Sunday, September 30, 2012

Stuff that Kind of... Sucks.

Ten days ago G(8) came home from school with two letters.  The first one said he needs speech therapy.  Okay.  I can handle that.  The second one said he needs remedial reading help.  Okay.  A little tougher. Then he handed me his graded paper packet.  He also needs to improve the speed of his "minute math".  Can we PLEASE cut the kid some slack?  All in one day?  Was that necessary?

In the past week, he's started his pull out reading help.  I emailed the teacher and learned that they're expected to be at 97 words per minute with 99% accuracy.  I had to remind myself that this is third grade... because quite honestly I don't think I read with 99% accuracy and I've passed college level classes with flying colors!  It turns out G reads 68 words per minute with 91% accuracy.  So the plan for that is to practice as much as we can and disguise it as fun as often as possible.

The math he's struggling with is pretty basic and just a matter of rote memorization.  We'll practice with flash cards and math games.  There are sites he can use online, but I haven't had a chance to sit down and look through them thoroughly enough to know what's involved.  Maybe I'll find time tomorrow.

The big thing, though, is the speech.  I think so much of the academic issues are tied into his speech and that's directly related to his hearing.  I finally broke down and scheduled his corrective surgery for the week of Thanksgiving.  He's dealing with a perforated ear drum from two sets of tubes he had when he was younger.

Hard to say if his sudden academic issues are the result of the hearing problems or the fact that I was checked out for a lot of his second grade year as I dealt with the loss of our baby and the almost immediate pregnancy with Connell.  We're working on a plan to help him catch up.  With a willingness from Graham and help from his teachers, we should be able to over come it all.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Photo Session

When Connell was 5 days old, we had a photographer come to our house to take his newborn photos.  I had no idea what to expect when I set up the appointment and I was really nervous about having anyone - let alone a stranger - come to my house when I'd only been home from the hospital for 36 hours.  But Courtney was wonderful and the photo session was incredible to watch.  
I should probably explain how I know Courtney.  My sister, Kristin, is an extremely talented knitter.  She creates adorable baby hats, blankets, and toys almost faster than I can blink.  She sells her creation to photographers to use in their photo sessions.  You can see some of the creative things she's made by visiting her Facebook page.  Kristin met Courtney through her prop contacts and the rest, as they say, is history. 
Back to the photo session.  Courtney showed up exactly on time.  Despite walking into a house full of people (my mother, sister, husband, three older kids, and my father were all there at different points during the shoot), Courtney managed to be unfazed by the chaos. Within a matter of minutes, she transformed the dining room into a photo studio.  The room was warmed up with a space heater and a heating pad was tucked under blankets to keep my naked newborn comfortable and content.  Of course, Connell wasn't quite cooperative, but we managed to work around that with the help of my mother and her well seasoned baby-bounce.  (You don't have 3 children and 10 grandchildren with developing some serious tricks by this stage in the game.)

Now, anyone who knows me knows I'm a little bit of a psychotic nutcase momma bear about my newborns.  I don't generally just hand them over to someone I've just met.  (Well, except nuns, but that's another story.)  But here's the thing about Courtney:  She exudes calm.  And where there is calm, there is immediate trust.  So I handed over my sweet bundle of baby boy and she got to work.

Throughout the session, I was amazed at how gentle she was with every move she made.  She knew exactly how to position Connell so he would stay asleep and feel comfortable.  His safety was her primary concern and I quickly relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed watching her as she worked.

As you can see, the results were beautiful and we'll enjoy these photos for many, many years.  I loved them so much, in fact, that I bought the entire CD.  I couldn't pick and choose.  I've already used them to make photo ornaments and cards through Shutterfly.  This was definitely worth the investment and I plan to do it again when he turns a year old... but I can't even think about that right now!  He has to stay little for as long as he can.



Photo Fun!

Photos by Courtney Anton Photography

I'm hoping to sit down and write about fun photo session very soon.  In the meantime, I used the photos to make a quick birth announcement for my mother-in-law so she can show off her newest grandson at work.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Babies radiate God.
Why can't I?
This was my morning.  This smile.  These bright, blue eyes watching me, learning my face.  My friend always says babies radiate God and I think she's right.

But here's the thing:  At some point they turn into teenagers, stop radiating God, and they start lounging on the couch, soaking up space, and offering nothing in return.  And that's when I lose my shit.

I spent the evening on the soccer field with the boys.  G(8) had practice and Connell was happy to hang out and snooze, soaking in the fresh air and singing crickets.  The girls were home the entire time.  K(12) did do a lot of yard work, but she was being paid for it.  She also left a trail of K offerings throughout the house - fingernail polish, dirty dishes, uniform pieces, everywhere.  The chaos overshadowed the good... or at least, at that moment it did.  J(15) chose not to earn money by doing yard work.  Instead she just sat in the living room with a basket of clean, unfolded laundry at her feet and did nothing but make messes.

My head exploded when I walked in.  Between a fussy baby who needed a bath and the sheer fact that I couldn't walk through the bathroom because of the discarded uniform pieces, there was no way I could even consider giving the baby a scrub.  So, despite my best efforts, I finally started yelling while holding the baby... and he started crying.  I've tried so hard not to raise my voice since his birth and I never wanted to raise it while holding him.  That must have been scary for him.  Tomorrow is a new day and we'll reset the "How Many Days Since I Yelled While Holding the Baby" clock.  Hopefully I can make it more than 6 weeks.

It was a miserable moment and I don't want to revisit it any time soon.  I'm here with the kids on my own this weekend.  David is at a leadership training.  WHY can't they just help out by not creating more stress?  And why can't I dig deep and find the grace needed not to go batty because of it?