Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Bearizona and Homeschool Fun

Falling into our own rhythm with homeschooling has made me realize that I'm missing picture worthy moments!  They've just been such a part of our daily lives that I don't capture them like I should.  It would be helpful if I could keep my phone on me but Bubbalicious  fights so hard to have it for his music that for my phone and wallet's sake I keep it out of sight.  I did manage to capture a few of these times though when I had a breathing moment to grab the DSLR.

Baba has access to dry ice which makes for all sorts of fun!  Carbonated water and a shattered tomato were some of our latest experiements with it.

A lesson on pointillism for art and a project that hangs on our door as our nod to the fall season.  I'm hoping to do a little more with subject perhaps have more art to show for it.

We finished taking a part an old camera and found a motor in it that Kent hooked up to a battery to show  Bud how it works.  He loved it and has dreams of 'motorizing' many other creations!

Even Pumpkin gets in on the fun, especially when sister is doing art.

Sometimes she's more ambitious, like the morning leaving from therapies where she was adamant that she sit in the drivers seat.  When I asked where I should sit she pointed to the back!  Sorry Pumpkin, you may want to learn to drive but it ain't happening anytime soon!

Bubby is learning and practicing in ways we never intended.  He loves his bread and butter for breakfast and decided to practice buttering my counter one morning.  He scattered pretty quick when I came down from my shower!

These two are also learning about taking turns and cheering each other on.  It took a bit to get them there (screaming, scratching, pushing ...) but once they figured it out it was loads of fun.  Some of the best lessons learned are ones like these!

On our trip out to Vegas we stopped a new park called Bearizona.  We were a little dubious at first but it turned out to be so much fun.  We didn't even get to see all of it but we an annual pass and plan to be back in November. 

She just looks so cuddly there!

Eli ran and ran EVERYWHERE!!!

Crazy 400lb  bigheaded bison!  No wonder they have such huge shoulders, you really need muscle to keep move that heavy of a skull, it's a wonder they don't tip over!

We missed out on pictures of the raptor show.  The birds flew right over our heads, skimming our hair with their talons.  It's a testament to their accuracy and it was thrilling to watch.

For whatever reason we never caught pictures of the live bears we saw but we missed a few other animals and several other shows and feedings so I guess we'll just have to go back again soon!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

My Double and the DS Walk

I think every mother wishes she could replicate themselves as soon as they have more than one child.  Well I've got the next best thing, Kera Forrest!

I'm not sure she knew what she was signing on for when she took her sister's place as our respite worker.  She was simply told to come almost every weekday morning for 2 hrs.  I then proceeded to overload her with all sorts of activities she could choose from to do with Eli.  I would give her a weekly subject to focus on and depending on Bubbalicious and his mood she would fit it activities to match the theme.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, our little Pumpkin loves attention from anyone and since she often serves as a great model for Bubby, she often joined in the activities.

I'm not sure Kera counted on mothering two for 2 hours, but she's taken it on like a champ!  They both love her and Bubby is physically affectionate with her (which is a huge deal) and Pumpkin is soaking up her ABCs and numbers like a sponge.  The following is a video of her reciting the alphabet.

She's not even 2 yet so it's pretty amazing to all of us, especially since she wasn't being taught directly.

Bubby has also had some significant growth in the process.  He's speaking tons more!  Words such as 'cookie', 'pool' and 'go' are clear as well as colors and repetition of numbers.  He's so engaged and eager to learn that it makes me so happy to see so much success in such little time once we began honeschooling.  This one on one time with Kera in a loving, personal way has really made an impact.  The added plus is that in those two hours I can focus on the oldest two and their work so that everyone's needs are met.  The following is a video of him speaking without as much struggle as he's had in the past.

But we've been missing Ms Kera these last few days as she's been gone on a trip overseas she had planned months ago.  When she gets back I'll be so grateful for my duplicate!

On another note, we just had our latest Sharing Down Syndrome of AZ walk yesterday.  It was so much fun.  The kids had tons of  Jamb Juice and played games galore.  Bubby had his fun of freedom, running and jumping everywhere.  We were all exhausted but a happy crowd after it.

We meet up with old friends we haven't seen in ages.  All those from Bellair will recognize the Larsens.  Porter cracked me up insisting on a picture of just him and then needing to see if it was good one. 

Tara Larsen was one of the first people I called when we suspected DS in Eli and I am so grateful for her support and insight into our special boys.  Porter is only a year older than Eli but we hope that someday these boys might be good friends.

Jode is another dear gal.  She was pregnant with Nolan the same time I was with Leora.  I talked the first time we meet, not long after she got his diagnosis in utero.  We cried together then.  Sadly Nolan passed away just days before his due date and we cried together again when I came to give her my condolences.  Seeing Eli and Leora is a painful reminder of what she misses with her angel boy but also a bittersweet joy that it has connected her with this community that we love so much

And of course our picture with Gina, the founder of Sharing DS.  She's in pink in the front and loves to hug on all the extra special people with DS.  Eli was just too shy!

It was a wonderful day to be somewhere that Eli could run free and people just understood without words at his laughter, jumping and boisterous enthusiasm for the small things of life - a crunchy apple, open areas, sunshine, smoothies and games.  We love this 'extra' family we've come to know all because of a little extra chromosome!

Friendship Is Ageless!

I love getting together with old friends!  The years melt away and despite my growing gray hairs and softer body I feel as if time never passed.  Melanie  and I knew each other back in high school.   It still amazes me that two Canadian girls both ended up in Phoenix, AZ.  We saw each other 9 years ago when I was pregnant with my oldest.  Not long later she moved but a fortuitous timing and visit to her sister-in-law had us getting together once again.  She with her darling boy Max and me with my four munchkins.  Her nephew joined us too, and we all had fun and shared a lovely lunch!

Her little man even have fun in the pool!

Who knows but perhaps we can have a reunion of sorts again in a few years and see how everyone has grown and changed.

With homeschooling we can take vacations whenever we want.  We opted for a visit with old friends in Vegas, my old roommate and her family.  With our kids all being about the same age it was heaven for everyone.  The adults happily spent time cooking, eating, playing mahjong and catching up on old times. 

Bud found a playmate in their oldest daughter, everything from Minecraft to Monopoly.  She had a great calming effect but was just as enthusiastic as him in all their pretend play.   He was so very sad the day we left.

These two were inseperable!  K always wanted someone who would love the outdoors and bugs and plants.  The Yang's have a 'bug heaven' in their backyard and a little girl (who's not so little anymore!) to play along with her making some of the 'best days EVER!'

Sadly it was getting dark but the kids had a blast doing wheelbarrows at the park

Sadly Kari my old roommate wouldn't allow me to post a picture of her but she didn't say I couldn't post a picture from our days in college as roommates!

Me on the bottom left and Karri on the top right.  It doesn't feel so long ago and yet we all have kiddos now.

So grateful for friend and friendships that are ageless!

Innocent Beginnings

It began innocently enough. Kent and I watched a documentary "Fed Up" that focused how the diet of sugar was really the issue behind diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Since sugar intake, especially to our ADHD son was never really desirable, it just seemed like an easy given that they should watch it.  After it we came away with thoughts on seeking out 'real food' rather than 'food-like products'.

The fall festival Mortimer Farms gave Bubby the chance to explore the texture of mud!

Another morning we listed to the kids podcast Brains On.  It was a humorous and informative talk about farts (anything to catch their attention!) which mentioned that the majority of methane gas that harms our environment is actually produced by cows and the beef industry. It was a random fact I verified and lead to another rabbit trail and  to the documentary "Vegucated" which taught us that the government subsidies to the  meat industry has lead to unethical practices that harm the animals we eat, pollute our environment and make it cheaper for us to eat unhealthy diets compounding the health industriesproblems. As a family we decided to move to a vegetarian diet. The kids said they never like what I make anyways, so whether it was vegetarian or not it would make no difference! Got to love their honesty! We added to our vegetable intake (which was already shocking to begin with according to one of Kent's friends) shifted to lots of kinds of beans and egg meals.

More fun at Mortimer's.

"Conspiracy" has made the final shift. We've begun making our soy milk again, looking at ways to use it to make the yogurt we eat every morning and even try using nuts to make non- dairy cheeses.  The cream cheese we made from raw cashews and macadamias was happily injgested by everyone.

It took a lot of courage for Bug-love to feed the chickens herself but she ended up liking it.

Cracks me up, her kissy face so near a curious goat!

So suddenly the family that goes to a buffet and eat mostly meat and desserts (as my father would say - because we don't pay that kind of money for us to eat the cheap stuff!!) has suddenly stopped going out so much and become granola hippies!

Little man was a definite muddy mess after all the fun at the farm.

Having made new friends this summer with two kids who are from Honduras, we wanted to give the kids a more globally minded view of the world. We watched "One Dollar a Day" which left my children shocked with how different childhood is in many other countries. Then we watched "The True Cost" which elaborates how fast fashion has created sweatshops, destroyed the environment and our choices for what is cheap is costing humanity. Our discussion afterwards has prompted the kids to say they were okay with the idea of only getting one or two presents for birthdays or Christmas. They wanted to spend the money on experiences (like visiting our friends in Honduras) and on projects that might give back to others.

Within a few minutes my bug-love had come up with the idea of making blankets she could sell that the funds would go towards a set of books she could mail to her friend's classroom. She was so impassioned by this idea that she spent her Sunday afternoon learning how to use my sewing machine and seam ripper practicing n 'mini-blankets' from scraps of fabric I had left over. Kent and I were astounded by her drive and are curious to see where this will take her.

Threading a machine...

Education, true education should change you. Somehow in all the years from when I first crafted my philosophy of education in college with my naive ideology I had lost this vision in the onslaught of politics, standardized testing and curriculum. Here we are, homeschooling my munchkins and they showed it to me again, not in theory but in action. It's nice to know that the little bits of information can be made into lasting connections that are influencing our family's behavior. THIS is what drives me to homeschool!