Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Teenager Goes to High School

After a year of homeschooling, teenager is going 'back to school.' Not the school district she left a year ago, but a newer, different school. She will be going to a small Christian school, where students are expected to work, and expected to WANT to learn. The school considers itself an extension of the Christian home, and doesn't enroll students, but families. Her class is composed of about 15 teens, from ninth to twelfth grades. The school has two other classes to serve the lower grade level students. It seems much like the days of the one room school house, where the teacher works with one grade level or subject, then moves on to another group of students while the first completes their work. One difference from those earlier schools is that her teacher is male. She will have the opportunity to take Spanish from a native Spanish speaker, and will have access to a Career Center for additional classes later.

There are a couple of visible differences compared to the public school. One is that all students wear uniforms consisting of polo shirts and khakis or blue slacks for most school days. Another is that it will be a 4 day school week. Just as homeschoolers can complete a larger amount of work in a shorter time, I'm sure it's true also of smaller classes with a more structured atmosphere. We're all very excited about the possibilities!

We're very thankful we had the opportunity to homeschool Teenager last year, and we both learned many things: academic and otherwise. It was a great growing experience for us both. Now, though, the needs are a little different, and we believe this is the best response for the current needs.

So, Teenager. Go forth and learn -- we're behind you all the way!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Whistle's Birthday, Too

Whistle is 5 years old today. I've always thought of July 25th as my sister LeAnne's birthday, and now we have two to celebrate the same day! Since he's here, and she's in another state, we sent her birthday wishes via email.
We celebrated a few hours early, since he wanted his 'nieces' to come, and they weren't going to be available 'on the day.' We couldn't get everyone together until 8 p.m., but it was worth the wait. We blew up a few balloons, and he excitedly said, "It looks like a birthday party!"
Whistle's been saying he wanted a scooter from Santa for a few weeks now. When he opened his new scooter, he said, "Just what I NEEDED!" Doesn't every active young boy need a scooter at some point?
Yesterday a teacher asked him what kind of cake he wanted. Although we hadn't discussed it, he immediately said, "With chocolate cookies, M & Ms, and a happy face!" That was easy enough to do, so we baked a cake; square layer on the bottom, round layer for the face, oreo cookie eyes, red M & M smile, and 5 crayon design candles. Not professionally done, but he was happy. Blowing out the candles was so much fun, we did it twice!
Now . . . if we could just figure out the secret to getting him to actually eat some of that cake!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Miss H's birthday

On Saturday, we went to Miss H.'s house to celebrate her first birthday. It was a great day (except that she wasn't feeling well), and we had a wonderful time. She is blessed with wonderful parents, and a host of adoring fans (aka relatives). You can read more about it on Count Your Blessings. Also - there are lots of great Miss H. photos there -- Julie has been practicing her photography. :-)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?! (Warning - venting!)

Once again -- a story in the news about a mother who intentionally hurt her child: http://www.krcgonline.com/news/news_story.aspx?id=40943 This mom says she was under stress, and wanted him to die. HOW COULD SHE?! Stress is bad, it's difficult, and some can't cope, but trying to kill your child? Come on folks - ASK FOR HELP!! We hear over and over -- drownings, locked in closets, hot water burns. How can they? What is going on??

Also this week was this story:
These parents were so addicted to internet games that they didn't feed the children (or do anything else for them, apparently!).

There are many, many families, with and without children, who would LOVE to raise these kids if just given the opportunity. Please folks -- take advantage of community resources available to you! If you can't take it any more, call the police, call social services, take the children to the hospital and drop them off. Get help someplace -- ANYPLACE!. But please, please -- NO MORE HURTING THE CHILDREN!

Some things are just to awful to think about for more than a moment.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Batter Up!

On Saturday, Hugger had a district Special Olympic softball tournament. It was in north KC, so we loaded the family and went down on Friday evening. We visited with George and Liz a while, then spent the night with Ben and Julie. The next morning - we all got together again at the first game. It was a fun time of visiting with family as we watched Hugger and his team play ball. We hadn't been free to spend much time with granddaughter H. in recent weeks, so we especially enjoyed her. The day was hot, but we sat in the shade of the concession building, and had a good time just hanging out together. A couple of lawn chairs, some stacked milk crates for additional seating, nachos, cold drinks, and family makes a great day. After the games, we spent the afternoon with Ben and Julie, playing with Hannah, and just resting in the air conditioning. It was a wonderful, relaxing day -- the kind that don't seem to come around very often because of busy schedules -- so even more of a treasure.
Hugger - #21 (still hugging)

The Roadrunners finished the day with a bronze medal (Way To Go, Team!). They are hoping to be chosen as one of the teams to compete in the state tournament coming up in August.

Hugger has been in Special Olympics for several years, with basketball being his favorite sport, and softball coming in second. He also has bowled, played soccer, done gymnastics and other sports at different times. The Special Olympic program here has grown over the years, and is a great opportunity. In the early years, most of us as parents try to keep our kids included in regular activities and education as much as possible. This gives our kids role models and typical peer interaction. As time goes on, though, it's obvious that the gap is growing wider between our kids' and others' abilities, and we begin to make changes, sometimes without even realizing it. There comes a time that we know our kids need to be in a different classroom, or on a different team, in order to achieve success -- whether it be academically, physically, or emotionally. In the end, we see that his true friends are others with disabilities also, and really, isn't that true of all of us? Our best friends are those who are very much like ourselves in many ways.
Thanks to Ben for the photos!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Where is Happy?

I haven't mentioned Happy in quite a while. Happy is a two year old foster child who was with us for over year, and left our home earlier this summer. One of the hardest things for us as foster parents is deciding if something isn't working for the child, or for our family, and deciding what to do about it. We often go back and forth between Father and I, with one deciding we should make a change, and the other not being sure. Then we trade places for a while, taking the opposite viewpoint. Over time we change, the children change, and sometimes we work through the difficulties. With Happy it was an even more complicated decision. She was with us for a long time, and we do love her. She was a very sweet girl, but it seemed that she never became 'one of us.' Sometimes foster kiddos just feel like they belong with us, and we live and work together as a family for however long they're here. With others, it isn't quite that easy.

Happy had many developmental needs, and we've had experience with that, so it seemed like we would be a good fit for her. We wanted to do it, and especially I wanted to do it, and do it well. I really enjoyed the investigation part of trying to find a cause for her disabilites, as well as providing the therapies and other daily things we could do for her. I was hopeful we could unlock the secret that was "her," and in doing so, help her grow and develop over time. However, for some reason, the emotional attachment that we usually find just didn't develop as we expected. When it began to look like her placement with us would become a long term proposition, we needed to stop and consider what was best for each of us individually, and the family as a whole. At these times we do a lot of self-examination and individual and family discussions, as well as consulting with those at the agency who know us well, and work with our children. For us, one of the most difficult parts of fostering is deciding to ask for a child to be moved to another home. We learn (and teach!) in foster parent training about the emotional needs of children, and how each time they are moved, it causes some level of trauma for them. We've seen countless children who believe themselves unworthy of love and commitment from parents. Over time, this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy for these children, and we don't want to be one of the causes of long-term damage. So . . . hours, days, and nights are spent trying to figure out what is truly best. It's impossible to make weighted pros and cons lists, but that is what happens mentally and emotionally. If this . . . then this. Or this, . . . then that. But . . . And what about the other idea? And if not us, then who? Or where? Eventually, we decided to ask for the agency to look for another foster home for her. Sometimes it takes a while to try on a decision to be sure it's right, looking for evidence one way or the other. We now think the evidence is there, and we pray that Happy will be truly happy with her new foster family, and will soon have a forever family who will love her and cherish her for all her very special qualities. We miss you, Happy, and pray for you.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Amazing Animals

Some animals in God's creation are unique, others interesting, and some amazing. Check out this story and photos about a pink dolphin. It's actually an albino bottlenose dolphin, but looks very pink.

On the amazing end of the spectrum is the three-banded armadillo. Last week I caught a glimpse of this on a television show, and was amazed at how it curls up into a ball with a special place for the top of the head and the tail to become part of the protection. I found a good photo
here. (Look down the page for three-banded armadillo.)

God's providence is often amazing and thrilling to me, and this armadillo is a great example. As a miracle of God . . . incredible!! Not just tucked inside like a turtle - not just rolled up into a ball, but with a special place for the head and tail to become part of the protection! Little things make me incredibly excited sometimes.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Teenager's Dinner Gift

My desire to blog is greater than my time allotted for blogging, so I have things in the back of my mind I wanted to share, and haven't done so yet. One is from earlier this spring. Teenager made Father and I a very special dinner, just for a treat for us. She decorated the sun room table with a special table cloth, made a printed menu, and a special dessert. Then, she served us, as if we were on a special date. It was very sweet.

Interesting Menu

Whistle's been playing with counting bears (50 little bears in 5 colors, with matching cups for sorting). When he tires of counting and sorting - he's started playing Waiter, offering the bears as food. These are some of the things he offered me a couple of days ago.

French fries with pancakes
Cheese with cornbread
'Corn beef' with spaghetti
Spaghetti with orange juice . . . Or . . . Orange juice WITH spaghetti!
Strawberries and corn (". . . and the spoon is when you stir," he said.)

Today's offering was:
Ice cream with corn, chocolate, mushrooms and steak. Then he said he'd be right back with my dessert order!

Summer School Report

After the last post, one of our daughters said it sounds like I'm one of those mothers that the school treats as troublesome, and someone they have to 'deal with.' I hope our school doesn't see it that way - it feels like we're more of a team, working together for the same goal. I've always said I didn't want to be one of those "stomping and screaming mothers in the office," and it is a lot more successful to try to be on the same team, instead of different sides. They may feel differently about it, though. ;-)

All in all, summer school was a successful experience. He loved going, and every day when I'd ask what he did today, he's say, "Ate lunch, and went outside" (exactly the same things Hugger used to talk about). Then later, when I wasn't asking, he'd offer information about his activities, or what another student did. He memorizes quickly, so sang songs from school often.

Snippets from the teachers' notes at the end of the session:
---He is very with it, and has a great memory. He is always repeating things that I said to him from the first week of school. Of course it makes me laugh :)
---He truly has a huge and kind heart.
---[Whistle] is such a lovable boy, and he is so special.
---I am very pleased with his progress just in the last week with his excitement about his name!
Just the sort of things a mother wants to hear!
On the other hand:
---He is having a bit of trouble relaxing at rest time, he says "The sun is out and that is telling me that it is not time to sleep."
---Some things you could practice with him at home are read alouds where he is not allowed to talk until the end of the book, and then he can share what he wants after raising his hand. (You can read between the lines about that one! Or see the post from June 10th.)
---(When writing his name) He is trying extremely hard, but when I try to help him he will not let me. Practicing with him and letting him know that it is okay to accept help will help him in the classroom.
Other things we will do at home are clothes pins play to strengthen his hands and improve coordination, more work on colors and numbers, and cutting. Anything we can do to stretch that very short attention span will be helpful, I'm sure!

Now, it's only a few weeks of summer, and school will start in mid-August!