Monday, October 15, 2018

Adjusting to the new normal...

If you had told me, even half a year ago, that I would learn to love homeschooling, I would have told you that you were crazy.

I clearly remember the first week, when both my kids were in full-day school, and I had actual time to myself. I loved that time. I loved my work, I was in shape, I felt good. But, Ellie was not being pushed to reach her potential, and change needed to happen.

I may have lost all my "me" time, and I miss it, but the reward to seeing her thriving is undeniable! Although I often reach the end of my patience by the end of the day, every morning I am grateful that we have another day to spend together, exploring the world together.

Today, after we drove Jakob to school, had done our chores, and after her tutoring, we decided to go on a Colour Hunt nature walk. We needed a few groceries, too, so we packed our bags, and went out into the incredible October sunshine. I have needed days like today, and the weekend. When the sun is shining, and the air is crisp, it's hard not to feel grateful for what we have.

Ellie was a superstar colour finder! We started with red, and worked our way through ROY G. BIV (plus PINK!). 

Jason's been working a lot lately, and is on a business trip this week, so I'm flying solo with the kids. I'm glad both kids have their activities, where I can catch up on what needs to be done, and plan ahead for what I'm able to. I am SO grateful the school has hot lunches twice a week. I can't even tell you how awesome that is!

Now, if only I could carve out some exercise time, that would be amazing. 

The last 6 weeks

We went on a big adventure to Denmark

BIPAP still works overseas!

We explored the most wonderful risky-play based "nature" playground, complete with Nature School

Ellie really enjoyed testing her abilities

I really wish playgrounds at home were designed with so many options for decision making! This was such a challenge for Ellie to climb, but she was determined to do it. 

The other grown-ups in our group were slightly freaking out abut this one, but Ellie rocked it!

Ellie has decided she wants to model. Haha, she's so funny! She loved shopping in DK!

First Roller Coaster!!!

Being at a real castle has triggered Ellie's new obsession to find a prince!

We walked, and walked, and walked!

The forests were magical

Ellie and the Little Mermaid

Back home and straight into Yoga Classes! Tiny Yogi <3

Walking Piper

Visits with her BFF

Embracing her chore list!

Learning to Roller Skate

First Cousins sleepover at our place... the girls helped me make pancakes

Incredible October Hike!

Happiest dog ever!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Getting our walk on!

I have made a goal of walking at least 5 km a day with Ellie. If we can stick to it, at least during the week, we should walk an average of 100 km a month. I'm determined to get this girl into the healthiest, strongest she can be.
Snack Time at the Dyke
So far, we're on track with a long walk with the dog yesterday morning, followed by a walk into the village to renew my car insurance, and then a bike ride with my mom to one of the local playgrounds. Ellie still needs help on the bike, so we use our trail-a-bike all the time! It's great for both of us.

Today, we made it to school at 8:19am, perfectly on time! It was something of a miracle, honestly. Ellie and I stopped at the riverside dog park with Piper, and we had a nice walk around, noticing all sorts of things like how much the plants have grown (we don't go there during mosquito season!) and how the river is affected by tides.

We came home and cleaned the kitchen from breakfast, and prepped lunch for tomorrow. We're using a meal plan for the first few weeks back at school, and Ellie is really enjoying helping. It's nice to have all four of our lunches in the fridge, so the boys can grab theirs in the morning, and Ellie and I can either pack ours into our day bags if we're going out, or we can eat when we are home. It's SO nice not to have to think about what we're going to eat. Tomorrow's lunch is overnight oats, with melon, apples and dip, and carrots. 

We've just had snack, and I'm getting caught up on the homeschooling reporting/setting up activities for Ellie. We're going to walk up to the library, to return our books, get new ones, and maybe have a play at the park before coming home for lunch.
Thursdays, starting next week, are going to be crazy. Both kids have after school activities, so there's a lot, LOT, of driving. Thankfully, today it's only Jakob who has places to be.

Enough screentime for me, we're off!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

We survived the first day!

By some miracle, we survived the first day. Don't get me wrong, the day wasn't perfect, but we made it through.
At 4:30am. our neighbour's house alarm went off. It rang, and rang, and when my husband finally decided to go out and investigate, it turned off. It was blissfully quiet, just long enough for him to get back into bed... and then it went off again. Needless to say, there wasn't a lot of sleeping that happened after that, and he decided to head off to work early. Ugh!
I got out of bed at 6:55am, stumbled downstairs to let the nurse (we still have nursing for Ellie, now it's 7 nights a week!) go home, and went upstairs to have my coffee. We started an awesome routine, when our fancy coffee maker decided to stop working at its best, and we switched to using a French press. When the man gets up for work, he brews a full pot, takes his half, and leaves mine under a tea cozy. It's been working wonderfully all summer long, but if super early mornings are going to be a regular around here, I might have to get used to luke-warm coffee. First world problem!
The kids were a challenge to get moving this morning. I was glad we'd laid out their clothes last night, so getting dressed was easy. Breakfast was simple, and other than not being able to locate Ellie's workbook (Daddy had "cleaned it up", aka put it where I never would look), we were able to get out of the house mostly on time, with no tears! Winning.
I timed the drive pretty well, but we learned we need to leave about 15 minutes earlier than we thought, because the classes start at 8:30am on the dot, and they want the kids to have time to settle. Makes sense, and as long as I'm a little more organized before I go to bed, things should work out.
Jakob was so excited to start school. He's in a 4/5 split class, with 9 other boys. 
Ellie had an ENT appointment at Children's, following up from our hospital admission in April when she had an ear infection which ruptured and turned into Mastoiditis. That wasn't fun, but today's appointment was fine (other than a retraction issue on her right side), and she passed her hearing test. Yay!
We brought a workbook to do while we waited, and Ellie happily powered through a chapter of math. She loved all the attention she got for her outfit. She asked to wear a uniform this year, despite being homeschooled. Ellie thrives in routine, so this actually makes a lot of sense for her. She chose a couple polo shirts, a skirt, a dress, pants, and a cardigan. She's so cute!

We knew we wouldn't be able to make it back in time to pick Jakob up from school (half day), so my lovely mama picked him up. We took a family drive out to the school yesterday, so she would be comfortable with the route, and found a new dog park on the way home. Ellie and I are going to get a good walk in there tomorrow morning.

We had lunch with my mom, and then Jakob played outside, while I set Ellie up with meditation music. She loves her afternoon siestas!
I found an old healthy lunches meal plan in my email, which I printed out today. It includes a shopping list, and very clear instructions on what to do when. 
While Jakob was at his OG tutoring session, with one of our favourite people in his education team, Ellie and I grocery shopped. It's funny how I never really paid attention to all the learning opportunities that are out there. Now that I know it's my responsibility to teach Ellie, the teaching moments just keep appearing. I'm so thankful she's comfortable shopping with me. I know we're in the minority of families who are able to grocery shop with their child with PWS. 

I spent the better half of this evening prepping meals, so the rest of the week should be easy. Hubby bathed the kids, made dinner, and got them to bed, so I could get my work done before it got too late. We were all so happy to have him home early - one of the perks of starting before dawn! 
I'm just waiting on baked potatoes to finish in the crock pot, so I can set them off to cool. 

It was so nice to be able to chat with some of the other moms from school last year, and hear that they've been thinking of us. I'm sad that Ellie won't be with all her friends, but I think I'll be able to maintain those friendships, so she can have regular visits with her girls!

Monday, September 3, 2018

New School Year

It's 8:30pm, and I'm frustrated. There is so much change coming in the morning, I am ready for some time of quiet reflection, but Ellie won't go to sleep. The dog is pacing and restless, pretty much channeling my inner feelings.

I haven't blogged in years. To be honest, it just started feeling weird to have people reading what I wrote. Life got easier, and then insanely crazy, and now I don't know... I need to have a place to rant, and a place to rave. This place is as good as any.

I'm not sure if there's much point in going into all that we've been through in the past few years. In short, my Dad got sick, my parents moved next door, we got a dog, Ellie started school, Jakob got diagnosed with autism, my Dad died, the school didn't believe in Ellie, so Jakob is changing schools, and I'm homeschooling Ellie. Not much, right? 

Deep breath.

This summer was the best one we've had in years. We made a conscious effort to spend time together as a family, and found ourselves all over the lower mainland hiking, biking, and exploring. We had the quintessential west coast summer holiday, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Ellie participated in a six-week full-day summer camp for kids with special needs (the best thing ever!), Jakob went to an engineering camp, a sleepaway camp, and spent the majority of his days outside with the neighbourhood pack of boys.

Hole-in-the-Wall, Port Alberni

Stamp River Falls

Mount Seymour

We were able to secure funding for Ellie to have weekly physiotherapy and speech therapy, so she's making a lot of progress both in gross motor skills, and in terms of speech clarity and comprehension.
Working hard at PT

I feel like the backstory for why we're homeschooling Ellie could take up an entire blog of its own, and I'm trying to focus my energy on the positives, and on this coming school year. Essentially, things went down that made it crystal clear her needs weren't going to be met in the private system, so we decided to pull her out for grade 2, and try to catch her up through an amazing distributed learning program with special education funding. 
Looking so grown!
As we were no longer going to be paying for her tuition, it became possible for us to afford to send Jakob to a school for gifted/twice exceptional learners. Out of everything, that change is something I look towards with high hopes. Jakob is quite the extraordinary fellow. He is interested in so many things, he LOVES learning, he is constantly in a book or listening to an audio-book. He wants to know everything. Jakob had his best year so far, in grade 3, but there are so many more opportunities to be challenged and to expand his knowledge at the new school. My introverted, solitude-seeking, reserved little (okay, not so little) guy blossomed into an extrovert in the three days that he participated in the school's admissions in-house trial run. 
Living a dream!

Life for me last year was great. I dropped both kids off at school two minutes away, and I had nothing but time. I worked a ton, sold thousands of cookies, taught classes, and took classes. I focused on my health, on my mental well-being, on my marriage, and on the relationship I have with my mom. The time I had to myself was wonderful, and I cherished it. 

When I look at my calendar for the next few months, I wonder how I'm going to adjust from so much freedom, to none. My husband and I have agreed to change cars, because I'm going to be in my car more than anywhere else. Unfortunately, Jakob's new school is in the middle of nowhere, a solid 30 minutes away from home. Ellie is signed up for literacy tutoring, and math tutoring, both at a centre about 20 minutes from home. On a day where things don't line up properly, and our carpooling doesn't work, I'm looking at 100+km of driving in a day. 

In addition to 4 hours of tutoring a week, Ellie has her heart set on therapeutic horse riding, homeschool gymnastics, kids yoga, and swimming lessons. Jakob has twice weekly tutoring session (for enrichment), art class, and swimming. We were extremely fortunate to find a doggie daycare that Piper loves for half-days of running around with her friends, so at least I don't have to worry about her constant need to expend energy, too.

A friend of mine asked me today what I was going to do for myself this term. In the summer, I picked up painting.
It takes time, though, and time is not something I obviously have much to spare. My schedule doesn't work for yoga. and I don't know anyone who lives in the city where I'm going to be spending time every day waiting while Ellie has her sessions. Your guess is as good as mine as to what I'm going to do with myself in these weird 45min-an hour chunks of time. I can only do so much shopping...

I want desperately to see both my kids be their best selves this year. I KNOW that Ellie is capable of so many things, and that with the right supports in place, she will be amazing. She already is the sweetest, most caring girl. I love her to bits, even when she drives me up the wall. She knows when I get frustrated, and is so good at making me remember not to sweat the small stuff, and to live in the moment.

Worksheets and OT skills!

This is going to be one heck of a crazy ride...