Posted in House, Kids, Me, School

It’s Busy Season Around Here

Sorry for the complete lack of posting. I just checked and it’s been more than a month since my last post. My only defense is: my, we are busy around here! Between school, keeping house, laundry (aka the bane of my existence), home improvements (current: upstairs hall bathroom) and just general STUFF, I’m doing a lot. So the blogging suffers.

Let’s see….Ethan’s IEP went great (as always) and his testing just got completed and we got the paperwork. Lots and lots of pages and deciphering of information, but the bottom line is: Ethan is NOT intellectually disabled. He has definite issues, but they “can be explained by the autism and visual impairment.”  So, good. I just got information yesterday from a friend about training through the state on technology for the visually impaired. Totally making THAT call today!

We’re just about to finish up the 3rd marking period at cyber school and have 11 weeks left (including a week of spring break!). I’m definitely worried about one child who is struggling way more than I expected. (More on that in another post.) My other two are doing well….it’s just lasting until the final day.

We’ve scheduled our vacation. Every other year we make the really long trek to Lake Michigan. It’s only every other year for a couple of reasons: 1) there’s so much else in the world to see and 2) it’s a really, REALLY long drive. 12 hours at least the first day and then more driving the 2nd, plus a 2.5 hour ferry ride. So yeah, I just can’t face that every year. But this year it’s been long enough that I’ve forgotten the agony and am just anticipating 9 whole days on an island with hardly anything to do. Bliss!

The Upstairs Hall Bathroom Project is coming along slowly. Much more slowly than I had expected. The tub resurfacing saga has definitely slowed it down even further. March 6th, the much anticipated day when a company would come in and resurface our tub, taking it from ugly yellowy-tan to lovely white. Well, it was white in the end, but R did a horrible job. We complained. They sent R back. He did an even worse job. We were angry and complained again. The company was going to send H out last week, but then he had a personal emergency. But they didn’t call us to tell us. So we waited for several hours. So NOT impressed with this company. Finally H came yesterday and was horrified with the job that R did. He fixed everything and now work on the rest of the bathroom can begin again.

I know it’s more of a status update. Again, posts coming up, but I just wanted to let you know that I wasn’t–as my mom often feared–dead in a ditch somewhere.

Posted in Kids, School

The Gaping Chasm

It’s IEP (Individual Education Plan) season again. An IEP, for those who don’t know, is a written-down-and-must-be-followed plan for a special-needs’ child. It tells about the child–their strengths and weaknesses. It tells where they need to improve. It makes plans for that improvement and the specific steps to follow for that planned improvement.

I just had Ethan’s 2 hour one last week and will have Laura’s much-shorter one this week. Because the kids will turn 14 within the next year they both will attend their IEP’s for the first time.

Each year I’m both filled with joy and awe AND a totally overwhelmed feeling. I see where these kids began; I see just how far they’ve come. I also don’t see the future. It’s this giant, gaping chasm of ignorance, lack of control and just plain old fear. Not so much with Laura, because intellectually she’s just fine. She will go to college. She will be able to support herself.

Ethan? Who the heck knows?

We made the decision to have his IQ tested. While the school psychologist will not be able to give us a number, she will give us a “he will qualify for ID services” or “he will not qualify for ID services” (ID being intellectually disabled).

It’s the same sword we played with all those years ago when we got the autism diagnosis. Ethan had all these quirky things–things that, to me, were disparate and didn’t fit together. The developmental pediatrician at duPont heard my list and said almost immediately that she thought he was on the spectrum. I was stunned. Somewhat horrified. But still, glad for the tentative diagnosis. All her tests were vision-based, so we went to the school psychologist and he confirmed with his testing that Ethan was autistic. High-functioning, but still, autistic.

So, fast forward some years and that’s where we are. The double-edged sword of a diagnosis. We don’t WANT him to qualify for ID services. We don’t WANT him to BE intellectually disabled. But if he IS, then we want what he would qualify for–services, support, help, planning, etc.

And the future continues to be a big, gaping, scary chasm of unknowing.

Posted in 7 Quick Takes, Family, Kids, School

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. I know, I know, it’s been awhile. Sorry! End of summer + beginning of school year + a death in the family = blogging going out the door.

2. My husband’s grandmother, Grammy, passed away in August. That he HAD a grandmother at 45 is amazing to me. My one and only grandparent, Nana, died when I was 6. So when I married this wonderful man who just happened to have four living grandparents it was incredible to me. Not only that, but the ones who lived near us were terrific people. I LOVED having adopted grandparents. It filled a hole that I didn’t know I had. Five years ago or so we said good-bye to his grandfather and now have said farewell to his grandmother. The memorial service was so wonderful–she was much loved and everyone had kind things to say. Yeah, there were some funny stories, but overall the tone was one of respect and fondness for a delightful woman. You will be missed, Grammy.

3. The beginning of school has been hectic. New carpools, new schools, unexpected purchases of school items because the gifted school wants them….I really don’t miss public school. Really. But sometimes I miss that bright yellow school bus. And being alone. I’m NEVER ALONE.

4. Many years ago I attempted to be an ebay seller. Didn’t last long. Craigslist is hard because we are between the Philadelphia and Lancaster sites. Enter Facebook! Our local area has at least four FB selling sites. It’s WONDERFUL. I can buy and sell and meet the person at the local WalMart. So far I haven’t had a bad experience, which is saying something!

5. This past month we also had 6 trees removed. Five were really, really ugly pine trees lining the right backyard. The original owner planted them as Christmas trees. And they were ok until they grew and grew and grew and YUCK. The 6th was a pin oak that we actually liked, but it more than halfway died in the brutal winter of 2013-2014. Now we just have little humps of ground up stumps, which will rot away and get covered with grass seed next year or so. And our backyard looks massive!

6. I’ve got my coffee drinking down to science now. And this is huge for a former die-hard tea drinker. I completely blame Keurig. They made it possible for me to have one cup of coffee, mad with the light roast that I like. I add two level teaspoons of sugar and..ahem…three tablespoons of light cream. And that makes coffee taste wonderful. I know I can’t actually TASTE the coffee…that’s the point. Coffee does not taste good. But boy is that caffeine hit amazing!

7. Something else that happened in August that’s rather noteworthy: My triplets turned 13. Yes, people, I have three teenagers and one tween. Two of the kids are already taller than me, one is only a half-inch shorter and the youngest is only an inch shorter. THIS is why I married a tall man! I wanted to give those kids a fighting chance at some height!

Posted in 7 Quick Takes, Health, Kids, School, Sick

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 Quick Takes Friday

 

Last week’s #1 topic was my sickness. If you are grossed out by grossness, don’t read this week’s #1.

1. So last Friday I posted that I was on Day 14 of being sick. I hadn’t gone to the doctors, not because I’m anti-doctor, but because it really just felt like an annoyingly long virus that I needed to last through. Saturday morning, though, I got up and took a shower. I felt worse–like my health was going downhill instead of up. I blew my nose and it was BRIGHT (like the 7 Quick Takes label bright) yellow. YUCK. I went to walk-in hours at my doctors and lo and behold! I had a sinus infection! WooHoo! Z-pack to the rescue! (I’m allergic to penicillin).

2. Within 48 hours of starting the Z-pack I felt like a different person. My voice was back, instead of sounding like someone who had smoked for 75 years. I wasn’t coughing all day every day. My energy was back. I would say that today, Day 21, that I’m at 95%. I’m still needing to keep tissue boxes handy, but I cleaned and vacuumed the living room yesterday AND started washing the couch cushion upholstery that got chicken broth spilled on it on Day TWO of this whole fiasco.

3. I’m not one to talk about products (no one is paying me for it!), but I wanted to gush a little bit this morning about a new hair care product we just stumbled upon. I got a free sample in the mail yesterday of Cantu Coconut Curling Cream. It’s AMAZING. Our daily issue is Laura’s hair. She got my curls and Jim’s crazy-thick hair. This has been the bane of our mornings for YEARS. We’ve been working with a stylist with a good cut, growing it out to try and pull some of the curl down (so far that’s not working!) and trying product after product. Before we found this, gel seemed to be the best answer, except it left her hair sticky or crunchy, neither of which is good. This morning she showered and toweled dry her hair. I put the conditioner in and blew it dry a little on low (because she was leaving the house and it’s 10 degrees out!). Her hair looks, feels and smells AMAZING. I’m already trying to find it online (WalMart carries it, but not in our local store). If you have thick and curly hair, I HIGHLY recommend this!

4. I ventured out after our snowstorm to Bella Med Spa for my consult and first laser hair treatment. After talking with the technician, I opted not to do my upper lip. There wasn’t enough dark hair to see a good return for the money. The technician said some people think it feels like tweezing (no big deal) and others feel like it’s needles being stuck into the follicles. I unfortunately fell into the latter category. She rubbed an ice cube on a part of my chin and then immediately lasered it. OUCH OUCH OUCH OUCH OUCH. And that was on a low setting! I smelled a burning hair smell (lovely) and managed to just grit my teeth and bear it. After 2 hours there was no pain or itching and the spot just felt like my chin again. It’s worth it to me, in the end, for no daily plucking.  I go again March 7th.

5. The above-mentioned snowstorm netted our area about 8-10 inches and two snow days. We are now up to four snow days and I’m guessing they are going to start taking days from their spring vacation. Which is already short. Another reason to like cyber school. No snow days!

6. Jim and I were talking yesterday about weather in general, and how the weather channel tries to hoop everything into a bigger deal than it really is. Naming a winter storm, for heavens sake! I’m 45 and still can remember days out at the bus stop waiting in single digit weather. Or in the snow. Sure it was freezing (literally!), but it was winter and you dealt with it. Now it’s a polar vortex and Winter Storm Janus and we must FREAK OUT ABOUT IT. Oh brother!

7. I emailed Catie’s every day teacher and her gifted teacher, asking them if they would fill out teacher recommendations for the application process for the gifted program of PALCS. I haven’t heard back yet from her regular teacher, because she’s out sick. Her gifted teacher’s response was as follows (direct quote):

“Thank you for thinking of me with your request.  Unfortunately I will not be able to help you.  I am not a proponent of charter schools and can not support one.  I wish Catie the best of luck as she continues her schooling and will be happy to help you in the future if it doesn’t require that I aid a charter school.”

Wow. Just…..Wow. I instead emailed her teacher from last year and she was quick to respond that she was thrilled to give Cate the recommendation she needed.

Posted in 7 Quick Takes, Cleaning, Clutter, Health, Kids, School, Sick

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 Quick Takes Friday

 

1. You know we’re one sick family when I bought SIX boxes of tissues and five are already open and 1/2 used up. I’m on day 14 and still coughing like crazy. I just popped a cough drop in to try and help and pondered this question: What exactly IS menthol-eucalyptus and why did someone put in something we suck on? It’s not as if it tastes good. And I still cough. But for some reason we keep sucking on cough drops.

2. A year ago we were trying to figure out public or cyber school for two of our older kids. We are now at the same place for our younger child, with the added twist of a gifted IEP. The public school has a program whereby Catie would be “enriched” four times per cycle (not sure what a cycle is). She would wake up at 5:45 or so to make the 6:35 bus to start school at 7:15 and finish at 2:15 and be home by 2:40 when she would start homework. Snow days, sick days, problem students–these would be a part of her life. Cyber school would be 90% gifted, with the exceptions of gym, music, health, art and tech ed. We would have the option of having her do it fully cyber or 1/2 cyber and 1/2 classroom. Classroom sizes have an average of 11. It would mean driving 35 minutes each way 2x/week one week and 3x/week the next. She would learn at her own pace, at her own speed, with her interests highlighted, and no dealing with troubled kids. I’m on the fence. Seriously. Stay tuned for updates!

3. Having triplets, it’s been very interesting (to say the least) entering puberty. Laura, being the girl, is definitely leading the pack in height, weight and general heading-towards-adulthood. One son’s voice has changed but the other’s has not, but his facial hair is starting to show up instead. Acne–whew! Acne!! Growth spurts! Stinky bedrooms! We’re in for a bumpy road the next few years, I’m thinking.

4. All four kids received rather substantial monetary gifts from various relatives. To the extent that, I went onto ebay this week and won three Nintendo 3DS’s. We started out with the plain DS, bumped up to DSI’s, but I was NOT willing to fork over the fundage necessary for this ladder rung. All totaled including shipping, $322 for all three. Ethan, being completely uninterested in handheld games for obvious reasons, is spending some of his money on I Love Toy Train DVD’s and most likely Braille books.

5. I have said before that I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). One of the more annoying side effects of this is hair in places that a woman doesn’t want it–for me, specifically, it’s my chin and upper lip. I pluck literally every day. EVERY DAY. So, with Christmas money in hand, I’ve made the first of six appointments at a laser hair removal place and am hopeful that plucking is not in my future. They were conservative with my condition, though, and said that future treatments will most likely be necessary. The weird part about the time leading up to my appointment is: no tweezers. I have to SHAVE. With a RAZOR. It’s very, very odd doing something to my face that I have previously only seen my husband do!

6. Inspired by A Slob Comes Clean, I finally went through my wardrobe–dresser and closet. Pants that don’t fit. Tops that are too snug across certain part of my anatomy. Bathing suits I will never wear again. They are ALL heading out the door for donation. Suddenly I have plenty of room in my dresser. Jim has more room in the closet (I have a tiny section because I don’t have many dress clothes. Jim is the clothes horse in the family!) It feels GREAT.

7. Here’s a tiny view into my brain-deadness: Yesterday I heard the microwave beep. I was on the living room floor folding laundry and told Bennett and Laura that whoever put food in, it was done. Both denied it was them. I tried to think of what I would have set the timer for, but came up empty and just kept folding. We watched an HGTV show together. Eventually I got up and went into the kitchen and found THE POT OF WATER BOILING THE EGGS I HAD PUT THERE ABOUT AN HOUR BEFORE. It was down to about a half-inch from the bottom (from being an inch above the eggs when it started). The eggs were still fine for egg salad, but I wasn’t about to eat them out of hand like I normally do. See? Brain dead. There’s just nothing left up there except the kids’ medical histories and the occasional hair appointment. If you want to keep your brains intact, people, do not have children!

Posted in 7 Quick Takes, Funny, Jim, Kids, School, TV

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. I am typing with a cup of coffee in front of me. If you know me at all, you will understand how shocking that is. I am a DIE HARD tea fan. I have a cup every day of my life–cold in summer, hot every other time. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

But I found THIS:

For someone who CAN’T STAND the taste of coffee, but loves caramel, Bailey’s Coffee Creamer in caramel is Ah-MAZING. Now I can have the joys of coffee-strength caffeine without the nasty, awful, rotten taste.

Sorry, coffee lovers. Please no hate mail!

2. Jim left today for a 9 day trip (including drive-time) to Michigan. We are sad. We love him and want him home with us. He does this every year and we are sad every year. I have no clue how mom’s with husbands who are deployed do it. I can barely handle a week!

3. I had the distinct pleasure of sitting through (well, part of at least) my first math class since, oh, about 1990. One of our two cyber kids is struggling in this class, so I am working with them. Did you know I had completely forgotten how to estimate fractions up or down to whole numbers? I DID! I learned it all again two days ago. How DID I live without this skill, lo, these past 25 years as an adult?

4. Pursuant to #3, and I’m not really mocking middle school math like it sounds, but why can’t they teach kids how to balance a checkbook or make up a budget or figure out how much rent they can afford? These are all very useful maths, none of which I personally learned in school. I didn’t learn how to balance a checkbook until my sister taught me when I was 21!

5. I’ve been watching Sleepy Hollow lately. It’s amazing what Hollywood can do to the book of Revelations. As someone who has read it, I’m intrigued (ok, and a little disgusted) by what they can twist around to try and make a television drama. I’m not saying I’m going to stop watching it, but I’m not keeping my Bible open to compare, either!

6.  Just watched THIS and howled for 15 minutes straight. Warning: Not kid friendly.

7. One of the advantages of having older kids? Neater pumpkin carving! We didn’t get pumpkin guts all over the table OR all over them! WooHoo!

Posted in 7 Quick Takes, Kids, Marriage, Me, School, Sick, Vacation

7 Quick Takes Friday

 

1. You know how you know something is coming up and you know you need to plan it and at some point you’ll get around to it and then life happens and you keep putting it off until it’s only a week away and then you freak out and do massive research on the internet and email your husband a bunch of ideas all at once (which of course he can’t look at because he’s at work) and then you freak out some more because you used to be such a great planner and life is just changing around you and you can’t plan anymore and …

Yes. This was me yesterday about our anniversary getaway next week.

2. I happily stumbled onto this website about tours  and relaxed. They do guided ones (for a pretty decent fee), self-guided free ones and then ones where you download an audio guide onto your iPod and use it to walk around. Door #3 sounds like a winner to me! The audio guide is something like $15 (much cheaper than the guided tour) and will let you go at your own pace (and sneak in a side trip to Elfreth’s Alley which is right near Betsy Ross’s house). For those of you who have never heard of Elfreth’s Alley, It is the oldest residential street in America. Dating back to 1702, it has been continuously lived in for more than 300 years now.

3. Finishing up our 4th week of cyber school and fine arts school. Monday morning the gal that I share carpooling with (she does mornings and I do afternoons) called and said that just as she got to the parking lot of the fine arts school Laura threw up. She took her in and cleaned her up as best as she could and then brought her back home (L threw up 3 more times on the way home). 1) Thank goodness she had leather seats! 2) What a nice woman! Having your own kid throw up and dealing with it is just not pleasant. With someone else’s kid (and I’ve dealt with that personally!) is just grosser. Laura’s fine and we’re left wondering what in the world THAT was?

4. Are your kids into Minecraft? Holy cow, do Bennett and Laura love it! We got it for their birthday and they have spent any and every allowable moment on their computers playing it. I love hearing their conversations–they regularly use the word “smelt” in conversation, and I heard obsidian the other day. If nothing else, it’s teaching some excellent vocabulary! 🙂

5. I’m halfway through the Great Wardrobe Changeover. Except for winter boots, Laura and Catie have all the clothes they will need for the winter, and they are all put away in their drawers. Today I’m hoping to finish the boys’ clothes. Ethan still doesn’t care what he wears as long as it fits comfortably, but the other three have all developed tastes in clothing. Laura, especially, has changed dramatically in the last 6-8 months. Her taste…grew up, for lack of a better phrase. I bought several shirts for her that she pooh-poohed and when we went to Goodwill (because, COME ON, they have all the popular teen clothes there and for $3!) she picked several that I would never have guessed she would have liked. So no more shopping for Laura–she has to come with me.

6. I was reading another blogger talk about her “new normal”. I think we’re at that place as well. Huh. When they were really young, I often used that term with regards to medical issues. (e.g.: Ethan has a g-tube. Dealing with that was our new normal). Nowadays we are in a much better place, albeit busy. Last September I would have stumbled out of bed at 5:30 to get Bennett and Laura up, followed by Ethan at 6:15, followed by Catie at 7. All would be gone by 8:35, and start coming home at 2:35. Finances didn’t allow for extra-curricular stuff, except for band and chorus which were provided through the school. So my driving was mostly pleasure-oriented, with the occasional band practice or concert.

This year, wow. Our “New Normal”:

Monday: Me up at 6, Wake Laura as soon as I can.  Ethan’s bus comes at 7:30 on Mondays (team mtg at school), so he gets up at 6:45. Wake Catie and Bennett at 7 after Laura leaves. Ethan leaves at 7:30 and Catie out the door at 8:35. Bennett starts schoolwork whenever he wants as long as it’s before 8. Make him have breakfast around 9-9:30. Leave the house at 2 to pick up Laura at school. Something really easy for dinner because Catie has horseback riding lessons and we leave at 6:15.

Tuesday: Ethan up at 6:15, everyone else at 7. Nice, easy day.  At night , make sure Laura has clothes picked out and lunch made for next day.

Wednesday: Ethan and Laura both up by 6:15 to both be out the door at 7. Catie and Bennett up. Catie drum lessons at school so I will need to both drive her and pick her up, which will be challenging. Leave at 2 to get Laura. Drop carpool gal off at home. Drop Laura off if i have time, otherwise drive to Catie’s school and pick her up.

Thursday: Repeat Tuesday morning. I have bible study that night, so easy dinner that Jim can make or I can make really quickly and Jim can grab if he’s getting home late. 1x/month Laura has PT during the day.

Friday: Repeat Tuesday morning getting ready. 2x/month Laura has Orientation and Mobility lessons mid-morning. 1pm every week Bennett has guitar lessons.

Friday night: THANK YOU, GOD! We made it through another week!

I do want to say that I’m not complaining. I know we have it easy compared to you sporty parents. We are not a sporty family (for which I’m somewhat grateful!), so the whole lifestyle of living in your car and spending all Saturday at endless soccer tournaments or swim meets is completely foreign to me. All I’m saying is, this sure is different than the past few years!

7. I have had the blessing of eating lunch with my three closest girlfriends all within the past month. And this after seeing none of them all summer. Catching up, eating yummy food, just talking and sharing and laughing and crying has been WONDERFUL. (Even if I did forget Laura’s orthodontist appointment during one of them! Oops!)

Happy Fall Y’all!