Monday, October 27, 2008

From Concord to Kids

What a whirlwind week! We just finished up Missions Week at church, and we had 5 missionaries and their families from all over the world. We had lunch with all of them on Thursday and then hosted one family for supper on Friday night. Of all the ministries through our church, missions is my favorite, and I think my family's favorite, too. The kids have a bulletin board in their room that exclusively holds prayer cards for missionaries. The kids know each missionary on the board and love adding new prayer cards. They enjoyed learning about the people and places each of the missionaries are striving to bring the gospel to during Missions Conference this week, and we are all sad it's over. But, it was a sort of reunion for us because we got to spend time with the Kings, who used to live down the street from us but moved about a month ago to begin their church plant in Concord, North Carolina. They now live about 45 minutes from us, not too far, but not within walking distance like we were. Ta especially misses them because the youngest member of the King family was in Ta's class at church. I think both of the boys were thrilled to be able to play together again.

Teagan had her 1 month check up this morning. Overall she is doing great. She is 9 pounds, 13 ounces (50th percentile for weight) and 22 inches long (75th percentile for height). She continues to amaze me with how different she is compared to the other 3 kids. Th was in the 75th for weight and 25th for height, and Ta and T.G. have both been in the 10th for weight and height. On a different note, I have been concerned about a few issues with Teagan. She is still jaundice (I can see it in her eyes) but the doc ran some bloodwork and the jaundice levels are within the acceptable range. He is not concerned about it. More importantly, I am very concerned with her hearing. She had a hearing test in the hospital and she passed, but I notice often that she is not startled by noises that she should be. For instance, TJ finally replaced the entire downstairs flooring with the wood floor we purchased back in the spring (that's a separate blog entry). One day he was working and he dropped a pile of the wood planks. It was really loud and scared me, but Teagan didn't even bat an eye. There have been other instances where she didn't even seem to notice the noise and chaos around her, and I think that is why she sleeps so good. So, I shared my concern with the doctor and he tested it by dropping her chart on the ground. It was pretty loud considering we were in a tiny, quiet exam room. Again, she did not respond. As a result, she is being referred to an audiologist for an in-depth evaluation. I should find out by the end of this week when it will be.

Now you see why I say she is constantly amazing me? I am just thankful that it is nothing serious (I know some would argue a hearing loss is serious, but I can deal with it). TJ has a great attitude about it, too. When I first shared with him that I thought Teagan couldn't hear, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, "So I guess I'll have to learn sign language." Would you expect anything less from him?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sweet Feet

I took the kids to get their picture taken. . . well, pictures of their feet, anyway. The picture turned out soooooo cute! I wish I could have been able to afford the wall-size portrait. Instead, I settled for a smaller framed version.

Teagan is doing awesome. She is still sleeping great, especially at night. She has been going 5-7 hours at night, meaning TJ hasn't had to get up with her for a few days. :) I, on the other hand, am still absolutely exhausted. I haven't been getting to bed until between 11:30 and midnight, and then Teagan wakes between 3:30 and 4:30am to feed. Thursday she woke at 4:30 and didn't go back down until 5:15am. My alarm goes off at 5:30. Needless to say, I didn't go back to bed and am still suffering from the lack of sleep.

I am slowly beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as school work goes. I am teaching a lot and learning so much. I also had a sort of epiphany moment regarding a solution for my own kids. I can't wait to find time to implement my new behavior plan. A lot of what makes up special education is understanding behaviors, their function, and taking data to support the hypothesis- all behavior is communicative (we communicate our wants, needs, likes, dislikes through our behavior. Think about it- when you're in a good mood, your behavior reflects that and you communicate that through smiling, hugging, etc. The same is true for when you are in a bad mood- your behavior is much harsher, rougher). Anyway, I have noticed that one of my children has a difficult time processing information, especially when it is given all at one time. To make it easier on him, TJ and I have started using one-word commands rather than whole sentences (i.e. "Teeth, hair, bed" instead of saying, "Go brush your teeth. Then, when you're finished, comb your hair and make your bed.") See how much easier it is to process? But, although he's doing better, he still has trouble remembering what he needs to do and when. He is able to do the first task, and sometimes the second and third depending on if the tasks are related (teeth and hair are similar since they both occur in the bathroom and involve brushing). However, if the tasks are non-related (i.e. put the cup on the counter, get your shoes on, lock the back door), then he has difficulty getting past the second task. I have decided to implement a visual schedule for our various routines. I am going to make one for the morning, one for the afternoon, and one for the evening. I am going to put them on Velcro strips so that he can monitor his own progress. I simply Velcro the tasks I want him to complete and he brings me the picture symbols once he has completed the task. I am also hoping this will eliminate the need for me to continue repeating myself 500 times a day. I'm sick of hearing myself talk and I know my kids are, too. This is the same type of intervention that is used for children with autism, but I know it will work for my kids, too. Think about it- I write a To-Do list on a daily basis and check off tasks as I complete them. This is essentially what I am doing except using picture symbols instead of words (although there will be words on it, too). I am simply giving my son a tool to use to promote his independence and decrease his off-task behaviors (he is easily sidetracked, especially if he can't remember what he's supposed to be doing). Of course, I wouldn't be a true special ed teacher if I didn't take data to record his progress, so once I get all the picture symbols made and implement them, I will begin to take data. I'll let you know how it goes. I hope to get the pictures made soon (as in the next week or so) but I'll have to see. I have some more major assignments I have to complete these next 2 weeks so they are sort of my priority.

Well, it's time for me to get the laundry in the dryer and then I'm headed to bed early tonight. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Teagan's Pics

My favorite is the picture in the middle of her holding my finger. I also really like the top one of her tiny feet. I love my kids' feet! Call me crazy, but on Friday I am taking all the kids to have a picture made together of their feet, from biggest (Th) to smallest (Teagan).

Enough for tonight- I've been doing homework and my eyes are starting to cross from looking at this computer screen for so long. Plus, I'm a wimp and TJ went to bed already so I'm downstairs alone- I hate that! Good night!

*I am thankful for this precious baby, a true blessing and gift from God.*

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

School Pictures

Here is a sampling of Ta's and T.G.'s school pictures. T.G. would not smile, but at least she didn't cry like she did last year. I absolutely love their pictures; I think they turned out great!

Monday, October 13, 2008

What do dancing and Sir Pur have to do with each other?

They were both at Jeannine's wedding!

The wedding was great, probably one of the best I've ever attended. It was classy, yet fun, much like Jeannine's personality. It was at a ritzy country club in the Ballentyne area of Charlotte. It was gorgeous! We sat with some friends of ours from the neighborhood, which I was glad because they all know Th so he was able to be himself. One of the evening's highlights was watching Th dance. That kid has some moves! He was making me laugh so hard I was crying! I'm not too sure where he learned his moves (a-hem! TJ!) because TJ and I don't dance around the house, but regardless, he was the hit of our table.

Another highlight was when Sir Pur (the Carolina Panther's mascot) made his appearance. It was awesome! Of course we forgot our camera so the only pictures I have are from my phone but the quality is poor because I didn't have a flash. Oh well. Th thought that was the best, and it was really neat to see Sir Pur tossing the football (an autographed game football, I might add) to Jeannine.

I am extremely tired and am teaching a cooking lesson tomorrow to my students. We are making a fruit pizza. I need to get to bed because I have to be up early, plus I'll be up throughout the night to nurse the baby. I am feeling more and more overwhelmed as each class passes by. Just when I think I'm making progress on my school assignments, I get another one added to me! It's never-ending it seems! I just need to make it through 7 more weeks and then I'm done with this semester. By God's grace I made it to the half-way point; I am thankful for that! Well, that's enough of an update for tonight. Good night!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

More Musings

I managed to somewhat successfully find time to study for and pass the 3 tests I had this week. I won’t get my grades until next week, but I feel confident about my overall performance- by no means a perfect score but hopefully all A’s.

I meet with my advisor in about 10 days to get clearance for registration. I can’t believe this time is here already- I will soon be registering for my final semester! As stressful as this semester has been and continues to be, it really is going by quickly. I am half way through it and I still have my hair and it’s not completely gray! LOL! I am just more excited that I will soon be completely done and hold a teaching certificate in my hand. It still seems very surreal. I’m sure it will take me 6 months to recover from my “school mode” mentality once I graduate. I need to begin thinking about what to do with the rest of my life. My mentor teacher keeps telling me she wants me to come back, and I have another friend who works in a different school district who is encouraging me to apply at her school as an autism teacher. I also have a third friend who is encouraging me to apply at her school, as well. I really need to get a resume together over the Christmas break to put out there and see what types of opportunities present themselves.

Along with graduation and prior to actually holding my teaching certificate, I have to pass 5 state tests: 3 for special education and 2 for elementary education. I was planning to take all 5 in January (to give me plenty of time before graduation in May in case I don’t pass an exam and have to retake it) but after talking with a friend of mine who teaches at the high school where I’m teaching this semester, he suggested I take one at a time to help keep my focus. I think what I’ll do is take my special ed tests in January and my elementary ed tests in April. It’s a lot, but I do want to pass the first time since they cost around $100 per test. I am confident about passing the special ed portion- my classes this semester are definitely preparing me for passing them. I looked at sample questions and they are similar to what was covered on my midterm exams and what is found in the textbooks.

We are going to Jeannine’s wedding this afternoon. Th is very excited, but he’s also very tired! We were out late last night (I say late, but it was only 8:30pm) because I had Teagan’s pictures made. I can’t wait to get them- they turned out adorable! I’ll post them on here once I get the digital version.

TJ took Ta to Th’s soccer game with him this morning. Th has pictures before the game. I was going to go, but it’s a little chilly here this morning- too cold for Teagan to be out. Well, enough rambling. I hear T.G. playing in her crib so I guess she’s awake. I need to get her so she can eat breakfast. Have a great day and wonderful weekend!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Musings from a Mom of 4

I am struggling even more to find a balance between home and school. Teagan is such a great baby, and I really have no complaints about her. She sleeps well, waking to nurse every 3 hours. I try to time it so that she nurses around 10:30 or 11pm, and then every 3 hours after that. TJ gets the first feeding and I get the second. It gets difficult when she wakes around 5am because I wake up at 5:45am, and I usually finish nursing around 5:30am. Obviously those mornings are more difficult for me because I am waking 45 minutes earlier than I’m used to, but I overall I can’t complain. I am very thankful she takes a bottle and TJ is willing to get up with her, too. One day last week I let him sleep and took all of the feedings myself as a way to say thank you to him.

Because of my school load, TJ and I had to make a difficult decision about T.G. I really didn’t want to have to send her to preschool 5 mornings per week, but it was just too difficult for me to get anything done at home with her here. Last Wednesday I was trying to just get home-stuff done (i.e. laundry, some light cleaning) and it took forever because as soon as I sat down to nurse, she “helped” me by throwing the clothes I had just folded all over the floor, she was climbing all over the furniture in the playroom, and was just all around bored. She didn’t want to color, play with puzzles, or anything she normally loves to play with. Instead, she wanted to get into everything she shouldn’t. Since she’s learned to climb up on stuff, nothing is safe, even up high. I had all the bedroom doors shut so she couldn’t get into anything there, but she still managed to get into stuff that was put on the ledge upstairs. It made nursing more difficult and timely. It was like she knew I was preoccupied with Teagan and took advantage of the situation. I was forced to put her in her crib to play while I finished nursing the baby and refolded the laundry. Obviously she can’t spend her days in her crib so the best alternative was to send her to preschool where she’s with other children her age and I can focus on school/housework in the mornings. I miss her and feel guilty about my decision, but she is excited to go and was bored at home with me, especially since Teagan’s arrival. Her and I aren’t doing as much together as we were before Teagan's arrival. Plus, I always have the option of keeping T.G. home from school if I want to spend time with her (I just couldn’t send her one extra day per week- it doesn’t work that way. I have to send her T/TH because of my school schedule and I pay for M/W/F regardless of whether she attends or not. I hope that makes sense).

This week is crazy and I am glad T.G. is at school. I have 3 midterms plus I have to give a standardized-assessment to one of my students. The test takes an hour and a half to give and I am not really looking forward to giving it. But, it will be beneficial simply because of the experience it is providing me with. I am also teaching so I have to finish my lesson plans and assessment measures.

I am looking forward to this weekend because a friend of ours is getting married. The wedding is on Saturday and we are bringing Th (and Teagan, of course) with us. I am still searching for a babysitter so hopefully that will all work out. I want to attend simply out of support for my friend, who used to be our neighbor before she got engaged and moved to Charlotte! We have known her since we moved to our house, and she has always been a great friend from day one. The kids love her and still refer to her house as Ms. Jeannine’s house, even though she doesn’t live there anymore. Other than family members, Th has never been to a wedding so he is excited about going. He feels very grown-up. We’d take Ta but he’d probably get bored during the reception and we wouldn’t be able to stay as long as we’d like. So, he and T.G. are staying home.

Well, I’m off to study. I have 2 midterms today that I need to study for. Say a prayer for me that I have clarity of thought because at this point, everything is just jumbled together in my mind. . .

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pictures- At Last!

Here are the much anticipated pictures of Teagan that everyone's been emailing me about! :)

A close up of her beautiful face.

On the bilibed in the hospital. I affectionately call this her "space suit". Do you see the bright lights emanating from underneath her? It was literally like a tanning bed (except without the tan).

A close up in her space suit. Look at those cheeks! :)

One of Th's many birthday celebrations. This was for my benefit while I was in the hospital. My mom-in-law baked and brought cupcakes for us to celebrate.

She wasn't too happy about going home!

We were about to be wheeled out to the car. She calmed down and went to sleep.

Respect PSA

Being a Special Education teacher (almost!), you know I can't resist the opportunity to brag on some very special people to me. Although I do not know the people in the video personally, I think they represent those whom I do know very well. In honor of Down Syndrome Awareness month, please watch this PSA (public service announcement) that will be airing inside Wal-Marts throughout the nation. It was because of some wonderful athletes with Down Syndrome and other cognitive disabilities that I decided to devote my life to teaching those with mental retardation. I learned a lot from them, and hopefully, through this PSA, you will learn something, too.