Thursday, September 25, 2008

Therapy Thursday - way more upbeat

Blondie has two hours back-to-back on Tuesdays and Thursdays after a long day at school. She is usually half asleep by the time we get home and then has a lazy evening (thankfully homework is completed in my classroom after school while she is still rather "fresh"). Last September (for reasons that are probably posted on this blog) we had to stop going to OT and she only went to PT, but this summer Ms. Tonya joined Ms. Kathy and life has been good. We have seen SO much progress this summer, partly because Blondie is getting older and starting to care about what she can do, partly because of swimming, but mostly because of these two women.

So Blondie worked her fanny off today too. She started with Ms. Kathy who had her holding balls of different sizes and dropping them into a bucket. Kathy would stretch her fingers on to the ball, and then Blondie would reach it over to the bucket.
Then she would sit there and wait and think about dropping it.
And FINALLY her left hand would release it.
and sometimes it just took too darn long.
Here is a fairly quick one.
She then moved on to climbing tons of stairs, and writing invitations to a party while lying on her tummy with her left arm bent and holding her weight.
Ms. Tonya then stepped in, and they did her exercises, and then worked on a sewing card. (Booyah) Notice lefty holding on without dropping it.
Then Ms. Tony would set up patterns with the pegs, and Blondie would have to finish the pattern and then "take them off" with lefty.
Then we left, she slept on the way home, and then sent her into the house while I ran to get Big Al from soccer. From there I paid 16.00 to bind up Big Al's latin ABC book that BETTER earn an A, and finally arrived home. All in all a productive day, without the gloom from yesterday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mom moment - straddling the fence

I'm still in mourning. Yes, for my father, I think about him daily - but that is not the mourning that I fight today.

I'm mourning what could have been. Most of you have something in your life that you wish could have been different, a choice that was made and later reflected on as a pivotal moment. Well our pivotal moment really wasn't a choice, because there was only one decision to make - DO THE DAMN SURGERY. Blondie had to have the surgery, or she probably would have died - we were only weeks from needing a ventilator and a feeding tube because her brain was under such attack. The reflection, for me, is in what could have been - her education, her friendships, her success as an adult.

I'm feeling like an imposter today, (my former students would shout POSER) because so many of you look at what Blondie can do and are inspired to keep fighting for your child, but today I'm just not feeling it. I made a bad decision yesterday - I looked at what was written by her teacher about the difficulties she faces in class. It was part of a behavior inventory for our neuropsych to see if Blondie needs meds for ADD (OMG Y-E-S). They are incredibly impersonal questions written in such a way that questions are phrased differently to get at the "truth" of the matter. I know she needs them. She is easily distracted even one-on-one, and remembering the directions (that change several times on a worksheet) is impossible unless you read one set, let her work, then read the next set, then let her work, etc. The teacher wrote the truth about Blondie's needs she is in no way at fault - we adore her- but it just hit that one tiny part of me that still denies that my kid may fall short in something at some point.

(Happy Baby)

The sheer magnitude of what has happened to my little girl came crashing down on me for no apparent reason while sitting in a meeting with my principal about her learning strategies - it wasn't anything formal, just me asking for more ideas in what I could do at home with the whole learning to read thing - when you can't keep all of those blended letter sounds straight. Trying to get the teacher part of me to remain objective, and sit on the momma bear part of me that wants to protect her from one bad grade, or one mean comment. The rational part of me says IMPOSSIBLE - but the momma bear part of me GROWLS and thinks I'm going to die trying.

I have a unique perspective as a parent and a teacher. As a teacher I know all of the things I am capable of doing to try to make a difference in the life of a child. I know what skills are critical to learning easily, and she lacks some of them. I want her to love education, not have to struggle to do what others do. As a parent, I'm tired of fighting. I tell this to a lot of teachers who are concerned with how a special ed type meeting goes, I have to remind them that I'm one of "them." We're tired of proving what our children can do. We know our children needs some extra resources - we just want the school to be cheerful in giving them (Thankfully Blondie is part of a cheerful school). I remember how I used to worry only about her body's ability, now we're running into the processing issues that may be with her for awhile. Learning to read is a critical stage, and some days I feel like we're drowning. She is still in "regular" 1st grade without any resource, but will it last? I may need to face that - I just can't yet. I think I'm still in a bit of denial.

The picture at the top of the page shows Blondie the weekend before she started having seizures. I intended them to be Christmas presents, but they were never printed up... for anyone. They are a bit painful to look at, because they remind me of what could have been. Every now and then I'll pull one out and sneak a peak. I know the personality is exactly the same, the independence and the exhuberance, but those hands don't look the same, and that leg sure does give away some difficulties.

I continue to think about a little boy in another country that is similar to Blondie (CP). He limps(barely), his arm and hand work (more than Blondie's) but he has an even bigger obstacle.... No mommy and daddy. Please add him to your prayer list and pray that he finds someone willing to fight for him - as I find the strength to continue to fight for Blondie. I promise to post something more inspiring tomorrow.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Just the usual

Big Al (#26) had two soccer games this weekend (about 2 hours from home) so we rode with friends. They are playing up to the next age group, so they were completely slaughtered - not one goal in either game. The girls played well, and I'm sure it will pay off, but it may be a losing season, and then we'll rock it next year. Her coach is fantastic, so that isn't the issue, the girls just have to learn to play at this new level.

Cheesie has decided to join Blondie in learning how to play tennis. This is fantastic because it is one less place to drive, their lessons are at the same time, AND they can "play" each other in the driveway, or the cul de sac (or the neighborhood courts). She was initially leaning towards dance again, but thankfully chose something one of her sisters was doing. The picture below is not of tennis - SOMEONE I'm married to left the camera on the counter instead of taking pictures, so we'll add those next weekend.
Cheesie also has joined a Daisy girl scout troop, so I now have a Daisy, a Brownie, a Junior, AND a cadette. So far 3 of those troops are mine - you have NO IDEA how many cookie booths that means I will spend time in during February and March - I think Brian is going to spend his fair share of time there as well.
BTW - we finally ate one of the canned pears from a past posting, and they were GREAT! We are claiming the family trees at the lake house next year so don't pick any pears.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Therapy Tuesday

We have had a bit of a break with PT because Ms. Kathy is in New Zeland, but she'll be back next week. We've only had OT for the last few weeks, but Ms. Tonya packs so much into them Blondie is always sleeping in the car on the way home.

Yesterday there was a whole LOT of attitude at therapy - and it wasn't mine. Blondie was NOT going to cooperate. She was trying like crazy to divert Ms. Tonya into doing other things, but thankfully Tonya held her ground. She had to use lefty to take off a necklace wrapped around her arm, played hopscotch (trying to hop on left foot, which is SO DARN HARD). I didn't get pictures of that because I was grading papers, but I'll try tomorrow. Then came putting back on shoes to do something of her choice. Unfortunately for Tonya putting shoes on was not a choice Blondie wanted to make, so the attitude surfaced. Blondie pouted, and cried, and stared into space, and threw NASTY looks at both of us. She ONLY wants to put on her right shoe because it's easier to reach, but that left one is harder to see, and getting in the right position is difficult. Blondie's strategy was to drag it out long enough that one of us would do - unfortunately for her it was pouring down rain outside (lots of thunder and lightening) so we weren't in a hurry anyway. Eventually she finished, but found that she had wasted so much time she couldn't do anything else fun. She HATES those consequences!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Harvest time

I've been ignoring my garden for the last two weeks, and look what came up

I figured it was time to pull things up and make room for the new lettuce and cucumbers I'm planting for the fall, but some plants are just not ready to give up despite the heat. We have a bunch of beans, a couple tomatoes (those plants are giving up) and a bunch of green peppers and jalapenos (there was more you just can't see them in the picture). We already have lettuce coming up, so we'll keep watching our little patch.

We also supplemented the pears from the lake house with pears from our two little trees on the side of the house, and then we canned them all. We went from this:

to 6 jars canned.

It won't last long and they should have been packed more firmly, but it was fun to do with T-Rex. It really wasn't too difficult, so I may buy more from the farmer's market and do it again - maybe catch some end of season peaches too. Next spring we need two more garden plots somewhere in the yard. It was a lot of fun for the girls (and actually their friends too) to see where food comes from and to see that yes, people actually put a lot of work into what we eat. I'm not a person that has to be able to feed my family for a year off of my little garden (although I do enjoy reading about those people), but all of us learned that the food tastes better when it is grown naturally instead of some commercial grower. Now if only our farmer's market was totally local.......

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Let the games begin!

Today Blondie had tennis - but I won't write much about it because you've seen it before....

T-Rex has taken up archery, and today had a very....... um..... exciting tournament. I have never been to one of those before, but it ranks up there with watching golf in my book. No one can make a sound until all 3 arrows of the competitors have been shot, and then there are endless rounds. First there were five rounds (10 kids 3 arrows each - two groups shooting) of shooting standing up:

Then there were five rounds of the same kids shooting while kneeling

Then there was five rounds of the same kids sitting and shooting

Then there were five rounds of open stance (they could stand, kneel, or sit) with ten kids shooting and then the awards. T-Rex is new to this sport, but did pretty well. She is looking forward to the next tournament in 3 months. I am very proud of her for competing, she generally hates the idea of performing in front of anyone, but she keeps trying. She wants to do fencing as well, but it conflicts with archery and chorus so we'll have to wait on that. We may have her back riding horses in a few months.

Finally this evening, I took Big Al to her soccer game. She is on a travel team, and they are "playing up" against the U13 girls (her team is made up of 11 yo). Because of Hurricane Hannah, no wait, Tropical Storm, no wait, the rain that was supposed to hit the coast of our state they canceled tonight's game (it was against a team from the coast). Instead we set up a scrimmage which was great for our girls because they scored a bunch (and the other team didn't) and it let them know that this wouldn't be a slaughter of a season. They were nervous about all of the new rules, and moving up to more girls on the field and not to mention playing against older girls. It looks like a nice group of girls (Big Al goes to school with a lot of them) and a supportive group of parents (we'll see how the season progresses - can only be better than last year).
My chauffer days are ramping up, but so far very little stress about it. Crossing my fingers it stays that way.

Friday, September 5, 2008


This is what a long week of Kindergarten does to a little body!!! Notice the mp3 player from her birthday in her ears.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


When you finish reading this blog entry "Weirdo" is what you will probably think. Maybe.... that term fits.

This weekend I took T-Rex to my family's lake house (don't get excited - it's pretty grundgy) because we have two pear trees that my grandfather planted years ago. He used to sit on the porch and get all riled up about the squirrels that would steal the one or two pears he had on those trees - so he would get out the bb gun, and say lots of great words that parents don't let children say. Today, the trees are quite large, and most years prolific. T-Rex wanted to "can" the pears like they used to do "back in the day." She has a real fascination with the Great Depression, and loves American Girl books, so I indulged her. We drove all the way down there and found that OOPS an uncle had given most of the pears to the next door neighbor who did what we wanted to do. Undaunted, we (I mean I) climbed the trees and picked the remaining 40 pears or so to experiment with canning. We also picked muscadines and scuppernogs (big southern grape things) off the back vine, and a friend I brought with me showed T-Rex how to make grape vine wreaths from the vines we cut down (they were attacking a tree).

Meanwhile my washing machine (that I never really liked) decided to leak all over the hallway, so Brian (and the remaining 3 kids - husbands do YOU shop for appliances with 3 kids?) went and looked at washers and dryers. I received a phone call on Saturday that sort of went like this:

Brian: Hey! There is a sale here. If I buy two things (expensive) I get 15% off, but if I buy three things (more expensive) I get 20% off.

Me: What are you looking at?

Brian: A great refrigerator. It will only cost about 1500 dollars more
(Gulp! did I mention that I'm a teacher and we have 4 kids)

The differenc in logic between men and women is vast. He is thinking he gets a better sales price, I'm thinking 1500 DOLLARS. As a math teacher I recognize the amount being spent is still more, as a business analyst he is thinking that the savings is great and can't be passed up.

So then my secret passion (one I keep close to the vest) comes out. I'm secretly trying to be green. I want to be Ed Begley without the solar oven (not practical for 4 kids) but I want the hybrid (okay, the total electic car), I want to go into debt putting solar panels on my house (the pine trees have to be taken down) and the personal wind turbine and I would love to have 40 (I mean 100) acres to grow my own food organically like in Animal Vegetable Mineral (except they killed turkeys, and I don't want to slaughter my meat). If I can't be Ed Begley, I want to know this lady in Australia She apparently has time to do some of those things I might want to do one day... maybe.

I lecture him about getting the biggest capacity washer (since I do the laundry I want to do it as little as possible) and the dryer that actually dries in one cycle (even if I'm doing all of the blue jeans in my house) and I want it to use as close to 0 electricty and a tiny bit of water. (Weirdo --- I hear you thinking it) I cross my fingers that he is choosing correctly and let him make whatever large purchase he decides to make.

I came home to find these:

and this:

complete with magnets, and artwork already

Do I love them? YES! Are they "green"? YES! Have we canned the pears? Um, no, not yet. I haven't canned anything in about 10 years - gotta find the pot thingie. Am I a weirdo? Maybe - I did afterall take pictures of my appliances.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Educational pull out

As a teacher I totally understand the need for some children to receive extra help in something, and in 15 years of teaching I've never thought twice about it... until Blondie went to school. This past Friday as I was handing out letters for a special program that my students can receive for extra help in math and reading it suddenly occurred to me that Blondie might qualify.

Hmmmm.... I thought. She left Kindergarten reading basic words, and continues to work on it, and I know she could read more than others, but I wonder.......

Blondie trooped into my classroom after school and was very excited to hand me a letter from the school saying she qualified for this same program. I have to admit my heart dropped. This was coming a day after she cried in the morning because she didn't want to wear her brace to school because she is tired of answering questions from all of the kids who didn't know her last year. I'm tired. I'm worn out. It's only September.

I'm of two minds with the program. On the one hand she is going to be pulled out of class for small group instruction using a program that has been very researched by people I respect. On the other hand it makes her different, she misses small group instruction in reading in class, and although she isn't the only one, she will have to get up and physically leave class to receive this instruction. Now I know this is a child who would cry last year because by November she decided that she wasn't as smart as other kids and I don't want her to struggle, but I always want her to be able to complete work on an appropriate level.