Thursday, May 3, 2018

Ave and Mom Days

It's Thursday evening and I spent a wonderful day with my not so little 5 year old.  We did some shopping, had lunch together, played games, did our nails, and even a little cleaning.  It was as a "stay at home" day should be!  But as the day is winding down, I'm getting a bit weepy.  You see, I only have 8 more of these days left.  EIGHT.  How can this be?!?  We've had "Ave and Mom" days since Avery was one.  Since poor Joel had to start school so early (which don't get me started...this by itself still makes me sad that we had to take away his childhood so early)  we have had a lot of days alone together.  Don't get me wrong.  Avery is so very ready for school full time.  She can't wait!  She loves every part of school and wants to be a big kid.  It's just so hard on me.  Knowing how quickly things are going to go now that all three of the kids are in school.  I don't want to think about it and can't stop thinking about it at the same time.  Ugh.  Why are they growing up so fast?  And how do I make sure that I spend every minute of these last 8 days making memories?!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

What's New

I've been looking at my past posts and realize that much has changed and yet it feels like life is just going on.  Really, I think I'm still recovering from busy season.  It was brutal this year.  Like one of my top three worst.  I was so tired from busy season that I slept for what felt like the whole weekend, plus some!  I haven't been motivated to get the normal things done that I like to do.  I've been slowly recovering.
So what else?  Jeremy isn't coaching this year.  His first time in 20 years.  I thought he'd miss it, but I don't think he does!  He's been super busy with other things, like our apartments, Joel's many appointments, and making chairs.  Having him home more has been super nice for me!  It means not having to rush around all the time and have lonely evenings with the kids by myself.
And Joel - he finally got his IEP!  The one we've been working for all.year.long.  Finally!  He's been in OT and Behavioral Therapy and his teacher commented on improvement after the first 3 weeks.  It's going to help us next year too, so I'm feeling very relieved to have some extra support at school.
Jake and Avery...nothing new there.  They are both still doing well in school and love playing with friends.  So much alike.
That's the family in a nutshell.  Right now we are counting down to summer.  June starts out all things fun with Joel's birthday and a family trip to Pittsburgh.  We're also looking forward to cottage time and VBS in June.  So ready for summer!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Kiddo Concerns

Joel.  My middle.  My lovebug, kind-hearted boy.  My one who struggles the most with life.  This kiddo has gone through so much and yet we have to keep pushing onward.  It's funny, I looked back at some of my earlier posts, around the time we first found out that Joel had sensory processing disorder (SPD) and I never actually published those thoughts!  Interesting for me to re-read.  But you weren't let in on those tough decisions on whether to test, what to test for, how much I felt like a failure as a parent.  But he was diagnosed.  His therapy was working.  He graduated and went on to Kindergarten.  And it was an amazing year.  As in, he was reading above grade level!  He was passing all expectations!  We were so hopeful for future successes.
But this year has been a totally different story.  I'm not sure where to start pouring out my frustrations, so I'll start with his IEP meeting last spring.  At that meeting, we went through the legal mumbo jumbo and they asked if I had anything to add.  I did.  I told them very specifically that I realize he had a great year but I'm not in the classroom and I don't know what to convey to his next teacher.  My only request was that his Kindergarten and 1st grade teachers meet at some point and discuss how he functions in a class.
Fast forward to October of 1st grade.  We gave it a couple of weeks for things to get settled and then checked in.  Our check in turned in to all out craziness!  First of all terrible, irresponsible, unprofessional emails sent to us, trying to trick us and making us feel at fault.  I still have those emails.  Even today I consider letting other people know how terrible we were treated.  So, we decided to meet in person with his whole crew of helpers.  At that meeting we discussed our concerns and found out that Joel's teachers had never met, never discussed his classroom needs, and Joel's teacher had no idea how to help a kid with SPD.  However, at that meeting we talked about Joel's IEP (which fell under speech) and how he didn't really need help with speech anymore.  However, it was VERY CLEARLY communicated with the team that we didn't want to take away his IEP unless we knew first that he would receive a 504 Plan for his OT and sensory needs.  We received a note home, to test him out of speech and agreed.  Having thought that meant we were good to go with the 504.
And then, we had an exit IEP meeting in November and at that time found out there was no 504 Plan and now no IEP.  At that time we were told that his SPD diagnosis isn't a real medical condition, it was too old to be effective, and even though they all knew that Joel has issues, there was basically nothing they could (or would) do to help because now they weren't legally required to.  We asked what we needed to do and were told to get him retested.  Can I pause and tell you how angry I was by this point?!  Here we are into November and my kid is receiving NO HELP AT ALL!
Finally in December we got into BRAINS, which is a group who does full testing.  It's an expensive process, so we pushed it back to January so that it least our insurance deductible was starting over then.  Insurance issues to add to the frustrations...really?  $650 that I would need to pay in Dec and start it over again in Jan?!  For the same issue for the same kid?!  We've all dealt with insurance...I'll let this one go.
So, in January Joel was finally fully tested.  They did a bunch of stuff.  We answered a bunch of questionaires, his teacher filled out forms.  By the end of January we finally got the results.  Low and behold he STILL has SPD!  Wow!  Go figure!  There are a number of other issues, but they think the root of the other issues go back to SPD.  So BRAINS recommended some additional outside therapies that we agree with and have started that long process of finding the right place and getting him in. 
The worst part is that we've also gone back to school to push for another IEP.  SPD still isn't a diagnosis recognized by schools.  And get this!  THEY NEED TO DO THEIR OWN TESTS!!!  WHAT!?!?!  That's what they were supposed to do in Oct/Nov!  When they wanted him exited from the speech IEP and I said no, unless there was something else in place.  And that's when we were told to take him somewhere else to get outside testing.  And we did.  And now THEY WANT TO DO THEIR OWN TESTING ANYWAY!  WHY DIDN'T THIS HAPPEN IN OCT???????
I am so frustrated by this whole process.  I am a well-educated person.  Jeremy is IN the school system.  IEP testing and government help is so messed up that neither of us are getting through to find the right answers for our Joel!  JUST DO WHAT'S RIGHT FOR THE KID!!!!!!!  His teacher, his evaluators, everyone can see that he falls out of the norm.  Why is it so hard to get some extra help?
To be fully honest, I view this year of school as being totally wasted.  His teacher doesn't care much for him.  He was labeled the naughty child right from the beginning, and he can't undo a first impression.  She doesn't help, give him accomodations, send him to the resource room - nothing.  I don't know how to fight harder and push for what's right for my child.  It just leaves me feeling helpless.  And counting down to next year.  I'm requesting a teacher.  I'm meeting with her before the year starts.  I'm hopeful that outside therapy will be successful.  I'm praying that my little Joel can just grow up to be a functioning adult who is able to read and write. And in the meantime??  What can I be doing??  I have Joel for 3 hours a day, between getting home from school and going to bed.  He has an OT appointment and a Behavioral appointment, each once a week.  We are supposed to do fine motor skills and gross motor skills practice each night.  He has to read to us every day and occasionally do homework that he didn't finish in class.  He's supposed to wear an eye patch for an hour a day (we aren't too good at enforcing this) and he wants to keep taking his gymnastics Ninja class (which we count as gross motor practice.)  Plus he needs to eat dinner, play, and be a kid.  So HOW do I help him more?  Please tell me how...
Right now, I'm considering a new full time job.  After I homeschool Joel (insert sarcasm) I think I should become a special ed advocate.  No parent should have to go through this mess!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

15th Anniversary

We decided that after skipping a 10 year anniversary trip (due to Avery only being 5 months old) that we were due for a 15 year get away.  We planned a trip to Nashville, mostly because I had always wanted to visit and it was close enough that we could drive there.  We had no idea what we were really getting ourselves into, but it turned out to be a great trip!  It seemed that each day just got better.  When we look back on the week, I can't believe all of the good music we listened to and fun we had. 
Some highlights included:
The day of our anniversary was spent at Puckett's Grocery for breakfast, a tour of the Belmont Mansion, and dinner at 3rd and Lindsley.  The tour was the highlight of the day.  It was fun to hear about this wealthy lady and all of her misfortune.  Our dinner was not as great.  It was really just a restaurant that was more for shows.  The guy we saw wasn't great, even though he was well-known.  He was part of the Allman Brothers at one point.  He was old and barely sang.

The next day Rich and Kelly arrived. We saw the Country Music Hall of Fame, Johnny Cash Museum, did some shopping, went to Nudie's (dirty minds!  don't you know a Nudie is a sparkly cowboy outfit?!) and Tootsie's Orchid Lounge.  Basically hit Broadway Street.  We heard two great bands that did cover songs.  It was a lot of fun!

We also made it Andrew Jackson's Hermitage.  This tour was less impressive than the Belmont Mansion.  However, we learned about dueling and saw cotton plants still growing on the plantation.  That night we got tickets to go to the Bluebird CafĂ©.  This was probably the highlight of our trip.  The Bluebird is an intimate setting with only 90 guests and is a songwriters venue.  The tickets are very hard to snatch, but Kelly got them.  Going into it, we were a little disappointed that we got the late show, which had a cover charge.  But it was worth every penny!  When they got started, all we knew was that there some older men and one girl.  And then they started playing some of their songs.  And we knew a lot of them!  They were all Grammy winners.  And the girl is an up and coming artist/songwriter.  Her husband happens to be from the group The Brothers Osborne.  His brother, the other half of that duo, was also there.  They were asked to do some of their songs as well.  It was totally on the spot and they just performed!  It was a very fun night!  They were all just excellent!

Cotton from Andrew Jackson's Plantation

After that late night, we had to visit the Grand Ole' Opry, Cooter's Museum, and we saw another late show at the Ryman.  At the Ryman we heard Old Crow Medicine Band.  These guys are just crazy.  They were playing a cover of a Bob Dylan album.  I didn't know any of the music until the end when they did a couple of recognizable songs.  Their tune is a little blue grass sound, but really they are just jumping and dancing all over, playing crazy instruments and tap dancing.  Another late night, but fun!

Finally, we finished the week with the outdoor NYE party on the street.  It just so happened to be the coldest night ever.  Colder than they usually see.  We did get to see Maren Morris, Cheap Trick, and my favorite - Keith Urban all perform!  It was a fun night.  Just WAY too cold.  At midnight they did a music note drop and fireworks.  We took off right after that.  We couldn't feel our toes, fingers, noses, thing crossed off my bucket list though!  No need to ever visit NYC for New Year's now.  I've had my fill!

And a few other fun pics of the Parthenon and a hot chicken restaurant.

Overall, it was a great trip!  Super excited to be back with the kiddos, but overall a great time away to get caught up, refreshed, and a full night's sleep! 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Lookback

When I look at this past year, I struggle with how to share the ups and downs.  We saw first hand the pain caused by divorce, but we are thankful that we are allowed to remain in the lives of those most closely impacted.  We are both in jobs that leave us either unfulfilled or create constant stress and pressure.  However, they pay the bills, with enough excess to allow us to play together as a family.  We have a kiddo struggling both at school and with physical issues, but it's not life-threatening and we are learning how to help him.  Our dishwasher broke, but thankfully I wasn't hosting Thanksgiving that weekend.  There are positives in everything.

As I look back, I am reminded that in our struggles, we must learn to rely on God more.  I know I don't always do that well, but there are many good things that took place this past year and I know that God is in control.  Here's our Top 10 (in no particular order):
  • Ben found a really good job and was able to move in to an apartment
  • Avery is really LOVING school this fall and learning a ton
  • Our summer was spent together as a family - at the cottage, at camp, fishing
  • We had a really fun long weekend in Chicago over Memorial Day and the kids LOVED it!  I think riding the city bus was their favorite part.
  • I trained for and ran in two 5K's (and improved my time in the second race)
  • We celebrated our 15th anniversary in Nashville
  • We went to 3 Tigers baseball games
  • CAMP...need I say more?
  • We finally have living room furniture after 18 months with nothing
  • We got a new mattress and I think it's helping my back...fingers crossed!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmas 2017

This Christmas was busy, as usual.  However, due to some illness, we were also forced to slow down.  For me, the season started in November when we went to see the Grinch being performed in Detroit.  It was a fun, ladies day! 

Then we followed it with a Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant Christmas concert, celebrating my mom's birthday.  It was a really awesome concert!!

The kids did their annual Christmas program at church and we had a church Christmas party.

We had to miss the Hughes family Christmas because most of the family was throwing up.  Then Avery ended up with strep throat as well.  It seemed to be a long couple of weeks. 
But we all were healthy enough to have fun at class parties and enjoy the rest of December.

We had a few family parties, a nice relaxing Christmas day, and then we took off for our anniversary trip to Nashville!

Overall, it was a great Christmas season!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Superhero Mom and Halloween

This Halloween was busy and fun!  We kicked things off on the Saturday before with neighborhood trick-or-treating and a pizza party.  The kids had a blast!  Then we had my work party on Monday, 3 schools parties, and more trick-or-treating on Tuesday night.  Whew!  It was crazy.  And we have SO.MUCH.CANDY!  And this mom made it to all of the events this year.  That never happens!  So here is a fun picture of Batman, Flash, and our little witch.