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It’s Raining, It’s Pouring!

Is there anything better than sleeping in a warm, cozy bed while it’s raining outside?

The morning broke with gusty winds, rainclouds, and a constant drizzle…I remained nestled in bed while the kids got up and started their 6:30 am routine–watching Animal Planet and then Mythbusters that we have TiVo’d.  The Toddler snuggled up with me until she noticed her Dad going downstairs, and then she hit him up for waffles.

Once everyone assembled for waffles, I tidied up while The Naturalist and The Golfer made Tinkertoy boats to float down the rivers that had appeared in our sidewalk gutters.  The Toddler watched Little Einsteins on Disney for a while, and then she and I snuggled back up in my bed again so she could sit in my ‘boat’ (what she calls the space in between my two legs…so cute…) and we read a pile of her favorite books.

The older kids came back inside after being buffeted by strong and rainy winds…had some hot chocolate…went back outside after constructing some Balsam wood boats they remembered that they’d bought at the DMNS store.

The Toddler went off to play with her toys, which left me some quiet time to whip up some shea butter for a client of mine.

The older kids decided that the winds and currents were too strong for their balsam boats outside, so came back inside to set them to sail in our bathtub.  Being very cold themselves, they both got in the hot bath and are now directing the jets in the tub into different gulf streams.  The Toddler is hanging around the outside of the tub, because ever since her last ‘bathtub incident’ when she pooped in the water, she has been forbidden by the older kids from bathing with them.  It’s so hard to be 2. 

I have a streusel coffee cake made from scratch cooking in the oven, and when that’s done I’ll get some hot chocolate made from milk (in glass bottles!) that was delivered this morning from the milk man.  Aside from the fact that I used the computer to get the coffee cake recipe, and I wasn’t the one actually milking the cows this morning, I feel like a pioneer mom today. 

I anticipate this afternoon will see The Toddler taking a nap (pleasepleaseplease!) and the kids and I snuggling up in my bed so we can listen to the rain while we finish Robinson Crusoe and “You Wouldn’t Want to be a Colonist“.  May 11-13 is the celebration of the 400 anniversary of Jamestown being settled, which is a perfect fit into what has become an early American focus of interest for both the older kids. 

Later on in the day I’ll have to change out of my pajamas and ship some orders out, go shopping for Hubby’s birthday tomorrow, and run a few more errands….but other than that this has been a very enjoyable, slow paced, old fashioned kind of happy day. 

Dyslexia

The concept of what dyslexia is, is a broad one. Without going into too much depth, here is a quick look at what dyslexia has been like for us.
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I was, on the whole, considerably discouraged by my school days. It was not pleasant to feel oneself so completely outclassed and left behind at the beginning of the race. — Winston Churchill
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Our History: We were given an official diagnosis of Brooke’s dyslexia in the middle of her 3rd grade year. Interestingly, it did not come from the school district’s tests– they expressly denied any learning disabilities or language based disorders–but came from outside and independent testing we paid for ourselves. Even WITH a dyslexia diagnosis confirmed and reconfirmed by no fewer than 3 doctors/neuropsychologists, she was denied any remedial services or even an acknowlegement of the learning difference by 2 different school districts (comprised of at least 12 ‘specialists’ in each district.)

How It Affected Our Daughter: I anticipated Brooke would do well in school–she had always been bright, curious, creative, confident, and enthusiastic. However, she struggled from the first day of Kindergarten. She cried every day before school in K-3. She cried every day after school, doing homework, from K-3. She developed stomach aches and headaches. She became increasingly quiet and withdrawn. She stopped being curious (except for her interest in animals and nature). She started second guessing herself and calling herself ‘stupid’ and ‘dumb’ and she believed it. She developed a pretty significant eye twitch or tick. She developed anxiety and phobias. She became unresponsive and angry towards learning. Although the school refused to acknowlege or accomodate her for any learning disabilities, they suggested we medicate her for anxiety and ADD.

Why Does This Matter? Aside from the obvious feelings that a mom has towards her child that is being neglected & abused by a system put in place that has a duty to help that child…there are societal implications that go far beyond the people and families dealing with dyslexia. The fact is, everyone is affected by dyslexia/learning dissabilities. The price we pay as a society is high: teenage pregnancies, high school drop out rates, juvenile deliquencies, illiteracy, and the lost potential of these unique minds.

What Needs to Happen? Understanding and awareness about dyslexia on behalf of the schools. Across the board training of teachers who need to understand that up to 20% of the kids in their classroom any given year will have some kind of learning disability. Flexibility in the school curriculum to accomodate these unique learners. Widespread change in how dyslexia is classified and tested for. Understanding and awareness about dyslexia on behalf of parents who have kids that are getting lost in the system.

Spring? Is it really you?

Yesterday I woke up and listened to the bird songs outside my window. It was light outside, and I knew it would stay light for another 12 hours–such a change from the dead of winter where I woke up to darkness and knew that in another 7 hours it would return to darkness. It wasn’t uncommon for me to have the kids fed and brushing their teeth for bed before Golfer would complain, “MOM! It’s not even 6 yet!!!”

I wasn’t the only one listening for Spring. Naturalist had opened the window in her and Golfer’s room, and I could hear them talking.

“Just listen to the sounds of the first day of Spring!” Golfer enthused.
Remember the first time we heard Danger?” Naturalist asked. In the year since they heard their first redtailed hawk, they have gone on to identify more birds and create a Shakespear worthy plotline and bird family tree. It reminded me that soon it will be time to set up the sleeping pallets outside our balcony for an improvised camping experience on warm & dry nights.
“Easter is in a few days.” Golfer continued.
“I don’t want to go to Church on Easter” Naturalist said.
“But it’s important to go to class and learn about it!” Golfer volleyed.
“It isn’t worth learning if I can’t have fun learning it!” Naturalist shot back.
Golfer stayed quiet. He really enjoys his church class! Naturalist is more transcendental in nature, and while sitting in her Church class I’m pretty sure her mind is out exploring the Rockies.

At breakfast, Sassy looked up from her cereal and announced “There are BIRDS in our backyard!” and sure enough, a family of robins were hopping around. They were healthy and beautiful!

It won’t be long now until we can start planting a garden, going to the park, taking hikes, riding bikes, golfing, and just getting OUT. I’m sure there will be a few more rogue snow storms, but the birds and sunshine are telling us that Spring is really here!

Easter is here.

Happy Easter!
Honestly, what I’d like to title this is “Happy freaking Easter. Whatever.” But I’m trying to rally for the occasion. I love holidays, but I especially love Easter. After a long, dark winter, I usually am really receptive to the feelings of rebirth and hope that come around this time of year. However, I have a few things going against me this year.

1) It’s snowing outside. TONS. After 4 blizzards this year, I’m done with snow. I hadn’t even gotten out the kids Easter outfits…but if I’d had, they still wouldn’t be able to wear them because it’s 30 degrees outside. We bundled up in our winter wear to get to church. Ba Humbug.

2) My dogwoods & crabapples haven’t bloomed this year, and after this storm I don’t think they will. BOO!

3) I’m pretty sure this storm is slowly killing any new hydrangea blooms that survived the winter, as well as my tulips (which were just starting to bloom!). I’m still holding out for the columbines…they’re used to this, right? You’d have to be, if you’re the state freaking flower, right?!?

4) Sassy is sick, and I’m pretty sure I’m coming down with it too. Aches, chills, sore throat, headache. BOO!

5) My tradition is to put on a dinner with lamb, lots of sides, and a special themed cake. This year? Costco steaks from last week, and maybe hot potatoes if I can rally enough to get them in the microwave for 8 minutes. Green beans from a can. Pastel M&M’s for dessert. Served on paper plates with a big side of cranky.

6) Did I mention the snow?

I think I’ll soak myself in a hot bath until next week.

While I’m soaking, I’ll post some of my ‘Easter Greatest Hits’ pictures to remind me of how things used to be.

Rip Roarin’ Readin’!

The kids and I have read our way from Benjamin Franklin to Daniel Boone and on to George Washington, but we’ve taken a detour to Davy Crocket, Pecos Bill, & Paul Bunyan. We’re finishing up a few more biographies about Daniel and also are having a great time with the book ‘American Tall Tales’ by Mary Pope Osborne. In the book, she retells some of the classic and most outlandish stories from the people in America’s home grown myths.

It is, hands down, the most fun book I have read aloud to the kids. The colloquialisms and spirit of the characters really come across in her writing and I’ve developed a really low, gravelly, southern twang-like speaking voice to say phrases like, “Hello there! I’m Davy Crockett, and I’m real hungry! Which means bad news to any little warm-blooded, four-legged, squinty-eyed, yellow-bellied creature!” For his wife (Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind) I’ve got a slightly higher southern twang-like speaking voice full of sassiness: “I’m a streak of lightning set up edgeways and buttered with quicksilver. I can outgrin, outsnort, outrun, outlift, outsneeze, outsleep, outlie any varmint from Maine to Louisiana. I like to wear a hornets nest for my Sunday bonnet!”

The kids even got into the act and did an impromptu reenactment of Davy Crocket meeting up with ‘ole Mike Fink and trying to start a fight. The Naturalist was Davy, The Golfer was Mike, and there was a lot of crowin’, neighin’, roarin’, flappin’, shakin’, thumpin’, & howlin’ goin’ on. Needless to say, after all that to-do, Davy and Mike were too tired to actually fight. And after laughing so hard, the kids and I were pretty worn out, too.

Must See T.V.

Friday night, 7pm. Dogfights on the History Channel.
“The men and aircraft behind the most intense air battles ever waged…
The new series DOG FIGHTS recreates famous battles using state-of-the-art computer graphics. With up to 25 percent of the program consisting of animation, viewers will feel like they’re in the battle, facing the enemy. First-hand accounts will drive the story. Rare archival footage and original shooting supplement the remarkable computer graphics.”

The Golfer discovered this show in a hotel room while we were travelling back from a trip to California. Hubby and I were in our room, and the kids were in the main area, on the couch/bed on the other side of some french doors. Noticing it was getting late, I walked in to tell Carter it was lights out time (the girls were already asleep despite the sounds of warfare from the TV set) and he was transfixed with the reenacted dogfights he was watching. So, I sat down to watch a bit with him and became equally as engrossed. Now, it’s a Friday night tradition!

This show set in motion The Golfer’s fixation on aviation warfare. Particularly those that happened in WWII. I’ve watched his interest bloom in so many areas because of his focus–geography (particularly in the Pacific but also the locations of the nations fighting in WWII), history (general warfare, also the dates of major battles of–you got it–WWII), math (comparing strengths and weaknesses of different planes, measuring distances between armies), & strategic thinking.

Interestingly, Hubby has sung a nerdy balladfor as long as I’ve known him, and now The Golfer sings it. Link through and scroll down to the sample of “Sink the Bismark” by Johnny Horton. It’s worth your listen. Here’s a link to the lyrics. And remember that yes, Hubby has sung this for years and had it on his playlist for as long as he’s had a playlist. Who can’t fall in love with that?!

(also, here’s a random link I found while searching for lyrics: A very modern video/song about sinking the Bismark. Kind of like a cross between a song from the group ‘Midnight Oil’ and a cool high school history film.)

Watching The Golfer’s interest expand in to so many different areas is precisely why I love our newfound ‘passion led (sometimes called child led) learning’