Thursday, September 25, 2014

Getting Schooled

So the kids have been in school for between five and six weeks, but technically less with days off, holidays, etc. I am telling you...I am in AWE of the academic progress they have made in that short amount of time. Blown away.

Anderson...he knows all of his letters and their sounds, as well as how to write them correctly. His memory is a gift; he can remember most anything for an unlimited amount of time.  His teachers use a verbal path for letter-writing, meaning that they say the exact same thing every time they write a letter. For example, when they write a capital M, they say " straight down, slant down, slant up, straight down".  He has them ALL memorized. His handwriting isn't half bad, either.  He can write letters on command, meaning if I tell him how to spell them, he can write words. He loves practicing his writing and pretending to be his teacher. He does read-alouds at home, which consist of him questioning his "class" and reprimanding them when they talk while he is talking. He loves to talk about "disrespect" and "disobeying", and getting "oops notes" when someone is bad. He can also write and identify his numbers through 10 (something he could NOT do before school, for sure), and knows how to put two single-digit quantities together to make a bigger number, like two and three make five. He knows words like characters and illustrator, and states on a daily basis that "Mr. Katte's office is no place for me!" (the principal...). All in all, it's fair to say that he is really, really enjoying school. I am absolutely amazed at how he has handled the transition, and how much he is enjoying learning.  I do have to say, though, that as I anticipated, anything that requires work beyond literal or memorized skills is difficult for him.  Part of their homework each night is that we have to read together, and log our books on their reading logs.  Being the teacher mom that I am, I of course am not just going to read; I am going to ask all of the many types of comprehension questions.  Here is a snippet of my questioning of Anderson two nights ago:

Me (reading aloud): "The big boat said, 'Thanks, Joe!'  Anderson, what did the big boat say?"
Anderson:  "Uhhhhh...he said he wanted to float?"
Me (reading aloud again): "Listen...The big boat said, 'Thanks, Joe!'  What did the big boat say?"
Anderson:  Uhhh...he said he wanted to go home?"
Me (reading louder): "LISTEN...The big boat SAID,'THANKS, JOE!' WHAT did the big boat say?"
Anderson: "Thanks???"

Shew. We have some work to do, there.  Good thing I'm professionally trained. :-)

Amelia has also learned so much.  She already knew letters and sounds and numbers and all that jazz, but she's learned quite a few sight words and lots of content information. The other day, I asked her if she did reading groups. You know, because I'm nosy about what other schools do in kindergarten.  Her response surprised me; she said, "Yep! Sure do! I go to journal, then Mrs. Smith, then phonics, then ABCs, then Ms. Lundgren!"  She has her group/center rotation memorized already!  So, I asked her what she wrote in her journal. She proudly said, "My opinion!" I was totally blown away. As stupid as it is, because I work with the standards pretty much every single day and have most of them at least partially memorized, I never thought about MY kids learning the standards.  You Fayette County people following the pacing guides for ELA standards know that the first writing piece is an opinion piece. I couldn't believe it. Not only did she know what an opinion was, she was able to tell me about what she wrote. I cannot believe my daughter is WRITING.

So, all in all, school has just gone so much better than expected.  I'm thrilled.  Coming up next in our lives: Anderson starts private swim lessons. That's going to be interesting.

Next post will be all about the wedding that the kids were in this past weekend. It was a whirlwind of a few days, but it was unbelieveable. They did great and we all had a truly fabulous time. Can't wait to share.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Kindergarten Comedy

I've known for years that kindergartners are funny little people. I love going into our K classrooms and just talking to the kids because they say some hilarious stuff (sidenote: I love kindergartners. I could never teach kindergarten.  I do not have the patience, and those teachers are saints). My own K babies are no exception to this rule. We've had some pretty funny conversations around here since the dynamic duo started their educational career.  A few highlights:


The kids are supposed to listen to reading every night as part of homework.  I don't know about you all, but we honestly don't have time for me to read two different stories to two kindergartners. So, while they have their bedtime snack after showers, I read out loud to them.  They weren't keen on this at first, but it's grown on them. Amelia has always been a good listener and can answer questions, make predictions, all of that good stuff.  Anderson...well...he has the attention span of a flea, and that's putting it mildly.  That first night, he kept trying to talk to me about all things non-related to the book.  As often happens with teacher moms, I was getting very frustrated. We had the following exchange:

Anderson:  Mom, I played outside today...
Me:  Anderson--I'm reading. Listen to the book.
Anderson:  Can I have a sandwich for lunch?
Me:  LISTEN to the story!
Anderson:  You know what mom? I can't take showers when my nose is runny....
Anderson:  Mom...
Me (loudly and with the correct hand gesture--and you know what I mean): ZIP IT!!!!!!  ZIP!!!! IT!!!!!!
I continue reading.  Anderson doesn't talk, but I can see him gesturing wildly out of the corner of my eye, trying to get my attention. I ignore. He continues. I finally look at him.
Me: WHAT??????
Anderson (whispering and pointing to his mouth): But I don't have a zipper....


Upon getting in the van each day, Amelia doesn't want to talk about what she learned at school that day. She wants to tell me all about who got in trouble. As a nosy concerned parent, I'm all for this kind of dishing.  It may not be a stretch to even say that maybe I ask her about it now. Anyway, last week she got in the van and here was our conversation:

Amelia:  I'm friend Hannah just got in trouble.
Me:  What did she get in trouble for?
Amelia: She hit my brother...she had to sit in time out.
Me (foolishly thinking she might be upset for this injustice thrust upon her brother):  Ohhh...are you sad that your brother was hit, or are you sad because she got in trouble??
Amelia:  I'm sad she got in trouble!
Me:  Well, why did she hit Anderson?
Amelia:  Well...I said to her, "Get him!!!", and she did.
Me:  Ummm....well...did you play with her after she got out of time out?
Amelia;  No. She didn't want to play with me after that.

Can't say I blame Hannah. My girl is already hiring hitmen.


Anderson, naturally, has speech.  His speech pathologist is wonderful and was kind enough to email me something Anderson said during his first official speech session. He attends speech with another student, and apparently this little guy is quite...loquacious.  He tends to try to dominate the conversation.  Anyway, here's what happened:

Anderson (to Speech Pathologist, hereby known as SP):  I want to tell you about showers...
Other kid:  Blah blah blah blahblahblahblah....
Anderson: HEY! I was trying to tell...(he looks at the SP), what's your name?
SP:  Mrs. H...
Anderson:  I was trying to tell Mrs. H about something!!!!!

She was impressed with his speech that day, I can tell you. He's already cracking everyone up.


I know there are more funnies that I can't even remember in my overtired state.  We've already had our first funk-of-the-year; Anderson threw up at school yesterday and ran a fever all night.  His teacher texted to ask about him and let me know he was the first to "christen" her classroom this year (aka puke all over the place). Proud mom here, I'll tell ya. He also managed to puke all over my couch, something I had been able to avoid for FIVE YEARS. That was a hell of a streak. Anyway, I'm tired and staring at Amelia like the ticking time bomb that she is. Yay, kindergarten germs!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Happy 2nd ARDSiversary

This week marks the two year anniversary of Marty's near-death ARDS experience.  In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago, and in others it feels like it was just yesterday. I've been both dreading and anticipating it this year because I have the TimeHop app on my phone, and I knew it would bring up my Facebook updates from that time in our history. I'm sure it sounds a little bit crazy, but it's something I never want to forget. The raw emotions of the whole experience are an important fingerprint on my life. It changed me forever, helped me not to take things for granted, so as painful as it is, I need to remember it.

TimeHop is not disappointing me:
That particular day was the absolute worst of my whole life. It's a blur of sitting in the ICU waiting room, doctors and nurses updating me periodically with numbers I didn't understand.  The part of the day I remember most vividly is actually that night. Marty was too unstable for me to comfortably go home.  I slept at the hospital that night, my mother-in-law and sister with me in the waiting room with the lights that wouldn't turn off, much less dim. Everyone finally fell into restless sleep around midnight--everyone except me. I lay there in that uncomfortable chair covered in hospital linens that have that bleached-out, sterile smell that you only find in hospitals. I laid there and I cried. I cried more than I've ever cried in my entire life. Every single time I closed my eyes, all I could picture was my children without their father. Me telling them that he was gone.  Their reactions. It absolutely shattered me. It was the kind of grief that you only experience a few times in your life. The kind that changes you.

These days, things are pretty good.  During Marty's last hospitalization, we discovered that he has significant sleep apnea, most likely caused by the brain tumor he had in his 20s. Since then, he has used a C-PAP machine, which has both helped his apnea issues and his drainage/aspiration issues. Having the constant blast of air has really kept his lungs drier, for lack of a better word.  He had a cold this past week, and for the first time in YEARS--and I mean YEARS--he didn't wake up one morning with lung crackles and rattling. His chest stayed completely clear. Between sleeping in a recliner that keeps him at an upright angle and using the C-PAP, we are figuring out how to keep him healthier.

So, in a time when things are completely hectic--both kids are getting used to school and the boy is still struggling with PE, work is busy for both of us and some days are just plain hard--those are the things that make me grateful.  Grateful that things worked out, despite how grim they seemed on the date of the picture posted above. Even on the craziest days, I'll never take our insane lives for granted.

(If you're interested in reading more about ARDS, including stories of people just like Marty, visit the ARDS Foundation here. )