Sunday, May 30, 2010

National Parks, Free Lifetime pass

By Heather
(copied from a yahoo group)

Happy Memorial Day.

Here is something that I thought you might be interested in and want to take advantage of. It is a great opportunity for the whole family to travel through the wonderful National Parks in the U.S. Take a look at the National Parks website: as well as read the note below which is from that site.

Click below to visit the site.

America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass
Access Pass - Free.

This is a lifetime pass for U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities (including legal blindness). Documentation is required to obtain the pass. Acceptable documentation includes: statement by a licensed physician; document issued by a Federal agency such as the Veteran's Administration, Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income; or document issued by a State agency such as a vocational rehabilitation agency. The pass provides access to, and use of, Federal recreation sites that charge an Entrance or Standard Amenity. The pass admits the pass holder and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee areas and pass holder + 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, at per person fee areas (children under 16 are admitted free). The pass can only be obtained in person at the park. The Access Pass provides a 50 percent discount on some Expanded Amenity Fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, boat launching, and specialized interpretive services. In some cases where Expanded Amenity Fees are charged, only the pass holder will be given the 50 percent price reduction. The pass is non-transferable and generally does NOT cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessionaires.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fake it 'til it takes

By Heather
In March 14th, Mum slipped twice in the bathroom and smashed her head against the tub each time. James took her to emergency, and I came later. James went home and I spent all that night until the next afternoon with Mum. She was concussed, and running a fever, and her brains just weren't working. Mum spent 8 days in the hospital as they tried different antibiotics to bring her fever down. She had bronchitis, and wasn't sleeping well on top of it, and they just weren't really able to get her stabilized quickly at all. Every time her fever went up, her brain power went down.

When it was time for Mum to come home, she came here. We didn't want her to be on her own and she needed a recliner to sleep in, and the only one in both households was here, in the space under Calli's loft. So Calli and Mum became roommates. It's working out okay, Calli likes having someone sharing the room with her. Also,as soon as she felt rested and able, Mum decided to take over laundry duty for the family, she likes doing a load a day instead of my having a big laundry day. She also has taken charge of the dishwasher. It's her way of giving back.

Mum's bedroom also needed a lot of sorting and revision to make it safer for her. Whenever we can, which turns out to be every couple weeks, Calli, Mum and I go over to sort. We have to go when there is someone to watch Acer, and all three of us are available. We each have our assignments, and are able to work on them for a couple hours before my allergies send us back home.

So, Mum has been here for two and a half months, and things have been going pretty well, except now we find we need to do some major attitude revising.

As far as I know, this is the closest that Mum has had to 'normal' family life in about 60 years. Growing up, she was sent to a boarding school, and in our house, Mum made lots of dinners and froze them so we just ate whenever, we didn't have assigned chores, and our rooms were as clean or as messy as we wanted. Even the idea of all eating together took Mum some getting used to when she got here.

Now about the attitudes, there is no one who can push my buttons into explosion mode faster than Mum. Acer and James run a very close second, but Mum takes the cake, so this has been a strain for me. Bill has lived with it well, but eventually he had to step and mention her attitude to me too, to protect Calli. Mum is almost automatically negative, it's a habit she doesn't even realize. She picks and pokes at the kids, Acer fires back, bellowing at her (which is not right, but he is protecting himself). Calli doesn't, she has very little protection, she tends to just get quiet and hang her head. These last two days, Calli has started sounding like Mum as they go back and forth, and towards Acer. So it was beyond time to get this under control. I tried introducing the bucket book concept to Mum last weekend, it didn't work. She just didn't internalize it.

Today, she and Calli had an exchange of snipes when both were trying to do a good thing together. There was no reason to have it, and I had to tell Mum, that I felt she had infected Calli in only two months. Calli did not behave like this before. I needed a plan to help them both, I needed a simple one and I needed it fast. So, Fake it 'til you Make it came to mind. Both seemed to ike the idea, and I said that they needed to act (Glenda the good witch was Mum's character) like they were polite and loving and encouraging even if they didn't feel it. I told them we would practice it until Monday night, when we would discuss it and how it felt. So, Prayers about this, because I don't want Mum bringing us down, I want her to be able to learn and change even if she has resisted it all these years.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Follow the Miao Miao's blog

I wrote earlier about the woman in Seattle who had run out of funding for her degree and was needing help.
She has decided to finish her degree at a less expensive college, but still needs help. Check out her blog Here

Using Money

Exciting day here at the BT household. First, Morley Candy/Saunders candy gave away FREE Mackinaw Island style fudge. Yes, I got up early and drove right over there to get our half pound of 'Chocolaty Goodness' (Acer's term for anything delicious and chocolate). They gave away 2010 half pounds of fudge to kick off summer - gotta love that.

On my way home I stopped at the county Library for the Blind and Embossed Calli's church liturgy for Sunday. Our pastor emails it to me, and then I simply stop by and quickly translate it into Braille (just like changing fonts) then instead of hitting print, I hit emboss. the Embosser makes lots of noise, think Dot matrix printer on steroids, but it does a very fast job far more accurately than I could Braille it out myself.

Acer came home, and to his joy, he did not have to dash right out again after lunch to go to school. Nope, he had a half day and we took advantage of it. We took his bike out, and he biked, I walked backwards in front of him to a garage sale on the next block. It was pretty far for a bike newbie, but her made it. He'd also brought piggy bank money of his own to spend. I thought he'd not find anything, but there were two toys that made noise, Acer's main consideration is any toy. He ended up spending * quarters of his own money, carefully counted out one by one, for a toy guitar. This was the first time he'd ever paid for anything on his own so I fielded a lot of questions on the way home. The one answer that made him the saddest was the answer to the question, 'When will I get my two dollars back?' He was sad to learn that the other people kept the money so he could keep the guitar. He came out with a few other questions like that the rest of the afternoon, and now seems happy with his first purchase.

When we came back, it was time to make pulled pork for the local homeless men's mission. The men move from church to church each week, and we pair up with a church that has the facilities to house them. Volunteers drive the men to bus stations, cook, clean and do whatever assigned tasks we can to help them get back on their feet. Tonight is something our church likes to do, called men cooking for men; Grilled food, burgers dogs, and Bill's pulled pork. There will be other things, including a lot of dessert from our Family day potluck. we decided it would do better in their tummies than in our tummies! When we dropped the Pulled Pork off , we stayed a bit and Acer and I helped shuck corn.

Acer decided we needed to have corn on the cob tonight for dinner, and I decided it was a good idea, we went off to a local store, sort of an old fashioned place where they bake breads and pies, have a deli section, good produce, and a small greenhouse. they used to have their own apple orchard, but it's been turned into houses now :(.

Calli was home when we came home, and I sent them out to play in the sprinkler while I watered my flowers. Much fun then!

I'm sure there will be more fun later tonight, but we're caught up for now!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This Land is Your Land - With MM solo

Calli has been practicing since January, they memorized 11 songs, and she had this solo. One Year, One week, and 4 hours after she became a citizen she performs a concert of all patriotic songs for her new country. Calli is in the red shirt and blue pants performing the second solo.

Acer and Bill's voices are in the beginning.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Is this the end of dream for Chinese orphan?

Her Story touches my heart, if it touches yours, be sure to pray for her, if you can, please follow your heart to help her.

Click the title to get to the article

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Calli's Baptism

Today we celebrated Calli's baptism, We had loved family and friends with us and it was wonderful. thank you Brandon for video-ing this for us! You can hear a sleepy Acer in the background. He conked out during the service.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

MM's Recital, accompanied by LM

Calli had her first piano recital in April. She got to play on an $80,000 piano that sounded incredible. She did two pieces on her own and then played 'Ode to Joy' with Acer as 'The Cold Spaghetti Band'

Due to unforeseen weirdness, Acer's drums weren't all working :( He did perform tho', the best he could, 'for the sake of the band'

I now present 'The Cold Spaghetti Band'

The Cold Spaghetti Band!

Acer just loves to play band, he asks everyone who visits to play with him, and Mum and Calli frequently play the piano for him. Earlier today he asked his cousin Brandon to play the Uke, while Acer drummed, but Acer decided that Brandon should not play anymore (not sure if Brandon got a lucky break, or got his Uke skills dissed)

LM's first Bike Ride

Acer got a bike for Family day, he loved it! Now, time to teach him how to steer. Brandon took him all around the block, with his ipod turned on at Acer's request. Acer had no trouble figuring out how to pedal, he just hopped up and went, so I think some time in a local parking lot may do him a world of good on the steering side.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Big Sigh of relief

By Heather
Whew, just off the phone with the Director of Special Services for our school district, they are having a second class in the kindergarten Mandarin Immersion program! Yes, this means Acer is in the program!

Now, All I have to do is find a Mandarin speaker, who writes pinyin, who would learn Braille, who wants a school year job to be Acer's aide.

Thanks for your prayers!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


By Heather

Last June, I did everything I could to make sure Calli was enrolled and there would be NO problems come fall. Nope, it didn;t work and she missed three weeks of school while pass the buck was played.

This year, I have done everything I could to make sure that Acer either got into the Mandarin Immersion Kindergarten Program, or into an All Day kindergarten at the same school. I handed in my paperwork on the very first day I could, and have been to two meetings about it. Right now it sounds like (unconfirmed) Acer did not get into the Mandarin class, and that they've lost the application for him to get into all day kindergarten.

Please Pray, for the paperwork, and for me, because all I can do right now is mutter incoherent prayers .

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Acer and school

This has been a year of huge growth for Acer. Most of it has come with maturity, but also a lot of social growth came with his starting a second half day of school each day, with 11 other kids his age.

Last year Acer started going on the bus to a school that had the county VI classroom. It was a half day every day, and he had his teacher and aide almost to himself. Four other children used the room too, but Acer was the only one there the whole time, the others just came in for extra help as needed. At the end of the year Acer's Teacher and OM suggested that the next year Acer go to a regular pre-k class too.

It was a wonderful idea, within a month of starting the second half day, with the new teachers and all the other students Acer was speaking normally, no longer speaking in second and third person. He has friends in that class, friends who tap on things to let him know where they are. He has learned how to interact with others and share toys better. Despite having one on one care in the other school in the mornings, these were just things that Acer couldn't get in that solo session. He has no little friends on our street, the children are all older, and none in church either. He needed to get in with peers, to get socialization. Believe it or not, socialization/social skills are part of an IEP, that is how he got into the pre-K class. It's funny, most of the kids in the class have speech problems, and are far less verbal than Acer. I think it was a shock to their systems to have someone who was so incredibly verbal.

In the VI classroom, Acer did the pre Braille work that is now paying off, yes, he is learning to read! He asks how to spell things all the time, and can even read simple sentences 'I can go' etc. I am very thankful that Acer has had these two years in that class, he has had great learning experiences there, I don't think I could have asked for a better situation. I am sad that they are closing this program down. The school Acer, and Calli, attend is in another district, and that district is not going to be a schools of choice district next year. Since all the kids in the VI program are from other districts in the county, there will be no kids in the program. It was a blessing to us, for both Acer and Calli.

Next year's school is still up in the air, unfortunately. I am praying that Acer is able to get into a Mandarin Immersion all day kindergarten. It is a schools of choice program in our district, one of just a few in the whole nation like it. They would spend half a day with a teacher speaking only English, and Half a Day with a teacher speaking only Mandarin. With schools of choice, children who go to that school as their home school get first choice. Children who are from the same district (as we are) are put into a lottery to fill remaining spaces. We won't know for about a week if he gets into the Mandarin program, or a full day kindergarten program at that same school, or even at another school. Our home school, where Calli is going next fall, doesn't have a full day kindergarten program so we don't him to go there.
So, prayers about his schooling please! it would be great if he could get into that program.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Three Whole Years

Yes, it was three years ago today that a small, confused and scared boy was put into my arms. Someone must have instructed him to say 'I love you' because he did, and the entire room of 13 couples had a collective heart melt moment. Acer was the first child to arrive, the other 12 were coming from a different orphanage. Our guides asked the group if it were okay if we got Acer ahead of the rest because he was already there. They all said yes, and waited while he was brought in, and then the hand off, and the three words that changed our lives forever.

We had a rough start, Acer was grieving and upset that we didn't speak ANY of the languages he did, except for a small bit of Mandarin. He didn't want to sleep unless we were holding him, and we couldn't sit and hold him, we had to stand. We brought home a slightly happier boy, but we then had to take him in for Hernia surgery. We found out his eyes were not going to get any better with surgery, and it didn't matter to us really, thought we'd hoped for his sake that something could be done.

Soon we discovered Acer's gift of Joy. He spreads it with his smile, with his love of life. He is not all sunshine, he is stubborn, loud and sure that everything needs to go his way, but he is just so full of life he makes you want to be too. He is so fast and so fearless, that he makes people doubt he is blind; he is an excellent ambassador of what blind people CAN do.

Little Man, you were the best gift God ever gave the two of us, and we are proud to be your parents