Monday, April 30, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

It has been awhile since I have last done a "Menu Plan Monday" but since I wrote one up for this week (and for next week as well) I figured, I might as well share it, right? So here goes:

D - Lasagna, green beans, peaches

D - Burritos, rice, fruit salad

Wednesday: (Oralee's birthday dinner)
D - Grilled hamburgers, potato salad, fruit salad

D - Grilled chicken wraps, corn, pears

D - Pork Stir Fry

B - Cold cereal
L - Graduation celebration (lunch served)
D - Retirement celebration (dinner served)

B - Pancakes, eggs and sausage (Fast Sunday for me)
L - Soup and sandwiches (Fast Sunday for me)
D - Pork roast with potatoes, carrots, celery and onion, peaches

I am going to link this post up to Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday this week. Head on over if you'd like and see what other people are planning for their menus.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Trust and Patience

 I had a bit of an epiphany the other day when I woke up. It was Hubby's last day off from work that he would have for about two weeks. I had gone to bed the previous night with a migraine and when I first woke up in the morning to get the kids up and off to school, I was not feeling so great. I still had the migraine and had some sinus issues as well (I think it was from allergies). So I asked Hubby to get the kids up and take them to school for me, which he did. I did have to call out to them that Koren didn't need to wear shorts or tennis shoes today because although he did have P.E. for that day, he would not be participating in it because of his eyes being dilated. Oralee had P.E. on the schedule as well and she DID need her tennis shoes, which I also had to make sure that Hubby knew. But for the most part, he got them all ready to go.

I came out to the living room to keep an eye on Jeriah while Hubby went to drop the other kids off at school and then Jeriah fell back asleep as well (I think he might be having allergy issues as well) and slept until 11:30 in the morning. And for a kid that does NOT nap, Hubby got extremely lucky. Because I also fell back asleep. I didn't wake up until noon though, when Hubby was putting Jeriah on the school bus.

I got up and realized that Hubby had spent his entire morning after the kids went to school, playing video games and just relaxing. Normally, this is something that would severely tick me off. But I really think that there is something happening within my whole thought process and perception thing. Maybe it has to do with the official decision of me being the one that is staying home now, maybe it has to do with me just trying to make a stronger effort to be a better housekeeper and wife, maybe it is a combination thereof. But my first reaction was not to be ticked off.

My reaction? Gratefulness. Yep, you read that right. I was grateful. Because although there were things that he could have very easily done, he didn't do them. He felt like he could take that morning and just relax and do something fun for him to do. (I'm guessing the fact that he let me sleep in helped a bit too, to be honest!) I took his actions to mean that he TRUSTED me to get it all done. He had faith that he could just take the morning for himself and enjoy it, because he knew that the work would get done. And that is what I took as a huge compliment.

Not too long ago, I got offended because I had told him that I would get around to doing something and then I got busy with the kids' activities and lessons and my work and volunteering and church activities and whatever else. And I didn't get around to doing whatever it was that Hubby had wanted me to do. So he did it himself. I was hurt. He didn't trust me to get it done. And I reacted in a hurt manner. I'm sure I told him that I was hurt that he didn't trust me to get it done. And he responded by saying that he had trusted that I would get it done and then had waited patiently for me to do it until he just did it for himself.

Patience. My husband has way more of it for me than I do for him (on a regular basis). When I want him to do something, I ask him. When he doesn't do it, I ask him again. When he still doesn't do it, I ask again. I have learned how to ask repeatedly without it sounding to him like, "Nag nag nag nag naaa-aaaggg" All I have to do is ask. Then when I have waited an appropriate length of time, I just say, "Honey, I don't know if maybe you got distracted or forgot, or if you were still planning to do it, but I was wondering if you were still planning to..." to which he will generally respond, "Oh, right! I'm sorry. I forgot. I will get that taken care of right away!" and sometimes he doesn't get it done right away and I will wait another appropriate length of time and say, "Honey, I don't want to bother you, but if you need me to do .... , I can do it. Just let me know," which usually is the point he will do whatever the task was. But it is all about timing and tone. He can tell in my tone if I am sincere in the way that I am asking or if I am sarcastic. We have been married for 11 years, he should definitely be able to pick up on that by now.

But there is very little that Hubby actually asks me to do for him. So when he asks me to do something specific, I try to make sure it gets put up towards the top of the priority list. On the other hand, it could be said that he doesn't have to ask for much because I already do most of what he would ask for. But you know what? To be honest, I don't think that is necessarily true. I mean, I do try to make sure that the home is a comfortable, relaxing, inviting place for him to come home to at the end of his workday and to not bombard him with my day or with requests when he walks through the door. But I think it is just that he trusts me more to just do "my job" here at home.

And before someone gets their panties in a bunch about the house being my job, let me assure you, I am happy with it. The home and the kids and my husband ARE my job. It is my job to focus on them and make sure that they are taken care of and loved and to make sure that they know that too. My husband's hard work allows me to be able to do this. So when he makes the odd request of me to do something, I will do it.

It's funny, as I was typing this, my husband came up to me and asked me to switch a couple of meals around on the menu because he wanted a particular meal this evening (I am writing this post ahead of the day it will be published) and also asked me to pick up some very specific items at the grocery store when I go shopping. And asked that I do something very specific in the house tomorrow (which I did let him know that it would not likely be able to be done tomorrow, but that the following day, I would have a chance to do it) and he will not ask about these things again. He just won't. He trusts that I will do these things and he has the patience to wait for me to get it done. I could learn a lesson or two from him on this matter.

(And darn it! I saved my blog as a bookmark on his phone. Now he gets to read all of this about himself! Just kidding. I love you honey!)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tackle It Tuesday - Catch Up Edition

So today, I have a long list of things to get done, so that's how it's going to happen today. You get my list. I get to check it off.

  • Dishes. (Two dishwasher loads done.)
  • Clear off the kitchen counters. (Done.)
  • Clear off the stove top. (Done.)
  • Clean the kitchen sink. (Done.)
  • Take trash out.
  • Take recycling out.
  • Sweep and mop the kitchen floor.
  • Move the bunkboard out to the shed.
  • Clear off the dining room table. (Done.)
  • Clear off the dining room chairs. (Done.)
  • Sweep and mop the dining room floor.
  • Take trash out.
  • Feed and water the dogs. (Done.)
  • Clear off the sectional. (Done.)
  • Tidy up the TV stand. (Done.)
  • Tidy the toy shelf. (Done.)
  • Tidy the entry. (Done.)
  • Tidy my table. (Done.)
  • Pick up the living room floor. (Done.)
  • Take trash out.
  • Vacuum the living room floor.
  • Clear off the armoire. (Done.)
  • Clear off Hubby's desk. (Done.)
  • Pick up corner near Hubby's desk. (It's a catch-all area.) (Done.)
  • Clear off cedar chest. (Done.)
  • Straighten chair area in den. (Done.)
  • Pick up floor in den. (Done.)
  • Take trash out.
  • Vacuum the den floor.
  • Pick up the floor in the hallway. (Done.)
  • Vacuum the hallway floor.

  • Pick up the little kids' bedroom floor.
  • Put away the little kids' clothes.
  • Put away the little kids' toys.
  • Put away the little kids' books.
  • Take trash out.
  • Vacuum the little kids' bedroom floor.

  • Pick up the older boys' bedroom floor.
  • Put away the older boys' clothes.
  • Put away the older boys' toys.
  • Put away the older boys' books.
  • Take trash out.
  • Vacuum the older boys' bedroom floor.

  • Fold laundry and put away. (Running tally of loads for the day: 0)
  • Wash and dry laundry. (Running tally of loads for the day: 0)
  • Clean out the bathtub.
  • Clean the bathtub.
  • Clear off the vanity.
  • Clean the vanity.
  • Clean the mirrors.
  • Clean the toilet.
  • Sweep and mop floor.
  • Take trash out.

That is the total lump sum of everything that I'd like to get done today. It won't all get done. But I like having a list to work off of. And there are many more tasks that I could include on there. But I'm not going to. This is just an idea of what I would like to get done today. No time like the present to get started! You can click on the banner image at the top of this post to head on over to 5 minutes for mom to see what other bloggers are tackling today as well.

Clean House Challenge - Week 17

Admittedly, it has been a fair amount of time since I have done a Clean Home Challenge week, but there is no time like the present to get it started. This week's challenge is to sort through and purge bed linens. However, I don't feel that we need to do that. So instead of purging bed linens, it is my goal this week to wash them, dry them and get them folded nice and neat so that they can be put away.

If I find, while doing this, that we have more than what we need or that there are some that are just worn or whatever and should be purged, then I will absolutely do so! No before pic because I lost my camera and right now, all of our sheets are folded and put away in the cedar chest (we have a practical storage issue in our home - no linen closet - so we use the storage we have, in our case, a cedar chest)

I will let you know next week what I have gotten rid of in the bed linens department if purging does happen.

In the meantime, head on over to Katie's blog to see the rest of the challenges. You can also click here to see the challenges I have participated in. Wow. I thought that I had done more than that, but I guess not. Oh well, there will be more. Lots more!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

It has been awhile since I have last done a "Menu Plan Monday" but since I wrote one up for this week (and for next week as well) I figured, I might as well share it, right? So here goes:

D - Spaghetti with meat sauce, green beans, garlic bread and pears

D - Frozen pizza, peaches

D - Beef enchiladas, rice, beans, corn

D - Blue and Gold Banquet for Cub Scouts

Friday: (No School)
B - Pancakes, eggs and sausage
L - Homemade mini pizzas
D - Grilled chicken and spinach canneloni

B - Pancakes, eggs and sausage
L - Macaroni and cheese with baked ham
D - Grilled hamburgers and baked fries

B - Pancakes, eggs and sausage
L - Sandwiches and fresh fruit
D - Beef roast with potatoes, carrots, celery and onion, peaches

I am going to link this post up to Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday this week. Head on over if you'd like and see what other people are planning for their menus.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Koren's Eyes

I put the drops in Koren's eye today, then snapped a picture of it with Hubby's phone (because my camera is MIA and has been for awhile now!) But anyhow, here ya go:

Isn't that odd looking? We love the kid regardless of his pupil size but it is a little bit odd to see him like this now. When Babycake's dad came to pick up Babycakes this afternoon, he saw Koren's eyes and said, "What the heck?" It really caught him off guard.

But the good news is that Koren seems to be doing well with it. He played outside in the shade for awhile, but came inside because the light was a little too much for him to handle. And now he is playing a video game. It seems he i snot quite as blinded by this drop as we thought he would be. Yay! That is GREAT news!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Exciting Change

I had mentioned in my Two Months in No Time Flat post that there were some very exciting new changes going on in our lives.

My husband has made the solid request that I stay at home.

In the course of our 11 year marriage, I have worked or gone to school nearly the whole time, minus end of pregnancy times. Sometimes, I had a "real" out of the home job, sometimes I had an out of the home job, but it was more of a self-employment kind of thing (CNA doing private duty, doing childcare in someone else's home, etc). Other times, it was an in-home job doing self-employment (marketing, sales, home childcare, etc) and then of course, some of it was spent in college. Most of the time, it was a combination of all of the above.

Late last year, I had switched from regular hours at my job as a private duty home health aide to a PRN schedule. But my PRN shifts were not very frequent. Then I got called on to do PRN for another family that I have been with for years and so then I was PRN at two different places. The only problem with this is that either they were both fine and didn't need me, or they both needed me at the same time. It was a real balancing act that was rather stressful for awhile there.

Meanwhile, Hubby had started a new job and was being cross-trained because the store manager (known as the general manager) wants Hubby to be an assistant manager in a certain area. So Hubby was working and getting more and more hours.

We worked hard to try to balance our schedules so that we were the ones home taking care of the children. There were times (some more frequent than others) where the kids would end up needing to spend time over at Hubby's parent's house. Which is fine. We love having them spend time with their grandparents but we also didn't want to rely so much on his parents for childcare.

Then, there came a slow spot in the PRN hours and during this time that I was home more, the children's behaviors and schedules improved, their grades and performance in school improved, the overall care of the house improved, I was able to focus much more on taking care of my home, my husband, my children and make them feel like they were really important, and not just something that I have to check off before rushing off to work. I know it may sound horrible, but sometimes, that's exactly what it felt like, and I'm sure that is what it felt like to them too.

Cephas began reading at or above grade level for the first time in four years, Koren began reading at or above grade level for the first time ever, Jeriah made such improvement that he was released from Special Education. Oralee, well, Oralee hasn't had much marked change but even still, with all of the other changes with the boys, we determined that it was due in large part to the time I was at home, able to focus on them and really help them to succeed.

We also determined that by making a few changes, we would be able to make ends meet on just Hubby's income. Now, there isn't a WHOLE lot of wiggle room, but we have enough for all of our bills and needs, savings, tithing as well as some leftover for fun stuff or to just simply take our family out for dinner (which isn't always cheap when you have a family of six!)

There was still the question, though, of should I continue with some minor part-time PRN hours, just to give us a little bit more wiggle room or savings or whatever. I wanted to make sure that I was also contributing to our household.

And then I got the call. One of the families wanted me to come back to regular hours. So Hubby and I sat down and discussed it. His answer? "No. I don't want you to go back. We don't need the extra money." First of all, NEVER before in our marriage have we been able to say that. We probably could have said that before, but I think our perspective has changed quite a bit recently.

I questioned him, wanting to make sure and listed out the benefits of having the extra money, to which he replied, "Yes, that is all true. But. The extra money won't volunteer in the kids' school. The extra money won't help our children to improve in their grades. The extra money won't give our household that added stability that having you home has had. The extra money won't make coming home each day to you feel quite as good as having you there to greet me does."

And so, the decision was made. I am now a stay-at-home mom. It has been quite the adjustment and I am still working hard to master the whole "stay-at-home" part of the term. :) But it has been wonderful. The best part? To know that what I am doing here has made THAT kind of a difference in not only my children and their schooling and overall demeanor but also in the way my husband now views our home. I think he actually considers it to be more of a sanctuary than he ever has before. It's not always perfect (actually, it never is) and quite often, there are still dishes needing to be done, laundry needing to be done, folded, put away or whatever. There are toys and messes here and there, but it's not about that to him (at least, not right now - it is something that I'm working on getting more attentive to), it's about the feeling of home. I think I'm doing something right at this point though!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mountain Climbing

No, not a real mountain. I'm talking about the mountain of housework that I have to do today. It has been positively chaotic around here. And well, the house took a back seat and just further added to the chaos. Chaos = "Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome", and no, that is not an original. I just cannot remember where I read that. But it fits. (Maybe it was FlyLady?)

Anyhow, to give you an idea of the chaos that is my house:
  • There is a bicycle in my (narrow) hallway. (Done. Moved it out to the back deck.)
  • The kids' chore chart board still has March 30th as the date on it. (Done. I just cleared off the whole board. Might try a different chore system, actually.)
  • There is a bicycle by my front door. (Done. Moved it out to the back deck.)
  • There are two laundry baskets of clean clothes behind my couch.
  • There are clothes on hangers on our overflow rod in my entry way that need to be placed into closets.
  • There is a LARGE TJ Maxx tote of paper recycling on my dining room table.
  • There are four bags of cans on my back porch waiting to be taken to the recycling center.
  • There are still baby toys everywhere. (Done. Picked them up and put them all back into their little baskets and back onto their shelf.)
  • The playpen is still set up, even though I won't have Babycakes until this weekend (since Oralee has strep, we don't want to take any chances) (Done. Packed it up and put it back in the box.)
  • I have tools siting on my favorite wingback chair (and my tool bag is UNDER the chair). (Done. I put the tools into the bag. Bag is still under my chair though. It's tucked away, but conveniently located)
  • I haven't seen our breakfast bar in months. (Done. It looks so nice and neat now!)
  • My kitchen counters have only about a quarter of their usable space.
  • Every flat surface in the house needs to be cleared off and wiped down (minimum). (Hubby's main desk area - not the hutch portion- is done, my table where I sit is done, the cedar chest is done, the little side table is done. I also go the extra desk chair cleared off, the bar stools, the wingback chair, the recliner and the couch finished up.) I still need to do the hutch part of Hubby's desk, the surface part of Hubby's desk (again! - he really doesn't pick up after himself!) :), and the armoire yet.
  • There is a mountain of laundry to put through the wash.
  • Oh - and I need to get my refrigerator cleared off and cleaned out because we are getting a new (to us) one this evening. (Done. Hubby and his friend went over tonight to pick it up. They brought it back and we got it all set up. I got everything transferred over, but now I have a new problem - I have my old fridge sitting in the middle of my kitchen now! I just can't win some days! I guess that's why there is always tomorrow, right?) 
I have five and a half hours until the boys all get home and even still, with all of the little tiny extra things that I have to get done, I am honestly not sure that it is going to happen. I am going to work my tail off trying to get it all done though, let me assure you! I hope to be able to come back here later and add in a (Done) behind each and every item on this list. Probably won't be able to do it for EVERY one of them, but for some of them, I should be able to.

A Sight For Sore Eyes

Yes, I am sure that this could be said of me lately, what with all of the running around and babysitting and craziness and all of that going on and me just trying to keep up with it all. Sigh. I wish this post were about me actually. But it isn't. It's about my day on Monday.

If you remember in this post I was talking about Oralee's doctor's appointment and the fact that they did the quick strep which came back negative. Guess who got a call at noon yesterday and was told that the cultured strep test came back positive? Oh yeah. That was me. So I had the pleasure of calling the school to have them pull her from class after telling them on Monday that she was cleared to go back to school. Yeah, total fail. That really upsets me. It makes me look like I don't know what I am doing as a parent (and you know, quite honestly, there are times when that is ABSOLUTELY true!)

So I walked up to the school (because Hubby left my keys at his mom's house on Monday when he was over there with the kids while she and I went to that Pampered Chef party) and called Hubby at the same time to ask him to drive over to the school so that Oralee doesn't have to walk home.

I get there to pick her up and she is distraught. I mean ABSOLUTELY distraught. Why? Because she will miss out on "Plan-Do-Review", the highlight of the Kindergarten day. Basically it is a play time where they get to Plan which area they are going to play in, then they get to Do it and then afterwards, they Review it with the teacher. And I made her miss out on it by having her pulled from class. Whoops.

I try to make it better for her by taking her out for lunch. She had already eaten, but I hadn't yet, so she had a strawberry shake with extra strawberries (because the bartender loves her - we went to Hubby's work, a neighborhood bar and grill) and fries while I ate my lunch. I think it made up for missing Plan Do Review just a little bit. At least, she didn't say anything more about it.

Wow, that was a bit of a side note. That wasn't even what this blog post is about. It's about Koren actually. You see, Koren has bad vision. As in really really bad vision. He wears glasses and in his good eye, his vision is 20/70. In his bad eye, it is 20/200. That is WITH correction. Without correction, it is more like 20/200 and 20/400. In essence, he is legally blind in one eye.

We have tried a few different things to improve his eyesight. Patching his good eye to make his bad eye work harder didn't really work very well because he would cheat and look through the corner. His optometrist intentionally wrote a stronger prescription for his glasses on the good side to make it a little bit blurry so that his other eye would have to work even harder. Neither option really helped much.

We went to see the pediatric opthamologist and his recommendation was one of three things (really there is a fourth option but it is connected to one of the other options.

  • Patch the good eye. We have done this before. It didn't work well, so he doesn't really want to repeat this option again.
  • Put dilation drops in Koren's good eye. It's a long-lasting drop that we would give to him on Saturday and Sunday and it would last the whole week. Basically, it would make his good eye dilate for the whole week and his bad eye would need to work harder to compensate for it. Koren can't cheat and see around it. The only problem is that there are side effects to doing this. Right now, we do not know what the child can actually see but he seems to be doing fairly well compensating on his own. I mean, he is now reading at grade level and everything. His grades and work ethic are outstanding. If we do this, he may not be able to see anything. He may not be able to see to read, might not be able to do his own work, he will likely have headaches and he will have sun sensitivity. He may have depth perception issues which could include off-balance, light headedness, nausea and even vomiting. But he might not have all of this, or most likely just some of this. The doctor said that most likely only his vision directly in front of him about two feet (roughly the length of his arm) would be affected. He should still be able to see from a distance. The doctor would want to re-evaluate him in three months to see the difference if any.
  • Use the dilation drops and remove the lens from his glasses on the good side. This is so that the good eye has NO additional help at all. Same side effects as the second option.
  • Give Koren an oral prescription. It is still in the study phase and it is not something that the doctor does lightly. He actually consults with another doctor and together they determine if the drug is the right option for the patient. It is a last-ditch effort for patients with a significant difference between their vision in each eye.
So, we are going with option two, per the doctor's recommendation. I'm nervous about it. But I really don't know what else to do. I mean, we could just let him continue on as he is and not try to improve his vision in that eye at all. As it is right now, Koren will never be able to even drive a car. I know that it isn't the end of the world, but that is a significant thing to consider.

I stopped in after the appointment to talk to his classroom teacher about it and then to talk to the School Coordinator about it. I tried earlier this year to get Koren some assistance from the school with his vision but to no avail. Of course, now the school is tripping all over themselves to try and accommodate him. I guess that there is a vision team for the district and the school is going to make contact with them to have them come out and assess Koren's needs and see how they can help him. We may end up with a 504 plan, which is basically a plan of accommodations for Koren to help him succeed in school. Or he may end up going onto an IEP, based on their assessment. Who knows?

We have a long road ahead of us and I have no idea what it looks like. I'm more than a little bit nervous about this. It just seems like there is a lot of stuff on my plate right now. Cephas and his behavioral/social issues, Koren and his vision issues, Oralee (well, she really doesn't have anything major going on, strep throat isn't that big of a deal) and then Jeriah and the whole preschool vs. kindergarten debate for next year. We'll just have to wait and see what happens and pray that we are making the right decisions for all of our kids.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Follow-Up Post

to the Super Busy-ness post that I wrote the other day. Gail and I were talking in the comments section of that post about the whole school situation with Jeriah and I had typed up a VERY lengthy response to her and then Jeriah bumped the laptop, my thumb hit something and it went "kapoof" because "poof" doesn't adequately convey my feelings about losing such a lengthy reply.

So I told her that I would type it up again as a blog post since it was sufficiently long enough to be a post in itself! So here goes!

Gail said (and I quote): "Wow. You have a lot on your plate. I pray that the Lord gives you direction. To go from an IEP into a neurotypical classroom is a big deal. To deal with a possible diagnosis of Aspberger's can be either devastating or a relief. Bless you in your journey!"

It is a big thing to go from an IEP to a neurotypical classroom. A very big deal indeed! There are some major factors to consider both for and against having him enroll in Kindergarten this fall.

  • He has his social challenges. He may not fit in well with the classroom's expectations of a nuerotypical student.
  • By continuing to have him in Preschool as a peer model, he would have another year to develop those skills to behave more neurotypically, like the other students. (I think I made that word up.)
  • Most parents (according to the Services Coordinator at the school) who start their kid earlier in school end up wishing that they had waited a year for their child to develop more socially. She has never heard a parent say that they wish they had started their child early. (I set her straight on that one. More about that following the "For:" section.)
  • It's Full Day Kindergarten. He still naps nearly every day. On the way home from school on the bus.
  • He would be one of the very youngest in the Kindergarten classroom.
  • He is on grade level with the Kindergarten students where they are right now. If I wanted to drop him in Kindergarten, he has the academic knowledge to keep up with them right now.
  • If we wait another year, he could well be at a mid-1st grade level when he starts Kindergarten. I am afraid that if he is too far ahead of the curriculum, he will be bored and more likely to have behavioral issues out of sheer boredom. It is very difficult to have a child placed in higher level material in our school system. Or as I like to say, "No Child Left Behind (and No Student Achieving Ahead of the Others)". Wrong? Maybe. But it is my opinion.
  • There is no guarantee that he will develop those skills with another year of Preschool.
  • He is a very regimented and routine child. I strongly believe that if he were to go into Kindergarten, he would learn the routine and the expectations and would thrive.
  • He is my youngest child. Having him home in the mornings is one of the main reasons why I am not volunteering in the school during the morning hours. If he is at school, I am free to go into the school to help him during the day as well. I currently do that with other students in the afternoon in second grade. (I'm a volunteer "interventionist" for reading and math.)
  • He would be one of the oldest in the Preschool classroom.
  • I have practiced with him on the lunch room routine. My kids eat breakfast at school, so I started sticking around and letting Jeriah eat with the rest of them. Within a week's time (five days of practicing this routine once each day), he was capable of (on his own!) going into the lunch room, putting his coat on a chair, lining up (and having appropriate line behaviors), getting his milk, choosing what he wants for breakfast (in a timely manner), carrying his tray to the check-out lady, giving her his name so she could ring it in to his account, taking his tray over to another table to pick up a spoon, napkin and straw, then carrying his tray to the table where he placed his coat. Once at the table, he raises his hand for the teacher to come by and open his cereal for him (as do most of the current Kindergartners and even some first graders) and he can open his own milk container. He can pour his own milk on his cereal and then eat in the allotted time frame that they are given. He is able to take his tray up when he is finished, dump his milk and cereal bowl in the "wet" bucket, drop his silverware in the silverware bucket, dump his trash into the trash can and then take his empty tray over to the window. It seems like such a routine thing to go through a cafeteria line, but there are actually quite a few steps involved and for a neuroatypical child, remembering all of those steps and being able to follow through can be overwhelming, especially when you add in the bustle and noise of a hundred other children. Yet, he does extremely well at it all. I think that the same would be true in the classroom.
  • He wants to go to Kindergarten.
So, you see, there are factors to consider on both sides, and while it may look like I have decided for Kindergarten, I am still not 100% sure about it. I'd say I'm probably about 75% sure about it at this point.

Now, as to the part I mentioned above about regretting a child not starting early. I regret not having Cephas tested to enter Kindergarten at four. I just didn't know it was an option. When he started Academy (the K4 class at his private preschool), he was on the same academic level as most beginning Kindergartners. He was beginning to read, knew his numbers, shapes, colors. He had already had a year of preschool at age three, so he was used to work time, lining up, following rules, cooperating with others, separation from family during the day, etc.

But we didn't. We enrolled him in Academy because he was four and a child had to be five by October 15th to enroll in Kindergarten. Cephas wouldn't turn five until January. All was fine and dandy that whole year.

Then he enrolled in Kindergarten. And by the beginning of the Kindergarten year, he was reading on a first grade level, he had figured out not only addition and subtraction, but had mastered multiplication by 2's, 3's, 4's and 5's by simply playing with the numbers in his mind.

We were riding in the car one day and he told me, "Mom! If you have two and then you have two more, then it's four and then two more is six. Then eight and then ten." And I told him that yes, he was right. He thought about it a little bit and then said, "So, if I have two of something and you have two of something and Koren has two of something and Grandma has two and Grandpa has two, then that makes ten!" Again, I confirmed he was correct and told him, "That's right. If there are five people who each have a set of two items, that makes ten items total." He thought about that a little bit longer and then applied the same concept to three items, then to four items, then to five items, so on and so forth until he was satisfied with his new knowledge.

Then he began skip-counting by two until he reached one hundred. Then he did it by threes, then by fours and then by fives. So before my son had ever even started Kindergarten, he knew 1x1 up to 1x100, 2x1 up to 2x50, 3x1 up to 3x34 (because 3x33 didn't get to 100 and he wanted to get to 100), 4x1 up to 4x25, and 5x1 up to 5x20. He KNEW it, had it memorized.

So he was advanced. By a lot. I tried to inform his teacher but got the "Oh, every parent thinks their child is the smartest child in the world" attitude about it. So I decided to let her discover it for herself. She quickly did. But she didn't do anything to try to help him keep advancing. Kindergarten is a leveling grade. The kids who need to catch up to grade level are the ones that get the most effort put into them. The ones that already know the information get to help the teachers and be a good peer model.

By the end of Kindergarten, Cephas was wholly unchallenged and had grown bored with the whole process. He didn't have to try at school and while we continued a process called "After Schooling" (advancing through activities and interests after school) he just didn't really care much for school. In the middle of first grade, the academics caught up to where he was, but he had already stopped trying in school. By the end of first grade, he was no longer even at grade level for reading. It was such a struggle to get him to try in school. From that point on, until this year (in fifth grade), he has not been reading at grade level. He is now thankfully.

But I really feel that all of this could have been avoided by simply having him tested to enter Kindergarten early. I really and truly believe that. And if there is a chance that I am right about it, why wouldn't I want to do the same for Jeriah? Therefore, the dilemma.

Cephas is the child that we think may end up with an Aspberger's Syndrome diagnosis. He has had an issue with social skills since Kindergarten but we have always been able to somewhat manage them. Now, that just really isn't the case anymore.

To have him diagnosed with Aspberger's would honestly be a huge relief. Then we would know that, yes, this is why he does this or that or whatever. And more importantly, he would know that was why as well. If not Aspberger's, then maybe we could just gain additional coping strategies for him and for us as well. It is devastating to him right now. He tries so hard but he has such a lack of impulse control (always has, actually) and just cannot seem to do/remember/follow through on a myriad of other things that his classmates seem to have no problem with.

On Friday, when I talked to Cephas' teacher and gave her the questionnaire from the behavioral psychologist's office, she took it with a smile and said, "I know exactly what this is and yes, I would be most happy to fill this out for you. When do you need it back?" That tells me something as well.

Well, that ended up being a bit more lengthy than my reply to Gail's comment but not by much. What do you think? What would you do if the decision about Jeriah's classroom next year was your decision to make? Don't worry, our decision is not based on your comment but maybe you have a viewpoint that we haven't considered.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pick Up

Today on Rachel's blog, she was talking about our schedules being thrown off and to just jump back in and pick up right where we left off. Wherever that may be. That sounds like a WONDERFUL thing for today! I have gotten so far off track with my schedule lately, that everything is just out of order.

Today is a busy one anyhow. I had one kid with a doctor's appointment this morning. Oralee has been complaining of a sore throat all weekend and today, I took her in to see the doctor to rule out strep, which the quick strep test has done, so she is back at school now. We will have to wait and see what the cultured sample turns up, but for now, we're calling it a virus.

Later today, Koren and Jeriah both have eye appointments with the pediatric opthamologist. Their appointments are an hour apart. And yes, those are back-to-back appointments. Across town. Just like Oralee's appointment this morning was. Which means that we will get done just in time to get the other kids from school.

Then tonight, I have a Pampered Chef party to go to. It's being held by Hubby's cousin. I don't really need anything but I'll go along anyhow. I like the food. Free food is even better! Meanwhile, Hubby and his friend will hang out at his mom's house, watching the kids and playing a new video game that is in beta testing right now. Yes, my Hubby is a beta tester. I'm so proud.

So, my hope is that between the boys' eye appointment this afternoon and the time that we leave for the other side of town to go to Hubby's mom's house and for me to go to the Pampered Chef party, I will be able to accomplish SOMETHING semi-domestic around here.

My goal:
  • Clean up the dining room to presentable form.
  • Clean the kitchen. All dishes washed/dried/put away. Counters and stove top all cleared. Trash out.
  • Living room picked up. All toys put away. All miscellaneous items that end up in here replaced to their proper homes.
  • Den area picked up. All trash taken out of this room, the toys put away, the baby stuff put away, the floor picked up, the desk and table surfaces cleared off.
  • Laundry. Two loads. A girl can dream right?
That's my goal for today. This evening after the party, I also hope to put the finishing touches on Jeriah's Family Literacy Portfolio. I NEED to find my camera though so that I can upload all the pictures and have those to go along with the book. Okay, so I don't HAVE to have the pictures, but I really enjoy having them in there as well. It was due, oh, on Friday, I believe. My bad. I will strive to get it done by this Friday.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Baby Days

Our youngest is four years old. We are done with the baby stage in our house. Yet, if you had come to our home this past week, you would never have known the difference! Between the stroller on the front porch, the highchair in the dining room, the playpen in the den area, the diaper bag by the front door, the baby clothes neatly folded on the couch, and of course, the baby on my lap, it would appear as though we were right back in the midst of it! This past week we actually have been.

Hubby has a co-worker who has a son that visits three days each "weekend", which really amounts to Sunday-Tuesday and then Friday-Sunday later that week. Then one week off from the baby. It's kind of a confusing schedule but anyhow, that's not the important part. On the Sundays that the baby goes home, I babysit him in the morning while his dad works. So every other weekend, I watch him and take him to church with me and we have a blast.

The baby's mother decided at the beginning of April to move out of state at the last minute. She gave up her apartment and moved across the country, leaving the baby with his father. The interesting part though, is that the dad works double shifts on a lot of the days that he normally doesn't have the baby and the schedule had already been made for him to work.

So, he ran into a bit of dilemma this past week. He has a paper route from 2a-4a then works 8a-2p, has a short break and then goes back to work and works 5p-9p. Rinse and repeat the next day. Fine and dandy. Unless you also have a little one to take care of.

So, Babycakes ended up spending much of this past week with us. He was with us Wednesday morning then went home with his Dad. Dad dropped him off on Wednesday night and he was with us until Dad's break time on Thursday, then back to us and stayed the night Thursday night. Then went back to Dad on Friday after Dad got off work and then came back to us Friday night. And then he was with us from Friday evening until just now, on Sunday afternoon.

We have been in full-on baby mode this past week. And I'm exhausted! It is such a shock to my system to suddenly be on baby duty again. Now don't get me wrong, I LOVED having him but it was a big change to wake up in the middle of the night, change diapers again, watch to make sure that things don't go into the baby's mouth, tiny bites of food, wracking my brain trying to remember which foods are not be given before which age. No honey before 1 or is it 2? And what about citrus? It was quite the adventure.

I was very happy to have the baby around. He's such a joy and he really likes being here. Another co-worker of Hubby and Babycakes' Dad commented the other day that Babycakes doesn't like women (it's odd but it is true - he prefers guys WAY more than women) and then another coworker said that Babycakes doesn't really like anyone at their work, then stopped herself and said, "Well, other than his dad, of course. And her," at which point, she motioned to me.

It was one of those moments that really hit me. She was right. Babycakes HAD taken a liking to me. And I AM a woman. He even had started to prefer me over my husband (who he used to prefer, even though I was the one taking care of him). I had finally come into my own where Babycakes was concerned. And that was awesome to realize.

But the baby is gone now. He won't be back til Tuesday. So the baby toys will actually all be put back into their baskets on the shelf, the highchair will go back to the corner of the dining room instead of  pulled up to the table full-time, the stroller will go back to the garage, the playpen will be broken down and the diaper bag is not even here right now, and I have the computer on my lap, instead of a baby. My house will get cleaned in a way that I wasn't able to accomplish with a baby that ended up being VERY attached to me. And I will sleep the WHOLE way through the night. And on Tuesday, we begin again. I don't quite recall. Is it possible to stockpile sleep and energy? No? Darn. Well, I am still going to nap this afternoon and enjoy it. And I am going to sleep through the night and I will most definitely enjoy it.


As I had mentioned before, the kids have developed some new quality friendships with some kids. Part of this came with the change in Scouts and part of it came with a change in my own relationships.

You see, Jeriah's first non-family semi-regular babysitter is a woman whom I have known for 22 years now, maybe longer? Bree is my friend that I mentioned here. She has two children, T and S. T is 8 and S is 6. T and Koren get along extremely well and so do Oralee and S.

Bree's great grandmother and my grandmother were best friends back in the day. I grew up calling her great grandmother, Grandma Thelma. And she grew up calling my grandmother, Mrs. K. My grandmother was introduced to her great grandmother as "Mrs. K" and Thelma was introduced as, well, Thelma.

Every single morning, my grandmother would call Thelma and they would talk to each other, then three days a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), my grandma would go over to Thelma's house (she lived two doors down in the townhouse community where they lived most of my life) and together, they would drive to the senior center for lunch. It was so cute and I have such fond memories of it, that go back as far as I can recall. On breaks from school, I'd go along with them and spend the morning helping the seniors take their plates to their seats, going up and picking out prizes for them from the prize table during Friday Bingo and would just overall, do whatever I could to help out. I would eat lunch with them too. It was like having a whole community of grandparents while I was growing up. Trust me, if I even thought about doing something wrong, any one of those grandmothers wouldn't hesitate to stop me, scold me, or even give me a quick swat to get my attention. Love those ladies! I really do!

So anyhow, since Bree's great grandmother and my grandma were best friends, I spent plenty of time with both of them and since I claimed Thelma as another grandma, I also claimed her family as well, which if it were real, would make Bree something like a distant cousin of some sort. :) I think of her more like a sister and definitely as a best friend!

Bree and I actually share the same birthdate, year included! Kinda crazy, huh?

Bree and I only knew each other a little bit growing up, but we did know each other. Last year, we connected and really got to know each other and now, we talk on the phone at least 3 or 4 times a week and try to get together at least once (outside of Scouts) and we trade off kids and babysitting and all that.

So it is only natural that with our friendship, our children would also develop a friendship and I am grateful for it. You see, most of my years growing up, I was accustomed to being disciplined by whatever adult was closest to me. Family member, family friend, whoever. And I developed a major respect for my elders.

The friends that I am the closest to are the ones that are as quick to discipline my children as I am and they discipline in similar ways as well. They are the ones who have similar expectations of their kids and we feel totally comfortable in the role of being in charge of each other's children.

This is not true for most of the adults I know. I hesitate to discipline another child, even when they are in my home. Even if it is something as simple as telling them to stop something or redirecting them. I mean, I still do it, but I hesitate and am not totally comfortable with it.

So it has really helped all of us for the kids to be developing these new relationships and so wonderful for Bree and I to have developed our relationship as well. And who knows, sixty or seventy years from now, we might be the ones living two houses apart and going to the senior center for lunches together too. It's a neat thought.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Super busy-ness

I have come by the blog EVERY single day and even though I have often thought about whipping up a blog post, I just didn't. I journal off of the computer, although that is a different sort of thing than what I write about online. But regardless, I love blogging and I miss doing it regularly

I had mentioned that Jeriah had some changes happen at school, so I am going to share about that and then move on to another (semi-)related topic and that is some of the things that we are going through with Cephas. You will see in the end how the two tie (loosely) together.

So to start with, when Jeriah was 19 months old, he was evaluated by our school district's team of experts (a doctor, a speech/language pathologist, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, and a few other professionals) and they determined that he had PDD-NOS, Pervasive Developmental Delay, Not Otherwise Specified, which is on the Autism Spectrum. We began home-based schooling at that point in time, working with him on language development (he'd had words but "lost" them) and on gross and fine motor skills (He had just started walking the day before his evaluation with the team). We worked with his texture issues and his food intolerances/sensitivities. He had more specialist doctors than the other five of us in our family combined.

Last year (2010-2011 school year), he started school-based, well, schooling. He attended preschool five days a week for half days, then due to some issues, we ended up reducing it down to only 3 days a week. His development really progressed during this process. This year, (2011-2012 school year), he started a new school since we moved over the summer. He has been attending half-days of school, five days a week.
Then in February, we met with his "team" for his MDT meeting. They were talking about the progress he has made this year, which has been incredible. They were setting up his evaluations to see if he still qualified for Special Education and to set up all of the information that they needed for his IEP meeting, which was to happen at the end of the month.

The last day of February, we had a "home visit" with his classroom teacher. I say "home visit" because the visit actually took place at school, instead of at our home (the way that it is generally done), because his teacher is pregnant and has severe allergies and dogs are one of them. We have three dogs. However, Miss C is not able to take her allergy medicine during pregnancy so therefore, home visit at school.
Jeriah, BC (a little guy I take care of here and there) and I met with Miss C for the visit and she told me that Jeriah's testing had come back and that she thought he would probably be dismissed from the Special Education program. Also, we had discussed our options for him for next school year. You see, where we live, the school district has changed the guidelines for Kindergarten. Ever since I was a child, the cut-off date for Kindergarten admission was "5 years by October 15th of the current school year" so a child could enter Kindergarten at age 4, provided that they would turn 5 by October 15th.

Oralee is in Kindergarten right now. Before they had changed the guidelines, we had figured that Jeriah would be just one grade behind her all through school. Then they changed up the guideline and so we had planned on there being a year between the two of them in school. Jeriah was going to attend the preschool program for one more year.

Then, we met for his IEP. And he was released from the program. His IQ testing had all come back at average or above average for his age. His verbal skills are great, his Kindergarten curriculum skills are great (in fact, he's at grade level right now for Kindergarten academics for where Kindergarten is RIGHT NOW in the school year) but he still has his "Jeriah Quirks" as his teacher calls them. They are little things that he does that is just a little bit "off". Mostly, they are social things. He scripts, for one thing. Some of what he says makes sense and is said in context, but the manner in which he says it is scripted. For instance, he will "test" someone else's knowledge (repetitively - which in itself is a quirk) and when they give him a correct answer, he will say "You have the right answer!" Not a big deal, right? The inflection and intonation of his sentence is the exact same every time.

Earlier this year, when Jeriah's first semi-regular non-family babysitter was watching him, she was telling me of an interaction that Jeriah had with her husband. At the end of the conversation, she told me, "Jeriah told B that he correct," and without even thinking about it, I said, "You have the right answer!" with Jeriah's practiced intonation and inflection. She stopped and said, "Oh my gosh! That's exactly what he said! And EXACTLY how he said it! How did you know that?" It's just Jeriah. Anyone who has spent time with him knows some of his scripting.

If you think about the old Taco Bell commercials and the little chihuahua who would say, "Yo quiero Taco Bell" we all can repeat it. Now, imagine if EVERY single time you went to Taco Bell (and let's say you eat there for lunch two or three times a week), you walk in and say, "Yo quiero Taco Bell" in the same tone and with the same inflection as the chihuahua. That would be very much like Jeriah. Correct timing for a phrase but always the same exact phrase, said the same exact way. And that is scripting. Which, as I said, is just ONE of Jeriah's "quirks".

So anyhow, he was released from Special Education and is now attending the same preschool class as before, just sans IEP. He is now one of the "peer models" instead of the one needing the peer model. He still has his social issues (won't generally initiate contact with another child, prefers to parallel play with other children, has developing problem-solving skills when it comes to disagreements with others, and a few other things) but his academic skills are out of this world!

In fact, at the beginning of the year, Miss C made up these little progress books in which she would "test" each student throughout the year and record their progress. It had numbers listed 1-10, kept track of how far a child could rote count, how far they could count with one-to-one correspondence, which letters of the alphabet they knew (lowercase and uppercase), which shapes and colors they knew. Well, Jeriah knew all of his numbers 1-10 (and actually could recognize numbers up to 100), could rote count and could count with one-to-one correspondence to 16 on both (he missed 17 both times and she had to stop him, although he wanted to keep going), knew most of the letters (uppercase and lowercase both!) except for five of them I think, and knew all of the colors and shapes Miss C tested him on.

So, the second time we met, she skipped the numbers portion (although we played Chutes and Ladders and he had a great chance of showing off his number recognition skills), and she had tested him on letter sounds (because he had mastered the "missing" letters shortly after his previous testing) and had tested him on other shapes than the typical preschool level shapes. Things like oval, crescent, hexagon, pentagon, octagon and rhombus (to name a few). By the third meeting, the "testing progress" book was a moot point. Other than his cutting skills, which I am honestly just fine that he doesn't have great scissor skills. :) Personal preference.

So, now we are in the unique place where we can have him attend preschool one more year, as would follow guidelines. Or we can have him tested to enter kindergarten a year early. He would have been one of the youngest with the old guideline, he will be one of the oldest following the new guideline.
We reserved his place in preschool for next year and are setting up a time for him to be tested into Kindergarten for next year. We have the option of not placing him in Kindergarten even if he tests into it.
You know how parenting is an absolute trial and error experience and you generally learn things from one kid to the next? Well, Jeriah is our fourth and last. And I'm STILL learning. Some of what I am learning is all new to me because of his PDD-NOS.

Since he no longer qualifies for Special Education services and coordination, we will be starting to see a behavioral psychologist at a group that specializes in ASD. We found this group because of Cephas and some of the issues we have been having with him.

I have honestly debated on whether or not to share about this but have decided to go ahead and share. You see, Cephas has some issues with staying on task at school, following directions, things all the way up to outright defiance. There are times when I will tell him to stop doing something and he will continue to do it and then proceed to tell me why he is continuing to do it. And while I appreciate his independent thinking, sometimes it is more important to just be able to obey a simple directive immediately. And if it were once in awhile, it wouldn't be such an issue, but it isn't. It is a several-times-a-day kind of thing.

So we went to see someone in this office and while we were there, Cephas DID a few of the things/behaviors/attitudes that we were there to discuss. Now, I know it may sound bad but I was secretly quite relieved that he did that. Just because it gave some of my concerns about him more validity, if that makes sense. I think we may end up looking at an Aspberger's diagnosis down the line. I can't say for sure though, which is part of the reason that we are there. To see if there is something that we can do to help him, or at the very least come up with strategies to help him be successful.

So, there you have it. Jeriah's exciting school thing and Cephas's behavior thing. Slowly but surely, I am going to get caught up!