Friday, January 30, 2009

Warm, Lazy River, Roll on Forever

It is 12 frigid degrees outside, the ground is frozen solid and the drive is a sheet of ice. The forecast is calling for snow, and I am digging out bathing suits and flip flops. Not to go someplace warm. mind you, that would make too much sense!! No, we are going to Ohio. Right smack in the middle of the snow belt.

We are making our 2nd trip to the Unschooler's Winter Waterpark Getaway in Sandusky, Ohio. Last year, when we arrived, the waterfall in front of the resort was frozen! But inside, it is always warm. There are lots of different areas for kids and grown ups, including a water zip coaster! There is an indoor "sock" area if you want to be dry (but why?!) and an arcade. You can tap you inner artist and create a pottery piece in their studio, or make your own snuggle buggle in the "Build-A-Bear"-like animal center. There is a candy shop, a spa and a gym. The resort also has lots of fun activities planned each day like cookie decorating, candy bingo, coloring contests and spider stomping!
We are going with a large group of unschoolers from all over the country. The talented and generous event organizers have planned a carnival, a dance, a talent show, movie night and lots of other amazing opportunities for families to play. There will also be many informational funshops for kids and adults.
We are really looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and meeting new. The lazy river and a margarita? What more could I want in February?!!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Some testing results

We are going through the CSE process with our school district to get Kenny III tested and possibly seme services. I am not thinking that they will qualify him for services though, because we are homeschoolers. The school psychologist has been helpful and is pleasant to deal with, as are the office staff members at Pupil Personnel Services. However, I requested the evaluation in early September, before school even started, and we have not even had test number one yet. I am pretty sure if he were in school this process would not be taking so long. My son;s challenges are only additional effort for me, not any classroom teachers, so we are low on the list of priorities. I am consoling myself and keeping my frustration in check by constantly reminding myself that there are children with far greater needs than K3 so we can just wait our turn.

I chose to also have K3 evaluated by a private neuropsychologist. We are blessed with health insurance, and the doctor we chose took care of all the insurance issues himself. This was a gift in and of itself, as it left me free to navigate the other mazes of this process. His office is in Smithtown, which was no fun to get to, but he was soft spoken, generous with his time and non nonsense without being abrasive. All in all I would recommend him, as there are so few from which to choose and the only other neuropsych I know of does not come recommended. In fact, I tried to use the Stony Brook neuropsych and quickly learned that would not be the path for us.

Anyway, Friday night dh and I went to Dr. Sandberg's office to get his verbal synopsis of K3's test results. Some were quite surprising, but I am relieved to know where we stand. I am also very relieved that the first words out of Dr. Sandberg's mouth were not "He needs to go to school". It was pretty clear that was what he wanted to say, but he was kind and respected our choice. It appears Kenny has some sort of visual spatial perception issue. It is not severe and until I see the report for myself I don't completely understand what that means. He also is below level academically but since the tests are given in written format that is not surprising. The verbal tests and spoken memory tests were well above the mean, again no surprise.

What was surprising to me was that he does not appear to have any fine motor delays. He cannot properly write letters, but this is not due to any muscle weakness or fine motor difficulty. I was also amazed to learn my son cannot recite the alphabet! Actually, he can but he goes right from "s" to "y-z". However, once I realized he was having trouble I stopped trying to teach him the names of letters and focused more on making sure he knows what sound a particular symbol makes. Which he can do, so that was not a big deal to me although the doctor was pretty stunned that a 7 year old can't recite the alphabet! Whatever.

I look forward to seeing how the school's testing lines up with the neuropsych tests. Ia m thankful that Kenny III does not realize that he has challenges or is behind his peers in certain areas. I an thankful that our insurance will cover the testing and the OT, that dh is participating in this process and that we have the freedom to homeschool him and address these issues in all aspects of his life. I am also very blessed to have a great network of friends who have been or are going through this same process. It is wonderful to be part of a true community.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Too cold to think

My littlest has a friend coming over this weekend (see our Boston Trip blog). This will be the first time she has had a sleepover here and she is very excited. We changed the sheets, cleaned and vacuumed and Daddy is going to the store for snacks. Don't tell her, but he is actually going to the store because last Sunday and this he is a football widow. It's the Eagles and the Steelers baby, can it get any better than that? Only when the Steelers win!!! But I have obviously digressed.

Yesterday a good friend of mine suggested we all go out to Greenport ice skating. This sounded like a fabulous idea, as well as a perfect excuse to go to Target and buy that Thermos I know we need but have never bought. Oh, and a container to hold the 25# of flour that I ordered from co-op that will be here Tuesday without a home. Oh, digression again. Told you it was too cold to think. Which brings me right back on point. It's too freaking cold!!!! When I got up this morning Optonline gave the Aquebogue temp as -13. Yes, you saw that right, that's a minus in front of the 13. Right now it is saying -10 so we have warmed up, and the sun is out so I am doubtful about the accuracy of that number. But dh and I got a 6:30am wake up call from one of our drivers who was at the landfill in Ohio and the motor to the tarp was frozen. He said the temp was -15 to -10 there, so we may not be too far off track. The problem is the whole content of the trailer becomes a literal 53' long ice cube, but that is probably only interesting to me.

OK, back on track. I cannot even imagine being outside ice skating today. It is not high on my list of things to do anyway, given that I had 2 knee surgeries before I even graduated from high school and have no desire for a third. So what, then, do I do with 4 children all weekend? We will go to the barn for a short time, but even horses are frozen in this weather. And despite having 7 horses in her own backyard Kyle's friend does not like horses! Her mom is pretty disappointed. I thought about CMEE and then a quick trip to Shinnecock to see the seals, but again cold is not my thing. And if you have ever spent a minute with a 5 year old girl you know they always have to pee at the most inopportune times. 2 of them needing to pee in sub-zero weather, in front of the ocean would put me over the edge.

Atlantis is an option, as we recently renewed our membership. But I am not a fan of crowds, and we are so spoiled as homeschoolers there is typically no one in the place when we go. I thought about the library, but I really just don't want to leave my house. But I do have books on hold so perhaps a brief trip is in order.

Ugh. I am done rambling now. Stay warm all!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Letting Go

Sometimes, you just have to let it all go.

The year we moved into this house dh had a bad health crisis and auto accident on December 19th. The brand new neighbor, who I had just invited for coffee and cake that very evening stayed with my girls till 3:00am while I took my son with me to the ER to be with dh. Her generosity extended and she shared their Christmas Eve tradition with us, that year and every year since. We gather together for Chinese take-out. The first year this sounded incredulous, but I wasn't really in a position to be picky. I was overwhelmingly grateful to have such a great friend and neighbor. Now, several years and Christmas Eve's later, it is something we treasure. Thoughts of a fancy, Christmas Eve buffet that takes days to prepare? I've let it go.

This year, for the first time in my life, I did not prepare every element of our Thanksgiving meal fro scratch. I added fresh veggies and homemade stock to a bag of Arnold's stuffing. Turns out, my kids can't tell the difference between my cranberry mold and a can of Ocean Spray. And my oldest likes the ridges the can makes. The potatoes and gravy were all from scratch, but everything else started out partially prepared. It was a lovely, relaxed meal. Thinking I have to prepare every element of every meal from scratch? I've let it go.

Homeschooling is wonderful blessing, and something I am not willing to compromise. My kids are still little and retain their sponge like curiosity. While in the middle of one lesson, we often detour to further explore another, and the next thing you know an hour or two has gone by. Do you know how Henry Hudson died? Interesting. I used to schedule our school day, it was inconceivable to me that a day could go by without any of the lessons on our plan being fully completed. Fortunately for my children I have let that go. We now still have our plan, but detours and impromptu field trips enhance our learning, rather than interrupt it. Rigid scheduling? I've let it go.

I have never been a meticulous housekeeper. Our home is clean, but it could never be called neat. We have 3, home schooled children, a cat, a fish, a super sized tortoise and a large, active puppy. Every flat surface is covered in paper of some sort, bills, directions, recipes, name it. I used to panic when the doorbell rang unexpectedly. But I have learned that most people with kids are relieved to see that your home is no different than theirs! I have also learned that it is an accepted fact of homeschooling, and other homeschoolers don't even notice. That means the welcome mat is always out and our door is always open. This has been one of the best blessings in my life. Those unexpected treasures, like a pot of hot soup, or a friend stopping by to share a cup of coffee. Our friends know that our door is always open to them, any time. No need to call, or worry that you are interrupting something. Our home is available, and so are we. Putting schedules above relationships? I've let that go.

My son has always had migraines. They are increasing in both frequency and intensity in the last several months. I have spent countless hours calling doctors, making appointments, taking him to specialists, making follow up phone calls, fighting with the insurance company...whew! What a chore. Then my son gets a headache and life stops. The laundry stays in the washer, the dishes stay in the sink and life literally stops. He and I cuddle and snuggle and whisper and huddle. My oldest occupies my youngest quietly and everyone pitches in to make K3 as comfortable as possible. Once he falls asleep, all of those chores will still be there waiting, but he will know that for as long as it takes, he has our love and support. Putting the house above the home? I've let that go.