Saturday, May 31, 2008
Blondie is 6. We were in the garden tonight and she noticed a few beans growing, so she started picking. When she got a handful she took them in and asked if she could cut them. Now, Blondie only has one hand that works, so I gave her a dull knife and told her to figure it out. She cut the ends off of all of them. Meanwhile I stepped into the restroom - that was probably a mistake. I hear the microwave buttons being pushed and then starting. I hurry out to find a metal bowl in my microwave, beans in the bowl (no water), and a TON of salt and pepper on the beans. She was quite happy to help with making dinner.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I'm having one of those days that I wish I could pull off gracefully and full of fun, but the reality is that I blew it in the cheerful department today.
First, I am having to casually clean out my classroom while trying not to remind 7th graders that I am leaving. I will be switching to my kids' school next year, and my students are none to pleased. Many of them (no, not all - I'm not THAT nice) want me to go up to 8th grade with them and make Algebra the most amazing experience they will ever have, but I'm dropping down to 5th. So they are building bridges, and chatting at their tables, and I hear, "Look Ms. D someone glued a penny on the wall!" Another group got detention because it is SO FUNNY to put glue on each other, that conversation went like this:
Me: What are you doing?
Them: "OMG Ms. D. Chillax."
Me again: WHAT ARE YOU DOING !!! (note: you have to raise the voice because they don't hear you unless you yell or repeat yourself 4 times)
Them: IDK Ms. D like having fun?
Thankfully I speak fluent cheerleader so I could translate. My response? I put my hair in a ponytail and said," FYI ladies, D 10 chun see ya there."
After school I picked up Cheesie, drove across town to sign my new contract, and then went to the girl scout store - on a different part of town. I grabbed a million badges that the girls have earned, and called Brian. Now, men do not appreciate the stress that woman have on their lives until they work from home and therefore have time to pitch in a little more. Brian was trying to put Blondie in a tutu and follow all directions on the recital sheet, when T-Rex piped up with the fact that even though she told me she had overalls to play Annie in her recital she didn't actually have them, but remembered she used to have a pair - at some point in her life. So she went in jeans and a t-shirt that are SO not right that we will replace by Saturday. I finish filling out camping paperwork. We meet at dance where millions of little girls are in absurdly colored costumes, waiting in a huge room for their chance to run their dance two times and then get their pictures taken. While waiting, and being the multi-tasker extraordinaire that I am, I use my time to put up Blondie's hair, frown at T-Rex's choice of "orphan clothes" and put together the girl scout envelopes for most of the girls, and the special Bronze Award boxes for the 5 older girls. I did forget the camera, so Brian volunteers to run home and pick it up (surely trying to avoid the tension exploding from my head). I will give credit to him (although I'm sure Big Al had something to do with it) he did remember a brush, and ponytail holder and all parts of Blondie's tutu.
From there the girls and I went to a restaurant to meet the rest of the girl scouts to celebrate Big Al earning her bronze award and Brian ran to represent us at the soccer parent meeting. By 8:30 we are all home, and I look around and realize I haven't been here since 7:00 this morning.
I know that I hear frequently, "I don't know how you do it, I sure couldn't." The truth is that I don't do it perfectly everyday, and my house is only clean if I am 100% certain that someone is going to come over. Thank goodness for teaching schedules and summer vacation. I'll finally get to some of those projects that need to be done, and maybe I'll be unstressed by the time August rolls around.
I'll post the pictures tomorrow because I still have to get the laundry off the couch, and stack the dishwasher and water the garden, and then...
Monday, May 26, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I remember the squish sound her head would make (like water trapped in a sponge), her head also seemed to get a little larger as the fluid moved around. It did go away, and everything is totally normal now, but it was a little unnerving at the time. These three pictures were all taken at the end of the first week.
The best advice I can give about therapy is to use tough love. I've mentioned it before, but I love Blondie and want to make her the best she can be. I have to care more than she does because she doesn't know about the future, or skills she will need. Children with this recovery process will cry and beg you not to do their exercise. They must. I played with her, scolded her, hugged her, and bribed her like you wouldn't believe. I will not be told to wait in another room. I must see what therapist are doing with her so that I can do it after therapy and in days in between therapies. I would also advise not to put limitations on children like her. Blondie is about to begin swimteam again, has her dance recital next weekend, thinks she wants to play soccer, climbs everything on a playground, and attends regular kindergarten for another 10 days. She is learning to read, and told me a lot of information today about an animal she is studying. She wants to call friends and go to their houses, and is manipulative with therapists.
We are now 3.5 years out from her surgery, and it is wonderful to say that it is not the driving, daily force that it used to be. I think about it a little because I'm always looking for ways to normalize things for her, but I have 3 other young ladies that I am raising, and disabilities will not get in our way. Brian and I are raising 4 young women who will all attend college and become whatever they want to be, they will be strong and independent and take care of themselves. They will not live at home (unless this gas thing lasts FOREVER) and they will find their own way to be an adult. We know what we want for our girls, and Blondie will meet our expectations just as the others work to meet them.
With Dr. Park on her two month checkup
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I must make a public confession. My students know this about me, but even those of you who think you know me well may not realize this. I have a PASSION about math and art. My students see me reading math biographies, or "God created the Integer" or "Sacred Geometry" and realize that I'm VERY serious about my math. I have also lately focused on work by and about Calder - we saw his work at the Smithsonian in D.C., and I was absolutely fascinated by it. I was hoping to someday go back without very small children and just sit still and watch them move. My girl scouts will tell you that Jasper Johns 0 through 9 is one of my favorite artworks (hmmm art and numbers- can't go wrong) and we walked through the special exhibit about him and the endless ways he worked the same piece of art (the girls even drew their own version on the ride home). In my mind DaVinci was probably one of the most brilliant people ever on earth.
Somehow recently I came across a website about Dutch artist/engineer Theo Jansen, and I am hooked. He creates the amazing kinetic sculptures that walk, and he wants to build herds of them to walk on the beach - out there, but SO COOL to watch move. The perfect combination of math and art. I must admit though that some of his artwork unnerves me in how they move - so very regimented and sort of crablike. Check him out: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=896557073146925329&q=&hl=en
Therapy was today, I forgot my camera so I'll try to upload the video of her walking from last week or so. I love this new brace. It has really evened out her gait.
A family (you've probably seen them and their daughter Jesse on the news channels) has recently come forward with their daughter's story. She will have surgery like Blondie's in June. They have generously started a scholarship for kids like mine who are entering college (yes, they go to college). If you are interested in contributing to the fund please let me know and I'll hook you up with them - a really great family. ALSO, just passing on this tidbit from my yahoo group, one of the young women like Blondie just made the Dean's list at her college, and generally carries a 3.25 in her Speech Language Pathology major. See - we can do that too.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Yesterday we had a lovely day at a state park letterboxing. If you haven't been letterboxing before it may be something fun to add to your hikes. It goes like this: Go to http://www.letterboxing.org/ or http://www.atlasquest.com/ and find your state and city. Get clues to a letterbox near you and plan to take a hike. You will need a rubber stamp, an ink pad, and a pen, as well as a LOT of water and snacks. As you hike the trails you follow the clues to a box hidden in the woods where you just won't casually come across it. The box contains a rubber stamp and a book. Some of these stamps are beautiful handcarved works of art, others are from the store. You stamp your rubber stamp in their notebook, and then stamp their stamp in your book, then hide everything back where you found it. You can see Blondie with her notebook in front of her above. We use letterboxing to keep the kids entertained while hiking longer distances. Sunday we got them to go a little less than 4 miles WITHOUT COMPLAINING. Most excellent.
The second topic tonight is state testing. Probably not a big issue for you guys, but I'm in the middle of administering them right now. In a class I took this year, someone gave us a website called http://www.notonthetest.com/ . I highly recommend listening to the lovely song on the front page of the website. I absolutely think there needs to be accountability - not everyone can teach well. I personally don't mind if I'm required to teach curriculum, but many days I feel limited by what I have to cover, and the general level of competance (which varies from class to class). Math is one of those things I have to constantly go back and reteach earlier topics which means what I need to teach gets pushed back a little bit. But as a teacher you can't teach rules for parallel lines with a transversal unless someone has used a protractor before - then the whole "which set of measurements do I use" pops in even though you KNOW they were supposed to learn in it 5th grade. I also do not have the power to go home with each of my students and make them finish their assignment to be prepared for the next day. So when less than half show up without their work completed it's time to revisit yesterday's lesson again. And, DON'T GET ME STARTED on how UNFAIR it is that children with severe learning disabilities have to take the test on grade level. Not all children with Down's Syndrome can take the 7th grade reading test even if they themselves are 12 or 13. You watch one cry because they can't do it, and it will change your whole perspective. Okay, off my soapbox now.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
We love spending the day with extended family, and are so thankful that the girls get to have aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and great-grandparents that they get to see frequently.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Now before I get angry emails asking me how I could make my daughter cry by forcing the issue, let me just say that you have to start somewhere - and starting something new is darn HARD. Our goal for Blondie is that she have as much mobility as possible for all parts of her body. Right now Brian and I care more than she does because she is only 6. She does want to be able to play with two hands like her little sister, but can't really remember a time when she could do it - she was only 2.75 when life changed. We care because we want as few kids as possible making fun of her in the future - it has already started. We care because we don't want an employer to find a reason not to employ her (even if they say it isn't because of the hand). Folks, we've had countless daycares turn us down because she might be too much work (even though she was walking, talking, feeding herself, and going to the bathroom before I went back to work). We've had teachers stop her from doing things because she might get hurt - things she does all the time at home - or even worse they do it for her. We love her, and we do push - gently- to persevere through things. Therapy does create tears from time to time.
Disclaimer before you watch this: I KNOW to cut children's food, but Blondie didn't want her fish sticks cut up. I explained it would be easier, but this was her choice. The soft restraint is on her right arm and velcros on and off(you can see it on the table).
Just to show that she did cry, watch part two - there is only about 10 seconds between the two videos. This therapy is a long process, and we won't have success every time, but you can be sure when she can do this we'll upload it. By the end she is stuffing the food in her mouth just to be finished, but she really only did about 2 fish sticks. Big Al did have the idea that we try this next time with her e-stim (wish I had thought about it), but she also thought she might need a plastic fork because of electricity conducting through metal (hmmm, glad she thought of that, wonder if its necessary). See, the whole family is involved.
I know there are other parents, and their friends and families, looking at what she does and hoping your child does the same. They will. Be patient, we're in year 3 of therapy, and we have worked through tears (this week) and huge successes (last week). Some kids are able to do things much faster than others, just enjoy the journey and be glad they are here to learn.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Friday, May 2, 2008
These are the vegetable beds that T-Rex and I put in a couple of weeks ago (okay, Brian put in the far one because I had to WORK while he sits and works from home in his cushy job looking at computer screens without a lot of stress). We started them from seeds, and then Brian made the raised planting beds. We have corn, beans, a gigantic cabbage, tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, and peppers (bell and jalapeno). The broccoli wasn't too happy, so it died out, but we figure we can get a couple of dinners out of this in the summer. So far the geese and the deer haven't found it (yes, the Canadians ship in their geese every year, and we have confused deer that live here in suburbia). It doesn't look much like suburbia with the giant pond behind us, but we live quite near the shopping.
T-Rex has some very specific interests in her life. She loves the Great Depression, Victory gardens, American Girl, dance, horseback riding, the declaration of independence, cooking and visiting historical places. At one point she wanted to be a zoologist and work with the elephants, but I think now she keeps her options open because she also wants to be a chef, own a ranch, and write historical fiction - probably for American Girl. I've explained that after working at the zoo saving the elephants and the giraffes, she could come home to her farm, feed the horse, cook a gourmet meal, and write in the evening, but I don't think she likes that option. She will be an interesting kid to watch.
I have really great kids, who for the most part are fairly mellow. We spend a lot of time together as a family, but definitely have boundaries. We are working hard to raise 4 strong women, who can do whatever they want (as long as all attend college - preferably Ivy League on a full scholarship). If I could just get them to pick up after themselves then life would be perfect, but then what would Brian and I do?
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Today, Blondie (#3 chose this as her blog name) opened a drawer with her "sleepy hand." Folks this is HUGE. She has gone from limp noodle, doesn't remember she even has a left side, no muscle tone, to using it for something functional. Ms. Kathy, the #1 therapist EVER, is in the background, and Blondie is reciting her school mantra.
She also turned a lightswitch on and off and held a mask. The pictures are above because I can't make this blog put them RIGHT HERE where I can talk about them. I'll have to wrestle it later. Any suggestions on how to do this would be greatly appreciated.
Anyway, I am so proud to see how hard she works. She has been very anti-therapy lately, but with an Icee as an incentive- NO I don't always bribe my children..... just this one...... to perform amazing feats at therapy...... - and bringing a camera along, helped get amazing results. I hope all the grandparents out there will be proud. Those of you that are tuning in, I think a lot of you are from my yahoo group, so I KNOW you understand. THIS KID IS HOT!!! Post a comment, and boost her ego. Thanks! Kelly