Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Things I Cannot Explain...

Wyatt is winding up a semester at school this week.  I can (and regularly do) check his progress online. He knows this.  We talk about how things are going.

So when I saw the D+ I was a little surprised.

He'd written an essay - a comparison paper - based on the two "books" they've read in English class.  And I use the term "books" rather loosely as the first, while it is a chapter book, is labeled 4.0 (which means the text could be read independently by the average student beginning fourth grade), and the second was a comic book (3.3 - third grade, third month).

To be fair, there are some wonderful books written at that level.  C.S. Lewis' Narnia series comes to mind, or the Redwall books.  Writing that draws you in through wonderful story-telling and vivid description.  Themes that encourage you to be better, or that challenge your thinking.  Not so these books.  Blech.  Playground vernacular at best.  And it's not as if the subject matter corresponds to the reading level (violence, profanity, racism, masturbation, alcoholism, etc.) either.  Yikes.

So Wyatt wrote his paper.  I proof-read it and helped him type it up.  I might've given it a C, really, because I thought he missed the larger themes... but I'm an adult, and I can't expect him to see what I see.  Still, the D surprised me, even with the +.

His English teacher has a policy that (if they're meeting deadlines) students can revise their work to get it up to the grade they want, so I "encouraged" Wyatt to have another try at it.  I figured his teacher would've given him some helpful comments, some constructive criticism on his writing.

And you know what it was?  He needed a better topic sentence for one of his paragraphs, and all the rest was formatting.  Indent here, not there.  Too many spaces here, too few there.  Etc.

And that raised his grade to an A.

Really???

I'm not arguing with the value of following instructions.  If the teacher wants your paper formatted a certain way, you do it.  No question.  Get with the program.

But what value does his writing have?

The teacher left NO comments on the content of his paper, or the thought he put into it, to praise or to point out problems.  No challenge to think more deeply.  No encouragement to articulate his thoughts better.  Nothing.

Sigh.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Giggle for the Grasshopper Boys

About time to plan our annual LOTR day.  Meanwhile...


Monday, January 20, 2014

Grasshopper Days


Grasshopper Days

For today, Monday, January 20, 2014

Outside my window...  lights from the neighbors' windows, shining through the fog.  Everything is still.


Hearing...  only the furnace blowing.  The boys are all out in the garage, probably playing games on the computer, while breakfast cooks.  No school today - Martin Luther King Day - so we're taking a homeschool break too.

Pondering...  a quilt project I'm starting.  I've had some fat eights in spring green and some in a purple/blue indigo for a long time, and I have an idea for a quilt I want to try.  It will have strips of each color forming lines that appear to be woven, with a white background.  It will look kind of like THIS.

But in these colors.  I don't know how they come across on your computer.  The green is very vibrant - sort of granny-smith-apple in the lighter tones, to a grass green.  And the indigo is very periwinkle to Crayola's "blue-violet".  On my computer, the top picture reads truer to the colors.  Go figure.


That's what came as a set.  I need a little more of each color, so I think these will blend.


I saw something similar done as a baby quilt, but I have enough scraps for two baby quilts or one twin-size.  (No babies coming that I know of!)  I'm thinking I'll have Kerry try to sell it/them on ebay, so what do you think would sell better?  A couple of baby quilts or a twin size quilt?

Advice?

Praying...  oh my.  Is it wrong to pray for an NFL team?  Because I was whispering a few prayers for the Seahawks yesterday!  I admit, I'm not a hard-core fan but WE'RE GOING TO THE SUPERBOWL!  And I use the "we" very loosely, there, because I can assure you that none of the Grasshoppers will be attending.  We'll be at Grandpa and Grandma's annual Soup-er Bowl party, with a large crock-pot full of chili.  And this time we'll be paying more attention to the game than the ads ;D

I'm also hoping to see Derrick Coleman on the field.  Thanks to all who have drawn our attention to articles and this ad, which all the boys - and especially Tate - found inspiring:


Listen to it closely.  They did a really good job of simulating how a HoH person hears.  Listen to the scenes at school, and on the field.  Think of how hard you would be working all the time to decipher what people are saying if everything sounded muffled like that.

That's what I mean when I say that Tate is working hard all the time.

But oh-look-a-squirrel we were talking about praying...  I'm praying for work for Kerry.

Thankful...  for sweet friends at church who encourage me.

Wearing...  blue jeans, white T, periwinkle blue sweater... my happy colors :D

Creating...  well, about to create a quilt.  Or two?

Going...  to help Wyatt with some school work.  Yes, it's a day off, but he's facing the reality that sometimes your schoolwork overflows school hours.

Reading...  slowly through Victory of Reason.

Looking forward to...  (trying to be positive...) God coming through in a big way with work for Kerry... pleeeeease!!!

In the kitchen...  baked oatmeal for breakfast - Gunnar's absolute fave.

In the learning rooms...  Wyatt slogging through a test on the Judicial branch, all else on hold until tomorrow.

Around the house...  I think the boys have finally put all their snow stuff away, now to get Kerry to pick up his stuff... ;D  Also, the boys are doing some cleaning today - their bathroom was kind of gross, and the family room gets cluttered in the blink of an eye.  Entropy.

The Mother Load...  must do school planning, but I'm waiting for Wyatt to finish his test.  Realized there's no mail today and I have a bill that must be paid tomorrow - MUST remember to pay in person tomorrow morning!  And don't forget rehearsal tonight, since it doesn't feel like a normal Monday :D

Noticing that...  the boys sure like to slip away when their job is done, before I have time to inspect.  And one-who-shall-remain-nameless needs to come back and apply a little more force to some scrubbing.

A favorite quote for today... 

Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring;
For His grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much.
John Newton

One of my favorite things...  when the fog lifts and the sun shines.

A Bible verse... 
Because of the Lord's great love
we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

A few plans for the rest of the week...  the usual... homeschool, rehearsal, CAP, cook, clean, scale Mt. Laundry, lather, rinse, repeat.

A peek into my world...  
  This morning...


... reminding myself what is really out there.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Brain Dump

Once again, it's the time of year when... 
almost nothing happens.  

Well, I could be wrong.  I mean, if you're prone to envy our glamorous life you may want to look away while I tell the fascinating story of how I went to the grocery store today with only six items on my list and managed to forget one of them.  If that's not enough to make you swoon, I'll just go ahead and confess that I also swept and mopped the kitchen floor.  

To distract you from pining for a life as exciting and fulfilling as mine, I share with you this Friday Brain Dump.


1.  "People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."  Heard of Florence Foster Jenkins?  Probably not.  Our choir director introduced us to Lady Florence by including (on a practice CD he made for us) a recording of her singing (and I use the term loosely) Mozart's aria Queen of Night.


Apparently, having had some music lessons as a child, Florence dreamed of becoming an opera singer. Inexplicably (*ahem*), her parents declined to foot the bill for her to study in Europe.  Florence bided her time, and used her inheritance to fund her musical career.

Heaven knows she needed the money, lacking any actual musical ability.  Wikipedia tells her story neatly, but you really really need to experience her for yourself.


Allow me to introduce Florence.



You're welcome.  That was three minutes and fifty seconds you'll never get back ;D


2.  The phone is not ringing.  This means two things, besides a quiet house.  One, we haven't heard a thing yet about the job Kerry is applying for.  Two, no work has come in.  We continue to pray about the job.


3.  Nearly all the Christmas chocolate is gone.  Is it Valentine's Day yet?


4.  One more week and we'll be half-way through our school year.  This does not seem possible.  For some reason, the second half of the school year always feels much much longer than the first half.


5.  Snow.  The boys are all looking forward to a youth-group snow day tomorrow.  No snow here, but the mountains are just an hour or so away.


6.  Yes, we are Seahawk fans.  Without cable, we don't exactly follow their season closely, but when our local team is one game away from the Superbowl we do tend to sit up and pay attention.  That said...

7.  Finally, compliments of my brother...


Monday, January 13, 2014

Grasshopper Days


Grasshopper Days


For today, Monday, January 13, 2014

Outside my window... when the sun doesn't rise until around 8am, and a thick layer of clouds fills the sky, outside my window it is DARK.

Hearing...  Kerry finishing breakfast, Wyatt leaving for the bus, Tate in the shower, and Gunnar downstairs reading (quietly!)

Pondering...  when you have one behind on his schoolwork, how much of his activities to cut.  Ugh.

Praying...  still haven't heard anything about the job Kerry is applying for, but praying every day(!), also over the whole process of Tate being implanted again (so excited!), and - as always - for wisdom.

Thankful...  for technology (Tate, especially!), for my family - present and of-origin, fun memories, and fun times to look forward to!

2002 Vacation - Tate and Grandpa

Wearing...  blue jeans, navy t-shirt, blue/green sort of nordic looking sweater, and blue Danskos.  I love my Danskos :D

Creating...  a package to send to a friend - can't tell who!

Going...  I can't believe it, but we're already starting rehearsal for the spring concert.  Already!  I'm always glad I went, but the pull to stay home with my family, a cup of hot tea, some pretty candles, and a good book is very tempting, especially when it gets dark around 4ish.

Reading...  just started reading The Victory of Reason, and it's not a light read - going to take some time and concentration.

Learning...  how ridiculous the post office has gotten (grrrr).  You wouldn't believe the forms to fill out for sending something overseas - every single item by weight and value.  Really???

Looking forward to...  extended family vacation in Oregon this summer!

2002 - Wyatt, or a bat, you choose.

In the kitchen...  no plans since I should be going to rehearsal tonight and there are plenty of leftovers for Kerry and the boys.

In the learning rooms...  at the moment (afternoon) Tate has long been done for the day, Wyatt is working on his homeschool subjects (US gov't and Chemistry), and Gunnar is finishing up his grammar lesson (underlining) and has some reading to do.

Around the house...  entropy.  You know, from order to chaos.  *sigh*

The Mother Load...  let's not speak of that when I feel so un-energetic, alrighty?

Noticing that...  my attention is wandering and I'm thinking about a nap... not sure I'm feeling 100%.

Something to remember for later...  Tate, bless his heart, has no trouble deciding to get a second implant, but will ask me if he should iron his uniform today or tomorrow, or some other trivial thing.

2002 - Tate and his truck

Something fun to share...  out for a walk with Gunnar today we ran into my sister's 1st or 2nd grade teacher and had a brief catch-up chat - fun :D

One of my favorite things...  singing :D

A few plans for the rest of the week...  homeschool, CAP, Gunnar babysits tomorrow, and the boys are going with the youth-group up to play in the snow on Saturday - really looking forward to that!

A peek into my world...  Gunnar, one year old in 2002, discovered a liking for salt, which he was sucking off the rocks at the beach.  What a cutie!

2002 - Gunnar in Oregon

Monday, January 6, 2014

Grasshopper Days


Grasshopper Days

For today, Monday, January 6, 2014

Outside my window...  still dark.  Wyatt just left to catch the bus, and it is cooooold.  Well below freezing.  I can't see the sky yet, but I'll bet it's clear.  For us, the coldest weather is clear weather.

Hearing...  Tate in the shower (the bathroom is next to my office), the furnace blowing, and Kerry puttering in the kitchen downstairs.

Pondering...  the sad family story of a woman I visited with yesterday.  There are no guarantees with raising kids... no formula that promises success.  No If I do A, B, and C, then D and E will surely follow.  I wonder where my boys will be in ten years?

Praying...  that they will be faithful.

Thankful...  for my wonderful family, my encouraging church family, sweet friends, a warm house, and these smiling faces.



Going...  to get back to our schoolwork, momentarily.  Oh, it's been a nice break!

Reading...  all the Appendices to the Lord of the Rings series, something I've never done before.  (Okay, I'm skimming.)  I was curious about some of the extra material in the new Hobbit movies and now I see where they got (some of) it.

Looking forward to...  starting new projects, this new year.

In the kitchen...  I cooked the boys breakfast.  Starting back to school after a long break needs some sort of special launch, doesn't it?  Only scrambled eggs and cinnamon rolls (the kid that pop out of a tube, with a little tub of orange icing, so don't be too impressed!) but they enjoyed it :D

In the learning rooms...  I have no idea what we'll be doing.  I completely detached from school work over the Christmas holiday.  I think Gunnar and I will start reading about medieval England - King Arthur and all that.  Tate?  Still in the Civil War, most likely.  Math?  Science?  Hmmm... Tate is still studying weather patterns.  Gunnar will be doing some kind if experiment involving wire, a 6V battery, and a compass, and somebody needs some purple cabbage juice (indicator).  Yah, and exponents, and factoring polynomials, and apostrophes and auxiliary verbs.

Around the house...  evidence of much reading.  I love that everyone reads, but for-the-love-of-Mike could you please pick up your books?!  And I have much wintery, blue and silver, icy snowflake-y stuff out.  Interestingly, though, I've discovered something.  I like blue.  (We knew that.)  But blue candles?  For some reason, with the exception of some Partylite (ie expensive) blueberry votives, blue candles have the oddest scents.  I was given some for Christmas by someone who clearly was thinking of me and my likes - blue, check; candles, check.  But I think they have a little-old-lady smell.  Flowery powder maybe?  But I'm burning them anyway, because they're pretty :D

The Mother Load...  I have a feeling that the boys will be a lot more "hands-on" today, what with getting back in the groove and everything.  And there's so much to do!  One priority is to help the boys find some sort of Bible reading plan.  Tate has read straight through the Bible twice already, and there's sure nothing wrong with that (!) but I want them to have several options in hope that something 'clicks' with them.  And I'm shying away from ones that are highly scheduled because it's too easy to get behind and then just quit.  (Read through the Bible in a year, etc.)  Suggestions?  

Noticing that...  every time the phone rings, Gunnar jumps.  Really?  Why?  It's not like he gets a lot of calls, especially in the middle of the day.  (They're usually work-related calls for Kerry, and precious few of those.)

Something to remember for later...  when the boys remember (most of the time) they'll jump ahead to open/hold doors for me.  Very sweet :D

Something fun to share...  though we don't have cable and don't really follow professional sports, the boys always look forward to the super bowl, whoever is playing.  "Our" Seahawks are doing well this year, so maybe we'll have a personal interest, but I think they just like going to Grandpa and Grandma's for a party - Grandma's annual "Soup-er Bowl".  I'm bringing chili.

A favorite quote for today...  
All of us have moments in our lives that test our courage.  
Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them.
I do love Erma Bombeck!

One of my favorite things...  real mail.

A Bible verse...  
He who forms the mountains,
creates the wind,
and reveals
His thoughts to man,
He who turns
dawn to darkness,
and treads the high places
of the earth - 
the Lord God Almighty
is His name.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  besides church, school, and CAP (the constants in our lives) we have a light week (yay!) - an orthodontist appointment (Wyatt is sooo excited), dinner with friends one evening, and possibly a (CAP) radio class on Saturday.

A peek into my world...  I took this out my window a few days ago.  Something about it looks peaceful - probably the quietness of a snowy day - and hopeful.  I think it's the way the branches all curve up at the end, like hands ready to receive what comes.  We are praying, with much hope, for a job for Kerry.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Saturday Brain Dump

1.  Ahhhh, a peaceful day.

The boys spent part of the morning working for an older couple from our church, then went out with friends for an air-soft battle this afternoon.  And I had...
... a quiet house.

I love my boys.  They're great boys :D  But there are times I just want peace and quiet.

2.  The Mother-Load still covers nearly a page, but nothing is urgent.  I paid the bills, prepped for school next week, caught up on the laundry, and - LO! - even tidied up my office.  I know, I know, will miracles never cease?




3.  We visited the in-laws earlier this week.  

And the upside is that I read all the way through The Hobbit and all but the last chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring in three days.  Finished The Two Towers yesterday (lots of reading time, waiting for appointments in Seattle), and I'm hoping to get all the way through The Return of the King before we start back up homeschooling.

Given the choice, we'd all rather stay home all through the break, but we've been on the road a lot.  I'd hoped to combine the Seattle trip with the in-law trip but that didn't work out.  And Kerry will be on the road tomorrow for a friend's 50th.  Crazy!  

We want Christmas to feel like this...


... but sometimes it ends up more like this...


So I'm extra thankful for this quiet day at home!


4.  Gee, I'm not sure there's enough chocolate in the house... (sarcasm off).  We were joking about it at the Great Scott Christmas Festivus a couple weeks ago, and came to the realization that in this house the alcohol (what little there is of it - some beer for making chili and a half a bottle of two-buck-Chuck) is just stashed in the cupboard, but the chocolate I have to keep under lock and key.  Go figure.


5.  I'm in the mood for sewing again.  I always have dreams of giving hand-made gifts at Christmas, but no time to make them.  I'm not so good at sewing that I can go very fast, you know?  And this year - like every year - I have dreams (delusions?) of planning waaaay ahead, and starting on gifts NOW.

Wish me luck :D


6.  Almost half way...  while I was puttering around, readying myself to get back to school, I realized we are heading into Week 16 of 36.  Nearly half-way through our work!  That's a good feeling.



7.  I'm still amazed by Tate...  how he can walk into what was just a routine audiology appointment, get what could be devastating news (profoundly deaf), and make a life-altering decision without batting an eye.  He's completely comfortable, positive, and confident about moving forward with the second implant.  (This from the boy who had trouble choosing which of three CD's to play on the ride home... sheesh.)  He's fearless.


7.  New year, new hopes...  we haven't heard anything yet about the job Kerry is applying for.  I'm so leery of getting my hopes up, but I can't help myself.  If he gets this job it will be the first time in twelve years that we've had any kind of predictable income.

Twelve years.


I know, I know, I have to trust in the Lord and not in money.

But, oh Lord, some stability would sure be a blessing.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bad News, Good News.

No, we haven't heard back about the job Kerry is applying for.
This is other news.

Tate and I were early risers today, because he had appointments in Seattle.

Fun times.

I mean, who doesn't enjoy getting up at oh-dark-thirty
and driving for a couple hours in the rainy dark?


Tate had another round of appointments at Seattle Children's,
which is theoretically only an hour and a half away,
but not if you want to arrive by nine,
when everyone else is going to work.



I should make Wyatt write up some kind of exponential equation
to demonstrate how much longer the drive would take
for every minute later we left home.
(I probably shouldn't admit that we once made the trip,
ninety miles, in an hour and sixteen minutes.)

Not so today.

Arrrgh.

By leaving the house at 6am we managed to arrive just before eight,
when the sun - could we have seen it -
was just rising.

Good thing we both like to read.

Though I would much rather have been home,
sitting on my 'winter throne',
and sipping a cup of tea!


Instead, we had an interesting day.

First, the bad news.

Tate has lost more hearing.
Significantly more hearing.

I can't say I was surprised as I'd been noticing a lot more
What?s and Huh?s.


While his left (CI) ear is doing wonderfully,
(he scored 100% on the AZ-Bio, for those of you who know what that means),
his right ear...
his HA ear...
previously his good ear...
is failing.
He's lost the high frequencies completely,
making it very difficult to understand speech.

I am so thankful he was implanted when he was,
and that he's done so very well with his CI.

So thankful!


For the last year or so we've kind of been in limbo.
Knowing that his hearing loss is progressive,
and wondering how and when it would progress.

Hearing with a HA is different from hearing with a CI.
It's a bit more natural for lack of a better word.
And we didn't want to take that away from him.
The CI surgery will usually eliminate any residual hearing,
so it's not a step to take lightly.
But at this point, Tate is getting little benefit from the HA.
He's not understanding speech with it.
Maybe, maybe it helps him localize sound,
but that's about it.

So what's the good news?


I'm glad you asked ;D

The good news is two-fold:

1.  Now our course is clear.
Before we were unsure, but now

clearly

he hears better with the CI than the HA.

And...


2.  As of yesterday,
our insurance covers a second implant.

Oh my gosh,
do you know how that gives me shivers?
Good shivers?!


Even better, Tate is positive and at peace with the decision.

He's been through it before,
so he knows what to expect
of the surgery,
the weirdness at first,
the adapting and the therapy.
And the benefit... oh, the benefit!


He understands that he will be

totally deaf.

I have to tell you, that scares me a little
Okay, a lot.

But not Tate.

Really, he's already there.
At night, when his equipment is off,
he's in a silent world.

So, we've started the ball rolling
and I'll keep you posted.

I'm excited!

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped,
then shall the lame man leap as an hart,
and the tongue of the dumb shall sing for joy.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Better Late Than Never...

Yes.
Christmas.
It happened.
And it was fabulous.
Better than my photography skills ;D



Tate has already finished McManus' The Night The Bear Ate Goombaw.



We have high hopes for this little device...



Somebody looks rather Grinch-y.



Wyatt guessed what this present is...
tipped off, apparently, by the the minty smell emanating through the wrapping.



Oh goody - another Outhouse calendar.



Gunnar unwrapped a note that said Go look in Mom's closet.
Joy!
(It's a sled, if you can't tell.)



And later, at Grandpa and Grandma's... Tate is obviously thrilled as they open a DVD.



When Tate is trying to smile for the camera he gets self-conscious.
But WHY? when he has a great smile like this!
And a totally awesome hat.



We thought Wyatt's hat and shirt really made a statement...
together.



All the cousins got cool hats from Aunty Tami.



And, by some strange twist of fate, I did NOT get photos of all the family.
Or of our delicious feast.

But I leave you with this...
the legendary dessert table.


Happy new year!