Monday, December 21, 2009

Sleep anyone?

One thing I have noticed about being the mother of a special needs child is their sleep pattern. I think I have mentioned Emmie's sleep before, although my brain is sort of "holiday fuzzy" right now, so it's possible I haven't. Sometimes she sleeps a lot. I mean like she goes to be at 8 and doesn't wake up until 9 or 10 the next morning. Sometimes though, she wakes up in the middle of the night. Tonight was no different. She went to bed at 8, as usual. About 10:15, she comes in the living room where I am, complete with a Santa hat on her head. She is obviously still waking up. The glassy look in her eyes gave it away. She said, "Mom". And then continues to tell me that I don't have to worry about her, that I need to worry about her brother when he plugs that thing in the other thing. I, of course, look at her like she's nuts! I assume she is talking about the Wii remote because we had a conversation about it before she went to bed. I asked what she was talking about and she goes on and on, just mumbling. I sort of chuckled and so did she. I said, "Emmie, it's way past your bedtime." I got a simple okay and she marched back down the hall and into her bed. My wonderfully strange child!

The first year of her life she didn't sleep. Now, nearly 9 years later, her sleep patterns are still out of whack. I'm going to chalk it up to her CAPD. Maybe, in her sleep, her brain was able to fully process what was said about the Wii remote? Maybe it woke her up because at that very moment, when it clicked, she knew she could provide an answer or explanation but by the time she came in here, it was gone again. Who knows.

But, as always, she is tucked safely back in her bed until next time.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A word

Yesterday was the last day of school before winter break! It was an extremely long day full of sugar, sugar, and a side of sugar in the classrooms. At lunch, we had the 5th grade singing Jingle Bells as loud as possible. Lucky me, huh? But now, as I sit on my couch in my pj's with the sounds of the dryer in the background, I am thankful that we are officially on winter break and the only off pitch sounds of jingle bells is coming from the TV!

I can not tell you how excited I am to have winter break! It was time! Of course our break will be spent packing and moving to the new 4 bedroom! Emmie has promptly requested that she be allowed to have her own art desk in her room. The one with the light and pencil holder she saw at a local art store. Santa won't be bringing it since his elves have finished making their gifts before we found out about the move. Maybe after the new year.

Emmie and her love of art has had me thinking a lot lately. I am not an artist, big surprise huh? But, I know how important it is to her and how much of a difference it has made in her life. Not only does it nurture her creative side and allow her an outlet, but it also allows her something to be good at. Art isn't pass or fail, it isn't about coloring inside the lines, or making sure something is spelled correctly. Art is about expression. Color where you want, how you want, and with whatever tool you want. It allows her to be perfect in her own way. It doesn't come with a red x over the missed problem or the mark over the work she misspelled. It allows her to be free.

It is very important that we nurture what our children love and what they are good at. I have never been one to push the kids into something. I'm not the crazy parent at soccer games, or the one making the child join three different after school activities. I just want them to be kids and be happy! If my son loves playing with skateboards and could care less about joining the basketball team, so be it. If my oldest wants to play the clarinet instead of creating friendship bracelets, Let her. And if Emmie wants to put paint on paper and call it a duck. Guess what? It will be the best duck I have ever seen. She won't need validation from anyone else. She knows she's good at it and that is all that matters.

So, because of her love of art and because of the doors it has opened up for her education, I have been researching Art therapy. I believe I will apply for an art therapy program in the next few years. I'm excited about it, even if some won't understand.

Remember the sentence structure problem we were having? Well, we have started a journal and we are making progress. I also bought this lovely book called "The Aspiring Writer's Journal" at the Scholastic Warehouse Sale. Seriously, why didn't I know about these sales YEARS ago? Anyway, it's a book for older children. However, it provides some great writing prompts to help me get Emmie started some days. Some prompts are too advanced for her right now, but I am having an interesting time digging out my creative soul that has been buried for some time.

Writing prompt for today for mom. "If you could have one word to be your guiding light, what would it be and why?" One word huh? Is that possible to have one word? I am from the south and we often have 15 words for every one word for a northern. We talk. Okay, honestly, we talk A LOT! But, my one word, if I had to come up with one word is "Serendipity". I love this word. A happy accident is my life. It is my guide. My husband and I met as friends. It was a happy accident that we became more than best friends and married. It is a happy accident that we have three amazing children and one fat, lazy cat. What is your one word?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It was going to happen

Today has been a long day. Wednesdays are the days the kids get out of school at 1:05, however it always seems like this is the longest day of the week!

Emmie had a rough day. Today in school one of her friends made fun of her reading level. This little boy and Emmie have been good friends since school started this year, but lately he has been having a rough time. A small roller coaster of emotions and Emmie has tried to be patient. Apparently, he was making fun of her because she is still in the one's (her reading level is 1.9-2.9). She was upset about it but I spoke with her about mistakes and how all people make them. She seemed okay with the fact her friend made a mistake, but she isn't likely to have a warm, fuzzy feeling about him anytime soon. I knew, one day, someone would make fun of her for being "behind". Kids will be kids after all. I am thankful for how the teacher handled the situation and how Emmie handled it. I am very proud of her for not getting too upset and for understanding.

She rushed through an assignment during class today. Which is no real surprise. Getting her to slow down and take her time has been a constant struggle. One day I will find a balance for her, but right now, we'll just go over the work the second time. She did, however, do an awesome job on her homework! Today was a worksheet of subtraction-not her fave! It was subtracting three digit numbers. I heard zero complaints, no tears, and right answers! That my friends is progress at it's best!

Tomorrow I'm hoping to get some holiday shopping completed. Emmie's speech teacher is Jewish, so I'm hoping to put together little gifts for her, but I'm afraid I'm just not going to have time :( Fingers crossed though!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

St. Nicholas

Can you believe the weather? Well, if you are in California, then you know they are calling for snow tomorrow! Snow in California? There seems to be something wrong with that! I'm excited nonetheless. I'm not expecting our Midwest winter like we had at Scott AFB, IL but I'm hoping it will be enough snow for the kids to actually get to see it!

Our family celebrates St. Nicholas Day. It's an European tradition and one we have carried on since my husband celebrated it when he was little. Legend goes if the children were good throughout the year then St. Nicholas would come and leave fruit and nuts in their shoes. If they were bad, then they would receive potatoes and nuts from Black Pete. So, before bed, the kids tucked their shoes next to the front door in the hopes they had been good. They woke up to candy and treats in their shoes. St. Nicholas is a bit optimistic I guess.

Nothing new going on in the Porter house. School is getting more difficult for Emmie as the year progresses. I have noticed certain behavior changes in her when the work gets too difficult or when a new concept is introduced. We are working through it, but it's interesting to note. She often tries to talk her way out of the work. Most of the time, with encouragement, she can complete it or sometimes it takes hours and hours with many breaks in between. She did come home on Friday wanting to learn Sign language. It seems to be a passion, so I may use this to my advantage as a reward for her.

I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday preparations. We are preparing not only for the holiday, but also the move. UGH, can we say stress??

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Poor Fairy

I can't believe it's December already. Is it just me or does it feel like the older you get, the faster time goes by? It doesn't seem like Christmas should be right around the corner just yet.

A lot is new in the Porter house. We were offered a larger house yesterday and will be moving a few days after Christmas. We have been in a 3 bedroom for over 5 years now and we have quickly grown out of this house. We call it our Dollhouse because it's so tiny. So yesterday we got the call that the new housing will be opening and to come pick our house. We did and the kids are very excited to be moving, but I'm freaking out that we are moving SO soon.

Emmie is sort of excited to have her own room. Even when she did have her room, we would often find her sleeping at the end of Jensen's bed. She needs her safety net and I'm interested to see how it goes. We have had some good days lately and for that I am grateful! I have been working on sentence structure more than anything lately. She needs help building sentences so we have been using a journal back and forth. I need to incorporate it more into her homework routine, but it's been difficult to do that lately. I use to be able to slip the extra work in and she didn't know the difference. Now, however, she can read the homework sheet her teacher sends home. So, on Wednesdays, she knows that her homework is only a math worksheet, reading, and multiplication fact practice! "It doesn't say journal on here"...OOPS!

I had to laugh at her tonight though. Emmie is the sort of person that gets very concerned about things. She worries. She has had this lose tooth for awhile now and tonight it finally came out. We wrapped it up, put it in her little pillow, and I tucked her into bed. A little while later she came in the living room, very worried. She was very concerned about the Tooth Fairy and if the cat would attack her because he doesn't know her! I assured her the Fairy would be safe and the cat would be calm. No worries, Tooth Fairy has already visited and safely landed and left for more teeth hunting :)

She is getting too big for her britches, as we say in the South!! Just like the months fly by, so does the times when the kids are little!

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Hello. Have we met? Just in case we haven't, pull up your chair, grab a cuddly blanket, a warm up of tea, and stay awhile. If we have met, then you realize what a crazy life I lead and I am forever grateful for your patience. If you really know me, then you are saying "get off your butt and post already". Yeah, I love you anyway.

We have been on Thanksgiving break this week. I can not describe how wonderful it has been to not have to be anywhere, not have to do anything, and just cuddle up on the couch and watch movies with the kids. My husband is on night shift, which sucks, and leaves him sleeping during the day and working twelve hours at night. So, me and the kids have been flying solo. We had a lovely Thanksgiving followed by a dessert social with great friends. Being military, the holidays are tough. But somehow our military family comes together and gives us the taste of "home" we crave. After all the pies and treats were consumed we headed out for some Black Friday shopping. Pure torture. Seriously, who's idea was this? Having a massive sale one day of the year for the entire world? We survived, barely.

The week with Emmie has been interesting and frustrating all in one. She had a heritage project to work on. It was an interesting project, but with the lack of stability this week, it was a difficult project. Sometimes I wish teachers would understand that we want the break too and please reserve projects for school days! She finished it, barely.

She has had a roller coaster of a week. Some days she's been right on, other's she's lagged behind. Missed words, misunderstandings, missed conversations all together. Then there's that one bright spot where you can have a conversation with her and she "gets" everything you have said and is able to respond appropriately. The bright spots get us through, barely.

I'm curious to see how her spelling words will go this week after having a break. Usually it takes her time to "reconnect". But I have faith that she'll transition back into the swing of things. Do you think she's excited about going back to school? Barely.

More, I promise. Okay, by now you are thinking my promises mean nothing since I keep saying I'll keep up this blog and I seen to fall behind. Trust me, I'm holding on to life by the seat of the pants...barely.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

In a race car

I have a friend that reminds me that I have neglected Emmie's blog :( I promise I haven't. However, over the last few weeks I have become the Treasurer for a very disorganized PTA. Well, disorganized before we started with an entirely new PTA this year. It has been very time consuming and exhausting to get the "books" in order from the mess that was left. Not to mention, none of the previous presidents filed taxes! What? How can someone NOT do that? Anyway, that has taken more time and energy that I would like to admit.

Emmie has been plugging along. Some days are still awesome and some days still suck. She is working on her multiplication facts. I remember when I was in 3rd grade, my teacher played this multiplication tape over and over and over. I hated that tape and thus hated multiplication! Emmie, however, is enjoying it :)

She just sat down on the couch, her hair is brushed, teeth brushed, and she is dressed for the day. She turned on one of her favorite shows, "Franklin" which reminded her that she was suppose to tell me about her AR level. I feel like I live in a "If you give a mouse a cookie" book. If she sees Franklin, that will remind her about reading. If she reads, then she'll have to....haha, I love those books. Anyway, seeing this little turtle reminded her that her AR level went UP! Up! Up! She is now a 1.9-2.9. To know a year ago she could barely read ten sight words and there seemed to be no way possible she could ever read even the simplest of books....and now we are moving UP!! Wowza! It has been a road, and although sometimes I wish there weren't as many potholes as they are, it's been all worth it. I'll stop and change my tire from time to time, recharge, and we'll move on. Because she's speeding by us!!!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Here's the turkey! Emmalyn had to decorate this turkey anyway she wanted. So, she decided on egg shells. The day the project came home she made a shopping list! She chose each color paint she needed, along with Modge Podge, and we headed to Michaels. With the help of tons of friends who saved their eggshells (THANK YOU!!), we started on this wonderful project. She painted the egg shells the colors she wanted, then painted the turkey's body black so the eggs would stand out. The turkey's egg shell body is brown and she also used some black and tan. She painted the feathers green, purple, orange, yellow, red, and blue. Of course he needed yellow feet and a yellow beak! His gobbler is red and he has a green and black eye. Each shell was painted and left overnight to dry. After the shell was dry, she used a small bowl to crack large pieces of the shell into. She used a brush to spread a little Modge Podge (that stuff dries FAST!) then placed the large shells she broke onto the Modge Podge. She used her fingers to "smash" the shell after it was in the Modge Podge. This was done a million times (okay, not really, but she felt like it!). Then, one layer of Modge Podge was put over Mr. Turkey to seal his shells! This photo does NOT do him justice..he is the neatest Turkey! I am very proud of her creativity!
She has had a long wasn't a good day for her :( So, I'm off to bed to recover from the afternoon. Busy weekend ahead as little ghosts and goblins will arrive!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Two steps

I have so much to say but not sure where to begin. First, my brain is officially drained thanks to Philosophy! This course, although very interesting, is kicking my butt! I am starting to wish I could drop out of college and get a job, but I know I would feel guilty because I really WANT to finish college. I think I'm starting to doubt my path in life.

I am frustrated at the world. People. I am frustrated at people. Our local Borders bookstore had a Halloween event on Saturday for children. Of course Emmalyn wanted to go and she was very excited about it! The other two could have done without it, but went anyway and spent the time surfing books. Emmalyn isn't your typical 8 year old. She still enjoys doing the things the "little" kids do. I was so disappointed at the event at Borders. First, Borders is known not to have a great special education selection and I have complained many times. Second, this event was the most unorganized! There were a wide range of age groups represented but Emmalyn kept getting put in the "big kid" category. So the activities she would have enjoyed, she missed out because she was a "big kid". The two hosts were delightful women who seemed to have zero patience for a large group of children and spoke too fast for Emmalyn to follow along. The entire time was spent with me explaining what these women had to say to Emmalyn. I think if you are going to host an event like this you should require RSVP's so you can be prepared for the number of children and their ages. I also think you should ask on this RSVP form if your child has a special need or may require extra "help". As much as I think people understand children with special needs, I am thrown two feet backwards after something like this. I want to make some invisible tag on Emmie that says "speak slowly please!" or "I know I'm 8 years old, but please don't treat me like an adult..I like to play and have fun too." Frustrated.

On another note, Emmalyn's spelling tests are continuing to improve. Last week she missed two, this week she made a 100% again. I'm struggling with these tests though. If Emmalyn is able to study just before the test, or even the morning of the test, she does fine. Why? Because she memorizes the words. She says them over and over until they are embedded in her working memory. She isn't making the 100% because she actually KNOWS the word and it's spelling. So many people can't understand that. Some think 100% is a 100% no matter how you get it, but I don't. The ability to know and understand the word is far more important than just knowing how to spell it. Two steps forward, three steps back...

I am so proud of Emmalyn's ability to be creative. The third graders had to complete a huge turkey project this week. The teacher sent home a paper turkey and the students were to decorate it with anything (with the exception of anything sugary and sweet-we have ants!). Emmalyn created an egg shell mosaic on her turkey! I don't want to give too many details (photo and details will be posted tomorrow) until you see it! I admire her ability to see colors and to see the world the way she does.

Until tomorrow...Gobble Gobble

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Slow as a snail

So, it was merely days ago I mentioned that I suck, right? I know. I don't feel like I have time for anything these days. It feels like the days and nights blend together and the month is speeding by without me noticing.

My husband's shift work is killing our family time. I love my family dinners, but with him getting home after 7 pm, dinner is usually on a foil covered plate in the microwave for him. I miss sitting down together at the table, of course me and the kids still do that but it's not the same, and talking about our day. We go through each kids day at school, interesting thing that happened, what they learned, etc. I do not like shift work!

The kids are okay. Carrington will be starting her Honor Band practice tomorrow at the middle school. Even though she isn't IN middle school, I'm a little freaked out that she is even going there for a practice! Yikes! With time going as fast as it is, she'll be graduating before I wink! Jensen is fine. Trying his best to stop talking in class, which is odd that he is the one getting in trouble for talking because he is the quite one. Emmie, ahh, Emmie. Academically, we are still on track. We are still working hard to get her spelling words down and her reading at grade level. Something we do have to work on is getting her to SLLLOOOWWW down. She probably knows the material she is working on, in fact, I would be willing to bet she knows the math worksheets in class. However, because of her CAPD, she doesn't want anyone to know she is different really. Not different than the other kids in the class. She wants to be finished first. She wants the teacher to be proud of her and to her, finishing first means the teacher is proud and she is "smart". But, by her rushing through her work she is also missing half the page! It's a cycle, folks.

On another note, she is working on an awesome art project that I can't wait to share. In third grade they complete a turkey. It's a pretty good size paper turkey and they are to decorate it however they choose, with whatever their choose (except sugary items because of ants). Emmie came up with the idea on how to decorate her turkey and I think it is going to look GREAT!!!! I'll share photos when it's done!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

She did it!

Last night was the School Board meeting. I admit I didn't want to go. The weather was horrible and I just wanted to climb into my pj's with a cup of tea and do homework. But, both of my daughters were presenting at the meeting. My oldest daughter is one of two Student of the Month. Carrington helped lead the Pledge, told a little about the elementary school, and introduced students. She did a great job! Emmie has been practicing her speech all week. I had to alter it twice, not by much though. One alter was taking out the word "Academics" which was proudly pronounced "Ox-a-demics" each time she read it.

As Emmie sat in her seat she was very confident. Until about two minutes before 7 pm when the School Board walked in! Emmie knows the School Board President and when she walked in the door, her nerves got the best of her! She said she didn't want to speak, she didn't want to do it. But, once Carrington got up there to talk she seemed fine. When it was her turn to speak, my heart was in my throat. Here is a child who couldn't read or remember her first grade sight words when she began second grade! It wasn't until the middle-end of second grade that she could read a basic kindergarten level 1 reader. The moment of truth...has all the work paid off? Will she stumble on words, will she forget them all together? NOPE! She did AWESOME!! There were two words she stumbled on..only TWO. But luckily Carrington was there to quickly help her. Emmie's speech was over a half of a page long. When she was finished, I had tears in my eyes and she gave me a high five! She had climbed a mountain. She had read her speech perfectly and words like "masterpieces" and "tropical paradises" rolled off her tongue like there was never a problem. This, friends, is a miracle before your own eyes!!

The kids left the meeting with Dad right after their speech. School Board meetings can get a little "nasty" so I didn't want them there. I stayed for a bit, but left before the meeting is over. Today is a new day. We nearly floated away yesterday, but the skies look a little better. Our goal now is getting Emmie to slow down when she is working in class..more on that later!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Smart cookie

The kids are tucked into bed and all is quiet in the house, except the sound of my husband clicking the Playstation buttons! Men and their toys!

It has been a few days since I last wrote and frankly I am just exhausted. Friday I was concerned about Emmie's spelling test. That morning she practiced and still missed six words. Last week was a review of the previous five weeks so I thought it would come easier. It didn't. It was literally like she had seen the words for the very first time. It was a long week. But Friday came. Apparently when she went to Learning Center to take the test, a fellow classmate had an accident and had to be taken to the nurse for new clothes. Hmm...Emmie certainly used this to her advantage as she was given a few more minutes to study the words. I tell you she's a smart cookie and this was a strategy for her. What she does is says the word over and over in her head. For example, one of her words was "second". So, during this brief study period she said, "s-e-c-o-n-d, s-e-c-o-n-d" over and over. She is really good at "crash" studying and guess what folks? She made a 100%. I am proud of her and frustrated at the same time! She isn't always going to have that few extra minutes and I wish she would have used the knowledge and confidence she had before school to take the test.

Overall, she is doing very well in school. The papers that are sent home show she is improving in her timed math facts. We were struggling in subtraction and while we still have our bad days, she is coming along nicely. Her reading is improving as well. She is at the point where she wants to read chapter books like her friends. The wonderful school librarian recommended two and we have started reading about Amanda the Pig.

I am proud of how far she has come in this short amount of time. And I realize we still have mountains to climb. I am just exhausted and wish some of those mountains would turn into molehills before my eyes!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's a hard knock life

Yes, I know I am a slacker. Yes, I know it's been a few days since my last post. Yes, I know you have been waiting. Thank you for reminding me. To find a moment to sit down and type is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. There is no extra time! College is HARD work folks! Whew!

Doug is back at work and shift work sucks (or as Carrington says, "inhales"). They decided to put him in the Inpatient Squadron because he is "new". Umm, he has spent more time here than most people and more time in an Inpatient Unit than most during their active duty years. But whatever. We'll deal with it.

Carrington is one of two "Student of the Month" in 6th grade and has been working on her speech to read at the Board meeting. She also had an audition today for Honor Band and she made it! She was very nervous but when it comes to playing the clarinet, she's awesome! Jensen isn't feeling well tonight. His teacher had them doing exercises on the playground and I think he pulled a small muscle in his chest. He has been complaining about it since right after school. At first, we thought it was his asthma because they had run a mile. But, even after his inhaler it's still there. We tried some motrin for the pain but he just can't get comfortable. We'll see how he feels in the morning then go from there. Poor guy!

Emmie...excuse me, Emmalyn, is doing fine. She has proclaimed that she has outgrown Emmie. We'll see how long that is going to last! Classroom work is going, as far as I know, well. I have received compliments on her behavior and her ability to assist another student with his behavior. Apparently this other student listens to Emmie *cough* Emmalyn and follows her lead. I am proud of her ability to help others without seeking praise or reward. She does it just because he is her friend and she wants to help. Homework has been blah, as usual. We really haven't doing anything exciting to supplement her work this week because she has a few paragraphs to practice. She, along with Carrington, will be presenting at the School Board meeting next week and she has to read a few paragraphs. We have been struggling with it so that has been our homework. I am having issues-but not going to discuss them yet.

Anyway, all in all it's pretty boring here right now! Boring can be good :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Oh dear!

Are these weeks flying by or is it just me? It seems like time is on fast forward! Of course there is typically a day or two that will drag on, but more seem to begin and end in record time! Here we are finishing up another Monday. Oh, and Emmie's new saying..."Oh, dear". She sounds like a little old lady..oh, dear, oh, dear.

Today Emmie had a pretty good day until homework time. Spelling words this week is a list of review words from the first five weeks. I thought..hmm..this should be easy. Wrong. It is literally like she is seeing the words for the first time again. Enter the CAPD. But that's okay, we'll do what we have to do in order to ensure she knows them by Friday. So, homework was the dreaded spelling triangles. I didn't push her much today since she struggled with the words this afternoon. But, she has been wanting to read a chapter book. I think it's because most of the students in the class are reading chapter books and she wants to fit in. Really, she is barely reading Little Bear without too much prompting. However, I thought we would give it a try. She has to read them eventually. We spent some of Saturday, after the ducky race, at Borders. While I think their special education section sucks, they have a nice children's section. It was so hard to pick a book! We settled on "Cam Jansen: The Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds". I read the first chapter to her tonight and asked her a few questions which she was unable to answer. We'll re-read chapter one tomorrow night. I know she wants to read it so bad, but I just don't think we are "there" yet.

Emmie was also asked to present her classrooms art to the School Board next week. She will have to stand up in front of a crowd, read a paragraph, and show off some of their art. I have to admit I'm nervous for a few reasons. First, Emmie has to stand up there and read a paragraph! But, we'll practice all week so my nerves aren't too bad. Second and probably the biggest worry is how they will react. You see, our district is going through something right now. The teachers are wearing their strike buttons, as I have mentioned. This week they vote on "to strike or not to strike". I have heard about these School Board meetings and been witnessed to some of the behaviors that adults should NOT have at them. I'm worried for her and how the adults will behave. It's a sad, sad world when I have to worry about how an adult will behave at a school board meeting....I should be worried about the kids. Geez. I don't like California's educational system at all!!! Anyway, say a little prayer that this is resolved quickly and without anger.

Well folks, I'm off. We are down to one car, since Doug's is in shipment, so we have to get everyone up to take him to work. I run in the morning, but he has to be at work at 6:45 am. UGH!! Early morning for ALL of us!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Feathered Friends

What a beautiful Saturday we had today! We spent the lovely day in Old Sacramento. The city hosted a Duck Race benefiting the Special Olympics. I sold little rubber ducks along with thousands of others! All together a little over 12,000 ducks were sold! Then, they were all dumped into the Sacramento River and raced from bridge to bridge! It was so much fun to watch the little yellow friends floating down the river, with a little help from the Police and Fire Water Rescue Squad :) We spent the entire day in Sacramento, but rest assured, tomorrow we'll start spelling words for the week! Sleep well :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Spelling Smelling

I just realized it was 10 pm! I have been working on this huge paper for my Philosophy class and lost track of time completely! I usually stay up pretty late, but tomorrow is a long run day so I'll be up again at 5:30 am with the hopes of at least 5 miles (although I'm secretly hoping for 6!).

Today was Spelling test day! This morning when we reviewed her words, she was struggling with two words. I really thought she would miss "clowns", for some reason she keeps forgetting the n and adding an e! So, she went to the Superwoman's class for her test. Superwoman told me that Emmie tried to get her to start with the word clowns, but she said no :) Oh, Rats! Well, I am VERY happy to tell you that Emmie made 100% on her test! She still struggled with a word or two, but Superwoman told her that a good way to figure it out is to write the word the two ways you think it's spelled and see if it looks right. YAY!!! I am not exactly sure what is working, but I'm not complaining! I wholeheartedly believe the extra multi-sensory work we have been doing at home contributes to her ability to remember the spelling of the words.

We have a busy weekend! Tomorrow is the Sacramento Duck Race benefiting the Special Olympics. I have been selling ducks and can't wait to see all of them dumped into the Sacramento River for their race! We will be in Sacramento all day tomorrow and Doug goes back to work on Sunday. YUCK! I do not like shift work!!

Enjoy the weekend friends, I'm off to bed!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A break

Today was a day full of memories, sadness, laughter, and the sobering thought that life is too short. One year ago today we lost a dear friend as her battle with brain cancer came to an end. She fought a brave fight and if you knew her, you know she was one stubborn ol' peach! It doesn't feel like a year has passed because to this day she is still so much of a part of our lives. It's hard to explain but it feels like yesterday she was sneaking chocolate kisses to my kids when I wasn't looking or giving our custodian hell on the radio at work. She was one of those people you meet and from that first hello, your life is changed. :) We love her.

Since today was a hard day, we didn't do much homework. I usually require Emmie to do more than the typical 3rd grade homework. But, for once, I have to admit I didn't push her. I did the standard spelling pre-test with her, finished reading "Houndsley and Catina" (which by the way was the most adorable story! I can't wait to find book two!), and that was it. No math practice, no activity..just took a break. I think we all needed it. I took some time for myself and went shopping. I had nothing in mind, just thinking of my dear friend it seemed like a shopping trip was the perfect way to end the day (of course if she were here it would have been a margarita after the shopping trip!). It was so nice to get out of the house and away from everyone. I just needed time.

I hope you each take a moment to tell the ones you love how important they are..even when you think they already know it. Trust me, life speeds by.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Our boring ol' life

I have received some lovely notes on Emmie's star photo. We had such a great time with the photo and can't wait to take more. Of course there are tons of ideas running through our heads. I have an awesome camera, but I have to figure it all out, which is the hard part! I would love to go in and take a photo like that of all Mrs. Buck's kids. After all, they all ARE special little stars in this world!

School work has been blah. Nothing exciting really. We did try a tactile activity yesterday with her spelling words. She was able to use hair gel (double bagged an entire bottle of blue hair gel) to "write" her words out. She had a great time writing the words in the gel and it was a GREAT activity for her to "see" and "feel" them. She is only struggling with about four words this week, which is nice. For some reason, every time she spells "tables" it gets spelled "tadoles". She has this small dry erase board and she loves taking a practice spelling test everyday and using that board. So, we have been doing that every afternoon. So, spelling we are plugging along with. It's hard work for both of us! The math worksheet tonight was "easy peasy". It involved regrouping three digit numbers and she breezed right through it with no mistakes. Reading..of course we have been doing a LOT of that. Remember we read the book "Pumpkin Soup" the other night? Well, there is a part two called "A Pipkin of Pepper" and it was just as cute as the first book! Both were adorable fall time books and we enjoyed them! Tonight we started on a new book, a chapter book. It's titled "Houndsley and Catina". We read chapter one which is about Houndsley the dog and Catina the cat. They are best friends. Catina is writing her memoirs, which happen to be over 70 chapters long! Houndsley reads them and the book isn't that good :( But he doesn't know how to tell his friend. I adored the first chapter! Illustrations are fabulous too! I can't wait to read the next chapter with Emmie. I love to find books that give you the "can't wait" feeling! And today, it seems like it's harder and harder to find GOOD children's literature. We also read a story they are reading in class called, "The Keeping Quilt" before she had to take the test on it.

She has had more focus recently, more drive. She has always been a go-getter type when it comes to her schoolwork, but lately it seems like she has something to prove. She also is working towards treats so I am putting together a token system, which I have mentioned before. She will be earning tokens for 100% spelling tests right now, however we are exploring other options for tokens. Prizes will vary, ice cream, stickers, new book, time in the Motor Room with Mrs. Buck's class (her favorite reward!), etc.

Things are going pretty good right now (knock on wood).

Sunday, September 27, 2009

She shines

"Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn't be done" -Amelia Earhart
Emmie is making more progress than many thought was possible. Some said "she never will", while I fought for the "Just watch and see!". She is the keeper of her own stars, the master of her own fate. Everyday is still a struggle, everyday will be tough. But she has her big girl boots on and she's ready. She's ready for whatever life many bring her. Don't tell her the stars are her limit when we know there are footprints on the moon!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Not as clueless as I thought!

The weekend has arrived with a bang! Today I spent most of the morning with Emmie's class. It was their station day and they completed language arts activities. The activity I was leading was a spelling tile game, which I named the Spelling Magic game because it sounded like more fun that way! They were given tiles labeled 1-12 and had to match the beginning and ending sounds using the tiles. Once you had all questions answered and the tiles in the spot you thought they went, you closed the boards and turned them out and like magic..colored tiles appeared instead of numbers! You then had to check to see if your pattern matched the book. If it matched, you answers all the questions correctly. It was a fun little activity and the students worked very well together.

I was worried about Emmie's spelling test. It's Friday-test day! However the activities began right when class started, so the spelling test couldn't be completed until after their fun. I tried to email the Superwoman, but to be honest, she has been locking her door in the morning because she can't seem to get her morning routine started because of interruptions. Her caseload is so overwhelming this year and despite me stopping by her office four times today, I never once saw her! She really needs a long vacation! But, Emmie completed her test later in the day. And the result was..........drum roll please.................100%! She struggled with a few of the words at home, so I wasn't sure how she would do. Add in the fact she completed a handful of spelling and language activities for the morning and she was stressed! Apparently she asked Superwoman to give her the ones she was struggling with first so she wouldn't forget them. She did give her one first, but she mixed the rest in there according to Emmie. We still have to work on the "b" and "d" reversals. I'll certainly add it to our list. And on top of her busy day, she also won the Pizza with the Principal drawing! So Wednesday she will have pizza with her school principal in her office along with a handful of other winners :) Lucky duck!

So I have come to the conclusion that I may know what I'm doing here! Maybe I have figured out, with the help of so many other wonderful people, what will work and what IS working for Emmie. The only problem I am running into is getting others to understand what it is she needs. But, the multi-sensory activities have required extra prep work and brain storming on my part..but obviously it's worth it..she's successful! So, I'm not as clueless as I thought I was. Although I am always looking for new ways to teach ears are open for your suggestions, comments, and questions :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It's Friday Eve!

Thursday's are the most wonderful days of the week! They are sort of like a pre-celebration day because after Thursday comes Friday! I am looking forward to this weekend. I have a long run scheduled for Saturday and maybe sneak in a rest day on Sunday. Emmie has a birthday party to go to on Sunday so hopefully it will be an easy day :)

Yesterday Emmie and I went shopping. She needed a gift sack and birthday card for a the party and I need a few things so we headed to Target. As you know, she has been wanting to purchase something for Mrs. Buck's class. Seriously, she has been driving me NUTS about it! We spent hours in Target..up and down the isles. Toy isle, Book isle, snack isle, arts/crafts isle and then back again. She found a cute little McDonald's play set but decided the plastic cookies were too small and someone might choke. Then came the wooden cupcake playset but of course it's made of wood and "Mom, they can't wash it" and "Mom, what if someone gets mad and throws it?". Then she got on the shaving cream kick. They needed shaving cream (it's a great kinesthetic activity) but it needed to be "non-toxic" but coming from Emmie, "It has to be okay to put in their mouth, just in case". Does anyone make non-toxic shaving cream because we had NO luck. Finally, on the way home from Target she decided a game might be nice. I spoke with one of the Aides who said they enjoyed playing games as a class so today I ran up to the store to find a game. My husband was with me. Bless his heart. He wanted so badly to buy "Whack a Mole". Umm..NO WAY! I wouldn't even buy that for US to play..can you imagine where those little plastic mallets would end up? Jensen would end up whacked in the head! Carrington would get whacked in the nose. I'm not psychic, but I'm certainly making a prediction! We settled on Lucky Ducks a game that helps with colors and shapes with these adorable little quackers! Emmie was so proud to take it to the class today. It really fills her heart to do something for someone else.

The weather was lovely today! I ran at 5:30 and almost looped back home to get a jacket, but knew if I did come back towards the house I wasn't going back out! So, I just sucked it up and kept on running :) The day went as usual. Short handed at work, won't even go there! The kids had an okay day. Jensen didn't have a lot of homework and sat down and did his reading without fuss. Score! Carrington didn't have much either and spent most of the afternoon on the telephone with her best friend. Emmie, she's a character. Her homework was okay. Spelling pre-test, she missed four which I completely expected. Math flashcards, check. Reading, check. Then we played Spelling scrabble with the new Scrabble Apple. She thought it was fun to find the letters from the apple and by the end the four she missed went down to two :) Tomorrow is a busy day for her as they have a fun activity planned for all morning! Can't wait to tell you all about it.

I have to tell you a quick little funny though. Since Carrington was on the phone so much today of course Emmie also wanted to be on the phone. She said, out loud, "who can I call?" My husband quickly replied.."hmm, call someone who cares!" Of course he was just joking but little Emmie thought long and hard about who cared. She had a short list of people, but upon realizing it was alittle late to call some she decided to call Aunt Rachel..after all, she cared and that was dad's rule. Emmie had a short chat with her :) We haven't talked to her in awhile and Emmie passed the phone to me. It was a nice to hear from her and we had a lovely chat :) It was a nice surprise!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The first day of fall? Yeah right!

Oh my how I love Wednesdays! The kids get out early from school every Wednesday at 1:05 so we have the whole afternoon :) Today was another HOT day in California. Yesterday was the first day of fall and I think it's going to be a miserable season! The kids haven't been able to play outside much. I don't like them to go outside when it's so hot out, seriously yesterday it was over 100 degrees! Anyway, so we all came home today and took some time to cool off before homework.

After snack and water, we sat down for another Wednesday list of homework. Wednesday was Read Naturally homework. Read Naturally is where Emmie reads a passage for fluency. I am suppose to time her, however this passage was another 3.0. We read it twice and on the third time I timed her for the first three sentences. She was able to answer the comprehension questions, however when it came to "re-telling" the story, she was only able to accurately re-tell one or two facts. She wrote more but it wasn't something she read in the story. That's another part of the CAPD, she sort of makes it up as she goes along to where and how she thinks it fits. We worked on another wipe-off spelling test. She did okay, misplacing "addrass" for address, "spet" for spent, and "agaen" for again. We also read an adorable little book called "Pumpkin Soup". It's a story about a duck, cat, and squirrel who all have their own jobs during the process of making pumpkin soup. The duck, however, wants to try a new job. An argument ensues and the duck leaves. The poor cat and squirrel realize it wasn't a big deal and they want to work comes back and they all work it out. Totally cute little book and perfect for fall (well, a state that is having NORMAL fall weather!). A big bowl of pumpkin soup would have been nice, but at 99 degrees I want pumpkin ice cream instead of soup!

Emmie and I had some shopping to do. Lately she has been wanting to go everywhere with me, so she rode to Target. On the way, I pulled out the small spelling flashcards I made with Boardmaker. Emmie gave mom a spelling test :) I pretended to sound out the words and even spelled one or two wrong. She had the best time correcting me!

I am hoping the temps cool off soon. I do not like hot weather, yeah I know, that's no surprise! This weekend I'll be working on a token system for Emmie. They use it in the classroom she visits for students to earn computer time. I plan to use it for her to earn time to go with that classroom to the motor room. She LOVES going with the students to the motor room and asks me everyday if she can go. But, because she is pulled out for Resource and Speech, I don't like her to go often. But, it certainly can be a reward for her since she enjoys it so much. I may even start a token system at home for her chores and work, maybe she will earn a special treat or since she loves to cook, maybe she can earn the privilege to plan and make dinner one night. Not sure yet, still ironing out the details :)

Tomorrow is Thursday-which I am told is like Friday EVE! WHOOHOO!!

Monday, September 21, 2009 to bed

Today was a good day. And I'm not being sarcastic. I woke up at 5:15 and heading out the door for a run. I usually run at night, but with Doug going back to work soon I figured I would get use to early morning runs instead of late night ones. The weather was perfect! No one was out running or walking and really I expected a person or two to straggle on by. I was home and showered before it was time to wake the kids up. I love being early :)

I spent the morning with Mrs. Buck's class. Seriously, I don't know where she hides her wings because she is certainly an Angel!! Her class has some of the most amazing little pumpkins and although they do have some disabilities, these little ones never fail to make me laugh or teach me something! I now know why Emmie enjoys going in there so much :)

Emmie had a good day. Nothing unusual at school and her homework went by like a charm. Today was the dreaded spelling triangles. She doesn't like writing spelling words and the triangle just makes her mad! But, she did them without compliant. The homework didn't come with a cover sheet, so I'm not sure what is due tomorrow, so we also completed an addition page that was attached. Although, I have a feeling that isn't due until Wednesday. A quick practice with addition and subtraction facts! I found the neatest addition/subtraction helpers at the Dollar Tree the other day! She loved them :) We finished "Spelling Spencer", the spelling puppet. He was fun to make and I already have ideas for the next puppet friend! I used the Crayola website to download a puppet template and Emmie painted him with Crayola kids paint. I then cut him out, wrote spelling words as his "bones" and laminated him! A few holes, string, and craft sticks..and we have a puppet ladies and gentleman! And finally, because she LOVES to use a dry erase board, I gave her a quick spelling test with the board. She loves to write words, any words on there and erase them. She did pretty well and Superwoman said she did a great job on the pre-test in her class today! We also read a book and I have to say Emmie impressed me! She read the first 21 pages out loud by herself..with only moderate corrections!!! Houston-problem is being resolved! I know she will always live with her CAPD. I know some times will not change and I only expect her to do HER best. But by golly, we are making progress!!!

Not sure yet what tomorrow holds for homework. I really haven't decided yet. I think it's because I'm exhausted from getting up so early! Something tells me maybe we'll type words on the computer, different fonts/sizes/colors? Maybe even spell our words in sign language? In sand? Make some gak? Who knows! But whatever we do, we'll have a blast..and who knows, we may even learn to spell a word or two :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ahh, Saturday has arrived!

Sweet, Sweet Saturday! I love getting to sleep in and not have to worry about rushing out the door for school so early. This morning was lovely as my husband took the kids to the skate park to ride bikes and skateboards while I sat on the couch and did nothing for a bit! I love that man!!

We had our usual Saturday errands, grocery store, clarinet lessons, Wally World. Then went to dinner at one of our favorite places, Mels. Emmie ordered the chicken soup and cornbread, however she only ate maybe a bite of the soup and she was done. She said she felt fine but something is going on...again, can't figure it out yet.

When we got home and they showered, Emmie has decided she wants to purchase something for the class she visits during her recess time. She has such a heart of gold and wants to thank the teacher for letting her come in to work and play with her students during recess. She looked at the shops we visited today, but couldn't find just the right thing. So, when we got home I pulled out some of the catalogs that I have been receiving with Boardmaker, PECS, and other products geared towards special needs families. Seeing her flip through the book and describe what each student in the class enjoys was priceless. She has such a wonderful connection with that classroom and they are always in her thoughts. She picked out a pizza play set because she says her and two other students play "cooking" when she is in there sometimes and they need pizza! I said okay, I would email the teacher to confirm that is appropriate and we could order it. Emmie likes to save soda cans, and if you know my husbands Diet Coke addiction, then you know we have a TON of soda cans. Well, she washes them out, saves them in special bags, and we take her to the recycling plant. Because she does all the work, she gets to keep all the money collected. The pizza set is about $20, and there were two more sets of food on the page. She wants me to order all three and then her pay me in her can money! I tell you, heart of gold!! I told her to keep her can money and I'd order the pizza set for her to give to the class, if the teacher ok's it! She just wants to give, give, give :)

We started on spelling words for the coming week. She was able to read all the words, expect two (two out of sixteen isn't bad!). I made her cards with Boardmaker (again, I can not tell you how much I love that program!). It is such a benefit for her to see the picture that goes along with the word. It allows for a visual picture of the word she is spelling and provides that extra connection when it's time for the test. We also started on our art/spelling project for the week because it's going to take a day or two to complete. We are making a spelling puppet, which she has named "Spelling Spencer". Tonight I printed the puppet parts and she used Crayola paints to paint the parts! Spelling Spencer is now on the counter drying, awaiting his spelling "bones" and lamination! Michaels, today, had their Crayola products priced at 3 for $10! I picked up fabric markers (I see spelling pillowcases and napkins coming soon), color explosion paper and markers, and the neatest "travel" water colors! I'm so excited about the different projects we can do with these wonderful products. I love Crayola!

Tomorrow will be a lazy day, hopefully. I plan to run in the morning, which will be strange since I have been running at night. Kids will probably lounge around the house while Doug watches some sort of football game. I have an errand or two to run, but nothing major. Lazy Sunday it is :) (OH, I almost photos of Emmie coming soon. She has a photo idea, so we are going to try it out soon!)

Friday, September 18, 2009


Thank Goodness it's Friday! I am so glad this week is over, it's been a miserable week. I had a parent from Emmie's class speak to me yesterday about the class. Apparently I'm not the only one having trouble with the classroom. In a way I'm glad it's not just me, but then again, I'm sad that it's going like this. I'm still mulling over options and how I am going to approach this situation.

With Friday comes a spelling test! Emmie predicted she would miss 10 our of 16 words. I am happy to report Emmie's prediction did not come true! She only missed three words! She missed "paint" which she spelled "pait", "weigh" which I believe she spelled with an "a", and "danger" she spelled "dadger". She could not hear that "n" in the word at all. On Thursday when she took the pre-test she missed 8 words, so to go from 8 words down to 3 overnight..PROGRESS!! I have printed out the words for next week already using the Boardmaker program and they are laminated and ready to go! I also made an extra laminated set for the Superwoman to use in class. I have found the added visual helps Emmie remember the words and sometimes the spellings. She pictures it in her mind when you show her the graphic image paired with the word. The Boardmaker and Writing with Symbols program are wonderful additions to our supplemental education and I feel they are helping Emmie make progress.

Not all is peachy with Emmie right now. Something is going on at school to where she doesn't want to go to lunch recess. She goes to first and last recess and I believe it's because there is a teacher outside that she feels comfortable with. However, during lunch it's a few Noon Duty Supervisors that she isn't familiar with. The new population of students aren't exactly the nicest bunch so I fear she is being teased. She created an alternative plan for herself though. She goes into the County class, which is a wonderful little class of students with moderate to severe disabilities. The teacher is the most amazing woman and her aides are the kindest people I have ever met. Emmie loves going into their class and helping :) I hear she has a gift for helping her friends in this class and we are very proud of her. Spending time with her friends really makes her day and makes her feel important. I am thankful she has a plan and the fact she came up with it herself and even asked permission from the teacher is very mature for her!

We need some good book suggestions for the coming weeks. I'm so tired of buying books at the bookstore that turn out to be horribly written with no real theme or message. So, if you have a great book on your list that would be appropriate for Emmie please send a message!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Boring ol' day

Nothing exciting today. Although, after school I did have an interesting little chat with Emmie's teacher. I don't know what to do. Part of the problem is the class itself is so overwhelming. There are so many students in one classroom, first of all, and second there are so many students with issues-be it behavioral or educational. We ironed out a few details. For example, many people think when you ask Emmie to read something of grade level that she can actually read and comprehend it. Don't get me wrong, sometimes she can! However more than half the time she is making it up as she goes along. For example, let's say she's reading a paragraph and comes across the word "our" (for some reason she can not remember that word). Because she doesn't know that word, her brain is going to work over time in that short window to come up with an O word that she does the word may look and sound to her like "out". So, if the sentences was, "That is our house" she reads it as "That is out house". Assuming she can remember "that", "is" and "house" as the proper words. I just think CAPD is hard to explain and hard to understand. I can't give the teacher a list of all Emmie's "symptoms" because there are too many and some we discover daily. I am hoping we have ironed out our differences and can work from here.

Homework today was boring. The classroom homework was to read a passage for fluency. The story was a level 3.0. Seriously? We are barely getting through a level 1.8! It's a passage from the "Read Naturally" Series, about a paragraph long and the students are timed while reading then a score is marked on the number of words and the number of correct words. We read the passage sent home a few times with miserable results. Finally, I pulled the mom card and said NO way are you reading it again! It was to painful to watch her struggle through the entire passage. So, I put that one away and pulled out two 1.8 passages to read. Ahh, much better. Out of about 119 words per passage Emmie scored at about 40 in one minute with an overall 117 words correct. I have to start somewhere and I pray the teacher understands. We also practiced our spelling words-this week is going to be difficult! Subtraction flash cards, math workbook page for reinforcement, and story time. Boring! I don't think she learned one thing from homework and I do not like that at all.

I often wonder if I know what I'm doing. Sometimes I feel like I'm clueless and flying by the seat of my pants. I pray that I'm not totally screwing this up!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It's not looking good

Today wasn't any better than yesterday. First, Emmie had to give up 5 minutes because she had to go to the bathroom. Apparently, if you go during class you owe the teacher 5 minutes of recess or 5 minutes after school. I know I have talked about this before, and still don't really understand it. How can you punish a child for needing to pee? Emmie said it was an emergency and she had to go. Because of her urinary reflex when she was younger, I certainly don't like her to hold it and she shouldn't have to. Emmie isn't the kind of kid to have to go often and certainly not the kind to disrupt the classroom or play in the restroom. I just think it's wrong. Again, only my opinion.

Another frustration has been stewing for some time now. I'm going to give you the short version. Our last Wing Commander decided to play musical schools. We have three elementary schools on base, which belong to the local school district, so we had both military and civilian children that attend all three schools. He decided that two of the schools needed to house only military students, while the third (our school) needed to house only civilian students during this school year. Like most things in California, it was for monetary reasons only and he did not put the children first in ANY of his decisions. So, this change was made. Students were shuffled, families uprooted, and all hell broke lose. Then, like our military leaders do, he moved. His kids didn't have to go through what ours are now. Big surprise huh? Students that have been going to the same school for years were now forced to hop on a bus and ride to a new school. This also added more of a course load on our Resource and Speech Teachers and added more behavioral problems to each classroom. Coupled with the class size increase and lack of prep time which equals grumpy teachers and we have a hell of a year.

I am frustrated because Emmie isn't getting what she use to get from her education at school and what she needs to be getting. I know the staff is trying their hardest, but when you have to deal with behavioral issues it over shadows the kids who are really trying and really struggling.

Also mix in the contract negotiations. For anyone who hasn't heard, California is broke and they seem to keep taking money away from our schools instead of working hard to preserve the future of our country! Our teachers sport fancy little "Strike" buttons and we are now at (rumor has it) Strike 3..which means a strike is in our near future. I admit I am not the most educated person when it comes to contracts and what each side (teachers and district) are asking for. I understand the cost of living in California. However, as a military family, we live on a LOT less than the teachers do. We didn't ask to be here, but I do want a quality education for all of my children. Sadly, California doesn't care.

In a perfect world, people would care. Parents would raise their children with compassion, with respect, and with the desire for education. That way our staff wouldn't spend so much time dealing with problems and could actually teach. My child would have her time in Learning Center and in Speech and I would feel like we are making progress. I wouldn't have to worry about her falling behind because our beloved teachers are waving strike signs and screaming on the side of the road. As a parent, I'm pissed that my kids are getting cheated.

So, thank you Col Dummy for having your own agenda and not putting our children first. Thank you Air Force for sticking us in this horrible place. Thank you insurance company for telling me since my child receives speech at school, you won't pay for her to go elsewhere. It is because of all of you that I'm bitter.

Anyway, homework tonight was fairly easy. Especially since some little brat pushed Emmie into a desk while she was getting her backpack. It was so hard she had blood running down her leg when I picked her up. She went to the bathroom to clean it up and put a band-aid on it, but it was bleeding through by the time we got home. Again, more behavioral problems! We did the 5 sentences from the spelling words (blah) and a math worksheet. I also added in the Cheez-it spelling, which was so much fun. During the day, I used small snack size bags and put the letters inside for a spelling word. Then we got to unscrambled the words! I love the new Scrabble Cheez-its!! We also read one of Emmie's favorite books, "If you take a mouse to the movies". Easy Peasy!!

Now, I'm going to crawl back in my bitter little corner....tomorrow friends.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I feel like taking a nap every afternoon after school. Seriously, I don't think I have ever been so exhausted. I was sitting with Emmie, doing homework after school, and it was all I could do to keep my eyes open! Work is stressful and spending hours preparing homework for Emmie is wearing me out...but of course I'm not going to stop's working :)

Today is Monday and you know how I just love those right? Yeah right! Last Friday Emmie spent time in what the teacher calls "Homework Club" for forgetting to return her reading log. I know it's important for her to remember, but she isn't the one in charge of her work when she is home..I am. I stapled her Friday work together and completely forgot to add the reading log. I emailed the teacher and she assured me Emmie would get credit for it, but she needed to remember to bring it. Okay, I can see her point..but I'm not sure she can see mine. I'm the parent and her homework is my responsibility. Especially something that I have to maintain everyday. We do so many other activities on a day to day basis that I feel punishing the children for a parent's mistake was wrong. Anyway, problem resolved but I'm still alittle irked by it.

Emmie took a pre-test in school today. I guess she missed Learning Center then went back later after their assembly. I am so sick of this (more on that tomorrow). Anyway, back to the subject, she missed 10 of the words. She was upset by it and said she would never get them right. I assured her she would work hard this week and do her best :) After school it was time for homework. Her classroom homework was to write her words three times each around a triangle. Can I tell you I dislike that homework? Again, I digress.....I also added a worksheet on analogies, which is something she needs to work on. Also we read the cutest book called "Russell and the Lost Treasure". Russell is the most adorable sheep with this long sleep cap. I also had her do a short story report on the book. I got the template for it online and once completed it looks like a flower. Adorable! She struggles with comprehension, so this was a fun way for her to tell me what she read! We also did scratch and sniff spelling words. I typed out her spelling words on blank flash cards and traced them with "smelly" 3D glue from Wal Mart. I made them while she was at school, so when it was time for them she was able to use her fingers to trace each letter while saying the letter, then sounding out the word. The bonus-she had to name the smell! Strawberry was our favorite! A GREAT kinesthetic activity. We also practiced subtraction flashcards-BLAH! And started reading a story they are working on in class. The Superwoman started a neat homework sheet for me so I know what Emmie is doing in class and Learning Center so we can reinforce it at home. I'm super excited about that!

Busy day, as always. I will warn you, tomorrow will be a complete post on my frustrations with this whole educational system (along with our homework for the day!)...but don't say I didn't warn you!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What a day!

Only in California could it be 102 degrees one day and raining and windy the next! Today we woke up at 7 to thunder and lightening and rain, rain, rain! It was so nice to hear the pitter patter of rain drops on the roof! Luckily, the rain stopped before we headed out the door.

Our Saturday was spent at a local classic car show. Our school custodian, Mr. Luis, has an amazing orange 1955 car (he would kill me if I said the name wrong, so I'll leave it at "car")! His lovely wife and their adorable dog was there too :) It was a treat to spend time with them! Soon after we arrived, Moose and his son and girlfriend showed up. We spent time with GREAT people with an awesome lunch at Dave's Famous Cheeseburgers. My friend Chris and her family came too! We had the best Saturday and could not ask for a better one!

After the car show, we spent an hour or so in the bookstore. I had to find a way to squeeze something educational in the middle of all our fun plus I had a coupon. We ended up with a book for Emmie about making Pumpkin Soup (it's a children's book, not a recipe book!). Then off for a quick stop at Michaels for card stock. I have this awesome activity planned this week for her! We are going to make a spelling word puppet! My husband doesn't enjoy the craft store as much as I do, big surprise, so he took the kids for ice cream..which gave me a few extra minutes to browse the store! Yay!

Emmie made a comment today to me that having the pictures on her spelling words helped her to remember them! Score one for Boardmaker! She is still so excited about her spelling test yesterday and is already talking about the next test. I am so thankful she's excited and not dreading certainly makes for easier homework sessions!

Well, I'm exhausted from an awesome day! Take care friends!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Can you believe it!

I have taken a few days off and my friend reminded me today! Sorry guys, we have been horribly busy going through the motions of the day. I have been putting a lot of effort into Emmie's work this week and Carrington and Jensen have both been swamped with work. But, here we are thankful for the weekend!

Today was the Freedom Walk on our base. All three elementary schools met at the local baseball fields for a small ceremony to honor those who lost their lives on 9-11 and those who are bravely fighting for our country today. Because we were leaving the school so soon after we arrived, I emailed the Superwoman and asked her if Emmie could take her test as soon as we arrived. We arrived at school shortly after 8 and Emmie went into the Resource Room to complete her spelling test. About 8:15 she emerged with her test in hand. Guess what? Emmie made her very first 100% on a spelling test!! Can you believe it?!?! She worked so hard this week and it worked! And the best part, much better than the 100%, after school she could STILL spell the words! That, my friend, is progress! This week, instead of completing the regular 3rd grade homework, we added multi-sensory activities. I used the Boardmaker program so she could visually "see" the words, we created "magic" spelling words with paint and white crayons, and even scratch and sniff words. My goal was to tag team as many senses as I could in order for her to remember the words! Emmie was so excited and we were all proud of her, so of course we celebrated with ice cream after school! We went to Foster's Freeze in Vacaville and Emmie decided on a Caramel Shake. Yummy :)

Tonight we are just watching a movie and relaxing. Tomorrow will be the start of next week's spelling word practice!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sometimes, it's quiet.

Today was Tuesday, but it was more like a Monday. You know, I don't think it matters what day you actually start still seems like Monday! I was awaken at 5:30 by my daughter's alarm clock. She decided she wanted to get up that early because she wanted to shower before school instead of at night. Whatever, I don't care when you shower as long as you shower..but 5:30! Geez! So needless to say, it's been a very long day.

Emmie seemed a little "off" today. Breakfast was quiet and when she was getting ready for school she wasn't her usually bouncy self. I kind of chalked it up to her being tired. Even in line for school this morning, she wasn't playing with her friends like she usually is. She just stood nicely in line. I saw her again at lunch. Today was the first day I have ever seen her sit by herself. She assured me everything was okay and she ate her lunch just fine. She did aggravate Mr. Luis (our awesome school custodian) a time or two..but other than that, she seemed just blah. Her speech teacher said she had a good session, although they played a board game. And after school, her teacher said she had a great day! She was focused and adding the extra visuals have really helped her. She came out of class with two stickers, a prize from the lottery, AND a Splat award (no clue what that is, hoping to clarify tomorrow!). So, obviously she had a good day?

After school was spent with homework, as usual. She wrote her spelling words in triangle form, although I will admit that I drew the triangles for her. I photocopied a page from her math workbook for her to complete just for general practice, Math flashcards and a 3 minute timed addition "practice" test, a neat little art project with tinted glue and watercolor pencils, AND reading! She had a full day of homework. She didn't complain, and even took a trip to the store with me for pretzels for her class project and more flashcards. They will be adding multiplication soon...Lord help me!

This guy called me today from Pediatrics, I have no clue who he is. But he informed me that our last claim was denied (DUH!). Really? And I can file an appeal but I need to include a copy of the report from The Listening Center and IEP, and he has a copy if I need it. Seriously? And, he adds, speech seems to be a "shaddy" area for Tri-Care so hopefully if we keep trying it will eventually get pushed through. Where do these people get this from? Is there an dumba$$ 101 manual that I'm not aware of? I have to be missing something....

Anyway, I digress...obviously Emmie just needed a day to herself. A day to be quiet and still and soak up whatever was around her. Tomorrow, I'm sure she'll be her usual bouncy self!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Labor Day

We have been enjoying the long weekend, so not much work has been done. Today, we did run some errands in Davis and stumbled upon a store called "Teach your Children, Inc". It was a small teaching supply store snuggled in a shopping center. We found an addition and subtraction wipe off mat! They are place mat sizes with addition and subtraction problems and you can use a No. 2 pencil to write in the answers, then wipe them off. Perfect for our homework practice! I also picked up a few containers of play foam. I think sometimes Emmie "over" thinks things and tries to hard, so I am going to try to have her play with the foam as we practice her spelling words. Maybe it will help take her "mind" off of the letters and letter sounds and help her remember them. I'll try anything!

We started Emmie's spelling words for next week today. The Superwoman gave me an extra copy of the spelling book, so we have a few extra days to practice her words. She did pretty well the first time we practiced them, although I would love to know how in the word she got "chaech" from "change". But overall, she did an awesome job the first time around :) She better not miss 6 words this week!! haha I also created her spelling words with the Boardmaker program today. I'm still learning my way around the program but so far, I'm loving it. Her words are small squares complete with visual reinforcement. I also covered them in contact paper so they can be handled and used without fear of smearing the print. I am so excited with the endless possibilities that comes with this program and how it is going to assist her everyday learning style.

Tomorrow is another day off from school! YAY! Wishing you a happy, relaxing Labor Day!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Six words

Yesterday when we were practicing Emmie's spelling words, she told me she would miss six on her test today. "Oh no", I said, "I bet you won't miss six!". She assured me she would despite my encouragement. She had worked so hard this week on her words, so I thought she would miss maybe Saturday or January from her list, but surely none of the others. After school, I popped into her classroom to see her spelling test. She takes the spelling test in the Resource Room with Superwoman, but brings the test back to class so the teacher can record the grade. I went into the class and asked about Emmie's test. The teacher pulled it from the pile and guess what? She missed exactly SIX words! Some she just missed by one letter, such as "catch". She forgot the "t" in the word, which when you say the word you really don't hear a clear t sound. I had to laugh because she certainly predicted her score! She did, however, get 10 correct! She is something else!

We have the list for next week, so we will be starting tomorrow on those words. I'll make flashcards so we can play spelling match/memory, which she only wants to play with Dad because she totally kicks his butt in that game! I'm not sure what else we'll do this week with her words, but with it being a three day weekend, it gives me time to come up with something multi-sensory to help her practice. Doug brought home a small tape recorder which he used in meetings while in Germany, so I have a feeling that will be put to some good use with recording spelling words or stories for her to follow along. I think it's important to increase her auditory awareness if she can follow along with an oral reading of a story, such as a book on tape. I am fortune to have an extra spelling book from school which allows me to combine the activities at home with the activities at school. I think home-school connection is key to a student's performance and success, especially when you have a student with a special need. I look forward to creating ways for her to succeed every week :)

I am hoping this weekend will be "low key". Monday is Labor Day, so no school for me or the kids! I have some homework to complete and we'll work on spelling words and read, but nothing pressing to take care of. I also received the Boardmaker program in the mail and it has been downloaded! So, I will be squeezing in time this weekend to finish Emmie's schedules and communication journal for home. I wish I could convey how excited I am to have this program and be able to use it to reinforce and pre-teach concepts to Emmie!!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Labor Day!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Where's all the marshmallows?

My friend's son has this nose maker that says the days of the week. On Thursday it says something like, "It's Thursday, that's like Friday EVE". I was so glad today was Thursday because it was one day closer to the long weekend! Today started out on a bad note when I poured a bowl of Lucky Charms only to discover very few marshmallows in my bowl. That is a sin in my book! Seriously, there should be MORE marshmallows in a box! I think a 50/50 ratio would be a nice start, but that's just my opinion.

Today I was at the school nearly all day. I think I killed 20 trees to make the copies for the 4th grade classes! Wow, it took forever to copy and staple their spelling and language arts for the next two weeks! While I was searching for more staples, I ran into Superwoman. She said Emmie had completed her AR test on the story they have been reading in class called, "The Lost and Found". We have also been reading the story in the evenings and working on comprehension questions to ensure she understands what she was reading. Anyway, she during her Learning Center with Superwoman she took the test by the questions, read the answers, AND made 100 percent!! This is a huge step for her to be able to read the questions and answers to herself. It seems everyday she is growing :)

I received an email from the Cued Speech lady, Joan. She has been working on an intervention model for Emmie. I will be meeting her within the next week or two to see what she has developed and how it will fit in Emmie's activities.

Something else happened today that I'm still pissed about. I was in the lunchroom working and one of the other Noon Duties came into the cafeteria. She said, "There is a problem with your daughter and the teacher needs you now". Well, knowing Emmie doesn't have any sort of emotional outbursts my thoughts went to something along the lines of her being hurt. I told my friend and other Noon Duty, Chris, I would be right back and headed down the hall to her classroom. Long story short, she apparently told a little girl that her outfit looked like a halloween costume and it hurt the little girls feelings. The situation was already taken care of and the girls had "made up" and Emmie had apologized. All was well. The teacher did not say what the Noon Duty told me she did. The Noon Duty should have never been in the middle of it and certainly should have never stepped on the teacher's toes or came into the cafeteria to get me. My feeling is during the hours of 8:15 and 2:30, the teacher's in charge! And I have faith that both of them can handle it if a problem does arise. Of course, knowing my redneck temper, I said something to the Noon Duty. I am still so frustrated though. I know Emmie made a mistake, but what a lot of people don't understand is her socialization issues. It's easy to say, "oh that child has ADHD" or "this child has autism" and get people to understand their "quirky" little ways. However, how do I get people to understand CAPD? It just really gets under my skin when people step over boundaries like this Noon Duty did...I am so not looking forward to working with her tomorrow!!!

Well, that's all folks! I have a TON of homework to complete and for some reason time is ticking faster than I wish. Emmie worked really hard on her homework this week and I am looking forward to seeing her spelling test tomorrow. But after that test comes a whole new list of words. It never ends.....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cleared up

Tonight was our Back to School night and boy am I exhausted! It is possible I will be in the bed before 2 am! The kids had a blast visiting their classrooms and Doug finally got to meet their teachers and see their rooms. Of course we ended the night with ice cream :)

Spelling homework has been cleared up!! Emmie will be completing the spelling list provided by Superwoman, instead of the classroom spelling list. The spelling book she is using is fabulous! It provides worksheets to be completed for comprehension. So, not only is she learning to spell the word but she is also learning what the word means! Homework so far has been great. She completes the classroom homework, like writing the words in sentences, but we also play games with her words and do different activities to help with her memory of the spelling. She practiced her subtraction flash cards today and only missed 7 out of 24..not bad! She also kicked Dad's butt in Spelling Memory! Our comprehension still isn't what it should be, but I'm happy that we are progressing.

I had a moment to talk with her school Speech Therapist tonight. She made some wonderful points about reading instruction in our schools. I'm not going to go into detail just yet, as I am working on my letter to the school district, however I will say she's one smart cookie! If someone would just LISTEN to her ideas, we could help so many children get the reading/spelling/comprehension help they needed!!!! Her passion for her students is certainly alive!

I have so many emails to return, so please be patient! I appreciate everyone who is writing and sharing their stories with me. I promise to write back soon!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Miserable Monday

Do you know how much I dislike Monday's? I think I have probably mentioned it a time or two. Today wasn't any different, alarm, kids, breakfast, pack lunches, remind them to brush their teeth and hair for the third time, drop them off at school, run, shower, work, home, homework, homework, and more homework! I lead a boring life and I love it!

Carrington only had a short math page and Jensen had the typical pile of 4th grade homework! Emmie had more spelling. Although, I have to admit, I am confused on her homework. Remember, Emmie has a "team" of people that offer support including her Resource Specialist "Superwoman" and two classroom teachers. Today, I received her usual homework package complete with 15 spelling words. However, once home, she emptied her backpack and there was a spelling workbook with a note from Superwoman saying this is the book her spelling will come from. So, somehow, I ended up with two spelling list and spelling homework? I'm baffled! Of course I'll clarify tomorrow on which list we will be using, but for tonight we used the classroom spelling list. She wrote the words 5 times each. I added a word search that I created using one of the websites I linked before. She had fun finding the words and it really helps her learn to spell them as she searches for each letter. I also created two sets of spelling flashcards so we could play a spelling memory/match game. She beat me by ONE match!! She also re-read a story from the reading text and began the subtraction flashcards. The note from the teacher said they will be adding multiplication in September/October. Yikes! I'm not ready for that one yet! She didn't seem to become tired during the homework session and of course there were built in breaks between activities. Whew! One day down, four more to go!!!

Oh, and I have news!!! She received her Friday spelling test back today and guess what? She did great! She only missed five words!!! Can you believe it? We are very proud of her :)

The start of the week is exhausting..more later :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

You are loved.

I read this tonight, it is a reminder to me to show Emmie she is loved, everyday in every way..not just the good parts but for everything she is and everything she does. We love you Em!


just as you are.
And you don't need to look outside of yourself
for validation anymore....
you are held and known and treasured

for ALL that you are
not just the good parts.

Let that truth remind you to be compassionate
with your own extend to yourself, the
compassion you give to others.

There is nothing to fix.
Because who you are
however human
is always enough

to be loved
right now.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Daddy's home

Daddy's home! YAY! Doug arrived late Thursday night and we are adjusting to having him home again. The past three years he has been gone at least 6 months out of the year, so it's nice to see his boots next to the door again. I am very lucky in that our kids don't usually have a hard time adjusting to "family" life again. Some families have behavioral issues and issues fitting everyone back in the family comfortably once the active duty family member returns. Doug, however, fits seamlessly back in the routine.

I am so frustrated with Emmie's school situation. I don't think me and the teachers are on the same page, or even in the same book. But we are all learning, I guess. I am planning to send a message to her Resource Specialist aka Superwoman and ask her help with talking to the teacher. I know Superwoman has one heck of a case load this year with the new students so I don't want to take too much of her time, but I need help and have no idea how or where to begin. I have tried, but it doesn't seem to be working. Fingers crossed.

I received a lovely email today from a lady who found this blog. She is a missionary to deaf children here in the Dominican Republic and found the blog because of the mention of Cued Speech. She had wonderful things to say about her experience with Cued Speech. I was so surprised that she emailed me and I'm very grateful the blog is getting around! It's really nice to know that there are other people in the boat with me! Of course I'll be responding to her soon :)

Life is pretty busy here right now as we get Doug unpacked and settled back in. Things will calm down soon :) Promise!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Spelling sucks

Tonight's post will be short because DADDY'S COMING HOME!! YAY! We are rushing to get ready to leave for the airport. I am very glad my husband is finally coming home. But the timing sucks! Why is it they schedule these planes on school nights and after the kids should already be in the bed? Anyway, luckily they will be bathed and in pj's when we head to the airport. No missing school tomorrow!!!

Tonight's spelling homework was a practice test. Emmie sat at the table and I read the words out loud, along with a short sentence. She repeated the word each time and wrote her answer. Test #1 didn't go so well. She missed 14 out of 18 words. We studied for a bit more then took another test. Test #2 was a little better and she missed 11 out of 18 words. I wasn't upset, or surprised. You see, the first few days of spelling homework we completed just as the teacher had requested. We wrote sentences containing one spelling word and at least 6 words long. We created triangles with our spelling words. Last night we actually used multi-sensory activities. Had we used them earlier in the week, maybe she would have scored higher. I am going to have to talk to the teacher again and try to work out different homework activities. I don't want to modify her spelling list, but I do want to change the work. We will complete spelling activities and turn them in, but they will be more "hands on" so it triggers visual and auditory systems. It is so frustrating because I know she worked SO hard.

We'll see how next week goes. I am trying to keep an open mind and keep telling myself this is our first full week of school and we are still all learning. Next week will be better...I don't really want to home school!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Emmie's homework this week has been mostly spelling words. She was given 17 words, plus two bonus words which she can't remember and they weren't written on her spelling list she brought home. With CAPD comes many spelling challenges because Emmie doesn't always hear the subtle changes in letter sounds and has problems combing certain sounds, among other things. So, I knew spelling in general was going to be hard work this year. She learns best with repetition, going over the same word over and over again. But, to be honest, it's boring! Since I don't sleep much, I stayed up for hours surfing for ways to make spelling words interactive and fun! Multi-sensory learning is so important for Emmie and many other children. I was determined to find a way where Emmie could feel excited and confident in her spelling. Last night, we had spaghetti for dinner using alphabet was the perfect way to get in a quick spelling lesson while eating dinner together! I also found the following websites, please check them out, especially if you have young children. We had already made flashcards with this weeks words, but tonight I created a crossword puzzle for her with her spelling list. Tonight, I'm going to work on putting together "finger spelling" flash cards with her words so she can practice spelling them using American sign language as well as writing them and saying them out loud. I think signing them along with the auditory and written component will help her "tag team" her senses! We also played spelling hangman, spelled our words with Scrabble tiles, and created an mp3 of the words for her to also listen to. She thought that was funny! Next week, I am planning to use the sign language again as well as the idea for "magic spelling". Since she loves the television show "Wizards of Waverly Place", I think the magic words will be a blast! Basically, you take white construction paper (I'll probably cut the paper into strips) and write one word on each with a white crayon. Then you paint over the strips with watered down tempera paint. And like magic, the word appears! I am so excited!

Homework was horrible tonight. She had to use four of her spelling words and create a question using each word. Then, answer the question. Now, if you know Emmie, then you know she is the QUEEN of questions! She is typically asking me, "Mom, I have four questions", then continues with exactly four questions. It could be silly things like "do the clouds every eat?" to "Can we have pizza for dinner", you really never know what you are going to get. But having to create questions using a spelling word, oh my gosh, it was painful! I secretly wanted to say forget it and just have her write sentences, which is what she kept coming up with. I think we need to practice the who, what, when, where, how even more. She completed the four questions but it took us over an hour. Homework also included practicing addition and subtraction flashcards. Emmie excels in math and was looking forward to practicing. We took a break after the spelling word questions, though. Then, when it was time to work on flashcards she was able to focus. She quickly went through the addition cards with adding 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4. We are planning to practice 5, 6, 7, and 8 tomorrow along with beginning the subtraction cards. We also had to read from the storybook they have been reading in class. The teachers were kind enough to send me home a copy. Emmie has been trying her hardest to remember which page they stop on. Yesterday, she wrote it on her hand. Big no no! Today, I sent her with a small index card with a simple "Today, we read pages _____" so she was able to just fill in the blank. I am very proud that she remembered to fill it in and we read up to page 34 tonight. I'm sending her with another small card tomorrow, although I would like to find a better system for her keeping track (I'm open to ideas, please!). She is requesting a pink card for tomorrow, how dare I send in yellow!

By the time we finished homework, she was exhausted. She has to focus and work so hard during the school day. I wish there was something I could do to make it easier for her, but at least we are trying to make it fun. I can't wait to see what she gets on the spelling test on Friday! Fingers crossed that all our multi-sensory incorporation pays off and she "gets it".

Spelling websites, that I have found so far: