Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Freezer Cooking- The Early Stage

My friend and I have both admitted to being VERY unhappy in our recent style of eating. To much junk, eating out to much, cheating and eating dairy to much, etc. So we decided to do a bulk cooking session together. It goes by a lot of different names, freezer cooking, once a month cooking (OAMC,) bulk cooking. I’ve been referring to it in my own head as freezer cooking, because we’ll still be cooking more than once a month, and we’re not really making what I’d consider a bulk of anything. Our plan is to make 2 each of various entrees, in what I call “ingredient style.” 1-2 dishes ready to go, and about 10 extras, plus hopefully 5 sides.

Ingredient style means we’ll be going part of the cooking, assemble it in freezer bags, and then freeze those parts until cooking day. For example the filling of tater tot casserole, taped to a bag of tater tots. Or a baggie of taco filling with a bag of shredded cheese, maybe even a bag of mexican rice, hooked to it. So we’ll still be cooking and assembling those meals on the day we cook them.

Our ready to go meals will be things like lasagna, just thaw and toss in the oven, or even just toss them in the oven. BAM dinner, ready to go.

Then we’ll have extras, little bits just to make days easy. Things like breakfast burritos, frozen waffles, premade spaghetti sauce, etc.

I’m SUPER excited! We’ll be cooking next week. We’re going to see how these meals work, how long they last us, and then get into a routine of regular cooking days, Stay tuned to see how it comes out.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

We’ve Become Unschoolers

And I’m not going back! At the beginning of the school year I intended to crack down, and really start doing pre-k with Blu, but I confess I was lazy, and our school year started in about October. Then it quickly became a fight, to get him to do even the smallest bit of work. Even a simple work sheet he’d rebel and scribble all over, taking more time to scribble then it would to do the work!

Then I decided to hold back a bit, take it easy for the holidays, and amazing things began to happen. While I was planning to start him in Kindergarten level work, and take school seriously in January, I saw that he was blossoming while not being forced to do anything. WP_000094

Then we had an IEP meeting, and it was decided that instead of registering Blu for kindergarten next school year we’re going to choose to waive it and keep him back a year. In doing this he can continue to get speech help through the county and it will be better than if we homeschool and he does speech (in which case they do anything they can to not work with him, and he’ll get minimal help) also it will prevent us from being accountable to the county for another year, and gives us more time to catch him him without having to explain why he doesn’t know his ABCs yet, and can’t count higher than 10. So knowing this it seemed even dumber to start him in kindergarten at home. Originally I had figured he’d just be ahead by the states view when he started K and was doing 1-2 grade work. No biggie.

But again with the blossoming. My boy does well with no expectations. Before I tried to get him to learn the alphabet song, and he would do anything he could to not do it. Then about a week ago, he suddenly wanted to do it constantly! We say the ABCs at bedtime, dinnertime, upon waking up. He’s doing it! And he WANTS to!

Our days are full of fun educational stuff, but the day is low key, no fighting, no nagging. He wakes up and looks at 3-D books of the human body or the jungle. He watches Curious George then does some experiments. We’re reading the Little House series at bed and he LOVES it. Before I tried to read it and he was just so annoyed with learning that he didn’t want to read at bedtime. He’s constantly making up his own experiments, or doing things he saw done on George or in a book. He makes things, out of clay, paper, cardboard, tape. I still put his best work in his school notebook, and he’s done more for his book in our unschool days then he did while I was pushing him.

He narrates stories to go with his pictures!

He ASKS to color!

The hardest part is learning to let go. To let him have a roll of tape for a craft and know he may waste the entire thing. To give him a craft kit I spent money on and just let him go do it. To let go of the idea of teaching and buy only child-led stuff, instead of lesson plans.

Does this mean he rules the roost? Or that he has no rules? No! He has a bedtime, a dinner time, and he has chores. He has expectations. All it means is he experiments for fun, instead of being told to. He draws pictures and narrates stories just as much at 7 pm as he does during “school hours.”

And the more I read about how children REALLY learn, and how our school, and school in general, are the opposite of that, I feel so confident in what we’re going. But as always, if something changed, well we’d change with it, going with the flow is what homeschool is about. If we had a math curriculum that wasn’t working we’d change it, and if unschooling stops working we’ll change that too.

(Photo is a craft kit Lion Puppet Blu did all by himself.)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

When I Started

When I started this blog I didn’t intend for it to be about Blu, SPD, and special needs WP_000091all the time. I meant for it to be about me, about my weird clothes, our homeschooling/unschooling, my crafts maybe, some stuff about my larp group, and anything else that makes my life abnormal. (Of which there are many topics of discussion.) But truth be told, since our diagnosis I feel like isn’t much more to my life. At least there wasn’t for awhile. We started with OT 3 days a week, and have slowly whittled it down to just one. Last week was Blu’s first week ever of once a week OT. For four months I have spent hours every week driving to and from OT, then sitting at OT, and then hours settling Blu down, or even hyping him up, after OT.

Yesterday we went to dinner as a family, and I realized that I got dressed in my cute WP_000165clothes for the first time in months. Usually with Blu I tend to have no idea what to expect, he has nearly pants me at the grocery store, or I’ve had to do crazy things at the OT to get him to do it. I’ve fallen victim to a life of jeans and funny food themed t-shirts. I haven’t been able to dress like myself. It makes me feel weird. Then it creates a weird feeling of “what about new friends who’ve never seen in in my REAL clothes!?!? Will they think I’m just suddenly dressing this way? instead of seeing the jeans and t-shirts aren’t me?” Well, screw it if they do. I need to be me. I need to wear my cute clothes that I like. I need to do what I like to do. When Blu goes to sleep I need to read, write, craft, for me. Not for homeschool, not for special needs, but for me, sometimes.

WP_000318All in all Blu isn’t that bad. I’ve seen kids SO much worse, and honestly unless you really know what you’re looking for he seems mostly normal. Unless, well, maybe the chewing, I doubt you’ve ever seen a kid his size literally devouring his own coat. Or the shriek he gets when he’s really upset, over something seemingly silly. I really need to blog more about the hilarious things he does and says. The amazing way his brain works. The fascinating questions he comes up with. The way he was eating candy, reading a comic book, and crossing his legs, today in the car when we were out. The way he comes up with crazy recipes to cook for me, and the fact that sometimes they are actually REALLY good. The way he has recently decided to take the job of “earth saver” and took to wearing gardening gloves everywhere to pick up trash. he even bought a magnifying glass with his allowance, so he could “see the really tiny pieces that need to be picked up.” He’s become a boy of a million and WP_000039one disguises. He even put together an entire old man routine that involves a cane.

Blu is SO much more than a SPD kid, and I am SO much more than The Mom of an SPD kid. I really want to make this blog reflect that. I want to write to you about how we’ve recently gone to 100% unschooling, and it is FANTASTIC! I’ve started volunteering with a local start-up level food co-op. I’m starting a business with a friend of mine. I’d love to share photos of the family smash book that I pretend I keep. (I’ve fallen a bit behind.) As for the one track blogging, can you forgive me?? I promise to be better. For awhile it seemed like SPD and OT was my WP_000050life, and it was. (I really feel bad for the parents of children farther on the spectrum.) Now my life is back, or as back as this life gets, and I want to share it with you. My son is amazing, my husband is amazing, my life is amazing, and this blog, I want it to be just as amazing.

(Photos- Blu last summer reading at the book store. Posing with a tower we built together. Look who came to dinner! At a recent mid winter picnic before we ate we had to “just lay down and look at the sky.”- My fellas, always my super heroes.)

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Explaining It All

Recently we had a situation at our house. My friend had driven to our house (30 minutes just fyi) with her daughter who is Blu’s age, her severely disabled son, and also her baby. Not long after she arrived one of Blu’s friends from our neighborhood came over. The situation was just to much and led to a lot, and I mean A LOT, of shrieking, crying, and more, almost all from Blu. I had to send our neighbor home, and explained Blu just wasn’t in the mood to play. Today we went over to invite our neighbor over again. I say we because despite it being a visable distance away, very close, on our street, sharing a sidewalk, Blu is to anxious to go by himself. Today when we went neighbor Mom immediately asked “Was he well behaved?? Was he the reason he got sent home?” The thought that she’d think that had never occurred to me. (Boy what a sentence) I just explained it that Blu was overwhelmed, and just couldn’t handle it all. She asked if Blu was allowed to play at their house. I replied that he is allowed, but I doubt he ever would.

We walked home, sans neighbor child who will be coming over later, and I realized that my weak comments may have left her puzzled, but I try not to talk about Blu’s issues in front of Blu. So I decided to write her a letter. It’s on a simple notecard, and I am sending it over to her later. Then I realized how this small notecard is such a sum up of us. I’m going to write it here for you, only I’m switching the neighbor kid’s name to John, that’s not his real name.

“Hi!

I wanted to take a quick minute to explain to you a bit about Blu. I try not to talk about it to much in front of him, so writing it is easier. Blu has Sensory Processing Disorder. Which among other things means sometimes small things, like noise, really (Really!) bother him. He also has multiple speech issues. So when he gets upset sometimes he just shrieks like a maniac, or will do things like push, yell, or snatch toys. Because he just can’t find the words to express himself. On top of both of those he also has moderate to severe anxiety. So he may never be willing to play at your house without me. I don’t know.

So all this means that sometimes I may need to send John home, just because it’s to much for Blu. Blu may also do things sometimes that are mean to John. Never anything dangerous but just things that me be upsetting to John. Blu likes John very much. I just wanted you to know some of what can be expected. I’d hate for Blu’s issues to affect their friendship. –Alicia

PS. He also chews a lot. and usually will have some form of “chewy” for him to chew on, but he has been known to damage some things by chewing. If he ever does play at your house and damages anything, or is just to much to handle, please just bring him home and let me know.”

Our life sometimes seems to everyday to me, I forget that not everyone gets it. I forget that people don’t know he won’t do certain things. I forget that not everyone knows his quirks. My crazy quirky boy. I wouldn’t trade him for anything, but explaining him, well I’d trade that.