Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thank You, Veterans!

Thank you, Veterans and to our service men and women who protect us today! Our little town had a parade.  My wish - a way to arrive at the last minute and still have a place to park. Waiting is a challenge for my kid with autism. We almost didn't make it because we could not locate a place to park.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Question: How to Establish a Special Olympics Program?

Have any of you attempted to establish a Special Olympics program in your town? I desire a figure skating program that takes skaters to compete in a Special Olympics event. I waited two and a half years for a program, and our program turned out to be short (four to six weeks) learn-to-skate sessions that are few and far between. I'm disappointed. We moved from a region with lots of skaters to a region with two ice arenas. The region recently added a third arena. Six sheets of ice. That's it. Finding ice time for a program for kids with special needs is not a priority. Recreational adult hockey leagues are a priority. They pay the bills.

I contacted Special Olympics and the answer I got told me we are stuck with whatever events are offered in this county, and figure skating is not among the offerings. Neither is speed skating. First, getting information is next to impossible for homeschoolers. I learned in May - three years after we moved here - about one track and field program. And two, my kid doesn't DO track and field events. She figure skates.

Isn't there an avenue in Special Olympics for kids like mine, with a sport/talent that isn't offered locally? Stinks for kids who move from one region to another.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Veggietales winner!

My Veggietales winner is Noreen! Noreen, check your email, please! Congratulations!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Wizzy Gizmo In His Image Review

I continue to look for Bible study materials for my teenager with autism. Her academic delays and challenges comprehending abstract text get in the way of meaning and  understanding.

We were given a Wizzy Gizmo product to use and review at home. I chose, "In His Image," the second book in the series of Old Testament Bible stories. "In His Image" comes from Genesis 2.

The paperback is small, 58 pages, easy to hold in little hands.

If you work with an older child with special needs, you may be like me - the content of the material is second to another priority. One of my first things I look for is how much text is on a page. My reader with special needs balks at too much text on a page. Too many words too close together equals too difficult in her mind and if there are too many words her anxiety rises and meaning and comprehension plummet along with cooperation.

I am thrilled to report that the layout of the text on the page is just right. The font is large (in my daughter's mind, this means she is able to process it - she is capable of more, but she hasn't made that discovery yet) and the paragraphs have some space between them. The text is inviting. Whew! The first test - passed!

Authors Justin Cummins and Kirsten Del Aguila begins the book by giving readers a list of the characters and a brief description of each of them.  Wizzy Gizmo is an inventor. A creator. And Wizzy Gizmo knows THE Creator. The other characters are four friends, ages 7-9, and Wizzy's dog and duck. Time travel is involved, always a favorite with my kid. She has lots of questions about the past that I sometimes can't answer, but we enjoy imagining what it might have been like. Wizzy delivers in terms of interest and imagination with this piece of the storyline.  My kid is so disappointed to learn that the Garden of Eden is closed. Last year, she told me she'd like to go see all the animals there. Wizzy Gizmo allows her to do that in her imagination.

I like everything I see here. The story is inviting, the writers spotlight questions about who God is, what God made, what the world was like in the beginning. The characters are interesting to my daughter.  Cummins and Del Aguila also spotlight vocabulary words in boldface type for readers and offer an index of vocabulary words and definitions at the back of the book. Readers are given a page and a half of review questions at the back of the book. Wizzy uses scripture as the foundation for concepts and he explains those concepts using current real life context and examples. For a child who finds the past abstract, bringing the concepts into what she experiences now is really helpful. The stories give she and I a common framework that we can discuss, something we don't always have when the concept is abstract.

The book is priced at $12.99. You may order it from the Wizzy Gizmo web site. Check out the other products and the Free Resources tab. Bloggers on this review chose different products; please click through to see what they had to say about other Wizzy Gizmo resources!

I am thrilled with what I've seen for material. The material is special-needs friendly and I will be watching for more to come in the book series. Join me by following Wizzy Gizmo on

I was given a copy of "In His Image" to review for you. I was not paid for this review and I am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Love One Another; Veggietales Beauty and the Beet and GIVEAWAY!

"Would you like to review a new Veggietales DVD?"

The reply from my girl was an enthusiastic, "YES!"

The enthusiastic reply makes me very happy!

My teenage daughter with ASD did not enjoy Veggietales when she was a little girl. Now, she enjoys them and the messages in the animated videos are not lost on her. We are finally (in the teenage years) able to discuss the content and meaning. I love to hear her voice singing along with the Veggietales songs.

My daughter and I are excited to have the opportunity to review for you the newest video from Veggietales, Beauty and the Beet. Click on the photo to go to some clips from the DVD.

My daughter gives it the review of "Fantastic!"

The story of sweet potato Mirabelle and her family of singing vegetables. I can't get enough of Mirabelle! Mirabelle is so loving and sweet, even when she encounters an individual who is nothing but nasty. She reminds us that we all deserve to be loved, even when we are nasty. The story idea comes from "Beauty and the Beast" and the scriptural foundation of the story comes from 1 John 4:11, "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."

 Veggietales captured the verse and the concept of offering grace to those around us in a very fun animated story. The songs are catchy and the harmonies have me wanting to hear the songs again and again. Kelly Pickler voices the character of Mirabelle and she creates magic that my kid w/ autism and I are drawn to. The story gives us something concrete that my daughter and I can discuss. For example, I am not proud to admit that I am more like the grumpy siblings who complain about the Beet's nasty behavior and am not very much like Mirabelle who sees the person beneath the nastiness who needs to be loved.

We loved the story. We loved every single second of it. And we've watched it more than once and will continue to watch it again and again. (That's what we do here.)

There are so many concepts that are difficult to teach to a child with autism, concepts that are not concrete and rely on examples. For a very literal child, one example can create a skewed understanding of that concept, and we as parents and teachers need more examples to draw from. As the homeschooling mom to a child on the spectrum, Beauty and the Beet has given us several opportunities to relate events to the story and to talk about them over time. 

If you are homeschooling a teen or tween on the autism spectrum, looking for ideas to present difficult concepts about faith, love, grace, etc, I highly recommend including Veggietales in your box of resources.The musical on DVD is in stores now priced around $10.

I get the impression that the Veggietales folks are autism friendly. "That's Larry the Cucumber," the volunteer in the concession stand told me. We were selling snacks at the high school football game and a tall gentleman was at the window placing his order. The volunteer working alongside me happens to work in an autism classroom and she told me about a day when "Larry Boy" came to her school for a lengthy visit with a boy whose special interest is all things Veggietales. That story makes me love them even more. (If only I could introduce them to my kid w/ autism. She wants to be a voice actress one day. And man oh man, she can sing!)

In the media materials I received, I read this little tidbit that I want so share with you: 
"BEAUTY AND THE BEET is just the start of the fun in store this fall for VeggieTales fans, because the gang will also star in a brand-new Netflix original series, VeggieTales In the House, which premieres Thanksgiving weekend."
"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

I have been offered a copy of Beauty and the Beet to give away! Post a comment about what you like about Veggietales on my blog to enter. Be sure to leave me contact info, too! That's it! My homeschooler and I will draw a winner a week from tomorrow, Tuesday, 28-Oct-2014!

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

College Visit Road Trip

My firstborn and I hit the road for a long-distance college visit. We had two days packed with meetings and tours. One of our favorite activities was watching the college marching band on its practice field and later on the football field. We toured the campus, met staff, experienced a college class, ate in the dining facility, shopped at the bookstore. What fun!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Wings to Soar

Homeschool field trips are fun. We really enjoyed the Wings to Soar program. I have attended bird shows before, but they were always outdoors and at a huge theme park. The program indoors in a small meeting room was very special.The program was about 40 minutes long and my homeschooler with autism was engaged the entire time. We learned a lot about the birds. My favorite - a tie between the vulture and the bald eagle. The vulture has quite a personality. :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Special Thank You

I got an opportunity to say "Thank you" tonight.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mariano Rivera's Story: The Closer

The guys at my house love baseball. They are not New York fans, but when I got the opportunity to review The Closer, My Story by Mariano Rivera with Wayne Coffey, I jumped on it.

I have the impression that the lives of major league baseball players are easy and have always been easy. I picture these men as golden children who were naturally talented and landed in the major leagues without much effort.

Mariano Rivera's story burst a bubble in the fairy tale in my mind about major league baseball players.

He grew up a kid in a poor country without a proper baseball anything. No baseball diamond. A glove made from a milk carton. A stick for a bat. Who would ever dream that a boy's accuracy in killing iguanas  with rocks to put food on the table would translate into a young man's ability to throw a baseball with that same accuracy?

His life plan was to be a mechanic. He retired as the best relief pitcher in baseball and one of the most popular MLB players in history. (His is the most popular jersey sold today.)

The story of how Mariano Rivera made it from a fishing town in Panama to Yankee Stadium is captivating. Rivera experienced a lot of what I call God-incidences in his life, and he is quick to reveal his his own awe and his own faith to readers and he reminds us that his success and blessings come from God. Rivera gives us glimpses into what he was thinking every step of the way and that insight and perspective draws me deeper and deeper into his story. (I have to admit that I would like to read a companion book by Rivera's wife, Clara, the story from her perspective, too!)

My son, the baseball nut and Detroit Tigers fan, read the book first. He said Rivera's story is humbling. Rivera started with very little compared to what we have. My son calls Rivera an inspiration after reading the book.

The Closer is a 288 page hardback list priced at $28. I highly recommend it for all the baseball fans and non-fans in your life. Barnabas Agency gave me a copy of The Closer at no charge to review here on my blog. I was not paid for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

School's Out For Summer

The sky and clouds this week have been spectacular. The sky looks like a painting. We had an Irlen update - my girl's dark lenses are working well for her - and we as a family have been busy with skating, baseball, and marching band as it kicked off this week. One mom said, "It's water jug season!"

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