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Friday, August 17, 2018

The High School Decision

Kayla has graduated from 8th grade and is now a high schooler! How did that happen?!

She was so proud to get her diploma ... mile wide smile!

Mr T taught her for 6th grade social studies and Lit, 7th grade SS, and in 8th grade was the principal. Wonderful, encouraging educator to all his students!


Our intent was for Kayla to go to the Catholic high school that all the local Catholic elementary/middle schools 'feed' into. They have a great inclusion program that would continue the same type of educational setting she had at the middle school. They also have an archery club so we were excited she would be able to continue with that.

Unfortunately things just didn't work out for that to happen; the stars didn't align and all that. They only accept 4 students each year into this program and Kayla was on a waiting list.

Once we realized she most likely wouldn't be going to that high school the hunt was on for where she would go to school. It was like the million dollar question. A question I didn't have an answer for because the choices were ... almost nil.

The first, obvious, choice would be going back to the public school district. That was choice #73 ... let's just say it was way, way, down on our list. We knew what kind of placement the school district would recommend; it would be the same fiasco we had transitioning to middle school. It would have been 3 steps back from what she just had for 3 years year. It would have been more restrictive. We also know how this whole game works. We know the school she is zoned for, but we know there would have been a meeting to determine if that school had the services/placement to educate her (and we know that school doesn't have an archery team). There is only 1 school in the district that has an archery team that we thought might be a possibility, but again, we know the placement there would have been restrictive.

Another issue is I was told that if I registered her for the local school district she would have to have full testing, to include IQ, again. She has had her IQ tested 3 times and the results haven't varied much, and they aren't going to change now. Her IQ is what it is, and I take that with a grain of salt (or try to anyway). I didn't want to put her through that battery of testing again, and honestly, I didn't want to sit through another meeting hearing what her IQ is. They don't make typical students take an IQ test for placement in the general education classroom, why do students with disabilities constantly have to be subjected to this test and reduced to this number?

So, no, public school was not something we wanted to entertain any real thought about.

We considered having her repeat 8th grade; although not at the school she was just at. We thought it would be a little strange for her since she just graduated from there and went through the whole ceremony and everything. I did some research on the other Catholic schools (at least 4!) and found one that was a possible fit, and they have an archery team. (I know archery isn't the make or break for school, but it is something I felt was important for her to continue with - and she wants to). I thought it might help her "priority" when applying for the Catholic high school next year (coming from a Catholic school). However, I talked with the admissions person at the high school and she told me it is in Kayla's records that she did graduate from one of their partner Catholic schools and that would 'count' even if she was at a non-Catholic school for 9th grade.

Since it wouldn't really benefit her to repeat 8th grade and go to a new school for only one year, we decided not to repeat 8th grade. We also found out that more than likely, no matter where she was for 9th grade, if she gets into the Catholic school next year she would have to repeat 9th grade. I'm not thrilled with that aspect, because she's already repeated Kindergarten, so to repeat 9th grade she would then be 2 years older than her peers. We will cross that bridge when we get to it.

SC has scholarships for students with disabilities to attend approved schools that have classes/programs so I looked at the approved list for all the high schools in the towns all around us. I called several of them to inquire about their 'programs' since they accept this scholarship. What I found was that "students with disabilities" meant students with learning disabilities like ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia etc ... not students with intellectual disabilities. So these other schools pretty much said they did not have the resources to educate students like my daughter. Needless to say, that was a disappointment.

So where did this leave us after all of that research and scramble to figure out what to do for Kayla?

Homeschool.

That was really the only option I could see that would work. I asked Kayla several times, as I wanted her to have input on this decision, whether she wanted to go to a new/different Catholic school and repeat 8th grade, or try homeschool. I also explained, over and over, what homeschool would mean and look like. She consistently chose homeschool. I was actually surprised as in the past she has always said no to homeschool. She loves going to school and having the routine of school.

So yeah, I feel like a fish out of water as we embark on this new adventure! I know there are so many resources out there for homeschooling, and that is the problem! It's overwhelming! I did the most important thing though - I registered with a homeschool accountability group so I could make sure I was legal! Haha!

I know there are resources where I can order a whole curriculum, but I'm not sure how well that would work. It would work for me because it would have everything we should be doing and the lesson plans and all of that - but I would want a high school curriculum to keep her exposed to what she would be doing if she had gone to the Catholic high school (or public school). However she needs a bit of modification so I'm not sure it would be worth it to get a whole curriculum if I'm going to have to modify the lesson plans and coursework anyway.

Right now we are just taking it day by day, (and Khan Academy is my friend!) and see what we can do and work on. I will be getting involved in local groups and hopefully have her take some classes etc so she's still getting the social aspect I know she likes from school.

On the plus side there is a homeschool archery team - so yay! - she will be able to continue with archery.

So please pray for us as we start this new journey that will be a big adjustment for both of us!


Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Golden Birthday

My little girl is 15.

Fifteen years old on the 15th. The Golden Birthday.

When I think of fifteen years it sounds like such a long time ago; yet it has passed by in the blink of an eye.


My mom will appreciate this picture and memento from fifteen years ago. She (and my sister) were in GA visiting her sister when Joe called with the news that we were heading to the hospital. They hurriedly packed their bags and got to the airport with fingers crossed they could get on a flight to NM with stand-by tickets. While in the air my aunt received this note from the co-pilot and nonchalantly walked it back to my mom. She didn't say anything to my mom except, "Read this."

And then somewhere in the skies between GA and NM my mom found out that she became a grandma. (I'm sure the timing was a bit of a surprise since it had been less than 2 hrs since Joe called to say we were going to the hospital!)

The print is fading, but I think if you click on it you should be able to read it. One thing that has always stood out to me is statement "All is well."

I certainly did not feel that "all is well" at that time; but I can now certainly say that "all is well" indeed. 


Our local water park hosts a few special needs swim nights over the summer. It is after-hours and only for families with disabilities. One of their dates usually falls around the time of Kayla's birthday and for the past couple of years we've tried to incorporate this into her birthday party - but the weather has canceled (darn summer thunderstorms!) it each time. Thankfully, this year, on her golden birthday, it was golden. She finally had her "water park birthday party."



This year before blowing out her candles, Kayla put her hands together (as if in prayer) and said, "I wish my grandfather is in heaven." I don't recall her ever making a wish (we've never really done the 'make a wish before you blow out your candles" thing before) before, much less saying it out loud. The nature of her wish caught me off guard as well (and July 12th was 6 years since my dad passed away). I think my dad's way of saying he's still around is through Kayla.

 She finished a great birthday weekend at the Charleston RiverDogs baseball game (please ignore the fact that they are a NY Yankee affiliate - I have to every time we attend a game!) where the theme of "15" continued with her seat number! This was completely unplanned as we didn't have our seats until we got to the ticket booth and didn't look at our tickets until walking to our section.

This picture cracks me up. She doesn't usually get her head in the right position on these cutout boards, and she often has her hands up by her head so her fingers are sticking out ... but this ... actually looks hysterically realistic!

I'd say she had a pretty great 15th birthday!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Snow Much Fun

Yes it is summer here in SC - this post is 5 months late! I thought I posted about the snow we got that extended the kids' winter break, but it was sitting in my drafts all this time.

So, yeah, snow. It's a rare event here in the Lowcountry, so we had to take advantage and have all the fun we could while it lasted. The day before the snow hit the forecast for our area was less than an inch so I figured all we might see were some flurries.

Turns out those flurries accumulated to 6-8 inches in some areas! So we got out for snowball fighting, snow angels making, snow tasting, attempted sledding, snowman building, and walking around our block.







The only 'sled' we had - a boogie board!

How thick the ice was on our driveway



My Lowcountry snowman's nose, mouth, and buttons were made with seashells. The eyes were actually made with some kind of coal Lucas had from some school project!

 Pure joy on his face at finally getting to experience snow (he doesn't really remember the snow when we lived in Maryland since he was only 1 and 2 years old.

The pond froze over

The entrance to the drainage pipe was the only place that wasn't frozen

Smashing snowballs on the frozen pond



Almost 5.5 inches in our driveway

Taking a walk around our neighborhood to see everything covered in white - it'll probably be another 10 years before this happens again!




Monday, March 19, 2018

Lucas' Second 10K

Lucas is running in the Cooper River Bridge 10K for the second time. He wants to beat his time from last year and finish in under 50 minutes.

He also wants to continue raising money for LuMind RDS and support Down syndrome research.

Last year he raised almost $700 so this year his goal is to hit $800.

All donations will be matched 3:1 (!!!) through March 21 - World Down Syndrome Day. A $25 donation will turn in to $100 donation.

Will you please consider supporting Lucas with a donation? He will be so appreciative!

Thank you!


Cooper River Bridge Run 10K on Crowdrise

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Her Face = Priceless

Last Friday, yes on Lucas' birthday, Kayla had a regional archery tournament in Columbia, SC.

Kayla's highest score was the 151 she got in Worlds last summer in Orlando. So far this season she hasn't been close to that score. Her best has been a 103.

I don't know what it was for this tournament, but she was on fire! She shot her best score yet - blowing away her 151. She came away from Regionals with a 165! She did so great with her shots; it was exciting to watch her.

After one particular round she was especially pleased with herself. She was excited to end that round with a 9 (she might have thought it was a 10; sometimes it's hard to tell until they go to the target to score their round) but we're all really excited for her when she gets that arrow in yellow!

Anyway, she was pumped coming back from the line and threw in a fist pump to herself. I'm so glad I caught this picture of her. Pure joy. Pure excitement. Elation. Self-confidence. Pride.

That's her coach behind her - just as happy for her as she was ... her excitement can get contagious!

Look at her face!

This was her "yes!" before the above picture, but of course someone waked right in front of me as I was taking the picture!




 Her coach is the best! He's so great with all the kids. 


Friday, February 23, 2018

Double Digit Birthday

Ten. Lucas is ten. How is it even possible that a decade has passed since I gave birth to this sweet boy of mine?

But it's true. I blinked and he's ten years old today.


Our annual birthday pancake tradition at IHOP

He still enjoys all the same things he has for the past several years: reading, Harry Potter, Minecraft, soccer, and chess.


(First place in a tournament a couple of weeks ago!) 

He's still my little boy with a heart of gold. He's still caring, empathetic, self-less, friendly, social, and sometimes still wise beyond his years. We still contribute to the "donation jar" that he started a couple years ago. Regularly donating what's been collected and starting over.

A couple months ago he ran in a 5K to begin his training for the Cooper River Bridge again. He ran this race last year (finished 3rd in his age group) and has a goal to beat his time and finish in under 50 min.

He's also, again, running for a purpose. He's raising money for LuMind RDS Foundation, as he did last year. If you'd like to make a donation and help him reach his goal I know he will be so thankful.

I can't wait to see where he'll go and what he'll accomplish in the future; but I'm also in no hurry for him to grow up. Time, slow down a little.

Happy 10th birthday Lucas!
"I love you more!"

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Christmas in Helen, GA

We spent Christmas (I know, it was 2 months ago already) in Helen, Ga. It's a quaint little Bavarian-themed town in the mountains. We were hoping for snow, but that didn't happen (at least not until later).

We had a fun week away exploring a new-to-us area.




Night-time mini golf with Christmas lights/decorations all around

We did some geocaching in the surrounding area




Had to visit Babyland, home of the Cabbage Patch Kids!

And Kayla used some Christmas money to adopt her very own Cabbage Patch Kid. 

Sharing a Bavarian pretzel

A nice hike to the twin Anna Ruby Falls





Thursday, December 14, 2017

Love You Forever

During my grandmother's funeral Mass one of my uncles read the children's book "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch.

I don't think there was a dry eye in church as he read through the familiar images of a mother rocking her baby and singing

"I'll love you forever, 
I'll like you for always, 
as long as I'm living, 
my baby you'll be"

through her child's life. And of course as the story goes the one night she doesn't go to her son's house he goes to her house and returns the sentiment to her ... and then starts the tradition anew with his own newborn child.

After the service we gathered for a luncheon and that's where my own version of rocking my baby played out.

Lucas wasn't feeling well - lingering headache from a possible migraine the day before or sinus issues from flying and/or allergies from pollen in a different state affecting him - and I could see the energy drain out of him.

He tried to curl up on that cold, hard, metal chair and let his eyes and his head rest, but I knew he couldn't be comfortable like that.

I've told him before that he's too big to fit in my lap anymore even as he insists he isn't. I tell him there isn't any room for those legs and arms to go when I hold him.

But I also know that the time will come, too soon, when he won't want to sit in my lap, or be held in my arms, and so I relish those moments when they happen.

So I took him in my lap, even though he's all arms and legs now, and let his legs dangle off the sides of mine, and I tried to make him as comfortable as I could while he slept it off.

As I held him I thought of the book my uncle read. I looked down at this face, growing up when I'm not looking, and thought of the verse that parents everywhere have repeated to their kids, thanks to Robert Munsch, and how true the words are:

"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
as long as I'm living,
my baby you'll be"