Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Costco Let Me Down Again

I don't understand Costco, especially the Costco here (in my 'new' town).

My local Costco often fails to have in stock an item I regularly need/buy. I did not have this problem at the Costco in Michigan when we lived there.

My Michigan friends tell me what a wonderful selection of gluten free items their Costco has. Ours has a couple of those items, but not as many as my Michigan friends have. I don't understand.

Last week, as I prepared to take a child for surgery, I spent a lot of time on the phone with medical staff in preparation. The day before surgery, I was told that my child would have to consume clear broth and crackers before she was allowed to leave the hospital. I knew I would have to bring with  me to the hospital all of the food for a child with a long list of allergies. I had to wait until someone could sit with my injured child before I could head out to shop. The night before surgery, I headed to Costco for boxes of organic chicken broth - all allergen free and safe for my child. COSTCO. WAS. OUT. OF. CHICKEN. BROTH. AND. DID. NOT. KNOW. WHEN. THEY. WOULD. HAVE. MORE.

I have lost count of the number of times something similar has happened. Costco is like a glorified dollar store - you can't count on any item being in stock, and for reasons I do not understand, Michigan stores carry a better variety of all-natural, organic, and allergen free food items than the stores in the middle of the country.


Monday, December 15, 2014


A week and a half after ankle surgery, the girl moved from a temporary soft splint to a hard cast, today. She chose pink.
The doctors at the bone clinic are always running behind. Hubby waited in the car with the girl until her name was called, then we brought her inside. She stays much calmer that way. The staff members almost make up for the extreme wait. They are excellent with autism. I appreciate that. I like the visual aid offered to my daughter to allow her to choose a cast color:

I still don't understand why any sane or intelligent person would choose to build a bone clinic on a steep hillside. The parking lot is not friendly to folks on crutches or in wheelchairs or using knee scooters.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

NotChristmas Songs

December is here and radio stations are playing holiday tunes. Some radio station playlists are incredibly limited and I become weary of the same songs by the same artists over and over. I wish that secular stations would add Christian artists to station playlists. There are some fun arrangements of by Christian artists that would add needed variety to radio station playlists this time of year.

I change the channel when a NotChristmas song begins to play. "My Favorite Things" from "Sound of Music" is not a Christmas song. Neither are "Another Old Lang Syne" and "Last Christmas" and the worst NotChristmas song ever, "Christmas Shoes".

If radio station managers would get rid of NotChristmas songs, they would have more room on playlists for a wider variety of Christmas songs. 

Please, radio stations. Break the rules, let it go, widen your genre, open your playlists at Christmastime. Add some Larnelle Harris, Sandie Patty, Young Messiah Tour, more Amy Grant, some Michael W Smith, Stephen Curtis Chapman, play country tunes on pop stations and pop tunes on country stations this time of year.

My two cents worth of opinion.



Saturday, December 6, 2014

Broken Ankle

We have had an interesting week for a child with ASD. A slip down the staircase ended in ankle surgery.

Diary entry:
Hospital bracelet:
Recovery room. "Mom, please hold my hand."
Surgeon's autograph:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mark Ludy's Wordless Picture Book, NOAH

My homeschooler and I were given a copy of Mark Ludy's wordless picture book, NOAH, to review for you.

NOAH is a rich resource in many ways. Yes, Noah from the Bible. That Noah.

A picture book without words telling the story of Noah...hmmm...I wondered how it would be done and done well.  The pictures must be detailed enough to tell the story. And Ludy does tell the story and more. Ludy prompts me with pictures to imagine what the characters might have been thinking as God told Noah to build the ark and Noah obeyed.

The pictures are colorful, visually descriptive - simply stunning. The illustrations are fun to view. The moon, the animals (including dinosaurs!) (I did not ever imagine a toucan sitting nearby the builders while the ark was being built), the scenery, the people are all very detailed. Ludy's version of Noah has Noah quite the accomplished draftsman. The 'blueprint' of the ark is one of my favorite pages in the book.

Obviously, the pictures tell the Bible story about Noah's ark. But there are many other uses for wordless picture books in a homeschool, especially with a child on the autism spectrum.

We still use an occasional wordless picture book in our homeschool.

Sometimes, text becomes an obstacle to meaning and comprehension in autism. The reader is so focused on decoding words that there is no room for meaning. Wordless stories allow us to focus on the story itself, on meaning, with comprehension.

In all things autism, perspective taking is a big deal. Theory of mind. Shared attention. Wordless picture books pack a big punch where perspective taking is concerned.

My daughter and I can hold the book together and describe something each of us notices on each page. I learn a lot about her by what she notices. It allows me to spotlight an important part of the picture, a part important to the plot or theme of the story.

Wordless stories allow us to tell the story from beginning to end in multiple ways. We can tell the story as an observer from outside the story. We can tell the story from the main character's perspective. We can tell the story from any and every minor character's perspective.

Wordless stories allow US to compose the text while practicing perspective taking. We can write a version for a toddler using just one or two words per page or we can write for a first grader or, as a stretch at my house, we can write an early chapter book. (We will not attempt the chapter book yet, but we reserve the right to revisit that idea in the future as she is more developmentally ready.)

And in NOAH, Mark Ludy gives us something extra that facilitates our taking a closer look. He hides a mouse on every page for us to find. Sometimes, my teen w/ an autism spectrum disorder rushes through an activity with a goal to be finished (something she learned early in behavioral intervention). We have worked for years - and continue to look for ways to work on slowing her down and taking her time to be reflective. Looking for Squeaker the mouse slows us down and provides opportunities for us to notice details we wouldn't notice if we were rushing through with a goal of finishing the book.

I adore wordless books and the potential they offer in our homeschool with an autistic child. The wordless stories with beautiful illustrations and a familiar story usually become favorites. I think NOAH will be a favorite that we revisit again and again.

NOAH retails for $19.95 (it is on sale for $16.95 at the time I type) and is a sturdy hardback. Peek inside the book here.  

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”) I was given a copy of Noah to review. I was not paid for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive opinion.

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!"

Monday, May 26, 2014

New Pet

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Impromptu Field Trip (Lessons in Flexibility and Prioritizing)

We had plans to shop at the Scholastic warehouse sale. My girl had already handled one disappointment. She wanted to go last week, but my schedule would not allow it. But as I backed out of the garage to take her brother to school, we had an unexpected surprise.
I had to find a way to get my son to school. I had to call roadside assistance and get the spare tire on the vehicle. I had to get a new tire - which involved a lot of unexpected waiting. I managed to model my thinking process aloud for and with my girl., real life, in context, working on cognitive goals and objectives.

At first, she was concerned only about her trip to the warehouse to look for books. I explained how sometimes, we have to change our priorities and that I was making a list in my mind of what we needed to do and wanted to do and that I was ranking them by importance. I explained that the rules of the spare tire include driving 40 miles or less on it, so getting to a tire doctor quickly is very important. The book warehouse is across the city and we want to go on a tire that is safe for that.

She brought some activities to work on while we waited. I brought some activities to do while we waited. But the waiting was longer than our activities and she and I were tired and bored. We bought junk food from the vending machine. 

We watched the clouds. Usually we look for cloud formations, but this day, we saw sky formations the clouds left. See the heart? 

She came up with spinning coins by herself.

We finally got the tire changed and were on our way to the warehouse. We came home with a bounty of new books to enjoy. And this impromptu field trip took us out of the house and on to learning in new ways.

I'm proud of me for being able to self-regulate in a way that allowed her to be a part of the experiences of the day. She wasn't happy about another delay to the warehouse; she wasn't happy about the unexpected wait; and yet, together, we managed. That is a good day.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Little Victories

The boy had another baseball game tonight. I love to watch him play!

His sister, who has been slightly grumpy the last two days, was given (by me) the assignment to come up with some things to do during the game. I am working to give her experience and practice in forethought. I suggested some items she could bring. She rejected most of my ideas. (I suggested she bring her math workbook, for one.) To add to the grumpiness, my daughter's skating coach was sick today and my girl did not get on the ice. Skating feeds her senses. However, she managed to get to the game REALLY prepared:

And, guess what else?! She made a friend.
And our team won.
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