Monday, January 27, 2014

Cold Day Home is No Vacation Day

My family and I live in Chicago. Today, the high was 3. Degrees Ferenheit. At 2:45 P.M., it is -1. Overnight, it will drop to -11 or so and get back up to a high somewhere around 3.

School was canceled today and will be again tomorrow.

There was a terrific blog article about snow days from an author-Mom - Scarry Mommy.

One of the major differences between her and me is that her kids, from how it sounds, are in school all day. I have one full-day, one half-day. So going from having the kids away all day at scheduled times to having them home when one has her own schedule is intrusive. Whereas I am only expecting time "to myself" for a little less than two hours.

When I heard that school was canceled today, I had two thoughts. First, that school would be canceled on Tuesday, as well, making two "days off." The second thought was that these were not going to be vacation days for the kids. I was going to make a school-like schedule. And stick to it.

Today is Monday. It is now 2:50 P.M. I can say that I was successful. And that my success was due to a couple of factors.

First, I was realistic. Wait, no, first, Bunny was invited over for a play date this morning. Second, I was realistic about how much I would try to accomplish. Third, I was creative.

Bunny's play date left me alone with JD for two hours. Forty of those minutes were spent playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Wii. It was on the schedule. Being a video game player, I can easily rationalize video game play by focusing on its benefits. First, when we play Wii, the rule is that you have to stand up. So, while we weren't moving our feet all that much, we were standing for forty minutes plus time to set-up. Second, the player has to remember which buttons perform which action. It requires recognizing what the abilities of one's own character are. There is some navigation.

After TMNT, we did work sent home by his speech pathologist. One of JD's Autism challenges is auditory processing. So we worked on that for about thirty minutes. Then we worked on a math assignment that was giving JD trouble.

Pick up Bunny, make lunch. (And lunch was good!)

When I was putting the schedules for the kids together, I was thinking about what they could do together. And, being active was an important part of the day I was planning. Obstacle course!

Obstacle courses:
-auditory processing
-physical movement
-can incorporate academic elements

First, make a circle around a laundry hamper, then a two-foot jump over a rolled-up doormat. Next, crawl the long-way under the dining room table, climb stairs. Finally, a math problem.

Math problem? 

I have some addition flash cards that we pretty much never use. I found a use. I put five of them at the landing between the main and second floors (ten stairs) and five on the landing between the main floor and the basement (five stairs.) JD had the long climb, Bunny the shorter. Before each would begin, I would say, "Get the card that adds up to seven. Go!" And if they made a mistake at any point, they had to do that part over again.

After we tackled that, we did another math problem using the stairs. How many stairs from the main floor to the landing? How many more to the second floor / basement? Make an addition problem. (Up = 16, Down = 14. And don't be a smart ass, reader. You know what I mean.) Then I asked, "What is 14 + 16?" They didn't know. So I sent one to the top and one to the bottom and they were to count and then secretly report their answers to me.

So that covered physical fitness and the math section of the day.

The last part was reading and writing time. I read a story. Throughout the story, we discussed the feelings the animals had throughout the story and how we might feel in the same situation. After the book was over, the kids were given paper and markers. They were each to write a book about "what happens next." While neither book was particularly brilliant, they both sat there drawing and adding dialogue for another twenty minutes. Finished at 2:30 P.M., I was going to offer them T.V. time, but before I could, they asked to go play. Why would I interrupt that? They are now playing harmoniously while I get a chance to write.

So, yes, this is a pat on my own back. The day hasn't been without its challenges and arguments. Overall, though, everybody has been happy and active. Hopefully, tomorrow will be as much fun!

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