Anatomy of a Meltdown

We had to put the breaks once again on the video games.  I hate to do it, but Kaden gets so overwhelmed and can't process his emotions during and after he plays.  So, now we are back to no Minecraft or Autcraft.  We did this a few months ago and we saw an amazing improvement.  He is sad and flipping out, but I know that after a few days into his game fast his behavior will improve and he will have better control over his emotions.

Last night, for nearly 3 hours he was banging his head, punching the walls and threatening because he lost his place in the game.  He wasn't able to save when the server went down.  I know that is pretty frustrating for any Kiddo to go through.  But, to Kaden it was over the top traumatic to him.  And when he reaches the point of Domesday you have no leverage with him at all.  Typically you could threaten a child with grounding or the loss of a favorite item or activity.  But, with Kaden that means nothing because right now he is already on the Titanic just waiting to drown. 

It is very painful to watch....basically you wait it out and try to keep him safe.  Safety is the main concern and at midnight we all need to be careful not to fall down the stairs.  :)  After almost 2 hours of violently kicking and self harm he balls himself up and hides under something, which signals to us that the worse is over.  Thank You Lord!!  Now he needs pressure of some sort....his weighted blanket, his service pup or wrapped up in our arms.  Then comes the talk portion where he tries to reason with what just happened.  When he was younger, he's 7 now.  This part of his meltdown would be him on the floor organizing toys or objects by size or color.  Now, he uses his words more, but after really tough episodes he will remain silent except for his humming and still sort things.  I find it is soothing for him and helps him make sense of what just happened.  As we head to the 3 hour mark he will ask for water and his bed.  I know he is exhausted right now.  Energy used up during a Meltdown can be compared to a Marathon for a young child.  In the past I would ask questions about his behavior and why he behaved the way he did.  Now, after years of meltdowns I know that it's useless to even try.  

And I know the next morning he wont even remember what happened.  If the meltdown was earlier in the day he may be able to talk about it at bed time, but more then likely not.  

He has explained it to me many times that having a meltdown is like playing 4 or 5 of CDs at the same time on the loudest setting.  You can't distinguish the individual songs playing.  You may catch a word or two, but not enough to make sense.  This is why what he rants about during his meltdown hardly ever make any sense.

For now we deal with it, and try our hardest to keep him safe.  Every day I thank God for my Kaden, our Family would not be what it is without him....
If you have a Kiddo with Autism how do you handle their Meltdowns?


Little Hands Big Hearts

 There is hardly a time when I don't have all of my Kiddos with me, or at least one of them.  Honestly I miss them when they aren't with me.  Maybe I've just gotten so good about tuning out the not so pleasing behavior or I'm just in love with being a Momma.  I think it's a little of both.  :) But, I truly enjoy being around my Kids.....even on the bad days. 

Don't get me wrong...I have my days, when I just don't know what will help Kaden stop screaming and banging his head like a mad person.  And the teenage hormones can send Mahala from being little Miss Sunshine to Cruella Deville.  But, I expect those days to come.  And when those days are in the here and now I try real hard to imagine the day they wont be making a trail of cracker crumbs from the kitchen table to the tv.  There will be a day that Skylar, Mahala and Kaden will have their own families and I will hopefully be a Grandma just begging for her Grandkiddos to come over and bake a mud pie with me.  When I think about that it makes it a little easier and then I'm able to stop rocking in the corner praying Hubby walks in at any moment.  And I can try to enjoy whatever glimmer of happiness I can find in any situation.

I pray a lot, I pray every day for patience and strength with a glimpse of my child's heart.  Sometimes if we look at life through our Kiddo's eyes, we see their heart...their intent.  We can see that their goal wasn't to take us down piece by piece.  You will be able to find glorious opportunities to teach and love them to greatness. 

Having a Friend or group of Friends is always important too.  I have my Sister and if she wasn't there for me on those days that I want to just cry because I don't know what I can do to help Kaden through his meltdown I don't know what I would do.  Hubby and I have also been making date night a major priority too.  We let it slide the past few years, because we were caught up in therapy with Kaden.  We now have remembered our relationship needs to come first, right after our relationship with God.

What helps you get through those trying days?  Give us your Secrets.....

Psalms 127:3-5  
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.


Just a Moment in Time....

Sometimes I sit back and I just listen to the commotion going on in my house.  The buzz of screams, laughter and yapping all at the same time from various corners in our house.  There is always messes all over the house, piles of projects and left out crafts.  Just 5 minutes ago I almost slipped on a puzzle piece from the puzzle being built on the tile in our entry way.  Did I say entry way to our house?  Why yes I did folks...that's how we roll here.  Let's build a 1,000 piece puzzle 5 ft from the front door. :)  No matter what time of the day you are here, if Momma is awake you will smell something cooking or baking.  You will smell fresh laundry being folded or washed.  You will smell half chewed dog bones all over the house and as you look down at your new outfit you will see a zillion dog hairs from Homer.  Yes, only Homer....he sheds like it's part of his job to grow hair and poof it all over the house.  He takes his job VERY seriously! :)
So, I sit back, sip on my green tea or coffee and go this is my life.  I LOVE my life, I wouldn't change a thing.  But, I would like to add to it.  Another project here and there, a new business venture, more Kiddos, a few more pets and I want to expand the garden.  More of my life for me.....love it!


My Student Logbook ~ REVIEW!!!

Yay, Organization for my little guy!  My Student Log Book gave Kaden and I the opportunity to use and Review the undated Planets My Student Log BookThis product was developed by Oregon Based Homeschooling parents, Jim and Corina Abbott.  I was thrilled, because we are working with Kaden on his Independence and his ability to start and complete all his work for the day.  Or at least give it a good amount of effort.

Usually I hear "am I done now" 10 times a day, or "can this be enough"?  I felt like for him he needed clear plans for each day and even maybe the whole week.  Even with it all written out on scratch paper or even the black board he still was antsy about the work that needed to be done.  I was a little leery that this would do any better.  But, when I spoke to him he was most excited about picking out his front cover for the Log Book and that it would be only his.

Let me give you some highlights about the actual product.
My Student Logbooks are 8 1/2" x 11", spiral bound and are about 1/2" thick with Sturdy clear plastic front cover and black back cover. The book is designed with 53 weekly pages and comes with 6 checklist pages. If you find that you need more checklists then the 6 they have put in your book, don't worry.  Jim and Corina have given you permission to photocopy the checklist page! YAY, Thank You!!!
These logbooks are ideal for kiddos in the 2nd grade and up.What is fun about them is that when you order you get to pick from nine amazing different Cover pages.  The kids get to take ownership and get something that reflects their personality or style.  Love that!  Kaden decided to get the Planets cover.  After you decide that then you have three different styles to pick from:

* Predated August 1 – July 31, 7 days a week labeled Monday-Sunday
* Predated January 1 – December 31, 7 days a week labeled Monday-Sunday or
* Undated 7 column pages with space that you can customize to your own needs.  This is the one I decided to get.  That way I was able to start, stop and start again.  I hate when I have unused months in a planner or calendar that I can't use.
Your My Student Logbook retails for Only $15.00 Family license: $20.00 (Dated PDF file with permission to print as many copies as you need for one school year)
Single license: $10.00 (Dated PDF file with permission to print 1 copy)
In the back of the logbook you will find some additional treasures. 

  • An “All About Me” page where kiddos get to record their age and their current favorites things.  It took some prompting, but Kaden did well with this exercise.  He said it was like he was customizing his book with his personality. :)
  • Prayers and Goals Page.  We Read the Bible and pray every night.  He uses this for a reference, I never thought to incorporate something like this for him.
  • Bible Verses Memorized!  Something we have not done, but he is motivated to do it now, because it's in his book.
  • Books Read.  Awesome, because right now we use the wall to post up titles.
  • Events, Projects, Field Trips, Presentations and Activities.  This would be great for remembering all the things we did during the year when we make our yearly scrapbooks.
  • Test Records page. 
  • Year Highlights! This is where your kiddos can write down all their favorite memories and can use them in their scrapbooks.

We used it as a Huge checklist.  He is only 7, so I am not worried about hours or credits yet.  I wrote out what he needs to accomplish on the left and then he gets to check off what he finishes on the left side.  He felt like it was very easy to use.  He felt like he had some control.  And I think he thrived on being able to completely check off what he accomplished and then go on to the next thing.  It also showed him what needed to be done by lunch time, break or dinner.  Great tool to use for independent working.

 So, do I like this product?  Yes, I love it.  I love it because Kaden loves it, uses it and it gives him the ability to be independent.  He says it gives him FREEDOM!!!!  HAHAHA  If you are looking for a way to track your Kiddo's school time, which will in turn make transcript writing a lot easier then this is for you.  I know this is something my Family will use year after year.  I'm excited to have found this great Family Owned Company. :)

 Make sure you Connect with My Student Logbook on Facebook and YouTube!

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The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner ~ REVIEW

One of my Favorite things to do is to crack open a brand new physical planner.  So you can imagine how fast I was to offer my honest review on The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner ($24.95) from The 7 Minute Life. 
 I will admit I was a little afraid that what normally happens when I get a new planner would happen during my review time period.  Can you guess what that would be?  Well, for starters I would rush home all excited and totally convicted to turn over a new leaf.  This was it.... organization and structure was going to seep from everyone of my pores if it had to kill me!!! I would be pretty "gung ho" for about 3-4 days and then slowly but surely my scattered thoughts and piled up "to do" list would completely overwhelm me to the point of disgust.  
So, with that happy thought hanging on in the back of my head I was determined to try my very best to make this planner thing work.   So, was it a hit, did it work for me?  I'll tell you that answer in a minute, but first let's go over a few things about this planner.

 The 7 Minute Life is a time management company created by Allyson Lewis, a motivational speaker and author of The 7 Minute Solution, The 7 Minute Difference, and The 7 Minute Daily Planner.  I connected to her instantly because she has battled with health issues too.  Since my health decline 10 years ago because of Lupus my priorities changed Big Time!!!!  I love knowing she believes just like me....Life is a Gift, a Blessing Beyond Measure.  Through her products, Allyson encourages everyone to prioritize, organize, and simplify.  This Planner is a sturdy 7.3" by 8.5" spiral bound physical planner, consisting of 271 total pages and was design to allow us to each be our own Architect and Contractor in our lives.  What a Concept!! :) 

I will admit that it does feel more geared to someone in the workforce or that has a home based business.  But, with a few changes you can customize it yourself to make it work for anyone business or no business.  I do hope and pray that maybe in the future Allyson may create a planner just for the stay at home or homeschooling person.  Hint Hint! 

In the very beginning of the Planner you will find an extensive introduction.  How to get started is mapped out for you step by step.  It is quite the journey to go through.  Once you are ready to join the "7 Minute" Revolution the magic begins.  

You start out with a worksheet on Prioritizing the values most important to you.  This was eye opening to me.  It's one thing to know what's important to you, but to write it out is another.  I think that's one of the points in doing this.  :) 
The next page helps you unlock your purpose and passion.  I I had a hard time with this.  My life growing up in foster care didn't really set me up on a bright road ahead staring what I could do in life.  I was taught that I had no purpose, so why even try.  Just existing was problem enough for this world.  Thankfully through God I know this to be different.  But, it still isn't any easier to put out in black and white.  So, honestly that page is still blank in my planner as of right now.  
One of my FAVORITES in this Planner is the Mental Clutter page!!!!  With a task and action column.  I am nothing but 1,000 sentences swirling around in this head of mine.  Allyson wants to slow that swirling down.  Get it out and on paper!  She says it takes up your valuable time and diverts you from success!  I so agree with that, what about you?
Next you will find pages for 90-day, Financial and Life Goals...pretty self explanatory.  Unfinished Work and Home tasks along with Home repairs, you have work and personal connections list.  I mean there is something in here to fit just about every need.  The 90 day Calendar worksheets, Monthly Calendar at a Glance and Grocery List check list is easy to use too.  

But the Star of the show is the 90-Days worth of 2 page spread Daily Progress Reports.  Here you will find sections that may or may not work for each household.  Daily Contacts on the left I turned that into my Family To Do list for the day.  
My most life changing addition to my Daily routine thanks to this Planner is the 5 before 11.  The night before I write out 5 things that have to be done by 11am.  What makes this so effective is the night before you don't have emotion wrapped up into what needs to be accomplished.  So, it's not mixed in with a million things that come up magically overnight.  :)  I have all 3 of my Kids doing this every single day even on the weekends.  Even Dad hopped on board with this and is using it at work.  
I also find the What I Spent Section helpful.  Just a quick total everyday keeps a little handle on extra spending.  The extras like water intake and meals is a great bonus too.  And right there in the right hand corner is the daunting question....Did I do what I said I would do today?  Yes, it sure is right there in your face.  Become woman and men of your word.  This has been a hidden blessing here in my house.  I am always the first to make up an excuse for myself or anyone of the kids.  Well, not with that question!!!  :)  I need that yes or no box checked every night, what about you???

So, what did I think?  Well, I love the Revolution behind it and everything it represents.  Having had a home-based business for almost half of my adult life I appreciate all the components of the planner.  Right now in my life there are a lot of sections in the Planner that needed to be renamed to work effectively for my daily life.  Does it work for me a Homeschooling Momma?  Yes, it does....with some crossing out and re-purposing.  What about with a business or 9 to 5 job?  For sure, and what a major change in your daily life you would see.   Check it out now and let me know what you think about this Quality Planner!!!
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Christian Audio Drama: Under Drake's Flag ~ REVIEW

How cool to start the school year off with a Bang!!!  A few weeks ago we were asked to Review Under Drake's Flag from Heirloom Audio Productions.  The kids Love Audio Dramas, so of course we were all pleased to jump on this boat! :)  It was Perfect for us, because I am running a little behind in the curriculum department.  It's been a L-O-N-G summer.

Under Drake's Flag is a two-hour audio drama that comes in 2 CDs and is based on the book, Under Drake's Flag by G.A. Henty.  The 2 CD set costs $29.95 and it also comes with a simple outline and study guide, but you can also download a longer PDF version of each story(chapter) from their site, this is what we used.  The three Bible Studies included really work on showing what it is like having Godly Character, True Manhood, and Confessing Christ.  This was a little bit over Kaden's head, but I will be thrilled to do this again with him in a few years.  The study offers scripture references so you can go deeper.  You will find that along with the study guide you will get a helpful quick Bio of GA Henty as well as Sir Francis Drake.  

There are 3 sections in the study guide for each chapter.  Listening Well, Thinking Further and Defining Words.  This is where you will find comprehension questions about each chapter.  Think Who, What, Where, Why and When.  It really makes your Kiddo put themselves in the story and to dig a little deeper in thought.  Your Kiddos will have fun searching for the New vocabulary words listed.  Kaden and I raced to see who could find them faster in the dictionary.  :)

The recommended ages for this Audio Drama is for Kiddos 6 and up, of course Adults too. This Adventurous story combines both fiction and real historical events. The fictional characters in the story are, Ned Hawkshaw and his best-friend, Gerald.  Ned is seen in action as he executes a surprising rescue.  He catches the eye of Sir. Francis Drake, an English explorer who helped take over the Spanish Armada.  Sir. Francis Drake promises Ned that he can be one of his Newest crew members.  I don't want to spoil all of their Adventures that they have while being on board Drake's ship.  I'll just tell you that there is tons of excitement from the very beginning that includes Sharks, Dungeons, lots of close calls and a lot of Faith.

What did we think?  Well we are very Visual over here in the Manic house.  Usually Kaden has No problem at all listening to Audio Dramas.  But, this one was a little more difficult.  I feel the main reason is the amount of what was happening.  Sometimes it was a little unclear who was talking, they had a little accent, so I think it was a bit confusing at times for him to keep up.  There was a lot of background noise, but understandable background noise.  I mean they were on a boat out at sea a good portion of the story.  HAHAHAHA  But, being Sensory Sensitive like he is, he did find it more difficult to focus.  Other Kiddos without this issue would probably not even notice the extra clanking and murmur of sounds. 

So, I needed to make the story more visual and hands on, so I set out to learn more about Sir Francis Drake and the Spanish Inquisition.  We made boats out of clay, made meals with fish and learned some Pirate and Spanish words.  We even used an old fishing net to capture the vocabulary words and their meaning.  Did that help?  Yes, it did, that and just listening 15-20 minutes a day.  
All in all he loved the story and all the new vocabulary.  I just tweaked it a little to fit his Sensory issue.  We will be keeping this in Our Tool Box and hopefully when Kaden is a few years older we can try again.  I think it would be a great addition to a History Unit Study or as a break during Reading time.  That's why my Kiddos love Audio Dramas.  They can sit back and listen as their imagination runs wild!!!

Remember Under Drake's Flag is a 2 CD set and can be purchased for $29.95  Or you can digitally download it for only $20!
 You can find Under Drake's Flag on facebook

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Yard MakeUnder

 We are currently looking at getting our backyard done.  Basically it looks like we are living in the middle of the desert, minus the sand.  Almost a half acre of rock and weeds.  Yep, fun stuff over here and we need to get the shovel moving before the Holidays are knocking down our front door.

So we had a guy come out over the weekend and I was explaining what I wanted.  He summed it up that we basically want a unique collection of organised rocks and weeds.  Hmmmmm, yep that just about sums it up.  :)  I want no mulch, no organized formation of rocks, plants and trees and I will puke if I see a concrete fountain situated straight in the middle of it all.  
You can see in the right of the photo our neighbors collection of twigs, mulch and rocks.
When I look at all my neighbors yards they are exactly the same.  Mulch galore with a massive amount of stick trees vomited up onto their slops surrounded by a circle of bricks or rocks.  
I want our yard to look like it's been there for years.  I want people to wonder is that a weed or an unusual plant.  I want a side fountain to drain through our future garden and down the side of our slope.  Unfortunately because of the slope we need concrete retaining walls for the garden area.  But I plan to cover it up with plants and our growing food.  :)

We are all so excited to get this started, it's been a year of dirt, mud, dirt and more dirt.  When the rains come the mud is crazy to try and control, especially with the dogs.  So, this winter is going to be way more enjoyable.  Now we are looking into different trees and plants to use.  Living in Northern CA and it seems like we are always on water restriction I really need drought resistant landscaping.  I was at a Friend's house not too long ago and Kaden loved her little Garden and it truly sealed the deal in us making our garden the focal point of our future yard.  After dinner we went over to see her neighbor's house....it was like Disneyland to me.  The landscaping was filled with succulents and plants that you would have found here naturally a 100 years ago.  LOVED IT!!!

  I will have to update as soon as we break ground hopefully in the next few weeks.  Green thumbs crossed!


A little Hop in Kaden's Step

The weather is getting more tolerable in the late afternoon around here, so we have been venturing out of our Home Cave more frequently.  The other day Kaden was going out to jump on the trampoline and he found a little friend.  It was a huge grasshopper.  I figured he would run screaming from it, but to my surprise he was very interested, fearless and so gentle.  
He tried to get it on a stick for almost an hour.  He went inside to look at it then it hopped on the outside and visa versa.  Quite the ordeal to get a little peak.  But, I was thrilled to see him doing something not video game related that I volunteered to document the whole thing.

 Kaden in the past has very little patience for the small things in life.  It's moments like these that I try to capture and hold onto, because these activities and moments in his life I feel will soften his emotional anguish and give him more peace within himself.  Our Focus this year in our homeschool for him is going to include lots of nature and art.  Up until now it is been overloaded with Math and Science.  Not saying that's a bad thing, but I feel he is already so rule and logic based that he needs a little softer edge to his day. :)
Once he got him off the net he was careful getting him to crawl on his stick.  He was so proud of his hard work, I was too.  Kaden thought he was so unusual because of his coloring, he was gray and brown.  He decided to name him Hopsie.  We looked up what grasshoppers ate and how to build a small habitat for him.  We had gathered all the supplies into the container and as soon as we put Hopsie down he hopped like a million feet into the air.  Ok, maybe a few less then that....but it was far.  
After the initial shock I immediately seized inside because I knew he was going to blow up and be really upset and overwhelmed.  But, to my surprise he was very calm and collected.  He was tremendously sad, don't get me wrong.  But, he was in control of his emotions and they were appropriate for the situation.  Thank you Lord!  

I spent the rest of the night before we just couldn't see anymore looking in the yard for the runaway grasshopper.  We never found Hopsie, but it did give Kaden and I plenty of time to chat about animals and their natural homes.  I was able to talk to him about patience and acceptance.  He displayed both that day and I was extremely proud of him. 
Every time he walks outside he says Hello to Hopsie.  Dad told Kaden that more then likely he has hopped on his way to a new yard or out in the field.  Kaden agreed, but he said you never know Dad he could still be here and I don't want him to feel sad and think that I have forgotten about him.  How sweet, I just Love that little boy of mine!