Tuesday, May 31, 2011

early morning phone call

My phone rang this morning at 7:00.  That’s not early for me—I am up by 5:30 most mornings—but it is early for the phone.  Always seems to shake me up a bit when it rings that early.  This morning?  No big deal.  Actually, the call was good for a smile.

It was Brent.  (That always gets a smile!)  He said, “Hey Momma!  I wanted to let you know that I”m going hiking in the woods today and tomorrow.   If I get eaten by a bear, know that I love you.”   Classic Brent! 

I laughed.  Not exactly what I expected, but then again, phone calls from my college kids rarely are.  That’s a good thing.  They’re making their own lives, and they are not settling into boring predictable ways yet.  But hiking in the woods?  Bears?  And telling me at 7AM?  (Yes, I’d been up for a long time and was through the shower, but that doesn’t mean my brain was fully engaged yet!)  After assuring me he wasn’t going alone, he agreed to text me tomorrow afternoon to let me know he’d made it back to civilization safely.

Hey.  If you’re gonna tell momma that you’re hiking with the bears, you gotta accept the fact that she wants to know you’re back safely. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

8,415 so far


Victoria has 9 days of school left this year—6 full days and 3 half days.  That means that there are 6 more days this year that I get to pack her lunch, 9 more mornings to fix her coffee.  And only one more year after that.

As I stood in the kitchen this morning making her sandwich, I did a little math.  It looked like this:

(3 x 165 x 13) + (165 x 12) = 8,415

The 3 represents my college kids, who now make their own school lunches.  165 is for the average number of lunches I make in a school year, estimated by including absences and occasions where they didn’t need lunch (which is not often since they have attended schools without lunch programs) and the 13 is for the number of years from K to 12th grade.  The (165 x 12) is for Victoria, since she still has her senior year ahead of her.  And I realized:  that’s a lot of sack lunches!  (It does not take into account the years of Tuesday mornings at church where they have taken their lunches.)

It’s a labor of love.  I don’t mind doing it, and although we joke about what a disaster zone my kitchen would be after they all were done making lunch, I have done it more because I care.  Talking at dinner the other night, it became clear that the message was delivered loud and clear.  Emily just finished her first year in college and has moved back home for the summer.  At dinner, I shared the story of a friend (an acquaintance at the time of the conversation) who was APPALLED that I would make lunches for my children.  “You’re spoiling them.  They’re old enough to do that themselves.  They’ll never amount to anything!” she said.  Em’s immediate response was to remind me that they all know how to make a lunch, but it never tastes quite the same when they pack it themselves.  “Mom, the love is missing if I pack my own.  It tastes so much better when you pack it.” she said. 

Hmmmm…mission accomplished.  Never underestimate the power of the little things.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

a funny story

I’ve had a couple of emails from people wondering if everything is okay.  (It is.  Too much to do, not enough time to finish it all.)  Apparently, after posting for 30 straight days, I’ve set some sort of precedent that I am now failing to meet!  :)  So Teresa…this is for you.

Pati is my next door neighbor.  She’s a great gal.  A mom of 2 grown sons, she adores our little guys and often brings them special treats left over from her job (she’s a flight attendant).  The boys, in turn, adore her and can’t wait to spend time helping her in the yard or just visiting.  It’s a perfect match.  Pati’s folks are getting older and they aren’t driving any more, so she’s spending more and more time chauffeuring them to the doctor and the store.  Monday night, she shared this gem:

“I’d picked up Mom and Dad, and we headed into town for their doctor visits.  Took hours.  I needed to stop at Costco, but I took them home first because I wanted to whip through the simagetore and they don’t ‘whip’ anywhere these days.  When I got to Costco, I ended up behind the slowest old lady I have EVER seen.  I was behind her every single aisle!  Just couldn’t get around her at all.  And of course, it was ‘sample time’ at the store, and she had to stop at EVERY SINGLE TABLE to have a bite.  Couldn’t park her cart out of the way, of course.  Finally, I’d had it.  We were nearly to the end of the store, and once again there was a sample table in front of us.  She parked her cart crosswise in the aisle and proceeded to head toward the food.  “Excuse me.  EXCUSE ME!” I called.  No response.  I took a deep breath, parked my cart off to the side, and grabbed hers.  I pushed it down the aisle, around the corner, and into the dairy cold room.  Came back, grabbed my cart, and finished my shopping.  At a much more reasonable pace.”

We nearly died laughing!  I’ve known Pati for over 17 years, and I have a hard time seeing her doing this.  But, I understand the frustration of walking behind shoppers out for a leisurely afternoon.  C’mon people!  Some of us have better things to do than move at a snail’s pace all afternoon.  I don’t have any problem working around you and I am not bothered in the least by your pace, but please—stay to the right!  My poor boys hear that many times each trip to the store.  So often, in fact, that now they ask, '”Hey Mom? Why are those guys not keeping right when they shop?”  Heh.  Out of the mouths of babes…

(And a humorous aside.  As I said, we’ve lived next door to Pati for over 17 years.  Standing in the street facing our houses, Pati’s house is on the right, mine is on the left.  My parents live about 15 miles away.  They’ve lived there for probably 10 years.  I’m not really sure.  Anyway, at least 6 years ago they got new neighbors.  We all laughed when it happened, because the couple who moved in to the house on the right of them?  Yep.  Pati’s mom and dad.  So now, our children can visit Grammy and Papa (my parents) and Grandma Kay and Grandpa Harold (Pati’s parents) all at the same time.  It’s fun.)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

outward? or inward?

Living, He loved me

Dying, He saved me

Buried, He carried my sins far away

Rising, He justified freely forever

One day He’s coming

Oh glorious day

~Glorious Day by Casting Crowns

This is probably my all-time favorite song right now.  Sung by Casting Crowns, it’s remake of an old hymn.  “One Day” was written about 1908, but the words remain as true and powerful today as they were then.  They make me reflect on who God is, not on who I am or what I can do.  It is a nice change from the typical ‘worship’ songs we sing today.  I read this blog by John Holzmann from Sonlight Curriculum, about today’s worship music, and I realized that he puts into words—much more eloquent words!—exactly what I’ve been feeling but unable to express.

Today’s been a pretty inglorious day here.  My Suburban is on it’s last legs (or so it seems) and we’ve spent countless hours looking at cars, discussing cars, driving cars, and negotiating deals.  No dice.  What to do?  How to decide?  After a very long day, we came home and discovered that the laptop now has a virus.  Like I said…it’s been a rather inglorious day.  But listening to Casting Crowns sing Glorious Day has helped me refocus on what’s really important.  For that I am grateful.

And, when my focus changes to the things I am grateful for instead of the irritations of the day (or weekend), it’s amazing to see just how many blessings there are in my world.  Sure, my car doesn’t run, but the others do.  And it’s served us incredibly well for 13 years!  The issues with the Suburban happened now rather than 6 months ago or 12 months ago, when we would have been hard pressed to do anything.  It’s not going to be a cakewalk to replace it, but we see God’s provision every day and even something as ‘petty’ as my car is not outside His care.  My parents graciously, willingly lent us their truck for now.  (Thanks Dad!!)    My family is healthy and happy.  The sun has been shining.  The boys are finished with school this week, the girls a few weeks later.  And that list just scratches the surface!

Focus…outward, on God’s grace?  Or inward, on my efforts?  Outward is DEFINITELY the better choice!

Friday, May 20, 2011

a great day!










Please note the different methods of crossing the creek! 





Now…watch Logan in this next sequence of 4:





And…SPLASH!  You guessed it.  He ended up in the water.  :\  Good thing it was nice out.


It was a great day!

this blog temporarily interrupted for…good weather?

Sorry…the weather here is simply too nice to sit inside and blog!  We’ve had sunshine for 4 consecutive days (a heavenly change from the near constant rain we’ve endured this winter), and today it is even supposed to hit 70°.  Since the last 70°+ day we had was November 3, we are going to spend today playing!  A picnic at the lake and a hike are on today’s agenda, after we finish planting our garden.  We HAVE to enjoy the sun today—rain is back in our forecast for the next week.   Yuck.  At least it will be warmer rain.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll take pictures.  Then again, I just might be too busy having fun for that.  We’ll see.  :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011


image image


Things went just as expected.  The school district approved our request for an FM system but denied us the opportunity to take it home, based solely on the fact that we homeschool.   WRONG answer!  Try again…

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA of 2004) CLEARLY states in part B, section 300.105 (b) that “the use of school-purchased assistive technology devices in a child's home or in other settings is required if the child's IEP Team determines that the child needs access to those devices in order to receive FAPE.”  (FAPE is Free Appropriate Public Education) .  His IEP team determined that this child needs access to the device to receive FAPE, yet they denied the request, in part because he is not a student of the district. 

Yes, we homeschool.  But Washington State Administrative Code equally clear on the use of assistive technology in the home (WAC 392-172A-02015(2)) and the Revised Code of Washington allows homeschooling (RCW 28A.225.010(4)) and defines homeschooled students who access courses or ancillary services from the school district (allowed in this state by law—RCW 28A.150.350) as ‘part time students.’  In addition, the school district is reimbursed for the courses and/or ancillary services they provide to Logan according to the portion of the day/week he attends school.   So they get money for providing his services.

Our school district does not have an audiologist as part of their staff.  Instead, they contract for services with another school district, or they can choose to pay for a private evaluation by a pediatric audiologist should the family ask.  (This is the 4th largest school district in the state!  But they don’t provide audiology services…)  We’ve not asked them to provide a private evaluation, and, as a matter of fact, we have shared his reports from his evaluations freely as they clearly demonstrate his need for assistive technology.  In addition, we have a letter from his pediatric audiologist directly stating that 1) Logan needs assistive technology in the form of an FM system, as hearing aids do not help him; and 2) he needs access to the FM system for FULL ACADEMIC USE.  Excuse me?  A school district without an audiologist is going to blow off the recommendation of a specialist in the field on the (flimsy and irrelevant) grounds that we homeschool?  I don’t think so!  Logan NEEDS the FM system at home—he has difficulty accessing language without help!  His construction and syntax lag far behind, due in large part to his inability to clearly hear spoken language.  When he asks a question, it frequently comes out “Where that is?” or “How old Nick is?” or “What doing?”  He struggles with the basics of math because he cannot distinguish between similar words like “forty” and “fourteen” or “fifty” and “fifteen.”  He has difficulty with phonics—“b” and “p” sound very similar; as a result he has trouble telling whether the word is ‘cap’ or ‘cab.’  He can’t tell whether I said ‘ban’ or ‘pan,’ doesn’t hear the ‘z’ sound used to make words plural (like in ‘houses’), and can’t distinguish between the past tense endings on words because he doesn’t hear the difference between the ‘t” sound (in "’dropped’) and the ‘ed’ sound in ‘played'.’  There are probably hundreds of other word pairs he struggles with, but those examples are sufficient.  The child does NOT have full access to language!!  And the school district seems to think that the provision of an FM system for use at school—45 minutes a week—constitutes full access to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)?  I just don’t think so!!   How exactly does denying him access to language in his approximately 5,835 waking minutes  per week and providing it 45 waking minutes per week work in his favor?  His IEP is almost exclusively language based—the articulation (pronounciation, which he also struggles with) is taken care of by his private speech therapist.  She has specialized training in working with cleft kids and in patients with apraxia, both of which are issues for Logan.

Ugh.  Can you tell I’m a bit torqued??  There WILL be a letter addressed to the school district, written today.  It will cover all these points.  And it may ask a very awkward question.  The goal of our school district, published prominently under their name in their logo, states “Successfully Prepare All Students For Their Future.”  The question?  “Should your goal more appropriately read ‘successfully prepare some/selected/chosen students for their future’ since you are clearly not interested in helping prepare OUR student as you are required to by law?”

Prayers welcomed.  :)

Friday, May 13, 2011

He did it!


Logan passed a MAJOR hurdle this week.  He combined 3 sounds in a cvc format (consonant/vowel/consonant) and read his very first word.  His first 8 words, actually.  Bat.  Mat.  Cat.  Hat.  Sat.  Nat.  Pat.  And rock.  (Yes, I know—’rock’  doesn’t fit the word list or the pattern.  Don’t ask…)  We’re pretty excited here. :) 

I have to say…after a very rough start last fall and many many ‘tearing my hair out’ days when it seemed that we would NEVER get there, passing this mark is an amazing thing.  He struggles so hard to put everything together, and the light in his eyes when it all came together for him was worth every lost hair.   I don’t expect to see progress come in giant steps from this point forward, but that’s okay.  He’s a ‘slow and steady’ kind of learner.  We’ve already decided that we’ve worked too hard all year to lose anything during a traditional summer vacation, so school here will continue on a light schedule 3 days a week for most of the summer.  I’m not necessarily thrilled about it (I’d like a break!) but I can’t argue with the reasoning, so summer school it is. 

And another hurdle was passed this week too.  It’s not quite as much fun but it’s every bit as important.  Logan’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan) was rewritten last Friday.  He’s qualified for Occupational Therapy (OT)  as well as speech.   He’ll see Leslie once a week for 30 minutes, tacked on to the end of his weekly speech sessions.  That’s a good thing, but the best news is that his new IEP includes ‘accommodations’ for assistive technology, otherwise known as a request for the school system to purchase Logan an FM system for his personal academic use.  We should have an answer early next week; I can’t imagine they’ll turn it down since federal law is VERY clear in the district’s responsibility to provide the equipment.  The recommendation comes from his pediatric audiologist, who pointed out that he’s already had hearing aids and they don’t help.  There are no other options for him…and he needs to hear to have access to language.  We just muddle through right now.   That may all change soon.  There aren’t words to tell you how excited I am by the prospect:  my little guy won’t have to struggle so much to hear the difference between similar words like forty and fourteen and for the first time ever he’ll have regular ‘access’ to many sounds in the English language that the rest of us take for granted.  Sounds like ‘z’  and ‘v’ and ‘m’ and ‘n’ and ‘b’ and ‘p.’  That’s HUGE.   It has the potential to make my job as teacher so much easier and his job as student much more enjoyable. 

Things are settling in to a new normal with Emily home from school.  I’m still trying to work around all the new stuff in the house…while I will miss my children when they finally move out completely, I will NOT miss this stage of ‘move-in, move-out’ and leave all sorts of things at Mom and Dad’s every time.  Makes decluttering home an interesting task, to say the least.   We’re still learning how to juggle more drivers than vehicles and more places to be than cars to get there.  Someday soon I hope we get a handle on things… 

In the meantime, I’m going to sit back and enjoy time with Em, Logan’s incredible progress, and the last 8 days of Kindergarten for my dynamic duo.

Friday, May 6, 2011

of moving day, Swedish Fish, and vocab lessons

One advantage of having to help move your sister home from college 300 miles away is that you get to spend time in the pool before you go help pack her things:

Project1  They had a ball swimming Wednesday night, which is good, since apparently all of Emily’s things multiplied while she was gone last year, and packing her stuff to come home was quite the adventure.  The boys, sitting in the back seat of the Suburban, were almost totally isolated from the driver and front seat passenger…


But they were pretty good sports about it.  Ryan’s not sitting in his car seat in this picture, but Logan is.  Ryan should be back that far as well.  The space between us?  FILLED with boxes and bags.  And the space behind them too.  We had to lift them over the stuff so that they could crawl into their seats…and they both had stuff under (and on!) their feet all the way home too. 

My terri___ (-fic or –ble, insert appropriate ending) twosome doesn’t travel as well as they did last year.  Hard to believe that it’s only been 11 months since our epic road trip to San Diego.  I spent much of the time trying to referee spats from the driver’s seat and fielding the age-old question of small travelers:  "Are we there yet?”   I didn’t hear that at all on our trip to San Diego; I think I heard it every 23 minutes for the entire 5 hour drive each direction this time.  Not fun.  I even had a new experience, something I’ve never had to do in 22 years of parenting.  I had to stop the car on the side of the road to discipline a child.  Never done that before, hope I never have to do it again.   Good thing I had plenty of these with me:


since I needed something to help retain my sanity on this trip!  Oy.  Sadly, the bag is almost gone, if that gives you any idea of how many ‘sanity savers’ were needed…

And vocab lessons?  Well, the boys learned something about each of these terms on this trip:

  • mirage (“Why is there water on the road, Mommy?”  “It’s not water, it’s a mirage…”)
  • refraction (“I see a rainbow!  Can you see it?”  No, because the refraction is different--light is hitting that CD at a different angle for me than for you.”)
  • crop duster (“What is that airplane doing?  It’s going to crash!”)
  • biplane (“Why does that plane have 2 sets of wings?”
  • tilling (“What are they doing out there in that field?  What’s it called when they turn the dirt over like that?  Are they getting ready to plant?”)
  • wastewater treatment plant (“Look!  A swimming pool!  Can I go swimming there?”)
  • sewage (see above…)

Yep.  Vocabulary, geography, PE, geometry (how to get all of Em’s stuff in the car), and character development/self control.  All in a 30 hour trip.  I think I will count that as a successful school day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

big day

Today is Hailey’s 20th birthday.  That alone makes it a big day, but we’ve got more on the calendar!  Things like

  • school (only 3 weeks left!!)
  • laundry (of course)
  • clean house
  • prep dinner for tonight and set aside Jim’s and Tori’s lunches for tomorrow
  • pack
  • drive across the state
  • pack up Emily and bring her home

Where does the time go?  Not only is Hailey 20 today but today is Em’s last final as a college freshman!  It seems like only last week that we were packing up a teary girl to take her to school.  Now she’s finished with her first year, ready to spend the summer and home, and excited about her classes for next fall. 

After what seems like a million trips to Pullman in the last year (it’s only been 8 in 10 months), we’ll be taking a bit of a break.   Finished on Hailey’s birthday, Emily returns to Pullman on her own birthday.  Somehow, that seems fitting.

Now, to check off that list.  See you later!

Monday, May 2, 2011

a little ‘light’ reading


A handful of the books I’ve been reading lately.  (Jim and I were laughing yesterday about the fact that pretty soon this child will have an entire shelf for books devoted to his special needs!  Hey—you can laugh, or you can cry…) Not necessarily the most entertaining titles, for sure, but I’ve learned lots.  Quite frankly, some days I’d love not needing to know this stuff!  But if we’re going to succeed with this child, then we’ll have to do our homework.  I love each of his therapists, but with as many varied issues as we have, I’d love to find just 1 person who could help us untangle this web. 

When we chose to adopt, we knew that special needs were part of the package.  When we chose to adopt a child with a known medical need, we knew that surgery and speech therapy were in our future for sure, and that other therapy needs were possible.  We didn’t anticipate a child with a known special need that was virtually a non-issue, but with a whole host of unknown special needs instead.   On occasion it gets me down.  Not so much for us as for him—he’s a delightful little boy trying his best to work through an intractable list of nearly overwhelming special needs (that are mostly solution-less, or so it seems).  We can’t ‘fix’ his needs; instead we are doing our best to teach him adequate compensatory skills.   Today, watching him struggle with the basics of communication (syntax and grammar as well as hearing and articulation) and coordination (things like not falling off the chair, and gross and fine motor skills), I feel like a failure.   No matter how much I learn, it doesn’t seem to answer the big question:  how to help.  How to find the key to unlock this puzzle.

It is a learning process.  I have no choice but to trust that God doesn’t make mistakes.  He chose this child for our family, and apparently we have what it takes to be his parents.  I’m not so sure.  For now, we are gaining great insight into II Corinthians 4:7-9:

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

Treasure? You bet!  Jar of clay?  For sure.  Hard-pressed?  Yes.  Crushed?  Nope.  Perplexed?  Absolutely!!  Despairing?  No way.  Persecuted?  Well…not really.  Not much, anyway.  Or not yet.  We see potential for him because of his needs.  Abandoned?  Never.  Struck down?  Feeling that way.  Destroyed?  No. 

Hanging on to hope…God’s hope.  Mine’s pretty trashed at the moment.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Guess what we’re doing this weekend?


Birthday weather (not a great picture, but note the sunshine!)

Mariners 017

Birthday girl (May 4) and birthday boyfriend (April 27)


Birthday cake.  Yum. 

Yep.  Celebrating a birthday.  Again.  Hailey is the third birthday here in 15 days.  (Alec, her boyfriend, fits in nicely.  He was 21 on April 27.  He and Brent share a birthday; he’s between Brent and Hailey age-wise.)  She turns 20 on Wednesday but because she has to work Wednesday and one of us has to go bring Emily home from WSU, we’re celebrating tonight.   The menu?  Marinated flank steak, twice baked potatoes, Caesar salad, and toffee angel food cake.  Her choice.    She’ll get presents sometime later, since they aren’t here yet.  In the meantime, we’re enjoying the gift of glorious sunshine to celebrate her special day.