Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bumps and Dips

Well, time changes so many things. After heartache for Abbie (and this us), as well as heeding the advice of people we respect and doing research, we scheduled an appointment with the head of special education for the school district. We were pretty much determined that we would advocate for Abbie to leave the school system and attend a private school. We agreed, however, under the head of special ed's request, to allow Abbie to try the other elementary school in the district. The school is actually about 1/10 of a mile from the church where Rick works. I went and observed first, and then once I approved, Abbie began the process of moving over to the new school. Change is difficult for her, but she did really well. Now, a month later, I can honestly say it was the best decision ever. I am devastated at losing her speech therapist, who is such an amazing therapist and person, but the new environment is much more appropriate. She is integrated during the day, into a class of children that were handpicked for their good behavior and kindness to others. The classroom teacher has a much different [philosophy than her previous one. All the desks are set into small clusters, encouraging teamwork and socialization. There are 6 special education students and about 14 "typical". There is an aid that works with each cluster/group. There is a lot of group and team work. In the afternoon, Abbie is in a small class of 6 students, where there is more focused teaching and sensorimotor learning. Abbie has thrived under this. Now instead of crying and wanting us to pray the whole way to school, she talks and smiles the whole way and hen runs into school. Now we are watching to see how her learning growth goes. Thanks to everyone who has prayed for her and us.

On another front, Brooks was attacked by a dog. He went to a hug a friend's dog, and the dog went for his face. Rick was with him, and he had just started to pray with the guy when it happened. His face was bleeding, so Rick rushed him to the ER. Long story short, we saw a plastic surgeon (which was a nightmare experience for him). Now we lather him in sunscreen and are hoping the scarring is minimal. We have put getting Brooks's headshots on hold until the scars fade a bit. An agent asked to sign him, saying he would be perfect! He was such a gentleman and was talking to her like a grown up. She melted and gushed all over him. We only went to see her because ever since seeing Freckleface Strawberry (Broadway show by Julianne Moore), he has wanted to be up on stage. I was in my first play at 4 or 5, and would have killed for the opportunity that he is going to get.
Well, that is about it for now!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tough Stuff

Tough stuff...that is what I am dealing with now. You never understand when your parents tell you to enjoy being a child and not grow up too fast. This week I have definitely longed for those "ignorant" childhood days. Most of you know Abbie has Global Delay, along with a myriad of other learning disabilities. Due to these but her social/emotional intelligence being very high, these delays have begun to cause major problems at school. Abbie is feeling left out, anxious, and sad. She processes thing and picks up on people's feelings/attitudes well beyond her 6 1/2 years of age. Because of those concerns, as well as our concern that Abbie is not being taught appropriately, we are in a major exploration phase. Unfortunately, in this real world, those major explorations cost a fortune. Rick teases me that I would spend every penny on Abbie if I could, and he is right. I guess it is good I am not the head of the household, or we would be living in boxes by now!!
So we are looking into having a huge neuropsychological evaluation done for Abbie (all for the low price of $5000) and then finding her a private school that could better meet her needs. Please continue to pray for us. Below are some verses I cling to.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 16:12-15
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

Friday, January 21, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

One-half of One-tenth of One Percent

I am part of One-half of One-tenth of One Percent! That is a mouthful! The emcee at the start line to the Disneyworld marathon said that only 1/2 of 1/10 of 1% of people will ever run a marathon. For the life of me, I do not know why he did not say 1/20th of 1%, but hey, to each his own!

The weeks leading up to the marathon made me a little nervous. Between being sick and too smart to run in the cold, I was forced to hit the treadmill and rest more than I would choose. All my other marathon friends (or should I say fellow 1/20th of 1% friends) told me I would be fine. I tried to settle my spirit - and my stomach- and just trust.

As luck would have it (my bad luck that is), a huge storm came in starting the night before I was supposed to leave for Disney. The storm was to last for 2 days, which would mean me missing my marathon. Sweet Mom came to the rescue. She came early, and we caught a flight at 7 am to get us out before it got bad. It was my first time to fly Jet Blue, and let me tell you, I will always try them first. While Rick snored away, I watched a movie on my own personal tv (thanks JB). The flight attendants were actually nice, too, which is a rarity these days.

Once we landed, Disney took care of us. We did not even have to pick up our luggage. We went straight for the bus that took us to our resort - Caribbean Beach. If you know me at all, you know I am a hotel snob. The room definitely did not meet my standards, but the amenities were kickin'! Rick and I were wiped out from only getting 3 hours sleep the night before, so we laid low that night. We actually had a code word "bubblegum" if the other person was getting on our nerves. If we said the code word, that told the other person he/she was getting on our nerves and to be quiet. We did not even have to use it. My girlfriend and running partner had arrived the day before and picked up all my stuff, so I went to visit with her while Rick chillaxed.

Friday was a lay low day. We went to Downtown Disney and just "goofed" off. Haha - see my picture below!

Someone had recommended "Black Swan" to us, so being naive and trusting (and not seeing the poster that indicated it was a psychosexual thriller, we sat down to "enjoy" our movie. Suffice it to say, it was offensive, boring, and one of the worst movies I have ever seen! That means it will probably win an Academy Award this year. (: We did have a fabulous lunch at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant. We went shopping t the Expo, where I bought a shirt that said Team 413 on the front and had Philippians 4:13 and the verse written on the back. I was excited about wearing it during the marathon. Gd has changed me so much through the training for the marathon that I wanted to give Him glory throughout it. After that, we just chilled.

I knew I had to be up at 2 am to get to the Start line in time, so of course, I could not fall asleep. We had no one next to us the entire time, but that night there was someone staying next to us. They had very loud kids that stayed up very late. Grrrr!

2 AM came very early! God awoke me with energy and good health. We caught the bus and headed over to the Runner tents. I had paid extra money to be able to use the Runner's Retreat, which meant heat, breakfast, potties, and changing tents. Afterwards, it meant lunch.
We had to be in our corrals before 5 AM, so we started the 30 minute walk to the starting line around 4:30 am. There were 20,000 people running the marathon, so excitement was in the air!!! Our corral was set to start at 6 am. I usually have horrible lower leg pain the first 30 minutes, so I was a bit worried. I FELT NO PAIN!!

Throughout the race, there was music, entertainment, and Disney characters along the way. Some people stopped running to wait in long lines for pictures. Everybody chatted with each other, laughed, told stories, etc. It was quite "magical." My dream of a husband caught shuttles and ran all over to be at as many stops as he could. The picture below was around mile 19 or 20 I think.

I felt pretty good, hitting no wall until around Mile 23. Even then, it was not horrible. My asthma was starting to act up, so I had to slow down. My running partner and I did the last 3 miles Jeff Galloway style and actually ran them at a pretty decent pace. She and I rounded the corner at the end to a huge choir singing Kirk Franklin. We held hands and ran across the Finish Line.
After walking back to the tent, we met up with our husbands. We were still kind of in awe that we actually ran 26.2 miles and finished with a smile!

To say I was sore the next day is putting it very very mildly. I could not walk very well, but I was not going to miss Marathon Monday at the Disney parks. It was too cool. We chose Hollywood Studios. Everywhere I went people would congratulate me. (We were all wearing our medals and victory t shirts).

Now that it is over, the soreness gone, what is left is a pulled foot muscle, 2 toenails about to fall off, and the excitement of doing ti again next year!

If you have ever considered running a marathon, DO IT! It has truly changed me - down to the core of who I am. I have learned to worry less, embrace the moment but recognize it for what it is - just the moment. It has taught me to push when I need to, rest when I need to, and to remember my Nourishment (the Lord). I have learned it is ok to need a break and be weak, but we must recognize when our break is over. It has taught me so much more, but suffice it to say, God has led me victoriously through it all!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas 2010, in part

Happy New Year! I cannot believe how quickly this year went. More than anything this year, I have been blessed my God's goodness, amazing friendships, and such a joyous family. Now that my youngest is almost 4, I realize that time is so short. I want to tell everyone who becomes a mom for the first time that it goes by so fast and not to wish away even one sleepless night. Then I remember how annoying it was when other people said that to me, so I keep it quiet! I am still hoping Rick decides he wants one more, but it looks like only a divine intervention will let us have another one! (:

Christmas was an amazing whirlwind. The time between Thanksgiving and New Year's flew by! Because we were traveling to Germantown for Christmas, we had Santa come early to our house. I will post those pics/video soon. It was good to have our small family time together. Once we got to Tennessee, we hot the ground running...literally.

We had a Jingle Bell Run the morning of Christmas Eve for all family members interested in running a 3 mile route together. Lisa made us cute matching bandannas. Being the first year, we only had 7 people participate( out of about 30-35). Hopefully next year we will have more and add a Walker Group as well.

Then everyone, runner or not, met at my Aunt Dottie's house for breakfast and to decorate Christmas cookies. The kids love this.

They also got some good cousin bonding!

Once that was over, we had a few hours to rest up and get ready to have the whole family - aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, kids, etc. over to my parents' house. We always dress up, have a fancy dinner, and then we sit around and sing Christmas carols and have those that are actually talented sing solos. It is one amazing emotional, laughter filled night!

Abbie ate up the attention from her 2 pregnant aunts!

The next morning was Christmas!

We had the grandkids line up and walk down the stairs one at a time to their stockings.

We skipped my grandmother's this year, which was a bit sad, but it left time for us to spend as a smaller family. I never thought I would call a group of 15 smaller family! That night, we had everyone over again for soup and leftovers.

The week at my parents' house was well worth the 2 day drive there and 2 day drive back. Seeing my kids enjoy the family I grew up with and their cousins is such a blessing.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Abbie's Place

Rick and I visited a school this morning in Stamford, CT that we might consider sending Abbie to next year. The school was impressive. The teacher/student ration was 1:4. All kids at the school have learning disabilities, with 70% being language/auditory processing issues. EVERY SINGLE teacher is a licensed special education teacher. The application process is arduous, but it has to be done quickly. Once we apply, if they feel Abbie might be a good candidate, she will be invited to attend school for 2 days there. After that, the teachers and therapists will meet to decide if she will be a good fit or not, and where she should be placed. Once all that is done, we start applying for financial aid. The school is a mere $40,000 a year(: so we would definitely need aid. Our only concern with it is her speech therapy would be much less intense than what she gets now. That is a huge concern, but the class size and environment would be one in which she could thrive and would not stand out like she does now. We are praying for God's timing, direction, and plan.

Those 4 Weeks

It is Christmas time! How I love Christmas time. Before I had kids, I used to get so annoyed at radio stations that switched to all Christmas music for the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now I am loving it! I jam out every time I am in the car. Before you have kids, the "mood" of Christmas is created for you. Once you become Mommy, you have the responsibility to create that "mood." Music gets me in the mood.

Speaking of the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the time has flown by! My parents flew up to New York for Thanksgiving weekend. Because they arrived late afternoon on Thanksgiving, I made the entire meal by myself. Can I brag? It was delicious!!! The turkey was a bit dry, but everything else was great. Nothing came from a box - it was all homemade from scratch. What is so funny to me is that it was last Thanksgiving that really set me on a path of cooking from scratch. Leigh, one of my best friends, and her family came up for Thanksgiving, and she and I made the meal together. I realized that it was not that hard. Since then, I have been a cooking machine!
Ok, so back to my weekend with my parents. My mom had hopes of doing major things like heading into NYC, but my dad just wanted to chill. He won. We piddled around the nearby area and really got to enjoy being together. The night before my parents left, we put up and decorated the tree together.

Then we worked on that "perfect" Christmas card picture. My mom helped me decorate the house for Christmas, too. I loved having my parents here. It made me a little sad that we live so far away, but I enjoyed the time for what it was.

We also got to host our annual Christmas party open to the entire church. Our house is smaller than the one we were in last year, so I was a bit nervous, but it all worked out. The party was a drop in, but once people got here, no one seemed willing to leave. That was fine by me - the more the merrier! We probably had about 80 people in all, which is not bad turnout. That is half our church!

Amidst holiday chaos, I am in the final weeks of marathon training. I have my second 20 mile run this weekend before I start tapering for the big day. That basically means the two weeks before Christmas will be made up of shorter runs, preparing my body to run the full 26 on January 9th. I am still very nervous, but I am getting more an more excited! My nerves are more about bathroom issues and what could go wrong. I know I have put in the hours training, so I am excited to put it to the test!

Now we are preparing to leave for Tennessee. All fifteen of us will be under one roof this year. I am so excited!!! Have a safe and merry Christmas!