Family Update

Summer is settling in and I’m slowly accepting it. For Texas, we have had a pretty mild start with lots of rain and overcast days. I’m not complaining. 

Last night, I sat on the driveway with a cold beer in my hand while my children ran up and down the street. The breeze was helping with the humidity, the sunset was beautiful and I had the sweet scent of Gardenias wafting straight to my heart. That smell…it only comes this time of year and I’m always caught off guard when memories come flooding back, triggered by that simple little white flower. 
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On this same drive way, three years ago, I was painting and preparing an old armoire with the smell of Gardenias in the air. The armoire now resides in sweet Rubys room after many hot nights of refurbishing and transforming that old piece of furniture. So many hopes and dreams…I would come home every day after work to dive back into my project. 

A girl. I was going to have a baby girl. 

So of course the armoire needed to be the perfect shabby chic coral color with wallpapered insides. My heart swelled. What would this armoire become for her? A dress-up closet? A place to store toys and dolls? The perfect tiny linen closet? Would she want to repaint and redesign it later? Would she take it with her to college? 

Because I wasn’t the one carrying her, I would spend countless hours imagining what that pregnancy was like. What her personality was. What she would look like. I tried to imagine how I would feel the first time my eyes met hers. And I filled my time up with preparing the perfect nursery because it was my only way to connect with her. 

Ruby will be two in August and I still feel like I am working to learn who she is and understand her. There are so many days I feel like I’m failing her. But then the wind blows, and the sweet scent on the air pulls me out of my thoughts. I look down and I see her standing there smiling at me. Her favorite blanket tucked under her chin, she waves and says “hiiiiii” and then runs away laughing. 

“She’s going to be ok” I tell myself. 

And she will. 

SPD has come in waves. When we make a gain in one area, SPD comes back to remind us that there is still real work to be done. Now that Eli is in school and has private therapies, I am busier than ever. We are not home as often and Ruby is forced to face things that agitate her. Thank you SPD. :) It challenges me- all the things I thought I knew about parenting and being a mama…all the things I said I would never allow my children to do become so relative when run through the “SPD” filter. My heart has grown in so many ways and I have a new respect for my mom and other moms like her. I also care a lot less about what other people think, because they don’t know my children or our situation. Grace. I’m trying to have more of it and give more of it. 

I’m still learning. I think I always will be. But learning to embrace who my children are instead of who I imagined they would be has been such an introspective journey. I’m learning more about myself and enjoying these changing seasons. The Gardenia is a picky little plant- requiring just the right environment to flourish. It means “secret love” but the secret it out and I want to spend more time with this fickle flower. Oh my precious Ruby- I’m working on your environment. I want to get it right. I want to see you flourish and I want to enjoy the love the blooms as a result. I know you do too. I want to be a mom worthy of you. 

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Graduation

Excuse me while I blow the dust off this ole’ blog. My new years resolution of taking more pictures has happened…but on the business side. I have been so busy with work that I haven’t had any time to come over here and share my thoughts.
I have a lot to say, but I think I will focus on a certain little boy who started this whole thing.
Eli is turning 3 next month. Yeah, I know.
3 isn’t *that* old, but it feels like he’s been here forever with us always.
Eli is my old soul and his little world is about to get much bigger.

In Texas, children who participate in the ECI program “age-out” when they turn 3. They can either elect to go to private schools/therapists or go to the public school system.
We have decided to do a combination (thanks to a very generous Nona and Papa Red).

This morning we had a small, intimate celebration to mark Eli’s graduation from ECI. A few of the people who have become part of our family through ECI were able to make it. I think my heart exploded when our original speech therapist walked in- she has a special place in my heart and just seeing her reminded me that I won’t get to see her anymore. Let’s just say there were tears.
You let these people into your home and hearts. And if you are anything like me, you love them hard because they are busy loving your child. They are truly family and no words would ever be able to express how I feel about them or how thankful I am for their knowledge and expertise.

In the fall, Eli will be attending a local public school 2-3 days a week (we haven’t fully decided yet) and a private school 2 days a week. The reason for two different schools is that Eli will be in a full inclusion environment at the private school. IMG_0098

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It’s pretty obvious why we would want him to have an inclusion environment and as his mama it’s been so clear that he is ready. I almost feel like he’s missed out on some social opportunities because he has been home for 3 years.
But, we are in the middle of an a Newman revival and some good stuff is on the horizon.
We will also be going into private therapies to supplement what the school provides and what he has lost with ECI. (If you are at all interested in private, check out all your options and speak with your coordinator through ECI services. Medicaid, medicaid waiver and HIPP are all great resources to help therapies continue after birth-3 programs end). Part of me wonders if we will ever *not* need therapy for Eli. If he always needs it that’s fine, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for a break over the summer. I just want to soak them up before I’m that carpool mom running my kids all over the city.

I’m pretty nervous about my first ARD meeting, which is happening next week. We decided to hire an advocate going into the meeting, instead of waiting to need one because there are problems. I’ve been so pleased with her help so far. As a former educator, ARD meetings and stuff like this become so much a part of your life and day that you don’t remember what it was like to have no clue what is going on. She keeps me logical and focused on the task instead of the emotional aspects (I’m on my own, there) and helps me understand what is actually going on.

So I think my next post will include info on ARD meetings- how to prepare and what to expect…which means it will be crazy and goofy since I have no idea what I am doing ;)

Anyway, just a short little blurb to say “I’m still here! “Eli is doing amazing!” “The Newmans are doing alright!” ;)

First Screening- PPCD

No pictures for this post. I haven’t had a chance to take any between posts and today has been all about running.

Eli had his first district screening today. It felt a bit overwhelming. I feel like if I had been in the position of the educator I would have been comfortable but as the parent I felt bewildered and unprepared.
Maybe it was nerves or maybe it’s just me trying to get my bearings on the situation.
I know we were covered in prayer but my heart was fluttering with doubt and fear.

They signed us in and we had a short wait. Which meant I spent that time chasing Eli as he happily explored the building and waved at everyone who would make eye contact with him.

They brought us into a classroom and after asking a few questions they presented Eli with a simple task.
She placed two blocks before him and ask him to pick the orange block.
This request was met with complete silence and a diverted gaze. Followed by a slight head tilt.
The team consisted of an ASL certified aid who translated Eli’s signs and signed to him as well.
She asked him a few times and signed the question. He finally responded.

The next color question, blocks went all over the floor and the “screening” was done.
The evaluator scored Eli as “failed” in all areas and said that as a formality the OT would visit with him.

We were then moved to the waiting area where Eli was happy to answer all my questions about animals and color and shapes. -_-
After a while we were brought to another room where the OT asked a few questions and tried to get Eli to stack blocks. Which got thrown on the floor.
After a few more times prompting, he began to ask for a book near where we were sitting. It’s a book we don’t have and he was excited to read it.
Each page had a picture of one animal or object and a matching sound button on a panel to the right.
Eli has never really connected the sound buttons with the images, instead just pressing the buttons randomly.
Today he signed animals and objects he saw and then pushed the corresponding button! I was so excited to see this click for him!

While we watched him give a small preview of what he is capable of, another child Eli’s age approached us. It’s always so hard to see a child Eli’s age (who’s being evaluated for the same program!) walk right over and start talking to him, only for him to shy away and not be able to respond. He’s still such a baby in so many ways.
It’s a reminder of where we still need to be for Eli to be as successful as he can.

The screening was short. They want all therapists to be at his evaluation in March.
That eval is supposed to last two hours and I pray that Eli will open up during that time and show them what he’s capable of. He’s so clever and resourceful. A 15/20 minute visit with him doesn’t show much especially when he’s so shy.

School is going to be a huge help for him in this respect. I’m hoping for more independence, maturity, better social skills and to coax my shy boy out of his shell a little bit.

I didn’t feel like the questions I have were going to be directed at the right people so I’m waiting until our evaluation….but I may contact the school directly or at least the therapist I know will be at his school.
Any questions you can think of?

I’m interested in what speech accommodations (besides the ASL aid) will be made for Eli that aren’t “therapy”. And some of my other questions are about therapies we don’t even know if he will qualify for or not.

And now for Medicaid and insurance therapy verifications…. Ugh!! So much to do in such a short amount of time.
Life is about to get crazy ;)

Thanks to everyone who has contacted us to send positive vibes and prayers. This next phase is huge.

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