Sunday, October 23, 2016

The very hard decision to homeschool

Last weekend, we made the difficult decision to pull Max out of school and homeschool for this year. This won't be a post with a lot of information, as it is a difficult thing to explain and talk about but I will say that homeschooling isn't an easy decision. There are so many people out there that make it sound like the best thing ever--and the only good thing for your child--but I'm seeing that it's not that way for everyone, especially if it's a sudden transition from traditional schooling to homeschooling. Especially with autism.

Max has been regressing in a lot of areas that he had previously made progress on; we've noticed a steady decline since last year. It went on throughout the summer and intensified this fall. It went from emotional turmoil to severe tension headaches sending him to the nurse's office  nearly every day or sometimes we would just have to come get him. Stomach aches, listlessness, depression, talk of hopelessness. Of course, we did doctor visits and tried increasing anxiety medication. We even started bringing him to chiropractor to help him with his headaches (the chiropractor said his neck muscles were unbelievably tight.) Even his therapists were concerned with the dramatic change in Max; normally a happy and cheerful kid, who was always pale from lack of sleep, angry and worried.  It all stemmed from stress from school. It became apparent that the only way to lessen Max's stress would be to take him out of school completely. (There is more to this story but since this is a family blog that Max might read one day, I hesitate to say too much.)

Teachers and therapists, of course, thought I was making a huge mistake. They didn't make it easy, although,  I don't think they were trying to be difficult on purpose. They didn't know how difficult this decision was for me and didn't know how much I was fighting it. It takes a lot of sacrifice and rearranging your life to suddenly homeschool and the thought of taking on someone's education is scary. Dennis was not totally on board either at first, so that didn't make it any easier.

But it was one of those things where you feel like God is guiding the boat. He is steering you along despite rocky waters tossing you about. The more homeschooling came to mind, the more peace I felt about it--despite the fear and doubt that was always there. I just knew that homeschooling would be the way to get Max back on track again.

It was hard for his teachers, who worked so hard with us to make Max comfortable at school, to hear the "abrupt" decision to homeschool Max (it seemed abrupt to them, as I had only been thinking and praying about homeschooling but never mentioned it to them.) They threw a goodbye party on his last day, and made a big poster saying how much they would miss him. He had tossed the poster on the floor of his closet when he got home (in his defense, it was a hard day for him and I think he didn't want to think about it anymore) and we tacked it up to his wall. I told him that when people make things like cards and posters to say goodbye, we need to acknowledge it. We don't toss it on the floor.

There was a kid that had an especially hard time saying goodbye. This kid is also special needs with autism more severe than Max. The sudden goodbye was very hard for him and he was very angry about it. Of course, no one could explain the situation to him to make him understand. All he knew was his friend would suddenly be gone from his life. He screamed and cried and blocked the door, preventing Max from leaving. It was very traumatic for both him and Max.

So of course I feel terrible for making things so hard with pulling Max out; for his teachers feeling like the rug has been pulled out from beneath them with no warning, for the other students who don't understand that sometimes "life just happens" with no warning. For therapists that doubt and fear for Max's wellbeing and that homeschooling might make things worse.

Except for my mom, I have not heard one word of support from family and I won't lie, it's been really hard for me. I've had a lot of questions but absolutely no response from the answers I've given them.  It's been weird how people have been reacting.

But I'm reminded that this is about Max, not them. I can't waste my time and energy worrying about people and their feelings; they will have to just sit back and see that everything will be all right.

Because I am in the same boat with them; wondering if this is truly the right thing to do, wondering if I will somehow fail Max and his education, wondering if I'm going to make things worse. But I'm trusting the Captain, who's steering the boat and I'm sure that he will bring us back to calm waters again.

We just all have to trust Him.


It's only been a week, but I'm happy to say that already we are seeing the old Max that we know; his confidence has come back and he's sleeping well again.

If all goes well this year and Max make some good progress, we plan to have him come back for his final year at school (it only goes to the 8th grade) so he can graduate with his classmates.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Girls Room--the Big Reveal!

The look I had been waiting for all summer!

Finally, after months of the girls room looking like a bomb hit it, the girls have their new room. The looks on their faces made all that hard work worth it! Let's look at some before and after pics, shall we?

"Before": an outdated, tired out looking room with marked up walls and a busted door.

With worn and outdated wallpaper--until I tore it down which made it look worse. And the girls begged for a nicer room which they could invite their friends over for playdates and not feel embarrassed until I couldn't stand the guilt any longer.

So I went with what they asked for and gave them a purple room--and it turned out great!

Lavender walls with an accent purple wall (the original purples that the girls chose), with Lucy's requested blue accents...

A blue chalkboard for reminder messages and huge flowers, just for fun...

A better look at the accent wall. Do you see Anna hiding behind the curtains? I tried to do a lot of white accents to balance out the purple!

Lucy saying, "I have my very own mirror!!"

Looking at the shells that I bought (only $2 at Walmart!)

The girls loved the glass animal figurines! I bought an elephant, a swan (which Anna is holding) a dolphin and a dog. I was worried (and still am) that they might get broken but so far, the girls seem happy enough to admire them on the shelves.

The glass dog is actually a prism, so when the light hits it just right, there will be rainbows all over the room.

The girls were thrilled with their room. When all was said and done, I laid down to take a rest. I had been staging and cleaning their room all day while they were at school and hadn't realized how tired I was. Five days of painting and planning while trying to keep four kids patient enough to sleep in one room together while they're waiting is hard work.

But you see that smile? It made it all worth it.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


A little teasers on how the girls room is going...

Some of it might be soft lavender...

While some of it may not.

There just may be some purple tulle somewhere...

While other areas need something...

Still got some things poking out of the walls...

Got a little bit of the sparkle I promised too.

It will all be done by Tuesday (I hope.)  In the meantime, the girls are bunking out in the boys room.

Everyone is eager for the girls to have their room back. (Especially the boys!)

Tuesday is the big reveal!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Saying my Hail Marys in Customer Service at Walmart

So the TV that I bought for Dennis's birthday came with no power cord which meant I had to return it. I hate returning things, it is such a pain. On top of this, the receipt that I had so carefully kept (thinking to myself that something like this would happen) somehow got thrown away.

I knew there might be some issues with not having a receipt but I wasn't expecting it to be as bad as it was. When I arrived at the counter, I explained my problem with the TV. "Do you have a receipt?" They asked me. I told her I did not. "We don't do exchanges without a receipt." I was told flatly.

Normally in these cases, I don't put up a fight, but I couldn't stand the thought of returning to Dennis without his birthday present. So I pleaded my cause, explaining again that without a power cord, the TV was unworkable. (We tried looking for other power cords but couldn't find any that fit with this particular brand.)

"I'll call the manager," the woman told me and then started a long 20 minute wait while other customers were helped and I just stood there. Not to mention Henry was waiting in the shopping cart as well, although he was being pretty patient.

I was starting to get very irritated with the waiting (the manager was called three or four times) as customer after customer was helped except for me. Once in a while, another associate would ask if I was helped and another associate would inform her, "She's waiting for the manager because she wants to exchange the TV without a receipt."

"But we don't do exchanges without a receipt on items over $60!" They would argue. And back and forth this would happen, making my cause look more and more helpless. That's when I began to pray.

I don't think I have ever prayed in a situation like that before but because of my happy outcome, I will be doing it more often. I prayed to Mary, begging her for help, for a miracle that they would let me exchange the TV. I begged her for patience as well, as we stood waiting forever, making my patience run out before I even argued my case. I considered just leaving with the TV with no power cord but for Dennis, I wanted to get him a TV that worked and that he could hang in his Man cave.

Finally, the manager came and again, my case was presented to him. At first, he didn't seem to have a problem with exchanging with no receipt, but oddly enough, some sales associates argued with him. I heard  "buy another power cord" being thrown around but even though I had tried to explain all of this already, they weren't listening to me anymore, only to each other. I decided to get Dennis on the phone to see if he could help explain the problem, but when I held the phone out to the manager, I was surprised to hear him say rather coldly, "No."
"It's just my husband," I explained, "He said he will explain the TV problem to you."
"No." The manager said again rather coldly.
"No?" I repeated.
"No." He said again.
"You mean you won't talk to him?" I asked, unable to believe it. The manager just shook his head and refused to look at me in the eye.

At this point, I was starting to get angry. One of the customers, who was taking all this in whispered, "Speaker phone!" I smiled in spite of myself.

So to keep myself calm, I talked to Dennis instead, explaining the problem to him as the manager and associates continued to argue among themselves. Surprisingly, Dennis was getting angry about the whole thing and wasn't happy that they wouldn't talk to him. Between the two of us, he's usually the calm one. When I explained that they refused, he got even more angry. This wasn't helping.
"I can't help it," I told him as he was telling me to tell them this or that, "They won't help me."

And then amazingly, a new TV was put into the cart. "We are going to help you." One of the sales associates said. "The manager decided to override the policy."

I was thankful but not out of the woods yet, because while I was on the phone more sales associates had joined the chaos as well as another manager who was in charge of the other manager. (Not sure what the official title is.) Apparently, we needed approval from both managers to override the policy and I was asked many questions: how did I pay? What day was it on? What time? What check out counter?

I answered the best I could but anyone that knows me knows that I have the worst memory in the world. I can't even remember to tell the security guard what kind of outfits my kids are wearing on days they have gotten lost.

Then, just as I thought I was free and clear, another sales associate, who wanted to know what was going on came in the scene. When it was explained, she challenged the managers, arguing that the rules should not be broken for me. "We've already approved it!" they argued back. I couldn't believe it. Apparently a return over $60 is a bigger deal than I had thought! The woman looked upset and was standing there shaking her head angrily but everyone just ignored her and put the sticker on my new TV and wished me a good day.

I went up to the manager who had previously treated me coldly and realized that his reaction from before was out of nerves. (He was pretty young.) I thanked him for working with me, letting him know I appreciated all he had done. He looked surprised, and actually looked a little emotional, and I wondered if he had ever been thanked before. "I will be here for the next two weeks," he said. "If you have any issues with the TV, just let me know and I will handle it personally." (Made me wonder if he just decided to hand in his notice after all this hassle.)  I thanked him again and left the store with my new TV, happy that Dennis would be able to keep his present.

I thought back to the event, realizing how much our Lady had helped me--not just to get the TV but also that I had stayed so calm. Normally, I get so angry that I can't even think words to explain my situation. And I realized that our Lady helped me with that part too.

Does God care about a TV?  Yeah,  probably not. But it was so important to me to give this to Dennis; it's not very often when I can buy something big like this for him. It is Dennis that pays the bills and sells his boat and makes the sacrifices that have to be made so that we can get by. This was my small sacrifice for him--something frivolous for his Man Cave. It was important to me and for this, I think it was important to God. He thinks just like we do, when we want to help our own kids.

I was glad to be able to give Dennis the TV. And glad that God made it possible.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

God is good!

Yesterday Henry hurt his finger and we couldn't tell if it was jammed or broken. I wanted to bring him into the Urgent Care because it was causing him a lot of pain but Dennis wanted to wait a little and see what happened. (Hard for a mom to do!)

So I agreed to wait but in the meantime, I thought I should see if anyone could come babysit in case I did have to bring him into Urgent Care in the morning. So I called my mom (who happened to be in the car with some friends) and explained what happened and she said, "Can you talk to my friend about this? She's a pediatrician!" And she passed the phone onto her.

What are the odds of a pediatrician being in the car at the exact time I called??? Only God could have planned that out.

This good doctor saved us a trip to the Urgent Care and told me to body tape Henry's two fingers together for now because that's pretty much all they would do for him, even if it was a fracture. So the next morning, we headed out to the pharmacy to pick up body tape and I taped his fingers together which Henry proudly showed off.

He is already doing so much better; I'm glad that we didn't bring him in more for Dennis's sake than anyone's. He just paid a very big bill of $1,100 for his brake lines in his truck and I know the thought of medical bills and X-rays was stressing him out. I must admit that I didn't think to pray about my situation and didn't really think too much about the money aspect. As a mom, my only concerns were for Henry and his comfort.

But see how God intervenes, even when we don't ask Him too. He was aware of the situation and cared both for Henry and for Dennis (and all of us.) He provided the best solution by prompting me to call my mom at the same moment she just happened to have a pediatrician in the car. And even though I was suffering more from "Nervous Mom Jitters" more than Henry was from his finger (he was sleeping when I called), I took the doctors advice and it seems she has saved us hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for an Urgent Care visit and an X-ray.

God is good, and He cares.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Dennis took over the prep work in the girls room for which I'm thankful for. I can do prep work but this one was beyond me. The glue to the wallpaper was still stuck to the wall and all had to be scraped off. I've had enough scraping to last me a lifetime. Dennis is sort of stickler for nice and tidy work so I told him to knock himself out.

I'm still gathering things along the way for the girls room but I won't get everything I was hoping to get. That is ok--at least they will have a decent room back! I have yet to get the shelves, which is one of the most important things since their room clutters up so fast. I also got a Lava Lamp. Remember those??? The girls saw them one day and really wanted them.

I had plans to buy them a fancy light. Chandeliers seem to be the "in" thing with girls room these days, but I just couldn't get myself to buy one. I found a pretty basic light that wasn't a chandelier but had lots of crystal on it. Still, it was so much fancier than who we are. It just didn't feel right to me and I don't want to send the girls a message that we need glitter and glam to make a room nice.

But I still wanted some sort of sparkle because I had promised sparkle and girls love sparkle!
What more sparkle could you get from prisms to hang from your windows? Plus they make rainbows! A twofer!

Lucy is going on a trip to Camp Voyager next week with her class. This will be her first time away from home without us so of course I'm very nervous. That's part of the reason why I wanted to do this project while she's gone. Hopefully the time will go by fast and she will have a new room to come home to.

I'm looking forward to next week and yet dreading it. Dreading Lucy leaving for two days but looking forward to surprising her (and Anna!) when she comes home.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Girls Room: the door

And so we have the door installed.

The old door
Remember the old door that had a hole in it and no doorknob? It was a constant embarrassment every time people came over, no doubt wondering who had anger issues or something. Or that we were too cheap to even buy a doorknob.

The new door
Well, now we have a new door, freshly painted, dark doorknob to give it a "pop", and most of all, it is functional, opens and closes and even locks. And it has no hole in it.

Every door we replace and add a little trim around it, helps our hallway look a little nicer. It is so slow going though. The door and the trim to go around it costs about $170 total, not counting the paint. So it's not easy to come up with the money quickly.

I decided to speed this Girls Room project up, even if I don't have everything that I wanted to get.

Today a neighborhood friend was over and wanted to see the girls room. Lucy had already told her, rather firmly, I might add, that she didn't want her to see her room. Well, the girl insisted and pushed past Lucy and the next thing I knew Lucy and Anna were literally fighting against this girl (who is bigger and taller than both of them) yelling and pleading with the girl not to enter into their room. I intervened, but not before the girl just blatantly pushed past them and went into their room.

I asked Lucy later why she didn't want the girl to go into her room. She said it was because she was embarrassed about how bad it looked. It's Anna's room as well, but being six and a half, she doesn't feel quite as strongly as Lucy. However, she was tired of the mess too.

So major mom-guilt here, who did all the tearing down and left it like that for months.

I promised Lucy I will take care of the room and make it up to her for the months of embarrassment by turning it into a room they will be proud to show off.

I won't have everything I was hoping to get but it will be clean--and purple, like they had wanted.

So stay tuned for the "big reveal" of the girls room!