Saturday, October 26, 2019

A Week of Blessings

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Celebrating my friend's 50th birthday
I got to do a bit of fun "adulting" this past weekend. A friend of mine turned 50 and wanted to go out with a few of her friends to celebrate. I rarely get out of the house to do adults-only activities and had fun seeing some ladies I hadn't seen outside of Facebook in a long time.

We went to the Venardos Circus with Grandma. It is a small traveling circus with no animals and put on a fantastic performance. We have several family members that are really opposed to animals being used in the circus. It was two hours of family fun. Thanks, Grandma, for taking us.

I made huge progress on reducing our belongings this week. I sorted all of the books in the house and weeded out an entire bookcase of books from our lives. This was not an easy feat for a book lover like myself. However, we just have too much of everything, and it was time for many books to go on to other book lovers. I mostly reduced reference books that were becoming outdated, chapter books that were less than extraordinary, and curricula that we will never use again. I can't believe we are in our last two years of homeschooling! It is a odd state to be in, realizing that this chapter of my life will end in two years.

Changes for Dean ~ We made a major decision a few weeks ago that I haven't shared on the blog until now. We decided to graduate Dean this year instead of next year when his sister will graduate. He has 16 credits completed and is actively working on completing 10 additional credits. A few of those credits may end up being half credits, such as zoology or they may be dropped entirely. In our state, there are no requirements for graduation. It is up to the homeschool (which is considered a private school) to determine the requirements. The state does encourage the graduate to have 4 years of English, 3 years of Math and 22 credits. He will have that and much more.

We came to this decision because he will be 18 this spring and is completely burned out and stressed out by school. He will have done enough by the spring and needs to put his energy and mind into growing up and forging a life. He is a very bright young man and knows much more than many of his peers, but he is not an academic and doesn't receive great pleasure from acquiring more and more knowledge. He also doesn't want to go to college, so he doesn't need more credits in specific subjects.

The next chapter of his life involves getting a job and flexing his "job muscles", finding a career that will satisfy him for few years or a lifetime and getting a driver's license. These are huge and overwhelming goals for him that will take his (and my) full concentration. So for the rest of this year he will be wrapping up school and dipping his toes into the adult world with career testing, his last educational and neurological testing and maybe some job shadowing. Then next year we will concentrate together on driving lessons, independence skills, and getting his first job. I feel really good about our decision.

Update on Katie (18 year old special needs daughter living in out-of-home care) ~ I have had several pleasant interactions with Katie recently. She is feeling pretty good in her life right now and seems to be relating better to the adults in our family. She isn't trying to bait the grandparents and parents against each other, which is a nice change. She is working with Vocational Rehab and an Independent Living program to try to find some independence in her life. She is currently trying to get a job as an elevator operator in a famous hotel in our area. It sounds like a great fit and, hopefully, Voc Rehab can make it happen. I am so pleased with Voc Rehab and their ability to work with her long list of mental health issues. It would only be a few hours a week and she would still receive Supplemental Security Income, but it would give her something to do with her boundless energy. She also wants dear husband to teach her how to drive. She has her learner's permit, but the reports from her public school driving lessons were pretty scary. If we embark on this adventure, it would only be in parking lots for a long time. There is a program for disabled adults in our area that assesses one's ability to drive. That might be an angle we will explore for her. We are finding our way into a relationship with our adult disabled daughter. I am hoping that, with careful planning, it will be more pleasant and safer for all than her childhood had been.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Growing Up!

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We went to a rooftop restaurant and had Shirley Temples to drink.
My baby turned 16 last weekend. How could that be? She is turning into a lovely young woman inside and out. She requested 16 new experiences instead of gifts or a big party this year. Her two really big new experiences were a concert with her good friend Hazel and a night out on the town to get Shirley Temples with  her dear friends, JoJo and Eva. The concert ticket to see 21 Pilots was a gift from Hazel's family. What an amazing gift. It was her first rock concert and she loved it. The next night we went out to a rooftop restaurant for Shirley Temple drinks (non-alcoholic, of course) and a photo shoot. We then came home and watched Footloose while eating tons of candy from the mega mystery candy bag. We still have to accomplish three or four of her wishes, but I have until the end of the month.

Her final 16 things list:
  1. Foot soak
  2. Teeth whitening kit
  3. Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri
  4. Shirley Temple
  5. Tour of Homes, "Grove Park Mansions"
  6. Footloose movie
  7. First audition for the Nutcracker
  8. Make custom conditioner (Grandma Sue's gift)
  9. Zebra cake
  10. Mega Mystery Candy bag from the local candy store
  11. Receive a family heirloom
  12. Drive a car in a parking lot
  13. Get a massage (Grandma's gift)
  14. Go to a rock concert
  15. Go shopping for cocktail dresses with friends
  16. Dye hair black with temporary hair dye
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    Anne and her friend in their seats ready for the show
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First Rock Concert

Also, this week we celebrated my husband's birthday with cake, a movie at home (The Monument Men) and a few gifts. It was a very quiet evening in comparison to Anne's birthday. It was just the way my husband wanted it.

In other Growing Up events this week ~ 

Anne passed the online classroom portion of Driver's Ed with a 95%. Now she is ready for her eye test and the 6 hours of driving with a teacher. We are going with a private driving school instead of with the public school program because of safety issues. 

Dean had his first Vocational Rehab intake meeting this week. He was assigned a very nice and talkative woman as his caseworker. She will be helping him figure out what he wants to do with his life, what training he needs and helping him find a job with supports (if needed). Right now, he has very few ideas for a career or job and is very anxious about growing up. She was so nice and understanding. He will have career testing in a few weeks and then they will sit down and discuss the results. Based on the results and what he feels, they will try some job shadowing. Hopefully, by next summer he will have his first job and we will see how that goes. They will support him and help him get/switch jobs for as long as it takes to get him gainfully employed. What a wonderful program. He qualified easily with his health diagnoses. This program is free and open to all special needs people throughout the nation.

We are taking it easier this weekend and trying to catch up. We have tons of school stuff to get done next week. We did get a bit behind with all of the celebrating this week. 

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, October 11, 2019

Medical Update on Our Oldest

Tim ~ Timothy was a Tetrology of Fallot baby and had his corrective surgery at 6 months of age. He survived the surgery, but his heart has never pumped completely right since, so he had a pacemaker inserted 10 days after his corrective surgery at 6 months of age. Recently, he was diagnosed with a mild case of congestive heart failure (or at least that is what it looks like on tests, but may well be his unique heart's way of functioning). Duke is now treating him for congestive heart failure since his heart is showing lots of stress. He had his 6 month check-up at Duke this week. The doctor was mostly pleased with the progress of the first medicine on Timothy's tired heart. He decided to add a second medication to help the heart muscle relax and encourage his heart's poor functioning level to remain the same for the foreseeable future. Hopefully, this cocktail of medications will prevent any further decline. On a bright note, his heart looked the same (it wasn't enlarged or showing new issues) on all echocardiograms stretching back to 2012 so we are in a good holding pattern. His heart rate was 52 almost functioning beats per minute (under the pacemaker's steady beats). I say "almost functioning beats", because they are not completely on rhythm with each other but are good enough to keep the blood flowing with a bit of backwash. Hopefully, his body will tolerate the new medication, and we can avoid surgery until his next pacemaker placement in about 18 months. At that time he will probably get a much more advanced pacemaker to continue reducing the stress on his heart. Medical advancements are amazing and God is good! We are blessed to have had him all of these years!

All the pictures posted below are from the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill. It was an overcast day and we only had time to explore a tiny corner of the garden, but we loved it. What a perfect place to kill time between medical appointments at Duke. We will return to this enchanting place.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Finding Enjoyment in Our Days

My girl loved the jumping pillow at the corn maze.
It was a good week. We had a nice balance of fun, work, and school. Everyone got everything accomplished for the week. I am seeing so much improvement in my son's emotional well being. What a relief it is to see him laugh and smile. We did a few fun things this week outside of our normal activities.

We enjoyed the corn maze with friends. It was super hot. I hope autumn gets here soon and stays awhile. 

Dean and Tim convinced Dad to join them at the Wandering Swordsman this week. He had fun and they all got great exercise.
Dean is on his knees.
Dad and Tim meet on the battle field.
Anne went dress shopping with her friends. They wanted to get fancy dresses for Anne's upcoming birthday extravaganza. We went to a clearance center that happened to be having a giant sale on top of their already reasonable prices. There were huge lines for the dressing room and it felt like Black Friday (which I avidly avoid). However, the girls had a great time and we did get some sweet deals.The dresses averaged about $12 each and their starting prices were over $100 each. 

Anne had the opportunity to take a dance class with the NC Dance Festival. She said the class was "lovely and delightful". She was also cast in the Nutcracker in several positions. She will be doing the Snow and Candy scenes with the Adult Company, which is a dream come true. She also was cast as a cat, mermaid, adult dancer in the party scene and an elastic doll. She is very excited to be in so many scenes and have so many character roles.

I took Anne out for one of her 16 "new to her" experiences for her Sweet 16 birthday. We went to have a foot soak at a small spa in our area. They really took care of every detail and did a bit extra for her when they heard it was her birthday month. She loved it. We (the parents) aren't giving her any gifts this year except for the dress and shoes, because she really wanted experiences more than stuff. Also, her grandmas are each paying for one of her experiences, as well.

Dean made it to Friday Magic at the local game shop this week. He played for three hours with guys who were older than him and had much more sophisticated card decks. He lost every battle, but says he wants to go back and that everyone was very nice. He still got a prize, which delighted him. I am so glad we finally accomplished this. I have been trying to get him there for months, and he has refused because of his social anxiety. He finally had the courage to go and had a great time. 

Lastly, the animal kingdom has kept us on our toes this week. Rosie has decided that she is an acrobat and has been playing and resting on the stairwell railing. What a little nut.

Also, our neighborhood bear is back to thinking our carport is a great place to visit. She is totally relaxed in our yard, even when she sees me looking out the window at her. I do appreciate that she hasn't tossed the trash can over this week.

We are looking forward to a very busy second week of October filled with appointments that require travel, special events and all the usual stuff. It will be interesting to see if we can hold the balance. The most important thing to me is that the week is fun and enriching to my little family.

Blessings, Dawn