Saturday, November 19, 2016


With the laundry list of the areas that Matthew needs to work on, we sometimes forget how far he has come. Reminding me to celebrate, last Saturday, I hollered "Where are you?". Matthew replied, in clear voice, "in my room". Walking into his room, I found he had taken off his pjs and put on his undies, his shorts and his shirt. Oh, planned obsolescence- my lifelong parenting goal! 

I need to take a minute and celebrate all the things this boy can do today, many of which we weren't sure he would.

He can...
tell me a joke.
put the cap on a marker.
write letters.
dress himself.
ride a bike with training wheels.
answer questions.
feed the dog.
brush his teeth.
get his snack.
decide on his clothes.
show me his favorite color.
sing a song.
wave hello.
throw a ball.
climb on the counters.
help unload the dishwasher.
wipe down the table.
go potty by himself.
fall asleep on his own.
walk up and down stairs.
turn on the shower.
wash his body.
communicate his wants and needs.
make friends.
show joy.
eat with a fork or a spoon.
jump on one foot.
drink from a straw.
and so much more.

For this moment, I won't concentrate on the 100s of things he still needs to work on, but instead celebrate the 100s of things he can do.  

My little helper

Sunday, November 6, 2016

What I Imagined

Looking around at the kids doing their thing-- reading, working on homework, playing school-- I can finally say that this is what I imagined life with kids to be like.  

Until this year, I often thought to myself "this is not at all what I expected".  Maybe it is because I don't remember when I was really little, and therefore my own memories (or lack thereof) clouded my expectations.  I do remember playing school, and doing homework, and reading.  Now feels familiar.  This is what I expected when I imagined my life with kids.  It only took 10, almost 11, years to see it. 

Hoy Homework Hour

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Bright Spot

We often worry if Alyssa and Jackson are getting the raw end of the deal because we spend so much time and energy on Matthew. This becomes particularly worrisome when we hear or see either struggling. This last week, it was "would we have noticed Jackson is struggling in writing if we weren't paying so much attention to Matthew's struggles?"  Oh, parent guilt is real. What has always grounded me (and alleviated a little of my parent guilt) is the knowledge that we--Alyssa, Jackson, Darren, and I-- are better people for having Matthew in our lives and for seeing and helping him grow.  

A bright spot in the parent/teacher conference about Jackson was his homeroom teacher sharing how Jackson helped a classmate. Without divulging too much information, a classmate had a situation and Jackson saw it and helped him. I tear up thinking about the story, because this is the way that Jackson helps Matthew all the time. He may treat him like any little brother (as the almost daily arguing and pushing can attest), but Jackson is so helpful and kind when Matthew is in need. It does my heart good (and lessens my parenting guilt) that he does this out in the world too. What we sow at home is reaped in the world. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween

As we begin planning for Halloween, every year I wonder if this will be the end of the Hoy kids dressing in theme.  I am happy to report that the tradition continued this year.  Happy Halloween! 

Halloween 2016- Batman, Robin, and the Joker

Halloween themes of our past--

2015- Harry Potter

2014- Harry Potter

2013- Jake and the Neverland Pirates

2012- Star Wars

2011- Star Wars

2010- Super Heroes

2009- Sesame Street (1st year to theme)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Compliment Sandwich

Oh how I love the feedback sandwich- compliment, 2-3 most important areas for improvement, followed by compliment.  This week I felt beat down as a parent because of imbalanced sandwiches.  Some were missing the bread all together.  Others had way too much meat. We all have areas of improvement and to hear an unprioritized laundry list is just too much.  Beat down.

My first reaction was wanting to crawl in a hole (adulting is hard!), then anger (come on!), then action (let's try to fix it all), and now (hopefully) calmer rational planning.  Of this laundry list of my kids' faults (ranging from Jackson's poorly written book summaries to Matthew's unwillingness to walk quietly in a line because he wants to say hi to everyone), we have to prioritize what is most important and what we need to do to improve. 

I guess a positive about this experience is that it is making me more sensitive to giving feedback in my classroom, to students and parents.  Only hearing the negative and/or too much negative beats us down.  I am recommitted to the compliment sandwich!

Saturday, October 29, 2016


I have to say that there were a few weeks that I contemplated blogging, but I just couldn't because I didn't want to be that reflective about what was going on around us.  Matthew's behavior was the worst it has ever been.  Usually he lets all the nastiness out at home, but this last stretch, we were getting negative reports from school and the Y as well. He was disagreeable about everything and he would hit/kick/bite when he didn't get his way. 

The saying that your household is only as happy as your most unhappy kid was true in our home-- the energy around the Hoy House was UGLY.  And the worst part for Darren and I, we had no idea why.  Just like many things with Matthew, it was a mystery.  We tried everything we could think of-- more sleep, more food, the common sense parenting tricks-- and nothing seemed to make a difference.  

Then, as mysteriously as it began, Matthew's mood turned.  He became his happy-go-lucky self.  Pleasant, fun to be around, and though not always agreeable, he could be persuaded. Those at school saw the same switch.  But just when we sighed in relief, he had a horrific weekend 2 weekends ago.  Then, the last two weeks at school, he was in an upswing, then mixed-- really good and really not.  We shake our heads because we have no idea why it was bad or why it is good.  No rhyme or reason, and we seemingly have no control or influence.  That is hard to accept!

Until we find the magic variable(s), we have to just be thankful for the good and try to mitigate the bad.  I am hoping for a long stretch in the upswing!  

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Looking Close

"Don't look directly at the boy." --a phrase often uttered in our house.  When Matthew doesn't want to do something, he sometimes becomes defiant, but then often acquiesces.  He will often do what we had asked of him in time-- only if we don't look at him or say anything to him.  If we take notice, he goes back to being defiant.  

This pretty much sums up how I am reacting to his development (or lack thereof) these days.  I don't want to look too closely, or (a) it may stop OR (b) I may see something that might concern me.  I don't want to be too reflective.  Maybe that is why the blog has been quiet. 

This summer, we did take a closer look at a couple of areas--

*Matthew's gnat-like attention span.  To this point, I had chalked it up to him being developmentally delayed.  After taking a good look, and reviewing teacher and therapist notes, I suspected that it is more than that.  The neurologist agrees.  We put him on a supplement that is supposed to help, but so far, no luck.  We have a follow up appointment later this month to determine next steps.  The good part of this 'diagnosis', if there is a 'good', is that the neurologist believes that all academic based developmental testing to this point has most likely been inaccurate since Matthew won't sit and concentrate for any test (verbally or non-verbally measured).  My gut was telling me the same, but it is nice to get a corresponding medical opinion.  

*Matthew's articulation issues.  Matthew talks -- a lot.  But he's not always understood.  We took him for a palatal motion study (x-rays shot when he was speaking) to see if the articulation issues were physiological or not.  I don't even know all of what the study revealed at this point, but it appears that Matthew's tongue and palate have the capability of making the sounds necessary for articulation--which means it is not a structural issue.  Movement of the throat in and out, the secondary (or back up way) of producing articulation, is not something he is capable of doing.  It just means he must do it right with tongue, palate, and lips.  Recommendation was more time and therapy.

*Matthew's ear.  We have noticed discharge from Matthew's ear for several months, but upon inspection by the pediatrician, we were told it was ear wax.  During the follow up appointment with the entire clef palate team (though Matthew does not have a clef palate, these are the experts that deal with the facial structures and they were in charge of the palatal motion study), the ENT diagnosed Matthew with a persistent, chronic ear infection.  We have a follow up here in Austin to ensure the infection has gone away, and to investigate whether there is cyst behind Matthew's ear drum.  Again, not sure what this might mean.

*Facial structure.  Our awesome dentist and our fabulous craniofacial surgeon both agreed that though Matthew's jaw is still very recessed, it is not something to address for many years.  It is likely not the cause of his speech issues.

*Urology.  Through ultrasound investigation, Matthew's solitary, horse-shoe kidney is in good shape and growing and Matthew's urachal cyst is still present, but hasn't grown.  We may have a follow up with urology this fall.

*Academic skills.  Matthew had a tutor for 12 sessions this summer, and we saw great academic progress.  We are hopeful, that in repeating kinder and the fact that he is now more developmentally on par with his kindergarten peers, this year he blossoms.  

Working hard at tutoring

In related medical news, we are on a search for a new pediatrician because ours moved. I will forever miss our pediatrician from Houston, and will likely head to the practice he recommended here in Austin.  We also saw the optometrist this summer, and no glasses are necessary for any of the kids. 

I was hopeful that by stacking the appointments this summer, we could avoid most of them during the school year, but I didn't think about follow ups.  Hopefully the upcoming appointments are uneventful and Matthew has a long, healthy stretch.  

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Though I wish he'd sleep until 6:00a, I do enjoy spending my early mornings working out with my little man.  He 'works out' and then spends the rest of time watching Gilmore Girls with me, where he thinks it is interactive tv.  If they have an umbrella on the show, he has to get his.  If the main character puts on her backpack, so does Matthew.  Though I am sometimes exasperated by the mess this creates, I love spending my morning with the boy.  

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Just Like That

Summer ended and school began.  

Kinder, 3rd, and 5th
The week was a struggle as we transitioned, but I think it was successful as (for the first time in 3 years) none of the Hoy children cried on Friday evening!  Maybe it was because we were smarter than in years past and hung out at home eating frozen pizza and watching Phineas and Ferb, but I'd like to think it is because they are getting older and able to hold themselves together better. 

I celebrated the end of the first week of school (which was awesome) by going to bed about 20 seconds after the kids did.  We all need to work on our school stamina.  It is a 38 week marathon, not a one week sprint.  So, here's to 38 great weeks to come!  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Summer Fun

I thought for sure that life would slow down over the summer, but since summer is already more than half over, I guess not.  

Alyssa and Jackson enjoyed their time at camp, while Matthew relished being an only child.

This was the first day we were back together-- 24 days in to summer!

Then, we enjoyed spending time with family in Chicago and Michigan.  

A highlight of year-- a week with family in Michigan.

The kids are road trip rock stars-- most of the time!

We celebrated Jackson's 9th birthday when we returned.  

I can't believe he's 9.  This year, he's become much more mature, but he still loves Legos, pranks, Star Wars, and Harry Potter.

In between, we have been fitting in as many appointments as possible...

Matthew has had appointments with urology to check on his solitary kidney (all is well) and with the neurologist (details tbd).

Dentist, orthodontist, dermatologist, oh my!

The kids have become extremely proficient at waiting.

...with a little fun thrown in here and there.  

Ice cream

S'moreos (S'mores made of Oreos- Yum!)

And lots of  reading and library books

Thinking about the 5+ weeks left of summer, I am hoping for a little more downtime, maybe even to hear "I'm bored".  We could use a little boredom -- it helps us get excited about going back to school.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Start of Summer

We ran to the finish line at the end of the school year, and we kept running the first week of summer.

Alyssa has had a great time at camp.
This girl loves camp!

Darren and Matthew went for a visit on Sunday.

Matthew has transitioned back to daycare. 

He loves being back at "old school".
I watched my seniors graduate with tears in my eyes, took a deep breath and then spent 3 days closing up my classroom and planning for next school year.

I love pomp and circumstance!

Jackson scraped gum from the underneath of the desks and proclaimed that he would never chew gum at school.

Then, Jackson and I went to Space Camp.  I have dreamed of Space Camp since I was in 6th grade and it was everything I hoped it would be!  

Happy summer!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

We Made It!

We made it to summer!

We finished up our scouting year.

The kids had their piano recital, with celebratory shake after.

The kids finished up their sports seasons.

The kids had their year end, student led conferences at school where they reviewed their school work with us.

We prepared to send Alyssa to camp.

And the kids posed for their requisite end of year photos.