Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Sincere Pumpkin Patch

James' sister asked when we were going to visit a pumpkin patch for Halloween. This weekend seemed an ideal time. Sonoma County is a great place for agricultural events, so we have a nice range of choices for pumpkin patch experiences.

Because we don't want to take the time to drive to Petaluma, and brave paid parking and crowded, dusty, noisy places, we usually try our side of the Petaluma grade. We've tried a local farm about 3 miles from our house. This year, however, they are not doing a patch. Our favourite place has been Grandma's in Healdsburg.

This weekend I really wanted to keep it simple, as James was having a fussy day. I had noticed a Pumpkin Patch sign along a country lane that ended into my work commute. So I piled the kids in the car and we headed there. I am so glad I did, because we discovered the newest, sweetest little pumpkin patch ever.

There were barely 2 dozen pumpkins left on the hay-strewn patch of ground. Growing beds flanked the pumpkins and the sprinkler was spritzing away at them. A few cheerful decorations were set up, and the man who had been spinning the pumpkin sign at the entrance hurried up the lane to greet us and explain that this was their first year selling pumpkins.

A large black truck had followed us in. When the driver heard this new patch did not have a bounce house, hay rides, or a corn maze, he turned right around and headed back out. This left us free to roam about and explore what was there. It was like having our own, personal pumpkin patch. It felt very down home, and sincere.

We ended up buying a pumpkin, a small pumpkin, and a gourd. Joshua, our sales guy, thanked us for coming, made a good push to sell us some Indian Corn, and finally invited us to come back in December, when they would be selling Christmas trees. He was quite funny about uses for the gourd. My daughter has plans based on his ideas.

I think we'll be back. Great Pumpkin, if you are looking for a Sincere Pumpkin Patch, make sure you stop by Shiloh Road!

They have a wonderfully quirky sense of humour!

Morning Glory

It's Fall. Summer foliage and warmth have been slowly slipping from us. Just this past week, nighttime temps started diving. I added a blanket at night and in the morning, the leaves responded with new bursts of colour.

On Friday, I came out the front door as the sun cleared the hills in back of our house. The light flared the trees into vivid colour; their fallen leaves blazed up and glowed from the ground below. It was breath-takingly beautiful.

Halloween is this week -- the kids are so excited!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

20 Minutes of Reading, Daily

I've been trying to find new books to read with James. I am never quite sure what will catch his fancy. He adores Pete the Cat, Olivia, and Where the Wild Things Are.
I even got him into a Halloween book: Where's My Mummy?

As much as I love sharing these with him, I sometimes want to stretch things a bit. This week, I found a good book to try - my old copy of The Great Brain. Tonight he fell asleep, listening to a long-ago story about a boy with 2 older brothers on the frontier of America. It was great.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Special Exposure / Wordless Weds: Twighlight

I took this photo earlier this month. We were at a special event at our local air museum. Jazz music floated on the breeze at sunset, as we saluted days gone by.

James is wearing my scarf - he looks like a junior aviator.

For more images from the heart and to share some of yours,
visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.
5 Minutes for Special Needs

               and ... Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Starfall Observed

James has been coming home saying things like "Q and U stick like glue" and "B ... OA ... T. That spells 'boat'," and "T ... tiger ... whatya doing, tiger?" I knew it came from a program at school, but did not think too much of it.

This past weekend, James started asking me to go type a word on my computer. The word was "Starfall." I asked him what it was. "Go to Starfall, Mommy. I want to see Starfall."

This is what I found:

I very fun and well-rounded explorations of letters: the sounds they make, and words that use them. Presented, sounded, used in words, and stories, with a little kinetic action along the way.

James was excited and I let him play with reading online for a while, After I got my computer back, I looked at other sections. This site covers materials from pre-K through second grade reading levels.

James loves plays and puppets; this is awesome.

Very cool and inviting, just like our real library!
They even had a small selection of childrens' audio books, a section on music, and holiday-themed activitied, all tied in with their phonetic system. The organization and dedication involved in all this boggles me. I am not a teacher, but I was struck how well everything was laid out and coordinated. It's an incredibly well thought-out site and program.

There is an app! Actually, there are 2. Of course I downloaded them. He's playing Starfall almost as much as Minion Rush, which amazes and pleases me.

Starfall has apps at both the Apple Store for iPhone and iPad and Google Play for Droid phones.

The Starfall website is completely free!

So, some disclaimers: This is not a solicited or paid post. I forked over $2.99 per app that came from our household account. I am not a professional educator. I am a mom learning to parent an autistic child with developmental delays as best I can.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Magic Marker Monday: What Is Art?

Was going through piles o' school papers and came across this random offering. It was really hard for me to get even this quality photo - my daughter drew in red pen on orange paper.

In the frame at the right of the paper is Good Picture/Bad Picture. The Good Picture has a price tag, and detailed clothing, which is intriguing to contemplate. The Bad Picture has a charming smile and feels more lively than its more detailed counterpart.

What I love, however, is the mysterious creature at left of the frame. Martian? Robot? Art Critic? Either way, it is full of wistful consternation. I can almost see the cartoon bubble over its head, posing the age-old query "What is Art?"

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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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Reading Along With Max

James has loved the story Where the Wild Things Are for several years. This Halloween season, he seems particularly attached to it. I think he wants to be the boy who says "I'll eat you up!" Preferably at school, but also to those who attempt to get him to do homework (especially writing).

This whole last week, he's asked to have us read him the book, which was a present from his GrandMarie. His Dad brought home a Scholastic DVD of Maurice Sendak stories, which James adores. He's also been curling up with his book while reading along to the story on TV; James actually went through the DVD options to make sure he was watching the version with the captions.

I know he likes having Max greet him, as he comes home each day:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Attitude on a Monday Morning

I am trying, trying, trying to wake up and find my get up and go this morning; from behind James' bedroom door I can hear him yelling happily "Yahoo! Wahoo! Hooray!!"

Forget the coffee, I want some of what he's got.