish 5th grade math next Wednesday, and starts 6th grade math Thursday. If he does this double-time till the end of school (like he’s done so far this year) he’ll be 2 grades ahead when he starts back in the fall! That kid definitely has his dad’s head for numbers (thankfully). We’re taking off Monday for MLK day (I’ve scheduled us off every PS off day) and Tuesday for his birthday. He was surprised to learn that PS kids have to go to school on their birthdays! I feel bad for them!

Speaking of PS, I found these notes I’d made to give to J’s teacher last year when he started school. I figured this is a good place to keep them:

Teacher: don’t chase him. He knows what you want him to do. Make him do it with your voice. (Several of his teachers/therapists think they have to chase him to force him to do what they want.)

Don’t ask him to do anything, tell him. Ask = high pitched voice; say it low. (When you ask him nicely to do anything he takes it that he can choose not to do it. Tell him to do whatever by being firm.)

He will repeat what he wants to a million times even if it’s not what you’re asking. (He still does this…pays no mind to anyone else talking, or to the fact that he’s alone in a room. He’ll just randomly ask for Animusic and expect me to hear him even if I’m in the bathroom, or at the store.)

Don’t spit (thankfully not actual spitting, but hissing/growling when he doesn’t like what he’s getting/being forced to do).

‘No hands’ when I see his hands in his mouth.

Things we’re working on:
Tongue in
Potty training
Please/thank you
Yes/no ma’am/sir
Excuse me after every burp and fart
I want _____ please teacher (not just demanding what he wants with one word).

“No thanks” if he doesn’t want something. I say ‘no fussing’ or ‘get control of yourself’ if he throws a fit, and I place a hand on his chest and back or on both of his arms to try to calm him down.

He goes overboard sometimes with crying/anger when he’s hurt. I tell him ‘calm down’.

I also made a list of things to feed him. I had most of his breakfasts made ahead of time, but we went through a time of smoothies, too.

boiled egg
cheese stick
cherry tomatoes
veggie straws

It sure was nice to only have Max to school, but I’m grateful to have Jack at home.

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Well, so much for blogging during my Christmas vacation! With 6 weeks off I surely could’ve done better. But I spent my time cooking, eating, reading, watching and sleeping. Nice. Some of the things I made are: lots of biscuits (I learned hot to make those from scratch), orange cranberry bread (good, but not worth all the effort of that recipe), fudge, cinn rolls (Pioneer Woman’s recipe…tons of rolls!), cinn toast (also from Pioneer Woman…we had this a few times…like breakfast candy!), choc chip cookies, Pioneer Woman pancakes (Tj made those…too much work for me and I don’t appreciate them enough), hamburgers (the huge decadent ones from Cooks Illustrated), beignets, homemade rolls (the recipe made a ton so they’re in the fridge and every other day I go pull off a bit and bake it. Yum!) and cherry cheesecake bars.

Anyway, today was our first day back, and it was wonderful! If every day of school was like this everyone would homeschool. Jack did all his chores without fussing…I helped him pick out his clothes but he got dressed by himself while I got ready downstairs. He put up his dishes, brought the laundry to the laundry room, put a new bag in the garbage can and cleaned off the coffee tables like a pro! Max got up with the alarm (which wasn’t a sure thing since we didn’t follow my wonderful plan for the last week of vacation to gradually get us used to waking up with alarms again), dressed and made/ate his breakfast, did all his chores including sorting the laundry, and was ready for school on time. We read our Bibles, and Jack even read a few words. Then Jack copied his Bible verse pretty well. Max was finished with everything but math by 11am, and then (as usual) took much longer with math than he needed. All in all though, it was a wonderful day.

I’ve decided to go back to the basics with Jack…reading/writing/math. He did really well on all of those, so he and I went to the library and a couple of grocery stores while Max finished up his math. I thought we needed to celebrate such a great beginning so I used my (now twice used) two coupons for free ice cream cones for the boys.

The boys are upstairs (Max with a fresh pile of books [I've finally started taking advantage of the ability to place books on hold at the library] and Jack tucked into bed) and I’m about to fold the wash which is all clean now.


A couple of notes from our Christmas break:

Dec 25,2014 Max to his Minecraft toys: “Never use your head as a projectile.”

Dec 31,2014 Max wants Tj to get a job at the new Japanese restaurant so Max could ‘help old people get their food’. He’d have a sign on his head that said “Helper”. Doesn’t that sound like a great idea???

3 Jan 2014 Tj put Jack into bed and made Mutant Cuddly Dog (named by Max) ask Jack if he wanted in the bed. Jack then made MCD tell Tj ‘I want music please Daddy’!!! Reminds me of the time Robyn told Papa (through her stuffed raccoon) “I’m not a doggy, you idiot”!!!

And I can’t believe I haven’t written this one yet, but for the longest time Jack has been inadvertently sounding like a pirate/cowboy. When I call him and he really doesn’t want to answer, he replies in a very loud, super slow, slightly annoyed tone “Yarrrssum!”

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Man, I was doing pretty good there for a while, but homeschooling Jack bogged me down and now it’s been forever since I blogged! We sure have had a learning curve this year. I really think Jack and I were in a good homeschool groove and then here we are at Christmas break. We’ve been off of school for 3 weeks, and have another 3 to go! Woop woop for homeschool!!! I’ve really been enjoying living in my pj’s, learning how to make biscuits from scratch, making up my own recipe for our Chocolate Bread House (I thought I had it nailed but one of the walls really cracked today…back to the drawing board), etc.

These last few months I’ve just been jotting down notes for blogging so here’s a massive info dump:

I noticed this summer we’ve stopped holding Jack’s hand in every parking lot. I still do it in big places, but at church or smaller stores I can let him go.

Spirit cheese: Mom and Papa kept the boys while Tj and I went to an AF football game. The cadets threw ‘spirit cheese’ on the field: prewrapped cheese slices easily swiped from the chow hall. It was tons of fun!

We were talking about a Lego motorcycle one day and out of the blue Max says you know about the sperm and egg? When I asked what he wanted to know he said, “How do they get together?” I told him he didn’t need to know about that yet, we’d tell him when he was older.

One day I told him ‘Your daddy went big’ about something. He said, “That’s what I’m gonna be when I grow up.” When I asked him what he said, “A going big guy. I’ll get everything I need for the right occasion. For a birthday party I’ll have number candles, I’ll buy a set of the numbers 1-9, make a cake; I’ll just always have everything I need.” I guess I haven’t been doing it right since I usually just have the right amount of candles, not the ones shaped like numbers!

I told Max, “I’m a neat freak.” He said, “So am I, in my mind.”

We were playing with salt dough and Max said, “This dragon’s neck looks like a scrunchy old lady’s neck.” When I protested he said, “I didn’t mean yours!!” Thanks Max.

Jack asks me for something, and while I’m mentally debating he says, “Says yes!” I wonder if he’s trying to trick me into actually saying yes?? It makes me chuckle every time.

I tell Jack to come here. He comes and then when he’s 2 steps away he says loudly, “Coming!”

One night as I was putting him to bed we were singing ‘the baby on the bus says ‘wah wah wah’. Jack sang it again and said he says ‘happy happy happy!’ He really feels bad whenever he thinks anyone else feels bad or is crying.

Nov 5 Jack pooped in his underwear. I think the last time was right after we came back from Atlanta. Now he’s pooped in his pants two mornings in a row. Third morn I found him in tub with poop. Ugh. I started keeping track because he’d gone a while since he’d had an accident…but I’ve stopped because it’s becoming more common. Ugh again.

A friend said he told his 3 kids if they didn’t all get new Halloween costumes or go trick-or-treating he’d take them to the store and they could get whatever candy they wanted. They didn’t take him up on it, but I offered it to Max and he did! Tj was working that night, and none of the neighbors on our street were going so I didn’t really want to take the boys by myself. I told Max I’d still take them to the church’s fall festival, and then the morning after Halloween I’d take him to WalMart and he could have $5 of whatever candy he wanted…it was all 50% off. He picked out 2.75lbs of Smarties Saturday around noon. He finished it off the following Friday night. He did share some with Jack, Tj and a couple with me, but he basically ate the whole thing himself.

Max and I have been reading through the KJV together and one day the verse he read was Isa 59:17, “For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.” As soon as he was finished he said EWWWW! When I asked him what he said, “Isn’t that some sort of meat?” He confused ‘zeal’ for ‘veal’. That really made me laugh.

Jack is noticing the outside world more and more, and realizing he can change what goes on. Lately he’s been saying stuff like, “Mom, eat Max dessert” (meaning I want to eat Max’s dessert), and “Trade” (his empty plate for my full one). Smarty pants!

Jack still says ‘mummer’ for ‘number’.

It’s taken half our school year but I can finally put Jack at the table with writing work and he’ll do it…only coming to see me 10 times in half an hour. Progress!

20Nov Jack peed on bedroom floor, stripped and got in shower.

29Nov I told Jack to pray for the food and ask that Max’s head feel better (headache). Jack said “God, poor Max, Animusic on please Mama, amen.”

I was cooking gumbo on the stovetop and Jack just walks up to stove, sees something’s on there and puts his hand on the edge, creeping closer to the hot burner. He still doesn’t know which one is ‘hot’ or ‘cold’, but I would’ve thought he’d know the stove could hurt him after all the times we’ve told him. I guess he’s still figuring it out, and maybe he’s just so hard-headed he won’t figure it out until he gets hurt.

Dec 8 Jack lost his 2nd tooth, and then I lost it! We ate breakfast in the living room and then I was giving him his medicine. He kept fussing, and I assumed he didn’t want to sit still for the medicine. I told him to cut it out, and then he said ‘tooth’. I looked, and it was gone! I asked him where it was (I’d told him a couple of times if his tooth came out and he gave it to me I’d give him a piece of candy) and he pointed and said ‘chair’…it was on the brown ottoman. I put it on the counter, far back under the plant. Later that afternoon when Tj came home and I told him about it I went to look for it but couldn’t find it! I rolled out the first of our Chocolate Bread House near there…I’m sure it didn’t end up in the house! Craziness!

13Dec Flutabee Jack said about a dragon fly.

14 Dec Jack is literally jumping on the trampoline with his flag and ironing board right now. At lunch he tried to use his finger as a pusher to get his garbanzo beans on his fork. Finally gave up and picked them all up in one hand and put them on the fork slowly, dropping them one by one. Picked up the fork and they all fell off on the way to his mouth, one by one. Sometimes having children is so much fun. I love to watch them when they’re in their own little worlds trying to be big.

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Homeschooling Jack is hard. I never thought it would be easy, but I didn’t realize how hard it could be. I love that little punk! But he wears me out!

I cried this week. I’ve always seen three options for his adult life. Either he’ll always live with us, he’ll live in a group home, or he’ll live independently. At this point I have no aspirations for his adult life except to push him to mature as much as he can and then we’ll see which of those three options is the best fit for him. I feel the same way with him and school. The goals I have for him for this year are for him to keep increasing the amount of time he can focus on various work while sitting, and to work toward learning to read (and I’ve become convinced this week that he’ll be reading by Christmas at the rate we’re going!!!). I’m keeping my options really open as far as what to teach. During the summer I kept thinking that I should be teaching him a very broad spectrum of subjects like he learned in public school. I tend to perfectionism, and therefore to hone in on just a few subjects, so this was a new way of thinking. Also, it’s so easy to think of Jack as a baby, I think because his speech (or lack of ability in that area) is so far behind. I didn’t plan much of anything in particular, but I had tons of resources ready to go broad with him. We’ve now been in school for four weeks (it’s five weeks since we started, we’ve taken a week off already, oh the scandal!!), and my focus has narrowed a little. I’m pushing reading more than anything because he’s really coming along in it. I can’t say he’s making great strides, but for him I think he may be. I see a little improvement almost every day. So anyway, enough of the backstory.

Thursday I worked on numbers with him. We rolled a pair of large dice, I had him count the numbers on each die, then count colored tokens to match the number of each die. After we did that a few times I had him draw tally marks to represent the number of each die. He had to count the dots the first four or so times, but then the next four times he said the correct number of the die without actually counting! I was surprised, and figured they’d worked with dice in public school and maybe he was more familiar with them than I’d realized. He never did understand what we were doing with the tokens nor the tally marks, though. And then the last several times he reverted to counting the number on each die. He always wanted to place one token under each die and call it done. I was patient with him, and tried to help him see what to do, but he never caught on. About that time Tj walked in the door. I let Jack go play so Tj and I could talk. After a few minutes I realized I was going to cry! It seemed to come out of nowhere, for no reason. After being sympathetic Tj said I must be stressed, and I think that’s what it was. He said I should stop having such big expectations for Jack, and just teach him where he is. I really was doing that, though. I think I had expectations after he seemed to know what each die was worth without counting, and then I was ‘let down’ (for lack of a better term) when he reverted to counting again. Jack’s stressful to teach because the things he seems to know one day (or minute) he genuinely seems not to understand the next!

Another problem area I’m facing is getting him to look at what he’s writing. I can’t seem to get him to understand that he needs to watch his pencil the entire time he’s using it. Or maybe the problem is that he just doesn’t want to obey? It’s so hard to tell with him. One day week before last he wouldn’t recite his phone number, though he’d done it the day before so I knew he knew it. I finally told him to get the paddle, I placed it between us, and he said his phone number like it was the most fun thing in the world! It’s like he needs to be threatened! But when I threaten him about looking at his pencil he starts to get upset and asks for my help, which he doesn’t need. This kid!!!

Our school time is fun, though. It’s interspersed with Jack calling out “I drew a ‘T’” and “I drew a cut” (when he cut a line on a paper). Having him around makes our school day more exciting. Speaking of which, Tuesday when Jack was finished with his school and Max was working on his corrections and I was grading Max’s math Jack came prancing into the kitchen with absolutely no clothes on! He beckons me “Mama, come see!” I go with him to our bathroom and he said, “Shower on!” I looked for his clothes worried he’d wet his pants. They were all in the dirty clothes basket but clean/dry. He just wanted a shower. Crazy kid! This is how it seems I get nothing done (or I actually get nothing done…).

In great Jack news we just drove to and from Atlanta last week (9 hours each way with a 1-hour stop in the middle) and Jack stayed completely dry the whole time! On the way out he never mentioned having to go to the bathroom. I inadvertently didn’t give him much to drink at breakfast. At lunch (a Mexican place in Jackson, TN) he had all the Sprite he wanted, but we didn’t let him take his cup in the car after the meal. When we got close to Mom’s (about an hour or so out) he asked for a drink and I started limiting him to a few sips here and there. On the way back we did the same thing, and 3/4′s of the way home he said he had to go to the bathroom. I told him to put his shoes on (which turned out to be an impossible feat, guess we’ll be ditching those shoes), and then about 15-20 minutes later I helped him get his shoes on and Tj found us a bathroom. Jack’s underwear were completely dry! He’s done such a great job! At home, though, sometimes it’s a different story. Yesterday was Friday Fun-day, so Amy and her boys came over. Twice during their time here one of her boys called out to me ‘Jack doesn’t have any underwear on!’ I think with all the excitement and noise it was harder for him to remember to do what he knew to do. Overall, though, he’s done great.

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Last Sunday Tj said to Jack, ‘Doesn’t Mom smell good?’ Jack said ‘Sunblock. Bug spray.’ What a twerp!

J practicing his memory verse said ‘the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 7 o’clock’. I’ve been working with him on understanding time, and 7:00 is an important time. :-)

I can’t remember who it was I took to the store when they were still small enough to ride in the front of the buggy, but they pestered me for a balloon. When I finally got him one I tied it onto the handle of the buggy and the kid flipped out that the balloon was following us! It made me laugh so hard it was hard to comfort him. Silly boys.

Last Wednesday I wrote ‘airplane’ on the white board. Jack wrote it again underneath. Later I gave him a red dry erase marker to write with and he wrote more letters under that. About 5 minutes later he pointed to the board and said ‘black row, black row, red row’!

When we do his work after each successful letter he puts his pencil down and claps for himself. Then he picks up his pencil and writes another letter, puts it down and claps, picks it up and writes…for every single letter. It makes me smile. It forces me to slow down a little, too. It’s a good thing. He also pats his own back sometimes when he’s done a good job.

We took a nap one day and before he settled down to sleep said, “Bread in mouth, please Mama!” Guess he hadn’t had enough lunch!

He came out of his room at 9:15 Wed night and said, “Mama, bonk head!” in a very indignant tone.

Cris applesauce is what he says for crisscross applesauce (which is what they teach kids to say instead of sitting ‘Indian-style’).

Max told Jack to stop singing, please! I said he was being sweet and he should keep on. Jack said, “Singing, yes, singing.” I’ve heard others talk about older kids with DS talking themselves through many situations. I wonder if this will be something we should try to curb? It’s super sweet now, though, for sure.

A few minutes later Max said, “I’m cold, may I please have a hug?”

I guess I put my hands on my hips a lot…I’ve been seeing Jack do this a bit lately. The other day he was on the toilet, saw my hands on my hips and then he put his on his. It was so funny to see him balancing there (his little legs are way too short for the floor so they’re hugging the bowl), peeing and his hands on his hips. Heh.

We were watching something educational and Max said, “I know they’re really destructive and all, but you have to admit (the cloud from a nuke) looks really cool!”

Jack’s gone from ‘chase you’ to ‘catch ‘em Jack!’

I was cooking tonight and Jack was flying his paper airplane. He threw it and then came into the kitchen and said, “Goes. Mom, where goes?’ He’s getting so close to communicating all the time! We started telling him this week to use a full sentence instead of just ‘X, please, Mama’. He always changes and gives us a full sentence.

Caleb’s at our house tonight for his and Max’s boot camp. They were eating ice cream and Max fished some hot fudge out of his bowl and fed it to Jack. Caleb said don’t give that to Jack. Max said, “What? We’re a family, we share germs. We kiss each other after we’ve eaten off the floor” like that’s a common thing we do!

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

This summer flew by! Grandmom came the second to last week of summer vacation. After that there was no putting it off…I had to plan for school. Last year I was really excited about starting school, but this year I really really wasn’t. I think the biggest problem for me was trepidation about teaching Jack. He’s such a big unknown because of DS, but another large part is that because he went to public school last year I really don’t know what all he actually knows. I wanted to plan our days like 15 minutes of math, then a play break for him, then 15 minutes of writing…I had such great plans. I knew, however, that we probably wouldn’t be able to stick to any schedule I made before actually seeing where he was. Not to mention the fact that Tj’s schedule constantly changes, and even when it doesn’t change it’s rarely the same from day to day. I knew I needed to play Jack by ear.

Max was pretty easy. I sat down last Monday and counted all the days of math, history and science we had. It seems like Saxon always has 140 lessons, so that’s how many days of school we have. Max has 5 days of math each week and 4 days of science. Since we’re going through 2 history books this year he also has 3 days of history. Oh, and he’s starting out doing 2 math lessons a day. We’ll see how long it takes us until he reaches the point where he’s being challenged in math. Tj also got me an Abeka English book which we’ll start Monday. I’m somewhat intimidated by the sheer volume of their year of work, but I just need to sit down and cut some of it out. I still haven’t done a spelling lesson with him since he’s such a great speller. And I’m not sure how much of the literature we’ll do since he’s such a voracious reader.

So we started school Monday, but since we leave at 8:30 for swim lessons and don’t come back till lunch we’ve skipped a few subjects. Max did math at the pool while Jack was swimming, and Jack did some math, writing and geography there.

This week went extremely well, but teaching Jack really is going to be a chore. He’s 7, but has an extremely short attention span. I’m hoping to increase it as the year goes on. I just about lost my mind today trying to get him to start drawing his letters on a point I put down for him. Just like in every other area it’s hard to discern when he’s being hard-headed and when he just honestly has no idea what I’m talking about.

I’m definitely glad he’s home with Max and me. I know we’ll have some fun times this year.