Now blogging at THIS SIMPLE HOME.

Now blogging at THIS SIMPLE HOME.

At This Simple Home

  • Homemade Magic Shell - I remember having Magic Shell once as a child. The chocolate syrup drizzled over my ice cream magically turned crispy hard. Mmm... So I was rather excited t...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Physical Play

The talk over to ABC and 123 is physical activity. Our M is very physical. She seems to need additional sensory stimulation, and we do try to give it to her. Her occupational therapist suggested several things. I'm happy to say they are things we encouraged her to do naturally, because M wanted to do them. Some things that her therapist had suggested were lifting heavy items like gallon jugs, pushing full laundry baskets, and giving her lots of bear hugs (especially from behind). M loves to run. We do play outside, but M is a runner. No, she doesn't go for a run with Daddy, instead she runs away from us! She is fast, too. This summer I am happy to say that she doesn't run off as often as she used to. The more time we spend outside, the more she seems to understand her boundaries. At least she will stay in the backyard unless she hears a neighbor or sees one. Then she aims for the friend she sees. Our yard is not fenced in on all sides, just in the back boundary by a field. We don't incorporate physical activity into our routine, (unless you count the used-to-be-daily walk with the kids in the stroller for most of the walk) but some of it happens inside our home easily. We have an indoor slide with climber (Kangaroo Climber by Step 2) and a toddler's trampoline. She enjoys both. M will often instigate pillow fights and squeals with delight as we duke it out. She also asks for "chase" almost every day, often many times a day. The game of chase is played inside going around in a big circle through the hall, play room, living room, and back to the hall. The adult just walks fast, chasing M. She runs and laughs the whole time. We also had a dirt pile that M loved to dig using her shovel. She could spend an hour playing in it. Since we also have a rock pile (big rocks dug out of our yard), she also likes moving them. We also have this great pool with detachable slide.
Every day she climbs all over us. She particulary likes to surf on her dad's back as he lays on the floor. She also loves it when Daddy lifts her high so she can hold on to the molding around a doorway. It looks like she's doing chin ups...but she's not the one doing the work! M is very physical, but she'll also sit and read for extended periods of time. I think it's important to have a balance...but my personality is more of the sit and play. I am usually up for a game of chase as long as I can put a stop to it after five or ten minutes.
Here M is jumping on bubble wrap. It was lots of fun to watch, so it must have been fun for her, too!
For more physical activities fun, check out ABC and 123!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Problems of Average Speech

M has been in the Early Intervention program in Pennsylvania for almost one year. That means it is evaluation time. Problem: The Intermediate Unit (where she goes for speech when she turns three) needs to evaluate her too. The same evaluation cannot be used twice in a six month period. Solution: Use a different test called the DAY-C. Problem: This is less accurate in results and not the best test to evaluate speech (or other areas of development). Bigger Problem: It combines the receptive and expressive language scores, giving a child who understands well but speaks poorly an average score. Result: M scored in the average (low average) range on this test. (In this case an average score is not a good thing because it does not accurately reflect what M is capable of.) Biggest Problem: M could disqualify for therapy through the Early Intervention. (She would likely still qualify when she turns three because a different test would evaluate her for the Intermediate Unit.) Solution: Ashley, her SLP, and Ashley's boss will write up the evaluation together to try to demonstrate M's need for therapy, especially with her diagnosis of verbal apraxia. Result: Pray, as it is to be determined. And know that Derek and I have learned a lot in the past year on how to pull words from M. We may not be therapists, but we have some skills that would benefit her in the event that services are discontinued. We are thankful for all that Ashley, and her other two teachers have taught us and her. For those of you who don't know M in real life, her speech problem is very real. It's not just a matter of her being a late talker. She had to fight to learn to speak. Now she has to learn to speak so she is understood. Apraxia is very real. It is not treated with regular speech therapy, but differently. It isn't outgrown. It can be overcome...with intense therapy.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Helper

The Bumbo Seat It holds my son, It's lots of fun. It's the color blue, It can help you! It doesn't weigh much, And it can stand up to mulch. Hair cuts, gardens, Laundry, and more. This is my friend, We could even take it to the shore! (Seriously. I thought E was basically done with this seat once he could sit up. It can be used from the time that a baby can hold his head up. Instead we have found great use for it now that he doesn't sit still! He gets his hair cuts in it. It's nice and easy to take it outside...much easier than the Exersaucer! It also cleans up very easily. We didn't have it with M, and we wouldn't have gotten one for ourselves...this is a hand-me-down, but it'd be worth the investment too. M sits in it too, but not for long. I suspect E will soon pop himself out of the Bumbo, but in the mean time I just have to make sure he doesn't eat the grass that's within reach.)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Speech Update

M is 33 months old. We're looking forward to all that October brings...less humidity, cool evenings, beautiful trees, pumpkins, and birthdays! Both M and E celebrate birthdays in October! Also in October, M might begin school, if she qualifies for the county's developmental preschool. I am in the process of filling out paperwork so she can be evaluated. A while ago I kind of stopped adding to M's word list that we were adding to often on our family blog. I stopped because each day she's saying new words with prompting and sometimes without! She is now putting two words together on a regular basis. Today I am certain I heard her say, "I got it." I had asked her if she wanted me to put a dress on a hanger. She wanted to do it. Last Sunday I asked her if she knew where we were going (church). She said "library." It was out of context, but I still understood it!! It was clear enough that others would have understood it, too! We are so thrilled. Each day we have several situations when we still don't understand M. It frustrates all of us. Yet, we're still encouraged. To give you some perspective, we were told of a ten year old apraxic boy. Since he was diagnosed with autism (and it is normal for autistic children to struggle with speech), the apraxia was not discovered until he was six years old! M's speech development is ahead of his. Obviously, the late intervention has not benefited this young boy, but his apraxia is much more severe than M's. We know that we have a long road ahead of us with years of therapy, but we are thankful for each day with her and all of her progress. On a side note, it is now hard to distinguish M's cries from E's! Now that he has some sounds they sound very much the same, at least until we hear the words Mommy or Daddy. (Recently we have heard LOTS of crying at night...several times each night from both children.) To help M sit on the potty for an appropriate amount of time to say that she "tried," I sing the ABC's. I begin very slowly, but once I hear the business happening I speed up and get a bit silly. She loves this! She will even start singing the ABC's herself in a high-pitched voice if I don't! She is not able to sing the ABC song, but she does pretty well when she tries. She doesn't quite have all the order to the letters, but I love her effort! She's also been helping me to read books, especially short, repetitive books or rhymes. One book is a baby prayer book. The last line is, "Thank you God for everything." She will even say the word "everything," AND it is fairly understandable! We continue to pray for our sweet girl's speech. Now that the words are coming with less effort, we look forward to clearer articulation, but that isn't a focus of therapy until age three. If it's done before that more damage than good can be done.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Freezer Organization

The talk over at ABC and 123 is organization. Most parents are probably going to address toy storage and such. I do not feel I can talk on that. Our toy room is overflowing, though I know the importance of rotating toys. I even do it. A little. We buy meat when it's cheap. Just this week we spent $40 on meat because the prices were right. Derek went grocery shopping and came home with lots of chicken breast, pork chops, steaks, hot dogs (not my favorite), and sausage. Buying large quantities is great, but we only have one freezer; it's part of the side by side fridge we have. I also hope to freeze some corn from the garden later this summer and applesauce in the fall. All this means that I need to have a way to store it. I am not an organized person. I have learned two tricks for the freezer though. When we buy ground beef or turkey, we put it into a labeled zipper-type quart sized freezer bags. I try to approximate a pound per bag. Then I mostly close the zipper and squeeze out the air. The key to taking up less room in the freezer is making the meat flat. Just spread it out in the bag, seal, and then place it flat in the freezer. Once it is frozen you can make it stand on it's side! Then it's like a little library in your freezer. (Of course mine doesn't look like a library, but it could!) The other tip I've just recently put into practice is for pork chops or chicken breasts. Place two of them in a labeled zipper quart-sized bag. Put the chops or breasts on opposite sides of the bag and remove the extra air. Seal the bag! By separating the meat, it will thaw faster! Check out other great organization tips. I hope I learn something to put into practice today. My whole house could use an organization makeover! And if you have children, check out ABC and 123! It's worth a visit!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

DIY: Personalized Name Stamp

We made a name stamp. It's just another way to have fun with letters and recognize a child's name. An older child might enjoy making unique "stationary" without the help of a computer. Materials Needed: wooden blocks scrap foam with sticky back exacto knife and mat (or cardboard) pen or marker On the white paper backside (NOT the foam) write letters or numbers. I just used a pen. Though it didn't leave ink on the paper, it left an impression that I could see. When you look at the foam, the letters will be reversed. This is necessary for the stamp. Cut out the letters and/or shapes. Place them on the wooden blocks in the reverse order. The shape stamps are about three inches tall. It was a good length for little hands.
If you have a large ink pad that would be nice and simple. I used a folded paper towel covered thinly with washable paint. A plastic lid is under it (for protection).
The blue on blue turned out well. I noticed the foam doesn't hold a lot of paint, so the stamps are rather light, but still leaves a nice picture behind.
This is fairly simple to make. If you don't have access to wood scraps, I'm sure a small sturdy box or glued together cardboard would work too. In the past I used a wooden ABC block from the toy chest. The paint absorbs into the wood, though, so I don't recommend that. :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Name Game

It's important for children to recognize their name as an early reader. I know M isn't even three years old yet, but I made a little word game for us to play.
I printed a picture of each of our family members, and typed our names four times using four fonts.
Since this can be used when E is older, I laminated the pictures and the name cards.

To play, at this point, I tell M what each word is and she matches it to the right picture and say it. I also emphasize M for Mmm-ommy I'm sure at some point she will begin recognizing the names herself.

For smaller families, you could even include pets, as Mama Mel suggested in the comments.
(Should I tell you that picture of me is from last summer when I was pregnant?! It was the only decent picture I could find! How pathetic!)

This later became our Family Name Game in a file folder.  (Click link for more info.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

File Folder Puzzle

A long time ago I saw this great project over at My Two Happy Homeschoolers. My friend Jennifer creates lots of projects for her children. She's given me many ideas!
This puzzle uses two file folders, and cropped pictures from cards, calendars, and even a magazine! I used double sided tape, Velcro, and packaging tape to put it all together. The magazine pictures had to be laminated for durability. I also laminated each puzzle piece for the same reason.
On the front cover there are nine puzzle pieces, held in place by Velcro. I used a large circle punch to cut the circles, but you could make a simple square template and cut them out.
I actually had more pictures chosen, but when I cut out the circles, I realized they would be too difficult for M to do. The file folders are simply attached using clear packaging tape. The cards are attached with double sided tape, but glue would work, too.
M enjoyed this game enough that I will probably make another one using Christmas cards. Thanks, Jennifer!

Speech Dx

In February of 2009, M was diagnosed with a motor speech disorder called verbal dyspraxia. It's why she didn't babble until she was more than 1 1/2 years of age and why she is struggling with language in so many ways. She has great communication skills, just not verbally. Dyspraxia is often called apraxia. Though they are actually different, the problem is the same. Though M may want to talk, she has to learn how to say each sound because her brain cannot tell her mouth how to move correctly to form the sound. Or at least that is my little summary. If you want to understand more about dyspraxia, check out the Apraxia-Kids and Can We Talk sites I have listed. M had her speech and hearing evaluated last spring. We have had her hearing tested twice, and will have it tested once more. She really does understand everything we say, but they have suggested for us to return again because it wasn't conclusive. Last spring, when M was 15 months old, her one word was /mah/. She used it mostly for more or to tell us she was frustrated or wanted something. It was not for Mom. Although she was borderline in need of speech at that initial speech eval, they knew I was a former teacher and that I was working with her already. So they gave us some tips and suggested calling if we felt the need and they would check in with us after three months. Three months later she had not progressed, so she began speech therapy. We were only in Maryland's program for about 5-6 weeks because of our move. Before we moved, I had lined up an eval here in PA. We are very pleased with her therapist and have seen M make great strides, especially recently. We suspected apraxia in December 2008 and scheduled a private speech eval. We did it in hopes of getting M more services. She now has speech therapy twice a week and an early childhood/special educator comes in once a week. An occupational therapist comes once a month, as well. Thankfully they are all in our home (until M turns three this fall). The problem with apraxia is that it is not outgrown. It is overcome with intense therapy though. So we have a long road ahead of us. Please keep us in your prayers as we advocate for M and really try to work with her. We know God has great plans for her! M has been making incredible progress. Though most of her words may not be understood by outsiders, she is now making words on her own and even stringing two words, sometimes three, together into simple sentences at the age of 32 months. We're very encouraged and thankful for the therapy she receives.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A New Beginning

This is a new beginning for us. We've had a family blog for several months, but I have the desire to separate our family photos to the crafts and projects that the children and I complete. I also want to share M's speech success as she overcomes the speech disorder apraxia.

I am a former elementary teacher, but now stay at home with my two and a half year old daughter, M, and our baby son, E. Though I am a teacher, I try to remind myself that M is just two years old, and try to keep all of our learning fun and enjoyable.

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