Monday, October 26, 2009

Literal Life

One of the things that goes with a hubby that writes screenplays is the random script/movie type magazines. This past week we received one in the mail. It was laying on the kitchen counter face down and there was an advertisement for the new Cohen Brothers movie A Serious Man.

The advertisement had the picture above and across the top it said BEST PICTURE.
Maddy is walking past the kitchen counter and the words best picture catch her eye. She picks up the magazine, looks at the picture, looks again and says "Well that is just stupid. Why would anybody think that is a good picture, much less the best picture?".

Once the hubby and I could stop laughing we explained to her what best picture meant in this context.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Typical Day

Maddy and I have a pretty good routine down now and as things are mastered new things move in to take the place. Below is a glimpse into how we spend most of our days. I feel that we should be busy for most if not all of the day. In this house, it is not sit at the table for an hour and BINGO done.

Maddy has to get up by herself with an alarm clock and must be properly dressed for the day. We think this is an important skill for her to have. She must be downstairs and ready for school by 9 in the morning.

We start off with breakfast and depending on her mood and her desire for a certain type of food what to have can be an interesting conversation.

Maddy: Sigh *eye roll* I suppose I have to help make breakfast again?

Me: Yep, what do you want?

Maddy: Hmm..I don't really want to help cook, I guess I will have cereal.

Me: We can make muffins.

Maddy: Yummy, well I suppose I can help make those.

Once the muffins are in the oven I have her get started on the laundry. She is currently learning how to sort between light and dark clothes. As I clean the kitchen I get to answer yes or no to the constant question of "Is this a dark?".

After we eat the muffins and pick up from that she has to wipe the kitchen counters. Now that breakfast is done we can move to the table for actual school work with breaks to move or fold laundry.

Table work will consist of things like making change, I will either give her money word problems to solve and make the change for or she has to make amounts for me. Recently to help with the desire of only using dimes and pennies I have started giving her change and she has to tell me the amount. We occasionally do a little addition, subtraction, and multiplication for good measure as well.

For English she has to read, we are working in 3/4 grade grammar workbook that is great and Maddy has writing prompts each week. Currently science is all about the human body since that is her main interest right now. (Post coming about that soon!). Social studies usually consists of reading maps and geography.

Table work for us depending on how well it is working will usually last about 2 hours give or take. After that we move on to life skills and housework. Maddy has to dry mop the floors twice a week and she also has to clean the blinds and do some other general dusting. We are working up to bigger things like the dishwasher.

Life skills is a fun one. We do things like her showing me how she washes her hair so I can give her tips on how to do it better. She cuts hot dogs to work on her cutting and handling forks and knives. We use the hot dogs to work with Bruiser so they are not wasted. She has to cut and tape things from books or magazine.

Maddy is required to write out the shopping list and helps decide what we will have for dinners during the week. When we go shopping she has to help find things and at times will have to go and find me in the store. We use the self check out and she scans everything while I bag. She is also in charge of paying for the groceries.

We love to have lunch out with friends and we try to do this once every two weeks or so. She gets to interact with people and try new foods and restaurants.

At any given time a "teachable moment" might come up and off on a tangent we go. Those are the really fun days.

On a great and perfect home school day we start 9 and finish about 2:30-3:00.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What a difference 5 minutes makes

That is about how long it takes to totally change my day, my mood and make me exhausted and fretful. Yesterday was one of those days. Yesterday was seizure day at my house. As Maddy grows and changes, her seizures and the after effects change as well. This is how yesterday went for us.

Maddy and I had great plans of conquering the mall. She had birthday money and gift cards and I had Christmas pre-sales to check out. Maddy gets up, takes her pill (Lamictal to prevent seizures) and takes her shower. After her shower she comes rushing into the living room and states that she feels weird. Her key phrases are I don't feel well or I feel weird. Since it had been a while since her last seizure and because I want/need to know things I ask a lot of questions while she can still speak.

I am asking what hurts, what tingles, how do you feel and any other question I can think of. She did make a few attempts to answer my questions and then she reached the snapping point. "MOM, I AM BUSY HAVING A SEIZURE HERE!".

During her seizures she can not speak but she can hear what is being said and can do things like squeeze my hand. This time she could only squeeze with one hand not both, that was a change, but not a big one. After about 4 minutes, this is a guess this time since I could not get to a clock. She could finally speak a little signaling that the seizure is over.

I am convinced that she got a mild migraine after the seizure yesterday. This does not happen very often at all. She complained about her throat (not sure what that was about), loud noises and she wanted it to be cool and dark. With sad and worn out eyes she looked at me and said "I guess the mall is out today?" I assured her that the mall was not going anywhere and that we would get there this week. She moved to my bed and rested for about 20 minutes and then she moved to the couch. After a short stint on the couch she really wanted to be in her room.

It made me crazy as I could not watch over her, but I allowed her to move to her room. She slept until 2:30 in the afternoon. I managed to only check on her about every 45 minutes instead of every 15 like I wanted. Once she woke at 2:30 she was pale but back to normal.

Now we get to move on and will deal with the next one when ever it happens.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Now that Maddy has turned sixteen we are doing things like getting a passport, getting an ID card for her and other coming of age type things. Even though she will never drive, never live on her own, she still needs official identification to ensure that she too can enjoy standing in a long line and dealing with cranky employees. Actually getting the paperwork in for her passport was very easy. We went to the nice post office about 30 minutes from the house, walked in, and had no waiting. The lady was very nice and efficient. Once the passport comes in we will go and get her a Texas ID card.

Maddy and I were talking about getting the ID card and I was explaining to her that it will look like my drivers license but for her it would just be a form of identification. She wanted to know what all you had to do to get a drivers license and as I was going through all the things that had to be done it reminded me of getting my license.

We had a company (I guess?) that came to the school every year and we took drivers education with them during the school day. They had a portable building that housed the driving simulators. It was always fun to see who would get the simulator that was broken for the day. Mostly what I remember about the simulator was it was a fun silly time of the day when you did not have class.

Once you could prove that you could fake drive via the simulator you had to clock in your actual driving hours. My drivers ed teacher was one of the coaches at the school and he he took full advantage of having 3 kids drive him around to get his errands run. We always drove out to check on his cows and many other various errands that needed to be done. Maybe this is why I am so efficient in running errands?

For the written exam that had us all sit in the cafeteria and take the test. If I remember right they even had us exchange papers and grade them for the instructors. Yeah that was a good idea.

When it came time to take my driving exam the parallel parking poles had been stolen a couple of days before. So the person giving me the driving portion of the exam asked me if I knew how to parallel park and when I said yes, they just shrugged and made me drive around the block, back up a few feet and honk the horn. After passing that grueling driving test I had my bright new shiny drivers license.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The problem with good students

Maddy is a good student. Maddy was an excellent student in public school. Maddy did not learn much in public school. Make sense? No? Let me explain.

I was a teacher of both regular education and special education. I did my best to not do what I will describe below. I am sure that once in a while I probably did. Even the best teachers I am sure have fallen into this pattern. A struggling teacher probably will use it to survive.

Maddy loves to do book work and teachers loved her for it. When you have a class full of students both regular and special education you try to find what will work for everyone. The problem is when you have a special needs kid that will sit quietly and do book work you forget to check for understanding and comprehension.

This week Maddy was doing some English worksheets I watched her work while I cleaned the kitchen. She was so quiet and looked so studious. It has taken me over a year but she will now ask me when she is not sure of how to do something or if she needs more instructions. She has learned that I will not pat her on the head and say good job without checking over all her work. She has learned that if I explain how to do something and she decides to do something else she will be required to re-do the work.

These habits were all formed in public school. She would be told to circle things and she would decided she wanted to underline the items. Instead of being told she had not completed the assignment correctly she was told good job, you tried!! In more classes than I care to admit her education consisted of copying key terms. She would be given a list of words and then sit in class and copy the definition from the glossary. Maddy no longer asks me if she can do key terms, she has learned (no pun intended here) that copying from a book is only good for improving handwriting.

Posts like these make be thankful and angry. I am so thankful that I have the ability to do what is right by my child. It makes me angry that the public school system is going in the wrong direction for special needs kiddos. It makes me angry that parents don't care enough to get involved and become a voice for their kids and demand that schools educate and that parents parent.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

House work is hard work

One of the main goals of home schooling Maddy is teaching her how to do real things in life. She is having to help cook and clean. This week I have now added doing laundry to her list of responsibilities.

When the in-laws are not traveling Maddy and her Grandmom talk every day on the phone around 4:00. When it is time to get off the phone often Grandmom will tell Maddy that Pop is hollering for dinner or for something to be cleaned. This had led to Maddy thinking Pop can not do anything for himself and that Grandmom has to do all the cooking and cleaning.

Yesterday when Maddy and I were deciding on breakfast she mumbled about having to help make whatever we were having. As we are making the blueberry muffins I hear her mumbling about Pop and maybe he is right about not cooking. As she is cleaning the counters after she is still mumbling under her breath about how much work cooking is.

Doing the laundry about made Maddy insane. She would think she was about done for the day when the washer or dryer would beep at her. By the end of the day I thought she was going to unplug them. When I reminded her that I have done her laundry for 16 years, she wanted to know why I should not keep doing it.

She has now gone from thinking that instead of Pop being lazy he is smart for not doing all the work.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hello Blog how have you been?

Wow..been a while since I have posted. Nothing earth shattering here just busy. Here is a short recap of what has happened since my last post.

Mark went out to LA for 4 days for meetings at studios. He was busy with meetings and attempting to drive out there. The trip was a success as he felt that he made some good contacts. He even had a meeting on the Warner Brothers studio lot. I call the trip a success just for the coolness factor.

While Mark was gone I went to a store called the Bra Specialist. Now call me crazy, but the name of the store would lead you to believe that they specialize in bra's and proper fitting. The girl was nice enough, but she informed me several times that did not do precise sizing and she was pretty sure of my correct bra size. She disappeared and then re-appeared with some bras and then began to man handle my boobs like I was getting a mammogram. I ended up choosing a bra that looks like it was made by a Russian woman before the cold war ended. I am still getting used to it, but by golly it does provide support!

Maddy turned 16 this past week and it was a nice day but I have to remain focused on the things she can or will do. Not the things she will never do. She had a great birthday and got several things she wanted. Her birthday cost the hubby and I a bloody fortune but you only turn 16 once and the things she wanted were a lot less than a car or car insurance!

This week should be back to a regular routine so I hope to post on a more regular basis.