Friday, June 30, 2006

good news

Thank you everyone for all the good thoughts and prayers... I just got the news that it's benign.

Whew! It's time to go celebrate!


for my bro...

My brother lives in Ireland, and hasn't been back to the States for more than two years. He commented recently on my niece's blog, that he's lived overseas for so long that it's hard for him to picture the places and people we talk about. So I thought I'd post some pictures of our house (which he's never seen)... hopefully this will give him some mental images to put with the places we talk about.

So.... come on in Steve, the door is open and we're waiting for you!



 As you can see, Emma is a little confused (so what else is new?!) by my picture taking.

Going in the front door takes you into the "big" living room. (You can see the bird feeder just outside the window on the far side of the room.. we love to sit and watch the birds from that window.)

 

 Here you are inside the same room. If it was winter there would probably be a nice fire in the fireplace (and if I let the kids talk me into it, we would pull out some smaller pieces of kindling to roast marshmallows on...).

As it is, it's plenty warm outside...

 

 Here's the same room from another angle...

You're standing by Mom's green chair looking up the stairs into the "little" living room (the family room). The door next to the stairs leads down to the basement.

 

 Here we are in the little living room, which is where the kids hang out most of the time. My computer is also in this room, so I spend a lot of time here as well!

 Ok... up a couple more steps and you are in the kitchen/dining room.

(Yeah, the house has lots of steps... I don't mind them, but dh gets pretty tired of them sometimes.)

 

 Here is the view out the backdoor. There is just a little back porch which overlooks the neighbor's barn. If you look closely you can see a deer grazing on the bush just on the other side of the fence...

 

 Well, that's it for now Steve. I'll show you around the rest of the house later...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Thoughts of a mom

Some of you may have seen this before, I posted it on my old blog. This is one of my favorites though, and it seemeed like a good time for a repeat...  

Thoughts of a Mom
By Maureen K. Higgins

Many of you I have never even met face to face, but I've searched you out every day. I've looked for you on the Internet, on playgrounds and in grocery stores. I've become an expert at identifying you. You are well worn. You are stronger than you ever wanted to be. Your words ring experience, experience you culled with your very heart and soul. You are compassionate beyond the expectations of this world. You are my "sisters."

 Yes, you and I, my friend, are sisters in a sorority. A very elite sorority. We are special. Just like any other sorority, we were chosen to be members. Some of us were invited to join immediately, some not for months or even years. Some of us even tried to refuse membership, but to no avail.

 We were initiated in neurologist's offices and NICU units, in obstetrician's offices, in emergency rooms, and during ultrasounds. We were initiated with somber telephone calls, consultations, evaluations, blood tests, x-rays, MRI films, and heart surgeries.

 All of us have one thing in common. One day things were fine. We were pregnant, or we had just given birth, or we were nursing our newborn, or we were playing with our toddler. Yes, one minute everything was fine. Then, whether it happened in an instant, as it often does, or over the course of a few weeks or months, our entire lives changed. Something wasn't quite right. Then we found ourselves mothers of children with special needs.

 We are united, we sisters, regardless of the diversity of our children's special needs. Some of our children undergo chemotherapy. Some need respirators and ventilators. Some are unable to talk, some are unable to walk. Some eat through feeding tubes. Some live in a different world.

 We do not discriminate against those mothers whose children's needs are not as "special" as our child's. We have mutual respect and empathy for all the women who walk in our shoes.

 We are knowledgeable. We have educated ourselves with whatever materials we could find. We know "the" specialists in the field. We know "the" neurologists, "the" hospitals, "the" wonder drugs, "the" treatments. We know "the" tests that need to be done, we know "the" degenerative and progressive diseases and we hold our breath while our children are tested for them. Without formal education, we could become board certified in neurology, endocrinology, and psychiatry.

 We have taken on our insurance companies and school boards to get what our children need to survive, and to flourish. We have prevailed upon the State to include augmentative communication devices in special education classes and mainstream schools for our children with cerebral palsy. We have labored to prove to insurance companies the medical necessity of gait trainers and other adaptive equipment for our children with spinal cord defects. We have sued municipalities to have our children properly classified so they could receive education and evaluation commensurate with their diagnosis.

 We have learned to deal with the rest of the world, even if that means walking away from it.

 We have tolerated scorn in supermarkets during "tantrums" and gritted our teeth while discipline was advocated by the person behind us in line.

 We have tolerated inane suggestions and home remedies from well-meaning strangers. We have tolerated mothers of children without special needs complaining about chicken pox and ear infections.

 We have learned that many of our closest friends can't understand what it's like to be in our sorority, and don't even want to try.

 We have our own personal copies of Emily Perl Kingsley's "A Trip To Holland" and Erma Bombeck's "The Special Mother." We keep them by our bedside and read and reread them during our toughest hours.

 We have coped with holidays. We have found ways to get our physically handicapped children to the neighbors' front doors on Halloween, and we have found ways to help our deaf children form the words, "trick or treat." We have accepted that our children with sensory dysfunction will never wear velvet or lace on Christmas. We have painted a canvas of lights and a blazing Yule log with our words for our blind children. We have pureed turkey on Thanksgiving. We have bought white chocolate bunnies for Easter. And all the while, we have tried to create a festive atmosphere for the rest of our family. 

We've gotten up every morning since our journey began wondering how we'd make it through another day, and gone to bed every evening not sure how we did it.

 We've mourned the fact that we never got to relax and sip red wine in Italy.

We've mourned the fact that our trip to Holland has required much more baggage than we ever imagined when we first visited the travel agent. And we've mourned because we left for the airport without most of the things we needed for the trip.

 But we, sisters, we keep the faith always. We never stop believing.

Our love for our special children and our belief in all that they will achieve in life knows no bounds.

We dream of them scoring touchdowns and extra points and home runs. We visualize them running sprints and marathons. We dream of them planting vegetable seeds, riding horses and chopping down trees. We hear their angelic voices singing Christmas carols. We see their palettes smeared with watercolors, and their fingers flying over ivory keys in a concert hall. We are amazed at the grace of their pirouettes. We never, never stop believing in all they will accomplish as they pass through this world.

 But in the meantime, my sisters, the most important thing we do, is hold tight to their little hands as together, we special mothers and our special children, reach for the stars.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Yesterday was a nice day... I wasn't sure how dh would want to spend his father's day, he's still not getting around very well. But he's only been out of the house twice in the past week...so I thought he might want to get out for awhile.

We ended up just taking a drive in the country. It's not something we do very often, because of gas prices and how unpredictable M can be in the car. But it sounded like just the right thing to do yesterday.

 We piled in the car right after lunch and headed to the next little town east of us... M was pretty edgy (and I was determined NOT to let him spoil the trip with a meltdown!) so we stopped at Sonic and the kids each got a mini-banana split. This is something that is soooo not on their diets... but neither of them has ever had a banana split (and it really was very tiny) and you just can't eat healthy all the time!!

We drove around the town a little... saw some people playing polo (and tried to stop and watch, but they had the parking area roped off... must be a private club) then we stopped at the feed store for some horse cookies before heading out of town again.

It's a nice little community... after dh retires I wouldn't mind looking for some land out there.

We kept driving east to the next little town and was surprised at the differences between the two. Although the towns are only 7 miles apart, the second one looks very worn, dusty and tattered compared to the first.

We didn't stop, although we did drive around looking at some of the old buildings and imagining how hard life must have been for the early settlers...


  kiowa.jpeg

We took the long (scenic) route home and everyone came home relaxed and happy...

Good times...

Since it appears as though everyone has been suitably impressed with my ability to ride very small bikes, I suppose it's time to move on...

 I spent the past week putting a surprise birthday party together for dh. I ended up planning it at the last minute because I wasn't sure when he would feel well enough to enjoy a party... As soon as he started looking and acting like he felt pretty good, I sent out the invites and starting buying food.

I just invited dh's family, most of whom live within about 90 minutes of us, and some close friends. Dh's family is very large, so just inviting them meant I'd have 30-35 for dinner... I think all together I invited between 40-50 people to the party, and about 35 were able to come.

 My second oldest daughter came home from school the morning of the party, complaining about a funny noise her car was making and asking dh to take a drive with her and tell her what the noise might be. (The "funny noise" was just a ruse to get him away from the house...)

It was difficult, but she managed to keep him gone long enough for the guests to arrive. They all left their cars at the neighbor's so dh wouldn't realize what was going on (getting home and finding a bunch of cars here...). By the time dd and dh got home everyone was here, and we were waiting in the living room to surprise him.

It turned out to be a great surprise... He had no idea I was planning anything, and was truly surprised to find everyone here.

 We barbecued, then went next door and played with the horses. Finally a bunch of us headed out to the little pasture for some volleyball.



The day was perfect... not too hot, not too cold... and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

 I, for one, am glad it's over though... Planning the party, and making sure dh didn't find out what I was doing was hard. But he did seem to really like his party, so I guess it was all worth it.

 I have to share just one more picture...

This is my grandson, standing in the doorway yesterday...looking impossibly cute.

 

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

just being silly...

When I was very little (maybe 4 or 5) I got a new bike.

I think it was for my birthday.

It might have been my fifth birthday, in which case it was probably a bribe. An attempt by my parents to win back my affections after my outrage at the birth of my next youngest sibling... a brother... the day before!! (love ya Tee-bee )

 Anyway.... That bike was my first NEW bike and I thought it was the most beautiful bike in the whole world. It was a shiny red Schwin... with solid rubber tires, sparkling chrome fenders and a snazzy "S" on the cherry red seat. I was in love.

 "My" bike was eventually passed down to younger siblings (starting with the brother who stole my spot as the baby of the family!) and even my nieces rode that bike. But it finally made it's way back to me and I haven't let it go since.

 The other day I was out in the barn and stumbled upon my beautiful little bike...laying forgotten under a bunch of junk. It's not as shiny any more (especially after a year in the barn!) and the fenders are spotted with rust... but there is still a snazzy "S" on the bright red seat and it still looks pretty good to me.

 I pulled the bike out of the barn and just for fun I decided to bring it up to the house. The kids saw me walking across the little pasture with that dirty old bike and asked me what I was going to do with it... Without thinking (it only has 16" tires) I told them I was going to ride it, of course!

 They both insisted I couldn't...

I was too big and the bike was too old. So I had no alternative but to prove them wrong. ~

 ...ahhh, true love never dies....

Saturday, June 17, 2006

"normal" children

My niece Virginia, left a comment to my last post that really struck a chord with me. She wrote that M and R "look like 'normal' happy children".

Which they are of course, despite both of them having significant disabilities.
~
Virginia hit right on what many people don't understand about kids like M and R (or any other child with a disability)...the fact that they ARE just "normal" kids...their diagnoses don't change that. Even the most disabled child is first just a regular kid, one who happens to have some extra challenges to cope with. Like all kids they love to giggle at silly jokes, cuddle for read aloud stories, have a "best" friend to share secrets with, and be invited to other kid's parties.

They need to be "normal kids" to grow up healthy. But unfortunately it can sometimes be difficult for people to see past the differences to see the real child... people see only a child with a difference... not a "normal" child.

I guess that's why I hate it when kids (or adults) are referred to as their disability, (for example when M is referred to as a schizophrenic...or either of the kids is called "an FAS child") as though all they are is their diagnosis! A better, kinder, way is to refer to the person first, then their disability.. as in, a child with FAS, or a boy with schizophrenia.

My kids, like all children with disabilities, are so much more than their diagnosis... A friend told me of an activity her son (with autism) did while trying to learn more about being a person with autism. He drew a circle....representing himself, and inside the circle he drew many smaller circles... representing parts of himself. Only one of the many circles he drew inside himself was labeled autism... not every circle. My kids are the same... their diagnoses are only a little bit of who they are.
~
The people who remember that my kids are just regular kids, and take steps to include them in regular kid activities are very wise, compassionate, and special people. I hope that, with time, more people will learn to see beyond the differences...

When they don't they are missing a lot.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Gratitude Journal

Today I am thankful for...

 ....the good night's sleep I got last night. Both kids slept through the night! It was wonderful to go to bed at bedtime and not have to get up until morning.

 ...the coolness of the morning~ giving us all a chance to feel refreshed before the heat of the day builds up again.

 ...the wonderful cup of tea that I'm starting the day with (Yogi brand Egyptian Licorice tea... Mmmmmm)

 ...M sleeping in his own bed, and waking up in his own home... not sleeping in a bed in the CPU waking up to nurses handing out meds. (although he will wake up to me handing out meds!)

 .... my own good health, without which I couldn't care for the people who need me.

 ....Dh's job, which seems to (so far) be accomodating his most recent health problems.

 ...the gift of this day. May I remember to appreciate it for the treasure it is and remember not to waste it with worries.

 I love these pictures of M and R...

No worries there, just the happiness of being a child.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Shhh... don't wake the kids!

The kids are finally asleep, the house is quiet, and it feels good to relax... really relax...the kind of relaxing I can only do when M is sound asleep.

M's been rough lately. Having DH home again has unsettled him, and he's edgier and more volatile than usual. Luckily there are still some fairly long periods of time each day when he's calm and pretty reachable.

The kids had an appointment with the pdoc today, I didn't get any feedback from her yet... we're supposed to talk later. (M was so restless during the appointment that I literally wasn't able to complete one entire sentence the whole time we were there... I kept having to go run after him and bring him back to where we were, or stop him from doing whatever he was getting ready to do!) 

While we were there I kept running into the pdoc (Dr R) who specializes in childhood schizophrenia. (His office is right down the hall from M and R's pdoc... neither of them are in private practice anymore...they both are primarily involved in research at the University.) Dr R has done several studies on childhood sz, and a couple of them M has participated in. (M is endlessly proud that he was paid $70. for a blood sample once, through one of the childhood sz studies. Sometimes it pays to be unusual! :)) 

Anyway... I was so tempted to ask this pdoc if there was anything (anything at all!) new on the horizon for kids like M. Schizophrenia in adolescents and adults isn't uncommon (1 in 100)... so you would think more progress would be being made in terms of finding safer and more effective treatment options. As it is we have to rely on haldol (and a slew of other meds) to keep M reasonably connected and functional. 

I didn't ask Dr R though... I was afraid he would say there is nothing new either in meds or other types of treatments that he's aware of. (In other words... I wasn't sure I wanted to hear the answer to my question, so I decided it was best not to even ask it!)

Dh is doing pretty well at home. Each day he's moving around a little more, although he's still on crutches. We have an appointment on Thursday to have him fitted for custom made workboots so they'll be ready when he's able to go back to work.

Well, that's it for now... it's time to tiptoe out and make a cup of tea.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

bye-bye babies

The baby robins that we've been watching grow up (since they were nothing but a twinkle in daddy robin's eye!) are gone. The left the nest about a week ago (sadly, one died leaving the nest). The others stayed close to the house for a couple of days.

During that time they had very little fear of us, so we were able to observe them very closely. I haven't had the time to really search for them lately... but I hope they have escaped the many predators out here and have joined the feathered community that seems to congregate in the old tree down in the gully. Here is one of the babies, getting ready to leave the nest...

 

 And about a day later, here is one out of the nest... He wasn't flying very good at that time and got around mostly by hopping and fluttering to the lower branches of bushes and other low plants.

 

 One last picture... one of the babies, high in a tree. Looks like he's going to make it!

 

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Is today over yet?

Oh... it's been a long day. Not just a regular long day, but an extremely long... endless hour upon endless hour... kind of day.

It started with the hospital suddenly deciding to discharge dh. Yes, I'm happy he's home... but I was also very angry that the quick decision to discharge him was based on insurance reasons... not his health. I called his case manager and let her know that I wasn't happy about them hurrying him out of the hospital, and also shared my concerns about the really poor nursing he'd been getting in the long term hospital they'd transferred him to.

Calling didn't change anything, but it did make me feel a little better!

The rest of the morning was taken up with calls from dh and the insurance company, and basically trying to make a hospital room in our house, so he had someplace manageable to come home to! (he's not very mobile right now, and isn't able to manage steps... which our house is full of!) Right in the middle of all the phone calls and furniture moving, the kid's pdoc called. ::sigh:: She wanted to know if there was some way that I could not take M with me when it meant a long drive in the car... if there was someone I could leave him with when we visited dh, or went somewhere that involved more than just a few minutes of highway time. After the problems we had the other day with M in the car, she thought it best to keep him close to home. I didn't know what to say... there is no one I can leave him with for an afternoon (or even an hour)... so I just told her that he would be fine, and left it at that.

Did I mention that today was a really long day?

While I tried to get things ready to bring dh home, M was manicky, edgy and difficult, R was clingy and obsessing on things... and dd#3 decided to "drop in" (she lives almost 2 hours away) to do her laundry...it's all in the timing, isn't it?! :o)

It took almost four hours to drive to the hospital, pick up dh and drive home again. (he's home now and doing well... just really tired) As soon as he was settled, we had to leave again to run a couple of important errands in town. Dinner ended up being Happy Meals quickly grabbed from the good old golden arches.

Ok... so when I write about it, it doesn't sound that bad. But trust me, it was a long miserable day and as soon as dh is settled for the evening, I'm going to bed....(tomorrow has to be a better day than today!)

Sunday, June 4, 2006

busy days...

It's been a really busy couple of days around here! I'm looking back fondly on last winter, and all the days we were snowed in. I wouldn't mind being snowed in for a couple of days right now.... with nowhere to go, and nothing to do but stay inside and drink hot chocolate and feed the fire. Mmmmm... that sounds wonderful to me right now.

Unfortunately, the reality is that it's REALLY hot here, I've been rushing around for days, and it would take a miracle (or a move to another continent) for us to get snowed in any time soon!

Saturday we spent the morning visiting dh in the hospital, and the afternoon at the rodeo... it was a looooong day. Sunday we stayed home until afternoon when we went to a homeschool group party. It was a great party, and the kids had a blast... but I'm so tired of driving that I would have been very happy to just stay home. Monday we were up at the hospital again, then ran errands in town. In the evening one of my college girls and a friend showed up for dinner. It's always so good to see my big kids... and it was good to hear about the classes she's taking this summer (she's my "psychologist in training" and is very excited about taking her first counseling class!)

Yesterday was my co-op class... (in our homeschool group each person who would like to participate in co-op classes, has to offer a class or field trip as well). My class was a "nature walk and prairie picnic". We took a short nature walk around our acreage, and I had some activities from the National Wildlife Federation for the kids to do... I thought it was fun, but then I never get tired of wandering around our land and learning about the animals we share this place with. Hopefully the kids and moms who signed up for my class had fun too. We had planned on going to the IMAX yesterday afternoon to see the movie "Dolphins" but we ended up getting stuck in some construction traffic and missed the show. The kids were so disappointed... we'll have to go back soon so they can see it.

Today we had plans of going to the hospital, but M was very edgy in the car and started losing control on the interstate, so I had to quickly get off the highway and get R and I out of the car. I gave M something to calm him down and R and I waited in a shady spot for him to get himself pulled back together... then we turned around and came back home. I hated disappointing dh and R, but I just can't chances with M losing control while I'm on the highway. We'll try again tomorrow...

Luckily the kid's pdoc is coming over this afternoon to see R. I can't believe she is kind enough to make another house call...but I'm so happy she offered to. She'll see both kids and will hopefully have some ideas of what we can do to help R with her OCD symptoms. I've given up hope of her being able to get M much beyond where we are now....unfortunately, this seems to be as good as it gets for him.

Well... I guess it's time to end this long, rambling, not very upbeat post. I should probably work on enjoying the extra time we have at home today (after all the driving lately, I should be happy that M is keeping us home!), and maybe put the time to good use and go get the garden weeded...

Saturday, June 3, 2006

Rodeo

Once a year we go to a little rodeo in the town just east of us... I don't especially like rodeos myself, but the kids love going (and I figure once a year won't hurt them any!)

Here are some pictures of our afternoon in the "wild west"... The rodeo started with all the "royalty" riding by, and a drill team performing... here they all are lined up, waiting for the national anthem.

 rodeo royalty...

 Here is the bareback riding.



 Here's the same guy.



 Some team roping...



 And R's favorite... the barrel racing!

 

 I think this is what R would like to do someday... (if she had the chance... which she won't!)

 

 saddle bronc riding....

 

 ... and bull riding,



 and the rodeo clown, standing on top of his barrel... watching to see if the bull rider needs him to distract the bull (and ready to jump down into his barrel if the bull comes after him).

 

 And finally... after the rodeo was over... R decided to try her hand at bull riding. She stayed on (but she said it was really scary!)

 

 Here's a link if you want to learn more about rodeos... the history behind the events is pretty interesting. (Even if, like me, you really don't like rodeos much!)

Preaching to the choir...

We've been homeschooling for about 7 years, and as the years go on I become more and more convinced of it's value. Sometimes though, something happens that reinforces even more strongly for me the "rightness" of homeschooling, and makes me wonder how anyone can not be very worried about the education and negative experiences many children are getting in ps.

Steph did a beautiful job yesterday detailing some major problems with the ps "education" piece... and after spending a couple of hours sharing a park with a bunch of ps 6th graders, I am once again appalled and shaking my head at the "experiences" side of ps education.

We were at park day with our homeschool group yesterday. Although we live in the country, we are just about an hour from a major city... and park day is in a park in a fairly affluent suburb of this city. (So this is not a poor, inner-city, disadvantaged area.) When we got to the park we saw that we were sharing it with a group of ps kids, parents and teachers. It was the "graduating" 6th grade class from a nearby school. I wasn't happy to see the park so full (M really struggles with loud, chaotic environments), but there was nothing to do but settle ourselves in an area as far from them as possible, and try to enjoy our day at the park.

The ps kids were being loud and rowdy, and I was happy to see that our kids (from the homeschool group) were sticking together pretty much, and behaving themselves despite of the craziness around them.
I was immediately struck with how "prematurely mature" some of those 6th graders were. They were going swimming after their picnic and some of the girls were walking around in very skimpy clothes, and there was a group of about 5-6 of them sitting at a table partially hidden behind a large bush... that appeared to be playing "spin the bottle".
How old ARE 6th graders? Aren't they only about 12?!
Anyway... the ps kids just kept getting louder and rowdier, and then one group started throwing cans of soda and bottles of water up and down the tube slide. Needless to say the cans and bottles were breaking open, and the slide was quickly becoming a wet sticky mess. The parents and teachers connected with this group were sitting about 25'-30' away...totally oblivious to what the kids were doing. Finally a couple of our moms went over and told the kids to stop, and went to the adults to let them know what the kids were doing. One of the adults came over to the slide. She was either a teacher or an aide with the school. While she was telling the kids they had to stop, and explaining why, she told them that they "were p___ing people off".

My mouth just about dropped open when I heard that. A ps "professional" using that kind of language when talking to students?! I have to admit that I really don't like "colorful" language. I don't allow swearing at my house, and I don't swear... So hearing how she talked to those kids was a shock to me.

Then... she turned to myself and the other moms from the homeschool group and thanked us for letting us know the kids were causing problems, because if we hadn't told them they "would have had no way of knowing". Huh? Was no one responsible for watching those kids? So anything goes in terms of behavior when you are 12, just as long as no one complains to the teacher??

And people complain that homeschoolers aren't well socialized?!

I could rant and rave about this for another page or two... but I won't... I know I'm preaching to the choir already. This experience was good for me though in a way, as a graphic reminder about just how bad the ps have gotten...even the "good" ones. It was also a good reminder about what incredible, awesome children my kids... and the others in our homeschool group... are. During all this chaos, they kept to themselves and played beautifully (and age appropriately!). There was one group of our younger kids, digging in the sand, working together to make a huge mountain (or a very deep hole, I wasn't sure which)... some of our girls were playing (house?) under the spreading boughs of a huge evergreen tree... and the older boys were over on the basketball court, playing ball and having a great time.

I left the park with a renewed appreciation for my kids, and for the positive influence that homeschooling has had on our lives. And I left saying little "thank you" prayers for the gift of having my kids home with me.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Simple pleasures

It was just a beautiful day today... not too warm, but not cold and rainy (as it has been off and on lately). The kids got their math lessons done (about the only "sit-down" school we're doing right now) and then I decided we needed to get outside and enjoy the day. I worked a little... weeding a flower bed, but the best part of the day was wandering through the big pasture into the gully where we sat down and wrote/drew in our nature journals.

I started the journaling for the kids... to help them really see what's around them. I think it's valuable for them to observe something closely enough to draw it. But I think I'm probably the one who enjoys it the most. Today the kids were done writing and drawing in their journals pretty quickly, so while I finished they ran and slid down the steep sides of the gully. By the end of our "nature walk" they were dirty, sweaty and happy.... and I was refreshed and ready to get back to real life (the life of managing meds, documenting symptoms, and trying to teach around my kid's "differences").

Just for fun I've been reading to the kids about William Shakespeare. I don't expect them to become Shakespearean scholars... but I think everyone should have at least some experience of Shakespeare. We read a couple picture books about Shakespeare's life, and then talked briefly about some of his more well-known works. In one of the books it talked about him writing using a quill pen. Neither of the kids knew what that was... so I pulled out a quill pen and ink set the kid's Granny had picked up for them a couple of years ago, and we tried our hand at using it. (We ended up a lot of respect for anyone who can write legibly that way!)

Tomorrow night we are going to an "Astronomy Night" coop class through our homeschool group, so for the next few days we'll be reading about the constellations and tomorrow night during the class the kids will have the opportunity to look through a telescope. I can't wait... I love the stars and hope to learn right along with the kids!