Sunday, October 28, 2012

Parent-teacher conference

We had our first school-wide parent/teacher conference day this past week.  I went into it feeling pretty good, since H has brought all of her grades up to C, B, and even a few As.
So I was pretty shocked when the teacher told me H is not adjusting to 5th grade.
Her comments mainly seemed to center around the fact that H does not catch much from verbal instruction.  And most of a classroom is verbal instruction.  Her comment, which I thought was very accurate, was that H's mind is like a carosel, turning roung and round.  She only catches what is said when the carosel of her mind is turned forward, which is seldom.
In the end, I was actually okay with the situation.  We know H does not listen well.  That is why we have started the Integrated Listening.  And while the teacher is comparing H to the students around her, and seeing how far behind she is, we are comparing her to where she was 2 years ago and seeing how far she has come!
So I am still hopeful.  We are continuing what we were doing, and at the same time telling H to make sure she completes her math and writes neater (two additional complaints the teacher had).
I will keep you up to date.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

School again-good news!

H. is doing well at school!  She has brought all of her grades up to a A or B with the exception of spelling, where she has (barely) a C.  She is doing much better about writing down her assignments and completing her assignments, though I have to stay on top of her about that.  She is still having trouble following verbal instruction at school, and still gets bored easily (maybe because she isn't understanding most things?).  Because of this we are starting the Integrated Listening system which her therapist recommended.  It was pricey, but it has the complete program which is about 2 years worth of therapy.  And it isn't too hard.  She listens to a program for an hour a day, and spends 15 minutes of that hour doing some exercises (one of which is a balance board, which she LOVES) and some time getting a massage.  Other than that we just have to tell her she can't wrestle with her brothers while having this expensive equipment attached to her :-)
I'll keep you updated as to whether it seems to have any affect.  One of the frustrating things about this and similar programs is it is hard to find reviews on them that aren't company sponsered.  Maybe this blog will help.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I met with the substitute teacher, and she seems wonderful.  She is very willing to work with us, and  has been very helpful this week keeping me up to date at what H is not doing at school.  Most of it seems to be not filling in the work required.  I have to wonder how much of this is distraction and how much of this is laziness, since H hates to write.  I think we need to start up the writing therapy again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


We have had a month of 5th grade at this point.  Things started out rocky.  H was missing assignments, wasn't studying, and in general was failing everything but math by week 2.  However then I met with the teacher and explained how H does not understand verbal instructions well.  We talked about what was expected, and I was able to pass that along to H after we got home.  Things improved significantly after that, with Bs on tests and mostly passing homework (she forgot to turn in a few assignments and got a zero).  But now the worst thing possible has happened.  Due to tragic circumstances, her teacher is out for a while and H has a substitute.  We ran into this back in 2nd grade.  No matter how hard they try (and I think substitutes are saints to attempt what they do) substitutes cannot run the class the same way as the regular teacher.  And H only does well when she knows what is coming up and what is expected.  Again, she does not take verbal instructions well and therefore doesn't handle a change in the schedule very well.  This past week has been a disaster.  According to H she hasn't had any written assignments, reading was skipped twice, and math skipped once.  And I cannot contact the sub by email or phone to double check any of this.  I sincerely wish we had gone ahead with the integrated listening program during the summer.  We will definately  do it next summer, if not sooner!!!
My plan as of this point is to meet with the sub tomorrow after school to find out what is happening.  And then I think I need to start calling some of the parents to check on some of H's claims about not needing to do some types of assignments.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Crafts-part 2

Another project we started this summer was to make a bed for my son.  Since he and the youngest share a room, they are in desperate need of space.  But I really don't like loft beds or bunk beds.  Both are hard to make and hard to get onto if you need to lay down with a child due to a nightmare.  So we decided to get a bed that was high enough to put under it his BIG container of duplos as well as several of the large imaginex toy sets he has.  But we couldn't find anything that was just right.  So we went to and modified one of her plans to make this bed.  It is high enough to put his toys underneath it, but low enough that he doesn't need a stool to get up or rails to keep him safe.
Before we ever tried this though, I wanted to see if I could actually build something.  I started with the doll farmhouse bed from Ana White.
I was pleased with how it came out, so I tried a birdhouse for my son's scout project:
This made me realize I cannot just make things without a plan.  It is functional, but just barely.  The birds shunned it for the longest time (I think they only used it after all other possible nest building sites were taken).
However the bedside table I made for the youngest one turned out pretty well.
So with all of that experimentation done, I tackled the big bed.  It took about two weeks, start to finish.  It only cost about $125, which I was thrilled with.  And when I was sick of the precision wood building demands (I prefer hobbies where I can make mistakes and still recover, like crochet or cooking), I made H some things to hang in her door (she previously had some plastic kite tails there):

This was ALOT easier to do and alot more relaxing.  I just did a little bit here and there, as I had time and energy.

Since school is about to start again, I think I will stick with small, easy to do projects for a while.  My son needs a bedside table for his big bed, H is asking for another stuffed animal, and she needs a simple desk for her room.  That should keep me busy for a while.
I hope your summer was fun too!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Crafts-part 1

We have had a wonderful summer.  We ended up not doing the Integrated Listening therapy, due to financial reasons.  But H has still done well.  She does get wild if she gets sugar, but that is about it.  We have also been doing some homework, and she seems to remember her school skills.  I am hopeful for next year, but a bit anxious as well.  I am planning on meeting with her teacher (once I know who he/she is) and explaining H to her.  I am praying for a good year.

Off the topic of H: I wanted to show off some of the projects I have done in the past year.  I learned how to crochet about a year and a half ago.  This was done to combat the frustration and boredom of having to sit next to H for hours to keep her on track with her homework every night.  Here are some of the projects I have made: amigurumi animals for the kids, a scarf, a purse, and several amigurumi pokemon for H.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Finishing up

Today is the last day of 4th grade for H.  We met with her teacher last week.  H is going  on to 5th grade, and even better, made all As and Bs the last quarter.
I feel like we are almost done with our journey through ADHD.  We are still going to do auditory exercises for H to help her in that area, and are still going to keep her on a low sugar diet.  But overall she is now behaving like a normal child.  At the end of the year her teacher and classmates all said that the words that describes H best are joy and love.  She has such a joy of life, is a joy to be with, and loves almost everyone.  This is such a huge contrast to the child she became while on ADHD medicine.  I can't tell you how thankful I am to God that we found this therapy, how thankful I am for H's therapist, and how thankful I am for H's teacher who supported us in our journey to help H without medication.
Since we are basically done with this ADHD journey, this blog will now morph into a more normal one.  From time to time I am sure I will give you an update on H, but mostly I will be blogging about any fun recipes or projects I do.  I hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Gluten free German Chocolate Cake

This recipe is adapted from David Lebovitz's german chocolate cake recipe.  It is so moist, so delicious!  The best chocolate cake I have ever had.  Next time I might decrease the amount of sugar by 1/4 C though.  We don't tend to go for really sweet stuff.  I didn't use David's recipe for coconut filling, mostly because I was out of cream.  So I used the recipe in Crazy about Cupcakes for coconut filling, and everyone loved it. 

German Chocolate Cake
2 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
6T water
8oz butter, unsalted
1C sugar
4 egg yolks
1/2 C each of oat flour, tapioca flour, rice flour and buckwheat flour
1/4 C flax meal
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
1C yogurt
1 t vanilla
4 egg whites and 1/4 C sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour (I used cocoa powder) two 9 inch round cake pans.
Melt the chocolate and water together.  Let cool.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light yellow and fluffy.  Add in chocolate and then the egg yolks.
Mix the flours, flax, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.  Mix in the chocolate and the yogurt/vanilla in batches until smooth.
Beat the egg whites and sugar until double volume.  Fold into the batter.  Pour batter into cake pans and bake 45 minutes.

Coconut Filling:
one can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 t vanilla
2 C coconut
1 C chopped nuts (we used walnuts)

Combine the milk, sugar, butter, egg yolks and vanilla in a saucepan.  Stir constantly over medium heat until thickened and golden brown (this took forever).
Toast the coconut and nuts in a 350 degree oven.  Mix in with cooled carmelized mixture.

Chocolate Icing:
8 oz chocolate bittersweet
2T corn syrup
1 1/4 oz butter
2/3 C cream

Combine the chocolate, corn syrup, butter in a bowl.  Heat the cream until boiling, then pour it over the chocolate mix.  Let it sit one minute, then stir until smooth.

To put together:
On top of one cake layer spread the coconut filling.  Place other cake over it.  Spread the rest of the coconut filling on the top.  Spread the icing around the sides.
You won't regret making this cake!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A first!

Wow, we had a breakthrough today!  H actually realized that I had missed an item when packing up her backpack for school.  This has never happened before.  I can hardly believe how much more mature she is!
That said, I think the only thing left to really work on is her auditory short term memory.  When doing the word recall list, she can still only get 5 words consistantly; sometimes 6.  That is WAY below age level, and we can't seem to move up.  I think we will just keep doing the same exercises for this last month of school, and then during the summer try something new.
We also had her birthday party recently, and I made a gluten-free german chocolate cake that came out delicious!  Better than any german chocolate cake I have had before.  I will try to post the recipe soon.
Hope you are enjoying this beautiful spring!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Back again

I'm sorry I have been gone so long.  There were several reasons: we had received information about H that I wanted to see which way it would go (more below), my several part-time jobs collided and I was extremely stressed for a while, and my kids were driving me crazy (probably due to the preceding problem).
Anyway, what happened with H was that her teacher met with us to tell us that H was not doing 4th grade work and would have to repeat 4th grade unless she started doing better.  By better, she meant that H needed to write in complete sentences, write in pencil, not crayon or marker, and fill in the whole worksheet, not just the first 3 questions.  I couldn't argue with her.  And I decided that if she said H needed to stay behind a year, we would do it.
The problem was that I wasn't sure if H was not doing the work because of inability to focus or because of laziness.  Her therapist thought it might be both.  To counter the latter, we started doing writing exercises as part of the therapy; to help with the former we continued the oral memory work.  The therapist suggested we use Integrated listening systems, which we still might do.  However the price is a bit more than we can afford just yet.
Part of what started me thinking that it was laziness was a comment H made about not wanting to work as hard for things she found boring.  So for the next few weeks we continued to talk about having to put forth just as much effort in the boring, tedious stuff as in the interesting, fun stuff.  She acted like that was a concept she had never thought of before.  Go figure!  H was also very motivated by the thought of not staying with her friends in 5th grade.
All that was a month ago.
I just heard from her teacher a few days ago.  H has made significant improvements, to the point that "we don't have to worry about her" anymore.  Thank God!  She will make it to 5th grade.  I was very proud of her.
Of course she still has to continue doing good work in ALL areas, not just fun ones.  And we are still continuing the therapy exercises.  But there is now a light at the end of the tunnel!  I can't believe we have made it this far!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Another month

Things have finally settled down again.  It seemed to take H forever to get adjusted to her new exercises this time.  Part of it was my fault, as I was not as consistent as usual at the beginning.  I finally had to realize that I simply couldn't get all of them done every night.  So I took off two of the exercises and what is left is doable most nights.  She isn't complaining (much) about them and does them with a good attitude.  Her grades in school continue to be good, with lots of As and Bs and a few C/Ds.  More importantly, her teacher said she is doing really well (with the exception of last week when she was fighting a cold and not feeling well).
However something happened a few weeks ago that left me feeling blindsided.  The school called one day saying a parent had complained that H hurt her daughter on the bus; from what H said it sounds like they got too boisterous in playing.  Then another parent complained a week later that H hit her son; again it seems not to be anything meanspirited.  And because of this H was not going to be allowed to ride the bus!  I have no problem acknowledging that H was wrong and too wild and needed to stop.  Which I must point out she did.  From what several people said it sounds like what really was happening is that H tends to be too boisterous and loud all the time on the bus (like many of the other kids there) and the bus driver was looking for a reason to put her off.  Mind you, this was only the second time the school had contacted me about a bus problem with H.  For all I knew, things were fine most of the year.  If they had contacted me sooner at least we could have worked on the problem before it got to this point.  I feel like this is a similar thing to what happened with scouts last year.  For some reason people seem to feel like they have to pretend everything is under control until it has worn them down so much that they can't take your child any more in any situation.
And I am preaching to myself as well.  I teach 3 yr sunday school and have had some problem children as well.  Also I know how frustrating and tiring yet charming H can be.  She is a handful.  So while I understand to some extent how the bus driver feels, I still wish he had approached me earlier (which I had requested after the first incident) so that we could have worked on this.  Yet I know he is a caring person who did his best.  I am afraid this is not the last time we will have something like this with H, especially in situations that have lots of stimulation or are different from what she is used to.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Not over yet

It has been another week of these new exercises, and H still does not like them.  For the most part her mood has been better, though not always.  I am exhausted emotionally tonight from a public emotional meltdown from H.  Thankfully it was a small one, but I felt so bad that her peers saw it.  I wish I could get her out of the sport she is currently enrolled in, which she is not liking much and is not helping all of this.  But we don't want to teach her to run from her problems or to abandon her committments.  In another 6 weeks the sport will be over.  Thank God!  I hope it doesn't take that long for this bit of moodiness to pass over.
What do you think: if someone says something hurtful to your child, should you insist that your child tell you what it is if they don't want to?  In the past I have not forced it, but I am afraid it may be building a habit of hiding in H.  On the other hand, I know I didn't tell my mom things like that, but I don't think she pushed to know either.
I am praying for peace and guidance for all of this and some other stuff.  I would covet your prayers if anyone is reading this!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Another therapy session

We met with H's therapist last week.  In visual memory she is doing quite well, able to remember 9 numbers in a row.  In auditory memory she is much weaker, at 5 or 6 numbers.  This could explain why she had trouble following directions at school.  So this next couple of months we are supposed to concentrate on her auditory memory.  We are listening to books on tape, doing number and word auditory exercises, and playing bop it.  As well as the usual spelling words, math facts, juggling, spinning, writing and massage.
We have been doing this new schedule for a week now.  I have noticed that H is more moody than usual and is disliking the therapy more than usual.  I am hoping this is one of the "regressions" we used to see whenever we changed our schedule.  If so, it is a mild one and should be over in a few days.  Be praying for us!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Two weeks break

For the past two weeks we have not been doing the exercises.  H's therapist suggested we use the Christmas holidays as a break.  In the past when I have missed even three days of massage for H I have seen a definate loss of self control, so I was a bit leary of doing this.  The first week of no exercises I didn't notice that much of a difference in H.  However by the end of the second week she has had a consistently higher level of energy (leading to a bit of wild behaviour) and a bit less of self control.  I have had to reprimand her on her self control several times this past week.  We started up the exercises again last night.
Overall I am encouraged: her behaviour did not deteriorate like I was afraid it would.  However the fact that she did lose some self control tells me we cannot stop the therapy yet.  We are supposed to see the therapist again this coming week; I will report more then.
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday celebrating the Christ!