Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hospital Day

Greetings from the hospital. I'm here today with Bubbles, who is undergoing a huge battery of endocrinology tests. For the first 6 1/2 years of her life, she was neglected, horribly malnourished, and had no medical care. When she was in foster care, she filled out and gained health. But it wasn't until she was in the security of our home and family--which she knew would be forever--that her body was able to respond. Over the last 20 months, she has more than made up for lost time.

People, she has grown 8 inches and gained 29 pounds in 20 months. She came to me in a little girls' size 6 clothes. Now she's in a size 10 pants and 12 shirts. She has grown in other ways, too--ways that she shouldn't be growing at age 9.

Our pediatrician referred her to to an endocrinologist back in October, and we had our first appointment then. Bubbles had a bone age test done, and it revealed that sure enough, he body thinks it is in puberty. 9 isn't abnormally young for the onset of puberty. The big concern is the speed at which it has happened. The endocrinologist said in October that Bubbles has done 3 years' worth of maturing in 6 months. She's on track to reach the peak of puberty by the end of this year. Then, she will only grow for another couple of years at the most. If she continues at her current rate, she'll top off at about 4'11" and will be physically mature by age 12. Definitely not ideal!

So today, we're at the hospital. She started out her morning getting an IV and having a whole bunch of blood drawn. They'll be running every test under the sun. Next, she got flooded with puberty hormones. She'll have blood draws over the next 4 hours to monitor how her brain handles those hormones. It will show us how progressed her puberty is. She's also going to have an MRI of her brain at some point...not sure yet if that is today or not.

Once the doctor gets the results, we'll discuss what to do next. At the very least, Bubbles we need monthly hormone injections to slow down the progression of puberty. She needs more time to be a little girl, more time for her body to grow.

I am very thankful for a wonderful hospital, patient, compassionate nurses, and good medical insurance. And I'm so glad we finally are getting these tests done!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Worthy Investment

We can't afford private school for our kids. It is just so expensive nowadays! But this year, Matt felt very strongly that Snapper needed to begin middle school in a private school. I deferred to him, because it isn't very often that he feels so strongly about something. We took the plunge and enrolled her in a Christian college prep school. Every month when I write out that tuition check, my stomach rolls over because DANG...it's expensive! I try not to think of all the other ways I could be using that money.

And then there are days when this incredible school blows my socks off with something amazing, and I don't mind the cost anymore. IT IS WORTH IT!

This morning I met with the guidance counselor, and Snapper's History and Math teachers. Even though Snapper is in a rigorous program (college prep honors classes), it isn't enough. She is bored senseless in her math class, and has stopped caring about the homework. She does the homework. I check it every single afternoon. She does it, and does it well. But there is a convergence of three problems, here. 1. Snapper could ace every quiz and test without ever once looking at the homework. 2. She does not see how the homework benefits her, and therefore places low importance on turning it in. 3. She has ADHD, and struggles greatly with short-term memory and organization. That convergence has resulted in less than half of her math homework getting turned in for her math class this quarter. While she has a test and quiz average of 98 (it just went up again yesterday), her grade in the class is currently 86. Because homework matters.

The math teacher and I have taken steps to put an accountability and organization system into place for Snapper, and it is really helping. I also gave Snapper permission to not see the point of the homework. But I also emphasized that in this case, the development of her character is far more important than the math. Whether she sees the point or not, she still has to complete and turn in all her homework. The homework is now an exercise of character development. She understood that, latched onto that idea, and has adjusted her attitude accordingly.

Now the school steps in and makes changes to meet Snapper's needs, so that she no longer sees the homework as irrelevant. I am uber-impressed with the team I met with today. Those two teachers--Snapper's favorites--adore her. They genuinely care for her and want the best for her. They recognize Snapper's amazing potential, and are willing to do whatever is necessary to maximize her potential. Mrs. S, the Math teacher, is modifying Snapper's homework. She'll only have to do 1/3 of the daily homework assignment, just to show that she understands the concepts. The rest of her homework will be challenge activities that Mrs. S will prepare for her each day. The challenges delve deeper into the material, and will help develop Snapper's critical thinking skills. When the class does drill and practice to work on new concepts, Mrs. S will have other things for Snapper to work on. Mr. G, the History teacher, also wants to stretch and challenge Snapper. He is going to start having her do additional research during class. While the class works on assignments, he's going to have Snapper get on the computer and find additional information about the key figures, events, and concepts they are studying in class. He will have her share this information with the class. Because she is so inquisitive, she's going to eat it up! If Snapper thrives with the extra stimulation, her other teachers will institute similar interventions for her. The guidance counselor is going to meet with her as well, to do some coaching. She's going to help Snapper understand how her work ethic and good grades now are setting her up for the future. She's going to help Snapper research some different career possibilities, to give Snapper goals. She's also going to give Snapper some say in the interventions she's receiving. She wants Snapper on board with everything, and wants to give her ownership in her own education.

I LOVE THIS PLAN! I love the teachers. I love the school. I love how much they care for this little girl. Yes, worth every penny.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I Survived

It is Thursday, which means I survived Wednesday. God's grace and God's strength...not my own.

The big shot in the arm yesterday was Pepper's 504 Plan meeting at school. We are incredibly blessed to have our kids in a wonderful public school. We moved into this neighborhood 3 years ago, specifically for the school. We were right in that decision, for sure! Pepper's teacher and I were able to tell the district nurse and our school's ESE coordinator all about the things Pepper struggles with as a result of Inattention Type ADHD. We discussed his strengths as well. He is gifted, and highly intelligent. The ADHD dramatically impacts his learning and achievement. The nurse and ESE coordinator worked with Pepper's teacher and me to develop an accommodation plan for Pepper that will maximize his potential and give him the supports he needs to succeed. Probably the biggest, most important one of all is that Pepper will receive accommodations during Benchmark and annual standardized testing. He gets to take the test in a separate room, free from peer distraction. He has the option of taking the test on computer or paper. He also will not have time limits during the testing. This is HUGE! Another wonderful couple of accommodations for Pepper are 1) He has the freedom to eats snacks during the day, as needed, and 2) He is to be allowed the freedom to move around. If he needs to squat on his desk chair to work, or sit on the floor with a clipboard, he can. I am so thankful!

After the meeting was done, I came home and had a conversation with my hubby. I was feeling very pressured to get all of Bubbles' schoolwork finished with her yesterday. We're trying to be completely done with school for the year by the time the baby arrives. Matt looked at my to-do list and quickly crossed off yesterday's math lesson, Bible lesson, and writing assignment. Then he circled NAP on my list and made it the #1 priority. He was working from home yesterday, and took charge of keeping Bubbles occupied so I could sleep. He didn't do any school with her because he had his own work things to attend to, but he did set her up on math games on the computer. She played quietly and I got 90 minutes of rest. I tried to sleep, but Baby Sweetie was too active. Every time I would doze off, Baby would start kicking. Even though I didn't sleep, the rest was very helpful and I felt better when I got up.

Somehow I managed to get through the day. I talked to Pepper's teacher and requested an extra day to turn in his homework. She gladly granted that, which took off some more pressure.

We had a line of severe weather move through last night. Five years ago when I was the commander of our Awana when we lived in Arkansas, we had a tornado warning. We moved the kids into the downstairs hallways of the church while the tornado went by, less than a mile away. It was a terrifying experience then, and I figured it would be a once-in-a-lifetime event. I was wrong. Last night we were in the church in the middle of Awana, and we got a tornado warning. I could tell by looking at my radar that the rotating part of the storm was about 4 or 5 miles away. Still, we moved the kids into the sanctuary and rode it out. The gust of wind that first hit the building was a monster! I don't know if a tornado actually touched down last night, but it was still unnerving. Not a fan of tornadoes. Poor Snapper was a blubbering, snotting, sobbing mess. She hates storms because of all the storms we went through in Arkansas.

Today is running more smoothly. Bubbles is much more cooperative today. A friend from church has offered to homeschool Bubbles for me one day per week to help lighten my load. I will be taking advantage of that, for both Bubbles and me! It will be great for us both. Matt and Piper have a performance of their play tonight, so I'm on my own with the rest of the kids. We'll be finishing up Valentines, having pizza for dinner, and early bedtime for everyone.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Perspective Check

It's Wednesday morning, and my spirits match the sky outside: gray, heavy, and ominous. I went to bed at 9:00 last night because I didn't feel well. My hubby didn't realize I had really gone to sleep for the night, and he woke me up when he came to bed at 10:30. He wanted to chat. By the time I was awake enough to inform him that I had already gone to bed for the night, I was too awake to go back to sleep. And the restless leg syndrome kicked in. Peeps, I am thoroughly and completely convinced that restless leg syndrome will be a special punishment in hell reserved for the baddest of the bad!!! All I wanted to do last night was just go to sleep already, but alas, my legs felt that 1:00 in the morning was an appropriate time to dub step independently in the bed. The result of this lovely turn of events: I got a whopping 3 hours of sleep last night. I woke up--or rather sleepwalked out of my room--at 6:45 this morning, ready to say "screw this day and goodnight." Instead, I made lunches, took Snapper to school, and am sitting here writing and trying to stay awake until Pepper's 504 Plan meeting at school in 40 minutes. Bubbles is anything but bubbly this morning. She has decided that she hates being homeschooled and is trying desperately--with every ounce of stubborn bad attitude she can muster--to convince me that I should put her back in public school tomorrow. This will not happen, of course. But until she figures out that I mean what I say, I'm stuck dealing with a crankpot of a 3rd grader who thinks the 6 times tables are irrelevant to everyday life, and should not concern her. The rest of the day is jam-packed, as Wednesdays always are. I will not have a moment of rest until I crumple into my bed at 10:30 tonight. Little Sweetie Baby thinks she's a roly poly bug. She tumbled and rolls constantly, which makes me sick. I'm constantly nauseous. My legs are in a continual state of "twitch just slightly and I'll cramp on you." And my pelvic bones hurt a lot. This is not a great-looking day, y'all. I posted on Facebook asking for my friends to pray for me because I really need prayers. One sweet friend encouraged me to do what I do best: look for golden nuggets of blessing in my day. She's right. I need to do that. So here I go.

  1. Fresh blueberries in my vanilla yogurt for breakfast this morning
  2. Dr. Pepper in the fridge for an afternoon pick-me-up
  3. That this 504 meeting for Pepper was requested and scheduled and will be fulfilled in a mere two weeks...a miracle, as these things typically take a few months to get rolling!
  4. A wonderfully supportive husband who will do math with my reluctant homeschooler for me
  5. Comfortable maternity clothes that are also cute
  6. A healthy baby who is growing exactly as she should, despite a malformed umbilical cord
  7. My kids excited to memorize God's Word
  8. Flip flop weather outside today!
  9. The pair of cardinals who have decided to nest in the cedar tree in my backyard! I love their songs.
  10. My big comfy chair in the living room. I luff my chair. 
There, Lannece! Ten golden nuggets in a dreary, gray day. I'm still sleepy and sick and my legs still hurt. But my chin is a little higher today. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

So Not Ready for This!

This morning I drove Snapper to school. She's in middle school now, and she has to be to school no later than 7:30. We have her at a private college prep school now because she is so incredibly bright. She needs the academic challenge to thrive. And boy, is she thriving!

We've come such a long way from our days of 1st grade homeschool nightmare. Anyway, as we were driving, we passed another family from her school. Their son, who is also in 6th grade, saw us out his window and erupted into the hugest smile. Then he got embarrassed and ducked down out of sight. I looked over at Snapper, and she was grinning too, but was also beet red. There were sparks flying.

I said to her, "Hey! What was all that about?"
She looked at me and grinned again, a huge grin. "Well Mom, there's no denying that Ethan is really cute. He thinks I'm cute, too."


That's the sound of my heart dropping down into my feet. My baby girl likes a boy, and that boy likes my baby girl. 

"But don't worry, Mom. Ethan isn't the wrong kind of guy. He treats me so well! He carries my backpack for me, he holds the door open, and during 4th and 7th period, he'll even come over and push in my chair."


That's the sound of the breath leaving my body. A boy is treating my baby girl like a lady.

"And Mom, you really don't need to worry. Ethan likes me, but he isn't allowed to have a girlfriend until his parents think he's ready, which definitely won't be before he's 16 or 17 at least. So we have to wait at least four more years before we can do anything more than like each other and be friends."


That's the sound of me falling over onto the floor in a dead faint. 

Not really. Actually, I took it all in stride. I knew this day would come. I'm glad she has the good sense to like a boy who is a true gentleman, and whose parents are taking a wise, active role in his relationships with girls. I know Ethan and his parents outside of school, and they are exactly the kind of family I will {someday} want my girl getting connected with. She has actually displayed really great taste in her choice of boy, and that encourages me. When I was her age, only one thing mattered to me: IS HE CUTE? It so happens that Ethan is adorable. He is tall and slender, has curly, light brown hair, and big blue eyes. He has big teeth and adorable freckles. And when he smiles, it is like someone has turned on a light inside him. He's precious. Yes, Snapper has great taste. I imagine this crush will be a passing phase, like most middle school crushes.

But still...

How did she get so old?

It makes me even more glad that I'm having a baby girl. I get to start all over an enjoy childhood again from the very beginning. Ah yes, I am very glad.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Ready for April

I'll start by saying I'm not complaining here. I'm just stating the facts, because this is life right now and I don't have a pretentious bone in my body. This blog is a pretty accurate representation of the real me. What you see is what you get.

  • From what I can tell, the "golden days" of pregnancy are over. I think the morning sickness--or round the clock sickness for me--has returned. I feel awful all the time, and for no apparent reason. And oh man...my gag reflex is so sensitive right now!
  • It is much more difficult and painful to throw up at 30 weeks pregnant than it is a 18 weeks pregnant.
  • Depends, anyone? Goodbye, normal bladder function.
  • The fatigue is unbelievable. It doesn't matter that I slept for 11 hours last night. It's 9:30 in the morning and I'm contemplating going back to bed.
  • What I wouldn't give for a single night of uninterrupted sleep!
  • Sunny's ODD behaviors are extra exhausting. She's just such a tough kiddo to parent. I pray fervently for her healing, and that God will use her great strength and survivor's spirit for good.
  • My home schooled child is tired of being home schooled. She wants to go back to public school, and she balks and drags her feet on everything we do, except for her new remedial reading program and History. She loves those two. 
  • Matt's show is this week and next week. It means that between final rehearsals and performances, he will only be home three of the next 14 nights. 
  • I foresee a lot of frozen pizza in our near future, because I can't handle food smells with the return of the morning sickness.
  • I love that Matt is getting to do this show! I don't begrudge the evenings out in the least. It has been the best, most therapeutic thing in the world for him, and he's a shining star on the stage. I can't wait to go see the show next week!
  • Before the kids leave for school in the morning, they must clean up their messes around the house. They do not like to do this, and are often lazy about it. Normally I will just pick up the stuff and throw it on their beds if they don't get it done before they leave. Not anymore! As of this morning, anything left out is going in the trash or to charity. They didn't believe me this morning, but they will when they come home from school. 
  • My toes are swollen and my belly hurts and I'm hungry but I can't eat or I get bad acid reflux. 
  • I need to go finish my baby registry but I'm totally unmotivated. The thought of driving 25 minutes and walking around the store and making decisions just plain old wears me out. 
  • I'm super excited about my baby shower, happening on March 8th. It's for all my church friends. I'm hoping there will be one other shower for my other friends, not because I want the stuff but because it is just so special to have my precious friends all in the same place, and celebrating the coming of a very special little person.
  • That little person moves constantly. I wonder if all her activity is contributing to my fatigue.
  • This morning I am praying for the strength to make it through today. 
Things I must accomplish today:
  • Math, reading, and grammar with Bubbles (history and writing can bump to tomorrow)
  • Follow up with the child psychiatrist for Sunny (still waiting on a call back from the scheduling lady)
  • Follow up with the endocrinologist for Bubbles (waiting for insurance approval on a very important, time-sensitive battery of tests)
  • Follow up with the neurologist for Pepper (to reschedule the appointment I made in October that they called me to cancel and reschedule)
  • Do Matt's and my laundry. I'm out of undies. Depends, anyone? Remember?
  • Sleep. Must have sleep. 
  • Prepare myself mentally and spiritually to deal with Sunny's behaviors this week without Matt.
  • If it didn't give me heartburn, I'd add "eat chocolate" to this list.
I'm ready for it to be April. I know having a new baby will add a whole different set of responsibilities to my life. But at least the physical struggles will go away, and I'll be able to put the baby down in her bed when I need to. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

How We Do Laundry

I have five kids. That means I do laundry for five kids. Pretty soon I'll be doing laundry for six kids. Yikes! That's a lot of laundry. It would be very easy for the laundry to control our home, and there are times when it does. For the most part, though, I am in control of the laundry, and here's how we do it.

Every child has his/her own laundry basket. It lives in the child's bedroom. They are much better at putting their laundry on the floor than they are at putting it in the baskets. I do not understand this. On laundry day, if there is laundry all over the bedrooms, I require the kids to sort it into their own baskets. They bring their baskets to the laundry room.

I wash all the kid clothes, sheets, and towels on Saturday morning, first thing. I do Matt's and my laundry on Monday mornings. I also wash karate uniforms on Mondays.

I can usually fit two kids' laundry into one load. I wash Snapper and Piper's clothes together because they share a room. I wash Sunny and Bubbles' clothes together because they share a room. Pepper's load is usually almost a full load on its own because his clothes are bulkier. I do two loads of towels each week and two loads of sheets every other week.

I make my own laundry soap. It's a simple recipe that I got from my mother-in-law. It works really well, but I don't love how it smells. That is easy to remedy! I love the scent of Arm&H@mmer's Fresh Burst liquid laundry soap. I have a huge jug of it, and I put in two cups with the laundry soap I make so I can still enjoy that smell. I used to separate my laundry into different loads based on color, but I no longer have time or energy for that. I wash new things in a cold vinegar wash to set the colors. From there on out, everything gets washed together. Except for the karate uniforms, which get their own bleach load.

When each load comes out, I call the owners of the load to come help me. I sort the load into two baskets, one for each child. Snapper and Bubbles take their own laundry from there. They follow the same process that I follow for Pepper, Piper, and Sunny's laundry. I fold it, match it into outfits, and bag it in gallon ziploc bags. This gives me ultimate control over the outfits. I can make sure things coordinate and are weather appropriate. Then the littles come and put their bags away in their drawers. They can choose whichever bag they want on any day.

My kids do the folding and putting away of towels and sheets. I have taught them exactly how I want it done, and if they get lazy about it, I make them do it over. They usually do a great job.

So that's laundry at our house. I hope my process gives you some ideas. It works great for us!