Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Updates, Spring 2018

Wow. I haven't posted anything since New Year's Day. Life is moving on at a crazy pace and blog has not been high on the priority list. I guess the best thing to do while I have a few minutes is give an update on each kid.

Snapper is nearing the end of her sophomore year. Life is moving along pretty smoothly for her right now. She has done a lot of travel and competition with her jazz and chamber choirs for school, and has earned top honors. She got to sing in Washington's All-State choir, the only kid from our whole school district who made it this year! She had the guts to audition for a solo at All-State and she got one! She earned the outstanding female vocalist award at a big jazz festival in Seattle, and a Superior at the Solo and Ensemble Fest. She landed a main role in her school's spring musical, which opens next week! Snapper has the most wonderful group of friends ever and she spends as much time with them as possible. She'll be participating in a special program starting this fall that will give her high school and college credit for her classes the next two years! She's looking forward to going on a missions trip with her youth group this summer.

Bubbles is finishing up 7th grade. She has had an incredible school year. We live in a wonderful school district, and with the amazing support she has received, she was able to transition out of resource math into regular 7th grade math, and she has a solid B in the class! I got notification last week from her resource English teacher that she's almost ready to move out of resource English, too! This girl has overcome so much over the last *almost* six years that she has been ours. She hasn't gotten to do any sports this year due to tendinitis in her knees, but she has kept a good attitude. She made some really poor choices earlier in the year and had to live with some tough consequences. But rather than denying or blaming others as she has always done, she owned her mistakes and humbly received the consequences. As we worked through the tangled aftermath of her choices, she understood for the first time how much we love her and have her back. She understood that not even big mistakes will stop us from loving her. She made the conscious decision to let go of the last threads of her past and to trust us completely. This decision has transformed everything about her life. All of a sudden, my relationship with Bubbles is going deep. No more secrets. No more hiding things. No more trying to navigate life on her own. The results are breathtaking! We stay up late at night talking. We laugh together. She has purposed to be completely truthful. And she's noticing how much better she feels! She is overflowing with laughter and fun. She's following house rules and managing her responsibilities without complaint. She's getting along with all her siblings. Look at this picture of her and see the pure joy! Matt and I are so proud of her, and so glad that the last several (hard) years are behind us. When I look at who this precious girl is today, all the struggle has been worth it!

After an incredibly difficult 5th grade year, in which Bubbles completely failed, I wasn't super optimistic about Piper's chances at success in school. We changed schools and the very wise principal put her in a 5th/6th combo class this year. Her gentle, patient, nurturing teacher has given Piper a fresh start and new confidence. Despite receiving a Fetal Alcohol Syndrome diagnosis last fall, Piper has made huge progress! Despite falling flat on her face academically, she has made up all the lost ground and is on or above grade level in all her 6th grade work! She has blossomed socially and has three wonderful friends at school. She's happy and content at school, and confident for the first time ever. She has horrible stage fright, but she has determined to overcome it. She signed up to be in choir when she starts jr. high this fall. Piper has had a tough year physically. Her foot started hurting in September. After several months of physical therapy with only a little bit of progress, her therapist sent her to Shriner's Children's Hospital to see a specialist. We were shocked and saddened to learn that due to malnutrition in her early years and prenatal drug and alcohol exposure, Piper's legs had started to warp as she grew. Two weeks ago she had surgery to correct the growth direction of her legs. She's getting around better now, but it has been a tough road for her. We're hoping that the next few years will bring the same emotional turnaround for Piper that has just happened for Bubbles. So much potential in this sweet girl.

This guy is the most complex child! He's 11, but because he's on the autism spectrum, he struggles quite a bit socially. He behaves more like a 9-year-old. Academically, he's a genius. A legitimate genius, according to his neuropsychologist, not according to me. We're wrapping up his second year of homeschooling, and when I'm ever asked to list his grade level, I just put a laughing emoji. He completed Algebra 1 with a 100% on the final exam. In the month of March, he read 6,500 pages. He wrote a 5-page research paper on his own. He's a gifted artist, too. Pepper has had his own share of health issues this year. He has started to really grow, and the growth threw off the balance of his epilepsy medication. He had several seizures last month. This is tough on him because whenever his "days seizure free" counter resets, he has to go back to being constantly supervised until he has gone a month without a seizure. He maintains a good attitude though, and has learned how to monitor himself and his seizures. Pepper is a sweet, caring brother and friend. I love this little enigma of a person!

Sweet Pea
Our baby just turned 4 years old. I can't wrap my head around this fact! She is the most vibrant, spicy, loving little girl. She's very naughty, but most of her naughtiness makes us laugh. Just today, she "wiped really really well" and attempted to flush a whole roll of toilet paper. She "planted" all my seeds for me. She tried to put away the new gallon of milk. She fed the cats...in their water bowl. With their water. She says the funniest things! She loves without reservation and shares generously. She loves people and remembers the names of everyone she meets. She loves to dance. Loves to draw and color and paint. Loves to ride her bike. Loves to play with our kitties. Loves to snuggle with Mommy and Daddy. Sweet Pea is such joy! Pure joy.

I'm not able to post a photo of Sunny. She has been gone from our home for 14 months now. Matt's sister and brother-in-law have completely taken over parenting her, and she has fully transitioned into their family. The only-child home has been exactly what Sunny needed. She has the full, undivided attention of two parents. She doesn't have to compete for anything. She can't get away with anything. There's no noise or chaos to throw her off. And she is thriving! She's getting great grades in school, is completely off of her behavior IEP, and had a successful season on a soccer team. We see her once or twice a month and she's always glad to see us. But she's happy, y'all. Happy and content. Not without issues, but a thousand times better than she was with us. There's still this part of me that's sad...I wish she could've been this successful in our home. But it seems that Sunny's time with us was part of her journey to the family she needed. For that I am so very thankful.

I should probably update on Matt and me, too, but I'm out of steam. More another time.

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