Wednesday, November 30, 2011

a red letter day!

Today, the 1st grader who struggles tremendously with school had an awesome day!  We sat down to work on phonics and math, and he completed every problem on his own.  AND he got them mostly correct!!  (He does occupational therapy for his fine motor skills, so we do lots of ‘dictation/transcription’ here.  But, on the phonics sheets, he has to copy over the yellow pen.  It’s a real challenge for him.  By the end of the math sheet, he was struggling with number formation—and the blanks for counting by 5s are tiny!—so I wrote for him.)

Check out his incredible work!!  Sorry the math is hard to read.  It didn’t scan as well as I had hoped.  Combined with his weak handwriting, it’s a bit hard to read.

excellent work 11-30-11

If only it was possible to convey how huge this is!! To have a day without tears, without tantrums, without anger and frustration, and with almost all the correct answers is unbelievable.  Makes me think that maybe someday we’ll even get there.  God is good—we both needed this!  :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011



It was only a 5K.  But I finished.  And I wasn’t last…not even in my age group.  :)  For uncoordinated, non-athletic me, often called “Grace”  because of my klutziness, it is an accomplishment.  This may help clarify why finishing means so much.  (No paying to see…but no one came to watch, either.)

Enjoy your Saturday! 

Friday, November 25, 2011


relationship graph

is a graphic representation of the number of interpersonal relationships in a group of 8 people (like our family).  If you don’t want to count all the lines, 8 people have a total of 28 interpersonal relationships.  :)

It also explains why, as much as I love holidays with family, I come home tired.  It’s not from working hard physically; instead, it is from the ‘work’ associated with all of the interpersonal relationships that come with 22 people.  That’s 231 different relationships!! 

Fortunately, these are wonderful people, and it was a delightful Thanksgiving.  We loved every minute of our time with them and were sad to leave this afternoon.  But it’s good to be home, and our (very tired!) boys were quite thrilled to see their own beds tonight.  Hopefully they’ll sleep well.  I know I will!


Enjoy the rest of this holiday weekend!

Monday, November 21, 2011

crazy days and a thankful heart

Mercy!  I am not quite sure what happened the last few days, but I’m not in a hurry to repeat most of it.  Some of it was fun—baking desserts for Thanksgiving, for example.  The pumpkin pie, the raisin pie, the 7 layer bars and the fudge are in the freezer ready to go.  The Rice Krispy treats, the silk chocolate pies, and the apple crisp will be made on Wednesday.  The shopping list for the salad is ready and the shopping will be done on Wednesday too.  The packing list is on the white board and the first items have been set out, ready for a quick Thanksgiving visit with family.    But some of it has been not so fun.  I don’t enjoy watching my smallest boy deal with recurring nightmares night after night.  We’re in an especially bad spell again, and I’ve been up for hours and hours in the middle of the night the last several days.  (Makes for one exhausted mom!!)  People have been on edge…perhaps due to the grey weather.  Or the lack of sleep.   Tempers have flared and cross words have been spoken.  And injuries!  Oy.  Nothing serious, but the last few days have included several burnt fingers, a skinned knee or two, and a significant knock on the noggin.   Fortunately (?) they’ve been evenly distributed, and only the goose egg is mine.   Ought to be some truly lovely shades of yellow and green for Thanksgiving.  Sounds mighty attractive!  :\

Then, this morning, I came downstairs to find that sometime in the night our computer died.  Talk about irritating!  It turned out to be a fun adventure though, as it occurred to me that I might know the problem.  I followed my hunch, took the computer apart, went out and bought a replacement part, put it back in, and voila!  The computer works again.   YAY!!   Once in a while, it all comes together.  :) It feels great to solve a problem…and to do it on something most people find intimidating.  And to do it for less than $50!!  I just figured if it was truly dead, I couldn’t make it any worse…

Tomorrow is an all new adventure.  Logan starts his first round of neuro testing.  Tomorrow will be developmental, looking at physical skills and overall development.  Then, next month, he will do some intense learning assessments, trying to figure out WHY the 7 year old can’t get past 3 or 3 1/2 developmentally.  In any area.  It’s frustrating, but we are hoping and praying that the hours of testing will give us something useful.   We’d LOVE to know where to set the bar, how hard to push, what we need to adjust to make this work! 

Even as the days are crazy and busy, we want to make sure that Thanksgiving is not only celebrated but understood and enjoyed.  It’s hard to cultivate an ‘attitude of gratitude,’ especially when things seem to go wrong—or at least ‘not right’—at every turn.  So, for school this month, the little guys are working on a section of memory verses.  My favorite, and the one we are focusing on now is

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
   and his courts with praise;
   give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
   his faithfulness continues through all generations.  ~Psalm 100

Right now, I’m thankful for a working computer.  For a dry warm place to live, and plenty of food to eat.  For peace and quiet, and sleeping children.  For family and friends.  For the opportunity to serve those around me.  For a God who loves me (even though I don’t deserve it!), and His gift of salvation.  What are you thankful for?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

the football fanatic

DSC_0208 Ryan’s pretty tiny for almost 7.  Fully dressed (and just fed!) he weighs in at a whopping 42 pounds…but the kid’s pretty mighty in ability.  He loves football.  I mean…he LOVES football.  He lives for the weekend, when he can watch game after game on Saturday AND Sunday.  But he doesn’t just watch—he knows the teams and remembers what happens, too.  Last night we were watching the UO/Stanford game (numbers 7 and 4 respectively in the college polls) and someone asked who was ranked #1.  He promptly—and correctly—listed the top 5 teams in the current BCS rankings. 

While he watches football, he runs ‘plays’ in the living room.  Jim passes the football and Ryan practices his running catch.  He’s pretty good and only misses about 15% of the passes.  He’s clearly mastered the fine art of' ‘bobble/catch/fall/slide’ in our fairly limited space.  He would play like this all day if someone would pass to him.  And outside?  Absolutely!  He LOVES to play football with anyone who will throw for him.  But the thing that blew my mind today?  Listening to him.

He was watching the New Orleans/Atlanta game.  It was close to the end, and someone had just scored.  (I clearly wasn’t paying attention.  Actually, I had been  napping—HORRIBLE night here last night—and was only semi-awake.)  The game was nearly over, and I hear Ryan say “What are they doing?  If they want to win this game they need to do an onside kick!”   He no more than got the words out of his mouth than the broadcasters started a debate about what the team should do next.  Their conclusion?  An onside kick was the team’s best chance of winning.  Huh?  How on earth does my 6 year old know this?? 

So my tiny guy has football dreams.   Big ones.  He wants to play professional ball, then be a coach.  Pretty ambitious for a child in the 10th percentile for height and weight.  Maybe Mom can offer a bit of encouragement, though.  I was fortunate to go to high school with a football player who wasn’t the biggest guy on the team.  He was pretty good, too—spent 8 years playing professional ball.  :)  Someday, I might just have to introduce him to Ryan.  Maybe he’ll have some good tips for my dinky little dreamer.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The simple things are free

How I love the simple things…the simple things just are.  (Jim Brickman, Simple Things)

Life is complicated.  Sometimes it just is complicated; sometimes we make it that way ourselves.  Regardless, I am convinced that we don’t take enough time to sit back and really truly enjoy the simple things in life.    I got to spend a weekend doing just that…enjoying the simple things.  What did it look like?

  • Reading books to my heart’s content.  Not just any books, but books for FUN.  No books about learning issues.  No books about teaching children with to read.  No books about hearing loss or apraxia or sensory integration issues or economics or worldviews or anatomy and physiology.  Just plain old fiction books, chosen solely for entertainment and enjoyment.    Ahhhhh…a simple pleasure.
  • Long walks in crisp sunny fall weather.  The trees were beautiful.  The sun was shining.  The sky was blue.  The mountains were visible.  God’s creation is breathtaking!  Enjoying walks in the sun was another simple pleasure of the weekend.
  • Bubble bath (without interruptions!).  Never EVER underestimate the simple pleasure of a hot tub filled with bubbles.  ‘Nough said.
  • Being able to sleep (or lounge in bed!) until you feel ready to get up and face the day.  Even if it’s a day filled with things you like.  Sometimes the lack of impending projects and deadlines  is refreshing.  I loved spending a weekend on my own time schedule…no commitments, no obligations.
  • Wandering the fabric store or the book store solely for the enjoyment of it.  Looking at fabrics and picking out just the right ones for a project taking shape in my mind.  Alone.  :)  So simple, and yet so enjoyable.   And now I have a nice stack of pretty blue and green fabrics on my desk, waiting to make that pattern in my mind a reality.
  • Making a spur of the moment decision to take in a concert.  And relishing every single moment of the experience.  Not regretting for an instant that I was there but instead loving the incredibly talented piano player and his music.  Music that feeds my soul….a treasure.
  • Enjoying some time to catch up with an old friend.  Never an easy task, with our busy lives it seems to get more difficult as time goes on.  We’re both committed to other things, other projects.  And yet, when we can spare a few minutes to sit down and catch up, it’s priceless.  I wish it could happen more often than once or twice a year, but so far that’s not possible.  It’s not about finding good coffee (which I don’t even drink!) or going out to eat…just sitting down to talk on a park bench works.  I treasure those times together.   And we both agree—we need to make it a higher priority.   In the meantime, we catch what we can and enjoy the simplicity of uncomplicated, long-time friendship. 

It was an incredibly refreshing weekend.  Never long enough, of course, and yet when I came home I felt ready to face the world again.  I love the opportunity to step back from the busy, crazy, wonderfully fun life at home and just take a deep breath.  Relax a bit.  Feed my soul.  Focus on the blessings in life.  Enjoy the simple things…sunshine, music, creativity, good books, good friends.  Makes me remember just how grateful I am for the life I have been given.  I am truly blessed. 

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.    ~James 1:17

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

striking a balance

Several times in the last 8 weeks, Jim and I have been on a parenting panel of ‘experienced’ (read that OLD!) parents answering questions for the young families at church.  We’ve participated in panels on Parent/Child Relationships, Transitions, and Education Choices, including a discussion of parenting special needs children.  It’s been great fun, and we’ve had the opportunity to spend some time reviewing and refining our own parenting practices.  Each week, before the panel discussion, we receive a list of questions that will be asked.  Not all of them come up, but we try to prepare answers for all so that we don’t look like idiots.  :)

The first week, on Parent/Child Relationships, there was one question that didn’t get asked, and I wish it had.  The question was

balance How do you strike a balance between rules and relationship?

It’s a great question.   But it wasn’t asked.  I’ve spent lots of time thinking about this question over the last 6 weeks.  And I think it needs to be addressed.  The question assumes that RULES and RELATIONSHIPS are in conflict!  They’re not…at least at our house.  That’s because at our house there really aren’t rules.  Not in the traditional sense, anyway.  Rules are generally a set of ‘do’s and don’ts’ for behavior.  If you think about it much, you know that most rules are ‘don’ts’ guiding behavior.  Instead of rules, we have a set of foundational principles guiding behavior.  Why is that different?  Because it is not a set of do’s and don’ts.  So…what do they look like?  This:

  • Honor and obey God with our words and actions
  • Treat others with kindness, honor, love, and respect
  • Watch our words
  • Work for God
  • Be a good steward

Each of these principles has a Biblical basis, meaning we can support the principle with scriptures.   (I have a long list of references for each principle.  If you’re interested, let me know.  We gladly share!)Having expected standards of behavior is so much simpler than having rules!  Why?  Well, think about this:

You have a rule in your house that you don’t run in church.  But tonight is AWANA, and it’s held at church.  It’s your child’s first time attending, and there’s a games portion of the evening.  One of the games they play is 'Duck Duck Goose, which requires running.  Your child is put in an awkward position—play the game and break the family’s rule about running in church, or choose to obey by sitting out and miss the fun.

Clearly, that’s a very simple problem, but it illustrates well how having foundational principles can be so much simpler.  How?  Well, at our house there’s no rule against running in church.  When our guys have tried it, we’ve talked about whether or not that action is showing respect to those around us.  If not, then we choose to honor them by refraining from the behavior.  So, if we’re in the gym at a business meeting, running is inappropriate—it’s not showing honor and respect for others.  If we’re at AWANA during game time, then go for it!  Running is completely acceptable. 

Using principles like those above allows parents to equip their children’s decision making tool box with appropriate filters for making good decisions about their actions.  That’s the goal of rules, too, but they seldom work that way because there’s no development of internal controls.  Equipping children to make decisions, allowing them to do so, then talking about the results of those decisions develops maturity.  Works well.  The bonus is that there’s no sacrifice of relationship in the ‘foundational principles’ model, since the principles apply to all in the home.

Developing maturity.  Strengthening relationships.  Equipping children to make decisions.  Isn’t that what parenting is supposed to be?