Friday, May 27, 2011
Well, tomorrow is the day. I am flying out to good ole VA (DC area) with my mom, my sister Heather, and niece Chelsea for my sister Melissa's wedding. We have a bunch of fun things planned to do (beach, DC Smithsonian's, Monticello, etc) - but mostly I just can't wait to soak in the beautiful green and get my fill of nostalgia for home.
Zac will be taking care of the kids while I'm gone and he's dealing with all the last week of school fun. I will miss their awards assembly, Abigail's 6th grade graduation, their running club school meet, a 5K city race that Isaac and Abigail are running, Abigail's ballet performance at the city carnival thing, and the excitement of the last days of school and first days of summer break! I'm trying to make up a list of all the places the kids need to be, what they're supposed to be wearing or bringing, and all the last minute paperwork school stuff etc that needs to be taken care of before school is out. Yikes.
Anyway, I better get back to packing and trying not to panic (have I forgotten anything?!). Just wanted to let you all know I'll be signing off for the next 10 days. Little to no Facebook, reading blogs, writing blogs, and very limited email-checking. That's the plan. ;)
See you when I get back!!
Thursday, May 26, 2011
The weirdest part was sitting across from her and realizing that in 4 yrs it is likely that she might be sitting in a restaurant with some silly boy sitting across from her. On a date (!). yikes. hahaha. ;)
Part Three: Balloons
(I must say that this is one of my favorite things I've ever done for one of my kids' birthdays. So fun.)
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
I was so impressed and excited by all the different things I could try with just basic ingredients that I haven't tried before. I have 16 pages marked with recipes I want to try next!
For the purposes of this review though, I started with just a couple recipes.
First, French Bread. yummm. We have fallen prey to the temptation of picking up loaves of french bread from the grocery store bakery to have with dinner occasionally. Now, I think we have a recipe to replace that temptation! Homemade! Fresh! Easy! Delicious! What could be better? I have to admit I did cheat slightly and I used my bread machine on the manual setting to mix and knead the dough but then I shaped the loaves and followed her directions on rising, etc.
Be sure to go check out more about it here!
And take a visit to her food storage blog by clicking on this cute button:
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Before Mother's Day, though, her class put on a little picnic and program in the park for the moms. They sat on the playground and sang some cute songs and that was fun.
Then at the preschool graduation program it was so cute seeing them on stage and showing off some of the fun things they've learned.
They had the option of dressing up as something they wanted to be when they grew up, but after she chose a princess, a mermaid or a witch, I ended up talking her into just being her cute little self instead.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
1. "the research" basically shows higher correlations between being held back a grade and incidences of drug use later on, dropping out of high school, low self-esteem and other risks, regardless of the reasons for holding them back.
2. what it doesn't tell us exactly is if these kids might have been at risk for these behaviors regardless of them being held back or not. In other words, there is no way to know what might have happened otherwise. It shows a correlation, but not cause and effect.
3. the research also clearly indicates that one shouldn't retain a child with the hope that this alone will be the intervention to help them succeed. This, I think, is where it fails. The argument is that they may struggle anyhow, being held back won't change that, so keeping them with their same age peers is more beneficial. But, in our case, Samuel already has support in place with his IEP so we are not looking to retention as the "end-all-be-all" solution.
4. So. Our rationale for wanting to hold him back goes something like this: he is behind academically, this will give him a chance to catch up. He's been in a self-contained classroom for 2 yrs where they don't cover some of the core curriculum that the reg ed classroom gets, such as science and social studies. So he's missed a lot of that completely. This will give him a chance to be exposed to all of it and be on track again. He is small for his age. Even compared to kids a yr younger, his pediatrician assured me he will never be a "big" kid. He is socially immature and might stand out less in this regard with younger kids. He struggles A LOT with his speech. Kids don't understand him. Teachers and other adults have a hard time understanding him. This gives him another year to perhaps concentrate on his speech and social skills without the stress of being behind academically and lost in the curriculum. He also struggles with anxiety. We have felt like giving him perhaps a little edge in being even ahead academically could help him reduce his anxiety to where he can function better and participate more fully before being challenged with all new material. Also since he is small, I am hoping that as time goes on he will have less chance of being teased and bullied, or just frustrated, for his speech and social skills if he's with younger kids, rather than being a small one in the grade. Anyway.
5. He'll be going to a new school anyway. None of his classmates will be at this new school. No one will know he was held back. It's a new start. As we talked to Samuel about the possibility, his only real concern was that he wanted to have a real desk and he was afraid that if he did 1st grade again he wouldn't get one (they sit at tables right now). So, if that truly is his only concern, I think we'll be ok there.
6. As I read online somewhere, the bottom line for us really, is that a child hardly ever struggles very much for being slightly ahead. But struggling by being behind can be a much tougher struggle. Little Samuel has enough challenges, we think. He is going to have a hard time either way. So we figure it can only be beneficial to give him this time to maybe hopefully help things be a little easier in some ways.
When we met again on Tues. the school psychologist said the principal had seen things work both ways. Sometimes it really works in the child's benefit to be held back. Other times it would have been better not to. The school team and the principal both said they could see the argument for wanting to hold him back. Really, it just came down to our decision. So, we decided to do it. (They also kind of waived the rest of the required "process" for this decision since he kind of has a unique situation of already being in Special Ed. phew!!) So right now, he'll be going to the public school in the mainstream class and going to "resource" for part of the day. He is now on the list at the charter school to get a spot in 1st grade if anyone drops out (which we are hoping for with all our might).
And that's where things stand. One of the hardest decisions I've ever made and I can only hope it ends up being the best thing for him and that he won't feel bad about it somewhere along the line. That's our only concern really. Anyway. Onward we go . . . it's all we can do.
This is the post I wrote about Samuel's annual IEP update, wherein I was once again frustrated that the teachers don't seem to be seeing the same things I'm seeing and what ends up on the paper doesn't really seem to be capturing the essence of the issues.
This is the post I wrote to sort of explain why my kids go to a charter school and why it would be really nice to have Samuel go there. If Samuel did not get into the charter school and was mainstreamed it would mean I'd be driving to 2 different schools at essentially the same times, twice a day. Plus one more time to pick up Elisabeth from half-day Kindergarten (just one of the reasons I really dislike half-day kindergarten -but that's a rant for another day). So I'd be driving back and forth to schools essentially 5 times a day. Now doesn't that sound fun?!?
And this is the post I wrote in Feb but just got around to posting today that explains the confusion that went into putting Samuel into the charter school lottery and then finding out he didn't get in anyway. We are currently still fervently hoping that someone else drops out and that we will get a spot.
Ok, oh one more thing. Sometime awhile ago the school sent home a notice asking all the parents of the small group LD group kids to come for an important meeting. With the school district special education supervisor. That's never a good sign. Turns out they are not continuing a small group class at this school and they are working on phasing out small group Learning Disabled classes period for grades 4-6 (or something. It's been awhile and I don't remember the details). But what that means for us is that no matter what we chose for placement, keeping him in small group, mainstreaming him to his local neighborhood school, or putting him in the charter school, he would be going to a new school. There would be no continuity of teachers, location, speech therapist or anything, no matter what. Ugh!
So. What I understood was that some time around May-ish, we would meet as an IEP team to determine Samuel's placement for next year, since that is something that is reviewed annually and wasn't really discussed at his IEP. Then we would meet in a transition meeting with his new school (wherever that ended up being). But before all that I wanted to meet one-on-one with his teachers to find out how they feel he is really doing.
So I wrote an email. I got a response from the regular ed teacher that he has been joining for science class. She said he does what is asked, but doesn't participate voluntarily. He doesn't speak to his peers, or raise his hand. When I probed for more info such as how he doing compared to the other kids in his class and whether she thought he could learn effectively in a reg ed classroom, she told me she hasn't seen him enough to give me that kind of information and that his Special Ed teacher would be more qualified to discuss that with me. Problem being, of course, the Sp Ed teacher does not have the opportunity to observe him in comparison with his reg ed peers and so cannot really give me that info either. So that wasn't helpful.
Then I met with his Sp Ed teacher. She said he is only about a half year behind academically and that he is doing so much better than his sp ed peers, she just doesn't think he should stay in the self-contained small group class next year. I brought up the possibility of holding him back and she said that the research doesn't support that as an effective option. We then brought over his speech therapist to get her opinion. She said he has had a really hard time concentrating and wanting to work in speech therapy lately and that she really worries about him being in a mainstream class. He would be overwhelmed and lost. Not that he would be lost as in clueless. But that they would lose him in the shuffle.
This was on Friday.
She recommended I get in touch with the school psychologist on Mon and try to meet with her and get her opinion.
And so I did.
Turns out it usually takes a few months to go through this process of evaluating whether or not to hold a child back. She gave me a whole flow chart of all the steps they would normally take. uh-huh. And she basically said "the research" does not support holding kids back. For any reason, really. She gave me an article from The American Society of School Psychologists (or something) giving a summary of this research. And she gave me a form with a bunch of questions on what we felt the benefits of holding him back would be, what our concerns are, what's already been done to try to help him, etc. And his sp ed teacher was given a similar form to fill out.l The school psych also said she didn't have a lot of personal experience (being fairly young) and so she would consult with the school principal, and they would bring it up in the special ed team meeting that afternoon and then we would meet again the following morning.
(to be continued . . .)
I love the rain. It energizes and invigorates me. I kind of love gray skies and gloomy days. Read into that as much as you would like. But I would take a muted, calm, rainy day anytime over bright, searing, scorching sun.
What about you? Which do you prefer and what do you think that says about you, if anything?
(ps- I have 5 days before I leave for VA for my sister's wedding, leaving the kids with my very able and competent loving husband. I am slightly stressed by all I have to do, want to do, and really should do before I leave (including a bunch of blog posts, of course). Anyway. Sometimes I hate how easily frazzled I seem to be. Then I wobble between annoyance and acceptance of what seems to be just part of my individual temperament. And that wobbly feeling is also slightly disturbing. ah, nevermind. For now, I'm happy about the rain. That will have to do.)
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
This week (Feb 18th) I called the charter school to get Samuel on the list for the lottery, just in case we decide to transfer him there next year. Elisabeth will be in kindergarten there next year, and Isaac will be in 5th grade there. Abigail will be in middle school. Anyway, I wasn't sure what grade lottery to put him in (they draw names for the available spots) - since we are considering the possibility of holding him back. The school director told me they need several sources of documentation in order to do that: test results, teacher evaluation and recommendation, and parent meetings (something like that). And so we don't have the teacher's recommendation. We'd either have to get his current teacher to recommend that at the end of this year (which I know will be a fight to get) - or have him in 2nd grade to start next year, have the teacher evaluate him and then if she recommended it, to switch him back down to 1st grade. Talk about stupidly disrupting Samuel's life. So, it seems the only logical thing to do is to try to get his current teacher to recommend it, if that's even what we think will be best. So for now, he is in the lottery pool for 2nd grade and then they said they will switch him down to 1st if we get that recommendation, if he even gets a spot. Ugh. The only positive thing is we can now postpone the stress of making any decision for a couple more months until his current school will discuss placement with us. ugh (did I say that already?).
(We found out later that week that he didn't get a spot in second grade at the charter school. He was then put in what is called the "sibling pool" of other second graders who have a sibling who did get in or are current students. So when a spot opens up between now and Oct (such as if someone moves or withdraws), then they do another lottery within the sibling pool to see who gets in.)
(and another somewhat related random thought I had written in the earlier post that I never posted):
Yesterday Samuel brought home a flyer for some free workshops for "parents of children with disabilities" through Utah Family Workshops. I signed up for one tomorrow about "Supporting Siblings of Children with Disabilities." So hopefully that will be helpful in some way. There are 6 other workshops, some of them several sessions long. I may or may not sign up for some others. It's funny, sometimes I still feel like I don't really "belong" at workshops like these - I know many people wouldn't necessarily classify Samuel as being "disabled." But hey, the statement is worded that way several times throughout his IEP: "Samuel has a disability which adversely affects his educational performance in ____ blah blah blah." And they gave me the paper. So I guess that means I belong there. Weird.
(the workshop ended up being cancelled because I was the only person who signed up. bummer)
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Ok, though. Let's just do this. Ahem. Well.
I've read almost 50 books as of today (middle of May). So I am NOT going to list all the books I've read for this round-up. Sorry bout that.
But what I can offer you at this point is a list of some of my favorites that I've read so far this year.
Here goes (these are the ones that earned top-notch 5 star ratings from me on Goodreads):
1. The History of Love - Nicole Krauss
2. So Young Brave and Handsome - Leif Enger
3. Love Walked In - Marisa de los Santos
4. The Writing Life - Annie Dillard (non-fiction)
5. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot (non-fiction)
6. The Little Giant of Aberdeen County - Tiffany Baker
7. The Mother Tongue: English and How it got that way - Bill Bryson (non-fiction)
8. The Hiding Place - Corrie Ten Boom (non-fiction)
9. Keesha's House - Helen Frost (young adult)
10. Kids in the Syndrome Mix of ADHD, LD, Asperger's, Tourette's, Bipolar, And More: The One Stop Guide for Parents, Teachers, and Other Professionals - Martin L. Kutsher (non-fiction)
11. The Power of Kindness - Piero Ferucci (non-fiction)
12. The Gifts of Imperfection - Brene Brown (non-fiction)
13. Snoop: What your stuff says about you - Sam Gosling (non-fiction)
14. The Arrival - Shaun Tan (young adult)
15. Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand (non-fiction)
16. The Lover's Dictionary - David Levithan
17. Girl in a Blue Dress - Gaynor Arnold
18. Loving Each Other - Leo Buscaglia (non-fiction)
19. Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul - Stuart Brown
haha. Well, there were more of those than I expected! ;)
Well, enjoy my list. If you're looking for some good books to read, hopefully one of these might strike your fancy. Looks like I hit on some pretty good non-fiction so far this year. Lots of interesting stuff to learn about. And some really good novels as well.
One time soon I might write about how I find books to read and how I pick them. One way is just by seeing if the cover appeals to me. Another is just how much I like the person who recommended it. I know a list like this is pretty much worthless for most people, but sometimes, just sometimes, you can find a good book just by if the title sounds interesting. Well, and I liked the book, too. For whatever that's worth. haha.
(also, go to Goodreads for more reviews of these and other books. I love that site dearly.)
Happy Reading to all and to all a good night.
Now she has a pretty shiny smile! hehe. We've known she's had a crossbite since she was about 3 and we first saw an orthodontist when she was about 8 or so, so we've known for quite awhile that this day would come eventually. Still kind of a shock though to set up the huge chunk of a payment plan for it. Yikes.
Here she is before we went in for her appt:
And here she is after: I was going to take pictures of her during the whole process, but they had her mouth all stretched out with these plastic clamps and things and I think she would have killed me. So there's that.
Other than that, she got an Honorable Mention for her science fair project recently. We switched her violin teacher and she is making great progress there. And she toured the middle school and registered for her classes for next year! It is just so crazy that she's going to be in middle school. The middle school here is usually grades 7-9, but it is so overcrowded right now, they have the 9th graders at the high school. I've never understood why the 9th grade is part of junior high or middle school here anyway, since it is still part of your high school transcript and all of that. But whatever. It was pretty exciting for Abigail to choose all of her electives (orchestra, art, drama, creative writing etc) and look forward to lockers, and a school cafeteria, and not wearing school uniforms anymore! So much to look forward to! I am a little nervous for her since she's going from a small charter school where there are only 50 6th graders, to a middle school with 800 7th graders. It will be a big transition for her and I only hope it will be good for her in all possible ways.
Carl Bloch was a Christian artist well-known in Denmark in the late 1800's. Many of his paintings are larger than life altar pieces in Lutheran churches in Denmark, but they were transported from their original locations to BYU for this exhibit (and will be returned afterward). (You can find out more about him here and see more of his artwork here.)
Some of his most famous pieces are from this castle wall:
This last picture is my favorite, mostly because it depicts one of my most favorite bible stories, that of the daughter of Jairus. It's the story of Jairus who comes to Jesus to ask him to heal his sick and dying daughter. By the time He arrives, the daughter has already died and the house messengers tell Jairus to leave Jesus alone because it's too late to help her. Jesus responds by telling them she is not dead, but sleeps. And he very tenderly tells her to arise, taking her by the hand and helping her from the bed.
What I like about this painting is that it shows this moment just before Jesus arrives, a moment perhaps that gets lost in the story. It is of the mother, sitting at her daughter's side, just as her daughter dies. She's been waiting for Jesus to arrive, hoping that He can heal her. The scriptures don't really say how the mother reacted to Jesus coming into the room at this moment, or all of the interaction that then took place. But from other scripture stories, I think we can infer that Jesus is compassionate and understanding of her grief, even though He knows she really has no reason to grieve. I love that.
Anyway - the exhibit was very inspiring and beautiful to me.
It was also neat for me and Zac to be back down on BYU campus. We met as freshman there. They have since torn down the dorms where we lived, but we still went in a couple of the buildings where we would meet to study together or hang out, or whatever, and it amazed me how the buildings still had distinctive smells that I remembered and brought back particular emotions and memories (particularly the Fine Arts building, for some reason, where I also had orchestra rehearsals). Lots of big life events for me and Zac happened while we were students there. We met and dated there. A few yrs later we were there as newlyweds. We had our first baby while students there (well, she was born a month after I graduated - but I had moments of running out of class vomiting from morning sickness in those beloved hallways) haha. About 7 yrs of our total relationship revolve around memories on that campus. So, it was nice to walk around and reminisce a little bit.
After that, we picked up my wedding ring from being sized (also from the exact jewelry store that Zac bought it from in 1997). And we went out to dinner. Hooray!
All in all, quite the date. Especially since we don't get out much. At all.
So, there . . . I've finally finished this blog post. ;)
Friday, May 13, 2011
(I did order a new one from some internet laptop supply place that was supposed to be compatible with my laptop, but when it arrived it didn't work. So I had to make some "refund request" and troubleshoot it and send photos (yes, photos) and all this stuff before they'd refund me. The "universal" one at Best Buy is nearly $100, which just seems ridiculous for a laptop that we paid $300 for. So for now I'm just trying to get by with it as it is. Yep.)
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I haven't forgotten about you. No.
It's just that lately you hang over my head, along with a whole host of other little annoying buzzy things poised there with an insistent tapping hammer reminding me of all the million things I need to do and don't, want to do and can't, intend to do and never get around to.
To keep the tapping noise to a minimum, I tend to block it all out in one big fell swoop and the casualties are many. Believe me.
It's not that I don't care.
It's not that I have nothing to say.
It's not that I am bored of blogging.
It is partly that Zac was out of town last week, leaving me with 4 sick kids and me sick myself, which threw all kinds of wrenches in my overall well-being and equilibrium. Then . . . ohh . . . I'm behind in just about everything I can think of and very swiftly sinking further behind by every second.
I guess you don't really need all the gruesome details. I know I get overdramatic and perhaps tend to wallow a little bit in my own swampy creations of overwhelmedness sometimes. So. Uh. I'll just stop there.
Thanks for still being here for me. Or something.
later . . .
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
And on Sat. my family and I get to walk in the March of Dimes Walk for Babies. No better way, really, to celebrate Mother's Day than to help raise money to support research and help for premature babies!
I was lucky enough to have all my babies full term (and more-than-full-term) but, I have had friends and extended family who have had premature births and I have seen and felt the heartache that comes as they hope and pray that everything will turn out for the best. As they have had to wait to even hold their baby for the first time, to feed her, to bring her home. I don't know what's that like. I can only imagine. But I am glad for this opportunity I have to help in this very small way to ensure that other moms, in other circumstances, in the midst of very hard challenges, can have the very best "mother's day" possible, the day that they become a mother, whether for the first time or not.
(this is a pic of my neighbor's adorable little girl, born Feb 5 at 32 wks - that's 2 months early - at 3 lbs 6 oz. So tiny! Thanks Angela, for letting me show off your cute baby!)
Anyway, the point of this post, of course, is that you can help to. My walk is sponsored by wonderful people like you who can donate even just a couple dollars to help.
Please go here (<--- click!)
to my Walk for Babies page to make a donation.
This is 2 days away, so don't delay!
(hey, that rhymes!)
If you're curious to see what the March of Dimes has already done and some of the ways that they work to help babies, click here.
Or check out all the good stuff, information, research, etc. on the March of Dimes website.
Thank you! :)