Saturday, June 24, 2017

Report Card and our summer homework

As you can see, our report cards came.  All the kids have poor organizational skills. Sadly, I am not surprised. You just have to look at our walkway or their bedrooms. :-/ We have been working on that. I need to work on it a bit harder. It doesn't help that even the adults have clutter spots. Although we have been decreasing those.

Our school uses a 1-5 grading scale. 5 is not the best. The child above is Clark. For those who do not know, Clark has Autism.  I know he has a higher reading level and comprehension level than that. He just doesn't want to take the tests. Clark loves to read (when he isn't being told to). He also doesn't like any sort of structured writing. Clark can do it, but he will get mad and work himself up into a meltdown. Any guesses on what we are working on this summer? 

Math. This is another struggle for Clark. Clark does not do well memorizing times tables. He has never done well in math. I believe his earliest IEP that involved math had Clark's goals set to doing 5 math problems on his own. Then someone would encourage him to do more and "help" him by writing out what he told them. This last year we wanted him to do half a page on his own. I wish I could remember what this next years goal was. I want to say it is a whole page. It is better to set the goal high than leave in low expectations. We want Clark to succeed to the best of his ability in life, not "just get by". We will never be able to do that if we don't push the envelope with him. This summer we will be using our Kindle Fire as a tool. Clark loves electronics. Normally they are a reward. We will be (as of later today) using them to do math. Our school uses Moby Max. Continuing to use something that is familiar to him will increase out chances of success.

Clark is the only child that receives something like this with his report card.We have behavioral goals as well. Goals are set and we work on them both at home and at school. Some we can't work on at home, like the going to his Specials/Enrichment Classes. However, we can reward him for meeting his weekly goal with those and add a tracker bar into his planner.

We have worked so hard to get Clark to see the classroom as "his room" with "his people" that he doesn't think he needs to ask to take or play with items. This has become a big problem at home too. He is normally not meaning to do something wrong, Clark's brain just works a little differently than most kids and so he perceives things differently. For example, we put the coloring stuff in the spare room to keep it away from the little girls. Clark has asked if he could use it before and has been told yes. So Clark feels it is ok to go into the spare room and get them when he wants. Every time he asks, it registers as a "It is ok to use it when I want". I know that we need to work on consistent wording addressing that this is one time permission every time he asks. Sometimes we are rushed with 5 other kids asking for soemthing and simply say "yes". Instead we need to say something like "You may use it this once. You need to put it back when you are done."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

An interesting time at McDonald's

Auntie A had the day off today. So we met her at the McDonald's with a Play Place. We rarely ever go, so the kids get pretty excited when we do. It started out like any other time. The kids dash into the play area and play while I place our food order.

The kids came down to eat... or half eat. Clark started to wander. I reminded him that these adults were having adult time while the kids played. One lady responded to him saying "Hi" and the conversation started. I went to remind Clark that we were here to play, but she shook her head and mouthed "It's ok". Soon she had 3 of the 6 kids talking to her. They discussed older Game Boys and Pokemon.  After a bit I told Clark to say goodbye and go back to playing, she insisted it was ok and that she was a teacher. I gave Clark and his siblings another minute and reminded them that it was time to play since we would leave soon. Sadly Clark's new teacher friend had to go. Clark decided to pretend to be some sort of Pokemon and go play with all the other kids.

I am not sure what triggered it, but Clark suddenly stopped. From across the room he started to tell me how he was glad that segregation was over and he as happy that he could play with his new friends. Oh no. Ok, I can handle this. I asked him to come closer and on his way he proceeded to retell me what he had just said.  I admit, I was a little embarrassed and horrified. I could see thisgoing one of two ways. One way would be that everyone understood he was trying to make a connection. The other involves being called a racist and some profanity (yes, we have had that one before).

I met Clark half way and told him that I would love to have this conversation with him, but maybe we should do so at our table. He happily agreed. Now, some will say that I need to teach him that there is a time and a place to speak of things like this. I agree and disagree. The middle of a Play Place is not the best spot to discuss a topic that could lead to a heated debate if others joined in that did not quite understand what he was trying to say. At the same time,hushing Clark would only teach him that we do not speak of these things. He may feel shamed. Children do not see the world as we do and do not take things the same way as adults do. Who knows what this could turn into in his mind. Clark has Autism. Clark was trying to make a meaningful connection with the people around him. He wanted to share something he had learned and he wanted them to know that just because he is Caucasian, he is not like those people in the past. To Clark, this makes perfect sense. We may find the drive to do that a little odd, but to Clark it isn't. He wasn't really doing anything wrong. He was just going about things in a way that most other people wouldn't.

We had our discussion and I thought he would go back to playing. Nope. Clark was still fixated on having a discussion with every adult there on segregation. *sighs*  I did not manage to stop Clark in time. The gentleman was kind and understanding. Come to find out,  he worked at a school and understood. Next Clark decided he would go talk to the African American couple who were seated in the back of the Play Place. The gentleman was on the phone and judging the body language of his wife, I am not quite sure this would play out very well. I told Clark that the gentleman was on the phone and it was rude to interrupt. Clark turned around and started to make a circle around the play area. He was not going to give up. He wanted to make that meaningful connection. Oh Clark... I did not think the wife looked very comfortable. Once again I reminded Clark that adults liked to have adult time, that the man was on the phone, and he wouldn't want to be rude, would he? Clark turned and I could see he was thinking of turning back again. "Clark, we are here to play." That worked.

Could I have handled it better? Maybe. Hindsight is funny like that. At the time, you do the best you can. Later you can always see things you missed and ways you could have handled it better. It's so easy to judge others on what they could have done better. Yet if we are in the same position, how many people could have actually have done better? Or would they simply have hushed the child?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Our camper: The Beginning

Our Teepee tent. 
Clara at 8 months camping
 We have tent camped for about 4 years now. It gets a little tricky and stressful during camp set up and take down since I am the only fully able bodied adult. Last year the older kids (then 8-6 years in age) tried to help me out several times, but it proved to be a better idea to just let me do it. Camp set up takes a bit and I just want to get it done so I can start dinner.

We don't stop camping if it rains.
 My only requirements for camping are that it is under $30 a night for our spot (tricky with a family of 8) and there needs to be water near by. We don't need electric. I am ok with port-a-potties and vault toilets.

My 6 plus my Bonus Child. 
 Last fall my best friend and neighbor brought home a pop up camper that she was trying to sell. I figured it would be much more than I could talk my husband into. To make the story short, I bought the popup for $600 with the understanding that it needed some work done to it, but not too bad. A few smaller holes in the canvas and the front end storage needed work.

We used this one all last year

My neighbors were kind enough to bring it over into my driveway, position it for me, and then teach me how to put it up and down.

What type of pop up is this? It's a 1994 Coleman Destiny Rio Grande. I am told that the front end storage is known to have leaking issues. Also the type or roof will sometimes get cracks in it as well, but you can refinish it and have no issues. So far we have no leaks in the roof. I do plan on refinishing the roof next year as well as painting the outside.

When we opened it up this spring, we discovered some mice had gotten into it over the winter and caused more damage to the canvas.

Good news: We can patch it and still use it this year.Bad news: Our camper will look a hair on the ugly side

I know many people would turn up their noses at this, but this is truly a blessing for our family.

 Please keep in mind, all these pictures were taken before any cleaning was done.

To the left is a large hole that had a wasp nest on both sides of the canvas.

On the right, you can see the damage the mice did to the curtains. There are also some small holes in the canvas.
The galley is fine. The water and stove top works. Although I plan on taking it out. I have no intentions of ever cooking inside the camper, even if it is raining. I have a camp kitchen that sits under an EZ up canopy. One year it rained all Memorial Day weekend. I cooked under my canopy and the kids played under it and we had a lot of fun! So for us, this is a pointless feature. Although, with 6 or 7 kids going camping with me, I do need space. So out it comes!

This camper also has a small heater in it. I have no intentions of using it either. The kids and I have been camping with weather down to 42* at night and no one got cold. It is all about being prepared.
The other bunk end

Yes, there are a few holes. We are not in a position to replace our canvas this year. Still, I would like to be able to use this pop up camper this year. I can set this up in 15 minutes all by myself. That is much faster than a tent. Also, I do not have to set up any camping cot for The Elder. His Cerebral Palsy makes it hard for him to sleep close to the ground. So we invested in a camping cot two years ago.

The holes in the canvas can be patched for this year. It will be on the ugly side, but usable and keep us dry. This fall we will be putting in an order for a new set of tenting for our pop up.

Now to clean this up and start making it uniquely ours!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Shirley's Open Heart Surgery

Edited in: Wow, So this unfinished post just kinda showed up and posted. This is from 2 years ago.

Shirley had open heart surgery February 3rd. Things were a bit trickier than they thought, but it all worked out in the end.

Day 4 starting to wake up. Peaking at mama.