Color Blind

  • May 2, 2012 12:28 pm

Yesterday we visited the eye doctor for the very first time.  Neither my husband nor I wear glasses, so optical issues are foreign to us.  But, I have long worried that the youngest Scroggins Hoodlum was colorblind.  At three, when he was learning his colors, he was often inconsistent with how he named them.  I felt he learned what colors certain items “should” be, like grass “should be” green.  My husband and other friends discounted my worries, saying he was just toying with us–knowing it was a game.  I talked with his pediatrician about the issue around the same time, and she suggested we wait to test him until he was older so the test would be more valid.  So, I put the worry out of my mind, and concentrated on things like figuring out right/left handedness and learning how to recognize letters.

This year, his kindergarten teacher shared my hypothesis, noting his frustration with certain instructions involving colors, and his lack of attention to details or interest in art or writing activities.  Yesterday, we were both proven correct, as he was in fact diagnosed with classic red/green color blindness.  I double and triple checked with the doctor to ensure his answers to the questions were consistent, because on top of pondering what he could see, I also know he is less than trust worthy when he’s not entirely interested.  But, he did answer consistently, and now I’m looking into how he views the world–a little less vibrantly than I do.

I’ve found some interesting simulations:

This link shows what a red/green colorblind person sees in reference to the color spectrum.  Click the links at the bottom to see the changes.

The following pictures also show some of the differences.

“Normal” Color Vision:

 

 

 

 

 

Red/Green Color Blind Vision:

 

 

 

 

 

There are thousands of other examples out there, and right now I’m a little addicted to trying to embed myself into his world.  Of course, thousands of people are color blind–approximately 8% of white males in fact.  The gene is carried by the mother on the X chromosome, so I only have my own genetics to blame.  But, I will admit that my heart is a little heavier today knowing that he doesn’t see the world as vibrantly as most of us do, or that some of the details in the background are lost on him because they blend together.  I know elementary school will be a little more of a struggle for him because as I look around, EVERYTHING is taught on or around the basis of color.  Little things like colored chalk and expo marker make a difference in whether or not he can distinguish what he’s trying to learn.  Math manipulatives, puzzles, colored text in readers, science patterns, science diagrams–we live in a colorful world, and I’ve always thought that color helped to cement a concept.  Now I’m learning that sometimes it can actually hinder the learning process.

In the grand scheme, I know this is a minor bump in his road, and in his world, everything looks beautiful.  I am also content in the fact that we have more insight on his brain workings, and might now be able to find different ways for school, specifically that whole pencil paper process, to be exciting and wonderful for him.

And since he can see blue and yellow just perfectly, that’s where I plan to start…bluebonnets, bananas, daffodils, smurfs (NO WONDER he loved that movie!!)…

April Snow Days

  • May 1, 2012 10:52 am

Yesterday, Decatur was out of school for a scheduled Snow Day–my kids never really understood what I meant by that, and I explained it ALL DAY LONG.  But, they took the day off as they kept peering out the windows for thunderstorms or snowstorms to begin overtaking the sky.  As you know, I LOVE a good snow day–the unexpected day off that ENSURES a family pajama day.  But, this long weekend at the end of April, as we embark on the Crazy of May was almost just as awesome.  In fact, I’m willing to jump on the every-weekend-should-be-a-three-day-weekend-bandwagon.  It was awesome to wake up yesterday, and not have to put on make up or go anywhere at all.  The kids actually slept in (since I did wear them out on Sunday going out and about throughout the countryside).  And while I spent the afternoon outside playing in the dirt, they amused themselves playing catch, playing army (or imaginary warfare–depending on your viewpoint), creating puppet shows, and rearranging furniture.  That last one was a little hard to digest, but I’ll let the Daddy deal with it when he gets back in town.  After a family clean up song to put the house back in order, we ended the day with a family movie night, and all went to bed rested and ready to tackle this week…I thought.

Of course, this morning gave us our usual Scroggins dose of crazy as the youngest boy woke up with an eye swollen shut, as I ushered us all out the door frantically calling doctors, co-workers, and making possible sub plans in my head…

When’s the next snow day?

Very first official test…check!

  • April 24, 2012 7:45 pm

My third grader survived his very first day of official testing today.  After a long night’s sleep, he carefully picked out his books to read after the test, ate a very special Daddy breakfast, and was ready to tackle anything.  I could tell he was nervous, but tried to hug it away the best I could, being the embarrassing mom that I am.

I caught up with him later in the day and he admitted it wasn’t as hard as he’d imagined, but also admitted his brain was TIRED. To him, the questions started out super easy, and by the end were super hard–sounds about right for any test.  We took a few minutes this afternoon to hash and rehash the scary and nonscary parts of the day, and by bedtime he seemed ready for day 2.

After that just one more test for the Scroggins hoodlums (big and small) to endure, and we can all relax this weekend over a few games of baseball…I’m already looking forward to it.

Big Week

  • April 23, 2012 7:45 am

This week marks the second round of STAAR Testing for Texas students.  Everyone is going through the same routine as they did for TAKS Testing, reviewing major concepts these last few weeks, cleaning classrooms, urging kids to eat nutritious dinners and breakfasts, and canceling after school activities to ensure a good night’s rest.  With all the controversy around this test this year, this week is a welcome end to a year of preparation.  I think (or hope) my students are mumbling the phases of the moon in their sleep, and I’ve seen my third grader wander around the house reciting his multiplication facts.  For him especially I’m glad this week is finally here.   The unknown of his FIRST REAL TEST has had him periodically anxious throughout the school year, and I hope after this week he can breathe a sigh of relief, relax, and enjoy the spring–baseball, wildflowers, and everything in between.

I plan to do the same–and to try not to think about how the scores will be ready at some faraway date in the Fall.

Other People’s Shoes

  • April 17, 2012 8:59 pm

I’m wondering at what age do kids learn empathy-or understanding what it means to be in someone else’s shoes.  Is there a magic time where kids realize that there is a world outside of their own–that other people have up, down, and even sideways moments the same as they do?  It’s something I try to define in my classroom, and it’s something that can take ALL my energy.  We actually practice manners in the first six weeks–repeating specific complimentary phrases so students who don’t know what to say can have something to say.  But, I want to take it a step further and have them realize that not only can they BE NICE to other people, but they can also UNDERSTAND another person’s situation, and even offer comfort if needed.  I want this realization for my students, and my own Scroggins Hoodlums.   So, therefore, I’m hoping and wondering if I’m doing everything I can to model it for them.  They’re always watching, right?

Sometimes I stand back and watch the middle-aged kids mingle in their social situations.  I watch their awkward, silly, clumsy, shy, funny, loud, and even callous moments.  I cringe when I see a “mean girl moment” or and equally harsh “tough guy moment.”  I know these are the growing pains of childhood and adolescence.  I know that in my HEAD, but in my heart I really just want to see people being nice to other people.  I want them to think of other people’s feelings, and try to understand another person’s perspective.  I know teenagers are by definition the center of their own universe, but they do realize that they are PART of a universe, right?  And, I’m looking at my own hoodlums who aren’t quite to the teen or even tween stage yet, and wondering if they should know and understand that they too are PART of something more. 

As a completely and utterly sappy and sensitive person, I know I probably take this emotion to the extreme, and perhaps am setting the emotional maturity bar a little high for these blossoming grown-ups-in-the-making.  I can concede that point, but I don’t think I can concede the importance of noticing, admiring, and even trying on someone else’s shoes–at any age really.  Without trying on another pair, how else can you possibly know how well your own shoes fit?

Play Ball! …from the Column

  • April 12, 2012 6:27 am

“Take me out to the ballgame.  Take me out to the crowd.  Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks.  I don’t care if I EVER get back…”

Those are the words to a tried a true American Pastime Theme Song.  If I were to confess, I would confess that I did not learn those words until I was an actual grown up.  I grew up in a football, not a baseball, household; so while I knew when to be “ready for some football,” “1-2-3 strikes you’re out” was a whole new ballgame for me.  Now, in saying that, I did learn the basics in high school: 3 strikes, 3 outs, 9 innings, etc., but it wasn’t until I was recruited as a Baseball Mom that I truly learned an appreciation for the intricate and finer points of The Game.

My boys are (almost) nine and six respectively, and Baseball is Our Game.  We’ve played Tball (THREE-year-old Tball), coach-pitch, machine-pitch, and most recently, kid-pitch.  We’ve been the Rangers, the Boston Red Sox, the Scallywags, and the Decatur Eagles (Blue).  I’ve bought cleats, baseball pants, helmets, bats, balls, and bases.  I’ve had lengthy discussions with many people on the correct type of cup and cup accessory for my son, and then I’ve repeated that discussion to my son.  I’m guessing that was the first of many awkward cup-related moments in our future—not something I envisioned when holding my baby boy in my arms.

After a few seasons, I learned to carry my own bag lawn chair, and sit near the dug-out to see all parts of infielding, outfielding, pitching, and batting.  I’ve watched my oldest son learn to go through his mental checklist as he strutted up to the plate. Feet.  Check. Knuckles lined up.  Check.  Bat back.  Check.  Evil Eye to the pitcher.  Check. Check.  He swings for the fences every single time.  I’m hoping strategy comes with experience.  I’ve watched my youngest son learn the CORRECT way to run around the bases, and…well, that’s as far as we have come so far.  It’s a process after all.  I’ve been recruited to keep the Books, and let me be the first to enlighten those novice baseball watchers out there, baseball bookkeeping is INTENSE.  Where did the ball go?  Was it the fielder’s choice?  Was it an error?  Was it a single? Double? Triple?  Was it the left fielder that made the play; what is his position number again?  Please make sure the line- up is ABSOLUTELY ACCURATE.  No pressure.  I did mention we play Little League, didn’t I?

But, despite the cup talks, rule memorizing, and book keeping, watching my boys learn The Game is an experience I never knew I wanted or needed, but one I can’t imagine living without.  My heart actually stops beating when I see them step up to the plate, hoping with every fiber of my body that they make contact with the ball.  My smile literally stretches from ear to ear as I watch them line up with their team after the game to high five (hand or booty, either one).  And, tears pool in my eyes when I see them leap off the bench to cheer their fellow team mate on a job excellently executed.  I’m probably not raising the next Ian Kinsler, but aren’t you impressed I know who he is?  Because of my boys, I have not only become their biggest fan, but Baseball’s biggest fan—well, one of them; I know I have some competition. 

Spring has sprung.  Opening day is hours away, and we are ready to slide into a winning season.    

“So, it’s root, root, root for the HOME team; if they don’t win it’s a shame, ‘cause it’s ONE, TWO, THREE strikes you’re out at the Old Ball Game!”

Not to beat a dead horse, but…

  • April 9, 2012 4:08 pm

I’m not quite sure how I’ve managed to do anything without an iphone for my personal assistant.  Now, I’m an organized person, and have always loved a calendar, beginning with my student planner back in the dark ages of pen and paper.  I threw a smallish fit when I moved to a Palm, but once it all came together in a phone/calendar/to do list option–with REMINDERS that DING at me, I was hooked.  Since we are Sprint People, we’ve been unable to become part of the iphone world until very recently, and as I discussed last week, I have one now.

There is no comparison.

At all.

In addition to the easy interface as compared to the Droid craziness I’ve been living in, it thinks of things to make my life easier in ways I’ve been BEGGING for!  My mails are merged.  My contacts are merged.  My calendars are merged, and sync without me asking them to do it!

Ok, so I know everyone already has an iphone, and I am literally the last one on the wagon about this, but my most most favorite part of my whole experience thus far is creating a family calendar through Google.  A genius friend told me of this feature, and since it is a Google feature, I’m sure I could have tried to make it happen with the Droid, but I’m guessing my screen would have cracked before I actually made it happen.  In creating this calendar, I’m able to add things to both my husband’s calendar and my own calendar, and keep our work calendars separate–all through some kind of sync magic.  I was actually already migrating to the Google world as far as Google Docs, Gmail, and Contacts–which by the way can all by synced on my fancy little life saving device.

When my whole world seems to be in the chaos of testing and baseball season, this little light of OCD happiness is literally making me shine.  :)

iphone crazy

  • April 4, 2012 7:33 pm

I feel like I talk a lot about my phone, or … technology issues here, but the fact is, I have a lot of phone AND technology issues that plague my daily life.

The most recent tragedy has been my EVO that would neither charge nor be fully touch screen operable.  I was FINALLY due for an upgrade last week, or rather my father-in-law was due for the upgrade.  Graciously, he acquiesed his opportunity to me, and I have now in my possession my very first iphone.

I think I am in love–I mean serious, heart-palpitating love.

The difference in an iphone and any-other-phone-at-all is incomparable.  I feel as though I have finally entered the new generation, and my learning cure this week has been exponential.  I don’t even know all I should know right now.

But, I’m willing to learn.  This phone might just be as life changing as TiVo, and that’s really saying something, because I credit TiVo with the key to proper marriage communication.

The possibilities…

Youth Fair Week!!

  • April 3, 2012 6:11 pm

This is our second official Youth Fair week to enter, and not only have we been old hats with photography and food entries, this year we entered RABBITS!  We have eight (8!!) rabbits in a massive hutch on our back porch, and have been dutifully weighing, watering, watching, and … feeding them for the past two months.  That’s one of the reasons we picked this particular animal–short shelf life.  We show two sets of three (one set for each hoodlum) on Thursday morning, and we will see what happens after that.  I’m hoping I just didn’t adopt eight pet rabbits, but I guess we will figure that out by the end of the week.  It’s been an ENORMOUS learning experience for the hoodlums, and to be honest, there have been a few tears of joy, pain, and frustration.  But, hopefully the hard work will pay off, or they will learn that they need to apply even MORE hard work in the future to ensure better success.

If you’ve never adventured out to the Youth Fair, take part this week.  Take your kids to see the animals, watch their peers show their animals, or see all the other amazing crafts, photographs, and fashions on display.  There are amazing opportunities in 4H, many more than I ever realized, and the lessons learned through independently speaking and being responsible for each project is priceless (insert mastercard commercial here).

It lasts ALL WEEK, so make your reservations now, or head on out every single day.  It’s small town fun at it’s finest.

Promise.

Day One, check!

  • March 27, 2012 1:47 pm

Students and teachers survived the first day of STAAR Testing today, and I think it went well.  The day felt like any other testing day, with students entering class with pencils, water, goldfish, and erasers, and teachers reading instructions on exactly where and where not to bubble.  All of the hype seemed to fade into the background as everyone settled into their chair and began the business of taking a test.  In fact, with the new four hour time limit, the overbearing feeling of an “all day test” seemed to disappear.  Students finished in time for lunch, and were able to relax their brains in preparation for Day Two tomorrow.

Unfortunately, schools will not receive scores from these tests until the fall.  Personally, that unknown would drive me insane.  I loved those college classes that passed out test keys at the exit so we could grade our own tests immediately.  Watching all this new normal unfold makes me fret and worry about getting the three Scroggins Hoodlums through the next tenish years of school as productive, test passing members of society.

Honestly, should we wager on another educational change by that time?

Probably not, but for now we have Day One under our belts.  Check.  It feels good.