February 28, 2008

My dream: The Dreamstation

This is a dream that I've had for a LONG time. I often drive by buildings that are for lease (like the old grocery story that's been vacated or the vacated exercise center that moved to a larger facility) and think..... oh, my....... that would work nice for my "Dreamstation".

My Dreamstation:

*** a "club", a "playstation", a "rec center" that is accessible to kids and adults who have been unable to access a playground, who have been unable to play in the McDonald's playland, who in no way can get on the typical exercise equipment you see at the "exercise club". With track lifts in the ceiling that would allow EVERYONE to go down the slide...... even if they are too big for a parent or friend to get them to the top of the slide without hurting their backs.

** a special place........ for a special person to bring a "regular" person/friend as a guest, a "privileged place" to be.

* a place where kids/adults can attend "classes" that are specially designed to be accessible....... like regular kids/adults who take classes at the YMCA or cooking or art classes at the community recreation center or community college. With switches, modified jigs, etc. to allow them to participate; for example switch operated blenders, TV's, talking books, a switch operated nerf gun. Computer classes that have the latest technology to allow kids to color, paint, write, talk...............

* a place where the closet is full all kinds of adapted bikes and trikes that could be ridden around the indoor track. And maybe checked out to families for their weekend bike ride. And of course the ceiling track lifts would be above the track, just in case someone needs help getting on/off the bike, or might want to use it with a "walking harness" so they can walk around the track.

*a place where a person could practice on our track, the skills needed to be safe as they venture into the world of power mobility (power wheelchairs, scooters, etc). 

*a place that provides special rooms (SNOEZELEN)that would quiet the mind of someone who is stressed and over-stimulated by our world and other rooms that would be designed to awaken and engage the mind of someone who has difficulty relating to our "ho-hum"(by their definition) world.

* there would be a room where kids/adults who have been limited in their ability to be "vestibularly stimulated" like all the young people you see, who are lined up for the rollercoasters and other carnival rides. This room would have all kinds of swings, and hammocks and special lounge chairs on bungee cords, and...... and...... and...... maybe even a flying purple people eater (can you tell I've thought about this often.  

* place where kids/adults/families could practice the things they learn in all the therapies that they have worked so hard to obtain. Maybe the therapists would meet them at the Dreamstation and help them design the perfect individualized routine.

* it would be a place where SCL (supported community living) workers or respite workers could take their clients for a fun time...... at the same time giving parents, the much needed break they deserve.

*we would have a volunteer club........ that would help us keep going. Like some retired engineers from Rockwell who would help us design new ways for our "club members" to do things not possible before an engineering type brain was put to the test. oh, oh, oh........ and some of those wonderful creative teachers and therapists that I've worked with who have a passion for these special people........ they would help us keep the "classes" new, exciting and inspiring. We would use a flyer like I received in the mail today (from our local community college) to stay current with "what's popular"...... like photography classes, ballroom dancing classes, scrapbooking classes, candle making classes....... adapting them to the needs of our "club members".

*and of course, a class near and dear to my heart:   Reading!  for all those previously labeled as non-readers.    And I'm sure there would be the Dreamstation Book Club.  Where each month there'll be a new book debuted........  maybe even some published by the newly discovered talent of our own club members!

* we would have "shows" to exhibit the talents of our new artists, musicians, actors, authors, etc.

* a place where being different would be celebrated
* a place where being different would be normal
* a place where being different would be unifying
* a place where being different would not be different
****A place where we ALL realize that it is being different that truly makes us all the same.

And of course, Nevin will be the manager of the "Pizza Shop" where everyone can have a bite to eat and a "green pop" while they take a break from all their activities.

There you have it: My dream................ The Dreamstation.

Of course, then I hit the reality of money :( So if any of you know of someone with lots of money, that they don't know what to do with........... have them give me a call. :)

*I can't stop........ I keep thinking of more things...... I keep editing my post!    feel free to add ideas in the comments section!

*we'd have overnight camp-outs!
*look out paintball courses....... we'll have our own nerf gun tournaments.

February 26, 2008

New Strategy (& a "young Nevin" story)

As important as the curriculum, as important as learning style, as important as teaching style........ ultimately...... we often crash into motivation!   Soooo......  we have started a new strategy that will hopefully tap one of Nevin's most motivating things.   Movies/cartoons.

Now....... you need to keep this under your hat....... we have cable tv.   We have the Disney channel, we have the cartoon network and Nickelodeon.   But........ Nevin doesn't know it.   Shhh...... we've had it for a few weeks.  I have carefully taken those channels off of our TV's so that no one will accidently scan past those channels and let the cat out of the bag (because if Nevin knew we had them..... all he'd have to do is enter the channel numbers on his remote).

In the negotiation phase of deciding to get extended cable, Kevin swore on his life that we would never tell Nevin we have it.    In the past, those channels became a huge source of conflict.  Nevin would grow roots into the floor in front of the TV and it would take nothing less than a chainsaw to remove him!  Plus, he of course, wants to watch all of the cartoons that are not "approved" by current "ruling authority" of this house.  (And believe me...... there are many, so many, it was hard to keep the "not approved" list current.)  Thus it was easiest to just not subscribe.

So, on to our new strategy!!   We now have a DVD recorder with a hard drive....... so I have it set to record the approved things from the "non-existent" channels.  ;)  Then I copy them to DVD's (I found a GREAT deal on 100 DVD's...... with an instant rebate at OfficeMax).    If Nevin were to watch them from the hard drive, I think he might figure out that we have those cable channels.    

So we now have a huge stack of 30 minute DVD's that Nevin can only earn by doing school!  (I'm so proud of myself, I can hardly stand it).   The number of DVD's  he earns are dependent on the number of "sessions" of school we have in a day.  

Today was our first day.   So cool.   Before this new strategy, I had to be very creative in transitioning to school work and then keeping him engaged, in order to get lot's done.  Sometimes it felt like our time was just too long, but I knew I'd have a hard time getting him back, if I gave him a break....... because he would consider school "finished".

But now....... he earns a DVD and gets to take a 3o minute break watching the cartoon.   Then he comes back and wants to do another session of school so that can earn another DVD break!  WooHoo........ we got so much done today!    

Hopefully he doesn't figure out a "work-around".   Like when he was little, when I thought I was so smart and foiled his  "escapes".    

alert: ** young Nevin story**
First, a little background.  When Nevin was little, he was a RUNNER.   Anyone who knew Nevin when he was little, knows exactly what I mean.   He never stopped and would frequently escape from the house.   Everyone (especially all the kids) in the neighborhood, knew that if we put out a "Nevin alert" it meant we couldn't find him and we needed to search.  The neighborhood was wonderful, everyone would drop everything and head different directions to find Nevin.  We learned to not search the house first, because he was so fast....... we needed to get outside and search the perimeter to see if we could catch a glimpse of his "dust" so to speak....... because if we spent any extra minutes in the house looking...... he would be long gone (and experience proved he was not usually in the house).   In Nevin's mind there were no limits...... he would run, enter strangers houses, garages, etc.   He didn't usually have a destination in mind, it was the "journey", the "run" that mattered.     In fact, that's how we knew he could hear, because if you saw him "on the run" and called to him, he would speed up.

So on to my foiled "smartness"  :)    We owned every childproofing device available at the time.   And we had resorted to installing locks (the drop hook latch type) at the top of each exit door (and interior door, for that matter).  But with two older siblings playing inside/outside...... it meant I was spending my whole day answering the door...... "I need my doll..... I need my toys..... I need to go to the bathroom...... I need a drink.....  etc. etc.).    Sooo, I got my brain working and I had a brilliant idea!   We had Nolan.... the next shortest person to Nevin..... come to the front door and had him stretch on tiptoes and reach as far up as he could...... and THAT is where we installed the doorknob on the screen door.    Now, I knew that Nevin could figure out how to move a chair to something out of his reach (that's how he got the car keys and tried to start the car at three in the morning..... but that's a story for another day), but we lived in a split foyer and I knew he wouldn't be able to get a chair moved to the landing to get to the high door knob.   I was SO proud of myself....... dilemma solved!    I watched smugly as Nevin went to the front door and tried to reach the knob.   He showed every resemblance to an olympic jumper..... except..... thank goodness his feet didn't leave the floor yet (and I duly noted..... NOT to work on jumping).   Then, he "gave up" and came back up the stairs.   I was actually quite surprised that I didn't hear any fussing about it.   .................Then, I noticed him coming down the hall............. with his sister's baton in his hand......... still confused, I watched as he went down the stairs, used the baton to push up the latch and wave at me as he went out the door!!     Sooo...... for a few years, all "long" things were outlawed in the house.  No batons, no tennis racquets, no baseball bats, no yardsticks, etc.   

So..... I wait..... and hope that Nevin doesn't figure out a "work around" for our latest strategy.

p.s. I'm sure there were many people; mailmen, salesmen, etc. who puzzled over a front door knob that was installed two feet from the top of the door! (in fact, if you visit, you'll see the remnant of filled holes where it used to be installed.)

February 23, 2008

Power of PowerPoint

This is a sample of making your own PowerPoint books. Nevin was NOT interested in reading books, until they were about him. So originally many of the books we used were ones that I wrote and then printed and bound. But now we have discovered the exciting use of PowerPoint. I have uploaded this book to Slideshare so that you can see it. Since it's not actually the Powerpoint.... instead is formatted for Slideshare, it doesn't have sound like the "real" powerpoint book "Brothers" does. Maybe, sometime I will figure out how to post a "real" powerpoint so that you can see it work.

You can easily make your own books. There are nice tutorials on making your own PowerPoint book posted on the web here(8 page tutorial) and here(36 pg tutorial). It is really easy if you start with a template and then all you have to do is insert your pictures and your text......... then, if you want you can make them talking books by recording your voice. Or what's really exciting is to have your child record his/her voice reading the book. This provides great practice...... since it usually takes us a couple of tries before we get it right. It also gives us purpose the enunciate the words carefully.

There are some PowerPoint Books available for download at SET (Special Education Technology) British Columbia. Nevin likes the "My Dog Toby" book.

There are also some PowerPoint Books available for download at NYC Dept. of Education. They don't have sound recorded on them....... but you or your child can add the recordings to the books.

February 20, 2008


.........another migraine......

February 19, 2008


hmmm....... one month of having a blog and I have "writer's block".... LOL... I don't think I qualify as a "writer", but I sure feel like I have a "block". I had bizarre dreams last night..... you know..... the kind where you're trying to scream and can't or trying to run and your feet are like lead. That's the "type" of dream I had..... my typical one is that I'm dizzy and can't walk, crawling and clinging to things to get around. But last night was a new "frustration" dream. I couldn't see..... I wasn't blind, but I just felt like I couldn't get my eyes open or keep them open, they were watering and everything was blurry. Weird, huh? next thing you know, I'll be trying to write and unable to make my fingers move on the keyboard! You sure do wake up tired from those kinds of dreams.

I'm thinking I might follow the lead of some of my friends and maybe have a theme on a certain day. Marilyn's advice when I was struggling to figure out what to write in the beginning, was to identify a purpose...... that it would help keep a focus. Amy started doing a wonderful weekly post on her blog called "Memories of Mom".

Sooo...... I'm thinking...... maybe Tuesday Teaching Tips, where I could post some of the things Nevin and I have found helpful in our homeschooling adventures. Other themes I'm toying with are "past writings".... some of my previous reflective writings that share the joys and struggles of parenting a child with special needs; Techie tips..... how we used assistive technology, computers and software to augment learning and communication.

Now my next fear is that I'll announce a weekly series on something and then not be able to think of something the second week. How embarrassing would that be? :)

I'm open to suggestions.... let me know what you think.

Show of Hands

February 17, 2008


It has stopped snowing, but now it is very cold!!  
News reports say travel is NOT advised, especially on the highways, this evening they report 40 vehicles in the ditch between here and Iowa City..... that's an average of one every half mile.

We went to the library (to return overdue books) and Nevin got such a kick out of all the cars driving around with lot's of snow on top of them.   Thank goodness for the blessing of a garage!!  I don't miss the years of living where we didn't have a garage.

February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

I baked a tart!!  for my sweetheart!  It actually turned out pretty good.  It was a Pecan Coconut Tart.  :)

*woulda been better if I'd of remembered to get some vanilla ice cream.  :(   oh, well...... the thought, right?

Thanks for your prayers.....

Sorry, I'm a whiner.   Thanks for your prayers.   I am doing better this evening, but woo boy.... was I dragging this morning!!  I would definitely have preferred to stay in bed all day.   My head is doing much better...... just a few remnants of a headache left.  Whew.... that was a long one!

I tend to get very "lost" in the paperwork requirements at work .... I'm easily overwhelmed by paperwork..... it just doesn't come naturally.   Those of you who know me...... know that an organized, systematic person.... I am NOT.   We had a LONG meeting on Wed to talk about paperwork requirements (the whole time.... I'm thinking..... I'm a failure, I'm a failure at my job!! my files are in TERRIBLE shape.  Hopefully, my supervisor is not reading this!)

Today.... I was back at it with three different "babies" and their parents.  I just luv'em!!  I've got my perspective back!!  If I'm gonna fail at my job..... I'd rather it be with the paperwork, than with these precious, precious little ones and their parents.   (not that I wouldn't appreciate prayers as I try to get my files "up to snuff") 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.   Col 3:23

February 13, 2008


  Ever have those days where you just feel weary.  I understand what people mean when they say "bone weary", because it feels that deep.  Today is one of those days.   I could try and figure out where it has come from, I think there have been many contributing factors (not the least of which is a 6 day migraine)........ but that won't get me anywhere, will it?   The only thing that will get me anywhere is to lean on God.    To go to His Word.  
   He says "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened (heavy laden) and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28  
   "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.   Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul."  Psalm 143:8

February 12, 2008

More snow! Less patience.

More snow!!  What a year... it just keeps coming.   But it is pretty..... especially those first footprints in the fresh fallen snow..........

"Mom!!   That's it!!"  [enough with the camera, already!!]  
                             (picture his hand slicing through the air)

***I guess I'm getting a little carried away with the camera.  :)    (actually, I think he was embarrassed that he was wearing my shoes :)   shhhh...... don't tell him I told you )

February 10, 2008

"microwave..uh.. micrograine...uh...migraine"

yup, that's it. Migraine. Day 3. Is improved today..... I don't have to keep one eye closed while I look at the computer. But the sun is shining brightly and I have to be careful and not look out the window..... I close my eyes when I let the dog outside.

I had a big migraine in November and then the next day was in a meeting and still struggling with my thoughts/words. So in an attempt to explain..... I said "I had a big microwave last night..... uh micrograine....... uh migraine." We all got a chuckle out of it and they didn't ask me any hard questions after that! :)

February 8, 2008


Thank goodness for "bumper bowling"!! Be sure to check out Nevin's bowling story on his blog.

February 7, 2008


Yesterday we did a study of volcanoes, complete with a simulated volcano eruption (complete with volcano hat). We used the Usborne Volcano Kids Kit. It was fun, but I do think Nevin was dissappointed that there wasn't a big "explosion"....... just bubbling lava.

I am SO blessed to have the opportunity to homeschool this child. He keeps me smiling.

February 4, 2008

Nevin's Song Slideshow

Nevin's Song Video. Enjoy!

Song written and sung by my brother, Jeff.

Thankyou, Uncle Jeff!!!

Listen to Nevin's Song

My brother wrote a song for Nevin the year that he was born.  I finally got it posted online, although I'm still working on how to get it posted with a slideshow.   But you can listen to it by clicking  Nevin's Song

Love you  Uncle Jeff!!!!

February 3, 2008

Video Post Practice

This is a practice run at posting a movie on my blog. (that doesn't come through YouTube...... I don't like the lack of control of the other movies it places under mine after mine is finished playing.)  I trying to figure out a different way to post a video.

** I keep getting an error during uploading....... guess I'll have to work on it later.  :(

** ok, here we go...... let's see if this works

2-4-08: Well, it seemed to work, previous attempts always got an error message at about 5 mb, so this is a very small video, with generic audio--  3 mb.   And it worked.  

Still working on a way to get the "real" slideshow posted that goes with Nevin's song.

February 1, 2008

Sibling Love

Many of you have seen this video.  I am learning how to post a video on my blog.   Should be working on my presentation..... but you know me!!

This was Christmas day.  Nevin got the soundtrack for Shrek3.  They were supposedly listening to it while they cleaned up the kitchen after dinner.  :) It has been such a blessing to Nevin to have such wonderful siblings, they are great teachers for him. He looks up to them more than words can express. And Nevin has been a blessing to them. He, too, is a powerful teacher for all of us.