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the perfect storm

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The hearing aid was involved in a perfect storm of unfortunate events.

I
have to say...for the most part, our school district is doing a pretty decent job of helping Maddie.
You all know the concerns I had in leaving Grab-Your-Lasso and bringing her back to the Emerald City. The state is in a serious financial situation, the district is small and their resources are incredibly limited.
These are some legitimate concerns, but the district really seems to be trying to do their best...and that's all that we can ask for.
Over the summer, they worked with the Kansas City School for the Deaf to scrounge up a personal FM system, the teacher got some extra instruction in sign language and the county found a way to hire a 'teacher for the deaf' so Maddie can get some instruction in sign language to help her communicate until she can speak more clearly and use her words more effectively. Sure she has to share the teacher with another kid in the county, but that's alright. She gets some help and that's more than I had honestly hoped for.
Overall, I'm impressed.
But then there are days - days like last Friday - where I really want to knock some heads together.
I got home late Friday afternoon and the first thing Anya said to me was, 'Mom, Maddie lost her hearing aid.
WHAT?!
'Well, she didn't have it when we met her on the playground.'
Great.
What were we going to do over the weekend? We have a back up but its not working right. I've been putting off waiting to get it fixed...and just never got around to it. What if we couldn't find it? What were we going to do then? How long would she have to be without a hearing aid? And wouldn't school then just be a moot point?!
All of this was running through my head as I sat Maddie down and tried to figure out what had happened...simultaneously searching through the phonebook for a phone number, any number for anyone even remotely associated with the school.
I couldn't find a number...not a single one. It seems like everyone is either unlisted or I can't remember their spouse's name.
But then I stopped and listened to Maddie and I had a revelation.
I was talking, truly communicating with Maddie for the very first time.
'WHAT?! You don't TALK to her?!'
No...I talk to her all the time. What I'm saying is, this was the first time that we really carried on a lengthy conversation.
I asked her what happened and she proceeded to tell me in a series of sentences, what had happened that day. She told me a story.
A REAL. LIVE. STORY.
Amazing, huh? My girl has come so far since we brought her home. She was communicating with me with sentence upon sentence of words upon words. Monstrous steps from where she was just a 18 short months ago!
I just about cried...both for the hearing aid and for this HUGE step Maddie was taking...but mostly for Maddie.
Turns out the hearing aid was involved in a perfect storm of unfortunate events.
Maddie's regular teacher was out with a father who was in the hospital. The substitute was going off of some notes that Mrs. B had left her...and didn't realize that when she took the FM system off of Maddie for the day that she was supposed to leave the hearing aid on her!
Makes sense to me...totally understandable, although it was still a HUGE pain in the neck. Over the weekend we had constant, 'huhs,' 'what you says' and no responses in return for our questions and calling for dinners.
UGH!
Oh well. We survived. And it actually gave us a chance to revisit just how far our little Madster has come. Eighteen months ago she didn't speak our language, didn't have a hearing aid and had to use pantomime in order to communicate at all.
How far she has come! :)

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name that alpaca...or...it's a girl! :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Yea. I know. I promised pictures and then I promptly dropped off the face of the earth for a week. But you don't know what kind of a week its been around here. There's been things like baseball, flag football, AWANA, a mind-numbing job and little baby animals being born around here.
What?
You didn't know we had animals?
Why, yes. Yes we do. After all, I am a vet's wife. You can't get away without having animals if you're married to a vet.
And for my animal-lovin' husband, not just any animal will do. Oh, no. We don't just simply have two dogs and a cat...we have to have some exotic pets too.

I draw the line at reptiles and birds.
Have I ever told you that we have an alpaca? I could swear that I've told you this little bit of news, but I just can't find the link to the original story.
Anyway...our lovely alpaca had a baby last week. And she's so flippin' cute I just had to post some pictures. I had meant to get some cuter ones when we went to visit her this weekend, but alas, my camera decided that was the very minute it needed to run out of battery.
So Shad used his cell phone.
Anyway...here she is. See? I told you she was cute!
But there's one problem. The poor thing doesn't have a name. And Shad and I being Shad and I, we're not making this any easier.
Do you remember how tough it was for us to come up with names for our kids?
Ummmm...yea. We're at it again, but this time we're arguing over a little black alpaca's name.
Sigh.
We're pathetic.
So...here's where you come in. I need your very best alpaca baby names...and not just any names will do. We actually have a farm name, although we don't have an honest to goodness farm. Our imaginary farm is called Syemya Farm - Russian (we hope) for 'family'...so its our 'Family Farm.' Cute, huh?!
And in true Syemya Family farm form, we're naming all of our animals with Russian/Ukrainian names.
See? I told you we weren't making it easy.

So help me out here.

Let's name that alpaca.

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say cheese...or smile for the birdie...or whatever

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What do you know...two posts, two days in a row.
And there are pictures to boot!

I don't know ladies. I think I'm starting to spoil you! :) I mean, I don't want you to get used to this or anything.
Especially after today's post. Its school picture time and I have to say this year's crop of school photos are especially cute. I don't know why, but school photo time is my favorite time of the year. When Shad called me to tell me the kids had brought home their pictures today I asked him to bring them with him when he came to pick me up.
He laughed and told me I was weird.
I told him to bring them anyway.
I wasn't disappointed. My kids are adorable...and I have the proof! :)
Is it just me or are these kids growing up way too fast?!
It's amazing to me just how quickly they change, right before your eyes.
Alek is in 6th grade this year, which officially has me in a state of panic. That means next year is junior high. AUGH! Junior. High.
That's big stuff...and I'm not ready. The girls are starting to circle...the friends are starting to take more of his time and the attitude is starting to change...which is going to have to change, because I, for one, am not going to put up with it.
He'll figure it out sooner or later.
Anya all of a sudden isn't a little girl anymore. She's growing up, seemingly overnight. And let me tell you...that sweet spirit that seems to just ooze out of her picture is 100 percent of her personality. In fact, it surprises us when we catch her doing anything wrong.
Take tonight for instance. I caught her in a lie. Not a big one...and maybe not even one that was premeditated. I doubt she really thought through what she said, because she quickly changed her story as soon asked for a second time about it.
But a lie it was.
Totally caught me off guard.
Nick. Oh Nick! What a kid. I tell you, he is an absolute joy! That little grin on his face is also 100 percent Nick. He is such a sweet kid...and he, too, is growing up way too quickly.
And then there's Maddie. Sweet, sweet Maddie. Can't you believe the changes in our little girl?! She has is just growing and changing so much...almost daily, really. Kindergarten has been SO good for her.
Enjoy the pics. I'm working on another picture-filled post for you tomorrow.
See? I told you I was spoiling you! :)



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back from the abyss

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ever since my return in late June, I have had one project piled up on another, which means I haven't been able to find a new normal.

I know, I know. Bad blogger. Bad, bad, bad, bad blogger.
Sorry about that.
I haven't meant to ignore you. Really, I haven't. It's just that life has intervened.
The last three months have been insane. Absolutely insane.
Part of it is my own fault. I should never have signed these boys up for fall baseball. (Remind me of that next year, please.) But the majority of the chaos in my life has been caused by my job.
Ever since my return in late June, I have had one project piled up on another, which means I haven't been able to find a new normal.
Not in my professional life...and certainly not in my personal life.
I NEVER want to go through this again.
Finally this last weekend, I was able to catch my breath. We skipped Alek's baseball practice, stayed home most of the weekend, did laundry, played games, ate together and watched TV.
Doesn't sound like much of anything, but for me, it felt like a vacation. I am finally feeling a little bit more like my old self.
I think.
And I think I have reached the other side of the chaos. If I'm not there, I'm getting pretty darn close. The boys are still crazy busy with baseball...but the worst part of my work schedule, I believe, is over. And it couldn't have come at a better time. I think I was starting to develop some stomach issues over the stress.
Thankfully, this week I only have three stories due...and while next week looks like it will be crazy busy again, at least I'm not being pulled in three different directions.
I'll just be chained to my desk.
I can handle that.


P.S. - One of the only things we did this weekend, besides going to church, was to go to Alek and Nick's first flag football games on Sunday. It was tons of fun to watch these guys run around with their friends and play. They are constantly playing football in our yard, so this was just an extension of their weekly Sunday afternoon game. Fun stuff...and it only lasts four weeks. Whew! Enjoy! :)



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now isn't this interesting?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I took one of those wacky quizzes on Facebook.

You know...one of those what color are you or what type of dog are you, quizzes.
This one was 'What type of flower are you?'
Here are my results...
What flower represents you?
Sunflower

You are energetic and have a natural influence on others.
You tend to be very upbeat and laugh often. People enjoy being around you.
Only a few of the reasons you have so many friends.

Hmmmm....

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my nirvana was short-lived

Monday, September 7, 2009

Alek was holding on to the front of the bike and Maddie was now screaming and grabbing onto her leg.

S
had and the kids had no sooner walked back in the door this afternoon when near disaster struck.
First, a little background.

Alek has been riding Nick's bike alot this summer. His bike has seen better days (although its not that old) and half the time when he rides it the chain comes off or something else befalls it.
Sooo...Nick has been nice enough to share. His newest bike is still a little big for him and he's been grounded from riding it for the last few weeks because he was caught riding it a few blocks away (definitely not allowed).
However, Alek wasn't supposed to be riding the bike today. He had left it in the driveway earlier in the day, right behind the van and if it weren't for the backup beeper thingy on the mom-mobile, Nick's bike would have bit the dust.
Shad reminded Alek of this when they got back. He was to ride his own bike, or nothing at all. Somehow in the minutes that followed, Alek forgot the instructions.
Maddie asked Alek to take her for a bike ride. Alek agreed and unbeknownst to us (we were in the house putting away a few groceries) gave Maddie a ride up and down the street (thankfully on the sidewalk).
That's when it happened.
All of a sudden we heard one of the kids crying. Its not unusual. With four kids, someone falls and bangs a knee almost every day...but after a few seconds we realized it wasn't your typical 'ow, I've banged my knee up' kind of cry.
It sounded much more serious.
We went hurried out the front door, down the steps and around the house.
Shad saw it first and sprinted across the street.
Alek was holding on to the front of the bike and Maddie was now screaming and grabbing onto her leg. It wasn't until we got closer that we saw she had somehow managed to get her leg pinned in between the wheel spokes and the bar that's supposed to keep your leg from getting anywhere near those spokes.
And it wasn't coming out.
Her leg was completely scraped from knee to ankle, the ankle was already turning purple and one of the spokes was gruesomely digging into her ankle.
I just about fainted.
Two neighbors came out to help, trying to pull the wheel back far enough for her to slip her leg back through the tiny opening. Shad pulling on one end, the guy on the other.
It didn't work.
They tried turning her leg just a bit to slip it out.
Nothing.
Meanwhile, Alek is as white as a ghost. He has a death grip on the handlebars with a look of absolute fear on his face.
I'm at the back of the bike, holding Maddie up as still as I possible can, stroking her hair, murmuring comforting words into her hearing aid while she continues to scream.
Several cars drive by and I look to see one woman openly staring with her mouth gaped open.
She didn't stop.
By now, Alek is openly crying, Maddie is inconsolable and I'm am seriously considering losing my lunch.
After what seemed like an eternity, but couldn't have been much more than a minute after we first arrived, someone got the brilliant idea to either get a wrench or a wire cutter - whichever they could find first.

Shad runs in one direction...the guy in the other.
Shad made it back first.
He quickly put those wire cutters to work, cutting the two spokes holding her leg prisoner, and gently pulled her leg out.
Maddie collapsed into my arms.
I collapsed onto the ground.
It was over.
This is when I am so incredibly thankful for a doctor for a husband. I don't care that he's an animal doctor - having him at my disposal puts so many of my mommy fears to rest.
He took her from my shaky arms, walked her back across the street, in the house and into the bathroom. He cleaned her up and did a quick assessment.
He doesn't think its broken and the spokes that looked like they had gored her, didn't even break the skin.
Amen.
Thankfully, it seems Alek has learned a HUGE lesson. He adores his little sister.
Adores. Her. So having her injured...and being responsible for it...hit him REALLY hard.
My big guy who is so tough and brave was inconsolable for quite awhile - terrified that Maddie was horribly hurt. Unfortunately for him, I wasn't able to be much comfort until Maddie was cleaned up and resting comfortably on the couch.

Then I went and held my son.
I murmured comfort to him as well, letting him know Maddie would be alright and that we knew it was an accident.

And then he said something that astounded me.

'But Mom, if I wouldn't have been riding that bike, Maddie wouldn't have gotten hurt!'

He got it.

He's finally learning that lesson.
Whew. This parenting stuff is hard.


P.S. - I have to tell you that as tough as this afternoon was for all of us, I was so impressed with Alek. He took absolute responsibility for the accident and after our little talk, he went downstairs and took care of Maddie for most of the rest of the afternoon. He shared his gummy worms with her, set her up to watch her favorite DVD, got her a blanket and an extra pillow and just generally hovered. Have I mentioned that he ADORES her and would do ANYTHING for her? It just makes my mommy-heart get all weapy.


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quick, pinch me! I'm dreaming!

Wait! Do you hear that?
That, my dear readers, is the sound of silence.
Shad just walked out the door with...
not one...
not two...
not three...
but ALL. FOUR. KIDS!
I am at home...BY. MYSELF!
I don't know what to do. This never happens.
I'm torn between taking a nap and ummm...taking a nap.
Have I said that I'm ALL. BY. MYSELF?
Ahhhhhhh...
I could get used to this. ;)

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password protected

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I have another password protected post published here.
If you don't have the password, be sure to ask. :)

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day two and all is quiet

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I really thought this whole thing was going to be a battle...

Okay...not technically.
More metaphorically....because life with Maddie is definitely NEVER quiet.
Day two of school and not a peep about Maddie from the teacher. I stopped to talk to her this morning when I dropped Maddie off and she went on and on about how well yesterday went. But I didn't hear anything after school today...which I guess means everything went just fine.
I'm actually a bit impressed.
The county is doing what they're supposed to be doing (color me surprised). They have the speech pathologist meeting with Maddie five days a week (which is more than she had in preschool). The teacher for the deaf will be starting next Tuesday. The audiologist from the Kansas City school of the deaf is making her first monthly visit next week to set up the FM system...and the district's special ed teacher is already working one-on-one with Maddie.
Whew! Maddie has a whole crew there to help her and I am IMPRESSED. I really thought this whole thing was going to be a battle...and it may still prove to be one, but for now I'm feeling pretty good about where Maddie is.

Sure, its not the same as she would have had in Wyoming...but honestly I doubt she would get that anywhere. The simple fact that she has any of this at all is a miracle. The state of Kansas is opening a casino for heaven's sake that the government will be running in order to bring in more money...that's how desperate they are. They're not even beginning to THINK about adding anything to the schools right now.
I also found out that the school district in the big city across the river (still haven't come up with a good name for it) has cut their deaf and hard of hearing program completely...so the kids over there have NO services at all! Like they can suddenly hear perfectly! UGH! These people are insane.
So the fact that Maddie has anything from her IEP is a miracle. I'm counting us pretty blessed.
Anyway...day two down and I didn't hear anything from Mrs. B so I'm going with the motto - 'No news is good news'. ;)
Let's see what day three brings.

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OMW! she's put up a post with pictures!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I no sooner had, 'yes, sweetheart, you start school today' out of my mouth, before she jumped out of bed, ran over to the dresser, pulled out her clothes, put them on, ran across the hall, down the stairs and flew into the kitchen.

Y
ea...this post probably should have been called, 'the day Maddie started kindergarten'...but that would have just been restating the obvious.

So would saying, Maddie was excited to start school today. But if I WERE to write it, could you tell me how to spell 'excited' because I would definitely need to know.
Of course, if you couldn't spell it, I'm pretty sure Maddie could help you.
This child was E-X-C-I-T-E-D!
The first thing out of her mouth when I woke her up this morning was a groggy, 'skoooooo today mama.'
I no sooner had, 'yes, sweetheart, you start school today' out of my mouth, before she jumped out of bed, ran over to the dresser, pulled out her clothes, put them on, ran across the hall, down the stairs and flew into the kitchen.
She. Was. Ready.
Too bad she had to do boring stuff like eat breakfast, brush her teeth, comb her hair and wait for her sister and brothers to get ready to go.
She wanted to leave. NOW!
Poor thing had to wait another 45 minutes - and she made sure we KNEW it. She was a drill sargent...instructing everyone on how to get ready and asking every few minutes what time it was.
Cute. Stuff.
I hope she doesn't repeat it tomorrow. ;)
When it was finally time to go, Maddie ran to the van, climbed in and endured the five minute drive to school...all the while telling us all about how she was a big girl now, not a baby anymore - think we've had this conversation much this summer?! :)
The minute...no, let me rephrase that...the 'second' we walked onto the playground it was as if Shad and I completely disappeared. She was in her element - waving at kids I'm pretty sure she's never met, confidently walking through the masses of children waiting to start their day and chatting with the lucky few.
She even left Anya, Nick and Alek behind.
When the principal called for the kids to line up, Maddie let me walk her up to her classmates and lined up like a pro. Then her group took off.
And Maddie never looked back.
Of course she should probably have been looking where she was going, because by the time Shad and I caught up with her, she and several other students were following the other kindergarten teacher down the hall to her new room.
Evidently she and her friends followed the masses...right into the wrong room.
Once she was in her class, found her cubbie and put her jacket away she was ready for us to leave. She kept telling us 'bye,' waving us off and rolling her eyes every time we tried to take a picture.
I guess that was our cue to leave.
What's funny is...I didn't cry a single tear.
I had convinced myself I would be a sobby mess when this day finally arrived...but she was so confident and thrilled to be going to school, I couldn't help being more happy for her than sad for me.
I guess I'm growing up too! :)
Sounds like the day went pretty well. Her teacher said Maddie was attentive, polite and listened to directions like a pro. Of course it was only day one, and a half day at that, but I'm choosing to be optimistic.
I think she's going to have a great year!



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