Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Magic Marker Monday: Fat Crayons

Giving James writing instruments can be fraught with peril. With pens and markers, he wants to decorate his skin and the walls, not use them on paper. Paint winds up everywhere, especially his fingers (and everywhere he can put said painty fingers). Even if I give him a brush.  He has not been able to maintain a good grip on regular pencils and crayons, and tends to break and chew them.

This year, his O/T and aide at school are working on using a pencil grip to improve his fine motor skills. His teacher from last year reminded us that he does much better with fatter pencils and crayons. I managed to find some big crayons that he had not yet broken and set him up with paper and crayon. He went through several sheets, front and back, solemnly drawing Jand j ,,, and his name:

J .... a .... m   (we are still working on the e and s)

I am enjoying this while it lasts. He is asking me to be able to do his "homework". I hope that one day he'll start drawing his own pictures, and tell us all about them!

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Getting on His Game Face

I was going through pictures of the county fair, just before school started. I have loved going to the county fair since my first trip in 1972. It's been a joy to take my kids there too and watch them have as much fun as I did.

This year, for the first time, James asked to play one of the midway games. Part of our pre-fair package deal gave us a couple of 2-for-1 game coupons, so we picked he picked this game:

This turned out to be a good choice. James likes to roll and bowl balls, and the noise does not last too long. Plus, there is the thrill of watching your competition and your clown car move slowly across the board

Notice, James is a lefty here when it comes to throwing: 

I am looking back at this picture now, with a month of successful Kindergarten transfer under our belts. I should have taken this last picture to heart: James, lining up with the other kids. Having the time of his life, not because he's winning, but because he's right there, in the game, with everyone else:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Like an Orange-dot Cowboy

I think this can be filed under "just because"


To quote the Li'l Wrangler: "Hey, Mommy ... Look ... I put on the hat. The cowboy hat, and I put on my nose."

For more great images or to join in the fun, Visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.

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and ... Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Derailment and Change-ups

I'm just getting back from a good 3-week fight against a sinus cold. It's sapped my strength and threatened to turn into an ugly sinus infection. Exercise meant trudging to the bathroom and blowing my nose. Victory was getting kids to/from school on time, with lunches & completed homework. We won. Barely. Go, us!

In the midst of this haze, puffiness, coughing, and exhaustion, North Bay Regional's past referral sent us a good fairy from California Parenting Institute (or, CPI, as it's commonly know around here) to help.

Oh, how we needed her. We just didn't know it.

First, there was the relief in talking to another adult. One who's mission is to help parents become better parents, regardless of the background story. Second, it was extremely helpful to have someone ask focusing questions about concerns and goals. Third, hope was renewed in defining said goals and realizing that I could indeed make some basic, small changes and renew commitment to make our time less ... well, dragging. Focus. Focus is a good thing.

Together we came up with some simple play activities with which to engage James. Because he cannot focus on anything on his own except TV, computer PBS kids games, or (occasionally) a book. This has been making feel as though I was losing my mind, because I can't DO anything else when he is home. Also, I know that plugging him into electronic media is a bad idea, because he does not transition well away from it.

What ideas did we come up with? Well, simple ones, like:

coin sorting ...

helping him play with his trains ....

and working on colouring projects, which also help as a connection activity with Dad

what I love, is me recommitment to taking the kids with me to the gym, so I can get in some exercise, steam room, and TLC while they get to play and do crafts with other kids. The kids also like the possibility of getting some frozen yogurt at the cafe.

What makes me even more grateful for this change-up in our daily routine is that I fell off the wagon and went back to our old ways one day and discovered what a hideous contrast it make for me, when compared to the new changes. I am sold, happier, and more hopeful. Also, so thankful that this service and these people are here and available to help. Even though I think of myself as lucky, caring, and smart, I certainly need this help!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

On the Inside, Looking Out

We had an interesting experience last month. Both my kids were splashing about in family the pool at our gym. I was watching from a chair in the sun, trying to avoid coming down with a cold. My daughter has been taking lessons, and while not yet truly swimming, she is confident and can dog paddle. James is very tall for his age, and so can safely walk across the shallow ends of the pool.

He loves to be in the pool, jumping about on the stairs and "monkeying" along the wall. If I get in the pool with the kids, they both love to climb the ladder at the deepest part of the pool and fling themselves off the edge. My daughter can now go solo. James still does not want his head wet, and leaps into my arms.

So there I was, watching them play in the pool at the gym. I noticed a young girl in full street clothes approach the pool and stare intently at my daughter and some other people in the pool. Then she started to jump up and down. And flap her hands. And do some verbal stimulation that did not include words. She circled the pool, doing this for a good 15 minutes. She was with her family and they all seemed to be enjoying a summer afternoon around and in the pool.

James did look up at her several times, but then went back to what he'd been doing, which was engaging in water fights with his sister (something new this summer; usually he hates being even splashed with water).

This is what really struck me: here I was, sitting outside on the deck, watching my kids in the water, doing their thing. I'd turned from a water-loving participant into a dry-dock watching mom. James was checking out airplanes up in the sky, my location, and what his sister was doing while trying his best to share the water with his neighbours. He was inside, looking out. I found that different, yet satisfying.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Special Exp. / Wordless Weds: Walking Home

One thing I remember looking forward to doing, upon our move up here, was being able to walk our children to and from the local K-1 school. It's only about 4 blocks away, and the walk seemed like it would be so sweet.

Little did I know the frustration I'd have to wait through. The years of kids in preschoool (so long while it lasted, so short looking backward). The heartache of finding new daycare every 6 months. Having to rush some of the dropoffs due to conference calls with the east coast for work from the home office. The bitterness of not being able to walk my daughter as much as I wanted to because too often I had to be at home, waiting with her brother for the bus to show up. The focus on having to drive everyone for one whole school year because the bus lost James his first afternoon for over an hour and I wouldn't trust them with him again. Encouraging my daughter to make the walk with me and not let her whine about it being too far.

Now at last I am enjoying that walk with James. It's even sweeter because for a while I did not know if he'd be able to attend this school, let alone be in a regular class. James is a morning guy, loves meeting new people, and adores Kindergarten. He can hardly wait to get to school in the morning, and chatters about the day to come.

Walking home is an adventure ...

Because we get to walk through a bigger playground where he actually gets to play during the school day!

And who knows what we will see on our way home? We always love to take the "short cut" through this country corner:

One Friday the F-18 was buzzing us all the way from school to home in preparation for the local Air Show ...

And already the trees are changing colour, and dropping leaves for us to kick and crunch:

So the world is a bigger and more exciting place for James right now, and his excitement matches mine on our walks home together.

For more great images or to share your own, Visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.

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and ... Wordless Wednesday

Monday, September 06, 2010

Summer Finale

I was looking back at pictures taken over the summer. I had trouble realizing we had a summer, it went by so fast. A nice little summary is a trio of pictures his sister took one day
...  more on that, below.

Taking pictures pretty much sums up this summer for me. Both kids have latched on to the novelty that is digital photography. My daughter has a fabulous eye for composition and my son loves to push buttons. My daughter likes to create things and her brother likes to create energy. They both love being able to do something they see both parents doing, with "grownup" technology.

Also, I am getting older, and time keeps picking up speed and racing by me. If I don't take pictures, I totally blank out on what happened last week. My calendar fixes me to the future and my camera has become my diary and my memory. Just call my Mommy Mnemonic. Heh. Remember that movie? Aaaaaancient history! This also reminds me to step it up on the blog posts. Too often I see James doing something I think is very recent, only to look back here and realize he's been doing it for longer than I thought.

Add to that the fact that James' Dad has a killer commute/work schedule, and is on the road and/or working for way too many hours in the day. Pictures are a great way to keep us more in touch.

This summer, James had needed a little more interaction and reassurance at bedtime, before he can drop off to sleep. He's traditionally been a hands-off baby and preschooler after jammie change time, as in the more I tried to rock/hold him and sing/tell stories,  the fussier he'd get and longer he'd stay up. Now he wants his sister to tell him Teletubby stories and me to sing him to sleep. So I made him a quick watercolour drawing from one of his favourite Laurie Berkner songs about a Magic Box:

He loves it!

Finally, with James' verbal and social skills increasing, he has become more fun to his sister, and they play together more and more. That were they playing with together a few weeks ago?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Special Exp. / Wordless Wednesday: Fatigue

Q: Can a kid have too much fun?


Let's back up a bit, and see how we got there. It all started on a very foggy, cold, and windy Friday night at the Discovery Museum in Sausalito. James got to:
shovel some gravel ...

captain a boat ...

beat some tuneful rhythms ...

... and run a few missions in space on the International Space Station

So I guess the answer is "maybe." As in maybe that is why the magic show lost its charm for him after 15 minutes.

For more great images or to join in the fun, Visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.

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and ... Wordless Wednesday