Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas Magic 2016

Christmas is magical to a child and it's magical as an adult seeing it through new eyes.  Bubbly doesn't really get the fuss and is often annoyed that his usual songs have been replaced by more festive ones.  Pumpkin can't be more polar opposite.   She's at that darling age where 'l''s are 'w' so we hear, "Kissmas whites!!!" everywhere we go.  She is sure to yell out "Sand-ta" whenever she sees anything that looks like him but when she sees the real man she's torn between anxiety for a gift and her fear of strangers.

We were so lucky to get some extra tickets to the Polar Express with my brother and his family.  We really owe Linda Wallace, my sister-in-law's mom.  It was so fun to see the cousins and relive the Polar Express beyond the movie.

The chefs really did balance the hot chocolate on their head and bring in huge cookies all while energetically singing and dancing.  They even managed to drag Bug and Pumpkin out of their seats to join in the revelries.

Santa handed out bells with ribbons to everyone which is the shining blur in the picture below.  I must say that Santa has had a lot of experience with the latest tech.  He was rather expert at taking a selfie with us!

Wish the lighting were better and the pictures were clearer but we have the memories!

Christmas day is always a joy as you watch the kids eyes light up.  Bubby doesnt' get the fuss so as long as we got him his bread  first thing we were free

With our reading of Harry Potter these Bertie Botts beans were one of their favorite gifts.  Bud was cautious and Bug was adventurous so of course he had her test out the odd flavors.  Eventually they had to separate the good beans from the others and have been tricking everyone else to eat them for a laugh!

I spent the weeks before Christmas sewing like a mad woman after the kids went to bed.  We ordered beads to make weighted blankets for everyone since they help with ADHD, anxiety and autism.  Bubby even got a Dory fish where I added extra beads for a nice weight.

We finally roped Bubby into opening a gift and when he discovered it was cookies he was all over the gift unwrapping. 

Check out his focus!

Bug carefully selected a gift at the dollar store for Bud.  She had lots of candy options for him but she really knows what he would find fun, even if it's at the expense of her sanity.  When she saw this 'toy' she said, "He'd love it, he'll use it to annoy me and pinch me!" and sure enough that was the first thing he did when he unwrapped it!

Back in November we watched a documentary that talked about where most of the products that Americans consume are made.  We learned that often the cheap prices we look for come at the cost of the workers, both in their wages and conditions.  Minimalism has also become our thing so most of the gifts they opened were treats.  We voted as a family to spend our money on experiences rather than things so Kent and I planned 4 vacations for 2017.  While I was busy sewing Kent had the creativity to create these poems and wrap up clues to where we will be going.

This is the petrified forest with a side trip to Snowflake to visit friends and play in the snow.

Carlsbad Caverns, rock and minerals being a huge passion for Bud.

Salt Lake City scheduled for October.

Carlsbad CA and LEGOLAND scheduled for April.

It was fun to read the poems, use the clues to guess all while snuggling under the weighted blankets.
This year the oldest two graduated on to becoming 'Santa's' in training.  So while we had fun opening our own gifts we also took the time to carefully shop for things for a family we thought could use the extra cheer.  In the process we came across a young married couple recently from Romania who was trying to earn a few dollar playing the violin on a street corner.  Bug and I went through our stuff and compiled as much as we could for them, their son and soon to be newborn.  It was one of the biggest highlights of my holiday to see the generosity of heart growing in their young souls.  It was really the best gift they gave me this holiday and one I hope to see year after year.  Merry Christmas one and all and may the spirit of the season be there all year!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

DS West Side!!!

The West Valley Down Syndrome Christmas Party was wonderful!  I message with these ladies in this group more often  and while most I haven't met face to face, I've come to treasure their experience and willingness to offer encouragement and advice.  We missed last years Christmas party but I made sure we had it on schedule this year so I could finally meet some of these ladies and their amazing kids!

Craft, balloons, face and nail painting, magic card tricks and new friends!

Bubby LOVED the pizza!

Bubby was only so patient for the Christmas and Santa thing, but we were happy to get this shot

With our latest worries about autism with DS it was wonderful to chat with other moms and know that they saw some similar traits and had the same worries.  It was also wonderful to talk with a mom who's son is now a pre-teen and they are successfully navigating autism and Down Syndrome.  It helped me to see that so much is possible with the right tools, drive and devotion.  Nothing could be better than good family fun and friends who understand and inspire!

Monday, December 19, 2016

December Homeschool Antics

Friends are always welcome at our home, especially those who are far away and we were more than happy to host the Bush family for a one night stop over on their way to Disneyland.   We saved making gingerbread houses just for this special time and the older kiddos had a massive sugar high.

In the meantime the adults alternated getting out for some much needed quiet time.  A good chat heart to heart with a friend that understands feeds the soul!  

Our latest homeschool antics involved some other. Families in our area that homeschool as well.  We pulled together a small Christmas party complete with potluck lunch, cookie decorating and even a white elephant exchange.

I must say I was rather worried about the white elephant exchange since it does feel as if you're breaking all those kindergarten rules of not taking toys from other.  For the first while it looked like they were only going to choose gifts from the center. But something came up that was too good to pass on and the fun started.   For the most part everyone was a good sport about it but they all loved the anticipation of seeing what was next to be unwrapped.  I loved seeing the indecision - take what I see and know I want or risk the unknown which might be better!  Oh the pressure of everyone watching, waiting for your decision and what might affect you - the pain, joy and anxiety written all over their faces!

Don't know how we would have done the party without Ms. Kera there to help us, she's such a blessing and everyone adores her!!

We had planned a craft for the party but we ran low on time so my kiddos did them at home and decorated their walls and door happily.

We also did a 3D paper craft of snowflakes to adorn our living room entryway.

As for academics, Bug-love has nearly finished her Math-u-See primer book.  It's been great for her, with manipulative a to help solidify her understanding.  They have the same concepts introduced in different ways laying a foundation for things like multiplication, division and algebra even at this young age.  To help her with skip counting we doing a little Math-ercise before her book work by dancing to Jack Hartmann songs.  He's pretty entertaining and the melodies are catchy enough that Bubby comes out to dance along and Pumpkin can be heard repeating many of the words as she swings her little hips to the rhythm.

Monkey see, monkey do!

The kids and I saw 2 plays in a week time.  The first was a shortened version  of Shakespeare's The Tempest put on by a homeschool group and featured a few of our friends.  Prior to it we read a simplified version and learned a little about Shakespeare himself.  The play was a struggle to understand, but Bug LOVED it and I was amazed how much she could comprehend and enjoy when the language far exceeds her age.  The second was The Nutcracker put on by a youth ballet group for the greater Phoenix area.  It was quite well done and so fun to see all the ranges in ages and the growing talent ability of some of the youth.  It was also a cheaper alternative to introducing our kids to a new art form

We also found this chubby guy outside on our honeysuckle bush.  Bug-love was to moon and back with delight.  I can totally undersantd why gardeners can't stand this guy because he stripped entire branches each day as we feed him.

We did some research and decided he was a to become a Sphyix Moth which actually spend the winter as pupa in the ground.  Once he stopped eating we place him in a container with about 2 inches of dirt.  Our research said he'd dig tunnels for a bit, shrink in size considerably and then shed his last skin .  He was pretty active digging tunnels and such but at some point he slowed down and simply shrunk.   He never shed the last skin and as there was no m.ovement for many days I had to break the news to the kiddos.  They greatly mourned the loss of 'Caterpie' because he had become a rather big part of their day as they carted him around to show him their latest project in the backyard.  Even Pumpkin always spent the first part of her morning petting him

We got this little fellow as a nice alternative to Caterpie

With the holidays the attendance has been poor at Bubby's music therapy, so it was just our family and the therapist which afforded us an opportunity to play around with some unique instruments.  Bubby watched with curiousity but was reluctant to try out the new items, but the others had so much fun doing something other than drums of bells.  The one below has a rather unique sound and our therapist Ms. Caroline got it in Seattle.  It's made from a recycled propane tank and each tone is created by the size of the cut. 

Ms. Caroline told them how each instrument worked, how it was tuned and they each tried it out several times.  I love it when someone else willing steps in to help homeschool my munchkins!

The kids have done some sewing of a quilt but this girl wanted to help with something special for her cousin Elsa, so while the gift may be late being sent she can know it was done with much love

We've done a ton of baking these last few weeks, something that is rather unprecedented in our house since I avoid sugar like the plague for it's after effects.  It is great sensory play for a Bubby which has much more appeal than playdough since there is always the joy of eating that comes after.

He's addicted to gingerbread!

Pumpkin is growing by leaps and bounds with all the schooling around us.  She loves playing with the math manipulatives, doing her ABCs and colors.  She's gotten so good that Ms. Kera tested her the other day.  Sometimes she's not sure but as soon as you sign the letter she knows it and can call it out.

Pok√©mon Go has become a big thing in our house because it gets Bud running 3-5km in the morning.  She knows when we're hitting a 'Po-T-top?' and giggles as she sees the characters moving on the screen.  Now she's even got the figurines to play with!
Lots of fun an adventure with this crew.  I love them bunches!!!