Friday, September 30, 2011

An update on the Girls

With as hectic things have been, I haven't had a chance to blog on all the goings on with the princesses of the family.

As I blogged about last year, I was really not impressed with Kaitlyn's school last year.  It had so many flaws that I could have individually over looked, but together was too much for me to handle.  It resulted in me having a meeting with the principal, going over my concerns and him assuring me that it will be better next year.  I understood that some of the problems were a result of the district closing the school Kaitlyn went to in Kindergarten and shoving all those kids, and some teachers, into random schools.  Chaos obviously ensued.  And while I believe the district failed to make the transition easy and did not give the principals the proper tools to ensure a successful year for everyone involved, I also believed the principal failed to take the simplest steps to make it easy and welcoming for the parents and students.

The school year started with Kaitlyn being assigned to the one class I did not want her in, and considering in the principal's meeting, he promised me he would not only not put Kaitlyn in that class (I constantly saw the teacher on his blackberry on facebook while his kids ran wild) but that he would put her in a class that challenged students on an individual level.  When I voiced my concern about the class he told me I should have gotten his promises in writing so they would mean something.  My jaw nearly hit the floor.  I explained she would not be in that class and she was changed to the teacher who was supposed to be the best at teaching to the students based on their skill level.

Within the first couple weeks, my stress level over the school increased and my anxiety over even taking her to school got so bad that I would feel guilty even taking her.  Then, I picked her up one day and she was starving.  I asked if she ate her lunch, she said no because C had spit in it. I asked if she had told a grown-up and she said she had.  The grown up told her "Well, he said he was sorry, what do you want me to do about it?"  I immediately called the school.  I was told that the would talk to the staff and return my call in the morning.  Late the next afternoon, I received a return call that everyone in the cafeteria said it didn't happen and Kaitlyn must have been confused.  I explained I would bring Kaitlyn down to point out the staff member and was told that was unnecessary, they'd all been talked to and it never happened.  Kaitlyn swears it did, to the point of tears as do the kids who sat around her.

That's when I started calling other schools.  Then, all of second grade began losing their recesses because of a few unruly kids.  About a month in, it was back to school night.  The straw that broke the camel's back.

In preschool, Kindergarten and 1st grade we got the same speech "This year will be difficult and challenging because so much is expected out of them next year and we want them to be prepared."  This years speech was "Third grade is so hard and challenging and so many kids struggle, that we want to have as much fun as possible this year."  I asked "wouldn't it make more sense to spend the year preparing them for next year so they don't struggle?"  And was met with a blank stare followed by the speech on using clorox wipes once a week on their desks.

After the classroom speech was done, many parents approach the teacher and do the "How is so and so doing in class" speech.  I already know how Kaitlyn is doing.  She has never, ever been in trouble at school.  Not so much as a "quiet down Kaitlyn" and I know she's far above grade level in every subject.  So, instead we had this conversation:

Me- Hi, we're Kaitlyn's parents, I had a question about the curriculum.
Ms. R- Ok
Me- I understand that many of the kids need review, but I'm concerned that 3 and 4 weeks into the year they are having the words "I", "am", "we" and so on as spelling words.  When do you anticipate the spelling words will be more challenging?
Mrs. R- Well, we're still doing review
Me- Ok.  How long do you think you'll do review?
Mrs. R- Well, we're still working on review
Me- Ok.  I understand that, when do you think you'll move onto more challenging topics?
Mrs. R- Well, we're only on our second story of the year.
Me- Ok.  I get that you're doing review.  How long do you anticipate doing review?
Mrs. R- Well, we're still working on review
Me (can feel my eye starting to twitch)- I totally get that you're doing review, Kaitlyn is bored out of her ever loving mind.  What is going to be done for the students that do not need more review.  What is your game plan?
Mrs. R- Well, you can do more work with her at home.
Me- We do.  We're challenging her like crazy at home, which just widens the gap between what she knows and what she's doing here.  Do you think you'll be done with review soon?
Mrs. R- We're still doing review.
Me- Ok, thanks.

I was so aggravated.  Here I was, sending my child to school there for 7 hours a day for her to have ridiculously easy work, finish it at then spending the rest of the time with her head on a desk.  Then, missing recesses and spending all that time with her head on the desk.  I can so do that here!!

So, began the "hardcore" search for a new school.  I literally went straight from there to Back to school night at the school her kindergarten principal had been transferred to.  But, they were full.  And so were the other 5 I called.  Finally, one of my favorites answered the phone.  I asked if they had openings.  She said she didn't think so.  I may have sounded desperate, but I was, as I nearly broke down and explained to her how badly my child needed out of the school and if I didn't find a new one, we would be homeschooling and I just didn't know what else to do.  She talked to the principal and Kaitlyn was able to start the following week.

Kaitlyn went back and forth between being upset and excited.  She was so sad to leave her friends, but so happy to not sit all day with her head on a desk.  The night before her first day, I took her to 8 different stores for her to find the perfect first day of school outfit.  We went together that morning, the amazing secretary gave us a tour, everyone was just so nice and friendly.  When I picked her up, she was almost sad that she had a great day because she knew that it meant she was probably not going to be seeing her old friends every day.

We've been there since the 8th and already she's thriving.  I was worried that she would be really far behind the class, but she caught up quick.  Her progress report was awesome, she's still above grade level for everything and producing quality work.  Her teacher utilizes two different online computer software programs for the students to be able to work at their skill level in both reading and math.  Kaitlyn LOVES that, so she has been using her laptop a ton.  Thanks Santa!  Plus, the school has so many activities, parent involvement stuff and communicates really well with the families.  And, they have a Watch D.O.G.S. program: Dads of Great Students to help get the male influences more involved with the school.  So, we love it.  Kaitlyn loves it and we're so relieved we made the switch!

Other than that, Kaitlyn is going back and forth between being our sweet little angel and some attitude-y monster from the depths of the sea.  She is an amazing big sister, loving girl scouts and just overall enjoying the last month or so of being 6!

Samantha has had some changes too.  She's cruising along with her toy and on the furniture.  She wants to be standing all the time really.  She is pulling up to stand constantly and getting better at standing on her own for a few additional seconds each day.

A couple weeks ago, we took her to the ENT for her tongue-tied tongue.  We were fortunate that it is the same doctor who performed Kaitlyn's tonsil surgery and I trust and like him.  He confirmed that it was pretty moderate and because of Kaitlyn enduring speech therapy, wanted to take care of it.  We opted to do it in the office then so we could have it done as soon as possible and avoid as much delay as possible.

It was so much different than with Kaitlyn.  This time, she was placed on a table and bundled up with what I can describe as a heavy swaddle blanket.  Then, the doctor waited for her to cry.  And she didn't.  And so he poked her.  And she didn't cry.  So, he started to numb under her tongue, thinking that then she would cry, life her tongue and he could have easy access.  Nope.  She would not cry.  She had no desire to cry whatsoever.

So, he had to go in and try to clip it.  She didn't let a cry out until he cut it.  And it was more of a "what do you think you are doing cry" than a pain cry.  I cuddled her and in just a few moments (after bleeding on me a bit) she stopped and was giggling.  I think her biggest complaint was nothing crunchy for a week.

A few days after that ordeal, she developed this persistent jerk of a diaper rash.  NOTHING would cure it.  Her doctor thinks she got yeast in her small intestines so her poop is literally giving her a rash just by touching her skin at all.  Nice.  We've been using probiotics and creams and disposable diapers (we don't want to ruin the cloth, and we needed to sanitize the cloth to make sure any yeast was out of it) and it's still there.  I suspect a sensitivity to tomatoes, so I've cut them out.  And that has helped.  But, in keeping this food diary, I've also noticed she spits up a ton more when she has yogurt or cheese.  I've cut those out and debating switching to a soy formula to see if that helps with spitting up and tummy aches over all.  Anyone had experience with soy opposed to milk?  If so, share why you switched please :)

And that's really it for now :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Life can be amazing and still hold rough days

I do feel incredibly blessed for what I have in this life.  I am healthy, I have an amazing husband that I am truly in love with (even in the moments when I can tell he's testing my last nerve), I have 3 beautiful children, I have 2 little girls that makes the sun shine brighter and the colors of the rainbow more intense than I ever could have imagined, I have wonderful friends who I know I can depend on in any situation and whom I trust, we have a house with plenty of room for all of us and our stuff, we have full bellies and we're making happy memories each and every day.

However, you can be happy with life and still have moments where it grief makes it so incredibly painful to breath.  Sometimes you can predict them, you can avoid things that are going to trigger a feeling of such immense sadness that it just overcomes you, but you can't always.  One of the rough parts about grieving your child is that while a part of you is always missing, and even in the happiest of moments, a part of you is sad beyond words, is that sometimes it hits you like a punch in the stomach and the tears start and don't stop.

This is "that time of year."  It's when the grief is at it's worse.  And from the past years (how can it possibly be years since we've held, touched, loved on, kissed, fed and cuddled with our little boy???) I know to expect there to be more rough days through December than there are in the spring.  We are in the time of year where I can say "4 years ago today we were ______ with Matthew."  We are in that short time frame of year where 4 years ago he was alive, he was at home with us and we had hope.  We had no reason to think he would become a statistic, a part of this ridiculous world of SIDS and all that comes with it.  We're quickly approaching the 4 year anniversary of his death and I hate that.  I hate everything about October 15.

I think this has also become the time of year when I reevaluate the things and relationships in our lives.  I have less patience.  I feel more "blah" about things and at the same time I am even more appreciative of the positive, supporting relationships that we have.  I feel almost all over the place.  And I know that's ok.  I don't need to be Miss Cheery Sunshine all the time just to prevent other people from being uncomfortable.

And, I have to say, I am getting to a point where I don't necessarily believe in SIDS.  I'm sure I'll need to explain that further in the future, and I will.  I think I've reached the point in my grieving where I don't feel as though I have to know WHY because I know that knowing will not change a single thing in the world.  It will not bring him back, it will not give us back the last 4 years and there is a good chance it will not prevent the death of another little one.  I believe SIDS was a term invented because it's really hard to tell parents "we're very sorry and we know you did everything right but sometimes, babies just die.  There is nothing you could have done differently to prevent this, sadly, your baby died for unknown reasons."  And it's even harder for society to accept that.  Then again, we've become a society that lives to be 95 and then when someone's body and soul are ready to pass at that age we still keep them hooked up to life support to gain more time.  And I completely understand that desire to have more time.  COMPLETELY.

At the end of the day though, and every moment throughout, I miss him.  I'm sad that he didn't get to meet Samantha.  I'm sad that Kaitlyn doesn't have her 4 year old brother to play with, I'm sad that we don't get to know more about him and explore the world through his eyes.  And I'm sad that we're going into another holiday season missing a part of our family.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's been a while

Since I've blogged.  It's not because of a lack of topics I have on my mind or things to discuss.  Right now, it's more like a lack of time, a lack of desire and maybe a bit of funk.

We're in that place.  That place where I can look back on 4 years ago and remember what we did that day and what I would have done differently if I would have known how close we were to the end of Matthew's life on Earth.

In a place where hugs last a little longer, tears flow a little easier and I dread the fact that in less than a month it will be 4 years since we held him, kissed him, snuggled with him, brushed his hair behind his ear and whispered to him all of our hopes, dreams and love for him to him.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hello Double Digits!!

Um, how?  How is it possible that in only 2 short months, we'll be out of onesie stickers and a whole YEAR will have passed since Samantha came into this world?  I have a really hard time believing it!

She is up to 29" (or close to, it's the best I could get with a baby on the move!) and 20 lbs and 10 oz!  Her head is up to 19"!   Holy Moly!  She is really growing, but it looks like she is starting to lean out some.  Her thighs just don't look as chunky.  Her percentiles for the month are: weight: 68%, length: 80%, head: 99.8%

Samantha is up to 5 teeth.  Poor baby has cut the same one top tooth at least 3 times now.  This one tooth keeps cutting through, you can feel it, you can see it, it leaves marks in your skin, but then the next day it's recessed back into the gum line.  It is finally out even more now, so I'm hoping she's done cutting that one.  It amazes me that just a month ago she was cutting her first and here we are no with 5!  And, as of today, I can see number 6 getting close to the top of the gum line :)

She has been cruising along the furniture like crazy and will even go from one piece to the next.  She is convinced she can walk on her own, and gets really mad when she tries to let go and walk and lands flat on her fluffy little bottom.  I keep trying to tell her she has to be able to at least stand on her own for more than 5 seconds, but she's stubborn!

Samantha is an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G sleeper!  I never would have thought this a month ago!  She goes to bed around 9:30 and stays asleep until about 7:45 or so. Then, we get 2 hour to hour and a half naps through the day :)  It is so nice.  I have learned, she likes a "real" mattress.  She does not sleep so well in a pack and play or the co-sleeper.  She likes her crib mattress.

She's also a really good eater.  She eats 3 meals and a couple snacks a day and is at about 22-24 ounces of formula a day.  She LOVES her sippy cup.  She gets it for both formula and water (which she gets so excited for) in her sippy cup throughout the day.  Her favorites are rice (particularly fried rice), avocado and toddler cookies.  She shares with you like crazy and loves trying just about anything.

If I could change just one little thing, it would be fore time to slow down.  The days are just flying by and I just can't believe it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Taking things personally

I like facebook.  I like the ability to keep in touch with friends and family, near and far and to easily maintain and enhance friendships and relationships with the touch of a button and the upload of a gazillion pictures.  I like being able to get opinions and advice from people I admire, respect and consider important in my life.

But, there are parts of facebook that rub me the wrong way.  There are actually 2 in particular.  One is the woe is me mentality.  I totally understand and "get" the urge to vent.  Believe me, even I have those moments.  But, there are days or people or pages that just seem to be negative all. the. time.  It is almost as if they believe that the world is out to get them or that everything in their life is so terrible.  And I'm willing to bet that in real life, they don't actually feel that way, but rather it's the way they present themselves unintentionally.  Typically, I have a super easy solution for this, the wonderful "hide" option.  Of course, it seems that now facebook has done away with this option, which would mean that an easy solution would be the glorious unfriend button.

However, in the world of facebook unfriending someone is the equivalent of using a slew of "your mama..." jokes or actually unfriending someone in real life.  It is taken incredibly personally.  I'm fairly confident wars have been started because of unfriending someone on facebook.

I think the problem is that we have become such a "me me me" society that we automatically assume that everything is a personal attack.  We have to watch everything we type, everything we say and everything we do because someone, somewhere might get their feelings hurt.  What kind of society are we living in?

Here are some life lessons I've learned:

* Bad things happen to good people.  All the time.  And good things happen to bad people.  Getting a flat tire, losing a loved one, having your dog step in crap and then jump on your new sweater and breaking a bone are sadly a part of life.  Those individual situations, or even combination of some of the worst possible situations do not determine what kind of life you live.  What determines that is your reaction to the situations life deals you.  I am not saying you shouldn't vent.  Vent away.  Scream it from the rooftops while stomping your feet if that makes you feel better.  But, remember to move through it.  I promise you, the universe is not out to get you.  It is not a personal attack on you.  Sometimes, it just stinks.

* Facebook "games" about breast cancer, testicular cancer, or anything else are not done to hurt your feelings.  If you truly believe they are hurtful, delete your facebook.  Please.  Because it is going to not only drive you crazy, but it is going to put you in a state of deep depression.  I have suffered through secondary infertility, multiple miscarriages and the loss of our son, and I still do not get how the breast cancer "games" are offensive.  I think they're silly and don't do much to raise awareness, but I don't get how it could hurt your feelings any more than any other standard post.  It reminds me of the Gas X commercials. You know, the guy goes in the for the interview, has really bad gas and thinks that everything he hears has one thing or another to do with gas.  It doesn't, but that how he sees the world right then because that is what he is dealing with on the front burner.  It's the same thing.  When you are deep in your pain, that is what consumes you.  You have to do what you have to do to survive as healthy as possible.  I learned that one of the most important things to learn is that even the most amazing and supportive friend is going to say or do something that hurts your feelings.  They aren't doing it to hurt you.  They have completely innocent intentions, and while that doesn't take the sting of it away, it is important to remember.  And sometimes, it's necessary and healthy to take a step back and have some "me" time.

* You can easily become enraged just about anywhere in the world.  It does not mean that it is worth becoming enraged, it is bad for your blood pressure.  If there is a shirt at the mall you don't think is appropriate for girls, don't buy it, if there is a TV show that you cannot believe is on TV, don't watch it, if there is a commercial that disgusts you, don't buy the product.  It is not necessary to take it personally and make a huge statement about it.  

* Even your best friend and soul mate is going to disagree with you on something.  It is not personal.  It is totally possible to agree with someone and to love and respect someone, be it a spouse, family member or friend and to disagree with them.  Again, how we react determines the outcome.  Just because someone thinks differently than you do on politics, religion or how big a birthday party needs to be (:P) does not mean that they are personally attacking you.

I know that some people are going to be offended by this, and I am truly sorry.  I do not want to offend anyone, but I think it's quickly becoming forgotten that not everything is done as a personal attack against you.  And it's totally ok if you disagree with me.  I'm a "if I don't like it I'm going to do something about it or move on" type of girl.  And I know there are some situations that I cannot change, there are life events that have shaken me to my core and changed everything about who I am, but I can determine how I react to those.  And when it comes to something like Kaitlyn's school, the rising cost of cable or how much I hate McDonald's commercials, I can do something about it, other than running to the internet and complaining about it :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Guest Blogging!

Chicks In Crisis is an organization in our community with a simple goal, Love, Home and Family for Every child.

Think about that for just a moment.  Love, home and family for every child.  Sometimes, it's the opposite of what we're thinking about when we're so desperately wanting to add to our family or when we are missing the little one that was taken from us.  We think about how much we want to give our baby the home that was rightfully his and how much we want to have him as a daily, active, contributing member of our family in the traditional way.  But, how often do we think about the babies who are born, who do not get that.

The foster care system in most states leaves so much to be desired.  These poor, innocent children are shuffled from home to home, never given the chance to really bond, never knowing where they will be next month.  I look at Kaitlyn and Samantha and while I know how blessed they are (and how blessed we are) I hate to let my mind wander to a place where babies, just like them, were born into families that simply could not or would not care for them.  They don't have their routines or their rituals.  They don't have a mom and/or a dad there for them every single day to make them feel like they can conquer anything.  And the older ones.  My heart just breaks for the older ones.

Chicks in Crisis works to prevent that.  Help birth parents chose adoption OR give them the tools and the skills they need to parent their child.  Keep babies and kids out of the foster care system and keep them in loving homes with parents who would do anything for them.

Anyways, check out their site, browse around at the services they offer and check out the article I wrote in their "New Perspective" section on the drastic rise in the cost of child care while you're there!