Thursday, February 28, 2013

The rest of the vacation

Here are the rest of the pictures of our trip from Pennsylvania!  Enjoy!

We went to the Children's Museum in Pittsburgh one day.  The kids had a good time, but I think that will be our last visit.  Unfortunately they are too old for it now.  Sad!  Next time we will hit the Science center.

 She wishes:

 See how Finley tilts her head?  This is how she sees when she colors:

 We went and visited Duqusene - Mat's college campus.  The kids had a great time looking at where Daddy went to school.  It has changed (and grown) quite a bit since he was there, and is a really beautiful campus.

 Mat's old dorm:
 We went to my college campus next - Carlow University - but I didn't take a lot of pictures.  This saying is up on the wall now, and I thought it was cool:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Just When Things were going so well

Today I had a meeting with Finley's education team.  The meeting was called by her braille teacher.  A few weeks back she said she thought the whole team should meet to talk about Finley before conferences.  I am pretty good at reading people, and I could tell something was up.  I did ask her in an email if something was wrong, but I didn't get an answer.

Now I understand why.

Today the meeting started out great.  Her teacher told me how great she is doing in class educationally.  She is reading on grade level, math is going well, and she is a sweet girl.  She is still very shy and not wanting to talk much, but that isn't new news.  Her mobility teacher said she is doing well.  They have reached the end of everything she needs to learn right now because she is still so visual.  They are spending their time practicing what she has learned, and talking about safety in the community.  Her braille teacher said that they are spending some time reviewing what they have learned so far this year, and just adding a few new contractions at this time.  Again, because she is so visual still, the teacher is using more and more braille books with pictures to help keep Finley's interesting in what they are learning.


Her sweet braille teacher turned to me, and I knew it was time for the "but".  I could just see it in her face.  This isn't my first rodeo - I have been on both sides of this table before.  I could tell by the way they were all looking at her, that she had something she thought I wouldn't like.

She told me that in Braille, she is still dealing with having to do a "song and dance" to get Finley to work.  Finley isn't very interested in braille (which isn't news to me because I struggle with her to do it at home) and so she is using every avoiding tactic to not do it at school.  The problem is - these behaviors should have lessened this year.  She is seeing more Kindergarten level behaviors in her, and it is worrisome.  She is asking to go to the bathroom during their session and she is gone sometimes for 10 minutes.  We all know that Finley can hold it for about 10 hours, so she is just avoiding doing the work.

The Braille teacher started with how we are going to cut back on braille homework.  We were doing so well, but it is starting to wear on Finley.  We are going to try doing a little less homework.  Finley is no dummy - she knows she is the only one in her class who has this extra nightly work, and she doesn't like it.  She considers it completely unfair, and so she fights.  So we are going to concentrate on doing a little less intense work for awhile and mostly have her read books to keep up her fluency skills.  Then her braille teacher will work with her during the week with the more intense braille instruction.

Her mobility teacher spoke of the same.  That as well as Finley is doing, it is still incredibly hard to keep her focused.  She is having to bribe her quite a bit to get her to work during their sessions.  She wasn't overly concerned with it, but stated that if Finley really did need the cane right now, we would be in trouble. 

Her teacher stated that even though she is doing so well academically, socially she is still behind.  She doesn't remember what she is supposed to be doing when there is a conflict in class.  She is still getting easily diestracted in class, and having to be reminded what to do at what time. 

All these behaviors point guessed it......being young.  Here we go again.  Yes, she is young.  I get that.  She is immature - she is the baby of the family.  These are not excuses - these are facts.  Plus, some of it is Finley's personality.  If she doesn't want to do something, she isn't going to do it.  Bottom line.  I can't make her - she has to want to.  Since she was little, this has been the case.  She is hard headed and stubborn.

In the end, what it came down to is the team wanting her to repeat 1st grade.  Or at least think about it.  I did find myself agreeing with them on a lot of levels.  I would love to see her get better at her basic skills in both braille and reading and writing and math.  I would like to see her become a little more less introverted and work on problem solving.  I would like to see her be confident enough that she WANTS to do the work and please the adults.

Do I think another year will do this for her?  I don't know.  It is so hard with Finley.  What is being young?  What is vision related?  What is her personality?  It is such an even mix of all three, that I don't know that more time will fix the problem, or just mess her up because now she will leave all of her friends behind.

I called Mat and he was dead set against it.  Just like last time.  His stance always is - if it isn't academic, then he doesn't care.  And I get that.  But I was the youngest in my class.  I was always the smallest too - just like Finley.  And I was shy until Junior high.  She is like me in a lot of ways.  I was never a super student, but I did just fine.

Given the chance to have been older, would I be a different person?  Probably not.  Would I have done better in class?  Maybe.  Who is to say.  I can no more guess my past than I can guess Finley's future.

What to do, what to do.  I talked to Finley about what is going on at school and what it is going to mean if it continues.  What had a serious heart to heart about school being her job.  When I talked to her about the possibility of staying one more year in first grade, she cried so hard I about died.  She wants to go to second grade, and she wasn't hearing any more about it.

Side bar - it was really sweet when Finley started crying, Cainan came over and just hugged her and patted her back.  He was so loving and was trying hard to convince her that it wouldn't be so bad.  That they would be together and see each other more.  It didn't work, but man did he try, and it was so cute.

I wish I had the answer.  Last year, the answer was given to me because she tested out of transitional.  But this year - we are back in the same place.  I don't regret us putting her in first grade - not for a minute.  But will I regret this next year at this time? 

I am tired of losing sleep over all of this crap.  Up and down, up and down we go with Finley.  Doing great, doing not so great.  Seeing okay, not seeing okay.  Not one day is the same.  In some cases, this would make for an exciting life.  But not here.  I am sick of it, and I know she is too.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Return to Blogging

I have not been a very good blogger so far in 2013.  I fear that the blog has taken a back seat to the two races I am working on for our foundation.  And everyday life has also gotten in the way.  I love the blog, and I need to be better at keeping it up.  It is a journal for our family, as well as a way to get news out about our foundation, how Finley is doing, and what the kids are up to.

This past week the kids and I went to Pennsylvania for their winter break week.  Mat couldn't come with us because he had to work, so my mom flew in the day before Arlington's birthday and road to Pennsylvania with me.

We had a great week and had a great time.  But the biggest news is that my eldest has turned 10.  10 years old - where has the time gone?  I can still remember looking at her when we got home for the first time and wondering what the heck we were going to do now.  Here we were - 3000 miles away from everyone we know, and we had a baby.  I don't think Mat had even held a baby before.

But she is still alive 10 years later, so we must be doing something right.  She has turned into a wonderful young lady.  She is my big helper, and is so good with her siblings.  She is wonderful with her friends.  She is giving and kind.  She is innocent and sweet.  Does she have some pre-teen meltdowns?  You bet.  Does she stomp her foot and look at me like I have lost my mind?  Everyday.  But it doesn't outweigh all the good things about her.  We are lucky to have her.  I don't know what I would do without her.

For her 10th birthday this year, she wanted to get her ears pierced.  So Friday (Feb. 15th - her actual birthday) - we went to the mall and had it done.  She chose very cute little lady bug earrings and she was very brave.  She has had them for a week, and things are still going well.

We went to Friendly's for her birthday dinner (her choice) and gave her some of her presents.  She had a small party the week before while her grandparents were visiting, and then we had a small party while we were in Pennsylvania, and then her party with her friends is this coming weekend.  It is the birthday that never ends.

Today I will share pictures of the birthday girl.  Tomorrow I will share the pictures from our trip - there aren't many.  We stayed pretty busy, and so I didn't always remember the camera!

Enjoy the pictures:

Opening presents from Gramma and Pappy Pletcher:

 On her 10th birthday - 2/15/13

 After she got her ears pierced:

 When did she stop being a little girl?
 Opening presents at Friendly's:

 Ice cream cake we had at Gigi's house:
 Getting ready to sing happy birthday:

Baby J trying some cake:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Be Back Soon!

We just arrived back from our week long vacation in Pennsylvania with the family.  Lots of pictures to share.  I need a day to recover, and I will be back to blogging!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chinese New Year

It has been a busy week.  I have had a sick Arlington on my hands.  She missed 3 days of school and has been very needy.  So the blog has taken a back seat.

But, before the sickness broke out, we had our annual Chinese New Year Party.  This year we decided to invite several families to celebrate with us.  We were going to celebrate on Saturday, but because of snowmageddon, we had to push the party to Sunday.  And that caused a few families not to be able to join us, but we still had a lot of fun.

Enjoy the pictures!

Decorations on our large mantel:
 The table where the food would be eventually:
 Our center island served as our dessert table:
 I was able to fit 21 people in our dining room - I was proud!
 Before the party started:

 It was the year of the snake.  On the table below are things Mat picked up in China:
 Some of the "year of" animals:

 I set up tables for the kids in the living room to do crafts.  Each kid had a bag of goodies, and two art projects and a Chinese calendar:
 Entrance to the living room:
 The big craft table:
 Our smaller mantel:
 Kids getting ready to do crafts:
 Cainan's "100 wishes" quilt that our friends and family contributed to when we first brought him home:
 Doing some crafts:
 The adults getting their grub on:
 We sang happy Birthday to Mat.  His mom had brought a cake: