Monday, March 2, 2015

Brief Update

Family: We are partially settled in the new house. We've been moved in for about a week and a half. We love our neighborhood. Last week we had some ice and snow and 15 neighborhood kids gathered together to have a giant snowball fight. We've never lived in a young neighborhood before, so it's really nice to have kids right next door and across the street for our kids to play with.

Timothy: Timothy's adjusting well to public school. His IEP meeting is this Wednesday. Last week, he read a book on a 1.8 level and made a 100% on the test. This week, they sent home a 2.1 level book. He really likes music class.

Samuel: Samuel has a new obsession with video games. He's also taken to doing mazes. We have a Kumon book of mazes that he's almost finished. He likes to know what time it is now and what time things are occurring. He's very obsessed with clocks.

Hannah: Hannah Ruth is still not potty trained, though she has asked for panties on several occasions. She will not pee in the potty, though she has no problem having a BM in one. It's weird. We're  just following her lead.

This next month we're looking forward to Spring Break, building a backyard sandbox, and having friends from Arkansas visit us.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Public School

We picked Timothy up from the first day of school and asked all the questions. How was school? Did you make any friends? Did you go to PE? What did you think of your lunch? Timothy responded appropriately; he liked some things and he didn't like others. Overall, I was thrilled. It seemed to have gone fairly well.

A few hours later, though, Timothy had a major meltdown of epic proportions. He's not used to doing so much in a day, I guess, and he had been holding in his emotions all day. He screamed until his voice was raw. He cried. He sobbed. He HATES school, especially his second teacher, because she's so mean and says things like "3 more minutes or it's homework" and he can't work under that kind of pressure. Timothy's learned a lot of coping skills and we have, too, but nothing could pull him out of that 2 hour rage. It.was.awful.

The plan was for Timothy to spend about an hour a day in special ed and the rest of the day in a mainstream general education classroom with extra support. He would start and end the day in a small classroom size to help him transition in and out of the school day and then move on to the second class with his peers.

Well, Timothy just hated the second class (general education). The second day of school, they kept him in the special education classroom to see if he'd do any better. When I picked him up, he said his day was much better. Then, a few hours later, he started crying and screaming because of the second class again. I said, "Timothy, you didn't even GO there today!" and he said, "I know, but I'm still so upset about going there yesterday." He cried for over an hour. I nearly pulled my hair out. They hadn't even sent him that day!

Today they tried the general education class again and he lasted 15 minutes before they pulled him out because he was too overwhelmed.

So, for now, Timothy's in a special education class and is staying there. He's completely overwhelmed in a classroom with 20 other kids and it really upsets him to be there. In the special education class, they have 5 students and 3 teachers and it's a much different pace and atmosphere.

I'm disappointed, not in the school or in Timothy but just in the situation. I think Timothy will learn the most in the sped class with the small class size and individual attention, but it's so disappointing to hope that maybe he'll make it in a general ed class and then see that he doesn't. Just because he can't handle it right now, though, doesn't mean he won't be able to adjust in the future. One step at a time.

Today, Timothy came home and talked about his day. They had a fire drill. Someone threw up in the nurse's office. He didn't cry at all. I think we've found the right solution for now.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Starting School

We closed on our new house yesterday! However, due to some unexpected difficulties we didn't get the keys yet. Timothy DID start school this morning, though! He was extremely nervous, but I can't wait to hear about his day when he gets home. He goes to a school that requires a uniform...doesn't he look handsome?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Kicked out of Preschool

Samuel got kicked out of preschool for being too smart.

As I've said before, Samuel had some developmental delays and has been attending a special-needs preschool for children with developmental delays. On Monday, they were required to retest him since he turned 5. Well, it turns out that Samuel no longer has a delay of any kind!


They did the testing on the day of Samuel's 5th birthday, so he was exactly 60 months at the time of testing. You can see his scores below.

The developmental specialist said Samuel asked, "How long is the test going to take?" and she told him it would take an hour and a half. He looked up at her and said, "That's ninety minutes." The only reason he scored slightly delay in cognition was because it was at the very end of the test that they did during nap time and Samuel stopped trying, she said.

You can see he's WAY ahead in some areas, so we should be thrilled! However, Samuel's home with me today since he suddenly finds himself "kicked out" of preschool.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

What's in the Future

2015 is going to be a much better year for us. 

Job: In December, I was offered a job with a large, non-profit online university. It involves some travel about 3-5 times a year, but then all my day-to-day work can be done from home. I had to travel for a week in January and I'll travel to California again next week for some faculty meetings. I really like the job. The company is really big on the need for a work/life balance, so they encourage us not to check out emails when we're off of work. It's nice and much less stressful. I spend most of my day helping students edit their papers. It sounds like working from home would be boring, but it isn't at all. The day flies by!

Moving: With my new job, then, we can actually live anywhere in the world. We've been living 4 hours away from both sets of grandparents, but it just make sense to move back closer to family, especially since we're starting completely over. We sign on a new home February 16th in a suburb outside of Dallas.

School: Since we're making so many changes, we thought we might try sending the boys to public school. We are moving to an area that has highly rated, excellent public schools. Actually, we live just two houses away from the elementary school! Unfortunately, though, we've talked to the school and they think Timothy would be more successful in the autism program, which is housed at a different elementary school. So, Timothy and Samuel will attend two different elementary schools! (Timothy will start in February, but Samuel won't start K until August) Timothy still struggles a great deal with reading and is reading on the first grade level in what should be third grade, so why not try the public school? We've done vision therapy and Orton-gillingham and every reading program we've ever heard of. It couldn't get much worse than it is....so we'll give the public schools a chance. Plus, it will give Timothy an opportunity to make some friends when we're moving to a new area.

College: After devoting the last 4 and a half years of his life to our family, my husband has decided to go back to school. He can get a big tuition discount at the college where I teach, so he will be enrolling in the Masters of Arts in Teaching program for teacher licensure.

I'm excited! So much change, but it's all for the benefit of our family!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Hannah Girl

We decided to send Hannah to school this year. We've always sent the kids to a Mother's Day Out program about 2 days a week just so that they can be around some other kids. It turns out, Hannah LOVES it more than any of the other kids did.

You see, Hannah is a trouble maker. She's much worse than either of the boys were. She's constantly, always destroying something. She wants to be entertained every moment of the day!


When we told her she'd be going to school, she was ready to go RIGHT THEN! She put her backpack on and didn't want to wait until Monday. She didn't even want to bother with clothes. She was ready to go right then.


After our house fire, they offered to move her to the five day a week program and we took them up on the offer. When they did so, they moved her to the 3 year old class, even though she wasn't quite 2 and a half. She's very verbal and knows all her letters and numbers. She loves school! Last night she walked into our room at 11pm and said, "I don't want to go to bed. I want to go to school!"

However, Hannah will not potty train. She won't. She's the only kid in her class still in diapers. She has no interest in using the potty and will tell you so...and by kid 3 we have enough sense to know we can't talk a toddler into doing something she's set on not doing. So we keep bribing her with stuff and she keeps saying, "No. No potty." She'll be 3 in May, so I sure hope she sets her mind to it soon!

5 years ago I never would have even considered sending my 2 year old to school 5 days a week. However, times change and so do we. Hannah LIKES school. She likes her friends. She likes to play Barbies and paint and sit at the table and eat animal crackers. I realize she can do all of these things at home, but she just loves school. I can't imagine her not going. So, Hannah attends school 5 days a week and Samuel goes to his developmental preschool 5 days a week (separate schools). Only Timothy remains home....

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

New York

I can't say the last 6 months have been all bad. Before school started, we took Timothy and Samuel to New York. We had a bunch of frequent flyer miles left and 2 free hotel nights anywhere in the world with one of our credit cards, so we thought they'd enjoy a trip to the big apple. Plus, we called it Timothy's birthday and got away with not doing a party.


When we arrived in our hotel, the staff had left Timothy a very nice little welcome gift. That was so sweet! We found the hotel rooms in New York to be so much smaller than we're used to, and the boys were so disappointed that the hotels didn't have indoor pools. Ha!

We pretty much did it all. Our favorite was a harbor cruise boat ride that took us past the Statue of Liberty. The boys enjoyed seeing all the other boats, too.



We also went on a pizza walking tour. They took us to 3 different "authentic" pizza restaurants and talked about the different ovens used and how the different types of cheeses make for dinner tastes. It was really interesting! I would have to say that the pizza walking tour was my favorite part of the entire trip. And Samuel really held up well! It was a LONG walk!


We spent half a day in Central Park, and that was really fun. We also went on the Subway. Samuel LOVES trains, so he tremendously enjoyed the Subway. However, Timothy had a very difficult time with the smell of the Subway. When we rode it, he was in tears and hysterical over the smell. So, we only rode it once and paid for taxis or walked everywhere else.

We visited the American Museum of Natural History. We probably spent 4 hours there and we only saw about 1/3 of the museum. We hope to go back one day!


Overall, it was a once-in-a-lifetime birthday experience that we got to share with the boys. It was nice to get away, even just for 2 nights, and show our children a piece of the world. In the future, we hope to do a lot more traveling with the kids.



Monday, February 2, 2015

Happy Birthday Samuel!


Samuel is 5 years old today! It's not just his birthday, it's a celebration of everything we've been through in 5 years with this guy. Those five years have not been easy!!

Poor Samuel has been through so much in his 5 years, including over half a dozen hospitalizations, 4 endoscopies, procedures like a colonoscopy and spinal tap, broken arm, bone infection in his toe, and now house fire. He hasn't had it easy!

And, to be honest, he hasn't been easy, either. I can tell you that I've cried and cried wondering how I'm ever going to make it with Samuel. He's INTENSE. When he's home, at least 70% of his time is spent screaming at the top of his lungs or crying. Hannah's sitting next to him. Timothy won in video games. He's hungry but he doesn't want that kind of steak, he wants ribeye steak. 70% crying or screaming is not an exaggeration, either.

His food issues just make life so hard. I understand where they come from. Food made him sick at the prime time in his life when children are learning to try new foods and appreciate them. I get it. However, we went to a restaurant and they brought out his chicken with a packet of ketchup on the plate. He started crying and kicking so much that the lady at the table next to us thought he was having a seizure! Sorry, lady, it's just because this unopened ketchup packet is next to his chicken! The food issues are improving slightly, but we still can't just walk into a restaurant and eat...except for Chick fil A, where we just send him to the playroom and enjoy a dinner in peace.

Samuel goes to a special developmental preschool for children with special needs. It's WONDERFUL. Most of the goals they have for Samuel are social in nature. For instance, they set a timer for a certain number of minutes and Samuel has to play with another kid. When he first started going, Samuel would ignore all the other children and just sit at recess and talk to the adults about trains or the Ebola virus or whatever was on his mind. Now, he's more inclined to play with other children on his own, even if they don't set the timer. I'm pretty certain that Samuel will be able to go to a mainstream Kindergarten program next year....we'll see.

Samuel still loves trains. He likes video games. He's always moving....he likes to spin in circles again and again. He has lots of energy. He's very bright. He can remember exactly where we sat for the parade we watched 2 years ago and he points it out every time we drive by. When he's not screaming or crying, he's a pretty cool kid.

So here's to the next 5 years with our Samuel, and here's hoping for better years ahead!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The final blow

The final blow: our fire

The day started out normally. I had a dentist appointment on the same day the boys had occupational therapy 1 1/2 hours away, so we ventured into the next town over together. I went to the dentist. While I was there, I read on Facebook about a fire in our town. "How terrible," I thought. I left the dentist with a super numb mouth.

We dropped the boys off at therapy and I went to Target to buy some Ibuprofin. As we were leaving the store, we got a call from our next door neighbor that our house was completely ablaze. Our hearts dropped. We pulled the boys out of therapy and immediately left for home. We were frantic, but we thought surely it wasn't as bad as he was making it. Then friends started texting me saying, "I just saw on Facebook about your house on fire!"

I did it. Even though we still had an hour left in our drive, I looked on our community paper's facebook and I saw it. I saw this.


That's our house!! They posted other pictures, too, but I still wasn't quite sure the extent of the fire. Maybe I was just holding out hope.

When we got home, the newspapers were there. Fire departments from 3 cities were there. All of our friends were there. People from my work were there. The house was a total loss. Our dog was inside and she died due to smoke inhalation. It was just all gone.

I have to say, the firefighters were awesome. The school bus picked up right next door to our house. When a dad went to meet his kids at the school bus, he saw flames shooting out of our living room. Even though the firefighters had been battling another housefire all day, they did everything they could to save our home. I am so thankful. When they got there, they saw little kids shoes along the back door and they were afraid we were in the house. They opened every single closet door, turned over every single bed, and risked their own lives to make sure no one was home.

Our community was completely awesome. They did everything they could to help us through this awful, heartbreaking time. However, it was sooooo hard.





Even now 3 months out (the fire happened at the end of October), I can't put into words what an experience this was. Hannah learned to walk in this house....it's the only home she had ever lived in. The bottom picture is where we had our kitchen table. Everything we had...everything was gone.

I can't even begin to describe how difficult it was for our children, especially Samuel. To this day, they are still completely traumatized by the incident.

We were in to a rent house within 2 days of the fire. People donated truckloads to us and insurance was really great to us, too, but it's hard to start over. It's been 3 months and I just went to make Samuel some cupcakes and realized we have yet to purchase cupcake pans. It's just....unspeakable, really.

For at least the month of November, we couldn't even function. Our lives were just full of receipts and thank yous and grief and stress and it was just so awful. I wanted to post so many times, but I didn't even know where to start. How could I begin to describe this experience in our lives?

Saturday, January 31, 2015

2014 was awful!

Blow four: Samuel

As you know if you've followed us for awhile, Samuel's had his fair share of health problems. In fact, he's had stomach and food issues from 10 months old until now...and he's nearly five years old. Samuel continues to have an extremely limited diet. We went back to the GI who questioned whether his body truly cannot process fruits and vegetables....and the only way to really test would be to do an intestinal biopsy.

Now, we've already had this same biopsy 4 other times, but the last one was over 18 months ago. Reluctantly, we agreed to do another upper endoscopy to recheck the biopsy. After all, it is possible that he could have outgrown his absorption issues. So, we had to put him under general anesthesia once again. 



It was an in-and-out procedure with a quick recovery. And when the biopsy came back a few weeks later it showed....the same thing it always showed. Samuel's body can't absorb lactose or fructose. And you know what his doctor said, even though this is the FIFTH biopsy that's shown the exact same thing? She said she thought it was a processing error perhaps. Why do such an invasive procedure if we're not going to believe the results, especially when they're the same results we've obtained from various other biopsies at different periods in Samuel's life?

We are frustrated with this doctor, but Arkansas only has one main children's hospital and we don't really have much of a choice who to see there. So that was frustrating. We let ourselves believe and hope for a moment that Samuel had outgrown his issues. He hasn't. Samuel eats mainly meat because that's what his body can process.

So for a whole period of several months it was just nothing but bad news again and again. 

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