Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Family Reunion

Our family reunion was, in my humble opinion, a huge hit. All the cousins got reacquainted and reestablished their friendships. And the adults did the same, reforging bonds of familiarity and love.

And to me, that's the whole point of a family reunion. If you want a family that cares about and supports each other, then they need to know and love each other. Which requires contact. Downtime, chats over dinner, lounging at the pool...
...staging plays.

My Grandpa was a huge advocate of family reunions. He spearheaded and funded reunions for a group that exceeded 60 before he died. I love and am loyal to cousins from the across the country that I would virtually never have seen without these reunions. And he used the reunions as a venue for sharing his vision of our family.

Friday, July 16, 2010


~ After a mind-numbing three hours at the DMV, Roscoe has his learner's permit. We've gone driving several times and he's actually not bad.

~ Tomorrow we head up to a McGee family reunion. Pool, food, chatting, cousins, mountain air.

~ Our family is organizing this reunion so this morning Levi agreed to be my Costco partner. We filled two carts to overflowing. At checkout we realized we had been thriftier than estimated. So we loaded it all into the car, then went back in to buy more. Not yet sure how we'll get all that back in the car along with the kids for the drive up the mountain tomorrow.

~ Logan has been at scout camp all week I cannot believe how different it's been around here. Mark and I always jokingly refer to Logan as a rabble-rouser but we've never fully realized how much he rouses our rabble. He loves to mix things up and keep things hopping. It's been so quiet and peaceful around here. Often, no one is yelling.

~ For the last nine weeks, my poor sister has been on bed rest with a baby who wants to make a very premature appearance. It's not getting easier for her. Nancy, hang in there while we're gone. When we get back from our trip, we want you to still be pregnant!

~ See you next week!

Friday, July 9, 2010

On the Eve of Roscoe's 15th Birthday

My son Roscoe is a stud. Tomorrow he turns fifteen. He’s six feet tall. He’s good-lookin. He gets good grades in tough classes. He loves the gospel and pursues righteousness. He makes phone calls on Saturday night to make sure the sacrament is lined up for Sunday. He helps out around the house just because he’s like that. He runs and lifts weights and reads the scriptures and cleans his bathroom without anyone ever asking him. What we worry about with Roscoe are things like is he fasting on a school day and is he stressing out about responsibilities rather than having fun. Which you have to admit are pretty luxurious worries to have about a teenager.

So here’s the thing: Time was, our beloved Roscoe was a bit of a wreck. In elementary school he was a quirky slow bloomer. He didn’t read at all until second grade and he wasn’t on grade level until third. He spent first grade in the back of the classroom looking at books he couldn’t read. He spent third grade under his desk. He spent fifth grade as the class bully magnet. He spent sixth grade in the resource room.

I can’t take much credit for Roscoe's goodness--clearly it just comes from his inside out--and I've done plenty of things wrong. But as I look back there are a few things I'm grateful I did right to give his awesomeness time and room to grow:

  • I never let Roscoe get pinned with a diagnosis. Multiple teachers and school psychologists suggested Asperger’s Syndrome. A diagnosis can be a blessing for some kids, but I knew it wasn’t right for him. In his case, a diagnosis would have made his teachers more comfortable, but it wouldn’t have helped him.

  • I understood Roscoe. I knew and loved him enough to see that behind the sometimes immature behavior, there was a late-blooming genius. I wasn’t scared of him or frustrated by him. I knew he’d read, I knew he’d grow, and I lobbied for him and advocated for him until it happened.
  • I listened to my mom’s advice about meetings with school staff. “They’re professional educators,” she told me, “But you’re a professional mom.” I refused to let myself feel cowed by teachers, principals, resource teachers, or anyone else I felt was off track on how to best help Roscoe. I refused their suggestions and argued with their assumptions as needed. I listened, of course, but ultimately it was my job to figure out what Roscoe needed and then make sure he got it.
  • I pushed him in middle school. Even though Roscoe was still a bit behind the developmental curve, I enrolled him in an accelerated magnet program for middle school. This did a few things: It took him out of the feral pack of a regular middle school and put him in a smaller group of over-achieving kids. A group that largely opted out of the lame, scary stuff that kids do in middle school. It also stretched him to a higher academic level in seventh and eighth grades—when grades don’t really count. By the time he started ninth grade—when every grade has bearing in college options—he had made the adjustment, caught up, and was ready to succeed in AP and IB classes that’ll open doors for him.
Roscoe’s swiss cheese genius is a unique case, but I know there are many boys out there who are late bloomers, who don’t fit neatly in to the K-8 mold. My call to all you moms out there is don’t pigeonhole your boy as a low-performer just because he’s off the mark in elementary school. Many boys literally, neurologically can’t thrive in the school system we’ve set up. Let that be okay. Read to them. Let them learn about dinosaurs or construction or Greek mythology or whatever their favorite topic is. Make the school give them what they need. Support them, push them a little, but wait with a cheerful heart. They’ll come around.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Finally and officially it's summer! It seemed the school year would never end. Poor Logan went to school on Thursday, July 1. But that is the end, forevermore, of our stint with year-round school. Next year--get this--all five kids will be on the same calendar of vacations and holidays. And we'll have a full-on summer break--long enough to get bored in.

Though we had to keep dragging ourselves out of bed in the morning (And this got progressively harder. I'd wake the kids, but then find them standing around doing things like staring out the window. I'd yell, more and more shrilly, "Get ready for SCHOOL! You have to leave in FIVE MINUTES!" And they'd look and me and sigh and resume staring out the window.) the rest of the world had entered party mode and we were blessed with drive-throughs by some of our favorite families:
  • The Flemings
  • The Andersens
  • The Allreds
  • My Daddy
  • The Flemings again
  • My Daddy again
  • The Spanish Fork McGees
And in the middle of all that, we took a weekend trip to Fillmore, Utah, my Dad's ancestral homeland, which he blogged all about here.

So today was the first day with virtually nothing on the schedule. We didn't have scripture study until 10:30. We ate macaroni and cheese with hotdogs for lunch. With watermelon on the side. We watched old episodes of The Muppet Show. We ate ice cream sandwiches after dinner. Ahhh.