Help with #*?# Math…

Dev smiling for the camera

Dev smiling for the camera

Wow, what a way to come home…  I was at a school meeting last night for Dev’s younger brother.  He just started 6th grade Band, so I had to go the the introduction meeting.  I left Dev and her brother home with dinner and a schedule.  Dad was still at the office, but hopefully home before me.  It is the first week of school so they have homework, but not too much…

When I came in Dad, brother and Dev are around the dinning table doing brothers math (an assessment to see where the kids are at).  There was some basic algebra written in a way that Dev was familiar with, but brother was not…  So Dev got to be the teacher for MATH–actually for ALGEBRA!  She was So Proud!

So Math has not been a bad subject for Dev but not a great one either.  She started with “touch math” (which is the way I think I was taught way back when) for addition and subtraction.  Her visual memory made multiplication facts and fact families not so bad either.  She will even to XtraMath for fun!  Her brother was introduced to this webpage last year and it has been fun–here is the link:  xtramath

xtramath--a great webpage for math facts

xtramath–a great webpage for math facts

Doing some word problems on paper and ,as her brother discovered, some algebra is also a skill Dev has… But…

Money makes the world go round...

Money makes the world go round…

The never ending money issue is still there.  Dev and a friend went to the movies.  I went with to the ticket counter so I could attempt to make it a teachable moment…  The ticket was $9.50.  Dev had a $10 and a $20 bill.  She could not figure out how much to pay or how much change she would get back with either transaction….  Somehow I have to figure out how to get the math off the paper and into real life issues.  I know it has to be practice, practice, practice.

I guess I need to put into action a money system at home…  maybe I can use real money and pay her for chores and she has to pay for meals or screen time….  Has anyone done this?  I do not want it to be her allowance or money she gets to keep, more like play money for the practice….  I think I’ll try it!  If you have experience PLEASE let me know!





Sean and I are blessed to have 3 wonderful kids.  Parenting is the hardest job ever.  Most of us when we think about having kids we only think of the baby.  We do not think about “tweens” frustrations or adolescence rebellion.

Our oldest will be off to college this fall and our youngest moved out of elementary and will start middle school in the fall as well.  Dev our middle will stay in high school, starting her junior year…  So we’ve been parents for a little while and yet have a long way to go.

Open Heart, Open Mind

Growing up…

So when Dev gave me this poem/note last night it helps to keep your strength up.

Never Gonna Stop Me Now
by Devon Adelman

When I was little I always wanted
To be a zookeeper.
But as I grew older I wanted
To be a writer so I can express
My feelings and to show them the real me.

I always had my parents by my side
they taught me To stand on my own
to believe
I love my parents with all of my heart
Because they have been there for me
Whenever I feel sad they always cheer me up
When I have problems they help me
Also when I feel afraid of something they taught me how to be brave
Everyday I feel like I belong in this world
I’m not alone but it’s a long road ahead
My parents were always there for me
Now I’m an 11th grader
It makes my mother and father have tears to see me grow into a beautiful woman that dreams big
I am special for who I am ,
I am  famous for who I am
This is something new that I dream about
My whole life is to write stories and poems because that’s what I love doing

I had a song for my parents that I wanted to sing for them it’s called ” you raise me up ” by Westlife.  It means so much to me, because you raised me up with a big heart, that shows that you cared about me.  Without you beside me I wouldn’t be here that’s how much I love my parents with a big heart .

Parenting is the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done.  Being Dev’s mom has so many rewards, being reminded of them is wonderful!



Wow it is hard to believe, we will be in Vietnam in less than a week.

We will be having some fun, teaching some medical stuff and some conversational English.  We will also be leading by example when it comes to INCLUSION and ACCEPTANCE.

The new story about the teen with DS that made the climb to Mt. Everest base camp stated that 90% of the worlds cultures do not include/accept people with disabilities.  While in Vietnam we will be talking with educators and families about the value of all individuals and the fact that your expectations can make a tremendous difference in the abilities of a person.   Be watching, we will be posting about our experiences!



Memories of September 11, 2001

In Dev’s History class they were discussing 9/11 events. I love that Dev brings school stuff home. So, we shuffled through some pictures and talked about what she remembered. I think she has more memories of us talking about it, as she had just turned 5 when it happened.

We were in Florida at the time, Sean was in the Air Force, serving the last year of his 4 year commitment for his academic scholarship. It was a normal morning; I had dropped Dev off at pre-school and was walking her older sister into her first grade room when the secretary’s office had a group of parents gathered around….

It was a very small town, it’s only purpose really to support the Air Force base. Everyone knew things would change quickly. With in 2 weeks we were saying our good-byes to Dad as he deployed to “undisclosed” areas. So the girls and I moved into that weird mind set of “wait and see” Our Air Force friends were amazing and supportive. The girls have some good memories of parties and sleep overs. For Christmas that year we chose to visit Sean’s family (he was still deployed) in New York. We took the train to the city, saw the remains and a few sights. It was very moving.

Family in NYC Christmas in NYC after 9/11/01

Then in the spring Sean came home, YEAH!

Welcome home

Welcome Home Dad, spring 2002

Some how it is all very unreal, more like a story I’ve heard than a story I get to tell.

Here is Dev’s journal entry last night after we looked through pictures.

Dev’s Journal about September 11. Written on 9/12/12


I hope and pray for peace daily.  Deep respect to all that serve for our safety.



Can Biking really Lead to Driving??

We love to bike.  We prefer to stay on multi-use paths, but, clearly, these get busy and there are a lot of things to navigate and manage.  Dev did not learn to ride over night, but it has been worth all the effort!  Here’s her bike story:

Dev on a bike!

Rock star Dev on a bike with training wheels

First time on a tricycle with a push pole: around age 2 1/2.  Dev walked really early around 14 months, but the reciprocal movement of pedaling is so different; we did a lot more pushing than she did pedaling.  We tried attaching her feet to the pedals and all kids of stuff.

Walking around the block with Dev


First time on a bike with training wheels was around 3 1/2 years… What a rock star!  We could still walk faster than she would ride, but “Wow”.  We did not know things would not change for a while…

Training wheels with increasing size and stature, trailing bikes and tandems from age 5 till age 11ish.  It is amazing when we look back at it.  So many hours spent, so much money spent!  Bikes, several types/styles of training wheels.  The last ones were even called “Fat Wheels”.  They look like mountain bike tires and they fit on bigger bike frames.  But for real family rides, we needed more control and speed for the family to go places together, so we also had trailer bikes and finally a tandem.  For one summer I remember being on the front of the tandem, Dev in the second set, and Ian on the trailer attached to the tandem…it worked well going down hill, but a lot of work on the way back up!  I wish I had a picture!  Then we heard about the “Lose the Training Wheels” program:

What a great program.  Dev was riding with out training wheels by the end of week.  It was amazing.  We still put in many hours of practice. The amount of multi-tasking that goes into riding well is amazing.  Balance, speed, steering all at once.  Then you add in environment, bumps on the pavement, hill, people, cars…  It is not easy and it takes a long time.  Here is the video of her riding today–age 15.

After the Lose the Training Wheels program we practiced and practiced in parking lots, on family rides, every where we could.  She rode her bike to school with friends a few times at the beginning of 6th grade!  She was 12.  The girls figured out that the moms would also drive a car pool and opted for that most days :-), but what a gift to ride with typical peers!  She rode to the neighborhood pool with her friends and sibs.  We rent bikes at the beach; we take bikes with us on rode trip vacation.  She still likes to follow a leader, her brother (6yrs her junior) is a faster more confident rider, but she rides at a pace that does not drive anyone crazy.  Now we ride as a family lots of places and are considering a bike touring “race”.

If Dev was 4-6 now, what would we do?  I think we would try one of those “balance” bikes that look like bikes with out the pedals.  I think we would not even try training wheels, just go from the tricycle to a balance bike and back and forth.  Get the reciprocal motion on the tricycle and the balance from the “balance bike”.  Her younger brother learned to balance on one of these and it was a much easier transition to the bike than Dev’s older sister’s from training wheels to a free bike.

So we have no question all of our time, sweat and elbow grease was worth it already, but other benefits have we earned?  Social inclusion, family time together, physical fitness all wonderful.  Independence, pre-driving skills… that is certainly true for “typical” teens so what about Dev?  She has learned a lot of the rules of the road, “tight to the right”, how to steer and not look at the handle bars, avoid obstacles, merge, speed matching…  So do I think Dev will drive?   I do think so.  It will take more time and more practice and the final will be more restricted (maybe just on the farm in Missouri) but I do think Dev will drive.  I know she will almost as proud as we are already.





Driving a car is such a big deal here in the states.  Independence, identity, freedom are all associated with getting a drivers license.  So.. Is it realistic for Dev to drive and get a license?

Dev is not our oldest, so we have been scared by the idea of one of our kids behind the wheel already.  Our oldest took her time getting her license and we were OK with that.  Driving in Seattle is a bit scary for seasoned drivers; amazing hills, skinny streets, big vehicles and those were just a few of my problems!  So Bren had lots of practice before sitting her driving exam.

Lots of practice is the key we have decided.  We are blessed to have wonderful grandparents for our kids.  They happen to live way out in the country with some land and “farm vehicles”.  This is where our oldest got her first practice along with classic go-cart race way tracks.  Dev has never been interested in driving the ATV’s, or go-carts or even horses until this year.

So when we were on the farm a few weeks ago she got her first chance be hind the wheel.  The vehicle is a “mule”, sort of a golf cart on steroids. Here we go:

I wish we were closer to the farm, but it takes 2 planes and a 3 hour drive from Seattle…  I think with LOTS of practice she will do well in specific settings.  So we will keep putting of real driving for a while yet.

We will continue to ride bikes.  I do think it is a great precursor in lots of ways.  My next post will review Dev’s bike riding!



IEP’s from the Up and Coming!

Dev loves Science

IEP’s, School, Education

I had a nice meeting with Devon’s team.  I really enjoy the teachers I am dealing with for Dev’s 9th grade…  I guess that is the way of public school, each year is so dependent on the teachers.  Dev has done really well transitioning to high school.  She has friends, she loves her classes, joined clubs, even tried out for Cheer and made the team (next post).

My only question is how much has she learned and is a “real” diploma in reach, if so what is her best chance of reaching it…

Dev has been in the 9th grade Academy–gen ed curriculum–with a “Focus” study skills class to help with homework and understanding.  Dev has LOVED this….  She has had great success with Science–great teacher– no book…  lots of labs… lots of student group work…  first semester was a lot of work on matter and energy, second semester lots of robots, space and wave forms…  She has loved this.  Health has also been a great class.  Person health, fitness, diet, anatomy…  all that stuff. Wonderful.  English and History have been hard.  A lot of WWII books as the classes are linked.  Wow.  We read most of the books together—I read and edited out loud the main books-  “NIGHT” and “When Elephants Dance”  Both amazing books, but both have lots of imagery I do not want in my head dealing with war, violence, torture, inhuman atrocities of our true past…  Really intense stuff.  I’m glad we read them together.  I do think she got something out of the stories, wars are terrible, humans can be inhumane, hope that we can learn from the past…  Then she has had Math, Mentorship and computer science in the Special Ed contained class at school.  Math was a little too easy, she needs functional math, but she also can do simple algebra…  Mentorship she has made some friends and had fun.  Computer science was fun and her use of the computer has improved.  All good stuff right…

It is all great exposure…  to a curriculum that really challenges her.  The only problem is the grading of some her assignments…  In Science we have not had a problem.  She is expected to understand a step above her ability–great!  In Health it is similar, she does projects mainly computer generated–great.  The trouble is when she gets full credit for  “Devon’s Level”  work…  What is “Devon’s Level”  and why is it some non-changing level…  Why can she turn in a page of work–tiny print not double spaced– with out a single period or capital letter…  And this is after “Focus”…  And this is the end of the year…

So we are willing to work with the system.  So she can be included in the gen ed classes, exposed to the curriculum but not held to elementary standards, have social opportunities for success and failure…  Or in special ed and work at her ability and hopefully improve that ability, but miss some of the cool academic stuff and some social opportunities…

What do we do?  What is RIGHT?  The implications seem so daunting.  So…

We asked Dev what she wanted… There is a concept…  She wanted Science in gen ed, a little more work in Math, Language arts and History in Special Ed, and some fun electives (drama).  So the plan is:  Read 180 and History in Special Ed, Personal health/home ec. in gen ed, Science in gen ed, and math where it fits in either “remedial gen ed math” or math in the special ed room.  We will see how it goes.

I’m glad we are working with people that seem to be working with us rather than against us.  We will let you know how it goes


Rescuing and Hope

We have had an amazing January.  Everyone going in different directions, and doing well.  Our oldest is a junior in high school and is starting to have some insight and thoughts for the future…   Our youngest is starting to figure out if you work at something and it turns out well, it is fun!  Dev has made a few amazing strides too, small things are not always small.

Our oldest has always been self sufficient and fiercely independent.  Dev has always been more of a hold on to my leg, you go first kind of kid in new situations.  So we have gotten used to a see-saw mode of parenting.  Lots of space and long distance parenting for big sis and lots of hand holding and repetition for Dev.  So earlier this month when I had to change plans on the fly I was worried.  Dev was already on the city bus heading home from school, and I was not going to be able to meet her…

We had played the “what if” game and she knows the route home from the bus (about a mile) but she has not done it by herself.  So, as the tech savvy family we are,  I texted her.    I gave her the choice of walking home alone, or going into Tully’s  and getting herself a steamer, also alone…  She does not like to order or pay, we have played this game for awhile too.  We go over the order, the money, what to say… then she is supposed to go to the clerk while I stand in the back.  She almost always freezes and waves for help.  And, this was a new Tully’s, we have used it as a landmark, but have rarely ever entered it.  I thought she would choose to walk home, but she surprised me and chose Tully’s.

When I finally got to pick her up, she was so happy and proud of herself.  I do not know if she got the right change back, or if the clerk understood her order, or 10 other questions, I did not ask.  What I do know is that she is growing up and will live on her own one of these days!  So since school restarted in January she has walked home from the bus stop once and stopped at Tully’s twice.  I will keep meeting her at the bus stop most of the time, but now I won’t worry so much if I’m late.  Little steps lead to wonderful walks!

Wait for next week and I’ll tell you more tales of her independence on the slopes at summit!



Welcome to Raise Expectations.

This site will discuss many aspects of raising our expectations for kids with special needs and provides useful resources to assist you . I hope you will return often and contribute with your stories (Share page) and comments to these blog posts. Also, feel free to contact me using the information on the site’s Contact page.

This site will discuss all aspects of raising a healthy child and provides useful resources to assist you .  Many of these topics are also discussed in depth in my new book by the same name. To find a topic of specific interest, you can click on the categories (see the sidebar) or use the site search.I hope you will return often and contribute with your stories (Share page) and comments to these blog posts.  Also, feel free to contact me using the information on the site’s Contact page.