"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." - John 16:33

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry CHRISTmas!!!

Merry CHRISTmas from all of us at My Angels and Autism.  We pray you all have a safe and happy Christmas eve and Christmas day!  See you next week!!!!  xoxoxo

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Things just never happen the way you plan.

Last Monday, I started my day ready to go.  I ran multiple errands, got the kids to all of their appointments and started my to do lists for Christmas preparations.  My husband was away on business for the week and I wanted to have everything at least started so we didn't have to stress.  I had plans for the kids for fun Christmas activities to do as a family, and I wanted to be sure they happened.

By Monday night I was feeling run down and achy, but was convinced that a good nights sleep would make me feel better.  By Tuesday morning I had a fever and it was downhill from there.  Long story short...I have never been that sick in my entire life.  Sunday, I finally didn't have a fever for the first time in Six days.  Yesterday, I was back to business as usual.  The only problem was, I got nothing done last week.  Not only did my to do list sit unattended to, but my regular duties did as well, and hours of therapies were cancelled.

My husband got home early Friday so I could go to bed, and he had tried his best to help catch up on chores.  I have already done a marathon shopping trip. (Trip #2 is today).  We have scheduled make up time for therapy and so we will have a behavior therapist at our house every day this week, plus a Christmas party for the kids with Princess and Prince, and a play date on Friday.  The gifts haven't even been started.

Our homeschool this week will consist of log ins to ABC Mouse.com and Starfall.com and various Christmas crafts.  I'll try my best to share, but I can't make any promises.  I hope you all have a wonderfully blessed week!

God Bless!
Mommy Provost

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Living Nativity

If you live within driving distance of Lowell, MA you'll want to go check this out! It's a drive Thru Nativity! You literally drive your car around to each scene leading up to the birth of Jesus! They have live animals and a REAL baby as baby Jesus. You never even have to get out of your car and it is absolutely FREE. It really is a great experience!  We went last year and my children loved it.  It's tonight and tomorrow night (December 16th and 17th) from 6-8pm at 995 Andover Street, Tewksbury, MA.  Go check it out!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Guest Post: Vital Links and the Therapeutic Listening Program

After our experience with Therapeutic listening, we found that there wasn't a lot of information on the internet about the program.  I had a great experience with Therapeutic Listening and so want to offer that information to other families looking to try the program.  Vital Links graciously agreed to write a guest post for My Angels and Autism and so I am honored to introduce our very first guest blogger, Vital Links!  

Vital Links is pleased to contribute a guest post on the use of Therapeutic Listening on Mommy Provost’s blog ‘My Angels and Autism’.  As described in our video, Therapeutic Listening is an evidence-based auditory intervention intended to support individuals who experience challenges with sensory processing dysfunction, listening, attention, and communication.  

Since the auditory system has connections to many parts of the brain, sound is a powerful way to access the nervous system and affect changes at all levels.  The music in Therapeutic Listening albums gives the listener unique and precisely controlled sensory information.  The music is electronically modified to highlight the parts of the sound spectrum that naturally trigger attention and activate body movement. In addition to the electronic modifications, Therapeutic Listening capitalizes on the organized rhythmical sound patterns inherent in music to trigger the self-organizing capacities of the nervous system. 

Therapeutic Listening does not consist of one program that must be followed in a certain order.  The various albums included in Therapeutic Listening can be arranged in a number of different sequences to address a client’s specific clinical picture and goals.

One of the unique features of Therapeutic Listening is its ability to be individualized to meet each client’s particular goals and needs.  This sound-based intervention was developed using client centered principals to function as an individual therapy tool rather than a predetermined program. As a result, Therapeutic Listening relies on back and forth communication between the family and the Therapeutic Listening provider to select the most appropriate music selections.

Therapists and caregivers frequently report a broad array of changes in the clinic, home, and community environments.  Commonly reported changes include improved social interactions, improved communication skills, enhanced ability to focus, improved sleeping, increased engagement in the world, ability to transition easier and increased exploration of playground equipment.  

As Mommy Provost mentioned, during the course of Therapeutic Listening clients may display certain behaviors, such as demonstrating increased auditory sensitivity and seeking increased oral-motor input. As is observed in the typical developmental progression, your child may experience a period of disorganization once starting Therapeutic Listening before reorganization will emerge. It is important that families provide specific feedback with their Therapeutic Listening trained provider regarding behaviors observed outside of the clinic, as the provider can use this feedback to adjust Therapeutic Listening music and/or home programming activity suggestions.

To obtain more information on Therapeutic Listening or to locate a provider in your area, please visit our website www.vitallinks.net .

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Adventure Making Gluten Free Play Dough

Two weeks ago I read a blog post from 1+1+1=1 in their 12 Days of Christmas Series.  Carisa shared an idea for her "Busy Hands Play Dough Box".  I fell in love with the idea of the box but also had never thought to add a scent (using extracts) and glitter to home made play dough.  What a great sensory activity! I got excited and quickly added this to my Christmas "to do" list. Our only issue?  Our children are gluten free.  The only time I had made home made play dough was with regular flour so I got to work researching gluten free recipes.  The first thing I discovered was that there are not any gluten free no cook play dough recipes. (At least none that I could find.) I wasn't sure how that would effect the sparkles or the scent but I was willing to give it a shot!  I chose a recipe I found through About.com Celiac Disease.  These are the things I learned in my experimenting:

Mix everything together in the pot you are going to use.  Do not bother with mixing it in a separate bowl.   Be sure to use a metal pot and a metal or a hard plastic mixing spoon.  I added food coloring until I reached the color I wanted.  I chose different scents for each color dough but I really didn't measure it out.  I poured in the extract until it smelled "strong enough" for me.  I wanted a strong scent to stimulate the sense of smell during play (Identifying scents is an ABA goal for Peanut because he doesn't distinguish between "good" smells and "bad" smells).  I just dumped in a ton of sparkles.  They clump together until your dough begins to clump and firm and then they disperse in the dough.
The instructions just say to "cook".  Well, I don't know about you but I need something a little more specific.  So I found it worked best to start on high heat and turn it down once it began to clump up.  

Once the dough begins to get "clumpy" then turn the heat down to medium high.  Be sure you are constantly stirring the dough.  It will take less than a minute to get to this point so don't walk away from the pot.

This is the stage when you will need to use your muscles to mix up the dough.

After the dough cooled to the point where I could handle it, I put it on a piece of wax paper and put it in the refrigerator to cool.  Once it cools, knead the dough a couple of times and you are ready to play!

Here is my final dough!  All of my dough have red sparkles.  I made red cinnamon, white peppermint and green vanilla.  Now I can't wait for the kids to play with them!

The other things I learned during this experiment:
  • If you are a household like ours and don't use regular table salt be sure to buy 2 containers of salt. (I ran out and had to steal the salt from our shakers).
  • If you steal salt from your salt shaker, don't forget that you may have rice in it to absorb moisture!  (oops!)
  • If you want your white dough to smell like vanilla then be sure to use clear vanilla extract or it will turn your dough tan.
  • Don't forget to add the rice flour or you won't get dough, you'll get a pot full of goop, and you can't add the flour to the goop to try to salvage it because it won't work.  (oops again!)
  • It is impossible to find glitter in the month of December and next year i'll have to buy glitter in November so i can get all of the colors I want.
I hope that helps all of you gluten free families out there.  Just because you are gluten free doesn't mean the kids have to miss out!

God Bless!
Mommy Provost

Friday, December 9, 2011

It's been 2 years...

December 9th was the 2 year anniversary of Peanuts diagnosis with Autism.  As I sit back and think of where we came from and where we are today, I'm thankful.  We may have started out the journey a bit broken and defeated but by the grace of God we were able to pick up the pieces of our grief and move forward according to Gods plan.
On Friday, I was having a conversation with a friend about the book of Job, and why bad things happen in our lives.  It brought me back to when I read the book of Job.  It was right around the time of Peanut's diagnosis.   On Friday as I flipped through it, I noticed I only highlighted one verse in the entire book.

 "To God belong wisdom and power, counsel and understanding are his." Job12:13

In 2 short years we have gone from grief and sadness to acceptance, happiness and peace.  Through faith we have accepted the diagnosis of both of our children, even though we may not understand why or how.  Because of that our lives are better, our marriage closer, our faith stronger.  We don't know what is to come, but we chose not to worry about tomorrow and focus on today because we put our lives in the hands of God.  I am so thankful to God and praise Him for all He has done for us.  I am not worried because He is with us.  I'm not worried because of John 16:33.

"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

God Bless!
Mommy Provost

Weekly Wrap up: K is for Kite

I have to admit, this week we slacked off.  We watched more more movies than I usually allow and we only had "school" (sit down and do worksheets and projects) twice as opposed to four and five times weekly.  I don't know what the cause of it is.  I have tried to organize myself more but I haven't gotten far.  My wonderful husband caught up on cleaning the laundry for me but I still have yet to fold it or put it away.  I haven't been busy or stressed but yet, I'm exhausted!  Maybe it's the upcoming Christmas Holiday and the long to-do list still hanging over my head.  But then again maybe not.  Who knows?  At any rate, I'm hoping to have MUCH more to share next week, but for now, this is what we did this week.

This weeks activities:
This week we learned about the letter K and the number 10.  Our memory verse was "Keep your tongue from Evil." Psalm 43:13  We used some great printables from Raising Rock stars Preschool for the letter K and our memory verse.  This memory verse was wonderful for us to use and we will continue to recite it.  Sassy has been a little fresh lately and whenever I reminded her of the verse she would tell the truth or speak in a nicer tone!
Peanut cutting out his memory verse

We also did our very first "science experiment" this week.  We were talking about Kites and wind and that led us to talking (and practicing) blowing.  I found a great activity called "Blow and Go" on AIMS Education .  The kids guessed how many times it would take mommy to blow various objects across the table and they graphed their guess.  After I blew the object across the table we graphed the result and compared.  They really liked doing this and I think after Christmas we may need to include some more science experiments!
Peanuts graph
Next weeks plans:
Oh man where do I begin?  We start our Christmas unit (woohoo!!)  We have various therapy's as usual, and we have to make our Christmas gifts.  We also are going to talk about giving our gifts to Jesus.  Something inspired by Carisa over at 1+1+1=1.  On Friday we are taking my grandmother out to supper and then we are going to go to the Drive Thru Living Nativity and experience the birth of Jesus with the kids.

Mommy's crafts for next week: Money is tighter for us now than it ever has been before so we decided we would make home made gifts for Christmas this year. A friend found this awesome idea to make coasters out of tile, so we are going to be making those for family.  You can learn how to make the coasters over at Beneath My Heart.  I am also making boxes of goodies filled with homemade caramels, truffles and cookies.  I'll have to make all of the yummy treats right before Christmas, but I can start to get the boxes ready.  I also have to start wrapping the kids Christmas gifts.  I like to take everything out of the packages and assemble everything before I wrap it so when the kids open their presents they can play with it immediately.

I hope you all had a great week!

God Bless!
Mommy Provost
We are linked up with:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The End of Our journey With Therapeutic Listening

In July we began a Therapeutic Listening program with Peanut.  We were not sure how it would help, if any but after some research learned it couldn't hurt him and so the only downside would be that we might spend some money on something that wouldn't help.  The possible benifits were countless and so we decided to take the plundge and give it a shot.

What is Therapeutic Listening?
Vital Links came out with a great video explaining Therapeutic Listening.  I have found this video to do a perfect job explaining Therapeutic Listening.

1. Find a Therapist: We first needed to find a therapist who was trained in Therapeutic Listening to run the program.  We are blessed to have an Easter Seals 30 minutes from our home who had trained providers available.  Their pricing was, in my opinion, very fair (insurance does not cover this therapy).  Peanut already goes to this facility for Occupational Therapy (OT)/Sensory Integration Therapy, and Speech Therapy so it was easy for us to start up the Therapeutic Listening Program.  Peanuts OT performed his initial evaluation and gave us our new CD's every 2 weeks.  She also used the Therapeutic Listening during his therapy sessions as well.
2. Purchase the equipment: In order to do Therapeutic Listening you need at least 2 (if not 3) pieces of equipment.  First you need a portable CD player, preferably with the "random" feature.  At first we bought a less expensive CD player and found it skipped way to easily.  We ended up going out and buying another CD player that wasn't as sensitive.  We then needed headphones.  In order to do the therapy correctly you need headphones that provide a particular quality of sound.  On the Vital Links website there is a link to purchace equipment.  The site is called Vital Sounds.  
There are two options for head phones.  The HD500A Sennheiser Headphones which cost $145.00 or the PRO-50 Pro-Luxe Headphones, which cost $65.00.  The HD500A Headphones are higher quality and include a 2 year warranty.  The PRO-50 Headphones will work for a Therapeutic Listening program, but only offer a 90 day warranty.  After speaking with the OT running our Therapeutic Listening Program, and reading about the experiences of others we decided to go with the HD500A headphones.  The therapist told us stories about how useful the warranty had been for past clients and how easy Vital Sounds made it to use the warranty when it was needed.  Knowing this made us feel better about buying the more expensive headphones because we know how destructive Peanut can be.  We decided we were not going to try to cut corners either.  If we were going to commit to this new therapy, then we were going to get the higher quality headphones to try to gain maximum benefit.
Finally, it was recommended to us to buy a Tune Belt CD Player Carrier.  We looked into buying a less expensive one elsewhere but after some research, we found that the carrier sold through Vital Sounds website was designed specifically for use with their headphones for a Therapeutic Listening Program and so we decided to get the case through Vital Sounds.  The carrier is not required to do the therapy,  but came in very handy when we wanted to do a session while playing outside or in the house.

The Therapy: 
I wrote a post about starting the Therapeutic Listening Therapy.  In it I talk about a couple of interesting behaviors we noticed in the first few weeks of therapy. You can read more about the start of the therapy HERE.   Other behaviors I noticed was an increase in his chewing needs throughout the day, and he became more sensitive to sounds.  As we progressed I noticed Peanut calm down a bit and by the end of our course of therapy Peanut was no longer pinning his sister down to the ground (Thank God!).  I have read from other parents that when their children listened to the music that it would calm them down and almost put them in a trance.  I saw that happen with Peanut sporadically, but not often.  When it did happen I enjoyed every second of it (Peanut can be a very energetic child to say the least!).  He seemed to really seemed to enjoy the music and would sometimes sing along with the CD.  At least once a week he would request the music, sometimes when he was upset.  When we embarked on this adventure I wasn't sure how well it was going to go and I was pleasantly surprised at how well he adjusted to the new therapy.

The Results:
So what were the results of doing this therapy?  For us personally, I believe it was worth every penny.  The supervising OT did a test prior to our first day of Therapeutic Listening, an then the same test was done once we finished the program.  The testing showed:
  • Increased environmental exploration and awareness.
  • Improved gross motor coordination.
  • Improved expressive language skills.
  • Improved receptive language skills.
  • Improved social interaction/engagement.
  • Changes in emotional tone.
  • Increased independence.
  • Increased pretend play.
I agree with every single one of these improvements shown in the testing.  In 4 months time we saw all of these changes in our child.  We did not add any other new therapy's to his schedule while using the Therapeutic Listening Program.  We did continue his OT, Speech, Music therapy and ABA which he has been doing for almost 2 years now.  We are essentially done the therapy unless Peanut is found to need a "tune up" .  In that case, we will do a 2 week course of listening to help him with whatever may be his struggle.
All in all I can say I loved this therapy.  It could get daunting every now and then trying to get in two, 30 minute sessions a day in but once we started to see changes in Peanut, it was worth it to us.  We are very happy with the program and happy to recommend it to other families.  For more information about Therapeutic Listening visit the Vital Links website at: www.vitallinks.net

God Bless,
Mommy Provost

(This post is meant as informative review of a service received.  My Angels and Autism is in NO way affiliated, employed, paid or reimbursed by Vital Links or their affiliates in any way.  Compensation was NOT received for this review.  This is just a mothers honest opinion.  Thank-you)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Homemade Chicken Stock

I haven't posted a recipe in a while and now that winter is here I wanted to share something we make from scratch every week...Chicken Stock!  When ever I mention to someone that I make my own stock they say, "Oh I wish I had the time to do that."  I can assure you I don't have "extra" time.  I thought the same thing when I was doing my research about it. (To learn about the HUGE benefits of home made Chicken stock click HERE)  All the recipes I read used the stove top and I'm rarely home for a full day.  Then it dawned on me, what about my crock pot?!  So I experimented and finally have found a quick and easy way to make home made organic chicken stock.

The ingredients: 
I have been able to find whole 5Ib organic chickens at Market Basket.  In my crock pot I put the whole chicken (complete with the contents of the lovely little bag of goodies inside the chicken.), 3 large organic carrots cut into pieces, organic celery pieces (complete with leaves), 2 cloves of organic garlic, 1 organic onion (cut into pieces), 1 bay leaf, and 6 cups of filtered water.
Our little chicken ready to go!
Time to set it and forget it!
I turn the crock pot on to high and cover it.  I leave it for approximately six hours on high (or until the meat has mostly fallen off the chicken bones).  I put a large glass bowl in the sink with a large colander over it (Propped up on the sides of the sink).  I then take the broth and pour it into the colander (using pot holders because it is still hot).  I let this sit until it's done dripping and I put the bowl in the refrigerator.  I then pick some of the chicken meat out of the colander and put it in a glass container. (Make sure you don't include any small bones in the chicken you are putting aside!) The chicken I set aside goes in the freezer to use in chicken noodle soup.

The next morning I use a large spoon and scoop stock into glass canning jars (safe for freezing).  Each jar is one cup of broth.  I then put them in the freezer to use in all kinds of yummy recipes.  I use broth instead of water to make rice.  I also use it to make home made chicken noodle soup (again very quick and easy).  When you are ready to use the stock, put it int he refrigerator to thaw overnight.  If you decide to use some last minute take the top off the jar and place the jar in a bowl of shallow hot water.  Once it has melted the outside it will loosen the broth enough to get it out of the jar.  Once the broth warms up it will defrost and melt.

Some jars ready for the freezer.
And that's how I make chicken stock!  Happy cooking!

God Bless!

Mommy Provost

Friday, December 2, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up: Z is for Zoo

This week we jumped right back in to our homeschool schedule.  When coming up with our plan for the year, I decided to teach 2 themed weeks the first 2 weeks of December and then teach the last 2 weeks about Christmas.  I am noticing that many homeschoolers do month long Christmas units.  I really like this idea and I'm thinking we might do that next year.  This week our theme was Zoo's. We worked on the letter Z, the number 9, and the color black.  Our memory verse is: "The Heavens declare the glory of God." Psalm 19:1.

Some of the books we read this week include:
"Goodnight Gorilla"  By:Peggy Rathman
"Curious George Feeds the Animals"  By: Margret & HA Rey
"Jungle Animals" By:Cathy Jones
"If I Ran the Zoo." By: Dr. Seuss
Little People "Lets Go to the Zoo."
"Heaven is Having You." By: Giles Andreae
"God Gave Us Heaven." By:Lisa Tawn Bergren

We did a cute tangram activity I found in a book called, "Super-Easy Shape Art." By Jacquelyn Johnson Howes.  The kids did a great job matching the shapes up and they were excited to make the bear.

This Wednesday, we did our homeschool work with Princess.  They all did a great job working together at the table.  After they were done their work we shifted gears to something a little more fun and made necklaces with gimp and small beads.  This is a great fine motor activity that takes coordination and helps with developing the correct grasp to hold a pencil.  Sassy gave up pretty early.  Princess and Peanut both made necklaces and wore them for the rest of the day.

Peanuts Occupational Therapist has asked we continue to do activities in an upright position.  One of the problems Peanut is having when holding a pencil is he extends his fingers instead of flexing them.  By doing activities upright it helps to encourage flexion of the fingers when writing.  We are working on this with a variety of mediums and thicknesses of items to hold.  We have used sidewalk chalk, paint, Dry erase crayons (by the way, my new favorite item!), and stamps.  We also use a touchscreen computer to do our computer work (which includes trace work).  The 2 programs we use are Starfall.com and ABC Mouse.com.
Sassy loves the dry erase crayons.
Peanut using the chalk on the other side of the easel.
We also cut out our memory verse and colored our number of the week (the number 9)with black marker (the color of the week).
The kids love to display their work at their work table
Another little project we did was making our own zoos.  I gave each child a blue and a yellow piece of construction paper.  They each got stickers of zoo animals and sea creatures.  They put the sea creatures in their "tank" (the blue paper) and the zoo animals in their "cage" (the yellow paper).  I had them glue each colored paper on to a white piece of construction paper.  I then gave them strips of black paper to glue on to complete their "cage".  Peanut was doing this while talking in a growling voice saying, "We don't want to let the animals out!"  After they were done this I encouraged them to color their zoo.  Sassy colored a little and then decided she was done.  Peanut and I decided after a little bargaining, that he should at least draw a tree.  He insisted he couldn't do it and so I helped him out with a little hand over hand assistance.
Peanut's Zoo.
On Thursday I went online before I started dinner and found a cute project on Our Little Monkeys called a  Christmas Countdown Chain.  I was so excited when I saw this and I scrambled to put it together for the kids.  I wanted them to be able to pull off their first link that night and I was able to put it all together before  bedtime.  I think next year when they are older I'll do this again but next time I'll add a scripture on each link and turn this into a month long night time Christmas devotional.
Here is Peanuts Christmas Countdown chain.
We had a great and encouraging week.  The time to Christmas is going to begin to fly and I'm honestly looking forward to it.
Coming up next week:  More operation organization, the conclusion to our journey in Therapeutic Listening, fun Christmas crafts, and a recipe for homemade chicken broth.

God Bless!
Mommy Provost
This post is linked up with:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Operation Organization! : Part 2

When I first started this organization project, I had set a goal to be finished by Thanksgiving.  Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone and I still have yet to finish everything on my "to do" list to completely organize our life.  I will be the first to admit I was wrong.  I tend to think I can way more done than I actually can.  I think I forget that there is only 24 hours in a day!  I am taking my time with this so I can get everything done right the first time.  I'm happy with everything so far and I'm already finding a much better efficiency in the way we complete our daily schedule.  If you are not familiar with the way things were "before", you can read about it in a previous post called, Operation Organization! : Part One

First was that terrible table in the kitchen.  I was able to eliminate most of the clutter.  I created a Bills binder.  The center of the table looks a little messy still but is much better.  There are multiple compartments for mail and things to hold on to.  I plan to organize this further at some point (once I figure out how I want to do that).  I also have spots for recent homeschool magazines church evangels and current devotionals.
Next on the list was the new book shelf.  I feel it is much more organized.  I still would like to change a couple of things around, but otherwise I'm very happy with it.

On the bottom shelf I have a few puzzles and I a milk crate I am using to file our entire school year.  Every week has their own file folder and inside I have everything that I have already printed as well as things that we do weekly such a cutting practice sheets, bible verses etc.

The second shelf is for Peanut and Sassy's work boxes.  In between their boxes I keep all of the books we are reading throughout the week in our homeschool curriculum.  The third shelf is for our games for the month.  We have a decent stock of games.  Peanut especially loves to play games and I love playing them with him.  I rotate the games out every month to prevent any of our games from getting "old" and boring.
The fourth shelf has 2 baskets of art supplies.  The left basket has all of our Soy-Yer Dough and tools.  The basket on the right has our paints and daubers.  In the center I have all of our coloring books.  The fifth shelf has all of our new binders, the kids Bible and devotional, and our weekly file.  The binders are split up by category.  I have been slowly organizing them and will go into much more detail in a later post.
This is our weekly file.  I have given each day it's own folder.  I also have one for miscellaneous papers needed for the week, as well as a folder in the back for papers to be filed, and tot packs/lap books to work on.  I have been using Sunday nights to go through the file and remove anything we no longer need for the next week.  I then go through and put the school work for each day in the days folder.  This has been so helpful to keep me organized and it saves so much time for me!

The sixth shelf is for the rest of our supplies that we use often such as crayons, markers, glue, the calender numbers, and pencil boxes.  The seventh shelf contains most of my books related to Autism and books about homeschooling.  I also have the kids piggy banks and coins ready to reward a child.

Finally, I created a sheet to keep my homeschool and therapy plans on track.  I wasn't sure how well it would work but I have to say, I love it!  I have every category separated.  Whenever I complete an activity I highlight it.  This makes it easier for me on the following day to see what I didn't get done.  It's really working out well for me.

So that is the progress I have made so far in organizing our lives.  So far I am very happy, I just wish I had more time in the day.  I'm hoping to continue upstairs as well as organize my homeschool storage downstairs.  I am also working with my husband on completely redesigning My Angels and Autism as well!  Happy Organizing!

God Bless!
Mommy Provost

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How I do it...

Not a month or even a week goes by where I don't hear, "I don't know how you do it."  I honestly don't ever know how to respond to this.  I usually say that I'm just doing what any good mother would do for her children, but I never feel confident in that response.   I'm now writing this in honest response to all of those who have asked me in the past, "How do you do it?"  It has taken me a while to get to the point where I could answer this question, but I feel I'm at the point where I have my answer.  I can answer in one word....God.  Sound crazy?  Maybe to some.  God is more amazing than any word I could ever put to paper.  If you know Him, I mean truly know Him, then you know exactly what I'm talking about.  I'm not talking about knowing about God, I mean knowing God...having a personal relationship with Him.  I could NEVER do what I do every day, without Him.  I know with God there is nothing I can't handle.

"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it" 1 Corinthians 10:13 New International Version (NIV)

I was saved before I was married or had children, and I thought I knew God, but now that I look back on it I really didn't know God like I do today.  Once a person is saved it really is a slow and steady process of growth.  Some days you find yourself closer to him than others.  It can be pretty confusing.  The first big turning point for me was when I was pregnant with Peanut.  At 23 weeks, they found something "wrong".  After a higher level ultrasound we discovered that our little baby boy had a blockage that was not allowing urine to pass and it was backing into his kidneys.  He was at risk for kidney failure and the doctor was preparing us for the thought of intrauterine surgery to correct the issue.  We also were told that there was a risk that he might be born with Down Syndrome.  There was nothing we could do except to wait, and pray.  On that day we had 2 choices.  We could cry and wallow in our sorrows, or we could muster up strength and faith and pray for our child. So we prayed, our church prayed, our family prayed, and our friends prayed.  One morning I was driving home from work (I worked 3rd shift as a nurse), I was praying again about Peanut and his health issues and I was suddenly overcome with an overwhelming sense of peace.  I called my husband and told him that Peanut was okay and we didn't need to worry anymore.  I knew God was with us and Peanut was healed.  A week later, we went back in to see the neonatologist to have a follow up visit to decide what needed to be done.  After an ultrasound, the doctor came in to talk to us about the results.  He said, "What ever it is that you are doing keep it up!  I can't see any evidence that there was ever even a blockage!"  My baby boy was healed by God through faith and prayer and on August 21, 2007 he was born a perfect and healthy little baby boy.

 Fast forward to December 9, 2009.  Things weren't right with Peanut and his development.  He was delayed in most areas despite a year of early intervention therapy.  We drove 2 hours north to a specialist in Developmental Neurology.  We sat in his exam room while he examined Peanut, asked us questions and played with him. That day, our perfect little child was diagnosed with Autism.  The doctor also believed that Peanuts staring spells were seizures and in 1 month he would have to be admitted to the hospital for a 24 hour EEG. (A test to see if someone is having seizures).  My husband and I walked to the car with Peanut in silence.  After we were all buckled into our seats I turned to my husband and said, "So what do you think about all of this?"  He turned back and said, "I don't know."  I didn't begin to cry until I finally uttered the words, "He has Autism.".  I then cried the rest of the way home, and for the next week after that.  For a while I strayed from God and even stopped praying all together.

" for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"  Romans 3:23 New International Version (NIV)

We began to research what we could do to help out child. We put Peanut on a gluten free diet and his staring episodes stopped completely.  He began to make eye contact and speak functionally.  Thankfully his 24 hour EEG was negative for seizure activity.  When a child is diagnosed with Autism, the family goes through the stages of grief, and we did.  It was a slow process, but we eventually healed and were again ready for the battle that lay ahead.  I slowly began to put my faith in God again and the more I did this, the more I noticed something interesting.  When I ignored God and didn't pray before making a decision about Peanut and his treatments, it would be something that just wouldn't work.  If I took the time to pray about it and lean on God to lead me in to the correct direction, then it would work so incredibly it would seem almost miraculous!  I got the hint and began again to lean on God more and more.

By June 2011 we were finally getting comfortable with our "new lives" with Autism on our plates.  We didn't stay comfortable for long, and on April 20, 2011, Sassy was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome (a form of Autism).  Again, 2 choices.  Wallow in sorrow or lean on our faith.  We again, chose faith.  It didn't take a year to heal, or even an evening.  That night I blogged about how I felt, as simply as could. (The post was titled: My Goliath)  I wasn't going to let my faith waiver this time, no matter how hard it was, I was going to stay strong in God.  Autism was now my "Goliath" and with God on my side I was going to fight this giant and I was going to win!

'But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.' 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 New International Version (NIV)

This was another turning point for me. I began to pray more and began to listen to God.  It dawned on me that instead of saying, "Why us?", I should ask, "Why not us?"  This journey thus far has transformed me into a person I never thought I could be.  It has given me a strength and determination I have never experienced before.  My faith is stronger than ever, and I am closer to God now more than ever.  Our experience has shown us what really matters in our life, and more importantly what should really matter to me.  Our experience has made me who I am today.  I would never wish Autism on anyone, and I would never hope for it to burden our lives, but it is the journey that God has chosen for us and so I will accept it and move forward with God by our side.
"The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures,he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths

for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." 

Psalm 23 New International Version (NIV)

I am not thankful for my children having Autism, but I am thankful for the blessings we have received that would not have occurred if we were not struggling with Autism.  I am thankful for the closer relationship I have with God.  Without Him I would be nothing.  I am thankful for the strength this has given my marriage.  I am thankful that I don't take any little word spoken by our children or any little hug or snuggle for granted. I am thankful for the improved health we have as a result of the diet we have chosen for our children.  I am thankful for all of the wonderful people we have met who have touched our lives.  I am thankful for the ability to take all we have learned and share it with others who may need it.  I am thankful for the ability to look upon our lives in a positive light and not a negative one. I am thankful that our struggles have made me the woman I am today.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—" Ephesians 2:8 New International Version (NIV)

So how do I do it? GOD

Now I am going to turn it around and ask you, how do you do it?  How do you get through the day to day struggles we all have?  Do you know God too, or do you just know of Him?  If you don't have God in your life, I need to tell you this...find Him, hold on to Him and never let go.  I guarantee you won't regret it and it will change your life for the better without a doubt.

"he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."  Titus 3:5-7 New International Version (NIV)

How do you do that? Pray to Him.  Ask for His presence in your life.  Ask for forgiveness for your past and your sins.  Take that leap of faith and believe in him.  Read about Him. Get to know God for who he really is through His word.

 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16 New International Version (NIV)

 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10:13 New International Version (NIV)

Sin and shame.  Guilt and pain.  Pride and your conceit.  Here and now.  Lay them down.  At the Savior's feet
What have you got to lose? What have you got to lose? And tell me why you're so afraid.  What have you got to lose?  What have you got to lose?  Think of all you have to gain.  Hope and dreams.  And all the things.  That you have ever made.  It don't mean much if in the end, you have lost your way.  What have you got to lose? What have you got to lose? And tell me why you're so afraid.  What have you got to lose?  What have you got to lose?  Think of all you have to gain.

Let go of all you know.  Only then can life be found.  Surrender all you hold.  Lay it down, lay it down, lay it down
What have you got to lose? What have you got to lose? And tell me why you're so afraid.  What have you got to lose?  What have you got to lose?  Think of all you have to gain.

God Bless
Mommy Provost

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Wrap Up

Thanksgiving has finally come to a close, and now the craziness before Christmas can begin!  Yesterday went really well.  We only had one tantrum/meltdown from Sassy that took a good 30 minutes to recover from, but otherwise they did well (with a nap in the middle of the day).  This past week was our first scheduled "vacation week" since we started our school year.  The funny thing is we did everything except our work boxes.  The kids love school and don't want a vacation!  How could I say no to that?  I planned a project or activity for each day of this week.  Some of them we did, others we didn't do.

Operation organization update: In short....I'm not done yet, but I am making progress!  I will be the first one to admit, I didn't make my goal to get it all done before Thanksgiving.  I tried but I tend to overestimate the amount of time in the day, and schedule a little too much for myself on a weekly basis.  Updated pictures are to come.  

Our Thanksgiving Week:

I had some cute scarecrow pictures I had found 2 years ago at the Target dollar area that we painted with water colors. 

Sassy decided to pain her fingers instead.

Peanut really got into it.
 We had a pajama day....
And lounged around.......

I had to share this one!  Peanut independently snapped together some blocks and made a "vacuum"!!! 
 We painted our fingers (which made Sassy really happy!) and made fingerprint Turkeys.  Sassy named her's "Tom".  I forgot how small the kids fingers were, and so they came out pretty small, but still cute.

I found a great color by number from the Thanksgiving pack from 1+1+1=1 in the Thanksgiving Tot Pack.  Sassy wanted nothing to do with it, but Peanut was very interested to do it one on one with Mommy.  I think he did a great job!

We also make a Thankfulness tree.  I cut out a handful of leaves and a tree, and we sat at the table and talked about the things we were thankful for.  The kids told me what they were thankful for and I wrote it on the leaves.  I think the funniest one is "The box of markers."  My most favorites, "School with Mommy", "God", and "Jesus".
On Thanksgiving morning I unveiled our "Thanksgiving Box".  It doesn't look like much here but it is packed full of Thanksgiving activities for the kids to use.  I thought it would be a nice change from the Tot books we have been using.  I took each activity and put them in their own zip lock bags to keep it organized.  We had a long day of Thanksgiving festivities planned and this was a great way to keep them entertained while still learning.
The Thanksgiving box
The inside of the box contained printables from multiple sites.  I laminated them all with self sticking sheets or with clear contact paper (my favorite option).  All of the sites have awesome printables for all occasions and subjects.  I recently discovered dry erase crayons, and the kids LOVE using them on laminated sheets.  Here is where I got all of the printables:

Our little Monkeys: Little adventures Preschool : Small number puzzles, turkey game (pin the feathers on the turkey), short path game, matching, and geometric solids.
1+1+1=1 : Turkey colors, Little people sizes, match the pilgrim to the mayflower, patterns and letter match up.

Homeschool Creations : Match the Pilgrim to the turkey, size sorting, patterns, number puzzle, word to picture matching.
Here are the contents of the box.
Our New Discovery:
Peanut has had struggles with writing and coloring for a while.  One day he just decided he didn't want to write anymore and would cry when I asked him to color.  None of the therapists could figure it out, but I knew there had to be something more to it, I just wasn't sure what.  Then on Wednesday I got an email from Lori over at Montessori for Everyone.  She saw a picture of Peanut holding a pencil and suspected Dysgraphia.  After reading about it...the light bulb went off.... that's it!  I have to say writing this blog has blessed us in so many ways, this is just another blessing and answer to prayer!  I immediately went to work researching to find out how to help Peanut.  While I was running some last minute errands on Wednesday I purchased a handful of materials to use to help strengthen some of the fine motor weakness in his hands and encourage the correct grasping for a pencil.  Now that I know what may be wrong, I know what we may need to do in terms of modifications.  I am so grateful to Lori for that email!

While I was out I also found this cute little game using tweezers.  What and awesome fine motor game!  It's called Scatterpillar Scramble.  It is now the new favorite game for the kids.
They did a great job!
And finally.....it was time for Thanksgiving and our gigantic table.  Notice the centerpiece??
I hope everyone had a wonderful, safe, and happy Thanksgiving.  We have so much to come for our blog.  We are slowly growing and learning more and more.  I'm hoping to finish Operation organization, conclude our journey with Therapeutic Listening and redesign My Angels and Autism, and then of course...there is Christmas.

God Bless!
Mommy Provost