Talking about love…

July 17, 2010 at 9:24 pm (Children, Family, God, Home, home school, homeschool, Life) (, , )

1.  I loved our little getaway to Alabama. The drive was not that bad and the kids (big & small) really enjoyed the Rocket & Space Museum. Oh yeah, and the Sci-Quest Center.

2.  I love this bible study that I am getting involved in. Learning to be my hubby’s help meet, because it was never something that I was taught.

3.  I am loving the fact that we are getting excited about the new boxes of books that we are acquiring for the new “school year”.

4.  I love my Jesus. I love your Jesus.

5.  Hmmm…is it love?  One of my daughters brought up the subject of marriage in a recent blog post. I know my girl is serious. She’s felt like this for a long time. I just pray for them both. And if it is God’s will, and they both seek Him first, then I have no doubt it will all work out in the end.

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Mom’s Day Off!?

April 21, 2009 at 3:29 pm (Children, Home, home school, homeschool, Life) (, , , , , , , )

Mom’s Day Off

written by Eugene Bradley Coco

illustrated by Colette Van Mierlo

read by Levi Stanifer (the story is underlined.)

Levi:  Mom’s Day Off

Our Mom works hard. (Mom, why is she doing all that?)

Me:  Because there’s lots to do to keep a house clean.

Levi:  She cooks. (Oh man!!!!  I wish you could do that!!)

The illustration shows a Mom flipping 4 pancakes at a time!!!  Geez!!

Me:  Yeah buddy, me too.

Levi:  She cleans.

She sews our clothes when they rip. (What does rip mean?)

Me:  It’s like a hole or tear in the cloth.

Levi:  Can you do that?

Me:  I could sew if I had to, but I prefer to let someone else do it.

Levi:  She takes care of us when we’re sick. (What about the girl?  Is she sick?)

The illustration shows a Mom with a little girl in her lap, sitting beside a little boy that is laying in his bed sick.

Me:  I don’t know buddy.  Let’s keep reading and maybe it will tell us.

Levi:  She even helps with our homework. (You don’t give Erin any homework.)

Me:  (trying to remain patient)  Levi….READ!

Levi:  Ok, ok!!  <sigh>

Today, Dad looks tired. <Levi looks up at me grinning>

Me:  You know that says “Mom looks tired”.

Levi:  Yeah, but Dad wrote Dad instead of Mom, see!  <He points out the fact that Dad has indeed marked through Mom and written Dad above it.  Also, the Mom is tired and sitting slumped on the couch.  But, you have to laugh at her manly hairy legs in which Levi’s Dad has added copious amounts of black hair.  Ewwww!>

Me:  Yeah, your Dad looks cute with that skirt on and those hairy legs.

Levi:  <giggles hysterically>

Me:  Keep reading buddy!  We still have math to do.

Levi:  “Take the day off”, we tell her.

First, we start breakfast. (Mom, what did they have for breakfast?)

Me:  Well, it looks like they tried to make eggs.  Keep reading.

Levi:  “Oh, no! Watch the eggs!”  I shout.

Mom helps us clean up.

Next, we straighten up the den. (What’s a den?)

Me:  It’s like a living room with a couch, where families sit.

Levi:  Sally starts to sweep.

There is so much dust. (geez, we don’t ever have that much dust)

<I tap the next sentence hoping he’ll get the hint to keep reading>

Mom helps us clear the dust.

Soon, it’s time for Ginger’s bath. (Is Ginger dirty?  Does she like a bath?)

Me:  Let’s see.  Keep reading.

Levi:  I turn on the water. (Who turns on the water?)

Me:  I think the little boy is telling the story, so he would be the one turning on the water.

Levi:  Sally gets Ginger. ( Why did they name her Ginger?)

Me:  <losing it a little more>  I have NO idea why they named her Ginger!  Now READ!!

Levi:  OK!

The tub is almost full.  “Wait!  The faucet is stuck!” (Why is the faucet stuck?)

Me:  He can’t get it to turn off.

Levi:  Why?  Is it slippery or something?

Me:  <rolling my eyes & breathing deep>  It could be, or it could just be hard to move.

Levi:  Oh NO!  Look at that mess! (<pointing to the water streaming across the floor from the tub, he gets up on his feet and starts bouncing a little with his excitement>  I want to do that!!)


Levi:  <giggling>  Well, when I build a house, I’m going to do that!!!

Me:  Ok buddy, you do that in your own house.  Now, please finish reading the book if you want to watch “Martha Speaks”)

Levi:  OH NO!!  I’m missing it!  It’s already starting!!

Me:  Well, then you better hurry up!

Levi:  OK!  OK!

Here comes Mom. (Why is she mad?)

Me:  Because they have made a big mess and she’s not getting much of a day off.

Levi:  No, she’s not.

The laundry is next.

We put the clothes in the machine and add soap. (Where’s the soap?)

Me:  I don’t know Levi.  Read.

Levi:  Sally turns on the washer. (OH NO!  They didn’t close the door!) <leaps of the couch and runs across the floor on all fours, then turns around and jumps back on the couch.  He then proceeds to read the rest of the book like an opera singer, literally!  He hasn’t got a bad voice, either.  haha>

Ooooops!  The door isn’t closed.

“Mom!” we yell.  Mom helps us pick up the clothes.

Being in charge is hard work.  “Why don’t you take the rest of the day off?”  says Mom. (The End!!)

Me:  No buddy, that’s not the end.  Turn the page.

Levi:  Thanks, Mom.

Me:  The End

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We are homeschoolers!

February 7, 2009 at 11:30 pm (Children, Family, God, Home, home school, homeschool, Life, photography) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Yep!  For over a week now we’ve been homeschooling.  I know God has been trying to get us to start earlier, but for some reason, we just didn’t listen.

Mostly, we’re reading and writing lots and working with math worksheets.  I’m trying to gauge just where Levi is as far a reading, writing & math.  We are keeping a pretty relaxed atmosphere, no set time to start or a place to work.  I’m finding his favorite position though, is on the floor on his elbows with his butt actually waggin’ in the air.  I’ll have to take a picture.

The only real problem I’ve encountered is Erin wants to do everything that Levi is doing.  I’ve tried to keep her busy with colors & shapes, but that’s obviously not challenging enough.  Levi doesn’t seem to mind his sister all in his business, though.  So, we’ll just keep going with the flow.

We took our first field trip Friday.  We went to the Memphis zoo.  I took lots of pictures of the kids and animals.  I think Monday I’ll have Levi write and/or draw his favorite ones in his journal.  We might do a little more in-depth study on some of the animals also.  Here are just a few of the pictures:

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Wordless Wednesday ~ Pictures from home

February 4, 2009 at 5:34 pm (Children, Family, Home, home school, homeschool, photography) (, , , , , , , , )

Levi making his journal.

Levi making his journal.




Levi's Stable (bed & playroom)

Levi's Stable (bed & playroom)

Levi & Erin up top.

Levi & Erin up top.

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Children with autism seem to love this software.

January 30, 2009 at 6:17 pm (autism, Children, homeschool, Life) (, , , , , )

Download software free here.

By Claudia Kalb | Newsweek Web Exclusive
Jan 16, 2009

Science is rich with happy flukes. Remember the story of penicillin?
Alexander Fleming discovered the bacteria-destroying mold by accident
when he left a culture dish uncovered in his lab in 1928. Eight decades
later, here’s another one: a Googlesoftware program called SketchUp,
which was intended largely for architects and design professionals, has
found a very unexpected and welcome fan base-children with autism.
SketchUp is not only entertaining kids with autism spectrum disorders,
it’s providing them with skills that might one day help them as they age
out of school and into the workforce.

It all started when Google’s Tom Wyman and Chris Cronin started getting
enthusiastic calls and e-mails from architects who had children on the
spectrum. Their kids, the parents reported, had discovered the software
program and loved it. All they needed was their creativity and a
computer mouse and they could design entire neighborhoods. It turns out
that SketchUp, which was acquired by Google from a small Colorado-based
startup in 2006, allows people with autism to express their ideas in a
visual way-a welcome release for kids who have trouble communicating
through speech or writing. “After the second or third call, you begin to
think there may be something here,” says Wyman. So he contacted his
local chapter of the Autism Society of America (ASA) in Boulder. “What
gives?” he asked.

What gives is that many people with autism excel at visual thinking.
Studies show they perform exceptionally well on the Block Design Task,
part of a standard IQ test, which assesses an individual’s ability to
recreate a complicated red and white pattern using a set of red and
white blocks. “They’re able to mentally segment the design into its
component parts so they can see where each block would go,” says Ellen
Winner, a professor of psychology at Boston College, something
non-autistic kids have trouble doing. Geraldine Dawson, chief scientific
officer for Autism Speaks, a leading autism advocacy group, found that
the parents of children with autism have superior spatial abilities on
the Block test, too-a gift they may be passing on to their kids.
Environment likely plays a role as well, says Dawson. Because children
with autism have trouble communicating with people, they tend to spend
their time interacting with objects. The end result: the visual portion
of their brain becomes highly developed.

Anja Kintsch, head of the assistive technology team for the Boulder
Valley School District, has seen this spatial talent up close. Kintsch,
who is trained in special education, has seen students with autism walk
the streets of Denver, then go back to their desks and create perfect
architectural renditions of the city. “I thought they were professional
blueprints,” she says. Kids with autism tend to love computers, too,
because they’re predictable and don’t demand the social skills required
of humans: you don’t have to look them in the eye, talk to them, or read
their emotions.

All of this makes SketchUp a captivating program for people with autism.
Amateur designers can draw straight or curved lines, then use a
“Push/Pull” tool to pull flat shapes into 3-D objects. A rectangle can
be pulled to become the living room in a house; a hole can be pushed out
of a wall to make a window. An “Orbit” tool lets you look at a desk from
back, front, top and bottom. Users can find models that already
exist-furniture, playgrounds, amusement parks-in the program’s 3-D
warehouse to incorporate into their own designs. Or they can store their
3-D houses or stadiums or cities in the warehouse for others to see.
Google’s Wyman says he has seen kids with autism adapt to the program
with little difficulty: “They picked it up at least as quickly as
architects do.” The response was so positive that Google launched
Project Spectrum,a partnership between SketchUp and educational outlets,
i ncluding the Boulder Valley School District and the Boulder chapter of
the ASA, to get the software into the hands of kids and teens with
autism for free.

Meg and Casey Grothus are two of the lucky ones. The week before they
were introduced to SketchUp by the ASA, the teens tried to hand-sketch
the bathroom in their house for a geometry class assignment. A
rectangular room with a door, the layout was “pretty basic,” says their
mother, Heidi Grothus. But it turned out to be a frustrating,
time-consuming and tearful experience. Meg, 17, who has Asperger
Syndrome, says she thinks in pictures and can visualize a design in her
head, but she can’t translate that image onto paper. “I just wouldn’t
know how to get it out,” she says. But when she and her brother tried
the same exercise on SketchUp, “it just clicked,” says Meg. Casey, 18,
has high-functioning autism. He calls his original drawing “a piece of
junk, very crude, very inaccurate.” With SketchUp, Casey was able to
draw the bathroom-and decorate it with toilet, sink, plants and

Now Meg and Casey are taking part in a SketchUp partnership with Cornell
University, where Matthew Belmonte, an assistant professor in the
department of human development, is creating a video game called
Astropolis. Belmonte says he wanted people on the spectrum to help
construct the game, which will ultimately be used to test the range of
cognitive abilities in people with autism. Meg and Casey joined the
team, using SketchUp to create designs that have been fleshed out and
incorporated into a test version of Astropolis. The teens say they were
thrilled to take part and their mother was delighted to see her children
being treated with respect for their talent, rather than patronized for
the skills they lack.

At the Judevine Center for Autism in St. Louis, Mo., CEO Ron Ekstrand
says educators will use the software as both a socialization tool and a
design program. Using SketchUp, educators can map out unfamiliar
environments that kids with autism might visit, like office buildings,
city parks or doctors’ offices. The unknown can be a major stressor for
kids with autism. If the student has a teeth-cleaning appointment, for
example, teachers can create a SketchUp model of the space, complete
with the dentist’s chair, then walk the child through what to expect
when he gets there. Judevine is building a new lab to teach SketchUp in
collaboration with Mackey Mitchell Architects, a firm that is eager to
tap the design insights of people with autism. The kids will be taught
how to use SketchUp and asked to create their ideal living and learning
spaces. Ekstrand says he hopes to incorporate these dream spaces into
designs for a future school campus and for residential homes that the
center runs for adults with autism. Mackey Mitchell hopes to merge the
students’ ideas into architectural plans for an even larger autism
community, creating new classrooms, schools, living spaces and treatment
centers nationwide that are specifically designed for the growing number
of people on the spectrum. “We believe people with autism have unique
capabilities that are going untapped,” says Ekstrand. “We think we can
provide opportunities for them in the future with highly marketable,
highly valuable skills.”

Job skills are, of course, critical for kids on the autism spectrum. The
unemployment rate for adults with autism is estimated to be as high as
87 percent, says Marguerite Colston, ASA’s vice president of marketing
and the mother of an 8-year-old boy with autism. And 76 percent of
parents of kids with autism are very concerned about their child’s
future employment. “The tragedy is that they have these remarkable
skills which are totally unshared with the broader social world because
we never give them a chance,” says Cornell’s Belmonte. Casey Grothus is
glad he was given the opportunity. “It feels really good,” he says.

For more about Project Spectrum, check out the organization’s Web site.
Or, take a look at this video demonstration on You Tube.  And for more
about using Sketchup, visit the official Google Sketchup blog; for more
about the video game “Astropolis,” visit the Autism Collaborative.

(c) 2009

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Bad week.

January 16, 2009 at 2:45 pm (ADHD, autism, Children, Family, God, homeschool) (, , , , , , , , , , )

fulldoublerainbowPsalm 56:3:
3What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

Well, after a great report last week, I’m afraid I can’t give the same for this week.  Levi has really pushed the limits at school.  He ended up in the office twice.  Numerous time-outs.  He “accidentally” kicked or hit two different students during times of hyperactivity.  The most frustrating thing is he is telling his teacher “no” or lying to the teacher.

I am still keeping a journal.  I am still implementing the diet.

I am wondering if God is trying to tell me to just go ahead and withdraw Levi from public school.  I mean, we have plans to homeschool starting in 1st grade, so why not now?

We have decided to give it till Friday.  Any more problems and homeschoolers we will be.

**Update:  I wrote this post on Friday before picking Levi up from school.  When I got him, I found out that he was GREAT all day long.  His teacher said he was calm, he did his work, he wasn’t hyper, & he even layed still at nap.  She said he was a totally different kid.

When we got home, he was the same.  He actually fell asleep in the van on the way.  We went to a skating birthday party, and he had a blast!  He didn’t want to leave and got a little upset, but he wasn’t the only one.

I have to conclude that something he has eaten affected his behavior.  Other than the kool-aid Sunday, I don’t know what it could be.  It’s really hard to know considering he is away from us more than he is around us when he eats.

How else can this be explained?

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Where does your special needs child spend time-out?

December 22, 2008 at 3:41 pm (ADHD, autism, Children, home school, homeschool, Life) (, , , , , )

This is such a sad story and I felt it needed to be circulated more.  Please read this article and ask your school what happens if your special needs child needs to be removed from the classroom.

I know there are times when the safety of others will mean the removal of children having tantrums or being violent.  I believe the removal should not mean putting them in solitary confinement somewhere.  These children still need CONSTANT supervision.

This just reinforces my decision to homeschool Levi.

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