Wednesday, October 5, 2016

School's In Session

Well, we have the first month of school under our belt.  Whew!  It's been pretty good but a definite challenge getting back into the routine, structure and discipline. Brynn has started off okay and likes her new teacher.   

She definitely enjoys the various gadgets that are used in class.  They use calculators, iPads, Smart Boards and Chromebooks ... oh boy!!

Our guy, Jonah, is enjoying being in first grade very much!!  
The classes are involved in Project Lead The Way and it seems to be a fun and creative way to get kids engaged in learning. 

Despite Jonah's obstacles in speech and language, he reallys enjoys socializing and interacting with his peers and they have been wonderful at accepting him just the way that he is.  While Jonah's speech is quite difficult to understand, fortunately, his peers have acclimated and adjusted to his way of communicating and can even interpret for someone who is not used to hearing Jonah talk.  

That really is wonderful and we are so pleased with the way the children are able to overlook the differences and accept Jonah the way that he is.  However, we have been continuing Jonah at Speech Therapy through Children's Hospital and we have now just received approval for the implementation of an IEP (Individual Education Plan) at school so that he can have more therapy integrated right into his daily routine.  

Jonah may have another surgery sometime in January to revise and/or enhance the pharyngeal flap that was done this past June, however, at this point, it is tentative depending on the progress with his speech.  He is working really hard and he does sometimes frustrate quickly.  But he has so much to try to catch up on (identifying letters and numbers while at the same time learning to read and understand beginning math concepts) all while he is working hard to make his mouth form the sounds of all those letters and numbers and words!  It really is A LOT and I am so proud of him and I really try to show him how exciting it is when he succeeds.  It's amazing how his whole face lights up!

And then there's this little buddy, Rees!  He's having a great start to going back to school.  He is much more comfortable with the routine and the structure and environment than when he first attended earlier this year . 

Rees is scheduled to have his next surgery late October.  The plan is to continue taking steps to correct the numerous issues he's been dealt.   

I do find that I am getting a bit anxious as I anticipate Rees' next surgery.  I am admittedly worn out and knowing that he will have surgery in October, then in January and then again in April ... well, let's just say that I'd like to throw myself on the floor to have a baby-fit!  Honestly, my life has become more challenging.   

Silly me ... I thought the biggest challenge was going to be the possibility of two kids having a serious surgery at the same time.  Uhhh ... 

... well, one surgery turned into eight surgeries in just seven months.  Eek!!  
But I am really happy that they are doing quite well.  They are changing and learning and growing every day ... and really doing SO WELL for all that they've endured in such a short time.

I am still a whole lot of worked hours SHORT of qualifying for FMLA for next year but thankfully my manager has been very understanding and has allowed me the flexibility to work around the numerous appointments and follow-ups we've had and continue to have.  It does put a bit of additional stress on me as I am constantly calculating, re-calculating, arranging, and re-arranging my work hours so that I ensure I am getting in all of my hours but I have been blessed as well in being able to balance it all.  

Rees, too, has been working hard at school and at home trying to learn ... though, he has a bit of an advantage with the fact that he started over and is in kindergarten again.  Yet, he is still behind the other kindergarteners simply because they have five years of learning experience on him.  But another advantage that Rees has that we feel will help him is that he pays attention when we're working with Jonah and he often follows along and wants to do what Jonah is doing so he's getting double practice, which is great!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My Favorite Time of Year ...

My favorite time of year has begun!! 

We've been so busy - busy - busy ... but we just HAVE TO SQUEEZE in a little festive and seasonal enjoyment.  A couple of weeks ago, we went to the Cedarburg Harvest Festival.  We made it an opportunity to get some nice photos.

Here's Molly trying to teach me how to do a "selfie"!

This past weekend, we made an impromptu visit to the nearby Apple Orchard.  
The kids really enjoyed picking apples.

Then, of course, they just had to make caramel apples!

They were super excited to eat their sugar-loaded apples!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The County Fair, Family Time and Summer's End

This is going to be a loooonnnnngggg photographical post ... you don't mind, do you?  I really will try to post better; these long posts sometimes lose a bit of commentary because there's just too much to cover.  

This last week was a very busy and eventful week. We had A LOT going on in a short amount of time.  Our family got together ... to be together ... to remember our mom/grandma/wife ... to go to the County Fair ...

... where we live, you CAN'T NOT GO TO THE FAIR!!  It is an absolute way of life!  There's no avoiding it ... I mean, ... well, we actually live in the County Seat, WHERE THE FAIR IS AT, ... so, yeah, it's pretty much unavoidable.

Here's my sister acting like a turkey!!

And then we saw some REAL TURKEYS!  
We walked through a building FULL of turkeys and many of them were gobbling!  Growing up, my mother used to always make the "gobble" sound around and on Thanksgiving.  But I had actually never heard a REAL GOBBLER until that day at the fair.  

There were all these turkeys, making the "gobble, gobble, gobble" sound and all I could hear was my mother on Thanksgiving, "GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE!!"  
It made me smile ... and laugh ... and smile some more.

We also saw other animals and enjoyed the various exhibits.  

This 991 pound pumpkin was especially IMPRESSIVE!!!
(I sure would like to see those pumpkin seeds!)

Several of us in the family stopped at the booth that sells the infamous eclairs and cream puffs!  We did this for my mom.  My mom loved to go to the fair, if only to get the eclairs and the cream puffs.
So, ... we ate eclairs in honor of my mom ... 

... and cream puffs too ...

We know how much you loved them, Mom!!

This sister of mine took her chances on the deep fried ALLIGATOR-ON-A-STICK!  Yep, you read correctly ... 
... ahh, tastes like chicken!! 
Doesn't everything??

We went on some fair rides.  Well, actually, this was my only fair ride ... the giant ferris wheel.  That was enough for me!

The kids had a great time going on LOTS of rides ... over and over and over again.

The three younger kids even got to go on a pony ride.

Going to the Fair makes for Happy Faces!

Jonah and Rees really enjoyed the fair.

It was a LONG day and they kept going and going and going ...

... until they just couldn't go any more.

After the Fair, we had more Family Time with some sightseeing and a cook-out and we even celebrated our mom's life with an ice cream cake!

It's a little hard to celebrate ... when we're still feeling the freshness and sadness of our loss, but with us being all together, we just knew we couldn't NOT.

I've been working on a Memorial Garden ... inspired by the loss of my mother.  It's really beginning to take shape.  I have made the garden stones and bricks myself (first time creations but pleased with the results) and and then decorated with large, gaudy creations that my mother would absolutely LOVE.

The Garden is a work-in-progress ... obviously to be an on-going project, especially as we are at the end of the gardening season.  But I am looking forward to searching out and planting just the right items.

On our second to last day of summer vacation, we spontaneously decided to go on a HIKE.  We went to three different locations taking up the whole day.  It was really nice ... good exercise (never mind the ice cream cones we got at one point) ... beautiful scenery ... and enjoyable family time.  

We even brought along our lunch to eat after covering a couple of miles ...

The rest of these photos were taken along a Lakeshore Path that is both breathtaking and adventurous.  It's speckled with houses that are mostly quite extravagant with a few that are more modest.  The sky was a beautiful backdrop to  ...  well, just about everything!  ENJOY!!

One of the homes along the path has a fence-border and along the fence are numerous quotes, bible verses and sayings ... it's a very inspirational spot!

There is a bell nearby with a sign that reads: Ring the bell to make miracles happen!

(And that's it ... nothing medical-related in this post.  Plenty of time for that later ... all is stable at the moment.)