Friday, June 22, 2012

One Down, Two to Go!

Colorado Springs begins to feel like our home away from home during the summer months.  I am here dropping Matthew off tomorrow morning for Civil Air Patrol Encampment, and then thankfully Sunday our friends are handling getting Josh and Olesya over here for La Foret, for their summer church camp.  

I am SO glad our kids are good packers, and have traveled a bit so I don't have to freak out trying to rush around getting them ready when I arrive tomorrow afternoon.   Olesya is our Super Organizer and I never have to worry much about her forgetting anything, and she always remembers everything for everyone else as well!

Josh is, well, Josh.  He announced to me this morning that he was all packed already, had checked everything off his list, and would pack his blankie last.  His most important item to take?  His Superhero book...hahaha!

Our friends, once again, are stepping up to help us and will pick up the kids on Thursday when they pick up theirs.  This saves us a considerable amount of money and hassle, as we need to be back here 2 days after that, next Saturday, to pick up Matthew!  Sheesh, timing couldn't have been closer together.

We are so hopeful that camp will be something special for Olesya, in particular.  We could have had her attend the older kids' camp, as we are having Kenny and Angela attend with Matt.  But we wanted her to have her own experience, separate from her siblings and particularly separate from Angela.  It is not that Angela dominates or anything, it is that Olesya is just the quiet one, the more inward one, and the one who most needs to figure out who she is and gain a sense of herself.  There is so much I wish for this special little girl, whose tender heart is still blocked off a bit I think.  I have told Dominick that Olesya is the one of our children I am just not sure we will ever really reach, but I will work at it until the day I die!  

Actually, our cake decorating class has brought us closer, and I notice a willingness to be physically a little more relaxed around us at home.  It is hard to explain, in fact it might be impossible, for it is just a sense that there is this wall surrounding her, protecting her.  She appears to be the most cuddly of the kids, and she is to a certain extent, but it is not the sort of "melt into you" closeness that we eventually have come to see with Kenny and Angela.  Funny, because Angela is the one I initially wasn't sure we'd reach, for very clear reasons.  I want Olesya to feel safe to reveal herself, and there is no way we are there yet.  I have a gut feeling that as she sees herself as successful in some areas, she will gain confidence enough to open up more, to let go more, to fully blossom.  The past couple of weeks she has come to me a couple times each night to kiss me and say good night, and just yesterday she held on a little longer as we hugged and it was more full bodied.  That body language says things that can't be put into words, if you are in tune with it.

And she IS seeing more success!  Cake decorating has a long way to go for her, but she is practicing and enjoying it so much..and honestly the chocolate cake she made for Father's Day with strawberries on top and a new recipe for homemade frosting was quite good for a beginner!  She also made a cake for a dear friend who was celebrating 39 years of sobriety, and it was decorated with a beer mug on it with a red circle and a line through it!  Very cute and she did a nice job on that as well.  

Our switch to the new math curriculum has really been super for her, and I am SO glad we changed!  She is reviewing material she needs to review, but she is telling me it is making much more sense now and her grades reflect that too.  In fact, she is enjoying it so much that she is doing 2 lessons a day!  For a child who truly has some sort of learning disability when it comes to math/numbers, that in itself is a victory.  She told me she LOVES math now, so maybe we will see it fall more easily into place for her.  She is also talking about asking a local groomer to come watch and see what they do, so I am going to try and arrange that for her, as that might actually be a good career for her as much as she loves animals.  But she is taking the initiative to think bigger, and that alone is a blessing.

You know, you can't undo a lifetime of damage overnight.  Daily I struggle with the need for more patience, for I want so badly to "fix it".  Working with Kenny on his new reading program has been insightful and a tad bit depressing as well.  Conversely, it has also been a time of deepening respect for him from me.  Wow, even this first week working with 3 letter words like pat, sit, man, etc. has been eye opening.  Sure, he is shooting through most of this with solid skills...until we hit the road blocks.  Yesterday I was having him write what I dictated, and I said the word "rap".  He wrote "ramp".  We spent 5 minutes repeating it over and over, and he got it wrong every time, he could not keep the "m" out of there.  Another example, "m" and "n" are very often misheard by him, making it hard to correctly spell words with them in it.  Same for "f" and "th" which he always mishears...and often says incorrectly.  He zips through most of the words quite easily and confidently, but it is these hiccups that are stalling him in moving forward with multi-syllable words.   It is disheartening, but also we are getting a very firm idea of exactly where his hiccups occur.

The bright side?  That kid has the best attitude ever!!  I would NEVER have the attitude he has, if I were in his shoes.  Here he is, closer to 14 than he is 13, working on beginning phonics yet once again.  I apologized to him, telling him I knew this had to be frustrating but that we just had to give it one more try with this new program before settling for less sill than we both want for him.  Kenny looked at me and said "No mom, it is ME whose sorry!  You have done everything you could for 5 years to help me, and I know YOU must be sick of this.  If you are willing to go through this with me, then I am too.  I can't complain at all!  It must be so boring to sit with someone who can't read well when you read so fast.  We'll just stick together and keep working at it, and I know part of it is easy but we can see I keep having troubles so I must need it."  Those words were what I needed to hear to motivate me to not give up.  I also have REALLY appreciated the blog comments, emails and FB posts that others have sent praising the Wilson Reading System for helping virtually every kid people have ever worked with.  When you are starting at this age and with this sort of glitch in progress, you need all the encouragement you can get!  It is so helpful to hear that, for others, it has really made a bi difference.

Time to turn off and read a little.  I am digging into the Steve Job's biography and finding him equal parts interesting and abhorrent. What a fascinating, intelligent, self-centered, sometimes cruel guy he could be.  I one day want Kenny to be able to read such things...


Anonymous said...

A couple tips for Kenny. Does the Wilson program teach the kids to
"tap" out the words? Wilson Fundations program does this for little kids. This can help Kenny break down sounds to write them correctly.

Here are a couple of tips that I learned from the Wilson trainer I work with. For M and N, if Kenny is saying them correctly within the word, have him focus on what he does with his mouth. M makes a straight line while N is said with an open mouth.

F and Th are some of the trickiest mistakes to fix especially when kids have a hard time hearing them! I work with K and 1 so they are missing teeth to boot :-) Try having Kenny watch your mouth when you say the words so he can see the th between you teeth and the F with a more open mouth letting the air through.

Best of luck,

Anonymous said...

I am struck here by the image of miles of travel. It takes me about six hours one way to get to LaForet. I suppose it is the same for you. That's several mountain passes, winding roads, long stretches with no towns--beautiful but time and travel intensive.

It is a metaphor for the life you are living as a family--time and distance. Looking back you have traveled in time and distance further than most families. Looking ahead there are more mountains, stretches of road where the scenery is beautiful but the destination (whether that is m's and n's or choosing a profession or paying off a mortgage)seems far, far away unseen, with no roadmap, and no triple A towing. Then we are reminded that we don't travel with triple A. We travel with guides, friends, family, and above all God.

I'll see you after the shuttle service finishes its endless rounds.

Drive safely. May angels guard all of you.