Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Maestro Classics - TOS Review

I grew up in a home with music playing. It was either the radio or the record player. My parents had a record player that would stack the records so you could listen to hours of music. If the radio was on, it was often classical music playing. We often have music on at our house as well. I was excited to have the opportunity to review Peter and the Wolf from Maestro Classics and learn a bit about this piece of music.

Maestro Classics Review

Maestro Classics began as a desire of a conductor and executive director of an orchestra to bring classical music to children and families. The story of the first time they took their son to the orchestra is one that will make you smile but it was because of that incident that the desire to find a way to introduce children to classical music was born. Together using their musical abilities and background they created Maestro Classics for children originally at the Kennedy Centre and then available on CD for children and adults everywhere to enjoy.

We reviewed Peter and Wolf and received a MP3 download of the CD and a PDF copy of the book that does with the CD. I printed the book just in black and white, which is not quite as exciting but it was what I was able to do at home. The book included information and activities. There was a bit of information about the composer, Sergei Prokofiev, activities, and bits about Russian instruments. One of the first activities in the book was matching the instruments which is so much a part of Peter and Wolf. Miss K did that while we listen to the music with the narration which helped us to fill in the information and understand the music.

Maestro Classics Review

The CD included the music with narration and also without. There were also some additional information and music such as some Russian music with Russian instruments.

We enjoyed listening to the music and doing the activities. I think this was the first time that I sat with Miss K and we listened to Peter and the Wolf explaining the sounds. She was able to pick out the different instruments and tell bits of the story based on what she was listening to.  J listened to the music with us as well. He also helped Miss K with the activities, maybe I should have printed a copy for him.

I was impressed with the quality of the music. The music is played by the London philharmonic Orchestra. The CD had over an hour of music and introduction to the piece.

Listening to music has so many benefits. I think Maestro Classics is a great way to have fun listening to music and to do it together as a family.

Maestro Classics are available both in a physical copy and downloadable. Some of the title available include Peter and the Wolf, The Nutcracker, The Story of Swan Lake, Carnival of the Animals, My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music, and more. Maestro Classics gives you "Stories in Music."

I might add one to Miss K's stocking. I am sure she would enjoy either The Nutcracker or The Story of Swan Lake.

Maestro Classics Review
Crew Disclaimer

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Down Syndrome Awareness Month - Encouragement

Parenting is hard work. Parenting special needs kids is harder work. It could be the days when you are again reminded that there is a difference between the child's age and their developmental age. There are so many ways that you are reminded that you have a special needs child. How do you encouragement to keep going? Here are a few things that I have found through the years that have helped me.

Fix your eyes on God and not your child. When we look at our child, we see the brokenness, the hurt, the disappointment. When you look at God you will see his goodness, his love, and his grace. That doesn't take the difficulties and challenges away but gives you hope and help for the day.

Remind yourself of who God is. He is faithful. He is sovereign. I remember when Miss K was born and for me one of the greatest comforts was that this was not a surprise to God. God knew that we were living in Asia, he knew that Miss K had Down Syndrome it was all part of his plan. God is loving. His steadfast love is there for those times that we need it.

Remind yourself what God can do. He can give strength when we are weak He gives wisdom when we so desperately need it as we face new or recurring issues. He gives rest when we are weary.

Reflect on what God has done. I find that it is a help to reflect on the ways that God has provided in the past to meet Miss K's needs. That gives me hope to continue knowing that he will provide.

During Jesus' time here on earth he was often meeting those special needs children/adults. One of those was the blind man in John 9. Here the disciples ask who sinned causing the child to be born blind. Jesus reopens is "it was not that this man sinned, or his parents but that the works of God might be displayed in him." (John 9:3) Our special needs children can be used to display God's works to those around them.

Special needs are a reminder that we live in a fallen world. So we long all the more for our eternal home where we will be free from the effects and live forever with God.

All of this gives me encouragement to keep going. I pray that you will be encouraged as well.

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Week in Review - 23 October 2015

I want to get back into the routine of posting a week in review. It helps me to just keep track of things that we have done each week. So here it is Sunday evening and I am working now to write what we did last week.

Sunday my husband had a surprise birthday party for me. I suspected something was up when he told me he had a meeting at the house on Sunday and he couldn't tell me who was coming. A few friends stopped by. Look at the chocolate cake -- chocolate cake with chocolate icing with Maltesaers and Kit-Kats.

Monday was not the best of days. Monday made me want to move to Australia. We made it through with coffee and grace. J did ask if it could get any worse and while part of me was saying no, part of me was remembering the sermon the day before from Exodus 5 where things did get worse for the slaves -- they had to make bricks and get the straw for the bricks. God still keeps his promises and that is true today. Tuesday was better.

We are finished Quarter 1 of Mystery of History Vol.  IV so we took some time this week to read Famous Men of the Modern Times. It begins with the Lorenzo the Magnificent. That did take us back to Florence, now we are all missing our summer holiday.

It is feeling like autumn here and I was missing Pumpkin Spice Latte so I made my own. I found a recipe for the syrup online and made it. It did mean opening a precious can of pumpkin though I was excited to find it at Waitrose and Ocado so I can order some more. You can buy pumpkins but the puree is difficult to find. Just in case you are wondering what else is difficult to find -- Crisco which I use for just a few recipes I have found it on Amazon, Cool Whip, can't find that at all and have not found a substitute, canned green chiles I could buy 24 of them for £72.78 you can do the math and figure out how much that is per can. I am sure there are a few other things but I can't think of them at this time.

I am enjoying my latte in my Helsinki Starbuck's mug.

I finally finished Miss K's space sensory box. I bought 10kg of rice at Costco. We might be eating lots of rice for the next few weeks. We have been slowly reading the Apologia Astronomy book for her science. She enjoys playing in the box and it is fun to have the planets in there for her to explore.

She was playing with it on Saturday as well. It is fun to hear her talk about her sensory box and the things she is finding in it. She wants an astronaut.

Next week is half-term break for the local schools. We are using it for a catch-up week. J needs to finish his fine arts project, catch-up on geography, take a science test, and do some extra Latin. Miss K has a few things to do as well.

That is a quick wrap-up from here of our week.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Down Syndrome Awareness Month - My Tour Guide

Maybe you have seen the t-shirt or the printable that says,

"Down Syndrome is a journey I never planned but I sure do love my tour guide. "

That comes from the story, Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley. The idea is you plan for one trip and then land in another country. You learn the new language and new things to enjoy. So it is with a special needs child. It is just not what you planned but you learn to love it.

My tour guide keeps me laughing and wondering at times where she comes up with the things she says. This week she told me that grandma said she didn't have to do math. She hasn't talked to grandma for a few days and I can't imagine grandma saying that. 

My tour guide takes a slower pace through life so we pause and see things. We repeat things numerous times until she learns it.

My tour guide has introduced me to new people. I don't think I really knew anyone with Down Syndrome when Miss K was born. It didn't take long to find different people with a brother, nephew, or sister has Down Syndrome. I have met people in the park or the shops and chatted because of Down Syndrome.

My tour guide loves life and shares that love with everyone she meets. She jumps in and have fun. She is not going to sit on the sidelines and watch but live life.

It might not be the tour I planned but it a wonderful tour guide who shows me so much.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

A Day at the Museums

One of the places on my list of places to visit was Hull. There are a number of museums there and I think that was what caused that to be on my list of places I want to visit. A few weeks ago we read about William Wilberforce in Mystery of History Vol. 4. We talked about the slave trade and made interactive maps. I love the Scholastic Interactive 3-D Maps. I just wish they had it for more things.

Here are the Slave Trade Maps we made a few weeks ago.

J could not understand why they call it a triangle of trade when it is more like a square.

Well, after studying William Wilberforce, I decided it is time to go to Hull and to the William Wilberforce House Museum. Thursday is one day that we have nothing. Thursday we have no activities at church, clubs, football, nothing. Did you hear that nothing. Oh, my husband has small group but that it not until 8pm. Thursday is our day for outings.

We took the train. We are able to get a direct train with minimum stops and be there in 1 hour and 20 minutes. For many places the train really is the best way to go. We get our money's worth out of Family and friends card. We arrived in Hull. My husband went with us and he figured there was a but that would take us close to the William Wilberforce House. I was just going to walk the 30 minutes. We found a bus and my husband asked if that was going to Guild Hall. It was. He went to pay and they said no need. I think it was because they thought we were getting off at City Hall which was the next stop. We were on for two more stops.

As we walked to the museum we saw this monument.

The museum is free. It is in the house where William Wilberforce was born. It begins telling bits of Wilberforce's story. Then you go to the 2nd floor and there are bits of Africa and then the slave ships.

I have to say that it was very sobering to be there. To read some stories and see some of what it was like.

William Wilberforce was not a very big man but he has a passion and he worked hard for that passion. It was good and right to do.

We probably spent about an hour there. It was very informative but like I said, it was also sobering.

Next door is the Streetlife Museum. Since all the museums are free we decided to go there.

Here is a street car. It reminded me of the ding dings in Hong Kong Island. There they were called ding dings because of the sound of the bells that rang as they went down the street.

There were trains and also some shops as if you were walking along the streets of Hull.

I had packed a lunch. I am usually so impressed with the fact that most places have a place for lunch that I was surprised that all three museums we visited did not have a place for us to sit and eat. We ended up sitting on a bench in a shopping centre. It was just a bit cold to be outside.

The last museums we went was the Maritime Museum which is located in the Victorian Dock Offices. The building has a view of the docks. I imagine that at one time you could see all the ships arriving with cargo from all over the world.

There was a display on the boat Truelove. Truelove was built in Philadelphia and was captured during the American Revolution and became a fishing boat. Because of the name there were all kinds of souvenir type things created.

To keep themselves busy on the whaling boats. The men where encouraged to decorate whale teeth. Some were very details and some were excellent artists.

There were models of ships and artwork of various boats throughout the museum.

The museum covered the two floors. The building itself was impressive.

The museum is located in Queen Victoria Square and so there is a monument there of Queen Victoria.

We spent about 5 hours there. We found a yummy milkshake shop. The shop just sells milkshakes more kinds than you can think of. We took the train back and arrived home before dinner.

It was a fun day. I am glad that we were able to do it. Now to plan our next outing.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Autumn in England

Autumn in England

I love living in a place where the seasons change. The seasons change here though in some seasons there isn't much of a change. Our summer this year was mild. Autumn has arrived. The leaves are changing colours, the days are getting shorter all signs of autumn.

Miss K has been looking for conkers. She has quite a collection. We collected a few that still had the outer shell so we could see that.

You can see how the leaves changed from last week to this week.

The trees are changing on the hills.

We walk along the street kicking the leaves.

That gives just a taste of autumn here.

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Down Syndrome Awareness Month - A Letter to myself

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month and through the month I will share various things relating to Down Syndrome. If I were to write a letter to myself as a new mom, I think this is the letter I would write. Eleven years of parenting a child with Down Syndrome gives me a different perspective.

Dear Mom or Mom-to-be of a Down Syndrome child,

Congratulations! You are have or are having a baby which is a wonderful gift from God. You have an extra blessing in the 21st chromosome. It does mean that your dreams for your child will be adjusted. Love and enjoy your blessing of a child.

First of all, get through the physical issues. It might be heart, feeding, or stomach or even a combination.  Once the physical things are corrected or treated you will be able to move on. Then you can begin therapy. Keep cuddling and enjoying your baby. Read books aloud, lots of books.

Life will be different with a Down Syndrome baby, you will be thinking about therapies, researching options and different approaches. Know what you can get locally through the hospital or schools. Begin to build a good relationship with a doctor who will partner with you for the best for your child.

There are so many things to consider -- neurodevelopmental program, nutrition, supplements, educational opportunities. Talk to other parents when you are ready, learn, ask questions, listen. Find the resources, read the reports, research the programs, you are the best advocate for your child. Some find support groups helpful. Others find them depressing. Some jump into the Buddy Walk and others never do. Find what works for you along each season of life and just like the seasons it can change.

Don't live with regrets. Don't regret that you didn't research and find essential oils earlier. Don't regret that you didn't continue the neurodevelopmental program longer.

At the beginning there is so much unknown. How smart will my child be? When will my child sit up? When will my child walk? What will the first words be? Those are true for both a baby with Down Syndrome and any other baby.

Down Syndrome opens you to a new world. You make connections and friends because of it. You meet people who have children, sisters or brothers, nieces or nephews, grandchildren with Down Syndrome. You have an opportunity to show God's love to the world through your child.

As you begin the journey with so many unknowns remember what Corrie ten Boom said, "Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God."

Celebrate each milestone, enjoy each day knowing that this is the child God placed in your life. You will learn so much about yourself and God through this child. Record the milestones, reflect on God's goodness, life in God's strength.


a mom with 11 years of experience
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Friday, October 9, 2015

Progeny Press - TOS Review

Reading a book alone is part of being educated but there are times that you want to dig a bit deeper into the book. Study Guides are one way to do this. I was recently given the opportunity to review Sam the Minuteman Study Guide from Progeny Press.

Progeny Press Review

Progeny Press began in 1992 by Michael and Rebecca Gilliland. It was created to meet the need for guides to help explain and examine literature all from a Christian viewpoint. One of the goals is for the student to be able to understand and analyse literature. They have over 110 study guides available.

I received an E-Guide for Sam the Minuteman to review. I had a bit of problems downloading the book but Progeny Press was helpful in resolving the issues I had. I downloaded it and had it printed. I found it easy to just go ahead and print the whole guide at one time. I think I like to be able to see and flip the pages. I want a paper copy.

I selected Sam the Minuteman as I thought this would be a great supplement to where we are in our history studies. I ended up having more of a problem getting the book than I thought. Most of the books are available in your library or online.

Sam the Minuteman by Nathaniel Benchley is part of the An I Can Read Book is written at a Level 3 for Grades 2-4 level. The Progeny Press study guide states for Grade 1-3. I think this is the first Level 3 book that she has read. I could tell that this was stretching her. There were a number of words that she did not know.

This is the first time that I have used a study with Miss K. I have used a few with J in the past. We did this together which gave me time to see how she was understanding the story and how she was processing it. One of the first activities was using the dictionary to look up words. That was the first time that she has used a dictionary.

Some of the other activities in the book included talking about the mood that the author creates, cause and effect, word pictures and a few other things. I could tell that some of these areas were really pushing and stretching for Miss K. She did like the word pictures and thought that calling the British soldiers Lobster Backs was funny. She enjoyed the crossword puzzle.

Progeny Press writes the study guides with a Christian worldview. While you might be reading and studying a book that is not necessarily Christian in writing, there are Christian principles that are taught. One of the principles in this book was courage. There was also a discussion about anger as it related to the story and also examples from the Bible.

Using a study guide exposed Miss K to some new areas of learning. It also showed me some areas that she does not yet understand.

Study guides give a deeper understanding of the story. I was impressed with this study guide and would consider others from Progeny Press.

Progeny Press Review

Crew Disclaimer


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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Down Syndrome Awareness Month - Lessons I have learned

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month and throughout this month I will share different things related to Down Syndrome. Bits and pieces of Miss K's story and be found through out the blog, here is one bit.

As I think of the lessons learned, one of the first things I remember is learning in new and deeper ways that God is in control. There are so many little details of God guiding us -- changing doctors and hospitals which meant we were at a hospital with a NICU when she was born instead of the small hospital that would have meant she would move to the national hospital which I did not like. A cardiologist that was willing to perform open heart surgery 72 hours after she had a major issue during the heart catheterisation. The comfort that I found in all of that was that this was not a surprise to God. He knew all along that she would be born in Taiwan, that she would have Down Syndrome. He had it all planned and it was not a surprise. God's sovereignty was a lesson I learned.

I also learned in new ways that God is our provider. Twenty-six days in the NICU, two major surgeries, numerous tests and procedures at a cost of about US$300 for us. God is the provider. A few days before she was to be released a nurse looked at her account and told us that it was about NT$330,000 or maybe it was NT$190,000 (the numbers are a bit fuzzy). When we went to make arrangements for a payment plan we were told that the bill was NT$9000 that it had been covered by a high authority. Yes, the highest authority that there is. There are so many other ways that God provided -- a physical therapist who donated her time, a special needs program not far from our house, a Christian nurse who sat and prayed with us the night we thought she was not going to make it. God is our provider.

I have learned that God loves us and in all things God is good even when it doesn't seem that way to us. I can keep trusting God. These are things that I need to hold on to each day.

I am thankful for the things I have learned about God from having a child with Down Syndrome.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Reading Kingdom - TOS Review

Reading is one of Miss K's strong subjects but at the same time I am always looking to strengthen that skill. I think she is an excellent sight word reader but I want to continue to see if we can improve her reading skills. Miss K enjoys working on the computer so I was thrilled to be given the chance to review Reading Kingdom Online from Reading Kingdom.

Reading Kingdom Review

"The Reading Kingdom is a fun, easy-to-use online program that teachers children 4-10 years old how to read and write to a third grade level."

The Reading Kingdom was developed by Dr. Marion Blank, an expert in literacy and language. She is the author of the book, The Reading Remedy. She has taken her experience and developed Reading Kingdom.

We have used various websites, book, and programs through the years as we build Miss K's reading skills. What makes The Reading Kingdom different and unique? Dr. Blank says that, Phonics is just one skill of reading and yet that is often the skill we are working to build but in order there are other skills needed. Reading Kingdom works to build not only phonics or sounds but also sequencing, writing, meaning, grammar, and comprehension. This is causing me to pause and think about how much time we spend working on phonics. I might just need to spend more time on sight words.

Miss K used the iPad for the Reading Kingdom. The touch screen makes it so much easier for her than using the mouse which requires a bit more skill. The program is designed to work best with Chrome which meant we had to download that to the iPad for use with this.

Reading Kingdom Review

The first thing that the student needs to do is an assessment or evaluation to see the level the child is at and where to begin them. There is a reminder to the parents or teacher not to help the child but that this is to demonstrate what the child knows. That was a good reminder but it was repeated a few too many times for me.

This is a program that teaches more than just reading. I was surprised how much spelling was involved. That is not a strong skill for Miss K. I know at times that frustrated her. In order to work on the spelling skill it required using the keyboard, which on the iPad was an on screen keyboard. If she delayed in responding or typed the wrong letter, the program would guide her to the correct letter. I don't think Miss K has done much on the keyboard and that was something big that she needed to learn. I think over the few weeks that we have used this she has improved.

It is recommended that Reading Kingdom be done at least four times a week. I can see the value of that. The program does track visits. I received emails telling me what levels Miss K has finished. She was working to get the points to go to the next level.

Reading Kingdom offers a 30 day free trial.

Reading Kingdom Review

Crew Disclaimer

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