Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Logan's Eye Exam

Even before Logan split his eyebrow open, we'd had him scheduled for a basic eye exam at the optometry clinic at James' school.  So we went ahead and did that today. 

The back story of why we wanted Logan's eyes examined is this.  Logan's been a good reader, but he didn't seem to be continuing to improve much, despite lots of practice.  He loses his place often, he is easily distracted and doesn't stay on task.  He is only seven, after all.  I thought that was pretty normal for his age.  But he is also leaving out words and/or adding words into the sentences he's reading.  He also changes words, such as reading "watched" when the real word is "watching."  

I thought these were all happening because he wasn't trying hard enough or concentrating or paying attention.  I would sit next to him while he read and it seemed I was constantly correcting him and telling him to use his finger to follow the words, so he wouldn't lose his place.  

Maybe I'm not supposed to compare Logan and Taylor, but I can't help it.  Taylor seems to be able to read much more smoothly and fluidly than Logan, and she's 2 years younger than him.  They both started reading at about the same age, so Logan's had 2 more years of reading than Taylor.  

Then James was learning about Vision Therapy in school, training your eyes to work better, I guess.  Anyway, he recognized many of the symptoms in Logan's reading and behavior.  So, in order to determine if Logan needs Vision Therapy, he needed a basic eye exam to get a baseline.  

Aren't you glad I gave you that huge, long story? 

James set up the appointment for a time when he could be there too.  I'm so glad he did, seeing how he knows what's going on so much better than myself when it comes to eye exams.  

Doesn't he looked thrilled?  It's probably because I was constantly telling him to sit down, be still and pay attention.  Sometimes I feel like a broken record. 

Here he is behind the phoropter.  It's the machine that helps determine if he needs glasses and what his prescription will be if he does.  He had to look through those little lenses and try to read letters on a screen in front of him.

Turns out Logan has a slight astigmatism, but they kind of cancel each other out.  He can see 20/20, which means he sees perfectly well without needing any glasses.

This is the Slit Lamp.  I think she's looking at the health of his eye, at his retina, cornea and such.  Everything there is good and healthy.

That was the easy part, for me anyway.  Then they started talking about Vision Therapy.  They had Logan do a few "tests."  He had to read a story that was a couple of paragraphs long.  They warned him that they were going to ask him some questions afterward.  

While he read, they had him wear some goggles with electronics in it, so that they could track his eye movements while he read.  He answered all the questions correctly, so his comprehension is excellent. 

What the test showed about his eye movement is, that it's all over the place, really.  Normally when we read, we read left to right and then at the end of a line we quickly run our eyes back to the left to start the process all over again, on the next line down.  

Logan will read left to right and then drop straight down, staying at the right end of the line.  Then makes his way backward down the line to where can continue to read.  Basically his eyes are skipping forward and backward a lot, which is why he doesn't read very fluidly.  

From this test they told me that he was reading at a 1st grade level!  What?!?  Are you serious???  He's in the 2nd grade and I always thought he was a better than average reader.  In my mind, I started making all kinds of excuses.  Well, his eyes are dilated, he's already been here nearly an hour, he just wasn't staying focused, etc.  I couldn't believe it.  

Then they started talking about dyslexia.  Possibly Logan could have that.  Now I'm really freaking out.  We come in for a simple eye exam and we go home with dyslexia!  I know NOTHING about dyslexia.  My son has a learning disability?!?  Is this going to be a life long battle and struggle for him?  

So they decide to do a couple more "tests."  First they have him write the alphabet in all upper case letters, then all lower case letters, and the numbers 1 - 10.  He does that perfectly.  They later told me that it's normal for 7 year-olds to still get some letters reversed when writing them.  

Then James left for a meeting he had to go to.  There went my mental and emotional support.  

Second, they had him read a list of words.  At first they were easy, but they got progressively harder.  Then they asked him to write several words, words he didn't know how to spell.  

I had to leave the room, he kept looking to me for help.  I was already worried and starting to get emotional, anyway.  He did so well with his spelling tests in 1st grade.  Now I'm homeschooling him and he can hardly write any of these words correctly.  It's all my fault.  I haven't been focusing on spelling or making spelling lists for him.  In fact, I know I'm not even making him write as much as he should be.  

I'm already worried about him regressing academically this year because I don't have the kids on a rigorous school schedule.  I don't need these people to quantify how lousy I'm doing at homeschooling.   I figured Logan would pick up a lot of spelling and grammar as he read more.  I felt that he needed to practice reading more than spelling.   

The more I read about and research homeschooling the more I'm thinking that fun and play and imagination and a relaxed atmosphere are more important than having x amount of hours in a day of "school" and having x amount of subjects that we're studying.  Now I feel like I'm getting a huge slap in the face, that I'm doing everything wrong.

Well, the results of the tests are that Logan is NOT dyslexic because any 2nd grader who is reading 6th grade level vocabulary words, can't be dyslexic!  It turns out the test requires them to have the child continue reading lists of words until they can only correctly read, at most 5 of the 10 words on the page.  In order for Logan to do this they went all the way to the 6th grade level page.  

Oh my goodness!  I almost started crying from relief.  Logan's fine!  He's gonna be just fine!  

We're going to put a couple of "games" on his computer that will help train his eyes to scan a page more efficiently.  That should improve his reading and ability to stay focused.  

Okay, I've had enough with the emotional roller coaster, with this child, the last few days.  I'll be happy to go back to our usual, boring, blah days around here. 

Monday, February 27, 2012


Logan, poor guy, was playing outside this afternoon and collided with a friend.  Hard.  They both split their eyebrows open.  They both had to go to the ER.  

James took a picture while we were waiting at the ER.  I'm putting it at the very end of the post, so anyone who doesn't want to see it, won't have too.  It's a pretty deep, red gash.

The friend, a little girl, who is in Logan's primary class, ended up needing 7 stitches.  

Luckily, Logan's cut wasn't quite as deep.  The doctor glued it shut and it looks amazing now, compared to how it looked.  You wouldn't know it to look at it now, but it was a horrible cut.  

Well, Logan, welcome to the club, Buddy.  The Club of Scarred Eyebrows, that so many of us already belong to.  I know I'm a member of that club too.  I think a coffee table collision is how I got mine. 

Poor boy.  Here's his "before" picture.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Taylor's "Fraction" of a Dance Class

So, Taylor had her first ever dance class the other day!  

She was sooooo excited!  She's been waiting for "ballerina class" even longer then she'd been waiting for swimming lessons.  She got all dressed up in her little ballet outfit and I even put a ballerina bun in her hair.  She was all ready for class.  

We drove to the town where the class was being held, unloaded ourselves, found the room and waited.  And waited, and waited.  Finally I went and asked why there wasn't anyone around when class was supposed to have started 5 mins. ago. 

That's when they told me the class had been canceled.  I was mildly irritated.  Taylor was crushed.  "But I wanted to go to my ballet class!" she whispered in such a sad voice.  I told her we'd figure out something else.  

So here's what we're doing instead...
a Ballerina/Princess Tea Party!
(and you're all invited).

Taylor helped me with the invitations and told me who she wanted to invite.  We decided we'll watch a ballet video for kids that we can check out of the library.  When all the little girls are tired of that we'll have our tea party.

I'll take pictures and let you know how it turns out.

On a different note, the kids are learning about fractions right now and loving it.  They're discovering that fractions are everywhere.  I was baking cookies this afternoon.  Logan and Taylor took turns helping me.  Logan was excited to recognize fractions in the recipe, such as 1/2 cup of sugar.  

After the cookies were baked and the kids each had a couple, we saved a couple for James and put the rest away.  When there was only one cookie left, Taylor excitedly suggested that "Daddy could cut his cookie into fourths!  Then we could each have 1/4." 

James was so impressed by her cleverness that he followed her suggestion.  

The other night the kids had chicken nuggets for dinner and it turned into a discussion about fractions too.  The kids started cutting their food into fourths and making up problems for each other as they ate more and more fractions of their dinner. 

(Taylor's mouth is full)

I love it when the kids get a hold of an idea or concept and just run with it.  I love it when they have fun learning new things.  Should I tell them they are doing "Math?" 

On another topic, Logan told me the other day, "Mom, it's like there are two of you.  One is serious.  And I don't like that one very much, but the other one is funny and I like that one very much." 

Well... okay.  Thanks?  I think.  

I actually love it that the kids are so wonderfully open and honest.  It's great.  The days around here are never dull.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New Books

We found some fun, new books that both the kids like to read.  It's not hard to find something Taylor likes to read, but Logan is another story.

The "Cork & Fuzz" books (there are several of them) by Dori Chaconas are sweet and funny.  The kids love them.  They can both read them in one sitting or divide it between a couple of days (but they general like the book so much, they keep reading until it's done).  

The books center on the friendship of two animals, Cork, a short muskrat and Fuzz, a tall possum.  They appear to be complete opposites, but then discover that they have a lot in common.  Every book makes us laugh out loud.  So if you've got young readers, especially those that are starting to read on their own, check out "Cork and Fuzz," literally, at your library.  That's where we found ours.

On a completely different topic, Taylor.  Taylor, Taylor, Taylor.  That girl is in such a hurry to grow up.  No, not really.  She's in a hurry to BE a grown-up.  The other day, she told me that when she was a mommy and had kids of her own, she would put them all in swimming lessons at the SAME time.

I said something like, "Well, I'm sorry we can't do that.  When you get married, just make sure you marry someone who is serious and hardworking.  That way, he'll do well in school, get a good job and be able to provide for you and your children."

Then I continued, "But you want someone who is fun to be around too, not too serious all the time.  Like Daddy, he works hard at school, but he makes us laugh all the time too."

I guess my little spiel about husbands was too complicated because she responded with, "Or I could marry Cade, he just lives across the street."  Cade is a little boy who is 5 years old and does live across the street.

So if you can't find the right combination of serious and fun, just marry the boy across the street.  

That's not what I was going for.  So much for teaching moments ALL the time. 

Now we're off to Taylor's first dance class, a little princess/ballerina class.  She's been waiting sooooo long for this too.  I'm taking my camera

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Taylor's Swimming

Yay!!!  It's finally Taylor's turn.  She's been waiting so patiently for her chance to get in the pool.  She watched Logan get to go for over a month.  Every time, she'd ask, "When's it going to be my turn?"  "Did you sign me up for swimming lesson yet?"  "Do I get to swim tomorrow?"  

Finally I can say yes, it's your turn!  

She loves her time in the pool.  

She's the most fearless one in her class.  All the other little kids wait for instructions, Taylor just plows right in and dunks her whole head!

"Swimming Hands" 
 (closed fingers)

Floating on her back.  She's so good she can balance a toy on her tummy!




Not much lift...

but a lot of splash!

I'd say Taylor's made a big splash with her swimming teacher and all her new swimming friends as well.  One little girl, said she would be Taylor's friend "for the rest of forever."

Her teacher says she "amazing!"  and all the other moms can't believe this is Taylor's first time in the pool.  

Logan now has to take his turn sitting out and watching.  Today he brought a book to look at.  That helped him stay in his seat for about 5 mins.  

Yesterday, he was showing me the math page he was working on.  He had problems such as, 5 + ? = 13.  He got the answer right, so I asked him how he went about finding the answer, thinking he'd explain his reasoning.  He just said, "I used my brain."  Like, duh, Mom.  

We've started having James "grade" the kids' math pages at the end of the day.  They all enjoy that.  They each get to show off their work to dad and they talk about what they did that day.  

The kids always get A+ or A on their math.  One day, Logan told me he wanted to get a B, just to be different.  I said, "No!  You don't want to do that!"  I tried to explain to him that B's are not better.