I originally started this blog a few years ago to chronicle Noah's daily struggles with autism. It was a dark time in my life - a time when I felt that things would never get better. It was a time when I felt that all my hopes and dreams for my son and for our family had died. In my efforts to help Noah recover from autism, I began a journey that inadvertently led me to rediscover myself. I learned how to laugh again. How to dream again. How to live again. How to love again.

Autism Schmaustism. He's still our son.

This is a blog celebrating our family. Our kids. Our life.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Leslie's Homeschool Day In A Life (with a 9 year old son with Autism)

Over at Simple Homeschool they've been showcasing different families and what a typical homeschool day is like for each one.

I didn't officially link up to showcase our family, but it did inspire me to sit down and write a major overdue post about what a typical homeschool day is like for Noah.

In one word? Untypical.

It changes all the time... especially because I'm a morning person and get jack-all done after 2.00pm. Partly because that's just how I am and partly because I have to entertain my "General Hospital" obsession... and it comes on at 2... and partly because after that then Eli & Nandi come home and absolutely nothing constructive whatsoever gets achieved for the rest of the day.

It also changes a lot because we have a lot going on. We go to Dallas every Monday and Tyler every other Tuesday for therapy and our day is pretty much shot by the time we get home. But we do our best and it's better than doing nothing... at least that's what I tell myself.

I've spent the last few months really trying to fine tune a schedule that works for Noah. There's always a guilt that I'm not doing enough and sometimes I fear that everything I'm doing is quite pointless, but I can't bear the thought of just letting him sit in a corner all day... although it seems to be his favorite thing to do.... so we just keep trucking along.

Right now... here's how our schedule looks. BTW, my colon and semicolon buttons don't work, so I have to use periods in place of colons... just an FYI. I'm not trying to be super cool or anything. =)

Morning -

5.30 - 6.30 - I wake up. Fix Sim's lunch and coffee and check my email and read some blogs.

6.30 - 7.45 - Eli and Nandi wake up. They watch cartoons on PBS and eat breakfast and get ready for school.

7.45 - I wake up Noah. We load the kids in the car and drop Nandi & Eli off at school.

8.10 - get back home. Make Noah use the Ipad to choose what he wants for breakfast (still using hand over hand). He usually chooses cereal. Using hand over hand, I make him get the bowl and spoon. He pours the cereal and I help him with the (rice)milk. He has to close the milk and put it up. This is still mostly Hand over Hand (hoh).

I fix myself breakfast and Noah usually eats some of it. It helps gets his veggies in. I usually scramble 3 eggs and chuck in some chopped raw spinach, brown rice, basil, some rotel or salsa, and whatever leftover veggies we have. Noah will usually eat veggies and chicken if it's been finely chopped up in the food processor. I split it in half for each of us. If he doesn't eat it, it goes in the fridge to be heated up for lunch.

8.30 - 9.00 - I rub Noah's legs and arms and tummy and back with coconut oil. I get him dressed. (He still can't dress himself) and I try to get him to help me. I brush his teeth and make sure his fingernails are clipped.... that's a must because he has dry skin and likes to scratch himself. Then I give him his remedies. He takes one remedy in the morning and I put it in Sambucus - which is Elderberry extract.

9 - 10 - Three times a week, a friend comes over and we work out. Sounds so vain, I know, and I have a good post to write about it, but, basically, we moms of kids with special needs need to live forever, right? So I gotta stay healthy.

It has nothing whatsoever to do with my 20th high school reunion coming up or the fact that I went through a mid-life crisis and blindly signed up for the Warrior Dash and am now hyperventilating with just the thought of it. Nope. Nothing at all.

During this time, I do HOH with the Ipad and Noah requests to watch a video. He still favors Elmo and Baby Einstein videos, which I just don't understand. Especially because he's so stinkin' smart. Most of the time, he doesn't watch them. He wanders through the house while they're on. I think he likes to have them on in the background because it's something he's used to and comfortable with.

10 - 10.30 - I try to do RPM at this time. We just started Story of the World and I try to do it 3 times a week. We do RPM Science 1 day a week. RPM Bible 1x a week and usually math is at the end of each lesson.

10.30 - 11 - If the weather's nice, we go for a walk (either I push him in his stroller or push him in his adaptive bike) and I try to talk to Noah about whatever lesson we didn't cover or just whatever I come up with. I try to spell things in our conversation... like... "Look at all the T-R-E-E-S that don't have L-E-A-V-E-S. Those are called D-E-C-I-D-U-O-U-S trees." If I'm feeling particularly nice that day then I'll sing Noah's favorite.... all the multiplication tables. Oh my word. It's torture. Plus, he starts getting aggravated because I usually mess up when it comes to the 8's and 9's.

What can I say? I firmly believe in calculators.

11 - 11.3o - Free time while fix lunch... usually left overs, homemade french fries, rice cake with almond butter. He's not the best eater.

11.30 - 12 - Lunch time. We both sit down and eat and I read some pages of Chronicles of Narnia (or whatever book we're currently reading). Noah also gets his second remedy of the day and I put it in Liquid Vitamin C.

12 - 12.30 - I get the Ipad and we go over whatever spelling words Nandi & Eli came home with at the beginning of the week. I know he knows phonics (because he once spelled "money" as M-U-N-E) but I don't know exactly what he knows, so I make sure to go over words with him.

I try to get him to type them out on the Ipad and also on the letterboard. It's slow going and, quite honestly, I hate it, but it's important. Most of it is HOH.

12.30 - 1 - We do whatever chores we haven't done yet. Noah is starting to help empty the dishwasher. I hand him the silverware and he puts them in the drawer. They're all on top of each other, but it's a start. I also hand him the plates and cups and he puts them on the counter. I put them away afterwards.

Then, HOH, I help Noah take the laundry basket to whatever room we need to go to and he helps sit the clothes on that person's dresser. Then I spray the table and he takes a rag and wipes it off.

Finally, Noah fills up the dog water bowl and puts more food out. Then we feed the squirrels and put food in the bird feeders. It's 80% me and 20% him, but I'm hoping that eventually - over time - he'll get the hang of it.

1 - 2. If I'm honest... I get lazy by now and like to watch The Talk while checking my email. I should be doing another RPM lesson, but I fail miserably in that area. Usually, I do Noah's stretches and exercises while watching TV and swing him in his swing (it's indoors) and bounce him on the ball. I try to tell myself that it's still educational because Noah is constantly listening and learning just by exposure... so he's still learning by having the TV on. Although I'm not sure he's learning much by listening to five women blab on and on about who knows what. Although, I like to think he's gaining sensitivity skills that will surely help him land a wife someday. =)

2-3 - I usually veg and watch General Hospital - although sometimes I feel guilty and take Noah outside to swing. And I might read another book to him. If my guilt hasn't taken over me, he tends to watch another video or play with his spinning top. Sometimes he just crawls onto the bed with me and lies down. I hate to think what he's learning from GH while he does... especially as there's that psycho Lisa story-line going on... and then there's the stripper who likes Michael, the teen... and really, when are they going to realize that the Balkan is really that creepy lawyer?

3 - We leave to go pick up Nandi & Eli from school. We're usually waiting in the school until 3.25 - so I put an audio Book on. Right now, we're listening to Sean Bean (can I just say... "Yum!") read King Arthur and The Knights of The Round Table. Later on in the day, while I'm putting on Noah's PJ's or whatnot, I'll rehash the part of the story that we listened to earlier in the day.

After the other kids come home, it's mayhem. We normally try to go outside and jump on the trampoline and I try to put on some of Noah's favorite music while I'm helping the other kids with their homework. Lots of times, we'll go over math and spelling problems in the bedroom where Noah is so that he can listen.

Dinner is at 6. Bedtime is at 8. Noah gets his last remedy and some more coconut oil. And Sim and I turn into massive couch potatoes after that. Literally, nothing gets done after 8. We are officially fried.

Regarding curriculum....

We do Story of the World for History. I do Eli's math homework for math (although Noah is officially at at a 3rd grade math level. Math just scares the heck out of me). For Science, we're doing a workbook right now called "The Ocean" and after we finish that, I might do one on the Human Body. For Bible, we're currently doing The Children's Encyclopedia of Bible Books.

We're not doing a proper language program... just working on spelling words right now and constantly reading to him. Currently, we're reading "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" and we're reading "Little House in the Big Woods".

We do lots of crafts with the kids. This week, we made homemade butter, balloons made out of pig bladders, and clove stuffed oranges from the Little House in the Big Woods.

I'm dying to buy the year-long homeschool curriculum for Little House on the Prairie and Chronicles of Narnia from Cadron Creek . I think all three kids would love it.

I'm also thinking of doing Classical Conversations at home with Noah starting in the Fall. I really like the idea of a classical education and it would really help me structure his lessons.

Anyway, that's what we do right now. Not necessarily the best..... gosh, I could improve soooo much. And I'm sure things would improve if I'd just throw away the darn television and computer. But, really. That would be too cruel.

And that's a day in the homeschool life of Noah Partha T.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Kelly's Korner - Show Us Your Singles! Introducing Liza

Last summer, Kelly (over at Kelly's Korner) did a "Show Us Your Singles" day where everyone could link onto her blog and post about their brother or daughter or friend or cousin or whomever they wanted and try to fix them up.

And did you know that since then there have been two engagements and another couple still together?

So when Kelly decided to do another "Show Us Your Singles", I had to jump on it... because I have the perfect person that I've been dying to fix up for ages.

Let me introduce you to Liza....

Isn't she gorgeous? We consider Liza (pronounced "Leeza" and short for Elizaveta) our "Russian Daughter" because she lived with us for three years while she was studying for her Bachelor's degree here in Texas. Now she's all grown up (just turned 28) and has a fantastic career in finance, her own place, a wonderful network of friends and family.... but for some reason she's still single.

Guys, I just don't understand....

Liza is a breath of fresh air. She's originally from Uzbekistan and is extremely social and cultured. She speaks flawless English... and dare I say, even has a bit of a Texas accent? Yee haw! She loves to travel. She's super adventurous - and is game for anything. She plays the piano beautifully and is an excellent tennis player.

But what I love most about Liza is that she's so down to earth. Yes, she loves a good pair of heels and going out to a restaurant with a group of friends, but she also won't think twice about putting on a pair of tennis shoes and running a 5K with her sister. She's so wonderful with my kids and was invaluable to us the first year after Noah came home. With his undiagnosed special needs.... we couldn't have made it through that year without her.

She's a natural around children and has great instincts. She's just so much fun!

Liza is also incredibly family oriented. Her parents and her sister live in Dallas and she is extremely close to them.

This is Liza with her sister Nadia (who is also single!)

Liza with our kids at Dallas Heritage Village.

We just adore Liza. She's the best of both worlds.... she wouldn't hesitate to go out with friends on a Friday night and have a great time, and then spend Saturday playing tennis at the park before catching a live show or going to the symphony that evening, and then lounging around Sunday afternoon curled up on the couch watching movies with her family. She's just all-around a wonderful person and, personally, I think a guy would have to be a fool not to want her.

Just my humble little opinion.... seeing as I am her American mother and all...

Though it has nothing to do with me, I would love to see Liza with a real man. Girls, you know what I'm talking about. None of this wishy-washy, I don't know what I want, can't make up his own mind, too afraid to get his hands dirty boy... but a honest to goodness, down to earth, God-fearing, holds the door open, loves his momma, sends those flowers, athletic, strong and handsome man. And if he's a bit cultured and likes to dance then that's a plus, too.

Okay, so I'm asking for the whole package all wrapped up nice and neat with a little red bow. But we moms just want the whole world for our kids now don't we?

If you linked over here from Kelly's Korner and think that Liza is the bomb-diggity, leave a comment with your email and I'll forward everything on to her. Or you can email me at recoveringnoah@yahoo.com .

Wait... what's that sound? Do I hear wedding bells........?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

URGENT Need for a Family for Child in Latvia

I know that all it takes is just one simple search on the internet and suddenly you're flooded with stories about children in far away countries who urgently need to find a home. Most of the time, I say a quick prayer, lament the fact that we're not in a position to adopt right now, and hope they find a family.

Every once in awhile, though, you come across a story that just rips your heart in two. That's how I'm feeling right now after reading Davids' story.

I can't tell you why it's touched me so much... most likely because I can't imagine what's it like to be on the verge of aging out of the system. Knowing that in 12 days, you're going to be kicked out of the only home you know and forced to fend for yourself on the streets. No food. No money. No shelter. No job. No education. No prospects.... unless you consider suicide, prostitution, or drugs a good prospect.

This sweet boy, Davids, is going to face those prospects on January 23rd. He was going to be adopted but the family backed out at the last minute and Davids is so distraught that he's become physically ill from the stress.

He seems like such a sweet boy.... small for his age. Still liking toys and games that 9, 10, and 11 year old boys like. Funny and bright and usually happy. He was hosted in the US last summer and did really great. There doesn't seem to be any behavioral problems that tend to scare people away from adopting older children.

Anyway, I hope you'll read his story. You can find it HERE and read about Davids' story and see his picture.

I hope you'll pray for this sweet boy. I look at my own kids and I cannot imagine any of them ever being forced out onto the street. And the thought of that.... the thought of what their future could have been like..... it makes me cry. And I can't help but cry for this boy - who I've never met - but whose future is hanging in the balance. Whose future depends on someone stepping forward and saying, "That's my son".

Please read his story. Look at his picture. Pray for him. Pray for a family. He has less than 2 weeks before he's out on the street.