Wednesday, January 29, 2014

These Two

"Handwriting without tears" is our handwriting curriculum of choice. They lied. Kate struggles with copy work, handwriting and writing in general. She loves exploration and creative projects. We read advanced novels together but she doesn't read independently at grade level. We suspect she has a mild case of Dyslexia and are seeking the appropriate next move for her. There are endless options and opinions available. It's too bad the funds for such therapies are not also endless. I am putting this out there in hopes someone will share personal success stories, especially from a homeschooling standpoint. I have read countless books and they tend to contradict one another. We invested in testing for Lauren when she was Kate's age and over $1000 later, we still had no concrete idea what she needed or a diagnosis.

Ty's curiosity about volcanoes stemmed from the neighbor boy insisting we could be destroyed by an eruption so we started our own research. Kate needed maps to determine our threat level. We're in the clear.
"One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries" A.A. Milne

 His latest word is "important" and he uses it all the time. It's adorable.
 Ty was hit with a sudden fever and sore throat yesterday. Given the lack of other symptoms I was pretty certain he had strep throat and took him to the new walk-in clinic in town for verification. He didn't feel well and refused to open his mouth. We had a little talk about doing hard things when we don't want to. The nurse practitioner started making notes as I talked with my son about how I knew he could be a big boy and cooperate with her. I let him know he had a choice. He could either open his mouth and hold my hand or I would hold his mouth open for him. In response, the nurse handed me a script for an antibiotic and a sleep aid decongestant he didn't need. I was dumbfounded and speechless. We were the only ones in the clinic so there shouldn't have been a rush to get us out of there. I left frustrated with myself for allowing her to get away with prescribing medication without an examination. I am slow to medicate and don't appreciate walking out of the clinic with no idea if he really needed to be on the antibiotic. We didn't fill the other script despite her insistence it would help him sleep. This situation falling on the heels of the dental appointment he didn't cooperate with left me even more frustrated. In both cases, I was insisting we were going to accomplish what we set out to do only to have the medical personnel override me. What message does this send my son? Since when do four year old children get to have the final say on medical necessity?

However, once the shock wore off, I medicated Ty and put him into his bed. I went to check on him just before midnight and discovered he was burning with fever and his heart was racing. I got him up and showered to cool him down. He had ibuprofen and shivered for the next hour, chatting the entire time. I don't know if it was fever or exhaustion but he rambled endlessly. He does this often; however, his endless dialogs usually make sense. He started with announcing his fingers were going to fall off if his heart didn't stop beating fast. He wasn't afraid, just stating facts as he understood them. From there he let me know it was rude to scribble on people. He seamlessly wandered into a discussion about how long it is taking his four to turn into a five. It was priceless. He finally fell asleep in bed with me mid-sentence and woke fever free this morning. Praise God for antibiotics, even if they get to us in uncertain methods.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The best laid plans

The plan called for lengthy conversations by a fire with hot tea and good friends. The weather postponed our weekend getaway and we couldn't have been more disappointed.

Instead we lingered in books, played family games and built a snowman.
Today Greg and I added a date for lunch and groceries. It wasn't the weekend we craved but it was still quite satisfying.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Why I like four year olds

I teach pre-k because I am comfortable with four year old children. They are the most authentic people on the planet. Sure they're selfish and a little testy at times but they are honest; brutally honest. Don't ask a four year old for her opinion if you aren't prepared for hard truth. In fact, don't hang out with four year old children unless you want to answer difficult questions. They are inquisitive, honest and hilarious. They have no agenda beyond snack time, avoiding naps and ruling their little world. Whereas most children of this age are self absorbed, they do tend to feel badly if they hurt someone. In fact, most often the child who inflicted pain upon another is the very child who needs the most comfort afterward because he's so upset with himself. Looking around, I have to ask how we evolved into adults with less compassion than the four year old?  How have we forgotten the basic rule our mothers taught us? If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

Makenna walked into the kitchen yesterday with her ipod in hand shaking her head over the drama seventh graders cause. I smiled and declared I must be friends with a lot of seventh graders. The truth is I am ready for another internet hiatis. I am broken hearted by the ugliness. There are political debates, religious arguments, education reform issues, neighborhood drama and even sporting events where the discussions are the most heated blowing up my newsfeed. I won't take my own blog into a public arena simply because I am not tough enough to deal with the fallout of mean spirited people seeking to destroy me in order to feel better about themselves. It happens to anyone with the courage to put themselves out there.
I care about people. All people. I am interested in hearing stories, not opinions. I believe there are issues worth fighting for; however, I don't believe tearing anyone down to achieve a goal is worthwhile. I have opinions and wrestle with issues and in a personal conversation, I am happy to share in healthy dialog. However, I cannot bring myself to chime in on facebook, respond to email or join a group with vastly different opinions on several key points of an argument. Life is not me against them. On some level, we all want what's best for our families, friends and the community. It's okay to have different opinions about all topics; it's what makes the world so beautiful and diverse. Once we decide a politician is an idiot because her opinion is not the same as ours, we all lose. Once we attack someone in order to make an argument, we all lose. Once we decide the issue is more important than our fellow man, we all lose.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Winter days

Piles of coats, hats and gloves. Water puddles, snow boots and wet laundry. Cold noses and chapped cheeks. Hot cocoa after ten minutes and an hour later? Repeat.

Friday, January 17, 2014


I popped over to the school for a board meeting Tuesday night. I planned to quietly observe. My life has been too full this year to allow me time to invest in the building much and thought an hour long meeting would catch me up and frankly make feel a little better about my absence this year. I was wrong. Dead wrong. There was drama and lots of it. I left half way through with my head spinning and my stomach swimming. Our kids. They challenge us, change us and move us to fight for them at all costs. Conflicting opinions and strong words expressed. Feelings were hurt and I left challenged to understand it all. Whose side are you on? I am on my child's side. And believe me, even that doesn't clear the fog of confusion. But just as I teach my children, you can agree to disagree. You can walk away with your head held high if you express yourself with firm kindness.

Wednesday started with Lauren's phone ringing. A close companion of hers was abused by his father that morning. We talked and advised. Again, I had a conversation with the school. Whose side am I on? The child's. The situation is escalating and the parents know who is involved. I ended up with a migraine. Lauren remains tearful and shaken.

Thursday morning, we had dental appointments. Ty spent the entire half hour Kate's teeth were being cleaned talking the ear off the poor hygienist who was incredibly patient. He'd packed a very full bag of miniature figures he discussed at length. When it was his turn to climb into the chair, he willingly did so. Less than ten seconds later he declared, "wait a minute! I am not doing this!" And he was serious. Quite serious. I was firm. I was compassionate. I was certain enough discussion would gain his cooperation. I was wrong. We were unable to get home from said appointment since ice covered the roadways and ended up out to lunch, precisely the last reward my son needed for his less than cooperative attitude at the dentist. I feel as though I am walking contradiction as of late. I am doing what I need to do to keep my head above water. Barely.

Makenna's school was closed today as result of additional ice this morning. Therefore, her awards ceremony was also cancelled. She was disappointed. She should be celebrated so I suggested a special dinner together as a family tonight. She chose the mall with a friend instead. It happens. I have thick skin. The teens have added lots of layers.

It's been a yoga pant, hot tea and prayer journal kind of day. "Let your conversations be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone" Colossians 4:6 is taped to my kitchen window. I need the reminder far too often. And when that doesn't work, I can always resort to my second favorite reminder which is hanging on my menu board, "Today me will live in the moment unless it's unpleasant in which case me will eat a cookie" Cookie Monster. As I said, I am a walking contradiction.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


I took the kids to the library today  because we needed out of the house. We played and left with a stack of books covering everything from sign language to origami to volcanoes. We added poetry books on CD to listen to in the van and a really cool book about the Arctic. We returned home for lunch and Kate dove into the book about the Arctic where she then planned a research paper about penguins. One thing led to another and the next thing I knew, I was putting off my plan to clean the house until tomorrow. We went to the zoo. It was a beautiful, sunny, 50 degree day which is a rare occurrence in January, to say the least. We had the zoo to ourselves, literally only seeing two other families the entire afternoon. It was perfect and provided the fresh air and exercise we all needed. Ty burned a ton of pent up energy and I felt relieved I was able to look past my to do list in order to live in the moment. It was good for me to say, "I will do it tomorrow". Most often that phrase exasperates me. "Why put off until tomorrow what can be accomplished today" is more-so my motto.

If I had ignored the little voice in my head, we would have missed prime learning. We would have missed a beautiful afternoon enjoying God's creation. We would have missed experiences that matter rather than the endless to do list at the house. I can't let go of everything; however, moments like this are treasures needed to break up the mundane.
Observation is vital for important research

Who needs a desk?

The subjects were feisty today, adding to their charm.

Meet our tour guide. We were in good hands since we had no particular agenda beyond the penguin exhibit and to his credit, we made it out. Eventually.

Squirrels were the highlight this visit. Of course.
We went to the zoo today and it was good.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sibling Dates and Such

Erin has always been great about taking Kate and Ty out on her day off. The kids love their Erin dates. She makes the time as simple as an hour at the park to lunch and shopping. They've grown to look forward to it and ask about excursions if a few weeks have passed between outings. Lauren gained her license last month and was ready to initiate dates with her little siblings as well. The weather successfully post-poned a few attempts and her job keeps her busy most evenings after school. So for the first time, she took Kate to lunch and then the mall where they both parted with a little Christmas money last week. They wrapped up their six hour date with frozen yogurt. They both appreciated the concentrated time together. Then it was Ty's turn. He requested playtime at Chick-fil-a. He managed to talk her into a trip to the pet store afterward because they are kindred spirits. The good news is that neither were old enough to adopt anything.

I love the way the teens invest in their little siblings. They all come away with special bonds and little secrets they keep from Mom. I always know when they've had Pepsi but somehow the idea they are not telling me about it keeps them giggling. I pray the investment being made in those relationships now affords them the knowledge they will always have someone who's "been there done that" with Mom and Dad so they will always have a safe place to vent, seek advice and turn for help as they join the trying teen years. For now though, it blesses me to see them invested in one another. It makes up for all the moments that are less than endearing.

Kate took a page out of her date journal and hosted a spa day in my bathroom this morning for Devyn and Gleason. Both little girls were celebrated this weekend. Gleason turned four and we attended her birthday party at the movie theater. Frozen was really well done and even Greg who was begrudgingly drug along said it was a good movie. We both enjoyed watching Ty's facial expressions and hearing his giggles. Kate on the other hand, appears to have just experienced her first boy-girl date! We were clueless, as I have grown accustomed with the teenagers. However, eight year old girls should not be dating. Gleason's older brother, Cooper was practically sitting in the chair with Kate because he couldn't get close enough. They talked and giggled quietly throughout the entire movie. Greg nudged me more than once to let me know he was certain we were chaperoning. He was less than thrilled.

And Miss Devyn is officially potty trained. She is so proud of her big self. She says diapers are for babies and panties are for Devyn; however, in true Devyn style, the panties MUST match her outfits each day. I love that little girl.

Makenna was pretty excited when she walked through the door after school today. She earned a star award for being remarkable. She has worked so hard this year and her confidence has blossomed. We are proud of her. She's pretty pleased with herself as well.

Tonight I ran errands with Lauren and Makenna. During check out at Walgreens, Lauren belched so loud I turned on a dime and yelled, "NO WAY" in stunned disbelief. The guy working the counter behind us rated it a perfect ten and offered a golf clap in congratulations. I am going to miss Walgreens.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

So this is January?

Dear January,

I am not impressed. You may leave any moment now. I have friends receiving news of impending surgery, our water lines froze, and thousands are without heat. We are experiencing sub-zero temperatures. We spent hours in the attic with hair dryers and a space heater attempting to thaw our water lines. It was pleasant. Or not. Friends came through and we now have heated coils running along the water lines and 24 long hours later, we have water! Yeah! We were blessed to catch the issue before damages occurred. The lines did not break and the furnace hopes to heat our house over the weekend when it's near 50 degrees outside. Dear January, seriously, you may go. I've never liked you much anyway.

On the other hand, winter break has been extended and our days have been long and lazy. With the exception of multiple floor cleanings and dusting up attic debris from our little adventures with hairdryers, we've been focusing on family and rest. The holidays are behind us and spring is before us. So much for living in the moment.

I've kept candles lit for the illusion of heat and spent afternoons sewing cheerful napkins with Kate. I am working through a few books and am prepared to return to bible study later this month. Tomorrow, it appears, we will return to routine. Whatever that means. But the kids will be back to school and the extra little ones will return as well.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Goin' Fishin' (Eventually)

The fishing pole Santa brought Ty was broken and needed to be exchanged at Bass Pro. Ty was pretty worried about taking it back. He didn't want to hurt Santa's feelings. We assured him Santa would want him to have a fishing pole that works. We then had casting practice in the driveway this afternoon.

I wish I had a sound card for my camera to preserve his sweet little voice and stories. He was telling me he was getting so good at this that he will be fishing in outer space soon.