Showing posts from 2013

Travis Update Ending 2013

Just the other day, the boys had a friend come over to play.  Before the friend arrived, his mom sent me a text saying that her son was bringing his Batman costume.  I told Travis, "Your friend will be wearing his Batman costume when he comes over."  Travis' face lit up, eyes lifted, and mouth opened wide.  Before I could finish signing, "Why not you go upstairs to get your Iron Man costume?" he was signing, "Yes, yes!" and making his way up the stairs.  Moments later, he came back to tell me he couldn't find his suit.  I directed him to look in my bathroom in the hamper.  He did and it wasn't there either.  Finally, I told him to hold on while I sent a message asking his dad if he knew the costume's whereabouts.  He did and Travis put on his alter ego. I couldn't help but make a mental note of how that conversation was such a big deal.  We were discussing something happening in the future: friend will arrive soon.  Telling Travis abo

Deep Thoughts, by Tian

Tonight, we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar , a book we've read many times.  When the caterpillar became a butterfly, Tian said, "Like me. I will become pilot."  (Keep in mind, he signs and talks at the same time when he communicates with me. His language ability astounds me.) I asked Travis what he wanted to become when he grows up.  Tian answered for him, "He wants to become a pilot like me."  When I asked Travis for his opinion, he agreed and refused some other options I offered him, insisting that he, too, wanted to become a pilot. Tian asked if, when he's a pilot, "Will you see me?"  I explained that, yes, I will see him.  We will always be together.  We will be family forever, even when he's old. He asked, "What about when I'm gone?" I told him he didn't have to worry about being "gone."  (I wasn't totally sure what he meant by "gone" and I didn't push it.) I said, "See, Nana a

Tian Update Ending 2013

My two girls are off visiting their Nana and Pappy, so since they are away and the little boys are still in school, I made some plans to spend one-on-one time with my oldest boy. Then we got the call from TSD:  "Tian has a 102 fever and needs to be picked up."  So, TJ and I took a one-on-one drive to the school to get a very sleepy and very hot Tian. Having Tian home prompted me to post a quick update about this little comedian. He reminds me of TJ at the same age.  Tian is a natural ham who loves to be the center of attention.  He is not shy in the least!  He'll approach people, ask questions, and mostly assumes everyone in the universe knows sign language. For example, at the Christmas parade downtown, a parade photographer walked by and asked if she could take our picture. After taking a shot of the two little boys and me, Tian tapped her on the arm and asked, "Take another picture of me. I'm Spiderman."  He then proceeded to pose in a number of &qu

Travis Is Reading!

Travis is an early emergent reader!  When it's time for him to read a new book, Ken or I will model the first page, allowing him to read words he already knows, then introducing the new words.  From there, he takes it and flies, as you can see.  At the beginning of the video, you see Travis tell me "No! Look at me."  I was trying to feed him a word and he would have none of it.  Often, if he gets stuck on a word and we tell him, he will start the page all over again, because he wants to read it all by himself.

My Whole 30 Challenge

Tomorrow marks the end of a 30-day challenge I accepted from a co-worker.  You can read my results, weight loss numbers, and thoughts, including why I don't think eating Paleo is THE answer, on my other blog.


Last week, Master ASL! posted a fun video teaching the signs of various popular superheroes.  Their staff member, Travis, did an amazing job. I couldn't wait to show the boys, and, sure enough, the loved it!   (If you haven't seen it, it's imbedded below.) Yesterday, a second installment was posted and was equally fun to see.  This video included two of my Travis' favorite superheroes: Power Rangers and Iron Man.  Click the video at the bottom of the blog to view Part 2. My Travis gets very excited, animated, and "talkative" when the topic is one of his favorite superheroes.  (This excited his parents because his expressive language is what is lagging right now.) Over the past two years, he has made up his own signs for these characters; I'm always impressed with what he creates.  Watching Master ASL's Travis sign "Power Rangers" and seeing him talk about how he, too, loved them when he was younger, made me think of Travis and why he ch

Homeschool Year Kick-Off 2013

The older three Brownies started school the day after Labor Day.  We were thrilled the week before when our Sonlight box arrived at our door!  We haven't celebrated a real Box Day in a couple of years; we haven't started a new core in a couple of years, so Box Day felt momentous. This year, we are studying through Core F , which covers a study of the Eastern Hemisphere.  The first country we are studying is China, so we certainly kicked off with a bang!  It's been fun to study a "far-away" country we just happened to have visited for a month.  We are looking forward to the next 5 weeks exploring China! TJ, labeling brain parts while Mater keeps him company. A huge change this year has been how TJ does school.  About a year ago, I started to accept the fact that TJ had some challenges with writing. This year, I've totally revamped how TJ does school and the results have brought me to grateful tears more than once.  TJ logs the majority o

School Year Kick-Off 2013

We kicked off our 2013-2014 school year by sending off the boys to TSD the last week of August. Tian is now in pre-k and Travis has started Kindergarten!  They both have excellent teachers, so we couldn't be more pleased. I have a bit of a learning curve to get through this year. I've never had a child in government-run grade school.  Now that Travis is in Kindergarten, he has homework he brings home every night. The idea of having him do assigned homework after he's been in school for seven hours goes totally against my personal teaching philosophy, so the second week of school, when the homework began, I struggled with my own attitude regarding his homework. In the midst of my exasperating about it to Ken and silently to myself, I realized I wasn't being a good example to my kids.  How can I expect them to work diligently and with a good attitude, even when they don't like what I'm asking of them, if I don't model that myself?  So, I look at the h


This blog post is written directly to my friends, family, and anyone who has commented on my blog or YouTube account this year. I'm not ignoring you!   *smiling and cringing in apology*   Well, I haven't been ignoring you, but I have been putting off replying to many of you.  Whether I've gotten emails, facebook messages, or texts, I've just had a tough time replying in a timely manner.  This has been a challenging summer to say the least, but I would say my busy-ness started months before that. I have several friends from my boys' classes with whom I've been talking about playdates for months, but they just aren't happening.  When I finally do get together with someone, it's because they were persistent in contacting me.  For you I'm grateful!  It's ironic, because in the past, I was told on several occasions that I was the friend always reaching out.  Years ago, I even remember having friends with kids about the same age as my

That Was Weird

In the land of The Internets and the more all of our internet usage is linked together, I'm more and more amazed at how businesses work their ads in place in front of our faces. That said, I just ordered two Shutterfly photo books for the boys.  When I ordered, the album somehow linked to my blog.  I'm sure it was user error and I overlooked some checked box saying it would post, but I was surprised to see the album listed as its own blog post.  A post I promptly removed. That said, this was my first experience using Shutterfly and I loved it!  One book was free with our Cozi family calendar membership (Which I highly recommend. They may still be running the promotion for a free book, but I'm not sure.)  The second book was free thanks to a promotion though The View .  It's still good through September 20th, so click and save the code, then get busy making your book! You have a month to put it together! I chose a basic "look" with the pages already set

Are Riskier People Happier?

Often over the past few weeks, we've been asked, "How's the role-switching working out for you guys?"  I've been totally honest, answering simply, "It stinks.  Big time." Today on the way to work, I was listening to The Jillian Michaels' Show podcast.  The title of the post was "Are Riskier People Happier?"  The title got my attention and I listened to her story about taking a risk on a recent vacation which ended in a horrible sandstorm, unintelligible guides, and 100-degree-plus temperatures.  As horrid as the experience was in the moment, she now recounts the story with fond memories and lots of laughter.  Jillian then referenced the famous quote, " Comedy is tragedy plus time ." That somewhat sums up how I feel about this experience.  For the time being, it's tragedy, but given enough time, it will be comedy.  Right now it stinks, but it won't stink forever. What's been going through my mind lately is "


Back in January, I sent this email out to a select few of my homeschool friends regarding my oldest son: I have a question and decided to ask you few ladies. My son has struggled for years with penmanship. He writes very neatly and very well  in his  handwriting  book . If he writes on his own, on a blank sheet of paper, he just can't do it.  If he writes anything, it's a mess. He can't express his thoughts on paper because he struggles so much to remember how to physically form each letter.  I've tried keeping a penmanship alphabet in front of him, but he will look up for almost every letter.    I've been putting off dealing with this for the past two years. I have said, "He'll snap out of it." "One day it'll all click for him."  But he's close to 10 years old now and he's feeling "stupid" (his own words) because he "can't write." Today, I sat him down to try to find out the problem and he sa

Closing Out the School Year

The last week of school at TSD was an exciting one, filled with some very cute programs and field trips.  Both boys loved their teachers and made several good friends. Tian amazes us daily with his ASL and spoken English skills.  He loves us to read books and doesn't care if we sign ASL or read aloud in English.  He'll pay close attention either way.  Tian is completely on-track with his peers and will do great in pre-k in the fall!  We just gotta work on his "obeying" skills.  At home and at school, he often thinks it's cute and/or funny to disobey, then produce a huge ear-to-ear grin. Travis will be moving on to Kindergarten in the fall!  Ken and I were prepared to keep him in pre-k one more year due to his language delay, but the teacher and counselor feel that he can move on to Kindergarten since he is academically ready.  Travis is counting, identifying letters and numbers, writing letters, sequencing, and all the other things kids need to be doing to be

Winds of Change

The first third of 2013 was fairly uneventful.  Ken changed jobs, but otherwise, the kids all rolled along with school, TJ turned 10 and I worked part time as a Video Interpreter for ZVRS , and we actively sought out a church home.  Otherwise, there wasn't much to report. (We did have stuff going on. You may not guess the way I sometimes blog, but I don't share everything on here; probably not even a 5% of what's going on in our lives.) Ken has always been an entrepreneur at heart.  He has some pretty amazing product and business ideas.  (He had the idea for this service , which we now happen to use and highly recommend, way back in the mid-1990s.  Certainly before its time.)  He's innovative.  He's forward-thinking.  His co-workers both in the law enforcement community and in telecommunications industry have called him a "maverick."  One person meant it as an insult, but he always saw it as a compliment.  Some of his friends call him "Deaf M

Train Story Video

The boys' latest video.  Enjoy!   I'm working on an "end-of-year" review with lots of photos from the boys' school year. We are ready for summer! I've missed having these guys home every day!

The Boys' Commercial Debut!

Z5 Desktop. So Easy, So Simple!

ECE Bilingual Conference Part 3

In Part 2 of this series, I was excited to share some of what I learned about technology and using ASL eBooks.  Well, if you like the good, old fashioned paper book, have no fear!  Drs. Jean Andrews and Damara Paris from Lamar University , shared their team's research findings from the Alabama Emergent Literacy Study.  They focused on the " Adapted Little Books ." Below is only a small portion of their presentation.  There is so much information that goes beyond my knowledge, so I will direct this blog to parents of deaf emergent readers. As a homeschool mom, I'm very familiar with "little books."  We personally used Sonlight's own Fun Tales  with my three hearing kids. ( example )  You may be familiar with Bob Books .  The Alabama study used these 20 Little Books .  These "little books" are usually 6-7 pages, use high frequency words, have a close picture-word match,  and use short phrases to tell a whole story.  It was recommended t

ECE Bilingual Conference Part 2 ASL iBooks

Using Technology for Literacy of ASL & English Bilingual Deaf Children That's another handful of words!  Basically, if you're teaching your deaf (or hearing) ASL/English bilingual child to read, there are some amazing tools out there to enrich that experience. At the conference , several different people presented on the topic of technology and ASL ebooks. VL2 Storybook Apps Check out their " About " page, too. Click here to get the book in the App Sto "VL2" stands for " Visual Language, Visual Learning " a Science of Learning center funded by the National Science Foundation and hosted by Gallaudet University.  The work they are doing is SUPER exciting for parents like me! Right now, there is only the Baobab book, but two more books are in the works.  Each book, priced at a bargain $6.99, is packed with a rich literary experience for your bilingual child.  As the website says, "Every child loves and deserves a great story.&q

ECE Bilingual Conference Part 1

This weekend, I was fortunate to attend the (get ready, this is a handful) " ASL & English Bilingual Consortium for Early Childhood Education " Summit IV Conference. Building Bilingual Partnerships: Home, School, and Community I say I was fortunate because I attended as a lay person.  The conference is aimed at teachers, researchers, and administrators working in the field of Deaf Education.  I'm a parent of Deaf and hard-of-hearing kids. I also happen to be an educator since I've homeschooled my hearing kids for over 8 years.  I am somewhat knowledgeable regarding ASL/English bilingualism since my professional field is teaching ASL and interpreting.  However....I was surrounded by people who knew worlds and worlds more than I about educating Deaf, bilingual kids!  They have challenges like I never imagined.  These educators and administrators are fighting a long battle that shows only slow, incremental progress.  (The battle being that against the governme

It's Not All Roses

" Our pursuit is joy, not trite, silly, fleeting happiness. Now if happiness comes along with the package, yes and amen. We don’t hate happiness. If that gift has been granted to us, then that is grace upon grace." - Matt Chandler We Brownies truly have a joy-filled life, but that certainly does not mean our days are filled with skippy-smiley happiness, throwing baskets of daisies along our path as we float through life.  My goal with this blog has been to be honest, whether in regards to waiting for what seemed like forever to get prayers answered, tough times in marriage , or dealing with depression .  That being said, along with the fun updates about how well the boys are progressing, I will update any struggles as well. Travis has made amazing strides in the past 19 months.  I've kept it updated here and on YouTube , but his latest skill is writing his name, Tian's name, and "mom" and "dad."  He also is putting together longer sen