Thursday, May 31, 2012

CI Surgery Went Great!!! :D

I am overflowing with thankfulness and excitement today, but running on *ahem* a bit less sleep than normal, so bear with any typos, etc.  Okay? :D  I decided not to bring my "good" camera (one less thing to keep track of) and borrowed Gunnar's little point-and-shoot, so the pics are just snapshots.  Also, this little corner of the blogosphere is kind of our family journal, so this may be more detail than you wanted to know.  In that case?  Surgery went GREAT, and you can look at the pics, and move along.  :D  If you want more, read on...

We arrived early for our check-in time of 11, so it was a good thing we brought books.

Immediately before the surgery the nurse brought us back to a pre-op room where they checked all Tate's vitals, got him cleaned and gowned, and we met with the OR nurses, the anesthesiologists (two - one was a resident), and the surgeon (and another doc in residence).  All of them gave Tate really clear information and made sure to answer any questions he had.  The only thing they FORGOT to do was have him go to the bathroom right before surgery.  Tate started to get a bit nervous or focused when he gowned up, but a slip of the tongue (he kept saying "amnesia" for anesthesia - as in, when you give me the amnesia... - and we all cracked up together) broke the ice, and he walked off to the OR with a smile on his face, at 12:35.

I can't tell you how good that was, from the mom's perspective, to see the maturity in him and the lack of anxiety.  When they talked - as they must - about all the risks of surgery and anesthesia we kind of rolled our eyes.  With a team like this, we joked that our risks were probably much higher driving into Seattle on I-5 than in surgery.  But honestly, I truly believe that Tate's attitude - his confidence and lack of fear - has / is having a significant effect on the whole experience.  More on that later.

Grandpa and Grandma Grasshopper had arrived, and while Tate was in surgery we ran upstairs and I was able to connect with Tate's audiologist between patients and swap his malfunctioning HA.  I had brought his old, insufficient HA to see if she could "tweak" it for him to use in the interim, but - hallelujah - she had found a loaner for him that's the same model as his regular HA and had already programmed it to his specs.  He shouldn't notice any difference except that it's black instead of blue.  ;D

By that time I was pretty hungry.  Tate couldn't eat at all before surgery, and couldn't even have water after 8am, and I just didn't feel right about eating in front of him so I was glad to head up to the cafeteria, and really glad to have Grandpa and Grandma Grasshopper (my parents) there waiting with me.  Kerry would have come if I'd asked him, but it worked better to have him stay home with the other boys.  I wouldn't have wanted to have them all sitting around the hospital, trying to keep occupied, for hours and hours.  And Kerry really doesn't like hospitals, since his cancer.  Anyway...

The surgery took a bit longer than expected, but ALL IS WELL.  The surgeon - Dr. Horn - came and explained everything afterward.  Where they go through the skull, into the cochlea, is really close to a nerve (or bundle of nerves?) that control facial muscles, and this space - in Tate - was a bit smaller than usual so they had to go more slowly.  Great.  No problemaThank you for taking your time on my precious son!

His new audiologist (he'll have two - one for the HA and one for the CI) also came in.  She had tested all the electrodes and done either an ABR or a test like the ABR right there in the OR.  They got good response from the brain, and fifteen of the sixteen electrodes are working.  I could tell she was prepared to reassure me that 15/16 is GOOD, but she didn't need to.

Thank you, Tammy, for posting the video about Harry's Implant (go see it HERE.  Really, it'll only take a couple of minutes.)  That boy, who is thirteen, like Tate, only had eight electrodes working for him, and he's AMAZING.  Doing WONDERFULLY.

So when the Audie said we had 15/16, and maybe the 16th just had a bubble or something and might work later, she didn't have to convince me that this was a great result.

Meanwhile, Tate was off to the PACU (post anesthesia care unit) and Uncle Dave arrived. :D  We were all waiting for Tate when they wheeled him into his room, after 6pm.

He was still pretty groggy, but oriented and calm.  In fact, he was able to transfer himself from the gurney to the bed without assistance.  And he had a HUGE bandage on his head.  He immediately requested WATER and drank about a quart.  He was also interested in dinner, and ate about half of the chicken, roll, and potatoes and gravy they brought him. 

 It was kind of funny, in a way, because I'm sure he was remembering being in the hospital with appendicitis, when he was MISERABLE.  That time, every movement hurt and he didn't want to eat.  And this experience was so different.  He'd catch himself "guarding" from pain, and then realize he wasn't really in pain.

He has had NO trouble with dizziness, nausea, or pain.  

We've repeatedly asked him if he wants any pain meds and he shrugs and says he doesn't need anything.  And his body language confirms.  I've even repeated,  I know you're tough, but you don't have to prove it by putting up with pain.  If you are hurting, let me know.  He says he feels sore, but is really okay.

His attitude is having a great and positive effect on his whole experience.  It's amazing how much our emotions affect our physical well-being.  Now, I don't mean to imply that anyone in pain is "failing" or having a bad attitude, or lacking faith, or whatever.  Only that a good attitude and a lack of fear is a HUGE benefit :D

And it sure didn't hurt that Grandpa and Grandma brought presents!  Some insulated camo overalls for hunting, and this stylish headwear!  Since Tate couldn't exactly try it on, Grandpa consented to model ;D

Here's a better shot of the initial bandage, which he wore overnight.  He had been making faces at us, proving that all his facial muscles were in working order ;D  Also, if he looks a bit cock-eyed, it's because I removed one of the 'arms' from his glasses.  (Thank you, Denise, for that great advice!)  And, in case you're wondering, there was a bunch of Betadine on his gown (not blood).

The other kind of funny thing had to do with them not reminding him to use the bathroom before surgery.  After he had some water and his dinner, suddenly he HAD TO PEE RIGHT NOW.  And I was nervous about him jumping out of bed the first time without a nurse handy, just in case he actually was dizzy and didn't know it.  And I'm glad she came running because once we got him unhooked from everything and into the bathroom (by himself) he just about filled that little urinal they use to measure 'output'.

I'd like to say we slept well, but that wouldn't be true.  But at least he wasn't waking up in pain.  Oh no...  They were pumping IV fluids all night long, and I think he got up five times to pee - meaning I got up five times to unhook him from all his cords and monitors,  and hook him up again, before I convinced the nurse that he was pretty darn well hydrated and we could turn that thing down ;D

In the morning they changed the dressing.  You can see the top of the incision here, and the rest of it follows the curve of his ear, out of sight.

The doctors rounded, as promised, between 6:30 and 7am.  They replaced the giant neon bandage with a smaller neoprene/velcro one, that he'll wear for a week, round the clock, and then for another week at night.  The incision is clean and dry, but they want him to keep the pressure on it so fluid won't build up underneath.  All righty.

Since Tate was doing so well - stable, not dizzy or nauseous, eating and drinking - they discharged us right away.  He ate his breakfast, got dressed (I remembered to bring a shirt that didn't pull over his head - thanks again, Denise!), and we were headed home shortly after 9.


I can't believe that all happened in a little under twenty-four hours!

Now, of course, we wait.  He needs to heal up before activation day, which is June 19.  (For any of you non-HoH-aware readers, he has received the internal part of the cochlear implant, but won't hear anything until it's connected with the external processor.)

Also, a random thought for those of you with younger kiddos...  On the one hand, some kids are too young to understand the whole process like Tate does.  They're not old enough to make the decision themselves or to have the perspective that they're putting themselves through something unpleasant for a greater gain.  But don't be discouraged!  Little ones have an advantage over bigger kids and adults: they don't dread.  They don't worry.  They don't have fear and anxiety in advance.

Tate had two surgeries on his hands (bilateral tendon contracture releases), right after his first birthday and again at two and a half.  Both times he was under general anesthesia.  And he did great.  He was too young to understand or worry before or after the fact.  We just comforted him and managed his pain and he did fine.

I'm so relieved to see him continuing that pattern now! It's the grace of God, for sure.

So, next?  He needs to really take it easy for two or three weeks.  Especially he needs to avoid anything that would knock or jar his head.  Essentially, he's on "light duty".

So... have I covered everything?  Is there something you're wondering?  I have Tate's permission to post this, and he'd probably be willing to answer questions if you have any :D

In the mean time, it's a great blessing to have so many friends and family on our team.  We appreciate all the prayers and encouragement :D  We still have a long journey ahead of us, but we're off to a great start!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

CI Surgery Today!




Pray for us - that the surgery goes well - and I'll update when we're home :D

Monday, May 28, 2012

Grasshopper Days

Grasshopper Days

For today, May 28, 2012

Outside my window...  freshly mowed lawn, dogwood trees in bloom, and green everywhere I can see.

I am hearing... a fairly quiet house, as Tate and Wyatt are working the Festival of Flags with Civil Air Patrol today.

I am thinking...  this is IT.  This is the week.  Tate's CI surgery is in TWO DAYS.  I took him out for ice cream yesterday, just to make sure he's really as calm and solid as he seems, and we are Good To Go.

I am praying...  obviously, for the surgery.  Also, for my parents - traveling to Idaho and back for a funeral celebration of life BBQ for my dad's cousin.  A relatively quick death is a mercy, but praying for comfort for the family.

I am thankful...  to have the whole insurance mess (to the best of my knowledge!) all sorted out, to have so many friends and family praying for us this week, and that Kerry has some work to be working on.

I am wearing...  jeans, t-shirt.  It's cooler today.

I am going...  to get all my ducks in a row, I think.  We should only be gone overnight, but it feels so huge... what we're doing.

I am reading...  still The Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements.  I'm usually a pretty fast reader, but -AHEM- I've had a few distractions lately.  I'm also reading the Ida Early books with Tate and Gunnar, and read one of Wyatt's books - Rules of the Road - and enjoyed it.

I am learning...  more history than I ever learned in school.  Yet another reason to homeschool ;D

I am hoping...  the lithodora I translplanted will live.  It wasn't looking too happy.

In the kitchen...  umm... (computer equivalent of a blank stare).  Um... chicken.  Yah, that'll work.  We should be BBQing, right?  But there's a slight problem.  Our BBQ.  It was a wedding present, making it 18 years old.  And it still works!  If you like food cooked on the surface of the sun.  Because it only has one setting: don't-walk-away-don't-turn-around-don't-even-blink-'cause-I'm-gonna-scorch-that-meat-if-you-do.  I like my meat well-done, but char-broiled doesn't even touch what's happening over here.  So I think we'll maybe break out the George Foreman and call it good, 'kay?

In the learning rooms...  a discombobulated week for sure.  If the older boys weren't busy with CAP we'd be schooling today to make up for later, but we'll just have to let the dust settle from the surgery and catch up later.  It rains most of June anyway ;D

Around the house...  how about outside?  That's where we've been working :D  Kerry got my future garden roto-tilled and is coming down the homestretch on the fence.  (Don't even bother with a garden here without a ten foot fence.  D@%* deer.)  I've been weeding and transplanting.  And the boys (and I) have been mowing.  Very productive and all.

The Mother Load...  all centers around Tate this week.  All the other chips can fall where they may :D  (Kerry will be here with the other boys - they won't be neglected!)

Noticing that...  my get-up-early has been slipping.  Back on the wagon, though.

Something I want to remember for later...  I've mentioned that at our church the kids are encouraged to take notes on the sermon.  They stick them to the fridge (in the church kitchen) with magnets, and Pastor Bert recognizes the kids who left him notes the following Sunday.  The thing is, right now it seems like we have a lot more boys than girls.  And not only do they leave him notes, they draw pictures.  As he flips through the 5x7 cards, we can all see the battle scenes on the back.  But it's all good.  Pastor Bert understands boys :D

A favorite quote for today...  To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.  Theodore Roosevelt.

One of my favorite things...  the end of a productive day.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  CI SURGERY!

A peek into my world...  

Four years ago, finishing our first year of homeschooling.  *sigh*  Back when they were all still shorter than me... 

And, I'm remembering back to when Tate first got his HA's... and there was SOUND!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

For My Niece

I didn't want to risk giving you a sneak peak at the baby's quilt.  I don't think my brother and SIL actually read the blog, but just in case...

My brother is a big Disney fan.  He's been to both parks (Anaheim and Orlando) multiple times.  He's been on the Disney cruise ship.  He did three student internships at Disney World.  And - of course - he and my sister initiated the thirteen-year-old nephew Disney extravaganzas :D

My SIL, however, is not... NOT... into Disney.  But she likes red and white polka dots.

I already had some black and red fabrics with small white polka dots, and headed to JoAnn to find something to go with, but without much of a plan of how it would all come together.  I pulled a black and a red with larger polka dots, and then it hit me.  The red with the big polka dots just looked like Minnie's dress to me!  I wanted to please my SIL with the colors and fabrics, but also give a nod to my brother and his interests... and came up with this.

Just two little water-molecule Mickeys...

... and Minnie's bow.

I'm hoping the Disney theme is subtle enough that my SIL will be okay with it :D

It finished at about 46' by 38' - just right for the crib - and I included a bright red crib sheet as well :D

I didn't get a pic of the back.  I'd intended to use a piece of red flannel, to make it extra soft and cozy, but even after pre-washing the flannel I was worried about the dye running, so the back ended up being plain white muslin, which is also pretty soft.

Hope she likes it :D

Friday, May 25, 2012

About Sixteen Cups

Which is a gallon.

That's how much water I collected when I defrosted the freezer this morning.

So boys, if you want ice cream...

     please, for the love of mike, make sure the freezer door shuts!

That will be all.


 Yes, I made the baby a quilt, but I'm hoping to load more pics and show you tomorrow.  In the mean time...

The second sneak preview I gave you showed this:

Which I have to confess is just a special stitch on my sewing machine, requiring no skill on my part.  I had lots of scraps left over from the quilt and so made the baby a couple of bibs.

Hey, they're not just for eating.  The way mine drooled when they were teething... well, you can never have too many.  If I had a baby in a special outfit to go somewhere, I'd put a bib on him until we arrived.  So is shirt wouldn't be soaked or spit up on.  (Now, isn't that a lovely thought!?)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Baby Christmas Gift

If you've been reading this blog very long, you might have noticed that we make kind of a big deal about Christmas.  Okay, a really big deal.  We celebrate Jesus, coming to earth for us.  And we roll into that a lot of family tradition that is fun, but not necessarily sacred.  We can talk about that, but it's not where I'm going today :D

With a new baby coming, I'm offering some of that heritage to my SIL, starting with this:

Leah knew right away it looked Christmassy :D  And it is.  But - darn it! - I still can't load a picture of the whole thing!

My Nana made Candy Strips for us when we were kids, and I've made them for ours.  Here's a pic to give you the general idea, though the baby's looks a bit different.

Think of it as a vertical advent calendar, with a row of little candies tied on.  (I think a couple were already missing in the photo above!)  Even before our kids could count to twenty-four, they could see Christmas approaching.

There's a little poem at the top, that goes like this,

December first 'til Christmas
is the longest time of year,
seems as though old Santa
never will appear.

How many more days 'til Christmas
it's so mighty hard to count,
so this little candy ribbon
will tell you the exact amount.

Untie a candy every night
when the Sandman casts his spell,
and Christmas Eve will be here
by the time you reach the bell!

So this, along with a Christmas book, A Night the Stars Danced For Joy, went to the baby from their cousins :D

And, bonus!  If this looks like something you'd like to try, let me assure you, IT'S EASY.  I used felt, which is stiffer than regular fabric and doesn't ravel, which means you don't have to finish or hem the edges.

Here's how I did it, though I don't have pics.

1.  Cut a red piece of felt for the strip and angle the bottom so it came to a point.  Mine is about 30 inches, because I used a strip from a one yard piece of felt, but trimmed off what I didn't need.

2.  OPTIONAL: I decorated this candy strip with white circles.  I had in mind to do snowflakes, but honestly did not have the patience for that!  I'm hoping the white circles kind of bring snow to mind ;D  When I made the boys', I used Christmas cookie cutters to cut shapes of colored felt and sewed them on.  Again, easy-squeazy because the felt need not be hemmed.

3..  Starting at the bottom, use a tape measure to mark where each ribbon will go.  I spaced mine about an inch apart and marked the felt with chalk.

4.  I used one spool of cheap (fifty cents!) ribbon from Michaels.  Yarn works too.  It's a pain to thread it into a (large!) needle, so I only threaded it once and poked the needle through each place I wanted the ribbon, (pulling it through, like a big shoelace as I went), and then cut each tie about the same length.  If this doesn't make sense, don't worry about it!

5.  I printed out the little poem in a font I liked, on white paper, and then covered it with contact paper.  This isn't going to be going through the wash so paper is fine.  Though if you want to print it onto fabric, knock yourself out.

6.  I sewed this on right above the ribbons.

7.  I turned down an inch or two at the top and sewed a little tube to hang it by.  Alternately, you could just attach ribbon or yarn at the top.  But you will want something to stiffen the top or it will kind of roll together when you hang it - especially when it's all heavy with candy.  You can see what I mean in the photo of the boys' strips.  I inserted a piece of doweling rod, but it doesn't quite fix it.

We have bamboo growing in the back yard and that was a perfect solution.  Kerry (or one of the boys?) cut me a little piece of bamboo, which is hollow.  I sewed the little sleeve to just fit the bamboo and then threaded some ribbon through it and it hangs quite nicely.

So there ya go ;D

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Funny Little Quilt and I May Be Losing My Mind And Thank God I'm Not Hormonal Right Now on Top of Everything Else Since I've Already Cried Twice Today

Once, on the phone, with a total stranger.  But I'll get to that.

However, things are looking up.  So we'll start at the bottom and head for higher ground, okay?

1.  The insurance saga continues...  when I emailed them the new information they wanted on Monday I included a request for whoever received the message to take SECONDS and email me back, so I would know they had what they needed from me.  I got an automated response promising me that emailed documents are pulled through the day, and would be in someone's hands within 24 hours.  And also, they had a large bridge for sale I might be interested in.

So I called again this morning, to check the progress on that.  If the phone could give me a blank stare, that's what I got.

I'll spare you the sordid details, but the real low point was a man in the Coordination of Benefits office telling me I was at fault for not providing complete information, and I would have to re-start the process of getting the surgery authorized, and that means getting back at the end of a long, long line, and authorization for surgery in one week?  When pigs fly.

He didn't like the way I talked to him, so at least we had that in common.

But he did transfer me back to the Eligibility office where an ANGEL answered the phone.  (And I'm not just saying that in case Lisa ever reads this.  Hi Lisa!)

By that point I'd been on the phone for forty-seven minutes, and had enough stress to send a herd of elephants on a rampage, and started to cry.  Hello humiliation.

But guess what?  She fixed the problem.  She not only fixed it, she gave me her direct (work) email to communicate through; she called Children's herself and got everything settled with their financial people; and called AND emailed me back to reassure me that we are


That's a little inside joke, for any of you who've seen the movie Contact - a family fave, in the Grasshopper house.

2.  Which means...

Yes, we are camping on that GOOD news, because...

3.  I think Tate also needs a new Hearing Aid.  He's mentioned a few times lately that he doesn't think it's working like normal.  Now, those are words that strike fear into a mother's heart, because when a kid thinks their HA isn't working, the odds are about even that it's their hearing that isn't working.  But the HA seems to not work well only intermittently, and he's not known for fluctuating hearing loss.  So - though this sounds strange - I hope his HA isn't working properly.

So I have another email in to his Audie down at Children's to see what we can do about that.  Actually, I mentioned to her last December that I didn't think this HA was cutting it any more, but she was able to tweak it.  Insurance companies like HA's to last five years.  They're expensive.  And Tate has had this one just over four years.  She doesn't want to submit a claim to replace it unless it isn't working or isn't meeting his needs.  (And - no - there was no wink-wink-nudge-nudge-go-break-it in her voice, though I have to admit it did occur to me...)  At the time I questioned the second criteria, but now I'm questioning both.

Recent testing shows he's lost another five db's at a couple of frequencies, and I just don't think this HA is serving him anymore.  And I really don't want this to have to be another battle.

4.  And to round out the morning...  recently, on the home front, Wyatt and I both broke cereal bowls (leaving us five of the eight blue bowls we love, which I got at Ikea years ago), Gunnar broke a green pyrex bowl that was my Nana's, Mt. Laundry (for you climbers, out there) is looking like a full-day 5.9, and - the icing on the cake - one of the bunnies got to come in the house for a visit and peed on Gunnar and the couch.  (Thank God for fake leather instead of upholstery.)

5.  On the bright side, the sun is out, if briefly.  In between phone calls and emails about the insurance we got through our school work successfully.  I think the boys could tell I was nearing the Cliffs of Insanity - not aggravated at them, but in general - and really stepped it up.  (Was my hair standing on end, or did the smell of therapy Nutella on my breath tip them off?)

They're out mowing the neighbor's lawn, the lunch dishes are done with no new breakage, and I got mail.  Real mail.  From a real friend.  A friend who is a true, professional encourager.  Who, though she is full-on in the throes of parenting a newborn, took time out to send me a note with a generous gift - a contribution to our driving-to-Seattle-a-hundred-times fund.

Love you, Kimberly :-)

(That was the second time I cried.)

6.  And, since I still can't load the pictures I wanted to...

I'll include a tide-me-over, since I'm thinking of Kimberly, and this relates to her :D

Long ago, a friend of mine and I bought a collection of vintage reproduction fat quarters.  (That means pieces of fabric that look old but aren't, for you non-sewers.)  We each got forty pieces.  Took me forever to cut into them, and before I did I divided them into pastels, and brights.  Made these two quilts out of the pastels, and gave them to new babies at church.

This one has ragged edges around the squares, and I really loved it.

This one really looks old-timey :D

With the brights, I made a tumbler quilt for ME.  Love it.

Then I had just a small, random selection of scraps left over, so I tried to figure out what I could do with them, and came up with this.

It's small.  Only about twenty-eight inches square.  And just feels kind of like spring to me.  Like a pinwheel, maybe.

I'd already sent Kimberly a baby quilt, so I just tucked this in, to maybe use with the car seat, or the stroller, when you might want something small.  Or it can be her sweet baby's doll quilt, when she's a little older.

So, hallelujah, I think we can cross the insurance situation off the Mother Load until next year.  And we can focus on finishing the school year strong and transforming Tate's ability to hear.

And now, back to our regular programming...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuesday Brain Dump


Can you hear me sighing?

I haven't been blogging much lately because HELLO!  SUNSHINE!  Yes, we've had several days with consistent sightings of our nearest star, and life as we know it nearly came to a screeching halt.  More about that momentarily.

Also, frankly, the last few weeks have seemed busier than usual, but a fairly mundane kind of busy, as opposed to blog-worthy busy.  (Yes, well, I did blog about The Day of Nine Errands, and that's about as mundane as it gets, so what am I saying, really?)  Maybe that I don't want this little corner of the interwebs to turn into a big whine-and-cheese-fest, y'know?  Still, life is messy, so here ya go.

1.  For all my whining about HOW MUCH RAIN we get, I'm actually kind of glad for a few wet days this week.  I mean, how else would we get anything done?  You folks from drier climates may not understand this, but here's the thing: because it does rain so much, when the sun actually comes out there's this enormous pressure to DROP EVERYTHING AND GO OUTSIDE AND DO SOMETHING, making it difficult to focus on schoolwork, housework, etc.  Yes, some of us actually feel guilty if we're inside on a nice day.  And, you know, what we homeschool moms really need is more guilt and pressure.  This eases up as summer comes and the sunny days are more frequent.  I just thought you should know.

2.  I've already chased two deer away from my plants, which they were nibbling, and out of the yard.  They didn't even run, just gave me an insolent glare and trotted out of reach.  Tate came around the other side of the house, though, and I think he hit one with his slingshot.  Yay, Tate.

3.  Two boys were doing their language and math work this morning, while another boy was on a little detour.  He was writing Hebrews 13:17 a few times for me before he got to move on to his regular work.

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.  They keep watch over you as men (or moms) who must give an account.  Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. 

Will see how that goes.  (eyes roll)

4.  We had a baby shower for my SIL on Saturday, and my gifts to her are the projects I've promised photos of, but I can't load them at the moment.  Blogger says my memory is full (HA!  They don't know the half of it!), but that's happened before and a day or so later I can load photos again.  No, I don't understand that, but whatever.

I can show you ONE gift I gave her...

Didn't make it myself, but could not resist ;D

5.  There is just something about this month that's like pushing rope uphill.  No one thing is overwhelming, but there seems to be a lot of it.  Have you read much John Grisham?   I've only read some (my favorite is probably Skipping Christmas), but something has always stuck with me from The Testament.  And that's the despachante.  Which he describes as:

a Portuguese term for a personal dispatcher, expediter, buyer, or runner. No official document is obtained in Brazil without waiting in long lines. A despachante knows the city clerks, the courthouse crowd, the politicians, and the customs agents. He knows the system and how to grease it to get things done. The job requires a quick tongue, patience, and a lot of brass. For a small fee, a despachante will obtain permits and passports or do your voting, banking, and mailing - the list has no end. No bureaucratic obstacle is too intimidating.

Of course, he's describing more of a business application, but wouldn't you like a personal despachante?  I know I would!

And the first job I would put my despachante on:

6.  The insurance mess.  I've spent another hour or so on the phone sorting out the boys' insurance, finding the documentation they've added to the list of things they want, copying all that, trying and failing to fax it to them (they gave me two fax numbers - one doesn't work and the other is perpetually busy - so very helpful), and then having Kerry scan the documents in as a PDF file and extorting begging an email address from an employee to send them to.  Because why would they want to make it easy for me to submit our information?  The information they requested.


7.  Tate's surgery is in 8 DAYS.

So, no, in case you're wondering, I'm not just a litte bit stressed or anything. 

8.  What is it about three boys that can make it so grueling to keep the fridge full and the laundry empty?!   ;-P

Happy Tuesday to you!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Grasshopper Days

Grasshopper Days

For today, May 21, 2012

Outside my window...  after a beautiful run of sunny days, we're back to a few cool, rainy ones (mid 50s).  Kind of breezy today, too.  But I don't mind.  It's a good day to focus on school work or read a good book :D

I am hearing...  all the boys are working on their school work (yay!) so I have a moment.  I should be hearing the laundry, though... time to start a new load.

I am thinking...  trying NOT to think about how aggravated I am with all the time I've had to put in to untangling the paperwork for the boys' insurance.  Yes, that's STILL going on, and Tate's surgery is in NINE DAYS.  Yet somehow, I am not surprised.  It's like I'm destined that nothing in my life should be easy.  *sigh*

This may be a day that calls for therapy.

I am praying...  for the CI surgery next week (!), that the insurance will be sorted out BEFORE next Wednesday, for Kerry's work (he has some! praying it goes well), and for the winding down of our school year.

I am thankful...  for Tate's calm, trusting spirit.  He doesn't seem worried or nervous at all.  That kid is rock solid.  Also, for friends and family that are supportive and praying for us :D

I am wearing...  back to my blue jeans, and a black t-shirt with a black (light-weight) sweater.  *sigh*

I am creating...  trying to put together plans for next school year, but some of the organizational pieces (Sonlight IG's) are on backorder. 

I am going...  to help Tate with his math in a couple of minutes.

I am reading...  still reading through The Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements.  Fascinating stuff.  Though some of it is over my head, most I can at least get enough of the gist of it to understand.  Very interesting.  Leah, get on the wait-list at your library - you're smarter than I am and you'll probably love it! 

I also took a break from that to read The Hunger Games.  Very disturbing.  Wyatt really wanted to read it/them, so I said yes (he's fifteen, you know) but I would read too and we would DISCUSS.  One down, two to go.

Lots to think about, especially for boys, who are more prone to consuming violent entertainment, and the desensitization that happens.  And all the yucky situational ethics.  Ugh.

I am learning...  about electron shells, and how some atoms "hide" electrons.

I am looking forward to...  being done with this year of school.  It's gone well!  It's been a good year!  That's not a tortured Oh-when-will-this-finally-end.  But I love to start things and I love to finish them :D

In the kitchen...  trying a new crockpot recipe with chicken and sweet potatoes.

In the learning rooms...  I love that we're winding down on many of our subjects.  Tate and Gunnar each have two hours or less of schoolwork per day :D  Wyatt, well.... he's still pushing through his work, but he's older.  He should be working harder than the other two.  And he just needs more time for some of his stuff - it's just the way he thinks and his mind works.

Around the house...  piles of books.  The usual.

The Mother Load...  first priority is getting the insurance sorted out, and it is weighing on my mind (though there's nothing more I can do at the moment.)  Everything needs to be dusted (eek!).  Must drop stuff off at Goodwill and consignment.  The garden needs to be rototilled, and - if Kerry gets the fence up - PLANTED.  My desk is a wreck (filled with insurance and tax papers.)  I have mending to do, that has been waiting for days and days.  And new books to catalog and organize for next year :D

I am wondering...  what life would be like if things went smoothly???

Something I want to remember for later... 

How much fun :D

Something fun to share...  remember these peeks?

I'll show you more in a separate post :D

A favorite quote for today...  When I do stuff, stuff gets done.

One of my favorite things...  boys who give me hugs for no apparent reason ;D

A Bible verse / devotional thought... 

Be strong and courageous, and do the work.   Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you.  He will not fail your or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.          1 Chronicles 28:20

Yes, I know, that was David talking to Solomon about building the temple.  But what are we but His temple?  What am I working on, but us?

A few plans for the rest of the week...  hack away at the Mother Load.  Get things prepped before Tate's surgery, so things can (maybe?) go smoothly afterward.  Try to "clear the deck" in my office.

A peek into my day/world... 

 Because there are days I feel underwater...

... and I might as well laugh about it.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Grasshopper Days

Grasshopper Days

For today, May 14, 2012

Outside my window...  sunny and warm, with a nice breeze, making it a little difficult to concentrate on school.  Good thing two thirds of the boys are already done for the day ;D 

I am hearing...  the washer just stopped, but Wyatt is in there ironing his uniform.  Tate just finished his and headed out to mow.

I am praying...  about Tate's surgery (16 days!), work for Kerry, and my brother and SIL's baby, expected next month.

I am thankful...  for this beautiful day - the sunshine really lifts my spirits, for not too much planned this week, and for...

Eighteen years, today.

I am wearing...  turquoise capris and a white tank.

I am going...  to slow down this week, after a few more hectic weeks.

I am reading...  The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements.  Oh yah, nerdy, but fascinating.

I am learning...  gee, how did the universe get so darn orderly ;D

I am looking forward to...  summer vacation.  I mean, a break from school... we're not going anywhere.

In the kitchen...  going out to dinner tonight, and leaving the boys with my parents :D

In the learning rooms...  starting to wind things up with Tate and Gunnar, though Wyatt will be working hard right up to the end - partly a result of him being older, plus a little bit of procrastination.

Around the house...  dust and books, and books and dust, and more books ;D

The Mother Load...  I've let my little office go to ruin lately (*sigh*) though I do have the excuse that I've been working more outside, with the good weather.  I'm excited to begin organizing next school year!  Need to make another run to Goodwill and consignment, and is it possible we need more bookshelves?

Noticing that...  Tate's voice is changing.  A little squeaky, here and there, but much deeper.

Something I want to remember for later...  I'll definitely be saving the Mothers Day cards the boys made me. 

A favorite quote for today... 
I never leaf through a copy of National Geographic without realizing how lucky we are to live in a society where it's traditional to wear clothes.
      - Erma Bombeck, again

One of my favorite things...  cleaning out.  Not necessarily cleaning, mind you, but cleaning out ;D

A Bible verse for the day... 
D N O O S A O V C, B I H C O B T Y

Did you get that?  (First letter of each word.)  It's Philippians 2:3.  Really, it goes like this,

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

A peek into my world...

Since we were at my brother's house yesterday, and I forgot my camera, I found this pic of him to show you...

 isn't he cute?

Just for fun, leave me a caption in the comments!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mothers Day :D

Ahhhh, home again, and it feels good :D

After church we headed down to the Seattle area to my brother's house.  And I forgot my camera.  You'll just have to believe me that it was a gloriously beautiful day.  In fact, the temperature got all the way up into the 70's and we had to use the air-conditioner.  (I'll wait until some of you at the lower latitudes stop laughing.)   We ate out on the deck and the kids brought scooters and skateboards and played in the street.  (It's a cul-de-sac, don't worry.)

All the moms were suitably honored.

And just in case you wondered?  I won the Mommy-Lottery, because I have the best mom of all.  Kind of funny how the longer I'm a mom, the more I appreciate her and hope to live up to her example.  :D

According to my boys I apparently secured a nearly unanimous vote for Mother-of-the-Year and would have swept the field, but Podger (the male rabbit) voted for Polly (the female rabbit) - the lone dissenting vote.  (The details on the polling process remain unclear.)  Therefore I have been bestowed with the title of Queen Dictator for the Day and they will cheerfully do my bidding.  Unless that includes wiping the crumbs off the kitchen counter.  *sigh*

By the time we headed home my ears were ringing (my family does talk a lot) and a nap sounded good.  Do you sleep in the car?  (Well I wasn't driving.  Good grief.)  We've burned up and down this stretch of highway so many times that a little snooze just makes the time go faster ;D

Then when we got home, to top off a lovely day, Gunnar looked me in the eye and asked, "Are you thirsty, Mom?"  Well, sure, I guess I am.  I was thinking of a tall ice water, but that sweet boy went downstairs and made me... a mug of scalding hot cocoa.  Child, I am in a tank top for the first time this year.  I've been sitting in the sun and actually sweating.  But you are bringing me a cup of love and I will drink it.

And that was Mother's Day with my family.

And in case you wondered, yes, I remembered the cookies this morning (three cheers for my short-term memory).  And since my friend Q asked,  here's the recipe:

Lemon Meringues

Turn your oven on to 350F, to heat while you mix the cookies.  (That's about 176, for you Celsius folks.)  You'll need:

2 egg whites - whipped until frothy
1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar - beat until stiff peaks form
3/4 Cup of sugar* - beat until glossy
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel OR 1 tablespoon lemon juice - fold in

Hint:  you'll definitely want an electric mixer.  It's a LOT of beating.

Covering your baking trays with foil makes it a lot easier to peel the finished cookies off, since you DON'T grease the pans.  These cookies have next-to-no fat (I guess there's a tiny bit in the egg whites).

You'll want to make these cookies SMALL for a couple of reasons.  Of course, you want them to cook all the way through, but also they are really (really!) crumbly and it's much nicer to just pop a little one into your mouth whole rather than trying to bite them.  They have an unusual texture.  (My kids call them styrofoam cookies, but that's not quite right!)  They're very light and have lots of air bubbles baked into them.

If you're fancy, feel free to pipe the mixture into pretty little shapes.  Or you can do what I do - spoon little piles onto your cookie sheet.  They won't spread very much when they're baking. 

I can fit this recipe onto one cookie tray, but we often double it.  Especially at Christmas, when we substitute mint extract for the lemon, and add chocolate chips... not so fat-free, but oh-so-yummy :D

To bake:  Slide the tray into a 350F oven and shut the door.  Wait until the oven gets back up to temp, and then turn it off and leave the cookies all night.  I suppose you could make them during the day and just figure that by the time the oven got completely cool (how long?) the cookies are done baking, but I find it easier just to make them in the evening.  They only take a few minutes to whip together.

My non-fancy version looks like this:

     *Some people use super-fine sugar (not powdered sugar).  The last time I made these I used a Cuisinart to grind my regular sugar into super-fine.  Well.  That was a fun little adventure, but I couldn't really tell any difference in the finished product.

So Happy Mothers Day to all my mom-friends.  May your children rise up and call you blessed.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Day In Which Much Happens

Thanks to yesterday's errand marathon I didn't have to go anywhere today, and nobody was coming over either.  And you know what that means? 

Comfy old clothes, for one thing.  Because I'm with Gilda Radner, who said,

I base my fashion taste on what doesn't itch.

It also means fewer distractions, and more time to Get Stuff Done.  Because...

When I do stuff, stuff gets done.

Apparently it's also a big day for mottos, but I'll quit with that, now.

So here's what I got done...

1.  School work.  What with a week full of visitors coming and going, errands to run, hearing to test, and a bit more hubbub than usual among the boybarians, we hadn't quite finished our school work.  And I hate carrying it over into next week.  (Hear the whip, cracking?)  All done.

2.  School planning.  I got done what I needed to launch the boys into another week on Monday morning.  Because we have five more weeks of school, if anyone's counting.  (Me!  That would be ME!  I'm counting!)

3.  Washed all of Kerry's shirts.  Okay, not the t-shirts, but all the shirts in the closet.  Kerry does something good, in that he doesn't drop his clothes in the hamper every time he wears them.  He's an architect.  He's not getting sweaty moving that mouse around, designing buildings.  So thank you for not automatically sending everything to the wash. 

On the other hand, I think he forgets how many times he's worn things.  They don't stink, exactly, but there gets to be a musty sort of not-so-fresh smell in the bedroom.

So I washed every last one of them, and hung them on the line on hangers to dry in the fresh air.  So now I smell fresh air in the bedroom, and I didn't even have to iron any of them.

And now you know more about our laundry habits than you ever thought you would.

But I'm telling you, hangers, on the laundry line, separated by clothes pins (so the shirts don't all slide down to the middle.)  Works like a charm.

4.  The Big Buzz-Off.  Unfortunately, I was making and then cleaning up dinner as I cycled through all four of my men, so I don't have any pictures, but... everyone got their first summer hair-cut.

Love it!

So much easier in warm weather, when I can cut their hair outside - no mess to clean up!  I just invite them over to my elegant salon.  Or in other words, I run an extension cord over to the grass under the dogwood tree, turn over a five gallon bucket for them to sit on, fire up my clippers, and buzz one head after another until they're all tidy.

5.  Much to their disgust, I made the boys try on nearly everything they own this morning.  And good gracious have they been GROWING.  I always start with the biggest boy and work my way down, because the clothes get handed down from boy to boy.  And with Wyatt and Tate nearly the same size, Gunnar gets the jackpot of what he calls "handy-downs".

Is it a little pathetic that I look forward to this kind of cleaning and purging?  And maybe even put it on my calendar?  True story ;D  And now I can cross that off the Mother Load until fall, when we'll do it again.

Because they grow like crazy over the summer.  Maybe it's all the sunshine and fresh air.  Maybe they've figured out a way to photosynthesize.

6.  I loaded up four large bags of clothes to get rid of.  Some for Goodwill and some for consignment.  And if you really want to know the strange things that please the OCD side of my brain... I'm keeping a list of what we get rid of this year.

7.  But if you really want to see my inner geek get excited, look what I just got?

It's my new calendar.  I know, I know.  You're thinking,  New calendar?  Is she nuts?  It's MAY!

And to that I say, Yes, maybe, and yes. 

It's an August-to-August calendar.  For me, the year has always begun in September.  That's the time of new beginnings, not January.  You all in the Southern Hemisphere, feel free to disregard ;D  So my little organizing heart sings when I see all those blank pages, just ready to fill with plans and adventures. 

Here's an old picture of how the weekly pages are laid out.

And if you look closely, you'll see something special.

Thjodhatidardagur Islendinga.  

And in December, don't miss Fullveldisdagur Islendinga.

(Which translates to something like National Celebration Day Icelanders, and Sovereignty Day Icelanders.)

 Which just makes the calendar all that much better, because who doesn't need another excuse to have a party?  (If you have a sudden urge to celebrate Viking holidays, check here to get your own calendar/planner.)

8.  Also, there was weeding of the flower beds, wrapping of presents, folding of laundry, and washing of the dishes.   Which never seems to end.

And, finally,

9.  I remembered to make cookies the night before we need them for church.  Rather than panicking in the morning.  Which is ridiculous, because our church is so casual about it.  If it's your turn, and you forgot, there are store-bought cookies in the cupboard.  (Because let me tell you, the ones at the Shell mini-mart down the street are ridiculously expensive.  Just in case you wondered.)  But I don't have to worry about it this time, because there are bunches of little tiny lemon meringues baking overnight in my oven.

Now, if I can just remember to take them to church in the morning...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Brain Dump


1.  It's Friday afternoon, everything (well, almost everything) is put away, and I'm finally off my feet (hallelujah and amen) after running nine errands, with two of the boybarians along for the ride.  And let me tell you, that is about six or seven errands too many.  Somewhere between the library, the consignment store, the school supply store, the copy place to send a fax (that didn't go through... grrrr!), the audiologist's, and Stuff-mart I realized that a nap sounded pretty darn good.  But we persevered.

2.  The funny thing (or not so funny) is that both of the boys have been pestering me for days to take them somewhere (the library, or a certain store) and while they think nothing of imposing on me to drive them around on their chosen errand, they greatly resent the inclusion of anyone else's errands, which are deemed unimportant, useless, and unreasonable demands on their personal time.  Oh, to be young again...

It didn't help that today is one of those clear and sunny spring days that remind me of the beginning of The Wind in the Willows, when Mole crawls up out of his hole into the glorious sunshine.  *sigh*  But I digress...

3.  Yes, you noticed the audiologist in there, didn't you?  With Tate's CI surgery looming closer on the horizon, a few of us have noticed that he seems to be asking for a lot more repeats lately.  A lot more cocking his head and leaning forward.  A lot more missed communication.  Which is all related to his "good" ear, not the ear that's about to be implanted.

Thankfully, our local university has a FABULOUS audiology department (as well as Speech/Language) etc. and they were able to work him in and test him this morning, so I didn't have to go to Seattle.  Again.  And lo and behold, he is down about five decibels at a couple of the mid-range frequencies.  Now, five decibels is within range of "variability in testing", but Tate is thirteen and a very reliable tester. 

So we'll watch him closely and I'll start "pushing" on his audiologist (at Children's) for a newer hearing aid.  Just FYI, while the university does a FABULOUS job with testing and therapy, they don't dispense hearing aids (or CI's, etc.), which is why we trek to Seattle.  Just in case you were wondering.

And, no, this won't affect his CI surgery at all.

4.  But, to further complicate matters...  the boys' insurance was up for renewal.  It's based on income and family size, so every year we have to provide documentation of that.  And being self-employed, well it's just that much more fun, since our income fluctuates wildly (between low and nearly non-existent the last couple of years) so we wait until we have our taxes done for the previous year and submit that.  Which has been just fine, until now.

The deadline for submitting information was April 30th, and I had ours in the mail April 16th.  I happen to know they received it on April 18th.  But they still haven't processed it.  And now I'm getting bills I shouldn't be getting and notifications that we aren't covered and Tate's surgery has been un-authorized.

And let me tell you, trying to get a live person on the phone, unless you call between 8 and 8:15 in the morning, is like searching for the lost tribes of Israel.  I've been on hold at times for nearly an hour.  An HOUR.  Sixty minutes of my life I'll never get back.

Thankfully Children's is aware of everything and working with us to get it resolved, and NOT going to cancel the CI surgery.  Yay, Children's :D

I know it's all going to work out all right; it's just a big pain in the posterior.  But then, why should anything in my life be easy?  *eyes roll*

5.  Looking forward to Mother's Day, this Sunday.  At least, it is here in the US.  "Mothering Sunday", to some of you :o) 

6.  Looking forward to a more "normal" week.  If such a thing exists in these parts ;D  Though it's fun to have lots of activities, and friends and guests coming and going, the boys have been asking if we have any plans next week, and glad to hear that we don't, apart from the usual.  And some friends coming over Wednesday afternoon, to play :D

I think we need a couple of solid school weeks to get us firmly on our feet before Tate's surgery,
this month!

7.  Meant to post these days ago...  while our friend Jim was with us, the boys and Kerry talked him into going mountain biking.  Don't think they had to twist his arm too hard ;D

That's what Sunday afternoon looked like :D

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

More Tate

I don't know what would become of Tate in public school, with their zero-tolerance weapons policy extending even to drawings.

Tate was assigned to write a narrative recently.  It was funny, had good "voice", was expressive and original, and ended with this sentence:

We got what we wanted, Uncle Sam got his train set and electric drill, and Santa re-started his war materiel program.

Only from the mind of Tate.

Keep Calm

Monday, May 7, 2012

Grasshopper Days

Grasshopper Days

For today, Monday, May 7, 2012... finally had a moment to add the pictures, so posting late...

Outside my window...  freshly mowed lawn, on every side.  In fact, while Wyatt and Tate were mowing the neighbor's lawn (a job), Gunnar - for the first time - mowed part of our lawn.  He was VERY proud of himself, and did a really good job.  (And still has all his fingers and toes - even better ;D )  Ahhhh, I love the smell of grass clippings :D  And it looks like another gorgeous day - sunny, but not hot.

I am hearing... silence.  Two boys, Kerry and our guest are all still sleeping.  One boy is downstairs, studying.  Can you guess who?!  And actually, it's not quite quiet... with our early mornings, this time of year, the birds start singing well before 5 AM.

I am pondering...  the way time is FLYING, lately.

I am praying...  to finish the school year strong (especially Wyatt), for Tate's upcoming surgery to be successful, for a sweet friend adjusting to life with a baby :D

I am thankful...  Kerry got a couple of pieces of work last week, that should keep him busy for a few weeks - thank you, God!

I am wearing...  really?  Clothes.  Whatever.

I am creating...  organization and plans for the next school year - fun!

I am going...  to persevere in getting up early.

I am learning...  how much happier I am when I know what's for dinner (you know, before 4pm.)

I am looking forward to...  Tate's CI.  Hoping and praying for great things.

In the kitchen...  lots of left-overs to fall back on this week, but trying to be more organized with our meals.

In the learning rooms...  Wyatt has fallen a bit behind (as regards our schedule) in a couple of subject areas and I want to motivate him to pick up the pace a bit.  Tate and Gunnar are cruising along just fine.  The funny thing is, even with taking three weeks off for our big vacation last fall, we're still on track to finish a week ahead of the local schools.  And that feels good :D

I know some of you school year round, and I see the appeal of that.  But here... our climate is VERY WET.  (I think I may have mentioned that a time or two?!)  And our dry months - July through September - are precious.  We want to be Outside and Doing Things as much as we possibly can.

Plus, there is a (fun) pack of neighborhood kids that our kids hang around with, and many of them are in public school, so the boys want to be free when they are.  Makes sense.

Around the house...  cleaned and moved furniture last week (or the week before?) and am turning my focus more to the yard, now.

What I really notice, though, is how much light we're getting.  Some of you are closer to the equator and may not think about it, but the length of daylight REALLY varies at this latitude.  Right now, it's fairly light already by 5am, and light until about 9pm.  And we'll gain nearly another hour on either end by the summer solstice.  LOVE IT.

I think we all kind of go into hibernation, over the dark/wet/cold winter, and now we're all finally waking up!

The Mother Load...  must make the boybarians try on ALL their clothes.  Cannot believe how much Tate, in particular, has grown lately and need to figure out what they all have that actually fits.  I anticipate Gunnar getting so many "handy-downs" (and much he's grown out of) that practically his entire wardrobe will turn over.  And Wyatt and Tate are both in men's sizes... cannot fully take that in.

Noticing that...  I need to build some flex into our schedule this week, as Kerry's dad and wife are coming to visit, coincidentally right on the heels of his step-mom's visit.  Kind of unusual, but it's been a busy few weeks for visitors.  Good busy.

This weekend we've had a missionary friend in town.  When we first started attending our church, we didn't know ANY of their missionaries, so when the first one came through - a young, single guy - we invited him over for lunch.  He's very likable, easy-going and easy to be around.  I told him that we had a spare room with a lumpy futon at his disposal any time he came through and wanted it - just please go ahead and ask us, anytime.

Well, you know, some people just nod and smile and - I don't know - assume you're just being polite.  But Jim took me at my word (which was genuine) and has stayed here two or three times.  Always a pleasure.  And if the boys (*ahem* Gunnar, in particular) haven't talked his ears off he may even come again.

Something I want to remember for later...  how proud (the good kind of proud) Gunnar felt after mowing (part of) the lawn.

A favorite quote for today...

Don't confuse fame with success; 
Madonna is one, Helen Keller is the other.  
- Erma Bombeck, that great philosopher

One of my favorite things... all the boys laughing :D

A few plans for the rest of the week... hmmmm, launch the school week, CAP, in-laws visiting, and then Mother's Day at my brother's.

A peek into my day...

The boys are lobbying hard to try breeding the bunnies, but I want to be sure we can find them homes.  They're really cute, and easy (and inexpensive) to care for.  Any takers?  :D

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Just So You Know

Oh.  My crock pot.


Elk stew for dinner.  Smells unbelievable.

Grandpa Grasshopper had blessed us twice today.  Once with the meat, and then helping us haul two large loads of manure for the future garden in his big truck.

If I can just survive until dinner...

Friday, May 4, 2012


I've just finished reading John Taylor Gatto's Weapons of Mass Instruction.  It's ironic to be reading it, and resonating so strongly with so much he has to say... just as I'm calling the local high school to see about Wyatt taking a couple of classes there, part-time, next year.  *sigh*

However, one thing we will NOT be participating in at the school is standardized testing.  I couldn't agree with Gatto's take on that more.  Here's what he says, (emphasis mine.)

… we inevitably discover (as adults) that the information these glorified jigsaw puzzles generates is unreliable, and very misleading – absolutely nobody ever asks after the data.  We see that those who test well are more often circus dogs than leaders of the future.

Nothing inside the little red schoolhouse does more personal and social damage than the numbers and rank order these tests hang around the necks of the young.  Although the scores correlate with absolutely nothing of real value, the harm they cause is real enough… They constitute a matchless weapon of social control, wreaking havoc on winners and losers alike.

The frequent ceremonies of useless testing – preparation, administration, recovery – convert forced schooling into a travesty of what education should be; they drain hundreds of millions of days yearly from what might otherwise be productive pursuits; they divert tens of billions of cash resources into private pockets.  The net effect of standardized testing is to reduce our national wealth in future generations, by suffocating imagination and intellect, while enhancing wealth for a few in the present.  This occurs as a byproduct of “scientifically” ranking the tested so they can be, supposedly, classified efficiently as human resources. 

No WASL, MSP, HSPE, MAP, AYP, or other BS.

I can only imagine how the school will react when it comes up...

Breathe the free air.