Sunday, February 24, 2013

Thematic Therapy

When I was teaching my first year, I quickly discovered that our district adopted curriculum was anything but thematic. (thematic being that the learning crosses over from your language arts, to math, art, to science, social studies, etc...) This shocked me at first because thematic units were something covered extensively in my college teaching classes. Because through using thematic units, students become emerged in the learning. The learning is all connected in some way.

One great thing about homeschooling is you can make this happen. Even with the classes Race is taking from Connections Academy, we make this happen. Here are some pictures of one of our units we covered in January.

What a great little story by the way. It's about the memories, love and stories a quilt tells:

We got out some of our quilts and talked about where each came from, who made them, their unique designs, and why they are special to us. Race struggles with story retell. He is a good reader, and he has great comprehension and can answer questions about the story. But putting events in order, using those transition words (first, next, before, finally) is a challenge.

In Social Studies we covered the different regions of the world where different types of blanket making are used, and for what purpose they are made.

In math, we hit our measurement chapters.

We went to Walmart to look at and feel all the fabrics. In the past Race has always wanted to hang out in the electronics right around the corner while I bought fabric. This time he went to compare and contrast the different materials.

Fine motor skills challenge Race. Handwriting, beading, and now making a scarf on a knitting loom, push Race to focus on those small muscles that don't always want to cooperate with him.

When Race gets going on the knitting loom, his focus goes to a whole other level; like he does when he's playing the Wii or the piano. Sometimes I wish I could go with him to that place. So I can see what it's like.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pinewood Derby

As I've told you in the past, Race loves Cub Scouts. In January, we had the Pinewood Derby. Race and John worked hard getting the Bat-Mobile made.

And guess who won the derby?

Left to Right: Second place Keagan, Third place Kaiden, First place Race

Race and his two good buddies, Jason and Dathan after the derby. It was such a great night, it was neat to see him win. 

That night as he went to bed, he said to me, "This was the greatest night ever."

I think it's one he'll always remember.

180 Degrees

I look back at where I was a year and a half ago, with the ideas I had for Race's progress and success, and I look where I am now:

  • A year and a half ago, I had myself convinced the best place for Race was in the public system where they would help him be social.
  • Three years ago I had us faithfully emerged us in the DDD (Department of Developmental Disabilities) systems, because they were there to help us and help Race get the services he needed to be successful.
  • Three years ago I was signing up for every autism conference close enough that I could afford to attend so I could be up on all the latest research.

Many of the experiences have been great ones. We've had some happy memories along the way.

But more of the experiences have been learning experiences as we trudge along this path, finding our way. We've learned many lessons. But the big one that's been on my mind the last few weeks is this:

Everyone has an opinion. And their opinions are influenced by their own personal experiences. And their personal experiences influence their perception.... and sometimes no opinions matter except the feeling in your gut.

So, if that makes any sense to you, because it might not, but if it does, you will kind of understand the direction I'm standing in now:

No one will love your kid as much as you do. And they won't take care of them the way you would. And they won't communicate with you the way you want them to. And why would they? They have so many other kids to be taking care of, plus all the other demands put on them by the district and state. In the big picture, one little autistic boy just doesn't matter.

The DDD system is sometimes more work than it's worth. We've had many great therapists, and we've had many bad. There is no consistency. How much is the system really helping us?

I'm limiting myself to two conferences a year now. I realized all they do is stress me out over all the things I'm NOT doing for my son. They do nothing for the self-inflicting guilt problem I already suffer from.

I sound burnt out don't I?

But I'm not.

I really feel we had to go down all those paths, explore them a bit, and find if we needed or didn't need what that road had to offer. And it only strengthened us.

Through this whole journey, even though there were times I felt very alone, at the end of the day, I always knew I wasn't. I referred to one scripture in particular often. Doctrine and Covenants 8:2 says, "Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by they Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart."  I know Heavenly Father puts people in our lives to support us. And a year and a half ago, Heavenly Father put some homeschooling moms in my path who I've become great  friends with. As you know from other posts, I had been leaning towards homeschooling for a while. But these moms, these friends, kind of gave me that last bit of confidence in myself that I needed to actually do it.

So on that day last spring when John brought Race home early from school because of yet another bad morning on the playground, I knew it was time. The time for wondering was over. It was time to do it.

I'm so grateful for that leap of faith.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Cry Now, Laugh Later...

My little redhead is testing my patience. So, this one is for the books, so HOPEFULLY we can someday look back on these events, and laugh.... kind of like my own mother is doing now. :)

Saturday, Witten decided to use Daddy's knife and cut through a live wire. I knew this day would someday come, despite all my hopes. Well, he fried the knife, and sliced down to his knuckle. There was blood everywhere... and sparks too. There were no tears, just, "Holy Cow! Those sparks are hot!"

Somebody help me...

Today my little redhead couldn't wait any longer for me to give him a haircut (I've been super busy and my boys have been sportin' some longer hair because of it). So, he decided to take matters into his own hands and "help me out".

He cut his own hair. Right up the middle. He practically scalped himself.

He's been having a few rough weeks with other things as well.

My poor little guy.

And poor little me.

We'll get through this Cowboy. Both of us. And someday, when you're WAY older, and have learned many more of life's lessons, we'll sit back and laugh about it all.


Monday, February 4, 2013

A Disney Christmas

I love Disneyland at Christmas. I know its way crowded... but Disneyland at Christmas time is so magical.

Every year we go seems to get more fun. I think it's because they boys are getting older and can do more.

Race's favorite rides: Splash Mountain and the Screamer
His least favorite: Tower of Terror and Indiana Jones (according to Race, these rides were absolutely ridiculous).

A lot of people have asked me how Race did at Disneyland... he loved it, and did great. We only had one meltdown the entire trip. He was so relaxed the whole time, I really feel like he was getting so much sensory input on all the rides, it was keeping him more calm and together. If only he could get that much sensory input every day, right?

Witt's favorite rides: ALL OF THEM!! (he's my new roller coaster buddy, I'm so excited!) Witt was barely 48 inches tall, but he sure stood up straight every time they measured him. He was so much fun on the Screamer. He likes going fast!

Lane's favorite rides: Buzz Lightyear, Woody and Pirates (and he went on these about ten times each...) Oh, and he also had to hug every character we ran into.

Daddy's favorites: Soaring over California and Splash Mountain.
His least favorite: Heimlich's Chew Chew Train (Lane and Daddy spent quite a bit of time in Bug's Land while Race, Witt and I were riding the Screamer... Heimlich's voice was starting to wear on John's nerves just a little. :)

My favorites: Star Tours, the Jungle Tour (because my sister and I practically pee our pants laughing so hard at the tour guides) and the Screamer. But then, there's also those special rides that bring back childhood memories... Pirates, Space Mountain, Small World, Peter Pan, Thunder Mountain Railway, Tom Sawyer's Island, the list goes on.

The Bill Bailey Family 2012:
We're all soaked from walking to breakfast in the rain.
Didn't Annell and Mom do a great job on the shirts?

I have been officially for about two years now, the shortest kid in the fam... for Bailey standards, I am quite short. But for the rest of society, 5'7" is pretty tall.

I love Disneyland. I love Christmas. I love my family. I love Disneyland at Christmas with my family.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Newport Beach

We went to California for Christmas. Our first stop was Newport Beach. We got there at 8:00 am, and found out the only other people at the beach that early in December are Asian fishermen and homeless people... and the Armstrong's. But, we didn't care. We stayed all morning, and into the afternoon. We love the beach.

It was this lil' pirate's first time seeing the ocean.  He loved it. He loved chasing the sea gulls best.

Witten is a treasure hunter. He spent most the morning searching for unbroken sea shells. He even found a sea urchin!

Race loved the waves; hours of sensory integration. He kept squinting to try and see Japan.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Little Red Bird

Once there was a little boy who was asked to be in a Christmas play.
Of all the parts he could have had,
he chose the Little Red Bird.
So he could do what he does best and fly.
And speak as little as possible in front of the crowd.
So we all went to cheer for the Little Red Bird,
and watch him fly around the stage.
And he did his part so Wittenish,
And was very brave in front of the crowd,
a perfect Little Red Christmas Bird.

Witten with his teachers, Ms. Jyoti and Ms. Janet

Witten flies around the stage... do you like his wings? Guess who made them...

Our dear friends the Wimer's came to Witten's program with us. They're some of our favorites!!