Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The one good thing about spawning an early riser.

I am not a morning person. I never have been. Ask my poor mother that would actually try to converse with me in the morning before school. She was lucky if she got a grunt of recognition.

And because God has a sense of humor, he blessed me with a child that wakes up at o dark thirty. Every. Morning.

Why he needs to wake up 2-3 hours before we need to leave for school every morning I will never understand. It has been this way his entire life. I could count on one hand the number of times he has slept past 7 a.m.

But, it has given me a new appreciation of something I rarely saw in my pre-Mommy days:

beautiful sunrises...

If you want to see more of my attempts at photography, including trying to keep up with two Photo a Day groups this month, feel free to follow me on Instagram.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

We are lucky to have a child in Special Education

I feel a little sorry for parents with "normal" kids. They don't get to go through all of the surveys and tests and meetings to learn all about their child's strengths and weaknesses in the academic environment.

At best they get a few minutes during conferences to speak one on one with the teacher.

Meanwhile, mine gets evaluated by the School Psychologist, Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist, RSP and ABA coordinators. And some students get to have even more professionals in the mix.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Thought for the day.

Rough day today. Let's just say Autism and Menopause and Sleep Deprivation can be an ugly combination.

Hot German Potato Salad over on That Recipe tomorrow and then back here with a roundup of J's triennial IEP on Tuesday. For now, I am off to bed.

Hope your weekend was a pleasant one.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Best picture I have taken in awhile

I have been participating in FMS Photo a Day for over a year year now. Chantelle gives us a list of prompts at the beginning of the month and everyone takes a picture a day and shares it on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or her site.

I started doing it because I knew my food photos were lacking, and a Food Blogger must have a PINable images these days.

Practicing every day and knowing that my photo is viewed by everyone from hack amateurs to professionals has helped. Plus, in every month (except this October), Chantelle includes one prompt that is a photography lesson.

I think my photos are getting better, but since my camera died and I am working solely from my Samsung Galaxy, I battle with lighting inside my kitchen.

Outdoors is a bit easier. And this is the one I submitted yesterday for the prompt "best".

Fallugia paradoxa (Apache plume) is one of the BEST growing plants in my yard.

If you want to join the group and have some photography fun, check out the prompts for next month.

October Photo A Day | #fmsphotoaday 

I am already racking my brain to come up with something fun for a few of those. I don't think I will restrict myself to food photos only this month. Maybe November.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Happy Apple Day!

I don't know if other schools party like we do at ours. At least in Kindergarten and 1st grade there is a themed party every month where the students do educational activities and, like any good party, eat.

September is Apple Day, October is Spiders and Pumpkins, November is Thankful, Gingerbread Day in December, etc. One of the great things about being a SAHM is I can go help out on these fun days so I get to see first hand the great activities. This is good because J is not the best at remembering and describing what happened at school.

Today's activities included:

Rainbow Apple coloring (draw concentric circles in an outline of an apple and color the colors of the rainbow working on fine motor and science)

Pin the Worm on the Apple (color and cut out a worm then try to pin it on a giant apple while blindfolded - more fine motor)

Apple Graphing (taste test slices of red, green and yellow apples then pick your favorite, color a small apple that color and add it to the graph)

Apple Bobbing (each child had his/her own bucket, fresh apple and water swapped out for each child, contest to see who could do it the most times so we got to work on counting skills)

Apple Foods (apple juice, pie, chips, sauce - all store bought per district rules)

Plus they had been reading apple books and doing other apple projects throughout the month. I didn't get a good picture of the "10 Apples Up on Top" project, but it was adorable, she took a picture of each child looking up and printed them, then the kids cut out their picture and pasted it on the bottom of a strip of construction paper. Then the colored and cut and pasted 10 little apples on top of their heads. SO CUTE!

Luckily we don't have allergy issues in the class this year. Last year we had to deal with Gluten sensitivity, PKU, and Epi-pen in the office peanut and egg allergies. The parents were on top of it and we tried to accommodate the needs of everyone by making sure any contributions sent in were peanut free. And the parents of those effected often sent in separate food so their child would not feel left out.  Both the parents with allergies and those without made sure every child was able to be included. No one felt left out or embarrassed. We made it work and it just took a little extra effort.

But back to this year. surprisingly the one activity the kids seemed reticent to try was the apple bobbing. "We have to put our face in the water! For the most part this ended up being the favorite activity, despite the fact we are dealing with 6 year olds. J's top teeth are coming in after losing two a few weeks ago. Two kids hurt their teeth and gums because of wiggly teeth and one boy lost his while bobbing. Aside from that, it was the favorite activity and most of the kids were drenched. Good thing it was 85 degrees outside yesterday.

And of course, J wants to do it all again tomorrow. Luckily I picked up a few apples and an extra bag of apple chips. Now to find an apple pie recipe.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Impromptu and Educational Play Date

My friend got into a jamb yesterday and asked me if her two children (classmates of J's last year) could come over to our house for a little bit after school. Of course!
When I got to school to pick them up the three of them were so excited they practically bounced the two blocks home. I asked them to help me taste test a cookie recipe I am working on for next week's Fill the Cookie Jar post over on That Recipe. It got six thumbs up! Check over there on Thursday for the cute and tasty results.

Then they were all over the house:
  • jumping on J's bed
  • making his room dark to check out his Donnie Dream Light
  • playing dress up
  • setting up the hot wheels track
  • playing with the Ninja Turtles figures
  • etc. etc. etc.
Typical six year olds. When it got a bit quiet I looked in on them and saw them on the floor with the crayons and notepads writing.

they wrote more than it shows, I chose to blur their names

I immediately remembered a New York Times article I read recently about all of the studies showing the importance of physically writing to brain development. More and more research is demonstrating that more of the brain is active when you write by hand versus typing. This is important not only for children whose brains are developing but for adults wanting to keep their brains active.

This is not going to be a rant against Common Core. I have actually read through the standards and honestly, I like them a lot.  While the basic Common Core standards only mention handwriting through second grade, the authors emphasize that the standards are a basic framework and should not be used as the final word on all that is taught. In California, printing is taught through grade 2 and handwriting in grades 3 and 4.

I am not thrilled about the testing methods in California, but that has more to do with the fact that I am concerned about J's ability to demonstrate his knowledge on computerized standard testing than the actual method for the general population. More on that after we have our official IEP on Tuesday.

I had a discussion with my aunt (a retired teacher and school librarian) and uncle about the importance of teaching handwriting a year ago. My aunt and I knew it was still important to learn the skill, but neither of us could explain why. Now, I can. But it is tough to carve out time for it with all of the other things the teachers are required to cover these days.

Hopefully, with continued research such as the studies mentioned in the NYT article the standards will be modified, or at least all states and/or school districts will find a way to make sure writing skills are still covered in the elementary classroom. If the research continues to hold up, and I suspect it will, children will benefit overall academically by finding time for handwriting instruction.

On a personal note, I am not going to ban electronic devices because of this research. They have their place in today's society too. But, I will continue to provide J with notebooks and writing implements so he can explore on his own.

It makes me smile to think J and his buddies thought they were just having fun when they were actually exercising their brains. That is Edutainment at its best.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What I learned today

I love volunteering in my sons class. I was in his Kindergarten class twice a week last year, but I scaled it down to only once a week this year.

My "shift" overlaps snack and recess, so I get to go out and play with my son and some of the other kids. Today it was shooting hoops. And sure enough after watching J shoot "granny style" the Physical Education teacher in me took over and I had a mini lesson with a few kids on the proper form. We all had a blast.

But the best part about volunteering isn't helping his teacher, or getting to see my son in a different environment, or even getting to know all of his classmates.

No, the best part is all of the interesting things I learn:
  • there are going to be at least 3 Elsas and 3 Ninja Turtles in my son's class alone (I think the boys are all planning on being different Turtles, though)

  • to make a headless man costume you need a special hat

  • one boy has two costumes, a skeleton and a pirate hat so he is putting them together

  • it is impossible for a 6 year old to sit on a stool for 10 minutes without rocking it and/or falling off

  • someone's big sister chopped off all her hair to donate to Locks of Love

  • my son is not the only 1st grader that does not want to waste precious recess time in the bathroom or at the drinking fountain

  • one girl fell off her bike this weekend and has owies on her hand, elbow and knee

  • if one girl's Mom eats gluten her tummy sticks out and she looks like she is pregnant

  • one child can't get a Kona Ice after school because he needs to go to a reading class ...with his brother (glad he added the last part because he is one of the advanced readers in class)

  • one of the moms thinks the principal is cute

  • be very careful what you say in front of your child or it may get repeated at school.
Oh, and we managed to sneak in a little phonics lesson in here and there too. Did you know there are 44 sounds in the English language?