Thursday, February 26, 2015

Using an Abacus to do "Real Math"

This video shows Abi using an abacus and a magnetic number board to solve a multi-digit addition problem.




Briefly, the method for teaching this skill is to teach skip-counting on the abacus for each number so the student learns to add each number, making "change" the correct way. For example to add eight, you can put in ten and take out two. Each of these facts needs to be memorized. Once these are mastered, the abacus becomes a very useful tool, as evidenced by math in Japanese schools.

Monday, February 23, 2015

There, but not quite


Physically, Abi has recuperated remarkably quickly. She reports that her eye rarely hurts, and seldom asks for pain medication at all. There is still some swelling that causes the conformer not to sit correctly, but she says it doesn't really bother her. 

Emotionally, she isn't bouncing back so quickly. She is a moody little mess, one minute happy, the next morose. In trying to process, she'll report seeing light, while the next minute she's demanding attention and sympathy for being blind. 

I have to admit, I don't handle all of this well. Not at all. I swing from sympathy and understanding to frustration and anger. I know all too well the terrible dangers of self-pity, so the least hint of it causes flares of anger within me that I have to grapple with in order to interact with her. This morning I woke unreasonably early, frustrated over an incident in Sunday School the day before. The day went pear-shaped from there, and finally a migraine drove me to rest in a dark room for a while, just to get away from the quiet intensity that is Abi. 

Matt, of course, continues to be our rock. Although he's busy with work most of the day, he'll let a kid or two play in his office, talk Abi around when she's tearful, and bring me a plate of scrambled eggs to go with the migraine meds. I so love and appreciate that man!

I used the time resting for bible study and prayer. Mostly prayer for Abi, and for us to have wisdom in parenting her. I pray for my other kiddos too. It's not easy to have a sibling with special needs. Sometimes, it's almost harder on them. 

It's not easy, but we take it one day at a time, always with the hope that tomorrow will be a little smoother than today was. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

More Braille Games

Sitting around the house while Abi recuperates means I have a lot of time on my hands. 



I've been using it to add Braille to a couple more of our board games. Clear Dymo tape, a braille slate and fabric paint are the only tools I really need. 


Quirkle



Chutes and Ladders

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Surgery

This week was Abi's surgery. Needed, intense, stressful, difficult... yet as with all of life there were moments of laughter too. 

Because I kept everyone updated on Facebook, I decided to just re-post those here, with a few extra pictures. 

The thing I can't copy here are the hundreds of comments from friends who were praying for us, encouraging us, crying with us. I'm so grateful for all of them!

Tuesday
3:45 pm

Dear hospital, it was so nice of you to call and insist on a complete medical history just as I was trying to pick Natta up from school, get her and Seth the rest of the way packed and talk to our friend who is babysitting as she picked them up. That wasn't stressful AT ALL... ‪#‎SarcasmAlert‬


6:30 pm


Hotel room! Popcorn and Cartoon Network and a front desk clerk who thought our name was Jetson.



6:45 pm



Cody: "I'm the eye doctor. Let me check your eye."

Abi: "How's it look?"

Cody: "Eat some popcorn. That'll help."

Abi: "The real eye doctor is not gonna say that."

Cody: "Looks like it's gonna have to come out."

Abi: "Let's take it out. Or we can leave it in to see. Let's pretend I can see."

Cody: "Let's breakdance."

Abi: "Ok! Let's breakdance!"

‪#‎DoctorWithADHD‬ ‪#‎PatientWithADHD‬



Wednesday
10 am

So far, so good. 



1. presents EARLY in the morning. We were up at 6:30. 



2. Playing during initial check-in. 



3. Talking to the nurse during check-in. 

So far the nurses have been mediocre. Glad we didn't get them the first few times around!

One went on and on about how she couldn't find our information in the computer. The next one kept asking to touch my kids' hair (does she ask to touch white kids' hair too?). 

And our name has changed from Jetson to Jenson. 



4. A snuggle from Daddy and ready to go back. 



5. Cody and Daddy building a Lego car while we wait.  
According to Matthew Jepsen, for a parent, a child's sixth surgery is 20% emotional distress and 80% boredom.

She should be done around 10:30.

11:30 am

Out of surgery. The Dr says it was the biggest most swollen eye he has ever seen and it was totally the right decision to remove it. 

Right now she is in extreme pain and can't stop crying. They are going to admit her until they can get the pain managed. Morphine isn't helping. 

1 pm

They moved Abi into a room on the Children's wing. They also gave her versed and another painkiller that I'm blanking on the name (Matt was there) so she is calmer. 

Cody and I had lunch and found a play room across the hall from Abi's room.


1:20 pm

Just resting. 

Daddy's getting lunch. I have a headache. No sleep, early call, stress, fluorescent lights and dry air will do that. 

Trying to keep Cody busy. 

If Abi's pain stays under control and if she can drink and walk a few steps, we can still go home tonight. Fingers crossed. 






2:45 pm


Abi, touching her bandage: "I sure wish this didn't have to happen to me."

Me too, Baby.

3 pm

I read Abi a bunch of your comments. She said, "There are a lot of people who love me and are praying to heal me." It really cheered her up. 

The staff are making noises about discharging us soon. Yay. 

4:20 pm



Flying the coop! Headed home. :)

8 pm
We are home. Abi's barfing up her toenails though. Gonna be a long night.
Thursday
8:30 am


Doing a little better this morning. By not having her sit up, I was able to get a full 5ml dose of Hydrocodone into her: 1 mL every ten minutes with a little bit of cracker and drink of Apple juice. Encouraging that she kept that down. It appears that sitting up or standing up contributes to the nausea, along with the anesthesia and morphine they gave her yesterday, which should be out of her system pretty soon. 

Now she just needs to rest and let her body heal. Lots of radio dramas and narrated movies!
10:30 am


Abi's doing MUCH better! She was able to keep the pain meds down, so they could work. She also got the pressure bandage off, and said that helped some of the pain go away. She is talking a lot more and moving around more and seems more herself. 

Her eye is stitched closed for a week. Right now, that is her biggest concern. "I don't want people to laugh at me that my eyes can't open." I assured her that no one would laugh.

Now, 5 pm



She's been laying around all day, but obviously doing better and better. She's taken all of her meds and is talking and playing with her toys. 

Like last time, I expect her recovery from here to be swift. And... we never have to do this again!!! Hooray!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Beautifully Difficult


The sun shone into the car into the kids' faces. 

Abi said, "Oh, I see that sun light. It's nice."

Me (thinking): "Soak it in, sweet girl. It's the last time."

Me (aloud): "Feel it on your nose too? All nice and warm? You'll still be able to do that after tomorrow."

Gulp. This is one of the really hard moments. :'-(

Saturday, February 7, 2015

HGTV, Girl Style


Three friends and I spent our Saturday morning in the shop making a project. Because we're all busy moms of many children, we rarely take time to do something like this, so it made the time extra fun. 



Using old windows, we scraped off the loose paint and weathered wood. Here, Rami was worried that there was more paint off than on. But then we decided that was just part of the charm. 



We taped off the glass and sprayed clear Varathane over the wood. While it dried, we got lunch and coffee! We also had to go to the hardware store and to Michael's for supplies. 



Jessica's posing with the hand drill. We drilled pilot holes and screwed chain to the top of the windows for hanging. At one point during the hardware installation, Rami said, "This is so fun! I feel like we're on HGTV!"



Once they were all finished and the glass was clean, we used scrapbooking corners to stick the pictures to the back of the glass. 



And here's Anna's finished project. They turned out so cute, and so individual, since each one of us used different pictures. Bonus: it was a fun morning hanging out together! 

Friday, February 6, 2015

School, Dates and Crazy

A few photos from this week. 



Curly's "First Day of School" photo. Typical to our family, she is doing this in February instead of September...



Mister and I went on a date. We ate Mongolian BBQ and then watched Paddington. Man, I love that kid!



I love all my kids, but some are certainly easier to parent than others. You can probably guess who these "Frozen" shoes belong to. Yep, the one who slid down the slide into a puddle, dumped her popcorn all over the floor, pretended to sleep in an inward-tantrum fit of boredom...



And last but not least, this one. This one who is thriving in his new world of No Preschool but Yes Kindergarten. His Reading Eggs program is now on the iPad, and he is rockin' the phonics. He thinks he is absolutely the shizz. Because, well, he is. 


Monday, February 2, 2015

The Days Are Long, But the Years Are Short


My little Abi-Lou has been still struggling with some crazy behaviors that drive me nuts, like shredding her toys, tying knots into her braids, still engaging in power struggles over eating and sometimes being withdrawn and "pouty" as we call it. 

Still, she tries hard and I love her to pieces. I hope I can keep my stress levels down as I teach her every day. 

Today was a Mommy-Time-Out day. 

Date Night!


We almost never get to go on a date. It's just too difficult and expensive to find a sitter. 

Saturday night, though, some friends offered to watch the Goombas for a couple of hours and feed them pizza. So we got to go out! 

We had Thai and then hung out at a coffee shop playing Words and taking silly cell phone pictures. 







Perfect. 

Retreat, or Not


A few weekends back, our church hosted its annual women's retreat. The location and weather turned out to be lovely. 



I got to play with the worship team this year, something I've wanted to do for years. 



Some friends that I met doing theater came along, and we had a ball being goofy and trying out the hot tub. 



My mama also came this year too. It was fun to see her, and I think she enjoyed hanging out with the friendly people. 



The only drawback was that I was still sick with a cold, and I also got a migraine. That meant that everything else I did was a struggle and instead of being refreshed at the end, I felt exhausted. So it goes sometimes, I guess. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Something Noteworthy


January 21st marks the third anniversary of Abi coming home to our family. 

This weekend, she passed some significant social/attachment milestones. First, she went on a play date. I know it doesn't sound like much, but the fact that she was able to spend two hours at a friend's house without becoming dysregulated is not something she has been able to do before. I suspect it brought unconscious memories of being transferred to a different orphanage and thus sparked feelings of loss for her. 

This weekend, she seemed able to handle it for the most part. (She did get a bit of a six-year-old swelled head and bragged to her little brother unmercifully, but that's an entirely different thing.) I'm so glad she is secure enough with us as her family to go on a play date and know within the core of her being that we'll come back for her. 

The other thing she did was participate in a friend's birthday party. Crowds haven't usually been her thing and she gets pretty upset, or worse, gets in the creepy, attention-grabbing mode that she used for survival in the orphanage. This time, she did neither! She participated in the games and the free-play and acted like a regular kid. Part of the group. Secretly, I cheered the whole time as I watched her. 

Hooray Abi!!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Keeping My Head Above Water


Despite the festive holiday season, and my family being (mostly) healthy and full of energy, I have really struggled with my health. First it was three weeks of bronchitis and sinus infection. 

Then, I guess because of the forced inactivity from being sick, I had a bad bout of depression. It felt like wading through molasses to get through the day. Abi was weird and upset during the holidays, and that never helps. Her grief and neediness never fails to pull me down.

This week, on New Year's Day, I treated myself to a movie: Into the Woods. Fun, but I really paid for it. The headache and low vision that had already been threatening hit like a sledgehammer and yesterday I was trying to do the bills when all I wanted to do was hide in a dark place. 

Ever since the heavy coughing, my sleep has been interrupted as well. Depression and insomnia go hand in hand for me, so I'll wake at 2:30 and stay awake for hours every. single. night. Those are the times when hurts from the past come back to reattack me and flay my spirit into naked, bleeding shards. My memory that can't remember anything I see retains everything I hear and old conversations or cruel words float to the surface and rip me apart. All I can do is weep and pray for help. It's not helping with recovery or feeling better!

I don't share all this to complain, but for honesty. Things, even when they're rosy, don't always feel rosy. Sometimes I need a little extra dose of grace.

New Year's Eve


We were so tickled to be invited to spend New Year's Eve with some new friends that I met while doing "Anne." We had a great time hanging out and playing games, although we opted to head home well before midnight! Still, it made the day seem festive. 

Snapshots: Still Hazelnut







Projects

During our break, Hubby and I decided to work on our house. We knew from experience that if we got bored, we'd fight, but working together goes much more smoothly. Also, our house was feeling a bit cramped and cluttered, which usually means that a little freshening and rearranging is in order. 



The first thing we did was replace the leaky bathroom faucet and shower head. 





Then, we repainted the big upstairs bedroom and moved Hubby's office, as well as Mister's homeschool desk up there. 





I used my electrician skills to replace the low-hanging fan with a simple light fixture. 







Our next business was to declutter and organize the basement playroom, including the creation of a Lego room. Hey, even a small house needs priorities!



I've also continued making progress on my hand quilting. Slow but steady. 

We've had a really nice vacation, although we're ready to start the spring semester. The best thing is that our little cottage is spruced up and feels fresh and bigger again. Using space efficiently and keeping down clutter means that the six of us can live quite comfortably in a small cottage, although it might be able to use a little more tweaking. More on that later!