Category Archives: sports

Skillz

I have a list entitled, “Things I Want The Boyz To Learn”.

Algebra, world history, and chemistry have not made my list. They can pursue these things if they wish – or their schools require it, it’s just that my list is way more important.

How to tie and tie, clean a bathroom, grill a steak and an effective way to make a sincere apology ~ those are on my list. How to start a charcoal grill, light a fire in a fireplace and jump start a car. It’s a long list. I take every chance I can ~ or make sure someone else can ~ to teach them things they simple won’t and can’t learn in school.

I needed to send a paper registration and a check – what?! no internet? – to a government agency last week. I sat Sean down to do it with me. Trust me, these things are WAY easier to do without an apprentice – but it must be done. Return address, stamp and address. Nope, he didn’t know what a zip code was. I explained that we could send almost anything through the mail and stamps are actual currency. His idea of mail was junk mail and Amazon deliveries. He liked the ‘check’ idea too. His usual exposure to any form of payment is ‘the swipe’ 🙂

I made some homemade soup for a sick family member last week. I called the boyz off their various electronic devices and sat them at the kitchen counter – do you think they were thrilled? They have NO concept of why food preparation might be hard if you are ill or grieving. Their food magically appears without much care for the planning, the list, and the shopping. They are getting better at cooking – and don’t worry, “how to make lasagna and chicken soup” are on the list. I explained disposable containers were imperative and not asking, just doing, is the preferred method for providing food – that most people will say that they are ‘fine’. We are men of action – remember that, boyz.

DSC00082Two of the boys, unfortunately, had the experience recently of learning how and why we send sympathy cards. Mikey, the sweet boy, asked if sending a card did not just remind the person of their loss. As sad as it was, I was glad we had a chance to talk about why we participate in certain social rituals regarding loss.

It takes a certain level of mindfulness to remember to pull them or push them into circumstances in which they can master all types of practical life skills. It is usually easier to do these tasks yourself, but not a good, long-term plan.

Other wise moms have reminded me that when there is a huge sink full of dishes – I am not the only one with working arms and when we are out of cookies….

Memorize & make Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Memorize & make Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sunday Scenes – The Very Bad Mother Edition

I woke up VERY early for a Sunday. 5:48 to be exact. It worked out nicely, as I was watching my neighbors kids bright and early. It was nice to have breakfast guests.

DSC06584 (1)Although I no longer attend church and don’t see that changing at any point in the near future, there are some things I still find very meditative and comforting.

DSC06587I do not like contemporary christian music, but I do like old, very traditional hymns. It’s is ok with me if they are performed by contemporary christian artists but I still prefer Alison Kraus, Johnny Cash, and Dolly Parton.

DSC06588Then, this happened and I cannot stand it. Just can’t. Can you?

DSC06595Also, I allowed Ethan to leave the house wearing this. Do I think that it’s ok? I don’t. I was late for playoff hockey and fighting with him can take a VERY long time as Ethan can hold out on issues for hours at a time.

Speaking of being late for playoff hockey and fighting with Ethan…here is where ‘the very bad mothering’ happened. When I arrived at the hockey game, other moms greeted me with ‘Hi! Where is Sean?’

Well, he must be here somewhere, he came with Dennis. But no one reported having seen him. After a cursory search and confirmation that Dennis did not, in fact, bring him, I panicked. It took me about 10 full seconds to realize that he had been playing on the swing set in the yard across the street – WHEN I LEFT!! Yep. I finally really forgot a kid. The littlest one to boot.

I mean, sure it was cleared up in one quick phone call and he had all the time been the care of a responsible adult (not me), but it was terribly disconcerting. I am sure the ‘Mother of the Year’ is still taking nominations. Check on that for me, will you?

So hockey season has come to an end. As glad as I am to have it be over…

DSC06611 (1) DSC06607I love to see them like this!

Later, Chef Cutie and I baked some cookies. We used the wrong recipe – but baked none-the-less.

The evening ended on the best note – literally – the Star Wars Film Score. There are so few times that Ethan is happy, truly, really, happy. Content. With the music blaring, he worked on diligently on his light saber skills. Meditative, light-sabering – I think it could catch on.

DSC06634 DSC06635The force is strong with this one.

A Week Ago

Today is my one week anniversary – of not being able to think of anything witty, or profound or really interesting to write about. Sure, there’s stuff going on, but it’s too rainy and gloomy and muddy and cold to really be effective at much of anything. Who’s tired of hearing that from me?!?

DSC02909 DSC02910 DSC02911

I recently sent my 4th snow-boot-clad bug-hunter out into the thawing yard to catch specimens. None found. But, oh my gosh, I want to freeze him and keep him as a pet.

DSC02913 DSC02915 DSC02916

I started to teach Mikey to crochet. Because I can, and because it’s just good for his head and his hands and maybe I’ll get a nice gift out of it someday.

We enjoyed a family night out of hunting for spotted salamanders on Beekman Road in East Brunswick, NJ.  The very best part of the night was Ethan (and Dennis) agreeing to join in the search. Anything involving a flashlight is generally appealing to him.

DSC02936DSC02940 (1)DSC02937 (1)DSC02949DSC02956We had Opening Day for Greenbrook Hockey Club – complete with a skate-parade. If you haven’t joined us for a game, come out and see what a great sport roller hockey is and what a great league GBHC is.

DSC02963 (1) DSC02966 (1) DSC02970 (1) DSC02974Now, we are busy watching – yes watching – The Bible. Noah, King David, the Egyptians. Moses, Sampson and Delilah, Jerusalem and King Herod and the Roman Empire. We are up to Mary & Joseph and we are all really enjoying it along with 13 million other viewers.

I won’t be blogging again until Spring 😉

Things I am worried about:

I won’t get a babysitter for tomorrow night
This snow still being here in the morning
Sal Khan’s book making my head explode
I am running out of ingredients for dinner

Why Phys. Ed. is more important than Algebra

Ethan joined in a pick up basketball game on our street this weekend. For many kids, that wouldn’t be that exciting. But as a teenager with Down syndrome, it is exciting and complicated.

Since he was very young, much of our focus with Ethan has been on ‘appropriate’ ways to handle every situation from walking through the grocery store to sitting in church (some lessons have been more successful than others). It is so much harder for kids with DS to ‘pick up’ on the nuances of social function. It is harder to discriminate who we hug as opposed to who we might shake hands with, and whether a friendly shove from an opposing team member is an invitation for a wrestling match.

So I watched as Ethan walked out the front door, ball in hand. He yelled to the boys that he wanted to play. I don’t know, for sure, what the boys were thinking. They have had lots of experiences with Ethan, but they were probably unaware as to whether or not he could make a lay-up, knew to pass and could discern whether he was on offense and defense. But he does know. And he knows because, unlike other kids who came to this knowledge effortlessly, we taught, re-taught, school taught, walked through the steps, reminded, and then did it all again.

At Midland School, there is a huge focus on physical education and intramural sports. Ethan has been taught the intricacies and skills of games such as soccer and basketball. He was taught where to stand and how to place your hands. I have seen the phys. ed. staff at Midland use markers on the floor, slow motion, and one-to-one instruction to make sure the kids, at whatever level they are at, can learn to play a game. The intramural games at Midland are important events, with spectators and cheerleaders!

I marvel as a court full of special education students, all with their own deficits and quirks, participate in a totally typical, fluid game of basketball. I watch as they run down the court, take appropriate positions, pass to each other, make baskets, show boat, and give high fives. For a moment, I realize that for some of these kids, it is a small miracle.

As the game went on out in the street, no one cared about Ethan’s reading level or standardized test scores. They only cared if he could play a simple game of basketball.

And so did I.

Visiting Midland

It was parent visitation day at Midland. Although I am there often, it was a chance to sit in Ethan’s class with him, participate in an activity, hear a lecture and eat lunch with the kids.
The first thing you notice about Midland is that it is situated on a beautiful, secluded, 54-acre property. The grounds include little rolling hills, walking paths (alot of the kids walk everyday in a structured walking program), gardens, basketball courts, a soccer field, and the crowning glory – a brand new pool! There are tons of grassy areas, a picnic grove and a large play-park called “Rainbowland”. The physical plant reflects many of the core beliefs of Midland, including a huge emphasis on physical activity, and a holistic, hands-on approach to education.
  The school itself is in immaculate condition with bright, open hallways, a state-of-the-art gym with a rock wall and a stage for the schools many performances. It boasts a brand new professional kitchen used by the younger kids for cooking and the older students for job readiness. It has an ‘independant living suite’ that has a bedroom, kitchen and sitting area used for all types of independance skills (thanks, now Ethan is trying to do *my* laundry!) as well as sleepovers (Ethan will attend his first is May.) Midland has every type of opportunity for Ethan and his classmates – including a top-notch woodshop. Their sports/physical eduction program and staff is award-winning.

Everything I have mentioned ranked very high when we considered where Ethan would be spending 6 hours of his day. We saw other schools that had very good programs, but were housed in what we considered terrible locations/buildings. Many of the school’s teachers have been at Midland for 10, 20 and 30 years! Staff there seems very satisfied and we have experienced teachers who truly understand children with special needs (and their families). The academic program is a very good match for Ethan’s needs and our desires for him. There is a ‘no-homework’ policy! We are grateful. This is the view from the window at Ethan’s desk.

His classmates vary in their needs and abilities – I feel that gives Ethan someone to be empathetic/helpful too and someone to look up to. We feel that private special education gives Ethan the chance to rise to the best of his abilities in a setting where he is never “second best”. His peers have similar needs and desires and deep, lasting friendships (and marriages!) are formed at Midland.

No one ‘sits the bench’ at Midland (metaphorically speaking), but each student is encouraged to participate in the capacity the he or she is able. Teaching staff is geared and ready to assist each student in a small class setting with experienced support staff. Now I sound like a commercial! This is Ethan’s first year in the high school. His teacher has provided just enough support to help him mature and gain new academic skills, but not so much support that he isn’t required to ‘rise to the occassion’. You can tell we love it, we can tell Ethan loves it. Is it perfect? For Ethan and our family – it is.

Cold Costellos

To break up the terrible, dreary, gray, yucky season that is Winter (can you tell I don’t like it?), we have to add a good dose of fun.

We went ice skating on New Year’s Day, as has been tradition for the last several years. I love ice skating and the kids would hardly have to convince me to take them anytime – usually it’s the other way around. We went to an outdoor rink because it was 51 degrees – and I’ll take every degree I can get!!

Yes, we will put Seany on skates this winter – just as we did with Gavin & Mikey, but we knew it would be too crowded on a holiday.

Also on the agenda this winter is skiing lessons for Gavin & Mikey with The Mountain Burners Homeschool Ski Club. This is their first exposure to skiing. I don’t ski, and don’t want to (so there, Dennis!) But I *do* like the lodge and hot chocolate. Dennis has done it a couple of times and enjoyed it the other day and plans on continuing to ski on Mondays with the boys. Gavin picked snowboarding instead.

Poor Mikey had a terrible asthma attack on the way to Shawnee and I had to drive up and get him. He did not get his first day of lessons in. He was well on his way to recovering when I got there and he dealt with it like a trooper. Opportunities like this are one of the reasons homeschooling is great for us. We can take advantage of really quiet days at places like this and get the *best* deals from a price standpoint. We can fit in way more fun!

Ethan Bowls

Ethan bowls with the NJ Hawks bowling league. It’s on Saturday mornings and a really nice time. He is usually grouped with a bunch of guys his age and I enjoy watching them interact.

Ethan bowls because the weather is always good, he never gets a sunburn on his bald head, and there’s no killer downtime that invites all kinds of naughtiness or the desire to just go home. As long as there’s a Pepsi offered after game two, we can get three games in.

The season ends with the possibility of competing with Special Olympics in a regional bowling tournament – I’ll let you know how it goes!