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Families Again
Sunday, 13 December 2009
Help Us Donate $10 to a Great Cause! No Purchase Necessary!
Topic: General

BlogFrog holiday challenge

Most of you know the trials that Sarah and I have gone through with our children. Because of John Allen's retinoblastoma (rare childhood eye cancer), Joshua's asperger's syndrome and our challenges with Jacob, we have been blessed by two different Children's Hospitals - Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in Nashville, and Erlanger Children's Hospital in Chattanooga. Recently, as a way to promote my blog and to interact with other bloggers, I joined BlogFrog. In t BlogFrog, you can set up your own discussion groups and join other people's discussion groups. The owners of the BlogFrog website have generously set up a challenge for the discussion group owners. For every group that has 20 new people join in a discussion or start a discussion on someone's group, they will donate $10 to The Children's Hospital Foundation. Children's Hospitals are near and dear to our hearts and we would love it if you would join in a discussion on my group by the end of the year, in hopes that we will gain 20 new folks and $10 will be donated! Just click here to go to my discussion group and you'll see all of the topics that you can add your 2 cents to. You don't have to join BlogFrog to join in a discussion, and it's an easy way to help promote a good cause. I've even started a new discussion for those of you who can't find another topic to add something to. It's the top one - you'll see it when you click on my page!  Thanks for helping!

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Posted by tink38570 at 9:31 PM CST
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I'm Not Too Pooped to Peep!
Topic: The Kids

Ok! I know! It's a catchy title to get you to read my funny story. However, recently, my "First Mate" (group leader) on the TOS Homeschool Crew sent us all a link to a blog post that she had written a couple of years ago. Penny, also has a child on the autism spectrum and she used a funny, but great illustration to talk about the challenges of autism. It seems that a neighbor had put up a lovely light display on his home. Unfortunately, the trees between Penny and the neighbor turned his light display into something completely different than what it was intended to be. I won't tell you anything else, except that it has to do with the word "poop". You'll have to read Penny's blog to find out what I'm talking about! Here's the link - http://notnewtoautism.blogspot.com/2008/12/view-from-my-kitchen-window.html.

Anyway, her story inspired me to write my own post about Joshua, our asperger's child, and the word "poop". Some of you have kept track over the past year of our quest to find ways to help Joshua. It was almost exactly a year ago that Joshua was diagnosed with asperger's syndrome, which is also on the autism spectrum. Some folks classify asperger's as high functioning autism, while others put it in a totally separate category. Whatever the case may be, "aspies" are very challenging to raise. No two aspies are the same, they each have their own peculiarities, but one frequent tendency of aspies is phobias. Although he still has a few, thankfully, Joshua has outgrown many of the fears that he had when he was younger. Some fears that he had were common, like being afraid of bugs - we had to create names for them like "Oh that's just Martha Moth. She would never hurt you. And look! There's more of her family!" or "Look at Betty Beetle. Isn't she cute?". To this day, whenever Joshua sees something flying out of the corner of his eye he'll say "Oh, there's Martha's brother. He won't hurt you."

But, some phobias were completely odd. Like his phobia of bird poop on the car. We used to attend, as a family, a Bible study that had a homeschool group for the boys to attend while the adults were in their own class. One day we were running late so we chose the closest parking space. A parking space that was right under...you guessed it...a tree with beautiful red berries on it. Joshua must have been 4 or 5 years old at the time and when he came out of the Bible study, he would NOT  set foot in the car with all of the bird droppings on it. There was nothing we could do! He screamed, cried, ran...he was terrified! Thankfully, we had a good friend that went to the same study. She finally offered to take Joshua in her car and follow us to the local car wash so that Joshua would be able to ride in a clean van while we continued to run errands around town.

As I said, Joshua is doing much better, now, but he still has his moments. We have learned how to spot things that might cause a "meltdown" and stop the situation before it gets out of hand. Now we have Jacob, our youngest. He is beginning to display some of the same tendencies that Joshua did at this age. Thankfully, however, we now know the signs and caught it early and we are in the process of getting him tested now. As I've said before, there is never a dull moment in the Tinkel household. Ah well, at least we don't have to worry about poop on the car anymore but, tomorrow is another day.

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Posted by tink38570 at 8:12 PM CST
Updated: Monday, 14 December 2009 12:04 PM CST
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Saturday, 12 December 2009
#1 - It's Been A Great Day! #2 - I Didn't Lie, I Promise!
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: Ministry



Why has it been a great day?

It's always a great day in the Lord, but this day was especially great. God blessed us with feeding right around 200 people at our annual Good News Mission Holiday Meal! We prepared and delivered about 100 take out plates for shut-ins, elderly and sick folks, and then fed about 100 folks at the mission today! It was truly a great day.

We want to thank all of the volunteers who helped, all of the churches and individuals who provided food or financial help and all of the businesses who donated or gave discounts for food or materials. But, I would be very remiss if I didn't give a special Thank You! to my wife, Sarah, who once again organized the entire thing, and then cooked 12 turkeys to boot! At the time of this writing, she is now in bed for a well deserved long sleep! 

Why no pictures of the great event? Because with all of the cooking and serving and delivering and greeting and emptying trash cans etc. etc. we all forgot to take some! Oops! So you'll have to put up with the not-very-good-imitation-for-a-picture above!

What was is I didn't lie about?

In my mysterious post last evening, I promised that something was coming and I would have more than one post today. Well, it was actually two things. One was the big holiday meal which I just posted about, and the other was an exciting review for Tektoma, an item that we reviewed that John Allen loved.

Well, I love writing reviews, and I love to blog, but I have a hard time loving blogging platforms (computer programs that folks use to write and host their blogs on). I knew that I was going to finish and post my Tektoma review today - hence the mention of a second review. However, what I didn't know (or really had forgotten) was that when you start a post on one day but don't finish it and actually publish it until another day, it shows up on your blog on the day you began writing it. So, the Tektoma review showed up as saying it was posted yesterday, but, it was actually posted today (did all of that just make sense Undecided?).

So, to make a long story short. Something big was coming - the holiday meal; I did write two posts - the review and the meal posts; and, so, I didn't lie! And with that, I'm going to bed...zzzzzz!



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Posted by tink38570 at 11:10 PM CST
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Friday, 11 December 2009
It's Coming!!!???!!!
Mood:  mischievious
Topic: General


And it will be here tomorrow morning. What is it? It's actually several things, and there will be at least two posts tomorrow telling you what they are. Stayed tuned and keep checking my blog! Don't ask tonight. I'll never tell?!?


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Posted by tink38570 at 11:02 PM CST
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Tektoma - Boy Does God Have a Sense of Humor!
Mood:  cheeky
Topic: Homeschool Product Review


You would think that I would have learned my lesson by now. I used to be one of those people who said "My kids will never do that!" or "I can't believe that they allow that to go on in their house." Of course, I said those things before I had children. And, you can probably guess what happened. You can be assured that with an asperger's syndrome child in my home that my kids frequently "do that" and many unusual things are allowed to go on in our house. I thought that I had learned my lesson and would never make a blanket statement like that again.

Well, open mouth, insert foot, a couple of months ago it happened again. I was asking my boys what things that they really wanted to learn in school this year. I wanted to know their interests so that I could adjust my homeschool teaching to their likes. After all, isn't that one of the things that makes homeschooling special? During our discussion John Allen divulged that he would love to learn how to program his own computer games. In my usual "I think I know it all but God is about to show me something" wisdom, I said "John Allen, that's something that you have to go to school a long time to learn how to do. Maybe we can look into taking a basic computer course at the local community college in a couple of years." When I was discussing this with a fellow Homeschool Crew member she said "Oh, my son has been programming his own computer games since he was 9 years old. What you need to look into is this...and this...". Well, I listened with half an ear but I was still skeptical.

Then, Lo and Behold, but what to my wandering eyes should appear, but an email addressed to the TOS Homeschool Crew from Tektoma. It seems that Tektoma was sending me a free three month subscription to their...you guessed it...game making tutorials so that I could review it and write about it on my blog! Boy does God have a sense of humor, and, boy do I need to keep my big, fat, mouth shut and just rely on God!

John Allen was thrilled when I told him what we were going to be reviewing and Tektoma has not dissapointed. You've seen the commercials featuring the guy offering a free tutorial CD for about any computer program. You know, the one who feels so sure that you will love it that you will buy more of his tutorial CD's for other things? Well, Tektoma is kind of like that. It runs on your computer and takes you step by step on how to build a video game.

Of course, when you get a powerpoint tutorial, you need to have the powerpoint progam to be able to use it. It wouldn't do you much good if you didn't. Well, that's the same way with Tektoma. You need to have some type of game making software so that the Tektoma game maker tutorial will help you. They work with Gamemaker, and had us download Gamemakers free game making software program before we began.

After you download the necessary items, the fun begins! Take a look at the great types of games that you can build. I like the way that Tektoma has different levels and tells you exactly what type of game that you will create and what it entails.



John Allen began with the "How to Make a Racing Game" tutorial because, being the kind sweet boy that he is, he wanted to make a car game for his brothers who love racing games (and, it helped that I threatened him to within an inch of his life if he didn't Wink). Anyway, after an initial period of getting used to the tutorial and how it works and after a few glitches that we had to work out (nothing major, just me being a non-techy type person) John Allen was on his way. Tektoma explains it so well, and the Gamemaker software was so easy to use, that he was soon well on his way to having a great Car Race game. All of the things were right there that he needed. He was able to place walls where he wanted, program the cars to do what they should, even put trees, bushes and other landscaping around his track to pretty it up! I would post the game right here, but, unfortunately, we have had a bout with the flu (twice Frown) so it isn't quite done yet. I will post it in the very near future.

I am amazed at the quality of work that he has done in such little time! This is fantastic. He now wants to create his own games and put them on a website that he built himself (using that other fantastic product that I reviewed earlier)! I can't wait for him to begin building more advanced games. While I'm not thrilled with many of the fantasy games that you can buy for game systems, perhaps he could build a Christian fantasy game. I've already talked to him about that. 

I'm also impressed with the safety of Tektoma. There is a forum where you can ask more advanced game makers questions, and there is a question and answer section on the main site. Everything that is sent in to one of these areas is completely moderated so that even a young child can use it and you don't have to worry about unsafe content.

Tektoma offers a free 14 day trial so that you can try it out. Afterward, it is only $14.95 a month or $140 a year. To get to their great website, just click here, or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. To find out what the other TOS Crew Members are saying, just click here. This is something that anyone would love, not just a homeschooler. Hey! It would make a great Christmas gift! Happy Homeschooling.


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Posted by tink38570 at 10:52 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, 13 December 2009 10:20 PM CST
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