Sunday, February 7, 2016

Teaching Team work and so much more!

One of the things that we are working on is teaching team work. Selena with her ASD sometimes doesn't understand this concept. I thought long and hard as to how to approach this and to teach her how to work as a team, the fact she doesn't need to do it all alone, or neither do I. This hit home with me with the horse riding, I try to play wall soccer with her, the idea there is that maybe I have the ball, but she is suppose to take it away from me and make the goal.

The picture shows you the ball I am talking about, the idea is we guide our horse to kick the ball. I began to realize even when I directed my horse right in front of Selena she did not drive her horse to take the ball from me. This is not working as a team. This is an area we need to work on. It also can include competition.

Selena loves to help in the kitchen, she is more willing today to try more then ever before. Keeping that in mind I have included her more in the kitchen and have had many discussions on team work to cook dinner, to get the job done.

 Selena has been doing a lot of work in the kitchen. Above she was making Au Gratin Potatoes all by herself. She had to measure all the ingredients herself, mix it while I was preparing the meat, then she put everything in the oven.

Our next step was to make a few dishes that were one pan, where she did part of the work and I helped with the next part. We made a breakfast casserole together to a complete stir fry. Her job was anything from cutting the food, to stirring it in the pan, but she had to keep in mind that I would step in and help when I felt it was necessary.

She is coming along way not only in her cooking skills but also understanding that we can work as a team and it really can work better when we do. She is beginning to realize it doesn't have to be all Selena, or all Mama, but that we can get the job done, learn, have a lot of fun when we work together. It does take communication, listening, and cooperation skills, but in the end she is learning just how valuable these skills are.

How do you teach Team Work in your home?


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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Mom Time

We have learned, or should I say I have learned over the past few years that I as mom need my time away. That has been a hard concept for me, because I never remember my mom going out with friends. I guess I have began to realize how important this is, even if it is just lunch with a friend, or a night to a weekend away! We need this time to think about ourselves, to forget our worries, concerns and schedules at home. We need a time to go out and laugh, cut loose and just have fun!

Last month I got a free hotel room at one of the local casinos. Now I am not a huge gambler, but oh how I love my time with one of my best friends! Her and I went and had a blast! Did I win! OH you bet I did! I have never in my entire life hit a Jack Pot!

I can't even begin to explain my emotions or how I felt when this popped up before me! I couldn't shout or yell like many do, but I was so shocked that my night out was totally over the top! I was ready to come home! We stayed had so much fun! I did not loose any money, but had fun laughing so hard I cried. It was a great time.

This month my friend got a free hotel room and invited me. We left this last Sunday and came home on Monday. No I did not hit any huge jackpots like the one above but I didn't lose either. We probably laughed even harder then before, I think we even scared people around us away from our laughter! We had a great meal, good conversation, and just a lot of fun!

I have learned this is so important for us mom's rather we are STAH moms, working moms, homeschooling moms, we just need to take time away! We need to take a break from our children, spouses, and our home. When we do we come home rejuvenated, renewed, and ready to meet any obstacle that comes our way.

If we do not take this time it is easy to become drained, overwhelmed, and though we still function through the stress, the problems, the good and the bad, we just can't meet our family's needs with the same zest. I say if you can get away, for lunch, a day away, time with a friend, do it for yourself. You do not need to feel any guilt, you do not have to worry about your children, come on your spouse can handle things for a while or for over night! Everything will be fine when you come home, believe me the house will not burn down, your children will not starve and your spouse will not be bald.

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Same Interest Importance

My husband and I were talking last night about how important it is for both of us to have something that we do with Selena that is fun and interesting that just involves just her and a parent. I never in my wildest dream thought I would be riding a horse again. Though I have always loved horses, I just never gave much thought to riding with Selena. It's been really fun though.

I feel it is very important that we find same interests with our children, I am not talking about family interests, which are important too, but the one on one time doing something that both the child and the parent enjoy. We spend so much time being our child's parent, we are the one in charge, and spend time and energy just on that aspect. For some of us we spend a lot of time being a soccer mom, driving our children from one activity to another activity, they participate, perform, make sure we are watching (WATCHING from the side lines where we might be visiting with other parents or as I have observed busy on our electronics), but is that really spending time with our child?

I don't care if it is getting out and taking walks, riding bikes, playing ball, just get out there and find something you and your child enjoys together. Sure Selena and I do a lot together, but something about having one or two activities that we do together, just the two of us, promotes more free communication. We are having so much fun, laughing, trying new things, exploring how to listen to each other, work together, and have fun with each other.

This quality time with our child builds a relationship that will go with them the rest of their lives. We are unplugged and are in the moment. We often comment that we are our child's first friend and teacher but do we continue to be that part through out their lives? When I think of it in this manner I think to the time I have to connect and spend time with just my husband or with that girl friend I have, I love those times and truly need them! My child is just as important to me as they are, I have two choices with my child, I can sit on the side line and watch her run around and have fun or I can find a common ground interest, jump in with both feet and spend that quality time with her. I can be a part of building lasting memories and a strong relationship between us.

Sometimes it gives us a chance to just drop all our worries at home or work and just be a kid ourselves again. For me I truly want my children to think back and not only remember me for the parent I was, but to cherish the things we enjoyed, the times we were able to escape and be one on one in bliss just truly enjoying each other. Our children deserve to have our time, they deserve to get to know us as a person, not just as their mom or dad. It is easy to think that the time we spend driving them to from point A to point B is quality time in the car, but is it? Sure we might play a game in the car, or talk, and laugh, but are we really connected? Not really we can become disconnected because we still have to focus on our driving. I say find something that you do with your child that is just pure fun, no distractions, talk, listen, play, just let go and connect on a deep level. Your child will appreciate that in the future.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

No School = Lots of Learning

This week has been one of those weeks when we did not get a lot of actual sit down school done. Just after coming off break with such a momentum going, this week life just stepped in our way. However, Tuesday we did have fun out at the barn, arriving there at 9:30 a.m. and not getting home until 1:00. Selena learned all about the different types of hay, as well as grains that are fed to horses and helped prepare the feed for the evening and next morning feedings. We also rode for over an hour which we both had a great time, leading the horses without a lead rope, to riding without reigns. We played a lot of games on the horses, and tried to ride around the arena holding hands, which might sound easy but believe me it is not, you really have to know which horse needs to slow down and which one needs to speed up as you go around corners. Great therapy as it promotes working with others.

Then came the rest of the week, our thermostat needed to be replaced, Selena had fun helping and watching as our Landlord changed the thermostat. She learned why we turn the power off, why we wire the thermostat a certain way, and the safety that is needed when working around electricity. She also got to watch as our toilet was replaced. She spent the entire trying to help, watch and ask 101 questions. We are so lucky that those who come into our home to do repairs are so good about allowing Selena these opportunities to learn. My favorite picture is of her watching the toilet go in.

During down times Selena discovered her Magnet Science kit again and had fun exploring about magnets. Sometimes these science kits sit for long periods of times in her science cupboard, never touched, then she will pull one out and spend hours each day just exploring, playing, and again asking 101 questions about how it works, why and what for.

 This weekend we drove out to Ocean Shores and visited with Laurie her horse instructor. We had a good visit and Selena loved playing with her dog and visiting with her bird. While it poured down rain here it was very pleasant at the beach and even sunny. Selena enjoyed seeing so many different birds on the water from ducks and many other species, watching them dive under the water to catch fish. Deer who came into feed, and just the beauty of the beach life. To be honest I would love to move to Ocean Shores.

Sometimes even when we do not get to sit down and do actual school work, we discover so much more to learn. Oh and before I forget, Selena even made mashed potatoes all by herself! I had just put the potatoes in the mixer when the electrician arrived to inspect something, I got busy helping him, and Selena took it upon herself to go in and finish the potatoes for me. She did an excellent job and was totally unsupervised!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Electronic Time

I know there is a lot of different opinions floating around about electronics and how much time we should allow our children to be on them. I have read all the pros and cons, and believe me there are way more cons then there are pros. We have leaned towards a non limited electronic life in our home. The only thing that I limit is the use of my compute. First of all, Selena can do anything on her tablet that she could do on my computer. That is not to say that I won't turn my computer into a tablet and allow her to play on it. She also has her own computer loaded with games, mostly educational but it is not connected to our Internet. Why do we allow so much electronic time? Well, simply put, our daughter even with such a strong imagination is not one to play with legos, she has her "My Little Ponies" and her Barbies as well as plenty of board games and science kits, but we truly see her shine and come to life when she is playing Minecraft, listening to music on YouTube, watching certain cartoons, and YouTube videos. She is not left to go willy dilly but is monitored as to what she can watch. The only times she can not be on her tablet is when it has to be charged. We find by allowing her unlimited time on the electronics she is more conscious about the time she does spend on it. Instead of trying to fit every thing she wants to do in a time limit, she takes her time and thrives in what she is doing. If she is playing Minecraft, it is nothing to see her go split screen to find a video that will assist her in the process of building or defeating a level. The process is all about learning. She brings her "My Little Ponies" to life since so many now come with a special mark that she scans into her tablet and pulls up a full story to go with that pony, hence she is reading and learning. She also has amazon to read books, as well as TV to watch when she doesn't care for what we are watching. If she has a question I can't answer she can verbally or type her question into her tablet and get the answer to her question, many times educating me. I see our world evolving around electronics and I feel we can embrace it or fight it. We choose to embrace it.

 It is not uncommon in our home to find Selena in her bedroom with her toys, blankets, pillows and tablet. She loves Minecraft so usually that is filling in her time. It is not uncommon to hear her just singing away to her YouTube music. I encourage you to read my post on promoting reading here. We also allow her to watch cartoons on TV when we are not watching something we want to watch.

Not the best picture, but for her birthday we did give her an iPod. No it is not the newest iPod with the touch screen and ever so fancy, but she is able to download the music she enjoys and listen to it as she pleases. That is if she isn't listening to our satellite radio. I remember at her age I had my own mini stereo system and listened to my music all the time, I wasn't told what I could listen to, or what I couldn't listen to, I do not believe my choices of music had any impact on how I grew up or the person I became. We as parents can spend to much time picking songs apart and worry too much about this word or that word, when really music is all about the beat, the music, the lyrics really are just a poem or piece of poetry that goes along with the music. Most of the time kids don't even know the true words or their meaning, and neither do adults, if you ever really listen to someone trying to sing a song, it can be rather hilarious to hear how they interpret the words unless they are reading them. I do not find Selena's taste in music as a bad taste, in fact I have been known to embarrass her because I like the same music and get a little to carried away with dancing or being to dramatic to the songs in the car.

I say come on, we live in a world of the cutting edge to electronics. We have for years, from the time I was a kid and colored TV was introduced, to the Stereo and finally FM radio. We can either limit our children from the world they are growing up in or we can embrace it and help them grow in this world. Do I see it preventing Selena from being outside? No, she will gladly lay her electronics down to go play and have fun! I believe however, if I were to limit her she would probably give up playing outside just to spend that hour on her electronics.

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Life During Our Abscense

So much has gone on since I blogged the last time, Selena has grown in so many areas of her life, we have learned parenting a Gifted/Autistic child challenging but rewarding and have had to look at and change many of the ways we parent along the way. This is not to say we have changed our rules but we have had to adjust our approach, and have had to get use to having a strong willed child. I can't express enough though how much I love our town, the people who we encounter everyday, and can't emphasize enough that it really does take a village to raise a child.

Selena loves to go shopping with us, something that use to stress her out so much. I love the fact that the clerks at our store who have watched her grow up and really understand her are so good with her. She assists them with scanning all the items in, and sometimes helps bagging the groceries. It is fun to watch her enthusiasm and to know that she is excepted for all her little quirks. Who knows maybe someday she will work in the same store as a cashier as she pays her way through college. We are seeing more young teens working there now. It is nice to see the new management taking an interest in the youth of our community.

We have learned not to be such helicopter parents, though inside I never considered myself a helicopter parent, but had to learn to let go, or give Selena time to want us to let go. We live in a perfect place, though at times we talk about moving, I just am not sure. Selena has made friends with some kids here in the neighborhood, and when possible she is off playing with them, or they are here playing with her. Her BFF lives across the street from us and it is not uncommon for Selena to be watching for him to come home.

Her BBF joined her for Halloween at Chuck-E-Cheese and Trick-or-Treating around the mall. They had so much fun playing games, eating pizza and just hanging out together. We were so happy that he was able to join us. When we got home, he hung out with Selena for a while and played, it was really a fun day for both of them. It is so nice to see Selena making friends. She joined him for his birthday party, and also was invited to both his brother's birthday parties. Growing from a girl who could not be out of my sight to a girl who now can go play for hours with out me, oh occasionally she has to call just to check in.

Of course her BFF was here for her birthday, along with Aunt Kelly and Tony. We had fun playing a few games, opening presents and eating cake and ice-cream. It is hard to believe that she turned 9 this year. She is sure growing up. I think the high light of her gifts though came from her brothers, they gave her a charm bracelet with a sweet note and a charm just for her:

Talking about family, this summer we had a mini family reunion with Selena's mom, brothers, their adoptive parents, our son and his family. I didn't get a lot of pictures after all it was so hot and all we could do was sit in the shade and visit. It was a lot of fun for the kids though to play in the water park.

Yes, the top picture is Selena, her mom and her brothers. The bottom picture is Uncle TJ and his family.

Of course Selena's greatest passion is horses. She loves the fact that I have started riding with her. It has been along time since I rode, but I am with Selena it is so much fun!

 Selena takes swimming lessons once a week now. She is also getting ready for braces and is wearing a retainer. My little girl is growing up, she is growing up faster then I want her too but it is such a joy watching her. She loves to help me in the kitchen, and will do the dishes or help cook.

No matter what she is doing she is a joy to have in our lives. Everyday is an adventure, she gives us lots of laughs and love. It is a joy to watch as her world expands around her.

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Promoting Reading

Selena has been reading since before she turned 3 years old. Though she can read and understand what she is reading very well, she is quite a bit like myself and isn't often found with her nose buried in books. We do a lot of together reading and shared reading but don't expect to find Selena reading full chapter books just on her own, that just is not her thing.

In an attempt to incorporate more reading in our home I had to become quite creative. Selena has a great passion for music. She also loves to sing, and spends a lot of time listening to music on YouTube. She especially loves when she can find videos with the words. This gave me an idea to incorporate both in our homeschool days.

I pick several songs, from new music that Selena enjoys to all genres, and work hard to find songs she has never heard, which is becoming harder. Selena is expected to spend as much time as she can in karaoke time a week. I will pick slow beat songs to fast beat songs. The idea is that she has to read the words to the song while singing it.

This has increased the amount of time that I find her reading but it is also introducing her to all different types of music. She has fun with this activity and spends far more then the required time on this activity. One never knows what she will be singing anymore, of course we make sure of the language used and content, but if this is going to promote more reading along with grow her love for music then I am all for it.

She isn't as reluctant anymore to read from her school books anymore, which I know was that perfectionism side that drove her to worry about making mistakes. She is even willing to read more to us, such as at Christmas she read "A Visit From St Nicholas" to us, this was the first time she heard the poem as well as to read it.

I say what ever you can find that works to promote reading just go for it. If you find something that engages your child and promotes a healthy reading love then why worry about rather they are sitting with their nose buried in a book. Sure we love seeing the times she is reading her books but we also know that the time she spends combining with her true passion of music she is enjoying it more.   

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