Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Whole New World...

Wow, I can't believe it is almost 4th of July. The summer is almost 1/3 over and it has gone way too quick. Some of the problem is that the kids didn't get out of school until June 10th this year. That seemed super late. Also, most of June has been a rainy mess. I really hope that most of the rain is behind us. At least I hope it rains at night and is sunny during the days of July and August...

This past weekend, Harry was in the play, Aladdin Jr. at our church. It has been a long time coming, as rehearsals started back in April. Last week, he was at the church from 9am-5pm every day putting on the finishing touches. It was a pretty exciting opportunity for Harry because he played Aladdin in the play. Below are some clips of him singing from the play.

Also this week, Harry got the "Justin Beiber" haircut. For those of you who don't have a clue what a "Justin Beiber" is, you can reference old pictures of Donny Osmond in the mid 70's. It's the same cut. I think all these teen stars just tell their hairdressers, "I would like the heartthrob hair, please." Anyway, he is pretty happy with it and I'm happy that he has been more interested in showering lately. I'm sure girls are not far behind...

Next week we will be going on our yearly family vacation with Erick's family up at a cabin in Brainerd. Lots of relaxing, lots of reading ( I plan on reading the girl with the dragon tattoo books), and lots of fun!

Also this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fWsXIPJn6Q

Friday, June 25, 2010

Somewhere Over the Rainbow...

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the saying, "the calm before the storm." Well, that's kind of how this week went for the Rowe's. Sunday, we celebrated Father's Day by going to the Children's Museum. The museum was featuring the first licensed Wizard of Oz educational exhibit. It was cute and fun. Becca is really to old to enjoy the Children's museum on a "kid level" anymore, but she was great about playing with Bella. Harry, on the other hand, is at that in between stage. The anguish of being torn between kid and adolescent was seen on his face as he tried on the "ant costume" for his favorite activity, "the ant hole", and found that it was clearly too tight and small.

The rest of our week has been a bit like the Wizard of Oz in reverse, everything building to the big tornado and storm. Tuesday, Erick left for another trip out of town. Pulling single parent duty always complicates the delicate schedule balance of the Rowe household. My sister had to come to the rescue this week so Becca could attend Cirque Du Soleil Alegria. I had won tickets to the show for her birthday, back in March. With Erick's busy travel schedule, it is hard to have planned ticketed events. Luckily, my sister was able to bring Becca (so I could stay home with the other two) and they really enjoyed the show! Another event this week; Bella has been taking part in her new developmental swim team everyday at 5:15pm. Also, this week, Harry has been in a drama camp all week from 9am-5pm which culminates in his performance tonight as Aladdin in Aladdin Jr. You might have noticed the close times of 5pm and 5:15pm in the above activities. Yes, it has been a challenge all week to be on time for one or the other.

The big tornado? Well that can be described in one word: camp! Becca left today for a leadership camp for Venturing at a boyscout camp, Philmont, in New Mexico. It should be a really good experience, but there were some pitfalls in getting ready. After her bags were packed, badges put on her uniform (with superglue I might add), and paperwork filled out, she left this morning. She is going with her best friend's family and will also see Mt. Rushmore and Devils Tower along the way, with a stopover in Colorado as well.

I am ready for the mild summer breeze to return...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Must Have Done Something Good...

WARNING: Today's post contains some blatant parental bragging and some high fives given to myself. Remember, you were warned!

Obstacles. We all have them in our lives. For some it is getting places on time. For others it might be race, gender or sexual preference. Bottom line is that obstacles affect all of our daily lives in some way. One thing I have come to understand about obstacles; it's not what they are that is important, it's how you handle them.

Today, Bella and I got some results on one obstacle we are facing together; success in school. As most of you know, I decided to homeschool Bella for 1/2 days to give her more repetition on subjects such as reading and math. At the end of last school year, we had Bella evaluated by a neuropsychologist. The results were tough to hear, but not really surprising. She was behind a little over a year in math and slightly behind in reading. There it was...a new obstacle for Bella to overcome. How could I best help her rise above her memory issues and get the skills and education she needed to become a successful adult? After some debating (with myself), I decided to delve into the world of homeschooling. I spent most of last summer researching books and curriculum's that would best fit Bella's needs. Fast forward a year later. Bella had her homeschool testing yesterday. In the state of Minnesota you have to have homeschooled children tested yearly by a qualified tester (not the parent) to see how the child is progressing.

The test she was given was the Peabody Individual Achievement Test. It is presented in a one on one setting and the test is given orally which we thought would be the best fit for Bella. Ironic as it seems, last year's neurological testing showed Bella to be more of an "auditory learner" than a "visual learner." I know, kind of crazy considering she is profoundly deaf without the implants!

Here are Bella's results:

Grade Equivalent

Reading Recognition: 3.2

Reading Comprehension 3.0

Math 3.5

Spelling 3.0

General Information K.9

The first number shows the grade and the second number shows the month. For example 3.0 would be this coming September for Bella since that is the month she will officially be in grade 3.

As you can see, she did score quite a bit behind in the General Information part of the test. This had a lot to do with her memory issues and her lack of recalling specific information when it hasn't been presented with a great deal of repetition. One example of a question from the general information category was "What is the name of the story that has a big bad wolf that huffs and puffs?" She remembered hearing the story, but could not remember the name, "The Three Little Pigs".

There was also a writing section to the test where she had to write a story after looking at a picture. She got a score of 8 out of 9!

Needless to say I was super excited with the results! It reinforced that homeschooling Bella for 1/2 of the day was and is the right decision. And (here comes the high fives to myself) I must be a pretty decent teacher!

Now, off to wonder what obstacles I will face next...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pomp and Circumstance...

It's official! I now have a high school student living in my home. Gosh, I'm getting old! Becca graduated from the 8th grade last Thursday. It was a very nice ceremony complete with student speeches (one of which was given by Becca), teacher speeches and some music performed from some of the middle school students.

One of the speeches given by a teacher, was from Becca's language arts teacher who also happens to be the school's teaching principal, Bob Ruud. It was a speech about having hope in the world because of young people even when awful things are happening all around us (wars, oil spills, etc). Here is an excerpt from his speech. " Have you ever been in an argument with Becca Rowe? Have you ever been about to insist on your own point, and then realized, that hey, she has a point? She may have made it louder than it needed to be, but it's a well-reasoned point, and you told her to challenge you. Have you ever? I have. Often. And I have a little bit of hope." I must say that upon hearing it, I wasn't sure if I should feel vindicated or slightly embarrassed. I guess I was just happy that Becca's section of the speech talked about her arguing "well-reasoned points" instead of visiting Bob's office for "talks" like another's student's section.
Becca's speech was touching. It spoke about lessons she learned during her time at the school (1st-8th grade) and how it is a little scary to move on to the unknown. She delivered it in a professional manner and Erick and I were proud parents!

Here's to the future...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I Gotta Feeling...

22 weeks. 156 days. 3744 hours. 224, 640 minutes. That's how long it took me to achieve my New Year's resolution. But I did it! I am now 20 pounds lighter than I was on January 4. It feels good to achieve my goal.

Losing some weight and getting toned up has been on my "to do" list for a few years now, but with the clock ticking quickly toward my 40th birthday, I decided the time was NOW! I wish I could say there was a magic pill, but truth is outside of some help from my little blue pill friend, alli, it was 6 day a week workouts and a strong willpower. Biggest challenge: no cheese!

There were many points when my motivation was deterred: The cheesy superbowl pasta dish I made for the rest of the family sure looked tasty! Oh, and when I hit a few weight plateaus where that darn scale just wouldn't change, no matter how much work I did. I can say that the payoff has been great! New clothes, new energy, and a new ability to put on a bathing suit without fear. Well, without as MUCH fear, I should say.

I will say that losing weight is a bit like fixing up your house. No matter how much work you do, there is always something else that could be done. Suddenly those eye wrinkles become more prominent when you are worrying less about your thighs. Goodness knows why the stars become so obsessed with fixing their flaws. Fix one flaw, and suddenly you discover the 10 other flaws you had never even noticed!

But today, I will just be happy with my accomplishment...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Ode to Joy...

There are some things in life that will never get old...One of them is seeing your deaf child sing and dance with their hearing classmates. I am so grateful for Isabella's cochlear implants and the opportunities they afford her everyday. Technology is a marvelous thing...

Yesterday, Bella had an end of the year fiesta/music program. She participated in a short Spanish skit called the "14 Mice". She was a rojo mouse as you can see from the picture. With Bella being homeschooled for part of the day, she doesn't take Spanish as much as the other kids in the class, because it is usually held in the morning. Learning the lines for the play was very challenging for her on several levels. First, she is not that familiar with the language since she doesn't have the class regularly. Second, her memory issues make it hard to memorize things, especially when they lack context. Finally, her hearing loss makes it difficult to clearly understand the Spanish pronunciations of words. Still, with all of those barriers, she put her whole heart into it! I am so proud that she does not shy away from challenges and instead embraces them and puts in a full effort. It is a skill that will carry her far in life...

In addition to the Spanish play, the class also sang songs from music class. Music and singing has always been one of Bella's favorite activities. I found it so appropriate that one of the songs the class sang (as a round) was Ode to Joy. Watching it put "joy" in my heart! I have attached it and hope it will put some "joy" in your day. Bella is the little red mouse in front with the floppy ears and red shirt. EnJOY!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

On the Road Again...

With 8 days left of school, the craziness of events has begun. This week: Field Day for Bella, Bike trip for Becca, Fiesta/play for Bella, Farm Day for Bella, Build a Bear Workshop for Bella with Girl Scouts and Wolf Center for Harry. Oh, and I am also facing most of the week as a single parent, as Erick left yesterday for Munich. Fun, fun! Luckily, he will be back to accompany Bella on her farm field trip on Friday. He has been on this field trip for the last four years. First 3 years were with Harry, and last year was Bella's first year. It's become a tradition. Spending the day on a farm is not my ideal day (especially when it starts with a 1 1/2 hour bus ride at 6:45am and ends at 6:00pm). Erick is much better suited to those conditions!

Yesterday, the kids and I spent the day at the pool. It was a gorgeous day! New rule at the club this year: all kids under 12 have to be able to swim 25 yds (length of the pool) by themselves or you have to be within 10 feet of them at all times. Harry passed with flying colors. Bella passed too, but more with stationary colors. She kept bumping into the side of the wall. I was still very proud. I know that having her on the developmental swim team this summer will really help her endurance. She knows all the basic strokes, now she needs to go for distance.

Next week, more craziness and events; including Becca's 8th grade graduation. EXCITING!