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.

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.

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!

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.

Max went to church camp for the first time this year. I was a little worried after the problems we had with his behavior at WOP WOP the last two years. He was worried about passing the swim test. In the end he passed, but he just dog-paddled across the pool and back. When we told his swim teacher this week she was not impressed! :-)

When Ron got off the bus he said that Max could share his bunk bed any time! Max had the top and Ron had the bottom, and apparently Max got into bed each night and passed out. No moving/snoring/getting up during the night. Max complained to us that they kept them up late and made them wake up early. I said he probably didn’t go right to bed (I remember my camp days…staying up as late as possible to talk and talk and talk). He said he did. I said I was gonna ask Ron about it and then Ron confirmed it! Made me laugh.

Ron also said that Max was a really smart kid. That he’d bought several things at the camp store and then went around to other people telling them they didn’t have to walk all the way to the store, they could buy stuff from him (that he’d marked up a bit!) This really cracked me up. Then we got the story from Max. Backstory: JP texted Tj the day before they came home and said we needed to have $3 of Max’s money ready when we picked him up to pay for Ben’s slinky, he would tell us the story later. Uh oh. The day of he told Tj not to ask about it, it was taken care of. When we asked Max about reselling the items he told us that he thought Ben didn’t want his slinky anymore…it was stuck in the railing. So he pulled it all out of shape. Come to find out Ben did want it, so Max had to buy him another one. Max did so, but was surprised to find out that he’d bought the wrong size. Then he didn’t have enough money to buy Ben another one, so he sold some of the stuff he’d bought for himself and then had enough money to buy Ben his. Heh.

I think he came home with all of his stuff except the disposable camera we bought him. I’m sad that’s what he lost, but it’s not a big deal. We did get to see some photos of him on FB during the camp.

But the most exciting story of camp: someone forgot to pack their kid underwear for the trip!!!! It was me!!! What a goober! In my defense I was signing us up for HSLDA so I could ask them some very important questions about homeschooling my special needs child, so I would just read a line of the list the camp sent us and tell Max what to go get. They didn’t have underwear listed! Since I was so distracted during the packing time I considered using my own packing list to double-check, but then I just re-read the camp’s list and I had everything on it in M’s bag. How could we need more than that? Heather told me they also didn’t have pj’s on the list. :-) The way I found out about all this was that I had just awakened from a nap with Jack at home when Max finished his swim test at camp, and JP told him to get clean clothes on. JP immediately texted Tj and me to ask about clean underwear. My face went immediately red cause I knew there were no underwear in his bag. TJ assured JP that I would have packed him some, and then I had to confess that I had not. Fortunately we know practically all the counsellors who went, so they went to the store and bought M some undies. What a trip. I called my mom to laugh at myself and she reminded me that the year before when she was a counsellor at their church’s camp she’d forgotten to pack herself extra underwear!!! I guess I’m not the only dopey one in my family.