5 Dollars

My life as an at-home momma of 3 amazing kids...it's kind of like shoveling snow in a blizzard.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Harry Potter naked!?

Seventeen-year-old Daniel Radcliffe, star of the "Harry Potter" movies, will be stripping off his glasses.....and his robe.....to star as troubled stableboy Alan Strang in Peter Shaffer's classic stage play "Equus." In one scene the actor playing Strang is required to simulate sexual ecstasy while riding a horse naked. Richard Griffiths (who plays Harry's Uncle Vernon in HP movies) will play role of the psychiatrist.

This is a pretty serious piece of theatre. I hope Daniel is up to it. It could certainly be a good vehicle to keep him from getting typecast in the future.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The rock wall

Animal Planet Expo

Matt had to work today, but I took the kids to the Animal Planet Expo for the afternoon. We had fun. They got their faces painted, got to play in a bounce house, got to watch frisbee dogs perform and visit with lots of animals and then they got to tackle the climbing wall. Ruby *really* wanted to do it (even though they are supposed to be 6 years old to climb) but they didn't have a harness small enough for her. The spotter let her try freeclimbing on the lower part of the wall. She got above his head and he had to call her back down. I think if she'd have had a harness, she would have gone higher. Little daredevil! Keithen and Kaylee gave the wall a try with the harnesses. I need to show them Anna's pictures of Kahli! Looks like my climbing pictures are going in a separate post as Blogger isn't cooperating with putting any more images in this post.

My 3-toed sloths.....in my front yard?!

Kaylee and Ruby were pretending to be sloths in the tree in our front yard while we waited for the school bus to drop Keithen off on Friday afternoon.

Friday, July 21, 2006

First bus ride!

Today is the first regular day of school, which means a full day for Keithen and a 3 hour day for Kaylee.

Since I took them yesterday, today was our first day trying to make the bus.

Keithen was using the bathroom when his bus pulled up. She drove right past the house and the kids and I had to chase her down the street. WHOA! Not the kind of exercise I want at 7:30 in the morning! Thankfully, she saw us and turned around in the cul-de-sac and came back for him. We've explained to him that missing the bus to his new school would be a BIG deal. (At his old school, it was 2 minute drive for me if he missed the bus. Now it's almost 20 each way with a sister who still needs to get to school too. If he missed the bus, one if not both kids would be late to school or Matt would be late to work.)

Kaylee's bus comes a full 45 minutes after Keithen's. She has the same bus driver that Keithen had last year. I think she was excited about getting on the bus for the first time this morning.

Yesterday I wasn't at all sentimental about Kaylee starting Kindergarten. After all, it was an hour and I stayed with her. Today I'm feeling a bit more like my baby girl is all grown up. It's amazing how ready she is for this.....but in a totally different way than Keithen was at the same age.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

It's the first day of school!

We gave up on finding Keithen's glasses after 3 days and got him a new pair at Lenscrafters yesterday in 2 hours. (They sell glasses for kids under 12 years old at half price!) Thankfully, they had some round "Harry Potter-ish" ones so he was happy.

We went straight from the eyeglass place to "Back to School Night" at Keithen's new school. He has 3 other students from his old school in his new gifted class. That should make the transition easier for him. He said he recognized a few other kids from the summer class he took as well. We got to hear a little about how the classroom will operate and then had snowcones.

This morning is the first day of school for both Keithen and Kaylee. We took Ruby to Grandma and Granpa Dollar's and dropped her off there with cousins Tyler and Mitchell at about 8:00.

Then Kaylee and I took Keithen to his new school. He was all smiles and seemed very excited. I know he's really looking forward to this new school year! He only goes for a half day today and then starts the regular school schedule tomorrow. I'm already committed to go help in his classroom one day next week.

After that, Kaylee and I went to a one hour meeting in her Kindergarten classroom. She seemed to be floating on air when we walked to the car to drive from one school to the other. After listening to the teacher talk about rules and procedures and stuff to the parents, Kaylee asked me "when do we get to do the fun stuff?" I promised her that the "fun stuff" would start tomorrow. Her teacher seems very open to a lot of parent participation in the classroom. I'll probably try to start volunteering for her once the grandparents return from Alaska.

Kaylee and I came home for an hour after her meeting and then we'll be headed back to pick up Keithen and Ruby. Hopefully he'll have good stories to tell about his first day.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Battling the Beetles

The four-o-clocks look really great, even though we have Japanese Beetles everywhere. They've pretty much done in my hanging plants. Yesterday we put out beetle bags and they seem to be catching a lot of the ugly little suckers. The nice thing is, there are no nasty chemicals involved with catching them this way.

UPDATE: 5:30 p.m.
We changed the beetle bag at about 4:00 today. In 24 hours that giant bag was FULL to the very top! ICK!

Is your child gifted?

Kristin Scott at Blogging Baby recently wrote a post titled "Is Your Child Gifted." My reply resembled "the great American novel." Since I spent so much time on it, I thought I'd share it here as well.

Keithen has been identified as gifted by the school system. He will be changing to a new school this week so that he can be in a class that is only for gifted children. Only the top 5-7% of each grade level is admitted to this program. There are two such classrooms (one year-round and one traditional calendar) at each grade level (grades 2-5) in the district. To be considered for admission to the program, the students take a non-verbal IQ test (Naglieri), a math test, a reading comprehension test and produce a writing sample. The administrators also look at teacher recommendations and a set of forms that the parents fill out.

Having a gifted child doesn’t just mean you have a child who does well on test. (As a matter of fact, not all gifted children test well!) In many ways, having a gifted child is like having a child who is in special education...just in the opposite direction of the spectrum.

Society recognizes that the intellectually handicapped student has learning needs which are different from those of his or her age-mates of average intellectual ability, and the further such a child is from the average the more we acknowledge that he or she needs a special educational setting. We may mainstream a child with an IQ of 60 or 70, but few educational systems would propose mainstreaming a child with an IQ of 40. Yet the majority of children who are 60 or more IQ points ABOVE the mean are in heterogeneous classrooms. What happens to them?

Gifted children have needs outside the norm of what is provided in the classroom. Their needs cannot easily be met in a normal classroom situation. If their needs are not met and they are not challenged, they can easily become bored in the classroom. Then they may shut down and turn off to school or they may become trouble makers in the classroom. (Keithen, who is 7 years old and going into 2nd grade, scored a 137 on the NVIQ test. This score is already high enough to qualify him for Mensa. This child NEEDS special services in order to keep him engaged in school.)

Imagine how frustrating it must be to have to listen to the teacher spend so much time teaching and reteaching a concept to others that you either already knew or were able to grasp the first time it was presented! Gifted kids NEED special services, unfortunately it’s not always easy to get them and not all schools provide them. (President Bush has even cut funds to some programs for gifted kids!) Just like special needs students, gifted kids need their parents to be advocates for them to insure that they receive the services that they need to reach their full potential.

Most gifted kids have what is called “Asynchronous Development,” especially if you compare their intellectual (mental) ages versus their chronological or emotional ages. They may be highly precocious cognitively, while demonstrating age-appropriate or even delayed development emotionally or socially. In early childhood-they will discuss Einstein's theory of relativity with you one minute, but kick a younger sibling in the shins the next! This can be confusing and frustrating for both the child and parent.

Yet such discrepancies represent perfectly normal development for the extremely gifted child, and should be accepted as such. Leta Hollingworth, a pioneer in the study of highly gifted children, described the issue this way, “It is especially to be noted that many of these problems are functions of immaturity. To have the intelligence of an adult and the emotions of a child combined in a childish body is to encounter certain difficulties. It follows that (after babyhood) the younger the child, the greater the difficulties, and that adjustment becomes easier with every additional year of age. The ages between four and nine are probably the most likely to be beset with the problems mentioned.”

As Linda Kreger Silverman (Director of the Gifted Development Center) so aptly describes it "...gifted children develop in an uneven manner, ... they are more complex and intense than their agemates, ... they feel out-of-sync with age peers and 'age appropriate curriculum,' ... the internal and external discrepancies increase with IQ, and ... these differences make them extremely vulnerable."

We knew that Keithen was smart before he ever entered school. He was a highly proficient computer user at only 3 years old. He was reading by the time he was 4 years old. By the time he started Kindergarten, he was already reading at approximately a first grade level. He got glasses the same week he started school. In just a couple of months he was reading at a 3rd to 4th grade level. (Not JUST reading at this level…comprehending and retaining what he read.) By spring break of first grade he was tested and shown to be reading at a 6th grade 2nd month level. His first grade teacher, in her 30th year of teaching, had never seen a student like him. She did her best to challenge him, but in a classroom of 22 students of varied abilities, those who are already ahead of the game aren’t a high priority. As for asynchronous development, he’s small for his size, physically uncoordinated (although improving here), still wets the bed every night, and like many gifted children, Keithen is a perfectionist and can be highly emotional.

As the past school year progressed, he began to shut down because he wasn’t being challenged. Unfortunately, I didn’t recognize this when it was happening, only as an afterthought. I recently went through his papers from this past year. At the start of the year he was engaged in his work and completed everything. As they year progressed, he completed less and less work. His behavior at home became more and more of a problem. Looking back, I now wonder if he has been acting out in frustration and boredom. As the school year progressed, homework became more and more of a struggle. He had just spent 7 hours at school being bored by work that was too easy for him. Why would he want to cooperate with doing homework that he mastered at least a year ago? It was all pointless busywork to him. Keithen essentially spent the entire first grade school year doing nothing but improving his handwriting skills.

Maybe this will help others understand what it is like to be a gifted student in a normal classroom. Imagine that you have signed up to take a class about astronomy. You are really excited about this class and want to learn more about this subject. The first day you go to class and discover that the first month of class will be about stuff you have already known for a long time. The course will barely touch on information that is new to you at the very end of the semester. You must sit through this class in order to move on to a more advanced one. But you’re bored and not learning anything new right now. This is how school is for most gifted students.

Gifted kids don’t all exhibit the same characteristics, but there are several traits that do tend to be common. Gifted children learn new material faster and at an earlier age than their age-peers. They remember what they have learned forever, making review unnecessary. (Which means that all the review that now goes on in schools where they “teach to the test” in order to comply with No Child Left Behind is mind-numbingly boring to gifted kids.) Gifted students can deal with concepts that are too complex and abstract for age-peers. They tend to have a passionate interest in one or more topics and could spend all available time learning more on that topic if allowed. They may not need to watch the teacher to hear what is being said but instead can often operate on multiple brain channels simultaneously and process more than one task at a time. (In other words, they can often think and multi-task in the same manner as adults.) Gifted children may have advanced vocabularies and think and talk more like an adult than like their age-peers.

Gifted students are often identified as “underachievers.” Many times this is because they are bored in school. It may also be that they purposely do less in order to fit in with their age-peers.

(And now Blogging Baby is providing further evidence of my comments about gifted students purposely doing less in school in order to fit in. Poor kid.)

In 1970, a congressional mandate required the Commissioner of Education to determine the extent of programs for G&T students. Published in 1972, the Marland Report noted that, “The boredom that results from discrepancies between the child’s knowledge and the school’s offerings leads to underachievement and behavior disorders affecting self and others.”

In 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education published A Nation At Risk. Speaking specifically to the education of gifted students, the commission concluded that, “Over half the population of gifted students do not match their tested ability with comparable achievement in school.”

According to National Excellence: A Case for Developing America’s Talent (1993), exceptional talent is viewed suspiciously in America. It is seen as a valuable resource, but it is noted by many as a “troublesome expression of eccentricity.” (In other words, being different is seen as ‘bad” which is why many gifted kids may “underachieve” in order to “fit in” better with their age-peers. This is especially true of gifted girls.)

Gifted kids also make friends differently than most of their age-peers. They tend to be more like adults in their friendships, only have a couple of close friends as opposed to a large group of friends. They also tend to prefer friends of different ages, often older children. I have definitely seen this in Keithen over the past two years of school. Each year he has had one single close friend that he talks about and wants to spend time with.

We’re just beginning our journey into gifted education here. As I said, Keithen will be starting a new school year in a special gifted program later this week. We’re looking forward to seeing him immersed in a gifted classroom this year and receiving work that will actually challenge him and help him to learn new things. We expect it to make a big difference in all areas of his life. Once his needs are finally being met in the classroom, we expect to be able to see him spread his wings and reach his full potential.

Recent research indicated that in many cases siblings are within ten IQ points of each other (Silverman, 1987, November). If one child is highly gifted, it is quite possible that the other children are gifted, too. In many circumstances, it is beneficial for families to have all of the children evaluated.

Kaylee is absolutely artistically gifted, but I’m not sure about academically yet. She is starting Kindergarten this week. She is in a completely different place than where Keithen was at this age. I expect to see huge changes and growth in her this year. At the end of her first grade year, she’ll also be tested to see if she qualifies for gifted education.

I imagine Ruby will also end up being identified as gifted when she is old enough for school because she is very much like her older brother. She’s 3.5 years old and can spell and write her own name. She recently asked how to spell everyone else’s name in our family and wrote them all out (see my blog). She wants to learn to read and already knows most of her letter sounds. She can tell you if words start with the same sound and she understands the concept of rhyming words.

Some books on gifted education:

When Gifted Kids Don’t Have All the Answers: How to Meet Their Social and Emotional Needs by Jim Delisle, Ph.D. and Judy Galbraith, M.A.

Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind by Deborah L. Ruf, Ph.D.

Stand Up for Your Gifted Child: How to Make the Most of Kids’ Stregths at School and at Home by Joan Franlin Smutny

Some links on gifted kids:

FAQ: The Gifted Child

Gifted Children

Hoagies’ Gifted Education

Gifted Resource Guide

Assessing Gifted Children



Gifted & Talented Children

Rhode Island G&T

National Research Center

Recommended books

National Assn for Gifted Children

Gifted Development Center


Keithen's glasses are missing. He is usually very responsible with them. In the past, when glasses have gone missing, they have always been Kaylee's.

Yesterday the kids went out to play in the sprinkler. I sat on the patio and sprayed everyone with sunscreen. Keithen took his glasses off and put them on the patio table. I sprayed him and he went to play. I took the sunscreen inside. That was the last anyone saw the glasses.

I got all kinds of different stories out of the kids last night. Kaylee threw them in the grass. Ruby threw them in the neighbor's yard. Someone threw them in the lake. Someone put them in the Japanese beetle bag. They're on the porch. Yadda yadda yadda. We have combed every inch of the back yard more than once. We have searched the house. They have all three lost the TV and the computer until the glasses are found. Still.....no one seems to know where the glasses are and everyone is blaming someone else.

School starts in three days. We NEED to find these glasses.

7:30 p.m. - over 24 hours since the glasses went missing and still nothing. I'm beginning to think that the Japanese Beetles flew away with them to get even with us for putting out the beetle bag.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Take a look at this page I scanned.

It says:
Daddy (with a few practice "M's" nearby)

RUBY (age 3.5 years!) asked me how to spell everyone's names and wrote all that herself. She's been spelling and writing her own name for a long time now. I thought it was amazing that she did so well on everyone else. Kaylee is the only one that is really hard to make out, I think.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

When Gifted Kids Don't Have All the Answers

A couple of excerpts from the book I'm reading, When Gifted Kids Don't Have All the Answers: How to Meet Their Social and Emotional Needs -

Facing Personal Challenges
by Frank Davies, fourth-grade teacher
We talk a lot in our class about having PCs - personal challenges - and we have spent time on discovering what our own PCs are. I strongly advise my students that facing their won PCs is far more important than learning curriculum (but don't tell my bosses at the South Australian Education Board!). Their PCs might be getting out of bed in the morning, or learning their multiplication tables, or it might be how to learn to follow your own dream. They know that they have my quality support in achieving their PCs. The other stuff is important as well, but what's the point of filling them with curriculum if their heart doesn't sing and they don't feel in control?

from Amber, age 11
You should forget about those silly State tests and just teach us what you think will help us grow. We'll do fine.

More Museum pictures

Rainy day Museum fun

We got to actually enjoy spending some time playing in the Bob the Builder exhibit this time around. (Last time we went, the Museum was a madhouse and Kaylee wandered out of the gallery and got lost last!)

I had to get pictures of the girls drafting for Grandpa John, Grandma Dollar and Grandpa Dollar! They really enjoyed their time at the drafting table. You don't think it's in their blood, do you?

Keithen spent forever under this sink trying to get the pipes attached. I think there must have been some pieces missing as we couldn't quite get it to work. Notice the black cable running above his head? There was actually something plugged in down there! I meant to ask one of the Museum staff about it but I forgot about it.

I held the camera up above Kaylee's head on the carousel to get the great picture of her looking up at the stars.

We went to a session on drawing like Chihuly and the kids got to make giant drawings with pastels. They were supposed to draw big and fast while they listened to music. The interpreter put on The Beatles, which are evidently one of Chihuly's favorite bands.

Keithen obviously really enjoyed the music. We tried the White Album when we got home last night but it just wasn't the same...he liked their older stuff. I had to buy him The Beatles #1 hits today.

(Once again, Blogger doesn't want to let me add more pictures. I'll put the rest in another post.)

Garden of Glass

Kaylee's stegasaurus still isn't on display at the Museum. They haven't rotated any of the children's pieces yet, from what I can tell. I hope we don't miss out on seeing her dinosaur when it goes on display!

I finally got some good pictures that capture the reflection of the garden in the black floor.

Visiting the playground

Monday morning, after swimming class, we stopped by Keithen's new school to test out the playground. It's a bit smaller than the playground at his old school. The twisty slide was a big hit as it's much taller than the one at his old school. There is also a soccer field that we enjoyed playing on. There is a really cool tree next to the playground where we spread out our blanket and had a snack. I think the tree was actually the biggest hit of the morning.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

On my reading list.....

Just finished.....
Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen
(Previously recommended by Anna B on her blog. Matt is still finishing it up, but we have both enjoyed it. Every interesting stuff in this book about the things our history textbooks get wrong and they things they actually leave out. It's frustrating when you think about it. We'll definately have to work on supplimenting the American History coursework the kids do at school with some home study and discussion.)

Currently reading.....
When Gifted Kids Don't Have All the Answers: How to Meet Their Social and Emotional Needs by Delisle & Galbraith

Waiting in my stack.....
Queen of Camelot by Nancy McKenzie
Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind by Deborah L. Ruf, PH.D.
Stand Up for Your Gifted Child by Joan Franklin Smutny
A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599 by James Shapiro
Lies Across America by James W. Loewen

Monday, July 10, 2006

Seen any good movies lately?

Matt and I will be attending a movie without kids later this week. Have you seen any of the following? What do you recommend?

The Devil Wears Prada
Pirates of the Caribbean II
Superman Returns
A Prairie Home Companion

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Kaylee's Diego Vest - Thanks to NickJr.com

Kaylee is a *HUGE* Diego fan. I think she'd marry him if she could. Yesterday I stumbled upon some Diego images on NickJr that are made to be printed on t-shirt transfer paper! I took an old pink vest and turned it into her Diego Animal Rescue vest. She was so surprised and happy with it when it was done. At first she wanted to sleep in it. I think she got too warm because later Matt found her cuddled up in bed holding it.

Swimming and park pictures from this week