Thursday, May 04, 2006

Short Stories

Okay, so after yesterday's encyclopedic tome that was something akin to watching grass grow, today I'm opting for some small tidbits from our lives...
Our kids just turned three years old. Why is that so hard to wrap my brain around? Three years. That's just crazy.
Here's the scene that started our goat ranch visit last weekend: We're driving down a country road, past smallish houses and big old barns, looking for the right address. We find it, but drive past, so we turn around at the next driveway. When we get back to our destination, the woman we were planning to meet was walking across the road, with the last two bites of a hot dog in one hand, and a dead cat in the other. The recently departed was put in a ditch on the far side of the road as the proprietor finished her lunch. She introduced herself through the last of her food, and led us to her big old barn full of baby goats.

The goat kids were pretty cute. Nubians have big floppy Beagle ears. The adults are a little more alien, with their wide-set eyes and strange rectangular pupils. The ears are still pretty endearing though. It was interesting to see the whole herd come running when she called. She spoke to them all by name, too. The funniest scene was the older kids trying to get out of an 18-inch barn door gap by going through three wide. When all else fails, climb onto your neighbor's back.
My son likes to go on "nature walks" around the property. He's always asking, "Can we go by the pond" or "Can we go by the road"? He never fails to find something interesting. Two tiny purple flowers in a clump of tall grass, a very small butterfly, animal footprints, a strangely colored beetle... While walking by the "marsh", he heard some of the green frogs croaking. He looks up at me and says, "What's that 'k-tus'? What's 'k-tus, k-tus'?" Pretty good imitation.
My daughter's not talking yet. They suspect she's got some type of autism spectrum disorder. She hasn't picked up on hand signs much either. I think the abstraction of language hasn't totally clicked for her. She finds ways to communicate, though. If she's hungry, she gets a box of crackers from the pantry, brings it to you, grabs your hand, and puts it in your hand. If she's thirsty, she brings you a cup. One of her favorite games is to bring you a hat. She gets a big grin when you put it on. If you take it off, she'll give it back to you again, and look at you expectantly. Now she's starting to bring shirts from the laundry. I guess she doesn't like our fashion sense.
There's been a lot of excitement around our house, because some excavating equipment has been here to fix our drainage problems. We've had a bulldozer, a backhoe, and a dump truck. The kids were pretty excited. E5 woke me up the other morning, shouting, "Daddy, it's a bulldazer!" I wasn't quite as excited when they went a little too deep and clipped our phone line. No phone until Monday. Gosh I love Verizon. And the bulldozer operator was a little overzealous and buried the end of the drain pipe that was installed the previous day.
My wife has almost single-handedly built two goat shelters in our garage. I helped with loading and unloading the lumber, and I drove a few screws and cut a few boards (and cut a few incorrectly). She's done the rest. They're looking good. Roofing and a coat of paint is about all that's left. That, plus overcoming the fear that we are in the process of doing something completely crazy.
Hmm... Even my short stories are long.


At 5/05/2006 6:17 AM, Blogger JBTW said...

If hand signs aren't working, try using icons (be it actual pictures or premade ones from the internet) to use to communicate. (I can't recall the actual name of it, something about "picture exchange.") She's already used to going & getting things to show you, so it should be something she could do. Talk to your speech therapist, that's something they can work on.

At 5/05/2006 7:31 AM, Blogger e4 said...

Yeah, she's been working on PECS (don't remember what it stands for, but that's what it's called), but that hasn't quite clicked yet either. She's making progress though.

At 5/05/2006 8:31 AM, Anonymous Lori said...

PECS = "Picture Exchange Communication System." :)

The ST thinks she's getting how it works - she's just being stubborn about having to do the work! (I can't imagine where she got that personality trait.)

They're also going to try STACK (now I don't know what THAT stands for) in preschool.

At 5/05/2006 8:36 AM, Blogger Suzer said...

How does your daughter react to music? I teach piano in semi-private group atmosphere (hard to describe, but they get one on one in addition to working independently and with other kids). We have a program called Music for Little Mozarts for children ages 4 - 7 that focuses more on rhythm and music than actual piano playing. Over the years I have taught several autistic children to play piano ranging from severe to extremely high functioning. They really seem to enjoy the music and something about music seems to click in their heads. But not everyone is the same, that's why I wondered if you have tried introducing any instruments to her. I've also found that they tend to like higher, quiet sounds (ie. windchimes) Sorry this turned into a book, but music is something I'm very passionate about and I think it is an universal language!

At 5/05/2006 8:43 AM, Blogger Suzer said...

I'd love to see a picture of the goat shelters when they are done. Women with power tools rock!

At 5/05/2006 9:22 AM, Blogger Morgan said...

I love you all Now my friends from all stages in my life are talking. Suzer Highschool JBTW College Edson from well a horrible relationship. Not with Edson his friends cousin yah long story. Any how Happy Birthday little ones I remember when your mom and dad thought there was only one of you.

At 5/05/2006 10:10 AM, Blogger madcapmum said...

Your wife impresses me no end! I'm not that brave with lumber and drills yet. Too scared of making expensive mistakes, I think.

Yuck to the dead cat and the hot dog. And I'm not keen on goats in general. They all seem to have bizarre pupils and I can't get used to it.

Best luck with figuring something out for your daughter.

At 5/05/2006 8:01 PM, Blogger JBTW said...

All I could think of was picture exchange system... you'd think that since 'communication' is the whole point, I would have remembered picture exchange COMMUNICATION system. Oh well. Thanks for putting it all together for me! :)

I haven't actually had to use PECS (another reason I couldn't remember the name!) before -- the child I work with is verbal.

I have many ideas floating in my head at the moment... I'll have to e-mail them so everyone doesn't have to experience my rambling! :)

At 5/05/2006 10:12 PM, Blogger the Contrary Goddess said...

having had two kids with speech "delays" (which *I* consider totally normal), I'd say forget the diagnoses and therapists and go with the kid.


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