Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Touring Iowa with Head Start

I've been traveling around Iowa testing lots of little preschool cuties. As fun as that is, it has been wonderful to have groups of students from my assessment class helping me. Here are four of the students that came with me yesterday. We are assessing children at all the Head Start centers under the umbrella of Mid-Sioux Opportunity, so we are getting to see lots of places in Northwest Iowa.

We have classrooms from 10 different centers participating in the project so the locations are quite spread out. Today I had to go to a center located nearly two hours away. Because of the distance, I went on my own. My students have been wonderful about helping me, but it would be hard for them to take such a big chunk of time out of their schedule. I left home at 6:15 this morning!

I drove a Dordt car out there, which was great, except that on the way back I got a flat tire. Of course, I was out in the country when it happened. I did call the Dordt maintenance staff, but obviously there wasn't a lot they could do to help me. Fortunately, I could see a couple businesses way off in the distance and it was an absolutely gorgeous day, so I walked down there to see if I could find someone to help me.

Now I know I should be able to change my own tire, but honestly I haven't had to do that for myself in at least 25 years. I did locate the jack, but it didn't even look the same as the one I remember using. So I set off to find someone who felt a little more confident about this task than I did. At least it wasn't pouring rain.

I found lots of people willing to help me, but because in each place they were the only employee working, they couldn't leave the store and walk back to my car to help me. Finally, a farmer waiting to get a part at an equipment supply place volunteered to help me. He said he had lots of time as he was "just waiting for the beans to dry."

The vehicle maintenance folks at Dordt had asked me to get that tire replaced right away rather than drive that far on the spare, so after he changed the tire the helpful farmer gave me directions to the local co-op. Amazingly, the co-op had a tire to replace the blown one, but they didn't take credit cards and obviously Dordt didn't have an account with them. So, the helpful man at the co-op just put the charge on his own account and asked if I could have the college send the payment in promptly.

I guess it could have been a frustrating and stressful day, and I did lose a whole afternoon that I had planned to spend testing, but I honestly didn't feel frustrated. The weather was too nice and the strangers far too kind to feel frustrated. This past weekend, I read the story of the Good Samaritan. It came up at both an immigration conference I attended on Saturday and in my class during Sunday School on Sunday. At the end of the parable, Jesus asks, "Who was the neighbor to the man?" Those folks out in Correctionville, Iowa, definitely acted as neighbors to me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Maria Update

In August, Maria went to the Muscular Dystrophy clinic at Sanford Children's Hospital. During that consultation it was pointed out to us that Maria stands quite crooked and it appeared that she had one leg significantly longer than the other. (We just thought that leg bent, hip out posture was teenage attitude.) So, they sent us off for x-rays and referred her on to another specialist.

Yesterday, Maria was seen by this specialist. He told us that her legs are the same length, but her right side is so weak that she cannot hold her pelvis level. This throws everything off. She has developed a bit of scoliosis as a result as well. The right side weakness goes back to a stroke-like episode she had almost two years ago. We had an MRI done at that time, but it did not show evidence of a stroke, so we've never known what to call it. This doctor said that sometimes that happens. He actually has another young patient who had the same thing happen.

So, the good news is that strengthening her right side should resolve the issues. The bad news is that her MG (a form of muscular dystrophy) is going to make that difficult to accomplish. She did have intensive therapy through the hospital after that stroke-like episode and perhaps therapy will be recommended again. At that time, her speech as well as use of her right side had been affected, but she worked hard to regain what she had lost. I guess it is hard to get back everything you lost and she does still struggle with these things, especially when she is tired, but she seems to do pretty well.

So, now to keep going forward. She really wanted to join the Seahawks, a community USA Swimming team. I was worried that the energy demands of practice would be too much for her MG. On the other hand, we don't have a Special Olympics swim team so that isn't an option any more. The doc sided with Maria, pointing out that swimming would be excellent exercise to get that right side stronger. So, she started this week. The coach is a special education teacher and seems very willing to try to make this work for Maria. We signed up for the two-week trial and we'll see how it goes.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Night Thoughts

Here is a sample of the random, unrelated thoughts crashing around in my head tonight:

1. The bite on my leg is finally healing. Two more days of antibiotic to go. It was quite painful for a bit, so I am very glad to have moved on to the next stage. Now it's just itchy.

2. We begin testing students tomorrow for my research project. I'm excited.

3. I've been attending a Sunday school class at our church on the topic of poverty. It has been an enlightening experience. I am already looking forward to next week's class.

4. When I took Jon Felipe to his first Sunday school class this fall, all the children enthusiastically greeted him when he walked in the door. Today when I dropped him off, another boy in his class jumped up right away and led him to the chair next to him. I love seeing my son so welcomed.

5. All our kids were home last night. We made pizza and watched a movie together. Family night is the best!

6. We watched Mary Poppins and now Jon Felipe walks around snapping his fingers and wondering why all the toys don't jump up and put themselves away like they did for the kids in the movie.

7. If you are raising a daughter with an autism spectrum disorder and wouldn't mind sharing about that, I would love to hear from you.

8. I wish I didn't feel so tired so often.

9. There are so many books I want to read, if only I had more time.

10. It really feels like fall here. I'm hoping for a good dose of Indian Summer yet.

What thoughts are crashing around your head?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Spidey Sense

So this sprouted on my leg a few days ago. I finally went to the doc, who diagnosed an infection from a spider bite and prescribed antibiotics. She also reassured me that it could not be the result of a bed bug bite (I still have the occasional nightmare about those). I'll let you know when my spidey sense develops!

In the meantime, I think I'll keep wearing long pants.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Maria's Haircut

Maria got a new haircut. She just keeps looking more and more grown up.

A picture of Colin and Jon Felipe, just because.