Friday, December 6, 2013

Thanksgiving week with the family

Yesterday I posted about how FULL the Fall has been. 
I was mostly consumed with Lil G's educational needs
But interspersed with learning and creating
I've been reading. ( see my reviews at the end!) 

( Lil G and her Uncle Matt, pastor, and father of the groom)

I think I've been sharing my knitting projects,
I also promised my sister in law that I would decorate the rehearsal dinner for her sons wedding.
So, last week we had Lil Gs birthday, driving to Tampa for Thanksgiving and a wedding,
Plus driving home - all in one week.

         ( Lil G loves a nice tie. She is pointing out the blue one her brother is wearing)

All this week I have been cleaning and bringing out Christmas decorations,
As well as packing away wedding decor.
Add to it, a reminder from the publisher for book reviews that have been sorely neglected! 
I thought I would share some of my favorite photos from the wedding.

Lil G and her beloved Papa playing a game, sun setting in the background.

( if you are sensitive to noise this is a perfect way to enjoy the party!) 

I thought I might tell you about a book or two I read this Fall too! 
I'm saving my most favorite for last though!

I can't remember which one arrived in the mail for me to review first so I will start with this one,
" Blood and Bone" by Don Hoesel. This book is very different than many of the books alive read this year. I will say I enjoyed the change in pace immensely. This is the third book in a series but thankfully it stood alone quite well. ( I hadn't read the first two and was able to figure out what was going on thanks to the flashback scene that started the first chapter.)  I enjoyed the family aspect of this book - most books I've read in this genre don't include dragging a family into the adventure. The main character has two sons, one of which has CF which  touched my heart since we too have a child with medical needs. I wish the author had gone into more detail about the main characters family and personal life. There was room for that given the situation. I felt like I didnt get to know the characters on a deep level as I do with other novels. ( This all my personal opinion though ) Overall I enjoyed this book since the plot was engaging- from the first page to the last! If you are looking for a suspense filled read without blood, gore and sex this one should be on your list! I will give this book four out of five stars.

The next book I read was by one of my most favorite authors, Dee Henderson.
 I will say that I was ecstatic to be chosen to review this book. The author has a way of writing a suspense novel without the blood, gore, and scenes that really turn me off- yet still keep the integrity of the story. "Unspoken " was not a disappointment. I enjoyed the characters immensely, the main character was a bit more difficult to get to know than other novels she has written but I felt that added to the story and was done on purpose. Dee Henderson has a way of writing that draws the reader in - even staying up way past a decent bedtime to find out what is next when knowing full well it might not be in their best interest.( just one more chapter-ing it till 2 am!)  Full of suspense and action, add a dash of romance and intrigue and you have a Dee Henderson novel. If you have never read one of her books I highly recommend " Unspoken" as a place to start. I rarely give a book five stars but will not hesitate with this one! 

I only have one more book left from this Fall to complete. It has been a little more difficult to review but I am hoping it will be well worth it. The writers style has me captivated one moment and frustrated the next!

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for the opportunity to review these books. The review is completely my own humble opinion and I am in no way compensated or expected to write a positive review.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Eight years old!

Since my last post Lil G has played ball on the Miracle league team,

 dressed up for our church Fall festival,

Grown at least another inch,

Celebrated her eighth birthday,
          ( playing with her new baby doll) 

And  celebrated her fourth Thanksgiving.

        ( having a conversation with Uncle Matt)

We have so much to be thankful for don't we?!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Kitting projects - and a book review

QI've been getting some baby knitting done. 
The babies have been born and I am still knitting away. 
The first outfit was a beautiful variegated blue/ purple.
My best friend from high school, and my maid of honor 26 years ago, just had her first Grandbaby.
I babysat for her and vice versa when we were young married folks.
It's hard to believe her daughter is now married and has a daughter of her own.
The baby looks so much like her mama did.
If you are on Ravelry the pattern I used is called Helena.

While I was knitting that sweater I was also reading the books  " Splitting Harriet"  by Tamara Leigh and  " A simple change" by Judith Miller.

I will start with my review for "splitting Harriet".
It was a great quick read!
I loved the main character.
She is a preachers daughter and now trying to reconcile the mistakes she made in her past
And how they affect her now. Of course we learn from our mistakes but they are NOT who we are.
It is a huge lesson that each of us have to learn.
Unless we are perfect! Since I don't have any experience in perfection I can't speak on that topic. Can I repeat, I  loved the main character- she is so spunky and young-this was such a great read. The church politics and a few other situations gave me some perspective in my own life.  I just love the author Tamara Leigh and recommend her writing! Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah for the opportunity to review this book.I was provided a copy for review purposes but in no way compensated for this review. The opinion expressed here is completely my own.

 The second review is for a book called "A simple change" by Judith Miller. I thought this was going to be another Amish story but was surprised to find she had written about the Amana colony. My daughter has lived out in KS for a little over a year so I was intrigued to read this book and found myself checking the mailbox for its arrival. I was not disappointed. This book dealt with many life situations that we all deal with, maybe with different names. Health issues with close family members and how we are going to Deal with it emotionally and physically. Aging parents,Career choices, and loyalty to friends and family to name a few. Since my children are now in the midst of these situations- trying to figure out their life calling, figuring out their faith for themselves, and moving cross country many of the topics resonated with me. If you are looking for a historical novel this would be a good choice.

Thank you to Bethany House Publishing for the opportunity to read and review this book.I was provided a copy for review purposes but in no way compensated for this review. The opinion expressed here is completely my own.

The next little baby hand knit was a dress and hat.
I have never held a baby under 6 lbs so I kept worrying this would be too small.
The mama told me she would be approx 6 lbs so I knit accordingly.
The baby was born weighing 5 lb and 6 oz. !
She has been in the hospital since she was five days old.
She is one very sick little girl.
Pneumonia, MRSA, and at one time we were praying because it seemed she would need a lung transplant.
I am not sure if this is still the case or not.

I've just completed another baby sweater that also has a leaf motif on the neck and is knit from the neck down. I have enjoyed how this sweater has knit up. Very easy knit for sure!
I am going to cast on for a little hat since this baby lives in Colorado. I know a hat will come in handy.
She came a month early so I am behind the 8 ball on this one!

Next I will start a 9 month sized sweater for my cousins little girl.
She was born late Spring and lives in Florida.
I wanted to wait until closer to the time she would be wearing it to actually knit it.
Some babies grow quicker than others and I didn't want a hand knit to be too small.
My Grandmother crocheted a gift for each of us / our babies so I wanted to knit something for this little one - like on my Grandmothers behalf. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Happy letter "A"

School is in full swing and we are trying to stay on schedule.
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday all have one 30 minute drop in Therapy session.
The rest of that day will include some kindergarten type activities.
I'm working on a scope and sequence as I type this
Introducing a letter, number and color each week makes sense.
She knows her colors so we are learning to read the colors name
and some simple coloring pages from an inclusive preschool review book have been included since high success rates keep this girl motivated.

Lil G has sight words that we review each day,
I use the quick flash method.
I've added a few words and will wait until she doesn't hesitate before adding more.
We are up to thirty words in this stack.
Currently we are using flash cards that I bought at our local $ Tree.
There were several versions preK, Kindy, and first grade, verbs......
They are 2" bold print so perfect for what we need.
( having 20/200 vision and 3 power bifocals allows her to see things this large quite well)
I bought two of each set so we could play matching games etc with them.

I also have a phonics flip book that has CVC ( consontant vowel consonant) beginning words in it.
Each letter flips on its own.
We've mastered the - at ending words. 
Last week we added the -an endings.

I've continued working with HWT ( handwriting without tears) writing program.
The only thing I have changed is the pace we are working at.
I'm introducing letters in her name right now.
We had started with the letters E,F, L, which is how the curriculum works,
 and she insisted on learning X.
This is the order used in HWT mind you but I have regrouped and I am going out of order.
Since Lil G is legally blind I have decided to focus primarily on the skills that will get her moving educationally. I will continue to work with handwriting but our focus will be primarily on Braille.
 Both for literacy and communicating.
In her handwriting she will need to know her name so we have switched gears-
She has now mastered the order of the letters in her name and can read her name! 
If you are curious and have questions feel free to ask.

She received a soft touch Perkins brailler over the summer.
I've placed it on a small child's desk in her old bedroom and keep paper in it in case she feels the need to type. No pressure.
When she pushes the #1 cell key that makes an "A" so I say, "a" and so on.......
Which leads me to dream a little.......
Oh how I would love to have a smart brailler.
It would provide the feedback that seems to motivate my little one.
There were five children chosen to "host" the traveling smart brailler over the spring/ summer. Once each family had a turn to use it and write reviews on their blog
they were listed for people to vote on who should win a smart brailler of their own.
The families that didn't win ended up getting funded 100%
by others that were generous enough to donate - $2,500 is the cost.
The website Wonderbaby started by donating $500 for each family.

What is a smart brailler? Well.... It looks just like the brailler we already have
Except it has a brain and a screen that shows what the child has typed, and audio feedback!
Yes, you read correctly! Audio feedback. There are also levels of learning programmed into it from what I understand. ( or maybe ordering the software is additional?)
Since I am blogging from my IPad I can't hotlink it for you. Just google it.
Trust me. You will be amazed.
Currently we are doing it the "old school" method.

I've asked the company selling it if the keys were easier,
The sad thing is she is typing her letters correctly but since she has Down syndrome
Her hands are small, think special order gloves from Lands  end  for infants small,
 Plus she lacks muscle strength to get the keys pushed correctly.
I don't correct her. She is doing it correctly.
Plus all this hard work will pay off, one day her hands will be stronger from all this practicing!
For " reading the Braille" I type out rows of letters that are correct for her to practice.
I can only imagine what having the smart brailler would do for her progress.
I've already seen what having an IPad has done for her.

Yesterday she sat down, typed the #1 cell key and said"A".
No prompting!
I'm pretty excited.
Baby steps. 

While I have your attention I would also like to write a book review.
I recently read " Chasing Hope" by Kathryn Cushman.
This was such a good book, I couldn't put it down. I loved the main character. She is focused and strives to do her best in everything she does, almost to a fault. Sabrina has had to walk away from her dreams and it has changed her. Sometimes that is the purpose in unexpected challenges in life. I love how the two young ladies in the book have a common interest but are from two completely different walks of life. That common interest, running, is what drew them together but they both have something to offer the other - that is what God does. I enjoyed the complex characters and real life scenarios. there was romance and some tough spots caused by illness and soul searching that had to be done by both main characters- such a great story! I can't wait to read more by this author.

Once again, thank you to Bethany House Publishers for the review copy of this book. This review is completely my own opinion.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What I've been doing today

I ordered a new book a few weeks ago.
I intend on using it quite a bit.
It's over 600 pages and filled with recipes.
Since much of the information is new, and important,
I wanted a way to make it a tad bit more durable.

I used to purchase laminated bookcovers for paperbacks.
This was over ten years ago.
I called all our local book stores and office supply stores with no luck.
I then went to google and did some research.
I found them in quantities of 25 for $60-70
 but who needs that quantity?!

Being a creative girl,
 I thought I would figure out something on my own.
I had laminating pockets
 but you can't put a 600 page book in a laminating machine!
I thought Id recreate the process using an iron.

Here's how:

Grab your book, scissors, clear packing tape, two laminating pouches, your iron, ironing board, and a pillowcase. Plus a sheet of white copy paper.

Pull out your iron and set it on a medium heat, no steam.
Set up your ironing board and make sure you have a pressing cloth.
( I use a clean pillowcase.)

Next use clear packing tape on the spine.
This protects the spine and is flexible!
I placed two layers to be safe.
 Trim if necessary.
Doing this first encases the tape in the laminating film.

Next I opened a laminating pouch and placed the front cover inside.
I made sure there was a border to seal the cover properly.

 Place a sheet of white copy paper between the cover
 sandwiched in laminating film
 and the first page.
I didn't.

(See what happened, the heat transferred ink onto my cover. Oh well, Lesson learned) 

Place your clean pillowcase on top of your closed book and iron,
start in the top corner and work down
 like the laminating machine does -
to avoid bubbles and wrinkles
Check and continue this process until the page has turned clear
 and is sealed.

See how I have opened the book
 and done the inside of the cover as well?

(You might could try sealing the covers just using this step first to protect from ink transfer.)

Trim excess. (I leave a tiny bit so the page stays sealed)

Repeat on the back cover.

See how I have made sure the pocket has sealed the book cover inside?
Now you are set!

now you are ready to trim the back page.

Disclaimer: I can't guarantee the durability of this
but I feel pretty good about it!
 I've laminated things for school
and they are still working well.

It sure does beat having to order 25 book covers.
Or end up with a damaged book!
(I will keep you posted on my success using THM!)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Orientation and mobility day 3

Today marked the third day that we went out in public with Lil Gs cane.
I really let my apprehension build and posted a SOS on FB.
I'm glad to have a supportive community ready and willing to cheer us on.

We met at the mall at the perfect time,
It was about 11:30 and the mall wasn't too crowded since we had tax free shopping
Last weekend.
Most of the time Lil G didn't use her cane.
Ms Lisa is so smart, she just lets lil G call the shots
Basically she lets the adventure happen instead of forcing it.
I need to learn from her.
I always have an agenda and get frustrated easily.
I'm learning,
Lil G is a pretty good teacher.
I get caught up in
"There's so much we need to learn" mentality
And forget that half the fun is the trip!
As we walked along she asked Lil G about colors and smells
Letting her take in the whole experience.
Lil G has started yelling and making odd loud noises
to hear her echoes when we are out and about.
Drives me crazy.
( it's all me, worried about what others will think-
Typical 7 year olds are not doing this you know)
Ms Lisa doesn't even acknowledge it, I do okay until it gets the best of me.
Ugh. I guess it's frustrating because she does it when she knows its not allowed.
I was thankful that when the spinning started Ms Lisa was quick to get her to stop.

We had lunch while there.
We were able to get a little conversation in.
( I sometimes feel like I need to pay her to sit down with me and help me figure this stuff out)

She has sent us home with a new cane to try.
Shorter, folds up, has a red tip and what looks like a ping pong ball at the end.
We will use it some and see how it goes.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Pinterest "fail"

I don't know about you,
But I've got a list a mile long of things to try on pinterest.
A few days ago I thought it might be fun to whip up a recipe
"Glow in the dark flubber"
The recipe seemed easy enough,
Water, food coloring, glow in the dark paint, glue and borax.
I gathered all the supplies and had lil G come into the kitchen.
She happily drug her little red stool up to where I had everything set out and we got to work.
Measuring, and mixing.
It was a great time.
The sad part is that it was an epic fail.
It turned into a wet glob of goo.
Nothing like the picture.
I pulled it out and set it on a paper towel hoping it would drain the excess water out.
The whole time Lil G is exclaiming," ooooooh noooo!" On repeat.
(She doesn't like messes)
Needless to say it didn't dry out enough to play with so I pitched in the trash.
She was so happy that I didn't make her touch it,
When I told her she could get down she did with enthusiasm
And tore off running down the hallway.
" ooooooh noooo" " yuuuuuuuucky" as she went!
Hope this gives you a chuckle for today!

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Christmas story- in July

I've been getting to know some ladies that have adopted children that are blind.
This has been quite healing for me.
It feels good that our story has purpose.
Some of the emotions these mamas are having,
I can say, " I felt the same way" and truly mean it.
Or, " I understand". And I really do.

I have been wanting to read Helen Keller's Biography
And possibly Anne Sullivan's as well.
A mom was sharing that she was almost done reading Helen Keller's biography
And it reminded me of a story, something that happened at Christmas.
Maybe it will shed some light on our journey.

At Christmas time we were at my parents house
to celebrate with family and also included a visit / check up at Emory.
it was a beautiful day and we decided to take the children out to play
my sister and I were going to play with out cameras.
We get out to the blueberry patch and Lil G keeps screeching and dropping down onto all fours. The terrain is pretty tough and I was doing my best to keep us from falling
I felt myself loosing patience.
Walk Lil G! Walk!
I couldn't figure out what in the heck was setting her off.
Finally I stopped,
and crouched down,
truthfully to set her straight.
but then something happened.
My eyes were opened.
You see, when I got down at her eye level
I realized she was freaking out because of the tall golden grass.
When the breeze blew it didn't make noise but moved
and it was taller than she is!
She had no idea what it was!
I started laughing and pulled off a stalk to show her
I kept telling her it was okay it was just yellow grass.
I laughed until I cried -and I have to confide
the Mama sat down on the ground and just started sobbing.

The enormity of the situation just overwhelmed me,
we had only had the "legally blind with her glasses" diagnosis
since her visit in September -so this was only 3 months out.
Then add the guilt that I had lost my patience.
My husband saw me on the ground in the field
and came out to see what was wrong.
Together we held Graces hands and rubbed the grass on it
trying to reassure her it was only grass.
(she didnt believe us and was like a feral cat
I said to him, " we are having an Anne Sullivan Hellen Keller moment here"

Of course since then I have read and studied,
we should never force our children to feel things or grab their hands.
Lord forgive me,
this whole parenting adventure,
pure grace indeed.

( I've added photos from Christmas- Lil Gs big sister came home so we had a tea party.
And we watched TV at Grammies house with cousins)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Anyone there?

I am sure I no longer have any faithful readers.
I don't blame you,
If I was so sorely neglected Id find another girlfriend too.

I feel like I have been given new life
and must do everything on my dusty "to- do" list.
Since my little surgery in March my iron levels have been able to steadily climb.
I can't wait to see what my numbers are,
And see what the results of another six months to a year do for me.

When my sister moved to Germany
she gave me a bag with six ready to smock dresses in it.
I've been wanting to learn how to smock
so lil G can wear the dresses before they are outgrown.
There was also a stack of smocking plates (designs) and floss she had picked out for each one.
I think these dresses are 6-7 years old so I have been scouring the Internet
Looking for plates that might suit my taste a little more.
I am sad that I have discovered an art that seems to be lost to this new generation.
Our local store recently discontinued these items
and will only be carrying things to do machine embroidery. Sigh.

I also knit a sweet diaper cover for my dear friends granddaughter. I  freehanded a hello kitty I the bottom too! I love knitting things for special friends.kkn

Lil G and I have been enjoying summer.
I'm not sure if you remember that she doesn't sweat,
Living in Fl that limits our activities to those indoors.
But we still know how to have fun.
We took her to see Despicable me 2
It's going to be a long wait until its released on DVD.
We also found Madeline, I think it was released in 98?
That is on my shopping list. Very sweet movie.
( we watched it twice in one day.)
She asked for it the following day,
" blue dress, girl, red hat?" In ASL.
Wouldn't you know that Encore had removed it from the movie list overnight?!
I've had as much success explaining the situation to her as I have not being able to go to the theatre to see Despicable Me 2 again. Frown.
Here are some photos.
I love the one where she is watching for her beloved Papa.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Busy Summer days

Blogging every day is surely a thing of the past.
I presently have a 7.5 year old that needs my care and guidance.
Oh how we prayed for this child, I can't let the days pass by and take it for granted.
My anemia seems to be doing much better so Im not feeling the need to stay home either.
Last week we went to a ball game with a friend. What a great time!
Lil G just loves, "baseball. Ball. Bat." She signs.
Another day we headed out to the library,
As an old school homeschool mom I spent many a day in the library.
I think all this business with her other diagnosis' has kept me off kilter,
Just enough to keep me from taking her to the library.
Once the realization came to mind, I set forth to rectify the situation!
( see photos below- she has her faithful friend Woody
and the pink Hello Kitty bag and umbrella, gifts from the previous night at the ballgame)

Not sure if I mentioned earlier but my oldest daughter that lives in KS came for a visit.
I thoroughly enjoyed her company
while she was here we went to the beach-
A yearly thing for me. Glad to have it marked off the list. Ha ha!
We also drove to Tampa and back, in three days no less! (8-9 hrs each way)
I'm getting too old for this I tell you!
They have the cutest wire haired dauschound . Kurt.
Lil G talks about their visit, " Ashley, Adam. Red car. Kurt. Black puppy."
Yes, they have driven the red car home Lil G.
Their new home far away in Ks.
(Photos saying goodbye below)

The day after big sister and boyfriend left we went to the hot air balloon festival.
I've always wanted to go.
I guess it's the artist, or child, in me.
It was spectacular!
Lil G would applaud as they set off in the sky.
Jumping up and down clapping with glee. " up! up! up!"
(See photos below)

We've been practicing our Braille.
Lil G seems to enjoy using the Perkins brailler.
She especially likes the ding of the bell at the end of each row.
While my daughter and I were together we made some things for teaching,
In case you've forgotten she is an autism resource officer.
I will share another day in detail.......
I'm not sure if I am going to let the handwriting practice take a back seat or not.
Lil G has limited energy and attention span.
She seems to pick everything up so easily.
I can't seem to understand why the handwriting practice seems so grueling.
Let me know if you have any ideas okay?
Off to get some rest,
As long as this faithful heating pad has done the trick!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

June 1- children's day in Ecuador

I think it's quite appropriate that today is children's day in Ecuador.
We received a card from our sponsored child via email.
The card is beautiful and uses her handprints to make a ballet skirt.
Caused my heart to smile because
Today is Little G's first recital after two years of dance.
She was adorable at rehearsal last night, would.not.come. Off. The. Stage!
I had to physically drag her off,All the moms loved it.
Even the strict Mrs Dorothy Lister hunted me out to tell me how cute she was,
It was all I could do to not sob,
You see your oldest daughter had dreams of becoming a ballet teacher,
She danced several hours per day through middle and high school.
We love Mrs Dorothy and never imagined back then
That we would have a little ballerina in the family again.

Break a leg little G!( and happy Children's Day!)