Sunday, December 1, 2013

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Still here. . .

Quick post to say I am still here - busy as ever with little time to shave my legs much less blog : )  But here's a brief update for any faithful followers who are still hanging around waiting on a post!
Hudson was an adorable pilgrim in his 1st school program.
Lilly enjoyed her 1st USC game!
And she's still as spunky as ever!
This little guy amazes us every day (and to those of you who told me he would - thank you - you played a tremendous part in leading us to believe that we could parent a child with no hands.)  Needless to say, Dawson is doing wonderfully!  He is receiving speech therapy and OT.  He is so loved and adored by his family, his therapists, friends, church family, and more!  I am still in awe that God has done such a work in our hearts.  I never would have thought David and I would be living this life. We have been blessed so abundantly - may be not the way most people want to be blessed in this world - but we are blessed indeed - beyond compare!
A ninja, Dorothy x 2, Belle, Woody, and the cutest little monkey!
I expected to be at a horse show with Shelby and Katie during our church's fall festival.  My children's surrogate "Grandma",  Mrs. Rebecca, was on stand-by to help David manage our brood.  Thankfully I made it in time to be there, but "Grandma Becca" still was a big help to us and went above and beyond the call of duty when she took Dawson on the BIG slide.  She is a faithful reader of my blog so this one is in honor of you. Thank you, Mrs. Rebecca!
Love my littlest monkey!
Hudson with his best friend, Cai, at their kindergarten's Halloween parade.
Although the USC vs Clemson game was awesome, Ethan just couldn't stay awake!  It was a struggle carrying my big boy to bed.
Go Gamecocks!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tis the Season for. . .


Proud to be #7's Mama

Proud to be this cute little spectator's Mama too


Proud Mama of 2nd girl from left in first row
Speaking of football and cheerleading. . .
Leiney Grace went to her 1st ever college football game.
She had a BLAST!

IEA Shows


Celebrating Ellie's Birthday

All this fun means 1 weary Mama.
Somehow I did manage to rest on my birthday
(thank you honey!)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

And we're off!

Our homeschooling has officially begun!

Ellie has had a great start to her 1st grade year.
With Ellie, I am using A Reason for Handwriting, Saxon math 1, Explode the Code, and Sonlight Language Arts 1 with 2nd grade readers.  All 3 girls are studying Beautiful Feet's Learning American History Through Literature and Apologia's Astronomy.
For Bible we are using some books we already own.  Right now we are finishing up what we started last year - Bible Stories to Read.  Ellie is super excited that she is starting ballet this year.  She has been a huge Angelina Ballerina fan for years and has waited patiently for her turn to start lessons.

Lilly has had a rough start to 2nd grade (and if she reads this she may get mad, but I am just stating facts!)!  Lilly asked me today what the worse school was.  I, of course, knew that she couldn't wait to tell me that it was HOMESCHOOL!  She has also openly shared that she will NEVER homeschool her kids "like this".  I could go on, but you likely get the picture!  Ahh, the joys of homeschooling a spirited and strongwilled child.  Any advice?  I'm all ears!  Although Lilly is officially a 2nd grader, she is doing 3rd grade work with Leiney Grace.  And, no, the work is not too hard, and it is not the cause of her poor attitude.  Lilly is continuing with gymnastics this year.

Leiney Grace loves school - specifically math!  She would do worksheet after worksheet. Attitude is not a problem for this 3rd grader.  She is eager and excited every day.  This year Leiney Grace and Lilly are using A Reason for Handwriting (cursive), Saxon Math 3, Character Quality Language Arts level 2 (a new curriculum which I stumbled across and so far LOVE), Explode the Code, Sonlight 3rd grade readers, and the same history and science as Ellie.  Leiney Grace is very interested in tennis after watching her older brother, Fulton, play.  She has had a few lessons this summer and will continue in the fall with a small homeschool group.

One new part of our school day is "center time".  I have numerous activities in ziploc bags in a drawer in our school room.  These are the girls' "centers" for when they finish their school work.  Lilly enjoys this part of school.  Just not the "boring" part which is most of our school day according to Lilly.

This past January when we brought the girls home from a charter school, I just pieced together our school with curriculum I already had.  We worked out of our kitchen and our laundry room.  I taught sitting on the floor in the midst of dirty clothes.  Not your ideal set-up.  This summer I spent many hours reorganizing all of our homeschool materials. I have accumulated quite a bit after 11 years.

A wall of our playroom is the new school room.  So far it is working wonderfully.

Heading back up the stairs for school after snack and a quick recess.  Dawson is in Tot- School : )

Maps are now hung on the wall rather than being propped up against a chair only to fall down.

Each of the girls has their books neatly stored here. 

And mom/teacher has all of her supplies neatly stored here and in the cabinets above and below.  I was praying that my attempt at relocating the school area as well as my improved organization would ease my load.  After 4 days, I must say it has made a huge difference!  I am actually enjoying homeschooling!  Loving the curriculum and most improtantly loving having my girls home with me. (well, minus the 'tude a certain 7 year old is giving me : ) )
There is one other student in our homeschool this year - Shelby!  Shelby has just started her junior year and with one look in her room, it is quite obvious that school is back in session.

Shelby is taking Honors Biology II and Honors English III at a
 co-op 45 minutes from home.  The rest of her courses are self-taught with a little help from mom now and then.  Saxon Advanced Math (thankfully a friend is taking this with Shelby and her mom is willing to help both of the girls with this challenging course!), Notgrass American History, BJU Spanish 2 with DVDs, My Father's World Personal Finance, and Piano.  Shelby also started working at Chick-fil-a this summer.  She has really enjoyed it and hopes to continue through the school year.
Shelby continues showing her horse, Charlie, and will once again be on a local IEA team (Intescholastic Equestrian Association).

Well, that sums up school for more than half of our kiddos.
Next up - spotlighting the other 4 who will be attending a traditional "brick and mortar school"
It will be a busy year indeed!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Long Overdue . . .Dawson Update

Where, oh where, has this summer gone?
Is it really time to go back to school?

We have had lots of fun this summer - board games!

Dawson always wants to be where the action is- silly faces and all.

This summer Leiney Grace and Ellie found a new love. . .

Dawson is doing so well!  He has captured ALL of our hearts (even those who weren't initially in favor of  opening our home and hearts to another little one).  He keeps us smiling and laughing with all of his 2 year old antics.

This summer I have been busier than ever and more tired than I can ever remember.
I wouldn't trade a thing though.  He is worth every bit of it!
Pediatrician visit and subsequent lab work revealed Dawson has no immunity to any of the illnesses in which he was vaccinated for in China.  Thus we are redoing ALL of his vaccines! Thus many visits to the pediatrician and lots of tears!

Shriner's Hospital brought peace and concerning news.
Peace came with the unanimous decision from the professionals: no prosthesis in Dawson's near future.
At this point, a prosthesis would only hinder Dawson - it would be heavy and cumbersome.  He needs to learn to navigate this world with his God-given anatomy. Down the road, we will revisit the idea and be open to whatever Dawson wants and whatever is available to aid him to reach his full potential!  

The concern came when the doctors recommended we see a geneticist.  The main reason for this referral is that Dawson has numerous "spots" on his trunk.  The doctors at Shriner's have labeled them as cafe au lait spots.  Our pediatrician is not so sure nor am I.  If they are cafe au lait, Dawson may have a syndrome - bilateral upper limb difference combined with cafe au lait spots.  We have an appointment in March with the geneticist at Shriner's and are seeking a sooner appointment from another genetics center in our state.

I was really shocked by the "cafe au lait" diagnosis and subsequent syndrome concern at Shriner's.  I noticed the spots in China and thought they looked like old scars. Having had time to reflect on this possibility, I am resting in God's perfect plan.
You see David and I did not accept the referral of another little boy who had Tetralogy of Fallot (same heart defect as Leiney Grace) and numerous cafe au lait spots.  We were concerned he had NF 1 or NF 2 - neurofibromatosis.  We said "no" to that little boy only because we did not have a peace about the "spots" which were listed in his referral papers.
God in His sovereignty did not reveal Dawson's "spots" in his referral paperwork.  And I am so thankful that He didn't.  I likely would have missed a tremendous blessing! 
Dawson has started Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy through the Early Intervention program in our state.  He has been referred for Physical Therapy as well.  I am not sure all of these are absolutely necessary.  Dawson amazes us everyday and even amazes his OT with what he can do - without ever having any therapy. 
My heart is bursting to share that just tonight Dawson made huge progress.  The kids had shared that Dawson had gone up the stairs alone.  I did not believe them and cautioned the children not to let Dawson go up the stairs.  He always holds my hand and acts very timid on the stairs. Dawson struggles with balance due to his lack of arms so the stairs have scared me!  Well tonight he wanted to go up so I said "Ok, Dawson you can go up the stairs."  He smiled a huge grin and proceeded to walk upstairs BY. HIMSELF. (He uses his right arm to balance himself up against the wall.) I was SO proud.  A crowd of us gathered at the bottom and cheered him on.  Then I was sad.  He won't be a baby for long : (

There is a lot more to share - more to come!