Sunday, December 30, 2007
I chose to set goals with the kids regarding their lessons, extra-curricular activities and their chores. Manny and I will be setting goals for our health, the kids health care, our family finances, our house projects, and for our family quality time. On the side I will be setting the goals along with my partner for Rio Grande Roots & Shoots, an important part of our lives and something that requires a great deal of planning.
Measuring our success...
Last year, with GM, I sat down and figured out where we would need to be at various times in the year in order to meet our final goal. The year as a whole is too overwhelming, but achieving small bites that range for about 6 weeks at a time, can be great. You get to see and celebrate your success several times throughout the year, and if you fall behind, you can see it happening before you are so far behind that your goal becomes impossible to achieve. So for each of our goals I will sit down and figure out our necessary progress in monthly intervals.
So, onto the goals...
Landscape the front yard
Landscape the backyard
Furnish the porch
Finish the garage
Window in the dining room
New front door
New sliding door
Finish Wood floors
Stain wood exterior
Stain wood interior
Texture the ceiling
Lighting for the upper shelves of lounge
woodwork in LR entry
Enclose the HWH in new bathroom
Fix new bath faucet
Paint the study
Set up scrapbook closet in Guest room
Lighting in the foyer
glass in buffet door
handles on built-in doors in lounge
1. Complete 7th grade math
2. Complete 12 Chapter books (minimum 150 pages)
3. Early American History
4. Complete 7th grade L Arts
5. Science @Explora
1. Finish 3rd grade math
2. Complete 12 Chapter Books
3. Native American History
4. Complete 4th grade L Arts
5. Science @Explora
2. simple words
3. Saxon Math K
4. Saxon Phonics K
5. Science @Explora
Art @ Museum
1. Lose 30lbs
2. Work on cardio
5. Genetic testing for hydrocephalus
1. Lose weight
2. Work on Cardio
3. Have a physical
4. Genetic testing for hydrocephalus
1. tweak his supplements
2. review GF/CF diet
3. dentist (continue)
1. Keep up on head checks
Complete 25 service projects
Coordinate First Annual Conference
Get T-Shirts Made
Meet with Dr. Goodall
Continue Prairie Dog sponsorship
Continue Bosque adopted space work
Complete at least two outreach projects
Develop ongoing fundraising project
Support and work with Youth Leadership group
Develop committees for future growth
The kids are still thinking about their other goals, so I will add them in when we have had a chance to sit down and iron them out.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
So here is what Farmer Monte had to say on the matter, he is far more eloquent and since he is a local organic farmer, he is right in the middle of this new debate....
Ok, so when you are a produce nerd like I am, you get a little excited when food becomes a national issue. So I got giddy as a school girl last week when I saw that the cover of Time magazine was a huge picture of an apple.
But then I was quickly let down when the label on the apple said “Forget Organic, Eat Local.” Shoot, I thought to myself, now we have got someone (or a group) trying to separate two things that are not mutually exclusive. So let’s break down the debate.First off, I think the article is pretty much junk. The intensive research that the author did to reach his conclusion that we should all forget Organic, was to eat one Organic apple and one local conventional. He thought the Organic one was a bit mealy, and the local one crisp. So, he then brings the jury back and proclaims local should reign. Very scientific work from Time mag. Impressive.And I am not saying that local should not reign, but I want it to be Organic local. And with that, I would/will take regional Organic over local conventional any day of the week. I know that we might have some disagreement among the members on that, which is fine, but as a business owner, I cannot waffle on our bottom line. LPO’s stance needs to be concrete and consistent; so, therefore, we choose AZ or CA Organic over conventional produce from Belen.But I would love to get members feedback, so we are going to put a survey up on the web site this week for members to vote on and then I will let you know the tally next week. And the question is this, assuming quality and price to be the same, would you choose CA Organic over NM conventional? An interesting debate for sure.And since I have another half page to fill I will walk through my logic on why I would take the regional Organic. It can be summed up in two words, market forces. Economics prove that all markets and suppliers in a market are capable of changing. They can mutate and survive.Meaning that the factory who once made Beta Max video tapes, changed over to produce VHS and for the most part it was no big deal.Well I see the produce world in much the same way. We need to create incentives for growers to change. So that if a conventional producer reads enough articles about the big increases in Organic sales, they might be enticed into transitioning into cleaner farming. And when that happens on a large enough scale, then we will get a new and improved food industry.What happens if we dilute the demand for Organics by continuing to support a farming practice that we do not agree with just to say we buy local? What have we really accomplished?Do we really feel better about the introduction of chemicals into our environment as long as they are used locally? It seems to me that we want any conventional agriculture far away from our communities. Not in it. I am philosophically opposed to chemicals on food. Local or not. Finally, my last beef with the article is that it does not take into consideration the huge strides in farms that are both local and certified Organic. It does not have to be one or the other...we can (and do) have both happening.LPO is a microcosm of the small Organic farms that are popping up all over the U.S. Due to the relative low start up costs (elbow grease is still free) of a 2 to 5 acre market farm, we are seeing a huge increase in certified Organic production. A 40% increase in acreage in 3 years.In addition to the number of new farms and their diverse make up (many women and minority owned), farmed acreage by existing farms are going up, meaning that the marketplace is increasing for farms who do not sell to huge retail stores. All in all, a bright Spring for the Organic movement and all its growers….and consumers.
Have a great week, Farmer Monte
Monday, March 05, 2007
GM used to have a diet that basically consisted of a variety of combinations of bread and cheese, also some chicken nuggets etc. It was a SHORT list. Once we removed the gluten he did expand a bit, but mostly just in that he would now eat grilled chicken instead of breaded. He did pick up a lot of focus and was far less frustrated. So that was a great difference with the gluten. However with the gluten it did take months (about 6) before we really were able to see this change.
We removed the dairy (casein) about three weeks ago. He misses his dairy, but, he is now eating other foods. He ate and sort of enjoyed pasta (gluten free of course) he has NEVER been able to get pasta into his mouth because of the sensory issues and its texture. He is willing to eat kosher hot dogs, not the best food out there, but it is an expansion, he is eating corn and loving tacos!!! He even ate two scrambled eggs for breakfast yesterday. Something that a month ago would have had him gagging at the thought of it. Last night when he went to the coop and got his free piece of fruit, which he usually gives to his little sister, he ATE IT! He did have Dad take the skin off of it, but he said it was delicious! I am just blown away by how quickly his range and ability has expanded.
So what does this mean? Honestly, I think this is huge, and not just for nutritional reasons. Basically GM has struggled with sensory issues all his life and through the years he has really gathered quite the tool box of coping mechanisms. However his oral sensitivity has always been really a challenge and it has only seen moderate improvement in the past 7 years. We did get some huge improvements when he was about 15 month - 2 years old. This was when he wouldn't eat anything and so the expansion into the dry crunchies and eventually all the dairy and bread items was viewed as an improvement. However it leveled off and there we sat. My hope is that with this visible improvement to his oral sensitivities, he must be having some relief from the sensitivities that he has been coping with for all these years, bringing him some relief from the tough job of being "normal". Hopefully this will ease the struggle to filter through all the reactions his mind and body want to have to all these sensory issues and he can either rest a bit, or use that energy to bring strength to other areas or interests. I think his load is lighter.
Overall this has made one of the largest differences that we have seen in years!
Monday, February 19, 2007
Finally we moved and when we got here he treated himself to a 1976 Ford F150, all green, and dubbed "the Hulk". While fun, this puppy gets maybe 10 miles to the gallon and has left him stranded here and there about town. The other Volvo died too, so now here we are ... truck shopping!
My only issue with this is the fuel economy. It's not the cost, its the environment that concerns me, so we have agreed to go with a flex-fuel or bio-diesel vehicle that will at least be less of an environmental nightmare!
I hope he loves this thing, he will be driving it for a LOOOOONG time!!! :-)
Friday, February 16, 2007
No, I dont usually use one
Baking – Favorite thing to bake:
Clothesline – Y/N?
Not right now, but will in the spring
Donuts – Have you ever made them?
Every day – One homemaking thing you do every day:
Freezer – Do you have a separate deep freeze?
Yes, a standup in the pantry
Garbage Disposal – Y/N?
Handbook – What is your favorite homemaking resource?
Usually the internet, other people's blogs
Ironing – Love it or hate it?
I love it periodically
Junk drawer – Y/N? Where is it?
Oh yes. In the kitchen by the back door.
Kitchen: Design & Decorating?
Eclectic and fun
Love: What is your favorite part of homemaking?
Mop - Y/N?
No, Im a hands and knees gal
Nylons - Wash by hand or in the washing machine?
Does anyone even have these anymore??
Oven - Do you use the window, or open the door to check?
I used the window until the bulb blew out, now I use the door
Pizza - What do you put on yours?
Pepperoni, tomatoe and onion
Quiet - What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?
Read a magazine or play around on the computer
Recipe card box - Y/N?
Yes . . . not that I actually use it.
Style of house -
Ranch style southwestern
Tablecloths and napkins - Y/N?
Yes, on holidays and special occasions
Under the kitchen sink - Organized or toxic wasteland?
We dont use chemicals, but it isnt organized either
Vacuum - How many times per week?
Five if Im having a good week, 0 if Im not
Wash - How many loads of laundry do you do a week?
Between 7 and 10
Do you keep a daily list of things to do and cross them off?
Yes I do, my friend Kathy and I email our lists and updates to one another each day
Yard - Who does what?
I do the gardening, Dad does the heavy labor, GM tends the chickens
Zzz’s - What is your last homemaking task for the day before going to bed?
Hmm, I dont have one specific, but perhaps I will start one. Oh, I do start the dishwasher!!!
He got several really good touches last night on one kid and seemed to hold his own with another who is really quite good. He certainly left feeling really good about himself and how he did, and THAT is the goal! So Woohoo!!!!
So we have been Casein Free for over a week and he didnt starve to death, so that is a good thing. I made him some delicious brownies which really boosted his idea of how this was going to be, and he likes the Rice Dream Vanilla and hasnt complained once about it not being "real milk". We did find a cheese substitute which we have managed to melt quite nicely for a quesadilla or pizza and that has helped tremendously. The first pizza was a huge flop, but the second seemed to go over fairly well. He hasnt had pizza in the way others eat it in so long that I dont think the comparison is still there and that helped out a lot. Although he did really love the Rice Crust frozen pizzas from the coop. :-(
We will do this for a while, and begin the Diflucan for yeast either next week or the one after that. We might visit with family next week and I dont want him to be an emotional mess from yeast die-off, so it depends on what we do with those plans. His stool has been much better lately, so Im hoping that the gfcf, enzymes and probiotics are helping with the yeast already and we can have the Diflucan come in and kick it's butt on out of there! :-)
Once we have done these two things, then I will start him on the fish oil and the Curcumin, along with slowly starting his other supplements, followed after by the Methyl B-12 injections. I want to be sure this is the right route first and feel I need more time to research and process the info I receive.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
I typed up my usual information sheet which outlines our therapeutic history and our strides. Also including his current diet and our current concerns. Thank goodness because when I got there they were a bit upset that I didn't have the 18 page history packet that they usually send out to new patients. Not my fault obviously because the appointment was from the day before, but none the less I am bothered that the DR didn't have it to review. Although my little two page sheet was of some help (minimally).
So we go, and he is the usual eccentric, way too smart, egotistical, socially challenged specialists we are accustomed to seeing. All that aside, they are usually the best and they know their stuff! So we sit down and he begins to ask why we aren't Casein Free yet, I knew this would be the hit I took walking in the door, and I knew it was going to be the beginning of us taking that next step, so that was all good. Then he began explaining to me that he wanted GM to begin the Methyl B12 regimen. This is a shot every three days of 3cc of Methylcobalamin. It is administered by me and the concept is that it will help us to make another leap in function. Read here for more info.
He then proceeds to ramble off a list of books for me to read, and research for me to do and gives me a prescription for Diflucan for yeast and writes a few supplements down for us to begin at home.
So, that was that.
He did say something that resonated with me, because it is true, and it gave me some hope that this man is indeed experienced with what he is talking about and that he could become a good resource for us. He said that "you are the expert, I am just the facilitator for what you want to do for your child, you tell me what the next step is". I agree with this wholeheartedly and have always known that while we see this specialist and that therapist, in the end, it is the parents who are driving the bus, making the choices and navigating their child through this forest of options and theories. So having him recognize that, gave me hope that this guy might be okay after all. But the jury is still out. I haven't decided yet.
Driving home, my mind is just reeling. I'm asking myself questions like, how good is "good enough"? How far do we go before we can say, we did all we could? At what point is the balance between intervention and obsession? Can continuing to intervene actually make enough difference to make the realities of the intervention (shots every three days) worth it? At what point do the interventions actually become more life inhibiting than the diagnosis? If we didn't do the shots, is there this whole different level to GM that we would be keeping him from reaching? Could this be the bump that puts us into meaningful friendships, love and marriage? Is it possible that we have become so accustomed to who he is that we can no longer see the potential that could exist for him? Or as he said it, "which parts of me are the Asperger's, and which parts are just me"? It used to be easy to see, it used to be easy to point out what areas concern us, but now it is much harder, like needing a microscope to see clearly instead of it being obvious to the naked eye.
So now I am trying to determine our motivation, and our choices as to how far we choose to go. I know that until I make this determination I cant make a decision regarding the choices before us (methyl B12, hyperbaric O2 treatments). It is a process, an ongoing, often life-changing process.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
So I was able to get all our shopping done for the entire month of February and sat down and did the menu planning for the month. I feel like a cafeteria lady... today's lunch will be pasta with cheese and apple slices..... LOL But hey, until we can get into the habit, it will have to work.
I want to be more frugal with our monthly spending, especially in the area of groceries. I watched a show "Kids By the Dozen" and the Jeub family feeds a family of 13 with a household income of less than $40,000.00 per year. They live off less than that. Now they do live in CO and I don't know about the cost of living scenario, but we don't live far from them, so hey, surely we can do this with our tiny family of five!!!
I like the menu planning too because it takes the "what's for dinner tonight" question out of my head. I can actually just know that tonight is salmon with rice and veggies, and somehow it takes the dread out of the chore for me. I don't have to think, I just have to do! I like that. It seems that it is the thinking part that gets me tied up in dread and procrastination. I'm learning........
Anyway, I love this so far this month, and I'm excited to see if we can make it. I just have to keep ME out of the cheese and I need to bake about two loaves of bread per week to meet our needs.
Wish us luck!
Thursday, February 01, 2007
First, what was my issue, where was this sort of assembly-line scenario falling apart. First you gather, then wash, then dry, then put away. Isn't that how it goes? Well i had a few extra steps in there... I had gather (I'm good at that one) and wash, then I have sit and start to get that weird smell, then wash again, then dry, then fluff because we forgot it in there and everything is all wrinkled, then put in big pile on chair in bedroom, let rest.... dress from this pile until you cant remember if parts are clean or dirty, and then wash all the pile again. This brings us back to gather, the part I'm good at!!!
Okay, its ugly, but there it is, my not so streamlined version of a laundry assembly line. So, where is the back up? It comes from two places, first if my husband gets involved it can throw me into a terrible backspin that has been known to cause years of laundry hell. I kid you not! There was the removal of wet clothing to dry one shirt incident of 2003 that left us behind and continually screwed for over a year! So there is that....
Then there is the whole folding, hanging, putting away thing. I hate it! I feel so defeated by it and I basically avoid it like it is some sort of terrible manual labor that involves pick axes and a lot of sweat. But why? Oh yeah, because I will fold them and put them away and then in a little one's attempt to find that perfect shirt they will end up all over the floor, where they are then napped on by the dog! Frustrating? YES!!!!
So if I can get that end of things situated, I could then dry fast, and therefore wash faster (without the weird smell) and then we are back to gathering (the part I'm good at)!!!!
Well, a wise mother of sixteen posted on her site about the family closet (insert sound of angels singing here). Yep! One closet for the entire family. Not only one closet, but NO DRESSERS! Freedom! (again with the angels). So here is what we do and why...
Once closet for five people
- the clothes range from ME to GD to GM to myself and then my husband
- Below the clothes on the floor are two bins, one for kiddy socks, one for adult socks
- everything is hung on hangers, including t-shirts. This keeps us from keeping clothes we don't wear because they aren't hidden in a drawer, it also makes it so the kids can see exactly which one they want and we don't end up with clothes on the floor.
- the only clothes not on hangers are underclothes and pjs. These are in my closet in drawers below the hanging clothes.
This is why it is great...
- All the laundry in one room means it is easy to put away
- hangers only makes it VERY fast to put away
- clothing in one room means everyone dresses in there, so laundry is already gathered
- bedroom closets in the children's rooms are free for toys, and special things they want in there (personal storage)
- no dressers frees up space in each child's room so they have more room to play
- I keep a couple bags on the floor (the paper ones with handles) one for donate, one for outgrown and needs to be stored; this really helps me not over accumulate and keep things streamlined and uncluttered.
- I keep clothes that are in the cycle (outgrown by one, but about to be worn by another) on the shelf above the soon to wear child's clothes, this prevents forgetting about them and finding them when the second child has already outgrown them too.
Mommy is sane! I win! I am victorious! I wouldn't even claim victory if I hadn't been doing this for quite some time now. It has been a couple months and the system has not failed me yet. I don't even have to think about it. EVERYTHING is right there. It is so simple and obvious.
Monday, January 29, 2007
All is well, our GD is home and resting and enjoying a nice ice cream treat for his trauma. He was so brave and strong, and didnt move at all during the stitches. He had a CT Scan and all came back looking good.
It made for quite an adventurous afternoon. I hope our last for quite some time!!!
We then went to GM's Science Class at the museum and he had a great time learning abut Polymers while the rest of us played with the experiments in the museum. GM and GD are forming a nice friendship with two other boys who are new to homeschooling and whose family we have known for years. So that is nice too. Im glad to see them branching out a bit and expanding their circle of friends.
Im afraid the winter colds have hit our family even giving ME walking pneumonia last week, plus an ear infection. I felt really bad for her, but, as always, she was a trooper and is on the mend. We are having one of those years where you gt everything that comes down the lane. It seems like we get that way every few years. This year I think it has a lot to do with the construction in our home, the rise in fumes and dust and the exhaustion of the chaos. Once our systems were worn down by that, we didnt stand a chance. Lets hope it is better next year.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
We have struggled and dealt with issues of health and finances in our almost eleven years of marriage, but we have always had the luxury of one another and the security that comes with that. We have always made decisions, including really difficult ones with our family as the center of the vision. I really feel like these simple days are the real heaven in life. Listening to them running all over the house, chatting under the covers to one another at night, laughing and screaming. Watching my husband grow from a young guy to a responsible man who is the leader and the strength that I always knew he would be. All of it is just glorious and, for me, it is perfection.
I am a very lucky woman, living the life I have always dreamed of. It is simple and common, but that is part of the beauty. I appreciate it and I am very grateful.
Monday, January 22, 2007
After a couple hours of that we headed to the science museum for a fun class on chemical reactions. Definitely a favorite subject for GM. This was all wrapped up with an hour long LEGO Robotics Lab session which lets just say was a big hit!!!
It was a great day, although ME seems to be coming down with a cough. She is taking it easy and resting now while the boys have their quiet time.
Our electrician is coming tonight to finish up the garage (crossing my fingers) and then we will just chill out for the evening. The boys do have some reading to do, but other than that we aren't doing lessons today.
I am looking forward to a show on TLC tonight called Kids by the Dozen. I am so fascinated by people with a huge family. I love watching the logistics of it all. I don't even know why, but I really get into it. The only problem is that it makes me want more kids. LOL
Friday, January 19, 2007
The Importance of Thomas Edison
Thomas Alva Edison A First Biography
Lifetimes Thomas Edison
He is pretty interested in it and has done a good job digging into the reading. This is his third chapter book for the month, which I am over the moon about! Anyway, this will be a first big project that we have decided to take seriously and I'm excited to see how it progresses!
GD is doing George Washington Carver, mainly because he loves peanut butter. :-) He has a nice short biography to read and we will work on his project presentation portion together. The kids don't necessarily have to present their projects, but usually they get asked a lot of questions, so it is good to be fully ready. He seems pretty happy with it and comfortable with the scope of things. Last fall he did his science fair project on how fast he could eat brownies with different toppings and it went really well. He learned a lot about the process and had fun telling his friends about how he got to eat brownies. :-)
Thursday, January 18, 2007
We went up to Taos on Friday evening, in the midst of what was supposed to be a HUGE snow and ice storm. Luckily we checked it out and nothing too bad was to hit Taos until after dark, and mostly on Saturday. So off we went.
Taos was adorable, well what I got to see as we drove past it on our way to the mountain. I really want to go back there and explore in the spring or fall when we can shop and eat and play some more.
We got to our cabin just after dark and realized that it was really far from anything except the store that it sat directly behind. I was really unhappy and we asked the people to move us closer to the village and they luckily were able to. this made a big difference in the quality of our stay, especially as the 18 inches of snow began to fall for the next two days. We didnt have to drive anywhere, we could walk to tubing, restaurants, and fun locations. We could explore and come and go really easily.
Saturday was just the best day I have had in a long, long time. We woke up, went to breakfast at Tim's Stray Dog Canteen where they have a WONDERFUL breakfast burrito smothered with red chili that will warm you up from the inside and then headed out to play and explore a bit.
The area is incredible with snow everywhere, deeper than I had ever seen. We walked to the ski lifts and played around a bit there, checked out the little shops and watched the people as they rode around on the ski shuttles that take them from their cars to the lift. It was really fun and cool.
After searching around for a good place to play, we found a great open space with uninterrupted snow and decided to go play there. It was up to my husbands waist!!! Well that is how far he sank, so you know it was deeper because he packes a lot down to fall in that deep. The kids were a lot lighter, so they were able to only sink in to about their thighs. We had to literally crawl to move. It was a blast!! We decided to make a fort under a picnic table that was level with the snow (the top of it was level with the snow). We thought we could make a fort beneath it but even after a lot of digging we couldnt all fit under it. The snow was just too hard to budge. We played around there and then decided to move over to another area in the trees, and out of the ind. We laughed so hard, I couldnt breath. We all kept trying to tackle my husband, but we couldnt get him down! the most fun was throwing the kids. Exactly how your throw them in a pool, we could throw them through the air and they would land in a puff of snow. they LOVED thi, but would be stuck like turtles on their backs. It was just a hoot!!!
That evening we went tubing on the small mountain bottom. Even ME was flying down the hill all by herself. I felt like a little girl again. Running and flying down on the tube on my belly. I cant remember the last time I got to do that. It was such a blast and such a fantastic way to spend an evening with our family.
All the people were just so nice and helpful. We went to get dinner at a little Pizza place called Crossroads and I asked if they would cool Grey a wheat free pizza I had brought for him, they were more than happy to help. So the whole family got to enjoy pizza together and laugh about our day.
We wrapped up our first night with a movie I brought called Millions. We all really enjoyed it and quickly passed out from a long day of play!
Sunday was beautiful, it snowed like crazy and we got to spend another day outside playing. It was significantly colder though. About 4 degrees, before the wind and -6 or so with it. We took a warm up break and played some games in our room before heading back out for more fun.
Monday we had to pack up for Denver and enjoyed our last yummy breakfast at Tim's. We will definitely come back to tTaos Ski Valley. The people were so incredibly nice and our stay was just the perfect combination of fun, excitement and relaxation. We had many hot chocolates, snow angels, and battles to last us until next year. I cant wait to go again!
My husband had a business trip in Denver which meant he had to be there all day Tuesday and most of Wednesday. We was set to fly out of town on Monday evening and would be returning late Wednesday. So my wheels got to turning and since we were to be in Taos for the weekend and Denver is about five hours north of Taos, how about if we all drove up on Monday. He was off for MLK day, so it would be perfect. Plus the hotel would be free since it was for a business trip. We would pay for the upgrade to a larger room, but basically this was Denver on hardly any money! TERRIFIC!
So I packed a few extra outfits for our trip and we were off! The plan was to spend the days touring Denver and having fun in their museums and such. Plus getting to see a different city, stay in a hotel and enjoy the majestic Rocky Mountains while covered in snow! It was really a nice getaway.
We made great time from Taos up to Denver. Leaving around 11:30 am from the snow COVERED mountains in Taos Ski Valley and driving north we made it to Denver by 4;30pm. The weather cooperated and the snow and ice covered roads were at least in the valleys where it was flat and you could use the 4x4 and get some traction. All was great.
We arrived at our hotel, got checked in and headed upstairs to take showers before heading to the Aquarium for dinner and a tour. The Downtown Aquarium in Denver is open until 10pm and has a discounted admission after 6pm. Something I was happy about when we realized how small it was. Even with the discount it was 10.00 a person, and the whole aquarium takes about 45 minutes to see. So I was happy not to have paid their full rate. However it was a WONDERFUL aquarium. The kids loved it, they got to pet some stingrays and see so many cool things. GD was stoked that he got to see Seahorses, something he saw an entire traveling exhibit of in Baltimore, but doesnt remember. ME got to see a Sea Turtle which she loved and GM just had such a great time throughout the whole thing. It was definitely a favorite of all of ours!
Better yet was dinner!!! they have a restaurant that is up against the aquarium, something that is fairly common these days, but the food was just delicious! The margaritas were even better and they had so much food that GM could eat and enjoy! He even got to have a rice crispy treat desert that you could paint with colored powdered sugar water. He was really happy, and so was I! They all got cool souvenir cups to being home and we all laughed and enjoyed one another throughout our dinner. I love times like that!
I highly recommend the aquarium and the restaurant. Both are a bit pricey, but we just had the greatest time. Even after the day's long drive. It was fun way to kick off Denver, especially since it is right next to downtown, which is just beautiful at night. Denver was off to a great start!
Well, have you ever had one of those things that you are so excited about turn out to be just a nightmare? Well, this was one of those things. It started out great, we were up early and I had read the directions online and was ready to tackle driving in downtown Denver. I was able to use the hotel business center to print out our reservation passes and we were set! We drove straight to the mint without missing even one turn. Yeah, I'm proud!!!!
But hmmm, where do you park? Um, let me drive around this block here and see... "oh there's a lot"! But as we sat waiting for a LONG time to enter the lot I realized that they were triple and quadruple parking the cars, so when someone came to get their car, they had to move ALL the cars in that area to get to it. We weren't budging, and we had to check into the mint a minimum of fifteen minutes prior to the tour. So I was able to back out of there and look for another lot, further away. Mind you it was about 6 degrees outside, but hey we were used to it by now. I drove around, nothing.... drove further.... nothing... Got a spot! HAPPY DANCE, everyone out of the car, we have to run.... then I hear a voice.. "you cant park there, that is reserved, something I would have known if it weren't for the four feet of snow blocking any signage. Everyone back into the car... were sooo late by now! But the gentlemen at least pointed me to another spot that I could park in. So we drove over there and parked. I had to prepay five dollars, which I didnt have and so the mad scramble for change in the car began. We got it! So then we filled the darn machine with our change and off we ran, slipping and sliding all the way!!! Im running, yelling, grumpy and stressed at this point. We were freezing cold and we had to run three and a half blocks to get to the gate. Im so darned incontinent at this point that Im practically wetting my pants with every stride! UGH!!!
So we make it there. "Sorry lady but yo have to wait until the 10am tour." Geez, Louise!!!! So luckily there is a gift shop we can go into to keep warm. Now, I may be spoiled, but I am used to the gift shops of governmental tourist spots as being really nice. They usually have marble here and there, nice people in vests to help you, a lot of cool souvenir stuff that you remember from when you were a kid. But this wasnt quite like that. This was literally a trailer parked next to the mint. It has strange stuff to buy and a saleslady who pretty much wanted nothing to do with smiling at us. Im sure she is used to people coming in to keep warm, so I get it. In the 30 minutes that we waited in there, we ended up finding some fun stuff to bring home, and a gift for my brother. Maggie broke a piggy bank by dropping it, which I had to then pay for. But we were warm at least and we would all be happy once we were in the mint and getting to enjoy all the cool things inside.
Finally we had to line up outside the gates, but because we missed our reservation time, we had to wait until everyone who had a 10am reservation was let in, then we could go in. It was just so cold! But finally we got to enter through a LOT of security. The guards got a kick out of my kids simply not knowing how to do the whole security check thing. But I guess they really havent ever done it before. We havent flown in years and they probably dont remember the last time we did. One guard was laughing because GD walked around the metal detector and was marveled by all the machines. It was pretty cool to them!!!
Once inside the fun began!!! fifteen minutes of pointing to machines that you couldnt see what they were doing and a nice lady trying to explain it all. We were surrounded by really cool stuff that it turns out, you REALLY can not touch!!!!
Inside I was just laughing. I thought this is such the example of one of those days filled with good intention that is just such a bust, all you can do is laugh! We did learn some cool facts about coins and GM is now more excited about collecting all the state quarters and the new Presidential gold dollars that start this Presidents Day, so it was all good in the end!
Until we marched back through the cold to our car only to find a ticket on it. Apparently way beneath the snow there was a sign that said it was for monthly parkers only. How a person is to know this I have no idea, especially when the number sticking up out of the snow had a money slot on the big $5.00 per day sign.
What I will do to get my kids to see something cool!!
By the way, no pics because you cant take a camera to the mint. But Im sure you can just imagine how lovely we looked! LOL
After our morning at the US Mint we headed over to the Children's Museum. It was a really cool colorful building right off the highway and directly across the parking lot from Six Flags Denver, which GD was drooling over. :-)
It cost the four of us just over $25.00 to get in, and adults do have to pay as well. When I walked in and saw the gift shop area, I immediately thought, "hmm everything looks like baby toys" but that was it. We first got to play on the firetruck and inside of the fire prevention space. The kids all enjoyed that and we had fun taking silly pictures. But again, I was noticing that GM was quite bigger than the other kids, and that eveyone was basically smaller than ME, who is newly four. they had this really fun room that we wanted to check out, but it was only for kids under age four, so we couldnt go in. :-(
So we were off to the upstairs which is where the majority of the museum was located. It was really nice. they had a lot of great fun things to do and play with, and of course everything was interactive. I was so bummed though because everything had age limits on the entries, ages 4-8 was the majority of the space. ME and GD had a ball playing in the nature room. It was really cool, with animal costumes and differnt habitas to play in. It was done so nicely. But, there were so many mom's sitting around with their infants on their laps and sort of giving the bigger kids (within the age limits) the stink eye as they ran by. I was so annoyed. They have a HUGE room downstairs for infants to roll around in, so go there! Well this is what I thought. GM of course didnt do anything in this space because it was not for his age or size. I was just so bothered that I was following their age limits and getting the stink eye and they were just sitting their chating with each other on some sort of infant playdate in the middle (literally the middle) of the playstructure. UGH!!!!!
Okay, enough of my grumpiness on that. The museum had a great grocery shopping play
area that they all enjoyed and ME and GD made some great paintings in the Arts area. It is a really great museum to visit if you have young, young children. It was PERFECT for ME and I was thrilled to see her having so much fun. GD loved it too. He is so young at heart that he was just eating up the imaginative play areas and the fun of just running about with other kids.
GM was so mature and nice. He helped ME and GD to have a good time and helped me when the two of them wanted to be in different areas. He would help me to keep an eye that GD (king wanderer) wasnt roaming off while I was with ME. It is terrific that he is becoming so mature and able to be of so much help to me. He was also really mature about not being able to really do anything here. I can see him being upset about not being able to climb on this or do something, but he really handled it well. For a while he played int he Thomas train section with a bunch of three year old kids making them super tracks to drive their trains on. LOL It was cute!!!
If in Denver, check it out if you have small children. It is clean, well stocked and the layout makes it easy to keep an eye on multiple children. Which I am always grateful for. :-)
Wednesday morning we headed over to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. This was a key destination because of GM and my work in the local museum, and my lifelong love of museums. This did not disappoint!! Your greeted by a large TRex skeleton as you walk in the door. Of course this set the tone for the morning. This museum has three levels of exhibits, set up similar to the Air and Space Museum in DC. A center hall with exhibit rooms off to either side. Each with its own theme etc... This is nice because you can sort of clean your palette as you need to go out into the main hall before drifting into another exhibit.
We decided to start off with the Space Hall. It was wonderful! We were greeted by a wonderful and informative volunteer who let the kids hold a meteorite and explained to them how to tell if it is really a meteorite or just a hunk of lead (striped burn marks from entry into the atmosphere). He also showed us a short video of a meteor spotted in Texas that ended up landing in New York and hitting someones car. This was a hit, of course!!!
This particular area was FILLED with hands-on interactive activities for the kids. Programming a robot on mars, making impact craters in sand by shooting lead balls, computer programs that let you make stars, planets or black holes, dress-up areas where little ones can dress up as an astronaut and use tools to collect moon rocks. Just a wonderful and interactive experience. GM was in heaven, and ME and GD had a blast too! Definitely a great place to start!!
We then checked out the main hall and met up with a guy called Mr Bones. He had these huge puppet dinosaurs, made of wire and painted foam. A sort of cross between a puppet, a costume and a marionette. They were really spectacular.
Then off to Egypt for some fun with the Mummies. They had three real mummies on display. One from a wealthy woman, one from a poor woman and another that I cant remember the specifics about. It was interesting because you could really see the difference money could buy when it came to your mummification. We also learned about the urns that your organs would be held in and the various amulets that would be wrapped up in the linens. Apparently the Egyptians thought that your mind and soul were in your heart, so a scarab would be placed above the heart, but the brain was thought to be useless and was simply tossed away!
The Prehistoric life hall was terrific. They did a great job of really focusing a lot of space and money on life before the dinosaurs. This was great because GM and I are spending time talking about this along with our Creation unit. A lot of times places with jump right into the dinosaurs so this was really fun to check out. GM even seemed to really begin to see the growth of diversity on the ocean floors and how that lead to the evolution of animals leaving the sea and heading to land. So that was a nice discovery for him.
We had a nice lunch in their TRex Cafe and headed over to the gift shop for a souvenir before heading out to get Dad. His day was short so our plans to go to Hammond's Candy Shop were blown, but this was okay. We will save it for next time, and this also meant we could head back home sooner and not have as much night driving in the winter elements.
Overall this museum was probably the best thing we did in Denver. The kids all three loved it, I loved it and we all really felt like we came away having learned something new. The only thing I wasn't thrilled with was the HUGE amount of space, on two different floors dedicated to dead animal dioramas. The stuffed animals in their fake habitats etc... It seems that should be a zoo thing, unless they are extinct. Anyway, it was a HUUUUGE portion of the museum, and a waste of space and time. It seemed outdated and like the museum could really teach the same things, but in a much better, more exciting and interesting way. In the end you leave feeling more sad for the animals than that you had learned about them. I bet they update that over the years, and bring that space more up to the levels of their other exhibit halls.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Working at the local museum, I found a wonderful book called "Born With a Bang: The Universe Tells Our Cosmic Story". I bought it and the two other titles that follow in the story of how life on earth came to be from a scientific perspective. I love these books, although at times they stray into more science than I see necessary, they are beautifully written with a true storytelling feel. They really connect to the child because they come from the perspective that this story is everyone's story and that we are all a part of the universe. This is a perspective that I like because I feel it brings in a foundation of brotherhood, empathy and responsiblity for our planet and the other people, animals and plants that live here.
So using this as a background for our unit, I then decided to bring in the creation myths from the various cultures. Below is a breakdown of what we are doing and some examples of GM's work.
We have a Geological Main Lesson Book (images above). It is a huge book measuring 16X20 and spiral bound. We use this for our "scientific perspective" book. So in here we are entering pictures and writings which come from the Universe book and other ideas that we come across here and there. Eventually this will grow into multi volumes as we begin studying the continents and their biomes... then getting more into the people who live there and their cultures... from here we move into history.
Some of the Creation Myths we have done, or will do include:
Raven : A creation story from the Pacific Northwest about how the Raven brought the sun to the people.
How the Tewas Found their True Home: Local Southwestern Creation Myth
The First Day of Creation: A Jewish creation story
Coyote and the Sky: How the Sun, Moon and Stars Began. Another local Native American Creation story
Japanese Creation Story
Pangu and the Creation of the World: A Chinese Tao story of the creation
the Dreamtime: An aboriginal Creation Myth from Australia
The Story of Olorun: A Yoruba story of the creation (West Africa)
I find it really hard to believe that any family could be completely one style. Isnt homeschooling about your family? Isnt it about finding your way and not just following the way of a group or a style? I know that with some religious based programs it is important to follow a set program, and I guess that is the exception. But I almost consider that a completely different type of homeschooling. It is more about choosing a different set path than it is about creating your own path. I could be wrong, and again there are exceptions. But overall I would say that this is what my experience has shown.
I have yet to meet anyone who is a complete unschooler. I know people who associate themselves with this style, but they still add in a little of this or that. I dont know anyone who is completely Enki, or completely Waldorf or any other thing for that matter.
Of course classifying has its uses, but here is my issue...
When you allow a title or a style to define you and your homeschooling, you can easily lose your way. When you try to follow any one style too closely you begin to view the success of the program and your adherence to it as the success instead of the growth of your child as the success. Does that make sense? When we make working a style or program the priority or our theories of education to blur our vision of what our child needs, we lose. Worse yet, our kids lose.
I have my thoughts, opinions and theories about how I want my kids to learn, what I want to use and how I want to go about it. However i also have three children. The ideal in my mind may not be the ideal for each of them. I have to be sure that I am not allowing my need to meet benchmarks or be Enki, or be this or that to cloud what matters. Am I meeting the needs of my child? That is the mantra, that is the goal. Not to be Enki, not to be an unschooler, not to be whatever. To be GM, GD and ME's mother and to try my darndest to help each of them grow to be happy, healthy, educated and inspired people.
So if that means that in October we had to unschool, and in January we are back to Enki, and we throw in some Saxon Math and a bit of reading what would be called literary trash by the Classical Ed folk, then so be it. I try to stay true to my vision, but I cant allow my vision to equally not meet my child in the way the school systems guidelines wouldnt. Sometimes our vision for our children can blind us to their actual needs.
Anyway, in writing this blog and thinking about things and how they are or are not working for us, I needed to get that off my chest. Yes, if you need to define us, we are an Enki family in that we really live a life inspired by the foundation guides. I love them and find them to be incredibly inspirational to me and my journey with my children. However, I doubt we really look like one. We dont make choices based on "is this or that Enki" I couldnt care less. However I believe that it needs to be "us". Is this or that a part of what we want or need for our family? Sometimes that falls into an Enki framework, and sometimes it doesnt. It is essential that it falls into our families framework, first and foremost.
After that, its all just names and ideas. The only benchmarks, activities, outlines etc that we need to follow are the ones that work for our families. Leave what doesnt work behind and face forward to finding and doing what works best for you.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
In talking on the phone with a friend of mine who also has a chld with Aspergers I realized that I am no longer having to nudge him to keep him focussed. I used to have to say "focus" time and time again, just to get through a basic lesson. I havent had to say it to him once in the past two weeks. I used to really have to do this when he was reading, and especially if he was reading something of any length. Now I am telling him to read two chapters at a time and he is doing it without even a grimace or the need for me to tell him to focus again.
We have been gluten-free for about seven months now. In talking to my friend I realized that maybe, just maybe it is the new diet that is helping us through this particular area of challenge. I kept thinking that he just hit a point of maturity, forgetting that the diet could be actually helping us in some way. But in thinking about it, I have to say that Im thinking the diet is what is supporting him right now. He is being far more positive about his fencing too. Just over the break he didnt even want to show anyone his "moves" because he gets so shy about it and then when it was time to return to fencing, he seemed uninterested. But then we went last week and even though the kids he bouted with were at least thirteen years old, he came away from it all happy and positive. This is rare for our little Eeyore. He was telling me about how that big boy got a lot of touches on him, but he got a few on him too and that he was really proud of his improvement. He actually said "Im proud of my improvement". Also when asked if anyone wanted to stay for open gym and practice a bit more after class he was the only one who said yes. Another sort of "off character" thing for him. He is usually pretty ready to go after the 1:15 class.
He is also getting up and making his own bed EVERY day, without asking. Also cleaning up his room, without drama.
I dont know, maybe it is a combo of maturity and the diet, but I have to wonder. Could this be due to the benefits of being gluten-free??
All I know is that we wont be going off it anytime soon!!!!
Monday, January 08, 2007
Today was our first day back with our science coop. One of the mom's has this unit and is presenting and letting the kids explore the world of Cryptozoology. They loved learning about the many different ways that you can describe the sighting of a lake monster or of a Yeti or even just a kangaroo. The kids got to listen to many cryptid descriptions while sketching what they heard. It was a lot of fun. Some of our friends from VA who have very recently begun homeschooling came today too and got to meet some of our other friends. Plus we had a couple other new families join in the fun.
The boys both enjoyed the morning and ME had a lot of fun playing in the play-doh and visiting her friends. Afterwards we came home and sat down to work on some math and the boys each got to pick their books to read this week. GM chose another chapter book and GD chose an expanded form of The Gingerbread Man. He loves that story!
Tonight my Brother-in-law is supposed to come over to play LEGOs with the boys and my husband. They have really been looking forward to this as they really enjoyed their playtime with their uncle last week. GM made a cryptid to show him and GD is working on something up there that I havent had the honor of checking out.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Currently our daily schedule has been ...
- Coffee/computer (I check email, and send a message to a friend back east who trades to-do lists with me)
- make our beds
- clean up the house
- breakfast/clean up from breakfast
- free time/quiet time
- independent practice work (math and reading)
- fencing or company
- family time (game night, movie night..._
This next week I will try to get our yoga and movement back in place and continue with the progress we made this past week.
GM finished his chapter book he bagan on Tuesday and GD has only one chapter left. Both made terrific progress with their math and their main lessons. GM is currently studying the creation of the earth and universe via a wonderful book called Born with a Bang: The Universe Tells our Cosmic Story in conjunction with the reading and working of various cultural and religious creation stories. GD is loving learning more about the animals of winter and working some of the Enki winter nature stories. ME has even been trying to get in on the action with making little books about colors and animals that she likes. She doesnt know her letters yet as she is way too busy exploring the world around her, but she is definitely growing interest in things of that nature. Maybe she will be ready to learn some letters in the fall, but we'll see.
Anyhow, fencing is going great, and GD has asked to do some boys gymnastics again like he did in VA. ME wants to take a dance class for traditional Mexican Folk dancing. So in this new year I have decided to give it a whirl and support them wanting to be active in something outside of the home. I usually make them wait until they are older, but they both are so excited about it that I think I will see how it goes for this winter/spring season.
Oh yeah, we went to see Night at the Museum on Saturday with Grandma and it was so fun! Great movie for the whole family to enjoy together!
Friday, January 05, 2007
Anyway, GM is outside now in the dark, 15 degree weather spending time with the girls in their coop. He asked Dad to come with him so he could hang out out there and hold them for a while. Im happy to see that it touched him in some way. GD cried with me, but I ALWAYS cry at movies! I just get lost in them. It seems that GD does too.
I dont think any of us will look at a flock of migratory birds in the same way.
I just loved it!!!
PS. ME is out there now too. She wanted to give one of them a hug. :-)
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Our lessons for today look a little like this...
- GM also needs to make an entry from the chapter he read last night into his reading journal
- Math (each boy will do some math this morning)
- GM will enter "Coyote and the Sky: How the Sun, Moon and Stars Began" into his Good Book
- Both boys will do a reading comprehension exercise
- Both boys will read the next chapter from their readers
- GM will make an entry into his Geo Book about the planet formations
- GD will do another Headsprout activity (he loves those things)
- GD and I will read a nature story together from Enki
- GM will write a letter to his penpal (his much neglected penpal)
- ME will hang out and do some crafts on the floor while we work on these things
So that is the goal for this morning. Everyone seems to be taking to getting back into the groove really well. I think they have been craving it!!! I know I have!