Sunday, August 24, 2014

The good and bad of back to school

I love summer vacation!  I love doing something fun with my kids every single day and playing until we drop.  I love the warm weather and the carefree lifestyle.  I love it ALMOST as much as I love it when the kids go back to school.  As much as I love my kids and summer time there is a huge relief that goes through me when they are settled back in school.  I love knowing that they are progressing in their lives without me micromanaging every bit of productivity.

The down side of back to school is knowing the challenges that lie ahead of us.  It is Cara's dyslexia that has me in a panic this year.  Despite our ongoing effort, her reading skills are improving at a rate that is almost immeasurable.  She mixes up all of her sight word, yes even the most basic.  She gets "a" and "the" 50% of the time.  She met with her resource teacher two hours a week all summer and I did my best to be consistent reading with her, but it is incredibly discouraging.  She and I both hate it almost as much as getting slapped in the face.

She has an incredible and experienced teacher, the same teacher Caleb had the year before he was diagnosed and medicated for ADHD.  As awesome as this teacher is for the students she has a way of making me feel like the worlds worst parent.  With Caleb she all but said, you are causing these behaviors in your child by reinforcing him.  When I talked to her at back to school night she said, "I'd love to hear what's working for you at home" in reference to helping Cara.  I wanted to say "nothing is working! I'm pulling my hair out and trying not to kill Cara because we are both so frustrated."  Instead I said, "I'm paying someone this year to help me."  She didn't respond.  I've decided to use a neighbor girl to come over 30-60 minutes each night to help Cara with her reading and homework.  I'm hoping she will comply better with someone else here to focus on her and take her away from the distractions.  We will see how it goes.

I believe that Caleb is going to continue to do well on his medication.  We have been going to a therapist with him this summer.  We took him off his meds for the first 4-6 weeks of summer and it was a total disaster.  He was an emotional wreck.  He was paranoid about friends and about his life.  He was irrational and difficult.  The therapist encouraged him to consistently take his meds and he has been so much better.  We have implemented a ticket system to reward him when he is being good.  He is motivated to earn the prizes he can "buy" with his tickets.  More than ever I am committed to continue with his meds and I am grateful for the difference they make for him.

On a happy note, Caleb and Cara are VERY HAPPY with their classes and teachers.  They have friends that are treating them well at recess and they both have amazing, dedicated teachers.  They usually have a hard time transitioning the first week of school, but this year has been fantastic.  Caleb's teacher is the teacher of the year.  She has a zoo in her classroom, and I'm not talking about the fifth graders.  She is completely dedicated to her class.

Andy is thrilled to be starting school.  He seems so ready.  He has a cute young teacher.  She has a few years experience and I believe she will provide a great experience.  For better or worse he is in a class with three other boys from right here in the cul-de-sac so we don't have to worry a bit about having friends, the only worry is if they will goof around too much.

I thought this news paper article about dyslexia was worth sharing.  

The Herald Journal, Logan Utah, Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Early treatment can help
By Anthony L. Komaroff, MD

Dear Doctor K:  My first grader was just diagnosed with dyslexia.  Can you tell me more about it?  Will my daughter outgrow it, or will she always struggle with it?

Dear Reader: Dyslexia is a learning disability caused by a problem in the way the brain processes information. But we are only beginning to understand what the problem is.  Dyslexia makes it difficult to:
  • ·      Identify words
  • ·      Recognize the sounds that make up words
  • ·      Understand and remember what is read
  • ·      Translate printed words into spoken words
  • ·      Spell
  • ·      Organize or sequence thoughts
  • ·      Rhyme words
  • ·      Learn the alphabet and numbers during preschool and kindergarten. 

A person with dyslexia tends to reverse or misread letters or words. He or she might confuse the letter “b” for “d” or read the number “6” as “9”. The word “was” may be read as “saw.” Or the order of words in a sentence may get switched around.  Because of the difficulties, a person with dyslexia usually reads slowly and hesitantly.

Many young children reverse letters and numbers or misread words as a normal part of learning to read.  Children with dyslexia, however, continue to do so after their peers have stopped, usually by first or second grade. It is really important to recognize dyslexia early, before the third grade.  Treatments started early are more effective.

Dyslexia is not a vision problem; the eyes do not see words incorrectly. It is also not a problem of intelligence; many people with dyslexia have average or above-average intelligence. Many are extremely successful in life. Many are exceptionally articulate when speaking, but have trouble writing.

Children and adults with dyslexia have no trouble understanding things that are spoken. They are just as curious and imaginative as others. They can understand new concepts as easily, so long as the concepts are described by the spoken word and visual information. They can figure out puzzles as well as other – so long as the puzzles don’t involve written words.

Dyslexia is a lifelong condition that cannot be cured. But children with this disorder can learn ways to succeed in school.

Several techniques and strategies can help.  Many are based on the observation that although people with dyslexia have trouble understating words they read, they usually can understand words that are read aloud by another person.  As a result, listening to books on tape rather than reading them, and taping lectures rather than writing notes, can be effective strategies.  Computer software that checks spelling and grammar is another useful tool. 

With support, most children with dyslexia adjust to their learning disability.  And with early and appropriate treatment, many people with dyslexia go on to succeed in school and in their careers.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sending out the summer in style

A bit of drama this summer proved to provide some fun.  Mid-summer our fridge leaked and caused some problems with our hardwood floor.  I was super sad when it happened, but we were able to file an insurance claim and get the floor refinished.  Insurance also paid for us to stay at a hotel while the finishing was being completed.  We made a little vacation out of the four days we were away, spending two full days at Lagoon and two more "sight-seeing."  

I hadn't been to Lagoon for five years.  The last time I was there we only had two kids.  We had a really fantastic time.  Our kids are chicken to say the least, but the lines were really short so Josh and I could go on the "big kid" rides while our kids waited and ate snacks.  It was quite a site seeing five kids waiting for their parents to go on rides.  Eventually Caleb went on a few of the scarier rides, but we had to offer to pay him to get him on.  Of course once he went he loved it. 

We rode the tram up to the peek at Snow Bird.  I love doing that in the summer!  It feels like we are flying. Of course the view is breath taking too. 

One of the greatest discoveries of the trip was the ropes course at Olympic Park, in Park City.  I was so proud of Caleb and Cara for completing it, and facing their fear of heights.  Andy and Ali got ready to do it, but were just a little too young to complete it.  I have to admit it had my heart racing most of the time!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Owen Family Pictures

It was hard, but we decided to take extended family pictures without dad.  
I thought they were worth sharing. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

When the Coombs come to town

With my five kids and Cathie's six is is a HUGE party when they come to town.  This year they spent a few weeks in Utah so we were able to spend a lot of time together.  My kids are so thrilled when they get to spend time with their cousins.  We did some really fun activities together.  When they are in town it is like an extended and unofficial family reunion for days on end.  We love it!

One highlight was playing at the "hide-away" my Uncle Gordon and Aunt Anna have created.  There are so many fun things to do there.  On unique activity is a "chariot" zip line where the four-wheeler pulls the rider to the top of the hill for the ride of their lives.

It has a fantastic redneck waterside!

The kids favorite thing with is the irrigation pond filled with kayak's, an island dock, a high dive, and a zip-line into the pond.  It is so fun!  The kids think it is better than any swimming pool. (This picture is from the time we went with our friends, the Knight's, Low's and Campbell's.)

 They also have bows and arrows.  That is Andy's favorite activity.  He could do it the entire time!

They also have a zip-line the kids do themselves.  Seriously!  Does it get any funner!

The boys, especially Caleb, enjoyed the bb guns and targets. You can see why the three trips to the "hide-a-way" this summer have been some of the best days of the summer!

The Coombs were in town for the Preston Night Rodeo.  It gave us an excuse to go back to Preston.  It isn't the same without dad, but I feel like we should continue to go, almost in honor of his memory because he loved the rodeo so much.  This truck full of kids were hitching a ride from the parade to the rodeo.  They have a good life!!

The timing worked out such that we were also able to attend the Ogden Temple open house with the entire family, including the Coombs.  It is always a privilege to take our family through new temples and see the beauty through the eyes of children.

I had to include this picture of Andy with his two favorite cousins, one from each side of the family, Corbin and Ethen. They were playing with an iPad in the the car.  I don't think Andy's life could have been any better than at this moment.

We spent the 24th of July at This is the Place Park.  It was a lovely day.  There was so much to see and do.  Well worth the money!

I wash there was a picture of this entire train because the front two carts were Cathie and Keith and there rest of the gang.  Yep, our two families took up the entire train.  What a fun day!

We enjoyed other family activities with the Owen side of the family that I didn't get pictures of.  We went to a couple of other pioneer celebrations. We went to my cousin Scotty's temple endowment session before his mission.  We celebrated my mom's birthday and enjoyed a couple of AMAZING stake dinners.  We helped Cody and Stephanie move out of their apartment in Logan, for Cody to begin teaching in Herriman.  We loved our time spent with extended family this summer!!