June 24, 2012

When I Speak His Language

"We'll go to the dounut shop, and then to the movies to see Brave! We'll have an adventure day with Daddy!" I excitedly told Caleb this morning.

"Can we make a map?" he asked. I smiled.

"Of course we can. That's a very good idea, Caleb."

Autism at work. In a good way. My son's need for structure and routine has become increasingly apparent over the last few weeks. He doesn't handle surprise or change or uncertainty real well. He likes to know what's going on, what to expect. I think he gets that from me.

So before leaving the house this morning, we mapped out our day. If you look closely, you can see where we've been:

I never was very good at drawing. I cheated at the end and used stickers. Artistic inabilities aside, though, Caleb loved his map and he kept us on schedule all day. After each "stop", he asked us to put a check mark above the picture to show we had completed that part.

I am just beginning to realize how much my son craves this kind of visual information: to know what's going on, what we've already done, and what is left to do. He can't read yet, and doesn't retain a whole lot audibly. But by golly, stick a picture schedule in front of him, and he's on board. Taking mental notes, I am. 

Here we are at "Brave" this morning for an early matinee. We had no meltdowns in the theater (praise God!) and we left with Caleb happily calling it "the best movie ever!"

He calls just about every movie "the best movie ever!" But we still think it's adorable.

Check mark for "Brave" (and my crude drawing of Merida).

Double marks for the map idea. We're gonna use that one again.

A few weeks ago, Caleb found out our sofa has a bed inside it. He'd never heard of such a thing. A bed inside the couch? Where had such a contraption been all his life?

Well, guess who had a new favorite toy?

One Friday night, which is Jason's game night/guy night, we found ourselves with an evening together and nothing much planned.

"Hey bud, wanna have a Mommy-Caleb movie night?"

His eyes lit up.

"Would you like to pull the sofa bed out?"

"Yeah! Yippee! Yippee! I'm rich I'm rich!" he yelled.

So out came the sofa bed. But I told him pajamas first. Get bear and kitty (his comfort stuffies). Don't forget a blanket and pillow.

Well. He brought out two blankets from his bedroom.

"One for you, Mommy!"

Such a sweet boy!

I even closed the blinds in the livingroom and the dining room. Caleb smiled real big when he saw me do that. He has a thing for dark rooms and from the look on his face I could just tell...

... I was speaking his language.

We snuggled right down with our blankets and put in "Despicable Me." Before long, he was lying across me, using my stomach for a pillow.

Precious moments with my little boy. When everything aligns just right. No problems, no tantrums. Just him and me, on the same page, loving life together.

I treasure such moments. They've been rare lately.

We started homeschooling three days after his regular preschool got out. This was not our plan. I figured this summer would go much the way last summer did, with long lazy days, beach trips, and play dates with friends. What I didn't expect was how much he would miss the rythym and routine of school. How dramatically the loss of it would affect him.

After three days of meltdowns, messes, and Caleb asking "We have school today?", I knew we were in trouble. His need for structure and a consistent routine was greater than I thought. So after having a meltdown of my own in front of my husband on the third evening, he and I brainstormed.

"You probably don't want to hear this," Jay said. "But maybe you should start homeschooling him now."

I didn't want to hear it, but he was right. Caleb needed something and providing that structure now would only help us in the fall when we actually start school.

We worked up a simple schedule. An hour a day, in the afternoon, when he was already accustomed to being at school. The work is simple. Reading books together, doing some practice sheets from a kintergarden workbook, playing games. Nothing serious. Just something for him to do and look forward to each day. At the end of his "school work", he gets to choose a computer game to play or a special toy from a box.

And wouldn't you know it, it's working. Our afternoons are running much smoother since we implemented Operation: Homeschool. We eat lunch, take a little quiet time for ourselves, do school work, then play. And usually, when all is said and done, it's time for me to make dinner and Daddy's nearly home. Simple. And effective.

It's all about learning his language. I am not fluent yet, but I'm working on it.

Oh, and this? Mr. Sneaky Boy took this with my camera when I was, obviously, out of the room. I found it on my camera card when I downloaded pictures tonight. Just thought I'd share it with y'all. He's such a goofball!

Night all!

June 20, 2012

A Martian Movie Worth Seeing

So. Important question for y’all: Have you seen John Carter?

Well for Pete’s sake why not?? (If you have, please disregard last sentence).
This is a darn good movie. I have made it my mission to educate people about this movie since Disney did such a poor job promoting it. For starters, the title should be “John Carter of Mars.” It’s based on a series of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Not ringing a bell?

He’s the same man who wrote Tarzan. He wrote the Mars books back in 1917. Two important things to note about this date. 1) The Civil War was still fresh in people’s minds. And 2) Astronomers in 1917 observed what looked like man-made lines on Mars' surface. Telescopes have obviously come a long way since then, but these lines were a major discovery at the time. They gave rise to the belief that there was life on Mars and that it was capable of technology.

Enter our intrepid author, Mr. Burroughs. From this age and culture, he writes a science fiction series about a Civil War veteran who finds himself mysteriously transported to Mars. Once there, he (and by “he” I mean John Carter of course) encounters the various races that inhabit the planet: the tribal Thark, the Red Men (humans), the mysterious Therns, and the unforgettable Princess Deja (yeah, you know where this is going - boy meets Martian girl and all that). Most notably, though, he discovers Mars is in the middle of its own civil war and despite his protestations, he is pulled into the conflict and forced to choose sides.

That is the basic gist of the story. My husband has read all the books, so I have it on good authority that the movie stays pretty true to the original plot. Besides an interesting historical background, though, this movie is really well done. Family friendly, action-adventure, it blends elements from Prince of Persia and Star Wars into a fun mix of humor and mystery. Witty well-scripted dialogue and a compelling redemption story don't hurt either.

If you haven’t seen it, and you’re a fan of science fiction, you should consider giving John Carter a shot. It has become an instant family favorite for us.

Of course, if you’re not a fan of science fiction, feel free to totally ignore everything I've said. In fact, if you don't like Star Trek or Jules Verne, chances are you probably didn’t read this far down. :)

Anywho, that's my two cents for the day: See John Carter. Then tell me what you thought.

June 19, 2012

Social My Foot

Disclaimer: I'm running on about five hours of sleep and a really long day in the car. So please forgive me if this post rambles, repeats itself, or just plain fails to make sense. Ye have been warned!

Why do so many people automatically assume that home-schoolers are not socialized? Geez people, it's not like we lock our kids in the house and forbid contact with the outside world. Well, not often anyway. Just when I'm in the shower. :) One too many neighbors has come a knockin' with Little Man in tow while I'm washing my hair.

Seriously, though. Caleb hasn't even started kintergarden and we are already hearing about "socialization." We endured yet another round of questions from a medical professional today concerned that Caleb would miss out on vital peer interaction if he didn't attend public school.

Not that such concerns aren't valid. For someone with Caleb's developmental issues, they are certainly important. But hellloooo! Homeschooling doesn't equal exile to Antarctica. Belive it or not, there are actually other creatures to hang out with besides the penguins.

I shouldn't be so hard of the poor medical professional. After all, she only spent 45 minutes with us. She didn't see the two little boys Caleb befriended today, one at McDonald's this morning and another at the park this afternoon. Both "social interactions" amounted to several hours of merry play and boyish games.

Is Caleb socially where most other five year olds are? No. But neither is he unresponsive. He loves to play with other kids. And he is learning, bit by bit, to do so appropriately.

Will I address the issue of socialization when we start to homeschool? Of course. Classes at Home Connection, regular play dates, church. Not to mention the eventual adoption of our second son. Socialized my child will be. Probably more than he wants. ;)

So yeah. Just a bit of a rant. I forget most people don't know I was homeschooled all my life and am therefore not coming to this as a greenhorn.

I seriously need some sleep. Caleb's developed this unfortunate habit of waking up before 6am every morning. Today? 4:45. A.M., people! Follow that up with a long (but fun) day in Seattle and you have one tired Mama. *Yaaaaawwwwn*

Night y'all!

June 17, 2012

As promised . . .

They say a picture is worth a thousand words . . .
. . . so I figure this one is worth at least that. :)
Yes, we are adopting. A little boy. A little brother.
God has been gently pushing our hearts in this direction for some time. He's confirmed the decision in multiple ways. So we are trusting Him and taking a big step into a wide unknown.
This is a season for remaking. Rebirth. I feel as though my world is slowly coming apart and being reshaped into something . . . else. Something new. My feet walk down trails they never thought they'd tread. They carry me into unfamiliar landscapes where dreams die and new ones are born.
Please keep us in your prayers, friends. We are still in the midst of paperwork and foster parent training classes.  We don't know yet who our little boy will be. But he's out there. And God has marked him for us.

June 14, 2012

Beachy Morning

West Beach. Where we adventured this morning. Wrapped in windbreakers. Armed with Starbucks.

Who would believe other parts of the country are having heat waves right now? Not us. Gray skies and 50's. Nearly every day this week. But you have to get out of the house at some point, ya know?

Not that my son minds the decidely un-summer-like weather. Not one tiny bit. I think his latin classification is "Calebus Aquaticus." Before long, his shoes are off and he's playing catch me if you can with the waves. Hopping from rock to rock. Climbing on the driftwood. Being a boy.

I think to myself: "We'll only stay for a little while." But twenty minutes turns into thirty and Caleb continues to beg for "just five more minutes!"

No one else is on the beach. My Starbucks keeps me warm for a while, but is does eventually cool. Good thing white chocolate mochas are tasty hot or cold.

The waves are rough so I make sure Caleb doesn't get too close. We stay for nearly an hour before I issue a forced march to leave. His feet are wet and cold and bright red by now. He doesn't seem to care, but given his hypo-sensitivity, it's up to me to make sure he doesn't get too chilled.

"In the car, Bonzo," I tell him. The mandatory piece of driftwood comes, too. We're lucky if we leave the beach with only one these days. The things kids collect... oh well, this particular piece will do nicely for a craft project I want to do.

I'm lovin' moments like this with my boy. He's growing up so fast and things in our household are changing so rapidly... I want to hold on and make time stand still, but at the same time, I don't. I wouldn't change a thing, but neither do I want to miss a thing!

Remember that big announcement I told y'all about? It'll be soon. Maybe tomorrow. :)

Love and peace, peeps!

June 10, 2012


Yesterday we celebrated Caleb's 5 1/2 birthday. (For those of you who don't know, we don't celebrate his actual birthday because it falls very close to Christmas. Instead we do a summer "half birthday" party every year.)

I'm hoping you will all forget that I haven't blogged in a while and accept this plethora of photos in compensation. :)
Yeah, the banner should say "5 1/2" but they don't make half signs for these sorts of things.

He was up at 6am and ready for presents. I made him wait till Daddy woke up, though, which was a whole hour later. :) 
A marble maze builder set from Grammy and Grandpa. I now have tiny legos AND marbles to watch out for when I walk. Joy.
Look out Decepticons, Optimus Prime is in da house!

In the afternoon, we had a little party for Caleb and his friends. We set up food and cake at a park on the beach and let the kids play.  
Water guns in the goody bags = best idea ever! 
The cake (ta da!). Gluten-free Pamela's chocolate cake mix and homemade vanilla buttercream frosting. Yummm! (Never mind the fact that my first batch of frosting bombed and I had to scramble to make another. The frosting was supposed to be blue to match the Transformers theme, but the all-natural food dye I just recently bought made the frosting taste AWFUL. Hence the second batch of white, non-colored frosting. But hey, it tasted awesome!)
Happy Half Birthday, my little man! You are growing up so stinkin' fast and I love you to pieces. :)
There's lots more for me to blog about, friends. I will do my best to get a few more posts written this week and catch y'all up on our latest news. Including a rather big announcement. :) Stay tuned!