Thursday, September 24, 2009

School Days Update

Well, I haven't posted in a while so here is the update:
Stuart is in his sophomore year at Lakeside Highschool. He has very long days. He goes to seminary at 6:30 and then straight to school all day and then football practice till 6 or 7 at night. Then as soon as he gets home he eats, and has homework and goes to bed. I feel so sorry for him sometimes. I feel it is too much for such a young man, but he insists on playing football and I insist on seminary so thats just the way it has to be for now. He is on JV football and also on the varsity team, so he has two games a week. As I write this it is 10:00pm and I am waiting for him to get back from an away game. Despite the long days he is adjusting better to highschool so far this year. His grades are much better and he even has A's in Chemistry and World History! We are holding our breath and hope it lasts. This is better than he has ever done as far as grades go.
Jackson is doing great at school as far as we can tell. Its hard to get him to talk about anything. He just likes solitude. But we force him to pay attention to us and give us feedback as much as we can. He has been complaining about being in the school band and so I finally relented and let him switch out. He really wanted to go to drama, and frankly I didn't think it was a good idea. Jackson really struggles with stuttering and being outgoing and social is not really his thing, but he insisted and so far is loving it! I am pleasantly surprised. Maybe this is just what he needs! We'll see if anything becomes of that. Jackson of course had all A's and has the highest grade in his math class. He usually gets his homework done before he even gets home! Its great. He just turned 12 last week and had a sleep-over watching "Goosebumps" movies all night. The boys had fun. He will be getting the priesthood this coming Sunday. He doesn't really seem to care, but he is definitely glad to be out of Primary.
Brooklyn has had quite some changes recently. We have made some medication changes and so far she hasn't had a seizure in a few weeks! Her interpreter emails me everyday about her progress, and he reports much improvement in her attentiveness and signing. I am very encouraged by what I see at home too. She attends to tasks longer, initiates conversation and can reciprocate a conversation as well. Her signing is still only one or two signs strung together, but more is emerging. She actually watches TV now! Before she could'n't even pay attention long enough to one thing to sit and watch, but now she does. It is so nice and gives me a little breathing room! We really struggle when it is time for her daily chores though, such as taking her medicine, brushing her teeth and hair, getting dressed etc. It is very frustrating! She has made me late to work on a few occasions because she just refuses to do these things. She has a sticker chart and we are trying lots of positive reinforcement, but it really just depends on her moods. Over all I see quite an awakening in her countenance. We feel very hopeful for the future.
Carson is my little helper boy recently. I have told him he has to be the model for good behavior for Brooklyn. I use him as an example alot. He has a sticker chart and is so diligent about his daily jobs. He gets two dollars on Saturday if his charts are full. He really likes this system. He is doing well in school, however first grade is a big adjustment from Kindergarten. He has lots of homework every day and his day is longer as well. I am shocked at the first grade expectations! Daily homework is two pages (front and back) of math and writing spelling words, practicing his high frequency words, and reading for 20 minutes. It is alot, but he has adjusted and he now can do most of it all on his own without ay help.
Well there is the update. I am working about 24 hours a week and taking two classes as well. We all have to follow a very tight schedule to fit it all in. What is the most awesome is that Brian is working day watch and we can all be home together in the evenings. What a difference that has made in our family!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Brian's Dream Come True!

I just have to brag a little for Brian. I am so proud of him. For six years he has been going through the interview process to become an LAPD motorcyle officer. As many of you know, Brian LOVES motorcyles. Once Brian gets his sights locked on a goal he does not give up until he "conquers" it (in his own words). Each time you interview for a position, you get ranked on a list according to your score. They only make a new list every 2 years. The first time he was ranked 100 something, I think. The next time it was 63, then this last November he ranked 36! We were so excited. He didn't make the cut for the first motor school this year, but he did for the second class. He started motor school on July 9. Out of seventeen LAPD officers only 3 graduated motor school. Brian was Top Gun of the class, including some other officers from other agencies! I am so proud of him. He said that motor school was the most stressful thing he has ever done in his life. They really put the officers through the grind, and there was no mercy. If you weren't up to par, then you were out. Their mentality was the instructors wanted to sleep at night feeling they only allow the best to be out there on the road so they can go home to their families. I of course appreciated that. I am so proud of Brian for persevering and conquering this goal of his. He is such an example to me of dedication and perseverence.
Brian got his Harley last Thursday and says its so much fun to go to work now. I think he is still in awe that he's really a motor officer. I wish I could post pictures, but we still don't have a camera! Too many other things on the list like school clothes and such!
I love my husband so much and am so proud of him!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Help please!

Ughhh! I have tried to change this ugly background a million times! Why won't it change? Can anyone help me? I copy and paste the new background info under "add a gadget", but it never takes. What am I doing wrong?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mammoth Camping Trip

Brooklyn caught a fish too! She was so proud of herself!

Carson posing infront of the Minarets.

The boys in front of Mammoth Mountain. Can you beleive all that snow in June?

Stuarts pride and joy. He wanted us to pay to get it stuffed.. (yeah right!)

My fish looks bigger! I have to say I was pretty proud of it too!

We love to go up to Mammoth! We packed up and hauled our little fishing boat up to Convict Lake and Lake Mary for some good quality famliy time. We started at Convict Lake where the elevation is lower and its a little warmer at night. We knew rain was coming, but we decided to go anyway. The rain for sure came, and after that first night the boys all slept in the Expedition, leaving Brian, Brooklyn amd I to brave the cold wet nights! We survived and luckliy the sun came out eventually and we were able to dry everything out. We enjoyed riding our bikes and doing a lot of fishing!! After three days at Convict lake, we moved up to Lake Mary, our traditional fishing lake. Stuart caught the biggest fish he's ever caught! It was a 3.5 pound rainbow trout! I also caught a big one. It was 2.9 pounds. We caught a lot of fish and it was alot of fun and relaxation. Stuart loved getting up early and fishing all day. Jackson and Carson were bored with fishing and preferred to sit in the car and play game boy! I forced them out as much as I could, but apparently they really aren't the camping type. Brooklyn loved the freedom to be as dirty and care free as she wanted. I was happy as long as I got my camp shower! Of couse it was stressful for us as parents, but I think it was all worth it! We made some good memories.

Monday, June 8, 2009

I survived!

I have not posted in a really long time! I really have not had a spare moment the past few months. Not to mention that Carson broke our digital camera, so I can't post any new pictures. These past few months have been a real growing experience for our whole family. I started working for the first time in 10 years this past January at Riverside Community College and then in February I started the Spring semester and took three classes at night. I know it was crazy and I knew it would be hard, but I am trying to finish the Interpreter Training Program at RCC and needed these classes in this specific semester. For the most part I was gone four days a week from morning to night. It was soooo difficult! I just constantly felt pulled in ten different directions. There were so many times I wanted to drop my classes, but I persevered and I made it through.
I said this was a growing expereince for our whole family and it was. With the year I had gone through with dealing with Brooklyn's hospitalization and caring for her when she came home, I was in the depths of depression. I had given everything I had in me to her and my family and somewhere I had lost who I was. Last fall I felt a strong impression to return to school and enter the Interpreter Program, even though I had never wanted to be an interpreter. Taking those classes saved me. I finally had an outlet and saw that I had something to give and I had talents to offer. It also got my mind off of the terrible tradgedy of losing the old Brooklyn, helped me move forward and put the past behind us. Starting to work was also something I really needed personally. There is so much frustration with dealing with Brooklyn that it can be very disheartening. Her progress is very slow and most of the time you don't know if your efforts make a difference at all. Having an outlet to help me feel like a success has really helped me be more patient with Brooklyn. With me out going to school and working it forced Brian and the kids to carry some of the burden of caring for the house and Brooklyn. I have always done it all and taken pride in doing it all, but it was killing me inside.
I love my husband so much. He really stepped up to the plate and has supported me in my efforts. Now we both share the responsibility of parenting like we never have before. He worries about who is picking up Carson from school or what to make for dinner just as much as I do. He does a load of laundry when it needs to be done, or helps with a school project when it comes. Not only do I have a greater love and appreciation for him, but the kids do too. As he cares for their needs more, they have come to know and love eachother more as well.
My children have really had to become more self-reliant. They get themselves off to school, make their own lunches and help care for Brooklyn and even know how to make dinner. While sometimes it would kill me to have to leave such responsibilites to my children to handle and potentially fail at, I know it was best for them. I realize what an enabler I have been.
So now the semester is over. I will still be working part-time during the summer to make ends meet, but I survived and so did my family. I think we are all better because of it too.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Why mothers need to get away

For Christmas Brian bought me a plane ticket to go visit my little sister, Hannah, in Kentucky and to see my new niece Emma. I was so excited. Allison and I were supposed to go together, but with Cameron's surgery right before the trip, she couldn't get away. So I went by myself. It was SOOOOO cold. It was quite a novelty for me though, at least it was finally cold enough to wear some of my sweaters and boots that I can't really ever wear here in California.

I arrived at a pretty bad time, with most of Kentucky out of power, because of an ice storm. It didn't really bother me though, I was there to get a break from my motherly duties and spend time with Hannah and see little Emma! Oh yeah, Spencer too:) . (Hannah's husband) Hannah felt so bad because they had no power, but they had a generator for the heat, so we survived just fine. She got her power on the next day, so we didn't rough it for too long.
The scenery was so beautiful. With ice covering everything, it looked like crystal chandeliers. We went to a few sights, but most everything was closed because it was winter (go figure) or because of the ice storm. Hannah and I went to the Kentucky Ballet in Lexington, and I am sorry to say, it was hilariously bad. The dancers were skilled individually, but as a group their timing was terrible. Perhaps they were a little off kilter with the storm and lack of power in most the city too.
On Sunday, Emma was blessed in her beautiful gown that Hannah made herself. I am proud she has followed in her sisters footsteps with her sewing ingenuity! We had a nice evening with her in-laws that afternoon.

I was determined to see a plantation while I was there on Monday or Tuesday, but they were all closed, and it was freezing (getting to 17 degrees at night) so we mostly enjoyed talking up all the air (as Brian calls it) and doting on precious Emma. It was a wonderful and relaxing trip, and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to go.
Meanwhile, at home, Brian was following the carefully written script to a tee and when I called to check-in, he was so supportive in telling that everything was just great and not to worry (as I always do). Of course Stuart later told me how dad was cracking the whip and he personally had to do all the work!!! (Please remember Stuart is 14 and he thinks he always does all the work, so take that with a grain of salt)
But I think the most valuable result of the trip was Brian's validation of how hard my job is!!!! Yes that's right!!!! 15 years later, I finally get a little credit for all that I do and how hard it is to take care of everything with an absent partner. I also reminded Brian of all the things I took care of for him BEFORE the trip and AFTER as well. That validation was worth every penny and I think I will be taking a trip to visit Hannah at least once a year! Overall, it was wonderful and I am so thankful for Brian's support of me getting a week off. I love you Hannah and miss your little family already.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Brooklyn Update

Yesterday was Brooklyn's IEP (Individual Education Plan) at her school and it went reasonably well. My goal was to get the district to refer Brooklyn to CSDR (California School for the Deaf at Riverside) and they were supportive, all except her teacher, who beleives that Brooklyn's other needs will not be addressed at CSDR. Brooklyn's class right now is for hearing students with multiple handicaps, and Brooklyn has an interpreter with her there. I am very excited that I didn't have to fight too much to get the district to see my side and support what I know is best for Brooklyn. CSDR will offer Brooklyn constant access to language, therefore, increasing Brooklyn's language. I have had to fight many battles with her schools in the past, and I have become a little battle weary as of late. So this is a good thing and now we can submit her application to have her transfered there.
We have been waiting months for Brooklyn's psychological assesments to be complete. Before Christmas she was fully evaluated and we discussed the results yesterday. The results were a little discouraging for me, because she is so low functioning compared to our old Brooklyn. This depresses me at times, so I try not to think about it. I try not to look back at what is lost and to focus on what I still have, which is a daughter that is still here with us that brings us much joy, just in a different way. I have heard it explained by people who live with a brain injury survivor that it is like the old person you knew died, and now you have to learn to get to know this new person. I can relate completely with that.
Ok, so enough of that. Here are some of the new improvements Brooklyn has made:
She can write her name again, with reminders as to where to put the "L".
She can read some words and the list grows a little each day.
She sets the table and loves to help me cook.
She loves to go to school and gets herself dressed all by herself in the morning.
She sits still in primary and loves to "read" her scriptures.
She can sign her own prayers now.
She can tell us in simple signs about an exciting event like "CARSON MONEY!" ( Carson got a dollar from the tooth fairy)
She is very aware of the family routine, and loves to be a part of it.
She is making progress all the time, and we have faith that she will continue to do so. Thank you everyone for your support!