Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Transitioning Mom

Conversation with J this fall:
"Are you excited that S is going to be done with school this year?"
"What are you going to do?"

I don't know for sure.  What I do know is that my job as mom doesn't stop just because he's graduating, but I will no longer be an active homeschooling mom at that point.  

S's first year at college will be a transition for all of us, but my job at that point is to continue to guide him into independence since he wants to transfer to a 4 year college either in Virginia or in Minnesota.  

What might I do?????
Once upon a time, I used to be a special education teacher (my degree is in Education of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing).  I quit working outside the home when we started our family.  I loved what I did, but I have no desire to go back into teaching.

1.  The education system is very different now than it was when I taught.
2.  Having had to sit on the other side of the table during special education meetings was enlightening.  I don't want to be part of the system that parents are battling just trying to get their children an education.

If not teaching, then what?
I interpreted one year, and I loved it.  I have thought about doing that.  It will require some refresher courses and some practice.  I have lost some of my fluency.  

I'm also a big fan of advocacy.  As I am on this side of my child's journey, I find myself able to help parents just starting out.  I love to answer questions and direct them to helpful resources. I love to see parents stick up for what their children need.

I might volunteer to see what I want to do.  There are a number of opportunities available in our area.

Here's what I do know....
Although I may not know what I want to be when I grow up, my life is going to change.  I'm looking forward to new opportunities.  S will graduate and start college.  We are excited to see what he is going to do with his life.  J is going to get his license this summer which will mean my husband and I won't have to drive him to/from practice 5 days/week.  At the time S finishes his 2 years at community college and prepares to transfer to a 4 year college, J will graduate from high school and go to college.  Life is going to be very different at our house in the next 3 years.  

At this point, S is one month out from being done with high school.  It is coming quickly!  For now, I will sit on the couch with chocolate and my teenagers while I still can.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Mixed Up Kind of Week

This has been a mixed up kind of week. We had school things that we celebrated. We had an event that made us sad.
The Senior
S finished up his College Algebra course this week!  He applied for ACE credit for the course, and it was approved within hours.  Yeah!  Now, he needs to work on coordinating accommodations for his placement tests at the community college.  He is hoping to have the tests taken in the next couple of weeks, so he can register for his Fall classes.

He has two classes remaining:  German IV and English.  He is continuing with his literature study on To Kill a Mockingbird.  He is enjoying the book. The end is rapidly approaching.

S had a Chiropractor appointment on Monday, Youth Group on Wednesday, and horseback riding this morning.  He will volunteer 4 hours tomorrow.

The Sophomore
J had a busy week at school.  He received his report card the other day and was quite pleased with his grades.  That’s always a good thing.

He had 14 hours of practice this week.  He stayed home one night.

On the Homefront
We had our family pictures last weekend.  We ended up moving them up to Saturday instead of Sunday because of weather.  We thought we had the clothing thing all figured out, but that became a comedy of errors.  We were going to wear black shirts with tan shorts/pants.  
*Does everyone have a black shirt?  My husband didn’t.  We bought him one.
*Realized J’s black shirt had streaks all through it.  Not sure why.  Had to run and buy him a new one Friday night.
*J came down in his tan shorts Saturday.  Are you wearing those?  Yes.  No, you aren’t. They have black paint on them from Art class.  None of his other tan shorts were clean. Washed shorts quickly.
*S had to volunteer prior to pictures, so we sent him in his tan shorts and told him we would bring his shirt to change into.  We did bring another pair of shorts just in case. No problems there.
*My husband went to get his shorts.  Apparently, we should have checked them earlier. They were quite wrinkled.  They were thrown into the dryer quickly.
* I got ready, walked past my husband and J, and they both asked me why I had blood on my pants behind my knee.  I had nicked the back of my leg shaving, and it bled through my pants.  We were walking out the door at this point.  I just said that we couldn’t have pictures of our backs.

The session itself went fine.  Our photographer is a friend from church, so we had a lot of fun. S even survived.  He didn’t want to be there.  As he told me, “You can just photoshop me in.”

We found out this week that a pastor from our church and his family are moving this summer. They will be greatly missed.  They both did a lot with our Youth group.  They were also friends of our family.  I have taken over one of the fundraising activities, and my husband is going to become a youth leader.  

My husband and I are going for a couples massage this afternoon.  We try to go every month, but sometimes it is every two months.  It will be a good way to end this week.  My husband is traveling for 4 days next week, so he could probably use one next Friday too.

Good-bye Spotz

When my boys were 3 and 5, we added Spotz to our family.  We couldn’t have had a more perfect dog for our family.  He came for a weekend trial when he was 1 to make sure he would be good with young kids, and he never left.  He was part of our family for almost 13 years. This week we had to say good-bye to him.

What did I write this week?
Because April is the Month of the Military Child, I wrote: I need my peeps!

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I need my peeps!

April is the Month of the Military Child.  Since we are a retired Army family and I have two military children, I thought I should write about this topic.  I started a post.  I added pictures.  I wrote.  I erased.  I cut and pasted.  I had notes scribbled on my calendar and in my notebook. It wasn't quite right.

And then....
I received this text from a 17 year old senior while we were driving to Pennsylvania two weeks ago.


This is what being a military child is about.  It means having people in your lives who aren't family but become like family given our unique circumstances.  

We have known this young lady her entire life.  We have had the privilege of watching her grow up.  My husband and I became friends with her parents (her dad was a soldier) 5 years before she was born.  We had been stationed in Texas and North Carolina together.  At the time they were expecting, they lived in Alaska and we were in Germany.  We received a letter from her mom telling us she was expecting.  I remember the day we received it in the mail.  

From Germany and Alaska, our families reunited in Alabama.  In the meantime, J had joined our family.  Their family had added a second daughter.  The three kids spent a lot of time together playing, fighting, tattling on each other.  

This family was there to help us when S came home from Bulgaria.  Now, there were 4 kids together.  Their girls and our boys match up in age.  There was a lot of laughter when we were all together.

They left Alabama and went to Alaska.  We left Alabama and went to California.  They came to see us in California when they moved from Alaska to Tennessee.  The kids picked up like they had just seen each other.  We left California and went to Virginia.  

Their family added a third daughter.  We did not add a third son.  We went to visit them in Tennessee.  Again, the kids had a great time.  They then moved to Delaware, so they were even closer.  We met up in Washington DC and had a long weekend sightseeing.  We would go to Delaware.  They came to Virginia.  

They added a son to their family.  We still just have two.

Our friends divorced.  The mom and the four kids went to California where she has family.  It was difficult because I knew we wouldn't see each other as often.  We called.  We emailed. We were on Facebook.

But because we have these Army bonds,
my friend started dating another soldier we knew.  The rest is history!  They are now happily married.  They have melded their families.  And they live in South Carolina!  We still get to see them and hang out.  Sometimes it is just for lunch as the kids are being taken/picked up to see their father since their meeting point is 75 minutes from our house.  Sometimes we get to have long weekends at each other's homes.

And now,
our oldest kids are graduating. This young lady texted my husband and told him that she needs her peeps there to celebrate.  


Her peeps will be going to South Carolina to celebrate with her.  She didn't know that we pulled out the ipad during our drive and made hotel reservations shortly after we had our texting conversation with her.  My boys are as excited to go as we are.

Throughout the years,
our kids have shared stories about moves, various houses, friends left behind, visiting family far away, having family come to visit, telling their dads good bye when they left for months at a time, our times together in so many different states.  In this month of the military child, this is what it is about.  

I will be on the couch with chocolate thankful that we have such wonderful peeps in our lives!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Senioritis has struck!

The Senior

Here's how it started.  S had a two week Spring Break. I should have known....

All weekend, I kept reminding him of three things:
1.  School was back in session on Monday.
2.  He has work to finish in order to graduate.
3.  There are 6 weeks remaining.

My husband told him, "If I were you, I would get up and get my work done.  You could be done before the 6 weeks."  S understood this to mean:  I can sleep in until after 11:00.  That is exactly how he started his week. [I must give him credit.  He did get up earlier on Tuesday and Wednesday.]  
On Thursday, S told us that if we just functioned like he did, getting out of bed when we felt like it rather than when it was necessary, then we would be more understanding. [Someone turned his alarm clock off and didn't get up that morning. He needed to go somewhere.] My husband explained to S that he would be unemployed if he did that.

This week he continued to work on his College Algebra, German IV, and History.  We started a literature unit on To Kill a Mockingbird.  We are using an interactive literature guide from Progeny Press.  We have used them before, so S is familiar with the format.

S finished up his History!  This was bittersweet for him since it is his favorite subject.  I told him it frees up time to explore whatever he wants.  I do have to give him a shout out for finishing this course.

S has continued to remind us (on the weekends) that he needs to go to the Social Security office to finish up his SSI application.  We continue to remind him that they aren't open on the weekend.  My husband called Monday morning to schedule an appointment.  He was told they didn’t need an appointment; they could just walk in and be seen.  They went there Thursday morning.  Oh my!  My husband was given misinformation which they figured out after having been there for more than an hour.  There is an appointment scheduled now for May 19. I told S this is like trying to get through another wave.  He’s tired of making his way through the waves. I can understand. I told him he is lucky to have his dad on his side for this.

S had horseback riding this morning, volunteering 4 hours on Saturday, and family pictures on Sunday (he's not very excited about it).

The Sophomore
J had a productive weekend before heading back to school.  He helped my husband make some decorations for S's graduation party.  


We had a church meeting on Sunday.  Next year is National Youth Gathering for church.  S has gone, and now it is J's turn to go.  It is an awesome experience for the youth.  J is excited about going.  We met to discuss some basic information and talk about fundraising.  

He had a Podiatry appointment on Monday morning, so he missed his first class.  J has navicular accessories which is why he has to wear braces on both feet while doing gymnastics. The doctor hadn't seen him in a while, so it was just a check up. The doctor was pleased with how he was doing and that there isn't any pain any more.

J went to the chiropractor yesterday for some therapy on his wrist.  He did something to it at practice, not sure what.  It’s been a little sore, but it felt better after the treatment.  

School was good this week.  It is the beginning of the end of the year.  Before we know it, they will be preparing for exams.

He had practice for 17.5 hours this week.  With this year's season over, they are looking ahead to next year.  He is working new skills and fine tuning the skills he has now.  

On the Homefront
We had a busy weekend working on outside activities.  The weather was gorgeous.  My husband and J worked on decorations for S's graduation party.  I mowed.  Our front yard has been a work in progress for a while, but it looks so nice right now.  


My husband spent three days in Kansas this week for work.  He didn’t like his connection times on his flight to Kansas and coming home was worse since he missed his connecting flight.  He eventually made it home, but it was quite late.

I had drop off and pick up for those three days.  I hung out at Starbucks rather than drive back and forth.  It’s a difference of driving 1.5 hours each night or 3 hours each night since the trip is 45 minutes each way.  My husband had a church meeting Thursday evening, but he was able to pick J up from practice.

This weekend we have family pictures.  I am looking forward to it.  Our photographer is the same one who did S's senior portraits.  She is so good.  She is very considerate about the additional time it takes to get S from point A to point B and get him positioned correctly.  

What did I write this week?
Our Favorite Adoption Books

I will be on the couch with chocolate hoping that senioritis won't linger too long in our household. I think I might be out of luck on that wish!

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Our Favorite Adoption Books

My husband and I adopted two sons, 16 and 14 years ago.  Each of their stories is as unique as the child involved.  Therefore, we have two favorite adoption books.


Our first child, who is our youngest, was adopted while we lived in Germany where my husband was stationed for three years.  We had planned on doing an international adoption from Russia while we were in Germany.  While we were in the process of filling out paperwork, plans changed.  Six weeks later, we had a newborn son.   Our favorite book for J is Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis.  As my husband and I stood in the German hospital trying to read the signs to figure out what floor we needed to get to, we felt like the parents in the book as they stood in the hallway of the hospital.

Our second child, who is our oldest, was adopted at the age of 4 from Bulgaria while we lived in Alabama.  Our favorite book for S is Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies by Ann Turner.  We like this book because it is about a boy who is a little bit older going to his new family.  He talks about having pictures of his new family, house, room, etc.  We still have the little photo album that we gave to S that had pictures of us, extended family, our house, his room, and our neighborhood.  It also describes the boy flying to meet his family and all of the emotions he felt.  The difference is we flew to Bulgaria to bring S home, but I can only imagine that S was feeling many of the same things.  Everything he knew changed, and he had all of these new things in his life.

Books have come and gone in our house as our boys have grown up; however, these two books will always be on my bookshelf.  

You will find me on the couch with chocolate and some books reliving the moments.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

When parents and students make a difference

After writing about our California school experiences, I thought I should write about the wonderful parents and children we encountered there.  It wasn’t all bad in California.  

Because my children attended a neighborhood school, the kids walked to school.  In S’s case, he rolled to school.  That meant every morning and afternoon there were a lot of people on the sidewalks in our neighborhood. At the end of the school day, the parents would gather around picnic tables outside the classrooms at the school while we waited for the kids to leave the classroom (the rooms had external entrances).  This allowed me to visit with the other parents. Because the majority of us were military families, we had that common bond even though we represented all branches of the military.

The parents took this time to ask about S.  I took this time to answer their questions and questions their kids might have.  S was invited to birthday parties there.  He was invited over to homes to play.  No one shied away from having him in their homes.  They figured out how to make it work.  It was nice.  We miss that aspect of California.

We moved from California in 2005.  To this day, S still stays in touch with his best friend from the second grade.  That is cool.  

While remembering these people who made a difference in our lives, I will be on the couch with chocolate.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Spring Break

Here is how we spent our Spring Break.

Stuffing Easter eggs for the Easter egg hunt at church.



Decorating Easter eggs


After attending our sunrise service which was held outside in a brisk 39 degrees, we headed to Starbucks before coming home for breakfast and Easter baskets.


Then, we went to Busch Gardens.






On our way home, we stopped for a treat.

50 hours of Spring Break were spent
*Driving to Pennsylvania
*Attending the last gymnastics meet of the season
*Becoming favorite patients of our chiropractor because we are bringing treats from the Quakertown Farmer’s Market to her.
Pickled Tomatoes
*Driving home from Pennsylvania

What else:
*J stuffed graduation announcements/invitations.
*We worked on picture boards/timeline for S’s graduation party
*Chiropractor appointment for S
*Orthopedics appointment for my husband
*10.5 hours of practice for J
*Preparing to wrap up Senior year in the next 6 weeks

What did I write this week:
Get Through the Wave

I will be on the couch with chocolate getting ready to wrap this year up!

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Get Through the Wave

My son, S, is rapidly approaching graduation.  He’s not excited about graduating because real life is on the other side of that milestone.  For a young adult who has multiple disabilities, he has a few more things on his to-do list than other young adults.  He has been a little stressed about “life”.  We spend a lot of time talking to him about this.

The past few months have been busy for S.  He has been arranging transportation for himself through Paratransit.  He is applying for SSI.  He has had to establish himself as a client with the Department of Blind/Visually Impaired Vocational Rehab.  He needs to coordinate with DARS since he is now a client of DBVI also.  These are just the service related pieces he is working to put in place.

He has college things he needs to do also.  He has applied to college.  He has completed the FAFSA.  He needs to finish his College Algebra course and apply for ACE credit for that.  He needs to take his placement tests at the college, so he can register for classes.

These are all things we have been working on all year.  We didn’t just start doing them.  We have known they needed to be done.  To my 18 year old son, it is all just a little overwhelming.

Yesterday, he was talking to me about how much there is to do yet.  I explained to him that the hard stuff is over.  He didn’t believe me.  We talked about how much he has already done.
*Transportation has been applied for and approved. We just need to figure out how it is going to work.
*He has filled out the application for SSI and gathered supporting documentation.  He needs to make an appointment and go to the Social Security office.  I told him once he gets the final word from them then he can plan accordingly.
*He has already established himself as a client with DBVI.  Now, it’s just a matter of doing an employment plan and staying in touch with them.
*He just needs to stay in touch with DARS according to the plan he has established with them.

I told him it is like trying to get through a wave.  It is hard work, but it is nice on the other side. You can enjoy the water for a little bit.  We are beach people; he understands that.    

I may not be on the couch with chocolate if I can find a way to get everything done at the beach.

A thank you to my son, J, for his awesome beach photos.

(Get it?  It’s a huge thank you.)