Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Chia Seeds: A Simple and Fun Way to Make Your Kids WANT to Boost Their Fiber and Nutrition!

OK, this is a silly little post, but I'm quite proud of this idea, so I needed to share it.




I put Chia Seeds, which are super nutritious and high in fiber, into a pepper shaker.

Pay attention now because this is the key: I then called them "sprinkles."

Since my twins' first introduction to "sprinkles" was during Christmas cookie season, they were predictably elated about having sprinkles on whatever they want — oatmeal, applesauce, whatever. They even get to shake them themselves and who cares if they put on way too many?

It's been several months now and they still are excited about sprinkles and only occasionally seem to wonder why they don't taste like anything.

Try it with your kids. Major mom points.

(Oh, but make sure you don't give them access to any pepper shakers with actual pepper in them. I have a feeling this would very rapidly end the "sprinkles" honeymoon.)







Grab button for Special Needs Tip Tuesday!
<div class="Outrageous Fortune-button" style="width: 150px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="http://www.outrageousfortune.net/search/label/tip%20tuesday" rel="nofollow"> <img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-pfDLc6CZMNI/U0N90smYK8I/AAAAAAAAC3M/-rGNPvh4MDo/s250-no/Tip+Tuesday.jpg" alt="Special Needs Tip Tuesday!" width="150" height="150" /> </a> </div>

Feel free to share this post using the tiny icon buttons below and if you haven't subscribed to my RSS feedliked me on Facebook or followed me on Twitter, there's no time like the present! 

Looking for a meaningful gift? Dark & Light: A Love Story in Black and White is a beautiful and insightful board book available here. All profits go towards my son's medical needs. 


Monday, April 21, 2014

The Risks and Rewards of Being a Medical Research Subject



Do you see how much Malachi is enjoying himself here?? This was a total shock to me!

This is during our second visit in the OnTrack study, a Canadian effort to track the progress of children with cerebral palsy. The idea is to be able to give medical professionals (and thus parents) a clearer picture of what a child with cerebral palsy can be expected to be able to do as they grow up.

Although I am wary of children being pigeonholed, I for one would welcome this sort of information. By far, the hardest part of this journey for me hasn't been accepting Malachi's disability, it's been not knowing what in the heck his disability is and whether or not he is progressing faster or slower than one would expect.

As I've mentioned before, there is a gross lack of medical research on cerebral palsy, even though it is the most common motor disorder in children. For a very long time — and even continuing today — doctors would look at the brain scan of a baby with brain damage and compare it to that of an adult with similar damage. Then they would often say something awesome like: "This child will never walk or talk."

Over and over again, they were proven wrong.

Nowadays, at the best hospitals across the nation, doctors look at the brain scan of a baby with brain damage and say: "This child will have cerebral palsy, which may severely affect his function in any number of ways... or be barely noticeable. We have no idea."

Very. Frustrating.

So when I heard about the OnTrack study, I signed Malachi up, though not without some reservations. You see, medical studies are sort of like vaccines. It would be really great if everyone else did them so that we didn't have to incur the risks!

Even though I can see during the process how researchers are trying to be respectful of the children, testing is brutal. The very nature of testing is to zero in on the problem. If you are testing inanimate objects — car battery, plywood, etc. — to discover their breaking point, this is perfectly reasonable. But when the subject is a thinking and feeling human being, it's a lot more complicated. In testing, the subject does a difficult activity until she fails. Not a very fun or uplifting thing to do, and certainly not something that makes anyone, let alone a kid, want to try very hard at it.

In Malachi's case, in particular, he has an extremely hard time with failure. The first time we did the OnTrack study six months ago, he got through about three of the tests before he threw in the towel. The researcher kept trying her best, but he just did not want to cooperate.

So it was with a certain measure of dread that we agreed to the next round of testing. Imagine my surprise, when this happened:



The dude was stoked. He kept reading (yes, he can read) the questions off her paper, relishing in the opportunity to try out the next game.

Of course, a big part of this might be that he was doing AWESOME! He sat unsupported on a bench for 30 seconds, which I didn't know he could do. He also showed off how he could catch himself with his hands sometimes and hold his head steady through various positions, which I know he wasn't doing last time. I was so proud of him!

So even though testing can be trying, I am glad we are participating in OnTrack. Progress can seem excruciatingly slow here at ground level, day in and day out, but having this semiannual check up helps me feel that we are… wait for it… on track!



Feel free to share this post using the tiny icon buttons below and if you haven't subscribed to my RSS feedliked me on Facebook or followed me on Twitter, there's no time like the present! 

Looking for a meaningful gift? Dark & Light: A Love Story in Black and White is a beautiful and insightful board book available here. All profits go towards my son's medical needs. 



Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Moms don't get holidays off — in fact, as this awesome video points out — they work harder!





Fortunately for me, bloggers do get holidays off, because I say so. I don't even have cute Easter pictures this year. Unless you count this one…



So if you need something to read, feel free to pick through my Easter archive! Good night!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

How Our Twin Three-Year-Olds Learned to Read

Malachi at 38 months adjusted age.
Right before this picture was shot, he asked me:
"Mama, what is 'pee-saw-rus'?" trying to read "Phosphorus" off this element block. 


Here's a typical day in my life:

We wake up in the morning and eat breakfast. Malachi reads the front of the food packages: "They're 'made with real honey,'" he says of the Honey Grahams. "It has '2 grams of protein,'" remarks Jaden, reading the Nutrition Facts off another package.

Then we go to preschool. Malachi discerns that today is his seatmate's birthday because she is wearing a shirt that says "Birthday Girl." Then, he glances at the wall and starts to get upset because he's pretty sure it's April but the calendar still says March. We fix the calendar and move on to painting. All the other kids pick "purple" or "blue." Malachi reads the top of all the canisters before selecting "Wine Grape" over "Sky Blue."

After preschool, it's time to go to the library. Jaden points out all the "Exit" signs, reads the time on an analog clock and enters my phone number into the check-out computer. Malachi and I pick out a fairly long ABC book by Rosemary Wells and settle down for the Read to the Dog program. By the letter C, I wait for him to read the letter before I read the rest. By the letter M, I wait for him to read the bolded words in the alphabet story. From the letter T on through the rest of the book, he READS THE ENTIRE THING ALL BY HIMSELF. Even complicated, multi-syllable words. (The dog was not all that impressed, but I sure was.)

It's even getting to the point that I have to shield my text messages from them or they will read them!

Need I remind you all that these boys are 3 1/2-year-old preemies, one of whom had significant brain damage?

Jaden is a remarkable 3-year-old reader by anyone's standards. Unfortunately for him, he often gets judged by his brother's standard which is off-the-charts. I haven't formally tested either of them, but I would guess that Malachi can probably read at a second-grade level. Seriously.

So how? How come my kids read so well?

First and foremost, I believe this household's attitude about reading is what has led to their success.

No. 1: They LOVE to read, especially Malachi. Reading is Malachi's second-biggest joy in life (the first being his love of numbers, which will have to wait for another post). If screen time is off-limits, his next choice will almost always be a book. This love of reading is something I don't think I or any of their other caregivers can take credit for. At this point, we couldn't stop them from reading if we tried.

No. 2: Malachi in particular pays a lot of attention to words. When confronted with text — say a new street sign or a poster on the wall, Malachi will stare at it for as long as it takes to figure it out. This is something deeply important to him and probably largely due to his cerebral palsy. He is often stationary when other 3-year-olds are in constant motion. He has also received an enormous amount of brain-body work through the Anat Baniel Method. (In fact, I'm pretty sure that all our efforts to teach him physical movement are going into academic prowess! Oh well, maybe he'll be able to repay us for these costly lessons after he graduates MIT — ha!)

No. 3: Psychologically Malachi and Jaden take a lot of pride in being able to read. They feel confident and powerful about reading. They know they are impressing adults when they read. For Jaden, too, he wants to be able to do what his brother does and so pays much more attention to reading than I think he would without Malachi. Psychology is an important component to learning that I think is often over-looked in test-based school environments.

No. 4: When they read, it is usually silly. We laugh many times a day about written words, either their content or their funny font style. For example, the last couple days, we've had an inside joke. Malachi will say: "This is how you Sonic," in a funny voice because one time he read a graphic slogan off the side of a Sonic restaurant cup and thought it was hilarious. That joy — that spike of dopamine — cements in those neural pathways. This is what I try to tell our conventional therapists all the time — when done right, learning is FUN, it's not hard work. It is also what might be considered "WRONG"! When Malachi says: "ThisishowyouSoonnnk," it is barely understandable. He thinks it's funny to say it all wonky and is laughing so hard that it comes out even wonkier. That's OK! I don't make him say all the words out correctly, because he's having fun and that's what matters most.

OK, now I will let you in on some of my secret teaching tools. Without the above psychological and emotional components, these would be pretty much worthless, so remember that it's not about this or that trick!

Jaden's first word was "cat." Malachi's first word was "mama" ….and his second word was "cat." So anyway, cats featured prominently in our early conversations. When I discovered that they could recognize all different colors and sizes of cats, cartoon cats, pictures of cats, etc., etc., as all belonging to the "cat" category, I figured that they could recognize letters because they are a much simpler and less variable shape. By the time they were two years old, they knew most of the alphabet and numbers up to 10. This was not something I drilled into them; I would just point out letters and numbers throughout the day just like I would point out trucks and dogs and airplanes. (They still love telling me what aisle we are on in the grocery store.)

From there, Malachi and Jaden's grandmother really took the reins. She read to them a lot and bought cool flashcards and exciting books. Their favorite books were:

  • The Fun with Phonics series by Sue Graves, including Jen the Hen, Bug in a Rug, and Fat Cat. These books all have a wheel to turn showing how changing the first letter of a word makes a rhyme, such as fat, cat, rat, mat, etc.
  • The 24-book series My First Steps to Reading by Jane Belk Moncure. Each book in this series personifies a letter as a little kid who then goes around putting things with his or her letter into a box.
  • The BOB Books boxed sets, starting with Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers, by Bobby Lynn Maslen. These very short and simply illustrated books were a huge hit. Right around when the boys turned 3, Malachi wanted these read to him over and over and over again. 

Now that they are almost 4 and read everything, everywhere, they are starting to get into punctuation. They find it immensely funny when my husband reads a story and says the punctuation out loud, such as: "It was a dark and stormy night period. The wind was howling exclamation point!"

This morning Malachi told me: "I want to sit in your lap, dot-dot-dot." Then we opened an Easter package from their Nana:

"What do you think is inside the egg?" asked their dad.

"Money, question mark?" asked Malachi as it jangled open.

"Money, exclamation point!" confirmed Jaden.




JJ reading "The Hungry Caterpillar" to Malachi. from Shasta Kearns Moore on Vimeo.


Feel free to share this post using the tiny icon buttons below and if you haven't subscribed to my RSS feedliked me on Facebook or followed me on Twitter, there's no time like the present! 

Looking for a meaningful gift? Dark & Light: A Love Story in Black and White is a beautiful and insightful board book available here. All profits go towards my son's medical needs. 




Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring Color at the Tulip Festival!

We had a fabulous time at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn today. Enjoy the spring colors!











Feel free to share this post using the tiny icon buttons below and if you haven't subscribed to my RSS feedliked me on Facebook or followed me on Twitter, there's no time like the present! 

Looking for a meaningful gift? Dark & Light: A Love Story in Black and White is a beautiful and insightful board book available here. All profits go towards my son's medical needs. 

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...