The Week Before Spring Break

The week before Spring Break had a frustrating start, but ended in accomplishments in growth.

On Monday, I spent about 15 minutes teaching one of the twins how to make circles, again! He seemed to have lost all orientation with the top, middle and bottom lines, but only while making a circle. He consistently writes his capital J in the lines, so I know he understands the concept. We also had to spend a considerable amount of time finding 2’oclock when orientated at the top line, although he understands how to find 2’oclock when he writes his o and a from the midline. This twin’s brain was turned off!

Twins practice cursive
To top that off,  my daughter rushed to play through her piano piece and played the entire thing incorrectly. I think she was hoping that I wasn’t listening. Well I was, so I very patiently, with a smile, went to sit beside her in order to help her play it correctly. The minute I sat beside her, she began to cry! If you have been reading my posts, you know the battles that we have had with the dreaded piano lessons. The piece is only 2 lines long!

But the Monday woes were not over. Both my 7 and 10 year old decided to use their checklists as a race agenda. Each child spent about 5 minutes on each checklist item. At one point, my drummer boy took out a book, looked at it, and then marked his reading log off as done. Really! Both practiced their typing for about 2 minutes and my drummer boy played his guitar for 5.

On Tuesday, the twins decided to switch roles in their cursive practice. The one who struggled Monday, did much better with sticking between the lines, but the other had a melt down, because he couldn’t do things his way. When he needed my assistance, he didn’t want it. Then when he messed up, he got upset. I insisted on aiding him, but he resisted. I do, however, always win!

I added times to the checklists and the kids had fun setting their timers. Their work was of a much better quality and there was no melt down at the piano!

Activity M T W F
ELI
Typing 15 Min
Drums 2 songs
Guitar 30 min
Reading Log 20 min
Drawing

On Wednesday, the twins did the ol’ switch-a-roo again! Both did much better at writing in the lines, but this time it was the others turn to attempt to control the situation through whining. The outcome was the same, however. Mom won!

Sample cursive Caleb sample

 

 

 

Thursday and Friday were pretty low key. I did end up correcting the twins grip. One of them actually writes better with the incorrect grip, so I am reluctant to correct much further. I will, however, gently guide him towards it as he continues to practice. The other twin corrected his grip quickly and easily. And these twins are identical?

incorrect grip incorect grip 2 Cursive J Correct grip Caleb incorrect grip

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for other curriculum news:

Easy Grammar

We started Easy Grammar, Grade 3, a few weeks ago, and we are truly loving it. My daughter and my drummer boy have both memorized the list of prepositions and find the lessons to be quick and painless. I was worried that my drummer boy would struggle through grammar, because of his language processing issues, but he is progressing very well and I am seeing connections forming.

We did have one issue with the order of adjectives to nouns, that told me a lot about how my drummer boy processes and retrieves information.
In the lesson, he had to unscramble the prepositional phrase. The scrambled words read, “old inside an shed.” He unscrambled them to read, “inside an shed old.” I had him read his phrase out loud and then asked him if it sounded correct. He said that it did. Then I read his sentence back to him the way he had written it, and asked him again if it sounded correct. He held to the affirmative. Next I asked him if “the boy young” sounded correct. He thought it did, but when I asked him which sounded better, “the boy young” or “the young boy,” the light went on, and he said that the young boy sounded much better. So then I asked him again if the shed old still sounded correct. He did not connect the two phrases, so I asked him to choose which phrase sounded better, “an shed old” or “an old shed.” At that ah ha moment, he took off, and with only a little more help, completed the lesson correctly and quickly.

ELI

My oldest and my drummer boy have been participating in educational therapy through the Essential Learning Institute for about a year now. I haven’t seen much improvement in my drummer boy’s ability to recall word meanings after an exercise, so I called the therapist for advice.
The therapist decided to move him back several lessons until his word meaning recall becomes more automatic. I had to encourage my drummer boy to persevere through his exercises this week. I explained to him that this will make the brain stronger so that he can learn easier, just like physical exercise makes the body stronger, so that every day life is easier. I believe I was encouraging myself as well, because I am just as sick with this therapy program as he is. The program was only supposed to be 9 months and he would be “fixed.” Honestly, that should have been a red flag right there, but I was suckered in anyway. It is not all for waste though, we have seen tremendous improvement in his language processing capabilities, but is that because of the therapy, or the GAPS diet, or the art classes? How is one to tell? My oldest says that it has helped his concentration, so that is good. Still wondering when it will end though!

Bible/Character Study

We have been studying 1 Samuel and this week we studied the story of Abigail and her foolish husband Nabal. I was amazed that Abigail actually took the blame for her foolish husband’s actions toward David which nearly got them all killed. This was the characteristic trait that I wanted to teach my children. I have been pointing out situations in which they place the blame on another, and ask them to rethink it “Abigail style.” For example, when a younger sibling is playing with legos and leaves the room without cleaning up, and an older sibling is in the room, not playing with the legos, but sees that the younger sibling has left the room without cleaning up, that older sibling should remind the younger sibling of our clean up rule and then help him clean up. Therefore, when I tell everyone to clean up the room, and I hear, “But I did not make the mess!” I can redirect their thinking Abagail style. It is a humbling experience to take the blame for someone else, but Jesus took the blame for us too.

Amanda Bennett Unit Studies

This week we also started our first Amanda Bennett,  Twisting Tornado, unit study. It should only take 4 days, but will probably take us 8. My drummer boy is easily distracted this week, probably due to the Zyrtec, but it is either that or allergies, not sure which is worse, so the study is taking longer than it might when he is better focused.

Encyclopedia

This is our first unit study and we have only completed the first day, but I already love it. I especially love how she incorporates scripture. This gets us out of the box of grammar, spelling, and math as separate subjects and connects it all together. It allows the kids to express themselves and critically think about a subject. This study even had the kids use a dictionary. Oops! I may have forgotten to teach that skill. I look every unknown word up on Google. I guess they should learn how to do both, just in case they don’t have a computer, Iphone, or Ipad near by, which is almost never for my kids. I actually had to dust the dictionaries off!

We chose to study tornadoes because the book club we had joined chose weather as the first month’s theme. Not to mention that ever since we had read “The Wizard of Oz,” the kids have been obsessed with tornadoes. More updates to come on this engaging activity.

That’s the skinny on the week before spring break as we anxiously await the arrival of our beloved family.

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Healing the GAPS

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We (my kids really) have been on the GAPS diet now for a year and a half.  The diet was introduced to me by a friend who was reading the book as a possible cure for her husband’s IBS problem. As she was reading it, my drummer boy came to her mind, so she shared the book with me. The book was written by Dr. Natasha Campbell, a neurologist, who gave birth to an autistic son. In all her medical knowledge, she could not heal her autistic son, so she studied nutrition. Through nutrition, her son is now healed, or as she calls it “recovered” from his autism. As I read the book, the Lord gave me such a great conviction to implement this diet that I could barely stand not to do it. My husband and I decided to put all of the kids on it and eat it ourselves (when we are with them). Implementing this diet has been quite a challenge in discipline, organization, and self control.

The diet consists of 3 phases: the introduction, the full diet, and coming off the diet. In a nut shell, the full diet does not allow processed food, sugar, or grains of any kind. The bulk of the diet is soup made of homemade broth, boiled meats and animal fats, and vegetables fermented and raw. Eggs, dairy, and nuts may also be eaten if there is no allergy.

We started implementing the diet slowly so as to get our kids used to the new flavors of food they were going to have to eat. I simply did not purchase any more non-GAPS food items, and once all of the non-GAPS food ran out, we were on the full GAPS diet.  After the kids were used to the full GAPS diet, I put them on the introductory diet for 3 days. Then, we slowly moved back into the full GAPS diet.

Implementing this diet, was probably one of the toughest things I have ever done. The twins were especially resistant to the chicken broth and I literally thought all of my kids were going to starve. Thankfully, hunger overrides. It also took a lot of organization on my part. We live 20 minutes from town and most of our errands happen in the city which is a good 45 minutes away. I have to always have food prepared to take with us when we leave the house. This means that I always need to know where we are going and when we were going.

Here is an example of our daily menu:

4 out of 5 kids are, thankfully, happy to have the same breakfast each morning. Pancakes, consisting of bananas, or squash, eggs, and peanut butter all mixed together in the vita mix and poured onto the hot griddle. The other kid usually has left over meat with homemade GAPS ketchup.

Lunch always consists of the soup: homemade bone broth with cabbage, carrots, onion, and left over meat. At this time I start boiling whatever meat we may be having for dinner. I often will start this before breakfast in the crockpot as well.

Snacks: Nuts, fruit and raw veges, as well as freshly made juice from the juicer (carrots, apples and greens).

Dinner: Lettuce wraps or salads with the meat I have boiled. Bones are usually always boiling in water for the broth by this time.

Desert: Peanut butter or yogurt with honey or strawberry ice cream made in the vita mix with frozen strawberries, honey, and milk. I always make peanut butter cookies made with honey and coconut flour to take to birthday parties.

Outings: Banana muffins, or pumpkin bread, both made with coconut and almond flour. And of course, nuts, raisins and fruit are quick to go items.

I am amazed at how the Lord has provided for our family to eat this diet, which consists of food priced well beyond our means. We have an organic produce farmer just around the corner from us who sells us bulk veges at an incredibly low cost for organic food. A friend from church raises, and processes, all of our meat: lamb, beef, goat, pork, and chicken as well as goat milk, also for an incredibly low price. Probably our most expensive items are the nuts and the out of season fruit.

And the healing has been incredible! My drummer boy, who could barely speak a coherent sentence, is now hearing himself, hearing me, correcting himself, and asking for corrections. He is thinking and learning better than ever before. He is able to sit still and concentrate for longer periods of time and he hasn’t had a migraine in 5 months (He used to get two to four a month, since birth!) His face is rounder, not gaunt, and his stomach is no longer distended.  My ballerina no longer snores (I had no idea this diet will cure that) and she also concentrates better with a longer attention span than before. The twins are calmer and generally healthier. And they all look amazingly healthy and have a great amount of healthy energy. Everyone that knows our drummer boy has commented on the tremendous improvements he has made on this diet.

I highly recommend this diet for anyone with an autistic child or any child with learning disabilities. The book is full of scientific  proof that bad stomach bacteria will block learning and actually causes an opium effect in the brain. Grains and starches are a drug to these children. Heal the gut, heal the mind. It is our duty as parents to be diligent in providing the best for our children. It is hard, but it does work!