Friday, June 19, 2015

A Week of Milestones


The College Student
As you can see by my new heading, S has graduated!!  The festivities started last Friday when we headed up to Richmond to the Homeschool convention.  That day we checked him in for graduation, signed his diploma, and sent him off to the Senior Meet and Greet.  He originally had not planned on attending this event; however, he was glad he decided to go.  

Saturday was the big day.  We headed back up to Richmond for commencement practice and the commencement ceremony.  I have to give a shout out to HEAV for a phenomenal job on the commencement ceremony! I made contact with them back in the fall to check on accessibility for S, and everything was in place on Saturday.  The ceremony was very nice, and S was glad he participated in it (again, something he didn’t want to do in the fall).


After the ceremony, we were going to eat at The Cheesecake Factory except there was an hour wait.  We headed to Q’s Barbecue for supper and went back to The Cheesecake Factory to get cheesecake to go.  It was quite yummy!

On Monday, S found out that his College Algebra course has been approved as a transfer credit and his Math Placement Test was waived!  Tuesday he met with the Director of Disabled Student Services to get his accommodations put in place, and he is now registered for Fall classes.  He is starting with English Composition I, Statistics, and College Survival Skills.  We decided that it was better to start slowly and be successful instead of completely overwhelming him.  The Director talked to S about taking the German CLEP to test out of foreign language.  He is pumped up about that.  

Everything S wanted done before we head to Minnesota has been complete.  He is quite happy about that.  

The Junior
J is finally done with school.  He still had 2 exams on Monday:  English and PreCalc.  He is now done!

J hit a big milestone this past week also.  He finished his behind the wheel and passed his driver’s test!  He is a licensed driver.  Woo hoo!  

He has driven himself to/from practice starting on the first day.  It was a little stressful for me, but I know it is part of the process. The coach's wife has him text her when he gets to his car after leaving the gym, and he has to call/text her when he gets home. He has to let us know when he arrives at the gym and when he is ready to leave. He knows that everyone just wants him to be safe and know where he is at.

J missed practice Monday night.  My parents were flying home on Tuesday, so he wanted to spend time with them.  He also had his driver’s test at 6:50 AM Tuesday morning, so we wanted him to be well rested.

Next week, J has two college visits.  Busy, busy!

On the Homefront
We did it!  We managed to get S through middle school and high school.  My husband was very sweet.  He bought me flowers and gave me some cards thanking me for all of my hard work homeschooling S. He’s a keeper!

My parents flew in for the commencement ceremony.  It was a crazy week while they were here. J was doing his behind the wheel.  His school schedule was crazy due to exams.  He had practice.  

My parents and J hung out on Friday afternoon while my husband and I took S up to Richmond. We had the opportunity to connect with a college friend of mine while S was at the Meet and Greet.  It has been 14 years since we have seen her.  We had a great visit.  We may have been a little loud.  We met up with my friend again on Saturday before commencement.  She knows my parents.  It was another loud visit, but it was fun.  

The commencement ceremony was very nice.  J took pictures for us during the ceremony, so we were able to enjoy the whole experience and appreciate the moment.   

It has been HOT here this week.  The heat index has been in triple digits for too many days. Enough said!

Since J has his license, he has started driving himself to/from practice. My husband and I now have extra time in the evening. It is quite strange. We could get used to this.

What have I written this week?

We will be on the road this weekend, so you won’t find me on the couch with chocolate.  You will find me in the van with chocolate (see below)!  

We used to eat Ritter Sports when we lived in Germany.
I found this box at Sam's Club for a very yummy price.
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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Maintaining Birth/Cultural Ties

When I saw the Adoption Link-up topic on Maintaining Birth/Cultural Ties, I thought, "I can write about both situations."  We have two children who were adopted in two completely different scenarios:  an American infant who was born in Germany, placed with us at birth while we lived in Germany, and whose adoption was finalized in Germany and a 4 year old who has special needs adopted from Bulgaria who had been living in an orphanage while we lived in Alabama.

Because my children are older, I really need to make sure I am respecting their privacy in these situations and not crossing boundaries.  These are their stories to tell and not mine.  I make sure I have their permission to share anything that is personal.

Maintaining Birth Ties
We are not against maintaining birth ties with J's family.  We have maintained contact with his birth mother from the beginning of our relationship with her.  We send letters and photos twice a year.

Because of social media, it is easier to have contact with extended family in both directions; however, we (my husband and I) discuss this with J since he is an older teen. He is never asked to do anything that makes him uncomfortable, and we wouldn't pursue or share anything that would make him uncomfortable.  That's about all I can say in order to respect my son's privacy.

[As a side note, it is a different world now than when J first came home.  Social media was nonexistent. We didn't have cell phones with cameras.  We couldn’t Facetime or Skype with family. We had to take pictures on the camera with film, run to the express photo shop, and head over to the post office to mail pictures back to the United States.  It is much easier for people to find information/pictures about our children.]

Maintaining Cultural Ties
When S was young, we talked about Bulgarian traditions.  We learned some Bulgarian (We spoke Bulgarish).  We bought children's books that are written in Bulgarian. We took a lot of pictures while we were there.  We have Bulgarian photos/crafts that are displayed proudly in our house and other family member's homes.  

That being said, he is older now (a young adult actually). He is quite adamant about "That is in the past.  I live here now.  I am an American."  Have I mentioned before that he is strong willed?

Where their stories started
Since  both of my boys were born in Europe, we would love to go and visit Germany and Bulgaria.  J would love to go to Germany.  S would love to go to Germany also, but he has informed us that he has no desire to go to Bulgaria.  I really hope he changes his mind because Bulgaria is a beautiful country.  It is where his story begins.

I will be on the couch with chocolate watching their stories unfold.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

An essay from my son: I have been able to be successful.

My son had to write an essay about himself this fall.  I think he did a great job of explaining himself.  I asked him if I could use it on my blog, and he gave me permission.  I have been hanging onto it waiting for the right time.  That time is now.  My son is graduating this weekend.  

You will find me on the couch with chocolate celebrating this milestone in my son's life. He has worked very hard to get here!

I have been able to be successful.
  “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3 New International Version (NIV)) This was my confirmation verse and it has a special meaning to me because I have multiple disabilities. I’ve been able to be successful because of the people God has put in my life to help me on my journey. I think it is important to advocate for people who have disabilities, so they also have the chance to succeed in life as I have had so far.
I have three disabilities: CP, Low Vision, and ADD. My CP affects everything. However, the CP primarily affects my arms and legs. I started out using a walker. Now, I walk with crutches and I can also walk with one crutch. I can even walk short distances without any support. I use leg braces to help keep my legs straight when I walk. I use my own personal manual wheelchair to save energy and get around quickly when I have to travel long distances. I have always had problems with my vision; however, I recently received the label Low Vision. In the fourth grade, I was diagnosed with ADD. Even with my disabilities, I still have been successful in my life so far.
The reasons for my success are my parents, doctors, therapists, friends, other people and Faith. My parents have battled school systems to ensure that I’ve gotten a good education like everyone else. One school district suggested that I needed to be in a special school as a result of my disability. My parents said no and that I would be attending a regular public school. I have had good doctors and therapists. I have friends and other people who have helped me when I’ve needed help. My friends have made sure that when they plan activities that I can participate as well. At the end of the day, the number one reason why I am successful is because of my faith in Jesus Christ. I always pray for a better tomorrow, especially on the days that I’m physically struggling.
I think it is very important that all children and adults who have disabilities get the services and tools that they need in order to be successful. If they require certain adaptations in order to get tasks done and make their lives run smoothly, I think steps should always be taken in order that people with disabilities have access to them. If a person with a disability requires therapies, medications, or medical care, then I believe that steps should also be taken to ensure that they can gain access to them quickly without getting the run around from other people. I think it's very important to advocate for those who have a disability because I believe that everybody deserves a chance.
In conclusion, I do have a unique combination of disabilities. I have been able to be successful so far in life because I have had some help along the way. Everybody deserves a chance like I have been given.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Graduation is 8 days away!

The Senior
S has had an easy week.  He attended a luncheon on Monday to hear a speaker discuss the French influence on the construction of some Army installations near us.  He loved that. Tuesday’s chiropractic appointment was cancelled because the doctor was sick; however, I didn’t check my voicemail prior to leaving for the office in a massive storm.  Oops! Today he has horseback riding.

On the school side, he has been wrapping up his German IV course.  Graduation is in 8 days!!

Last week I wrote how S was waiting to hear from the community college about his College Algebra course but his transcript had disappeared.  It has been found.  He is now waiting on the official verdict as to whether or not he needs to take the Math placement test and if he will get credit for the course.  Looking forward to that decision being made so he can register for his classes.

The Sophomore
J had a great week!  His braces came off on Monday!!!!!!


He’s busy wrapping things up at school.  It is locker clean out time. Oh my word! High school is better than elementary school, but it is still a lot. He came home the other day with his PE shirt and books he had used for sophomore summer reading. We also had the AP History study book and flashcards. He had ideas as to who we could give these items too. Great idea! We are quickly handing things off to families with rising sophomores. The PE shirt is going to a rising freshman.  These families are helping us out by taking this stuff.
J's last day is June 15, a Monday.  Not only is it a Monday, they are taking finals so the kids have to be there.  Finals start next Wednesday afternoon.  He is exempt from the one Wednesday afternoon.  Thursday, Friday, and Monday are two exams each day.  He is exempt from the second one on Thursday.  Being exempt means he can leave campus. He likes that. They get the exemptions if they pass their SOLs (state testing).  They can be recommended to take the final if their final grade can be helped by it.

We scheduled J’s behind the wheel training to get his license.  That will start next Monday. These next few weeks are not going to be any less crazy around here.  We used to say “wait until things get back to normal” but we know that this is our normal.

On the Homefront
As noted from above, it’s been busy here.  We had a great time on our trip to South Carolina last weekend, but we were tired when we got home Sunday night.  

It was a busy week with appointments.  Tuesday we had bad storms and our power went out for 3 hours.  Of course, J had homework that required internet access.  Everything S wanted to get done on Tuesday afternoon required the computer and internet access so we read instead.  

It has been quite rainy here all week.  That makes it hard to get outside work done, and our backyard needs a great deal of TLC.  I happened to see an episode of “Yard Crashers” while we were in the hotel in South Carolina.  I need that to happen to us.

I have been cleaning off bookshelves. I started doing this last summer. Even so, it is amazing how much school "stuff" has accumulated through the years, and I have only homeschooled one child who did the majority of his work on the computer. We have friends from church who homeschool, so I offer my stuff to them.  I realized yesterday that I hadn't cancelled our annual subscription to ALEKSso I got on that quickly. We have used this for S's math for 5 years, and it was a great fit for him. I have also been printing end of year/school documents: grades, transcripts, reading logs, course descriptions. I have one final letter to send to our school district stating, "S has graduated."

This weekend will be busy.  One of our pastors is moving to New Jersey.  Saturday afternoon their family and dog are supposed to come and hang out at our house while there is an Open House held at their house. That evening is a farewell dinner/program at church.  We are only going to the program.  They are expecting quite a few people which is good; however, it is very difficult for S to get around safely with that many people there.  

We are having friends over along with our pastor and his family Sunday evening for cake and ice cream.

My parents are flying in on Tuesday for S’s commencement.  There will be some house cleaning happening here!  They sleep in S's room when they visit, so he knows his room needs to be cleaned. It's not as bad as it has been in the past, so it shouldn't take him very long.

What did I write this week?

This weekend you will find me on the couch with chocolate watching the Dateline episode about medical marijuana on June 7.  My friend is in this episode.  She is an amazing woman!  

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Celebrating Adoption Day

We recently celebrated my youngest son's Adoption Day.  Sixteen years ago a German judge signed the adoption decree making our son's adoption final.  The crazy part is we didn’t even realize it had been done until we happened to check our German mailbox.  J’s birthmother, my husband, and I had all signed the paperwork weeks earlier.

Even though J had been with us since birth, it was very exciting to get the paperwork that made J a legal family member.  It meant a trip to Frankfurt to the Consulate to get his name changed on his passport.  We also had to apply for a new Certificate of Birth Abroad from the Consulate with his new last name.  We had to get a new German birth certificate with his new last name.  This child has MANY different birth certificates.  

How did we celebrate?
Because our family schedule is beyond crazy right now, J's celebration took place over multiple days rather than just on his day.  We had crepes for breakfast one morning.  We had delicious chocolate cupcakes with chocolate fudge frosting one night for dessert.  We enjoyed time as a family hanging out and playing games.

You will find me on the couch with chocolate enjoying time with my family.  

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No Bohns About It

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

It has taken a village...

As my son prepares to graduate from high school, my husband and I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the group of people who have helped us get S to this point.  We have most certainly not gotten him here on our own.  We refer to this group of people as Team S.

How do we go about recognizing all of these people who have helped S and our family get him to this point of graduation and preparing to start college?

We made a list.  This list includes people from Alabama, one person from California (not such good experiences there or as my mom, a retired teacher, says "they weren't very nice to him there"), Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.  (There is a HUGE list of people from Minnesota, but they all received invitations to the party.)

It was quite humbling to see this list of people who have made a difference in our son's life. They have encouraged him, given him the support he needs, and pushed him to be the best he can be.

Our list includes principals, a Special Education director, teachers, assistants, Assistive Technology personnel, Physical Therapists, Speech Therapists, staff at his therapy clinic, horse handlers, volunteers at his riding facility, instructors at his riding facility, pastors, Sunday School teachers, his Pediatrician, his Ophthalmologist, the person who does all of his paperwork for equipment, his equipment rep, his chiropractor, his massage therapist, and friends.  

Some of the people we have stayed in touch with throughout the years.  Others we haven't. We had to do some searching to get addresses.  We sent the announcement with a thank you from S printed on the back.  

We have heard back from so many people.  

One person wrote, "It means so much to me but I want to point out that it's you who has done all of the heavy lifting."

Another person wrote, "THANK YOU with all my heart....please know that I learned so much with you and from you in our time together. You were a milestone in my professional world....I took the lessons we learned together and helped other students with your ideas."

His first grade teacher posted it on facebook, and it was so fun to read the comments from staff members who remember him.  

What we have learned through the years is that as much as people touch our lives and S's life, he touches their lives.

I am writing this post as I sit at the community college's Office of Student Success waiting for my son to finish his college placement tests.  I can't help but appreciate the name of this office whose staff will be such an important part of my son's college life. We are continuing to add to Team S

I will be on the couch with chocolate thanking God for blessing us with all of these amazing people who make up Team S.