Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Heart & Brains

Makenna once said "most of the time, I don't have a clue."  She is so wrong. Yes, she can forget to put both shoes on. She can be holding something and looking for it at the same time. But, this kid has a uniqueness that I love. Her thinker is perfectly in tune with her feeler. While many of us use either our brain or our heart, Makenna utilizes both. 

For two years, she has kept a jacket in her locker. When I asked her to bring it home, she politely declined and explained herself. That jacket is her "forgot jacket". It is for the kids in her class who forget their jackets or don't have warm enough jackets. She told me "it's quite handy."  

She and I ran a few errands. We bumped into a man, in town, who has voiced his extreme dislike of Austin and I, to many people. I smiled and said "Hi". He refused to acknowledge me. Makenna looked at me and said "When people won't smile and be polite, I just smile bigger. I don't have to be as mean as they are."

I feel like there are a lot of lessons coming from this smile. The world would be a lot different if we all used a balance between our heart and brain in our decisions. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Going Backwards to Go Forwards

Welcome to the hardest blog I have ever written.  It's so hard that it has taken me a year to even attempt.  Be patient.  Be kind.  I don't know how to tell this story without airing frustrations, writing the wrong thing (unintentionally) or stumbling over myself.  This is our story of dyslexia.  Before I begin, know two things:  1.  I don't blame anyone for my baby having dyslexia.  2.  I don't write this for sympathy.  I write this because there is another parent, out there, who needs to know they aren't the only ones struggling.  I write this because there is a kid, sitting in a classroom wondering why they don't "get it" and everyone else does.  Josie has dyslexia.

How did we figure this out?  We didn't.  She did.  Sort of.  Two years ago, during a skills assessment, Josie looked straight at her teacher and said "You know I don't learn like those other kids, right?"  That began a whole new way of approaching school.  Her teacher, an amazing lady, started working with her a bit differently.  We weren't thinking dyslexic.  We were just thinking we had a different thinker on our hands.  That didn't bother us, in the least bit.  Kindergarten started and we noticed it wasn't just a different thinker.  Josie would "read" a book to me and if I wasn't really paying attention, I wouldn't notice that she wasn't really reading.  The girl could pick up a book, look at the pictures and fool even the best of them.  When asked to sound out simple words, she could sound it out but couldn't tell you what it meant.  For instance, she would painfully sound out "cat" and not be able to tell you that we were talking about the very type of four legged animal that she had just finished playing with, on our front porch. She couldn't tell you how many fingers she had without counting them. She could count moving cattle on the cake line. That's hard for some adults (hellloooo, me). She couldn't get her pole pattern down on foot or her horse because she got lost with the straight line. Her test scores started rolling in.  They were all over the place.  One week she was so far behind, I was surprised the kid on the piece of paper could put one foot in front of the other.  The next test, she was at the top of the charts.  It wasn't adding up.  We asked the school to test her.  She passed all the tests.  It was suggested we wait until she was ten.  That just didn't seem right to us. I am, admittedly, leaving out a lot of the frustrations in jumping through the school hoops.  They are there but I don't think it will serve a purpose for this blog to go through all of that.  It was evident to us, the school couldn't or wouldn't address what we suspected.  That was dyslexia.  We took her to have independent testing run.  I know that sounds like it had to have been time consuming and expensive.  It wasn't.  It was a ridiculously simple process and cost a measly $100.  At this time, she has only been evaluated by professionals.  We haven't had a need to have her officially diagnosed.  We chose to use the thousands of dollars that would have cost to learn how to teach her. 

We live in a state in which the schools don't "recognize" dyslexia. Austin and I knew she wasn't going to learn as she should with the current system. So, I spent two weeks learning how to learn like Josie.  It was the most humbling and overwhelming two weeks of my life.  The simulations, in which we learned what it is like to be in a classroom, as a dyslexic, left me in tears.  I had taken learning for granted.  It came easily to me.  How could I have missed this for my daughter?  Was it our fault?  We should have spent less time loving her love of Blake Shelton songs and more time on the ABCs. How was I going to help her continue loving learning?  We hadn't hit the frustration beyond measure stage and I wanted to help her avoid it.  How could we protect her yet, teach her to work with what she was given?  We chose to be upfront about it.  We told her why she learned differently.  We taught her to use her voice and explain to people when she couldn't understand.  She told us that when she asked for the directions, twice, people just got louder.  We taught her to say "I don't understand.  I need you to say it a different way."  We worked hard to get a program into the school. 

I am happy to say that our school has a great program, now. We are working together and seeing positive things. It isn't cured and never will be. We really believe that this girl isn't going to be held back by dyslexia. We believe that God have her something hard so she can help others. We are excited to watch her learn. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Dear Husband: Why I Go to Bed Ugly

I go to bed ugly. It's true.  You haven't said anything and I appreciate it. I feel like I should explain. The days of me getting dressed up or putting on airs for bed time are long gone. Honestly, I am not sure they existed. I know it has never been candle light and romantic music but I do feel like there was a time of cute shots and a tank top that matched. Now, you get old underwear, your own t-shirt and the promise I love you. 

It isn't an intentional attempt at running you off. I have a lot of reasons for this change. They are:

1.  We just got home from roping. It is 11:30. You are asleep. You have been up since 3:45 a.m.  I have been up since 6:30. I put kids and horses to bed. I just want your old t shirt and a pillow.

2.  There aren't any other clean clothes. It's been a rough week. The washer keeps throwing codes. I can't get Google to fix it. I want your favorite t-shirt just as much as you do. Alas, it is buried underneath little people clothing that smells like various forms of animal, mud and sweat. That t-shirt is oh so soft but it can't fight through the pile. 

3.  I got new beauty supplies. This hair mask may make my hair look greasy now but it is for sure going to give me locks of hair that will leave even Fabio jealous. Also, this face mask says it will tighten all the right places and obliterate all the wrong if I can commit to eight hours. Who am I to argue with that?

4.  I am tired. I haven been verbally, mentally and physically abused. All. Day. Long. They are little and they don't mean to wear me down. But, holy geehozephat they are relentless. Hungry. Thirsty. Bored. Excited. Bleeding. Smart. Dumb. Happy. Sad. Angry.  Needy. It is ALL day long. 

5.  You don't care. I love you even more for that. You don't expect me to get all dolled up so you can turn on "Deadliest Catch" and fall asleep before the first commercial. You don't need me in full hair, makeup and silky things so you can sleep open mouthed and snoring. All you care about is having me next to you. Oh, and you care about whether I will ever wash that t-shirt and if you will ever get it back from me. Your chances are slim. 

Thanks for going to bed ugly, with me. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

It's All In the Name

In an effort to help other parents of small children, here is solid advice for naming pets. It's tried and true. Do not name your pets (or other children ) these names:

Tucker - the "T" is harder to enunciate than you think. One of the most common mispronunciations for small children is "truck". That "T" becomes an "F" and a very clear one, at that. It's the same for Tucker. 

Baxter - Baxter quickly becomes the child of unmarried parents. 

Georgie - the second "g" is easy. The first one is left off. Pretty soon, Georgie is a very lovely party of naked people with loose morals. 

How do we know this?  Well, we were smart enough to head off Baxter. The other two are part of our lives. 

Meet my parents' dog, Tucker. 

Meet our cat, Georgie. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Field Trips & Big Falls

I have had the pleasure of being a parent on the kindergarten field trip for three years. It's one of my favorite trips because they get to go to the zoo. Today was Josie's trip to the zoo. I figured it would be the same trip as the last two years. I should have known she would keep it exciting. She put a different spin on the trip. 

The zoo was great. 

We had a great picnic lunch followed by some fun time on the playground. This is when Josie amped up the excitement. Somehow, she managed to fall from the platform around the fire pole. I am guessing it was a good 5-6 feet. Her head caught her fall. She split that baby like a melon. 

With the help of her class para, we hustled to the ER. All she was worried about was stitches. Stitches mean needles. Josie HATES needles. I was worried about the excessive bleeding and shaking. We scored a great emergency room experience. We have experience. When I say we have a lot of experience with emergency rooms, I mean it. We have sampled quite a few of them. I can think of at least six we have visited. Don't forget who I am married to. 

The nurse was an amazing guy who kept Josie as comfortable as possible. The doctor was so nice and understanding of Josie's fear of needles. She gave Josie the option of skipping the numbing shot and just getting the staples. Josie jumped all over that. Josie did warn the doctor she might scream but to keep going. No screams. Barely a flinch. According to Josie, staples in the back of your head is not nearly as painful as getting one ear pierced. She didn't even show signs of a concussion. This is really her opinion. 

She is home. The blood is washed out of her hair. She has requested ribs and baked beans for supper. All is back to normal. Well, until the whiplash sets in. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Seven Years Later

Seven years ago, the horse in the upper right hand picture got its foot caught on the gate and flipped over. She landed squarely on top of Austin. I watched him try to crawl out from under her as she got up. He couldn't. From my seat near the stands, I thought he had broken his leg. I gathered up Degnan, barely two years old, and Makenna, eleven months old, and started for the truck so I could load him up and head to the hospital. Then, Austin's friend, Gary, came and told me it wasn't a broken leg. The ambulance took Austin to the nearest hospital. The kids and I followed. 

When we the doctor came out from examining him and told me he had crushed his pelvis and broken parts of his back, I thought "Well, this is definitely not good but not life threatening."  Then, the doctor said they were air lifting him to a larger hospital because they were worried about internal bleeding. That will give you pause. Austin had surgery and spent the next few days in the hospital before being moved to a rehab facility. I remember sitting next to him, thinking about how we were going to manage. My main concern was how I was going to keep two toddlers from crawling all over Daddy when we got home. How was I going to get his wheel chair in our house?  Were the doors wide enough?  Would I be able to go back to work?  He sure wasn't, for awhile. Also, how was I going to find time to get myself adoctor  appointment,  because, the day before the rodeo, we had found out I was pregnant with Josie. 

Thankfully, a lot of this was answered relatively quickly, for me. My parents had a ramp built, at their house, and we stayed there until he could move on to the walker.  The kids were very gentle with him.  My job gave me time off.  When he graduated to the walker, we came home. All he had to do was sit around and heal, or so we thought. A week after we got home, he started having intense pain in one of his feet. He described it as if it felt like someone had out gasoline in his veins, lit them on fire and pounded on his foot with a sledge hammer. The ortho doc told us it was all part of healing. My dad had broken his pelvis and I didn't remember this being a part of it. After a month of the pain, we went to our regular doctor. I knew something was really wrong when Austin asked if they could amputate the foot. Thankfully, our doctor didn't write him off. She looked further into it and told us that she thought Austin had RSD, or as it was becoming known , Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).  CRPS is a nerve disease that produces intense pain.  You are never cured of it. If you can manage days without the intense pain, you are considered in remission. 

This began a three year nightmare of trying treatments that included Accupuncture, spinal blocks, removal of hardware, nerve conduction testing  and a whole bunch of prescriptions. He was in pain, either thanks to the CRPS or the arthritis in his back, all the time. There wasn't a good day. He didn't have pain free days. He didn't have pain free morning or evenings. He couldn't enjoy the kids. He didn't get to ride horses without paying for it for days. The medicines made him sick. They made it hard for him to sleep. He was a zombie. He looked awful and he felt awful. I prayed and prayed the doctors would find something to help him. Then, my prayers changed. I didn't care who or what helped him, just as long as there was help. 

I began trusting the prescriptions, less and less. It was clear to me that they were doing more harm than good. They didn't take the pain away. They weren't putting him into remission. They were eating his stomach and stealing him from the kids and I. In July of 2014, Austin agreed to try something else. He agreed to try the "voodoo crap" the kids and I had been using to help us feel better. In eight short days, it looked like the answer to our prayers was finally here. He could walk without bending over. His flares were fewer and farther between. He had energy. He had an appetite. He stopped taking all those medicines. 

Seven years after that horse flipped over on him, I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around all of it. It is still hard to believe that for the first three and half years of Josie's life, Austin was in bed before she was. For that period of time, he couldn't enjoy doing what he loved, riding horses. Seven years later, I still can't believe we found remission in a box of "voodoo crap". I am so very grateful God shoved us towards that box. It's nice to have the healthier, happier guy in the bottom left picture. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Bottle Calves and Nevers

Degnan is almost nine. That means I have successfully avoided having a bucket calf for about six years. He started asking around the age of three. 

At first, I just flat out said "No!"  Then, he recruited his sisters. I said, "It will ruin your lives!  You can't go anywhere."  Then, he started recruiting grandparents and aunts and uncles. I said, "Great!  Ask them to get one for their house and you can live there while you take care of it.  I am not feeding one.  That's what will end up happening. I will have to feed it."

So I won, right?  Yea right. There wouldn't be a blog if I had won the battle. It turns out God sided with Degnan, Makenna and Josie. He showed his favoritism with a set of twin calves. The mama cow was showing her favoritism so we got her leftovers. 

Has it ruined their life?  No. Have they left the house?  Yes. Is it still at our house?  Yes. Have I had to feed it?  Of course. But, I will say the times have been few and far between. The creepy country kids have really stepped up to the plate and taken care of Twitch. Yes, that's her name. So, meet Twitch. 

For the record, the milk replacer still stinks. Washing bottles is still gross. The calf is still cute. But, look at how happy the rancher is. Ugh!!