Thursday, August 26, 2010

Loving school

My kids are keeping me rolling with their school antics. I have a really hard time trying to be a stern disciplinarian when I really want to laugh.

Emily did a much better job yesterday listening and obeying at school. The only thing she got in trouble for was putting her ziploc bag (gallon size) over her head, and then laughing about it when she was told to stop because it could hurt her. She is a total ham. If I had to guess, she was trying to wear it as a hat but her head is so small it fell down over her face. ;)

Danielle had a small episode of lying yesterday. That's been a prevalent problem for her over very little things and we definitely want to nip that in the bud. Other than that she seems to be an angel at school and enjoyed learning about "cabibull I" yesterday.

Tim's favorite subject is still P.E., and I think it will be for his whole academic life. He was excited that they got to use their little chalkboards yesterday and work on vowels. What are vowels, Tim? "E...A...O..." And from the background pipes up Alex, "A E I O U." Really?? Where did that come from? He didn't know that at the end of last year!

I mentioned that Alex had been trying to control his teacher but didn't give any specifics. Apparently every day since school started he has asked to go to the bathroom numerous times. On Monday which his teacher mentioned this to me, I said there wasn't any reason for him to go outside of scheduled times, and when it happened again on Tuesday I told Alex (in front of his teacher) that he was only going to be allowed to go to the bathroom with his class--no other times. Yesterday afternoon he asked to go and when she wouldn't let him he pestered her for a while and then, miraculously, he made it to the end of school just fine without going to the bathroom (there is a change of clothes in his backpack just in case). So I'm guessing this new behavior should settle down pretty quickly once he's really not allowed to go.

Before anyone has concerns about underlying medical problems that might cause Alex to actually need to go, let me just say this is not the first time we have experienced this. He goes to the bathroom with the class but tries to be the first one done and doesn't actually pee (or not very much) and then needs to go again 10 minutes later. This has happened with us at home and out and about as well, so we know what's going on here and don't suspect any physical cause for his behavior. :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

First days

School has started, albeit sporadically. :)

The boys started in 2nd and 1st grade and had full days of school last Thursday and Friday. The girls (both in kindergarten) had orientation on Thursday and a half day on Friday, so I really consider Monday their first day of school.

So far, we're not seeing anything unexpected. And yeah, that last sentence just made me laugh out loud. :)

Alex is working on control (of his teacher, not himself) and we've given her some thoughts on dealing with that. Nothing major, but stuff he knows better about and just has to test at the beginning of school. Monday he came home with his memory Bible verse for the week and he's already recited it to me (from memory) two days in a row. Tim is a little freaked out about 1st grade as he's realizing he was pretty much allowed to coast through kindergarten and now he's actually going to have to work. I really like his teacher and she'll be great for him. Danielle's behavior has actually been way better than I expected (or her teacher is holding out on us). She's loving being in kindergarten. Emily is pushing every button she can trying to figure out this kindergarten thing. She's being pretty defiant and if it keeps up we'll have no choice but to put her back into preschool. Thankfully she's not acting out at all, just not doing what she's asked to do. As in her teacher says tells her table to stand up and she sits there and looks at her while everyone else gets up. :) Her teacher has 16 kids and I'm not going to prevent them from having a good kindergarten year just because our daughter is causing problems. We'll see if she can manage to settle down. She really wants to be in the big school, not the preschool, so we're using that as leverage.

Danielle's first few days of ankle therapy have gone well. She goes on Monday mornings before school and then Tuesday and Friday after school. Coupled with Emily's speech on Thursdays after school and we've managed to pack a lot into the week. Thankfully, Danielle's therapy is in a place that is quiet with no one else around so the boys can get their homework done there (and Emily if she has any). The ankle therapy is only about 45 minutes so we can still be home by 5 and have dinner by 5:30 (if I've planned ahead ;)).

So far so good. By the end of this week I think we'll be pretty well settled into the new routine. One day at a time!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


That's the polite word. ;)

Last week was so far my least favorite week of the year. Let's hope it stays that way and that there aren't any more like it.

Friday afternoon I got a call from the kids' school. Due to lack of enrollment, they will not be having the AE (pre-K) class this year that Emily was supposed to attend.

I was devastated.

For reasons I have not gone into (and won't) on the blog, we really wanted Emily at the school this year. I spent the weekend stressed in the background over this (in the midst of Showboat at the Muny, base ball Saturday, and peach picking--64lbs!!--Sunday) and just didn't feel good about the whole thing. Yesterday I called the preschool to see about getting Emily set up with her new teacher (she has to move up). They did have an opening with the teacher we feel would be best suited to her, but I still didn't feel good about all of it.

So I Googled "missouri kindergarten law" and look what I found:

"Section 160.053, RSMo, states that:
A child is eligible for admission to kindergarten if the child reaches the age of five (5) before the first day of August of the school year beginning in that calendar year...
Pursuant to statutes 160.054 and 160.055, RSMo, the St. Louis and Kansas City School Districts may establish a kindergarten/first grade entry date if a child reaches the age of five (5) or six (6) no later than the first day of October."

Emily is old enough to go to kindergarten as she turns 5 at the beginning of September and we live in St Louis!

So I called the school principal, who was concerned about Emily's speech. She went down to the preschool and talked with Emily and was stunned at how much her speech has progressed since the spring. :) I talked to the school administrator and preschool director, who was concerned that Emily can't read. But none of our kids have been able to read going into kindergarten. They all agreed to talk about it, and the consensus last night is that Emily is going to kindergarten.

Added bonus: they had exceptionally large enrollment for kindergarten this year, so there will be two classes and Danielle and Emily will each be in one, with the same teachers they already thought they would have.

We do expect Emily to probably repeat kindergarten next year. She's nearly a year and a half younger than Danielle and will be younger than all of her classmates as well, but this will get her into the school and we feel will be the best environment for her at this time.

Monday, August 16, 2010

CP study

Today I took Danielle for an evaluation for an ankle-strengthening study for kids with cerebral palsy. Knowing that we only have a tentative diagnosis of CP, I had explained all of her background to the physical therapist heading up the study in case they needed to exclude her.

The took lots of video of her walking (with the cool reflective "sticky balls" stuck to various joints) and measured her muscle response with electrodes. They tested her ability to stand up without using her hands, to jump, to run, to sit and balance while bending for various objects, and to step over obstacles. A few highlights of the day:

The therapist wanted to see Danielle walk up stairs, so she took her to some stairs and had her walk up them holding on to the rail. Then she showed Danielle how she wanted to see her walk up the stairs without holding on to the rail...step, together, step, together, etc. So Danielle went over to do it and promptly walked up the steps...step, step, step, step. I started laughing and asked if the therapist had wanted her to stop on each step. She had a look of astonishment on her face as she said "no, that will work just fine!"

The therapist did lots of measurements and feels (as we do) that Danielle does not fit the norms for a child with CP. She has a couple of markers (toe-walking and strabismus) but none of the typical muscle tightness markers that most kids with CP have (and no typical brain injury markers for CP). She spent a lot of time saying "this is so interesting" and "this doesn't make any sense" as she measured various things. :)

Everyone at the study got a big kick out of Danielle's English (she's understandable, but sometimes she says the weirdest things!). So the therapist taught her to say "gluteous maximus" for some of the muscles she was attaching electrodes to.

Danielle was really a trooper. It was about 5 hours of testing and she was so good-natured about it. She will be in the study which means we have added 3 hours of therapy to our week (I know!). But the therapy is free and is targeted to strengthening her ankles, which we know she needs. I did tell the therapist that I already knew the outcome of their study, as I have watched Danielle's walking improve tremendously as her legs and ankles have strengthened. :) I think we totally piqued the therapist's academic interest in a case like Danielle's, where her circumstances made her underlying medical condition much worse than it needed to be.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Looking for the good

It was a good thing I left the windows down in the car yesterday when the torrential rains hit St Louis.

On account of which I had standing water inside the car when it was time to leave.

On account of which I drove home with the windows down to help dry the car out.

On account of which I was not listening to the radio or on the phone at the time of the accident and was able to avoid hitting a fire hydrant (scraped it, but didn't run directly into it) and did not hit my head on the car window.

On account of which I only have a mild headache and some neck pain today, instead of lots of bruising and a concussion.

Thank you, God, for the rain that soaked my car yesterday!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I'm beginning to not like August so much.

There was the random vomiting on Monday (me) and then today...a car accident.

Not only was someone kind enough to run into me, hard enough that it knocked my glasses off of my face and out the window, but they were considerate enough to not have insurance.


Really not looking forward to the $1000 deductible thanks to someone else's negligence. :(

Thankfully, the kids were not in the car yet (I was on the way to pick them up), I wasn't driving the van so we still have a vehicle that holds all of us, and Mark was able to go pick up the kids for me. I don't think I'm injured but I'm sure I'll be sore tomorrow. The car is still drivable so that's a plus, too!

The painting

I'm going to try to contain myself, but I really need to vent a little bit about this. We paid our drywaller to have his team come in to paint the dirty house. Come to find out, his team is his uncle and a few other guys. Here's the list of current complaints:

Painted master bathroom the wrong color
Didn't paint a few areas of the house (that were supposed to be painted)
Did not clean the windows where they oversprayed (and were supposed to clean per the contract)
Got wall paint on the ceilings
Got random dark paint in the hallway (drips, but from a bathroom color that somehow ended up in the hallway)
Left us a bucket that said "DN'T OPEN" (typed exactly as written)

Okay, the bucket is what put us over the edge. All of the excess paint buckets, including the one marked as above, were left at the house which was great because we definitely have to do some touch-up. However, we weren't sure what to do with this bucket. Clearly, we should dispose of it but we didn't know what was in it so didn't want to just throw it in the trash. Our thought was that it must contain some paint thinner or cleaner, and that we would probably need to dispose of it separately. But in order to know how to dispose of it we needed to know what it was.

So we opened it.

Can you guess where this is going??

Someone had used the bucket as a portable toilet, and the resulting deposits had been sitting in a closed bucket in a 90+ degree house for about a week.

And they left it there.

Never, never again will I hire someone to paint for us.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The dentist

Yesterday all four kids went to the dentist which they love. They did a great job obeying me and then also did well for the dentist. Lots of clean teeth, no plaque on any teeth(!), and healthy gums, so that was definitely good news!

Alex got to share that he had lost another tooth (last week) which is his fifth tooth to lose. Tim is still patiently waiting for any of his teeth to fall out. :) Tim's teeth still show some of the black iron staining when they grow out. You can see it right at the base of his teeth (close to the gum) although it's much less noticeable than it used to be. Supposedly his permanent teeth won't have it at all which would be really nice for his sake as he gets older.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Umm, it's August??

Yes, August is getting away from me. School registration, school supply shopping, frantically trying to figure out what we were doing with the boys for the week and a half before school started (but after summer camp ended)...August is rather taking my breath away. And it's not half over yet. ;)

So what have we been up to?

The boys are in extended summer camp. A few other parents and myself were able to convince them that they needed to offer something during the week and a half before school started, since most of us don't have enough vacation to cover that time plus all of the school holidays. They're basically doing the same things they were before, except no cooking in hot oil and no bus field trips. ;) The boys have picked up the words "dude" and "duh" at summer camp. So I get sentences like this:

"Dude, I have piece of paper?" and "Wow, that's a cool red truck duh."

Can I just say that it's hilarious to hear slang coming out of Alex's mouth mixed in with the speech apraxia, and I find it hysterical that Tim uses the word "duh" (if you can call that a word) but has no idea it's supposed to be sarcastic so he just tacks it on at the end of sentences.

Emily and Danielle are both super-excited for school to start. It's a daily conversation regarding going "upstairs", since the school and their classrooms are on the floor above their preschool classes. Danielle knows most of her letters and numbers to 10 now, although we're still working on it nearly every day after school. Emily's birthday is coming up soon--she'll be 5!--and we're getting her...

...wait for it...

...a vacuum!

Yes, a real working vacuum. She is going to be over-the-moon with her own working vacuum, and I'm thinking my house may be cleaner than I'll know what to do with. ;) It's a small stick vacuum with a telescoping handle, but if it doesn't telescope enough we can remove the handle and she can use it as a hand vacuum. I know it sounds like a bit of a sexist present, but all of my kids love to clean and I anticipate some fighting over Emily's present. A few days ago Alex asked me if, after he came home from summer camp the next afternoon, he could "sweep up the dog hair, and then get the bucket and cloth, and clean the bathroom floor?" And Tim was so excited about it that he wanted to help too. To which I replied that maybe they could each do a bathroom so they could each have one to themselves, and they thought that was a great idea.

No, I am NOT joking. My kids love to clean and I'm going to let them think it's a fun way to play for as long as I can get away with it!

For me, clearly I haven't been cleaning. ;) I did can 12 jars of peaches (I could have canned a few more but it was 11:30 at night and I wanted to go to bed, so I made a peach cobbler from the leftovers the next day). Mark has been busy keeping track of the contractors for the other house (that's a whole other post!) and we're getting close to being done with the systems (HVAC, electrical, and plumbing) and should have functioning air conditioning by the end of the week. I'm sure it will be in just in time to break the heat advisory we're under here. ;)