Year in Review — 2015

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before? Became an advancements chair in Cub Scouts.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I did not make resolutions.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes, a friend from church gave birth to the most precious little boy. My sister had a baby girl. My good friend also had a baby girl. It’s been a baby bonanza over here 🙂
4. Did anyone close to you die? Aunt Marilyn.
5. What countries did you visit? None.
6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015? Serenity.
7. What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? December 6. When Ben finished his part of the Townes Super Nova award.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Going to AHG camp with Katie. I’m not good at camp settings and up until the time we left I was thinking of reasons not to go.
9. What was your biggest failure? Not managing to take Ben camping once before he belonged to the dance studio again.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I broke my toe when we came back from camp. It was a long recovery. Also the usual colds and asthma related issues.
11. What was the best thing you bought? A 64-gig iPad mini. Space is awesome.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? I’m proud of Katie and Ben. Katie switched AHG troops and has taken to the change like a duck to water. Nothing phases her. Ben didn’t make the easy choice for Boy Scout troops and it takes tons of character to buck a trend.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Most politicians (with a few notable exception).
14. Where did most of your money go? Judy’s Dance Academy and Amazon. I think they are dead even.
15. What did you get really excited about? I’m not sure I got really excited about anything this year. It’s been a weird year.
16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2015? “Day One” — Matthew West; “He Moves, You Move” — Audio Adrenaline; “Not Right Now” — Jason Gray; “The Unmaking” — Nichole Nordemann; “Safe” — Westlife; “You Got Me” — Gavin DeGraw; “Grace Wins” — Matthew West; “Exhale” — Plumb
17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? I think I’m a bit happier. We have a lot of tension and struggles right now, but hopefully we can get more sanity and grace this year.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Just be with the kids instead of trying to orchestrate our time together.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Time on Facebook.
20. How did you spend Christmas? With family. It was a crazy, fun day.
21. Did you fall in love in 2015? With my phone.
22. Think of something important to mention. It is not impossible to love more than one dog.
23. How many one-night stands? None.
24. What was your favorite TV program? CSI: Cyber; Scorpion. Netflix: Gilmore Girls (how did I not watch this show years ago????)
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I don’t hate anyone. I dislike a number of people, but I don’t hate anyone.
26. What was the best book you read? Blueprint Homeschooling
27. What was your greatest musical discovery? I Am They.
28. What did you want and get? A new iPad with way more memory and Ticket to Ride.
29. What did you want and not get? I don’t think there’s anything I wanted that I didn’t get this year.
30. What was your favorite film of this year? Inside Out
31. What did you do on your birthday? I think I was at the dance studio with the kids.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A family vision.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015? Capri pants/jeans and t-shirts. I’m pretty steady that way.
34. What kept you sane? Music and Netflix.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? George Clooney (though he is no longer “available” so I may need to rethink this now).
36. What political issue stirred you the most? Tamir Rice.
37. Who do you miss? Michelle O.
38. Who was the best new person you met? Karen P.
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015. Never Underestimate the power of prayer.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

 

And all those things I didn’t say

Are wrecking balls inside my brain

I will scream them loud tonight

can you hear my voice:

This is my fight song

Take back my life song

Prove I’m all right song

My power’s turned on

Starting right now

I’ll be strong

I’ll play my fight song

And I don’t really care if nobody else believes

’cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.

“Fight Song” Rachel Platton

Evolving Theory of Homeschooling

I’ve been homeschooling since Ben was 4 years old. We started out doing what we can generously call school at home. Ben did worksheets, lots of worksheets. But as we’ve progressed in homeschooling, I’m finding that I’m not satisfied with school at home and I’m not comfortable working on the “conveyer belt.” I’ve been doing a lot of reading in Charlotte Mason and Thomas Jefferson Education. Both of these are gentler forms of education and put less pressure on the kids and allow them to develop a more natural love of learning.

Of course, Ben is suspicious of anything new or that even smells like pushing himself. It takes time and patience to get him to try new things. What I’m learning from all of my reading is that he needs to see me doing things, hard things, and pushing myself to encourage him to push himself. I also know that I need to work along side him and help him learn how to do things himself.

I think about this stuff in terms of Ben because Katie’s love of learning is natural whereas Ben’s has been a struggle to bring to life. He did love learning when he was little, but I think I pushed to hard on the wrong things and didn’t give him a good chance to get a foundation underneath him.

He’s having successes in classes and that is huge for him and I’m seeing him express more interest in learning than he ever has before, but I know I can’ t push and that I have to take my time in order to get him where he needs to go. Fortunately, time is something that we have.

About a Week Ago

We were back in Dr. T’s office for Katie’s annual visit. We had done a lot of preparatory work with Katie for this visit. We had discussed things he might want to do. Things he might need her to do (e.g., have an x-ray taken), and we talked about how she could make it easier for herself and for everyone else (lie still and not fidget so they didn’t have to use a needle in her arm to help her stay still). We knew going in that the news wouldn’t be what any parent would hope for in this situation. We were not going to be told that the hole was closed and she was free to go. We all knew it. The last remaining hole is still there. So we were prepared for the worst.

What we got was both better and worse than we expected. Katie was Katie. She read herself a book while she waited for Dr. T to come in. She felt very sorry for the child in the other room who was screaming and wanted to go let the other kid know that Dr. T is awesome and he doesn’t need to be afraid, but we convinced her that she didn’t need to do that. They checked height, weight, and head circumference. Unsurprisingly, Katie has gained a pound since he saw her last year and approximately one inch. So the growth spurt we were all eagerly anticipating did not occur. Sigh.

When Dr. T came in, he asked if she could read. She looked at him like you’d expect — silly man, I could do that last year. Heck last year, she wrote her own list of requests. This year she didn’t come with any because she knew this was likely a take away appointment rather than a give to her appointment. He asked Katie how her head is and she was up front with him. I still have a hole right here, and she rubbed her fingers over the spot. He wooged her head (imagine someone else rubbing shampoo into your scalp, that’s kind of like what he does). He said it feels a little smaller, doesn’t it? Katie said she thought so, but she knew it wasn’t closed.

And then we started discussing. January or June. He first wanted to see her again in June 2016 so that if we have to do something we could do it after school let’s out and she would be all set to go when school restarts in August. When I reminded him that we homeschool so that’s irrelevant, then he said, well, then I guess we could go with January. And then he said, no, June. Let’s stick with June. And then the blow, whatever minimally invasive procedure might have been on the table for her is now off the table. If the hole doesn’t fill in she will need surgery.

I understand the reasoning. The minimally invasive procedure has an approximate 50% success rate and it takes a year to determine if it has been successful or not. If we did it now, that would be fine, but if we want to wait, doing full blown cranial surgery at age 8 1/2 is not ideal. It’s not ideal for multiple reasons, but the one that likely makes a difference is that it can destroy a girl’s self-image to have her scar revealed for the world to see and lose a substantial amount of hair. Especially for a girl who has been so patient and worked so hard to grow out her hair. Although, speaking of hair we have learned that the reason that Katie rejects buns so strenuously in dance is because setting one up (that will stay while she dances) pulls on her scar and hurts her.

The surgical procedure is deceptively simple. He will reopen the incision (as we now get to call it instead of the scar, since it may soon be an active part of her body again rather than a reminder of past events), peel back her skin and seed the whole with bone fragments from her and from the bone bank. While there, he also wants to shore up her temples because they are sinking, which they should not be doing. He’ll put a plate over the hole and hopefully the whole thing will heal up and grow and that will be the end of it.

Her restrictions remain the same, no sharp sticks, no soccer, and no body weight over her head (so no hanging upside down on the monkey bars for Katie — not that she would, she says the blood rushing to her head feeling hurts her scar, sigh). And now we have a ticking clock.

Katie sees this as a continuation of God’s plan for her. Whatever happens is what is supposed to happen so that other people can learn about her birth defect and learn how all the treatments work. She’s an amazing kid is our Katie. All she asks of all of you is that you lift her in prayer that God’s will be done with her head. So, if you’ve put her on your church’s prayer chain, leave her there. If you haven’t, please feel free to add her. She believes she has come as far as she has through prayer and the grace of God, and she believes that He will answer our prayers in the way that is best for Katie and her “ministry” (she sees my blogging about her head as a ministry for those who come behind her with trig).

Year in Review — 2014

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before? Became a squad leader for American Heritage Girls.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I did not make resolutions.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes, a friend from church gave birth to the most precious little girl, and another friend gave birth YESTERDAY to another beautiful little girl.
4. Did anyone close to you die? Sam
5. What countries did you visit? None.
6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014? Peace. I would like very much for my life to be more peaceful
7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? January 10. The day we lost the bravest, most stubborn dog in the world.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Surviving the almost overwhelming waves of grief.
9. What was your biggest failure? Being afraid of making waves and speaking up when things aren’t going right.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Usual assortment of colds and lung issues.
11. What was the best thing you bought? A Midori Traveler’s Notebook. Thanks to it I have finally achieved planner peace.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? I’m not sure how to answer this. We were all grieving and we all handled it differently — some more productively than others.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Kids who have apparently been taught that different means bad. It’s like reliving my childhood.
14. Where did most of your money go? Judy’s Dance Academy (and I will gladly give her even more; the kids are thriving there).
15. What did you get really excited about? Zac Brown Concert.
16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2014? “Drink a Beer” — Luke Bryan; “Compass” — Lady Antebellum; “Overcomer” — Mandisa; “Thrive” — Casting Crowns; “Keep Me in Your Heart” — Warren Zevon; “Remember Me” — Mark Schultz; “Shine” — Newsboys; “Keeping Score” — Francesca Battistelli; “I’m Not Going to Miss You” — Glenn Campbell
17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? Very sad. Trying to build a new normal without Sam has been one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced. And so very hard.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Expressing grief in front of the kids so they’d know how to do it.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Listen to other people tell me that she was just a dog. Caring about others’ opinions about anything.
20. How did you spend Christmas? With family. I went to Christmas day service again. So glad we’ve started doing that 🙂
21. Did you fall in love in 2014? With Spirit FM. It’s radio I can actually have on in my car and not worry about what the kids are hearing.
22. Think of something important to mention. Choosing a word for the year can be simultaneously the most exciting and most difficult things you can do to yourself.
23. How many one-night stands? None.
24. What was your favorite TV program? Criminal Minds (although I’m watching on Netflix and not current). Also loved Gracepoint.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I don’t hate anyone. I dislike a number of people, but I don’t hate anyone.
26. What was the best book you read? The Goldfinch Donna Tartt
27. What was your greatest musical discovery? Francesca Battistelli
28. What did you want and get? A new phone with more memory than even I can use.
29. What did you want and not get? More time with Sam.
30. What was your favorite film of this year? Mom’s Night Out
31. What did you do on your birthday? I don’t remember.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A family vision.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014? Capri pants and t-shirts. I’m pretty steady that way.
34. What kept you sane? Friends who understand me.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? George Clooney (though he is no longer “available” so I may need to rethink this now).
36. What political issue stirred you the most? Balancing gun rights with the right to not fear being out in public.
37. Who do you miss? Sam.
38. Who was the best new person you met? Rowena.
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014. Unexpressed grief leads to anger which leads to much larger messes than just admitting you’re grieving and letting that happen.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I am a mess; I am a wrecking ball

I must confess that I still don’t get it all

Lord I believe that all your words are true

It doesn’t matter where I’m going if I’m going with you.

I press on. I press on. I press on. When I still don’t get it. I press on.

“Press On” Building 429

Katie’s Neuro Follow Up 2014 edition

Every year around this time, Katie goes to see “her Dr. T” to see how she’s doing and how she’s progressing. There were a few phone calls back and forth to set up this visit because no one was sure what Dr. T actually wanted to do this year. He decided that he would check her head and then decide, so we made the appointment in November and then waited patiently for the end of January. Her appointment was Tuesday.

On Sunday Katie lost her second tooth in five days, so she asked the tooth fairy to leave her tooth so that Dr. T could see it. Tooth, being a gracious soul, left it for her to show him. On Monday, Katie made a list of things that she wants to do that her father and I cannot agree on (Dr. T has graciously served as mediator as Katie has been growing and wanting to explore more and more things). This year, her list was written partially by her and partially by me (I wrote the letters she hasn’t quite gotten the hang of yet). This year’s list: riding a two-wheeled scooter; no training wheels, ride a horse, and downward dogs in yoga. I brought along some information on a class I’m interested in letting her take assuming she’s interested.

We were early for our appointment, which worked out well for us because Dr. T was running ahead too. I know, I know; doctors never do, but somehow, Dr. T is always on time and he is extremely forgiving when you get hung up somewhere in the hospital that isn’t as, um, efficient as he is. They did her height, weight, and head circumference. All normal stuff and as usual, Katie is near the bottom of the growth chart, but her head measures normal for her size. Praise God for that.

Katie was her happy, chatty self and completely enthusiastic about her visit. She was honest to God excited about seeing Dr. T. Given that she used to scream at the sight of his PA and was terrified of every person in scrubs she saw, this is amazing and awe inspiring. Dr. T came in and she was so happy to see him and he just goes with it. He got to feeling her head and he was pleased and not pleased. She now has bone everywhere but on the right side. We are rapidly approaching a crossroad, and he did think for a minute before he decided that was going to give her one more year to grow the bone on the right side. He didn’t think she could grow the bone she has so far, so we will continue to pray that God will make those little bones grow and she will get to do all the things on her list.

He did say, you could just use your common sense. I said, yes, well, one of us (pointing at P) wants to wrap her in bubble wrap; the other one of us wants  to let her try things within reason. He said, do you say no? I said, sure, I’ve said no to acro (which her hero Bri does and she wants to try), and he said, okay, so we’re going to let Mom decide for the next year when Dad wants to reach for the bubble wrap, mom has the deciding vote. He also said that next year we will have to move if she hasn’t grown the bone. This is a faith journey — big time. She is a permanent resident of the prayer list at our church and I would respectfully ask that if your church or religious group has a prayer chain or prayer list, please add her to the list. God can do big things and I’m praying that He will do one more big thing for Katie. If He doesn’t, then I believe it means that this blog is serving a larger purpose.

Sitting in my closet right now is a two-wheeled scooter (pink and purple with Tinkerbell on it). She has asked twice already when she’s going to get her scooter, and that will likely happen tomorrow. So we will watch, wait, and pray.

Year in Review — 2013

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before? Rode the Gator Falls flume ride at Lowry Park Zoo and got involved in Cub Scouts.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I did not make resolutions.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes, a friend from church gave birth to the most precious little girl.
4. Did anyone close to you die? My Uncle Brother died in February and my Uncle Delbert died in July.
5. What countries did you visit? None.
6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? Peace. I would like very much for my life to be more peaceful
7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? January 29, the day that Katie managed to ask Dr. T all the questions on her list and get permission to do almost all the things that she wanted. June 25, the day that Sam was given six to eight weeks to live. November 30, the Iron bowl that none of us thought Sam would live to see. Surprise!
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Accepting that I am not able to do regular classroom teaching at this time.
9. What was your biggest failure? Not doing a better job of defending Ben when needed. Not stepping in fast enough.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Usual assortment of colds and lung issues.
11. What was the best thing you bought? Time with Sam via medication. Pain pills are her best friend and mine.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Katie’s. She is definitely developing into an independent young lady (at 5).
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? People who can’t see beyond politics and policies to people.
14. Where did most of your money go? Judy’s Dance Academy (and I will gladly give her even more; the kids are thriving there).
15. What did you get really excited about? The kids’ first real recital and going to see the Nutcracker (and having Ben express interest in being IN the Nutcracker rather than watching it).
16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2013? “10,000 Reasons” — Matthew Redman; “I Will Be Here” Stephen Curtis Chapman; “Tunnel” — Third Day; “Don’t Try So Hard” — Amy Grant; “Live Like That” — Sidewalk Prophets; and, “Let it Go” from Frozen (movie version, not single version).
17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? I am working toward happier. I have a handle on where the issues are and I plan to make a complete revolution of 2014.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Taking care of myself and my marriage.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Running around for other people.
20. How did you spend Christmas? With family. Although I went to Christmas Day service at my church and it was fantastic.
21. Did you fall in love in 2013? Perdue’s Simply Smart Gluten-Free Chicken Strips.
22. Think of something important to mention. Cherish every moment you get because you don’t know what will be your last.
23. How many one-night stands? None.
24. What was your favorite TV program? Top Chef and Undercover Boss.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I don’t hate anyone. I dislike a number of people, but I don’t hate anyone.
26. What was the best book you read? A Million Little Ways
27. What was your greatest musical discovery? Sara Barielles.
28. What did you want and get? A planner that is more my size and more my style.
29. What did you want and not get? A pocket point and shoot camera that would take some burden off my iPhone.
30. What was your favorite film of this year? Frozen. Although, 42 was also excellent. Oh, and I finally understood Meet the Robinsons and it has now become a total theme for our homeschool. Especially, “Keep Moving Forward”
31. What did you do on your birthday? I spent the day with my best friends: Mel, Sam, and P.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Having a clearer sense of purpose and structure for our family.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? Capri pants and t-shirts. I’m pretty steady that way.
34. What kept you sane? Having a doctor who loves his dogs as much as I love mine.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Sticking with George Clooney. At this point, I think he’s getting to be a habit with me (name that singer).
36. What political issue stirred you the most? Healthcare. Seriously. Healthcare.
37. Who do you miss? My uncles. Seeing my extended family more regularly.
38. Who was the best new person you met? Andrea.
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013. I have to make my own choices and live with them.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Let it go, let it roll right off your shoulder
Don’t you know the hardest part is over?
Let it in, let your clarity define you
In the end we will only just remember how it feels

Rob Thomas – Little Wonders

Katie is Five

Yesterday, Katie turned five years old, or as she puts it, a whole hand. She is such an amazing little girl and has such an amazing heart. We are so incredibly proud of her. She had very definite ideas about how she wanted to use her birthday.

She insisted on bringing doughnuts for her Sunday school class and for her brother’s Sunday school class. We also bought doughnuts for the family. She served each member of the family their doughnut and made sure that everyone had their favorite kind. We brought enough doughnuts for everyone and she offered the leftovers to the Coffee Hour coordinator, so there were extra snacks at Coffee hour.

We gave her the option of skipping church after Sunday school, but she desperately wanted to go to church so she could take Communion. She had taken full communion for the first time the previous Sunday and was eager to do it again. There is nothing quite like watching her wafer getting dipped in the Communion wine and her mouth opening like a baby bird’s to take in the Body and Blood of Christ. And then, she wanted to pray when she got back to the pew. Now the thing about this is that our pews are not built for someone like Katie. She wants to use a kneeler like everyone else, but man it is a struggle for her to reach the top of the pew. But she stretches and she does it.

After church, we went to coffee hour and then we left to go to lunch. Katie was determined to go to Red Robin. She’d been singing the Red Robin song for the last few days in case we weren’t clear where she wanted to go for lunch. She had her favorite macaroni and cheese and carrots with ranch dressing (yes, she chooses the carrots over the french fries). She was startled and pleased to discover that she got a free sundae for dessert and they SANG to her.

Katie opens presents very differently from Ben. He rips everything open and immediately begins playing. Katie opens one at a time and checks out her presents carefully. Well, I should say that’s usually how she opens her presents. This year there were two intriguing big packages and she was very hopeful that Daddy had come through for her with her request for “PityPons” (PinyPons). When she opened the tow and go car, her mind was blown, and then to find the whole winter scene afterward, woah. She had the best birthday AND she got a new Lalaloopsy doll who is perfect for her: Bea Spells-A-Lot (perfect for the child who has taken to practicing her spelling with crackers). She got her absolute favorite book (we’ve checked it out from the library so many times she was confused when I put this one on her shelf last night): Red Knit Cap Girl.

For dinner she had her favorite: Red Coconut Curry Stir-Fry from Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking. After dinner, she had her Belle cake from Publix and blew out the candle. This is the point in the day that gets to me. She cried because I couldn’t have any of her cake. She didn’t want to have cake if Mama couldn’t have cake.

Once we got her dolls settled, we read her new book and she settled in for a good night’s sleep.

Oh, one other thing, I did her interview from Your Birthday Book. At five, they have me as this question: What are your thoughts about God?

Katie’s Answer: Him helping me and Him doing the things I really need Him to do.

That’s my girl and that’s her heart.