Mr. Jack And The IEP

First let me say that I have been on both ends of an IEP… for the gifted child and for the special ed child. Maybe it’s just me but there is nothing like an IEP either way to make me feel like a bad mother. Seriously, Arleigh’s IEP in Tennessee left me feeling almost evil. There is no IEP process for the GT program in Hawaii. I’m almost thankful. Here the teachers look at tests and decide based on classroom experience and test scores whether or not a student can handle the program. Parents are informed, they can choose to participate or not. If the parent wants them in GT against what the teachers suggest, there’s a discussion that has the potential to go either way with the counselors and registrar. Again, been on both sides… I honestly liked the non-formal approach SO MUCH BETTER. It could be aloha spirit and now I get to wonder all day long if that’s screwing my kids up to.

Years ago, when my Arleigh was first starting school we prayerfully considered what to do. Public school was the answer for our family. Multiple moves, multiple states, some with better education reputations than others and I still say public school is working well for us for many reasons and on many levels. I understand it might not work for everyone. 

Anywho… Back to this guy.

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He’s pretty cute. I just had to throw a picture in there. 

Jack is progressing. The only thing I like about the IEP process, other than chatting with his speech therapist and teacher is that I’m given the opportunity to reflect. Two years ago, Jack started preschool in Hawaii. He was assessed as having the vocabulary of a 9 month old. Basically, he didn’t talk. He couldn’t communicate much beyond pointing… including his immediate needs. That was after being home for a year. Talk to other adoptive families and most of the time a child has caught up pretty well. Yet, here we were excited that he could walk and was starting to really run. 

Yesterday I got to hear that Jack is reading on a first grade level. READING ON A FIRST GRADE LEVEL!!! His sight words are almost up to date. He is blending sounds. The sounds of his speech are mostly great. His math is on an average first grade level. Hallelujah and amen!!! His progress is such a blessing. Really. Such a blessing. I need to remind myself of that.

Yesterday was the easiest IEP ever. We all agree on where Jack is, where we need to get him to and how to do it. I love his teachers. I love his speech therapist. And yet… I left knowing I should be excited about his progress but was very concerned about his future. Am I doing it right? There are 4 kids in this house. Am I enough? What if I did this? Should we push him to do that? I don’t really understand the data from all the testing they’ve done. Why can he read and write and still not understand any abstract concept? Sigh. 

Isn’t that what we do with all of our kids? Am I reigning Bria in enough or should I let her be the bossy pants she was born to be? Is Arleigh hitting her real potential or is she too shy? Hanan is really coming into her own here and where about to pull her out of a school where she is excelling. Am I on top of school work? Should I supplement more? How can we possibly supplement more? Are we letting them just be kids? That part… the letting them just be kids seems to be easier for me here. Sure, run, play, meet your friends at the park… Can I really do that on the mainland? Won’t I have to stalk them there? Will they just have to be home? Will they be able to find their independence if they are stuck with me? Soon we’ll be discussing cars and colleges and can time please just stand still for a second?

Well, I guess it’s true. Blogging is cheaper then therapy. Bottom line is… Jack is a rock star. His progress is evident. We just need to keep it up!

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Wonder Woman Down

When I was a kid, one of my prize possessions was a pair of Wonder Woman underoos. I loved those things. In fact I remember mom being mortified when I wore the way too small pair to a doctor appointment. I also happened to get a shot in the bum that day I swore the underoos helped. I still have aspirations of being an Amazonian warrior princess who saves the world. Oh snap! I guess that’s where Bria gets it from…

This week, the real Wonder Woman went down…hard. I’ve joked about her walking softly and carrying a big stick. (a giant plastic bat that she thinks will fend off an attacking dog) I’ve talked about how she’s always there when I or anyone else for that matter needs her. This week, I’m thankful Nana Bonnie found her underoos and is taking care of my super hero, the person that Ray regularly calls a saint and my kids call Grandma.

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When Dad died Mom started walking. She walked 6 miles daily and at that time could easily lap me. She met Ned, moved to Golo and her walking turned into walking up and down a driveway and when that got boring she started walking her 6 miles down country roads. That’s brought out the Beauton Wheeler in me. (My Gran and an avid worry wart.) I’ve begged her to find her aloha walking on a treadmill but she’ll have none of a massive piece of equipment ruining the decor. Mom… I know now what you really need for Christmas! 

So, I called Mom on Monday morning because my uncle had been in the hospital. She was walking and I could immediately tell something was wrong. At her 3 mile mark where she turns around to walk back home she fell. She didn’t know why or what happened but she fell. She knew her arm was hurt. She was walking home. Again… I totally turn into Beauton Wheeler. I wanted to call someone and have them get her. She just let her arm hang and trudged home praying it was a sprain. 

To cut the story, she decided to lie down and rest. It never got better so my other hero, Nana Bonnie took her to the ER. It’s broken. Actually, it’s her elbow and it’s a pretty bad break. Grandma needs surgery. I am in Hawaii. Can you tell I’m losing my mind? I’m also ready for Mom to slow the heck down and stop giving me things to worry about. I’m really over the whole parent/child role reversal. 

Yesterday I called. Mom and Aunt Bonnie were hatching a plan to take the trash down her long driveway because it was raining. There was something about Mom driving a car with one hand while Aunt Bonnie held the can rolling it from the back of her hatchback. That’s when I begged them to call Chase and threatened to do it myself. I seriously can’t afford another emergency trip home people. 

So today, I’m heading to Jack’s IEP which is never an easy day. I’m worried about an upcoming surgery and supremely thankful to Aunt Bonnie for being there when I can’t. There is a price to be paid for living in paradise sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it. 

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Find Your Aloha

Have I mentioned that I love it here? One of the things I love most is the spirit of Aloha. I think when we moved here I thought you said Aloha for hello and goodbye. It really means so much more. I joke about finding my aloha like I need to find my happy place but really I’m talking about so much more. That’s why I really appreciated a little project Jack brought home from school.

Jack came home with a little green bag. Inside the bag we found Aloha Bear. He was a total haole. (I can say that because I’m haole but at this point, I’d like to think I’m hapa. That’s another blog post.) Aloha bear is a little white bear dressed up in a black suit, clearly from the mainland with a giant handmade lei. He came with a book called Aloha Bear And The Meaning of Aloha. The book was well worn and dogeared with notes from past first graders scribbled on the inside cover. It also oozed aloha. Jack’s assignment was to read the book and discuss with his family what our meaning of aloha is then write about it and draw a picture. I can’t tell you how much I LOVED this little assignment.

We read the book. Aloha means hello, good-bye and love but that is not all… Bria lost her aloha for a second when she realized it was Jack’s assignment and not hers. I told her she could make her own aloha picture anytime she wanted and better yet, help Jack. Bria’s definition is the one Jack used, “Aloha means to love, to share, to care and to be kind to others.” I just love that kid! I think everyone should be filled with a little aloha spirit.

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Granted, the laid back atmosphere and views like the one above does seem to make it easier for us to play nice.

It’s easy to find aloha here…
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I told someone yesterday that yes I like to take surf lessons but no I don’t consider myself to be a fabulous surfer. After everything that has gone on in my life in the last couple of years, I love that for a couple of hours all I have to think about it is paddle out, wait for the wave and then where do my hands and feet go. I don’t have to worry about anything…except maybe the crushing wave or the occasional shark. When you go out with friends… well, there’s not much better. It is like having my very own recharge button.

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I kid Ray all the time. I tell him if he actually insists that we leave. (I’m very aware the insistence is the US Navy but Ray is an easier target.) I’m going to tattoo the islands on my wrist with Be The Aloha at the bottom. I need to take the reminder with me.

Aloha isn’t just no cares. It’s love and kindness and doing the right thing for the people around you whether you want to or not even when it’s hard. Ray and I toss around James 4:17 a lot. “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” Kind of hits you over the head doesn’t it? The thing about having an aloha spirit is that you don’t need to be reminded of James 4:17, you are always ready to show love, kindness and compassion without any expectations of return. The greatest thing is, the aloha spirit is contagious! If you share aloha with someone, you can bet they will spread it to someone else.

If you are spreading aloha… everything else is nicer and happier and less stressful…kind of like these two…
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There are times that I talk to people that are so busy, so wrapped up in everything going on that they can’t possibly share aloha because they have none. There are times when I stop and look around and think maybe I’m only sharing aloha with my little family because I think that’s all I can muster. That’s when I need that recharge button because once you start going, it’s easier and easier. Making other people happy has a tendency to make me happy too. Weird huh?

If you are interested in reading Jack’s book, I saw a used copy on Amazon.

I’m off to see where I can spread some aloha today…

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In My House Last Week

I just thought I’d write down a few things I remember from last week but it runs out of my head with all the other brain ooze…

“If you have to ask me if you look like a stripper your clothes are probably not appropriate,” is something that came out of my mouth.

It’s been early week for Bria and Jack due to conferences. I was talking to Mom on the phone. She happened to ask what time it was. Nonchalantly I said 1. Then I said something that may or may not have included a curse word. “Oh no! I was supposed to pick up Bria and Jack at 1.” It was the one time I was thankful that the car line was horrifically long. Also…I was not the last car…by a long shot.

Arleigh won most original costume at a Halloween party. She was Kim Possible.

I love Halloween here because you are never ever too told to dress up and have a good time. (Not really last week but that whole party thing made me think I should write it down for posterity.)

One of those early days I took Bria and Jack to Target. I parked beside a cart corral. I’m still the mom that insists Jack stay in the seat and Bria stays in the basket. I’m also the Mom that will purchase cherry icees to ensure that they stay there. (Maybe even a cookie to split if I’m in a good mood.) Bria was pretty excited. I was helping Jack out of the car and noticed out of the corner of my eye as she climbed the coral and jumped into a basket. There was a enough force provided that the cart shook it’s self out of the corral and was ever so slowly rolling down the aisle like she was driving a car. I should also note that I park on the second floor of Target where no one ever parks so she was safe. She was also slightly horrified that was nearly peed my pants and as she very slowly rolled away. Maybe you had to be there but it was one of those things that will stick in my mind to tell her children. Arleigh and Hanan would NEVER think of climbing a cart corral. I probably would never let them.

We got to enjoy friends from Virginia for an entire week. I even got to go to one of my favorite tourist locations… Tropical Nut Farm before the hurricane hit. It was wet. I forgot the camera. I did get this. It may or may not be a sneak preview of our Christmas card. If it weren’t for Arleigh’s socks… Mom, you can stop praying for my comeuppance anytime.

We got a new neighbor. He is in an exchange program from Japan. He asked me to call him Pepsi. I love him! He is so much fun and so sweet. Bria says he’s so nice that things must be different in Japan.

Hanan has joined the cheer team. She is also loving drama. She was on the makeup committee for a bit learning about zombie makeup. She’s since switched to lights and the fog machine. Yesterday I took a nap. I woke up to this…

It’s not her best work but her sister loved being the guinea pig with a little liquid eye liner and a huge desire to turn into a bunny for the afternoon.

Mom arrived Sept. 18. Today is the first day that I haven’t had an extra person in my house since then. The big girls had their last soccer game of the Fall season on Saturday. Dare I say that might leave me a few extra seconds in a day?

I also started reading this…

It is worth every second of your time. I can already tell that I need to reread parts of it and I’m barely into it. Here’s a little more about it.

I think I’ll leave you with that. Here’s hoping I’m back to writing daily tomorrow. Arleigh keeps saying 30 days to make a habit… we’ll see.

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Nothing To Fear But…

I noticed a Friend’s Facebook post while banging my head against the steering wheel waiting patiently in the car line today. It made me chuckle.

Ray has been dealing with both Ebola and Fearbola at work lately. Ebola is a scary, scary illness. Ray continues to assure me that when it’s time to worry, he’ll let me know. He also texted me a link to a zombie proof cabin today so who knows…

I’ve decided this afternoon that there are far more things that can cause me harm in my immediate vicinity. Here’s my list of 10 in no specific order. I’m not Letterman after all.

1. Mount Washmore… I can’t even begin to imagine the germs and bacteria that I come across in my piles of dirty underwear, soccer gear, sports bras, shin guard studded, beach bathing family’s pile of YUCK! Seriously. I wash my hands before during and after every single load. I have eyes. Those eyes may also need bleach. You can’t unseen some things people.

2. The giant cockroach or any other tropical creature… it won’t hurt me but trying to kill it I’m very likely to have some sort of horrific accident.

3. LEPTO…Not familiar with leptospirosis? You can find more info here. I’m pretty sure it took me down for about a week after running the Makahiki in the rain but I’m still signing up to do it again.

4. On any given day I think my bootcamp class might kill me and then it doesn’t.

5. Haole trips me, I’m pretty sure purposefully about 446 times a day.

6. Homework on a Monday could probably do me in. Emerging readers anyone? I have exactly two in my house. One thinks she can read Harry Potter, the other reads enough to surprise me but it is as slow as molasses in December.

7. The guilt from my mother… just kidding Mom. No I’m not, wait… Mom could kill me.

8. Parenting an almost 14 year old and a 12 year old, both in middle school suddenly seems far more dangerous in anything else at the moment.

9. I live in the land of volcanoes (mine are dormant) and tsunamis. This week we threw in a weak hurricane for good measure.

10. The thing that gets everyone in Hawaii… traffic. It’s not the accidents. It’s the stress of bumper to bumper headed to Pearl City for piano class after picking up kids from the hill in Aiea that will kill you!

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Hauntings In My House

Yesterday was one of those days. Nana was making preparations for her flight home and my kids were… well let’s just say less than their stellar selves. I may or may not have considered at one point that one in particular might have been possessed. I have a busy weekend, a todo list roughly 10,000 miles along, the prospect of a weekend hurricane which has blessedly moved south but I wasn’t so sure of that yesterday. I was in the middle of a discussion with a teacher. I’m not completely onboard with a particular policy she has, especially when so much of my child’s grade will hinge on the project the policy applies to. I respect it though and had to convince a very weary middle schooler that it would not be the end of her middle school career.

I was done. I had cried a little but felt like I could cry a lot. It’s hard when your kids aren’t acting like your kids. It’s really hard when it’s so bad you stop to consider if they might be demon possessed. It’s ridiculous hard when you stand in a doorway with your mouth hanging open wondering how on earth you are supposed to act like a grown up and be a parent when you have no idea how in that situation not to lose it. Basically I was thick in the middle of Alexander’s No Good Horrible Terrible Very Bad Day. I wanted my Mom! Surely that saint of a woman could handle things better than I am.

I got my own version of a Mom time out. I tucked little people in bed and left Arleigh babysitting and went with Ray to take Nana to the airport and pick up a lightbulb for my kitchen. I know…our date nights are totally the bomb dot com! (Should that have been thebomb.com?) I got home, kissed Arleigh goodnight and went upstairs to check on my little people. I asked Arleigh why she hadn’t gone on to bed, she was tired. “The house just seems creepy tonight.” I should’ve known it was foreshadowing…

Bria just got a new doorbell for her room. She LOVES it. Little doorbell button is outside her door so her brother and sisters have to ring it before entering. It’s attached to a flashing dinging butterfly that she got to decorate inside her room. I’m standing in the hall having a conversation with Hanan. No one else is anywhere. Jack is in bed. Bria is sound asleep. Arleigh is off to bed and Ray is installing a kitchen light. The doorbell starts to flash and ring. I quickly check on Bria. She sleeps through it. Weird but I thought the batteries are probably already dying they ring that thing ALL THE TIME.

Finally, I got downstairs and fall into my favorite cushion on the sofa. It’s a joke in my house. I am Sheldon. (Big Bang reference.) I was sitting there all of two seconds when my cell phone started ringing. No one calls my cell after 7. I might get a text. I purchased new phones for the house because my old one was broken and Ray had just installed them. My cell phone said our home phone was calling. I’ve yelled at Ray for hours but he swears he wasn’t messing with me.

Oh the dreams I had last night! Mom says that Tye was messing with me to tell me to get over my Terrible No Good Horrible Very Bad day. If he has to do that, it’s awesome. He just needs to materialize so I can punch him and get on with my day. Hope it was you Tye. I could use the laugh!

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