Monday, June 30, 2008

Where to find the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion?

Saw this on vacation, and had to admire the creative thought here.

When you make your living this way, I'm sure it helps to have a sense of humor!

Summer Buzz Off

The weather got hot, (well, for us it's hot!), and all the boys requested hair cuts "like Uncle Dave's".

Are these guys handsome, or what?!

And you'd better not answer, "or what"!

They are revved up and ready for summer action!

Bonehead Botany 101

Do you know what this is?

The boys and I are calling this the "Fireworks Flower"... that's what it looks like to them. Any ideas?

Yes, I chose it, I bought it, and I planted it, but I have no idea! Some kind of daisy?

Sunday, June 29, 2008


MY DAD took this picture just last week. (He may have been using a polarizer, but it was plain to the naked eye. Stopped traffic for several minutes as everyone just stood staring at the sky!) Ice crystals in the cloud are reflecting the sun's rays. I'm sure there's a name for this beautiful event, but of course my meteorology book is buried somewhere in the 'forbidden zone' (the garage). Whatever you call it, it's amazing!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

From the mouths of babes...

Gunnar and I were discussing someone we have very little contact with (by design) and he hasn't seen in about a year and a half. He was describing this person, and said,

"Mom, part of my mind remembers (#*%)."


"Not the likin' part."

I have a very discerning child!


I have no pics, as Daddy is away for the weekend, looking at Tall Ships. But we are celebrating SUMMER! Yes, the temp has climbed all the way up to 80F. (I know, I know, but we're talking the PNW here.) And until today, this month has very deservingly been referred to as June-uary. Just yesterday we had the furnace on in the morning!

Setting up the pool is a two-'man' job, and the three boys don't quite add up to one 'man' yet, so they settled for the Slip-N-Slide. Yippeeeeeeeee!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Testosterzone #5

At our first house, the boys had a favorite place to play, behind the patio, under several rhododendron and forsythia bushes, where no grass grew. They could play in 'pure dirt'.

They were concerned, when we moved to our 'new' house, that there might not be enough dirt for their liking. Really.

HA! We have dirt. LOTS of dirt. We have a a whole corner of our yard where nothing but weeds will grow, and they can do whatever they like.

Which, being boys, they do.

Note to self: Next time, remove HA's first.

These boys love dirt. I think they love dirt just for the pure joy of being dirty. Dirt is their true medium. Tate especially. Tate works in dirt, like some painters work in oils.

Why did they do this?

I have absolutely no idea. It was "fun"!?!

Ben Franklin said,

"Men and melons are hard to know."

Missy Moo

I was visiting my niece last week. There were frequent thunderstorms, some quite dramatic, which fascinated me, but she didn't care for.

"Do you hear the thunder?"

"Yes, I don't like it. The thunder blows out the lights." Apparently the power has gone out in recent storms.

"What do you do when there is a storm?" Hey, I'm from the PNW. I'm wondering, do we run for the cellar?

She said, very solemnly, "You have to be very brave."

"Are you brave in the storm?"

"No. I'm brave in the daylight."

Gotta love that honesty!

Save For A Rainy Day

Yep, he wrote that all by himself, unprompted. :0)

(BTW, the glowing ear accessory is the 'pen', which he has slid on top of his ear, just like Daddy does.)

I am still 'decompressing' from my trip to KS. I'm VERY glad to be home with my boys, and they know just how to minister to me.

He restores my soul...

Better late than never

It's me that's 'better late than never', not the boys. We officially finished our first year of homeschooling, on June 5. We celebrated with some of our other homeschooling friends, with a party (at Grandpa and Grandma's) the following week.

I'm really proud of these guys! One by one...


In honor and recognition of Wyatt, who has successfully completed the 5th grade. He is an exuberant learner, specializing in engineering (paper airplanes), avian biology (bird study), and PEHR (Physical Education, Health, and Recreation… Soccer). Wyatt has (with perhaps less enthusiasm) also completed 5th grade studies in: Bible, math, Science, Grammar, Logic, Ancient History, and Sign Language. Wyatt is a very analytical thinker who enjoys problem solving… and lots of fresh air!


In honor and recognition of Tate, who has successfully completed the 3rd grade. He is an inquisitive and self-motivated learner, specializing in engineering (the Lego variety), entomology and freshwater biology (bugs, and frogs and tadpoles), and Exercise and “Momentum” (Soccer). Tate has also completed 3rd grade studies in: Bible, math, Science, grammar, Logic, Ancient History, and Sign Language. Tate is a very logical and enthusiastic thinker who enjoys working toward goals… and lots of fresh air.


In honor and recognition of Gunnar, who has successfully completed Kindergarten. He is a creative thinker, specializing in creating new worlds (with animals, superheroes, dinosaurs, etc), general biology (the live and the stuffed), and Large Muscle Development (Soccer). Gunnar has completed Kindergarten (and some 1st grade) studies in: Bible, math, Science, grammar, Logic, Ancient History, and Sign Language. Gunnar is a curious and quick thinker who enjoys working with “manipulatives” (toys)… and lots of fresh air.

Grandpa gave some of the kids a ride in the tractor... too bad for the families that left early! (The smaller kids were in the cab.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I saw something in Kansas I had never seen before... fireflies! Yes, we caught some and put them in a jar.

Gunnar... 7!

I can't believe it. My "baby" is seven years old. If you read the previous entry about Father's Day, you already know that I forgot the camera and failed to get a single picture of his "family party".

(Bad Mom). But....

While I was gone to KS, he got another party! I had to be away on his actual, real birthday - which he was VERY gracious about - and Grandpa and Grandma had all the boys, Kerry, and my sister up to dinner. Grandma even baked him a birthday brownie, since he's not big on cake. AND presents had come in the mail from his other grandparents, so he even had something to open.

And this is how totally cool my boys are... while I was gone, they spent three days with Grandpa and Grandma (so Daddy could get some work done!) They took chalk and wrote on the driveway: Mom, we are praying for you! And they each signed their names, too. And emailed it to me.

Wow. I love those guys!

Sigh of relief....

There's no place like home...

there's no place like home...

there's no place like home.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pray for me...

Don't have a picture for this one... I am away from my family for a week, testifying at custody hearings in Kansas. Pray for clear words, wisdom, and the best possible outcome for the child in question.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tech Weenies

My poor deprived children... over in the next room, trying to play a game on their pathetically antiquated computer.

What they have:

What they think they have:

And, in case you're wondering, Wyatt has requested a lap-top for his birthday. And, NO, we're not buying him one.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Always working the angles

We gave Grandpa a ride home from the party yesterday. As we pulled into town, about 10:30pm, he commented on the gifts he'd received, and mentioned some caramels.

Wyatt perked right up.

"Can I have one, Grandpa?"

I told him those were Grandpa's Father's Day present.

Wyatt didn't miss a beat.

"Well, I'm a future father!"

This is the same child who, at the age of three had this little exchange after dinner at Grandpa and Grandma's one night:

Grandma had served some cookies and Wyatt was told he could have two, which he promptly ate. But Kerry's cookie, sitting on the plate next to Wyatt's, was -apparently - too much temptation to bear. When Kerry was busy talking, Wyatt calmly reached over, picked up the cookie, bit out a chunk, and set it back down on his own plate.

Kerry finally noticed and looked over at Wyatt. "Hey! That's my cookie!"

Without any delay Wyatt answered coolly, "Well, it has my bite in it."

"Your Plans Will Now Be Interrupted..."

Yes, all you Dads out there think of Father's Day something like this -------------------------------->

Which, I have to say, is not so much how it happened for us.

In the first place, when the family gets together we not only have FOUR Dads to honor, we also have SIX birthdays to celebrate, mine included! (It can seem a bit like Christmas, when you see the pile of presents.)

So we loaded up "Pahoehoe" (our red minivan), with boys, toys, food and gifts, and headed south. About 20 minutes into a two-hour drive somebody passed us, waving frantically, as we heard a LOUD rumbling sound. Oddly, we didn't feel anything, but by the time we got to the shoulder and got stopped we could smell something hot.

The right front tire had blown out. And I don't mean it had a puncture... it was a total loss.

So - how good is God - it was a warm, dry, sunny day, we were on a long straight (good visibility) stretch of freeway with an wide-enough shoulder, and the spare tire (which I'd never before laid eyes on) was inflated adequately! AND even though we were in the far right lane when the left front tire blew and probably going about 70mph, it DID NOT pull us over to the left, into traffic. And get this... even as quickly as Kerry was able to pull over, the tire had completely failed and we were sitting on the rim, and it was not bent or damaged at all.

But - how dumb are we - neither of us had our cel phones with us, or cameras.

Kerry got to be a real studly Dad-hero and had the tire changed in.... well, about 20 minutes, to tell the truth.

But in the eyes of the boys...

So, Gunnar forgive me, I hope you have a lot of good memories of this day, because we got NO pictures of your 7th birthday 'family party'.

Maybe I can get some pics later of him with his new 'stuff'...

MY birthday present (the best one!) is that this whole event may have been a drama we didn't plan on, but it was a drama with no trauma. Yes, we were two hours late to our party, and yes, we had to put out unplanned $ for two new tires, but... no damage to 'my' van, and (even better) no damage to my family.

How good is God.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Tooth Fairy

To say that Tate is motivated by rewards is a bit of an understatement.

So when he asked if he could sleep in the Big Bed with me last night, I may have underestimated his determination. Know that this is a privilege that is rarely doled out, these days, with the boys growing bigger and older, and he loves it.

I really don't know why, as once he takes his HA out to go to bed he can't hear a word I say, so it's not like we have great one-on-one conversation. And we both fall asleep pretty darn fast, so he doesn't get his back tickled as much as he would like either. But... this is a big deal to him. So I told him that he could sleep in the Big Bed with me when he pulls his next tooth out.

Five minutes later he had a bloody hole in his mouth and a molar in his hand.

Yikes! Was that thing supposed to come out?! Now?! Good grief, the thing looked so big I had a moment of fear that it wasn't even a baby tooth! (It was, thank heavens... the lack of real 'roots' tipped me off.)

So not only did he get to sleep in the Big Bed, but the Tooth Fairy was kind of on the spot! She needs quite a selection of smallish toys and trinkets, what with three boys to 'cover', but Tate was thrilled to receive - for the first time - MONEY. The TF left him ONE dollar. She was afraid of what might happen if she left him more!


The Testoster-Zone

I was folding some laundry when I heard what sounded like someone knocking on a window. This would be weird, on the second floor, but I knew Kerry was cleaning gutters. (A good move after four years of needles dropping from the big Doug Fir!) But why would he be knocking on a window?

I headed for the school-room, in the front of the house, but heard the knocking again when I reached the top of the stairs. I looked way up to the skylight and saw... four faces looking down at me!

Kerry let those three boys climb all the way to the tip top of the house to look down the skylight! Not roped up or anything, and it's a pretty steeply pitched roof.

I was calm, but two things were going through my mind.

* It's a lot easier to climb up than down.

* Why aren't you using the Fall Protection?!

They are all safely in bed... hallelujah.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Still waiting

We rarely go to movies at the theater... not only do I balk at the price, but it's hard for Tate (with his Hearing Loss) to "get" a lot of the dialog. And obviously we can't pause or rewind. But...

The boys REALLY REALLY wanted to go see "Prince Caspian" on the big screen again. So, as a reward for finishing school, I agreed. When I woke up to sunshine yesterday, I was regretting promising to take them. I mean, who wants to sit in a dark theater when it is warm and sunny outside?!

That lasted about seven minutes... as long as the sunshine. Then the heavens opened again. Right before we left, we were looking out the window. Saw several classes of kids walking by our house on their way to a nearby park for their nearly-the-end-of-the-year picnic... in the pouring rain.

Were we gloating? Just a little!

And oh my did it rain. When the street lights are on at 4:50 PM in JUNE, you know it is a dark and dreary day!

We had fun. :0)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Seeking Summer

We're looking for summer. We'd settle for spring. Anything but this!

I'm not saying it's wet... well, yes. Yes, I am.

I'm saying it started raining Monday evening and did not stop until mid-morning on Wednesday.

Yes, that's about 40 hours of non-stop rain.

Yes, we'll probably appreciate it later in August, but right now it's an overdose of chorophyll. Unless you have lived in the Pacific Northwest, you may not realize that "green" is not a color. Oh no. It's a family of colors. A very large family.

I'd like to add some blue and yellow. Preferably in the sky.

Oh, and all that rain....

means more of these.

Ten Minutes from Normal

Actually, that's the title of a book by Karen Hughes, if I remember right. But it may just describe my boys, also.

As I mentioned (below) we had our last meeting of the year with our ASL teacher today. The boys each made a thank-you card. Gunnar drew a beautiful picture of the flowers in front of the school. Wyatt drew a very clever picture of himself with about 20 arms, all doing different signs. And Tate drew a really detailed picture of the little flowers, in a pot, we were bringing as a gift. Then, he added a bunch of little tiny soldiers fighting a battle around the pot, and in among the stems of the plant. Very Tate.

I asked him if he had one plastic soldier he'd be willing to part with, and his eyes lit up as he understood the idea. He selected a special, but not too special, little soldier that he hid in the flower pot. This inspired Wyatt, who wrote this:

Look carefully around the plant,

you may find a small surprise,
camoflaged, quite unseen,
and hidden from your eyes.

Cool. She loved it!


Oh, we are so very DONE DONE DONE!

We finished our history last week. (Rome fell.)
Finished our Grammar this morning. (Edit THAT.)
And the boys decided to double up on their math yesterday, so finished that today. (Tessellations "rock"!)
Met with our favorite ASL teacher this afternoon, and gave a performance of "Day by Day, a Week Goes Round" for the class of our favorite second grade teacher. The boys did a great job!

Doesn't feel as summery as I was hoping for, (so they are in the school room, playing a game on the computer rather than outside)... but we are DONE!

Grandpa and Grandma are coming to dinner and bringing pizza, so it's a party!

Great Tate

We are winding down our homeschool year...
and what a year it's been!

Tate deserves a big pat on the back for his progress in many things, so let me be a bragging mom for just a minute.

Although we are homeschooling, Tate still gets "services" from our local school (IEP). Due to his progressive hearing loss, we decided this year to begin focusing on learning Sign Language.

We're not ASL purists, given that English is his first language. (ASL - American Sign Language - is NOT just putting the same words in the same order into sign language.) The goal being to keep exposing him to an alternative way to communicate, to give him options when he can't wear his HA (like in a pool, or at night), to support what he CAN hear, and to prepare against the day he may not hear at all. (God forbid.)

So, at the beginning of the year, our teacher tested him, to see what we were beginning with. Every time she signed a word, he had four pictures to choose from to identify the sign. He scored 52 our of 130 (about 40%). He was frustrated and very unsure of himself. But...

When she tested him last week, he identified 96 out of the 130 words (about 74%)! Big improvement, especially when you realize that she had NOT been teaching from this list. He actually correctly identified several signs he has never been exposed to!

She signed "tree", which he knows, but three times... "tree, tree, tree", and he answered, "Forest". Good job. But here is one that blew me away (I was watching). The sign for school is the right hand clapping on top of the left hand, which he knows. She clapped her right hand on her left, and then spiraled it up like a miniature tornado. He immediately said, "College." Why? "Because it's school at a higher level."

Bingo! He's getting it! I am so very proud. :0)

And, the other day, he invented his own sign language joke, involving the letter B, and a bumble bee, and getting stung. Okay, so it wasn't as funny as "Bob's House", but I was impressed!

School Frustration

Ugh. Due to Tate's IEP and the services we are receiving, the school psychologist felt the need to do a bunch of testing on Tate.

As it turns out, I had planned to have both Tate and Wyatt take the Iowa Test through the local homeschool group, but Tate was too sick to go on his appointed days. So, I agreed to the testing at the school.

And I sat in the room with him through every single minute of it. And for good reason... based on personal experience I don't fully trust the school psychologist's judgment.

Most of the testing was run-of-the-mill... math problems, spelling, editing, reading and comprehension, etc. But then she decided she needed to test something else... probably Phonological Processing. She told Tate she would play a tape and he would hear a man's voice saying words, and he should repeat the words... which are broken down into (very unnatural sounding) individual sounds, "KH--AAAA--T" and he's supposed to say, "cat".

Right away I jumped in and told her that HE'S DEAF! He can't "get" that information from audio-only, he needs to see the visual cues - either see the person's face forming the sounds, or see a visual representation of what is being said. "Well," she said, "no one gets visual cues."

Does she not GET that this is an inappropriate test for a Hard of Hearing person? He can not "hear" the difference between "m" and "n". He HAS to see your face. He can't hear a lot of initial consonants. He gets the context, and his brain fills in what his ears missed. If the word is a WORD that is in a CONTEXT. She has no idea.

Tate is so smart that people consistently think he hears a lot better than he does. They have no idea how hard he is working to take what he DOES hear and arrange it into something meaningful. (When he was first diagnosed at 3 1/2, Children's Hospital ran the tests three times, because they did not believe he could have the hearing loss he does and speak/communicate as well as he does.)

Ugh! I should've brought one of those squishy ear-plugs AND a set of 'head-phone' style ear protectors... "Here, insert this into your left ear. Now put these over both ears. Now lets play the tape for you and see what YOU get."

Fortunately, I WAS THERE. She insisted on giving this test anyway. After listening to a bunch of seemingly random sounds coming from the stereo Tate gave me a look, like, "What am I supposed to do with this?" I just rolled my eyes at him.

She finally gave it up, and tried to give him the test verbally herself, but mispronounced most of the sounds. YET SHE SCORED IT ON HIS TEST. 24%.

I'm not sure she's familiar with the term "Outlier", (she would probably think I was calling her a liar), but I brought in results of the independent testing I've had done, so maybe she'll get the point. Maybe.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

That's a Fact

Gunnar and I are in the school room and I'm looking at the world map on the wall.

"What're ya doin', mom?"

I point out Perth, Australia, where I have lived. He comes closer to inspect the map. Gunnar loves maps. He 'gets' how maps work, (directions, land forms, etc.) but the distances are obviously unclear to a 6 year old.

"Oh!" He points to Perth and moves his finger slowly south.

"So, you could walk a couple miles and get to the sea. And then if you sail for, oh... about 10 months," his finger continues south to Antarctica, "you could get to the Antarctic. And then you freeze."


Monday, June 2, 2008

Mr. Picky

We were eating our dinner of chicken, tortellini, veggies and oranges. Well, some of us were eating.

Tate was finished about the time I had dished up everyone else. He is my least picky eater, but then, he ate bugs as a toddler ("Hello, Poison Control...") so that may not always be an attribute.

Wyatt was getting along okay.

But Gunnar was just moving the tiny servings around on his plate and doing his usual trick of chewing each bite 700 times. (And avoiding eye contact.)

I tried to encourage him. "Good job, Gunnar, you ate two of your chicken bites!"

"Mom. I ate a lot more than that! I ate ALL but two bites."

"Gunnar, you only had four to begin with."

His math is just fine, but I'm afraid he may have a future in politics.

Outside toys and inside toys

This is an important distinction to make, with a house full of boys. For at least two reasons:

1. Once you make something an outside toy, it will rarely be allowed back in the house (too dirty).

2. I would like my house not be be mistaken for a demolition project.

So, two of the boys spent some of their own money at the store today. Tate wanted a (suction-tip) bow and arrow, and Gunnar got a little boomerang. Plastic, $2, and it actually works. Wow.

Then I hear "thunk... thunk... thunk" on the windows. Hmmm, the windows will probably stand up to Tate's assault, but why take that chance, when the window in the kitchen-to-mudroom door has already been replaced with plexi-glass (complete with a target drawn on it, in dry-erase marker that refuses to erase). So the "thunk... thunk... thunk..." has moved to the kitchen.

That will be fine until it's time to make dinner. (I have this apparently unreasonable aversion to having to dodge projectiles while I'm cooking.)

Then I hear Gunnar's little voice, "Mom, can I throw my boomerang at the door too?"

"No, honey, the boomerang is an outside toy."

Indignantly, "WHAAAAT?"

All I have to say is don't take anything for granted with boys.

As to why the door between the kitchen and the mud-room has a plexi-glass window... that's a story for another day.

P.S. The picture... not my actual kid.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


For No Apparent Reason.

It's how the Modus Operandi of boys, right? Things don't have to make sense. To you.

Last year the boys were digging a hole by the side of the garage. FNAR. They came upon a rock. A really big rock. A challenge.

We've had two big rocks dug out of the yard by a contractor with a small excavator. This rock is bigger. The boys decided to dig it out. FNAR. They succeeded in digging all around it and loosening it. They even found a chunk of 4 x 4 to use as a lever (it's a physics lesson!) and tried to pry it out, but it is about two feet down in a hole and they couldn't shift it far enough.

Kerry got worried that one of them would somehow get caught under the rock, so he put a stop to that, and they lost interest for awhile. Until today.

Today it's not a rock in a hole, it's the entrance to a mine. They have done more digging, wedged the 4 x 4 between the rock and the slope, and leaned/nailed all manner of scrap wood around it to make a sort of shelter. And then they found a piece of something they claim is charcoal and proceeded to write dire warnings all over the scrap wood.

"Do not enter!"


"Watch out for the mine!"

But this is what cracks me up. They couldn't wait to bring us over to show us:

"No parents allowed!"

Because, yeah, I really wanted to climb down into a hole beside a rock. FNAR.

Two Surprises

* So we're trying to eat healthier food.

* Once in awhile I cook breakfast for dinner.

* Kerry loves sausage.

I bought a package of BOCA Breakfast "Sausage". I mean, how far wrong can you go with a product that is - in the original - made of unmentionables, fat, and seasoning?

Very far, apparently. Further than I could imagine, from the picture on the box (which actually looked like real food.)

Surprise #1: The "sausages" were AWFUL. They didn't even smell like anything when they cooked. And they were mushy and sticky.

Surprise #2: The boys were polite about it. And we didn't even have any company.

Oh, they took one little bite and refused to eat any more. So did I. I think, maybe, they were so horrified by the squishy little brown sticks I had put next to their food that they may have been (briefly) speechless. We're talking, this is a good candidate for Fear Factor, because they looked exactly like something the dog did.