Week In the Life: Thursday

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Thursday morning. Andrew was sleeping on the couch again, Isaac was in his bed. :)

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They got up and ready for school as usual.  Once they are ready, with shoes and coats on and backpacks ready, we read poems by Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutsky while we waited for the bus.

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Once they were off to school, I got ready and made a Halloween snack for them to bring to school tomorrow.  Here, I am popping popcorn in the big pot and melting candy coating in the other pot.

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Here’s the snack ready to be bagged up.

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I volunteered at the boys’ school yesterday for the PreK Harvest festival.  But I had a few minutes to visit the boys in their classes.  Here’s Isaac class wrapping up a lesson with the adorable science teacher. :)

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And here’s Andrew brainstorming vocabulary words that have to do with elephants.

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Then I headed to the gym for the Harvest festival, where I ran the photo booth. :)  And most of the photos I took today look something like this:

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I know.  ADORABLE.  So, so cute!

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When the boys got home, they started projects for tomorrow.  Isaac’s friend has a birthday tomorrow (which Isaac has been talking about all week!) so Isaac made him a birthday maze.

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Andrew filled out some cards for his teachers.

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And I bagged up the popcorn snack into little baggies.

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When Dave got home I went to lay down for a little while.  And he wrangled the boys.

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I am reading “My Name is Asher Lev” by Chaim Potok.  I love Chaim Potok.  And I particularly love this one by him.

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After dinner, the boys got some zombie cake. :)

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Time to get Isaac ready for bed!

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And Andrew joined me reading for a while before he finally went to bed too.

And that was Thursday!


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Week in the Life: Wednesday

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I get these boys up at 6:30 with their breakfasts at the table, waiting.  This morning Isaac had pumpkin oatmeal and Andrew had cold cereal and a banana.

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We’re trying to teach Andrew to brush his teeth independently…but he’s not very thorough about it.  I put a chart up by the sink to give him tips, but I usually end up taking over and micromanaging his dental care.  :)

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The sun was just rising when we walked outside to wait for the bus.  The bus comes at 7:15.

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Here it is!  I love this year’s bus matron. She’s a sweetheart. Every morning I try to have the boys say “Good morning!” to her.  Andrew ALWAYS does.  Isaac is hit and miss.

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I haven’t actually been in the boys’ bathroom for a few days and hadn’t noticed how disgusting it’s gotten.  Time for a quick clean!

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Dave is up and reviewing the umatic tapes I’ve been digitizing for him.  It’s all Ed Koch, all the time in our little home office. :)

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The laundry bin was overflowing.  Time to bag it up a little better.

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I had to go into Manhattan today and I took the R.

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I like going into Manhattan by myself. :)

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When I got home I finished up a Zombie Halloween cake that I had started earlier.  It has pumpkin-chocolate cake and a cinnamon custard filling.  Later I poured chocolate glaze over the top of it.  So yummy!!

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The boys are home from school and the neighbors were out!  They scootered and ran around with them for a little while.

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Then in for snacks and homework.  Andrew likes to do this trick of squirting mustard on a pickle.  It grosses me out so much!

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The boys are able to do the work more or less independently.  They just need me to help them stay focused.  I end up just saying things like “okay, Isaac.  And what’s the next equation you need to work on?” “Are you on your fourth sentence, Andrew?” Otherwise they stare off into space, play with their pencils, roll off their chairs.  It can be a circus.

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Zombie cake is done!

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Dance party break to Halloween music in the middle of homework!  :)

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Homework is done and look who’s home! They like holding his legs while he walks and he drags them around the apartment.  It’s a good workout for Dave. ;)

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Fish, mashed sweet potatoes, peas and knock-knock jokes for dinner.

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Dishes are done, time for some wine.

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and some wii.

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and some minecraft.

And that was Wednesday.


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Week in the Life: Tuesday

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Tuesday morning the boys ate breakfast with their lit pumpkins.

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After breakfast is the get-dressed-make-bed rigamarole.

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This year Isaac can finally put his shoes on by himself!

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After the boys left for school, I got ready and hopped on the train to follow them to school for a parent meeting.

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Once a month the school holds a meeting for the parents of kids in the ASD program.  Today’s meeting was about executive function and included the dissection of a sheep’s brain!  Crazy!

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When I got home I got right in the car to run errands.

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Which included getting a ticket from the muni-meter to pay for parking.

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Finally some time to work-work.

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Boys are home and I get their lunchboxes in the dishwasher right away to get them clean for tomorrow.

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While they eat snack (chips, seaweed and sliced pears) I go through their papers and notebooks and respond to notes from their teachers.

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Andrew decided I didn’t make enough snack for him, so he made himself a hummus wrap.

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Then, it’s reading time.  Andrew split his reading time between his computer programming book and “Stone Soup”.

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Isaac and I read some books his teacher sends home…but we spend most of his reading time working on comprehension.  He breezes through the reading part…it’s talking about the book that is so challenging for him.  We practice it every day. He’s getting much better at it. :)

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Isaac always finishes his homework first.  Then he usually makes lists or books or charts.  Today he’s working with one of his atlases and a map of the USA.

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Then, he helped me make pizza.

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Andrew is finally done with homework too!  They wrestle around for 20 minutes before it’s time for dinner.

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Isaac LOVES pizza night.

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After dinner, Andrew showers and puts on his jammies before playing a little minecraft.

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And Isaac takes a bath before playing a little Super Mario.

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Dave was home late.  So today was mostly me and the boys.  :)


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Week in the Life: Monday

WITL-26When I got up Monday morning, Andrew was sleeping on the couch…as usual. :)

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I started making breakfast and lunches and packing snacks for the boys.

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The boys always play with each other while they wait for the bus.  They pretend they are in Super Mario Brothers and throw fireballs at pretend gumbas.

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Time to get pretty!

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Close enough! :)

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The laundry guy delivered our laundry clean and folded last night.  This morning I put everything away, which involves ironing and hanging the boys’ uniforms.

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A little last minute Halloween costume project.

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Lunch today was bean quesadillas and a honey crisp apple.

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When the boys get home, they share school stories with me.  I record a little chart of their stories.

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Then they play video games!  They each bring home charts from their teachers (Isaac’s is behavior related, Andrew’s is specifically about writing) and they earn game time for getting high scores on these charts.  Today they BOTH earned the highest possible scores!  Great news!

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Then a snack of kiwi-berries (courtesy of Aunt Melodee!  She brought us some over the weekend and they boys LOVED them!), baby carrots and apple cider doughnuts (also courtesy of Aunt Melodee!).

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During snack time Isaac told me that the teacher asked each of the students what they wanted to be when they grow up.  He said that he told her he wants to be “the boss” when he grows up.  Which is exactly what he tells us.  Glad he didn’t sugar coat it for her. ;)

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Andrew’s handwriting and attitude about writing has come SO FAR these few first weeks of fourth grade.  His OT, teacher and I have come up with a system that is working WONDERFULLY.  I am so encouraged by this growth!

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After dinner….we carved pumpkins!

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Andrew did some actual carving this year…instead of just helping clean out the pumpkins.  He did a great job!

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Dave did a great job too! ;)

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Isaac calls his pumpkin Jack and insisted on three teeth.

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Andrew calls his pumpkin “JAIL BREAK PUMPKIN!!!!!” and recreated this idea he saw in a magazine of one pumpkin inside another.  Luckily, the pumpkins we got from granddaddy were SO ENORMOUS that we could easily fit another pumpkin inside Andrew’s pumpkin. :)

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So proud!

And that was Monday!


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organizing the albums

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I have a terrible habit of letting A LOT of time go by before actually filing away scrapbook pages into scrapbooks. I’ve had a growing pile of completed pages accumulating for over a year! And today I went ahead and put them in the books. :)

The system has it’s perks. It’s much quicker to stash things than to organize them. But, then I’m left wondering if I’ve already worked with the photos from Isaac’s 5th birthday (I haven’t) or the beach week from 2012 (nope) or that death-defying hike we did a few years ago (done!). The messy pile is hard to go through, so I don’t. So when I’m surfing around in my photo programs, there are lots of stories that I’ve wondered if I’ve recorded and I’m just not sure.

But…now I know! I made a list of things I want to make sure to record: Isaac’s Geography phase, and Mario obsession, and horseback riding lessons. Andrew’s Science kits, his 8th and 9th birthdays, and Minecraft phase. Crazy Hat Day. Family trips. Halloween 2012 and 2013! Goodness! Lots to do!

And sometimes when I go about organizing all these pages and all these albums I feel embarrassed! Embarrassed that we need this bookcase with only photo albums. Square footage is at a premium in our apartment and really shouldn’t be wasted. Am I wasting space with ALL THESE ALBUMS?! But today, strangely I concluded that…no, I’m not wasting space. I like these albums. :) I love the photos, love the memories and I’m grateful that I’ve invested so much into this process.

And so…onward and onward!

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Here’s another page for the books! And since I filled up my latest “Us” album…this will likely sit in a pile for over a year until I get around to getting more albums and filling them up. :) Still, I’m glad to have it! This hike was one of our best. Snowy and abandoned hotel! and just magical! Here’s hoping for making more magic this weekend! Have a good one. :)

p.s.: I love Andrew’s hat in these photos. Well, both boys’ hats. And I just want to say, that I already purchased this year’s winter hats and made SURE they’d be great hats…just so the photos would look great. :) warmth be damned. It’s good pics I’m after!


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Vermont Weekend

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We had a long weekend this past weekend and we spent it in Vermont, which is GORGEOUS this time of year! :)

Andrew talked his grandmother into buying him a ring pop. And since she was buying one, she also picked up 3 “emergency back-up ring pops”. You know. In case of a ring-pop emergency. :)

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Oh how they love her!

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We love trips to Vermont.

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On this trip we took a ski lift up a mountain at the local ski resort to check out the fall foliage. Dave and I went with Andrew…

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….who said hello to all of the other lift riders we passed. :) My mom and Isaac were too spooked by the lift to join us. So, they waited for us at the base of the mountain.

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The view was gorgeous.

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Then we drove up to the look out and played on abandoned ski lifts and enjoyed the view.

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Back at the house we spent a lot of time playing the yard. My parents have this game we call “Zim Zam”. It’s like a tether ball version of tennis and we love it!

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The boys are actually not-so-great at this game. They get hit by the ball constantly, which luckily, everyone finds hilarious. Isaac kept stopping the game, stepping in the middle and saying “this is the end of the game”, and declaring a winner (usually me!). Andrew tried incorporating different obstacles and a hard-to-follow point system. My mom and I just hit the ball and schooled those boys in sportsmanship and hand-eye-coordination! :)

It was a good weekend. :)


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weekend

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This weekend we went apple picking. :)

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It was super fun!

Hope yours was a good one!


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Isaac and Geography

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Yesterday I told Isaac that there might be a new country in the world.  I told him about the vote going on in Scotland and how Scotland might become it’s own country.  He was VERY interested and he got out his atlases and started drawing maps of the United Kingdom.  He was hoping that Scotland wouldn’t break away because that would interfere with the accuracy of his books and the geography songs he likes…and that kind of change can be SO uncomfortable for Isaac. :)

When he pulled out his atlas and the pile of papers he had with it, I noticed that he had been working on a project for a few days sort of under the radar. He had been making his own world atlas with little drawings of the countries. He had a few from every continent. He had Mongolia, China, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, Algeria, Chile, Argentina, the US, Fiji, among many others…. Some of the pages included facts about population and ALL had clear page numbers (organization is PARAMOUNT!). I spread out the pages on the floor so I could take a picture. And then a few minutes later I realized: Isaac is six.

My heart starting pounding hard. I was feeling a mixture of swellings of pride followed by shame for feeling that pride.

I mean, of course I am proud of my kids. OF COURSE I am! But this was different. This was feeling pride in an area where Isaac is gifted. Isaac is YEARS beyond his typically developing peers in his understanding of geography. In fact, Isaac knows things about geography that most adults don’t know. He knows his states and capitals and where to find all states and most countries on a map. But he also knows what many state and country flags look like. Like Algeria’s flag. He can pick out Algeria’s flag in a group of flags. But, most impressive to me…he knows the states in order of statehood. He knows which state was the first to join the country, which was the last and he knows every state in between. If you asked him “What was the 43rd state?” he could tell you. That’s like asking you “what’s the 17th letter of the alphabet?” and you being able to answer WITHOUT going through the alphabet. He knows that Louisiana is the 11th state BOTH in alphabetical order AND in order of statehood. I’m not sure that there is anyone else, ever, that’s noticed that.

Honestly, this geography thing is a little hard for me. It’s MUCH easier for me to get excited about Andrew’s contraptions and inventions than it is for me to get excited about states and capitals. But yesterday, when I saw the atlas Isaac had been assembling, I felt SO PROUD of him. And I had a moment of feeling overwhelmed that my six year old can do this. I wasn’t trying to balance it with “but think of all the things he CAN’T do.” which is a common strategy I use. I wasn’t trying to pull myself together with “EVERY kid has amazing strengths! Don’t act like yours are something special!” which is another message I tell myself a lot. I was just feeling proud and impressed. Which made me cry in the bathroom a little. Sigh.

Dave and I used to wonder if we needed to have a college savings plan for Isaac. I know that sounds sort of mean, but it was purely a practical conversation. As things stand now, if we started a college savings plan for him and he didn’t go to college, we’d take a HUGE hit in taking that money out and using it another way. (which is actually a problem that Autism Speaks is working with Congress on… tax sheltered ways to save for your children that might NOT go to college.) But now we think that OF COURSE we should be saving for Isaac. Not just because of his capacity for memorization and his academic ability, but his self-care skills and safety awareness have come MUCH farther than we thought they would. He might actually be able to go to college and…do his laundry! and get himself to the cafeteria for meals! and cross the street safely! :) College doesn’t seem as far fetched an idea as it did a few years ago.

I also know that this seems like a common autism story. How many stories have you heard of autistic kids that couldn’t talk at 3 went on to do X!Y!Z! But for me, living a part of that story, doesn’t feel like “oh this is sometimes what happens”, or, “this is sort of common with autism.” It feels like “WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON?!” It’s a little rattling, honestly. It mostly feels great that Isaac is blossoming as much as he is…but it has also felt unnerving too. Like I can’t keep up with who he is.

After my tears in the bathroom, and my deep breaths to calm down, and after the waves of pride settled down a little, I pulled myself together and finished making dinner. And things went back to normal. He was just my goofy little guy who needs to pick up his mess and loves his pizza and just wants to talk to Andrew about Super Mario Brothers. He seemed normal Isaac again, but as for me…I think I made a little progress. A few steps in the right direction of celebrating my son.

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school stories

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Today is day 10 of the new school year, and knock on wood, everything is still going very smoothly.

I hadn’t been hearing much from Isaac’s teacher, so I wrote her at the end of last week and asked how it was going. She said it was going well, that he has picked up the class routines nicely and she is currently working with him on raising his hand. She said that she knows he often knows the answer when she asks the class a question, but he prefers to passively sit there and not answer. And this is SO ISAAC. He’s never been one to show us what he knows. I can picture him thinking “I know the answer to that, and YOU know the answer to that, Teach…so why are you asking?”

Three years ago this *same teacher* had to teach Andrew NOT to raise his hand when he didn’t know the answer, because he ALWAYS raised his hand. She actually put together a lesson about just that for him and his fellow-ethusiastic-hand-raising buddy. She explained that they won’t always know the answer. That before they raise their hands, they need to think to themselves “DO I know the answer to this?” To practice she’d ask them questions like “What is 2+2″ (they raised their hands), “Who is the main character in yesterday’s story?” (they raised their hands), “how much money is in my wallet?” (they started to raise their hands before catching themselves…ha!)

The difference here between Isaac and Andrew in regards to class participation is CLASSIC. I feel like it illustrates them perfectly. :)

Last night was curriculum night and I met with Andrew’s teacher and she told me Andrew’s reading level…which jumped 3 levels over the summer! For some reason I find that so exciting! He’s really been into reading lately…which is just so fun! GO Andrew!

But…writing is another story altogether. He HATES writing. He tells me “Mom, I’m just not a writer!” As though that is free pass out of writing. Sorry, pal…you still have to learn this. We’re working on it everyday…but it’s not easy. In school, to encourage him to write, they dangle this carrot:

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A circuitry kit! That they got specifically for him! When she showed me this last night, I was SOO impressed. And SO GRATEFUL. I feel like often people that work with kids with ASD work so hard with the areas that challenge them, that there is no time or space to encourage their personal interests/fascinations/obsessions. Sometimes it can feel like I only hear “yeah, yeah, yeah. He loves science…but we really need to talk about his writing.” Their fascinations can be all-consuming, distracting and even annoying…but their fascinations can also be PRODUCTIVE. And I just feel so great about Andrew having access to people that get that and WANT to encourage what he loves.

And one more thing. I saw this on the wall of Isaac’s classroom:

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Which has me thinking that Isaac assumes I spend all my time at home gorging on technology. oh Isaac. :)


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weekend

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This weekend was Dave’s birthday! Andrew made a present-machine out of rope and boxes and tinkertoys. He’s sitting next to it in the photo above. And here’s how it works. Andrew sits behind it and pulls on a tinkertoy-rope contraption. As he pulls on the rope, the present starts to emerge from behind the sign (the sign says: “Hi and happy birthday. this is a machine.”) and as it emerges, it lifts the sign up. Andrew claims that this is the first invention that he’s made that works! But…I don’t think that’s true. It seems like a lot of what he makes works…but maybe he means this works like he envisioned.

Isaac cut out the little 36′s out of paper, helped me wrap the presents and made Dave a card that included a maze he drew (Isaac’s drawing mazes now! Remember Andrew’s intense maze phase?) and a dot-to-dot.

Dave loved his presents (a digital miscroscope and a suitcase. for some reason everyone was more interested in the microscope. I thought luggage was a practical, thoughtful gift! ;) ) and loved the care that went into their presentation. :) These boys are so fun with that stuff.

On a side note: I have confirmation from Andrew that he will be playing the role of Santa again this Christmas. He has some new chimney designs he wants to try and I have a whole long list of Santa-esk tasks that he’s going to help me out with! :) He’s SO the kid for the job!

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The boys and I put little helium balloons inside the suitcase we gave Dave, so that when Dave opened it, they all escaped. It was super fun. And luckily Isaac was more than willing to help with the cleanup of that project while Andrew hid in the bedroom fearing a balloon might pop :)

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The next day we went hiking!

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It feels like it’s been a long time since we’ve gone hiking and this trail was such a great one. :) It was nearby, not too tick-y, not too steep and the boys ran, zig-zagging down the path for a lot of the hike.

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And now, Monday.

Hope yours was a great weekend!


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