Thursday, April 04, 2013

Spring Non-Break

It is Spring Break for many folks, but at Casa LaJoy it is the final round up of our school year, so we are plugging away diligently to get things finished.  We are headed out on the trail on the 15th for our big Westward Expansion Field Trip, and everyone is really filled with anticipation about that!  Most of the kids have finished all their curriculum for the year, and already moved on to next year's.  Since we school year round, we don't keep track of that quite the way others might...when we are done with one book, we move on to the next.  It is helping us get caught up in some areas where we are sorely behind, but it will be years in some subjects for some kids before they are caught up, and that's OK.  Matthew will still have some math and German to finish up when we return, but even he has done very well with a heavy load.

Looking back over our school year this year, we've been blessed in a lot of ways.  For us, real blessings have come in the form of identifying special needs more clearly.  Matthew's writing challenges are pretty serious for a kid entering high school, but getting a "diagnosis" has helped us better understand what not to waste our time on, and how to accommodate it.  We will continue to work on writing in a number of ways, of course, but trying to beat our head against the wall with teaching even more grammar and editing skills is pointless...he knows it, his brain just won't allow him to see it before him.

Kenny has had a really solid year, and we are continuing to chip away at learning how his brain works, and what to do to help him achieve.  His reading is far better than it was at the beginning of the year, but we still have 2 1/2 years or so to work on his reading program which is making such a difference.  He doesn't read as well as most 14 year olds do, or even as well as most 10 year olds do, but at least he can read at about a 4th grade level or so and is making steady progress upwards. His speech therapist making the decision to work solely on auditory processing this year has helped us in many, many ways.  Using the Fast Forword auditory processing online program seems to be making a difference as well now, too.  It is gradual, and isn't as noticeable at first, but recently I realized I am not repeating myself with him 100 times a day like I used to, and he is able to hear things much more accurately also.  He is maturing a little as well, and that is helping.  Working with ADD meds has made a big change in his ability to focus.  Little by little, step by step, we are seeing important changes.

Olesya and math...well...that is my next little banana to peel back and see what I can discover.  There is something definitely wrong there, and she has an assessment tomorrow to see if we can learn more.

I've been tired this past couple of weeks, so very, very tired.  It's been a time in my life when I am being pulled in too many different directions for a lot of very important reasons, and it is all so worthwhile but not easy.  Our school's charter application process, church stuff and Dominick winding down his winter work at the airport is all just ganging up on me.  What makes it harder though is the constant battle with the school district to get help for the kids.  Because our school is changing, I need to get certain things in place now for Matt and Kenny before new staff is working with us and I have to start all over again with documenting, explaining, proving and re-proving.  I need Matt's 504 plan to get done before the end of the year, which allows him to legally use accommodations with adaptive technology for writing for all work and tests, and to provide proof of learning in more non-traditional formats.  I need for Kenny's IEP to FINALLY...PLEASE get documented changes for auditory processing disorder and ADD, so that I can continue to teach him in ways that are effective and not be asked to make him a "read a 300 page book and write an essay" kind of kid, because that will never work for him.  Kenny is going to need ongoing help throughout his academic career, he is going to need modifications, accommodations, and material presented in far more visual fashion than other learners.

I think I haven't pressed for Olesya yet, because I just can't face fighting for another when the first two aren't even "done" yet, but I can't delay any longer.  Man, this gets old, I get tired of being the "Mom who everyone avoids", I get tired of begging for what our kids are owed by law to help them, I get tired of it all being much harder than it should be.

And then a day like yesterday happens, and I hang my head in shame a little.  After a 4+ hour meeting at school, I drive home and pull up in the driveway to find our garage door wide open...and a super clean garage staring back at me.  That thing was AWFUL!!  I was dreading it, and my annual fight with Dominick over it (Because he is a total slob!!! haha!), and this year I never had to even look at it.  Then I walk in the house to the wonderful smell of dinner already having been made, Olesya had made a special orange flavored cake for me, the house was picked up, Dominick had all my laundry done, and there were kids who all were excited to tell me how much schoolwork they had done without being asked.

How blessed I am and how dare I complain.

I work hard to get them what they need, but they sure as heck work doubly hard for me, too.  Angela puts her arm around my shoulder and says, "Mom, thanks for all the fighting you have to do for us, and all the work you do everywhere to make things good for us.  We don't say thanks enough, but we love you a lot!"

That's my "paycheck", and it's one that symbolically has about 10 "zeros" in it, that's how much it is worth.

As Josh lays asleep here on the floor beside me, as Kenny told me I was his best blessing ever tonight as we sat side by side playing Quirkle, I know that Love Lives Here.  Love isn't easy, it takes work being committed to someone, and putting "muscle" behind that love.  Whether it is a person, a family, or a group of friends you love requires something of us, and to experience it to it's fullest means we must have courage to step up, courage to stay in the game when the going gets tough, and courage to do the hard things in the first place.

In a little over a week, we will all hop in "Jorge" for a super adventure.  We will follow the trails of those long ago Americans whose lives were all about courage and commitment.  We will "glue" the concepts into Kenny's brain by having him see it, touch it, and feel it.  We will cross the wide open prairie, no doubt while singing the whole way. Dominick will put aside 14 hour days, and be with his family with no work interruptions.  We will play late into the night, we will take pictures, we will  laugh...because that is what we LaJoy's do...through the hard stuff, through the painful moments, and through the work.  I wouldn't have it any other way.


Dee said...

I can't believe how tall Matthew is now! He's looking like such a handsome young man! / I SO wish you lived in Georgia. We don't have the same homeschooling rules. You can have school however you like here.

Lindsay said...

You are NOT complaining or being weak because you get tired of having to fight for your kids. It is ok to be tired. It is ok to complain of the never ending grind of trying to get your kids the educational support they deserve and need. It is not a sign of ingratitude on your part to simply sometimes feel as if you have had enought. Please don't be so hard on yourself. You are doing an awesome job in not just homeschooling but in identifying the special needs of your kids. Good luck with the plan for Matt and Kenny and in Olesya's testing. I hope it gives you some answers and some plans for the future.