Merry Christmas! Dec. 2011
It has been a busy year! (When hasn’t it been? Haha) We’ve been slowly improving our house and are really enjoying it. This year we took out half of our front lawn and expanded our flower and vegetable gardens. We’re thinking about taking out the rest of our front lawn next year. It is a small front yard and we don’t use it for anything, so why not make it useful? In the backyard we’ve done the opposite and taken out many of the flowerbeds that were there to expand the grass area. We also had to redo our roof this year. We were hoping it would last longer but alas it began to leak… We all worked really hard. Our three teens outdid themselves! We also had great help from friends and family. Kevin built a new gable over our front porch. It completely changes the look of our house. I love it! Next Spring we’re going to build a small pergola across the front of the house. It is going to look great! Now for what each of us has been up to this year:
Kevin still teaches photography at both the Community College and the University. He still has his commercial photography job. We thought that was going to be a temporary position but they continue to need him and we are grateful for that. In addition to that he still has his freelance photography business. This year Kevin found out that the University gives him free tuition credit for every class that he teaches. So, like Kevin wasn’t busy enough already, he decided to go back to school to finish his Bachelor degree in photography. Kevin has an Associates degree and 20+ years experience as a professional photographer. This allows him to be an adjunct professor but not to officially be hired as fulltime. So Kevin is a student again. It is kind of funny, he teaches classes and then he and many of his students attend classes together. He is doing really well and getting straight A’s. He’s finishing up his second semester as a student. We think he’ll have about another year and a half to go before completing his degree. He has been talking about maybe getting his Master’s degree after that but we’re taking it one step at a time. He is one busy man!
T has also been a busy girl. This year she started her Junior year at high school. This semester she has been taking classes at the Tech Institute. She’s getting her CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant.) She does that half a day every other day and then attends regular high school after that. She’s also taking Medical Terminology, a class that she is getting duel credit for at the Community College. As a part of her CNA program she also has to work at an Adult Care Facility part time. She works there every Monday until 8pm and on Saturdays. In order to get her CNA she needs to have so many hours of clinical practice, working there part-time as a CNA in training gives her the hours that she needs. It is volunteer work and she is really enjoying it. She has been so busy this semester with school, homework, and working that she hasn’t had much time for friends. I worry for her, but that’s just the way she is. She’s a super hard worker and mature beyond her years. Next year she wants to become a Dental assistant and basically do what she has been doing this year with school; Attending tech school part-time and then high school part-time, getting duel credit. By the time she graduates from High School she’ll be able to get work as either a CNA or a Dental Assistant. How many high school students can begin a professional career right after graduation? But that’s our girl. I keep hoping that some of my immaturity will rub off on her haha. She does like to have fun though. This past summer she took private swimming lessons. She is also a great rock climber. Kevin has enjoyed teaching that to her. She likes to go to movies with friends. Her favorite TV shows are Dr. Who and Merlin. She likes music, lately she’s been listening to Colby Caillat, Ingrid Michaelson, and she still loves David Archuleta.
J’s biggest accomplishment this year is that he finally graduated from his Neurological Reorganization therapy. It took us over four years to get him to this point. J still struggles with some ingrained behavioral habits that we are still working on. At this point he no longer shows signs of PTSD or many of his neurological challenges stemming from FASD etc. But he has these behavioral habits that need working on. It is amazing though to see his ability to actually recognize his problems. He has started working on those habits and I think we are making progress. I remember J’s former therapist’s words, she said that she believes that J will reach a place of complete normalcy but that it’ll just take him a little longer than most kids to get there. She believed at the rate he was improving, J would be around his mid twenties when he would reach a mental place that most children get to when they are around 18 or 19 years old. That doesn’t sound so bad to me! He’s had SOOOO much to overcome. He had the world stacked against. He is getting better all of the time. We can see this real change in him since completely his NR program; it is so exciting for us. J loves to do yard work. He’s quick to volunteer at church or for neighbors any time yard work is needed. He’s spent the last couple of years earning a little cash mowing lawns, pulling weeds, raking leaves, etc. He wants to be a landscaper after high school. We found an online school that offers a certificate in Landscaping. J is interested in doing that after high school. J played water polo this year as part of a community league. J loves to swim, he’s our fish. J would play video games all day if we let him… we don’t let him haha. Over all J is on a really good path, he still has some struggles, but he is improving all the time.
R has grown up a lot this year, in more ways than one. For starters he keeps getting taller and taller hahaha! He’s 14 and a few inches shorter than Kevin. He’s also discovered girls… and girls have discovered him- heaven help us! Girls are starting to hang around our house, girls walk back and forth past our front fence and girls I’ve never seen before walk up to me and ask if R is home… and girls are asking him to be their boyfriend etc etc… oh man. People talk about needing a shotgun to protect their daughters; I need one for my son hahaha. He’s been getting straight A’s at school. He was also nominated and elected for the Peer Leadership Committee at school. It is a part of the student body government. R is a total bookworm. He reads four or five books at once. He checks out so many books, so often from the school library that the head librarian has started finding and holding books that she thinks R will like at the library desk and she tells him about the new books she’s getting for the school. That’s so great. R also played waterpolo on the same team that J played for. He did really well; he just has a hard time being aggressive enough. He wants to play again next year. R is our sports fanatic. The Junior High basketball coach wanted him to try out for basketball but he missed the tryouts by a week, he was really bummed about that. R is still doing NR therapy and still struggling with a few issues. But like J, he’s on a really good path.
C just turned 12 years old! I can’t believe it. She is still very very young for her age. She is more like a 7 year old in many ways. She is in 6th grade at school but at about a third grade level. I’m starting to stress about next school year. She’ll be move up to the Junior High… She’s so far behind academically and so young developmentally. I worry that she’ll get eaten alive at the Junior high School. So we don’t know what we are going to do. C’s physical issues were such that professionals started telling us that they suspected that she has a mild form of Cerebral Palsy. I recently watched a part of a documentary about children with CP and there was a girl that was so much like C and did all of the same things that she does with her hands and arms. So we had C see the same Neuro-developmentalist that all of our children have seen, Nina Jonio. C started her own NR program this past summer. Her coordination has improved so much since then. Her legs are working so much better! She still needs a lot of work with her arms. We are also beginning to believe that C has OCD. Nina can address that also, down the road. C needs to do more work on her lower level brain functioning before a midlevel brain disfunction, like OCD can be addressed. But aside from her obvious struggles, she is the sunshine of our family. She loves all things Disney Princess. She also loves to sing and listen to music. We’ve been buying Disney movie soundtracks for her. At any given day we’re all rocking out to Tarzan, or Little Mermaid, etc hahaha. C loves to read. The Elementary school librarian has been helping her find books on her level. Yay for school librarians! :-) So she’s been bringing a lot of fun books home to read. C has also been discovering 80’s cartoons on our netflix instant watch. Her favorite right now is She-Ra (do you remember that He-Man cartoon spinoff? Haha) We put C in swimming lessons over the summer. With her disabilities she wasn’t really able to learn to swim BUT she did learn to float! That was so cool to see! Her balance is getting so much better now though that we think she might be able to handle a bike with training wheels. We’ll see if Santa can manage that… that’s a pricey ticket though LOL, so we’ll see.
As for me… well, the kids pretty much keep me busy. When I’m not doing NR therapy with them, I’m helping with homework, dealing with teenage drama, or dancing obnoxiously along to whatever music my kids are playing hahaha. For a little while I was writing for adoption.com. But they wanted me to sign this new contract that was crazy and I refused. So if I ever have anything to say, I just stick it on our family blog:-)
As always, I love our garden. During the warmer months of the year I can be found out in the yard digging, pulling, trimming and this year hand pollinating (my squash weren’t pollinating on their own so I had to get up early when the blooms were open and hand pollinate them… it worked:-) ) In addition to that, I’m canning fruit and dehydrating herbs. So the garden finds it’s way into the house too. :-)
We still have our zoo. Our two dogs, Jakob and Charlie, are getting older. Charlie is turning gray and they are starting to show their age a little. I wonder how many more years we’ll have them? Not too many more… I don’t like to think about it. Our millions of cats are as obnoxious and cute as ever. Have you ever seen the children’s book, “So Many Cats” by Beatrice Schenk de Regnires? It is one of our favorites and sums up our household very well. :-)
This last year brought a lot of good things and progress but it also brought some heartache. My grandmother (Oma) passed away this year and then a couple of months later Kevin’s father passed away. We shed a lot of tears in 2011. So 2011 gave us some ups and some downs.
We are looking forward to 2012. Next summer we’ll be visiting Germany. It’ll be great to see where I grew up again and to see family that I haven’t seen in years. We love you all. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!
Love, Anita and Kevin, and the kids:-)