Thursday, April 30, 2015

Therapy Thursday #11

I think the most success that I have with therapy is to work it into our daily routine and day and to be organised with activities.

Today we pulled out the Play-doh for therapy. There really is so much that you can do with Play-doh.

I like to have the kids work on cookie sheets. It keeps things contained and doesn't mark the table. We have some old cookies sheets that we use just for this purpose.

We made snakes. Some were fat and some were skinny. Some were short and some were long but they all used our finger muscles to form them.

Even squeezing the Play-doh can be good therapy. This particular container had a nice feel to it. I even squeezed it and rolled it.

We used scissors and cut the Play-doh. As I did some of these things, I realised just how it does exercise your hand and fingers.

That was therapy for today. Miss K enjoyed it and has fond memories of her therapy centre in the US so she asked for therapy again tomorrow. I guess I need to have some things organised.

I am at a point of evaluating if I will continue with Therapy Thursday. I will think about it for the next week or so. If you have thoughts, please let me know.

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Week in Review - 25 April 2015

My camera was left upstairs all week so the few photos we have, are from the phone. I don't know why that happened.

It is Saturday morning and now I am trying to remember what we did this week.

Sunday afternoon dad came home bringing 2015-2016 curriculum. Now we just need to finish the books we have.

He also brought Hershey's chocolate bars (don't ask why living in the land of Cadbury someone would want a Hershey's bar). He brought Peeps. That was Miss K's request. She even prayed that the Peeps would come.  We had traded Tunnock's Teacakes and Cadbury Eggs for Peeps and Hershey bars.

Monday was back to the books though Miss K was feeling a bit under the weather.

Tuesday was an off day because we didn't go to co-op. I did a bit of scrapbooking. I did enjoy a beautiful walk in the evening.

Do you ever feel like the week is just a blur? I do know on Thursday we spent some time studying Kings and Queens. We had a puppet show of Esther. We also spent quite a bit of time watching Horrible Histories on YouTube.

Friday we read about the English Civil War for history. Miss K is learning about the sun and slowing creating a lap book.

Let's see what else did we do this week? I did laundry, cooked meals, cleaned the house, and other things.

Now it is Saturday morning. Miss K had her football. J is at gymnastics. We might go for a walk/hike this afternoon.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Traveling Solo with Kids

The theme for April seems to be travel. I wrote about transportation here, the trip that changed my life, and the trip one year ago.  I guess all writing about transportation caused me to think about traveling  solo with kids.

One of the first times I remember traveling solo was when Miss K was about 2 so she had her own seat. It was a short flight and one that I had flown many times on my own. It was international but then again where we lived any flight was international. I think the biggest challenge was lugging the carseat through the airport. Thankfully we were in Asia and there people are very service orientated (you would get a meal on even an hour long flight). I accepted the help carrying the carseat and getting it on the plane.

Sometimes you know what to do. It helped that I had flown that route numerous times.

Another time I flew with Miss K all the way from Asia to the East Coast USA. We were flying to visit family and using our frequent flyer miles. We had a long, too long layover in O'Hare. A friend met me and we chatted for a few hours but I still had time to kill. I think about lost it going through security for the last flight.

Sometimes you just have to grin and bear it and you might have a few tears as well.

Miss K, J and I flew from the East Coast USA all the way to Asia -- it was a direct flight. At this point my kids were older and experienced travellers. They don't need much to entertain them on the flight as long as they have "screens" as Miss K calls them. I do try to have some back-up just in case the screens don't work. I usually take gummy bears for take off and landing. That was a tip that I learned when Miss K was young and now it is part of our travel ritual. I don't remember any problems with that trip.

Sometimes things are smooth when you travel and uneventful. 

Not a flight solo but this does qualify as traveling solo. The kids and I were in Shanghai and we were taking the train to Hangzhou (I have not done that trip before.) We were traveling with some friends and needed two taxis to get to the train station. Luke was in the taxi with us but he needed to find his parents and brother at the train station so I had the tickets for the kids and I so he said, just meet us on the train. Sounds simple doesn't it. You probably can tell that there is a but in this story and here it comes. But they didn't make it on the train. The kids and I did. We got off the train in Hangzhou late on a Saturday evening. There I was with two kids, one in a stroller, two suitcases, and our backpacks. I needed to get to the hotel. I remember standing in a taxi line for a long time so long that I think Miss K feel asleep. I honestly don't remember how I got to the hotel. My Chinese is limited. Somehow we made it. Two days later my husband arrived and after making that trip he was impressed that I did it alone with the kids.

Sometimes you do what you have to do and earn a medal for doing it or maybe a pearl necklace after all it was a trip in China.

My longest car trip with the kids was a five hour trip to visit a friend. We stayed for two nights. I think I made that with the help of Starbucks and the DVD player.

Sometimes you needs Starbucks and a DVD player to help along the way. 

Then a year ago the kids and I flew from the West Coast all the way to England. We did have a layover in Iceland. I think the biggest challenge was actually the packing before leaving. I had a wonderful friend who helped pick up the pieces and packed the last boxes and shipped them to me.

Sometimes the trip is easy compared to what you have to do before the trip. 

I know there were a few other trips that I took alone with the kids but these are the highlights. We flew to Seattle last autumn.

Sometimes you do what you have to do and pray for God's help along the way.

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

One Year Ago

One year ago the children and I boarded a plane. We finally had our visas after some months of waiting. It was time to leave. It was hard to say good-bye to friends and things we loved in the northwest. It was hard to pack all our stuff into boxes and suitcases and I am thankful for the friends who helped by packing the last few boxes. My husband had come early as he had meetings and there really wasn't room for us to stay until the meetings were over. We had time to say good-bye.

The Original Pancake House

Ivar's Clam Chowder

The parks near our house

Then it was to new places, friends, food, and adventures. What have we done this year?  We found a house, bought a car, began the process to get our driving licences, learned where to shop, made some new friends, discovered new parks, enjoyed new foods and treats, and so much more.

To celebrate -- we will get fish 'n chips.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Week in Review 17 April 2015

This week it was back to the books - no football camp or archery competition -- no kids club or co-op either. The kids did have piano and flute lessons.

Here is a view of what Miss K was working on this week. She wanted to take a photo and if you look closely you can see my arm. I really like Explode the Code. I used them for J and while it might be a bit of busy work sometimes you need that to keep the child busy. For Miss K it is helpful just to review sounds and blends and to reinforce her reading.

We have spent some time this week studying castles and did a few stained glass art activities. I love studying castles when we can remember some of the castles that we have visited.

I really need a good planning session to just figure out math for Miss K. I pulled out my Teaching Math to People with Down Syndrome book and was reading that a bit. One of the things it mentioned was recognising the dots on dice so I gave her the task of rolling a die and then putting that number of stickers on the paper.

I pulled out the story cubes and we had fun laughing and creating silly stories.

My accomplishment for the week was going to Costco. We walked in and Miss K said, "it is just like Seattle". It was mainly a wander and see what they have trip though I did buy a big container of pretzels which made the Pennsylvanian in my very happy. I think part of the accomplishment was driving home without using GPS/Sat Nav.

That is a review of our week.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Therapy Thursday #10

Welcome to another week of Therapy Thursday. This is a place where we share ideas, resources and activities that we have done relating to therapy for your homeschooler. It might be physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy or another therapy that you are using to help your child reach their potential.

We enjoyed our break and Miss K did some therapy aka football aka soccer. She went to three days of football skills. It is a local programme which has been very accommodating of her and has been so good for her. She was excited as she scored a goal the last day.

I do think I need to get her walking more. Maybe it is the fact that when I picked her up from ballet her first question is walk or drive. She wanted to know if she had to walk or if we had the car. She has also been seen to sit at the front window on a Tuesday morning when she knows we go to Bible study and moan if daddy took the car and that means we are walking. I have been going for a 30 minute walk every day maybe I need to have her do a regular walk each day.

I have been spending some time pondering Miss K and math really if you look through the blog you will see that is not a new challenge. So with that in mind this week we did some cognitive therapy things. She is working on a logic program (review coming later). I got out some of my Super Duper cards and we played some games.

I pulled out Auditory Memory for Short Stories and Auditory Memory for Details in Sentences card decks. We did a few but she likes to read and wants to read the card that the auditory practice was not there. I need to come up with some new ways to work on auditory skills.

I then got out the Conditional Following Directions deck and we had more fun with these.  There is a condition card like "is the sky blue" and if that is true you get a card that tells you something to do. Miss K had to cluck like a chicken. She liked those.

Then we had a session on working on push-ups. We need to work on upper body strength. I was reminded when we were at the playground and she could not do the monkey bars. So push-ups and walking on her hands was practiced to try to build up that strength.

I need another therapy planning session. Maybe I will find some time this weekend. It helps when I have options and things ready to go.

A few things to know before linking up:
  • Please link up to a specific post on your blog, not the main page of your blog.
  • The specific blog post linked needs to be related to therapy. Please note if the post is not therapy related it might be deleted. 
  • By including your blog on this link you are giving permission to have your post linked to other social media and graphics used in featured posts. 

The next link-up will be 30 April.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Trip that Changed my Life

Have you ever gone on a trip that changed your life?

April 15 is a day I remember and not just because it is tax day in America. Twenty-four years ago on April 15 I boarded an airplane. The fact that I flew first class was the life changing part rather it was the destination. My first flight was a short one to Detroit that was not my final destination. I got my first taste of Asia as we boarded the next flight to Japan. There was no line it was just a bit of push and shove to get on. I made it to Japan. I remember enjoying the Northwest business lounge. It was an evening/night flight landing in Taipei.  That was my destination. I arrived with two suitcases and a carryon and stayed for four months. In all that time I stayed for 10 months but it was just my first time to live there. I lived there off and on for over nine years.

I wrote a bit about that here so I will ponder today how that changed me. I wish I had more of my photos from those early days but they are in storage. Of course that was back in the days of film and so I didn't take near as many photos.

Taipei it was there that I began to understand missions in a new way. At first I thought it was just so that I could pray with understanding but it was also there through the years that God began to show me that I could be involved and part of what is happening in spreading the gospel.

It was in Taipei in 1998 that I met a new missionary that had just arrived. That not only changed my life but also my name.

It was in Taipei that Miss K was born and where her life saving surgeries took place.

It was in Taipei that I met so many other wonderful friends. My life is blessed in so many ways because of these relationships. I have memories of celebrating holidays--American and Chinese, birthdays -- both my 30th and 40th were celebrated there, and just fun outings -- the fabric market, Yang Ming Shan, company trips, dinner at Swenson's or Jakes and so many other memories.

As I look back, I am glad that I took that first trip. It was an adventure and the beginning of an adventure. I don't think I realised how much my life would change as a result of that one trip.

Have you even taken a trip that changed your life?

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Star Toaster - Review

We have recently had the opportunity to review Orphs of the Woodlands from Star Toaster. This is described as "an online interactive reading adventure".  Star Toaster describes this as a 3 step approach designed to capture your child's imagination. It is an online book lots of extras. The book we reviewed as The Treasure of HighTower.

Star Toaster Review

I will admit that getting J to do extra work can be a struggle. Some days just getting him to do the work he needs to do is a struggle. The decision to review this was one we made together. I needed his agreement. Now after having spent a few weeks on the adventure,  I asked him about his first throughs or impression of Star Toaster. He told me, "The only thing I knew was what we saw on the video. I wanted to try it as it looked fun." The video convinced him to try it.

I read the description and wondered if this was too good to be true. A program that would include math, science, language, vocabulary, thinking skills, character, life skills, the arts, and more. Could it really deliver that in one online program? Would it engage my 14 year old son?

The easy answer is, "yes". When I tell J that it is time to do Orphs of the Woodlands, he has never complained about doing it.  J spent about 20-30 minutes on this three to four times a week. He would read some of the story and the rollovers give the definitions to new words. At the end there are review activities and games.

"This is great!" When I heard those words, I knew this was something that he was enjoying. He thought the activities reminded him of some of the games that he plays online. That tells a bit about the quality of the program.

I knew he was learning things. As we were driving through the university area I heard him say, "Look at all the student commuters." I don't think I had heard J use the word commuters before. He told me that he had learned it that morning in Star Toaster. I love it when I have confirmation that learning is happening.

I asked J about his favourite part in Orphs of the Woodlands. He told me that he liked Professor Forp, as he adds a joke at the beginning of his teaching time. J also told me that he likes earning goldstars and buying stuff like fireplaces (that makes sense when you are in the program and playing the games, taking care of the orphs). He said the Latin sayings were new to him. He also had a better understanding of mean and median. Vocabulary, math, Latin he was learning all those things that were mentioned.

Star Toaster has a section that the student logs in and it records and remembers where the student is. There is also a section for the parent where you can see the progress that is being made. I have basically used this as an extra to our day and giving him this as reading time.

Star Toaster Review

Star Toaster is offering a free trial. You can read the beginning of the book and do the first 100 pages free. The full 60 day subscription for up to 3 children is $19.99.

This is fun addition to you school day or a great summer reading program.

Star Toaster Review

"It is not what you think and it is more fun." That is what J wanted to tell others about this Star Toaster.

Star Toaster Review

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Sunday, April 12, 2015


One of the many signs of spring are the lambs in the fields. I have enjoyed driving along the country roads and seeing the lambs.

It was a beautiful day so Miss K and I set out on a walk to look at the lambs. We did stop at the playground first so she could have some fun.

This is not far from our house. You can see bits of the city in the background. I love living close to the city but at the same time close to the countryside.

We found a bench and just sat and enjoyed looking at the lambs.

Most of the fences are stone and as J said, the stone fences just have more character. I agree.

Here is one more photo. I hope in a way I never tire of seeing the lambs in the fields. I think spring is wonderful because it follows winter. Everything is bright and colourful after the winter.

It was a fun walk with Miss K. We enjoyed the lambs in the field and she enjoyed her ice cream treat when it was finished. We might need to find some more fields and take some more photos.

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Week in Review - 10 April 2015

We went back to school this week even though the schools are still off for the Easter break but we had some breaks this week.

Miss K had football camp Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. J and I enjoyed errands together and discovered our favourite toy store is going out of business. We found some Nanoblocks -- he made a hummingbird.

Miss K is doing her reading comprehension. She loves these pages and really wanted to do the hamster page. She keeps talking about the fact that Simon said, "no" at the pet store when she wanted a guinea pig. A friend took her to the pet store and she tried as hard as she could to get a pet.

Miss K and I went for a walk. The weather was beautiful and I wanted to wander and see the lambs in the fields. I bribed told Miss K she could have ice cream after our walk. I also gave her a camera to keep her interested in our walk. I told her she needed to take photos of spring. These are her trainers after she walked through a puddle.

Spring is here. We saw our first robin. We see lots of wood pigeons and magpies but not many robins.

The first dandelion of the season.

We are seeing lambs in the field as we walk or drive around. Here are some lambs that Miss K and I saw on our walk. I will sort through my photos and most some more.

We did some book learning as well but enjoying spring was more fun.

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