Sunday, October 29, 2006

Halloween Pictures

We went to a party Saturday night at a neighbor's house, so we were in our costumes early. Just in case I don't get photos taken on Tuesday evening, I took some now. Have you ever seen such cute boys. I couldn't find the perfect Clark Kent glasses for A-bear, but he looks pretty sharp in the blue ones I found. Joseph watched the OSU game on TV Saturday afternoon in costume. He loves to imitate the referees, so he costume was perfect. He loves it.

In addition to trick-or-treat night Tuesday, our two black cats will be spayed and neutered that day. Seems appropriate...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Pictures of New Chairs

Sarah suggested I post pictures of my new chairs. (I finally put fresh batteries in my camera, it took three sets before I found a pair that worked... ) And here is a chair. I still love them. I feel like I've always had them. No picture of the whole kitchen, with all the chairs around the table, 'cause the table is covered with junk...

Couldn't resist including one with a kitty.

Also, I've added a new link. I found this blog by randomly searching the web. I've always liked the things he has to say. He has a very interesting entry about his Dad attending his son's baseball game. (They do the same Miricle League baseball as we do--but they are in Atlanta.)
Halloween Costumes

Alex is going to be Clark Kent--Suit jacket, white shirt and tie open over his Superman shirt... Joseph is going to be a football referee. I actually painted black stripes on a white shirt for Joseph, and it turned out pretty well. Not perfect, but I'm a DD, not a DG, so I don't have to be perfect.

Pictures next week, I promise.

Speaking of domestic goddesses and disasters. I found cooked chicken at the local grocery for $3. I think they take the hot roasted chickens that don't sell at the end of the day and chill them, then sell them the next day for $3. Seemed like an incredible bargin. I'll use the meat to make casseroles, etc. Any favorites that you want to send me?

I've been very worried about keeping up with home and family starting in January. Dave will have a new job/work challenge/ whatever you call it when you are self-employed (90% sure it will happen). He'll still be self-employed, but he'll be working out of an office 30 minutes or more away instead of 5 minutes away. Relying on Dave to pick up a child and take him to gymnastics, or meet a bus at the last minute may be a thing of the past. I may have new professional challenges next year, also. I need to find a way to streamline the dinner hour. I'll need to be doing homework and driving around town, not cooking. SO!!! I was delighted to find cooked chicken for $3. Actually, we'll have more cash in the house so I could spend more on food. What do I do? Where do I buy freshly prepared, good, healthy dinners for my family if price isn't a factor? Do I need a home chef to visit once a week? Where do I find one?
Random Thoughts on Friday, mostly about Alex and race

Ah, the relaxation of Friday afternoon. I'm in the office, contemplating going home early. Only thing that stops me is that the Maytag repairman will be there, and Dave is dealing with it. If I go home, I'll have to deal with it... (I guess I'm pretty sure Dave isn't reading my blog.)

Alex's piano teacher stopped by my office this week to chat. I learned that she is expecting in March!!! A BABY!!! So exciting.

I also learned that she didn't know Alex was adopted. She didn't realize that he was bi-racial, and never questioned that he was our biological child. I'm glad that he fits into our family so well that she never questioned his belonging. I think that it must be obvious to everyone that he isn't our biological child. I'm delighted that it isn't. Grandma Helen thinks he looks more and more like me!!! The racial element will be a challenge. We've told him, in passing that he is mixed race. I don't remember the circumstances, so I don't remember my exact words. I think he was talking about the brown children in class and the white children and I had him compare his skin color to mine and showed him how he was darker... But I've never wanted to make a big deal out of it. He just isn't old enough or secure enough to understand. However... When he is old enough, if we have not said it often enough, and it comes as a shock??? What then??? My black neighbor Eloise once told me that "If you could raise him as a white man it would be best, but you can't..." I've not deconstructed all the layers of meaning in that statement, but it certainly has made me think.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A better day

We had a much better evening and morning. Since I complain so much about the stresses, I need to tell all of you that normally, the household runs smoothly. Alex wrote sentences without complaint last night. I let him make his spelling words with magnetic letters, and as soon as he would make the word, he would come up with a sentence, no fight, no fuss. Do you think he is a tactile learner???

We have a Joseph's monthly meeting this evening. Once a month the whole therapy teams meets with the behavior consultant. We go over all that we are doing in therapy, and we discuss problems, and what to work on next. Always useful, always helpful, always stressful. I usually need to spend an entire day after the meeting putting the therapy materials in order, typing up notes from the meeting, making changes in the paperwork we use to conduct therapy. I may need to hire a "lead therapist" to do some of that work next year... I just don't think I'll be able to keep up.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Continued from yesterday

I think I'm a better blogger in theory than in practice. I'm better at everything in theory than in practice. I guess that is pretty normal, but it is frustrating. I know when I have too much to do because I get short tempered. These days, with the antidepressant medication I'm taking, I'm not nearly as short tempered as I have been during the past 5 years. But just lately, I'm feeling on edge. I think it is because I am truly stretched too thin.

I got home yesterday at 6 pm. Heated leftovers, put dinner on the table, and then needed to do homework with Alex. Dave had turned on the TV for boys when he came home. He had taken the dinner things out of the fridge, but hadn't started heating anything. When it was time to eat, I turned off the TV. Alex was mad. Once Alex is mad, no homework will happen. I just didn't have the patience to deal with it and I sent him to bed at 7 pm. Dave doesn't always agree with me and he wanted to try to coax Alex into doing his homework, but I didn't even have the patience to listen to them.

I've not quite figured out what to eliminate from our lives... and if all goes as planned, both Dave and I have new challenges coming in our work lives during the next 3 to 9 months. We will be able to afford more help at home, but someone will still have to do homework with Alex, and supervise Joseph's program. Maybe Alex will make enough progress in the next nine months so that he will be able to do his 20 minutes of reading a day without an adult listening, or practice piano without me helping.

Complain, complain, complain....

Monday, October 23, 2006

I think I'm too busy to blog

I suspect everyone that blogs feels that way. But, I'll try to keep it up.

Tomorrow is another day...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

New Chairs


We have been using kitchen chairs Dave had at his house before we married. I think he got them when a school somewhere was getting rid of old furniture. They are old, ugly, and have initials carved in them. They are comfortable, so I delayed replacing them. But I finally got sick of them and bought brand new Amish-made sheaf-back oak chairs for the kitchen. They are beautiful. I love new things, or old things in a new place. I'm so like my mother in that. So, now my kitchen looks very spiffy!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


We had a nice dinner. I call it noodles and sauce. Its just hamburger and spaghetti sauce over macaroni or spiral noodles. We have it almost every week. We also have Vietnam Fried Rice (from More With Less cookbook) nearly once a week. And I make "Taco Rice" nearly once a week. I like the idea of eating a variety of foods, but I also like the idea of food the family will eat and that I can prepare quickly. We ate hamburgers and fried potatoes at least once or twice a week as I was growing up. I know my Mom had a lot of trouble coming up with creative dinner ideas, but I didn't mind having the same dishes. What are some of the others we had? Spanish Rice, Mac and Cheese... Sisters help me out here?

I've been trying to help Alex with piano practice and homework in the morning before school. Jospeh leaves at 8:40, Alex leaves about 9:10 or 9:15. So I can normally get both reading and piano done. He concentrates well and seems willing to work in the morning. But it means that my day doesn't start until after that--I'm usually not even dressed before 9:15... So, the end of day, dinner time, comes very quickly and I've not figured out how to make a decent dinner with side dishes... Just one pot meals.

We've been having challenges with Alex of late. He gets very angry. Most of the anger is directed at himself. We are working with the school counselor and planning to call a counselor outside school as well. The dear boy. Today he needed to write three sentences using spelling words before I would let him go to soccer practice. He was mad and wouldn't do the work and he wouldn't tell me why he was mad. Finally, he started scrawling sentences. He wrote "I'm mad" and some other things I couldn't read, and then he wrote "I don't want to go to soccer because I'm stupid." Oh, I could have cried. We really need professional help, and we are getting it. At least he is starting to talk (or write) about his feelings. He claims no one at school has called him stupid, but... He did finish his sentences and went to soccer (only 15 minutes late). I want to try to deal with some of this before he is older and the stakes are even higher.

On a positive note, Alex has made it through almost all of the first "Magic Tree House" book--an adventure story about two children who go back in time and narrowly escape an attack by a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It is fun to see him get engaged in the story and find motivation to keep reading. He was only able concentrate for one page when we started, and now we can always do two, and sometimes three.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Joseph's Bus was Late

And not just a few minutes. An hour late. I'm sitting with him on the porch, as he gets more and more upset because he wants to go!!! I'm getting more and more frustrated thinking about all the other things I need to do. I don't have a chance to do Alex's reading homework, I don't get to take Alex to school (yet again, I send him with a neighbor), I don't get to linger over a second cup of coffee. All I can think about is how much I need to do today. 'Till finally, I just sit on the glider, hold Joseph and rock. It calms him, it calms me. Nothing I have to do is that important. (Don't tell that to my boss!) I can't control the bus. I can't help the substitute driver find our house unless she calls again for directions. For someone like me, who wants to control control control control, it is so hard to let it be okay that the bus is late. An hour is just an hour. I'll get it back by being really efficient today.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Funny Story About Cookies

My husband has always refused to eat anything that had peanut butter and chocolate in it. (What??? Is he crazy???) He will eat Resse PB cups, but no other combo of chocolate and peanut butter. Yesterday he came home as I was finishing a batch of Sarah's Monster cookies (YUM!!!) with Halloween M&Ms. In true DD style, I overbaked the last tray, but the rest were perfect. I forgot to set the timer for the last batch...

Anyway, that isn't the point. Dave asked if they had any peanut butter in them, and I was honest and said yes. Then I suggested he try just one. He whined about how he didn't like pb with choc and I became impatient and told him to just try one-- About an hour later he ate a cookie, and then got up to get a second one. He asked again if they had pb in them, so I lied and said "no." After he had eaten several, and told me how good they were I showed him the recipe... He didn't believe me, and said I must have left the peanut butter out.

How crazy! I want to just be exasperated with him--I've not made peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for 14 years because he doesn't know that he likes them... He had a bad experience with a too-sweet buckeye candy years ago, and wouldn't try the combination ever again.

But, aren't we all like that. We let our previous experiences stop us trying things. We jump to conclusions. We misinterpret what others say. We think we know what the answer is before we hear the whole question. We assume.

So. Who knew?? Dave likes Monster Cookies! What do I like that I've never tried? Skydiving? Rap music? Scary movies?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Women's Wisdom Circles

"Stories move in circles. They don't go in straight lines. So it helps if you listen in circles. There are stories inside stories and stories between stories, and finding your way through them is as easy and as hard as finding your way home. And part of the finding is the getting lost. And when you're lost, you start to look around and listen.”
Sue Bender (1995). Everyday Sacred: A Woman's Journey Home

Why Wisdom Circles? Women's work has traditionally been done within a community of women. Our culture and economy have eliminated most structures for women to share their wisdom and lives in meaningful ways. The telling of our stories and sharing our wisdom is part of finding connection with each other and our traditions. There is a sense of meaning gained from telling our stories and being heard in that telling. Although there are very wise women to be found in the wider world, a deep wisdom arises from the sharing of community. It is believed that each woman comes with her own wisdom and therefore does not need to take care of others or be taken care of within the circle. . Confidentiality is respected-what is said in the circle, stays within the circle.

This is a quote from, and a paraphrase of, the call to participate in a circle of women on the campus where I work. I think it sounds like a great idea, but it is also what I’m doing in my blog, and by reading other blogs of friends and family. I’d like to see more of you get on board with your own blogs. I want to hear what you are thinking!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

An Apple a Day

We went apple picking on Sunday afternoon. We drove about 45 minutes on a beautiful day to a very nice orchard in the rolling hills of East-Central Ohio. And we picked apples, about a bushel and a half... What is a domestic disaster to do with all these apples?? I made a crisp, I've been eating 3 or 4 a day, and I've put as many as I can into the fridge. I need a nice cold root cellar.

I also made one batch of applesauce, about 3.5 quarts. It is in the freezer for later, when we don’t have so many fresh apples to eat. I’ve never made applesauce with fall apples, but I think it turned out ok. I’ve always used “Early Transparent” apples. They ripen in July. (There was a question about what kind of apples to use for sauce on Sarah’s blog…) I think I’ll buy some caramel dip… Yum.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Got Milk???

A few more details about Joseph's IEP. The meeting lasted 2.5 hours. There were ten people in the room for most of it. The discussion was mostly between myself, Dave, and Joseph's behavior consultant on one side, and the teacher and principal on the other side. The district folks from the special ed department didn't say much. We talked at each other for most of the meeting. We just fundamentally disagree on what Joseph can do now, and what we believe he may (or will) be able to do in the future. One big area of concern is reading comprehension. Jospeh reads 600+ sight words, but tests poorly--with scores of 0% on reading comprehension at the Kindergarten level. We don't believe the tests. They do.... After about two hours, Dave told a story about taking Joseph to the grocery store and having him help find the groceries. J was great at listening and then taking Daddy to the right part of the store for things like orange juice. He understands the world around him more and more each day. So, I asked the teacher what she thought J. would do if I took him to the store and handed him a note that said "Get milk." She said "Nothing." She knows he knows the words get and milk, and she knows that if we told him to get milk he could, but she thinks he can't decode language from print, even though he can sign all the words.... So, I came home an made index cards that said "Go to store." "Get milk." and "Get eggs." Guess what? He did all three perfectly--no prompts, no help, just an adult along for the trip. (We live one block from a store...) I put the index cards into his book bag with a note for the teacher explaining what happened, and after sending them to school two days I've not gotten a note about it back. I'm not sure she has seen my message. (Alas, another fundamental problem with his class is that the teacher doesn't communicate with me, or communicates very sporadically...)

We are asking for an outside evaluation, and planing to fight the district. It seems like we have two choices: one, we could change schools, go to a private school, leave the district, etc. etc. in order to find a teacher that believes in Joseph's abilities, or , two, we can have him educated with other signing children and stay where we are. I'm going to at least try to make the current placement work better so that he has peers that sign, but I may give up and look for a teacher that will believe in our boy. Maybe that is more important. I'd really like to have both.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


I'll have time later in the week to actually have a thought, but I'll update you for now. Alex's second IEP was Friday. The team from the school had more time to think about it, and as we came to the conclusion that we didn't want to move Alex, they also decided against moving him. (It helped that they were able to talk the district into another second grade teacher so will have three rooms of about 20 instead of two rooms of 30.)

Joseph's IEP was Thursday. It was very difficult. We are going to ask the district for an independent evaluation of Jospeh's current level of functioning. They have done an evaluation of Joseph's present level of skill/functioning and are basing the IEP on that. It boils down to we at home see a very different child than the school sees. The school doesn't see the potential we see. The school thinks we are delusional parents. We can't make a suitable educational plan without finding a common view of who Jospeh is and what he could become/achieve. All the standardized tests are difficult for Joseph, and his scores don't reflect the reality of our child, but the school just sees the scores. I'm including pictures of Joseph, since this is all about him.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I'm feeling completely overwhelmed. It is one of those weeks where I have too much to do, two big meetings--one today and one Friday. Rehearsal Thursday night, Friday night, Sat and Sat evening concert. I've not done started the reading for either meeting, nor practiced my part for the rehearsal tomorrow.

I'll go now and do the reading for today's meeting. Tomorrow I'll practice and do reading for Friday. Cook dinner tonight, leftovers tomorrow. Neighbors Friday. Dave is on his own on Saturday.

Writing down a schedule for when I get to each task is helping.

Now I go do it all.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Raising Special Kids--or IEP Week is Hell

One of the most stressful weeks I have as a parent has arrived. IEP week. That stands for Individualized Educational Plan. It is supposed to be the contract between parent and school for a special needs child. In an ideal world, every child would have one. Ours isn't an ideal world, but both my boys qualify for an IEP. We had Alex's first IEP meeting of the year yesterday. We have Joseph's on Thurs. Tentatively, Alex's second meeting is scheduled for Friday. We have big decisions as parents ahead.

Alex is severely ADHD and LD. He struggles with writing and math and is a little behind in reading. He is in second grade. For the past two years he has been mainstreamed into a regular ed class and has worked with a tutor one hour each day, with an OT once a week at school and twice a week privately. He has also worked with the optometry clinic at OSU to address eye-tracking problems, which may be at the root of some of the LD issues he faces.

The tutor, as a representative for the school, suggests we move Alex to a "resource room." A classroom with 16 children and one teacher. The children vary in age, and are all LD. The school is worried that Alex is falling further and further behind. In actual fact, Alex would spend about half the day in the resource room and half the day in reading and gym, art, music, etc. with his peers. The reading classes are all tracked to ability, and he is reading at a “mid–to-late-first-grade level” so I think he is right with a lot of other beginning second graders at his school…

We suggest that whatever happens Alex begin counseling with the school counselor to deal with anger issues and self-esteem issues. (I’m starting to sound like I know what I’m talking about, but I don’t…)

The biggest drawback to the resource room, in my view, is it will be at a different school. Alex was adopted when he was three years old. He is still very insecure, he has always just gone along with what ever happened to him, but we see flashes of anger—mostly directed at him self. He has been happy, for the most part, at his current school. He walks to school with his friends. He walks home with his friends and goes to latchkey with a neighbor boy. There is a resource room at his school, but for third to fifth grades. My current thought is that we should keep him in his regular ed room for now, with the plan that we will move him to the 3-5 resource room next year. I’m thinking that self-esteem and mental health are much more valuable right now than being able to write a grade level story. I worry that he will lose self-esteem if he is faced with too much work that is too hard, but I also worry that he will lose a sense of community if he has to watch all the other neighborhood children walk one direction while he walks or drives the other way to school…

I’m anxious for your input, any ideas out there??? One friend has already told me she will yell at me if I move him…and I can’t imagine telling him that he has to go to a different school without his friends, but I’m willing to listen if anyone thinks I’m wrong.

Monday, October 02, 2006

How Can I Keep From Singing

I was reading the other blogs on Sarah's blog and came across a hymn her friend Kris mentions--I didn't know the hymn, but I googled the title and found both the hymn by Robert Lowry

and a slightly different version of the text. (See below.) What a great hymn! I think I like the Lowry version better than the Fields version.

by Uriah J. Fields

Living in the flow is the song that rings
ceaselessly in the human soul.
Are you listening to your soul?

My life flows on in endless song
My soul soars like an eagle.
I hear the Cosmic Voice saying
Behold I make all things new.
No storm can take from me my peace
While in true faith I'm living.
It rings the joy bells in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

My life flows on in endless song
Transcending all mundaneness.
I hear the music in the air,
I feel the presence of God.
Nothing can take my joy from me
While in my heart I'm singing.
I'll sing my song -- yes my song.
How can I keep from singing?

My life flows on in endless song
Unperturbed by circumstance.
The power of love within me
Is stronger than friend or foe.
No condition has advantage
While on His arms I'm leaning.
The presence of love surrounds me.
How can I keep from singing?

Sunday, October 01, 2006


My brother Philip says that he lives with the Michigan Tribe and that I live with the Ohio Tribe. We both used to live with the Iowa Tribe. Football is incredibly stupid, but also addictive and cathartic. My latest thought about it is that the world could use more football (violent, American-style football.) I'd like the University of Bagdad to play Tel Aviv State in the Big Game. I'd like North Iran U to take on the winner of the OSU-Mich game in the Fiesta bowl. If we could all bundle up on a cold fall day and scream for three hours at the players from that hated other tribe, or sit in front of our televisions and curse and pray and try not to say things we shouldn't in front of our children to watch the beloved home team fall behind the hated others, or (horrors) watch or beloved home team lose to the hated others on a last second field goal, maybe we would be a bit slower to draw guns on one another. We might end up with some burned furniture from drunken riots, but I'll take that on my evening news over bombed out buildings...

I went to a football game a week ago and yelled and screamed like a good Buckeye fan every time the "others" had the ball. And we won. Nothing like it. But I've had my heart broken over and over when my team lost. You pick up and go on. And somehow, we are able to sit at table with those from the hated Michigan tribe, and friends and family from the Iowa tribe will welcome me into their homes even though the Buckeyes won last night. Well, I hope I'll be welcome. We (or most of us) get over it. Is sport what keeps the United States together? Does Soccer enable the European Union to flourish? Do humans have inate needs to live in tribes and needs for those tribes to fight it out? I'm not a sociologist, and someone has probably done research on this that I will never read, but raising Alex shows me how much pent up violence is in little boys. (As with all things, Joseph is on a different planet--He is a gentle soul and has almost never shown any violence. Yet another way he teaches us big lessons.) Girls have a fair amount of agression and anger also, I know I do and did. Being raised a pacifist meant I buried mine pretty deep, but it is in there. I enjoy a good afternoon standing with thousands, yelling at the boys whose uniforms are the wrong color and cheering for the home team. I've enjoyed that since I was a girl watching and cheering for my big brothers' teams. I'm enjoying it very much this year. Go Tribe Buckeye!