Saturday, July 31, 2010

We Love Our Wildlife!

Earlier this week Allison caught the smallest lizard I have ever seen.  After the cold winter, we did not see any lizards for a while, but they appear to be making a comeback.

Allison caught her first bass this morning in the lake behind our house.  She was proud of herself. 

The kids started throwing lunch meat in the water to feed a soft shell turtle.  It was lots of fun watching him come up to eat. He kind of blends in but he is the brown circle toward the top of the picture.  

Leah decided it would be fun to drop the hook she had been fishing with in the water to see what the turtle would do...........he took the bait.  Literally.  He had been cautious to not come too close to the shore so I was sure when Leah dropped the hook in, he would not come up to it because it was pretty close to us. In seconds, he saw the bait and grabbed it before I could get it out of the water.  Poor guy.  I had to work pretty hard to get that hook out. 

We found this grasshopper on the pool screen.  I used to see these all the time growing up, but this is the first one I have seen here in Florida.  The girls thought he was really cool and had to have their pictures made with him.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Is Winding Down

Summer is quickly coming to an end here in Florida, well as far as school is concerned.  The girls will go back to school on August 9th.  Wish the heat would go away when the kids head back to school, but no such luck.  It will probably be around till December.  I feel for the kids having to trudge back and forth to school in the heat and humidity..........makes them tough, I guess.  This 105 degree heat index may kill them before they toughen up, though. 

We had a very laid back summer.  The girls did not go to any camps, so the summer consisted pretty much of hanging out with neighborhood friends and swimming in the pool.  Sometimes it was hanging out with the neighborhood friends in the pool! There were days of staying in your jammies until you changed into your swimsuit, and mornings sleeping in.  The big girls will actually sleep past 9:00am sometimes now!!  Not Rachel though, no matter how late you keep her up.  There were days of camping in the Keys, building tents in the bedrooms, visiting with cousins, celebrating the 4th of July with neighbors, playing Wii games, playing cards, getting haircuts, and going to the dentist for checkups (the girls LOVE doing that on summer vacation!)  I managed to get Rachel to the orthopedist to get new orthotics.  I also got her started with a new speech therapist here in town.  The trips to the Orlando therapist were just getting to be too much, and I was only going twice a month.  Now Rachel is going once a week.  I miss the therapist in Orlando, though.  She was really good and worked well with Rachel.

Next week we are going to drive over to the other side of Florida and spend a few days on Sanibel Island.  We will be leaving Monday and coming home Thursday.  I have always wanted to go there for the great shelling.  We have really wanted to go to the Gulf with the kids, but with the oil spill, we were afraid to try the Panhandle this year.  The girls are looking forward to it, and I think Rachel will love the Gulf since it is so much calmer than the Atlantic.  We even found a place that takes dogs, so Cookie will get to go along for the ride.  I may learn a lesson here and he may never go on another trip with us.  We will see how that works out.     

Building tents in Rachel's room.  Did you notice that they even have a fan in the tent?

Face painting on the 4th of July.
Rachel attempts to Wii bowl.  She didn't know that her remote didn't work, and I was actually bowling for her.  She has not figured out how to work all the buttons yet, so we just let her think she was bowling.
Cookie and Leah hang out at the pool. Wow....look at that paint job on that pool deck!  ;-)

The big girls practice their snorkeling skills. 

Rachel enjoyed playing with the water hose as we filled the pool.  Usually in the summer it rains enough that we don't have to do that, but this has been a dry summer.

Rachel was such a big girl when she got her hair cut this summer.  It was the first time she did not sit in my lap.  I did have to move in and hold her head at times, but she did pretty good on her own.  At times it looked like she was going to fall asleep in the chair.

Rachel has been learning how to swim deeper into the pool this summer.  It has been so funny to watch her try to get below the surface.  Her little butt pops up in the air every time. 

This is what happens after the butt pops up and she begins her descent.  She is actually making it almost to the bottom of the pool in the deep end, which is eight feet! 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

eReadingPro Reading Program

When I was at the National Down Syndrome Congress Convention, I purchased a reading program for Rachel called eReadingPro.  Listening to the speaker, it just made so much sense. It states children with Down syndrome are visual learners (and Rachel is) To teach them to read with phonics is not the best way.  Also trying to teach a child with Ds sight words such as and, that, the, etc are difficult because the child has no mental picture they can associated the word with.  She stated that showing the child flashcards of words that they can get a mental picture of allows them to quickly memorize the word.  The program works through lots of repetition with lots of flashcards (LOTS of flashcards, the book states that to complete the program I will need 700 sheets of card stock!)  At first the child is just memorizing words, but the program builds and the flashcards get more difficult.  As the child progesses, you add in the site words like and, is, the, etc.  At first the child is just spitting out memorized words, but over time they start to associate the words with meanings and the program states that at that point you can start to work on phonics.

This program seems to be meant for Rachel, because she to love to memorize things.  She loves to watch movies and listen to songs so that she can repeat the lines with them.  I am hoping that she really likes this program.  It gives you a daily calendar that is 14 months long.  I started with the first four cards this morning.  It says to make it fun and only do the cards when the child is happy.  It also says to do each set of cards three times a day........not sure if Rachel is going to be happy every time. As a matter of fact, she was not thrilled with the first round of flashcards this morning.  She is a creature of habit, and I am sure that as it becomes part of the routine, she will be happier to do them. 

Below are a few of the over 100 hundred cards that I have printed out this week.  I did go ahead and change some of the cards, because the program come with ready to print cards with names that Rachel has never heard.  It seems that woud be the same as asking her to memorize the site words that have no meaning to her, so I made my our cards with family and friends names copying the size, font, and color used in the program. 

Here is our beginning schedule.  Seems straightforward enough to start out (you put a label on the back of each card that shows a letter and number on it to correspond to the schedule below)

But it seems to get a little confusing as it progresses.......

Hopefully, it will all start to make sense to me as I work my way through it.  Wish me luck.  It will be REALLY cool if it works.  I am excited to think that a year from now Rachel could be reading.  Another possible plus is an improvement in Rachel's speech.  That would be even better!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

National Down Syndrome Congress Convention 2010
Orlando, Florida
July 16, 17 and 18

I spent this past weekend driving back and forth to Orlando for the Down Syndrome Convention.  I just signed up for the preconference sessions and the Saturday and Sunday workshops.  I did not attend the banquets, dance and such.  There were so many knowledgeable people gathered in one space at one time that I was torn as to which workshops I would attend.  I wish I could have gone to more.  On Friday, I attended an all day session on speech that was taught by Dr. Libby Kumin.  Friday afternoon I attended a sharing session. They had if set up so that you could be in a room with moms that had kids your kids' age.  It was an opportunity to sit and chat with other moms that are going through some of the same things.  It was one of my favorite things at the conference.  Saturday I attended workshops on inclusion, speech, and teaching children with Ds to read.  My favorite workshop was the reading workshop.  I really bought into the speaker's idea of how to teach much so that I bought the program.  I am excited to see how it works with Rachel.  I also picked up a few books and educational games at the exhibition.  

On Saturday, I was able to meet up with some fellow bloggers!  Aimee, from Aimee's Bowl Of Cherries;  Melanie, from The Baeten Family;  Kelli, from Living Life With Es; and I had lunch together.  Despite having to sit outside in the heat it was really neat to get to meet the other moms.  An added bonus was getting to meet Aimee's little girl, Piper.  She is simply adorable!!!  Believe it or not she is cuter in person than she is in pictures!!  I cannot believe none of us took any pictures.  I even had my camera with me just for that occasion and got so wrapped up in talking that I totally forgot about it.  Bummer.  Ladies I really enjoyed the get together.  Thank you, Kelli, for getting us together!     

There were some people at the Orlando conference that go to the conferences every year!  I am glad I went, but I am not sure that I would go again anytime soon.  Maybe as Rachel gets older.  There were lots of things for the older Ds population and their siblings to do that sounded like lots of fun.  It was really neat to be in a place where everyone knew where you were coming from.  I have never seen so many people with Down syndrome before.  It was wonderful to see the young adults being so independent.  It helps me keep in mind that anything is possible for Rachel.  I might have enjoyed seeing all the little ones even more.  There were soooo many little ones there and they were all just so cute!  The Down syndrome world was in Orlando this past weekend, and I am glad to have been able to be a part of it.   

Monday, July 19, 2010

Family Visit

My Dad came down from Alabama July 9th and stayed with us until the 15th.  During his visit, my sister drove over from Tampa with her two girls and spent the weekend with us too.  It was a nice visit.  As always, the cousins had a great time and were as silly as ever.  Sunday, we took the girls ice skating.  I decided it was time for Rachel to try it out, so she got on the ice for her first time.  The rink rents out walkers to the new skaters, and it worked quite well for Rachel.  She had a blast.  I figured she would be done after one lap around the rink, but she stayed on the ice for the whole hour and didn't want to get off went the free skate was over.  We will definitely have to take her back!  Leah and Amelia decided they need the walkers too, so we looked like a bunch of old ladies going around that rink. 

Hannah will be having a birthday on July 22nd, so we had an early celebration while the family was all together.  She will be 10!!  Another kiddo hits the double digits. 

One night we attempted to do a family Wii tournament.  Turns out only Rachel and the grownups were interested in playing.  I am embarrassed to say the the next day I was sore!  It is a lot of work to flap your arms to make the chicken fly......and the boxing was no piece of cake either.  Jane and I went head to head in the boxing ring, and worked out all those pent up frustrations from childhood.

The last night Daddy was here, everyone enjoyed hanging out with him on the couch, even Cookie.  Unfortunately, Rachel went to bed before I remembered to get a picture.

Just before Daddy left, I remembered to get a pic of me and my sister with him.  Too bad I did not plan it when we could have looked better.  I am not liking my new camera, either.  It is 14 mega pixels, yet most pictures come out fuzzy!  It does help conceal my wrinkles though!  Hmmmmmm, maybe fuzzy is not so bad after all!  Wonder why my side of the picture is more fuzzy than my sister's.  Wonder if there is some built in wrinkle detector on this new fangled camera!!   

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summer Haircuts

Last week the girls went in for haircuts.  All the long hair was just getting to be too much to mess with during the swimming season.  Not to mention, it had been a long time, and their hair was looking a little worse for wear.  Alliosn and Rachel got a couple of inches cut off, while Leah just got a trim.  She says she wants to grow hers out as long as Allison was.  We will see how she does with that.  Allison is a little upset with how short her bangs are, but she is loving the shorter hair and it looks so much healthier.  Rachel is loving the fact that it does not take so much work to get all the tangles out in the mornings.  

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Charmed Life

Cookie went up to Grandpa's with us for Father's Day.  It was his first trip with us and he did great.  He has a tendancy to mark his territory and he likes to chase cats, so he was not allowed to roam freely around the house.  He did enjoy hanging out on Grandpa's back porch with the family.  Check him out relaxing on the lounge chair! 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cousins Are Cool Too!

We had a fun time last weekend.  The cousins came over to spend a few days with us.  Nothing is better than having the cousins least according to Allison and Leah.  Rachel seems to like having them over too.  She doesn't really play with them when they are here, but she gets excited when we talk about them coming.  It is tiring having five little girls running around the house and always saying they are hungry, but it is nice not to have Allison and Leah complaining about being bored, so in a way it is a break for me too. 

The girls arrived Saturday evening, and they all got into the pool immediately.  They got out for a short time to eat dinner and then were back in until almost 10:00pm.  Rachel does not last that long, but she was in there with them for a while.  Sunday, we packed up and went to the beach.  I cannot believe we have been twice in one month!  We are practically beach bums now.......well, compared to our usual of two trips in a year.  The girls had a great time and I managed to get enough sunblock on them for a change.  When we got home the girls spent another evening in the pool.  Rachel was done with swimming after the beach and would not get into the pool. 

Monday we went to Funtown.  It is a local roller rink that has arcade games, laser tag, and of course, roller skating.  I actually got Rachel some skates for the first time, and let her give it a whorl.  In order for me to be out on the rink with her, I had to wear skates too.  How you are supposed to stay on your feet and hang on to a 6 year old that has no concept of how to skate is beyond me, but I gave and shot and we only went down a few times.  At least I manged to make all the falls happen in slow motion and no one got hurt.  We made it around the rink twice.  It felt like it took us an hour and half to do it, but it was probably more like 10- 15 minutes.  It nearly killed my legs, arms and back and I am still a little sore today.  When we got home the girls spent another

Tuesday, we just hung out around the house, and my sister arrived around 3:00pm to pick up her girls.  After three days, I think they were all glad to get a break from one another.  They would never admit that they have had enough of each other, but we had some pretty grouchy girls for most of Tuesday.  They will get a break from each other for about and week, then the cousins are back over for another weekend visit when my Dad comes down from Alabama for a few days.  We are all looking forward to really, we are!