Monday, May 2, 2016

Planting!

During spring break I brought out the kids Easter presents from Santa Al & Ms. Ellen. They were these cute greenhouse kits. 


I had the kids work on these in the garage. I figured it would be better out there since they would probably make a mess. 



Each kit came with 6 mini pots and 6 peat pellets. 



The kids had to put water on the pellets so they would grow into dirt. 



The instructions said they only needed 1 tsp of water, but it took a lot more than that actually. 



Once the pots were full with dirt the kids got to plant their seeds. The kits came with two different types of gourds....birdhouse and baby bottle. 



Then the lids got snapped on and it was time to put them outside. 




All ready to see if we can grow some gourds! 



The kids had lots of fun....I have no idea if we will actually grow anything...the peat pellets were interesting for sure. 



Soaking up the sun!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Saltwater State Park!

Each month we set aside $60 for entertainment for our family. Sometimes we take the kids out for ice cream or we go to the cheap theater. Other times we use it for Michael and I to go on a date. We are always trying to stretch our money out and have it work the best way it possibly can. We figured one way to get a good bang for our buck was to get a Discovery Pass. It was a little over half our entertainment money for one month, but it's good for a year and we can go explore a lot of different parks now. I know we could just go to normal parks for free, but one of the main reason I decided to get this pass is because 2 of the nicest parks that are close to our house are State Parks. On this particular day we decided to head to Saltwater State Park. 


Last year there would have been no way that we would have let this little guy walk! He can be such a complainer and honestly his legs were just so little it would have taken twice as long for us to walk a trail. This year though.....he's awesome! He's ready and he loves to go. He does like to rest a bit...as you can see...but as long as he gets a little rest he does just fine! 



Check this out Mom! 



This tree got uprooted, but then didn't fall all the way down because it got wedged between these two trees! 



Life lessons on the trail! 



I'm amazed this tree is even still standing since it's roots are almost completely uncovered! 



It was a perfect day for a hike...not hot, but not cold either! 



Taking another rest! Not sure why Zeke's making a grumpy face. 



Checking out the little stream. 



Jackson found a snail he thought was dead. 



Then we touched it and it moved! 



Daddy's boy! This kid does SO much better for his Daddy. For example when Daddy drops him off at the church nursery he's fine....when I drop him off he cries and makes a big fuss! I guess he just "mans up" for his Daddy! 



Another rest! 



Handsome guys! 



Let's see where we are on the trail! 



Blazing his own trail! 



Where he leads they will follow! 



They reached the top! 



As Owen said we were being romantic! 



The underneath side of the bridge! 



Another hill another challenge! 



He passed though! 



Almost all of them made it to the top of the rock line. Ella was climbing in line with Owen about 10 ft back and almost got hit by a rock that came loose from up above where Owen was. That was a little scary since they were good sized rocks! 



We ended the hike at a little stream! Where we hung out for quite awhile. The kids had fun poking sticks in the water, climbing logs and watching the ducks! 






After the hike we headed down to the water. It was significantly cooler with the wind



The kids were searching for shells and especially a crab claw! 



I was staying away from that since I could see sand fleas jumping everywhere...ewww! 



And of course Owen spent the whole time at the water line. After that we went to Safeway where Michael got us all ice cream treats. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Special Education Services!

Since my last post about Ella's IEP a lot has happened. First off one of the main reasons she didn't qualify for an IEP was because her Neurologist didn't feel comfortable saying that her short term memory issues were actually caused from the Hydrocephalus. Her Neurologist did want her to see a Neuropsychologist though. I wasn't sure what this appointment was going to entail. I thought it might be where Ella is given some tests and the Dr will be able to know how she learns best or something like that. Really though I was clueless as to what this appointment was all about. 

On February 24th the kids had early dismissal from school so I took all 4 of them with me to Ella's appointment. I had planned that we would probably have to wait for a little while so I had a bag with snacks and card games. Thankfully since this is a pediatric office they are quite well prepared to entertain the kids. 

After a while Ella needed to use the restroom and we actually ended up running into Dr. Dorsch as she was coming out to get us. 

The appointment ended up being quite different than I envisioned. Basically she had toys for the kids to play with and she talked and asked me questions about Ella. She wanted to know things like when she crawled, walked and talked. She also wanted to know some of our family history and about our home life. Then she started talking and basically it became clear to me that she was going to be a major advocate for Ella. 

She explained that you don't normally see people that can talk, walk and generally function from day to day walking around with short term memory issues. It's just not normal. She talked about how we have a very stimulating home and how Ella has not lacked in exposure to all sorts of skills. She even commented on how bright Zeke was because he's just living in our home and being exposed to older siblings. We haven't started formally teaching him anything and he can already count to 12, he can recognize letters and he knows how to spell his name. So basically Ella's delay in learning has nothing to do with our home life or our family medical history. 

She was very confident that Ella's short term memory issues and her learning delays were a direct result from her Hydrocephalus. Hearing this felt like I finally crossed the finish line in a race! I have been working towards getting Ella education services since before she was 3 years old. At Birth - 3 she scored just over the line for them to offer her services, with ECAEP she literally was one point away from being able to qualify for state special education preschool. Every time I tried to get her help she was just a little too good in certain areas. In fact with the IEP testing she was low in certain areas, but then high in other areas and when you stopped and thought about it of course she needed assistance. That's exactly what Dr. Dorsch said....and she was willing to put whatever she needed in an official letter to the school psychologist in order to help Ella qualify for special education services at school. Praise the LORD!!! 

She was also very clear about Ella being retained for Kindergarten. In fact she wants her to repeat it again and stay with Ms. Asselin. Since Ella has short term memory issues if she stays with the same teacher there will be things she doesn't have to relearn such as...teacher style and classroom location. We as an IEP team have to come to the conclusion that she will be retained. I for one am going to fight for it. I don't really think I'll have to fight hard, but just in case I'm ready for it. My thinking is Kindergarten is the foundation of all your learning...you want it to be firm and have a strong understanding of the basics. Just like with a house you wouldn't start building the frame of the house if the foundation wasn't firm. Right now Ella's foundation is Play-Doh. It's taking shape and holding together, but it's not yet firm. She needs more time....school only gets harder! 

Back to Dr. Dorsch....she must have written the letter later that day or early the next morning and then faxed it to the school psychologist because the very next day I got a call from Mrs. Perkins saying that Ella now qualifies for Special Education Services!!!! That was music to my ears!!! 

We met as an IEP team on March 29th and discussed Ella's new goals. She is receiving Special Education for Reading, Writing and Math. She's also still going to have Speech Therapy. For speech she still meets for 30 minutes a week, but for her other services she receives 20 minutes for each subject every single day!!! That's 60 minutes a day of special education services. She meets with Ms. Burdsall for reading and math and with Ms. Alisa for writing. At first I wasn't sure how Ella was going to like it since she's being pulled from her class and her classmates, but she really loves it! The best part is she isn't going to miss out on any of her specials such as library, music and PE. 

Her first time meeting with Mrs. Burdsall was the week before spring break. Ella came home and said, "Mama...I can spell Mom....MMMM....M.....Ahhhhh.....O.......MMMM.....M!" I was so proud of her! 


Student Led Conferences were the week after spring break and after seeing her classroom results it just because more and more clear to me that she really does need to retake Kindergarten. She just needs more time and there is nothing wrong with that at all. Ella is a very smart girl she just needs extra time to retain information. We would not be doing her any favors by letting her advance to 1st grade when she's not ready. 

At conferences I asked Mrs. Burdsall if she had any books that I could take home that are the level that Ella is reading at. Currently she's reading at a level A for Fontus & Pinnell curriculum. She let me take home a few copies of books that she reads during her special education time. She even gave us this fun purple pouch to keep them in since we do need to return them to the school.  


A couple days after bringing them home I sat down at the dining room table with Ella and she read me these 3 books. She knows some words for sure, but she also recognizes patterns and just goes with it. She's also good at using the pictures to help her with the words. Which is totally great....she is using the resources she has and that's going to be a great tool for her all of her life. 

I'm so truly proud of my girl! She is such an amazing example in regards to never giving up and never getting discouraged. She has the most positive outlook and she absolutely LOVES learning, LOVES school and LOVES all her teachers. They are such a blessing to her and I know she's a blessing to them. 

I've been praising God for this outcome. I know it didn't happen when I wanted it to, but it did happen in God's timing and that's the best! I'm so happy that Ella is getting the services she deserves. I'm so thankful for these wonderful ladies that are working so hard to help Ella learn and retain information. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

First Time Skating!

The Friday of spring break was the day we were going to Asmeriah's party. Thankfully Jackson was finally feeling better. Michael was tired from working and I knew that I didn't want to bring all 4 kids by myself so he kept Owen and Zeke at home. Owen wasn't really interested in skating and Zeke would honestly be such a mess. He is the clumsiest kid around!  


Picture with the birthday girl!!! 



I figured that this was the first time I had been skating since the late 90's! I used to spend every Friday night at Skate King in Bellevue for Christian skate night. That was totally my jam! Back then they didn't have these cool PVC things that help kids learn. They are basically walkers for children on castor wheels. 


I only brought my phone so the pictures aren't the best. After the first picture with the walker things I ended up finding a taller one for Jack since he was having to bend over too far with the smaller one. Jackson tried so hard to skate and actually get it. He unfortunately is just like his father and was all over the place. I tried explaining to him it's the same sort of thing like sliding on your socks at home, but he still wasn't getting it. Ella on the other hand really did great! She took to it right away. Jackson ending up falling probably around 20 times and Ella only fell 3 times. 


Taking a break from all that hard work!



Picture with Mama! 



The party was so fun and it was so nice to try out skating with the kids and not have to pay. I had so much fun skating myself. It took me a couple laps, but I got my skating legs back. I could have spend hours out there! I was already sore from all the yard work we had been doing and I could definitely feel my backside getting sore from skating. My biggest worry though was getting a blister on my foot...thankfully that didn't happen! 

I think it would be fun for me to Jack and Ella again another time. They have family night on Wednesday nights so I might just have to do that sometime this summer! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Wheels & Water!

Thursday April 7th was a super busy day. First we were supposed to meet at my friend Natalie's house to play, but then Jack still had a temperature so we had to alter the plans. We hadn't really been able to get together all year so we didn't want to cancel. Instead of us going to her house and spreading our germs we decided to meet at the school so the kids could play together and we could chat. Even though Jack had a temperature he was feeling good so I didn't feel bad taking him out to play.  


The kids wanted to bring their riding toys so they could ride around the concrete area at the school. There is this fun ramp that they enjoyed going down. 



Zeke is so good at his scooter...it still scares me a little when I see him going so fast though! 



Ella's turn! 



Jackson is getting more and more daring with his bike...slowly, but surely! 

Natalie and I had a lot of fun catching up and the kids had fun getting to do things they normally can't do at school because of the rules. 

We had to cut our time short though because the dirt and gravel were being delivered to our house and the only time frame the lady could give me was after noon. So I made sure we were home before noon. 


Since it was pretty nice out the kids wanted to run through the sprinkler. 



Zeke looks so thrilled here...not sure what he was sad about though! 



Jackson running through!




Ella's turn!



Even thought it was beautiful out there was a slight breeze and it was a little chilly. Zeke didn't even attempt to get wet! 



They decided they should line my bench with their towels and sit on it. 



Cute milky white skin! In will only take a few weeks of summer break and they will be brown as biscuits! 

Owen wasn't interested in the water...he was too busy riding his Crazy Cart. Side Note: He only owes $35 now!



What do you do after all that fun? You eat the leftover Tuxedo cake from Easter that Mom forgot about in the frig out in the garage. 



Who needs plates...we just need forks! 



Serious eater! 
  

Mmmm....that was yummy! 

  

We are all about bunny ears right now! 



So much in fact Zeke gives them to himself! 



My sweet 6 year old girl! 




He's a goofball! 



Jackson in his Spiderman pose and Ella making upside down bunny ears! 



He's such a cool dude! 

A few hours later the truck showed up with all the dirt and gravel and it was time to work!