Time for a new thread!
Our youngest family member is home after 5 weeks in the NICU, and our home seems much fuller – and happier than it ever was. DS2 has recovered from two surgeries and one massive UTI but is doing very well now. We are catheterizing due to neurogenic bladder, keeping him on a low dose of antibiotics due to kidney reflux, doing PT and donning braces, but it has all become routine surprisingly fast. With all he’s been through, DS2 is an amazingly happy and content baby - punctually on the first of December, he has started smiling and laughing.
People who see the shunt and scar from the shunt surgery on the top of his head tend to ask worriedly whether there will be mental disabilities, and we answer honestly: It’s not to be expected, but there may be complications causing them. As a rule, kids with SB are on average as intelligent as able-bodied kids, with an average IQ of 95, so may lose a few IQ points (they are at higher risk for learning disabilities like dyscalculia and executive function issues). After I had patiently explained this to yet someone else, DH said to me out of the side of his mouth with a wry grin “well at least in our family we can hope that kids have a few IQ points to spare...”. Couldn’t imagine sharing this comment in another forum, lol!
His siblings love him and play with him, DD loves putting in his paci and doing creepy-crawly finger games on him and DS1 has “lent” him his favourite stuffed baby tiger. There aren’t any obvious jealousy issues but DD has turned from a fairly compliant toddler into a ferocious limit tester. She is also ever more fiercely independent, as opposed to regressing into “baby mode” (except for wanting to lie on my chest for snuggle time). Tiny DD is toilet training herself, bringing a stool to climb up onto the “big toilet”, taking off her diaper, peeing, wiping, taking out a new diaper and putting it on, then climbing up on another stool to wash her hands. Dressing herself, including coat, shoes and hats, only needing help with buttons and starting zippers. Cutting her food with knife and fork. Getting out milk from the fridge and pouring it (sometimes forgetting to stop and flooding the sitting room, DH yelled so loud I almost had a heart attack in another room, thinking she was doing something really dangerous).
All this while we still basically have to “sit” on DS1 for ten minutes in order to get him to put on his socks, turning our constant attention on him in order to get him to eat the semblance of a full meal. The contrast is ludicrous sometimes!
However, he appears to be thriving in school at the moment, which is a HUGE relief. We are very happy with his teacher. I had our first conference and was very pleased with the way she talked about him. She told me that at first she’d been bowled over with his reading and the way he explained nuclear fission to her and the third grade teacher, thinking she’d have to immediately get out harder work for him to keep him challenged, but then realized that for some reason he appeared to be quite challenged with the regular work too, not being finished any sooner than the others so she had held the extra work back so far.She felt that she couldn’t quite figure him out though and was appreciative of my explaining asynchronous development, but without jargon – we also carefully avoided use of the words “gifted” and “talented” throughout, coyly using “advanced” instead, which at this point I think does not really cover it anymore, he is not just “more advanced”, but different.
I explained that DS1 was cognitively advanced, but his socio-emotional and fine-motor development was age-appropriate so being the youngest in class I felt he was rather challenged at the moment with fitting in in a new school and classroom with new routines and demands, with learning stuff like letter formation and math symbols and with having to work neatly and consistently, and that not being faster with the easy stuff did not mean he was actually intellectually challenged. I also explained that we hadn’t been doing any formal academics with him, that his reading and writing was entirely self-taught and she said she’d realized that he was seeking his learning out by himself, because when she’d asked him about his science knowledge he’d said things like “ I found this book from my papa’s and read about it because I was interested” (exhale – I’m officially not That Mom in her eyes). She’d also noticed how he’d taught himself cursive the other day when sitting in in another classroom because he was excused from PE. However, when she offered for him to go the the 2nd grade classroom to learn cursive with them he refused (I thought he might be afraid and suggested having a 2nd grade girl be a “buddy” for him and was please how she made a note of that suggestion. DS, however, told me when I asked him if he might like that “I want to teach myself, that’s easier for me!” We’ll see). I pointed out that was one way he was seeking out challenge. Another was getting up during work time to excitedly tell her stuff he was interested in right now, which we agreed wasn’t behavioural but yet another way of seeking challenge and “fodder”. I was so pleased with the way she came up with all this stuff by herself in our discussion, even though it was new to her! His behaviour is okay otherwise, he is partipating well in stuff like circle time (but always has a LOT to say!).
We agreed that she was going to monitor him closely for signs that he was getting restless and she promised to let him move on to harder work without making him complete the easy stuff first all the time. It sounded like she meant it. DS1 loves her and I think if all this works out I will too!
A grade skip did not come up at all which I was pleased about too, because there is no way it would be a good idea for DS1 right now, who is just making friends and beginning to feel socially comfortable, and it means she is ready to work with him.
Oh, and I asked if his being colourblind (which we hadn’t told them about, wanting to get DS1 used to advocating for himself) had come up yet and she said the art teacher had come to her after he’d painted green squirrels and she realized that my labelling all his crayons with the colour with magic marker was not a tool to help him learn to read as she'd thought at first...
And I asked her to occasionally remind him to actually eat his snack because his focus and behaviour deteriorates with low blood sugar but he does not realize he is hungry (again not using the term reactive hypoglycemia, just keeping it all about DS1 and how this runs in our family), and she took it seriously immediately, said this happens to her even now as an adult and she’ll keep an eye on it. Whew! I think we have been very lucky with this teacher and hope that when she gets married next year, she will wait a while before having kids herself and stay in this classroom a long time, maybe even all four years which is the school’s policy.
Sorry for the novel. I just felt I had a LOT to tell!
Mostly posting to say that I just loved reading your novel. I had been hoping to hear how things were going! What an amazing learning and growing and expanding time for your family! I'll try to post back with my own update before too long.
Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up
Tigerle, I'm amazed that you have the time to write a novel with a baby and 2 older kids around. I can barely seem to turn my computer lately when it's just me and DS! Awsome that your DS1 has a great teacher.
DD is also in 1st grade this year and having a much better experience with her new teacher. This year they knew her and definitely picked the right teacher for her, at least as far as behavioral issues (she has SPD and ADHD and it's been an uphill battle keeping her from constantly being disruptive). I would've grumped about the lack of curriculum accomodation but she just today came home with a note stapled to her math that she aced the unit pre-test and was doing alternate math work, which she reports consists of using the classroom netbook for mother and "math journaling", whatever that is. Anyway, I'm sure it's more appropriate than more 4+4=8 junk. At home she's working steadily through a 3rd grade textbook my mother procured somewhere, with minimal help. Last year she was much more apt to freak out when she came across something "hard" but this year she's doing much better at remembering appropriate math strategies on her own.
At home, as well, she reads pretty much anything and everything. She's discovered the "Cat Warriors" series by Erin Hunter and they are her new love in life; 5th grade reading level but more importantly, they are about talking cats. She is constantly yammering in my ear about cat clans and cat names and yada yada yada. Her other literacy love in life is any Star Wars book.
Last week I finally gave in and signed her up for 4-H so she can do the 4-H Cat Project. Upside, she reeeally wants to do it, and it was just a matter of time, especially since we already have the 4-H cat. Downside, I had to sign up to be a club leader, which means I'll somehow have to come up with other kids, and a club meeting place, and be organized and have meetings 'n' stuff. I love 4-H but I'm supposed to be researching and writing a thesis right now and also somehow working for pay.
She had her eyes checked a couple months ago and her eyesight is even worse than ever, and of course the optometrist wants us to do Vision Therapy, but our insurance won't cover a penny of it. And it's $175 per appointment out of pocket. Oh, and the optometrist wants us to cash-up the entire expected amount up front, which is like $11k. I was really hoping when DH switched from a contractor to a full-time employee we'd have a different plan, but the new one is through the same insurance company so no luck there.
Tomorrow is the first round of testing for the district gifted program. She has an IEP and will be tested individually, not with the rest of her class. I'm super stressed out over this testing.
She really really really needs to be in the gifted program and NOT at her current elementary.
DS just turned 3, which was, according to him, everything he's ever wanted in life. Or, as he frequently says about anything, "I want it my whooooole life, Mom." For the record there are apparently many things he's wanted his whoooole life, such as anything with Lightning McQueen on it. Unlike DD, DS is veeery social, and he picks up bad habits with lightning speed from wherever he sees them. He doesn't give a rip about academics, although I did discover after downloading some toddler app on my phone that he actually DOES know all his letters. He just doesn't CARE if he knows them so he's not going to bother telling you about it. He has an excellent memory for graphics and locations and loves to sing, so he's very entertaining in the car. (The kid can do an excellent Adele impression.) Oh, and he's very good with building things, like puzzles and tracks, and really likes to have books read to him. He's gotten the idea lately that long words have lots of letters in them so maybe someday he'll accidentally figure out reading. He's into service vehicles (especially street sweepers and personnel hoists) and locating emergency lights on ceilings, and what happens in the back of a toilet when you flush. Now, if only he's take any interest whatsoever in potty training so he could go to a better preschool... but I'm pretty sure he intends to keep pooping in his diaper/pull-up/underwear for as long as he can.
My eldest dd is 18 and has been living on her own for a year and a half, but I figure I'm still entitled to brag about her, right?
She left our tiny rural town where she'd essentially been teaching herself on violin (with occasional outside input) since age 13 when she outgrew the teachers in the region. She started at Canada's top college music performance program in September. In October she was the runner-up in the strings division of the college's Romantic Concerto competition, where she was one of 58 competitors and the only first-year student to compete. Having had no formal music theory background she took the basic first-year theory course, and the little weekly exercises in harmony that she's been writing have earned her not only perfect grades but letter of recommendation from her professor in support of his urging that she take a compositional counterpoint course intended for grad students. And now she's been offered a mentoring position during an orchestra tour of India next spring: there's no pay, but her expenses are all covered, and she'll work with the new national youth orchestra of India, helping their string players develop their musicianship and technical skills.
My middle kids are doing well at school, singing with their auditioned youth choir and have just finished an elective documentary project at school which they both loved. They are currently playing with a semi-pro orchestra in a big production which includes Mozart's Coronation Mass and a few other awesome pieces. We'll be away from home in the small nearby city all weekend for a run of performances. They're feeling very busy and are looking forward to the holiday break from school.
Dd9 is becoming a woman about town: she's doing lots independently this year -- some of the family grocery shopping (has her own debit card, and also uses mine), volunteering with all sorts of community events, getting herself from rehearsals to classes on her own, etc. etc. -- and not a day goes by that I don't run into someone who has met her out and about somewhere and is raving about her cheerful maturity, interesting conversationalism, helpfulness and politeness. After raising three kids whose bright minds were often hidden from the public beneath their relative (or extreme) shyness, it's pretty neat for us to have a kid whom others perceive just as we do. She's struggling a little with her violin motivation lately, so it's not all sunshine and roses, but is doing very well with the school's 8th grade math curriculum. She started the course a couple of weeks ago and has finished about a quarter of it already.
Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up
DD 15 is wrapping up her first semester at the community college and heads into finals week with "A's" in every class. She discovered Statistics a math worth falling in love with... never thought that would happen. Oceanography has been her first real academic challenge. Half the class dropped and the remaining class has a "D" average. She's actually had to fight a bit to keep her "A" and she's proud of herself. She's taken some lumps due to procrastination but I think the lessons are finally sinking in. Let's see, she finished adapting a Shakespeare script for young audiences as an internship project for a local theatre. Cutting 3 hours down to 1 without losing the flow of language or integrity of story is not easy! She's really enjoyed the process and excited/nervous for the table reading of it this weekend. Otherwise, she's looking forward to a full month off school (benefits of being in a college program!) She's preparing for January when she goes into rehearsals for "Romeo and Juliet" playing Juliet. She's getting ready to take her driver's permit test which she has been avoiding. She's been tiptoeing into the dating world, figuring things out slowly, learning from her friends making poor choices, suffering some mild disappointments, all that fun teenage stuff.
DS 12 has been surprising me lately. He's actively trying to improve himself in areas of weakness (athletics and fine motors) despite being noticeably behind his classmates. This is not a position he'd have allowed himself to be in years prior. He's been taking art this semester. It's had it's frustrations but he sees himself improving and feels good about it. He joined the school soccer team, working hard and not being the best but having fun, making some friends. He finally completed his "Star Wars" suite on the piano... 3 songs including 1 for which the teacher said she's yet to have a student complete. He's super excited to play them for an audience this weekend. Otherwise, he's thriving academically. Taking some leadership in band. Keeping himself organized. Happy socially. Confidence lifting. Growing like a WEED and quite excited that he's almost as tall as me now and his feet are a size bigger. Nothing to complain about certainly!
Tigerle, so glad to hear that the newest member of your family has arrived and is doing well!
DD(3.5) has discovered art and writing. The writing started when she wanted to make a list of foods we were going to eat for Thanksgiving. She asked us how to spell everything but was able to write all of the letters. We had no idea that she could write anything other than her name. She is still not interested in learning to read but remembers the spelling of some of the words that she has written repeatedly (e.g. Dear, Love, Mom, Dad, Santa). She has also been decorating our house for all of the holidays and sending out lots of holiday cards. So right now she is specializing in Santas, reindeer, presents and trees. I'm quite fascinated and have taken almost as many pictures of her artwork as I have of her lately. She has begun to demonstrate some perfectionistic tendencies - wanting to throw pictures away sometimes if something isn't the way she wants. I took her to the art museum to show her how art isn't 'perfect' but that just ended up introducing a whole different issue. She saw a painting and sculpture of a crucified Jesus and was quite upset. She asked a lot of questions and had difficulty getting to sleep that night. I'm not sure I handled it very well but it seems to have passed. At school she stopped hanging out alone in the sandbox almost as soon as I posted here about it and from what she tells me it sounds like she is beginning to play with the other kids.
DD(1) just turned 1!!! She had been very timid around people outside of the family until recently – even cringing when someone would try to interact with her. But now she is becoming more interested in engaging with others and my husband and I were able to go on our first date in over a year. She thinks her sister is hysterical and loves laughing with her. She is learning so much right now – I just love this age!
My eldest was like this. She started writing phonetically around 3, didn't read a lick. Just after her 5th birthday, she announced she wanted to read. Within 3 weeks she was downing several 5th grade level novels a week lol. I don't see many kids who do the writing first like DD did (outside their name and words preschoolers are typically asked to write regularly.) It's an interesting path. You may find that when your DD does take interest, it comes fast and easy because she's learning all the foundation through writing.
Life has been progressing pretty smoothly for us.
DS, age 9 is in 5th grade. We had a bump before Thanksgiving with my son having to complete a couple weeks of make-up homework he hadn't bothered to complete for two weeks. However, it was a bump we quickly made it through verses last year when it was a year long struggle. He's got his first big project of the school year due next week and other than asking him how he's doing and getting him some supplies to keep organized when he started we've been keeping out of it. However, projects are a big struggle with his poor organization skills and we'll probably spend this weekend making sure he's ready. However, it is an oral presentation which are the easiest way for him to show his knowledge so I think he'll be fine. He makes the move to middle school next year. I need to meet with the middle school principle to get some questions answered but am in school myself, plus working full time so simply haven't found the time to do so.
Our school district recently announced that they will start a full time gifted middle school program to accommodate the kids who are in the full time elementary. Evidently, there have been ongoing problems with the kids who come out of the full time elementary not finding sufficient challenge at the middle school level. The program will start in 2014. So my son who starts middle school in 2013 will miss it. They are adding one grade at a time so he won't benefit from the program. They have announced the school that the middle school program will be housed within and most of his classmates have now been open enrolled at that school dispute the fact that the program won't be open to them. With any luck our kids will have teachers trained in gifted ed. even if they aren't in the program. Unfortunately, I think my son's class will end up being a crash course for the administrator at that school who doesn't seem to have much experience with accommodating at this end of the curve. Two other parents and I are going to meet with him to discuss exactly what they plan to do with this influx of kids who are all going to have the same issues that caused the need for a full time program. I hope there is a plan in place.
DD is age 6 and in 1st grade. This year is going well. She wasn't at all interested in learning to read until the last month or so and is now really progressing. Next year is the 1st year she would be eligible for the full time gifted program big brother goes to. I think the program would be a good fit for her. So we are looking at testing this spring if her reading takes off. If it doesn't we will test some time next spring. Our own schools gifted pull out coordinator was less than helpful. However, the gifted school principle is more than happy to get her on the list reserving her spot for next year and letting us decide to give up her slot if we don't think she's quite ready for the evaluation in the spring. She enjoys math and science and is doing well in school. She's also really interested in sports lately and is doing gymnastics and basketball.
Tigerle - glad to hear about the safe arrival of your newest little one!
Dd, now 14!, has really enjoyed her first dual enrollment class at the state U. She has her final tomorrow, and so far is pulling a high 'A'. She's wishing she started college classes sooner as she is finding it very enjoyable. She's finished with her first Coursera class and has a certificate with distinction. www.coursera.org It was a good experience overall, and she's signed up for two in the spring. She's making good progress on her AP classes she is self-studying and will start a short Flash animation course next week. She's wanted to become more adept at animation and wants a class to give her deadlines and projects to work through. She's decided that noodling around on her own is not as efficient as she'd like so we found a 4 week online class to try. She's decided that perhaps she likes physics better than biology, although given how happy she was to find a deer skull out in a field today I'm not sure that will stick.
She's working hard on her horseback riding, and developing the skills to move off of her outgrown pony. She seems to have settled into a pretty good group of friends that are her age but attend school. They don't get together often as a group but she sees one or two of them every week and they communicate electronically. They've planned to meet as a group for a movie tomorrow after her final - The Hobbit of course. And they are planning a Christmas Dr. Who watching marathon. She has been having loooong conversations with a long distance friend from some online classes and forums she's participated in. He seems like a nice boy her age and she is giggling much too much for her to think of him as just a friend. LOL They have a cool graphic novel project going and they both seem committed to completing the project.
She's enjoying the teen boys we have over for physics labs, but annoyed with her friends who suggest she should like one of them more than as a friend. She's known the boy for about 9 years so it's like suggesting she like her brother. ;-)
Overall, its been a pretty good few months. She's contemplating studying for her learner's permit which means I have to talk to our insurance company, ugh.
DS, age 5.5, finished reading The Hobbit this weekend went on to reading Narnia. He wants to read Lord of the Rings but I'm not letting him yet. By the start of January he'll be moving onto third grade math and so excited about that. He's about a month from starting second grade Grammar, and he is loving the astronomy we're studying this year for science. He is enjoying being a tad more physically active (yay), riding his bike and scooter and will be taking swim lessons soon.
Jesus-loving Doula/Birth Photographer Mama to Tor 4/2007, Zion 11/2009, Enoch 11/2011, and Zephyr due 12/13/2013
Hello, we just went to one of our first extracurricular activity with ds (6th grade- middle school) - First LEGO League and it was fun. Although his group did not score high, it was a great experience. His team was all 6th graders and their first time. His coach had 5 teams, but she took time to come compliment us on how much research ds had done and helped his team find info on their topic.
Dd (3rd grade) just did benchmarks for school. She scored high in reading and will now go to additional literacy activities with the gifted teacher. I felt like she needed this; she is so articulate and a such a bookworm. Ds also did a number of activities with the gifted program when he was in elementary and both kids really like the teacher.
Due to numerous problems at the small, private progressive school my kids were attending, we pulled them both out at semester break.
DD#1 (16 and both gifted and on the autism spectrum) will start at community college in January. She tested into the honors program. Her text books have started arriving, and she seems to be trying to read them all before school starts. She's also learned to drive. She will be eligible for her full license in January.
DD#2 (14 and just gifted) is going into our large public school. It's a great school, but will be a big transition for her. Her old school had 60 kids, her new school has over 2,000. She'll be taking honors and pre AP courses, and participating in the choir and drama programs. She is taking karate and is still a Jr. Docent at the zoo.
Part of me wishes things had worked out differently -- my preference was for the mellow, progressive path. But we decided as a family that the quality of the program was more important than the philosophy of the program. We weren't even sure about basic safety at the old school. The whole thing was falling apart before our eyes.
but everything has pros and cons
DS 19 was very busy through the fall and winter. He has a full course load in his second year of university. He was hit hard with the flu during his exams earlier this month. I was impressed with how he soldiered on and wrote them all rather than deal with the annoyance of dragging himself into the doctor's waiting room to get a note and then sort it out with the college bureaucracy.
He is also working part-time at two jobs - a retail clothing shop and a community art gallery. The retail work has been an eye-opener, I think. He's personable and sociable so he sells a lot and has not had a tough time meeting his quota. OTOH, he realizes that it isn't the kind of career he wants in the long term. He's been having a lot of fun with his music. He's now playing in 3 bands. He seems to have a gig almost every week. One band played at a fairly large international festival a few months ago. The guitarist for one of his favourite bands from his early teen days said some really nice things about them, so he was pretty pumped afterward. An independent label approached them about a vinyl album, so they have been busy recording during the holidays.
DD 16 did very well in her first term of 11th grade as drama major in a performing arts high school. She's taking a heavy courseload of math and science along with her drama courses but seems to be managing beautifully. Her physics grade is 99 and she's decided to take it again in her senior year partly because it will help her average for college applications. Her class studied Chekhov and Tolstoy last term, so there was lots of Russian angst and doom going on around the house. Next term they are doing Macbeth so things aren't really looking up. I think she kinda likes the 3 witches though.
Halfway through high school, she has more than double the number of community service hours needed for graduation in this school district. She's volunteers at the zoo but hasn't attended recently because she filled the minimum quota of hours that the zoo requires about 4 times over before September. The other kids needed a chance to get in some hours too, lol. In August she assisted with the day camps on a full time basis for a couple of weeks. It was funny to hear her stories about the children, who were about 5 and 6 years' old. I kept thinking that they would make great discussions here at MDC.
DD has been accepted for an international study/volunteer program for next summer in Africa. She will complete 2 of her senior courses, as well as work with a local community. They will also get to do some fabulous touring on safari, hiking, and spend some time at a seaside resort.
2012 was a good year, so we are looking forward to 2013.