Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 2013 Round Up and Pinspirations

Dog image from 123RF. Rope frame by MandaBean (no longer available). Font is Kristen ITC.

What books and/or magazines did I read this month?

I finished The Hobbit! I actually consider that a major accomplishment, since I've tried repeatedly in the past and never made it beyond the first chapter. Not sure if seeing the movie helped or what, but I finally read it. And not only that, I finished Fellowship of the Ring and am about half way through The Two Towers. It's like a miracle! I wish someone had told me that things improve a great deal once you get past the prologue of Fellowship. I think that's always where I got tripped up before, thinking that the whole book is like that (it's not, I promise!).

What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
* TV Time: We've moved into Season 4 on Big Bang Theory. Nothing else special comes to mind, just the usual suspects (though Suits did start back for the first time since summer). Wait, I don't know if I've done a round-up since we started watching Elementary. We are really enjoying that one, much more than I thought I would when it started. It has actually become quite a favorite of ours.
* New Films: Um, did I see any new films? I don't think I did. We mainly just caught chunks of some old favorites this month.
* Old Favorites: Jurassic Park, Aliens, The Matrix, X-Men: First Class, Love Actually (twice, actually), The Matrix: Revolutions, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Winnie the Pooh (the new one)

What fun things did I do with my family and/or friends?
Had a big family gathering at my uncle's house in honor of the visit by my aunt and cousin from New Mexico. We enjoyed a belated Christmas celebration with them. We took Luke to The Fox to see Blue Man Group. He had been to The Fox once before with his school, but it was our first time going as a family. None of us had seen Blue Man Group before, but it was a great show, and we had a wonderful time! We also attended my cousin's daughter's first birthday party. It was so great seeing everyone, including some folks I hadn't seen in over 5 years.

What gifts did I give and/or receive?
Pictures, as in printed photographs, were my gift of choice this year, so my grandmother got her copies at the family GTG. We gave the birthday girl two hooded towels; I thought two was prudent, considering she has an older sister.  :-)

What special or unusual purchases did I make?
We started planning this year's Disney trip, including Spring Training tickets this year. First time we will have been to a game at Disney since 2009, I think. Seems like there was something else, but it's not coming to mind.

What new foods, recipes, or restaurants did I try this month?
Um, uh, er.... but, but.... I am trying a new meal planning technique! There's only so many new things you can put in motion at one time, particularly at the beginning of the year. Our lives have so many moving parts right now, and I know it will only get worse! I have absolutely NO idea how families with more than one child keep it together and actually still manage to see each other for more than 5 minutes a day (or then again, maybe the don't do at least one of those things).

What Pinspirations did I try this month (besides any recipes above)?
Um, uh, er.... (hangs head in shame). But I did actually start pinning stuff again! That's more than I did during most of November and December. That counts. Right?

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
I had a pretty bad cold as the new year began, but I actually managed to fend it off without it turning into something nasty! It's like a minor miracle.

What were my accomplishments this month?

Click to biggify.

As you can see, 2013 Project 365 is going well. That's not to say I haven't already missed a day or two, but generally speaking, I am being much more deliberate about taking pictures so far this year than I was last year.

My major accomplishment was work related: I had to prepare data for a big presentation. A colleague and I agreed to a due date, having been told that one major portion of the work was already done (by someone else), only to find out that it really wasn't. If we'd known we would have to do it ourselves, we never would have said we could do it in two weeks. But we got it done (and I have the overtime hours to prove it).

I'm also doing pretty well on my New Year's resolutions. I didn't really talk about them here on my blog (how did that happen?! maybe I'll do that in February), but I did make some. The main one was to start keeping a food diary and being more aware of what (and how much) I am eating. It's not really meant to be a diet, though losing weight is a great side effect! It's about simply being aware and conscious and deliberate about what I'm eating. I decided to do this on Jan 2, and I've logged every bite since then. Read Tolkien was also on the list: As previously mentioned, I've finished The Hobbit and Fellowship of the Ring, and I'm almost half way done with The Two Towers. Yet to do are learn to make some kind of bread (even rolls), finish Midsummer Night's Fairy, and to stay employed all year (not that I have much control over that one, but it's something I *really* want!!). I'll keep working on it.

What were Luke's accomplishments this month?

Luke Weekly:

Luke started playing basketball this month. He's in a program where they have practice and games on the same day, and it's only 5 weeks. We figured that would be enough to start with, since we didn't know for sure if he would like it or not. He seems to love it, though, which thrills my husband to bits. We were hoping they would start another 5 week class right after this one, but they only have soccer and flag football. We did sign him up for their soccer program (different from the one he's been in the last couple of years), just to keep him active, but again, practice and games are both on Saturdays, and it's a fairly short season (6 weeks, I think).

He was complimented on his manners by a waitress at Sonny's, and a waiter at Olive Garden complimented him on his ordering skills (we've been making him order for himself at restaurants for a couple of years now). I know I shouldn't "need" the validation as a parent, but it made me feel good, and it made him feel good, which is always good. :-) His first jeans with busted knees for 2013 have also appeared, a few weeks earlier than usual. I think these were the ones we bought late last winter, though, so that's okay. Still need to make it a few more weeks on the new jeans!

Not sure if this really counts as an "accomplishment" or not, but we did take Luke for his pediatrician-recommended psychoeducational evaluation, or at least the first visit where they see if testing is really needed. His actual testing has been scheduled for mid-February.

What were this month's disappointments or frustrations?Luke is having another of his January school meltdowns. I think he's had more "non-green" days this month than he has during all the previous months of second grade combined. I don't know what it is about coming back from the Christmas holidays that makes him this way. It isn't the extended absence from school, because this doesn't happen after the summer. Very frustrating.

Anything else noteworthy to record?
Can't think of anything!

Monthly Round Up concept courtesy of Katie the Scrapbook Lady, tweaked by me.

Currently feeling: rounded for January

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Theme-a-licious 2013 - Jardin January - Final

Jardin January - The holidays were a little stressful...let's relax in a nice garden. Work on any piece with flowers or gardens.

Hello again, old and new stitching friends! I'm back for the final Jardin January Theme-a-licious 2013 check in. I decided to just keep plugging away at Miss Adia here. She's now, well, a slightly larger yellow blob.

I did get some metallics in there (the coppery strands going from wing to dress; see below for closer look), and I am purposely trying to avoid doing the white just yet. Especially since I use a hoop, I don't want the white to get dingy as I work on the rest. I (hopefully) won't save absolutely all of the white until the end, but I do think it is a wise move at this early stage of the game.  Here's a close up:

And a full comparison shot, so you can see that I really did make some progress.

I'm going to try and post these final updates before the very last day of each month, partly to space out my monthly items, and partly to encourage me to NOT wait until the last minute, er, few days to participate each month. Thank you for visiting!

Currently feeling: floral

Saturday, January 26, 2013

First Basketball Practice and Game

Finally, the day my husband has been waiting for since Luke was born: Luke's first ever basketball practice and game! They have practice and games on the same day, which is fine with me, since things are a little hectic right now. It's also only a 5 week program, since we didn't know if he'd like it.

We were afraid he would be the only gigantically huge child out there and debated asking for him to be moved into the 9-11 league, but figured we'd try it for today and then decide. Out of 30-ish kids, there were actually 4 kids taller, and 2-3 others very near his height, so not as bad as we feared. (I guess basketball naturally draws a taller crowd than, say, soccer.) We got to see the tail end of the 9-11 league game when we arrived, and he would have been about middle of the pack, height wise, but those kids were obviously more coordinated and had been playing longer, which would have frustrated him, so we'll leave him where he is.  Here is a shot of him under a regulation height basket (10 feet/3m to the rim).

Few things in this world make him seem small, but that did. They did most of their practicing and their games on the side goals, which were slightly shorter (I'd guess 8 feet/2.4m), which helped tremendously.

I will apologize in advance for the blurriness of these shots. I will try to figure out how to adjust the shutter speed before next week so I can get some less blurry pictures (not enough light inside the gym for it to work with my regular settings). Here is some dribbling:

And some shooting:

And some passing (easier to get clear shots of his face; less motion!):

Good grief, he looks so grown up in that last shot! Gee, I wonder who taught him to do this? (below) ::cough::husband::cough::

They also ran some drills where they would run a certain distance while dribbling, sometimes while circling some cones, to teach ball control. Luke isn't the best, but he isn't the worst, which is about all you can ask for his first time.

Luke said his favorite part was the running drills, which surprised me, since he wasn't great at it (though not bad). Usually, if he's not immediately great at something, he's sort-of down on it, but he really seemed to enjoy himself. Maybe we've finally hit on the right thing for him? Nothing would thrill my husband more! I guess time will tell.

Currently feeling: ready for more basketball

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - January 23, 2013

Currently feeling: starting to think it will never be sunny again

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Trip to The Fox: Blue Man Group

This weekend, it was my privilege to do one of those things I've dreamed of doing with Luke since he was born. We've done three already: first trip to Disney, first ride on a roller coaster, and first Cirque du Soleil show. This weekend was: take him to The Fox Theatre here in Atlanta.

We went to see Blue Man Group,which was a new experience for all of us. I've known about them for many years, probably close to when they first started, but it just never worked out for us to see them. I started scanning The Fox schedule a couple of years ago to find the right thing to take him to, but everything appropriate was either at a time we could not attend, or arrived when I was unemployed (so we couldn't afford it). When I saw the signs for Blue Man Group in December, I knew we'd finally found the right confluence of event and timing.

The show itself was great, but of course, pictures of the performance were not permitted. For years, photos inside The Fox were also not permitted, but I guess they decided it wasn't worth the time and effort of policing people anymore with all the cell phone cameras. So I took some pictures while we waited!

It actually was not Luke's first visit to The Fox; he went with his school sometime last year. I was very disappointed that his first visit would not be with me, but I wasn't going to say he couldn't go on the field trip, either. And they didn't go to the balcony, which is way more awesome, in my opinion! LOL A few pictures to demonstrate:

I'm sure you've heard me say it before, but The Fox Theatre is truly one of my most favorite places in the world. Building was completed in 1929, and was saved from demolition at the last minute in the 1970s. Thank goodness! I can't imagine Atlanta without this beautiful downtown jewel in its crown. The attention to detail is amazing; it reminds me a bit of Disney in that way. You are totally immersed in an exotic atmosphere, complete with tent canopy and twinkling stars in the twilight sky. The number of children who ask "are we outside?" as the arrive on the balcony always makes me smile. Some more detail shots:

For a sense of scale, those lights are at least 4 feet long (1.2 m), and the arches in the balcony (second picture immediately above) are 8-ish feet tall (2.4 m). You can't actually watch anything from that balcony area. #1: They wouldn't be very good seats, since they face the audience more than the stage. And #2: They were never meant for anyone to sit there. They're actually hiding the pipes for the Might Mo organ, which we did not get to see this trip. Guess we'll just have to take Luke back to see a movie this summer, when they have a sing-a-long with the organ before the show starts. Can't wait!
Currently feeling: so excited to finally get to use this emoticon that I've been saving for *years* just for this moment (and yes, we got to see them do this)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Theme-a-licious 2013 - Jardin January - Mid Month

Jardin January - The holidays were a little stressful...let's relax in a nice garden. Work on any piece with flowers or gardens.


Wait, what do you mean "that doesn't look like a garden"? Um, it's not. But I figured it was okay to work on something, and especially to start something new, if it actually has the word "garden" in the name. Right?!

This is Mirabilia's Aida the Garden Fairy. I know, she doesn't look much like a fairy yet, either. Give me a break, that's only 5-7 hours of work. I didn't even get started on her until around January 12 (too much going on!). This is my first new large start in forever (possibly since before Luke was born in 2004). I have to say, after spending years only starting things that would fit on fabric the size of a piece of paper (or smaller!), staring down at that blank fat quarter was rather intimidating! But I have this lovely, um, blob now, so it will be okay. Hopefully, there will be either a little more to show you at the end of the month, or I'll pick up something that has actual for real flowers on it (but I wouldn't hold my breath).

This is my very first time participating in Theme-a-licious. Thanks for visiting!

Currently feeling: floral

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Psychoeducational Evaluation, Step 1 - Initial Interview

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

As I mentioned in November, Luke has been referred for a psychoeducational evaluation to investigate why there is such a discrepancy between his reading and math ability. When I called, the first appointment we could get was in January. This was not for the actual testing, but for (what they called) the "getting to know you" meeting. Basically, it is where they ask "so what seems to be the problem?" and determine if testing is the right way to go.

Luke's appointment was this past Monday, and it went fairly well. Luke did his some of his typical not listening type behaviors, which I guess is good, though he actually was not as fidgety as he often is (I'm sure that will come out during the 6 hour testing that will come later). I like this doctor. His opening statement: "We assume that everyone who comes in is normal." Sounds good to me; in situations like this, I am all for the skeptical approach. Unless a very obvious problem identifies itself during the initial 45 minutes session (and it rarely does), then they go into the tests still assuming that the child is normal. And unless the tests clearly indicate a deficiency, then they leave with a diagnosis of normal (though possibly with other factors at play; more on that in a bit). Translation: they do NOT go looking to confirm a problem. They feel there must be conclusive proof (or as close as you can get in the psychological world) that there is a problem before diagnosing someone with one.

Per the doctor, there are seven major brain/cognitive functions: Visual Processing, Auditory Processing, Short Term Memory, Long Term Memory, Acquired Knowledge, and two others I'm forgetting (really should have taken notes). It is those seven "brain abilities" that will be tested in various ways. Basically, is his brain capable of doing those seven things, or is there some sort of "deficiency"? If there is a lack of ability (i.e. his brain really can't do it, or not very well), the tests should catch it, and a treatment plan can be devised. If no deficiency is identified (i.e. he is "normal"), then he is diagnosed simply as having a delay. It's not that his brain *can't* do it, it's just hasn't developed to the point that it can do it as easily/quickly as "someone" says he should. They can work with him on that, too, but sometimes the brain isn't ready until it's ready, and the only solution is time and practice.

The key takeaway sentence for me: "For every child of any other age that I see, I see four 8-year-olds. Why? Because they are in 2nd grade and learning to read." (emphasis mine) Per the doctor, if Luke was at one of the elite private schools in Atlanta, we wouldn't be having this conversation, because they don't start teaching formal reading until 4th grade. If he was at Montessori, we would not be having this conversation, because of their style of teaching. If he was in school in Finland, one of the foremost education systems in the world, we would not be having this conversation, because they don't even start true formal schooling with their children until age 7 (so he would not yet have been identified as "late" on anything). The only reason we are having this conversation is because he is not where the "standards" of the local school system say he should be.

My interpretation: It is quite likely that there is absolutely nothing wrong with Luke, other than the fact that he is an 8 year old boy who likes math and doesn't like reading. The tests will very likely come back showing that he is either normal or has only a very slight deficiency in some (relatively) minor way that is (relatively) easy to treat. But we won't know until he is tested. They will wrangle things out with the insurance company and get us an estimate of the cost of the testing (little to none is likely to be covered). When they call with the estimate, we can either take time to decide or go on and schedule the testing then. The scheduling person was out when we left, so I'm not sure what the earliest testing slot we can get is. Guess I'll find out in a few days. I would ask you to wish us luck, but on what exactly, I'm not sure. At this point, I am not at all sure what I desire the outcome to be. Just please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.
Currently feeling: ready to move on