Thursday, December 31, 2015

There is a Season

Earlier this week, I received an "on this day" reminder from Facebook, that 5 years ago I posted "[I am] coming to the realization that some day my kids are going to grow up and I won't have 3 small kids. I'm not sure if that makes me sad or very happy. I think I'll probably be both, though I have quite some time before that point."

Five years later, I think we are to that point-- we no longer have 3 small kids. With this realization, as I anticipated in 2010, I am both a little sad and very happy. In these last few days of 2015, we have spent the better part of every day rearranging the house to do away with our playroom and move each Hoy kid into his/her own big kid room. Today, I looked in these redone bedrooms with a wistful glance, remembering what was and wondering what will be. We have moved from our season of 3 little kids to our season of 3 not-so-little kids. To everything, there is a season, a joyous new season. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to you and yours from us and ours!
Matthew (5), Alyssa (10), Jackson (8)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Drinking from the Fire Hose

We are now almost 2 months in to the school year and it still feels like we are drinking from a fire hose.  So, long time, no post.  Sorry.

The Good:

I am very pleased with all 3 kids teachers this year.  So far, the kids have been enjoying school, and after school care at the Y, and soccer, and piano, and scouts. 

I continue to love my school, my classes, and my students (old and new).  My classroom is my sanctuary.  I even have a plant in my room this year--that is still alive! (It might be a record!)

The Bad:

This is how the last 2 months have shaped up-- 2 kids had strep, 1 had a stomach bug, 1 got stitches (in his lip), 1 kid caught lice, then 2 kids caught lice, and I had a cold.  Not exactly the way I'd like to start the year, but hopefully it is all out of the way. 

The Ugly:

I haven't loved Matthew's transition to kindergarten, or the worry that comes with changing Team Matthew, or the despair I've been feeling about his schooling.  Don't misunderstand, Matthew LOVES school, and most everyone is kind to him.  But as I expected (and feared), Matthew needs a hefty dose of special education support to access the general education curriculum and getting those supports in place has been rough this year.  I am hopeful this is a just blip on our Matthew radar, but I am anxious for this to get worked out. 

The Awesome:

I prefer to not end on a downer, and its been a while since I've posted, so I want to give you an update on Matthew's verbal communication.  Matthew's progress is never a straight line up, so even his biggest successes often are followed by a tempered correction, but his verbal ability has really jumped lately.  He still struggles with articulation. I probably only understand about 1/2 of what he says, but in the half that I understand, he has soooooo much to say!  He has become much more adept at getting his wants and needs across.  "I don't like it" is a favorite phrase of his.  The other night, I was trying to get him to come home with me and he very clearly said "I want to stay".  We love upward progress.

And though I've been a bit disheartened about his experiences at school so far, this is the boy I feared wouldn't live...or walk...or talk.  And he did all 3!  He will figure it all out, I have to have faith.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Summer's End

A week ago, I was lamenting that I wasn't ready for summer to be over. Sometime in the middle of last week, I changed my mind.  It might have been my mind shift (starting to plan for the beginning of school), but I think it was mostly that the Hoy kids had their fill of summer fun.  We had a good run of happy, summer days and weeks but that all ceased about Wednesday.  It got ugly around the Hoy house.  So, I was pretty happy to go back to work today and I will be even more excited when the kids go back to school a week from today. 

We ate out.

Alyssa and some of the scouts from her troop attended an event at 3M.

We played with Legos.

We visited the doctor.  (Jackson's leg is completely healed with no residual issues.)

And we played outside.

It was a great summer, but bring on 2015-16 school year!  I hope it is a great one!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Expectations v Limitations

“Fundamentally, the problem that students with disabilities face in schools is that people have such low expectations for what they can achieve.” - Barb Trader

This quote struck me on Facebook.  It was an enticement blurb to the article "No Child Left Behind’s One Big Achievement?  Some advocates say the notorious law actually improved outcomes for special-ed students—and they fear that Congress's rewrites to the law could put an end to that progress." (If you are so inclined, click here for the article.)

I think that this past year has made me even more aware of the hard balance between accepting differences (with possible limitations) and setting high expectations.  I think it is a struggle of every parent for every child, but I am feeling it even greater now with Matthew. 

A few concerns haunting my thoughts, highlighting this difficult balance, in reverse order:

#3.  Neighborhood soccer v. Miracle League baseball
A few months ago, we drove past our soccer fields on game day and Matthew said "I wanna do".  I know he would love to play sports. 

So, I am struggling with the idea of signing him up for soccer in the neighborhood with his typical peers.  I worry-- mainly about his delay and his size.  What if he doesn't fit in with his teammates?  What if he is a burden to the coach? What if his communication delays get in the way?  And I'm embarrassed to admit this worry->  What if someone makes fun of him?

As an alternative, he could do baseball with the Miracle League.  With this choice, I have none of the concerns I have with soccer, as it is a league for kids with special needs. But with this decision, I worry I am setting my expectations for Matthew (and possibly the rest of society) too low.  Does he really need to play sports in a special needs only group? 

Matthew running to base at the reunion softball game.

#2.  After school care for the upcoming school year
Ugh, this decision is making me batty.  I think the two options for Matthew's after school care are these: 1.  go to the Y after school with the big kids or 2.  go to the daycare he has been attending. 

The Y is the more fiscally sound choice and all 3 kids would be together making pick up much easier.  My concerns are that they don't know Matthew (they don't love him yet), the ratio of child/adult is higher and he would be one of the youngest kids there, and likely the smallest. Sending Matthew to the Y, I have the same worries as I do with soccer in the neighborhood.  What if he doesn't fit in?  What if he is a burden to the leaders? What if his communication delays get in the way?  And I'm (still) embarrassed to admit this worry->  What if someone makes fun of him?

Alternatively, we could send him to daycare after school where they do know him and love him.  It is substantially more expensive and would require 2 pick ups at the end of the day, but I don't have the same worries.  But, again, are my expectations for Matthew (and the rest of society, maybe) too low?  Can he not be accepted and cared for in a new environment with typical kids?

#1.  Kindergarten
I don't think there is really a decision to be made about this topic, but I am terribly anxious about Matthew starting kindergarten in a month.  With Jackson and Alyssa, I knew they were ready for kindergarten when they walked into public school.  In Jackson's case, we waited a year until he was ready.  They have done well.  In Matthew's case, I know he isn't ready.   I have no idea what that means for this year and for the long term.

I struggle with what it means to have realistically high expectations for Matthew for this year.  Would it be that Matthew goes into kindergarten this year, with his typical peers? Would it be holding him back in pre-k, with peers closer to his developmental level?  Do we expect Matthew to catch up to his typical peers? Do we expect him to keep pace with his younger peers? Do we expect him to fall further behind?  I think that the unanswered question causing me the most angst -- is Matthew delayed (meaning he'll catch up if held back) or is he disabled (meaning he will fall further and further behind)?  If I knew the answer to that, I feel like I would know the right course of action as it pertains to school (holding back or social promotion) and the expectations v. limitations continuum.  But in a circular loop, I won't know the answer to that until long after decisions are made and those decisions very well may impact the answer.  
For this and for all of these concerns, I guess time will tell.  Until then, we will strive for high expectations and adjust accordingly once limitations are encountered. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Summer Trip

I recently read an article about taking a trip versus taking a vacation.  When you travel with children, I think it is likely more of a continuum: KCOTR (kid care on the road) to TRIP (fun with a heavy dose of reality) to VACAY (woo-hoo, a break from the every day)!  

This year's summer travel was a jaunt to northern Minnesota for our family reunion, which happens every 5 years.  It was a great week with 139 other fun-loving family members and a wonderful time to reflect on just how far we've come in the last 5 years.  Though there were some rocky moments during the 5 days in the car, it was dramatically easier than the travel 5 years ago.  And the reunion itself was infinitely more relaxing than the KCOTR of 5 years ago.  I would venture to even say it was a TRIP.  In 5 more years, I expect that the next reunion will feel like a VACAY! 

144 people in attendance at the 2015 reunion

We had fun with cousins

Doing anything and nothing

Jackson struggled to get up on the board, but LOVED it once he did

Matthew with cousin Ashley were too cute!

Jackson enjoyed talking Pokémon with cousin Kyle

At the turtle races, Matthew was telling his turtle she was going the wrong way

We have this picture (no Matthew and smaller Hoy kids) from 5 years ago

We had fun playing softball, volleyball and ...
playing on the beach

We celebrated Jackson's 8th birthday with cake...

and the Minions movie.

And we made it home safe and sound.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Summer Fun

I am still astonished by how smoothly this summer has gone, so far.  Not that it has been all rainbows and sunshine, but overall, it has been pretty spectacular. 

Surprisingly the boys got along really well when Alyssa was at camp.

I enjoyed my mother/sons dates.

Matthew has really been enjoying toys this summer. 
I reorganized the playroom and he has taken full advantage of the 'new-to-him' toys.

I have relished my pleasure reading.

I loved my fantastic one-on-one time with Jack-Jack.

He seemed to enjoy the one-on-one time too-- especially at the movies.
We are thankful to have the daughter home after her 3 week camp adventure.

We have had some fun at the library.

I had forgotten how much I enjoy riding bikes with these kiddos.
I look at the calendar and am a bit saddened that the summer seems to be flying by much too quickly.  Only six more weeks to go for me, seven for the kids.  Wow! 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Camp Visit

This weekend was a visiting weekend at camp, so we saw Alyssa. *grin* It was great hearing about her adventure so far, and seeing her wanting to be with Matthew and Jackson.  We have missed this girl, likely far more than she has missed us.

Biggest camp revelations so far--
*There isn't anything Alyssa doesn't like about camp.  She loves horseback riding, drama, camp craft, the library, her cabin, her cabin mates, the food, archery, BB, the counselors, the staff-- everything. 
*As expected, Alyssa had NO trouble adjusting to camp life. I did email the director after the first few days just to check, but the response was "She's doing great!". 
*She loaned her fan to a bunkmate. I must have asked her half a dozen times if she'd like me to send her another fan, but her response was always "no".  I don't think I could be happy in a cabin during the summer in Texas without A/C and without a fan, but she seems to have adjusted fine.
*We get random letters every few days.  I think my favorite was simply, "I have great new friends.  Their names are ...(list of names)."  That was the entire note.
*We called once and realized that next year before camp we should probably do a 'how to talk on the phone' training. The whole call was a litany of questions and answers, very little elaboration. Talking on the phone isn't a skill she's really worked on before.

It was great to see her and we are looking forward to giving her big squeezes when she comes home at the end of this week.

Happy Camper
I love this picture!

Matthew has missed these girls! 
He asks several times a day "Aly?" "Ella?" (our neighbor friend)
and then he'll respond to his own questions with "camp".

Alyssa wanted to show her bunk to Jackson and Jackson was excited to see it.

I have missed this girl!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Start of Summer

The start of this summer has been smoother than our previous summers.  I suspect there are a myriad of reasons-- 1.  I see summer vacation a bit differently since it is now a 'holiday' for me too!  2.  The kids are older and more self sufficient.  3.  One word- Camps.  Aly is still at sleep-away camp and Jackson went to Boy Scout day camp last week.  So far, so good.

A few random thoughts as we start out the summer break: 
*I can have a clean house OR happy kids, not both.  There is an inverse relationship  between the two and as soon as I embraced the mess, the kids were much happier.
*Matthew has reached potty independence the majority of the time.  Now, he does NOT want us to go with him into the stall in public bathrooms.  Every time I wait outside the stall, I wonder if I'm going to have to crawl on the floor under the door to open it.  So far, he's done well on his own and figured out how to unlock the door.  I usually cringe as I wait.
*We figured the boys would either fight like crazy or get along better without Alyssa around, or toggle between the 2 extremes.  So far, Jackson has stepped up and really been a stellar big brother since Alyssa (or little mommy) has been gone.  I'd say they have been getting along about 90% of the time, which is a huge improvement.
*I am about at my wits end with Matthew's vehement opinions.  He got in a tizzy this morning because I wouldn't park in the grass near daycare.  Silly me, I wanted to park in a parking spot!  Ugh! 

We took Darren out to lunch for Father's Day.

Darren and the boys went on a hike.  Jackson loved it.  Matthew did not.

With Alyssa gone, Matthew only wants to hold Jackson's hand (still not mine).

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Camp Drop Off

Sunday I dropped Alyssa at sleep-away camp for 3 weeks. 

As we drove the 2.5 hours, the excitement built (Only 2 more hours, only 1 more hour, only 30 more minutes, only 15 more minutes, only 10 more minutes, only 5 more minutes, we're here!) and she was grinning ear to ear by the time we arrived.  It took about 20 minutes to help Alyssa unpack and make her bed.  While other parents were still milling around, the conversation went like this: 

A:  "Mom?" (with raised eyebrow)
Me:  "Do you want me to leave now?"
A:  Nods head yes with a grin on her face.

I wasn't expecting teary good-byes, but I don't think I expected to be kicked to the curb quite so fast.  I had obviously forgotten that this was the little girl that relegated me to the other side of the street by the 3rd day of kindergarten.

I love this independent girl and can't wait to hear all about her adventure! 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Rare Chromosome Awareness Week 2015

I almost missed it this year!  This week marks the 2nd annual Chromosome Disorder Awareness Week, where we celebrate Matthew and others with rare chromosome disorders.

You can find more information about Matthew's rare chromosome disorder here and more information about rare chromosome disorders in general through the awesome non-profit Unique at  Unique helped us tremendously after Matthew's diagnosis.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

EOY 2015

It was a wild and crazy journey to the end of the 2014-2015 school year!

Jackson went from being a wolf cub to a wolf.

Alyssa bridged from Brownies to Junior Girl Scouts.

 We fit in some fun.

Musical chairs!

We hung out at Best Buy for way too long during a tornado warning.

Alyssa and Jackson could have stayed all day.  Matthew was done with Best Buy.

We celebrated the end of the school year...

...and our 2 year anniversary of moving to Austin.

Let summer begin!