Saturday, March 24, 2012

Assessing a Child's Reading Level

We're making arrangements for Maggie to be evaluated by the public school.  It's one of those things we never wanted to do, but we suspect that we're going to have a hard time accessing services from the county and the state if she has not ever been in The Government System, proving her need for assistance and accommodations.

Before she goes in for their evaluation, however, I want to have a sense of where she stands on their scale.  As a homeschool teacher, I know my students.  It doesn't matter how they compare to others, ahead or behind.  It doesn't matter what grade level they're at.  I'm not going to learn any useful information from a standardized test.  By simple observation and knowing my students/kiddoes, I have what I need to help them continue to learn.

However, that's not how the school views things.  They want grade levels.  They want test scores.  They want percentiles.  They want to compare children and line up a pecking order organize them into skills-groups. 

So how does one determine a kid's reading level?  I have a sense of what Maggie can read easily, what she can struggle through, and what's too hard.  When I hunted for online reading tests, they were stupid.  They had lists of words for kids to read.  That's not a reliable way to test reading!  So I'm having her read to me some chapters of books with an assigned grade level.  If she can read it correctly and understand what's going on in the story, that tells more way more than having her rattle off a list of unrelated (and increasingly difficult) words.

But how do I know whether Little House on the Prairie is a 3rd-grade book or a 7th-grade book?  Guess what?  I found the Scholastic website.  You can type in the name of a book.  If Scholastic carries it, you'll find both the reading level and the interest level.  (By the way, Laura's story is rated as grade 4.3.  I'm skeptical about the interest level, though.  The website says 3rd grade.  I say my 3-yr-old granddaughter likes it, my 8-yr-olds liked it, my teenagers liked it, and I still like it!)   Another graded list is available from a Massachusetts school.  This one can be sorted by reading level, by title, or by author.

So far, it looks like my guess of Maggie's reading level is likely to pan out according to this in-depth test.  I wonder if the school's test will be as realistic.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Installation Pictures

Pastor Suelflow was the installer.

President Suelflow, Pastor, Deacon, and Gary.

The ones Gary confirmed. All but one of my kids were there that day, and Bethany. (Some of you will remember when "and Bethany" used to be her name? LOL.)

Gary and me.

Some pictures have been posted to church's website.  Thanks to Mike and Laura!  (Their camera takes much better pictures than mine, so I didn't even bother pulling my camera out of my purse that day.)

The Burden of Raising a Handicapped Child

Go read Scott's reflections on being the dad of a kid with Down Syndrome!

And then,
don't be a burden.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Again Given Us Grace to Receive This Sacrament

Surely you couldn't take things for granted as much as I do.  Surely not.

The post-communion prayer we've used recently speaks of "grace to receive the holy body and precious blood" of Jesus.

Think about that.  Grace to receive.  Think about how many different things that means.

There are grape vines growing, wheat growing, and people who can make that produce into wine and bread.  The weather has been good enough.  There are people who tend the vines, people who drive the combines, and people who have the skill to turn grapes into wine without letting it become vinegary.  It's all by God's grace.

We have cars and gasoline.  We have a ride to church so that we can receive Christ's body.  That ride (or our ability to walk to church) is a gift of God's grace.

Our church building is still there.  It hasn't been blown away in a tornado, burned in a fire, or been bombed by terrorists.  Those things happen to Christian churches sometimes.  But as we are in church, praying this post-communion collect, we still have that physical place.  And a pastor.  That's only by God's grace.

The liturgy has been preserved to us.  The preaching of the Gospel continues to go forth.  That's not anything we can pat ourselves on the back for.  That's due to God's grace.

Attacks on Christian freedom notwithstanding, we are still free to assemble weekly or daily for preaching and prayers and the Sacraments.  There's no suspicion that when we pull around the corner into the church driveway, we'll find armed guards there, rounding us up for prison, torture, or execution.  That's due to God's grace.

For those of us who are in churches where the Lord's Supper is celebrated at least once a week, we rejoice in the frequency of this gift.  There are churches, even among us, where the Sacrament is offered only once or twice a month.  There are churches in other denominations where it is offered a few times a year.  But for us, Sunday after Sunday, the Lord has been gracious to give us Himself to eat and to drink for the forgiveness of our sins.

But more than anything else, He has graciously preserved us in the faith.  That's not something I do.  It's not something you do.  And it's certainly not chance.  We still believe in Him; we still desire Him; we still long to come to the Supper.  That too is a miracle of God's grace.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Best Thing I've Ever Read on Depression

Well, maybe not the absolute best thing.  But really really good.

The author of the article recognizes that life is not a bed of roses, and we do not deserve perpetual happiness.  Anyone who's looking for that, any doctor who is trying to help his patients achieve that, lacks understanding about the theology of the cross.  That does not, however, mean that drugs (aka medications) ought never be used to treat depression.

Pastor Esget referred to the article and had a few other good things to say himself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Saints.  "Forgiven sinners."

Contrary to what is taught in some parts of Christendom, saints are not the super-holy ones whose virtue and good works make them better than the rest of us.

In class last night, Pastor pointed out that, in Paul's epistles, he would refer to a whole congregation as "saints" or "holy ones."  If an entire congregation (even in Corinth!) could be called "saints" then there's something wrong with the typical definition of the word.

Attachment Parenting

There was no such term when my kids were little.

But it explains what I did.  And it also explains why I was so different from other friends with whom I shared so much in common.  At the time, I didn't know how to explain it.  Sometimes I would say, "But I like my kids."  However, that implied other people didn't, and that's not true. 

We rarely got babysitters.  I missed the kids when they went to visit Grandma.  I nursed "too long."  I often kept the baby in bed with us overnight.  I had a sling to carry the babies, but more commonly carried them in my arms without the sling.  We homeschooled, so they didn't have to "face reality."   We were told repeatedly that the apron strings were too tight, that the kids would never grow up, that we were training them to become dependent upon us, that they would never able to function without mommy and daddy helping them.

HA!  Look at 'em now, all grown up.   Definitely not dependent.

Rachel told me the other day that I was a "hippie mother."  I want to ask if hippies come in a conservative variety.  And yet, I did wear the Birkenstocks.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ides of March Party

The Latin teacher at our school decided to have a party last week for the Ides of March.  Nearly the whole day was spent with ancient Roman customs, Latin practice ("Simon Says" in Latin, anyone?), Roman clothing, Roman food, a pottery demonstration, and more.

Along with the kids in the school, she invited Maggie and another homeschooler (both of whom are in the back center of the group here).  What a blessing for us!

Kitties During the Night

All winter: no screens on the windows.
Sleeping with the bedroom door shut, and kitties on the outside.
During the night, we slept.
Novel concept.

Warm weather; screens in; windows open.
Kitty-claws ripping the screen to wake us. 
"Let me in, let me in, I want a couple of bites of kibble!"
Kitty gets the idea that she can have whatever she wants during those nocturnal hours.  She knows the threat-of-her-claws is power.
"Let me use my claws to snag the carpeting.  You'll get up to stop me.  I know you will.  Then I'll get kibble.  Or water.  Or you'll operate the all-night rotating doors."

I do not care to be woken at 4:00 a.m.
Kitty may have to be spending the rest of her nights on earth locked in the garage.

Well, I've been up for over two hours now.
At least I made a lot of headway on preparing Maggie's high school transcript in these early hours before sunrise.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


When house hunting, we looked closely for mildew.  Our realtor couldn't believe how many times I found tiny signs of mildew.  And when we did, we refused to consider the house.  We lived with enough mildew in our previous house and wanted to be away from it. 

Fetching the rocking horse out of the attic yesterday, I noticed one small spot on the roof boards with some signs of mildew beginning.  Argh!   A box (with no signs of mildew) that had been in the basement of the old house was now in the attic, shoved right up against the inside of the roof, and it spread.   The box is now in the garbage, and the inside of the roof has been scrubbed well with a bleach solution.  I've washed my hands at least a dozen times throughout the day, and I can still smell bleach on them.  Hopefully that's strong enough to kill kill kill that nastiness!

I guess we need to check other spots in the house to ensure adequate airflow.