Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween happenings

Last night the girls carved the pumpkin with Brian. Cheesie thought it was pretty neat, and I was surprised she stuck with it - she usually doesn't like getting her hands too dirty.

Tonight, Big Al had her friend "I" over, and a BOY "S". They all went out with the little girls and Brian and came back after about an hour. Then the big kids went back out and finished up with an obscene amount of candy in their bags. Truly, 4 kids with candy is TOO MUCH.

Cheesie cracked me up with her costume because she wanted to be a princess fairy. She simply went to the dress up closet and found a disney costume, threw on some wings, and then tonight added the cowboy boots. She was QUITE pleased.

I know that all too soon Big Al won't want to go with us, she'll want to be at a party, or with friends, so I am really enjoying this time with all of them. It definitely goes too fast.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Remember doing this as a little girl? Cheesie is 5, so she has just figured out that she can make something rather useful. Thankfully she picked me to be the recipient of her first pot holder, and I suspect she'll make many more for Christmas. She did it all by herself - I did have to binnd it off for her, but otherwise she picked everything and was determined to follow the pattern she created. Definitely something I will be pleased to use.
Blondie has had an absolutely rotten couple of days at school. When she grows she definitely gets "out of whack" with the whole brain surgery
thing. This week she has been taking it out on her teacher, so we've gotten two notes home and its only Wednesday. I've also noticed a very particular spatial issue she is having which I'll blog about later this week. It would be easier to explain with pictures. I'll try to remember to bring my camera tomorrow to therapy, but honestly I've been doing a lot of teacher planning during that time lately (new units of study to plan).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bellydancers, Special kids, and Steve Doocy

Last night I went with friends and my mom to watch my sister's bellydance company. She was supposed to perform with her alternacirque, but they got rained out - can't eat and dance with fire if the wind is blowing. My sister is a graduate of Tulane who had back problems in college. Her doctor suggested she take up bellydancing because it actually strengthens your back. She did, and loved it. When Katrina hit and she and her boyfriend came up here, she got a job as a paralegal, and began to try to build her own little company. She has been reasonably successful, but is trying to make the jump to doing it full time which is very difficult. When she started dancing here she met two guys who do fire slinging and eating, a hula-hooper, stiltwalkers, actors, etc. and they have formed the alternacirque. They were supposed to do their last show last night, but we'll have to wait until March to see them now.

This afternoon Ms. Kathy (PT) had a get together on the green in front of her office. The children she treats, and their families, gathered for a day of celebrations. My cadet girl scout troop came to help too, so there was a lot of fun. It was really nice to meet the other families and celebrate the successes our children have made. I know we're VERY proud of Blondie and the progress she has made. Blondie spent a LOT of time at the cookie frosting table - didn't eat half of them, and the big girls had a lot of fun with the parachute and the little kids. My FAVORITE thing to see are the little bitty guys (and girls) running around with their walkers. One little girl is almost 3 and finally is able to walk in the last two months because Ms. Kathy loaned her a walker. Her insurance company just approved the bill for it, but unfortunately the child has already outgrown the one that was ordered quite a few months back. There is something seriously wrong with our system when a child needs medical equipment, and by the time it gets to her its too small - AND she won't qualify for another one for about 6 more months.

Tonight, Steve Doocy from Fox News was at our local book store signing copies of his new book. Since Brian works from home all day, he usually has it on in the background. I ran over there to get a copy signed for him for Christmas - he already knows about it, and spent about an hour in line. He seems like a nice guy, loves to cut jokes. He jumped up on the table, and gave a little speech about his book and then got very busy signing tons of copies.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Project Day

Apparently everyone has a project to do today. Big Al and her friend- Big I (I count her as my 5th daughter) were working on their Egyptian projects. They have been friends since 2nd grade, but go to different middle schools now. Big Al finished her movie about mummies, and is now mummifying a Ken doll. Her friend is painting a pyramid with heiroglyphics.

Blondie has positioned herself next to Big I to take advantage of the paints that I would never let her use in a million years, but somehow she has managed to use them today. Thankfully she has on her apron.

T-Rex and my mom are making a doll dress for an American Girl doll - I hate sewing doll clothes, but may have to take this up for T-Rex's sake. Cheesie is grabbing all of the scraps to "make" something with, so she is essentially in the way.

I went out and cleaned up my garden so now I'm down to very happy green peppers and jalapenos, and a few green bean vines. I'm glad that chore is over with though. I'm on the hunt for some sort of calendar that tells me when I can plant different vegetables in zone 8, so I can have a longer, more productive veggie garden next year.

Gotta run, my assistant girl scout leader is here to make me do my planning - on to the next project.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Squeeze a ball and Marry a thief

Today after school, we had therapy for Blondie. We continue to adapt therapy because of the broken arm, but she still is tired at the end of it. During PT she had to squeeze this ball between her knees to try to keep it still. She was switching chairs, and "walking" around with it, and it never dropped. This was much more difficult on her stomach, and her legs kept flopping over to the left. The scooter board was pretty easy though. With OT she continued to work on some sort of training program for her brain (some of it she finds tricky), but she loves the "race track" tracing. Then they moved on to regular handwriting skills.

After therapy, Blondie and I were home for about 30 minutes, and then the whole family went to go pick up Big Al and head downtown to watch my little brother's band perform. Colin has been drumming on something since he was about 2 years old. He has always said he will be a rock star, and he is working hard to make it happen. The girls can never get to see him play with this group because they play in bars, but this one was outside in the old downtown part of our city. Big Al got a big kick from it because she is starting out on her whole percussion thing. It is really great to watch them perform, and live their dream. So google Marry a thief (or follow the link on the side of this page). Download their music, and help them make a buck. I really enjoy most of their music, so its an easy sell for me to make. During the concert, Blodie started dancing with one of Colin's friends, she just LOVES music.Cheesie really just wanted to curl up on the sidewalk to sleep while Big Al and T-Rex wanted to stay and watch. The little girls started to crash around 8:00, so we managed to drag them along until the end of his set, and then headed home.

Here is Cheesie's napping place today when I got home around 6:00 -

- the ottoman.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bike Madness

Our first three girls, have all participated in a kindergarten Trike-a-thon about bike safety and fundraising for St. Jude's. Friday was Cheesie's turn. I think after watching Blondie do it last year Brian decided that it was a little too rowdy and he better be there this time too. Since I'm obviously teaching during all of these fun activities he gets to take over this one. Here's how it works: Teacher discusses bike safety all week, children raise money for St. Jude's (a wonderful organization) and then on Friday everyone brings their bikes, helmets, scooters, big wheels, whatever to school. They then block off the back parking lot and the kids ride around the big loop. Unfortunately that still means a BUNCH of 5-year olds zooming around on their bikes. Brian stopped by my classroom on the way out and said it was a bit like NASCAR racing with a big crash at the end (Cheesie was part of it). I just hold my breath and hope my child comes back. Thankfully this year it was only one class at a time and we had a LOT of military volunteers to jump in if necessary.

So how does therapy progress with a broken arm? A bit modified. Blondie worked on her abs in PT, but was very tired from her 2nd day of school with a cast. She doesn't like that she can't run and climb on the playground, so we have made a recess bag with color books, crayons and puzzles for her to have at one of the picnic tables - so she is a bit grumpy. At therapy she worked on having her knees squeeze and hold on to the ball, and did leg lifts too. For OT we have decided to take advantage of not being able to use the arm to focus on her regular handwriting. When you don't have two hands to hold toys when playing you don't tend to have as much fine motor development as other kids. Blondie's handwriting is large and sprawling. In the big scheme of things not too important especially with technology, just something we wouldn't prioritize as high need but would love to see cleaned up a bit.

Last night I missed the best photo op for Cheesie's crazy sleeping habits. She was asleep before dinner (about 6:30) and refused to wake up. Brian carried her to the table anyway thinking she would wake up, but she just dropped her head to the table and continued to sleep. She woke up as I was readying the camera and started to cry because she just didn't want to eat, she wanted to go to bed. We let her go to bed VERY early, and she never did eat. Trike-a-thon really wore her out.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Hemi Hazards

Today at 11:50, Blondie tripped on the playground and was sent to the nurse. The note from the nurse said that she was there a whole 3 minutes and received ice even though there was no swelling. It also said that her wrist had great range of motion. Unfortunately they didn't call me (even though my classroom is on the way back to hers).
At 3:00 she walked into my room and I just glanced at her wrist and KNEW something was not right. So I ran through my evaluation routine. Blondie straighten out both arms (couldn't do it). Bondie hold this marker (couldn't do it). Blondie, squeeze my finger (OWWWW). So I immediately got on the phone with the pediatrician office who of course doesn't do x-rays there. We then had the choice of sitting in an emergency room, or waiting until 5:00 until the ortho clinic had walk in hours. They recommended the orthos because they could x-ray and cast, and the emergency room could x-ray and then apparently just send me to the ortho anyway, and HONESTLY, wouldn't I be sitting in their waiting room for and hour and a half anyway. Blondie was fine, no great drama and apparently no great pain. She played carefully, and did some homework.

We drove down to the ortho and after waiting 45 minutes for the one doctor to see just US in the waiting room she was x-rayed. The x-ray tech was feeling a little tense because Blondie couldn't turn her hand the way they needed her too (not because it was broken, but her arm doesn't easily go in a normal palm up mode anyway). I asked if they could put it in position and tape it down, and the tech was SO relieved. Apparently most parents freak out when she suggests it, but I don't see the big deal. Even with the tape I had to jump in there and hold her arm for one of the pictures.
After the x-ray we headed back to the room, and the doctor came in. He wanted to know what her "normal" arm condition is like, and I said, "left side hemiparesis as a result of a hemispherectomy due to Rasmussen's Syndrome."
"NO WAY!" he says. (Remember my inner Hazel written about a few days ago?) "Actually no, I just made it all up." Of course he could hear the sarcasm and I'm sure it was in about 3 places already in her chart. So he says, "I've never met a hemi person before." "That's okay," I said, "we're all about educating doctors.
He proceeds to tell me that Blondie has a buckle fracture on her radius and that she needs a cast up to her shoulder. That is exactly what I don't need, but I guess it isn't about me at the moment. So we got a lovely blue cast that matches her eyes and we can't wait to see the school nurse tomorrow.
So for those hemi parents wanting to know how to tell if you need to get X-rays --- if the child can still feel pain in it a couple hours later you better get it x-rayed. If they shake it off and you can squeeze things without pain they are probably fine.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Update for the week

Last Saturday -

Cheesie's 2nd tennis lesson with pictures. Blondie got to practice with the bigger kids, and really had to work on how to run across the courts and hit the ball. It really didn't help that she was running with the tennis coach on her left side (no peripheral vision) and she didn't always see the ball. Cheesie worked hard, but found it exhausting. She enjoys it, and is quite serious when playing.

Thursday -
Clarinet or Percussion?

PERCUSSION!!!! The only girl in sixth grade to be playing percussion. Now remind me in about 4 months, when my head is throbbing, that I was actually rooting for her.

Big Al: Changing stereotypes one band director at a time.

Therapy for Blondie was also exciting. She is suddenly using the left hand to do simple tasks. She reached into a bag to pull out some decorations, and then held them in lefty until Ms. Kathy hung them up. She also leaned on her left arm and then bending and straightening her elbow. Today in my classroom she used the manual pencil sharpener and held the pencil with lefty. More and more progress all of a sudden.

All in all a busy week. Similar to many others, but exciting nonetheless. Here is this week's picture of Cheesie's crazy sleeping positions. She is so tired by the end of the week. Last night she fell asleep like this on the couch, and then skipped dinner entirely. We carried her to bed around 7:30.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What does a clarinet player look like?

I know, most mom's would never wish their child was a drummer, but I've been trying to sit on that feeling for the past week. Big Al is in middle school, and I encouraged her to at least TRY band. I think everyone should understand and appreciate music, and my kids are all going to learn to do something - even if its for a year of enforced practice. So why a percussionist? My brother is one (drummer for Marry a thief as well as a great percussion teacher), access to snare stuff, and equipment I will never have to buy (if this is indeed a year of enforced music appreciation) - I actually think Colin has a spare drum set sitting at my aunt and uncle's house my cousins used for awhile. Big Al is excited about the idea - especially if Nickelodeon or Disney ever hurry up and discover her for her own Big Al 101 type show - she wants to be a performer, maybe.

Most importantly, however, my inner Hazel (named after my grandmother, but also involves my Dad's personality) wants her to stick it to her band teacher. There. I said it. And, I meant it.

She is finally through the "ta ta ti ti ta" music theory part of introductory band, and had her big test this past Monday. Last week her teacher started talking to the kids about what kind of instrument they might enjoy playing, and Big Al told him she wanted to be a percussionist. His response? "You don't look like a percussionist, you look like a clarinet player."

Colin came over Tuesday night to give her a last minute drum pad lesson. Wednesday night she had to show up at school and try out all of the mouth pieces and was graded on her ability to play them, or blow them, or .... whatever. She started with the clarinet and scored a 4 out of 5 - oh no I thought, maybe she is a clarinet player. Then the guy gave her a saxophone mouthpiece (so darn similar to a clarinet) and Big Al couldn't make any noise on it. Hmmm, I thought, fishy..... then we headed for percussion. Thankfully, a line was already in there, and she kept listening and practicing what they were supposed to be doing, so when she got up there she played flawlessly. I'm sure she could have if she walked in first, but it was great to see. She ended up with her 5 out of 5. Then I watched her blow other mouth pieces, and I suspect she underplayed a couple of them intentionally to protect her percussion score (strategy, I was told... all about strategy).

Big Al's attitude was definitely in place when she handed her teacher her final audition sheet, and said, "You'll notice the five on percussion." and then spun around to leave. I saw her inner Hazel develop (I'm sure she'll grow up and call it her inner Kelly) and I heard my Dad's memory yelling "rrrreeeeeha." Another generation of independent people now being formed. Don't get in our way.