Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Of All Places...

I've mentioned before that my children think of the house as their personal laundry basket. In particular, and completely gross to me, is the fact that they leave their undies laying where ever they drop them.

And usually with the skiddy marks up. (They are boys, you know!)

So, imagine what I thought when I went into their equally gross boy-bathroom and saw where Owen left his underwear this time. I'm not sure how they ended up on the door knob but honestly, I'm not sure that I want to know.

But, come on Owen. Of all places to leave your underwear? It must have taken some effort to get them up on the door handle. I bet he yelled "three points" when they landed on the door knob.

And has Shane or Ken not seen them? Am I the only one who noticed them?

Did I mention that they've been on there for at least four or five days now? Apparently they are now being used as door decor. The bad part is that I know that both boys have seen them there because they had to shut the door when they took a shower.

All I can say is boys...sheesh.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wasted Real Estate

When Ken goes out of town, the boys always sleep with me. It's usually a fight between them. They say my bed is more comfy. Truth be told, they just don't want the other one to have something that they don't.

Shane is okay to sleep with now. He's no longer sleeping on top of my head and he's outgrown the need to sleep horizonal across the bed.

Owen is another story all together. He sleeps just like he does everything else. And if you know him, you know what that means! If you don't know him, he never stops moving. Ever.

And we may as well be sleeping in a twin bed because he has to sleep right beside me. If he just slept still and quietly that would be fine. But instead, he turns into Octopus-man and is all over the place. By "beside me" I mean "right on top of me!"

I can't count how many karate chop kicks I took to the back or how many times he rolled over and sucker punched me in the stomach. I'm not even sure how he managed to do that since he was stuck to me like a siamese twin!

Oh I push him back onto his side of the bed. But it just doesn't matter because he comes right back over to my side of the bed.

Did I mention that I have a king size bed? I may as well have slept in his bed with him because that other side of the bed was just wasted real estate.

When he came downstairs this morning, I asked him how he slept and he said "great!"

Well, at least one of us did. ;)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Sweet Spot

Owen: Mom, where is the sweet spot on Shane's tennis racket?

ME: In the center of the racket strings. It's always in the center of the racket.

OWEN: Okay.

ME: Where's YOUR sweet spot, Owen? (Thinking that he would answer his heart.)

OWEN: All over. Duh. There's not just "one" spot, Mom! I'm sweet all over!


Monday, September 21, 2009

Maybe He's Not Ready...

Every parent has to decide when they're kids are responsible enough to be left home alone. I checked into it and there's no law on the books that states when a child can be left alone.

Shane's 10 and he's pretty responsible. Well, okay. He's usually just glued to the TV when he's left to his own devices so I'm not too worried about him getting into anything. And he knows not to answer the door...even when we're at home.

But, after this morning, I'm thinking that maybe Shane's not ready for the responsibility of being left alone. Even for a few minutes.

Or maybe just just needs to listen to my instructions. Not just listen to them...but follow them!

So....I dropped Owen off at the eye doctor a few minutes before 8 and called Shane to tell him to get his shoes on because I was on my way home to get him on the bus. (The eye doctor is about 5 minutes away from our house.)

He didn't answer. I called 12 times.

I was panicked by the time I got home. And mad that he wouldn't answer the phone.

When I opened the door, he wasn't there. Neither was his backpack. My anger went straight to panic.

I raced over to my neighbor Emily's to see if he was there.

Her hubby Scott answered the door with Emily right behind him. Nope. He wasn't there.

So then I started really freaking out.

I saw my other neighbor in his yard and yelled to him. He said that he wasn't at his house either.

But then he looked down the street and said that he saw him at the bus stop.



15 minutes early.

So I proceeded to apologize to Emily and Scott for bringing them into my freak out moment. With a sidebar of...."guess I won't be needing that second cup of coffee afterall."

I then went up the street and got Shane.

He said that he saw me drive by and waved but I didn't see him.

Which was entirely possible because I was intent on getting home to beat his butt for not answering my phone calls. (Well, not really, but he was going to get a good talking to.)

Got him home (and probably scared the pee out of him because I was so scared) and asked him what in the heck was he doing.

First...he didn't listen to me when I told him that I would be right back to put him on the bus so he didn't know what he was doing.

Then he said that he saw the handicap bus drive by and thought he was late for the bus so he went up to the stop.

But...before he did that...he answered the phone to another neighborhood mom (which is a big no-no!)

And then left for the bus (second big no-no).

But...he said that he "left a note" which I obviously never saw.

I finally saw it later this morning.

It was written on my dry eraser board.


I guess he failed the test and won't be staying home alone again until he's 18.

Ugh. And how was your Monday?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Trying Something New

When Owen asked to sign up for flag football, Shane asked if he could as well. So before he could change his mind, I signed him up...and paid for it....so there was no way that he could back out. I was surprised that he was willing to put himself out there.

And he's really been stretching himself to the limit. Most of these kids have been playing for years. But I'm proud of him for hanging in there and trying. He doesn't seem to get too down on himself. He's just having fun, which is what it's all about.

A few select photos from his football game. :)

Center...his favorite position so far.

Shane decides to try something new...which for him is a BIG deal. And for his reward? Check out the size of the kid that he is responsible for guarding.

I'd truly understand if he never wanted to play again. I thought about asking the kid for his drivers license. :p

His facial expression cracks me up. I'd feel that way too if that kid was coming straight at me!

A little more cautious about getting the flags than most kids.

But yet he pressed on.

And caught himself a flag.

If anyone can figure out how to get him to stop messing with his hands, let me know!

He is very attentive to the coach and is trying to learn everything he can about the game. He told me that he noticed that people's feet were pointed in the same direction as the direction that they ran.

What other kid would think about looking at something like that?

God I love that kid.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Owen begged...no, seriously, begged us to let him play flag football. So I checked into it and it was the right season. And believe it or not, I didn't miss the sign-up deadline like I usually do.

I took tons of pictures at his last flag football game. I figured that he'd be a natural (he's pretty athletic and has no fear) and I was right. He was all over the place...I'm thinking that we should rename him Owen Manning because surely he belongs in that family with his moves.

The good thing about five and six-year-olds is that you can pretty much move them where you want them to go instead of telling them over and over, which is what the coaches eventually opted to do after trying to wrangle them.

Wrangling them....

Forget it...just move here...

Owen was usually the center, quarterback or safety for the entire game. In this next sequence of shots, you can see why they didn't score a point. :p

The center sets the ball to hike to Owen...

And hike, hike...

Dude...take the ball...

No, seriously, dude. Take the ball. That was the play...

Oh...you mean me. Okay. I'll just run through these guys with green shirts on...

And...play over...

But Owen was always quick to huddle everyone back together again (I suppose that is part of his new found responsibilities as a 7 year old)...

As I said, he was always running the ball...

Or chasing the flag....

See this little kid in the green? His name is Joshua. And do you know how I knew that? Because his dad was running up and down the field yelling "GET HIM, JOSHUA! GET HIM!" in a really menacing tone. Seriously? These are five and six year olds.

At one point, the dad-from-h-e-double-hockey-sticks was yelling at Joshua to get Owen. So I looked at him (because I was standing right beside of him) and yelled "GO OWEN, GO!"

I think that he got the hint because he didn't come near me again for the whole game. :p But...really...I could do a whole rant post about how parents behave at these games.

And I'm sure that I will before it's all over. ;)

Let's just say that Owen's play pretty much followed his personality and leave it at that. He was fun to watch.

Well. Except for the time that he stuck the football in the opponents face when he had the ball. He didn't even do it at the right moment either. They had him in a safety in their end zone. Such a proud parent moment.

Ah. Good times. Good times. :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy 7th Birthday, Owen!

Happy 7th birthday, Owen!

My mom called him today to wish him happy birthday. She said something to the effect that he was a big 7 year old now.

Owen's response was "yeah...I know. It means that I have more responsibility now."

LOL. I truly hope that he means he's up for the challenge of more responsibility!

Mom called me later just to check and make sure she heard him correctly.

Hppy birthday, Owen!

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Journey Into A Child's Visual Learning "Disability"

I never realized how important one's vision was until Owen started having education-related problems in school. Oh I know that it's important for one to see things with 20/20 vision. That's not the vision that I'm talking about.

What I'm talking about is how people process things with their vision. Not just seeing things but properly seeing things and then having their visual image tell them what they are seeing and what to do next.

And I sure got schooled on the importance of visual processing this past school year with Owen.

This is going to be a long post but it's important information to have and if it helps just one other person, then I've done a good thing. So before I go into the actual visual problem with Owen, I should probably give you some background information about what led up to my education on vision and just how important it is.


Back in preschool, Owen had a really hard time learning his letters. Especially the b's, d's and q's. I just chalked it up to his young age and he finally learned them by the end of the year so I wasn't too worried. It was mentally noted though.

Moving into Kindergarten, his writings and drawings were so immature. They looked like his preschool work. His drawings were stick or bowling ball figures with no detail. No color. (The example below is colorful only because the teacher made them use color.) And his written work definitely wasn't up to where the other kids' written work was.

But the thing was that he was falling at the top of his class as far as reading groups and math groups. I spoke with his Kindergarten teacher who said that it could be fine motor skills issues because of his age (he's the youngest in the class). Although she agreed that it could be a problem but said that we should just monitor it until he matures a little. I agreed with her.

Moving into first grade, he was placed in the gifted program at the beginning of the year. His logic and reasoning is impressive for a kid his age and his math is definitely above where he should be. But...he couldn't keep up with the other kids because they were reading and writing at a much higher level so...we pulled him out of the program.

His writing was still a problem. His words and letters ran together. The sentences he wrote were uphill. They were downhill. Letters (and numbers) were flipping around. I spoke to his teacher about it and she agreed that it was a problem. The final straw came when he brought home a mid-term exemplar for math and he got the equivalent of a d/f on it. And these were things that I knew he knew how to do.

I called a meeting with his teacher and then showed the work to Ken. (Just so you know...Ken only sees things that are of utmost importance.) He looked at it and asked if I recognized that Owen had gotten three or four of the problems marked wrong but he had inverted the numbers and had actually gotten them correct for how he did the problem. So instead of doing 17-9, he did 71-9. He also got his sequential ordering wrong for what the teacher wanted but it was right for how he saw it.


In our meeting, his teacher and I both agreed that there was a problem. Her main concern was 1) there has been no progress in his writing since the beginning of the year; and 2) he abilities were much higher than the work that he was showing. I totally agreed with her concerns. Additionally, I thought that there was no way that a kid could start out in the gifted program and then slide down to the middle of the class without something being wrong.

His teacher wanted to do a child study with the various school officials to see if he had a learning disability that would qualify him for an Individual Education Plan (IEP). I was in agreement. Something was wrong and we needed to figure it out.


My friend Beth tried to warn me about what the meetings would be like. But nothing could have prepared me. At the first meeting, I was there along with his teacher, the Vice Principal, the county school psychologist, the county occupational therapist and the school resource teacher. It took place in a small room where there was barely enough room for us to sit around the table...and no windows.

The various individuals were going to observe him during the next 60 days and give their opinions. For my part, I wanted to rule out any factors that we could and make sure that there was nothing going on with his vision. And since he wears glasses, the team wanted to know if it was vision related. I said that I knew that his vision itself was fine because he's been to the eye doctor every year since he was 3 and has been wearing glasses since then and sees 20/20.

But something told me to have him checked anyway so off we go to the eye doctor. I told him what was going on and showed him Owen's classwork. He thought that it was a visual processing problem and referred me over to his colleague who does visual therapy and the other optometrist in his office who deals specifically with children who have visual related learning disabilities.


The eye doctor said that his binocular vision was causing his eyes to cross at a much further point from his face than it should (about a foot away from his face rather than right in front of his face) and he wasn't able to fuse the images together properly.

The result was words and numbers were jumping all over the page. Instead of seeing the words "I love you" he saw "I you love". Instead of seeing "17", he saw "71". The lines on his paper were also jumping all over the place and he was seeing more than one image of the same thing.

It's not a cross-eyed problem. It's not a dyslexic problem. It's a visual processing problem. He simply can not process things that are close to his face (or coming at him such as a tennis) properly or quickly enough. The result also is that his memory isn't very good because he doesn't see it properly, it hinders his ability to remember it.

This is why he was able to recall spelling words in Kindergarten and was able to recall how to spell words that were verbally given to him.

This doesn't affect his ability to see far off though since viewing things far off does not cause his eyes to cross too soon. His eyes are focused straight ahead when doing things like looking at a blackboard.

And to look at him, you'd never know. But the fact that Owen was asking for help told me that it was pretty bad. He never admits to having a problem! He was super frustrated that he wasn't able to complete the work as quickly as the other kids and he hated turning in incomplete assignments.

Dr. Tsai recommended that he go through visual therapy which would help strengthen his eye muscles and help him learn to focus them properly.

She said that it would help him with the writing (spacing) problems and the reversal of letters and numbers and would help him be able to focus and stop fidgiting in class.


The end of the 60 day observation was up and it was time to meet with the school IEP team again. Listening to their reports on Owen was a little frustrating to say the least. Basically it boiled down to (for them anyway) the fact that Owen couldn't sit still and focus on his work and, although they can not say that he's ADD, that maybe we should consider ADD as a source of the problem. Not so much in those specific words but to me...that was their impression.

So, I told them what the optometrist had diagnosed him with and told them that while I wasn't disregarding their concerns about him having ADD, I preferred to put the breaks on the IEP meeting process right now and reconvene at the beginning of the year and put him into Visual Therapy with our optometrist over the summer before we incorrectly diagonsis of ADD.


He started seeing Colleen at Dr. Powell, Smart and Tsai's office. We decided to do it over the summer with an intense treatment of three times a week at one hour. She worked with him all summer on focusing, tracking things and memorization. Some of the exercises that she did with him required him to track objects, letters and numbers on a page (such as he would have to do in school) and doing memory recall of things that he had seen.

I can tell you right now that I can now understand why Owen had a hard time keeping up in school after seeing some of the exercises that she did with him. As a way of comparing his processing to a "normal" child's, she would have Shane do the same thing that Owen was doing...and Shane had no problem doing it.

She had a baseball sized ball suspended from the ceiling on a string and she would have him lay under the ball. She would spin the ball (slowly) and he would have to track it with one eye, then the other then with both. He wasn't able to track it for long and it was difficult for him to call out the letters or numbers on the ball. Shane did it just fine (it's not an age-related thing.)

Things such as tracking a pencil with his eyes was difficult. Things such as touching something with the opposite hand was almost impossible. Tracking things across a page (like trying to find a specific letter or number) really frustrated him.

Fortunately, he was able to pull it together and make it through the treatment. They tested him at the end of the treatment (with the same test that he had done at the beginning) and he is now testing at age level for his visual processing.


When I went to the eye doctor for my check up, Dr. Tsai showed me what he was seeing.


I couldn't track the words on the page. I had to use my finger and track the words so I wouldn't lose my place. Everything was fuzzy and the words were jumping all over the place. Nothing was straight.

I can now completely understand why Owen, as a six year old boy, couldn't sit still for more than five minutes. I mean really. Who wants to sit there and do work when it's so hard? Not me. And surely not a six year old boy!

It totally explains why his writings were up and down the page, why the spacings were incorrect and everything ran together and why his math was wrong so often even when I knew he knew the answers and how to do the problems.


Okay. So there's one person in all of this whose opinion no one asked while it was going on (except for me of course). After the treatment, I asked him what he thought about before and after.

He said:

1. Now he can open up a door properly because before he would go to grab the handle on the left...but it would be the double image of the handle and the handle was actually on the other side of the door.

2. Now he can hit a tennis ball where as before, he would hit at the ball coming over "here" (which was on his left) but he would miss it because it was actually on his right. (His inability to track a tennis ball was actually one of the things that tipped me off that something wasn't right.)

3. Now the words on a page and the lines on the page weren't fuzzy and jumping all over the place. He said that they look clear now.

That's pretty common with kids who have this problem. They're so use to seeing everything in double or fuzzy that they don't know any other way and will answer "no" when you ask them if they are seeing double images. I asked Owen and he said no. I even described it to him and he still said that he wasn't seeing double.

So, we've started the school year with a new teacher. She introduced herself and said that she had spoken to his teacher from last year and knew all about what was going on, which is encouraging to me because she already had some knowledge coming into the school year. Plus, she'll be his teacher again next year so if we don't have this straightened out, there will be a consistent dynamic in the picture.

I'm hoping that this will solve Owen's learning problem at school. I just know that last year, he came home with papers like this:

And the first paper he brought home this year was MUCH improved in the hand writing department and all of his math problems (including 33 of them on another paper) were correct.

I should add that this problem is not related to his actual vision. A person with 20/20 vision could have this problem.

I'm anxious to see how his work is this year and how his behavior is this year and whether there is an improvement on his ability to focus as well as perform his work up to the standards that we know he is capable of doing. He will continue with an at-home therapy program for a few months as well as see his eye therapist once a week for a month.

But, according to the doctor, once he's done with the therapy, he should be good to go. And that's what we're hoping for!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

First Day of School

These are obligatory pictures for an obligatory post because what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't blog about the first day of school? So, here we are...first day of 5th grade for Shane (and last year of elementary school!) and first day of second grade for Owen.

For a look back at previous first days of school, check this post out.

Nothing better than seeing your kids throwing gangsta signs. Meh.

And can I hear a big woo-hoo since I survived another summer!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cleaning Up: 6 Year Old Style

His room was pitch black dark when I went to put Owen into bed the other night so I flipped on his nightlight. I made the comment that we needed to see where we were going so we wouldn't step on anything.

Owen looked at me and said it wasn't necessary.

I asked him why not.

He pointed to a pile of toys that was shoved near the wall and said that he had cleared a path through the toys so we wouldn't step on anything at night so the night light wasn't necessary. lol

Oh well. I suppose that *is* easier than actually cleaning up your room.

Although, I do like the way he thinks. I just wish he'd use his thinking for something productive.

Like figuring out the fastest way to actually clean his room. :p

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Seriously....What's All the Uproar About?

I usually steer away from politics on this blog. And that's because I usually try to steer away from it in real life. I find that most people are very opinionated about their political beliefs but are unable to listen to others opinions and have a civil discussion without getting all bent out of shape.

I've had parents at the kids school refuse to look at me since the election because I didn't agree fully with their opinion. And by "didn't agree with," I mean that I only said that I hadn't made up my mind yet.

And the fact that I'm really very middle of the road on my political beliefs probably lends itself to the lack of desire to do battle.

I can see both sides of the discussion and I have no desire to make someone else feel stupid about their opinions as I am frequently made to feel stupid (maybe not intentionally) because I'm not in agreement with someone's political opinions. I have voted both Democrat AND Republican.

But...really. This time I can not keep my mouth shut.

What is so wrong about someone telling your kids to do well in school, to try their hardest and that they are responsible for making those things happen?

Who cares who it is. The President of the United States, the President of the PTA, a teacher, a grandparent, a sibling or the janitor at the school.

What are the people afraid of who strongly disagree with President Obama giving our kids a positive message and encouragement to be successful in school and life? Seriously.

Is it that you don't want time taken away from the school day for it?

Because, if so, you should be complaining louder than the schools occasionally show Disney movies during the day to the kids instead of teaching them, thus wasting valuable educational time.

Is is that you are afraid that he's going to go on TV and tell your child that they should vote Democrat and Republicans are all Satan? Or that abortion should be legal and guns outlawed?

Because, if so, surely to God you can not truly believe that anyone who has made it to the Presidency is stupid enough (politically) to do something like that.

But if he did, wouldn't it give you, as a parent, a GREAT opportunity to have an open discussion with your child about your beliefs and why you believe the things that you do.

And if he did, would it really be so awful that your child is exposed to a different opinion or some other view point of the world?

My friend is hard core conservative and listens to Rush Limbaugh in her car. WITH MY CHILD IN THERE!!!! OMG. HE IS GOING TO VOTE REPUBLICAN WHEN HE GROWS UP!

And if he did, that would be okay. Because he's going to grow up exposed to all different opinions on things and I will have the comfort of knowing that he made the best educated decision for him.

Having children only exposed to certain opinions, beliefs or cultures isn't going to do the child any good in dealing with the real world. Eventually that child is going to grow up and have to work with all types of people with all types of opinions. Better to prepare them now than later when they enter the workforce and don't know how to compromise, listen or have a civil discussion on something.

So those of you who were adamentally opposed to Obama speaking to the kids, what did he say that was so wrong?

Does the conversation in your head go something like "I'm sorry, little Johnny, but I don't believe that you should try your best and you're not responsible for yourself. Don't listen to Obama. THAT MAN IS A DEMOCRAT!!!!"

Personally, I want my kids exposed to different opinions, cultures and beliefs. It will make them a better person for it. More educated, more compassionate and more able to deal with real life situations.

For the people who are so opposed to President Obama speaking to the kids, would you also be opposed to President Bush speaking to them?

I didn't mean to take a left turn here. I just can not understand what everyone is in such an uproar over.

You have to ask yourself what people are so afraid of. President Obama is our president and I respect the office.

But as a parent, I have much more influence over what my kids see and think on a daily basis than any 30 minute speech that President Obama gives.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The "Ken" Face

If anyone ever thinks that Ken is not the father of these children, they only have to see Shane give me the "Ken Dablydoo" face and they will then know differently.

Heh. I love that face.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Yay For GREAT Teachers!

It's going to be a great year at the kids school. I can already tell that good things are coming. The boys had their open house last night at the school where they met the teachers.

Owen's teacher came up and introduced heself to me and said that she had read the pamplet (that I had given to his previous teacher) on Owen's vision problem and the reports from our IEP meetiings and was aware of everything that was going on with him. She said that she understood that he was very bright, especially in math, and was looking forward to working with him.

Seriously?! This is going to be a good...no, a great...year! And since she's a looping teacher, we'll have her for two years.

For those of you who don't know what a looping teacher is, the kids move from one grade to the next with the same class and teacher. It's a great situation if you have a good teacher.

But...wait. That's not all I get this year. As a bonus to Owen's teacher, I also get a GREAT teacher for Shane! And since she's a looping teacher, Shane got to stay with his teacher from last year again this year!

I had mentioned to his teacher that I was having problems finding the correct notebooks for Shane. And she sent me an email that she had stopped by the store last night after the open house and had picked some up in case I couldn't find them.


What did I do to do deserve this year? It's going to be an awesome year. Yay for GREAT teachers!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Little Red Shoes

Dear Little Pink Shoes, and Little Green Crocks:

I'm sorry to tell you this in such an impersonal way...through a blog entry and all...but I feel that there's something that you must be made aware of. There is a new love in my life.

It's not you. Really. It's me. I still love you and all that but my new love is just so shiny and fancy. And fire engine red! You know how I love the color red!

So, don't take it too hard. I think that Mary Mayken has outgrown her love for you anyway because you continue to hurt her. It couldn't go on forever and you knew it.

I know that you're wondering who this love is so I present to you....Little Red Shoes! They're very similar to you both (which is probably why I loved them the first time I saw them) so you can't be too mad.

Little Red Shoes are so cute that even the bowling alley folks fell for them and didn't make Mary Mayken remove them.

Now...that's LOVE!!!

As I said, it's me...not you. We ladies (or ladies in training in Mary Mayken's case) are fickle about our love anyway so take heart in the fact that there will be a new love in town that will replace the one that broke your heart.

But until that happens, the Little Red Shoes are the new love in my life. Sorry. :)