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Reflecting On New Year's Eve


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Saturday, December 31. 2011

It seems like only yesterday that I held my 4 month old daughter as we rang in the new year with my cousin N. S. was working that night as everyone wondered how things would work as we entered the new millennium. L seemed so small and it felt like we would have many years of ringing in the new year together. Time flies quickly. My little baby has grown up. In what feels like no time at all, she has become a young lady. She is venturing off on her first New Year's Eve of babysitting. I cannot believe it. As a tear slips slowly down my cheek, I am so proud of her. Whoever said that kids grow up in the blink of an eye was absolutely right. At times I long for the days of yesterday to hold them tight just one more time but it is so incredible to watch life unfold for them and to see them venture out into the world. I so look forward to seeing the great things God has in store for them and the path their lives will take.

The Magic Sweatshirt


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Monday, December 26. 2011

From a very special couple, our entire family received Roots Canada sweatshirts for Christmas. Today was mild enough that we were outdoors wearing them, putting together the rebounder that AJ got for Christmas and playing in the yard. Neighbors from up the street walked by and during our conversations our one neighbor commented that I looked great and she asked me if I had lost weight. I had not and very much need to so I am crediting my new sweatshirt with the compliments. It must be magic and when I put it on it melts away extra weight. I really liked my sweatshirt before her comment. Now I love my magic sweatshirt. I may just wear it everyday.

Merry Christmas


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Sunday, December 25. 2011

May your day be filled with peace, joy, love, hope, light and the anticipation of all that is to come. Wishing everyone the best.



This photo was taken Christmas Eve. Would you believe that poor A-girl started sobbing shortly after this photo was taken that she didn't want to be sick on Christmas (she hadn't felt well all day) and that she had a fever? She was determined to enjoy Christmas and she did until mid afternoon when she sobbed that her ear ached. We are so grateful we have access to medical services and found one open on Christmas day and that she was able to get antibiotics for a nasty ear infection (if that could have been overcome by shear will I am sure she would have).

A new journey


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Wednesday, December 21. 2011

My children have always done things in their own unique way. They defy the typical process and prefer to forge out on their own path. That is why when little struggles, or quirks appeared, we noticed, thought about them, followed up if necessary and often worked through things waiting to see what would come up next. This was especially true for learning. Since we home schooled, we could allow for differences (like learning to read while standing on your head on the couch, standing to print or deciding that math a grade level about where you were supposed to be was more interesting/appropriate for you). Small differences were able to be accommodated. Strategies were implemented without us always knowing why we were doing something, only knowing that it was successful.

AJ has held on to some things that were initially categorized as developmental. Letter and number reversals, mixing upper and lower case letters, trouble with sizing and spacing when writing have continued to make printing and writing hard for him and getting his great ideas down on paper is near impossible. Allow him to dictate to you and things change dramatically. He also has an amazing ability to hold math facts in his head but ask him to write down the problems on a sheet of paper and he will not end up with the correct answer and it will have taken him many times longer to arrive at that inaccurate number. He cannot line up his numbers, they are jumbled and lack any rows/columns. He would struggle, we would come up with strategies, he would move forward learning information as quickly as he could. He avoids writing things down at all costs. Typing is improving and he catches things in spell check. As his math gets more complex, he struggles more. Not with the concepts but with the ability to hold all the info in his head or find a way to keep the numbers lined up on the paper.

One day last week he was more tired than usual as he worked through his math lessons. He got a question wrong on test because he reversed his numbers (485 was 584). Then shortly after he received a 0 in a lesson on graphing. He was discouraged and frustrated. I was confused because I thought he understood. I looked at the test questions and they all had him starting at the origin and moving so many spaces left or right. I asked him what he thought we should review and what he thought was so tough about this assignment (it is important to keep in mind that he rarely gets anything wrong on these tests). He told me he didn't get it. He couldn't remember left from right. A-girl was nearby and piped up "Its easy. Hold your hands up and put your thumb out like this and your finger up. The one that looks like L is the one that is left!" That sent AJ deeper into his frustration and discouragement. He replied "Those both look the same to me!" That comment was like a slap in the face. Here is my almost 10 year old so frustrated that he doesn't know something he believes is so simple that even his little sister gets it. Again the questions were raised in my mind. Does he have difficulty learning in a typical manner? Are all of these little quirks rolling together and as the work gets harder are we seeing signs of a learning disability or are they nothing more than little quirks?

In talking with teachers and other people (some with children with dyslexia, some having it themselves) and reading on the internet, we are left with a lot more questions. It is becoming clearer that AJ is struggling in some areas of learning and excelling in others. We want to be able to give him the resources he needs to manage his learning related challenges and continue to enjoy learning and reach his potential. Trying to figure out the next step is a little mind boggling but talking to others who have been on this journey or are currently waiting for assessment for learning disabilities and listening to the stories (particularly those of adults who struggled in school and could directly relate to the areas of struggle AJ is experiencing) has given me much hope. He has coping strategies that I likely am not even aware of that have allowed him to achieve what he has to this point. He now needs tools to cope with his current challenges to alleviate his frustration and boost his self esteem. It will be a process that will take time. He and I talked about various ideas and suggestions to learn left/right and nothing seemed to be clicking. Since his name has an L in it, a teacher suggested writing his name in all upper case letters and then looking at the L, holding his hands up and seeing which one matched and knowing that was left. This seemed to make a lot of sense to AJ and it was like a light bulb went off in his head. He quickly looked down, picked up his right hand, rotated in til his palm was facing up and made an L with his two fingers. Grinning he announced "I get it! This is my left hand!" Clearly this strategy was not as simple to him so we will continue to work with it (palms down). He tends to be an auditory learner and picks things up quickly. AJ is an amazing kid and he has taught me a lot so far in our journey. I know I am about to embark on a new journey filled with lots of new knowledge and growth for me. Whether or not he ends up with a diagnosed learning disability or not, this journey will bring me to a better understanding of and appreciation for a very special little boy with a big desire to learn and an incredibly huge heart.

In a quiet moment


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Wednesday, December 21. 2011

Late tonight (or early this morning for those wanting to be more accurate), I was stealing a few moments of quiet, soaking in the peacefulness of a sleeping household and a decorated Christmas tree. It was much needed after the chaos of the day.

Today had been one of those days that seemed to have one challenging thing after another. The key fob for the van came apart as I was going to put the keys in my purse while at the same time trying to convince A-girl to get out of the van for a doctor's appointment that we were late for and she was determined she was not going back to the allergy and asthma clinic (allergy testing nightmares for that kid) under any circumstance. Of course the fob could not just fall to the ground, it had to shoot out across the parking lot under a nearby car and settle to rest under the other car in the middle requiring me to lay down, reach as far under as I could all the time listening to LJ state "Mom, get up off the road! You can't lay on the road! Why are you going under that car? The keys?! Cool. I see them! I can get under there easier. Let me do it! Come on! Please!" and A-girl chanting "Mom! You are making us late. We are now really late and its because you lost the keys!" We walked into the clinic just as the receptionist was leaving a message on our home phone to reschedule our appointment. The doctor (whom we have never seen before but a colleague of the one we have) graciously agreed to see us. I am sure that 3 minutes after being in a room with LJ, he was wishing he had not. The entire time I was trying to talk, LJ is nattering "I need a drink. I am thirsty. Can we leave yet?" while opening and closing the door to the room every two seconds.

The afternoon continued to be challenging as my computer was having issues and when one's children are enrolled in an online school, and it is the day before a "big portfolio" day, there is no time for such shenanigans. I need a computer to work quickly, print when requested and not lose all capacity to link to it, not have the writing program I am using crash no less than 7 times in 45 minutes and not leave me with the only thing to write in being my email (its hard to write the material for AJ's powerpoint in email and keep him focused). Luckily S is a computer geek and he was able to restore my computer to a functioning state and AJ finished his portfolio after 11pm. Hopefully he gets enough sleep so that he can present it well first thing in the morning.

A-girl had a roller skating party for girl scouts tonight. I was taking 4 other girls and in the pick up process, we realized that the gift for L's secret Santa at dance (the exchange was this evening) was missing. It had been in my purse along with the birthday gift for Sunday afternoon but I had taken it out after she had removed the birthday gift on Sunday afternoon. L was upset as there was no time to get anything else, I was frazzled because I could not remember what I had done with it. After much frantic looking and thinking, we found it.

So I was savoring my brief calm. I then heard the hall door creak, looked up and A-girl is walking towards me with her swim bag in her hand. She pushed it towards me and I asked her what she wanted me to do. It became very clear the poor kid was half asleep (or completely!) as she could not formulate her words, kept opening the bag and pushing it towards me mumbling about something. I walked her back to bed and she sleeps soundly while I sit on the couch trying to figure out what she was doing. :-)

The sights, sounds and smells of the holiday season


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Sunday, December 18. 2011

Today, we finally brought our Christmas tree inside. LJ and I were vacuuming up around the bottom of it and picking the bits and pieces of straw and other things that didn't need to be there. LJ was quite excited and wanted to immediately put up the angel on the top of the tree. He wondered which came first, the lights or the decorations. He searched for the baby Jesus for the nativity scene as it had gone "missing" because he had been making it another bed out of modeling clay that was "better than straw." All of a sudden he announced "Our Christmas tree smells like donuts!!!" "What?!" I asked wondering if I had heard him accurately. "Our tree smells like donuts!" I explained that it was a pine tree and most people call what they smell a pine scent. He thought for a moment and said "To me.......our tree smells like donuts!" I am beginning to wonder where he has been eating pine scented donuts.

A realization


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Saturday, December 17. 2011

I always tend to see others (especially in situations similar to mine) as very organized, able to do things easily and effortlessly, always put together and yet I seem to always be coming from one step behind, unorganized and feel like nothing is flowing. I often find myself wondering how they do it and wondering what I am doing wrong. Of course impressions like this are often dangerous because we are not looking at the insides, only what we see on the outside. I don't know the frustration, pain and chaos that goes into getting things where they are for someone else. After all we are human and likely experience the same things and feelings. I though tend to see everyone else as far superior in their abilities to do life than me. Slowly, very slowly I am realizing perhaps that the gap is not as great as I perceive it and perhaps I am doing OK. Recently in a conversation I realized that a mom I consider super organized, kids always caught up in school (they are in the same program we are) missed an application deadline for junior honor society that I had completed with L the day before it was due. A few days later, in speaking with another mom that always appears to have things in order she noted that they "weren't even going to do a couple of Christmas traditions because there just wasn't any time". Again, I realized that appearances are deceiving and that even those who appear to have everything all together all the time likely at some point have struggled to get there. Hmmm. Perhaps there is hope for me after all.

Opening Night


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Friday, December 9. 2011

Tonight is the opening night of "Best Little Christmas Pageant Ever" L is one of the Herdman kids who decided to attend church because of the great treats in Sunday school and end up part of the Christmas pageant knowing nothing about the Christmas story. It looks like it will end up being one of the worst Christmas pageants ever, but as the story unfolds it ends up being the best. Its got angels, shepherds, church ladies and a fire scene. Great entertainment and lots of laughs.

The girls have been part of RELC youth theater for a couple of years now. A-girl is an older angel. AJ is slowly making his way into theater in the was he prefers....backstage. LJ is even part of the fun as he attended a program for kids 3-6 and they are going to be on stage briefly singing in the angel chorus.

Should be a lot of fun. The kids are already tired from tech week this week (rehearsals 5:30-9pm nightly) but are excited.

Its in the jeans, or was that genes?!


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Thursday, December 8. 2011

Today was a trip to the dentist for all 4 kids. Dare I say these trips are getting easier? All teeth cleaned and no tears (until we went to leave and 1 found out they had to come back).

While at the dentist, we learned of some interesting unique features of our kids' teeth. We knew they did things in their own way in their own time so why should teeth be different? A-girl has one of her new molars coming in up against the other one. Its stuck and cannot come in straight so will require a procedure where the tooth that is in is banded to the one in front of it slowly pulling it forward to allow room for the one trying to get through. Oddly enough, it is the same procedure that AJ had attempted when he was the same age as A-girl is now. The banding didn't work for him because there was not enough space between the teeth to get the band in and when they finally did the tooth surface was too smooth so the band kept slipping off. After several attempts, they moved to the next procedure. He had to have to piece of tooth holding the other one from coming through ground off and a disc put in place to create room and checked periodically and then removed once enough space was created. It was not an enjoyable process (for either AJ or I) but the outcome was great. No more issues and his teeth are aligned nicely. Apparently this issue is genetic. I quickly glanced his way and spoke in hushed tones "Do not tell her about that!" which resulted in a grinning reassurance from her brother that it really wasn't that bad. Dr. S then showed me (with a very concerned look on her face) that none of her molars were coming in "right." Quietly she told me how A-girl's molars had not developed properly. There was nothing that could have been done to prevent it but that her new molars were discolored, full of natural divots and fissures and would require fillings to prevent further damage when they eventually make their way through.

At this particular clinic, there are 4 dental hygienist chairs all in a row and all my kids were lined up and seen at the same time by the hygienist and then the dentist makes her way from child to child depending on who is finished with the cleaning first. A-girl was done first so went and went and waited on a little bench next tot he chair AJ was sitting in. Next was LJ and he tolerated things. We knew he had a natural fissure that needed filling so nothing was new. LJ then joined his sister on the little bench.

It was AJ's turn. I need to explain that he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt despite it being 25 degrees and snowy. It is hard to get him to wear pants at all. Dr. S looked at the panoramic x-ray that had just been taken and asked me if I knew he was missing a permanent tooth. I said no and she went on to show me where and explain that it was in his genes. A-girl piped up "It can't be! He's not wears jeans!! He never wears jeans!!" Dr. S told A-girl she had made her day with that innocent kid comment and after the rest of us stopped grinning we continued the discussion. Almost exactly 5 years ago, AJ had extensive dental restoration work (cracked and broken teeth repaired, filled, capped, posts put in place, root canals and his two front teeth needed to be removed due to severe damage that occurred years earlier in a series of falls when he was two and then decay and further damage as a result of no repair initially despite taking him to the dentist) Only 1 baby tooth in that area had not been repaired. It doesn't look ground down, the roots look strong and she anticipates no issues at this time (although she said many start to loosen over the years so they will watch it). Luckily, it is the one that has no permanent one to push it out. Many thanksgivings for that!

As we were leaving, I needed to book the appointment for the procedure for A-girl and she immediately burst into tears. They can't see her for 2 months so hopefully, she won't be so anxious about it......likely not.

I didn't realize so many things about dentistry were in the genes.....or jeans as A-girl says!

A Parenting First


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Thursday, December 1. 2011

After 12 years of parenting, I must say this is a first. One of my children were the cause of a "code yellow"(lost child) in Target. Now I am sure most people reading this will assume that it is my overly energetic, never stand still 4 year old child that caused the commotion, however you would be wrong. Not that he wasn't bouncing all over, not staying with me by the cart as instructed and darting off here and there but he never ventures too far. It was my 7 year old, A-girl that got separated from us. I was looking for a particular item in the freezer section and we had gone up and down the aisle a couple of times searching for it. She had spotted something she wanted in a freezer section at the end of the aisle along the back wall. She and L went to pick up what they wanted and A-girl had returned with "extras" and I asked her to put them back. She went, I saw her at the freezer, LJ distracted me and I followed him down the aisle to the end, I looked up and she was gone. L and I assumed she went down the aisle over and we would see her shortly. No A-girl. We split up to go up and down the aisles but neither of us found her. We called her, searched the grocery section and could not find her. I was starting to get worried more about how upset she was going to be but also the horrible thoughts started running through my mind. We went to some employees to see if they had seen her (they were in an aisle running opposite to the one we had been in stacking shelves) but they had not. They quickly helped look and then when no one could find her in the grocery section at all, we called in the code. At the very same time, an employee at the opposite end of the store was calling in a lost child. We met up moments later (although it felt like an eternity) and the 2 employees walking with us commented on how they liked it when things worked out so quickly. For poor A-girl, I don't think it was quick enough. Somehow, she didn't see us and wondered down an aisle two over from where we were and kept walking (it runs the full length of the store at the back) until an employee noticed a sobbing little girl who's mother was lost. She didn't have a walkie talkie to call in, so took her back to the dressing rooms where they had one (which was in the opposite direction of where everyone was looking for her). After lots of hugs and cuddles, tears were wiped from cheeks and we finished up our groceries and headed home. A-girl was close by my side.

I am glad this isn't a regular occurrence for us but I am even more grateful for a store's system for dealing with situations like that and the wonderful outcome.



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