Thursday, April 25, 2013

Who'd have thunk it?

Well, well, will wonders never cease?  Dale's teachers have gotten in the habit of putting Dale's tests and quizzes in my teacher in-box once they have recorded the grade.  This ensures that they don't get lost somewhere in Dale's backpack (or the garbage can); plus, I usually have to sign and return them since the grade is usually a failing one.  BUT.........last week, Dale's English teacher put a grammar quiz of his in my box.  When I pulled it out, to my surprise and delight, Dale had received an 88 % B- on this grammar quiz!  Whoo-hoo!!!  Then, to make things even better, his teacher had written at the bottom:  Dale got the highest grade in the class!  WOW!!!  I was thrilled, my husband was quite proud, and Dale's sisters praised him briefly before questioning him as to why he couldn't do that all the time.  This was definitely an uplifting report for all of us, Dale especially.  He just sat there with a lookon his face which was part pleasure and part "no big deal"---typical of a junior high boy!

The rest of our children are doing fine in school.  Emily is trying really hard to win one last gold star so that she will receive the honorable title of Star Student in 1st grade.  This is not a one-person-only acheivement; several of her classmates have already reached this level and she wants to be one too.  Ashley is chafing at the bit to be an official junior higher.  She's still plugging away at sixth grade work though.  Junior League Volleyball games will start soon, and she is over the moon excited about that.  Dale's grades have shown us that he will need to repeat the eighth grade next year.  This will help us see if extra review of the subject matter helps him retain the information and reproduce it on tests better or if we need to rethink the rest of his education.  Katie is doing well, especially in Algebra II.  She struggled so much with Algebra I and truly feared she would spend this year in math absolutely miserable, but the teacher has been patient and Katie has been willing to say when she doesn't understand something---thus her grades have been much better.  She's been taking biology as well; just this week they dissected a pregnant cat.  You should have seen the softened looks on the guys' faces as they talked later about handling the tiny unborn kittens.  To my third graders, the whole subject seemed gross, but the 10th graders enjoyed it.  Amanda is eagerly wrapping up her high school experience and looking forward to college in the fall.  Her next activities include Senior Pictures, Senior Trip, Commencement Exercises, Youth Conference, and then COLLEGE!  This is going to be a crazy, action-packed, tear-filled summer.

Ashley's foot has healed well.  She wore the special shoe for about a week and a half.  The day her father found her in the backyard jumping on the trampoline, he told her to start wearing regular shoes again.  The swelling went down rather quickly, but the bruise remained for quite some time.  I think she still has a purple stripe along the bottom of her foot.

A few days after Ashley's incident, Amanda rolled her ankle and had to wear her special brace for a couple of days until it felt better.  She has bad ankles anyway---probably because, when she injured them initially, she wouldn't stay off them long enough to heal properly!  Then, a day later, Katie's bad ankle started acting up; she broke it a couple of years ago and every once in a while it causes a bit of pain.  Katie is still wearing her brace for PE and such, but she's getting better.  I guess either Dale or Emily are next in line to injure a foot somehow!

Chad signed himself and me up for workout sessions at our local gym.  I confess:  I was furious at him at first, but I've come to enjoy going and exercising.  Then, we went and did the same thing to Katie!  She and I have been going together most afternoons.  A couple of days ago, we met with a trainer who holds classes and agreed to attend her class two days each week.  Well, that first day is today.  I'm once again really upset at the idea of having to go to this class, but I'm willing to give it a try.  I know I don't have to keep going if I don't like it, but I'm doing my best not to go in with the attitude of "I'm only going to prove I can't do it."  I know I need to be more healthy in my exercise regime, my diet, and my attitudes which is why I'm going to the gym in the first place.  I'm just terrified of having someone stand over me and bark orders!  As if that's what the trainer will do!!  Like I said, Katie and I met her on Tuesday and spent nearly an hour talking; she doesn't seem to barking type.  I'm sure things will be fine, but that doesn't keep me from being VERY nervous.

Gotta go---class is about to resume.  Have a wonderful day!

Isaiah 40: 10 - 11  "Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him:  behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.  He shall feed His flock like a shepherd:  He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young."

Saturday, April 13, 2013

If it's not one, it's another!

That about sums up how Chad and I feel right now.  I'm sure every other parent in the world with more than one child can relate as well.  If it's not one child getting hurt, it's bound to be another.

In this case, it was Ashley.  Our fourth child (third daughter), Ashley is very active, always running around doing this or that.  This week saw the beginning of Junior Volleyball practice for grades 3 - 6, so Ashley and her friends have been all excited about that.  Then, yesterday just as school was about to end, Ashley came limping into my classroom, holding onto her friend Emma's arm.  Ash was in tears and obvious pain.  I looked up from my desk where I was trying to grade my students' health tests while they were clearing the classroom and getting it ready for Sunday school.  Seeing the look on Ashley's face, I immediately asked, "What happened?"  She stammered out that she had been playing basketball and had been going after the ball when she came down on the side of her foot.  I thought she had rolled her ankle, so I sat her down in my desk chair and pulled another chair over to prop her foot on.  She was in quite a bit of pain, crying and begging me not to touch her foot.

I had no choice but to divide my attention between Ashley's injury and my departing students.  Thankfully, they all realized she had been badly hurt and, for the most part, sat quietly waiting for their parents to pick them up.  This process took about fifteen minutes, during which I alternately comforted Ashley and smiled a goodbye at my students.  I looked at Ashley's ankle which didn't seem to be swelling but sent Katie for an ice pack anyway.  It was only when Ash said, "Mom, the ice isn't on the right spot" and pulled off her sock that I realized the real problem.  She had a growing lump about halfway down the top and one inch from the edge of her foot.  This lump was extremely painful to the touch and looked highly unnatural, to say the least!  Anyone who looked at it had one thought---she broke a bone.  I resorted to asking help from a higher authority, in this case, Chad.  I called him and described Ash's injury, how she sustained it, and what he thought.  We decided that I should head home ASAP in order to show him her foot and get his decision on whether or not to have it checked out.  Please understand:  if she had injured her ankle, we wouldn't have thought twice about how to treat it.  But I had never seen an injury like that before, so I was unsure how serious it might be.  I was so glad Chad was home and could give his opinion.

First, we had to get Ashley in the car without putting any weight on her poor foot.  This proved to be an adventure!  I pulled the car as close to the curb as possible so that we could use the side door of the school to get Ashley out.  Amanda elected to carry Ash out the door, down three small steps to the parking lot, and heave her through the open van door, all in the pouring rain while avoiding the mini mud slide that always collects by those particular steps whenever it rains.  Once inside the van, Ashley had to maneuver herself over to the other middle seat in order to be able to prop her foot up on the first seat.  What confusion!  By the time I had turned off lights, locked cabinets, and closed my door, the kids were in gales of laughter, Amanda was acting like she was driving home, Katie had somehow crammed herself into the storage compartment in the "way back" of the van, and Ashley was more than ready to just go.

Once we got home, Chad came out to look at Ashley's foot and agreed that she should have that looked at by a doctor.  He got on the phone to the consulting nurse offered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield, obtained her advice to have Ashley taken to the ER (apparently Urgent Care wouldn't be able to do x-rays), found out which hospital was on our insurance plan, and wished us well on the next leg (pardon the pun) of our journey.

Traffic was fairly light; we got to the ER in good time.  Amanda came with us which greatly relieved my mind as to how to get Ashley into the ER without putting any weight on her foot.  We had been advised by the consulting nurse to use a wheelchair for Ashley, but I was unsure where to find one.  As it turns out, they were parked right inside the foyer!  There were not many people inside waiting for attention, so the triage nurse called Ashley in within about ten minutes.  She took Ash's vital signs and ordered an x-ray, then sent us back out to the waiting room to await the ER nurse's call.  That took another twenty minutes or so.  Once Ashley was established in the bed and her information entered into the computer again, the real wait began.  A nurse popped in occasionally; the doctor made an appearance; an x-ray technician stopped by to take pictures of her foot and joke with Ashley.  Meanwhile we watched at least four elderly patients wheeled in by paramedics, and, while we felt for these poor folks, each stretcher wheeled past meant that much longer we would have to wait for the doctor's pronouncement of Ashley's condition. When a nurse came in to fit Ashley with a comfortable supportive shoe, I kind of figured that she hadn't broken anything or they would have wrapped her foot securely before putting on the "boot."  It still took another twenty or thirty minutes before the doctor breezed in to assure Ashley that nothing was broken, just sprained.  I had never before heard of a sprained foot!  I knew you could sprain your ankle or wrist but not your foot.  At any rate, getting the x-ray was the right call just in case there was a fracture.  So, four hours later, we left the ER with Ashley again being carried by Amanda (I think Mandie likes to show off her strength!) out to the waiting van.  The nurse had given her some ibuprofen to help with the swelling and pain; now all that remained was getting some much-delayed dinner!

Praise the Lord---today Ashley's foot has been much better.  The swelling has gone down a bit; the large lump is gone because the fluid has dispersed across the foot more.  There is a lovely bruise on the top of her foot, but that's to be expected.  The real challenge is going to be keeping her off that foot for at least a few days in order to allow it to heal properly.  Ashley is like Amanda in this regard:  stubbornly refusing to listen when we tell her it's not healed yet nor will it heal properly if she doesn't keep it off of it.  She'll need this healing time if she doesn't want to keep re-injuring that same foot; plus, she'll not want to have problems with that foot the rest of her life, so she'd best listen to advice!

Tomorrow is Sunday again and we get to go to God's house.  What a privilege it is to attend services as many times as we want each week!  We don't have to hide our worship of God; we don't have to suffer persecution in order to serve our Lord.  We get to freely walk into the church house and sing praises to Him and hear His Word preached.  May we ever thank God for our freedom in this and other areas.

Psalm 122: 1  "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD."

Saturday, April 6, 2013

All god things must come to an end.......

Which, in this case, means our lovely sunny weather has turned into rain showers and our Spring Break is over.  Boo-hoo!  We had some nice days this past week, and then we had days to make up for lost time.  It seems that western Washington has come by its moniker (rainforest) honestly and feels the need to keep up appearances by raining at least every other day, especially if we've had some unexpected beautifully sunny weather for more than two days in a row.  I propose that, if Noah needed a place to launch a second ark, he'd feel right at home here!

The rain might be coming down again, but the temperature has not.  We're definitely into springtime now with trees and flowers budding, cool mornings and warmer afternoons, and frogs croaking every night.  I grew up in North Carolina where we had crickets chirping all hours of the night, so the frogs are a welcome and rather musical change.  It never ceases to amaze me that I'll hear some frog sounding off loud and clear right outside the front door, and, when I open it to investigate, I find this tiny creature sitting on the doorstep---or attached to the wall!  How can such a minute amphibian produce such a volume of sound?  If only I could do that, I wouldn't need to use a whistle to get the students' attention at recess!  :-D

Yes, we are sad to have Spring Break ending while at the same time glad to get back to school, knowing there are only eight weeks of school left in this year!!!  This attitude produces interesting and varied reactions in the lives and workings of those involved in our school.  The students invariably react in two ways: they become increasing agitated with learning and studying as the days get warmer and sunnier---a condition known as spring fever---or they feverishly cram their lessons into their heads, believing that achieving good grades on the last quizzes and tests in a subject will automatically erase all other grades recorded over the last several months.  This generally results in a false sense of security in said students who inevitably come crashing back down to reality once they receive their final report cards!  The parents react somewhat predictably as well:  they, knowing full well that only a miracle from God will enable their child to pass certain subjects, still begin begging the teachers for some sort of extra credit that will boost the final grade of their pupil.  I speak as a parent in this respect; I know I should have been doing more during the school year to help my child improve their grade(s), but I get so busy and I keep thinking that there's plenty of time to bring the grade up......until I realize with all the other parents that here we are facing the fourth quarter, with only a few weeks to go until the fourth mid-quarter report sheets go home and parents begin to panic.  Some teachers are able to assign already-planned extra credit which will enable the students to earn some much-needed points while at the same time reinforcing what they should have already gotten.  I prefer to make sure my students really get the material in class, slowing down in some subjects if I feel the class needs it and offering extra help during classwork time to those who  might still be struggling.  And, as much as it goes against the grain to say this, there are some subjects that some students are just not going to get.  Some students struggle with certain subjects and excel in others.  I had one student who did really well in math but couldn't seem to grasp the basics of grammar.  They would get As and A+s on math tests and nearly fail language tests.  Sometimes, below-average grades are because students just aren't paying attention, but sometimes that's just the best that student can do in that subject.  I've learned to pay attention to a student's strengths and weaknesses and work with them to be the best they can be, without blaming them or myself or their parents unnecessarily.  Last, there are the teachers' reactions; we fall into one of two categories:  either we buckle down and finish the school year strong or we throw in the towel and think, "If they haven't gotten it by now, what is a few more weeks' lessons going to help?"  It's easy to give up and kind of coast toward the end, knowing that those who will need summer school are still going to need it no matter how hard you prepare---and those parents who feel that you are to blame will still blame you even if their child passes by the skin of their teeth.  Ultimately, yes, the student's education rests on the teacher's shoulders.  The parents pay us to impart information to their child, with or without their help.  Some parents are wonderful, always asking how their child is doing in school and pushing their child to do their best.  Some teachers are wonderful, ready with a listening ear to any complaint the parents might have and willing to go however many extra miles are necessary in order to give their students the best chance possible to learn.  Too many of us teachers and parents fall in between those two categories; we teachers don't do our best to teach and we parents don't do our best to support.  In a perfect world............

Enough about school!  One would think the world revolves around the schoolhouse........wait, maybe it does.  Our school is owned and operated by our church, and our personal world does revolve around our church, so---yes, it seems school is important after all!

Easter Sunday was a great day at our church.  I hope your services went well and were as spiritually rewarding as ours were.  We had a combined service starting at 10:30 a.m. which involved lots of singing, a few baptisms, and a wonderful preaching time spent thinking about Christ's death and resurrection.  Having spent the last couple of weeks teaching my students about the gospel, all that Jesus and the Father and Heaven itself went through in those three days (four, if you count the night before) has figured largely in my thoughts.  I'm glad we celebrate Easter with a service and music that make us stop our busy lives and think seriously about what Jesus did for us.  It's so easy to get used to the idea of His dying on the cross for us.  It becomes old hat---kind of like "Yeah, yeah, Jesus died on the cross and rose again the third day; moving on now........"  We should never get over the cross, never become adjusted to the atrocities He suffered just on the way to Calvary, never letting Himself give in to the intense desire to just end it all. He kept Himself alive long enough to satisfy the Father's penalty for sin and then, only then, did He give up His life.  We should thank God every day for the freedom from sin and eternal death that His death and renewed life gives us.

I spent half of Thursday on the phone with various companies, starting with our new health insurance company, Blue Cross/Blue Shield.  I got lots of questions answered, like how much coverage do we have and how do I access a list of approved doctors and hospitals.  Thankfully, we found a nice clinic not too far from our house for regular doctor visits and immunizations, plus we discovered that Dale's neurologist belongs to the same health network!  What a relief this is!  No more seeing him, then having to transfer the prescriptions he writes for Dale's meds to a different health network pharmacy.  Praise the Lord for these conveniences!  Dale has a checkup scheduled with him (neuro) the beginning of May.  He was supposed to have had an MRI around the end of December which we couldn't do because Chad changed jobs and our new insurance didn't pick up right away.  Now we're not sure whether BCBS will cover MRIs or not; that's something we still have to find out because there is no way we can pay for something like that out-of-pocket---nearly $1,000 for the test.  That's something to pray about, I suppose, along with Dale's continued memory problems.

Speaking of..........Dale said something tonight that I hadn't realized before.  He was upset with his sister for turning off a movie he wanted to watch (it was her day to be in charge of the remote anyway) and had begun even to cry about it in frustration.  I sat with him and tried to calm him down, only to hear him say, "And, as usual, I'll forget about it tomorrow!  It'll be gone in the wind!"  I realized then that his habit of forgetting things is actually frustrating to him.  I didn't think he was even really aware of it.  Oh, I knew he knew he should remember things for tests better and stuff like that, but I didn't realize Dale knew he forgot things so easily.  We get a bit tired of having to answer silly questions (ones we think he should know the answer to already) or reminding him over and over to do something (like fold the laundry or eat his dinner).  I honestly didn't think he realized the extent of his own memory problems until it came out with that statement of his.  He was really upset about the fact that he knew he would forget the very thing he was upset about!  And this made me realize something else:  Dale gets really worked up about seemingly small things because he knows he won't remember them later, so maybe he feels he has to put as much emotion and energy as he can into the situation while he has the chance.  This is actually a breakthrough for me and us a family into how Dale is thinking now.  This will hopefully help us help him deal with this aspect of his recovery and future life.  If we remember that he is "making more of this than is necessary" for a very good reason, we'll be more understanding and we'll be able to reason with him better and help him to choose which situations require which amount of emotion.  See?  Thank You, Lord, for this insight into our son's behavior and thinking.  You are always good.

Have a wonderful Saturday and a blessed week to follow!

Psalm 18: 30  "As for God, His way is perfect:  the word of the LORD is tried:  He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him."

Job 23: 10  "But He knoweth the way that I take:  when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."