Monday, May 31, 2010

Test Track

Test Track was the favorite ride at Epcot. It is a car on a track that goes through a series of tests that are modeled after the same tests that a new car goes through before coming to market. Critics of the ride say its one long GM commercial and it kind of is, especially the at the end of the ride where you must walk through a showroom of 10 brand new GM cars complete with window stickers and a desk for people with additional questions.

Connor was telling my mother about his favorite ride at Epcot. He got to ride it 3 times. He told my mom, "the ride goes so fast that air goes up your nose".

Cooks in the Kitchen

I'm really enjoying having older kids. This morning while I did dishes my 3 eldest kids made blueberry muffins. I preheated the oven while they read the directions on the back of the box and mixed it all up. Alexander was content to watch while the others cracked eggs, measured milk and mixed it together.

They are so incredibly proud of themselves for making breakfast. After that they cleaned up. Connor took out the trash and William re-lined the trash can. Next up: teach them to do laundry!

More Speech

So, 3/4 of my children now have been diagnosed with speech issues. Yup. I certainly do believe it runs in the family. Some of my husband's extended family has had speech issues as well, so we are definitely a high risk group. My two youngest boys have the simplest speech issues; a simple delay. Intensive therapy for 18 months has allowed my 3 year old to catch up and even surpass some of his peers. I am so incredibly thankful to our speech therapist Tiffany. She has been a great friend and advocate for our family.

When Alexander turned 12 mo old I started watching the signs. If you have one child in a family with speech issues then you are likely to have other children. Also, you are more likely to qualify for services through the Regional Center. At 17 months old on the dot I called Lanterman Regional Center and Alexander was qualified with no spontaneous words. Although he would mimic sounds (something that William did not) he didn't not use any of his words or sounds on his own. Now at 20 months old he will use 2 to 3 words sentences with us. I am so pleased with how well he is talking.

Even my oldest daughter is now in speech. Although her issue was 'created' its no less concerning. My darling daughter's speech story starts when she was 2 years old She LOVED her pacifier and would not give it up. When we finally decided to take it cold turkey the dentist told us she would need an implant to help grow her jaw. She wore it for one year; from 4 to 5 years old. It was a metal implant on the roof of her mouth. She started saying her /s/ sounds (and quite a few others) by putting her tongue between her teeth instead of behind her teeth. The hope was that after a few years without the implant she would correct it herself. While a lisp is cute on a 5 year old, its not so cute on a 7 year old. The decision was made with the school district that once a week she visits the speech therapist to practice and remember that her tongue goes behind her teeth.

This isn't a 'woe is me' post. I fully recognize things could be so much worse. These simple speech issues are easily fixed when discovered early and worked on consistently. I know parents who ignored the problem and their children are still having issues several years later. Some of them convinced themselves that their child would grow out of it. If not diagnosed and fixed early speech will affect social skills and education. I feel badly for those children/parents, not for us.

If you have any concerns about your child's speech check this simple checklist. By 18 months old your child should be able to spontaneously say 8-10 words, by 24 months old your child should be putting together 2 word phrases and speak 50 words. If your child is not doing this between the ages 18 mo and 36 mo old contact your local Regional Center for a free evaluation. If your child is older than 3 years old you will need to contact your local school district. You can also contact a reputable speech therapist to do a simple screening. I highly recommend Tiffany Ringle or Pat Riner-Constantino of Riner-Constantino and Assoc 818-957-2766 at 3245 N Verdugo Rd Ste 301 Glendale, CA .

Large Family Problems

This world is not made for a family of more than 4. Its really aggravating. I get strange looks while driving the Monster Van, well more like smirks, like they have some private joke that I don't know about. Most restaurants are filled with booths that seat 4, so we are always stuck waiting for a table for a large party. You can just imagine the hassle we will have when we take out our immediately family for dinner after Connor-man's K graduation. We will number 13! I guess I better make reservations.

In traveling to Florida again I had to make reservations for 2 hotel rooms. I have already battled with the Grand Californian (Disney Hotel) over the need for adjoining rooms, and I lost. The easy fix then was simply to drive back home and not give them our money.

But in Florida we weren't going to have that option. But they assured me that as long as I checked in early it would be okay. Well, that would not be okay since our flight didn't land until 6 pm. So I begged and pleaded and threatened. I suggested that they provide a babysitter since they thought it was a good idea for my 7, 5 and 3 year old to sleep in a room apart from me. Finally I got a supervisor who said I could in fact have adjoining rooms. The only rub was I had to pay for the room in advance, well that's a small price to pay to ensure that I would have access to my young children.

I just can't imagine the problems we will have when we become a family of 7.

Mother's Day

This year Mother's Day was extra special. Yes, I got his very laptop 2 years ago for Mother's Day, but it was hardly a surprise as my hand-me-down laptop was fried. This year I got the usual bead necklaces and foam frames from preschool. I got letters about "my wonderful mommy" and cards with handprints. But my favorite gift was from Lainy Ann, not because it was made at Brownie's and had a professional look. Lainy Ann likes to give gifts. About 10 days before Christmas I actually had to tell her "no more gifts". She was spending hours in her room (with the gang of boys) making pictures and wrapping them up as gifts for all the family members. She has such a generous spirit that I pray will follow her for the rest of her life, but at some point we ran out of paper.

So this year she had many gifts for me, but my favorite was her homemade gift. She traced, colored and cut out hand prints of each child. On a separate piece of paper she drew a flower without leaves. Her gift to me was a game of "pin the leaf on the flower" with the kids handprints as leaves.

It is such a creative gift that she organized all on her own. I was incredibly proud of her.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

GUSD Rankings

Glendale Unified School District
Elementary Schools
Rankings by API for 2008-2009 school year

Mountain Avenue
Monte Vista
Valley View
La Crescenta Elem
Verdugo Woodlands
Benjamin Franklin
John Marshall
John Muri
Thomas Edison

Thursday, May 6, 2010

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

We have never really believed in giving the kids an allowance. Occasionally we give them money for chores, but they have to go "above and beyond" as we feel that helping out the family is just part of family life. As a result it takes the kids ages to make a little bit of money. Not that they need money. My kids are spoiled rotten; new bikes last summer, Nintendo DS's for Christmas and Happy Meals whenever I feel like it. I rarely leave the store without buying a little something for the kids.

But this week Lainy Ann has to pay for her own school lunch. I don't like my kids to eat school lunch. I have a host of reasons from expense to crappy food. Instead I make them mostly organic, definitely all natural lunches. Each day I make PB&J then the older kids are responsible for packing their lunches. They can choose from several different fruits, granola bars, crackers, fruit leather, yogurt, cheese, etc. The boys do fine with just a sandwich and fruit since the school provides them with milk and an afternoon snack. But Lainy Ann, well, she has been able to out-eat me for a long time and she uses all that energy. She ends up taking 5 things for lunch.

At the beginning of the school year I put $60 on her school lunch card, that would get her 30 lunches through out the year in case I was out of bread or just wanted to give her a treat. She used it up pretty quickly and then we got a bill for $20. She had been buying lunch even though she was taking her lunch. She got in trouble for wasting food and lying to me. Occasionally she has taken not enough food and then eaten school lunch. Again we talk to her about proper food choices and about how its too expensive to buy lunch all the time.

Today she brought home another bill, $10. She tried to work up some tears so I would be sympathetic and not punish her. Instead, she said, "I"m sorry mommy, I will pay for it." And I decided there was no better punishment than it directly affecting her pocketbook. She had to scrounge up her last dollar bills to make it work.

I'm hoping this really drives home the fact that she needs to be responsible in packaging her lunch each day. Making good financial choices starts early on, hopefull we have begun that process.