Sunday, September 15, 2013

We're Moving and a Bit of Pastoral Beauty!

Photo Credit:
When I first chose the house in Gilbert I LOVED it.  Gilbert is known for their good schools and particularly for having a great program for special needs children.  It was a great reason for me to commute about a hour each way to and from work every day.  With my lease ending for the house in Gilbert John and I started to look around for another place.  One closer to my work.  Working on downtown Phoenix it is tough to find a house that is large enough for us to live in yet will stay within my housing budget.  We were able to find a house in the Glendale area that is close to my work, is about the same size of the house I am currently in AND has a private pool in the backyard!  We are excited to get the house! Now we just have to make sure we have all the money we need to execute the move!

Another item of interest this week relates to our new house.  We are hoping (and planning) on starting a raised bed vegetable and fruit garden.  The items we harvest from our own yard will be a higher quality than we could get from a grocery store, it would be cheaper and most importantly we will know what has been added to the soil (So no GMO or pesticides).  In an ad from Chipotle for their app game called The Scarecrow is a wonderful video in a classic satirical, pastoral style. 

Where the scarecrows, who are often the protectors of the crops, are being forced to work for crows.  The crows run major corporations that say they are producing natural foods but as you follow the scarecrow character around you find out this is FAR from the truth!  At the end of the day the scarecrow heads home past brown crop fields with large mechanical crows vomiting on them (I am sure they are suppose to be spaying the fields).  Once the scarecrow makes it home his barn is a bastion of color and beauty because of this fresh garden.  He stops and picks some of his harvest and chops it up and cooks it.  Next we need the scarecrow has opened a shop in an alleyway between two major corporations.  A crow comes by the check things out but the scarecrow shoos the crow away.  As the fajitas or tacos are placed out a boy looks around and examines the REAL food.  It really makes you think.  If you have heard of Monsanto and the things they have been doing then you have done your homework.  Otherwise you might want to learn where your food is coming from and why it could be bad for you...even that health food on your plate!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

It's My Very Un-Birthday!

Hello all!  Sorry I have been running behind but life happens fast and often I don't feel as though I have time to write.  Heck, for the last four Saturdays I have tried to leave the house but after eating breakfast I would start to feel ill.  I am worried it is the diabetes or something new like gluten sensitivity issues or worse (well, for me) lactose issues.  Sigh, getting older is annoying!  LOL

My birthday cake!  Didn't hubby do an AMAZING job???

Today I am going to go backwards.  Since the most recent exciting thing to happen was my birthday!  John had gotten me several nice presents for my birthday.  It was SUPER sweet of him!  For the day of my birthday (Sept. 4) I went to work while he prepared one of my FAVORITE meals!  As a child I remember going to a place called Michael's on Sundays after church. There my family would order the lamb.  I would get lamb with mint jelly, mashed potatoes, broccoli souffle, and yeast rolls.  It was delicious!  My parents and I really enjoy lamb but my husband does not like it nor my older children.  It had been awhile since I last has lamb and I missed it.  So John decided he would recreate that meal for me.  It was such a sweet and loving gesture!  He got the lamb.  Found lamb sirloins. The biggest problem he had was finding mint jelly.  He had to go to four grocery stores (with the last stop being a specialty store) before he found it. He got Yukon gold potatoes to make mashed potatoes. He was willing to try and make broccoli souffle but I told him not to bother.  If he could make me broccoli and rice casserole that would be just as good and less temperamental to make.  He agreed.  So when I got home he served an appetizer of a portbella mushroom stuffed with crab and shrimp along with a homemade sauce.  It was wonderful!  Then he served the lamb, mint jelly, garlic mashed potatoes, broccoli and rice casserole topped with fried onions and Sister Schubert rolls!  OMG, I was worried about the gluten thing but on the other hand I told John I was going to eat it and get sick if I had to!  YUM!!!  For dessert John made from SCRATCH carrot cake! It looked great and tasted even better!!!  It was a wonderful day overall.  What a great birthday!  Thank you honey for such a wonderful dinner!!!

Today I got a late start because I needed to take John to Deer Valley (about 30 miles away from out home)
This is how I typically find Margaret nowadays...
to get his car.  He drove out that way to take the children to a free gymnastics class.  Margaret is ALL the time hanging upside down.  It is a sensory thing I would imagine.  She is VERY sensory seeking and after talking to the psychologist after all the testing that
Margaret in gymnastics class. The instructor is talking to her.
makes a LOT of sense!  I will talk more about that later. Anyways, Margaret is all the time running around in a leotard and tutus saying she is Hello Kitty Disney gymnastics princess....ROFL!  John thought the gymnastics class would be a good idea and he wanted to see how Joseph would do in the class.  I was interested too.  I love anything that can help the kids and I wanted to know if Joseph could handle the busy pace of the class.  So John went.  The kids had a BLAST!  James had fun, Margaret was in her element.  She was having a hard time concentrating but the instructor would show her again what she needed to do and Margaret would mimic.  She blended right in and had a great time.  Poor Joseph had a great time too but the soft squishy gym mats made it super hard for him to walk.  He also has strength issues in doing some of the things he was asked to do. The instructor for Margaret said she was pretty naturally gifted.  Well she is super skinny, extra flexible, small in stature and fearless.  All those traits (a "gift" of her brain damage and/or autism) do make her naturally talented in gymnastics.  Margaret really could use the social interaction, following instructions, structure of class and exercise gymnastics would give her.  James could use gymnastics for strength, flexibility, exercise, following instructions, and social interaction. We were advised that Joseph would need to join the Tumble Bugs (three year old class) and we are okay with that.  Mentally he is like a three year old.  He could use the instruction, interaction and strength building gymnastics could provide.  The bad news?  To put all three in a class it would be $225 every six weeks! Expensive but worth it.  We just need to figure out how to pay for it.

I have been house hunting.  I wanted to find a home closer to my work.  I have been commuting 25 miles each way which takes me 45 minutes to an hour.  So I drive about 50 miles a day and spend at least an hour and a half commuting for the last year.  It has been tough.  Especially when Bailey was watching the children because I had to worry about how I was going to get home quickly if something happened. With John now watching the children at least that stress has been relieved but the drive is killing me.  So I have been looking for a house close to my work.  Keep in mind I work in what is called the Capitol Complex.  I can see the state capitol building from my work.  It is NOT a nice part of the heart of downtown.  I did manage to find a house that is three bedrooms, two baths, nice sized house WITH a gated, private pool (pool service is included) for $870 a month.  It is a great deal and the pool would help all of us exercise.  I am looking forward to the move but it has been really difficult to get through the approval process and we will have to pay rent on both houses for October.  That is stretching expenses SUPER tight!  The time and gas I will save will make the move worth it PLUS the pool.  I can't wait and the children feel the same way!

To pick up from the last post (I know, it was SO long ago!)...What the psychologist said about the children...

James:  James is very interesting.  John and I thought James's IQ would be higher than he tested but he tested with an overall IQ of 86.  Barely in the "normal" range.  Verbal IQ was only 93 but General Language IQ was 110 (high end "normal").  James scored very high in visual memory and screening memory.  He scored in the average range for verbal memory and recognition.  James pretty much scored average to high on verbal things.  Again, not a huge surprise since he taught himself how to read at two and could text by three.  James did have a lot of problems in an area called executive function.  This area deals with planning, organization, memorization and connecting past event and applying them to future events. Again, when John and I heard this we cannot say we are surprised.  One interesting and a bit shocking detail...James was given a set of blocks with geometric shapes and a picture for him to match (something similar to the link).  He would try the blocks to make the shape and when he was wrong the psychologist would tell him to try again.  He could not or would not be able to make something different!  The psychologist said his way of thinking was very linear and he has a hard time thinking about a problem in a different way!  Very interesting!  The psychologist gave James some auditory tests to see how well he could listen to instructions and follow them (both immediately and delayed).  James scored at level or above level!  We were all shocked by this including the psychologist!    James was given a test to check his visual perception and motor coordination.  He was on par with visual perception but his (fine) motor coordination was horrible!  He scored at 3 year and 3 months.  The psychologist said James is often in a hurry and his fine motor skills are very poor.  She said to work with him on handwriting but not to ever expect his handwriting to be good and to get him to learn keyboarding instead. James was shown to have some sensory issues including fine motor (made sense), inattentive, emotionally reactive, auditory processing and having a hard time controlling auditory input.  All of that made sense to John and myself considering James's issues.  James did well on academic testing.  The following scores are grade equivalents...Brief reading, 2.3; Basic Reading Skills, 3.0 (this is as high as this test can score); Academic Skills, 1.4 (Mom did a good job unschooling him so far!  :)  ).  For Letter-Word Identification, 3.0 (again, as high as the test can score); Calculation, K.6; Spelling, K.6; Passage Comprehension, 1.5; Word Attack (saying words, including nonsense words), 3.0 (topped out on test); and picture vocabulary, 1.0.  Very impressive overall and especially considering his learning disabilities!   Finally with James scoring high in Hyeractivity, Aggression and Attention Problems the psychologist said James has some sort of ADHD and she is going to recommend we try medication.  I am not thrilled about that but I will think about it.  James's diagnosis will be autism (previously diagnosed) with ADHD.  The psychologist believes James's biggest issue at the moment is ADHD and not his autism issues. Interesting....

Margaret:  The psychologist said she was glad she got to see all the children together and watch how they interact and then got to see Margaret alone.  She said she would not have been away of how much echolalia Margaret really does in a typical conversation.  Margaret has both immediate and delayed echolalia.  Again, this is no surprise.  What is interesting is that she can do the echolalia so that the general meaning is there.  Not common for most people with echolalia.  It is what helps Margaret to blend in with others though.  Good trait to have!  Margaret's general IQ was 76 with verbal IQ of 75, and general language IQ of 89 (interesting).  Margaret got the block design.  She was able to quickly complete it and had no problem unlike James.  The psychologist said Margaret has MAJOR speech issues!  Major expressive (no surprise) and receptive (this is a surprise).  The block test shows that she is smart, thinks and can reason for herself.  She just has a REALLY hard time talking and expressing herself.  Margaret was shown to have EXCEPTIONAL memory skills.  This makes sense since she can watch a 30 minute TV show and manage to re-enact it DAYS later!  Margaret, like James, has good visual perception but poor motor coordination skills.  Margaret has a slew (word by the psychologist) of sensory issues.  Including Auditory, Visual, Vestibular, Touch, and Multisensory issues with possible oral sensory issues also.  Overall, I thought Margaret did really well on academic skills.  The follow are grade equivalent again...Brief Reading, 1.6; Basic Reading Skills, 1.9; Academic Skills, K.8; Letter-Word Identification, 1.9 (The girl can label an item!); Calculation, K.8 (who knew she is better than James!); Spelling,
Joseph:  He stumps everyone!  The psychologist did not know what to make of him either.  That is both what is fun and frustrating about Joseph.  The psychologist agrees with me that something is wrong with him.  She is not sure what and recommended he see a neurologist she knew that works downstairs from her.  I will have to tell you more about that later.  Joseph's full scale IQ is 62.  That is one standard deviation below where he should be so he is considered mildly intellectually delayed.  His verbal IQ is 61 and general language IQ is 78.  Overall Joseph did poorly in language skills.  In the sensory profile Joseph was OFF THE CHARTS!   He scored a definite difference in ALL categories except emotionally reactive where he scored a probable difference.  The psychologist said he has MAJOR sensory issues and would diagnosis him with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) but since it did not make it into the new DSM manual she cannot do that.  Joseph scored low in ALL areas of the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale.  That is about the extent of the testing she did for Joseph and checked to see if he would qualify as autistic.  This was something the Melmed Center wanted tested.  The psychologist determined Joseph does not really meet the criteria for autistic.  I have to say I agree with that.  She said the only thing that is appropriate to diagnose him with is being mildly intellectually delayed.