Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ben turns 8 and a Romantic Get a way!

 Ben turned 8 on Monday!  He was so excited as he received a drum set for his birthday.  He also started drum lessons with a college student this Tuesday.  We will just say I have never seen Ben sit so still and concentrate so hard as he did during his half hour lesson.  
 Traditional breakfast in bed!

 Jeremy and I had the greatest opportunity to go away- just the 2 of us this past weekend. We met up with our bestest friends, Carrie and Chris. We had a wonderful time. It was such a relaxing time.  Jeremy and I were able to reconnect and talk without being interrupted.  It was really a much needed time for us as a couple.  We are forever indebted to Mom-mom for moving in and taking over all of our duties at home so we could go away. She had awesome help in Lauren, Amanda and Pop-pop.  Mom-mom left our house extremely tired Sunday night.  We are hoping she forgets how tired she was by next year so we get to go again!
 Not totally planned, but the only weekend we could all go away just happened to be my birthday.  A delicious edible creation was delivered to our room. Thank you, Mom-mom!!!
We went to the romantic city of  Scranton, PA.  Nothing fancy.
Carrie and I hit the thrift stores and Kohls and the guys saw Iron Man.
Good food, lots of Ritas, card playing and just being together as a couple and friends.
 Carrie and I have been friends since college.  
We won't say how many years that has been.
I am so thankful for her friendship and treasure it.
We both got a basic pedicure, which led to many laughs.

I know some couples, who won't go away without children. That just doesn't make sense to me. God first, marriage second, children third. If my marriage tank is not full, then I can't give effectively to my children. My marriage needs to be nurtured. For us that means getting away and spending a day or two together without children. Getting away strengthens our marriage and I am so thankful that we have the family support to be able to do it.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Upheavel In the Village

We are huddled in the living room experiencing ultimate family bonding as the workmen tear up and install a new kitchen floor.  Not sure what I was thinking when I thought we could continue homeschooling and living life in one room ALL TOGETHER.  It is only 8:30 and one child has already been in tears and Leo has already torn up a math book.  I am thankful for a new kitchen floor but I am thinking we probably should have gone out for the day or at least declared it a watch as much tv as you want kinda day.  I may resort to that last option within the hour.

It looks like we get another week off from therapy as they are working to assign us new therapists, who will come to our home to work with Leo.  We are both still feeling good about this decision. I was surprised by how much positive feedback I received about  keeping Leo home.  Apparently, more people agree with this decision and have strong opinions about it but were hesitant to share not wanting to influence us.

Our new friends from New York are staying with us this week as their daughter has appointments at Shriner's all week culminating with surgery on Thursday.  They arrived last night and it was so good to see Alexsandra and her huge smile.  She is a sight as she has a cast on each of her legs and a cast on her right arm. She continues to smile.  I don't know if I would be smiling if I had even one cast.  Today she is getting all three casts off and her mom is looking forward to her being able to play in the tub tonight.  It will be her first bath since February as she has had casts on since then.  Alexsandra will experience 3 days of freedom from all casts but then on Thursday she is having hip surgery and will once again have her legs casted for a month.

Alexsandra's mom and I were talking last night about how resiliant medically fragile kids are.  She was relaying stories of children she has met at Shriner's who are in casts and braces and yet they still manage to get around and smile.  Kids adapt.  Kids realize there are more important things in life then the silly stuff we choose to worry about.  Kids, who have been through more medical stuff then anyone should ever have to go through, get life.  They know what is important.  They choose joy.  They choose not to let their physical limations get in the way. 

We have witnessed this first hand with Jonathan.  Jonathan, at this point in his life, does not realize he is "different" from other kids.  He doesn't know he should be slower because he only has one leg.  He doesn't use having one leg as an excuse not to do something.  He doesn't know better.  In some ways he has accepted the fact that he has one leg, he doesn't dwell on the missing leg, he adapts and lives life to the fullest. 

How often do I let problems get me down?  I focus on the problem.  I refuse to adapt.  I refuse to move on and I dwell on the problem.  I don't move on. The end result I miss out on joy. 

Today, I need to follow the example of Alexsandra and Jonathan and choose joy no  matter what problems rear their ugly head.  

Leo got a new set of wheels for his birthday!
 Cake by Amanda
 Ben agreed to a combined party with Leo once he realized he
would get presents early!  His birthday isn't till May 20th- smart boy.

Drums- what were we thinking?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Thoughts On the Village

This has been an emotionally draining week.  Big decisions needed to be made.  Decisions I didn't think would be so hard to make.  We went on Wednesday to visit the preschool recommended as Leo's next placement.  If we agreed, he would go there 4 days a week for 3 hours a day.  I will be totally honest and admit that this sounded delightful to me.  Three hours of time in which to home school the four other boys without interruption.  Jeremy and I both embarked on this visit with high hopes.

The preschool building itself was nice.  The staff was very friendly, helpful and accommodating.  They went out of their way to answer our questions and help us feel comfortable.  Leo enjoyed the classroom, playing with toys and even participating in circle time.

We left.  Both unsure what to do but feeling like maybe we should give it a try at least.  There was one thing that bothered both of us.  One thing that in the end we wouldn't be able to get over. The classroom consisted of ten children all of whom were special needs to varying degrees. So we left feeling torn, not sure what to do.
Here's the thing- I have known in my head that Leo is not your typical kid. I know he is developmentally really behind his peers. I think for the first time this week, my heart saw what my head has known. I saw the kids in the classroom Leo would be in. I am sure they are wonderful children, but they are special needs kids. They need to be there! My heart was crying out- saying your son is different. He doesn't belong here, but my head is slowly realizing that it may just be an appropriate placement.  

So my heart was torn- I was left wondering- Am I in denial about the level of my child's special needs? or was it my gut trying to tell me something
We actually thought we had made the decision to send him.  Thinking we would give it a try.  We even told some people we were sending him.  But peace did not follow.  Questions still remained.  Uneasiness ruled.  
So we talked some more.  Realizing that maybe just maybe Leo was not ready for that environment.  Maybe it wasn't the best place for him.  I realized sending Leo to the preschool would be all about me.  It would give me a break.  It would make my life easier.  But as the saying goes.  It isn't about me.  We really could not come up with any positives for Leo in going.  We both believed he would go further and faster if he stayed home and received  one on one therapy in our home.    Once we decided to keep him home. Peace followed.
This week we realized we have entered the great debate of special education and inclusion.  We are not going to debate that here as we realized it really is a personal decision.  For us, we are not ready to put Leo in a classroom of kids all with special needs.  He needs to be around typical children and mimic their behaviors.  He needs to see other children progressing and advancing.  And for the at least the next year, he needs to be home surrounded by his family, who loves him very much.
 Physical therapy with his brothers at the playground.
 Leo is quite popular when he has his ipad.
 I found Leo in the laundry room putting dirty clothes
in the washing machine.  So, I guess we will need
to add laundry to his list of chores.

Leo will receive therapy in our home.  He will
be visited by five different therapists each week. 
 Climbing through the tunnel to find Ben.