So, since it's been a while, how about a person by person update...I'll just pop in some favorite pictures that we've taken during my, erm, sabbatical...
(*updated to add...camera MIA. Recent pictures unavailable. SIGH. I've put in some pictures from last summer's trip to The Magic House,just for funsies.) (They are pretty much just of the little people though since the big two were off on their own.)
Let's start from the top, shall we? Oldest to youngest?
John switched jobs recently. It was all very well coordinated and painless really. He had been working full time at a local hospital for years and PRN at an inpatient hospice. Well, he basically just switched those around. Now he's working full time at the hospice and PRN at the hospital. It's been a good change of pace for him and I think he's happy. The new job is closer to home and he tends to not get out as late in general, so I'm happy. He's running along with his ham radio hobby and just built his first antennae. I don't really get the ham radio thing myself, but I'm glad he has a hobby and maybe the kids will get involved in it with him sometime down the road.
Me...I'm next. What can I say? I homeschool, I nurse babies, I change lots (and lots) of diapers, I fold laundry and plan meals, pretty much what I was doing when I left off a couple of months ago! It's sweet and contentment-filled some days...overwhelming and angst-filled on other days. We are moving veeeerrryyyy slowly down that Alphabet Path. We have just finished up letter B! I refuse to get agitated about this because this was always supposed to be supplementary and fun. I'm going to try to move through C and D a little quicker, but with the holidays coming...no promises. For November and All Saints we are working our way through set #2 of Holy Traders. Two years ago we did set #1. Last year we didn't do any. I don't remember why, except that I was early pregnant with Henry and probably barely dragging myself through the day. Every day we read a card and I give Kain and Maria that card for their album. There's 25 cards in a pack, so it takes us all of November (at least) to get through a pack. I'm also working on some Advent plans. We will be doing Holy Hereos Advent Adventures for the first time, and that combined with read-alouds from our Advent books will probably be enough.
Maria- Please gather around for a shocking announcement.
Maria turned 14 in September.
I know, I know. It surprised me too. What can you do? What is so odd to me is that I remember being 14 *really, really* well. It's all a little surreal having a daughter this age. It's like being in some kind of flashback sequence at times, like, "Oh yeah, I remember going through life painstakingly avoiding drawing attention to myself because I was certain everyone was watching and critiquing every move I made. And aren't you glad you don't have to live in that mindset anymore?" So at 14 Maria is sweet (most all the time) and responsible (pretty much) and absolutely gorgeous beyond all reason, which is a giant cross for John and I to bear, let me tell you. There's nothing quite like moving through life to the point when you are in the mall and the men are checking out your DAUGHTER. Last year it seemed to be just the creepy types that were doing this, but now it's even the average-seeming guys. The difference is in the face of the one doing the looking. I look up to find the creepy guys still leering. The other guys don't seem to realize that they are looking until they see *me* looking at *them* looking at my *underage, still-young-enough-to-have dolls-in-her-bedroom-child*, and then they look *guilty and embarrassed*. At least they have the grace to look embarrassed. But the embarassment gives them away. If they were looking at her thinking "Oh, what a charming child!", they would not look embarassed, correct? Anyway. Ahem. This was about Maria, not my own neuroses, right?
Maria has grown a lot in her school work since last year. We are working hard on her writing and spelling issues and there is good progress there. But I don't see a lot of post high school education for this one. We are starting to talk about such things, and she doesn't really know what she wants to do after she graduates, but we all know that she does not like school. At all. None of it. She says she wants to work with animals, and she wants to get married and have children, and she wants to collect stuff to supply her constant stream of art projects.
She's got an Irish dance competition coming up on Saturday, and she's entering the art competition there for the first time. She's made a bodhran, or Irish drum, from a hat box. I'll post pictures of that after this weekend. It came out well, and she's hoping to place well with it. I don't think she'll have a problem placing, there won't be much competition for one thing, but I hope she does well too. It would mean a lot to her.
She's also very involved in everything going on at church. She's started our parish's two-year confirmation prep program, as well as attending the regular junior-high classes, and she's singing in the Life Teen band. She's always been very extroverted and busy, this one.
Ok, next up is Kain- Kain has joined Cub Scouts this year. He's a first year Webelo, and if you don't know what that means don't feel bad. Neither did I. Scouts is a culture all it's own, that's for sure, and we are catching up fast. It's a family affair, and he and John have been spending more time together as a result. I think good things will come of that. Anyway, Webelo is an acronym that stands for "We'll Be Loyal Scouts". It's fourth and fifth grade boys making the transition from cub scouts to boy scouts.
Kain and Jack both played Miracle League baseball this fall. That was a blast. The boys loved it, and it was so nice to see them feel successful at something. Just a very positive and fun experience. They will be starting up again in the spring.
We are realizing as Kain gets older that his delays are more profound than we thought. We knew there were speech and motor issues in the beginning, and he's finished therapy for those. And there's the bipolar/ADHD diagnoses and all that goes with them. But he's also just been very slow to develop in certain ways that are hard to pinpoint. There's just things that he doesn't *get* that he should by now it seems. It's hard to describe. All I can really give are examples, which are always just kind of a snapshot and don't really show the whole picture of what he's like. He's overall very, very immature, and because of this he never makes friends his own age. He doesn't fit in with kids his own age, they think he's weird, and he always ends up with kids that are 7 or 8 years old. It's good at least that homeschooling allows for this, since everything we go to has kids of all ages. Other things....the Miracle League thing. This is a special needs baseball league. Many of the children playing are profoundly disabled...in wheelchairs and such...or having significant cognitive issues, like Jack. Kain's issues are more subtle, and I probably wouldn't have ever thought to put him in something like this except that Jack was playing anyway. When I registered him, I wondered how he would take it, if he would ask why I had signed him up to play on this kind of team, or why so many of the kids were in wheelchairs, etc. He never said a word. Never questioned it at all. A "normal" 10 year old would, don't you think?
There are other examples...he has an exceedingly poor memory, more than just the ADHD "spaciness", and a very poor concept of time. Just lots of little niggling things that I want explained. If it's one thing I've learned with Jack, it's to trust myself when I think something is not right, even if I can't pinpoint it very well. Having more labels attached may not seem helpful, but we are enrolling in Mother of Divine Grace next year and getting a special ed. consultant for him. Having a current evaluation will be helpful in communicating what he needs.
We are going to have him re-evaluated. When he first moved here, we had this intensive all day long evaluation done. At the time he was *so* unbelievably hyperactive. He literally could not even stay in a chair for more than a few minutes at a time. We would walk down a hallway and he would run into walls. On purpose. He was a mess in every way, and I think more subtle delays would have been difficult to see. So I think we need another look.
He has his own strengths, of course. He likes to read, and he loves history. Outside of the more tedious subjects like math and grammar, he does enjoy school. He is surprisingly sweet and gentle with the younger kids, though he and Maria fight like insane people. He biggest strength is his willingness to try. He is always willing to listen and take advice and at least try to do better. He *wants* to do better. That doesn't always translate into *doing better*, but the desire is there, and that's half the battle I guess.
I am always concerned about him in social situations like Boy Scouts because he has such a difficult time. He's very immature and his social skills are pretty poor, especially when he's nervous. He's shy and self-conscious, which ironically translates into acting out and being goofy and drawing attention to himself. He doesn't give a very good impression of himself, to say the least. Recently we went up to the scoutmaster of the big boy scouts after mass to buy tickets to an upcoming spaghetti dinner fundraiser. I told the scoutmaster that Kain was in Webelos, and he said something to Kain about joining the den there at our church when he was old enough. Kain made some really odd, weird comment, I don't even remember what it was now, and I saw the man's face harden and close. He comes across and rude and sarcastic because he doesn't know what to say to people, so he usually tries to be funny, but it's not funny. It's just rude and sarcastic. So I've decided we need to actively practice how to meet people and say appropriate things.
I'm going to drop off here and make this a two part post I think. It's already crazy-long, and I still have three more kids to go! It's getting late into the morning and I've got to get our day going. And hopefully by then my camera will have turned up!