Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Apraxia Therapy Materials: Kaufman Speech to Language Protocol Workout Book

Therapy Materials Review: Kaufman Speech to Language Protocol Workout Book

This is a review of the Kaufman Speech to Language Protocol Workout Book. The book was developed by Nancy Kaufman, MA, CCC-SLP. Nancy Kaufman is a nationally acclaimed expert in apraxia who has developed assessment and treatment materials in the area of apraxia. The book is 127 pages and is a 9" x 13" spiral-bound hardcover book. This book contains 16 different motor-speech "workouts" and some great resource pages in the beginning of the book on a variety of useful topics. Just like with the Kaufman Kit Level 1, the Workout Book focuses primarily on the consonants /m, p, b, t, d, n, and h/.

Target Audience

The target audience for the Kaufman Speech to Language Protocol Workout Book will usually be children between the ages of two and six. The pictures in the book were designed with those ages in mind. The book will be most useful for children who are struggling with producing simple syllable shapes and need to focus on the early emerging consonants /p, b, m, t, d, n, h/.

Description of the Kaufman Speech to Language Protocol Workout Book

This is a 9" by 13" spiral-bound hard back book with 127 pages. The book begins with resource pages on a variety of topics followed by 16 different types of activity pages. An SLP could pick up this book and use it with clients with very little advance preparation. I believe this book would also be useful to parents for home practice.
  • Introductory Pages and Resources
    The book begins with some great explanations and resources:
    • Description of the Kaufman Speech to Language Protocol
    • Treatment Tips for Establishing First Words
    • Introduction to the Mutt Family (characters used both in the workout book and the treatment kit)
    • Explanation of Word Approximations
    • Discussion of Vowels
    • Pictorial Guide to Hand Signal Cues for Vowels
    • Vowel Workout
    • Pictorial Guide to Hand Signal Cues for Consonants
    • Discussion of Other Cueing Techniques
    These resource pages are very well done and are written in a way that is easy to understand and very useful. These first 26 pages add significant value to the person trying to use this book to help children with severe speech delays.

    Here is an example of one of the resource pages:

  • Workouts
    The next section of the book consists of 16 "workouts". These workouts are exercises designed to easily elicit many practice productions of specific motor-speech combinations. Each workout begins with an explanation of the targeted skill (for the SLP) and is followed by activity pages that are well designed and engaging even for very young children. The workouts address the following topics:
    • Reduplication (CVCV)
    • Consonant Vowel (CV)
    • Same Initial Consonant Pivot Phrases with CV
    • Pivot Phrase "Open"
    • Naming Function: Noun-Verb-Object
    • "I Want" Pivot Phrases to Request Objects
    • "I Want To (Verb)" to Request Actions
    • Final Consonant Inclusion of /p, t, k/
    • Simple Bisyllabics (C1V1C2V2) plus CVC
    • Naming Action: Noun-Verb-Object
    • Sequence Stories: Noun-Verb-Object
    • Present Progressive Structure
    • Short Stories
    • Scripting Functional Language
    • Click here to see sample pages. (You may have to reload page after it opens.)

How to Use the Kaufman Speech to Language Protocol Workout Book

This book is a wonderful resource for any SLP. The early workouts are perfect for beginning work with children with severe speech delays. The later workouts are great for generalization of speech skills and are also great for working on expressive language skills as well. The book is compact, portable, and reproducible. It is a great investment.

Pros and Cons of the Kaufman Speech to Language Protocol Workout Book

  • Pros:
    This book is sturdy, has great reference information, and has 16+ ready-to-go activities that are appealing and useful for a wide variety of speech and language students. The book takes you from eliciting single consonants and vowels to generalizing early emerging sounds in phrases and short sentences.
  • Cons: The book is expensive. It only addresses early emerging consonants.

Bottom Line:

This is a great investment. The cost is high, but not completely inaccessible and worth every penny. You get a product that is educational for you, includes ready-to-go activities, is appealing to children, and is useful for a fairly wide variety of clients. It is also accessible and useful for parents that want to do extra practice at home for children with severe speech delays or expressive language delays.

You might also be interested in the following articles:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

OT and Pudding

Our occupational therapist showed up yesterday morning with a box of pudding. I'm not a huge fan of pudding myself, so I'm pretty sure my children have never made pudding before. They might have been served some at school or at my parent's house. Perhaps they've tried some at a buffet. We've never had any here at home though.

Our goals for the day were to work on feeding (she came at breakfast time) and to continue to work on sensory exploration. While I made breakfast (eggs, sausage, and dry cheerios) the OT made vanilla pudding with the children. The children enjoyed tasting the dry mix, measuring and pouring in the milk, and stirring the pudding. Then we let the pudding set while we ate breakfast.

Ava likes dry cheerios, tolerates a little egg, and traditionally won't touch sausage. That was exactly the mix that the OT requested. First we got Ava to touch the sausage in exchange for some extra cheerios. Then we persuaded her to kiss a piece of sausage in exchange for more cheerios. Finally, we did manage to get her to lick it in exchange for some cheerios. She did not eat any. However, a month ago, I couldn't even get her to touch something she refused to eat so getting her to lick something is significant progress.

After breakfast, our OT wanted the children to fingerpaint with the vanilla pudding on construction paper. We got all set up. Everyone chose their favorite color construction paper (orange for Michael and pink for Ava). Then the OT put a dollop of pudding on each piece of construction paper. Both kids took one look and absolutely refused to touch it.

The OT modeled making a sun on her piece of paper. The kids were still not tempted. She used some cheerios to give her sun a smiley face. Still no takers on the activity. She offered them a paper towel to help keep their hands clean. Nope. Then I remembered a comment from one of my readers about how her son would only play with shaving cream if there was a bowl of water nearby (Thanks Gentle Blue!). I went and got two bowls of water and finally we were able to get started. Michael went first and Ava started tentatively with one finger. We made dots and lines. We tried unsuccessfully to get handprints. Ava washed her finger off in that bowl of water after every single dot or line.

I got Ava to play a game where I would draw something with the pudding and then she'd "erase" it with her finger. She always enjoys that game. I tried to continue the playful atmosphere by dabbing some pudding on the back of her hand. It was a big mistake. She had a meltdown. We had to clean her hands off instantly and she refused to participate or even stay at the table after that. I felt terrible. Instead of the experience ending on a slightly positive or neutral note, I pushed her too far and it ended really negatively. Lesson learned I suppose.

It is fascinating to see the variety of rather common household substances (shaving cream, cornstarch and water, instant pudding) that the OT is using in therapy. It's been good. I've been very pleased with how things are going so far.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Preparing Early

I've been slow to hop on board the Halloween excitement train. The very first year Michael was about to turn one and I was pregnant with Ava. My parents did Halloween with Michael and I stayed home and rested.

The second year my children were old enough to really participate. Michael was about to turn two and Ava was not yet one. We bought costumes at the last minute at Old Navy choosing from the few costumes that were still available in the appropriate sizes. Michael was a tiger and Ava was a kitty. It was fine, but they wore the costumes for about 45 minutes total.

Last year they were a little more excited. We waited too long again (about a month before Halloween) and chose from limited options at Old Navy a second time. Michael was a dragon and Ava was a bee. They were baby costumes. The ones that are sort of like sticking your children into a stuffed animal.

This year Michael is old enough to remember the last Halloween and to be excited about the coming Halloween. I actually remembered that waiting until the end of September was going to result in poor selection. Last night we made an outing of going to look at costumes. We went to Cracker Barrel which often has cute costumes. We found a couple of cute costumes in appropriate sizes. Then we went next door and treated the children to half of a chocolate Krispy Creme doughnut with sprinkles each. They were so excited. All in all a successful night.

Michael's fireman costume will need some sort of pants and a warm shirt underneath the jacket. Ava's costume will need some method of keeping her warm. Perhaps a long-sleeve leotard and heavy tights? So, we're not completely done preparing yet. But it is nice to be a little ahead of schedule this year.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Arbitrary Dictates vs. Negotiation

As much as possible, I try to avoid making completely arbitrary decisions with my children. You know the ones. I'm talking about when you tell them "no" simply because that was the first response that came to mind. Or just because it is more convenient to tell them no than to let them make a mess pulling out yet another toy. Often, when I catch myself having made a completely arbitrary decision, I will change my mind. I'll say, "You know, I thought about it and actually I've decided that that is okay after all."

And then I read How to Land Your Kid in Therapy. The article talks about a lot of things that made me think. One small section talks about parents that don't actually say "no" and stick with it.

I started paying attention. My children negotiate a lot. Here's an example.

Me: When we get home it will be naptime. We'll have to go straight upstairs.
Them: Can we play a little first?
Me: No.
Them: Just one minute?
Me: Ok. Just one minute.

And then we really do play for only a short time. I usually feel like compromise and being flexible are good things to model, but as I started to pay attention I began to realize that my children seem to thing absolutely everything is up for negotiation.

I want to dress Ava. She wants to debate every single item of clothing and who gets to put it on how quickly. I want to get the children in the car and they want to choose a toy first. I say this is the last television show and they want just one more.

Now, I don't want to give the impression that my children are out of control. They are usually very well behaved and their requests are often fairly reasonable and not particularly disruptive to routine. However, I'm not sure that I want the take home message to be that I can always be negotiated with and I never really mean what I say.

I feel like one end of the spectrum is the "I expect you do do what I say when I say it." school of parenting while the other end of the spectrum is the "My child is a person and should do whatever they want." end of the spectrum. I'd like to fall somewhere in the middle, where I respect them and take their wants and feelings into consideration, but they respect me as the parent and ultimate decision maker. I'm just not sure that I'm achieving that at the moment.

Anyway, it was an interesting train of thought and I'm trying to be a bit less negotiable for a while. Where do all of you fall on the spectrum?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Playing with the Alphabet

I bought some of the clear glass gems that lots of people use in flower vases or fish tanks and tried to recreate a project I found in a magazine. I believe the magazine was Family Fun, but I couldn't swear to it. I searched through some old magazines and cut out letters of appropriate size and glued them onto the backs of the gems using regular school glue. As soon as I buy them, I'll glue circle magnets onto the backs of the alphabet gems.

The kids are very much enjoying playing with them already even though they don't have magnets yet.

I had some extra glass gems leftover after I had finished my alphabet, so I found some suffixes and blends and made those as well.

If the children were a little older, they would have enjoyed helping to find and cut out the letters. My little ones just played with cutting up the pages of the magazines I didn't need.

And to give credit where credit is due, my cousin participated cheerfully in much of the project helping to create at least a third of the alphabet.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Weekly Review: Week 24

Blog Post Idea I Like

I liked this idea a lot. Ok. So, maps aren't really my thing. I'd rather do something a little different, but the idea is a great one. The children are often anxious to get to the table before the food is ready. Ava climbs up in her chair and then sits impatiently with nothing to do. It would be nice to have something there just ready to play with and discuss. Now, what else could go on the table besides a map?

The Weekly Michael

"I had a great day at school today!" These were the first words from Michael's mouth when I picked him up from school yesterday morning. They were said with enthusiasm, earnestness and sincerity. May he hold on to this sentiment as long as possible. Apparently the great day was due to the watercolor paints, orange play-doh, and new play-doh tools he got to use today at school.

On a completely different note, for the second week in a row Michael is only taking a nap on average about a third of the time. This happens periodically. Just about when I decide that his afternoon nap has disappeared, he starts taking the nap regularly again for another couple of months. However, having said that, I think this may be the beginning of the end of the nap. We'll see.

Ava this Week:

There's so much going on with Ava right now.

We've started OT and that's stretching her tolerances for sensory experiences.

She is becoming more independent by the day. I hear, "Do it ON MY OWN!" many, many times a day. I have to take a deep breath and remind myself to be patient. I try to remember that independence is a good thing and skill at it requires practice. And so I let her put on her own shoes and take off her own underwear and generally do lots of things herself that I could do 10 times faster, but that isn't the point.

She's also a tiny bit more appropriate in public. She still doesn't initiate interactions with other children, but she is retreating less when they encroach upon her space. I figure that's progress.

On the other hand, she didn't get her school pictures taken because she refused to go down the hall with the photographer. So be it. At least I don't have to worry about her being overly friendly with strangers (knock on wood). Silver lining: I won't be tempted by the crazy expensive prints. School pictures are such a racket.

The Weekly Visit:

As I've said, my cousin (Ava's godfather) is in town from New Orleans this week. The visit isn't over yet, but it has been wonderful. The kids adore him. We've been to Six Flags, the Botanical Gardens, a children's museum, and we're still planning on the going to the zoo. The children also just enjoy his company around the house. I've enjoyed having his company too. We've watched a little television and played some games. The company of another adult during the day is nice. I'll be sad to see him go on Sunday.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Today we went to the Botanical Gardens and spent all morning in the Children's Garden. We climbed rope ladders, went over rope bridges, played on a splash pad, dug in a sand pit, built huge towers from wooden blocks, and generally had a great time.

The very last thing we did was visit the gift shop. My children think gift shops are places you go to play (gently) with the store's toys and then leave those toys behind for the most part. We only purchase something on "special occasions". Ava found an adorable hat. It fit her perfectly. She loved it. I loved it. It was incredibly cute. However, the hat cost $20 and we already have a hat for her. So when it was time to go, I resisted. I told her we needed to put the store's hat back and we left.

But I'm still thinking about that hat. Darn being a grown up and resisting things we don't need.

Isn't it adorable though?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

OT and Oobleck

We had occupational therapy again today. Today we spent the entire time with oobleck. For those of you who are unfamiliar with oobleck, it is a simple homemade substance that is made by mixing one part water with 1.5 to 2 parts cornstarch. It makes a substance by suspending the cornstarch particles in the water. The substance is pretty unique. It behaves like both a liquid and a solid. When under pressure it behaves like a solid. Otherwise is behaves like a liquid. So you can pick it up in your palm and squeeze it into a ball, but when you release the pressure a bit it drips down between your fingers like a liquid.

First we put a pile of cornstarch on a cookie sheet and let the kids explore that with their hands. That alone was a bit of a stretch for Ava because of the way the cornstarch covered her hands and was difficult to wipe off. Then we began adding water and she wanted none of it. She mostly observed for the next 20 minutes or so. Michael was hesitant, but when he began to play with it he had a blast.

I just let Ava watch me play with it. The messier my hands got the more agitated she became. She actually broke down in tears at one point when my hands were covered in it and I refused to clean them off quickly enough for her. I eventually got her to poke at it a little bit in exchange for a spoon. Once she had a spoon she had fun scooping it up and watching it drip back down onto the pan. Some would cling to the spoon and I did manage to persuade her to use a finger to push the last few remnants off the spoon.

Another thing we did was get out some markers. The children could draw on the surface of the oobleck with markers and make pictures. When it got mixed up again, the oobleck combined with the color of the markers. Ava's turned pink. Michael's ended up grey because he experimented with so many colors. We did start with yellow and then blue which combined to make green. That was fun. The markers just rinsed clean.

We will have to play with oobleck several more times over the next few weeks and try to increase Ava's tolerance of it. Does anyone have any suggestions for activities with oobleck other than simply playing with it and then coloring on it? I didn't get any pictures this time, but I definitely will next time so I can share them with you.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Preparing for an Evaluation - Gathering Phase

First we had our second IFSP meeting about six months after the first. Shortly thereafter we had our transition meeting to talk about the steps necessary to transition from early intervention services to the evaluation necessary to see if Ava will qualify for services from the school district.

The evaluation is supposed to take place within three months of the transition meeting and the IEP meeting (if one is necessary) should be held within 30 days of the evaluation. So a clock is ticking. Before the evaluation is held, the evaluation team has to gather a lot of information. They get information from Ava's school (her current daycare teachers). They get information from her early intervention speech therapist and occupational therapist. They get information from the Parents as Teachers program about the screenings they've done. At the transition meeting I signed a lot of forms authorizing the release of information from one person or organization to the school district so that they can begin to gather all of that information.

Of course, nothing ever goes easily and smoothly. They need to know one very simple piece of information. They want to know if Ava can hear. We know she can. When they put the tubes in her ears they did an ABR when she was still under sedation and she passed. I need to find that paperwork and get it to the school district. The ENT's office says that the hospital will have those records. So, I called the hospital and they won't even tell me if they have the information I want until I sign a release form. The release form that I got in the mail today lists several types of information I could be requesting, but the results of a hearing test is not on the form. What a pain. I just need a person to look at a folder and tell me that they have that piece of paper. Then I need to give them permission to send a copy of that piece of paper to someone else. I haven't figured out how to accomplish that yet.

I'm half tempted to just ask the Parents as Teachers program to re-screen her hearing and send that paperwork to the school district rather that try to figure out how to get the hospital to give me what I want. However, knowing my daughter, that wouldn't be simple either. It's always something isn't it?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Celebrating a Change in Routine

Our guests are here. Because they are very generous and wonderful people, my mom and her sisters volunteered to watch the children yesterday so that my husband and I could take my cousin somewhere without taking two small children along and needing to stop for a nap midday. We decided to go to Six Flags (which is only 20 minutes away). We hadn't been to Six Flags this season. On top of that, we hadn't been to Six Flags without young children in years. We all had a blast and came home exhausted, but happy. The children spent the night at my parents' house, and so we were able to stay at the park until it closed and then come home and stay up late watching television and playing games because we knew we could sleep in the next day. It was a wonderful change of routine and a great way to kick off the week.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What Can You Do With Stale Froot Loops? Part 2

Yesterday we finally found time for experimenting with the leftover crushed Froot Loops. The children loved it. They told me what to make with the glue and then chose the color they wanted to work with and spooned the crushed Froot Loops onto the glue pattern. I shook the extra back into the bowl and voila: pretty vibrant shapes and letters that the children loved and were proud of. We can definitely do this again several more times. Next time I'd like to do simple pictures like flowers or a house. The time after that I'll try something more abstract with lots and lots of glue. The time after that maybe I'll risk the mess and just hand them the glue bottle to use themselves. It really was great fun.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

First OT Session

We had our first occupational therapy session yesterday. It went so well. Michael was able to fully participate in all of the activities which helped a lot. After watching her brother do something first Ava didn't want to be left out so she'd try too. Our OT's plan was to alternate sensory activities with fun motor activities. The idea was that the motor activities would be a fun break between the sensory activities which might be stressful for her.

First they bounced on an exercise ball mostly as a warm up and to develop rapport. Then they dug around in a container of rice and then a container of pasta for hidden objects. The pasta was no problem. Ava liked the rice until she realized it left a white powdery residue on her hands, but she stuck with it. Both of those were relatively easy because they were dry.

Then they got a ride on a kind of padded dolly as a motor activity break. The next activity was playing with moon sand. This is some kind of synthetic sand that feels moist and sticks together. Ava started playing with it using spoons and containers and resisted touching it with her hands, but gradually as she watched me play, and her brother play, and the OT play, she got bolder. Towards the end she was using her hands pretty well, but was bothered by any residue left on her hands and by the sand that ended up scattered on the floor. She kept moving her tray to a new spot to try to find a clean spot to play in.

The last activity we tried was shaving cream. To be honest, both children were a little hesitant to get in there with their hands, but Michael tried it first. As the texture became more familiar he moved from a fingertip, to multiple fingertips, to his whole hand. Ava took a lot longer and was a lot more agitated, but we eventually managed the same progression with her as well. She needed a cloth nearby and frequently cleaned her hands off.

We would spread a thin layer of shaving cream all over the tray and then draw shapes in it. I would make a flower on Ava's tray and then say, "No, no, please don't erase my flower!" Of course, that made her just want to wipe it away, but in order to do so she had to stick her entire hand in there to rub it out.

All in all the session went beautifully. The children had a blast and will definitely be looking forward to the next visit from the OT. Ava's tolerance for new sensory experiences was definitely stretched, but not pushed too far. I'll have to put shaving cream on our shopping list this week.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Weekly Review: Week 23

Due to illness and fatigue (mine) I am going to do an abbreviated version of the Weekly Review.

It has been an eventful, but good week. Michael started preschool. We got Ava's OT evaluation results. We had two additional guests in the house for four days (dog-sitting). We finished up the kittens' week long run of antibiotics. All of those things went better than expected and I would be pretty happy about it if I weren't fighting a nasty cold.

Next week should be wonderful. We have relatives coming in from New Orleans for the week. My cousin (Ava's godfather) will be staying with us while my mom's sisters will be staying five minutes away with my parents. One of my mom's sisters is my godmother while the other is Ava's godmother. I am very much looking forward to their annual visit. I am also going to enjoy watching the children getting to know some more of the people who are so important to me.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

OT Evaluation Report

Our OT evaluation addressed two main areas: sensory and feeding. Therefore her OT report covered those two topics.

The sensory issues were addressed through a standardized sensory profile administered via parent report. Essentially, I answered a lot of questions about Ava. The profile covers auditory processing, visual processing, tactile processing, vestibular processing, oral-sensory processing, low registration, sensation seeking, sensory sensitivity, and sensation avoiding.

Ava scored in the typical range for vestibular processing, low registration, and sensory sensitivity. She also scored in the typical range for tactile processing, but the OT commented that Ava does seem to have some tactile processing hypersensitivity (doesn't play with food, play-dough, messy art materials, etc.). She responds slightly less than normal to auditory and visual inputs. She responds more than normal to oral inputs (food). She also scored high in sensation avoiding. She withdraws in group situations, avoids noisy places, avoids foods with strange textures, resists being touched by anyone other than very familiar family members, etc.

Nothing in the sensory profile was surprising. That makes sense, because the results were based upon my own observations. I am anxious to begin therapy and see how the OT recommends addressing her sensitivities.

As for feeding issues, again, the report was mostly a summary of my answers regarding Ava's food avoidances and preferences. The only new information was that her gag reflex is not overly sensitive. Again, I am interested to see where therapy takes us. The report itself didn't reveal anything earth-shattering here either.

I am mostly looking forward to beginning her OT therapy to see what that therapy will consist of and how much it helps. I want to help her with her eating issues for obvious reasons. I need to help her with the sensory issues for two reasons. The first is social. I don't want her hypersensitivity to prevent her from being able to socialize normally. The second reason is her speech. With apraxia, the greater the processing demands, the more difficult speech is for our children. So, when Ava is in an environment that is overstimulating for her, her system is so busy trying to deal with that overload, that her speech tanks. I hear her communicate so much less when we are out, when she is at school, and when we have a lot of people around. If we can start to work on that hypersensitivity to her environment, perhaps her speech will improve in these settings.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

First Official Day of Preschool

Michael's first day of preschool went beautifully. The children were amazing. Ava didn't mind at all that she was leaving the house without her brother (she gets dropped off an hour earlier than he does now). Michael didn't seem at all sad to see her going off to his "old school". My husband and I dropped Michael off together taking a couple of "first day of school" pictures. He did beautifully. He walked into his classroom. When his teacher walked him over to a table full of name tags for each children he immediately recognized his name, picked it up, and handed it to her for help putting it on. Then he just took off for the toys and children without even looking back in our direction.

Two and a half hours later I headed back to the school and sat through my first pick-up line of cars. He walked out with his class. I took his hand and buckled him into his car seat and that was that. He told me that they didn't do art. After some questioning, I realized that meant they used crayons rather than paint that day. He had colored fish crackers for snack which was very exciting. He also got to choose his own drink from the refrigerator. He chose white milk, but next time he's going to choose chocolate. He also informed me that their refrigerator is much colder than ours. The milk was so cold it almost hurt his mouth. He also mentioned that there are a lot of new friends at school but one boy did push past him to get up the slide. He was also a bit disappointed that he was on the preschool playground rather than the larger playground for the elementary children. He told me there were two circle times. One at the beginning of the day and one right at the end. He also wanted to know when the next school day was.

I thought I got a pretty amazing amount of detail about his first day and was pleased that he seemed to be looking forward to going back again in a couple of days. We went home, ate lunch, and then left again to get Ava from daycare. When his former teachers asked him how school was he explained carefully to them that now he's going to "three and a half school" not "two and a half school". Apparently that's what he thinks is going on. I do adore that child.

It was a great beginning.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Completely Unexpected Gift

My cousin (also a parent of an adorable preschooler) sent my children a completely unexpected gift. I had no idea it was on the way so when we found the package in the mailbox it was a surprise for all of us. The package was addressed to Michael and Ava so they watched me open it. Inside were some dvds of their favorite television shows (New Handy Manny, yea!) We don't usually watch tv in the evening, but I made a special exception and the children watched their gift while I had some time to myself. It was a wonderful surprise for everyone. All thanks to the thoughtfulness of my cousin. Thanks!

It reminded me of how powerful a random act of kindness can be. I'll need to pass it on.

What Can You Do With Stale Froot Loops?

So the kids and I tried an art activity we saw in one of our High Five magazines. (I really like these magazines. Definitely worth checking them out if you're at all interested.) First we sorted froot loops by color. I had a child on each side of me and I sent the orange, green and blue ones in Michael's direction and he sorted those while Ava sorted the purple, yellow, and red I sent her way. When we were done the table looked like this:

I then dumped each color of froot loop into its own baggie. The idea was to let the children crush the froot loops to dust inside the baggies. I learned that it is very difficult to crush froot loops into dust - possibly because ours were very stale. Also, I recommend freezer bags rather than the regular type. Ours began leaking dust before we were done. First we tried just crushing by hand without much success. Then I let them bang on them with the baby food jars. That worked to some extent. Then we tried a play dough rolling pin also without much success. Finally I got out a mortar and pestle and finished it up. So, after much effort and letting the kids play a little after they got bored, we finally ended up with this very pretty result:

After gathering everyone back at the table I let the children spoon the "colored cheerio dust", as they called it, into baby food jars to create a decorative end product. They liked the activity and the jars are actually quite pretty. I just need to figure out some way to top them off. I'm thinking a square of scrap cloth held on with a rubber band but I haven't gotten that far yet.

We all had fun with the process which is more important than the product anyway. I'm trying to decide what to do with the leftover supply. I am thinking I'll put some glue on paper and let them sprinkle the dust on. We'll let that dry and see how it comes out.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Jealousy I Want to Let Go

This morning was beautiful. The weather was springlike. It was sunny, but cool with gentle breezes. We took the children to the zoo and had a wonderful time. Mid-morning we stopped at a set of benches for a snack. The children climbed on some rocks and we rested a while. As we were sitting there, a mother stopped to sit with her 7 month old baby in a stroller. They were adorable. They exchanged smiles and giggles. The baby babbled and blew raspberries. I just sat there insanely jealous of the experience I never had. I need to let it go. Yes, I didn't get to do the infant bonding, smile exchanging, babbling baby thing. Yes, that sucks. However, life isn't perfect, and I have two wonderful children. I shouldn't let seeing other wonderful babies and happy mothers cast a shadow on my day.

We have a children's book: Zen Shorts by John J Muth. It is a story about three children who meet their new neighbor who is a panda. Each child visits the panda individually and is told a short story based on a zen principle. One of the stories is about two monks. One monk is old and wise while the other is young and still learning. After observing a rather spoiled woman ungratefully waiting for help from her two servants, the older monk carries her on his back across some water in her path and she goes her way without thanking him. The two monks continue on their way. The older is content while the younger spends the next several hours fuming until finally he asks the older monk why he isn't angry. The older monk tells the younger monk that he left his burden behind hours ago (the lady) and asks the younger monk why he is still carrying his burden (his anger).

I think of this short story every time I have this experience of being jealous of a happy mother with her smiling, babbling infant. I want to be the older monk, not the younger. I visualize letting go of a dark balloon filled with cloudy smoke and watching it gently drift away into a sunny sky until it disappears from my sight. I try to imagine the jealousy floating away and myself feeling lightness and a sense of relief and just letting that negative emotion go.

I'm not having much success so far.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Thank you to all of you who come by regularly to check in or who are subscribed to this blog through your email or a feed reader. I enjoy knowing that there are people out there who enjoy reading about our family and and find the informational articles and card sets useful.


Michael has had (relatively mild) eczema since he was a baby. It's better now, but occasionally in the winter he still gets flare ups. I've been noticing an area on his chest that's been rough the past couple of weeks, but suddenly it has spread all over his chest and over to his arms, he is actively complaining about being itchy, and we're having trouble keeping him from scratching. I am beginning to wonder what chicken pox looks like if it is caught by a child who has had the vaccine. Anyone have any thoughts? If he really does have chicken pox I probably shouldn't send him to school on Tuesday. Boy it would be a shame for him to miss his first day.


I fine tuned my idea about slipping worksheets under glass to use as repeatable dry erase activities. Now I'm slipping them into sheet protectors which I've taped to the top of the glass. Taping them down prevents them from sliding around when the children draw on them and erase them. Having the worksheets on top of the glass in sheet protectors lets me switch them out much more easily.


Our new kittens continue to be wonderful. They are actually pretty good about taking their medicine and it seems to be helping. They are each getting four syringes of oral liquid medications a day. One of the medications tastes so bad they foam at the mouth. And yet they still come when I call. I am amazed and grateful.


We live in a house where our back yard is connected to five other back yards. Every other house has dogs. We frequently hear lots of barking at rather annoying hours which bothers my husband more than it bothers me. The children often don't seem to notice either. However, this weekend my parents are out of town celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary and we're dog sitting their two chihuahuas. This evening when we were in the backyard (my husband working on the deck, the children in the sand table, and the dogs playing relatively appropriately and quietly) one of our neighbors let out their dogs. Much chaos and barking ensued. I managed to chase our two guests to the other side of the yard and keep them there quietly, but the neighbor's dogs continued to bark very loudly for at least the next 20 minutes. Finally, my husband walked over and politely asked them to bring their dogs inside because their barking was scaring the children (which it was). Ahh, neighbor relations are always so much fun.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

IFSP - Transition Meeting Edition

I was pleasantly surprised by the transition meeting. Of course, my expectations were low, so I had lots of room to be pleasantly surprised.

So here's the summary of how the transition process works (here in my area, at least). Approximately six months before your child turns three a transition meeting is scheduled. You meet with your Early Childhood Service Coordinator and a representative from your local school district's special education program. (In our case our Parents as Teachers teacher was also there to give information about our specific school.) The purpose of the meeting is to familiarize you with the steps involved in transitioning from Early Childhood Services to School-Age services and to get your signature on a bunch of forms that allows the school district to talk to a variety of people (your early childhood SLP, OT, any preschool teachers you might have, any doctors that might have pertinent information, etc.).

The process, as I understand it, will go like this: About three months before Ava's third birthday I will take her to be evaluated. I will find out on that day if she will qualify for services. If she does not qualify, she will continue to get services through Early Intervention until the day before her third birthday and then it will be my responsibility to arrange (and pay for) any services I feel she might still need at that time. If she does qualify, we will hold an IEP meeting within 30 days of the evaluation to decide what services she will receive once she turns three. Then, when she turns three she will begin to receive those services.

Potential service options will be individual speech or OT sessions, a special preschool program, or both. If we get individual therapy sessions, instead of coming to our home we would bring her to our local school for those appointments. If the IEP team decides the preschool program is appropriate we would bring her to school either two or four days a week. If she gets both, the SLP and or OT would see her in the preschool classroom or possibly pull her out of class for therapy.

Because Ava's birthday is in March, there is a final twist. The IEP team might decide that it is too close to the end of the school year to transition her at that time. If so, the schools would contract with her current early childhood therapists and pay them to continue to see her until the fall.

Everyone at the meeting was very professional and extremely nice. They seemed genuinely interested in Ava and her best interests. They seemed to understand her specific issues (speech and sensory) and how they interact and effect her life. They seemed to want to help. Now we just have to wait and see how the evaluation goes and if she will qualify.

So, in summary, the transition process looks like this:
  1. Hold transition meeting (6 months before 3rd birthday).
  2. Have child evaluated by school district (3 months before 3rd birthday).
  3. If child qualifies, hold IEP meeting (2 months before 3rd birthday).
  4. Transition from getting services from early childhood to getting services from school district (on 3rd birthday).

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Weekly Review: Week 22

Blog Post that Made Me Laugh

It takes talent to take a routine experience (trying on a shirt at a store) and turn it into a hilarious story. Linda at All & Sundry manages it though. Ironically, I actually didn't think the shirt looked all that bad.

Weekly Article that Puts Things In Perspective

I read an article about a family with 11 children between the ages of twelve and one. None of her pregnancies were twins. It makes me rethink complaining about having handled two under two.

The Weekly Michael

This was Michael's last week at daycare. Next week he starts preschool. He knows he's going to "big kid" school starting next week. So far, he is taking this news with complete calm and mild interest. I am so hoping that next week goes beautifully for him. I hope it will be the beginning of a wonderful relationship between Michael and school. Our district is small. There is only one grade school, one middle school, and one high school and they are all together on a single campus. The buildings have all been recently renovated and the campus is beautiful. We have no plans to relocate, so Michael may well spend the vast majority of his waking days in this spot from the time he is three till the time he is eighteen. That is a pretty amazing thought and I want it to go well.

Ava this Week:

There are transitions everywhere. As Michael transitions from daycare to preschool, we are having Ava's transition meeting to begin planning her transition (if she qualifies) from early intervention to school district services. We had Ava's transition meeting yesterday. I'll write more about how that meeting went tomorrow.

Weekly Lesson: Buying Store Brand Doesn't Always Pay

As part of my attempt to eat better, I've been making lunches from steamed veggies. I usually get a name brand mix of broccoli and cauliflower in a microwave steamer bag, but they are a little pricey so I decided to try the store brand in a non-steamer bag. Well, steaming it was definitely a pain (compared to the steamer bag). It took longer, didn't come out as well, and dirtied more dishes. But the real problem was the quality. Almost half of the bag was broccoli stems. Just chunks of the stems. I actually threw them out because I find them tough to chew and not very tasty. Guess it wasn't such a great value after all.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Snapshots From a Day

Yesterday I got a little creative. Just a little. I printed out some worksheets from some teacher ebooks I've had on the computer for a while. I colored them to make them a little more eye catching. Then I slid them under some glass on a low coffee table we've been using as an art table for the kids.

Re-reading my last sentence, I realized that I made that last part sound easy. It's a long table and a heavy piece of glass that sits in the table top so that you can't get your fingers under it. I had the brilliant idea that I'd just tip the table over a bit so the glass would lean out and then I'd grab it. Let's just say I'm lucky the floor was carpeted. I then laid the pictures on the wood and sat and stared at the piece of glass for a good ten minutes trying to decide if I wanted to try to get that thing back on the table by myself. It's almost as tall as I am. Well, I did eventually get it back in there, but I'm hoping that the crack was there before I started the project and I just hadn't noticed it before...

Anyway, I gave the kids some washable dry erase crayons and let them color directly on the glass. They get to color and do the worksheets and then use a wet washcloth to clean it off and start all over again. They love it. They spent at least 30 minutes straight playing with it the first time and went back to it several more times during the day.

We also had a playdate yesterday. A friend of mine came over for the morning with her four year old daughter. The children were wonderful and played fairly independently with few conflicts all morning. That's pretty good for a two, three, and four year old. At one point I walked into the playroom and saw this:

The children were having an elaborate tea party. I'm guessing the idea was our guest's because my two had never played tea party on their own before. All three children were involved. They spread out a blanket, set everyone up with a teacup and saucer, and emptied the contents of the play kitchen so they would have food to "eat". I even filled the teapot with milk and let them pour and drink "tea". It was adorable and I thoroughly enjoyed spying on them a bit from around the corner.

All in all, yesterday was a good day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Imminent Transition

Two mornings a week I drop the children off at a very nice local daycare at 7:30 in the morning. They feed the children breakfast, alternate indoor activities with outdoor ones (weather permitting), and feed them lunch. I pick the children up at 12:30 pm. I get five blessed hours of time to myself. During that time I schedule appointments when necessary, but mostly I just work on independent pursuits. I work on this blog, or the book. I love those ten child-free hours a week. They keep me balanced.

This is Michael's last week at daycare. This fall he is eligible to enter our local school district's preschool program and the first day is next Tuesday. We're still sending him two mornings a week, but now the program is from 8:30-11:00 am. Breakfast and lunch are not served.

As of next week, I will have to serve one child, but not the other, breakfast and lunch. I have to drop children off and pick them up in different places at different times. And let's not forget that the wonderful 10 hours of keep-me-balanced time to myself will suddenly be cut in half. Now, I'm not complaining exactly (Ok. Fine. I am complaining a little.) I know that we are lucky to be able to send the children to school two mornings a week. I know that we are lucky to have multiple programs that are high quality and have openings for the children part time. I know that even five hours a week is more alone time than many moms get. I know that many moms are doing multiple drop-offs and pick-ups a day. However, it is still a transition for me right now and I'm allowed to point out the changes.

Michael is excited I think. And I actually believe that a shorter school day might be better for him. He hasn't been as excited about school since he was moved to a different room with new teachers and a slightly different mix of children. I am hoping that the shorter school day will be good for him. Also, his friend from up the street will be going too on the same days.

Also, my recently retired mother (who lives only about 5 minutes away from us) has offered to pick Michael up from school and watch him and feed him lunch so that I don't have to coordinate two children in the afternoon. I am so grateful for the offer and I think it is a win for everyone involved. My mom and Michael get some special bonding time and I get a little extra quiet time myself.

And so that transition is right around the corner for all of us. Let the schooling years begin.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hurry Up and Wait

Our OT evaluation yesterday was something of a mixed bag. It took two hours. The vast majority of that was mostly the OT asking questions and listening to my answers. We filled out one test instrument that was a parent questionnaire designed to give a "sensory profile".

We did very little hands-on work with Ava. She did teach me how to test Ava's gag reflex. That went startlingly well actually. As it turns out, Ava's gag reflex is not overly sensitive. Ava was very, very anti-social. Perhaps if Ava had been more receptive, the evaluation would have been more hands-on.

The OT observed me giving Ava lunch. She requested that I serve Ava one thing I know she likes (grapes) and one thing that she doesn't love, but she might occasionally eat (egg). Now, Ava used to eat egg when she was littler. I haven't gotten her to eat it in months. Today, she ate it with very little prompting. Why do they always do that?

And now I just wait for the results of the evaluation. It feels odd. I think somehow I thought this evaluation would provide a lot of answers and I hadn't stopped to think about the fact that I wouldn't get them right away. Silly of me. I used to do nothing but speech evaluations and so I know that tests have to be scored before the results are given. And so the next wait begins.


In other news, we're now trying liquid oral antibiotics for the mystery ailment that's been upsetting the kittens' tummies for over three weeks now. I will be trying the first doses tonight (two different kinds). Somehow I'm not expecting this to go well at all.

Monday, August 8, 2011

All Set for OT Evaluation

Our OT evaluation is scheduled for today. My mom (who just retired last week - Congratulations Mom!) is going to watch Michael. As much as I love Michael, he is a rather overwhelming presence when around. I need to be able to focus on Ava and the occupational therapist and on answering her questions rather than on trying to keep Michael quiet and out of the way.

In one way, I am excited. I know speech pathology. I know Apraxia. Those areas are familiar and comfortable. I know very little about occupational therapy and I am excited professionally about getting to watch an occupational therapist at work. Even as a mother I am excited. Ava will finally be getting an assessment and hopefully some help to address some of her other needs. I always had some idea of how to address her speech issues, but I don't know how to help her with her sensory ones. So I am excited to be getting some help for her in that area.

When the OT called to set up a time for her evaluation we chatted for a few minutes. One of the things she asked me was if I thought Ava had a particularly sensitive gag reflex. (She asked the question in the context of her food pickiness.) I told her I hadn't really observed Ava gagging while eating because she won't even try things she thinks she won't like. So, the OT said, "Do you think she'll let me check her gag reflex?" Hahahahahahaha. Oh my. What I said, very politely, was, "We can try." What I thought was, "Hell, no!" So, I think we'll be looking at a very... interesting hour later today.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Card Sets Stage One Complete

All of the card sets for the early emerging consonants have now been posted. You can find links to all of them here. (In case you were wondering, there is no final /h/ set because the /h/ sound does not actually occur in the final position of words in English.) I spent a lot of time working on these sets and I'm pretty happy with the final product. I'd love to get some feedback from any of you who are using them. Also, please let me know if you find any typos or errors so I can get those corrected.

I am actually working on a book of therapy materials that expands on these basic card sets. I'm expanding the backs of the cards with symbols so the cards can be mixed together and easily resorted back into sets by phoneme, position, or vowel and with symbols for sorting into phonological processes. The book will also include simple two-syllable words for each phoneme and phrase/sentence level cards for each phoneme as well. There will also be games (board game, bingo, etc) for each set of words. I am still at least 4-6 weeks from having a rough draft done, but when I do finish the rough draft I would like to get a couple of SLP's lined up to do some proofreading and product testing. If you are interested, send me an email at testyyettrying(at)gmail(dot)com.

So, for now, I have no more free sets in the works. Once I get this first book up and running, I plan to start working on free sets for the mid-emerging sounds (f, v, k, g, s, z, w, y), but that is several months away.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Initial H: Free Speech Therapy Articulation Picture Cards


These articulation picture card sets are designed to be more comprehensive than the typical sets you might find elsewhere. The target audience for these sets are young children or children with more severe speech delays that need intensive practice with sounds at a one-syllable level or simple two-syllable level. No blends or vocalic /r/ sounds are included in these sets. (Scroll down to preview sets.)

Key Features

  • Initial and Final sets include 30 one-syllable words that begin or end with the target sound.
  • The words are simple and are easily understood by or easily taught to young children.
  • Combines the target sound with all possible vowel sounds at least once.
  • Words are sorted by difficulty level for an easy progression from easy to hard.
  • Describes the progression from most intense prompts to least intense.
  • Provides a simple carrier phrase for every word.
  • A gestural prompt for the target sound is explained.
  • A list of therapy activities is included.
  • Includes 30 therapy cards with the target word and a picture on the front,
    and the difficulty level and the carrier phrase printed on the back.


I give permission to copy, print, or distribute these card sets provided that:
  1. Each copy makes clear that I am the document's author.
  2. No copies are altered without my express consent.
  3. No one makes a profit from these copies.
  4. Electronic copies contain a live link back to my original and print copies not for merely personal use contain the URL of my original.

Looking for Feedback

I would love to hear back from anyone who uses the word sets. Let me know if there is anything you would change. Comment on this page, or send me an email at testyyettrying(at)gmail(dot)com.

Where can I find more?

More sets are on my Free Speech Therapy Articulation Cards page.

Card Sets

To download click on the image to open it full size. Then right click on the image, choose "save as" and save the page to your computer.

Instructions for printing and using the cards are included in the set.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Weekly Review: Week 21

Blog Post that Made Me Think

Chris at wrote a post about how much and what kind of information people post about themselves online. He also poses a hypothetical question about online posting behavior. I've wrestled with this issue myself. When I decided to blog about the personal topics of my family and my daughter's Apraxia I decided to use pseudonyms. Dala, Ava, Michael, and all of the other names you see on the blog are pseudonyms. It was just a step that made me slightly more comfortable posting about our personal life on the internet. I am also constantly making judgements about which anecdotes are appropriate for public consumption and which are more private. My husband and I have decided that we are only comfortable posting pictures of the children in which their faces cannot be seen. When I am unsure if my husband will be comfortable about a certain posting topic or picture, I check with him first. I'm sure everyone draws the line between what they're willing to put online and what they aren't differently, but I hope that everyone thinks about it a little.

Weekly Weather Observation

Well, it will hardly come as a surprise that the weather has been extremely hot around here. Reading the news, that statement applies to nearly every area of the US. The thing is, I find myself thinking that I am grateful for that heat to some extent, because it means that winter is not near. I'm originally from New Orleans, LA and still travel there at least once a year. Hot is familiar. Winters that are cold with snow, ice, sleet, and salt all over the roads still feel fundamentally unfamiliar even though I've been living with them for well over half my life. I remember growing up thinking that a jacket was a "winter coat". So, even when it is so hot that I don't take the children outside to play, I'm still glad that I can leave the house without bundling everyone into coats and hats and that I still have daylight at 7:30 pm.

The Weekly Michael

Oh my the volume control has become skewed. All of a sudden Michael seems to be extremely loud all the time as his default volume. I wouldn't say he's quite shouting, but almost. He seems to think that talking at a very high volume is a perfectly normal thing to do. And he's so earnest when he's talking. He really just wants you to hear the VERY IMPORTANT THING he has to share. I hate to interrupt that earnestness with the rather mundane request to "tell me quietly please," but I am starting to feel assualted. It is exhausting, somehow, to be shouted at all day long by an earnest three year old. I suppose my next campaign will need to be constant reminders to use an inside voice.

Ava this Week:

In the beginning I didn't have a name because Ava couldn't talk. That was hard and so when "Mama" came I was so excited. I love "Mama." If I could choose what to be called forever, that would be it. Then, a few weeks ago, Ava switched to "Mommy" completely on her own. I noticed, of course, but I didn't draw particular attention to the switch hoping it would pass and that she'd return to "Mama" at some point in the future.

This week, she has suddenly started calling me "Maw-Maw". Seriously?!? "Maw-Maw?" It makes me feel like an 80 year old grandmother. Definitly not my first choice. Ok. It also makes me giggle a little inside because it is pretty funny. Again, I'm trying not to draw her attention to the shift hoping this too shall pass.

The Weekly Kittens:

The kittens have been sleeping with us. In the beginning it was because we needed to keep them separated from our older cat until everyone adjusted and our bedroom was the most convenient place to accomplish that. Now, we just like it. Every so often, in the middle of the night I will be startled out of sleep by a kitten grooming the tip of my nose. I'm not sure which kitten it is, because it is dark, I'm sleepy, and I can't see without my glasses on anyway, but someone likes to groom my nose in the middle of the night. If you've never been licked by a cat, their tongue is like sandpaper. As cute and sweet as it is to be groomed by a kitten, being awoken by sandpaper rubbing across the tip of your nose in the middle of the night is not the best way to wake up. I adore them anyway.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Parenting Slump

I've been in a parenting slump for the past couple of weeks. Don't misunderstand me. My children are loved. They have food to eat, clean clothes and bodies, a roof over their heads, and toys to play with. They get tickled and listen to stories and songs before nap and bedtime. We've been on family outings recently and we have two new kittens that are a joy to have around.

And yet I just haven't been myself. I've been tired and cranky. I'm depending on television a little more than I'd like and I'm more disengaged than usual. I'm letting perfectly normal child behavior irritate me disproportionately. I am building fewer "special activities" (art project, silly dances, special games that are usually put away) into our days at home.

I am aware of the shift and I know that I want to make a change, but I haven't quite figured out how to yet. I'm not sure what the underlying problem is. It could simply be fatigue. I adore the kittens, but they do cause interrupted sleep on a nightly basis. I can start by trying to get more sleep, eat better and perhaps add in a little exercise. Those things certainly can't hurt. Maybe we just need a change in routine. Shift our daily activities around and try to plan some fun things during the day. The busier we are with some fun activities we all enjoy, the less time that is left over for irritating each other.

If anyone has some suggestions for some fun indoor activities (it is just too hot outside for much outside time), please share some ideas.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

NutriiVeda - Four Month (and final) Update

I haven't done a NutriiVeda update in quite some time. Before I give my final thoughts on the supplement, here's some basic information about how we used it. We never used a full two scoops a day, as recommended. The most we ever managed was about 1 1/2 scoops a day. For the first two months or so I was pretty consistent about getting that amount into Ava on a daily basis. After that we used the product fairly sporadically.

When we first started using the product I thought I saw an improvement in Ava's speech. I thought she was talking more often in longer utterances. Looking back, I'd say that the improvement was likely due to a developmental spurt or due to the speech therapy services she was receiving.

When we went on a family visit for about a week and Ava did not take the supplement I noticed no change in her speech and language. When we came home and began taking the supplement again I still noticed no change. After that, our use of NutriiVeda became more sporadic and I didn't put the same effort into getting it into her daily.

Now, Ava also has some suspected sensory issues. We haven't had our OT eval yet. One of the ways this effects her is to make her an extremely picky eater. I like the nutritional profile of the NutriiVeda as a meal replacement. It is high in protein and low in sugar. Several times a week I mix it into some yogurt and I feel good about giving it to her for purely nutritional reasons.

We are still buying the product. The company will let you call and delay the autoship for a month. We do that every other month. So, we're buying the product every other month instead of every month and we're doing that for nutritional reasons rather than because we feel it has had a significant impact on Ava's speech.

After having tried it, with high hopes, this is my final opinion:

If you can afford it, and want to try it, go ahead and try it. Many parents have reported that it works for their child and you can't know if it will help you unless you try it. However, unless the results are dramatic and you are positive that the product helped improve your child's speech, your money would be better spent on additional speech therapy or perhaps some speech therapy products to help you with home practice.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Children's Picture Book Review - Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site

I wanted to share this picture book with you. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld is a wonderful read. The gentle rhymes tell a delightful bedtime story. The story takes you through the last job of the day for Crane Truck, Cement Mixer, Dump Truck, Bulldozer, and Excavator and then puts each truck to sleep. The illustrations are beautiful and the details in the pictures provide discussion material independent from the story. Both my three year old son and my two year old daughter love this book and join me in whispering, "Goodnight" to each truck in turn. This book is a treasure.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Weekend Update

We had an extremely busy weekend around here. Friday night we went to a local children's museum. As it turned out, we spent the entire evening in their courtyard first in the sand pit, then playing with the little stream and boats, and finally playing with the huge set of foam building blocks they have outside. Some of the blocks were as big as the children. We got home past bedtime, but it was completely worth it.

As is perfectly normal for our children, they did not sleep in even a little because they were up late and so Saturday morning began before 7am. We spent the entire morning in our own backyard. We played in the water and on the playset. My husband continued to work on the deck. He's about 60% done laying the floorboards. After afternoon nap we went to the grocery store. So, an at-home day, but it felt busy anyway.

Sunday morning we rushed out of the house so we could get to the zoo by their opening time of 8am. Entrance to our zoo is free, but between 8am and 9am many of the pay attractions are free as well. We rode the carousel three times in a row which was lovely. We could have gotten into the children's zoo section for free during that hour as well, but we didn't make it. The zoo train didn't start running until 9am, so we wandered a bit. We saw the penguins and bears and went into the bird house. This was really our first visit to the zoo where the children actually seemed interested in the animals. Usually it is just like a big park to them. After the zoo we went to lunch and then back home for afternoon nap.

Sunday evening we drove 45 minutes to a small frozen custard store that occasionally has live bands. Everyone brings lawn or camping chairs and sits in the parking lot listening to the band and eating frozen custard. This week was a Cajun band and we all had a good time. My parents came with us and a friend of the family met us there. The children danced in the parking lot entertaining everyone around them. We got home past bedtime again.

As I am essentially a homebody, I found the whole weekend to be a bit exhausting and I'm quite looking forward to spending all of Monday at home. At the same time, I loved the family time and outings. Building memories. As always, I wish I had taken more pictures.


On a completely different note, Sunday was my parents' 40th wedding anniversary. I love them both and I'm looking forward to helping them celebrate many more anniversaries.


On another completely different note, I know I have several comments and at least one email to respond to. I love comments and want to respond to them all. Thank you for writing them. As soon as I get a chance to catch my breath and the children give me some uninterrupted time I will respond to all of you.
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