Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tuesday Thirteen (An End of the Year Wrap Up!)

I've been very quiet on this blog as I've been busy with our homeschooling (and with the blog where I'm documenting our experience.)  Still, I wanted to at least sum up the last half of 2013 before we kick off 2014!  Here you go:

1.  The kids attended Vacation Bible School from June 17-21.  Everyday they had the opportunity to go back in time and visit Athens.  There they listened to the disciple Paul share his life.  I had the chance to help out and see all the kids enjoy their time there.  I'm a little sad that this will be my son's last year participating, but next year he may get to volunteer!

2.  I attended my first Paint Nite event on June 24.  It was so much fun!  My dear friend, D, went with me.  About a month later we went to another Paint Nite event.  If you've never been to one, try it out.  They have them in a few different cities.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Five Years Ago, Today...

Five years ago, today my daughter had her surgery to release as much as possible, the tethered spinal cord that has affected her bladder and kidney.  She was only 5 months old.

Perhaps that's why I'm feeling out of sorts today; thankful that she made it through those hours of surgery which left her surgeon beat (his words) but sad that she has to deal with those issues.  It could have been her legs paralyzed instead, so there's the silver lining.

She's so tiny in this picture.  Today my Little Toughie is chasing her brother around the house and giggling.  If a platinum lining existed THAT would it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How My Little Toughie Ends Her Play Dates...

Why, yes!  You are correct.  That is in an ambulance and she is sporting a neck brace and is strapped to a child-size spine board.

Let me say that she is perfectly fine (praise the LORD!), just a little sore.

This happened yesterday and because of my selective eidetic memory, what I witnessed will forever be burned in my brain.

I was facilitating a book club for moms from our Classical Conversations group while the kids played on the playground.  We were wrapping up.  I had actually just walked away from the kids after letting them know that we were leaving in 5 minutes and was on the grassy field gathering our belongings.  Suddenly, I heard my son crying out, "Mom!  Help!"  I look over and see a red figure, flat on the ground, not moving.  My heart didn't have time to stop as I made a beeline toward my crying baby girl.  I have to say that I was happy she was crying because it meant she was conscious.  That was the first good sign.

Apparently, she lost her grip on the playground zipline and while I watched her land on her feet the whole time, this loss of hold took her by surprise.  She fell directly onto her back, onto a surface that was once covered with sand but might as well have been concrete (When I was running toward her I was expecting to dig my feet into the sand.  Didn't happen.  There wasn't as much sand as I thought).  I asked her if she could get up and she said it hurt to do so.  I asked if she could move her hands and legs, and she was able to (second good sign), but she couldn't get up.  That's when I calmly called 911 and awaited their arrival.  It took 4 minutes.

I credit our Lord and the two friends that were still there for the peace and calmness that I felt as I answered the EMT's questions and then as they lifted her onto the gurney and into the ambulance.  I was calm enough to take this picture.  One I hope to not take again any time soon.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thursday Thirteen 6/20/2013

1.  My daughter's acting teacher told me that she was made for acting and was pleased to learn that she was continuing on.  My daughter had to choose between cooking and acting class.  If was a difficult decision for her, as her favorite friend is in her cooking class and she REALLY likes hanging out with  him.

2.  That friend I mentioned in #1?  His name is Connor and my daughter really likes playing with him.  The first time she met him (he normally goes on a different day than she) she ran up to me and exclaimed that he was her new friend.  Later on that evening, after a meeting at the school, she cried (literally) that she was going to miss him.  Oh.  Em.  Gee.  Daaaraama!

3.  My daughter's preschool class went on a horseback riding field trip.  It was wonderful!  My daughter, with no fear, took to the horses immediately.  She really wants to go back.  I'm even considering enrolling both kids in their horseback camp coming in August!

4.  We attended a performance by the American Youth Symphony on April 28.  It was "Meet the Orchestra" performance allowing those who have never been to a concert to learn the components of the orchestra.  It was a delightful concert and one that we would attend again.

5.  My daughter's preschool had their annual fundraiser titled "Spring Fun Drum".  There was food, music, a silent auction, crafts and games open to everyone, not just the school families.  I worked the sack race and the bean bag toss.  We won a basket full of Italian goodies as well as a gorgeous hand-painted table for my daughter's elegant tea parties.  We wanted to stay longer but we had to move on to #6.

6.  After the Spring Fun Drum we made our way to my daughter's end of the year celebration for her Classical Conversation class.  It was a potluck in the park, and the weather was perfect.  Although we started halfway into the Classical Conversation year, my daughter picked up on it quickly and can't wait for the new year to start.

7.  My son had is annual IEP.  It went relatively well.  Some services have been cut, but we saw those coming and were willing to let those go.  Otherwise, he's getting what he needs and we're thankful for that.  We're thankful for the progress that he is making and that those are the reasons for the services being cut.  That's always great news!

8.  We've been up in the air about what to do education wise for both kids, considering both their special needs and the fact that my son's IEP indicated that he still needs help in areas that I can't cover.  I had been praying about it and was ready to purchase a home school curriculum for both kids when I decided to check my email.  Now, up until this point, GOD had not given me any indication what to do, which is why I was going with the plan of homeschooling both kids.  Everything was in my virtual cart; one click away from being purchased.  That is, until I saw an email letting me know that my son got into one of the schools we had applied for.  GOD works in His own timing and in His own way.  The other marvelous thing about this is that the lottery for this particular school wasn't even supposed to happen yet and we weren't supposed to get ANY news about it for at least another week.  It turned out that there was no need for a lottery and if you applied, you got in!  Praise be to GOD!

9.  On May 16 my brother graduated and is now a Doctor of Physical Therapy!  My parents and one sibling came to watch and celebrate.  We're all very proud of him.

10.  On that same day, May 16, my daughter's preschool held a Mother's Day Tea event.  It was very, very sweet.  The moms were asked to dress up in their fanciest tea attire and the kids made tea sandwiches and served us.  My daughter asked me to bring a dress for her so that she would be in appropriate tea party attire.  I didn't have any of the tea sandwiches (no Paleo menu available), but my daughter and I enjoyed a spot of tea in our pink teacups purchased just for the occasion.

11.  As this is my daughter's last year of preschool she, and other students moving on, had a Moving On Celebration and party.  It was very cute.  The kids sang a couple of songs.  The teacher said something about each individual child and then each child went over a wall to their parent as a sign of growth.  It was, of course, bittersweet.  My baby girl is growing.

12.  For Father's Day, my daughter's school held a brunch feast for all the dads.  On Father's Day, after church, we all enjoyed a nice lunch at Yard House.  It was pretty good.  My husband got to try a few different beers and we all shared a giant s'mores brownie!

13.  Last, but not least, was my son's culmination.  The week of events began with an ice cream social, an autograph party, a class party and then the culmination.  It was a very busy week, as I volunteered for a couple of events and had other errands to complete before the Friday culmination.  Whew!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Congratulations to my (always be my baby) Boy!

Today my son will graduate from the 5th grade.  By the time you read this I will be sitting in the auditorium, watching as each nervous 5th grader walks in while cameras are flashing and parents are cheering.  I will be holding back my tears, as I am now while writing this.  My daughter will ask me if my tears are tears of joy and I will reply with a yes.

I have mixed emotions about my son moving on to Middle School, as most parents, but I have a little extra to deal with because of his special needs.

First and foremost, I am so very proud of him.  Proud of the progress he's made over the years.  Proud of how much effort he puts into things, especially things he really enjoys.  Proud of the things he's accomplished when we weren't sure he would.  Cursive handwriting, for example.  Most kids with my son's syndrome struggle with it.  My son writes in cursive every chance he gets.  He still needs to practice, but he's determined to get it right.  He's a perfectionist when it comes to spelling.  He used to get upset when he got 19 out of 20 correct on a spelling test; having a full meltdown for missing that one word.  He doesn't do that anymore.  Progress.  He has his multiplication table up to 10 memorized and will continue to memorize up to 20.  He loves basketball and plays every single day in our backyard.  There is progress everywhere; strengths and weakness all over the place, but that's how we're all made.  We all strive for progress.

I am anxious.  I was planning on homeschooling both of them, but after a meeting at his school we learned that he would still require some therapy.  I can educate my children, however I cannot be a speech or occupational therapist.  We were concerned that he would miss out on those services, thus I prayed and asked God to place my son where He thought best.  The day I was ready to purchase their curriculum I received an email letting me know that my son had gotten into a new Charter school.  Thank you, Lord.  Still, I'm anxious.  Have I done enough?  Have I thoroughly prepared him for this next step; for this new adventure?  I trust that God put my son in the right place and have to remind myself that ultimately, he is in God's hands and God is enough.

I'm sad.  My son will always be my baby.  Always.  I just can't believe that he will be starting Middle School.  It's gone by way too fast.  I remember when he was in preschool and how tiny he was.  I remember him using sign language during song time.  I remember how he struggled in Kindergarten, when we didn't know he would need someone with him constantly, thus he didn't have a one on one.  He had a hard time staying focused and on task with the larger classroom despite the fact that he had been in an early intervention program (which had a preschool setting and very set schedules) since he was 18 months old and then in a special needs preschool starting at age 3.  Still, he thrived and grew and continued to make progress.  I wish time would slow just a bit, but we're all moving forward.

I will sit and watch as he makes his one minute speech, thanking all those who have been so supportive of not just him, but of us, all these years.  He was blessed with teachers who were patient and took the time to really understand him.  They saw and appreciated his positive attitude while working with his vulnerabilities.  He was given behaviorists who stepped in to guide him throughout his entire school day and to watch over him as I would if I could.  We were blessed with an IEP team that made every annual meeting easy, even though I was always armed and ready for battle.  Every year during those meetings I've been reminded that God is in our corner.

My chest will swell with pride as I choke back tears and watch him finish his speech and take a bow as he always does when he receives applause.  He will smile and get a thumbs up from us.  And as I sit and watch the rest of the culmination I will wonder where the time has gone.  I will look at my son and cherish this milestone.  I will pray, as I have every day since he was born, that God be with him, guide him and protect him.

Though life can be a rolling coaster, with its unseen curves, uphill battles and thrilling plummets, I am blessed and honored that God chose me to be his mom and that I get to come along for the ride!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thursday Thirteen 5/2/2013

May!  It is May.  I don't know where the past months have gone but they have gone quickly.

Here's a recap of the past few months:

1.  We had a lovely yet simple Valentine's Day with dinner at home.  They picked out the meal:  filet mignon with grilled zucchini and Paleo brownies for dessert.  They loved it.  I surprised them by filling our dining room with balloons.  It looked like a pink wonderland.  It reminded me of what I did for my husband on his 40th birthday.  That's another story for another time.

2.  My husband and a couple of our friends participated in the 20th Annual Queen Mary ScotsFest.  The day was filled with competitions, you know, like picking up a giant stick and trying to toss it.  Actually it's called the caber toss and it's pretty awesome to watch.  The kids got a bit bored, but luckily I brought a bunch of activities to keep them busy.

2.  I signed up for the CrossFit Open.  Why?  Well, I wanted to.  I'm not a competitive athlete, but I will say that the Open workouts I had the opportunity to do pushed me.  This is about the only thing I don't mind pushing me!

3.  I  have to include this because it's hilarious.  It happened February 21st while driving the kids to school, discussing how long a plane ride can be:
Me:  "Well, let's say you want to go to the Philippines.  It's a 12 or so hour plane ride."
Son:  "To Philadelphia?"
Me:  "No.  The Philippines.  You're half Filipino, remember?
Daughter:  "Yeah, E.  I'm half Filipino too.  And daddy is half WHITE AND NERDY."

This is what happens when my husband plays Weird Al songs for my kids!

4.  In my daughter's weekly homeschooling class all the kids have to do presentation.  It's basically show and tell, but they have to practice speaking clearly, making eye contact and answering questions.  My daughter, thank God, is actually good at it.  One boy brought in a game called No Stress Chess.  My daughter immediately asked for one.  Now, I normally don't indulge my children's every whim, but this was chess, so I got it for her.  It's a great game to introduce a child to chess and help them memorize the movements of each piece.  There is not strategy taught, just the basics, but this is a great start.  My daughter is progressing well and soon will beat her daddy (again)!

5.  My daughter's preschool (NOT the same school in #4, I call this one PLAY school since it's the complete opposite of my daughter's homeschooling class) went on a whale watching excursion.  We invited some friends for the morning out at sea.  Unfortunately, we didn't see any whales, just plenty of dolphins.  Still it was a beautiful and relaxing day.

6.  My daughter turned 5.  For her birthday she wanted to go to an Indiana Jones Exhibit then she wanted to have her birthday lunch at Lawry's The Prime Rib in Beverly Hills.  She had her choice of a party in the Bay Area where my parents are, a party with her local friends or a fun day and dinner at her favorite restaurant.  I think she chose wisely.

7.  My  husband had to make a trip out of state to move his parents. Our kids happened to be on Spring Break so while he was gone we had dinner picnics, watched the original Karate Kid and participated in an egg hunt and coloring at our local Whole Foods. We were supposed to go bowling as well, but the times we went were super busy.  One day the whole place was reserved for a party coming in!  It was still an enjoyable week off and we got to go bowling when my brother came to visit.

8.  On Easter Sunday we went to church with some good friends and enjoyed a tasty lunch afterwards.  After church service both my husband and I were approached by a couple of the children's church teachers stating that when they asked the group who knew John 3:16, both of my kids raised their hands and began reciting it, perfectly.  If you're interested I'm using this method to help them memorize scripture verses.  It's inexpensive and easy.  We started about 4 weeks ago and my kids have memorized three different verses.

9.  This Easter Sunday also happened to be the one year anniversary of me beginning CrossFit.  My very first official workout was a modified Fran.  It's two movements, thrusters and pull-ups and you alternate between the two doing 21-15-9 reps of each.  I have done it 2 more times since and recently did a modified version of the Open 13.5 workout which was Fran, hard and fast with chest-to-bar instead of pull-ups.  I still love CrossFit, but in the past few months I haven't been able to go as often or as consistent as I'd like.  Trying to care for two kids with special needs and running them around to their activities, plus running and maintaining a home (ya, know...dinner, dishes, laundry, appointments etc.) and then trying to workout in the evening after all of that was too much for me and I kept getting sick.  Sure, I was able to do it for 6-7 months but when Winter hit so did the illnesses and I could not recuperate.  I also couldn't sleep well after a 7 p.m. workout and that didn't help my immune system either.  I workout at home, making it to the box when I can, but my kids are my priority.  I know that I need to take time for myself, and I will but I have to figure out a schedule that will work for all of us.

10.  Also on a church note, last Sunday when as we collected our kids from their respective classes we noticed that our daughter was wearing a sticker that said "Prayer Warrior".  She was the only one wearing it.  It was given to her for always raising her hand to pray and then offering a prayer.  I thank God for blessing her with an open heart.  Both of my kids always volunteer to pray, and I'm thankful that God has equipped me with the wisdom and guidance to show them the way.  I won't always get it right, nor will they, but I'm glad that God has already cleared the path through his Son and that perfection is not the goal.

11.  My daughter began acting classes.  She's a natural.  I knew when we enrolled her that she was in her element.  She constantly puts on performances for us at home and she's such a ham, much like her father.  She is very creative and has quite the imagination.  It's lovely to see in action.

12.  My son is taking initiative and helping me make his lunches every morning.  This may not sound like a big deal to many, but when you have a child with special needs and you're not even sure if your child will even be able to walk right or literally grasp things properly, every little progress is GREAT progress.  My son does not like school lunches, so every morning I'm packing him a hot lunch.  He began packing the cold stuff (yogurt and fruit) on his own.  I'm very proud of him.

13.  I'm doing another Whole 30 Challenge.  I usually do it 3 times a year roughly right after the New Year, again in April or May and then in September or October.  I eat pretty clean most of the time anyway, only having 1-2 off Paleo meals or treats a month, so this challenge isn't too much of a challenge for me.  I don't get to have any off-Paleo meals/treats, my 90% dark chocolate or any foods that have been modified to be Paleo.  Not too hard to handle.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

At The End of the Rainbow

Five years ago today, in the wee hours of the morning, God blessed me with a beautiful treasure.  My daughter came into this world with a face that said it all.

She's a brilliant little girl.  She can rattle off facts that she's learning via the home schooling program that I'm using.  She plays chess.  She takes cooking classes and helps me in the kitchen as well.  She is protective of her big brother.  She is compassionate and gentle towards all living creatures (well, except for spiders).  She is creative and has a delightful imagination.  She makes up her own songs and games.  She's shy when she wants to be but vocal when she needs to be.  She's witty and says things that crack me up all the time.  She's very decisive and strong willed.  Above all, she is very loving and caring.

She is my little pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow.  When I'm having a rough day she hugs me and I feel the tension melt away.  It's been that way since she was old enough to walk to me.

She wants to be an actress and a doctor when she grows up.  She recently started taking acting classes and I know before I'm ready (and if she still desires) she'll be in med school.  That day will come soon enough.  Until then, I'll let her wrap her arms around me.  I'll let her curl up in my lap.  I'll hold her and give her as many kisses as she'll allow, which can be plentiful or exiguous depending on her mood.

We play together everyday.  We read together everyday.  We have meaningful discussions everyday.  Just this morning as we were lying in bed and my husband walked away, she turned to me and said, "Mommy, can we have a real talk?".  I'm not sure where she got that from, but I told her sure and she asked, "So, how's life treating you?"  I looked directly into her eyes and said, "Baby, life is wonderful."  Then she said we had to be quiet because my husband walked back into the room.

My husband likes to say that she is daddy's little girl but she is her mommy's daughter.  She is a good mix of the two of us.

My CrossFit trainer once said that I was a firecracker.  I believe that to be true because my daughter is a firework.

Happy Fifth Birthday sweetheart.  Let your light shine, baby girl.  Let it shine.

I love you.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Long Overdue Thursday Thirteen

...or in other words, a summary of the past 7 months.  I've been THAT busy.  Sitting down to do anything is now a luxury!  I would wait until after the New Year to write this but by then everything will be forgotten.  I'm finishing this nearly a month into the New Year because January is filled with birthdays and we're still in celebration mode.  As February approaches, I see being able to at least write once a month.  Maybe.  If I'm lucky.

Now, on with the Thirteen:

1.  At the end of July, right after we got back from our trip to Maui, the kids went to Vacation Bible School. This is the first time our church held it and I was delighted that they chose to partake this year.  Both my kids loved it.

2.  September 11, 2012 was my daughter's first day of preschool!  I can't believe it.  This happened to also be my first working day there.  She attends a co-op preschool, where there is A LOT of parent participation.  I don't always look forward to it because there's always stuff at home to be done but oddly, working at her school forces me to slow down and play.  We can all use a lot more play time.

3.  Halloween was fun, though it didn't go quite the way we planned.  My son was Peter Pan and my daughter was Tinkerbell.  I was going to be Wendy and my husband was going to be Captain Hook.  Unfortunately, my husband got sick and couldn't even go out with us and I wasn't happy with the Wendy costume I got so I went as a busy mom.  The kids had fun, and really that was the point.  We were joined by a friend from church who also happens to be the kids' babysitter, so they were even more excited.