Monday, August 29, 2011

Much news...

Well, we did make it back from our trip to Colorado, the school year has already started, and we finally got the results of Fellan's Dysgraphia testing back last week (surprise - he's got it!)...

Anyway, we had a great trip to Colorado.  I just wish it would have coincided with the Tour of Colorado "US Pro Cycling Challenge" which just finished up yesterday.  But it could not be helped - we had to get back for school to start last week.

While we were in Colorado, though, we made the best of it.  It never got above 75 deg F the whole time we were there.  Quite the contrast to the 113 deg F temperatures we drove through in northwest Texas on the way up.  The car actually had trouble starting a couple of times in that hot weather, so at potty-breaks, we started to take turns, leaving the car running the whole time in order to avoid getting stuck somewhere!

We started off the vacation with a visit to the family down in Denver.  My parents and brother came out and stayed with my aunt and cousin and we celebrated my dad's 70th birthday and my aunt's 60th birthday.  Boy, my dad is getting old!  :)

Then during the rest of the week, we hiked a couple of days and rode bikes the other three days before we had to head back to the Houston heat.  I was impressed with the kids and their riding while we were there.  We rode to Copper Mountain one day and Fellan rode there on his own bike.  We had Marxo ride the trailer bike with Daddy that day.  But for the other two days of riding, both kids were on their own bikes.  And one day, we ended up riding a total of 27 miles!  They did a great job.

Top of Copper Mountain - good thing these rocks get completely covered during ski season!

Waterfalls at McCullough Gulch

Lunch at the McCullough Gulch waterfalls
The day before we left, we hiked to the McCullough Gulch waterfalls.  We had never done that before, but we'll definitely include that every year from now on.  It was really worth the climb - very beautiful!

Alas, it was time to head back to the heat and get ready for school to start.  We had a week between vacation and the start of school to get re-acclimated to the heat.  It didn't really work, but we did get ready for school.

First Day of 3rd and 1st grade!
Someday, I'm hoping they're going to out-grow their need to "pose-smile" for pictures...

Anyway.  The kids seem to be really enjoying school this year.  Fellan is even pro-actively sitting down and doing homework every evening after school.  When he came home from school the first day and started doing homework, I commented to the husband that the hypnotist they hired for the first day of school must have REALLY been good.  ;)

The fact that Fellan has been doing his homework with little to no prompting is especially amazing given the fact that we finally did get the results of his testing and he's now officially been diagnosed with Dysgraphia, which literally means "difficulty writing".  This website talking about handwriting solutions gives a really good description of Fellan's problems. I still find myself wondering if this is a real disorder, or if he just has poor fine motor skills and that he could get better if we just made him practice writing more, but since practicing hasn't helped thus far, I'm more inclined to believe this paragraph from the handwriting solutions website:
It is often thought that continued handwriting practice will improve a Dysgraphic student’s ability to use paper and pencil alone as a useful tool to complete all their written schoolwork. This is rarely the case. While Occupational Therapy can sometimes help to improve a Dysgraphic student’s letter and number formation in isolation and/or in short writing samples, this improvement is, 99.9% of the time, not able to be sustained when kids are actually using their handwriting to complete their written schoolwork. The same thing is true of making kids re-do written assignments to make them more legible. In cases of Dysgraphia, “practice does not make perfect.”
The woman who did the testing gave us a lot of helpful ideas and recommended an occupational therapist who specializes in writing problems like Dysgraphia.  We're going to see how that goes, but we're also going to check into keyboarding options for Fellan to use in the classroom and we're scheduled to meet with his teacher tomorrow to talk about the recommendations from the testing lady.  One of the recommendations is actually, "Do not count spelling mistakes against his grade." *gasp*  The horror! This is going kill me - I can't stand misspellings!

The good thing about the type of Dysgraphia that he has is that it's mostly motor and spatial problems and it's not related to grammar or speech.  Thank goodness for that - my reinforcement of proper use of adverbs must have helped him throughout the years.  :)

And I think that catches everyone up!  Later gator...

Monday, August 01, 2011

It's a...

GIRL!!!  As of yesterday, we have a new member in our family:

We were definitely not thinking about adding a kitten to our house, but she needed a home and we decided to go ahead and take her.

She came from the girl the I used to tutor when she was in high school.  She's now 25 with two kids of her own!  Anyway, her girls convinced their daddy that they really, really needed this kitten.  So he bought it for them.  But then they decided that they didn't really want it (and the little one decided to see what would happen if she scratched the kitten's eye with her own claw) and they wanted to know if we would take it.

Like I said, I weren't intending to get another kitten for quite some time.  We currently have an 18 1/2 year old cat named Midas who has kidney disease and requires sub-cutaneous fluids every other day or so.  We figured that we would let him live out his sunset years in quiet peacefulness without the stress of adding any kittens to his life.

But I guess that plan is pretty much wrecked!

I think it will be OK, though.  This little kitten is so friendly and sweet - I figure Midas will eventually get used to her.  If she ever gets over her fear of him, that is...

Midas basically lives on the 3rd floor of our house - where the bedrooms are.  He rarely makes it down the stairs anymore and so we set the new kitten up with a litter box, food, and water on our second floor - where our living room, dining room, and kitchen are.  She hasn't ventured up the stairs on her own yet.  After a tentative meeting yesterday morning when she first arrived and Midas yelled (he doesn't meow anymore!) and hissed at her, she doesn't seem to be in a hurry.

Since the new kitten hadn't been to a veterinarian before, and she had one scratched, squinty, goopy eye, I made an appointment for her today.  The scratched eye should be fine with a little ointment and she's now gotten her first round of shots.

Such a sweet little thing!

Oh, and her name?  Spot.  In honor of Data's cat on Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Since she's a calico (and therefore somewhat spotted), we thought it was especially fitting.  :)