Thursday, January 29, 2009

winter winter winter

We are snowed in around here again. Not really but we have had quite a bit of snow. I think it would take a miracle for Twin Falls to actually close the schools. The kids just all wear their boots and snow pants and they still go out to recess three times a day no matter what the weather. I have to admit that is one of the things I love about school in this area. Recess. And lots of it! It's great for my boys.

The snow is actually a nice change from the perpetual bone chilling fog that we had for two weeks prior.

We are doing well around here. Despite a case of the mid-January blah's on my part today. We are in the midst of refinancing our mortgage which is a big paperwork pain but will likely bring some really nice changes. So I won't complain...

We are busy with basketball practices and games and lots of scouts. I must say that cub scouts is amazingly busy! It's fun for the boys though. We had the pine wood derby a couple of weeks ago and Rustin and Austin had fun with the car. We let Austin paint it entirely by himself. I don't have my camera but I will have to put a picture. It was fun.

Dallin and Landon got glasses last week. It was a total surprise to us. Rustin just happened to take Dallin with him on a Saturday to see a patient and took a second to check his eyes. Rustin was shocked that he couldn't read the letters on the bottom line. The glasses news enticed a few tears (for Dal) for a minute but he got used to the idea. Landon assumed (correctly) that if Dallin needed glasses then he did too so he had a little more time to get used to the idea before the actual news. They look really cute I must say. Again--I'll have to post a picture.

All right I just rolled my mouse in some left over syrup on the dining room table so it looks like some clean up time is in order. In the mean time I will keep singing the song we sang this morning--"There is sunshine in my soul today!"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another word on dyslexia...

I must mention that for anyone who had a child who cannot learn to spell or has greater than usual trouble learning to read--you should check out this web site for Dyslexia. Early intervention can really help solve the problem (as in our case!--see below). Denial doesn't help solve the problem. Treatment does. I think we'd all be surprised if we knew how many people are suffering silently with dyslexia.

One of the best web sites and resources I have found is--HERE.

Check out the links at the top. Especially the web videos. Very interesting and informational even if you don't deal with dyslexia. I really think anyone who is a teacher should check these things out as well!


Who would have ever thought that would be the word we would use to describe Dallin and Landon's reading habits? I mean seriously. I don't think I've ever written about Dal and Lan's reading journey. It is one of tears and triumph.

Four years ago (about) when we moved to Twin Falls we experienced every parents' nightmare. "Your sons are severely delayed in their reading levels," the school reported.

'What are you talking about' we thought--they were just fine three weeks ago in Arizona?' (we didn't realize they were memorizing their books...) We experienced every level of denial--'Just leave them alone and let them play--they are just curious boys!' or 'Why are you so advanced anyway, I mean who reads in first grade?'

Finally when we were a couple of months into second grade we could not ignore the problem. Our boys couldn't even read the tiniest basic words--is, a, the, of--and they REALLY couldn't spell them. In fact our sweet teacher finally brought to our attention that neither Dallin or Landon could even recognize their own names in a sentence. After much testing, the diagnosis---DYSLEXIA.

We literally had months of crying, bed-wetting, tantrums, anxiety and other learning difficulty induced problems. And when second grade finished they still couldn't read. That was when we made the tearful but inevitable decision that we had to repeat second grade.

Thankfully it was the best thing we could have done. We had a really outstanding teacher who increased their sense of self-esteem. They learned to read and finished second grade at grade level. (We also went to a year of tutoring at a special tutoring center.)

Third grade brought a new challenge for Dallin. We saw his reading levels again take a nose dive (like, all the way back to a beginning first grade level...) and we knew there was a problem. (some serious hyperventilating and anxiety on my part!!) Thanks again to a great teacher we realized that Dallin has ADD. Medication has literally changed his and our lives. He loves and really succeeds well in school. He takes his medicine on his own because he says it makes "everything just so much easier." Landon does really really great in school also. I actually can't remember the last time I did spelling words with the boys. They do fine on their spelling tests but that doesn't do anything at all for their ability to spell correctly in regular written work. I'm not sure we will ever really get that down.

Anyway, last night I finally caught on to why the boys are so hard to wake up in the morning lately. Yes--as their father's children--they had their flashlights in their beds are were reading until the wee hours of the morning. Can you believe it? THEY ARE READING ALL NIGHT! Who would have guessed three years ago that I wouldn't be able to get them to stop reading! I had to impound their books at lights out though...

In part we have Percy and the Olympians to thank for this great phenomena. We also have some divine intervention to acknowledge.

Years ago, in desperation, I started reading the Little house on the Prairie books to the boys at bedtime (I could not stand one more repetition of Dr. Seuss--). From there we went to The Hobbit (which my five year olds listened to attentively!) and the rest is history. Harry Potter, Narnia, Eragon, and a bazillion other series... We have literally read and reread more than 100 books. We need to make a list sometime. At least an hour a night. I had no idea that reading out loud to the boys was probably the single best thing that I could have done to help with their dyslexia. What a blessing. We all really love it.

I guess this is the proof that the Lord wasn't kidding when he said He could make "weak things become strong" unto us. I'm very grateful.

Monday, January 5, 2009

100 peck training and chickens...

Have you ever read studies about the chicken training? There is a dog training favorite called "100 peck" training that came from chickens. (for dogs it's often used to teach duration behaviors like stay) Trainers were trying to see how many times they could get a chicken to peck a button to get one kernel of corn. They would do 'one peck, one kernel, two pecks, one kernel, three pecks one kernel etc.' until the bird missed then they would go all the way back to 'one peck, one kernel etc' again. They would continue with this until they got the chicken to peck the button 100 times to get a kernel of corn.

They found that the longer the performance chain got, the more the chicken would put off starting the project---even when it meant getting food. Interesting huh? Even with chickens the harder and more involved things are the more we tend to procrastinate. Today is definitely a '100 peck' day for me.

I knew it would be hard to get back to the regular schedule today but I'm not sure who is more tired--me or the kids. The boys and I are reading one of The Edge Chronicles books (part of our nightly routine) and we are at an exciting part so we stayed up way too late last night and then I couldn't go to sleep. I am one of those creatures who needs to have the exact same wake up and sleep in time every day in order feel rested. That's not exactly compatible with the job description of mother of five...

Rustin left early this morning for a work meeting so it was all up to me. The kids were all sleeping like logs but it was nothing the promise of waffles couldn't fix! We are reading the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price right now. Everyone just about kept their eyes open for that part of the morning! Then Dallin's request for a rousing verse of "Up awake! Ye defenders of Zion," pretty much got us all up. I'm sure we will all do fine but it is sure hard to get back into a routine.

Of course it's snowing buckets again so our nicely cleared driveway and walks are covered. One of the best parts about having older kids now is that I no longer have to scrape and start the car. My pre-driving age boys still think it's cool to get to start the car and scrape. I hope it lasts forever.

I have discovered that if I keep with the routine of cleaning the kitchen/bedrooms/bathroom and front room every single day then it really isn't a big deal. If I let it go, then the job grows and I start to struggle...

Today I am avoiding the unpleasant but necessary task of sorting and revamping our entire paper filing system. I really tend to avoid uncomfortable things. This is something I have learned about myself and I am trying to change it. One trick I have learned is to break the job into a smaller piece. I'm not going to do the entire file system today I'm just going to go through the bill pay basket and then balance one bank account. That I can do. I think. I better start pecking...

Friday, January 2, 2009

Remembering our sweet little Molly girl...

We lost our Molly (our beagle) on Tuesday down at the Hatch's in Franklin. She was hit by a pick-up and was killed almost instantly. Dallin was with her at the very end.

We were sad and of course unprepared. We are so glad that she was in her favorite place in the whole world. (Beagle heaven=TEN acres to run and sniff and lots of other FUN dogs to play with!)

We burried her in a little spot on the hill. We gathered our family together and said our goodbyes and covered her little grave with rocks.

We learned a lot from Molly. We went through the teeth grinding pain of house training (honestly!). We spent hours upon hours teaching basic obedience (with good success I might add!). We watched and loved the miracle of life with her sweet little puppies .

We also learned about the requirements of being responsible for the well being of another creature. We brushed and cleaned up piles of hair. We went on walks in the rain and snow. We rolled down hills with leashes tangled with the laughter of kids. We were able to come up with a great consequence for fighting--I don't know if we will ever find something that will top 'ten pieces of poop for everyone--now!'.

I have heard people talk about how sad it is to lose a pet before but I never really understood what they were talking about. It was hard to see such a devoted and loving companion buried. Benson had the best perspective. The boys were telling him--"Ben, Molly is gone and we'll never, ever see her again." Benson just looked at them with a funny look and said "she'll be resurrected of course--like Jesus." It was sweet.

Everyone said what they liked most about Molly. The way she wagged not just her tail but the entire back half of her body whenever someone came home. Austin loved the way she always chose to sit with him at scriptures in the morning so she could lick his hands (??!) Landon was proud that he taught her to 'come'. Dallin loved throwing toys for her in the backyard. Jenna loved to dress Molly up. Benson has no memory of life without Molly. Rustin and I remember the time that she swiped three pieces of pizza off the table and buried them in the potted tree in the corner.

I remember the day she endeared herself to me forever. My good friend was over visiting with her six month old baby. Molly walked up to gather the scent of this new visitor and the baby reached up and grabbed both of Molly's ears in his little fists and squealed. Molly just looked up and licked his hand. Then she laid her head on the floor right next to the baby. She didn't just tolerate the children. She sought them out as her favorite companions. She did this time and again with all of the kids. I will just about go to the end of the earth for someone who loves my children with such devotion. Even if the someone brings an incredible amount of hair-shedding and yard pooping activities.

We are thankful we had Molly with us and we know that she is happy in "good dog heaven"--whatever that includes.