8/30/08


That's IT!!!! I am done!!!

Nowhere in my job description is it written, "Must be able to kill black widow spiders on your front porch." Nowhere.

Anymore days like today and I will lose my marbles.

8/28/08




Two men.


45 years.


Miraculous!

8/27/08

Things Around Here

We're getting into a groove at our house. Z is enjoying preschool and beginning to understand he gets to go 4 days a week. Although the oatmeal for snack today was a big downer. For the kid who will eat anything, I guess we can add oatmeal to the list of "no thank you." And what have I been up to with my free mornings? Volunteering at school. This gives me a chance to be with Carver and Lily in their classes, help their teachers, get to know the students, and my favorite: help in the library. Where else can I have non-stop Harry Potter conversations and look cool? The 5th graders love me!

We did not get tickets to Obama's speech tomorrow night. I got a very nice rejection email letting me know we were on a waiting list. I plan to watch it on TV, of course, and I'll have to be content with that. As an Evangelical Christian Democrat, I set off alarm bells at polling booths and profile surveys. But I continue to believe that we can make a difference with poverty, health insurance, peace, and equality.

This is the week David began classes for his PhD. Every Wednesday night, from 4 to 10. He left this morning at 6:45 and Carver--our early riser--said, "See you tomorrow, Dad." Isn't that sad? So to keep us all happy I've dubbed Wednesdays "slob night." We made cookies and had dessert before dinner, and I tossed some baby carrots and bananas on the table in an attempt at a balanced meal. The kids are currently playing computer and we are living the American dream of lazy evenings in front of a screen.

I figure one night a week won't kill us.

8/26/08

Preschool! Hooray!
We live right across the street from our elementary school, so we get to walk each morning and afternoon. Z was so excited for his first day of preschool that he hopped and skipped the whole way down!
Waiting for the bell to ring so he could enter his classroom. He was slightly shy his first day, but it was fun to actually watch him hang back and check things out a bit. I picked him up at 11:00 and he was hyper with excitement.
His favorite part of the day? No surprises there. Snack time! I'm not sure what all he did this morning, but I got to hear in great detail all about his graham crackers.

8/23/08

A Little Taste...
of what it's like around here. Zinabu met with his preschool teacher and she gave him a few tests just to see where he's at with letters, numbers, etc. She showed him several pictures of different items and wanted him to color them. I think she was trying to see how he held a crayon, and she also wanted to see if he could correctly identify what color each item should be. Had she shown me the assessment ahead of time, I could have saved her a lot of energy, but she went ahead with Zinabu and here's what she got.


Miss Calisse: Zinabu, what is this? (points to a picture of a banana)

Zinabu: A banana (rolls his eyes like it was a really stupid question)

Miss Calisse: And what color is a banana?

Zinabu: Well, that depends. (insert lots of hand gestures and eyebrow wiggling) When you first buy it at the grocery store, it is usually green because it isn't ready to eat yet and the green bananas have just been picked from the banana trees and they're still hard and don't taste very good. When you bring the banana home and it sits on your counter for a few days, then it turns yellow and it is ripe and ready to eat. That is when bananas taste the best--when they are yellow. Not too dark yellow. A nice light yellow. But when the banana has been sitting around for days and days and it starts to get old, then it turns brown and it gets really mushy and it gets mushy brown spots all over it. It starts to smell bad and it doesn't taste as good because it is almost rotten. So I guess a banana could be green or yellow or brown. Which one do you want me to pick?

Miss Calisse: Uh... whatever one you want.

Me (thinking to myself): Welcome to my world, lady. Welcome.

And that is why Zinabu is going to preschool. Carver and Lily never did preschool because, well, it was expensive and I really didn't see the reason. Zinabu is going to Head Start (free) and it meets at Carver and Lily's elementary school. So they're all in the same building, though Z is only there Tuesday through Friday, 8:00 to 11:00. And if you must know, I really don't want Zinabu to spend every morning this year watching TV. And that's the road we're headed down because I have more on my plate and I need to keep him busy. So no TV, yes preschool, and eveyone is happy.

I leave you with a silly photo of my 3 lovies. They're giving Lily's animals "recess."

8/20/08

Bad Blogger! Bad!

I am a terrible blogger for not updating recently. Did you know that our washing machine has been broken for 6 days? I feel fortunate that everyone had enough underwear to last through the drought of clean clothes. Yesterday the part we needed finally arrived and the appliance repair man (bless him) came and got our washer up and running again. Unfortunately, he was incredibly chatty and after I paid him and gave him all the cues to leave, he kept gabbing away about the benefits of a Whirlpool over a Maytag. Inside I was actually screaming at him, "Don't you know I have 2,000 loads of laundry to do? Get out of here!"

The first day of school was on Monday, and not only am I a bad blogger but I am also a bad mommy because I forgot to take a picture. Admittedly, the novelty wears off when you have a 4th grader, but still... It would have been cute. Too many other things to remember, I guess. School got off to a great start for everyone! And everything was going all right until today when I told our dyslexic child the special education teacher would pull them this morning and give them a spelling evaluation. Child burst into tears and said they are sick and tired of spelling and writing. I don't blame them. They are facing "testing" burn out, but still I'm hoping it won't take too long because she (the teacher) needs those results to figure out where to begin Phonemic Awareness skills. Sigh. Our child was so discouraged, I feel sick.

Zinabu starts pre-school next week, which is another post entirely so I'll save the details. But just know that I am pretty excited to have a few mornings a week to myself.

Hope all of you are doing well!

8/15/08


Recently overheard:

Mom, can we have chocolate for dinner? I would eat a carrot, too.

Do you have any idea how badly I wanted to say yes?

8/14/08

Holy Moly!

I am tired! Wiped out! Utterly exhausted! The emotional roller coaster is interesting. My two main symptoms that I'm not functioning at 100% are eating melted chocolate chips drizzled over pretzels and standing in the middle of a room, staring at the wall, with no memory of how I got there. Good times.

Today was the conference meeting with the school principal, teacher, special education teachers, and our tutor. I felt about 5 years old and was sure I was going to melt under the emotional marathon, but all in all it was a great meeting. Our child's teacher is amazing, and is already happy to accommodate us in any way. The bigger issues revolve around instructional help for our child. In special education circles, you have many, many philosophies and ideas about how kids' brains work and how best to treat areas where a child is falling behind. The big problem is everyone thinks their way is best--and that their way is the only way. So our tutor is reaaallllly pushing the word dyslexia to the hilt, while another special ed. teacher doesn't like to use the word dyslexia and won't treat it as such. There are theories, remediation, trainings, interventions for the same issue but they all go about treating it in different ways. No one was really arguing, but I found myself saying things to make everyone happy.

From my perspective, I just want my child to feel good at school and learn how to spell and write. I don't care how it happens, just that it does.

So our kiddo gets to have a small word processing laptop for their desk and we will be encouraging them to use it as much as possible. I can see it being a very slow start--picture laborious pecking at each letter--but as they get more comfortable using it we hope the speed will pick up. Our child will also have a lighter homework load, and will be able to dictate long written answers for big tests. I will also meet again with the teacher tomorrow to find out what the day to day schedule looks like in the classroom and how we can best modify it for our babe. I want to be the teacher's ally, her helper, and I want her to know that we don't want to burden her with extra accommodations for our child, just that we want our child to enjoy school again.

From here on out it is a week to week, bit by bit, moving forward. We can start remediation but will they be enough? Can we get more? We can get accommodations in the classroom, but will they work? Are they realistic? We will know a little more as time goes by.

Thanks for listening through all of this. It's very, very hard to really describe how tough this has all been. My heart goes out to the many parents that have to navigate the "system" for even bigger issues than what we're dealing with. And we're the ones who are pro public school and David works for the district!

8/13/08

As The World Turns

The sun has this very annoying habit of coming up in the morning whether you want it to or not. So I am up, ready to face the day (thanks to all your amazing comments), and ready to meet with the tutor today to discuss her findings. We got a nice fat report from all the tests she gave, and now she can describe them to me in "mom language." How it breaks down is our babe can actually read (a great miracle) but when it comes to thinking of a word and getting it down on paper, it becomes very, very difficult. There is a breakdown in phonological processing, so child cannot remember how to spell words. There is no recall of vowel combinations, like ai, oa, ea, ie, etc. and child has no clue how to use them when writing words. And as all their mental energy goes into coping through the discrepancies, child is exhausted and down on themselves. We are also waiting for an appointment to see an Occupational Therapist, as our babe's writing samples reveal great difficulty with letter formation, spacing, spelling, and close-point copying--which is highly suggestive of dysgraphia (writing learning disability).


Whew! I'm tired just thinking about it.


What does it mean? School looks a whole lot different from here on out. It makes me really wish we were pioneers and lived in the woods where writing and spelling grades just don't matter. However, our child will need to have major accommodations at school--like personalized spelling tests and less time writing. If they do a writing assignment, they should be graded on content and not spelling or sentence structure. And that is why we are meeting with the principal and upcoming class teacher tomorrow. Our school is incredibly friendly and will be 100% behind us, but it might also mean reams and reams of paperwork and additional testing so that our child can qualify for special services with the district. My biggest concern is that by qualifying for special education, other kids will tease and ridicule. Kids are mean, unfortunately. I also hate the "after school banter" between moms about "How is your child doing?" or "What grades did your child get?" I will have to reign myself in from kicking shins.

Whether you homeschool, attend private school, or public school, we live in a society that measures success. We measure our children's worth by how well they complete certain tasks. I am guilty too. I feel just as much pride over "top marks" from school as the next mom. But I'm beginning to change my tune on that. Isn't my childrens' character so much more important than any grade or any gifted and talented program? One of my favorite quotes that I have begun telling our kids regularly is, "It's not your abilities that define who you are. It's your choices."
In other stuff, Zinabu always seems to know when I need a good laugh. He was watching the Olympics with me and saw the rings and said, "Mom, those look like meatballs!"
Everything reminds him of food!

8/12/08

And The Winner Is...

Dyslexia.

I am overwhelmed right now and very, very sad. I plan to have a pity party for all of us and go beat my head against a wall for most of the day. Maybe I'll be ready to face the world tomorrow.

8/8/08

Nincompoop
video
No parent has a child and thinks, "I'll let them use whatever language they want." Nooooooo. Of course not. That would be "bad parenting." David and I subscribe to the "good parenting" motto and don't allow our children to use crude language. Absolutely no potty talk. We have a zero tolerance policy, and we strictly enforce it. The kids know that bathroom humor will land them in a time out. But I've noticed a flaw in this well-constructed discipline method. By making certain words "unspeakable" we've upped that humor factor at the same time we're trying to discourage this behavior. Just knowing you're not supposed to use a certain word makes it so much funnier when and if you do hear it. The chortles and snorts, guffaws and snickers that ensued when Carver saw the book "Walter the Farting Dog" at Barnes and Noble were really so unnecessary, in my opinion.

Yesterday I was reading a book to Zinabu. It was about a cat that has a secret dream to be a super-hero. The poor cat, in his exuberance, dug up his owner's perfectly planted garden, and the owner thus called him a nincompoop. When Zinabu heard this he about had a seizure he was laughing so hard. He then wanted me to read it again. By the 6th time, I figured I needed to capture his response on video--just for memory's sake. Please note that I am in NO WAY glorifying the word "nincompoop" or Zinabu's laughter at it.

Enough said.

8/7/08

Hi-LAR-ious!

This website--stuffwhitepeoplelike--has given me a lot of laughter over the last couple days. When you go to the top of the page you can click on the tab that says "Full List of What White People Like" and scroll through the topics. My favorites are #100 about bumper stickers and #16 on gifted children. But they're all a riot! Hit this site whenever you need a good laugh. (Editorial Note: This is satire, people. Don't get too worked up over the content of the website. Read it and enjoy the wit.)

Carver is blazing through his week of camp. Loving swimming, mountain biking, dodge ball, zip lines, canoeing, and all the stuff that goes with camp. He's only in the day camp portion as I explained to him he will be 57 years old before he can go to sleep-away camp, but he does not find that amusing. Next week will be our last week of summer vacation and that's not a bad thing. We've had a very active, very blessed summer, and while I hate to see it come to an end, we are all ready for school to start. (That's code for my kids are starting to really get on one another's nerves.)

And in other news, David and I just signed up for free tickets to see Barack Obama's acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium on August 28. I'm sure we're 2 of 200,000 from Colorado that are trying to go, but we can have our dreams, right? I have no idea how long it will take for us to find out if we're going or not, but for emotional and historic reasons, we want to be there!

8/5/08

Darling Deirdre!

A little blurry, because Lily took the photo.


I don't know when Z turned into a self-proclaimed rapper, but isn't Sid the cutest?


I finally got to meet one of the sweetest people EVER! Deirdre and Sidamo and Nora met with Z, Lily, and me yesterday at a mall in Denver. Because it has been so hot here, it seemed like every other mom with young children had the same idea. There had to be 2 million children running everywhere. Sidamo was quiet at the beginning, but after 20 minutes with my kids he turned into the spirited little guy Deirdre has always claimed him to be. He is even more darling in real life. Lily, especially, was smitten with him.

I cannot get enough of other people who have adopted from Ethiopia. There is a deep connection there that always warms my heart. And Deirdre is seriously amazing. She had a nursing baby and a wandering toddler and she kept her cool the entire time. Perhaps she was just trying to show off in front of me, but I doubt it. She's an amazing mama.

8/3/08

My Mom!

Is wonderful. Just so wonderful. She did something so special today--although she is special every day--but whenever I feel the walls closing in on me, she swoops in and makes it all feel okay again. Thank you, Mom!

8/1/08

More Tests
Round 2 of testing for "child X" is over, but we need to do a little bit more tomorrow. Our kiddo was brain-fried after an hour and a half today. We will meet the tutor at the public library in a private room (my suggestions since it is 97 degrees and we have no A/C). Our child can finish what's left and then the tutor can get going with her end of the evaluation. If our child had a very discernible disability, I don't think the testing would have to continue, but as she put it... 'X' presents a very interesting profile. 'X' can read at an advanced level, but also makes story mistakes at the kindergarten level. 'X' cannot spell for beans, which is strange given their reading ability. Has some difficulty with math, and lots of issues with phonics. We're supposed to get an Occupational Therapist evaluation (for writing dysgraphia) but I'm not beating down the doors yet. I hate to over-test our kid all at once. At the same time, I want to be very thorough.

Mostly, though, I am so sad for our sweetie. Our child is definitely having some problems, and I feel terrible that they had to endure an entire school year (last year) of confusion before we noticed. Our child has slipped under the radar, though, because of those high reading scores, I suspect. Even David and I didn't really grasp there was a problem until spring.

So one more morning of tests and then we can let the tutor start crunching the results and write a report for us. We shall see...

Weary... but getting there. The running, that is. I have always loved to run, but I make the mistake of quitting each year when it starts to get cold. It is hard enough to crawl out of bed at 6 am and do 3, 5, or 8 miles when the birds are chirping and the sun is shining. It is near impossible to do it when it is cold, wet, and dark. That's part of the reason I am going for the Denver half-marathon because it is in mid-October. That will keep me running through the fall, for sure. Now I just need to find a race/event for January or I fear I'll give up again come Halloween.
I love to run first thing in the morning. It clears my head, it wakes me up, and despite everything else that may happen that day, I feel as if I've accomplished something. Now that August is here, my training will start to get a bit harder. Short but hard runs during the week, with distance runs on the weekends. I'll try to add a mile every weekend, so that by the beginning of October I will have a 13 mile run under my belt. I am injury free so far, but I'm not holding my breath. My knees always give me trouble and I suspect that at some point I'll need to take a break. Till then, I'll keep on keepin' on.