Monday, March 18, 2013

Magic Marker Monday: Portrait

We celebrated St. Patrick's Day at James' grandparents' house. My mom's family is all Irish and one does not let the day pass by. I've visited the home counties of Rosscommon, Westmeath, and Tyrone, back in my traveling days, and (even farther back in time) danced with my Irish dancing troupe in the San Francisco St. Patrick's Day Parade (totally pre-Riverdance).
Thanks for the fun, Google! In my day, however, there was less foof, and our hair was our own.

James decided to draw pictures after dinner, something he rarely chooses on his own. He drew a picture of Mommy, so I have to include it here:
Note the party hat and jolly crossed eyes -- c'est moi!

For more great masterpieces or to share some of your own, visit
5 Minutes for Special Needs for more Magic Marker Monday.

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Friday, March 08, 2013

New Apps To Try

 We tried 2 new apps for the iPad this week: Scene and Heard (lite/free version) and Thinkin' Things, Collection 1.
Scene and Heard is an interesting program that lets you take pictures and record sentences about them. So far, James likes tapping the images already loaded into the program. I am hoping that by summer, he and his sister can build on this. It would be a great way for James to build his expressive language.

Bonus, it blends in with the picture schedulers he's used to seeing at school.

Thinkin' Things is a collection of games he met in his first grade classroom. He finally was able to ask specifically for this application last week, after an attempted visit to his old classroom didn't work out .... and he had a huge, Hulky, howling, meltdown. I figured that if he could pull himself back together after that extreme disappointment and form a calm and articulate request, by golly that deserved an attempt to get this thing!

It's older software, by a company that's been acquired, so it took a little sleuthing to track it down online. There are 3 collections, and James was Very Firm that what he wanted was collection 1. How lucky for us that this seems to be the one collection that's downloadable to the iPad. You can find CD ROMS on Amazon or elsewhere, but as my DVD drive died last month, they are not options for us at this time.

I had best results by conducting a Google Search using the following terms: "Thinkin Things, Edmark, Mackiev" -- and in the iPad App Store I had to search under "Mackiev" to find the app. Was it worth it? Definitely! His favourite game is the BOX- Flying Shapes. Well worth the $8.99 we paid for the download.

During my original search for this software, I was surprised to see a warm review of all 3 collections on a site for autism resources.

I even have my eye on our next free app to try: Squiggles. It was my code name for James before he was born, because that's what he did for 9+ months!
Yes, because I make informed decisions like that.
Angry Birds in space -- goes without sayin'!
 We're open to more iPad app suggestions too, if you have some.

For the record - no one is paying me to do write this post. This is just us, living our lives.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Catch-Up, With Links

First, I felt good reading this epilogue last week from Sunday. It helps restore my faith in humanity.

I wish I could find such follow-up for Paul Corby, but I can't. The best I can find is that he is still being denied a life-saving transplant because (in part), with his autism, he is perceived as less worthy to receive the organ donation and  transplant. He has now been turned down by both the University of Pennsylvania Health System and the Mayo Clinic. I am keeping Paul and his mom in my thoughts and prayers. I've had a taste of what it's like to not have access to the assistance needed to help a son. Here is a link to her petition at

I still miss my uncle.

Saturday Sidekicks still rocks. I am sorry this coming Saturday will be the last for this session.

Don't just take my word for it, take a peek at the documentary.

We will get that paragraph on bats finished, we will!

The Tooth Fairy is taking hits to her Tooth Fund (big sister alone has had 4 in the past 4 months) ...

Meanwhile, out in the county, the ornamental plum trees are snowing pink, the Santa Rosa Plum has exploded into white, and the Bells or Ireland give us a heads-up to St. Patty's Day and Easter:

Magic Marker Monday: Valentine Puppet

I know we're almost a month beyond the holiday but ... catch-up is the name of my game, lately!

James brought this simple craft home from school. He loved his "puppet" - I could tell from the sound of his voice as he talked about it and the fact that he sought it out over the iPad for play time.

I think we can buy more Popsicles (we are going from cold and hail back up into the 70s this weekend) and start planning some Easter-themed ones and build a little puppet troupe.

For more great masterpieces or to share some of your own, visit
5 Minutes for Special Needs for more Magic Marker Monday.

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Catch Up, With Random Garden Shots

I still feel like I am playing catch-up, what with all the curve balls life's been tossing our way since last Fall. While some things have settled down, others keep breaking down in ways that take the Mickey out of me.

When that happens, it's time to step outside and breathe, remember what I have, and let some things go ...

We Are Reading in North America!

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss, and all you other cool cats who share a birthday on March 2! I love having the kids take part in Read Across America programs. It was fun to be able to do this with James' big sister, 5 years ago, and we've kept on with special reading activities since then. Having James be able to read, especially out loud to us, is quite the gift. This is because by age 3, they weren't sure he'd be able to talk, and we were advised he might never read, let alone write.

What did we do? We went to a book fair at the kids' old school, where James managed to shift focus from buying the one book he wanted (but was not for sale there) to another with a minimal fuss. He got to see some familiar people, who commented how nice it was to see him and my goodness, hadn't he grown?
James and Grandma Cille
We wrote a paragraph about our favourite holiday (Halloween) and read it out loud.

James checked out four books from his classroom library (one for each school night of the week) and we read them together at home.

His whole class got to go to school in their pajamas and read books on Friday.

And there was cake eating, but as James doesn't usually like cake at parties, that was my contribution. Well, that, and wearing hats.

What was the book James picked and has been delighting him these past 3 days? The latest Pete the Cat book: