Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mindful Eating

OH bummer.  My WiiFit balance board has informed me; "THAT'S OBESE!"  For the past three months, I've been watching it.  I mean - I'm cutting out foods with empty calories and reaching for food with more sustenance. And slowly, thirteen pounds have lost their way from my body and went somewhere else.

I'm angry.  I hate the process of losing weight.  It's painful - it makes me think about why I've gained weight and unsuccessful weight loss in the past.  I hate that.

In high school, my weight bounced around a lot.  I remember getting on the scale in ninth grade and being terrified that I weighed 138.   I started dieting.  I counted calories and exercised nonstop and wasn't successful.  (Probably because I was supposed to weigh 138 lbs - based on my body frame) 

I was obsessed with what I ate.  My topics of conversation were calories, exercise, and weight.  Yeah - really great stuff.

Eventually, a boy suggested I lose weight.  I took to it.  I lost a lot of weight.  I threw up.  I couldn't keep anything in my stomach.  I was constantly sick.  I didn't even know how to eat normal things anymore.

I'm not quite sure how I stopped myself.  Maybe once that boy was removed from my life, everything went back to normal - back to somewhat healthy.

 Now, I'm a mom.  I have genetics.  My babies were both born over ten pounds.  I have type 2 diabetes to think about and avoid.  I have high blood pressure and cholesterol to think about.  These are not a problem now - but the reality strikes me every day when my WiiFit balance board announces; "That's Obese."

I really should mute that damn thing.

My weight had been creeping up on me - because I try not to think about what I'm eating.  I don't want to count calories.And this is what is painful for me - trying to decide if I'm hungry - and what my body needs.  And to be healthy, but slowly - because I don't want to be hungry.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Leprechauns are Scary Things

I never knew they had leprechauns in the South. 

In Kindergarten, our girls a treated to a unit on leprechauns.  They make traps for this feisty green guy in the classroom.  Sometimes, the leprechaun will make a little mess while the kids are in gym.  Sometimes, the leprechaun will mix up crayon boxes.

My girls have always taken these little green guys seriously.  Natalie had taken this too seriously so where it was at a point I had to go with her to the bathroom.  She'd wake up in the middle of the night and cry for fear of the leprechaun.

I was at a loss.  Eventually, I broke down and told her that Jason built a force field around our house. (Ever the scientist)  And every night, we turn it on.  This force field protects us from leprechauns, ghosts, aliens, robbers, kidnappers, but lets mice in.  (Jason hadn't perfected it yet.)
- I guess I had to fight fire with fire - or imagination with imagination anyways.


Right now as we speak Alison is quickly running to her dad, "DAD!  DAD!  THE LUCKY CHARMS ARE GONE!" 

Allie's plan to catch a leprechaun was foiled.

Awwww  I'm going to miss that one day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gifts and Strengths

I love that in this day and age more school professionals understand that despite a learning irregularity, kids with reading problems are a phenomenal children waiting to discover their strengths. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pete the Cat

After school,  Allison showed us the video.  Her teachers showed her class the song.  She said all twenty-five of her classmates sang along to the song.  Pretty cool that they'd share this message with our kids.  As a teacher, I can imagine the glowing feeling they must have had knowing these kids enjoyed the story so much.

Personally and professionally, I love the rhyming and poetic feeling of this video.  This would be a great introduction to poetry for any age level - Older kids would enjoy watching little kids singing and being exposed to poetry, too.  

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Remember Theo? - Allie's gift part 2


This was the sort of reaction I had when Allie was diagnosed, too.  It may seem weird - but it helps knowing - Diagnoses is the first step in helping kids with dyslexia.

The second step is to stress to teachers - "Chill - it's going to take some patience."

That step can be done with an IEP (Individual Education Plan) or 504 (Health plan).  Not all kids with a specific learning disability qualify for an IEP - or Special Education.  Sound crazy?  Well, yeah life is crazy.  A 504 plan can be used to specifically tell teachers to chill.

Now, if you're not an educator - you might be confused.  Can't teachers just recommend to parents that kids need special ed?  Well - neither teachers nor parents can stick kids in special ed.  It takes a lot of paper work.

First of all, there's still a stigma in special ed.  A teacher can not be just sure how a parent will react to the suggestion of testing for special ed - and before a teacher or a principal can utter those words to a parent, there must be six weeks of documentation.  Without the six weeks of documentation, teachers can not utter a word to parents about testing for special ed according to Minnesota Law. What sort of documentation?

Hmmm - as a teacher, I'd observe avoidance of work, copying from other kids' homework, daydreaming, poor grammatical mechanics, and that sort of thing.

As a teacher, I know that this is a touchy thing.  So, I'd also make sure to put a bunch of positive things down - because guess what?  I know that special ed just means finding another way to make a brilliant child learn in spite of a learning disorder.  Not all teachers are able to communicate that idea well;  it's intimidating.

Friday, I called the school and requested that my daughter be tested to receive special services.  There was a sigh of relief on the other end of the phone because - well - maybe there was six weeks of documentation already - and now, they didn't have to worry about my reaction.

Gifts and Strengths

This past week, I brought my youngest to an eye specialist.  She was officially diagnosed with Mild Dyslexia.  We've been suspecting this diagnosis for the past year and a half - and actually since preschool.

When my peanut was in preschool, I was a paraprofessional in the classroom.  I noticed that she wanted nothing to do with the alphabet.  I don't ever remember her singing the alphabet song.  I remember singing it to her, and she was majorly ticked that I was singing to her.

In the preschool room, we had foam letters.  I took the foam letters and had various teachers and paras hold the letters S was for Stacy.  B for Mrs. Bertilrud.  W for Wanda. M for Margaret.  You get the idea - I had Allison take the pictures.  At first, she loved it.  But eventually, she was angry and frustrated.

I took her to the eye doctor.

At the time, my oldest daughter was in eye therapy for double vision.  The same eye doctor, Dr. Bieberdorf, checked my Allison over.

"I get what you're saying - she's young and smart.  We'll see what happens as she grows into reading.  She's still young."

Learning to read was a struggle.  Thankfully, Allison always had patient teachers.  My girl is very charming.  As we got her NWEA tests back, I was a little exasperated. They didn't seem to reflect her quick humor and story telling abilities.  (NWEAs are used in our school district to help teachers adjust their teaching and find out if students are at grade level)

Again, I took her to Dr. B.  "She's still young.  A lot of kids don't take off reading until they are even 8 or 9."

In second grade, Allison had one of my childhood friends as her teacher.  I remember going to that parent teacher conference as Allison cleaned out her desk.  Mrs. K. showed me all of Allie's positive reports...  And then, she took out her NWEAs.  She was an entire grade behind.

Tears rolled down my cheeks.  I whispered to my childhood friend...  " I don't want Allison to know I'm crying."  She grabbed a kleenex and slipped it to me.

We went back to Dr. B.  She had more testing.  At that time, he and his assistant tested her and suggested there was some type of specific learning disability.  We talked about that learning disability being a slight dyslexia - but also - you may know this about me - I really hate No Child Left Behind as a teacher - but specifically as a parent.

Schools expect more from students and specifically because of No Child Left Behind.  Everyday, kids are pushed to read at higher levels and learn more advanced math concepts at an early age.  Teachers most expect more from students and don't have the luxury of  "It'll click, eventually."

Last year, Allison's teachers were specifically good at seeing her as a whole person.  I knew that they wouldn't tisk tisk every time she took a spelling test.  Ten words suited her just fine.  A lot of times, Allie would get 8 out of 10 on those tests.  School was a at a good pace for her.  She read.  She did her math.  Life was good.

Something happens in third grade though.  This is the year that the state starts screening kids' learning.  This is the first year of MCAs.  Every year, kids will be tested every Spring to see if they are on target.  At this point, teachers worry.   Their district must pass these tests or they don't make their AYP (Annual Yearly Progress).  If the school does not make AYP, there are financial ramifications to the district.  So, you can see why a teacher may worry.

This past year, there's been more pressure.  Third grade's tough.  As the year goes on, I see vast improvement on reading and math skills. But guess what?  That improvement isn't enough for NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND.

So, I called Dr.B. We brought her in for more testing on Thursday.  Dr. B. diagnosed her with Mild Dyslexia.  He sat her down and explained that he was color blind.  He likened dyslexia to being color blind - something one can't control - it's just is what it is.

He also explained to her that people with dyslexia are also very gifted in the right brain areas of learning -
  • athletic ability
  • artistic ability 
  • musical ability
  • mechanical ability
  • people skills
  • 3-D visual-spatial skills
  • vivid imagination
  • intuition
  • creative, global thinking
  • curiosity 
(I got this from http://www.dys-add.com/symptoms.html#gifts)

Yep - this fits Allie Ann to a tee.

Dr. B. also told Allison that she'd need lots of patience for her teachers; "You're going to need to remember that you're going to be smarter than a lot of your teachers."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Reading -

I'm finding that my girls enjoy reading - YAY!!!!  We read every night. 

Not because No Child Left Behind has made teachers harass kids into reading constantly, but because I read and always read to them since they were babies.

I'm finding that my children enjoy learning not because every day they are given reading drills and told how to fill in the bubbles ..  But because we tell them stories about Anne Frank or Crazy Horse - or they watch their dad experiment with his beehives or the beer bubbling in the basement. To me, this is more important than any achievement  in a standardized test.