Thursday, March 31, 2011

Treasure Hunt

Henry David Thoreau once said, "We can never have enough of nature."

I couldn't agree more!

We're fortunate to have a nature trail right behind our house.  When things get crazy in the house, we head to the trail and go on a treasure hunt.

Our region is famous for The Gold Rush of the 1850's.  While we haven't struck gold, we do find our share of treasures now and again.

On this particular treasure hunt, John Michael scored a small, smooth river rock.

A crunchy, sycamore leaf.
A very cool, long stick that he used to smash his special leaf, and which doubled as a walking stick...

until he decided it was time to climb back on his trusty steed.

I think he's saying, "Well, are you going to push me, or what?"

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Still Life Color Theory... or playing with your vegetables...

I hadn't fully unloaded all my groceries, when John Michael's bus pulled up, dropping him off after a busy morning at preschool.  I gave him a snack and sat down to chat with him.
We're still working on colors, so I pulled out a lime, a bell pepper, and a stalk of celery.  I set it up as "Still Life" on a plate and it prompted a fun, 15 minute sensory learning opportunity. 
First, we named the vegetables and noted they were all green (deen). 

Next, we felt the veggies and talked about their different textures.  The lime is bumpy, the pepper is smooth and the celery has lines.  He was very into feeling the veggies and repeating their textures and names... bumpy lime, smooth pepper, etc.  He was quite impressed with himself that he could stack the lime on the pepper. 
Next, we took a whiff and smelled the veggies.  I cut an x in the lime so he could get the full fragrance.

And finally, he decided to try the veggies, without prompting.  I cut a tiny piece from the pepper and he put it on his tongue.  He didn't get very far with the pepper or the lime, but he did crunch on the celery a few times.  I don't think he really "liked" any of them very much, but at least he was open to trying.

So there you have it.  A simple, impromptu lesson on colors, textures, tastes and smells.  You don't need fancy kits, just make things interesting.  One of the most important things I've learned about John Michael (and other kids with Ds) is that he learns best by seeing and doing and by repetition.  See what you have in your environment, inside or out, and have fun learning something new...

I leave you with this short video clip.  I'm so proud of my boy!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Baby Mine -- DSIA Calendar Photo Shoot

A few months ago, I made a comment on Facebook to the moms in The Sisterhood that our kids (with Ds) are all so darned adorable that they should be in a calendar.

Guess what?

The moms in the Sisterhood started "going viral" on me, LOL, and the calendar idea took on a life of its own. A few of us moms recently got together to brainstorm how this could happen, and after a few phone calls and one "official" meeting with all of us and the photographer, the pieces fell into place.

After hearing our idea and mission, Sharon and Scot Benton of Studio B Photography offered their professional photography services gratis!  They are both so talented... you should see Scot's underwater portraits, called Immersion Art!

John Michael had his photo session yesterday. YESTERDAY! Sharon and Scot already have put together this amazing montage of all our kids! Check it out!

John Michael makes his debut at 2:04 in the video, where he's catching a bubble. He was so excited!  I just love this boy and love that he gets to grow up with a wonderful mix of typically developing kids and kids with Ds. And that's exactly how it should be :-)

The 2012 calendar, available through the Down Syndrome Information Alliance (DSIA) later this year, will be a welcome gift to new moms who have a baby with Down syndrome.  Calendars will also be available for purchase. You know what you're getting for Christmas, right?  LOL. Details later this year. This will make a fantastic Christmas or birthday gift or just because... The photos are amazing!  Did I say that already?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Soaking up some Mother Nature...

Last weekend, we enjoyed a sunny afternoon at Effie Yeaw Nature Center along the American River, where the deer, coyotes, and wild turkeys roam.  These turkeys were HUGE!

Inside the Nature Center itself are rescued wild animals, such as an owl, a king snake, two garter snakes and a kestrel.  You never know what else you might find there...  Greta was mermerized by the deer crossing our path.

Along the trail and through the bushes, we saw one buck and more deer than we could count!

The park has many different walking paths amid the oaks that lead to the river or to a small pond.

  John Michael loved the trails and seeing all the animals.  He even found the perfect walking stick to navigate the way.  Every boy needs a walking stick after all...
 The girls had fun tossing small rocks in river, at first trying to make them skip, and then giving in to just tossing them in by the handful.
Even Luke enjoyed the sunshine and soaked up some Vitamin D.

The "pack" watched me with hungry eyes as I set up our picnic lunch. 

Can't wait for more outdoor now that spring is almost here!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

John Michael rockin' the sax

So sorry the video quality is terrible because of the low light, but it was one of those moments that I just had to act quickly to capture it.

I love how John Michael is playing on the cork (no mouthpiece -- ick!), his fingers are moving, the strap is around his neck (saxes are heavy!) and he's making his own music. Then, out of the blue, he shouts, "Five!" Maybe he's playing "Take 5" by Dave Brubeck, or maybe he's counting down... cuz then he shouts, "Five! Nic!" He's totally tuned in!

And did you hear the ending sound on "Nic?" That's new and I'm thrilled! He doesn't usually say Nic -- it usually comes out as KeeKee. John Michael is starting to put some ending sounds on words, like "p", "s", and "k". I've heard a "t", too. He's been working on ending sounds in speech, so I'm glad to hear his progress!
I just love how John Michael loves music and points out whenever he hears a trumpet or saxophone on the radio. He plays our piano at home and loves to blow on the recorder and strum a guitar. His favorite band/TV show is The Fresh Beats to which he loves to sing and dance. I can totally see him playing in a band one day... I guess it's in his genes. :-)